Devoted to the word

bible-138977_640Acts 18:5: When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus.

Paul here was described as being devoted to the word, if that also becomes your defining trait, you will be fine. He not only knew the word but was passionate about bringing others into the realisation of the truth he had come to, expressing heartfelt passion for the word.

Everyone is defined by his passion of lack of it. Jesus wrote to church in Asia, be zealous and do the first works (Revelation 3:19, 2:4-5). Zeal, devotion is always backed up with action. Devotion is about obedience. It is about extremes of passion. You are always in bondage to your passion, you cannot help yourself. After Paul‘s encounter with Jesus, he started burning with the fire of passion for him. He was amazed at his choice by Jesus after he had been complicit in murder (Acts 8:1), and a chief persecutor of the church, and wanted to make it worth his (Jesus) while, for calling him.

Ezra was also devoted to the word (Ezra 7:10). He had mastered the word and gained competency in it, and during the coming back of the nation of Israel, he stood as a reference point. His passion became his competence, his devotion became his ministry, and his passion became his purpose. He led the whole nation in a rediscovery of the word of God after they had been dispersed for decades away from their land.

Paul came from the background of devotion to the letter of the word, and he would later write that the letter kills but the spirit gives life (2Corinthians 3:6). He also said that knowledge puffs up, but love edifies (1Corinthians 8:1). And as a Pharisee, his knowledge really puffed him up and so was a violent man.

That showed that what he knew had puffed him up. He was empty of the love of God, but was pushed along by pride. His knowledge was his identity and not the love of God. The bible says knowledge will pass away but love stands forever (1Corinthians 13:8, 13).

After he encountered the love God, his number one identity was no longer what he knew but the person who knew him (Jesus), approved and empowered him, because of whom he endured persecution. While before, for him it was all about the knowledge he got, his zeal was a negative zeal, to deal with those who disagree with him, but when he met Jesus his zeal was directed at helping those who disagree with him.

As a recipient of grace he is able to communicate the same to other, all violence left his vein, as his heart pants with passion for God and that drives devotion to his word.

He was no longer motivated by his selfishness, to protecting his self-image but he was directed to make a defence of the image of Jesus impressed on his heart, using the scriptures. His devotion to the word goes beyond the letters to the person of Jesus, the living word.

Jesus told the Pharisee: “you search the scriptures thinking there is something you can gain life from it (John 5:39-40) but I am the life they point to. They unveil me, and you should come to me that you may have life.”

Devotion to the word means sacrifice. We cannot be devoted to the word except we see it as our life. Our devotion to Christ the life will be reflected in our devotion to the written word. When we realise that we would be in spiritual darkness without the word, then we will give it all it takes.

The bible says that Joseph was in chains until his word came (Psalm 105:17-20). When we realise that without the word we would be in bondage then we would know that we should take it serious. Freedom is sweet and light is good, and both comes from the word of God. Therefore the word of God is supremely important. God elevates his word above his name (Psalms 138:2).

Whatever help that God will give you is packaged in his word. When the world was in trouble in bondage to sin and in the control of darkness, God the Word came to the earth, as the solution.

Whatever controls your thought controls your life, so the mind of God, which man lost that is being restored us in Jesus Christ.

The devotion of Peter, and the first apostles, to Jesus, was because of his word (John 6:68). Peter, while everyone else departed from Jesus told Jesus: where shall we go because you have the words of eternal life?

Even after the ascension of Jesus, devotion to the word still marked the lives of his disciples. They said when certain issues were coming up in the new church, which they refused to allow to distract from the word of truth, we will give ourselves to the word, preaching it.

Paul wanted Timothy to do the same thing, telling him: preach the word, be instant in season and out of season. He added: pay attention to reading, the public reading of the scriptures (1Timothy 4:13).

Seeing that not everyone had scriptures at that time, and the level of literacy was low, scriptures needed to be read in the hearing of the people, and probably the letters written to such a church or passed around.

The church needs to be informed of the word of God. In the earlier church, the bible says that the new believers were committed to the apostles’ doctrine (Acts 2:42).

In the different types of heart interaction with the word in the parable of the sower that Jesus gave, the different hearts expressed different levels of devotion to the word, which eventually determine the fruit they will bear from the word. Without receiving the word with the right heart we would not be fruitful in it. Jesus Christ expects that we abide in him and his word abides in us, or otherwise we would not bear fruit (John 15:1-8).

The man in the first chapter of the book of psalms expressed the right devotion to the word, in it he meditates day and night, that was his chief preoccupation, and he stood as a testimony of the benefits of being devoted to the word.

He makes his time available for the word, he stands strong in the truth, and the root of truth in him became the fruits of prosperity, and people glorify God through him.

The Spirit

flower-15701_640Acts 11:16: And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’

Here Peter was trying to view his experience through the glasses of the word of God and not, as some do, try to impose their own experience on it.

Many do not speak in tongues so they impose on the scriptures what their experience says. Many know people who are pious and serving God but who do not speak in tongues so they come from that experience and make the scriptures conform to that experience, rather than seek to conform to scriptures. Your experience can be a lie bit the word of God is true.

Some may say that tongues have passed, ceased in the first century. They go on further and declare that those who speak in tongues are under the influence of demons. They quote Paul who says that in the last days people would yield to seducing spirits and doctrine of demons (1Timothy 4:1). But they neglect the words of Jesus that we should be careful about blaspheming the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:14-20, Matthew 12:24-25).

Jesus said this when some people, in a bid to discredit him (as these people try to discredit speaking in tongues as a part of the experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit) said that he casts out devils by the chief of demons, Beelzebub.

And Jesus added that a sin against the Holy Spirit does not have forgiveness. He noted: “If through thee finger of God I cast out devils, then the kingdom of God has come near to you,” referring to the means with which he cats out devils, the finger of God, the Holy Spirit.

In a way saying that the supernatural is an expression of the kingdom of God. So because something cannot be explained by logic does not mean you should ascribe it to Satan because that borders on blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

If some people have their way, the gospel will just be about getting some knowledge, knowing the right things, but the gospel is also about a spiritual experience, it is more than a mental experience.

The Holy Spirit marks things with the divine presence, he marks us as being God’s possession. Paul said that we have been sealed with the Holy Spirit, separated to God, made his own (Ephesians 1:13). The Holy Spirit witness with our spirit that we are the sons of God.

The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives is also as our helper (Romans 8:26-27). He has something to do in our lives right now. He manifests in our lives, bringing to bear the work of Christ. He applied the work of Christ to our hearts bringing us to the place of manifesting the glory of God.

Without him our words do not have power, they make no impact. Paul was adamant about not coming to the church of Corinth with words of human wisdom but the demonstration of the Spirit and power. There is nothing quite about a demonstration, nothing neat about it. A demonstration is a display of the spectacular.

Paul cared more for the demonstration of the power of God than for the exposition of scriptures. He said to the church in Corinth: I did not come to you with the excellence of speech, of human wisdom, but the demonstration of the Spirit and power so that your faith does not lie in the wisdom of men but in the power of God (1Corinthians 1:24). So, he consciously walked in the supernatural.

We should be careful in the church of Jesus Christ that in the bid to be word-based, instruction-based, we leave out the operation of the Holy Spirit, the sheer unpredictability of it, the experience of heaven, the pulling down of the hand of God to make the people on the earth recognise the supremacy of God.

When there was doubt in Israel about who to worship, either God or Baal, what settled it was a display of the supernatural, no long exposition or explanation. First there was the cessation of the rain for some years, then the coming of fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice laid by Elijah the prophet of God, while the prophets of Ball, regardless of how much they cried or cut themselves did not get a response from their God. All Israel thereby said: the Lord, he is God (1Kings 18).

The presence of the Holy Spirit makes all the difference. The disciples were instructed to wait for the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in power in their lives before they manifest themselves to the people in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria as the witnesses of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8). They were not to go into the midst of the wolves of the earth without supernatural endowment, in infusion of strength, faith and power of God.

In the focus verse, Peter said that he remembered what Christ has said, and he was able to act appropriately in the situation. That means if we do not put his word in our minds (remembering it), then we would not please him.

Paul said that we need to have the word of Christ dwelling richly in our hearts (Colossians 3:16). If we allow the word to dwell in our hearts then we would do the right thing.

If we do not connect appropriately with the word of God we would not be able to connect appropriately with others. Paul said we need to have the words of Christ dwelling richly in us so that we will overflow in the same in blessing to others.

The experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit should always be connected to what is written in the word of God. We should not have a spiritual experience out of the orbit of the scriptures. That is a trap.

There can be no church without the Holy Spirit. It is with the presence of the Holy Spirit that Christ becomes alive in each of us.  God is in you by the Holy Spirit. You are a carrier of God, carrier of light. The presence of the Holy Spirit is the presence of God. He manifests as the glory of God. He moves in to bring the will of God to pass.

The bible says that no one knows the things of God, except the Spirit of God (1Corinthians 2:12-21). That is why the fellowship with the Holy Spirit is encouraged (2Corinthians 13:14), because it is through him we get to walk with God.

Though we do not see God, we sense Holy Spirit, and are led by him (Romans 8:14). That is our right as sons of God. The manifestation of Jesus as Son of God was by the Holy Spirit, from his conception to his miracles and his death and resurrection, the same with us (Romans 1:4).

It is by the presence of the Holy Spirit that we have God in us. We do not just go to about with human wisdom, the Holy Spirit becomes in us the Spirit of wisdom (Isaiah 11:1-2), we do not go about with our power, the Holy Spirit, the supernatural one, doing stuffs through us.

Finding God

monarch-18355_640Acts 17:27: that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,

God is not far from us, just as the radio frequency is not far from us, but we need a radio with the capacity to get the frequency to connect in any meaningful way with the waves. In the same way we need the Holy Spirit established in us to connect with God (1Corinthians 2:9-16). However, Man had created all manner of religions for himself as a means of connecting with God, all missing the mark.

But the Holy Spirit was introduced into man at the beginning, when God puts his breath into man (Genesis 2:7). In the Garden of Eden, what we saw was God looking for man. But afterwards, the bible says man began to call upon God (Genesis 4:26). By this time sin had created a gulf between heaven and earth.

The bible says that life is but a puff of wind (James 4:14), here today, gone tomorrow. Everything shall be shaken which can be shaken. God said: “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens (Hebrews 12:25-29).” Everything will be shaken. There will be the removal of everything that was made. That talks about a change of order. Every”thing” will be done away with.

That is why Jesus says that the life of a man does not consist in the abundance of the “things” he possesses (Luke 12:15). Jesus said that the church in Laodicea were poor, though in material good, they had surplus (Revelation 3:14-22). He was seeing things from the everlasting perspective, which is the only one that matters, after all is said and done.

The recommendation of the writer of the book of Hebrews is that we would grateful that we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and in our lifestyle, we show we are grateful by worshipping God with reverence and awe, because we are counted worthy of resurrection of life, which is something that will outlast this world.

Paul said though Jesus was rich, for our sake he became poor so that through his poverty we might become rich (2Corinthians 8:9), experience the Jesus-dimension of life.

True riches, Jesus revealed, is being rich towards God. Whatever is not about God, approved by God, is empty.

Finding God is a pursuit of true meaning, the pursuit of your purpose, of your divine connection. Finding God is about finding yourself, since we are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-28). We have no essence except what we have from him, what he puts in us but sin made us less than we should be, little more than beasts that perishes (Ecclesiastes 3:18-19, Psalm 49:12).

That is why the righteousness-gift[grace] is everything we need, which we receive by faith. It is the priming we get to start us up on the journey into God, seeking him, seeking to be like him in the fullest essence.

To find God, you need hunger. Jesus noted something special about those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, saying that they that we will be filled (Matthew 5:6).

The bible says: seek and you shall find (Matthew 7:7). There is no finding God without seeking him, which is about spending time and energy. He can find you without your seeking him, but you cannot find him without seeking him. The two are different. I’ll explain.

Moses’ experiences capture this. He was not looking for God in the wilderness while he was herding the sheep of his father-in-law, Jethro, when God manifested to him in a burning bush, getting his attention and calling him to go to Egypt and lead Israel’s deliverance from bondage (Exodus 3).

He was so not-seeking-God at that time that he first refused to obey. He had gotten comfortable where he was and he just would not want to be moved. But God had other ideas.

But later on Moses started to seek God. He asked God: show me your glory (Exodus 33:18), though you have blessed me with various experiences about you, but I want more. That was Moses hungry and thirsty for God and he pressed into more and more of God.

Paul’s life story is also similar to this. He was not seeking for Jesus when he met with him on the way to Damascus (Acts 9:1-20). He was an enemy of the church of Jesus Christ, looking for way to deal a deadly blow to her, not one you think God would consider to be his servant. But he separated him for his use from his mother’s womb and sent him forth as an apostle (Galatians 1:13-16).

Christ met him and revealed himself to him. But later in his life he expressed his passion for Jesus, how zealously he seeks God. He said of Christ: that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, being made conformable to his death (Philippians 3:7-14).

He said: for the excellence of knowing Christ I counts all things as dung; that he may know him, and be found in him not having my own righteousness but that which comes from faith in Jesus Christ.

What about the Samaritan woman whom Jesus met at a well called Jacob’s (John 4)? She came to the well, but decided to ignore Jesus, but he decided she was going to be the object of his attention.

Jesus asked her for water but added that, if you know the one talking to you, you would have asked him and he would give you living water. That means the living water is something she should seek from Jesus, being the experience of Jesus that she would seek to have.

For the story of Moses, Paul and the Samaritan woman, we see the difference between God finding us, and us finding God, as a consequence of seeking him.

We need to seek to experience the grace of God. And that is what we do when we come near to the throne of grace, where we find grace to help in times of need (Hebrews 4:16). When we seek for grace we find it. When we seek for knowledge we also find it. Knowledge does not jump on you, you must seek to know the truth, and that Jesus says is the way to freedom (John 8:31-32). Without seeking knowledge we would be like those who after many years as a Christian are still at the level of the milk of the word, not moving on to higher levels of matured understanding (Hebrews 5:12-14).