God is witness

west-sun-404548_640Jeremiah 29:23: because they have done an outrageous thing in Israel, they have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and they have spoken in my name lying words that I did not command them. I am the one who knows, and I am witness, declares the LORD.'” (ESV)

There is no limit to what God knows. In the book of Malachi God, frowning at divorce said that he is a witness between “you and the wife of your youth,” and that the man should check his own heart and not take the path of unfaithfulness (Malachi 2:14-16).

It became impressed on David that God sees everything after he planned and executed the killing of Uriah, someone who had come a long way with him, because of his uncontrolled sexual appetite. He probably thought God will understand, but he did not know that God puts him on a higher pedestal that others, with higher standards as God’s king. James wrote that not all should desire to be teachers because they will have the stricter judgment (James 3:1).

The bible says that to whom much is given much is expected. A man of privilege is expected to use that platform to the benefit of others. David later wrote at the end of his life that “the one who rules over men must rule justly, ruling in the fear of God (2Samuel 23:3).”

That is the standard. It to rule justly and with the fear of God. If consideration for what God will say what he will think does not override any other consideration, there is a problem. Because that God is witness he is also the judge. If we do not repent, thinking we can cover things up, then we are in trouble. David made that mistake (2Samuel 11-12).

When Cain had not even killed Abel, but full of angry frustration against him, God showed him that he not also knew what he does, but also what he was thinking, and feeling. He said to him: sin lies at the door, but you must resist it, and not allow it to control you (Genesis 4:1-10).

God is interested in what we think because it flows into how we live. And when God wanted to destroy the earth it was not so much about the evil actions prevailing on the earth but the prevailing evil thought processes which generated those actions that God complained about.

God said that the thought of man was constantly filled with corrupt and evil thoughts (Genesis 6:5-6). God is witness to that also, to the thoughts of our hearts. Hence, Jesus said that when we look at a woman to lust after her, with have committed adultery with her. That is also in the bible and there is nothing you can do about that (Matthew 5:27-29).

David confessed that God knows everything about him even his thought afar off, knows his lying down and rising up, his going out and coming in, knows him in totality (Psalm 139:1-13). When thoughts of fear ravages your heart God knows, and when you know that he wants you to think differently, then you will.

God cannot be conned. He does not just know your thoughts and action, he knows your motivation. Jesus said that some people call him Lord but their hearts are far from him. When Peter vowed that he will not deny Jesus, Jesus told him the extent of his knowledge by saying that in a short while he was going to deny him three times (Luke 22:33-34).

Like Peter, we are liable to overestimate our piety. You do not even know what you are capable of. That is what our only refuge is the grace of God. Paul wrote that sin shall not have dominion over us not because we have made New Year resolutions, not because we change city, but because of the grace we derived from Jesus (Romans 6:13).

We need to continue to emphasise our connection with God through adequate fellowship with him. We read that we can draw near the throne of God to receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

Our primary need is to live above sin and that is not possible, except for the grace of Jesus Christ. He is the only one who lived above sin and he shed his blood for us for us and released his grace for holiness and obedience to us. The bible says that it is not by power not power but by the Spirit and the spirit is the Spirit of grace (Zechariah 4:6-9).

God has put his witness in us and it is called our conscience, it is an indicator installed in us. It is the indicator of the knowledge of good and evil as regards our thoughts and actions. It is related to the fruit that man ate in the Garden of Eden which God warned that he should not eat.

When the devil told Eve that she will not surely die when he ate the wrong fruit, she actually did not have the conception of what death means because her world was carefully controlled so that she knew only goodness and no death (Genesis 3).

So since the issue of death was beyond the consciousness of Adam and Eve the only way they will obey the commandment to not eat the fruit is if they take God’s words for it, trusting him.

When they lost truth in God’s words they lost trust in him, for God and his word are one and the same. The word of God was meant to be the guide of men. What they are conscious of is the word of God, they lacked any other consciousness, but when they chose to eat that peculiarly named fruit they got a conscience, but without the grace to do the right thing, man became intractably bounded to sinful practices, generated from the consciousness of evil in him, and the consciousness of good was present at the same time generating a sense of guilt. Paul said it this way: the good I want to do I cannot so, the evil I do not want to do that is what I find myself doing (Romans 7:15-21).

The devil does not have the consciousness of good and evil. He is only consciousness of evil and so cannot feel guilty. The possibility of repentance is far removed from him and so he cannot be saved. Part of the evil in the devil is lying. Jesus described it this way: there is no truth in the devil. His action is filled with what he is evil, murder, deception (John 8:44). It does not matter what he is saying, since he is the one saying it, it is a lie.

Man seems to be able to generate evil thought and action on its own, the awareness of evil within the consciousness is followed by the evil practice which the awareness of good does not successfully overcome. The conscience becomes a recording instrument and makes judgment easy, there is no hiding from God. Our only hope is to run for refuge. We have done wrong and the wrath of God is hanging but we are covered in Jesus. When we come to him, and get his cloth of righteousness, we are no longer held responsible for what we did in the past. It is called justification (Romans 5:12-21).

Paul puts it this way: the days of ignorance God winks at but now calls everyone to repent (Acts 17:30). Peter said we need to repent so that times of refreshment will come from the presence of God. God now becomes our advocate (1John 2:1-2). We have an advocate with the father, Jesus Christ, who also stands before God interceding for us. Paul puts it this way: who will bring a charge against God’s elect, it is God who justifies, who gave his son to die for us to justify. God’s witness against us is torn away. The bible says to the cross is nailed the handwriting of requirement that are against us, which are reminders of our errors, inadequacies, and are records against us (Colossians 2:12-14). Believing in Jesus makes us to and we have passed from death to life.

Is age overrated?

old-woman-574278_640Jeremiah 16:19: O LORD, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in the day of trouble, to you shall the nations come from the ends of the earth and say: “Our fathers have inherited nothing but lies, worthless things in which there is no profit. (ESV)

We are supposed to respect our elders, and even stand up to allow them to sit (Leviticus 19:32). When writing to Timothy, Paul said he should treat the older ones as fathers, with all respect (1Timothy 5:1). However, old age does not equal to wisdom. That was what Elihu in the book of Job found out (Job 32:1-12).

After listening to three friends of Job talk to him for a long time, and they were not able to do justice to the issue at hands, he said that he thought that old age should mean wisdom, but realised that is not necessarily the case.

He concluded that there is a spirit in man and that it is the inspiration of the almighty gives him understanding.

It’s clear that it is not about how long you have spent on earth, what you have seen, it is about the operation of the Holy Spirit in your life, how yielded you have been over time to him. Age is overrated.

The bible says that the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong, but time can chance happened to all men (Ecclesiastes 9:11). Being old does not give you the exclusive access to wisdom. Actually the bible says that out of the mouth of babes and suckling God has ordained strength (Psalm 8:1-2). And he chooses the foolish thing to confound the wise (1Corinthians 1:27). Do not allow anyone to hoodwink you because of his age.

Jesus was not an old man but was possessed by the Holy Spirit and God said from heaven that we should listen to him (Matthew 17:5).

The Holy Spirit is the spirit of counsel, might, knowledge, understanding, who confers on people sound judgement, which he also conferred on Jesus (Isaiah 11:1-5). The bible says that he will not judge by the hearing of the ears but will judge righteous judgement.

Sound judgement does not come just because of your experiences. Being old may actually mean you are more bitter or mischievous than the average man or woman.

The experience of a young prophet in the bible aptly illustrates this. He was sent by God to prophesy to the king of Israel, against the worship of idols going on there (1Kings 13).

When an older prophet came to see him after he had delivered his message, he convinced him against following through with what earlier instruction that God gave him, lying that God has given him another instruction for him. The younger prophet was, as a result, killed by a lion.

The old man was an expert in manipulation. He did not shirk from manipulating others in the name of God, abusing the trust with which people view him because of his experience or age. So if you think old age means wisdom then you may be opened to deception, and have your initiative paralysed.

What did you think happened in the Garden of Eden? The serpent showed himself in the garden as having much more knowledge about things than Eve, and that was a trap she fell into, swallowing what he said hook, line and sinker (Genesis 3).

Aaron and Mariam were older than Moses and they presumed to criticise Moses about a decision he made (Numbers 12). They were mistaken, but what if you were there and it is your idea that the older is always right, then you will have followed them in their error and possibly also in the judgment they faced.

When Jesus called Paul into the ministry he said that he did not immediately confer with flesh and blood nor did he go to those who were apostles before him (Galatians 1-2). He said that what he taught, he knew by the revelation of Jesus Christ. Revelation trumps age. A psalmist says that he has more understanding than his teachers because he meditates on God’s law (Psalm 119:22). So passion for God also trumps age.

Showing the level of independence of thought that he had he confronted Peter, a foremost apostle, to his face, when he made theological misstep. He was not cowed by Peter’s clout. His commitment was to Jesus and what he has called him to do. He did not say because Peter saw Jesus in the flesh, therefore, whatever he says or does is right. He noticed he was inconsistent and spoke publicly about it to help others not to fall into the trap.

Now to the issue of father which was the thrust of the focus verse. From fathers should come identity but because of the corruption of sin, fathers sometimes do not live up to expectation. David wrote if my father and mother forsake me God will pick me up (Psalm 27:10).

When the first fathering arrangement through Adam got messed up, God found another way to father us.

This is how it happens. Father transfers blessing or curses. The blessing on Abraham found expression in his children and the ultimate expression of the blessing was seen in Jesus, and through whom we become children of God and partaker of the blessing (Galatians 3).

But we had a previous father and that was Adam and what we got from him was the rule of sin and death (Romans 5:12-21). But the bible says that the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus sets us free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-2). We needed another father to free us from the bondage the first father put us. What one father messed up, another father sorts out, hence the need for another Adam- Jesus (1Corinthians 15:45). Remember Jesus was called everlasting father (Isaiah 9:6).

The choices made by fathers can affect children positively or negatively. Adam was son of God (Luke 3:38), he came from him as God breathed his breath into man the breath of life and man became a living soul (Genesis 2:7).

But when humanity was messed up because of sin, there was the need for spiritual rebirth for us to gain God as father anew, with God’s Spirit coming into us through Jesus as we bear his presence and identity.

And the Spirit that has been sent to us is the Spirit of adoption and enter into a relationship with God, calling him father (Romans 8:15). Jesus taught us to pray: our father in heaven, hallowed be your name (Matthew 6:9). God is no longer afar off but within us, we get to experience who he is, how he is, we get to become him.

Covenant of peace

white-tailed-doe-599829_640Isaiah 54:10: For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. (ESV)

The bible says that in Jesus we have peace with God (Romans 5:1), being what was lost in the disobedience of Adam in the Garden of Eden. From him we inherited a lack of peace with God, which manifested the first time when Adam and Eve ran from God in the Garden, after they sinned.

What was lost in the garden through disobedience, after Adam and Eve failed the temptation of the devil, was gained in the wilderness with the obedience of Jesus. He went through the temptation of the devil but chose to obey and he made available peace with God for those who believe in him, in spiritual connection to him.

This parallels what happened with Saul, the first king of Israel (mirroring the first Adam) and David, the second king of Israel (mirroring the second Adam [1Corinthians 15:45], Jesus).

When Saul under pressure decided to not follow the word of God in the thirteenth chapter of first Samuel, he deprived his lineage the right to be rulers in Israel. In the same way, Adam deprived us of peace with God.

David went beyond the revealed by the will of God to him, setting his heart to build the temple of God. And God committed himself to his lineage, saying he will not lack someone to seat on the throne in Israel. So what David did benefited those who came from him. They benefitted from the favour of God on David because of his devotion. And we now enjoy the favour of God on Jesus. The bible says that as many who believed on his name are given the rights to be sons of God, definitely on the account of Jesus Christ.

And what Saul did was to the disadvantage of those who came after him. Just as what the first Adam did put us at a disadvantage.

Solomon became king after David. Solomon means peaceful. He is the symbol of the covenant of peace that we have in Jesus. God wanted his peace to reign in our hearts, just as Solomon reigned on the throne in Israel.

With the sin of Adam in the Garden of Eden, man went from the zone of peace to the zone of war, from peace to fear dominating the heart. But Jesus comes with the Spirit of love, power and sound mind (2Timothy 1:6-7).

And the bible says that the God of peace will soon crush the devil under our feet soon (). When peace is lost then victory is lost, and praying is related to the coming of peace in to our heart in the New Testament context.

When we confess Jesus Christ, i.e. “swear allegiance” to the prince of peace, we are saved. We stop being afraid, as we come into fellowship with God, through his son Jesus, who is actually called Prince of Peace.

He leads us into peace with God. Being Prince of peace means he leads those who follow him to that reality, into the experience of his own peace with God.

And Paul said that we should not worry but with prayer and thanksgiving we should make our request known to God, “and the peace of God will keep ours heart, and that peace comes through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).”

So there is peace with God (assurance of salvation) and there is peace in our heart, which is a mark of the presence of God there, as in prayer we pull back at the pressures of life and yield ourselves to divine influence, in the gateway to peace, as we follow his will for our life.

There are different covenants in the bible. When God made man he established a covenant of fruitfulness with him, saying: be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth, and that covenant still subsists as long as the earth remains (Genesis 1:26-28).

The gay movement is partly the devil’s attempt to come against the covenant and make it fail. But it will not happen. It is to make mockery of the plan of God for multiplying human being on the earth, but it will fail.

After the time of destruction on the earth in which only Noah and his family remained, God set a rainbow on the earth after his covenant of preservation was cut between humanity and man. He said: as long as the earth remains, seedtime and harvest will not cease, cold and heat too.

That was the second and last covenant with humanity, in general. Afterwards, God made personal covenants, first with Abraham. That is based on personal relationship. While the previous ones were based on creator creature relationship, the subsequent covenants were conditional and based on personal relationship, contingent on individual’s obedience.

Abraham was given specific instructions, which the last being the instruction to offer his only son as sacrifice (Genesis 12, Genesis 22). That was a covenant on which all other covenants afterwards stood. It is linked to the final routing of the devil from the earth. It is loaded with blessings.

Jesus is the seed of Abraham the ultimate inheritor of the blessing of Abraham, according to scriptures (Galatians 3:13-16). Jesus is God himself coming to the earth to personally roll back the work of the devil (1John 3:8), and now Jesus shed his blood on the earth, to restore all men from all races and families to peace with God.

We have the gift of eternal life once we attach ourselves to Jesus in belief. We come into the covenant of peace that Jesus symbolises.

It is conditional, you have to believe Jesus, so because it is conditional, the devil can successfully cut some people off from taking advantage of the covenant which is between Jesus and God (conditioned primarily on his obedience, and secondarily on ours as we believe the gospel), and we become part of the arrangement between Jesus and God, being part of the body of Christ (1Corinthians 12:27) and being joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).

An offering for sin

jesus-404147_640Isaiah 53:10: Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. (KJV)

Jesus was an offering for sin, and we are meant to be offering of righteous, by the way we live our lives.

Paul wrote that our body should be living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service (Romans 12:1). That means holiness colours our work of service.

Talking about how well the church in Macedonia were involved in giving, Paul said: “they first gave themselves to God and then to us (2Corinthians 8:5).”

And when Jesus was saying that some will come to him at the end saying they have done great things in his service, he will say that he does not know them, calling them workers of iniquity (Matthew 7:16-22).

It is therefore not about what is done, but who is it doing it. Our lives impact on our service. Just as a sacrifice gives off an odour that God perceives according to the record of the bible, the smell of righteousness (or something else) affects God’s perception of our service. We may be celebrated by man and even get some results, but what man celebrates, may be up for punishment by God.

It is not just about what you do, it is about what kind of heart with which you do it, and note that God looks at the heart (1Samuel ), which is the place where holiness or unrighteousness flows from, according to the words of Jesus (Luke ). So he said: make the tree good and the fruit will be good, the fruit being the action and the tree the heart (Matthew 12:33).

In the Garden of Eden, the serpent, the devil, said all the right things to Eve, presenting himself as a good friends, who was only looking out for her. But it was coming from a “heart” full of poisonous venom. Jesus refused to commit himself to man because he knows what was in man (John 2:24-25).

So if God wants to really change man, giving him a new set of rules and regulation will not do, it is changing his nature, the answer is a new creature (2Corinthians 5:17). And in Jesus old things have passed away and all things become new and that starts with who we are on the inside. Paul said that none by following the law will gain the favour of God because God still looks at the heart and not at appearance.

A sacrifice is dead and Paul wrote that we have died with Christ nevertheless we live (Galatians 2:20). We have died to sin and the passion of the flesh and alive to righteousness. By faith, we identify with Christ in his death and in his resurrection life.

We should not forget that we are dead and are now alive in Jesus, dead to the works of the flesh and that sin shall no longer have dominion over us since we are not under the law but under grace. Grace empowers us, it is the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (2Corinthians 13:14), which is pour out to us in his death when he blood flowed out, and activated in us by his Spirit which he poured to us after his resurrection and ascension.

Jesus died because of our sin, and we should live because of his righteousness, constantly living in identification with his pain on the cross for our sin, through which he opened the gate of life to us. Paul said that in view of the mercy of God, in the payment for we should live as a sacrifice of righteousness, living in the consciousness that our life is longer our own. We should live for God, “present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service.”

Jesus became our sacrifice for sin so that we do not have to pay for our sins. Because of the intensity of the Holiness of God, there is no way we could save ourselves in our corrupt state.

Jesus says it makes no sense for a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul (Matthew 16:26). And Korah said that no one can give a ransom for the soul (Psalm 49:6-9).

So there was Jesus describing the high cost of the soul, saying that the whole world is not even as valuable as a single soul, and we have right now over seven billion souls on the earth.

It takes the blood of Jesus, to pay for the souls of men, and he can pay for it because he is not limited, being the creator.

The versions of Jesus that some people espouse as being a creature or angel Michael, would not be able to ransom men, so if you are a Jehovah’s witness, the Jesus Christ that you follow is not the saviour. If you are a problem with the concept of trinity (equality in the Godhead) then your salvation is suspect. The Jesus you believe in is not the true Jesus, if he is not eternal and endless.

It is then that it makes sense that the sacrifice of Jesus would be able to meet the salvation needs of all men all time.

We need to also put into cognizance the form of which man was made. Man was made in the image of God, he was made of a higher order than any of the other creatures (Genesis 1:26-28, 2:15-17). When we wake up to that reality we will realise that Jesus must be God or the salvation arrangement will fall flat on its face, it will fail before it even starts.

That is why Jesus is able to offer eternal salvation to those who believe in him. Man was made with the very life of God, with the breath of God. For someone to lose his life for us, and for that life to come into us (the whole mass of us), it needs to be eternal life. Eternal life means it cannot be measured, cut into measures. It does not have limits.

The very power of the transformation we need means Jesus must be of a higher order than man to save man. The bible says that the lesser is blessed by the greater (Hebrews 7:7).

Jesus is the Lord, and he is right now at the right hand of the father, who has told him, seat at my right hand till I make your enemy your footstool (Psalm 110:1). Jesus, therefore, must be of a higher order that the devil, and from bible records the devil was of the highest order of angels. And even when angel Michal confronted the devil, he had to respect his rank even though in a fallen state and said that “the Lord rebuke you (Jude 1:9).”

However, Jesus spoke directly to the devil and said: get behind Satan (Luke 4:8). Michael did not use that choice of words. Jesus could, and because we are of a higher order than the devil, the bible says we can resist the devil and he will flee from us.

I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine

couple-47192_640Song of Solomon 6:3: I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine; he grazes among the lilies. (ESV)

This is the state of the woman in that conversational poem called the Song of Solomon.

We will explore what it means for the church, who is the bride of Christ, to say: I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine. Remember that the church is about the individuals, not a list of names or a picture of raised hands, somewhere on earth.

I am my beloved’s

You should notice the sequence. First was: I am my beloved’s. When you call Jesus Lord, you acknowledge that he has you as a slave. Paul wrote that salvation starts when we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus (Romans 10:9-13).

That is the claim Jesus has over the earth and heaven by the reason of his death and resurrection. If he did not rise from the dead he does not have a claim to being Lord. Because, if he is not Lord over death, he is not Lord in the full sense (just a pretender), since in the account of humanity prior to the coming of Jesus, death reigned over all (Romans 5:12-21). Jesus will not be Lord in deed, i.e. fully reigning, if he did not reign over death by rising from the dead.

With his resurrection, Jesus exists on a different plane altogether. He is supra-human, he is Spirit (1Corinthians 15:45). And the bible says: where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty (2Corinthians 3:17).

Whatever claims Jesus made should be believed because he said he was going to rise from the dead and he did.

He said: “I am the resurrection and the life,” before he raised dead-for-four-days Lazarus from the grave. And he did not have to break a sweat as he publicly displayed his claim to being the resurrection and the life.

When he chose to be born on the earth, he chose to be temporarily separated from his deity so that he can suffer and die (Philippians 2:5-11). But death was not to be his end as it was the end of all men. But through it he entered a new level of glory and power, prestige and privileges, because the glory he had from the beginning has been restored to him (John 17) and he also now has the legal right given to man at the beginning for dominion on the earth.

He becomes our door to new life. And he is now Lord of the living and the dead (Romans 14:9). And in a special way he is the lord of the Christians being their saviour. Paul admonishing the woman to respect her husband saying that it should be as the church should honour and respect Christ, who saves her, by offering himself on the cross for her (Ephesians 5:22-33).

The love of Christ was demonstrated in his death. He died so that we might live and stop being afraid of death. His sacrifice should command so much devotion in us that we will be willing to suffer for his sake.

When some apostles were flogged because of their belief in Jesus, and their devotion to him, they rejoiced for being counted worthy to experience such pain because of him (Acts 5:40-41). They definitely concluded that whatever they felt pales in comparison to what Jesus felt as he hung on the cross. They recognised that has the right to command our committed followership because of the benefits accruing to us from his sacrificial love.

My beloved is mine

After saying I am my beloved’s, the woman in the focus verse said: my beloved is mine. That has a lot of implication for the relationship of Christ and the Church. We are the body of Christ because when we believe in Jesus we come into that total union with him. We are joint heirs with Christ. We have the right to the use of his name, he is ours because we are his. When certain people tried to use the name of Jesus to cast out devils when they were not his, they regretted it.

They said to the demon possessed men: in the name of Jesus Christ who Paul preach, come out. The devil replied: “Jesus I know, Paul I know, but who are you” and tore at them (Acts 19:11-18).

Though they were not Jesus’, they tried to make a claim on him, make use of his name. Jesus said many will call him lord, lord, but he will tell them: I know you not, depart from me, you workers of iniquity (Matthew 7:22-23).

All authority power that we operated in is because of Jesus. Because he is our Lord: his plans becomes our plans, ditto his purpose, and we hunger for his presence.

We are the people of God and the sheep of his pasture (Psalm 100:3). He said he gave us the glory he was given by the father (John 17:22). The bible says that a man shall leave his father and mother and he joined to his wife, and the two shall become one and Paul said that was a mystery concerning Christ and the church. Christ left heaven and came to the earth to shed his blood, to be joined with humanity and a segment of humanity chose to be joined to him and become one with him.

When Adam was made he was given the gift of the Garden of Eden and when Eve was made, she did not have another garden made for her, but they both occupied the same Garden of Eden, what was Adam’s became Eve’s. They shared it. They were joint heirs (Genesis 2:7-25). Similarly, Jesus is the inheritor of the blessing that was proclaimed upon Abraham, and since what our beloved has is ours, we have that blessing (Galatians 3:14-18).

Of Jesus, it was said in him was life and the life was the light of men (John 1:1-4). Therefore being in Christ means we have access to his life. God has given us eternal life and that life is in his son Jesus and it is only in union with him that we can be anything or have anything worthwhile, because what we have from the first Adam is a cursed ground and a death judgement (Genesis 3). But in Jesus, we have righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). We have the Holy Spirit as gift from the father, the gifts he pours out of himself (Acts 2).

Boasting in the Lord: 3 ways Jesus helps us

aurora-589049_640Proverbs 27:1: Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.

James said that we should not boast about tomorrow, since you do not know what it brings (James 4:13-17). Another thing that people boast about is what they have. But Paul asked: what do you have that you were not given (1Corinthians 4:7)?

The one who boasts in material things shows that is where his trust is. But we are to boast in the Lord, in the knowledge of God, that we know him.

A rich young ruler in the time of Jesus rejected his word because he was attached to his riches more that he was attached to God (Luke 18:18-30). Though he professed some form of godliness, he refused to yield to the current demand of God on his life, rejecting divine control (2Timothy 3:5).

Jesus told him that for him to enter into life he needed to sell all he had and give the produce to the poor but since his riches was something that gives him security, something he boasts in, he did not want to leave them. That shows that he thought the word of God was less important than his material things. For him, holding on to physical wealth was more important than the knowledge of Christ.

You boast of what gives security, what you think you have, what is important to you. You can boast of your lineage, and the privileges you think they confer on you.

Some Jews told Jesus that they have Abraham as their father and therefore were not in bondage and did not need to follow the truth of Jesus to be free (John 8:30-41). They boasted in their history and lost out of what God is doing now.

In another place, Jesus warned that the people should not think that having Abraham as their father, was enough to save them (Luke 13:1-5).

Just as what you have in the past should not be the basis of your boasting, also not what you have accumulated.

Jesus however said that we should lay our treasure in heaven and not on earth where moth and thieves get to. He added that where our treasure is, there our heart will be also.

Jesus also said: labour not for the bread that does not fill, but for eternal life (John 6:27). Where you invest in most shows where your commitment will be, i.e. what you regard as very important.

He also said the one who lays his hands on the plough and looks back is not worthy of the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62). That means the man got distracted, his sense of value changed for the worse and started committing less to the things of the kingdom of God and more to self.

Demas, Paul wrote, chose to leave his ministerial team to pursue personal interests. He left the limitless for the limited (2Timothy 4:10).

In another place, Paul said that everyone cares for himself and not for the things of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:21).  In the temptation of the Jesus, the devil was all about extracting traits of self-commitment from him, contrary to commitment to God. It was to get him to assert his independence from God, a ploy to get him to rebel but he did not fall into that trap. It was to get him to boast in himself, but he reaffirmed his boast in the Lord, and he blinded the devil with the brightness of his allegiance to God.

There was nothing that the children of Israel could lay claim to about how they came to be free from bondage in Egypt. God said he delivered them and brought them to himself on eagle’s wings. There was nothing for them to boast about. They were “victims” of the mercy of God. When the journey for their freedom began, the only thing they did was call upon God, in the expression of faith.

The only thing we need to be saved is faith and that the bible says is the gift of God. It is written: By grace are we saved, through faith, and that is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). We are enabled to take the right step, helped to do the right thing.

Whatever good we express is derived from Jesus. If he does not shine his light we walk in darkness, if we did not get his strength then we remain weak, when we do not see him, we are not seeing things correctly. But in him, we were blind and now we see, lame and now walk, with leprosy and now cleansed.

Blind

Jesus healed a number of people. But his healing works were also templates of what he does now spiritually in us as a life-giving Spirit (1Corinthians 14:45).

We were spiritually blind. We could not find our way and fell into the pit, in need of Jesus to open our eyes to see and find our way out of bondage.

Through the preaching of the gospel by those sent, we hear the gospel and we believe (Romans 10:9-13). The bible says that the devil has blinded the heart of the unbelievers so that the light of the gospel does not shine there (1Corinthians 4:4).

There was a man born blind in the bible and healed by Jesus (John 9). His physical experience parallels ours. We are all spiritually blind by birth. We need to have our eyes opened (the eyes of faith) to enable us to see Jesus and receive him.

Lame

Those who walk get things done faster and better, generally speaking. Without Christ we are spiritually lame, we will not move on to the purpose of God. And there was a man in the book of acts who was lame from birth. Prior to meeting Paul and John he was bound to the ground, but after his healing he could leap to the skies (Acts 3:1-12).

Leprosy

Jesus also healed lepers. A leper in the time of the bible was a social outcast, in the very bottom of the social order. But Jesus reaches out to them, cleaning them of the infirmity. Leprosy is the symbolic of sin, and Jesus’s blood was shed for the purpose of cleaning us. We were spiritual outcast, casted out of the Garden of Eden, and Jesus bent down from heaven to touch and clean us.

Summary

What do we boast about? Nothing of our own. David said: not to us oh lord not to us, but to your name we give glory, we boast in (Psalm 115:1).

The afflictions of the righteous

girl-517555_640Psalm 34:19: Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.

The words aptly describe the experience of Jesus. He faced the ultimate affliction as God who became man, who was treated with ignominy and died a long drawn-out painful death. But he was delivered from his affliction by the resurrection from the dead. He is now above everything humans can be subjected to.

Jesus Christ is the one called “the righteous (1John 2:1).” Though without sin, for which he could rightly be afflicted, he was afflicted because of our sins. Isaiah wrote that Jesus was smitten for our iniquity, the chastisement of our peace was laid upon him (Isaiah 53).

He was God stripped of his ability so that man can gain the ability of God. And we should follow in his steps and see affliction as a means to experience the greater glory of God, while Jesus bore the glory of God on earth, after he rose from the dead, he entered into a greater glory. Before he died he prayed that God will restore to him the glory he had with him from the beginning (John 17). And that was what happened.

But did Jesus have to go through the path of affliction, to enter into his glory, or was it a mere example for us to follow? It is not this or that; it is this and that. It is both.

Jesus’ affliction was necessary

Jesus is the way maker (John 14:6). And the way to God is through his torn flesh (Hebrews 10:19-22), which the veil covering the holy of holies which was torn at his death represented (Mark 15:37-38). And through his torn flesh, he released grace to us.

We have the mercy of God released to us because the torn flesh of Jesus represents the wrath of God on him, which paved the way for us to experience the love of God. That he was weak meant we would experience the strength of God, that he carried our sins makes us the righteousness of God.

Without the death of Jesus, the horror of sin would have been underplayed, and the wrath of God would not have been fully satisfied, and we would not be saved.

The demands of God for judgment to come upon man for sin would have been left unsatisfied without the death on the cross, and we would remained lost. The curse of the law would not have been taken care of, if Jesus did not hang to his death on a tree, seeing that the bible says that cursed is the one who hangs upon a tree (Galatians 3:13-14). And it is through that means that the blessing of Abraham will legally come upon the Gentiles by faith. It is by faith because Jesus is divine and faith can reach him as we identify with him in his resurrection.

The blessing infused the Spirit of God into us, as we passed from death into life. We experience spiritual innervation, getting joined to God when Christ was cut off through death because of our sin.

The death of Jesus was necessary. It was not for fun that the Bible says that without the shedding of blood there is not remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22). And as the example in the Old Testament showed that, the shed in blood is gotten when the animal is killed. The bible affirmed Jesus to be the Lamb of God (John 1:29).

There is no escaping the power of the rising sun of righteousness- Jesus (Malachi 4). Under his influence we are set apart as his brothers, as children of God, as servants of God. We are saved and set on a path of righteousness.

Jesus was clear that he has not come to be served by to serve and give his life as ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). It is not something done lightly, done if there was another option.

Giving your life as a ransom is not bread and butter. It cost God something. It is a revelation of the love of God to humanity. When we receive Jesus, we receive the love of God and that transforms us. It draws us, and we are elevated to his height. Jesus said: if be lifted up I will draw all men to me (John 12:32). He was lifted up in the death on the cross, lifted up above the death, and we get to be at his level. Otherwise, we will remain low in sin.

Jesus’ affliction is an example

Peter said that we should arm ourselves with the mind that he who suffers ceases from sin, with an eye on the example of Jesus. Christ has suffered for our sins and afterwards was glorified. He that has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin (1Peter 4:1).

The bible says that we should rejoice when we fall into divers trials because the trial of faith, which is as precious as gold, will only make us better, and blessed (James 1:2-4, 1Peter 1:17).

Affliction is part of the means for us to mature in the Christian walk. Paul said that he will boast in weakness (affliction shows us our weakness) so that the glory of God will be manifested in him (2Corinthians 12:7-9). The bible says that if we suffer with him we would also be glorified with him (2Timothy 2:12).

Moses was described as one who chose the affliction of Christ to the riches of Egypt (Hebrews 11:24-26). Peter and other apostles rejoiced when they were given strokes of chain by their detractors, as a warning not to again speak about Jesus (Acts 5:40-42), which they continued to do. They were happy they had the opportunity to identify with Christ.

Job said: after God has tried me, I will come forth as gold (Job 23:10). There is the fiery furnace of affliction, which is part of the purification process. And Paul said that he who will live righteous in this world will suffer persecution (2Timothy 3:12).

Jesus says we should rejoice when we are hated because that is what was done to the revered prophets of old, who were important to God (Luke 6:22-23). The point is that the more we are persecuted, the more important we are in the hand of God. Though it is not something we should court, we should not be ignorant of the possibility of being persecuted.

How valuable you are is determined by the persecution the devil stirs up against us. Jesus was persecuted to the point of death, and it was no ordinary death, but the infamously painful death on the cross.

There was a woman who gave birth to a child in the book of revelation, who attracted the special persecution attention of the devil, who directed a flood against her to swallow her up (Revelation 12). But she was supernaturally preserved.

Similarly, the bible says that God will not allow us to be tempted more that we can bear, but he will with it provide a way of escape (1Corinthians 10:13). Even though Jesus was sorely persecuted, death was the way of escape, death in the hand of his tormentors.

The book of Romans says that we rejoice in tribulation, because the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts (Romans 5:1-5). The persecution does not draw us back because we are not afraid of those who can only have an effect on us in this world and not in the afterlife (Matthew 10:28), but it strengthens our attachment (love) to God.