Understanding God’s purpose and the scriptures

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Genesis 50:20: But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

If there is anything you must seek to understand, it is God’s purpose.  Prophet Amos asked: can two walk together except they are in agreement (Amos 3:3)? We cannot walk with God except we are in agreement with him in his purpose. And who won’t want to walk with God? That is the highest level of existence there is. The bible says that Enoch walked with God and he was not (Genesis 5:24), he stepped into a higher plane of existence.

God wants to share his purpose with us so that we can walk with him. He doesn’t want us to walk like fools but to understand what his will is (Ephesians 5:15-17). Knowing the will of God is not just for some super spiritual people, it is the calling of every child of God.

To the Israelites, the bible says, God showed His acts while he made His ways known to Moses (Psalm 103:7). The bible says that it is the glory of God to conceal a thing but the honour of kings to search out a matter (Proverbs 25:2). We must be bent on understanding the purpose of God. But you must hunger and thirst for it (Matthew 5:6), because He doesn’t give his pearls to swine (Matthew 7:6), who puts no value on it.

To the Roman, Paul wrote that God’s purpose is to work all things for our good end (Romans 8:28). In the focus verse, Joseph explains to his brothers that there was a higher purpose that all the bad experiences that they put Him through, served.

He did not have any anger against his bothers because he understood the purpose of God that everything served. He had an insight into why God allowed him to go through all he went through. But the brothers, operating at a lower plane of understanding, thought that he still held a grudged against them (Genesis 50:15-21).

When you see from God’s point of view, you will not hold a grudge against anybody. Jesus understood the purpose for his crucifixion thereof he did not have any grudged against his “crucifiers.” He said that God should forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing (Luke 23:34). He so understood his purpose for going to the cross, that when Peter suggested that he should not allow himself to be killed, he rebuked him, saying that at that moment, he is the “Satan”, his worst enemy (Matthew 16:21-23).  He asked in another place, should I not drink the cup my father has given me to drink? (John 18:11) (He was referring to his crucifixion) He said that, while preventing Peter from putting up a defense for him, when he was to be arrested.

Paul prayed for the church in Ephesus that the eyes of their understanding be enlightened, so that they may know the hope of their calling (Ephesians 1:15-18). Also, in another place, he explained that we have been created in Christ Jesus for good works which God had preordained that we should walk in (Ephesians 2:10). We should walk in the reality of the purpose of God for our lives and not allow anything to derail us.

Jonah was derailed because of extraneous considerations from going in the way of God. God called him to deliver His message to Nineveh, to tell them of an impending judgment but he decided to move in the opposite direction, which landed him in trouble in the belly of a fish.

Do you feel right now that you in a tight corner? Maybe it is because you have refused to embrace the purpose of God and have been thrown into your own belly of a fish.

God called Jeremiah to deliver his word to the Israel (Jeremiah 1:5-10), but the going was not good because of the intensity of the opposition he faced along the way. But God had told him that he should not be afraid of the faces of the people, that wherever he sends him he shall go and whatever he sends him to say he shall say.

There was a time he said he is no longer interested in delivering the word of God (Jeremiah 20:7-18), because it was not well received by the people, but eventually he continued, saying God’s word is like fire shut up in his bones. That was how merged with the purpose of God he was that he could not do otherwise. Paul said that necessity is laid on him, and “woe is me if I preach not the gospel (1Corinthians 9:16).” That means that when it comes to the preaching the gospel, Paul was “merged” with the purpose of God.

Peter wrote that growth can be defined by the measure of the knowledge of Christ and His grace that we have (2Peter 3:18). Knowledge is what understanding is based on. The reason we have the bible is so that we can experience the knowledge of God. Anyone who attacks the true knowledge of God, who attacks the truthfulness of the stories in the bible, or describe one part as being inferior to the other, as some are saying that the words of Paul should be seen as inferior to the words of Jesus, are undermining the authority inherent in the word of God.

When you realise how Jesus used the scriptures, it dissolves all the doubt on the authority. He said that the scriptures testify of him (John 5:29). And who is he? – The word (John 1:1-5). The Word on the Word of God is the Word of God. Anyone who says the Bible is not the Word of God is deceived.

God says that He magnifies his word above his name (Psalm 138:2). There is nothing higher in authority than the word of God (as captured in the 66 books of the bible). To reject the authority of the scriptures is to reject God. It is to create another god according to the image of your own misgivings.

The bible is the communication of God. Of course it is more potent in your heart and in your mouth than in an inanimate sense on the pages of the book, but how will you get it in your mouth and in your mind if it is not fist in a book or other technological devices?

Paul says that the whole of scriptures are given by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and are profitable to give guidance, correction and rebuke (2Timothy 3:16). Once you reduce the authority of the word of God in your own opinion, then you reject the possible effects in your life.

The hearing of the word of God is meant to create faith in us (Romans 10:17), but when you don’t see it as the word of God, it will not yield as it should in your life, since it will be unable to produce faith in you. It is God who was guiding the hands of those who chose the 66 books of the bible.

The Old Testament books were already codified in the first century church. That was why the Berean Jews were able to check the facts as presented by Paul with their own copies of the scriptures (Acts 17:10-12). Throughout the New Testament the words of the Old Testament were quoted and regarded as scriptures, even by Jesus. It was a common reference book, though interpretation may differ on some points, at different times.

Peter wrote that the prophecy of scriptures were written when holy men were moved by the Spirit of God (2Peter 1:19-21). They were written to give an insight about God’s dealing with humanity down the centuries, with an emphasis on God’s people Israel chosen as his vehicle on the earth. The Old Testament chronicles their call and their failure in that wise.

The New Testament revealed the person of the son of God and how his death results in the salvation of the world. But the Old Testament was the foundation on which the new is based.

The salvation plan of God was carried out in the gospels, explained in the acts and the epistles, and culminated in the book of revelation.

Christ was promised in the old, manifested in the gospel; his body, the church, was unveiled in the book of Acts, and the epistles revealed the dynamics of the knowledge of him in the church, while the book of revelation revealed the culmination of time, how this age will be brought to a close.  The whole of the New Testament were written by people who saw Jesus physically during his time on earth and others like Mark, Luke were very close associates of the 12 apostles of Jesus.

Paul bestrode the New Testament like a colossus, writing many of the books. His testimony concerning Jesus and the church is not less potent than others. Peter a “chief” among the apostles, acknowledged that the writings of Paul should be regarded as scriptures. He said he wrote those words based on God’s wisdom manifested in him (2Peter 3:15-16). The only book in the New Testament with disputed authorship is Hebrews, but it does contradict the words in the other books, and from earliest times it was regarded as scriptures.

The house of the Lord is the gate of heaven

gate-of-heavenGenesis 28:17: And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.

The church is the gate of heaven. In the church there is heightened activity of angels. David wrote that the angel of the lord encamps around his people (Psalm 34:7). The writer of the book of Hebrews said that the angels of the Lord are ministering spirits send to minister to those who will be heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1:14).

The focus verse, showed that Jacob named a place along his journey, because at that spot, -in a dream, he witnessed the up and down activity of angels. The life of Jesus, who described himself as the ladder that Jacob saw going from heaven to earth (Genesis 28:1-19), was marked by angelic activities. At his birth, angels were the announcers (Luke 2:7-15). Before his birth, angel Gabriel was on assignment from heaven to inform Mary about his coming (Luke 1:26-38), and the angel of the Lord informed Joseph (Matthew 1:20). In the wilderness after being tempted by the devil, angels came from heaven to minister to him (Matthew 4:11).

When he was in the garden of Gethsemane already feeling the anguish of the facing the cross, and sweat drops dropping from his body like blood, angels came to minister to him, to strengthen him.

You are the house of God, which means you are the gate of heaven (Jacob said that the house of God is the gate of heaven). Your life should be as a representative of heaven, not because your surname is “heaven” but because you have the Holy Spirit.

My conclusion is that all the angels are under the control of the Holy Spirit. The bible says that God made his angels spirits (Hebrews 1:7). And the number one spirit is the Holy Spirit.  Angels, we read from the bible hearken to the word of the Lord (Psalm 103:20). Angels are executioners of the will and word of God and that is also the description of the Holy Spirit, who does that as his primary function in the Godhead.

The angels excel in strength (Psalm 103:20). You have those that are in charge of warfare. The most prominent of the warring angels from the experience of Daniel was Michael. There are those who convey messages, the only one named in the bible being Gabriel.

When Moses died, Michael contended with the Satan for his body. Jude disclosed that Michael invoked the name of the Lord to deal with the devil. Gabriel told Daniel that the Prince of Persia contended with him, when he was dispersed from heaven to bring a message to Daniel, and that Michael came to fight him, to allow him to deliver the message (Daniel 10:11-21).

The house of God is the place of the grace of God. Jesus being the ultimate house of God is said to be full of grace and truth. Jesus said that when two or three are gathered together in his name, there he is in their midst (Matthew 18:20). He is their midst with his grace wisdom and power, just as Paul wrote that Jesus Christ is the wisdom and power of God (1Corinthians 1:24). So in his presence as the house of God, and gate of heaven, when we are gathered together in his name, we should expect to experience the manifestation of wisdom and power.

In the book of Isaiah, we read that in the last days, the house of the Lord shall be exalted above the mountain and many people will flow into it, saying let us go into the house of the Lord and he will teach us his ways (Isaiah 2:1-5).

People should come to church to learn the ways of the Lord; it should be a place where the presence of God is manifested. We can learn more about God in his manifested presence than with a year of sitting down listening to words being spoken. We need to hunger for the manifest presence of God. Isaiah prayed: oh that you will rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains may flow at your presence (Isaiah 64:1).

The gate of heaven is not experienced in mere words; it is where the greater works of Jesus are taking place. Jesus said to his disciples that greater works than he did, will they do because he goes to the father (John 14:12), and it was his going up to heaven that the Holy Spirit was able to come down.

Paul, described certain people as having a form of godliness but denying the power (2Timothy 3:5). They are content with the formalities, in the false idea that that is all God can offer them. They go through the motion of religion, not willing to lose control to the Holy Spirit.

The gate of heaven is the gate to signs and wonders, which is heaven kissing the earth. When Jesus was on the earth, the power of the Holy Spirit marked his life. He was the prototype house of God, teaching truth and demonstrating the kingdom of heaven in healing the sick and raising the dead.

When sending out the disciples, he told them: raise the dead, healed the sick, cleanse the lepers, freely you have been given freely you are to give (Matthew 10:7-8). This shows that the possibilities that are locked in you are unquantifiable. That is why Paul prayed for the Ephesians that God will give them the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that they may know the power that is at work in them, which is the same power which raised Jesus from the dead and lifted him up to the heavenly realm far above principalities and power and made him head of all things for the church (Ephesians 1:15-23). We should realise the dominion that we have as members of the body of God, with Jesus’ life flowing in us, his supernatural, resurrected life.

There is a supernatural dimension that heaven brings to our lives. Jesus, describing the one born of the Spirit said that he is like the wind (John 3:8), you don’t know where it is going, or where it is coming from, but you see the effect. Our lives therefore, as those born of the Spirit, should be spiritually effective. Since we have been empowered from heaven, we should live empowered, transformed lives, and lead others into the same. We should not only experience the reality of heaven for ourselves but we should be leading others into it.

3 expressions of blessing

f003469Genesis 12:2: And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing;

God called Abraham into a life of blessing, and blessing is the addition of heaven to your life. It is meant to make you walk as God’s representative on earth. When God made man in the Garden of Eden, he puts a blessing on him, saying: be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:26-28). A blessing is a force that has the power to reproduce itself.

From the focus verse, there are certain phrases that reflect the blessing that God wants to introduce in the life of Abraham. They can be called the three expressions of blessing.

I will make you (the making blessing)

God told Abraham that he will make him a great nation. Similar to that, Jesus told Peter that he will make him a fisher of men (Matthew 4:19). It is a blessing to be “made” by God; Paul wrote that it is God who is at work in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure, to make us who he wants us to be (Philippians 2:13). Abraham only had to obey God and his becoming great was a done deal.

The glorious making of man is in the hand of the Lord. The Lord told Jeremiah to go to the house of a potter making something with clay (Jeremiah 18:1-6). While there, God told the prophet that He is the potter and his people the clay and that all they needed is to be malleable in His hands, to experience the blessing of being made by him.

Jesus said that I will build my church which includes you and me and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). To be built, so that the gates of hell will not prevail against you, is a blessing.

The building action of God is done via His word. Paul committed the leadership of the church in Ephesus that he commits them to God and the word of his grace which is able to build them up and give them an inheritance among those separated to God (Acts 20:32). Also describing his authority as an apostle, he said that it is to build the up and not to destroy his audience (2Corinthians 10:8).

The word of God builds us up because it is spiritual food. Jesus said that man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). James wrote that we should take in the engrafted word which is able to save our souls (James 1:21). Our souls need transformation and the means for the transformation is the word of God. That is blessing indeed.

That was what Paul meant when he said that we should not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of our mind (Romans 12:1-2); the word of God has the life of God, and it impacts the same to us in our soul.

What God says is that his word which he has sent will not return to him void until it achieves the work it is sent to accomplish (Isaiah 55:10-11). The word of God is his means of releasing his blessings on the earth, and to achieve his specific objectives in our lives.

But before God builds, he uses the same word, which he now calls a hammer, to break down wrong ideas, or other causes of deformation in our lives.

Paul said that the weapon of his warfare are not carnal but mighty through God for the pulling down of stronghold, located in the mind, stronghold in opposition to the will and ways of God (2Corinthians 10:1-6). And that weapon is the Word.

I will make your name great (the blessing of service)

The greatest name there is, is the name of Jesus. The bible says that, at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess, that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:5-11).

To be associated with that name is a great privilege, a great blessing. Therefore the bible says that anyone associated with that name should live up to it by departing from iniquity (2Timothy 2:19). It is contradictory to apply the name of the Lord, when you are not actively acknowledging his Lordship in your life.

Using the name of Jesus means that we are his representatives; it means we are standing in his stead. And he doesn’t want rogue representatives. In Christ, we are not supposed to try to make a name for ourselves, but make a name for Jesus within in the sphere of our influence. He demands that his disciples take up their cross daily and follow him, denying themselves daily to follow him (Mark 8:34), living for his glory.

Jesus redefined greatness, saying it is about being servants (Matthew 20:25-28). When you are focused on serving, it is difficult to at the same time be focused on making a name for yourself.

Your name will only be great in the Kingdom of God as you serve. If it is not great on earth, it will in heaven, as God greets you, well-done good and faithful servant.

God said that he was going to make Abraham’s name great. But note that God did not tell him to try to make his own (Abraham’s) name great. He, God, was going to do it for him, and the only path to that is obedience. He had to obey God in the difficult demand of leaving everything behind and follow his lead to an unknown place.

You will be a blessing (the blessing of being a blessing)

The ultimate expression of the blessing of God in our lives is for us to be a blessing. To be a blessing shows that you are blessed. Paul, quoting Jesus said: it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Being a blessing is about what you can give.

God wants us to be givers. The bible says that God is able to make all grace abound towards us so that in all things and at all time we will abound (flow in giving) to every good work (2Corinthians 9:8).

Leading someone to Christ is being a blessing. What better help to give a person than helping him or her find Jesus?

To be a blessing means helping someone else make positive changes in their own lives, to have the right priority, to be closer to God, or have the right understanding of the word of God. Paul said that he longed to see the Roman church so that he will impart some spiritual gift to them to the end that they might be established, strong in faith (Romans 1:11).

The blessing of the Lord is released via the ministration of his word. Jesus said that the words that he speaks are spirit and life (John 6:63). Peter wrote that as stewards, custodians of the manifold grace of God, we should release the same to others speaking as the mouthpiece of God, and ministering to with the ability that God gives (1Peter 4:10-11).

Summary

One dimension of blessing is the making of God. Another is the blessing of the servant attitude in us. Jesus had a great name because he reduced himself to the level of servant. He said that he did not come to the world to be served but to serve, giving his life for many. Then the highest level of being blessed is to be a blessing. That is where the earlier two points leads to: for you to be a blessing.

The blessing of being made by God (key is submission to God) + the blessing of a servant attitude (key is service to others) = being a blessing (the ultimate blessing).

 

4 dynamics of change

101125Genesis 8:22:  While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

There are four kinds of change that are reflected in the focus verse: 1. productivity (seedtime and harvest), 2. temperature (cold and heat),3. intensity of activity (summer and winter), and 4. phases (day and night). The discussion will treat them as symbols for us to understand the dynamics of change in our lives.

Seedtime and harvest

There cannot be harvest without seedtime. Seedtime is the when to prepare. Moses had eighty years to prayer for a forty-year ministry. Jesus prepared for thirty years for a three-year-plus ministry. You need to find out what the best use(s) of your time and resources is/are for the needed harvest you want in your life.

When it comes to giving, it is described as a form of sowing which will lead to an harvest of provision that will be reaped. Jesus said: give and it shall be given to you (Luke 6:38), good measure pressed down and running over, shall men pour into pour bosom.

In the same vein, Paul said that he who sows sparingly will reap sparingly and he who sows bountifully will reap bountifully, adding that God loves a cheerful giver (2Corinthians 9:6-7).  What we want changed, in harvest, we must change, in seed sown.

Paul also said that we should not be weary in well-doing because in due season, we will reap if we faint not (Galatians 6:9). The change you want is an harvest, but are you putting down the required seed in resources and energy? The reality of sowing and harvesting makes our actions and inactions to be packed with possibilities beyond their immediate meanings.

God himself practiced sowing and reaping. He sowed his son to reap many sons into glory (Hebrews 2:10). Jesus, referring to himself, said that except a corn of wheat (Jesus) falls to the ground and dies, it abides alone, but when it dies, it brings forth many fruits (in the souls that are saved) (John 12:23-24). Sowing unlocks the law of multiplication.

In the parable of the sower, the seed is the word of God (Luke 8:11), which when sown has the probability of generating fruits unto eternal life (John 4:36). What is locked in the seed is life. It is the very life of God himself.

James wrote that we should receive the engrafted word which is able to save our souls (James 1:21-22). The word that you have sown in your soul is meant to bring forth the harvest of a changed life and lifestyle. That is why Peter wrote that as newborn babes we should be desire the sincere milk of the word that we may grow through it as we take it in (1Peter 2:2). There is no spiritual fruit that can be seen in our lives apart from what the seed of the word of God produces.

When you understand the imperative of sowing and reaping, you will realise that the time of sitting down to hear the word of God, reading spiritual books, reading the books of the bible, hearing it, is a serious time of positive sowing, and change is around the corner. Talking about a blessed man, David said that he is the one who meditates day and night on the word of God; the result is that he prospers (Psalm 1).

Cold and heat

This is reflects temperature changes. We need protection from extremes of the weather with the clothes we wear. The bible makes us to understand that there are good and bad clothing.

There are clothes that have to do with righteousness and praise in the bible.

Righteousness

We should have the righteousness of Christ as garment (Isaiah 61:10, Job 29:14). That is a spiritual robe of righteousness. The opposite is the filthy garment of self righteousness (Isaiah 64:6).

Cloth confers identification and protection. While the robe of righteousness that we received through Jesus gives us the identity of being children of God and confers protection on our minds, heart and will against the influence of evil; the garment of unrighteousness, or self-righteousness, identifies us as a rebel against God, and makes us susceptible to all satanic and sinful influences.

Praise

There is the garment of praise which the bible contrasts with the spirit of heaviness (Isaiah 61:3).  The garment of praise identifies you as someone with a heart of thanksgiving; and protects you from fear, worry and other expressions of lack of trust in God, since in praise, your trust in God gets activated the more.

However, the spirit of heaviness puts us in bondage to depression, with swirling thoughts that are self-mollifying and condemning in us, giving us the identity of being slaves to evil influences on your emotions.

Summer and winter

The book of Proverbs says that we should learn from the ant who prepares its supply in the summer, which will last all winter (Proverbs 6:6-11).

Jeremiah said that it is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth (Lamentation 3:27). Solomon advised that we should remember the Lord in our youth (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

In a sense, every time is preparation time, for the future projection of accomplishment. But the time of youth is specially so.

There is a day of reckoning that will reveal how well you have been using your time, energy and resources in time past. Preparation in summer for the ant will show how well it will do later in the winter. Summer describes the time of intense activity, while in winter, the condition is not right for intense activities, and you benefit from the work you have done in the summer.

Day and night

Day and night describes the completion of a cycle of activity, giving way for another to begin. In creation, there were seven days, describing different phases of the creation act.

There are also seasons in our lives where we should understand that some things have passed and some other things have begun, and we need to change accordingly, in our focus, pursuit, and priority.

Looking at the life of Jesus, we can see at least three irreversible phases, that he went through.

He was the eternal Word, that was his pre-incarnation state (John 1), with a different form from what we see him become at incarnation when he came to execute the plan for the salvation of mankind. The incarnation marks the beginning of a day and night season for him (after eternity past of being the Word). Then after his resurrection he began a new phase of existence in his glorified body (1Corinthians 15:45).

Summary

When you want to change in productivity, look into how and what you are sowing (a change that can only be positive with adequate timeous preparation); when you want a spiritual change, put off the garment of self righteousness and put on the robe of Christ.

Lastly, there is a change that cannot be reversed (or caused), we only need to wrap our minds around its reality, learn the new rules of operation, because there is no going back. The sin of Adam led to an irreversible change in how things were. What Jesus brings is not just going back to how Adam was, but a new order of things, higher than that (2Corinthians 5:16-17).

These four dynamics, play out in the changes we see on the earth and in our lives. Understand them.

 

Man as God’s image

rocky_mountain_tours.jpgGenesis 1:26: And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

The decision to make man in God’s image was not made lightly, it was not an afterthought. The creation of man according to God’s image was for the purposes of 1) fellowship, 2) shared creativity, and 3) shared dominion.

God takes his relationship with man very serious; he comes from his place in heaven to the Garden of Eden, paying a visit to them (Genesis 3). (That shows that God is not just an idea but a personality.) He manifested himself in Jesus, and through Him, each one of us can come into fellowship with God the father; since Jesus is the way to Him.

Though sin caused a separation between God and man, he has a solution, and that solution was Jesus. God did not find that solution by trial and error; it was based on the plan which he set up from the foundation of the world, the ignoble death of his Son on the cross (Revelation 13:8). The cross bridges the gap that sin caused between man and God.

Fellowship

Man was made in God’s image to have the highest level of relationship with Him, because they shared the same essence (Genesis 1:26-28, 2:7). The fellowship imperative of God in creating man was why Jesus (God the Son) put on the garb of mortality to condescend to the state of sinful man (1Timothy 3:16, John 1:14. He chose to be limited by earthly constraints of being human (apart from the sin nature) so that he can be our full representative before God and sacrifice for our sins. He became like us so that we can become like him.

There was really no solution to the problem of sin (the cause of the “dis-fellowship” between God and man) apart from the shedding of blood. The bible says that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22).

When the devil shed the blood of Jesus, he did not know that there will be remission of sin, as a result of that. He caused his own defeat. Since it was sin that gave him the right to rule over men, his rule was terminated with his own hands when he caused the shedding of the blood of Jesus. Now his business is to cause as many people as possible to be blinded from believing in Jesus (1Corinthians 4:4), so that the reality of the shed blood will not be manifested in their lives.

But there is another angle to this. Remember that one of the first laws that God gave was against murder, saying: whoever sheds a man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed (Genesis 9:6).

The question is: who shed the blood of Jesus? Was it the Pharisees, the Jews, Pilate, Herod, the Roman Empire, the Chief Priest, or Judas?

Though all these people were partly involved in that chain of events, the devil was the ultimate murderer (John 8:44), working behind the scene.

He was the one who puts the idea of betraying Jesus in the heart of Judas (John 13:2, 21-30), setting up the inevitable chain of events that led to his crucifixion. So the devil is the initiator, the bulk stops at his desk. Also, Paul wrote that principalities and powers were responsible for the death of Jesus on the cross, and they are ultimately responsible to the devil, they are under his control.

Paul wrote that if they had known the result of the crucifixion of Jesus, that it would deal a fatal blow to them, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (1Corinthians 2:8, Ephesians 6:12).

The devil “shed” the blood of Jesus and his “blood” was also shed by Jesus based on that law that by whom a man’s (Jesus) blood is shed, by man (Jesus) his blood shall be shed.

The devil does not have any blood in the physical sense. But blood can represent life (Genesis 9:4) and life is what makes it possible for us to function on earth. What made the devil function on this earth and continue his devilish franchise is the power of death.

And the bible says that through death, Jesus “destroyed” the one who has the power of death the devil (Hebrews 2:14, Philippians 3:10).

In his resurrection from the dead, Jesus expressed dominion over death; the devil no longer has an influence on Jesus, since he is now beyond death. And those of us who believe in him, who are now part of his body, share in that dominion.

The devil runs on the power of death on the earth, and with Jesus victory over death, the devil is rendered impotent- “killed”, his power was removed, in the life of the believer his dominion has been cut off (Colossians 1:13-14).

Creativity

God is creativity. John wrote that in the beginning was the Word, who was God and without him there was nothing made that was made. In him was life and the life was the light of men (John 1:1-5). God’s creativity is manifested in the Word, referred to as God the Word (1John 5:7).

God’s creativity is without limit. And he invested that ability in the man he created in his image. But this possibility was largely lost because of sin. But in Christ there is a rediscovery of dynamics of creativity, which involved faith and speaking forth based on it.

Jesus said that we should have the faith of God, and based on that, whatever we say will happen (Mark 11:22-24). Watching him and the lessons he gave to his disciples, you will not mistake the fact that making declarations by faith is the key to releasing God’s power for creativity (making things happen that never was).

Before the fall in the Garden of Eden, Adam had a chance to exercise his in-build creativity (Genesis 2:19-20). He named all the animals (in the air and on the ground) made by God, not just as an expression of dominion but also impartation of identity and function, because a name impacts identity and function. It takes a good measure of creativity to give different names to the almost unlimited number of God’s creatures. Imagine the mental capacity expressed, and verbal dexterity needed by him! That was divine wisdom in display.

Dominion

Man as God’s image bears his dominion. That was the determined will of God, that man will have dominion on the earth. God did not make the earth without his preferred representative in charge.

Man was equipped to fellowship with God by His Spirit (his breath) which He puts into him; through the word of his mouth, he can by faith express creativity. But for dominion, he needed to continue to obey God. Man cannot continue to have the right to be obeyed on the earth, if he does not continue in obedience to God his creator.

To be in dominion means to be in control. But if God is not controlling you, and he is not controlling through you, your “control” is not real.

God made it that the will of man is what he made as his tool of dominion. God designed man that where his will goes, nothing should stand in its way; But there is problem when the will of man contradicts a higher will; the will of the creator. The result is judgment, which in the case of Adam and Eve was the judgment of death, when they eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17, Genesis 3).

The writer of the book of Hebrews, quoting the book of psalms says that the plan of God was to put everything under the feet of man (Hebrews 2:6-18), but he added that that is not the experiential reality of man now, and the reason is because of the sin of Adam and Eve.

Paul said that it is Jesus, who epitomizes obedience to God that is given dominion (Philippians 2:1-7), (the book of Hebrews says that he is crowned with glory and honour [Hebrews 2:6-18]) so that at the name of Jesus every knee bows, and every tongue confesses the Lordship, the dominion of Jesus. And he is the head of everything for the church (Ephesians 1:22-23). That means we have shared dominion with him.

Conclusion

In Christ, there is restoration to dominion, fellowship and creativity which were the reasons God made man in the first instance, once we become one with Christ as his body (Romans 12:5, 1Corinthians 12:27), when we are saved through faith in him.

 

From under God’s anger to under God’s power

4529177362Ezekiel 5:13: Thus shall mine anger be accomplished, and I will cause my fury to rest upon them, and I will be comforted: and they shall know that I the LORD have spoken it in my zeal, when I have accomplished my fury in them.

Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God took the anger of God from us, bearing the consequence of our sins on the cross. Without that, the problem of our relationship with God would never be solved. His shed blood brought about a new chapter in the relationship between man and with God. We have light and immortality through Jesus Christ (2Timothy 1:10), where before we were in darkness, death and destruction because of the error of our first parents.

Through his sacrifices, he causes the chain of death which is the consequence of sin to break off from us. He rescues us from darkness and brought us into light (Colossians 1:13). He brought us from dis-favour with God to favour with Him. He brought us from the state of being dead in trespasses and sin into being alive to God and embracing holiness (Ephesians 2:1-6).

It cuts us off from curse and leads us into blessing (Galatians 3:13-14); he takes us from poverty to riches; Paul wrote that though Jesus was rich, for our sake he became poor that we through his poverty might become rich (2Corinthians 8:9). He ever lives to make intercession (Hebrews 7:25) (standing before God to make a difference in our lives) for us. He told his disciples that he will be with them till the end of the age (Matthew 28:30). He brings the reality of God being with us.

Those who are in Christ are exempted from being under the anger of God (John 3:36), because we are now children of God (Romans 8:16). We are now in the family of God (Ephesians 2:19). We are now the members of the flesh and the bone of Jesus (Ephesians 5:30). We have the right to use his name in our mouth since now we belong to him.

Jesus is the embodiment of the change that God wants to bring on the earth. And these realities are encoded in the words we use to refer to him: Jesus, Christ and Lord.

Jesus

He was so named because according to the angel who brought the news of his birth to Joseph, he shall save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:20-21).

Sins are the wrong things that we do, the wrong steps we take, which reflect our corrupt nature. If we are not in Christ, we don’t have any other alternative but to sin.

Paul complaining about the body of sin he is saddled with, said that what he wants to do he does not do; it is what he does not want that he does. He added that there a law of his mind, which is what he wants to do, but he finds another law operating in his physical body, leading him into persistent error, working contrary to what he wants to (Romans 7:7-8:4). The result is that he reeks of guilt.

He asked: who will save me from this body of death? The answer: Jesus who brings about the law of Spirit of life which sets us free from the law of sin and death. Without embracing Jesus (the reality of that name) we cannot be free from the hold of sin. With that, we are changed from being dead to being alive to God. Jesus saves us from the consequences of our sins.

Christ

As Christ, the Son of God brings the reality of the power of God, to bear on earth in and through the lives of men.

When God made man originally, he made him equipped with his power. He made him in his image, enabling him to do so many things (Genesis 1:26-28).

Adam named all the animals (Genesis 2:19-20). He was God’s son (Luke 3:38) equipped with his power, imbued with his life. But this was lost through sin; but through Christ, there is restoration. “Christ” means the anointed one, which is a direct reference to the operations of the Holy Spirit in divine empowerment.

Of Jesus it was said: he was anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power and went about doing good, healing those oppressed of the devil, because God was with him (Acts 10:38).

At the beginning of his ministry after he clocked 30 years of age, he read a portion publicly which defined his mission. He said the Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to peace the gospel to the poor etc. He was taking about a special empowerment on his life for him to fulfill his purpose.

But lest we think the empowerment starts and ends with him, Jesus told his disciples they also need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).

Guess who pours out the Holy Spirit- it is Jesus (Acts 2:33, John 7:38-39, Matthew 3:11). It is through him that we get to experience Christ in us, the anointed one (manifested by the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, as the Spirit of Christ [Romans 8:9]) in us (Colossians 1:27), which is the key to the glory of God that we need to experience on this earth.

Lord

Adam and Eve rejected the Lordship of God; they rejected his word and submitted to falsehood. Jesus is called the Lord and submitting to him is submitting to God since he is God (John 1:1-5). Through Jesus, God the Father restores true worship of and relationship with Himself (John 4:24).

As our Lord we are meant to obey Jesus Christ, contrary to what Adam and Eve did when they sinned in the Garden of Eden. Jesus said that if we obey his word, which shows that we love him (John 14:15, 23, John 15:10). We need a change from doing our wills to doing the will of God, which is why we need Jesus to restore the Lordship of God to our lives. We should say to Jesus like Thomas: my Lord, my God (John 20:28).

We cannot continue to run riot against the will of our God. Adam did not get away with it. But with the unveiling of Jesus as Lord by the fact of his resurrection (Acts 2:36), humanity can be moved from rebellion to allegiance to God.

Submitting to the lordship of Jesus means we become slaves to righteousness, where we offer our bodies as instrument of righteousness (Romans 6:16-22).

Summary

Through Jesus we are saved from our sins; in Christ we are empowered to fulfill our purposes; as Lord he restores us to obedience in the use of our time, energy and finances, as we submit to him.

 

Grace, mercy and peace

CB0177272Timothy 1:2: To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Grace

Grace is the help that comes from God, which cannot come from any other source. Grace is the precursor for the acts of God’s favour to and through men.

When God calls us to do a particular work, he gives us his grace to carry it out. It doesn’t matter what it is. The resources that he makes available are from his grace.

When God wanted Moses to build a tabernacle for him in the wilderness; he mentioned certain people by name that he had endowed with intelligence, capability and skill, to turn all the gold and other raw materials that will be are needed, from the raw state to the exact things in the mind of God (Exodus 31:1-11). Those men were appointed by God to do the work to perfection, and they had the grace to execute it.

Only the hand of God can do the work of God. This is why he endows us with his grace, so that our hands become His.

His grace not only operates through us but it also operates in us. It causes attitudinal change in us; it causes long standing stubborn habit to be gone in our lives. It makes sure that we are on the path of life through Christ Jesus. His grace sees us through all negative situations and circumstances. Grace is the divine causative agent of everything good in us.

It is the means of God saving us. We were rotten in trespasses and sin and we were strangers to God. We are in bondage to Satan, kept imprisoned by inordinate passions that we cannot do anything about on our own.

But the grace of God made all the difference. The bible says that by grace we are saved through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).

Also, our spiritual assignment is not our work; it is the work of God, not an expression of our ability but God’s. We are only called to yield to the grace working in and through us.

When the message of the gospel of Jesus is proclaimed, it is a call to receive grace (Romans 5:17). It is not a call for performance, trying to be a better person, nor a call to sadness and a joyless life. Actually the bible says that the kingdom is in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).

There is the joy of salvation that trumps whatever men seek by taking cigarettes, and hard drugs like cocaine, heroine, marijuana, crystal meth, etc. There is a joy of salvation that is like an ever-springing well on our inside, which cannot be moved but is sustained by God himself.

So when we come to Jesus, we have come to grace (John 1:14-17). It leads us into a new life, causing us to swim in divine blessings, making us able to impact the lives of others. Paul wrote that we should let our words be seasoned with salt ministering grace to the hearers, so that just as we receive grace we also convey it to others (Ephesians 4:29), edifying them.

Mercy

Grace pushes you into your future; mercy removes you from your past, while peace settles you in the present.

Mercy qualifies the unqualified. The healing of the man paralysed for decades, sitting at the pool of Bethesda is a classic expression of mercy. His past was sinful as Jesus Christ later told him after healing him that he should now live holy from them on.

When Jesus came to him, lying there at the pool paralysed, He asked him a question and he didn’t answer well. However, Jesus released healing to him anyway (John 5:1-16). Years of stagnation for the man came to an end.

If the man was not picked for a miracle, he would most probably have died in his condition. His was a most pathetic situation. It was mercy that reached out to him, disregarding his history and shortcomings and blessing him.

The mercy of God extends forgiveness of sins to us. We were not forgiven because we promised to be better, neither was it because we have offered God anything to compensate him for our rebellion; it was his mercy through and through, that we are accepted in the beloved, after our sins were cleansed away.

While we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:8). His mercy motivated him.  While he hung on the cross, he asked that God forgive his crucifiers because they don’t know what they do (Luke 23:34).

Peace

Jesus is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). When he was leaving the disciples on earth, he said that he is leaving his peace with them, not as the world gives (John 14:27). It is a different kind of peace that flows from heaven.

Paul said we should not be anxious for anything, but with prayer, supplication and thanksgiving we should let our requests be make known to God (Philippians 4:6-7), and God will invest us with his peace. Peter also said that we should be anxious for nothing, but we should cast our care upon the Lord (1Peter 5:7).

Jesus and his disciples at a time were crossing the sea. The sea and the wave of the sea rose. The disciples were at their wit’s end but Jesus was fast asleep. They panicked. They questioned Jesus, saying, doesn’t he care if they die (Mark 4:25-31)? He was woken up. But instead of joining them to panic, he rebuked the wind and the storm, saying peace be still. He is a man of peace, bringing peace and calm to life’s raging storms. Inclusive of the one you are presently experiencing. God is about calming the agitations of the heart. The peace of God is meant to guard our hearts in Christ Jesus (Colossians 3:15). The devil will have you troubled but the peace of God counters that in us.

Peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23); it is the mark of a settled relationship with God. The bible says through Jesus we have peace with God (Romans 5:1-2). That peace is not given by achievement. It is the result of the Prince of peace coming into us. The presence of God is manifest in peace that crushes all the works of the devil. Paul wrote that the God of peace will soon crutch the devil under our feet (Romans 16:20).

The peace, the sense of wholeness and completeness of divinity represents the kingdom of God coming to bare on the earth, because peace is an heavenly reality.