Will of God: knowing, preparing for, and doing it

glasses-272401_640Luke 12:47: And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

What you know determined how you live, but we do not always live by what we know, we might be pushed by peer pressure, by innate personality error, be subjected to the push of self will or the move of pride.

Adam is the example in knowing the will of God but walking away from it because of the pressure from her wife (Genesis 3). Saul walked away from the will of God because of pressure from his men (1Samuel 15).

A man writing in the book of proverbs said that he did not want God to give him too much or too little money so that he will not have to displease God by denying his name or steal respectively. As far as he was concerned, his financial status or lack of it would out pressure on him to do wrong, will push him away from walking in the will and word of God (Proverbs 30:7-9).

The servant in the focus verse only exists to do the will of his lord and so are we, anything to the contrary in us is definitely a thought against Christ and that is the reason for spiritual warfare.

Paul said that the weapon of our warfare is not carnal but empowered, mighty through God to the pulling down strong and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, taking captive every thought to the obedience of Christ (2Corinthians 10:1-6). Anything that expresses opposition to the absolute supremacy of God, even at the thought level is meant to be brought down. Such a high thing was established in the mind of Eve, against the word the command of God for herself and her husband. It was not taken captive, so they were taken captive. They paid an heavy price.

The devil told her: don’t bother about the commandment of God, you can be like God creating any commandment for yourself create a commandment for yourself, and expressing independence from God is real wisdom.

But God says that the wisdom of men is start foolishness to God (1Corinthians 3:19). When man left the way of God and followed his own ways, the end was destruction. The bible says that there is a way that seems to man but the end is destruction (Proverbs 14:12).

But there are certain issues raised on the focus verse that will now be examined. We need to know what the will of God is; but beyond that we need to prepare to do it and also (wait for it!) do it. The problem sometimes is not lack of knowledge but lack of preparation and action as the focus verse highlighted.

Preparation

The will of God is so serious, it needs to be prepared for.

  1. Submission preparation

Jesus prepared himself to do the will of God, and part of what he did was go to John the Baptist for the baptism that will launch him to his ministry (Matthew 3:1-6, 13-17, 4:1-11, Mark 1:1-15, Luke 3:21-22).

John was a known prophet while Jesus was totally unknown, but John’s purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus. Jesus needed the preparatory work of John climaxed in his own baptism by him. When John wanted to oppose Jesus when he came to be baptised, Jesus said he needed to fulfil all righteousness. He needed to go through every preparatory necessities.

  1. Holy Spirit preparation

The heaven opened and the Holy Spirit came upon him as part of the preparation. Just as experiencing the ministry of John the Baptist, was preparation for Jesus, experiencing the ministry of the one who have gone before him. He also needed to be prepared by being empowered by the Holy Spirit.

  1. Identity preparation

A voice came from heaven identifying him as the Son of God, so also we need a reaffirming of our peculiar spiritual identity under God, as part of our own preparation. Our identity comes before our activity. It gives meaning to it, and helps us to be faithful in service, because it means we are being only true to ourselves, not just carrying out some tasks, and getting frustrated along the way. And just as Jesus submitted to the ministry of those who have gone before us so must we, ditto being baptised in the Holy Spirit, and the strengthening of our spiritual identity.

We see this repeated in the life of Paul. When Christ met him on the way to Damascus (Acts 9:1-31, 26:11-18), and he called Jesus Lord, God sent Ananias (an older, known Christian) to lay hands on him in Damascus, just as John laid hands on Jesus (one cannot be baptised without hands laid on him).

Paul had to submit to the ministry of Ananias, and at the same time he was baptised in the Holy Spirit, empowered before he was released to ministry in any form (Acts 1:8). And through Ananias God told Paul what his mission was, confirming what Christ had told him earlier, just as John confirmed to Jesus what he already knew about himself.

  1. Fasting preparation

Jesus submitted himself to that process of preparation. Thereafter he was led into the wilderness for forty final days of preparation. He did not eat forty days. It is interesting also that Paul did not eat or drink for three days before Ananias came to meet him.

  1.  Prayer preparation

Fasting in some form or the other is definitely part of preparing ourselves to do the will of God. And also prayer. Jesus was praying as he was coming from coming up from the water at Jordan when he was baptised. Also Paul, Jesus told Ananias, was in prayer after his supernatural encounter with Christ and before Ananias came by.

  1. Trial preparation

Jesus gained victory of Satan in the wilderness (he was tempted for forty day), where he was driven after the baptism of John. That shows that trials and test are part of the preparation for ministry. You see Paul going blind for three days even after meeting Christ. He had to be guided by hand to Damascus, contrary to what his go-getter self would have wanted.

  1. Victory preparation

Jesus gained victory over the devil in the wilderness, and he reaped the fruit of it by casting out devils right left and centre afterwards, in an expression of unquestioning dominion. His private victory over demonic operation, became part of his preparation for public ministry.

Paul also had to overcome his own spiritual blindness to qualify to give sight to others. Later he would affirm that it was the devil who blinds people so that the light of the gospel will not shine in our hearts (2Corinthians 4:4), himself inclusive.

The number seven preparation for ministry is victory over trial. The greater the trial, the greater the victory, which prepares for great effect in the field of doing the will of God.

If Jesus had not dealt with Satan, binding the strong man, he would not be able to pillage his goods, being his explanation when the Pharisee said he cast out devil but the prince of demons (Matthew 12:24-29).

Preparation is person specific

Preparation is beyond lip service, it is beyond observing someone else and trying to copy her. In many ways preparation is person specific. The preparation of Paul was different from the preparation of Peter, who had different tasks. The preparation of Jesus is different from that of John the Baptist because of their peculiar purposes.

John was in the wilderness for many years for his own spiritual development (Luke 1:80). While Jesus spent many years in the shop as a carpenter (Mark 6:3).

You may wonder: what purpose did that serve? Do you not know that Jesus had to spend some years walking to many villages and he needed to be physically prepared for such a gruelling itinerant regime?

After a time of ministry in a place, and he departed to a solitary place to pray, Peter came to inform him that many people were waiting for him, for another round of ministry (Mark 1).

But he said his mission was to go from place to place. John mission was to mostly in one area, for people to come to him, Jesus went to the people as a deliberate ministry policy. John subsisted on locust and honey living an austere life. Jesus did not live an austere life, his was the opposite, so much so that he was accused of being a glutton and a winebibber. He must have loved eating and he attended many social events and that gave him another reputation, howbeit negative one. He was called a friend of sinners (Matthew 11:16-19).

He came breaking the religious notions that the Pharisees entrenched in Israel. Jesus’s disciples did not even fast. There was a time some people asked, the disciples of John fast but your disciples do not fast. He said they do not need to, I am with them (Mark 2:18-19). They looked like a pretty laid back bunch, Jesus and his disciples. You cannot say that about John and his disciples.

The Pharisees fasted twice a week (Luke 18:11-12), and Jesus’ role on the earth was to break down their model of spirituality, and establish a new one which is about personally relationship, heart relationship, with God and not ritualistic observances.

Action

After preparation, there is action. Not only should the servant prepare but also do the will of the master, actually execute the task. Paul told Timothy: stir up the gift of God in you, put them to work, because God has not given you the spirit of fear (which hinders action), but the spirit of love, power and sound mind (which aid action) (2Timothy 1:6-8).

We cannot give the excuse of preparation for not making advancement for the kingdom.  We have to continually push forward, move forward. Paul called it redeeming the time because the days are evil, i.e. maximising opportunity for the greatest impact for the kingdom (Ephesians 5:16).

Paul said: woe me if I preach not the gospel (1Corinthians 9:16). Why such a fatal statement? It can only come from a man with an overarching sense of identification with Christ and his passion for the lost. Even while in prison, he used the opportunity of making a defence for himself, to push the gospel of Jesus, either covertly or overtly on others, so much so that one king in his audience at one time said: you almost made be a Christian (Acts 26:28). This was a man prepared, and all full of action in the direction of the will of God.

Reward in heaven

stairs-338428_640Luke 6:23: Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

Reward in this context is not about what you have achieved for the kingdom of God, but what you have suffered for it. The one who is imprisoned for the cause of Christ may think: oh how I am wasting away! Not that the number of years you have spent in the prison was a waste, they are being added up in the calculation of your heavenly reward.

The bible said that God is not unrighteous to forget your labour of love (Hebrews 6:10). And Jesus said whatever you loose for the cause of Christ will define your reward, it will be restored to you in multiple fold. Whatever “loss” you suffer for the cause of Christ is a set up for a great reward (Matthew 19:28-29).

People want to get their reward on the earth, they have an “here now” mind-set, as they seek to build something earthly for themselves, concerned about earthly achievement and legacies and wealth, but it is the reward in heaven is greater.

People want to hail by men, but it is the commendation from God that matters most, it is hearing the words: well-done good and faithful servant at the end of time (Luke 19:17).

The earthly life is but a blowing of a wind in a millisecond, compared to eternity, and that is an understatement. Living for eternity is the wisest way to live. Investment on the earth with an eye on eternity, with a concern for the things of God, is the best.

Peter, Paul and Jesus mentioned various rewards in heaven, they talked about crowns, called various names (1Corinthians 9:23-27, Philippians 4:1, 1Thessalonians 2:19, 2Timothy 4:8, James 1:12, 1Peter 5:4, Revelation 2:10, 3:11).

The crown is a sign of special dominion in heaven or in the world to come and will be used to define hierarchy there.

You may think it is nothing, but wait until that day when the crowned ones will be exhibited or allocated there space of dominion.

So the persecution you have gone through for the sake of Christ is part of the divine set to reward you.

Jesus suffered in obedience to God and he has been rewarded for it, rewarded with great authority. After his death and resurrection, he said: all authority in heaven and earth have been given to me (Matthew 28:18-20). The pain he experienced in obedience to God was translated to reward in sphere of authority for him in his resurrected life. The same thing will happen to us, being members of his body.

He humbled himself to the death of the cross and now he has been highly exalted and now at the name of Jesus every knee will bow (Philippians 2:5-11).

The reward for Jesus for his suffering on the cross was elevation above all. That is our fate, but in a lesser measure, for whatever sacrifice we made for the course of Jesus, whatever loss we suffer, will turn to abundance for us.

Nothing goes for nothing, nothing is forgotten; even your tears are in God’s bottle (Psalm 56:8). God does not forget your sacrifice for the cause of Christ but he forgets your sin, washed away in the sea of forgetfulness because of the blood of Jesus. Our sins has been paid for, it is not disregarded. Nothing is disregarded, being a necessity of divine justice.

Jesus was “rewarded” for our sins, punished for them, and we are now rewarded for his work of righteousness in us.

We are now positioned to start sowing seed of sacrifice for the name of Jesus the one who gave his life for us. We have the opportunity to lay down our lives for him, carrying our cross daily (Luke 9:23).  We are set up to experience no more pain or tears in heaven (Revelation 7:17) but the endless rewards of having served Jesus.

When persecuted for the course of Christ we bear his marks, either physically or emotionally. Paul said: let no one trouble me because I bear on my body the marks of Christ (Galatians 6:17). Persecution will leave a scar (internally or physically) on us but not to worry.

It is like marks borne by a soldier on the battleground fighting for his nation. That marks them for special honour, special medals from their home country. And being a recipient of a medal of honour for being valiant in battle, even posthumously, is a source of prestige.

If an earthly country can pay such recognition to its soldiers (and once they get that medal it marks their lives) how much more the kingdom of God, where there is limitless resources?

Paul said earthly athletes contend for limited prizes how much more would we get running the race of our earthly mandate as given by God? How much more will the reward heaven, the eternal reward be amazing, deserving of our ardent commitment?

People have been trained to look for an earthly reward for their efforts for the kingdom, but that is so sad, that is perpetuating earthly mindedness. Paul said that we should set our minds not on earth but on heaven where Christ is (Colossians 3:1-2). We should live in anticipation of eternity. It was said about Abraham: he looked for a city whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10).

For the churches Jesus directed letters to in the book of Revelation, the reward for being faithful is almost always eternal (Revelation 2-3). Jesus did not say: if you are faithful I will give you a mansion. He said: I will give you a new name, I will give you the hidden manna, and I will give you a new stone, do not let another take your crown.  We need to start emphasising the importance of heaven.

The limitation of the past teaching about heaven has been the fact that it is directed at the unbelievers. It goes something like this: “escape hell and go to heaven through Jesus,” which is true.

But once the people have been scared off hell and brought to heaven, the theme of heaven is not developed further, it is no longer emphasised.

The message of heaven is the greatest bible motivation there is, that is what we glean from the words of Jesus writing to the seven churches of Asia. Jesus said in essence: those who overcome, those who shape up in response to my rebuke, will have heavenly reward.

Note he did not say: shape up or go to hell, which is the negative motivation that preachers want to use on believers. He said shape up, and have a big treat in heaven. He did not say: shape up or you will not get there.

The message directed at the people about going to heaven is about getting there, no more issue is raised about how your life here determines your life there, the reward, and how aiming for the reward in heaven is the best way to live without regret, since life on earth by definition is short compared to heavenly eternity.

What should be emphasised is how all earthly good is not comparable to the massive reward of heaven, does not hold a candle against it. Jesus said: rejoice because your name is written in heaven (Luke 10:20). That means it is a big deal, and we should live the rest of our lives in thanks to Jesus making it possible for us to go to heaven (Hebrews 13:12-15), and live for the reward there.

Jesus wants you to know that at the end, it will all be worth it, the sacrifice you made because of his name.  He does not want you deceived that it will all be rosy here on earth because you became his follower. But because you have identified with him in a special way, as you endure persecution, he will also specially identify with you in heaven (Luke 9:26).

Peter even said that the persecuted will experience even on this earth a special manifestation of the glory of God (1Peter 4:14).

Jesus was persecuted. The bible says that he endured the grievous contradiction of sinner against himself, to the point that his blood was shed. But his eyes were was set on the joy afterwards. That was why he was able to endure the cross. There was a glory set before him, he has full grasp of the reward after.

The word of God concerning the special reward the persecuted gets is meant to help us live above the present difficulty and live in the very life of God.

Persecution is humbling. Though Jesus had to humble himself to come in human flesh, he was further humbled in the death on the cross, being made a curse for us who was a blessing (Galatians 3:13); being made to carry our sins though righteous (2Corinthians 5:21), becoming classified as the scum of the earth by the death form he went through.

Since persecution is humbling, humiliating, and the bible says that the humble have more grace (James 4:6-7), so congratulate yourself if you are persecuted because you just qualified for great grace (Acts 4:33).

The Lord will provide

Genesis 22:14: And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.

When Abraham was leading Isaac to mount Moriah to offer him as a sacrifice, and the boy noticed that there was no sacrificial animal with them, he asked his father how come. The answer: the lord will see to it (the lord will take care of it, it is the Lord’s business), hence the name Jehovahjireh that Abraham named that mount, when eventually the Lord saw to it. So Jehovahjireh is not the name of God but the name of a mountain, as read in the focus verse: Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh. That place stands for an experience of God that he had that was peculiar (Genesis 22:1-19).

What happened was that God had told him to go offer his son to him, and he obeyed. He went on that journey, but when he picked Isaac up tied him and laid him on the prepared wood, God spoke to him from heaven that he should not put a knife on the throat of the boy. And that there is a ram caught in the braches of a tree around, which he should offer instead of his Son.

His experience was of God providing something, a sacrificial ram, out of nowhere, sparing him the pain of killing his child with his own hand. It shows that Jehovahjireh can also mean the Lord will provide, the lord will see to that need, even if means bringing something out of nothing.

Jacob, Abraham’s grandson also had an experience with God, which also made him to name a place accordingly. While he was running away from his brother, he got to a place where he sleep, using stone as his pillow (Genesis 28:10-19). There he had the experience of heaven opening and God speaking to him for the first time, according to the record of the bible. On waking up, he named the place Bethel, meaning the house of God. That experience was so strong that and years after, he returned to that same spot, now with his family (Genesis 35:1-7).

When he was leaving his family there, he said they should rid themselves of the idols because the house of God is the place of devotion to God and him alone.

Samuel also named a stone based on his experience of God. It was during the time the Philistines were oppressing the Israelites and God gave them an amazing victory. He took a stone and called it Ebenezer, stone of help (1Samuel 7:1-15).

Prior to this, Samuel had told them of the need to remove from their midst all foreign gods, just like Jacob told his people when he led his family to Bethel.

God helped Israel against the Philistines who were arrayed in battle against them, when they were not prepared for anything of such. They had gathered together for a time of repentance before God, and the Philistines saw that as a good opportunity to destroy them, all in one place, but God release his thunder from heaven in answer to the prayer and cry of Samuel and the people where delivered by God’s supernatural act. And that changed the tide of things. That was help from God indeed.

The supernatural acts of God’s provision are seen throughout the scriptures. For Adam and Eve, they did not have to think of where to get their meals from. The creator was proactive. He made the Garden of Eden, with limitless provision available for our first parents. With the introduction of sin, man lost out of that level of provision and entered into a time of lack and struggle, where man had to think of taking care of himself. God said that out of his sweat man shall eat, he shall cultivate the ground and it shall bring forth thorns and thistle for him. It was provision from sweat (Genesis 2:8-16, Genesis 3:1-19).

However Jesus came and introduced the concept of God as Father to the people of God. He said that we should not worry about what we will eat drink or the dress we should put on, because our heavenly father cares more for us that the lily that he clothes, or the birds of the air that he feeds. He said we are of more value than those. We are not in this world all alone trying to make it on our own; we have a father in heaven that has endless provision for us (Matthew 6:25-34).

Jesus once told the disciples: beware of the leaven of the Pharisee (Matthew 16:5-11). They thought he was referring to their not having taken some food with them.

Jesus rebuked them for thinking such thoughts, citing two examples when he multiplied loaves of bread to feed thousands, with many baskets of leftovers. He was amazed that they could still think he can be concerned with lack after supernaturally multiplying fish and bread to feed thousands.

As the representative of heaven, there cannot be lack around him. Even at his birth, he received gifts of precious substances that can be turned into good money (Matthew 2:11). So he was born rich, though in a manger.

John described Jesus as being full of grace (John 1:12-17), which is means supernatural endowment. And that endowment translates into supernatural provision. Grace is an impartation of heaven and that means increased grace should translate to increased provision, because there is abundance provision in heaven.

There is a qualification for grace in the bible: humility (James 4:6-7). Jesus expressed the ultimate level of grace because he expressed the ultimate level of humility, condescending from the height of his eternal place in heaven to come to the earth, as a man (Philippians 2:5-11). Though God (with no need whatsoever), he came to the point of needing God, being a definition of humility.

David said: I will lift up by eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help, my help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth (Psalm 121). The maker of heaven and earth cannot be limited in the help he can give me.

In another place, David said since I was young and now I am old, I have never seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread (Psalm 37:25). It is not the design of God that we become beggars, we are meant to be kings and priest on this earth (Revelation 1:6, 5:10).

We should embrace our calling as kings on the earth (Romans 5:17). There is nothing kingly about lack. Jesus said that the anointing upon him is to preach the gospel to the poor (Luke 4:18). The poor are those who are in the lower rung of the societal strata. And according to the words of Hannah, God is able to make beggars sit with princes and the poor become counted among the great (1Samuel 2:8). That is the gospel to the poor.

There is nothing glorious about poverty. The will of God is abundance. That is why Paul said that God is able to make all grace abound towards us so that in all things (all round blessings) and at all times (not seasonal) we will abound in good things (2Corinthians 9:8). We should be full representative of God on earth, and that include in abundance.

 

The everlasting God

Genesis 21:33: And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God.

Abraham was on a journey of discovering who God is. It started with God’s call that should depart from his father house and country to a land He would show him (Genesis 12:1). At this point in his journey, he gave God a name reflective of his revelation of him: the everlasting God. He was affirming the eternality of God.

When Peter affirmed the divinity of Jesus, he told him: flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my heavenly father in heaven (Matthew 16:16-17). By revelation John wrote of Jesus: in the beginning was the word and the words was with God and the word was God (John 1:1-5), disclosing that he is the second person of the trinity- God the Word.

While involved in an argument with certain people of the Pharisees, Jesus said that before Abraham was, he is, to their endless chagrin (John 8:56-59). They could not believe their ears and accused Jesus of making false claims. But Jesus was hinting at his eternality.

There was something not quite right about someone living in the time of Jesus claiming that he was older, than Abraham.

However, it was revealed in the prophetic writing of the Micah that the origin of the saviour, messiah (Jesus Christ), who will be born in Bethlehem, is from everlasting (Micah 5:2).

It is easy to believe that God the father is from eternity, but some people struggle with the eternality of God the Son (Jesus Christ), saying: How can both the father and the Son be from eternity?

With that question, they make a fundamental mistake about the identity of Jesus Christ. They don’t know that he was not “Jesus Christ” from eternity; neither was he the “Son of God” from eternity.

He was the Word from eternity. It was the necessity of the incarnation that caused him to be fathered by God in the womb of Mary, not in a sexual sense, but in the there-is-nothing-impossible-with-God sense (Luke 1:26-38).

We see God speaking from heaven and declaring that Jesus is his Son after he was baptised by John the Baptist and when on a mount with Peter James and John, and Gabriel at his incarnation said that the holy one that will come from Mary’s womb “shall” be called the Son of God, not “has” been called the Son of God.

God the word became God in a physical form. He became different in visage, conforming to the earthly state of man. It was a mystery (1Timothy 3:16).

Though God is three on one, before the incarnation, you could not really differentiate them. But when Jesus came to the earth, and we see him talk about the other two, eventually saying that when the disciples wants to baptise other disciples, they should do it in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).

By so doing He makes a distinction in the personalities in the Godhead. Jesus is described as the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9); meaning except through him, no human can come into intimate relationship with the rest of the Godhead.

In his lifetime, Jesus was constantly speaking of the Father to the disciples. In the prayer that he thought them, he said they should pray saying: out “Father” who art in heaven (Matthew 6:9)… He modeled a relationship with the father before them.

After Peter declared that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God, Jesus said: flesh and blood did not reveal that to you, but my “Father” in heaven (Matthew 16:15-18). Heaven is the place of his Father, and though he was on earth, he related to the father as if he was close by, and that left an impression on the disciples, who were learning from him.

It was near the time of his death that he revealed the Holy Spirit. Telling them when I go, a new phase will begin for you and that is living in the reality of the companionship of the Holy Spirit.

Peter said that we sound grow in the knowledge of our lord Jesus Christ (2Peter 3:18). Many seek to grow in the knowledge of right doctrine, in the activity they are doing the church, in the position that they try to attain to, but we are supposed to grow in the knowledge of Him.

Paul, after years as a Christian, after he had achieved almost everything that he set out to achieve, still did not get bored as a disciple of Jesus. He kept the childlike wonder of seeking to know Christ. Expressing his continual longing, he said: that I may know him and the power of his resurrection being made conformable to his death (Philippians 3:10).

To know him is to become like him. If the knowledge of God that we claim to have is not making us become more like him, then it is in futility. We would be classified as those the bible says were ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth (2Timothy 3:8).

Jesus said we shall know the truth, which will make us free, if we continue to be his disciples, continue to follow him (John 8:31-32). The truth we need to know is not just more facts and figures about the bible.

It was Jesus himself who declared: I am the way the truth, the way and the life; no one comes to the father except through me (John 14:6).

The goal is to become more and more like Jesus. When Peter and John appeared before the priests, captain of the temple and Sadducees in the book of Acts, the religious leaders were amazed at their boldness, their lack of the fear of their position (in spite of the fact that they had little education), talking freely and defending their action about following the truth. They took note that they had been with Jesus, they had become like him (Acts 4:13).

If we are not becoming more like Jesus, there is something wrong with the learning path that we have chosen.

The bible says that the path of the righteous shines brighter and brighter to the perfect day (Proverbs 4:18). And Jesus is the light (John 9:5). The right path is the path of continuously brighter because we are drawing closer to his light.

As we become more and more like him, our path shines brighter in the everlasting shining of his light. For eternity Christ will be a worthy pursuit. “That I may know him” will still be a valid hunger in us for all eternity. The pursuit of God can never be boring because there is a continuous unfolding of his everlasting nature to us.

 

Is there anything too difficult for the Lord?

Genesis 18:14: Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

We need to remove the unconscious limit that our mind has put on God. Prior to the event being referred in the focus verse, if you asked Abraham: can God do anything? He would have said: off course he can, he is God (Genesis 18:9-15).

But when the rubber bites the road, when God declared that he was going to do the impossible, the unimaginable, Abraham laughed as if he just heard the joke of the century. God diagnosed why he laughed. It was because he thought there was something too hard for God to do; hence God’s question: is there anything too hard for me?

We need to hear God speak to us in whatever difficult situation that we are in: is there anything too difficult for me to do? That will take us away from the reality of the limitation of our circumstances to the unlimited realm of God, so that we can experience Him for who he really is, in his unbridled power.

When God told Moses that he was going to provide meat for a whole month for the children of Israel, Moses thought that was too incredible. He asked a similar question to what he asked Abraham: is my hand waxed short, that I cannot fulfill all the intentions of my heart (Numbers 11:18-23)?

But it was Jonathan who said: “it is nothing for God to save with a few or with many (1Samuel 14:6),” before going into the camp of the enemy and routing them with only his amour bearer with him. He had the correct perspective about God.

Gideon also had the same of experience of God causing deliverance for his people through a few (Judges 7). He went into the camp of the enemy, which has a population as much as the sand on the seashore, with three hundred men and no sword.

Before then, God had reduced the population of the people going with Gideon from thousands to a few hundreds, all because He didn’t want them to claim any glory for themselves, that their number gave them victory.

Gabriel told Mary about the pregnancy of Elisabeth, which was by the miracle of God. He said: “the one who was called barren is now pregnant (Luke 1:36-37)”, adding, “With God nothing shall be impossible.”

When Peter asked Jesus who can be saved? He answered: with man it is impossible, but with God nothing shall be impossible (Matthew 19:25-26). And Jesus said that nothing shall be impossible for the one who believes (Matthew 17:20).

We need to believe the fact that there is nothing impossible for God to do, before that becomes our reality. In faith, nothing is impossible with us, because in faith, we are in league with God. Jesus said: have the faith of God (Mark 11:22-24), which is thinking about God as He thinks of himself, and seeing ourselves as in union with him when we make declarations. And in prayer, we need to embrace the fact that there is nothing impossible for God, to whom our prayer is directed. We need to change from unbelief to the faith channel, where everything is possible.

When a father came to the disciples with his child who was possessed by a demon (Mark 9:14-29), and they could not help, by casting the deaf and dumb spirit out, Jesus rebuked them saying that they are a faithless generation. He added that it was because of their unbelief that they could not cast out the demons.

On the faith channel, nothing is impossible. Faith as defined in the book of Hebrews is the substance of thins hoped for, evidence of things not seen. Jesus said that if we have faith like a mustard seed we would say to a mountain (Hebrews 11:1): be removed and be planted in the sea and it shall obey us. In the life of faith things happen because we say it. So a man of faith will guide his mouth so that only right words come out from it, words deliberately chosen because of the reality we want to see.

Meditating on the power of God can only lead us to only one conclusion: there is nothing too hard for him to do. Jesus did some amazing things in his time: he raised the dead, turned water into wine, walked on water. All these were to display on earth the limitlessness of divinity.

Also in Christ, God wanted to show humanity what they missed out of, by falling into sin in Adam. Because Jesus did all the supernatural works not as a special person but as a man with full connection with God, and with the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit does not have limit. Describing the activity of the one born of the Holy Spirit, Jesus said that he is like the wind (John 3:1-8); you don’t see it, you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going, but you see its effect.

The Holy Spirit is described in the scriptures with various symbolism that reflect his power (fire), person (dove) and purpose (wind). When the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus, he came as a dove (Matthew 3:16), when he was manifest at the upper room on the disciples of Jesus in the book of Acts; he came in the forms of fire and wind (Acts 2:1-4).

The dove is a symbol of purity, of gentleness, of love, in short, a symbol of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. The person of the Holy Spirit is expressed in his fruits that we bear in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23).

Paul wrote that we should not grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). He is very emotional, and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit means we are aware of his emotions, and we act accordingly. That is what it means to “sense” God.

Fire is the symbol of his power. Jesus told the disciples that they will receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon them (Acts 1:8). And what was visible which came upon them that they was fire. And with that they could witness with power the resurrection of Jesus, in miracles and words that leads to the salvation of souls, convicting hearts (Acts 2:1-4).

Wind has to do with direction, purpose. Jesus had told the disciples before his crucifixion that the Holy Spirit will guide them into all truth; he will show them things to come (John 16:13). The guidance of the Holy Spirit is by his wind dimension.

While with for the dove dimension, we become one with the personality of the Holy Spirit, in our lives in fruits of the Holy Spirit, in single-minded love for God. In the fire dimension we are movers and shakers spiritually, causing effects on the earth. You don’t have the right to stand before people until you are fired up in the presence of God. God makes his angels, spirits and his ministers, flames of fire (Hebrews 1:7).

Then in the wind dimension, he leads us, guides us into the purposes of God for us, causing us to ride on our high places, causing us to navigate God’s path for us. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will take of what is his and show it to us. That has to do with causing us to move in the purpose of Jesus. He leads us into glorifying Jesus (John 16:14-15)

 

Faith as shield

Genesis 15:1: After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.

Paul wrote about the shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16). He said we should use it to quench all the fiery darts of the enemy. There are various kinds of faith that are revealed in the bible: there is the saving faith, living faith, miracle faith, and gift faith.

All the above has to do with the word of God and the statement that faith comes by the hearing of the word of God is valid in all cases.

There cannot be faith except on the word of God, i.e. faith in the biblical sense. Without faith there cannot be connection with God who is our shield. We read in the book of Hebrews that without faith it is impossible to please God because he who comes to God must know that he is (Hebrews 11:6), and that he rewards the diligent seeker. That is very close to the focus verse, which also talks about God being reward. The writer of the book of Hebrews shows a link between reward and faith. As we relate to God by faith, he becomes to us a shield, just as he promised Abraham.

He wants Abraham to focus on him; and he will become for him, reward and shield: reward in good things that he will experience; and shield to prevent bad things from happening. God revealed himself to Abraham by his word thereby initiating a relationship with him. That was a meaningful experience for Abraham because he valued the word, so the promise of God can be experienced by him, in being his reward and shield.

The “value” one puts on the word of God is a measure of faith. In another place in the book of Hebrews, the writer said that the word was preached to certain people, but it did not do them any good, it was impotent in their lives because of the low value they have for it (Hebrews 4:2). The word did not meet the right valuation in them; it did not meet faith in them, and therefore was useless to them.

The more word you receive and embrace in your value for it, the more faith rises in you. And that faith is the key to both shield and reward from God.

The Pharisees do not value the word of God. Jesus said because they have more valuation for their own tradition than the word of God (Mark 7:13), they rendered it of no effect. They make it redundant.

Their hearts were made of stone and the fruit of faith could not come from whatever word they hear. And God cannot become their shield and reward.

Jesus said that we should be careful how we hear (Mark 4:24) (i.e. the kind of importance or value that we put on the words we hear) because it is the measure with which we measure, (i.e. the value we put on the word) shall be measured back to us (that will determine how it will affect us, for good or evil).

We should discountenance the word of the devil, while we should keep in the highest esteem the word of God. (Eve did not do that, and fell into the pit [Genesis 1:1-10].) It is God’s word that is meant to build us up, and make us all we can be. Rejecting it, we are marred.

Jesus asked the twelve apostles, why they still stuck around after many disciples had departed because they could not handle the kind of word that was coming from him (John 6:68). Peter responded that they will stick with him because he has the words of eternal life. They valued the Word; therefore they were committed to embracing it.

We need to be committed to perpetual repentance, as we continue to give up our opinion or the notions that we hold, and allow the word of God to take root in us, as the word of truth is unveiled to us, as ministered through the power of the Holy Spirit.

That is the path of continually transformation, the path of continuous renewal of the mind, as more and more of the word become flesh (John 1:14) in our lives and because of the faith level that rises in us because of that, we manifest the Word himself – Jesus Christ, the more.

How faith shields

Saving faith
Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians that by grace we are saved, through faith and that is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). When a certain jailor asked Paul and Silas what he should do to be saved, he was told: believe and you and your household will be saved (Acts 16:30-34). That is the saving faith.

You should not hear the words of the gospel of Jesus Christ which promises eternal life to those who believe, and just wave it aside. Paul said that knowing the wrath of God we persuade men, of the truth of Jesus’ saving grace. The wrath of God is directed towards the unbelievers. And in Christ we are being offered an escape route for that through faith in Him (2Corinthians 5:11).

Saving faith shields us from eternal damnation; Jesus said: for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

Living faith
Once we are saved by faith our lives from then on should also be lived by faith. Paul wrote that the just shall live by faith (Hebrews 10:38). He also wrote: I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live and the life that I live now I live by the he now lives, is by the faith of the Son of God who loves me.

Living by faith, we would operate in the reality of the love of God. We should never lose sight of the love of God no matter what. Even though we can’t see God, we should remain fully assured of his love for us (Romans 8:32). That is a measure of our life of faith.

Paul wrote that he wants the Ephesian church to know the length, breath, height and depth of the love of God, so that they may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19-20) both in shield and reward.

What the living faith shields you from is carrying the burden of condemnation all around. Also because walking by faith also means walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), it means you will not be fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. That means it takes faith to live holy. Living faith makes you have constant consciousness of the grace of God, and that infuses you with the peace of God (Philemon 1:3).

Miracle faith
The teaching of Jesus to the disciples concerning the prayer of faith and the declarations of faith, for signs and wonders fall under this classification. This is the faith used to create the reality of God’s shield and reward that we want in our circumstances or in the life of others.

Miracle faith shields/prevents us from living a mundane life, because it causes us to live impactful on the earth, in casting out of devils, healing the sick (Mark 16:15-18), receiving provision from God, speaking with new tongues, receiving answers to prayer etc.

Gift of faith
It is one of the manifestations of the Spirit (1Corinthians 12:1-11). The gift of faith is about extraordinary acts, sometimes in unusual places, sometimes accompanying the gifts of healings and it is responsible for unusual occurrence like the suspension of the law of nature.

Examples of the working of gift of faith in the life of Jesus were the turning of water into wine (John 2:1-11) (this shielded people from shame) and walking on water (Matthew 14:15-33). These are not things that happen all the time and they are occur in the suspension or overruling of a law of nature (shields/prevent Jesus from being constrained by gravity).

The multiplication of food for thousands by Jesus was a manifestation of the gift of faith; ditto the also raising of the dead (removing the constraints of (shielding from) lack and the grave).

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).