Yes, I’m back! I know I said that Part 6 was the last in this series. But God in His mercy gave me a day’s break and then woke me up this morning with such a consciousness of His splendor and greatness. He reminded me that He gave me this assignment and He is the One who determines when it is finished. I must confess that in Part 5 I preempted and said Part 6 was to be the final part. Having said it, I then tried to squeeze all that remained into Part 6 and missed out some very important downloads I had received from Holy Spirit. I have been writing this blog long enough to know that I should never go ahead of God. So, I come humbly and in obedience to publish Part 7. Truth be told, I have never been required by God to publish six blogs in six days. It was taking a toll on my time and I was really pushing to get everything done so I could get back to what I felt was pressing. But this is just what is wrong with the Body of Christ. I just said ‘my time’. But it’s not ‘my time’ it’s God’s time that He has given to me to use as He sees fit. Who am I to determine what I do with it. I also began doing things in my own strength and not by His power because of the urgency with which I WANTED to finish the series. Wrong again!! Ultimately, it is not about what I WANT but about what GOD WANTS. I have craved and received His forgiveness for being presumptuous and I now move in total obedience as His humble servant.
Warning!! This is the longest blog I have written. But God has instructed to write it as He has given it. You may read at your leisure but I must write at His pleasure. I know when the anointing of the Lord is flowing because the words just flow out of me. Take your time and read. No matter how long it takes. No matter how many sittings it takes. But read you must!! This is the Word of the Lord.
Who Is Man?
David says in Psalms 8,
What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit Him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet……………O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth! (Psa. 8:1-6, 9, emphases mine)
Everything we are and everything we have is because of God!! We need to remember this every day we wake up. We are here because God decided to give us another day of life here on earth. It is time for us to have the right perspective of ourselves.
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to thing of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. (Rom. 12:3, emphases mine)
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, (2 Pet. 1:2-3, emphases mine)
For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Phil. 2:13, emphasis mine)
Many believers have become puffed up because of the power we have received from God. We have ascribed it to ourselves, forgetting the source is God. We can do nothing of ourselves. That is the honest truth! Saints of God, ascribe to God the glory due to His name!!
Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. (Psa. 39:5)
because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away. (1 Pet. 1:24)
All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust. (Eccl. 3:20)
Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. (Psa. 95:7, emphases mine)
Well, well!! Really now!! Who would have imagined!! When we listen to some Christians speaking about what God should have done, and why doesn’t God do this, and how could God have done that, you would have thought that we created God. Yes, God calls us to reason together with Him (Isa. 1:18) but as is the norm with humankind we are given an inch and then take a mile. I feel the need to put this reasoning together with God in the right context. We have a tendency to take verses of scripture out of context and use them to justify our own ends. God was speaking to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. He was tired of their religious activities – the futile sacrifices, the incense, the New Moons, the Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies and sacred meetings, the appointed feasts. Why? God says He cannot endure iniquity. Let’s take it from verse 14.
Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow. “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword”; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Isa. 1:14-20, emphasis mine)
When God says here “let us reason together”, He is showing them two paths that they can choose; one leads to blessing and one to death. He is saying, now you work it out in your own mind (reason it out for yourselves), which path are you going to choose. These are My terms; think it through. This is so far removed from the way in which we have used this verse to erroneously support our right to argue with God, me included. Don’t get me wrong, God gives us the leeway to question Him but within the bounds of humility and deep respect, not as if we are on equal level with Him. In the midst of this COVID-19 plague, God is calling the church and the nations to reason together with Him, “which path will you choose?” He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says. Do not despise prophecy!!
We have overstepped our bounds in how we relate to God and it is evident in so many ways. We have become familiar with God. How do I know? I use my own local church as an example and I know many of you have observed similarly in your own churches. My church starts at 9:00 a.m. Only a quarter of the church, if that many, are present when church begins. If it was announced that the Governor General or the Prime Minister or some other human dignitary was going to be in the church service one morning everyone would be there, not only on time but before time. I recall going to an event where the Governor General was going to be in attendance and we were told to be in place at least 15 minutes before His arrival as the doors would be closed at that time and no one, no matter who, would be allowed to enter the area, much less the room. We do this for human leadership. Is it because we cannot see God that we treat Him with disdain and disrespect by coming to meet with Him late? Taking our own sweet time to come into His presence as though we feel He must wait on us and accept us when we are good and ready to show up?
My second observation – we feel we can come any and anyhow to meet with the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. There are two facets to this – physical and spiritual. We recall the days when our mothers had special clothes put aside for church – the Sunday best. I agree, God is not as interested in our outward appearance as He is in our heart condition. However, it’s not so much about God but about where our head space is at. If you believed that you were coming to meet with royalty how would you dress? It’s about our attitude. Even though I spoke of two facets earlier, you really cannot divorce the physical and the spiritual. The physical is a manifestation of what is happening on the inside. God knows our heart. He knows if we have done our best in preparing to come to meet with Him. That is all He requires. In terms of the spiritual aspect, we need to clean up ourselves BEFORE we come to meet with God. We do not come to church filthy on the inside and in our best garments on the outside. We are priests unto God. Remember, in the Old Testament, how the priests needed to prepare themselves before entering into the holiest place. They did this to avoid possible death! We are now living under grace. But truth be told, we have used God’s grace as excuse to treat Him with scant regard. As humans, it is unfortunate but true, that if we do not have someone ruling us with an iron fist we feel we can do as we please. God allows us a certain degree of latitude but He has called us to be disciples (disciplined) and to be led by His Spirit in this dispensation of grace. We are therefore without excuse.
My third observation relates to HOW we enter into God’s sanctuary. If we truly recognize that we are entering into God’s presence we would not come into the sanctuary as though we are coming to a social club to meet with our friends. Many times, as church is to begin, it takes the Pastor a number of welcomes to get everybody’s attention that we are ready to begin church. There is much too much idle chatter. Do that outside before you enter or let it remain until after you leave. God’s words to Moses should resound in our spirits as we come into His House, recognizing into whose presence we are coming.
Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God. (Ex. 3:5-6)
Man’s Posture in Relation to God
So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips. And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.” (Isa. 6:5)
What is meant by the word ‘posture’? In this context, it means man’s ‘approach and attitude’ in relating to God. Our posture in relation to any thing or any person is based on our knowledge about that thing or person. In the previous section, as we looked at who we are, we gained some insight of who God is. I want to share a few more scriptures with us to ensure that we have the fullest understanding of His awesome greatness and glorious splendor. This is the scripture I woke up with this morning.
The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven, And its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat. (Psa. 19:1-6, NKJV)
I encourage you to read the entire Psalms 19. When we look at nature, recognizing both its splendor and its intricacy, and that God made creation ALL ON HIS OWN, it immediately puts man in his rightful place in relation to God. We are the created and He is the Creator.
I stated earlier that there is so much evidence of our loss of the fear of the Lord and gave three observations to this fact. My fourth observation of this is the ease with which we murmur and complain. This is evidence of an attitude of entitlement. We have somehow come to a point where we believe that God owes us something, when, in fact, WE OWE HIM EVERYTHING!! Job found this out in no uncertain terms. My heart goes out to Job. I applaud His initial stance and posture, “the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21b). After further tribulation came upon Job His wife said that to him in Job 2:9,
……………… “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity? In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (Job 2: 9-10)
Many of us would have crumbled and cursed God if we had lost even 10% of what Job lost. I daresay, it is when we lose a right perspective of who God is and who we are in relation to Him that our complaints begin. Job came to that place after God did not show up on his behalf as Job expected. We are like that too. There is a point up to which we can continue to praise and trust God in our trials. However, we have a window within which we expect God to act to change the situation and when He doesn’t we begin to feel that somehow God has done us a disservice. After all, look at all we have sacrificed and done for Him. How could He not show up in answer to our prayers? How could He not come and deliver us in the timeframe we have set? For Job it starts in chapter 3, after sitting down on the ground with his friends for seven days and seven nights, no one speaking because of Job’s great grief.
After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. And Job spoke, and said: “May the day perish on which I was born, And the night in which it was said, ‘A male child was conceived.’ May that day be darkness; May God above not seek it, Nor the light shine upon it……………………………… Because it did not shut up the doors of my mother’s womb, Nor hid sorrow from my eyes. “Why did I not die at birth? Why did I not perish when I came from the womb?…………… Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, And whom God has hedged in? For my sighing comes before I eat, And my groanings pour out like water. For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, And what I dreaded has happened to me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, for trouble comes.” (Job 3:1-4, 10-11, 23-26)
From our human perspective, Job is justified in feeling this level of despair. But we also need to understand that in cursing the day of his birth, He is in fact questioning God’s decision and purpose for his being born. He continues in Job 29 to relate all that he used to have, and all that he used to do, and all the status that has now been taken away from him. Trials and tests bring out of us that which is buried deep within. If you take the time to read Job 29 -31, we see pride at work in Job and at the beginning of chapter 32 it says,
So these three men ceased answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. Then the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, was aroused against Job; his wrath was aroused because he justified himself rather than God. Also against his three friends his wrath was aroused because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job. (Job 32:1-3, emphases mine)
We are all guilty. Not one of us can cast a stone in Job’s direction. We are all guilty of the same sin. But let us remember the words of Isaiah.
But we are like an unclean thing. And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away. (Isa. 64:6)
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isa. 61:10)
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor. 5:21)
The only claim we have to being righteous is because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Isaiah foretold of God clothing us with garments of salvation and covering us with the robe of righteousness. Not because of anything we have done lest we should be tempted to boast (Ephesians 2:9). On this basis then, God shows up in Job 38 – 41 and dresses Job down properly throughout the four chapters. If you ever need to come back down to earth regarding who you are in relation to God, and if at any time you find yourself going off into murmuring and complaining about God’s handling of events in your own life, the church or the nations then read these four chapters to be reminded of who God really is in His own words! Just look at a short excerpt.
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: “Who is this who darkens counsel By words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened! Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who shut in the sea with doors, When it burst forth and issued from the womb; When I made the clouds its garment, And thick darkness its swaddling band; When I fixed My limit for it, And set bars and doors; When I said, ‘This far you may come, but no farther, And here your proud waves must stop! “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, And caused the dawn to know its place, That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, And the wicked be shaken out of it? It takes on form like clay under a seal, And stands out like a garment. From the wicked their light is withheld. And the upraised arm is broken. “Have you entered the springs of the sea? Or have you walked in search of the depths? Have the gates of death been revealed to you? Or have you seen the doors of the shadow of death? “Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this.” (Job 38:1-18)
So, what is to be our posture in relation to God?
Then Job answered the Lord and said: “I know that You can do everything. And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ “I have heard of You by hearing by the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:1-6)
It was only after Job came to this posture that God restored to him even more than had been taken from him. Again, I say everything we have and everything we are is from God. Let us never forget from whence we came and whose we are. Yes, God is a merciful Father but He is also a consuming fire.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. (Heb. 12:28-29)
Let us understand the purpose for grace. It is not to become too familiar with God, to feel that because we are in the dispensation of grace we can get away with doing as we please and God is bound to forgive and show mercy. Instead, let us understand that grace is given so we have the power to serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.
So, we have come back full circle to the 3 events I shared in Parts 1 – 3. We learnt from those events, and I rehearse here, that God requires total obedience, total dependence and total dominion. Let us be of the same persuasion as our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. (John 5:19)
I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. (John 5:30)
Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. (John 8:28)
Let us therefore see that we “walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Eph. 5:15-17)
As I close, I hear the Lord saying in the midst of this COVID-19 crisis, “But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him. Be still and know that I am God.”