The Fear of the Lord (Part 5)

At the end of Part 4, I noted that there was one church in the Revelation received by John on the Isle of Patmos that was called the Faithful Church. A remnant, if you would, with whom Jesus was pleased and promised them He would keep them from the hour of trial that was going to be unleashed upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the earth. I am sure you and I would love to be counted among that remnant in this hour of great trial.

We have asked and answered several questions in parts 1 – 4 of this series and I ended yesterday’s blog recognizing that the very important next question we needed to ask ourselves is, “What does God require of you and me (the Body of Christ) in this hour?” As I begin to answer this question, I want to take us back to 1 Chronicles 21 as I promised I would do.

What does God Require?

There is scriptural precedent regarding times of God’s judgment and the response required to cause God’s hand to be stayed. I am going to share some relevant passages for our meditation and revelation of what was and is required. The bible tells us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). God’s character does not change. What was required then is the same requirement now.

So David said to God, “I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing; but now, I pray, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.” (1 Chron. 21:8)

Then David lifted up his eyes and saw the angel of the Lord standing between earth and heaven, having in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem. So David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell on their faces. And David said to God, “Was it not I who commanded the people to be numbered? I am the one who has sinned and done evil indeed; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, O Lord my God, be against me and my father’s house, but not against Your people that they should be plagued.” Therefore, the angel of the Lord commanded Gad to say to David that David should go and erect an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. ………………………….Then David said to Ornan, “Grant me the place of this threshing floor, that I may build an altar on it to the Lord. You shall grant it to me at the full price, that the plague may be withdrawn from the people.” But Ornan said to David, “Take it to yourself, and let my lord the king do what is good in his eyes. Look, I also give you the oxen for burnt offerings, the threshing implements for wood, and the wheat for the grain offering; I give it all.” Then King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will surely buy it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs nothing.” So David gave Ornan six hundred shekels of gold by weight for the place. And David built there an altar to the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called on the Lord; and He answered him from heaven by fire on the altar of burn offering. So the Lord commanded the angel, and he returned his sword to its sheath.  (1 Chron. 21:16-27)

And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord that He take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” (Num. 21:5-8)

So the Lord said to Joshua: “Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face? Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they have become doomed to destruction. Neither will I be with you anymore, unless you destroy the accursed from among you. Get up, sanctify the people, and say, ‘Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow, because thus says the Lord God of Israel: “There is an accursed thing in your midst, O Israel; you cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the accursed thing from among you.” (Joshua 7:10-13)

When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. (2 Chron. 7:13-15)

Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure ………………………. Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, And rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, When His wrath be kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him. (Psa. 2:5. 10-12)

Remember therefore from where you are fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent. (Rev. 2:5)

Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. (Rev. 2:16)

And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. (Rev. 2:21-23)

Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. (Rev. 3:3)

I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. (Rev. 3:18-19)

And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory. (Rev. 16:9)

And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. (Rev. 18:4-5)

I am sure you see a pattern running through these scriptures. Tomorrow we compare notes. For now, I leave us to meditate and reflect. 

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Rev. 3:22)

Shalom.

The Fear of the Lord (Part 4)

Yesterday, I promised that I would share some further perspectives arising from David’s sin of conducting a census in 1 Chronicles 21 and the parallel scripture in 2 Samuel 24, which have direct relevance to our own situation as we navigate our way through this COVID-19 crisis. However, Holy Spirit has intercepted with some other insights He would have me to share first. Trust me, it will lead us right back to our discourse on what transpired with David and the Israelites, just not today 🙂

I keep on repeating that now, more than ever, true believers of Christ must be as the Sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what the people of God ought to do (1 Chron. 12:32). I believe Holy Spirit would have me to share today two critical facts that we must hold onto and accept. These will be keys to understanding how we will come through this perilous time.

So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell. (1 Chron. 21:14, emphasis mine)

Like a flitting sparrow, like a flying swallow, So a curse without cause shall not alight. (Prov. 26:2)

The first fact we must understand and acknowledge is that God sends plagues. We see further support for this fact in the following scripture.

‘I am the Lord, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me. I will gird you, though you have not known Me, That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting, That there is none besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other; I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things.’ (Isa. 45:5-7, emphasis mine)

The second fact we must understand is that God does not send a plague without cause.

Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the Lord and against His anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure: (Psa. 2:1-5)

With regards to COVID-19, God has spoken to the nations in His wrath and distressed them in His deep displeasure in response to their opposition to God’s commands and their refusal to submit to His Lordship. Some have been affected more than others, to this point.

So, where does the church come into all of this? God has placed the church in the earth to disciple the nations (Mt. 28:19). We have been mandated by God to teach the nations to observe all things that God has commanded us. The fact that the majority of nations continue to live in unrighteousness is an indictment against the Body of Christ globally. We have failed thus far to make the kind of impact we should in the earth. WHY??

As the corona virus came into Jamaica, I asked the Father God, “what is happening?” He said this is His judgment being unleashed against the nations. He reminded Me of a word He gave me several years ago, that the state of the nations was a reflection of the state of the church. He would therefore be starting with judgment of the church. This is in line with His Word that judgment must first begin in the house of God (1 Peter 4:17). This is also in keeping with the scripture in 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 regarding the link between church and nation.

When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (emphasis mine)

I questioned Father God further, “What are the specific sins for which the church is being judged?” He led me to Revelation chapters 1-3. It is time for the Body of Christ to do some serious introspection and to acknowledge and take responsibility for their sins, repent and come back to the fear of the Lord. I encourage you to read through these three chapters. I will just summarize here the things that God revealed He had against the six churches.

  • Left their first love;
  • Feared persecution;
  • Held to the doctrine of Balaam;
  • Held to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans;
  • Allowed the false prophetess, Jezebel, to teach and seduce God’s servants into sexual immorality and eating things sacrificed to idols;
  • Deceived that it is alive while it is in fact dead;
  • Lukewarm; lacking passion regarding the things of God mainly because they were comfortable with regards to material things. This led them to feel they were wealthy but instead Jesus said they were wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked.

I did some research into the doctrine of Balaam and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans.

The Doctrine of Balaam

Balaam’s name is mentioned in 2 Peter 2:15 and Jude 1:11. Both cases involved warnings about the conduct and message of false teachers. You will recall, Balaam tried unsuccessfully to prophesy against the Israelites in Numbers 22. He was a prophet from Mesopotamia, who was willing to use his God-given talents for illicit purposes. Even though he knew Balak was God’s enemy, he tried to sell his prophetic gifts to help him. When that didn’t work, Balaam advised Balak that the most effective way to weaken Israel was to seduce them using Moabite and Midianite women to tempt the Israelites into sexual relationships and into pagan rituals. God’s judgment came upon the Israelites who participated (Numbers 25:1-9). According to 2 Peter 2:15, Balaam’s “way” is a choice to “love the wages of unrighteousness”. According to Jude 1:11, Balaam’s “error” is that of accommodating pagan beliefs out of greed. In Jude 1:4, we see reference to the sin of those “who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In essence then, the doctrine of Balaam is the attitude that one can be fully cooperative with the world and still serve God. However, we are instructed in Romans 12:2 not to be conformed to this world. We are further told that love of the world is enmity with God (James 4:4). However, there are some churches that teach compromise, wanting Christians to forget that they are called to be separate and holy (1 Peter 1:2). The doctrine of Balaam makes believers indistinct from unbelievers (Matthew 5:13). The doctrine of Balaam is a belief that “a little sin” doesn’t hurt (Galatians 5:9), especially if there is some financial or personal benefit to be gained (1 Timothy 6:5). A person following the doctrine of Balaam will enable sinful behaviours for personal gain (popularity, money, sexual gratification) or even participate in them (Romans 1:32).[1]

The Doctrine of the Nicolaitans

Jesus was proud of the church of Ephesus for their “hatred” of the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which He also “hated” but charged the church at Pergamos for pursuing these deeds. The name “Nicolaitans” is derived from the Greek word Nikolaos, meaning to conquer or to subdue people. According to the writings of the Early Church leaders, this Nicolaitan doctrine was one of compromise. It implied that total separation between Christianity and the practice of occult paganism was not essential. It is noteworthy that the two churches with whom this doctrine was linked in Revelation were Ephesus and Pergamos where occultism was a major force that warred against the Early Church. Writers note that it would have been very easy for young or weak believers to slip in and out of paganism as most of their families and friends were still pagans.[2] It seems that this doctrine deemed it all right to have one foot in both worlds and believers did not need to be strict about separation from the world in order to be a Christian. It led to a weak version of Christianity that was without power and without conviction. These are the deeds that Jesus “hated”.

Both doctrines speak to compromising Christianity with world beliefs and false religions. Compromise with the world always results in a weakened and powerless form of Christianity. Hence, the reason for the Body of Christ not having the kind of impact it should be having in discipling the nations.

There was hope even in the midst of all that God had against the churches. There was a remnant in Laodicea. This church was called the faithful church in my New King James Version of the bible. What were the characteristics of this church?

“I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. ……………………you have kept My command to persevere. Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.” (Rev. 3:8-11, emphasis mine)

I believe there is a remnant alive and well in Jamaica.

If we accept that God has allowed the corona virus to be unleashed and we begin to understand the reasons for His judgment, starting with the church and then the nations, the next question we need to ask ourselves is, “What does God require of you and me in this hour?” Join me tomorrow as we explore the answer to this question.

Shalom.

[1] https://www.gotquestions.org/doctrine-of-Balaam.html

[2] https://renner.org/who-were-nicolaitans-what-was-doctrine-deeds/

 

 

 

 

The Fear of the Lord (Part 3)

For those of you joining us for the first time in this series please click the links The Fear of the Lord (Part 1) The Fear of the Lord (Part 2) to review what we have covered so far. For those who have been following from the beginning, today I will be discussing the third account that I believe Holy Spirit led me to share, to highlight the importance of the Body of Christ and the nation at large coming into the fear of the Lord.

David Takes a Census

Yes, it’s King David again. For this third event we go to 1 Chronicles 21.

Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel. So David said to Joab and to the leaders of the people, “Go, number Israel from Beersheba to Dan, and bring the number of them to me that I may know it.” And Joab answered, “May the Lord make His people a hundred times more than they are. But, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? Why then does my lord require this thing? Why should he be a cause of guilt in Israel?” Nevertheless the king’s word prevailed against Joab. Therefore Joab departed and went throughout all Israel and came to Jerusalem. (1 Chron. 21:1-4)

But he did not count Levi and Benjamin among them, for the king’s word was abominable to Joab. And God was displeased with this thing; therefore He struck Israel. So David said to God, “I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing; but now, I pray, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.” Then the Lord spoke to Gad, David’s seer, saying, “Go and tell David, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord: “I offer you three things; choose one of them for yourself, that I may do it to you.‘ “ So Gad came to David and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Choose for yourself, either three years of famine, or three months to be defeated by your foes with the sword of your enemies overtaking you, or else for three days the sword of the Lord – the plague in the land, with the angel of the Lord destroying throughout all the territory of Israel.’ Now consider what answer I should take back to Him who sent me.” And David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Please let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are very great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell. (1 Chron. 21:6-14, emphasis mine)

Several pressing questions arise from the reading of this account and we will get to those shortly. Suffice it to say, David sinned against God and God brought swift punishment. It is interestingly relevant, as we are currently going through the COVID-19 pandemic, that one of the punishment options presented by God was a plague described by God Himself as “the sword of the Lord” and that it was the angel of the Lord who wielded the destruction that killed seventy thousand men. Nuff said.

So, the first obvious question is, what was so sinful about David taking a census that caused God’s wrath and displeasure to come against David and Israel? This is not stated explicitly in the passage. However, there are a few clues that can lead us to make some informed deductions. In Part 2 of this series, I noted that David never lost a battle. In fact, in the chapter preceding 1 Chronicles 21, we see David conquering Rabbah and, in another battle, destroying the Philistine giants. Could it be that David had become puffed up because of all his success? Before I answer this question, it would be insightful to ponder the purpose of conducting a census. My research revealed that, in David’s time, a census was conducted in preparation to draft soldiers and for the levying of taxes. Several writers note that it seemed David’s intent was to increase his royal power in a way that contrasted with humble reliance on God. Throughout the Old Testament, there was a continuous emphasis on “the human kingship of Israel being dependent on God’s divine kingship. For Israel’s king to build up the same kind of power common to pagan kings was tantamount to repudiating God’s kingship over Israel.”[1] Other writers note that it could also have been a case of David forgetting that the people did not belong to him but to God and if God had required them to be counted He would have given that instruction. I tend to agree with the thoughts of these writers. In particular, I couldn’t help but note that this last point is supported by the words Joab used when trying to discourage David’s action.

And Joab answered, “May the Lord make His people a hundred times more than they are. But, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants?………….(1 Chron. 21:3a, emphasis mine)

From all that has been said, there is strong evidence to support that David’s motivation for doing the census and the fact that God had not instructed him to do so were at the root of God’s anger. Let us remember that God is always interested in the condition of our hearts (1 Sam. 16:7). Further support that pride was at work in David’s heart was the fact that, despite Joab’s questioning David in an obvious attempt to dissuade him from pursuing this course of action, David refused to listen or even stop and ponder for a moment about the warning that was being sounded. This is how pride operates. When a spirit of pride is at work we become unteachable. The prideful person believes he/she knows more than anyone else and his/her way is the best way. It is so easy for pride to enter into our hearts. I noted in my series “The Many Faces of Pride” that pride is the cardinal sin. It was pride that caused Satan to be cast out of heaven and he tapped into Eve’s pride to cause the fall of mankind.

Isn’t it therefore interesting to observe in the beginning of this 1 Chronicles 21 passage  that it was Satan himself who moved David to take the census. The parallel scripture in 2 Samuel 24 says,

Again the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.” (2 Sam. 24:1)

We know that the Bible does not contradict itself when studied as the whole counsel of God. We note in the Book of Job, that Satan had to seek permission from God before he could oppose Job. In this instance, it is obvious that in saying that “the Lord moved David against the Israelites” this move was actually accomplished via temptation from Satan. It is also evident here that Israel was not in God’s good books. This fact was not so evident in 1 Chronicles 21:1. We don’t know what sin had been committed but God’s anger was definitely against Israel. Consequently, God fully intended to bring punishment on the nation and He knew that David’s vulnerability, because of pride, would cause him to yield to Satan’s temptation. In one action God achieved two objectives – the punishment of Israel and David’s recognition that his heart was not right.

And David’s heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done; …………………………. (2 Sam. 24:10)

In the 1 Chronicles 21 account, it appeared that it was only after God had struck Israel that David acknowledged his sin. However, in the passage above it says that David’s own heart condemned him. In other words, his conscience was pricked and he acknowledged that he had sinned.

Having said all of this, what is the message to each of us individually and to the Body of Christ collectively? God does not allow a plague to come upon nations without a cause.

Like a flitting sparrow, like a flying swallow, So a curse without cause shall not alight. (Prov. 26:2)

Like David, we need to do some serious soul searching. As we have seen from the three accounts I have shared, God is patient with us but there comes a point when He MUST in His righteousness administer judgment to bring things back into order. He must cause those who have rulership in the earth, who have become so full of pride and arrogance (including some church leaders), and who have forgotten that all authority is given by God, to recognize that there is One higher than them to whom they are indeed subject. It is God’s desire that we would willingly obey His commands and walk righteously. However, when we have been given opportunity time and time again to get our house in order there comes a time when rebellion must be met with draconian measures for the saving of ourselves from an even worse fate.

I end our discussion here for today. I know the attention span is short and I have already stretched you beyond your limit. Tomorrow, there is another perspective that I want to share regarding the way in which God meted out punishment to Israel, which has direct relevance to our own situation as we navigate our way through this COVID-19 crisis. Stay tuned.

Shalom.

[1] https://www.tenth.org/resource-library/articles/why-was-davids-census-a-great-sin

The Fear of the Lord (Part 2)

Thanks for joining me again as we go into Part 2 in this crucial series.

As I sought the Lord for His mind concerning the fear of the Lord, He led me to three accounts in the scriptures to show evidence that God is not to be played with or taken lightly. I shared the first of these three accounts yesterday – Moses and the Striking of the Rock. See The Fear of the Lord (Part 1). Today, I share the second account.

The Death of Uzza

This account can be found in 1 Chronicles 13:3-14. At last, David was made King over all Israel and there was great joy (1 Chronicles 12). One of his first acts was to consult with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader to determine if it seemed good to them that they should send and call the rest of their brethren to come and gather with them and “bring the ark of our God back to us, for we have not inquired at it since the days of Saul” (1 Chron. 13:3).

Then all the assembly said that they would do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people. (1 Chron. 13:4, emphasis mine)

I have purposely focused our attention on the decision making process that took place. You will see why as we progress further. Let us jump to verse 7.

So they carried the ark of God on a new cart from the house of Abinadab, and Uzza and Ahio drove the cart. Then David and all Israel played music before God with all their might, with singing, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on cymbals, and with trumpets. And when they came to Chidon’s threshing floor, Uzza put out his hand to hold the ark, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzza, and He struck him because he put his hand to the ark; and he died there before God. And David became angry because of the Lord’s outbreak against Uzza; therefore that place is called Perez Uzza to this day. David was afraid of God that day, saying, “How can I bring the ark of God to me?” (1 Chron. 13:7-12, emphasis mine)

Again, as in the case of God’s decision not to allow Moses to enter the Promised Land, I found God’s action in this situation to be drastic. My heart went out to Uzza. Here he was, trying to be helpful in not allowing the ark to fall and ends up dead, at the hand of God no less, for his ‘good deed’. I believe this would be everybody’s preliminary response without an understanding of the context within which God acted. The act of carrying the ark back with them was definitely not a bad act in and of itself. They even made the effort to place it on a “new cart” in recognition of its importance. One thing is certain, although David’s initial response following Uzza’s death was anger it quickly turned to the fear of God. Is this what it will require for us in these days to fear the Lord? So, what made God so angry that He would strike Uzza dead? Let us fast forward to 1 Chronicles 15.

David built houses for himself in the City of David; and he prepared a place for the ark of God, and pitched a tent for it. Then David said, “No one may carry the ark of God but the Levites, for the Lord has chosen them to carry the ark of God and to minister before Him forever.” And David gathered all Israel together at Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the Lord to its place, which he had prepared for it. (1 Chron. 15:1-3, emphasis mine)

And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites: for Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab. He said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites; sanctify yourselves, you and your brethren, that you may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it. For because you did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order.” So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel. And the children of the Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders, by its poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord. (1 Chron. 13:11-15, emphases mine)

God is a God of order (1 Cor. 14:40). He gave specific requirements about who was to transport the ark of God and how it was to be transported. King David chose to consult with his leaders rather than with God in coming to the decision to move the ark and then went ahead as it pleased the people. He never consulted God on this matter or sought to be reminded of the command that had been given to Moses in this regard. This led to a man’s death. What can we learn from this? The scriptures tell us that there is a way that seems right to a man but the end thereof is the way of death (Prov. 14:12; 16:25). We are also told in Proverbs 3:5-8,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones. (emphasis mine)

Many times, we pursue our own plans, which, on the face of them, seem quite good and wholesome. However, we never consulted God on whether this was His intention for us at that particular point in time. We treat God with disdain and then when things go wrong we complain and wonder why our lives are in turmoil. When we choose to do our own thing our own way we become our own God and God views this as pride and arrogance. We should all be well aware of the consequences of pride (Prov 16:18).

As we look back at the events following Uzza’s death, David’s modus operandi is noteworthy. Recall that 1 Chronicles 13 ended with David afraid of God. How did this actually play out in 1 Chronicles 14? I encourage you to read the chapter. When you do, you will see David consulting the Lord before every battle to determine God’s mind about whether he was to fight the enemy or not. David learnt his lesson well and because of it he never lost a battle. He recognized his wrong and made the necessary adjustments. This is why he was referred to as “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22). The scriptures tell us,

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Rev. 1:8)

For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. (1 John 3:20, emphases mine)

Who is the Beginning and the End? GOD! Who knows all things? GOD! Not man! How dare we presume that we know more than God our Creator. When we take matters into our own hands that is exactly what we are saying whether we realize it or not.

As I close, let us be reminded of God’s words in Isaiah 55:8-9.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Tomorrow, I will share the third event Holy Spirit showed me that will convince us even more forcefully of the need for us to return to the fear of the Lord.

Shalom.

The Fear of the Lord (Part 1)

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many Christian ministers are tapping into God to find out what this all means. What is God saying to us as a church, as individuals, as nations? One common theme that I hear coming out, and which I have also received from the Lord, is that this plague, pestilence, calamity (call it what you will), is from the Lord and one of the reasons is to correct the misguided perspective that God is no longer to be feared. The Bible tells us that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31). This is exactly what has happened to the nations of the earth. The hand of the Lord has moved against us because the Lord now says, “enough is enough”. As Christians around the world have interceded for the atrocities that have been taking place around the world prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, we have asked the Lord on many occasions in our prayers to arise and cause His enemies to be scattered. We never know just how God will answer but what we do know is that He will answer the prayers of the righteous (Prov. 15:29; 1 Pet. 3:12). Truly this is God’s answer to the prayers of many Christians. We need to be as the Sons of Issachar and correctly discern the times and seasons. We need to understand this move of God and see what is happening from His perspective. Many would say, “How could a loving God do or allow this plague to come upon the world?” This is exactly the reason why He could not allow what has been going on in the world to continue unabated. The scriptures tell us that as a good Father, God must chasten us as part of His evidence of love (read Hebrews 12:5-11). I therefore encourage us as the Apostle Paul did in Hebrews 12:13:

Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.

But even as I encourage us in this manner I also sense an increasing urgency for us to better understand “the fear of the Lord”. In addition to being a loving Father, God is also a righteous judge and we have been found guilty. We need to understand what God requires from His church (the Body of Christ) first and then from the nations. Yes, judgment does begin in the house of God (1 Peter 4:17). It is time for a return of the fear of the Lord in the Body of Christ. God has been speaking this warning through His prophets for several years now but many church leaders have deafened their ears to what the Holy Spirit has been saying to the Body of Christ. We are instructed in 1 Thessalonians 5:20 not to despise prophecies. Because many of our leaders have not heeded, we see familiarity with God, dishonouring of God’s presence, diminishing of the importance of holiness, leaders taking the place of God (idolatry & pride) and an entitlement spirit (murmuring and complaining) have overtaken the Body of Christ. This has come up as a stench in God’s nostrils.

I want to preface this discussion with this scripture, which I am sure we have all quoted but many of us do not fully understand its implications. By the end of sharing what I believe the Holy Spirit has downloaded to me, I trust we will all have a full grasp of what this scripture means.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10, NKJV)

To be fair, many Christians do not fear the Lord because they do not know Him fully as He is to be known. Many Pastors, Apostles, Teachers and Prophets have pandered to itching ears. Focusing their attention, and that of their members, on the grace and mercy of God while at the same time failing to emphasize the righteous judgment of God. The Apostle Paul foretold of these events (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

As I sought the Lord for His mind concerning the fear of the Lord, He led me to three accounts in the scriptures that show evidence that God is not to be played with or taken lightly. Let us understand that this knowledge to be shared is the first step in coming closer to the fear of the Lord that God requires from each of us. Let us not be fools, despising wisdom and instruction.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7, NKJV)

Moses and the Striking of the Rock

We all know the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. However, God did not allow Moses to enter the Promised Land, even though it says this of him in Deuteronomy 34:10-12.

But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, in all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land, and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.

Why did God find it necessary to forbid Moses entry into the Promised Land? We join the account of what transpired in Numbers 20. The Israelites were complaining bitterly again to Moses and Aaron because there was no water. In their anguish, Moses and Aaron went off by themselves to the door of the tabernacle of meeting and fell on their faces. God’s glory appears to them and the Lord tells Moses,

Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. SPEAK to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals. (Numbers 20:8, emphasis mine)

So, what did Moses do?

So Moses took the rod from before the Lord as He commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” Then Moses lifted his hand and STRUCK the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank. Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” (Numbers 20:9-12, emphasis mine)

God’s response to Moses’ action may seem somewhat drastic. Truth be told, I have held this view on several occasions after reading this account. However, as I have grown in spiritual maturity I have recognized that when you are in leadership you have an even more earnest responsibility to be obedient to God as He is depending upon you to represent Him accurately to the people who you lead. To whom much is given much is required (Luke 12:48).

The only part of God’s command Moses obeyed was to take up the rod. It all went downhill from there. Moses took God’s glory onto himself. He said to the Israelites, “Must WE bring water for you out of this rock?” He did not attribute the power for this miracle to God. Further, he allowed His frustration and anger with the people to cause Him to misrepresent the Lord in striking the rock rather than speaking to the rock.  What was ultimately at the root of God’s decision? He told Moses and Aaron that they “did not hallow” God in the eyes of the children of Israel. What does it mean to “hallow”? We see this word also mentioned in the Lord’s prayer. “Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name.” To hallow is “to make holy or set apart for holy use; sanctify, consecrate, honor as holy; consider sacred; venerate; to respect greatly (Merriam-Webster, Dictionary.com). Moses’ disobedience was an indication that in that moment he lost respect for the Lord and failed to give Him the honour due to Him before the people. When we fear the Lord we have a reverent awe for who He is. If we truly fear the Lord, we would never think to act in opposition to the instructions He has given. This is dishonouring and disrespectful in God’s eyes. We fail to give God His rightful place and ascribe power, might and honour to Him alone. I think 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 puts everything into perspective.

But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that NO FLESH SHOULD GLORY IN HIS PRESENCE. (emphasis mine)

Church of the Living God we have been weighed in the balances and been found wanting.

This will be a daily series due to the urgency of what God is requiring of His church in this season. See you tomorrow for the continuation.

Shalom.

Overcoming Intimidation (Pt 3)

Welcome to the final part of our current series. Just to give a quick recap of what I have shared so far. In Part 1, I shared the meaning of intimidation and pointed out that fear is a spirit (2 Tim. 1:7). I also shared on the purpose of intimidation, forms of intimidation, the root of intimidation, and who is affected by intimidation. Overcoming Intimidation (Pt 1)  In part 2, I shared on the signs & symptoms of intimidation as well as the effects of intimidation. Overcoming Intimidation (Pt 2)

As we reflect on the serious consequences of allowing intimidation to gain a foothold and become a stronghold in our lives, we should recognize the urgent need for us to be equipped with the knowledge to overcome it. This is the topic of this third and final part of this series.

How to Overcome Intimidation

We cannot overcome intimidation simply with positive thinking. Positive thinking deals with the effect but not the root. We cannot just ignore it either, thinking that it will just disappear if we don’t focus on it. Since we have already established that fear is a spirit (2 Tim. 1:7), it can only be dealt with in the realm of the spirit. In fact, we may miss it if we are not spiritually discerning and deal only with its side effects.

James 4:7 says “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” This is echoed in 1 Peter 5:8-9. “Resist him, steadfast in the faith.” We can only resist when we have truly submitted to God, laying aside our own agendas and trusting Him sufficiently to take Him at His word. We actually open the door of our lives to the enemy when we are not fully surrendered to the Lord and have no power to resist. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who what? Fear the Lord! (Ps. 34:7). When we are completely submitted to God’s will then we have the power that is required to resist the devil. It says he WILL flee not he MAY flee. When we are not completely submitted to God’s will then the enemy has the legal authority to overpower us and then a stronghold of fear comes and we have to be delivered. The best defense is offense. Confrontation rather than compromise will break the enemy’s influence. God has given us everything that pertains to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). He has made available to us weapons of warfare that are not carnal but are mighty in God for pulling down strongholds (2 Cor. 10:4). Three of the antidotes for a spirit of fear are listed in (2 Tim. 1:7).

The Spirit of Power

We need to put the enemy’s power in the right perspective. Remember there is none stronger nor greater than God (Ps. 27:1; 1 John 4:4). Trust in God’s power not your own (Zec. 4:6; Heb. 13:6; 1 Cor. 1:27; 2 Cor. 3:5). Recount and declare the faithfulness of God (1 Sam. 17:34-37; 2 Cor. 3:11-12). Seek God’s proceeding word (Rom 10:17; Mt. 4:4). The source of our power is the Word of God. This is how Jesus resisted the enemy’s temptations in the wilderness. Speak the word of God to flatten every intimidation of the enemy. If we review the whole armor of God listed in Ephesians 6, we will notice that the word of God is the only offensive weapon mentioned. This is insightful!!

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Heb. 4:12)

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; (Eph. 6:17)

The Spirit of Love

Jesus’ power to resist temptation was rooted in what He loved and didn’t love (John 14:31). Love is not simply an emotion. Love is obedience and love is action. If someone says they love you then this is manifested by their behaviour towards you and in response to you. Our knowledge and belief of God’s love for us should make us immune to the attacks of intimidation from the enemy. Love of the Father conquers love of self and casts out fear (1 John 4:17-18).  So, when the enemy comes with his intimidatory tactics we must confess and believe that God’s love is going to give us the power to overcome and make us more than conquerors over the enemy (Rom. 8:31-39). We need therefore to die to self (Mk. 8:34-35). A dead person cannot be tormented (Rev. 12:11). The love of Jesus must be shed abroad in our own hearts such that there is no room for the spirit of fear to enter in. If we love the Lord enough we will want to obey Him and not be distracted by the enemy (Acts 5:29; Jas. 1:22-25). Our love for Christ and our belief of God’s love for us will cause us to be rooted and grounded not only when it’s smooth sailing (Eph. 3:17-19; Mk. 4:16-20).

The Spirit of a Sound Mind

Nothing intimidates more than ignorance/lack of knowledge (Prov. 24:5; 11:9). The spirit of a sound mind is not the same as natural wisdom or special training in Scripture (Acts 4:13; Lk. 2:25-30, 33). Again, it comes back to the Word of God. When we meditate on the word it transforms our minds (Rom. 12:2; Eph 5:26). The spirit of a sound mind comes by having the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:13, 15-16). Knowing what God is saying and doing right now as revealed by the Holy Spirit (John 16:13-14). We are admonished to walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6; Lk. 21:14-15) and not to yield to fools (Prov. 26:4). The quickened word builds our faith therefore we must pray for Holy Spirit’s revelation as we read the Bible (Mt. 17:20; Heb. 10:38). To have authority we must be under authority (John 5:19, 30; 12:49; 14:10; 20:21). A sound mind is a humble mind, a teachable mind (Phil 2:5-8). A mind that can therefore remain steadfast in faith and have tenacity in the face of every form of intimidation (1 Pet. 5:9; Phil. 3:12, 14). A sound mind is able to stay focused despite efforts at distraction (Neh. 6:2-4; Ps. 1:1-3; John 4:4-10).

So, in closing, I encourage us to be sober and vigilant. It is not a matter of IF the enemy will attack it is WHEN he will attack (1 Pet. 5:8). We must always be ready ahead of time (Eph. 6:11, 13). Have your sword sharpened at all times and your armor in place. Know that you have an adversary that will stop at nothing to intimidate. But know also that God has equipped, empowered and enabled you to overcome.

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil. 1:6)

Shalom.

 

Overcoming Intimidation (Pt 2)

Welcome to Part 2 of our current series. In Part 1, I discussed the meaning of intimidation and pointed out that fear is a spirit (2 Tim. 1:7). I also shared on the purpose of intimidation, forms of intimidation, the root of intimidation, and who is affected by intimidation. Today, I will be sharing on the signs & symptoms of intimidation as well as the effects of intimidation.

Signs & Symptoms of Intimidation

Persons who are affected by a spirit of fear (intimidation) will display several signs and symptoms some of which are listed below:

  • loss of peace, confidence, courage, endurance, resolution and security; great anxiety & worry (Mt. 6:34, Phil. 4:6-7, Isa. 26:3);
  • torment (severe physical and mental suffering) (1 John 4:18);
  • doubt and unbelief about God’s love (1 John 4:18);
  • discouragement, hopelessness, frustration (Isa. 41:10);
  • a perception that God has deserted you and you are alone (Deut. 31:6, Josh. 1:9, Psa. 23:4);
  • insecurity (Mt. 6:34);
  • fear of men’s faces; timidity (Psa. 118:6, Act 4:29);
  • paranoia (everyone is against you or trying to harm you) (Rom. 8:31);
  • feeling of being trapped (Job 22:10);
  • shame and embarrassment (Jeremiah 1:17; Phil. 1:20);
  • warped judgment or perspective (e.g., Elijah);
  • heaviness and depression (e.g., Elijah);
  • desire to die (e.g., Elijah);
  • attack the pure in heart (e.g., 1 Sam. 17:28 – Eliab and David);
  • failure to step out into ministry (2 Tim 1:6-7);
  • failure to speak out against unrighteousness (Mk. 6:17, Eph. 6:20);
  • walk in unrighteousness (Psa. 119:134, Josh. 1:7);
  • lack of energy and feeling of exhaustion (e.g., Elijah);
  • a sorrowful spirit (Exod. 15:14).

Effects of Intimidation

We note that when Jezebel caused a spirit of fear to come upon Elijah (1 Kings 19:2-4), one of the first things that happened was that he began to operate out of the Lord’s perfect will. The intimidated person honours what he fears more than he honours God. There is greater vulnerability to walk in unrighteousness because fear prevents one from standing up for what is righteous. The fear of men’s faces and the pride of life take over (1 John 2:16). It is easier to conform to the world rather than being courageous enough to come out from among them (Rom. 12:2). God’s anger is against those who continue to walk in fear (Heb. 10:38). Scripture tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). The end of such a person is “the lake which burns with fire and brimstone” (Rev. 21:7-8). I didn’t say it, God’s word did! Of course, this is not God’s desire for any of us. His desire is that we enter into His rest, however, unbelief will prevent us from doing so (Heb. 3:19).

And in no way be alarmed or intimidated [in anything] by your opponents, for such [constancy and fearlessness on your part] is a [clear] sign [a proof and a seal] for them of [their impending] destruction, but [a clear sign] for you of deliverance and salvation, and that too, from God. For you have been granted [the privilege] for Christ’s sake, not only to believe and confidently trust in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, [and so you are] experiencing the same [kind of] conflict which you saw me endure, and which you hear to be mine now. (Phil. 1:28-30, AMP)

God is requiring us to expect the enemy to try and intimidate us because his modus operandi has not changed. Jesus endured it, Paul endured it and we will endure it. When we, as Christ’s representatives give in to the intimidation of our opponents we bring God’s name into disrepute. It is an indication that we do not believe and confidently trust in Him. If we don’t believe in the God we say we serve, why should unbelievers? It brings our testimony and witness into question before the world.

Therefore prepare yourself and arise, And speak to them all that I command you. Do not be dismayed before their faces. Lest I dismay you before them. (Jer. 1:17)

Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. (Mt. 10:31-33)

God is very serious about how we represent Him before others. As His representatives, if we allow fear to cause us to misrepresent Him, He will allow us to be ashamed in front of our enemies. Jesus goes further to state that He will be no mediator before God on behalf of anyone who denies Him before men. God warns that we must not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Mt. 10:28).

One of the main effects of fear is on the manifestation of our spiritual gifts. Which is why Paul found it necessary to admonish Timothy to stir up (Greek: anazopureo) “to kindle afresh or keep in full flame” his gifts (2 Tim. 1:6). We see that the spirit of fear is the root cause of gifts becoming dormant (2 Tim. 1:7). If we allow fear to prevent us from exercising our spiritual gifts then the effect is similar to a muscle that is not exercised, it gets weak and dies.  The ultimate effect though is that those who should have received ministry through the spiritual gifts that we have been given are not ministered to. God says He will hold us guilty of their blood (Ezek. 3:18, 20; 33:6, 8).

As we reflect on the serious consequences of allowing intimidation to gain a foothold and become a stronghold in our lives, we should recognize the urgent need for us to be equipped with the knowledge to overcome it. This will be the topic for the third and final part of this series. You can’t afford to miss it. Join me again next week.

Shalom.

Overcoming Intimidation (Pt 1)

Throughout the scriptures we see persons being encouraged or instructed “do not be afraid”, “fear not”, “be of good courage”. This certainly gives one the impression that as human beings fear is something we are constantly grappling with. Intimidation or fear comes from the Greek word deilia meaning timidity and cowardice. Fear is not an attitude or disposition but a spirit (2 Tim. 1:7). Fear is not of God. It is in fact a controlling evil spirit as seen in the example of Jezebel and Elijah in 1 Kings 19:2-4. When we fear we are in fact saying that we do not trust God for fear is the opposite of faith.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:7)

Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, Which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (1 Kings 19:2-4)

This is the same prophet who had just trusted God to rain down fire on the burnt sacrifice, drenched with water no less, and caused 450 prophets of Baal to be executed.

Purpose of Intimidation

Satan seeks to intimidate you to take you out of your God given place of authority.

and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2:6)

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. (Mt. 28:18)

Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Lk. 10:19)

By taking you out of your God given place of authority, the enemy knows he will restrain your spiritual ability and action to coerce and force you into submission (Romans 6:16). Ultimately, he wants our gifts to become dormant so we will miss the purposes of God (2 Timothy 1:6-7).

Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? (Rom. 6:16)

Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:6-7)

Forms of Intimidation

We see in Genesis chapter 3 verses 1 – 10, exactly how the enemy attacks you and those around you through fear and intimidation. He does this through our thoughts, imaginations, visions, circumstances, and people under his influence. He operates through words of judgment and criticism; anger and strife; belittling words, ridicule, mocking; threats (blatant and subtle); lies, deception, and false prophecy; sowing seeds of doubt about what God has said; and picking arguments (“pulling your tongue”).

Root of Intimidation

At the root of fear and intimidation is the love of self! “What about ME? What will happen to ME? What will they think of ME? Woe is ME!” Pride is at the root.

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (Rom. 1:21)

Who is affected by Intimidation?

1. Fear and intimidation gains expression through any person who will yield to it.

“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” (Eph. 4:26-27)

 2. Believers are specially targeted, particularly those who are operating powerfully in the spiritual realm.

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. (2 Tim. 3:12)

3. You can be pure of heart and still be attacked. In 2 Timothy 1 verse 5, Paul speaks of Timothy’s upright character and again in Philippians 2 verses 19 and 20, but he still had to be reminding him not to allow his gifts to become dormant through a spirit of fear (2 Tim. 1:7)

4. You can be bold and anointed one moment and succumb to intimidation the next as we saw earlier in the case of Elijah (1 Kings 18 & 19).

5. Believer’s should expect attacks.

strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Pet. 5:8)

Do not be afraid of sudden terror, Nor of trouble from the wicked WHEN it comes; (Prov. 3:25, emphasis mine)

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. (1 Cor. 2:11)

Join me next time as I share signs/symptoms of intimidation, effects of intimidation, and how to overcome intimidation. See you then.

Shalom.

 

 

 

Arise, Shine!! (Part 5)

We complete this current series today. Welcome to those visiting this blog site for the first time. Over the past 4 weeks, we have been gaining insights about the spiritual gifts and God’s requirement that we ‘stir up’ the gifts given to us. Check Part 4 to understand what is meant by stirring up the gifts. As promised, today I will be discussing how we stir up the gifts.

It is important to note in 2 Timothy 1:6 that Paul did not tell Timothy to pray and ask the Lord to stir up his gifts within him. He laid that responsibility squarely at Timothy’s feet. The fact that Paul was telling Timothy to reactivate his gift means that God holds each of us accountable for determining whether or not the gifts we have been given will be activated or not and once activated whether or not they will remain activated. Holy Spirit gives the gifts but each one of us has been given the response-ability to activate the gifts we have been given and to keep them activated. How? Recall, I mentioned last time that 2 Timothy 1:6 is the only place in the Bible where this phrase ‘stir up’ is used. It should therefore be no surprise that it is the verses immediately following verse 6 that prove instructive with regards to the ‘how’. 

7For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (8) Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner: but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God; (9) who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (10) but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, (11) to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. (12) For this reason I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that day. (2 Tim. 1:7-12)

Here, Paul is pointing out the main challenge all believers face in stepping into the manifestation of their spiritual gifts – the spirit of fear. What is the antidote for fear? Faith. How does faith come? By hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). So then, for our spiritual gifts to flourish we must nourish ourselves with the Word of God so our faith remains steadfast. To counter the spirit of fear, we must believe that Holy Spirit within us is greater than any demonic spirit that seeks to intimidate us and that belief is built up in us through meditation on the truth in God’s Word regarding who we are in Christ.

What else must we do to activate, keep activated or reactivate our spiritual gifts? Paul goes on to encourage Timothy to be willing to step into the holy calling upon his life despite the hardships that would come. Paul called them “sufferings for the gospel”. Many of us want the resurrection power of Jesus but don’t want to share in the same suffering that Jesus had to go through as a condition to experiencing the resurrection power.

that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Phil. 3:10-11)

The following scriptures provide further support for what God requires of us in keeping with the stirring up of our gifts.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Rom. 12:1)

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. (Mk. 8:35)

If our gifts are to be stirred up, we must be willing to partner with Holy Spirit in full measure, in complete surrender to God’s will. We must be willing to work the works of Him who has called us while it is still day, no matter the cost (John 9:4). We note from the 2 Timothy 1:7-12 passage above, that the works we are being required to do are in keeping with the purpose and calling God preordained for each of our lives. In Paul’s case, the spiritual gifts given to him were to equip him to be a preacher, an apostle and a teacher of the Gentiles. Like Paul, we must cancel the fear of the suffering by knowing in whom we have believed, and being persuaded that ‘He is able to keep what we have committed to Him until that day.’ Father God wants us to have the correct perspective of adversity and suffering, recognizing that everything with God has a purpose.

For our light afflictions, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. (2 Cor. 4:17)

It is as we step out in faith, that the spiritual gifts will manifest and as we step out for God, He will not allow us to be ashamed because He has a vested interest in us accomplishing that which He has given us to do. The more we exercise our spiritual gifts in ministry, the more our gifts will flow and the words “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” will become a reality.

Satan wants more than anything to prevent the Body of Christ from activating the spiritual gifts we have been given. He does this through intimidation. Many of us are bound by the spirit of fear and have allowed ourselves to be intimidated into either not activating our spiritual gifts or allowing them to become dormant. God has appointed this as the day when a shift will take place in your life if you determine in your heart to partner with Him. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God!! (Rom. 8:19)

Please be encouraged further by looking up and hearing the Word of the Lord to His people from Isaiah 51:7-8, 12-16.

Arise, shine: For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. (Isaiah 60:1)

 Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light. (Eph. 5:14)

Shalom.

 

 

 

Arise, Shine!! (Part 4)

Thanks for joining me again as God seeks to inspire His Body, the Body of Christ, to activate the gifts He has given for such a time as this. To the newcomers, welcome to this series where we have been using the passage from 1 Corinthians 12 verses 4-11 to shed some light on the spiritual gifts. In parts 2 & 3 (Arise, Shine!! (Part 2); Arise, Shine!! (Part 3) we have answered the following 6 questions:

  1. What are these gifts (charismas)?
  2. Where do the gifts come from?
  3. Who are gifts given to?
  4. Why are the gifts given?
  5. Who decides who gets which gift(s)?
  6. If I receive the same gift as you will it manifest in the same way?

Today, we want to answer the 7th and final question. As we launch into it, I want us to reflect on the nature of a gift.

What do we know about gifts?

  • For a gift to be a true gift it cannot be earned. It is free.
  • You do not receive a true gift based on how good or bad you are.
  • The giving of the gift is the free choice of the giver of the gift.
  • The giver of the gift intends to bring happiness (blessing) to the receiver.

All of these characteristics of gifts apply to our spiritual gifts except for the last one. This is a reminder to us that God doesn’t think as the world thinks. There is a difference between how the kingdom of God operates and how this world operates and perceives things. This is why we are told we are not to be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2). Followers of Christ are supposed to have a different culture from the world in which we find ourselves. We are here to change the world not to blend in with it. This brings us to question 7.

7. The spiritual gifts we receive are for who? 

We have the answer in verse 7 of our study passage.

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: (1 Cor. 12:7, NKJV)

This means we are not given spiritual gifts to hoard and to use for our own benefit or to make money from it. There are Christians right now who are charging people to give them a prophetic word from God, to receive healing, to receive deliverance. The Lord’s word tells us plainly, freely you have received freely give.

Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. (Mt. 10:8)

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. (1 Cor. 2:12)

And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. (Rev. 22:17)

Let us remember who these gifts belong to. We did not get them in our own power and we cannot operate them in our own power. Those who are acting in opposition to God’s will concerning the gifts they have received are not operating under the influence of Holy Spirit but under the influence of Satan. The Word tells us plainly that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. And charging people in need for what has been freely given of God is both idolatry and rebellion. Those people need to know that God has said that “because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you” (1 Sam. 15:23b). That wasn’t even in my notes but God’s heart is grieved and I could go no further until I express His heart. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God (1 Pet. 4:17).

The gifts are for ministry to others. Both believers and unbelievers but mainly the latter.  It is through the manifestation of the gifts that they will know that God is alive and He will be glorified. We see the example of Jesus doing just this with the Samaritan woman at the well as through the anointing of the Spirit He operated in the gift of the word of knowledge, she believed and began to glorify God and witness to others (John 4:16-29).

The answer to question 7 also gives us some clue as to why, in 2 Timothy 1:6, Paul felt it important to remind Timothy to “stir up” the gift that was in him. “Stir up” is from the Greek word anazopureo meaning to re-enkindle. The Oxford Lexicon dictionary defines re-enkindle as ‘to set alight again; to relight’. This is the only place in scripture where this word appears. This was a reminder to Timothy that he must continually be doing those things that would cause his spiritual gifts to be always alight. This means that if we do not put effort into stirring up our gifts the flame can go out (the anointing of the fire of the Holy Spirit departs) and the persons who are dying in this lost and dark world will have none to bring the life and the light of God to them to deliver them out of their darkness, out of their prison, out of their captivity. We too, who have received the gifts and don’t keep the fire of the anointing going, will also be overrun by the power of Satan and his kingdom. Why are there so many sick, so many bound, so many burdened in the Body of Christ? Think on these things.

We are expected to operate with humility concerning the gifts that God has bestowed upon us. We are not to become puffed up and boastful about the gifts we have received and compare ourselves with others.

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. (Phil. 2:3)

Did you ever consider why God has not given all of the spiritual gifts to any one individual? God purposely does not give any one person all of the gifts because He wants us to need one another, to be dependent on each other. Even as the parts of our physical body have different functions but must act in unity for it to function effectively, so must the members of the Body of Christ function in unity, each taking up his/her calling in God, if the Body of Christ is to take back territory for God. This is another reason why it is important that we “stir up” our gifts. Please read 1 Corinthians 12:14-27 and Romans 12:5. Therefore, if any member of the Body of Christ determines not to function in their calling, the whole Body suffers and is made to function less powerfully than God intended. This is exactly what is happening throughout the Body of Christ. God told me that the world is a reflection of the condition of the church. A dying world means a dying church. The clarion call is being sent out through His prophets, “Arise, Shine!” you who have been called to be the light of the world, “Arise, shine and fan into flame the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to you for such a time as this. Do the works of Him who has called you while it is still day, for the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4).

Please join me next week as we see how we “stir up” our gifts.

Shalom.