The meaning of freedom

horse-430441_640Jeremiah 40:4: Now, behold, I release you today from the chains on your hands. If it seems good to you to come with me to Babylon, come, and I will look after you well, but if it seems wrong to you to come with me to Babylon, do not come. See, the whole land is before you; go wherever you think it good and right to go.

The love of God frees us to be all we can be. It is empowering because he believes in us, he tells us to go on, as he backs us with all he has.

He breaks a chain from us, the chain of sin, and we are free to serve him without any limitation. We can serve God with reverence and godly fear (Hebrews 12:28).

Jesus was clear about what true freedom really is. When certain Jews thought that because they were from Abraham, they thought they were free, Jesus told them if you a sinner you are in bondage (John 8:30-38). Period. If you constantly act against the direction of your conscience, you are in bondage, and Jesus brings us freedom.

To show the clear picture of what bondage to sin means, let us see the story of Peter and how he denied Jesus, just a few hours after he had vowed he will die for him (Matthew 26:31-35, Luke 22:33).

Was he lying when he made that promise, was he being hypocritical? He was not. But he overestimated his ability to be altruistic, to do the right thing, to be right. Paul, knowing that we are prone to overestimating ourselves, said, we should not think more highly of ourselves than we ought, but should think soberly (Romans 12:3).

Man left that ability behind in the Garden of Eden and that is the Holy Spirit (Genesis 2:7). He is the one who can stir us in the right direction, the heavenly ability in us.

Paul wrote that the Holy Spirit is the fight against the wrong impulse within us. Paul said that the flesh desires is against the Spirit and the Spirit’s desire is against the flesh so that we do not do what we want to do (Galatians 5:17).

The Spirit empowers us to not be tied to the aprons of the flesh. Jesus says the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:36-50), it cannot help against the onslaught of demonic influence seeking to rule man with evil thoughts.

And Jesus recommended prayer as a means of freedom from the weakness of the flesh so that we would not fall into temptation and do the wrong thing, pulled away from the will of God.

Jesus, when he said that we need to pray to not fall under temptation, was involved in a long period of prayer in the Garden of Eden as his flesh wanted to shirk away from the will of God which was about him going to the cross.

As the time to die drew near, something he was had long been aware of, the human need for self-preservation kicked in, which is the default setting of the flesh, screaming to have its needs met, which is against the will of God. But the Holy Spirit helped Jesus as a result of his prayer and he was able to offer himself as sacrifice. The bible says that Jesus offered himself by the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 9:14). You cannot get people to make sacrifice by appealing to their flesh, which is programmed to self-preserve, self-focused and selfish. People make sacrifices only under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Whatever you can do, to get the people under greater influence of the Holy Spirit, do. That is better than trying to beat them on the head by stirring up the emotion of guilt or pity.

There are two sides of freedom, which are freedom from sin and freedom to move into the fullness of the will of God for us. Jesus told the disciples that apart from him we can do nothing (John 15:5), we cannot make real progress. We arrive at “fulfilment” through the path of freedom.

In Christ all our possibilities are unleashed, we cut the picture of ability and greatness, realising the full intent in the mind of God for creating us.

We are God’s product. We cannot use ourselves, and the greatest sense of fulfilment we get is from used by God. Moses was used by God and the bible says that he was faithful in all of God’s house (Hebrews 3-5).

Before he was called to serve, he was just your average herdsman. He herded his father-in-law’s sheep. Any ambition he had while he was younger was dead. As an old man and a family man, he probably was not particularly excited about life. He had excitement in Egypt, by that was decades before, but God told him at the age of eighty: go and deliver my people Israel and I will be with you (Exodus 3).

Gideon was another man who became freed to be all he can be by serving the purpose of God. When God called him, Israel was really in a poor place, they were a people oppressed (Judges 6-7).

Gideon was just trying to survive when God said to him: man of valour, go in this thy might and deliver Israel. He could not believe his ears. But when he stepped out ever so gingerly in the direction of the will of God, he got the victory for Israel.

But first God asked him to do away with the idol made by his father’s. He knew how attached the people were to that and was only able to destroy the image at night. But that was necessary so that there will be no confusion about the source of the victory, when God delivers Israel through Gideon. And Gideon’s name was etched in gold in Israel.

Both Moses and Gideon were servants of God who led the people from oppression into freedom. They did not do it from their own initiative but as they shared the love of God for the people they were able to deliver on their mandate.

In the freedom of these two people to walk in the mandate of God, was the freedom of multitudes of people. In the same way, when you walk in the full freedom of the will of God for you, it will lead to many other gaining freedom, conversely, your being in bondage, has the potential of putting many other people into bondage.

When Adam and Eve fell into sin and entered the bondage of sin and death, it led multitudes in the same direction (Romans 5:12-21). His bondage led to more and more bondage and the freedom of Jesus in alignment with the will of God resulted in many people becoming righteous, gaining freedom of relationship with God, marked by the experience of his Spirit within us, who propels us into more and more wisdom.

The Spirit is empowering. When Jesus was about to depart in the physical sense from the disciples he promised them the Holy Spirit. He said: you shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be my witnesses everywhere (Acts 1:8).

A word from the Lord

king-306448_640Jeremiah 37:17: Now King Zedekiah sent and took him out; and in his palace the king secretly asked him and said, “Is there a word from the Lord?” And Jeremiah said, “There is!” Then he said, “You will be given into the hand of the king of Babylon!” (NASB)

A word from the Lord saved a nation in a time of famine. The nation was Israel, the prophet was Elisha. The famine had been biting hard after Samaria, the capital, had been under a siege for a long time (2Kings 6:25). Nothing was moving. No one was moving in or out of the gated city.

It was a hard time like never before as things became so expensive and at least one woman killed her son, cooked the corpse and ate. If a situation was dire, that was it.

The king, who should normally have the solution, was helpless and perplexed and at a time tore his cloth in dejection.

But a word from God changed all that. Elisha said: by this time tomorrow, there will be abundance. That prophetic word, that word from God. That was preposterous and one of the advisers of the king publicly declared that it cannot happen. He was walking by sight and not by faith (2Corinthians 5:7). He was so sure of himself, in his spiritual blindness. He died soon after while other enjoyed the benefit of having the word come to pass.

We need to agree with the word and take action in alignment with that belief. The word will not benefit us if it is not mixed with faith in us. That is why the children of Israel who did not believe that God could bring them to the Promised Land did not get there.

From the fear-filled report of ten spies out of the twelve sent by Moses to check out the land, they concluded that God cannot possibly conquer the Promised Land for them because of how powerful the inhabitants were (Numbers 13-14). They heard of the giants in the land. Because of that the whole generation perished in the wilderness. Their carcasses were scattered in the wilderness. It did not have to happen like that if only they are taken God at his word.

There is power in the word of God. Remember that was the tool for God to create the earth. The prophetic word is when people speak the word of God forth (1Corinthians 14:3). And that carries the divine energy.

One woman experienced provision in a difficult situation. She was a widow and he had no source of income. Famine was biting in the land and she was set to eat her last meal (prepared with a little oil and flour) and then wait for death (1Kings 17:8-15). But Elijah came with a word of God for her that the oil will not stop flowing and the flour will not end. That was what happened and she was fed together with her son and Elijah to the end of the famine. She fed on God’s faithfulness.

If you are experienced famine get ready for a word from God, get ready to have the siege broken and your situation radically changed almost overnight.

When God said let there be light in the first chapter of the bible (Genesis 1:1-3), darkness was everywhere, but the word of God changes things and it is that word that will create a reality of light out of the darkness that you are presently experiencing. Get ready for radical and sudden change.

When God speaks what he says gets created. His words carries the divine energy, his creative essence. Of Jesus (the word) the bible says, through him everything was made and without him was nothing made that was made (John 1:1-6). That means everything you see emanates from the word.

A word from God makes dream come true, brings solution to long standing problem. When Jesus healed the daughter of a gentile woman who was grievously oppressed, it was with a word. Almost a non-word. He only told the woman: let what you desire be done. He just agreed with her spoken desire and it was done (Matthew 15:21-28).

A man came to Jesus asking him to heal his servant. And because of his compassion, he wanted to make the trip to his house, but the man stopped him. He told Jesus that he only has to say the word and it will be done (Matthew 8:6-13).

He recognised the spiritual authority that Jesus wields, which is no respecter of time and space. It is virtually unlimited. Jesus then praised his faith, saying that he has not seen a greater faith in Israel. Jesus has the word and the man has the faith and the mixture of the two leads to a miracle.

Jesus said that everything is possible for those who believe. It’s not enough for the word to come, your attitude to it is also important. If you will see a change, you must be an active believer in the word of God. Not just a hearer, but a doer (James 1:22-25), otherwise you will be deceiving yourself, it will be all motion and no progress.

The word only delivers for the believer. The bible spoke of some people who heard the word but since it did not mix with faith in them it did not deliver the reality it contains to them (Hebrews 4:2).

The bible also says that the Lord will do nothing expect he tells his servant the prophets (Amos 3:7) who will in turn declare it on the earth. That activates things in the realm of the unseen to determine what is seen, because what is visible comes from the unseen in the declared word of God (Hebrews 11:3). The declared word bears the divine authority on earth and angels are released to bring it to pass, going all the way giving it everything it takes.

And remember that they excel in strength and nothing can oppose them (Psalm 103:20). As we declare the word of God they carry it out because they have been programmed to act on the word of God. That is their duty.

It was also the duty of man to do the will of God as revealed in his word. The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes puts it this way: it is the whole duty of man to fear God and do his will (Ecclesiastes 12:13). When we do not do his will, we get hardened and his word takes away from our being able to listen to him and hear his word and declare it for it to happen.

Therefore, obedience is key. Jesus said that if we will obey him he and the father will come to dwell in us (John 14:23). He said that if we abide in his word, we will ask whatever we want and it will be done for us (John 15:7). That means we will decree a thing and it will be established for us (Job 22:28).

Defining REST

gulls-654046_640Jeremiah 36:31: And I will punish him and his offspring and his servants for their iniquity. I will bring upon them and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem and upon the people of Judah all the disaster that I have pronounced against them, but they would not hear.'”

It is not God’s first strike to bring calamity. Peter said God does not want us anyone to perish but that all should come to repentance (2Peter 3:9). We need to go on the path to the mercy of God. Judgement is not predetermined, we can do something to avoid the path that leads to it.

God sent prophet Isaiah to inform King Hezekiah that his time was up, that he should set up a succession plan (Isaiah 38:1-8). But it came from God, Hezekiah sought to have his day in court and marshalled arguments with tears and prayer for God to change his mind. And he did.

It does not have to end badly, we can turn to Jesus, who said when we come to him and learn from him, we will find rest for our soul (Matthew 11:28-30). Rest means Resources, Embrace, Salvation and Transformation.

Resources

Jesus has resources for us. We were depleted by sin, especially, of the Spirit of God. When God made man he put his Spirit in him (Genesis 2:7). That was what made man to be in God’s image, that was the light in man- the power and purpose and passion all rolled into one.

Without that man was empty. He was a walking dead (Ephesians 2:1-8). But in Jesus we got the resources back. We become part of his body and we share his Spirit (Romans 8:9), and hence his purpose, passion and power.

Without the Holy Spirit we were empty, we were puppets in the hand of the devil, with spirit of the power of the air having a field day in us, as we ran errands for the devil. We were in bondage and we could not save ourselves.

The first Adam was full of the Spirit but because of his sin, he had no spirit to bequeath to us, but Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit on us after he ascended to heaven (Acts 2:33). Jesus is heaven coming to us, filling our empty pots with the divine presence.

Paul puts it this way: the treasure is in earthen vessels so that the greatness of the glory will be of God and not of us (2Corinthians 4:7). We need him in an absolute sense. And it is great if we have that sense. Christ is our power and wisdom (1Corinthians 1:24), he is everything, the one who baptises us with the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:16).

Embrace

We rest is in the embrace of Jesus Christ, embrace of God. Being chased from the Garden of Eden was a deep humiliation (Genesis 3). We were pushed from the best of God, the presence of God, cut off from the life of God. But in Jesus we got accepted in the beloved. We now can move around with a strong sense of acceptance. We can come as we are, we are no longer outside, we are inside, citizens of heaven.

Salvation

Another component of rest is salvation that is Jesus, and exclusively in him. He was named Jesus because he was going to save us from our sins. We needed saving, from the repercussion of our sin, from a damning destination.

The bible says if we believe in Jesus we have come from death to life (John 5:24). It is as simple and as serious as that. There is no name given under heaven by which we might be saved expect the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12).

But how can a name save us?

It is because it is more than just a name. The name of Jesus is imbibed with his power and person. A name in the spirit realm conveys the manifestation of the essence of that person, just as mentioning the name of somebody you know invokes the pictures, and your feelings about the person, in your mind.

In the realm of the spirit, what gets evoked is infinitely more than that. The bible says Jesus has been given a name above every other name (Philippians 2:5-11).  And based on the convention in Israel, it is the father that gives the child a name and God was the one who named Jesus (Matthew 1:21).

He gave him a name and Gabriel was the postal angel who delivered the message to his parents. God gave Jesus a name and hence a personality, a name above every other name so that at the name of Jesus every bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. His name conveys his Lordship.

He has a dominating name and that name saves because it dominates over death for those who believe. The name of Jesus works. To believe in him means we believe in his name, we believe in what he stands for, who he is, what he has, his identity (as one who saves us from sin) his prestige in the realm of the unseen, and his coming revelation on the earth for judgment.

Coming to him gives us rest from the works of the law as a means of salvation. As the bible says that no one by the works of the law can be saved (Titus 3:5, Romans 3:20, 28). It is just futile, labouring without benefits labouring and failing.

Transformation

“Resources” means we have rest from what we do not have; “Embrace” means we have rest from rejection by God; “Salvation” means we have rest from a future doom; “Transformation” mean we have rest from who were. Jesus does not leave us the way he met us. If truly we are learning from him we will be changing into his image from glory to glory (2Corinthians 3:18). He infused his ability into us. He shapes us into him. As we experienced him, focus on him, the transformation work goes on and on in us until we see him face to face.

We are transformed inside out, we are transformed as we serve and know him. The transformation is not apart from him, it is because of him. It is energised by him, directed to him, enabled by him. We are for his glory, to express his holiness, and for his praise (Isaiah 53).

Teaching

curtain-165488_640Jeremiah 32:33: And they turn unto Me the neck, and not the face, and teaching them, rising early and teaching, and they are not hearkening to accept instruction. (YLT)

Teaching is to retrain the mind. There is the need for instruction in righteousness, as the bible says (2Timothy 3:16). Without such instruction, the life of righteousness can hardly be lived. What the devil did in the Garden of Eden was to redirect the focus of Eve from the word of God, in the first of “doctrine of demons” that the devil will introduce on the earth (Genesis 3).

Teachings that take root in you are like codes within you that get you to function in a certain way when the right buttons are pressed, with the right environmental stimuli, so to speak. With the right coding, you get to act in a certain way.

Your actions will follow your internal programming, the teachings you have imbibed. That is why Paul warned that evil communication corrupt good manners (1Corinthians 15:33). Because we learn from those who we associate with, they encode us with their character flaws by passive osmosis and we get to act like they do. In another place in the bible we read that we need to make going to church important so that we can be stirred up to love and good works, they activate to act the way we should in an atmosphere of love, and right instruction (Hebrews 10:25-26).

Just as the wrong teaching is important to the devil and he is hard at work flooding the world with his wrong teaching, to get them to act untoward to God, towards Jesus, God is also sending his word out through all available avenue. He psalmist wrote: the lord gave the word, great was the multitude of they who proclaim it (Psalm 68:11).

Paul is interested in a teaching network to blanket the world with truth. He told Timothy to commit to others who can teach others what he had taught him (2Timothy 2:2).

The whole bible is a giant teaching textbook on the ways of God, which we ignore to our own peril. The teaching of the bible is spiritual encoding in which prime us to think like God and shine as lights since God is light.

The importance of the thinking on the word of God is brought poignantly home by the first psalm where the flourishing life of a man was linked to the fact that he meditates day and night on the word of God, because from the word comes the life of God, and creates the reality of heaven around and inside us.

But God cannot force truth on you. That is the point the focus verse is about. The people referred to were constantly confronted with the truth, with the right teaching but they decided to turn their back on it, they were called to come to the knowledge of the truth but they said they have other things on their mind.

Jesus gave a parable of the king who invited people to feast in his house, but those who were first invited said that they have some other things to do with their time. They were busy and in their mind it was not a priority to heed to the word of the king, to fellowship with him, to be in his presence (Matthew 22:1-12).

And the word of God is like spiritual food. And we are called upon to feast. Jesus said when we eat his flesh then we will have life in us (John 6:53). We are called to feast on the words of God for spiritual nourishment. Jesus said that man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). In the wilderness, the children of Israel had to pick the manna every day for their physical sustenance and it was an indication of the fact that we need to feed on the word of God daily. No wonder Peter said we need to take in the word of God so that we can grow, otherwise we will be spiritually malnourished and may not even know it (1Peter 2:2).

What we need is to focus on Jesus and we get his passion for God, for the word, for his work. He has it in full. Jesus rebuked a church for losing their first love, they lost focus on Jesus and started to seek for other things, pursue their own agenda (Revelation 2:4-5).

When we stop being encumbered, with sincerity of devotion to Christ, we can run with passion after him.

We would not get into the word as we should if we are not in pursuit of Jesus as our primary aim. If reading the bible for you is about strengthening your relationship with Jesus through your knowledge of him, then you are set up for a lifetime of discovery and the more you know the more you want to know (John 5:39-40). You will not get enough.

There are things he wants to tell you today that you did not know yesterday, that you were not taught in bible school, if you went to one. The discovery of truth is about looking into the face of Jesus, it is a discovery of Jesus, who is truth (John 14:6).

The bible says in his light we see light (Psalm 36:9), and light means knowledge. In him, in his knowledge, we experience liberty (2Corinthians 3:16-18), and more love because knowing God means flowing in more love (1John 1:5, 2:8-10).

Paul said that the goal of the teaching is love from a pure heart, sincere faith and good conscience (1Timothy 1:5). We should look for us expressing more and more love, express more and more of the character of God, the more divine truth we know. This is how Paul puts it: put on the Christ (Romans 13:14), learn Christ (Ephesians 4:20), be imitators of God as little children (Ephesians 5:1).

Sincere faith is another goal of teaching. Paul said that faith comes by hearing he word of God, but doubts come by hearing the words of the devil (Romans 10:17), but the more we make ourselves focus on the word of God, by whatever means possible and consistently we drown out the doubts and stand as people of faith.

Good conscience: there is no conscience without the knowledge of right and wrong. And the stronger truth is rooted in us the more we can differentiate between right and wrong decision and direction. The more filled we are in truth the more we can separate it from lies, the less we will be tossed to and from by any wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:11-15), the less we will susceptible to deception, which is the devil’s forte. The more convinced we are about the truth, the deeper we are in the word and in the truth. We need to have the stronghold of truth built in us.

There is no magic about it. While the devil is marshalling his lies which come with darkness, we need to be armed with the truth to be able to resist. That was the example that Jesus gave us. When the enemy came to trip him with temptation Jesus was able to rise up against him using the word of God as the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). He told the devil: “it is written…,” and so was not deceived.

God is witness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Under the yoke

castle-671449_640Jeremiah 27:12: To Zedekiah king of Judah I spoke in like manner: “Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people and live. (ESV)

Yoke is restraining, it also dictates direction of movement and effort. It retrains from movement in certain directions and releases to another. It focuses the energy of the animals under it, making them productive.

Restraining

We should put ourselves under the control of the word of God. If the word cannot control you then you are out of control and about to get lost, if not already lost.

If the sheep, in the parable of the lost sheep that Jesus gave, had not be distracted from following the shepherd then he will not have been lost and his life in danger (Luke 15:1-6).

David wrote: the lord is my shepherd, he leads me in the path of righteousness (Psalm 23). If the fear of God does not guide you, guide your action, then you will lose your birthright, as it happened to Reuben.

Joseph was guided by the fear of God (yoked to it) in the land of Egypt where he was a slave. He refused to yield to the sexual demands of his master’s wife, though it lead to an immediate deterioration of his situation as he landed in the prison, going down one more step on the social ladder.

When the equation balanced out at the end of the day, his two sons Ephraim and Manasseh, stood as two tribes in Israel, and he got the portion of the firstborn, though he was the eleventh of twelve sons of Jacob (1Chronicles 5:1-2).

But his eldest brother Reuben, who is described as unstable as water, i.e. unpredictable, lost out on his birthright. He allowed his sexual appetite to get the better of him, sleeping with his father’s wife. He was not under control though he was a nice guy. He was not strict with himself. Paul however said he is strict with himself. Paul said that he puts his body under so that after he had made a lot of efforts, after he has preached to others, he will not be disqualified from getting the prize, will not be a cast away, relegated to the background after serving so far and so long. In order words, he was saying: “I do not want to be a nice but out of control guy (1Corinthians 9:27).”

Esau was the older son of Isaac but at the end of the day, the birthright was not his because he allowed his appetite to control him. He lost the vision of the future because he allowed the hunger of the moment to take him captive.

Unrestrained appetite will be your undoing. It was David’s undoing. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, murdered her husband and tried all he could, to bury the issue by all manner of subterfuge. In the end, he was judged. God said that the sword will not depart from his house. His household will be tumultuous, without peace, because he lost control.

Jesus said that we should take on his yoke on his neck, and learn of him. He said: come to me, all those who labour and are heavy laden and we will be given rest. This is when we put his yoke on us and reject any other yokes. The right yoke is the yoke of the fear of God.

Releasing

God complained against some prophets in the Old Testament that they deliver a message he has not sent them on, motivated by the desire to please the people, to be accepted or to make merchandise of them.

God said if they had taken their time to stay in his counsel they will communicate his will to the people (Jeremiah 23:21-22).

The will of God is the direction we should go and we show we agree when we stir the wheel of “the car” of our life there. With that, we will get to the divine destination. That you are taking a particular direction means you have ignored other paths. That means the yoke of the will of God at once restrain or release you. You are restricted by the will of God over your life. You cannot do just what you want.

You are restricted by your assigned gender among other things. Those who want to change their gender or be genderless are rejecting the restraints of God. He wants you to go in a specific gender direction and you have to align with him. Not aligning with God means you are on a path of judgement. The effeminate will not inherit the kingdom of God, the bible says (1Corinthians 6:9). It is that serious. It is not just a matter of what you prefer. Jesus said he will have preferred to not go all the way to the death on the cross but at the end of the day he yielded, to the yoke (Matthew 26:29), which releases him to be a life-giving spirit after he experiences the pain of death (1Corinthians 15:45). He said to God: not my will (restraining) but yours be done (releasing).

The direction you are to go manifests in the gifts you have been given, the special abilities and training you have been allowed to have, and the devil’s agenda is to derail you, hence the barrage of temptation, and difficulties he throws along your path to your destiny.

There are gifts and talents, divine abilities to indicate your part in the body of Christ, your function, as you move along in the Christian journey (Romans 12:1-8). It is like an athlete knowing his lane. If he does not then he will waste his energy running. There will be no reward for his effort. He will be disqualified.

Paul said he does not fight as one beating the air, without focus (1Corinthians 9:26). He moves yoked to the will of God, moving with an overriding sense of divine purpose, which excludes seeking to please men. He said: If I still pleased men, I will not be a servant of God (Galatians 1:10).

He does not want to waste his time. He has been called to be an apostle, gifted with that gift. He said that he labours more than the other apostles but that it not him, it is the grace of God (1Corinthians 15:10). His energy is accurately channelled. Though on the path of the will he faced some difficulties, persecution, he reminds himself that he is a mission for a great king, and so does not give up. He reminds himself that there is at the end of his life a great reward waiting for him (2Timothy 4:7-8). After a lifetime of going in the “restrictive” direction of the will of God, in obedience to him, he said: I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith. There are many things he did not do but he did one thing, forgetting what is behind and stretching forward to what lies ahead, in the high call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13).

Jesus said you cannot call him lord and not do what he says (Luke 6:46). The yoke on the neck of an oxen is used to guide it in a specific direction and ensures that it is effective at the end of the day for the purpose of the farmer wants to accomplish. We are made for God’s pleasure (Revelation 4:11), and by putting ourselves under his yoke, we avoid the enemies trap and we get to be effective in the business of our Lord.

The fire and hammer ministries of Jesus

dwarf-156518_640Jeremiah 23:29: Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?

Fire burns away impurity and hammer breaks restriction, opposition, so that we can advance as we should, for us to enter into possibilities we would not have entered otherwise. The hammer works around us, the fire works within us.

Fire

Jesus is the word (John 1:1-6), and the bible says that he was going to thoroughly purge his floor with unquenchable fire (Luke 3:16-17). He comes with a purging ministry. He said: I have come to set fire on the earth (Luke 12:49). He is sent by God on a purifying mission.

The fire Jesus kindles is the fire of the Holy Spirit. It was prophesied by Joel that God will pour out his spirit upon all flesh and they will be able to connect with God in heaven like never possible the history of the world. And that was initiated when Jesus sent the Holy Spirit after his ascension into heaven (Acts 2).

This move will not leave anyone out. The fire is indiscriminate, no respecter of persons. There will be no gender discrimination, not social discrimination. It is reaching all nations. It is the Holy Spirit coming to deliver people from what holds them bound, give them a taste of the heaven in order for them to lose the taste of sin. The writer of the book of Hebrews says that it is the taste of the world to come (Hebrews 6:5). Paul said we have the deposit of the Spirit, and we wait for a time of fullness (Ephesians 1:13-14).

Jesus was described in the book of revelation as having eyes of fire (Revelation 2:18). And one thing he purified in us is our eyes. Eyes is the place of focus, sexuality and greed and covetousness. The bible says that some have eyes full of adultery (2Peter 2:14, Job 31:1). And Jesus said that we should be careful of covetousness because the life of a man does not consist of the things he possesses (Luke 12:15).

John added his voice on the need for the purification of the eyes when he said that we need to reject the love of the world which manifests as the lust of the eyes, to have the love of God established in us (1John 2:15-17). Paul equated covetousness with idolatry (Colossians 3:5).

If the eyes stand for focus, then the fire of the Holy Spirit is about getting us passionate for God, focused on him and away from anything else (Romans 5:5). The eyes are symbols of desire. If our desires are purified, our intention purified and thoughts also, then we are really purified. Purification is not about dress code or appearance regulation, Jesus said that when a tree is made pure the fruit will also be purified, therefore the fire of God must work on our inside (Matthew 12:33).

If you are purified in your motivation, in what drives you, then you are indeed purified (Hebrews 4:12). If you do what you do for the right reasons for the God-reasons, then you are on the path of holiness on the narrow path that leads to life. Purification means what is not necessary, the extra load drops off, what is extra. We read that we need to drop every weight and the sin that easily besets us (Hebrews 12:1-3).

Hammer

Jesus is the door, he is the way (John 10). The life of God was cut off from humanity, but Jesus became the hammer that made the way. The psalmist said: lift up your head oh ye gates and be lifted up you everlasting doors and the king of glory will come in (Psalm 24:8). Jesus is the king of glory, the way maker.

The intention of God is that the relationship between him and humanity will continue to grow unabated, going stronger and stronger as Man comes into deeper and deeper relationship with him. But sin was a bump on the road.

Isaiah wrote that God’s hand is not short that it cannot save, but our sin makes a blockage between him and us (Isaiah 59:1-2). Sin is counter to his holiness, but Jesus came that sin will be taken care off, will be taken out of the way. He sacrificed himself so that he will become the way for us, also truth and life. He is what we need to settle the issue of sin which blocked the way of man to life of God, via the tree of his truth (Genesis 3).

Remember that when God chased Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, he stationed great angels there and a fiery sword to prevent man from getting to the tree of life and thereby to live forever.

But Jesus took the fall of the sword of judgement and we now able to go on the way to the tree of truth and eat the fruit of life, freed from the death judgement because Jesus bore it for us. He bore our sins and therefore bore the pain of the death and the death itself.

Through Jesus the door of restoration was opened, the door of prosperity was opened as the bible says that for our sake Christ became poor so that through his poverty we might gain riches, we might go back to experiencing the Garden of Eden in our individual lives, as we live without fear, with peace in our heart, peace with God, and having all sufficiency in all things, which the grace of Jesus, releases to us (2Corinthians 8:9).

While we were dead in trespasses and sins, Christ freed us from the dominion of death while we could offer no help to ourselves, the love of God compelled Jesus to come and offer himself. And when he did the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom, and God is now accessible (Luke 23:45).

Paul wrote to the church in Corinth: the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you (2Corinthians 13:14). All these three becomes our reality because the hammer of the word of God went hard at work to break through the restriction from those divine realities.

When we embrace the word of God- Jesus, we get to experience the word of God’s grace, the love of God and we are able to be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19), and we have fellowship, intimacy with the Spirit of God which was not imaginable before Jesus came around to hammer out the way to that reality for us. There is a new and living way which is through his torn flesh (Hebrews 10:20).