The secret of strength

Judges 16:17: And he told her all his heart, and said to her, “A razor has never come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If my head is shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak and be like any other man.”

lion-30774_640What do you think is the secret of your own strength? Is it how long you pray, how much money you have, who you know, how popular you are, your height, your beauty, or your learning? None of these is good enough to be the source of your strength. Except you do not know who you truly are.

You are more than meets the eye. There is a spiritual dimension to you and is the core of who you are since you are made in the image of God who is spirit (Genesis 1:26-28, John 4:24). The challenge is to be more attached to our spiritual dimension than our physical, or mental dimension; that means we are more attached to God, whom David called his strength (Psalm 18:1), than to anything or anyone.

That was the challenge that Adam and Eve failed, and rather than go to higher plane of existence (Genesis 3), if they had passed the temptation of the devil, they fell into a lower one, almost at par with the animals.

Abraham passed his challenge (Genesis 22). He was committed to the word of God than to his natural affiliations, in willingness to sacrifice of his son according to God’s instruction. Because of that, he entered an higher plane of existence, a higher plane of relationship with God and divine possibilities for his life.

Jesus passed his challenge (Luke 4:1-14). After going through gruelling temptation from the devil and coming out unscathed, having shown unalloyed commitment to the word of God, the bible says Jesus returned in the power of the Holy Spirit. He entered into a higher plane of existence, if that was possible for the Son of God.

For Samson the source of his strength was his hair (Judges 13-16). That represented his identification with his God-ordained destiny, with the call of God in his life. When he revealed the secret to Delilah and it was cut, it meant he rejected his divine side for the fellowship with Delilah, he rejected his supernatural side, his strength, his God, the divine influence over his life to embrace the corruption that Delilah stands for. He rejected the elevated life to serve his emotions.

He was a Nazirite, one dedicated to God with the symbol of not cutting his hair. Samson had seven locks of hair to show for it before they were cut on the laps of Delilah.

And there is a link between his being a Nazirite and the Holy Spirit coming upon him at intervals to cause him to exhibit supernatural strength to defeat the enemy as if they were nothing.

Note that there are seven locks on his head which stands for the seven spirits of God as mentioned in the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 11:1-2).

That shows that real strength is in the influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. That is our strength. It gives back to the Garden of Eden when God poured his Spirit (himself) into the newly formed man (Genesis 2:7). Without the breath (the Spirit) man was nothing. Jesus said: it is the Spirit which gives life, the flesh profits nothing (John 6:63).

The Holy Spirit gives you importance, he gives you relevance. Jesus had to claim to fame or prominence, prior to the coming of the Holy Spirit upon him (Mark 1:28). And he has taken it upon himself to ensure that we all are baptised with the Holy Spirit like he was. Jesus told his disciples that before they move into the world to be his witnesses (their sole claim to eternal relevance) they needed to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8), who will be their strength.

Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to facilitate our becoming like him. He is the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9).The Holy Spirit coming into us counters the influence of the devil, who is the god of this world (2Corinthians 4:4), and also a spirit, around us and now we are able to walk in the Spirit so as not to fulfil the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).

What you will become as a Christian is based on how much you have cooperated with the Holy Spirit. It is not so much what you can do, but what the Holy Spirit can do in you, what you allow him to do.

When the Holy Spirit departed from Saul, an evil spirit came to torment him (1Samuel 16:14), and when David sinned, remembering what happened to Saul, he said to God: take not your Holy Spirit from me (Psalm 51:11). He knew he would not survive without him just as Samson did not.

Samson was a mighty man but was driven to his death by his emotion. When fleshly emotions are allow to overrun our lives, suppressing the voice of the Holy Spirit, then we are in trouble. We should hold what the word of God says above what we feel. Because the Holy Spirit is sent on a mission in our lives by Jesus (John 14:25-26), he is meant to remind us of the word of God, and we should listen when he does and act accordingly.

The word brings changes in our lives and makes us strong. But the bible says the letter kills; the letter of the word (the content stripped of the spiritual impact) makes weak (2Corinthians 3:6). But there is another kind of word which makes strong, it is one powered by the Spirit, the one the Spirit ministers (1Corinthians 2:13). Jesus says the words he speaks are Spirit and life.

What Adam and Eve lost in the Garden of Eden wasn’t so much a place to stay but the Spirit who stayed in them. That was the biggest lost. They became weak because of that.

We cannot even start to imagine how much reduced they were because of sin, how changed in essence they were. You would think the hardest thing for Adam was being out in the field and sweating it out, but it is being out of the presence of God, trying to figure things out on his own.

Steadfast love

Judges 8:34: And the people of Israel did not remember the LORD their God, who had delivered them from the hand of all their enemies on every side,

siblings-532019_640The children of Israel did not have a steadfast love for God. If at a time they expressed love for God, soon after he had delivered them, because of their short memory, they usually turn away from him to give their allegiance to other gods.

This kind of yo-yo-ness in relating with God marked the history of biblical Israel, and it eventually culminated in the sacking of the nation from the land which God promised Abraham to give them. That was God’s judgment, which was very clear to all of them.

God’s faithfulness to their fathers gave them the land, but through their own unfaithfulness to God, they lost it. They had their own part of the bargain to uphold but they failed.

Later on they came back to the land of their inheritance, though without a king, but as subjects of different world powers. Certain prophets and teachers of the law came once and again to remind the people of the need to uphold the love of God. And that culminated in the setting up of synagogues which took care of the need of the people to be constantly reminded of the word and ways of God.

The synagogues served as the religious centres of that time. It was a place for the Jews to reaffirm their identity as the people of God, a place of constant reminder of their past, to gain lessons from it and prevent a relapse into unfaithfulness.

Jesus was a constant visitor to the synagogue. In his home town, after he had returned in the power of the Holy Spirit from the wilderness having fasted for forty days and fifty nights, he went to the synagogue and read publicly from the book of Isaiah (Luke 4:14-19).

In his ministerial movement around the towns and villages of Israel he visited the many synagogues in those places, to present his message to the people.

And when Paul went on the mission to reach the gentiles with the gospel, his first point of call in the many places he went were usually the synagogues where the Jews there congregate on the Sabbath Day (e.g. in Acts 14:1), and where proselytes also came, gentiles who showed interest in knowing about the God.

It was to these people that they went to prove that Jesus is the Messiah using the scriptures which they were familiar with, what they read and discussed weekly, and telling them story about the life and death and resurrection of Jesus and what they mean for his listeners. Being a Pharisee, Paul knew what to say to them. He had been groomed in the scriptures.

Right now we have the different churches set up everywhere. Following the example of the synagogues of old, people congregate to be taught and reminded of the ways and words of God, with Jesus at the centre.

In the synagogues of old and even now, Moses is the centre of things, but in the church Jesus is the centre and rightly so.

Peter heard a words from heaven saying to him together with James and John (Luke 9:28-36): this is my beloved son hear him. It happened on the mount of transfiguration where Elijah and Moses appears and stood with Jesus. That means: though Moses and Elijah were important, it is Jesus you should now listen to, he should be the centre.

The writer of the New Testament went a long way to show how the blood Jesus was not for himself, but for the cleansing of the sins of the world as the Lamb of God. And Paul the apostle (a famous convert from Judaism, who was met by the risen Jesus as he was going, bent on destroying the church [Acts 9:1-20]) became a leader of thought for the newly formed church.

He argued for the centrality of Jesus, saying he is both the wisdom and the power of God (1Corinthians 1:24), that everything was made by him and for him, and that in him everything consist (Colossians 1:16-17), i.e. everything find their rightful place.

The Israel that was at the time of Jesus was a prototype of the way the church is now. We do not live in societies where it is about theocracy. Israel was founded as that, but that was not the case at the time of Jesus. They were more or less subjects of Rome.

Paul wrote to the church said that it is right to be subject to the higher powers, for every power that be is ordained by God. He said what we owe the government respect and obedience (Romans 13, Titus 3:1).

When it comes to the issue of taxes, Jesus’s word was profound in his answer to the Pharisees who asked him if it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar (Matthew 22:17-22).

Jesus asked for a coin and said: whose picture is this? They said that it is Caesar’s, the Emperor of the Roman Empire. Jesus then said: once you are spending Caesar’s money you should pay taxes to Caesar, give him what he wants you to give him out of it.

They existed in a world controlled by another group of people, who had a different perspective to God from what they have. But they know that their destiny was to be governed by the all-conquering Messiah in a theocracy, reminiscent of the time of King David who they read about in the synagogues as they reminded themselves of the word of God’s promise and keeping hope alive.  Therefore, they lived in a state of tension.

We also at this time in the church live in a tension, our destiny is to rule the earth under the leadership of our Lord Jesus, but we now live in a world with the devil is the god (2Corinthians 4:4). Jesus said he sends us out as sheep among wolves (Matthew 10:16). He therefore said we should be as wise as serpent and gentle as dove. We live in a conflict zone, but are destined is to be ruled by the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) in an absolute sense.

But while the nation of Israel looked at the past for a return to how things were, we in the church look forward for the promise of how things will be, complete with new heavens and now earth, new bodies and the devil permanently thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10, 21:1, 1Corinthians 15:49-58).

We live in a state of hope. The bible says this hope is not something we hide or are ashamed of it gives us excitement because the love of God is made to bubble in our hearts by the Holy Spirit he has given to us (Romans 5:5).

With the Holy Spirit within and the constantly reminder of our gathering together around the word of God, we maintain steadfast love. The bible says that we should not forsake the gathering of ourselves together because that is how we stir up ourselves to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24-25). That means with constant gathering together we get to fan into flames the love in each other into active expression of God’s love in our lives. If that is not happening for you, maybe you should look for another church.

The church is the divine technology for helping you stay passionate about God. It provides the opportunity for us to horn your skills and talents, and live in obedience to God in their deployment in the service of the body of Christ. And that is the way God defines love; as service (Hebrews 6:10). Remember the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:27-37).

The Spirit of might

Judges 14:6: And the Spirit of Jehovah came mightily on him. And he tore it as the cleaving of a kid. And there was nothing in his hand; and he did not tell his father and his mother what he had done.

golden-rider-426544_640Samson was a special breed. He was a man endowed with special physical power.  He could not be overcomed by any physical means.

At that time Israel did not have a king, and there was a need for a deliverer. God, without consulting anyone and going against his normal way of routing the enemy (which was to raise up a leader to rally the people) equipped one man with the strength of a thousand men, figuratively speaking. With Samson, it was a one-man show. He did not go with an army or any group. He was not your conventional leader.

He displayed strength commensurate to the demand of the occasion. Anything that was demanded of Samson, whatever the opposition, he had the capacity to overcome. That is the Spirit of might.

One of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus was also as the spirit of might. In a list of the seven spirits of God in the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 11:1-2), which was prophesied to manifest in Jesus, we have the Spirit of might.

The expression of might in the life of Jesus was with regards to casting out of devils and healing the sick (Acts 10:38). It was an expression of power to cause reversals. He breaks whatever chains that was holding people down as the harbinger of freedom.

He declared war on anything that holds us down, saying: the Spirit of the Lord is upon me to preach the gospel to the poor, recovery of sight to the blind, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and complete freedom to the bound ones (Luke 4:17-19).

His was a liberation mission. Whatever limits is what Jesus uses his might against. He is the mighty one.

In the book of psalms we read: The Mighty One is God the LORD (Psalm 50:1-2), and out of Zion (the church) God shines forth. The mighty one has decided to be domiciled in Zion, in the church (Hebrews 12:22-24). It makes all the sense since we are the body of Christ (Ephesians 5:30). We have been elevated to the heavenly places with Jesus Christ, the Mighty One (Ephesians 2:6).

The bible says that through the church will be the display of the manifold wisdom of God to principalities and powers (Ephesians 3:10).

When ordinary men, in the far reaches of the earth, places where the devil thought were firmly under his control, wield the name of Jesus in their mouth and manifest power, the same way Jesus did while on earth, that definitely is the manifold wisdom being displayed to principalities and power.

When the Holy Spirit comes into you, we are enabled to do mighty things.

You bear the name of Jesus, which the bible says is above every other name and at his name every knee bow, and confess that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:5-11).

Know that you are not alone, you have angels with you, who also harken to the word of God in your mouth (Psalm 103:20). They are expressions of the presence of God with you.

It was the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the life of Samson, which enabled him to unhinge the gate of a city, kill 1000 men with the jaw bone of an ass, catch 300 foxes, tie their tails together and set them on fire (Judges 13-16). He tore off the jaw of a lion as if it was nothing. Whatever was opposition was nothing more than a piece of bread for him. All because of the Spirit of might.

The Spirit of might is expressed in various ways. It serves as a way to suspend any weakness. Paul wrote that the Holy Spirit helps our infirmities, and he went on to specifically mention prayer as one of the areas that he helps us (Romans 8).

That means he helps us to be mighty in prayer, just as Samson was mighty in strength. And prayer is an expression of spiritual strength. That he helps us means he releases in us supernatural ability, he gets us going when others have given up. He suppresses our physical senses to heighten our spiritual ones, causing us to go on just as others are falling by the wayside.

There is also mental might. That is what was manifested in Solomon. God had told him: ask me anything. He asked for wisdom, and God gave him so much mental capacity that his wisdom was sought out by many kings and nobles around the world (1Kings 3:3-9).

He gave many proverbs, he spoke about animals and plants (1Kings 4:29-34). His knowledge was expansive. He seems to know things just by willing to know them, and/or he seems to have wisdom and knowledge “coming to him” without seeking for them. He was changed forever. He was not normal, he was above normal. That is what the spirit of might makes possible.

The Holy Spirit was responsible for all the supernatural acts that were recorded in the life of Jesus. Before the coming of the Holy Spirit upon him, he was just like any ordinary man. He was an ordinary carpenter from an ordinary town. He came from a town so ordinary that Nathanael, before meeting him said: “can anything good come out of Nazareth?” when Philip said that he should come and meet the Messiah, Jesus (John 1:44-51). He had an ordinary upbringing.

But by the hand of God upon him, by the spirit of might, everywhere Jesus went he deployed his supernatural ability to help the people. He once met a widow who have just lost her only son and was going to bury him. He was being carried along in a coffin, in a funeral procession to be buried (Luke 7:11-17). When Jesus was through, he had turned her mourning into dancing (Psalm 30:11).

It was the same thing he did standing before the tomb of Lazarus. He had been buried for four days. But Jesus had told Martha, his sister, if you will believe, you will see the glory of God (John 11).

He said: “Lazarus come forth,” after the stone which was covering the place where he was buried had been rolled away, and the dead man came out walking. The level of amazement of the people at what happened was off the charts, and many people believed in Jesus, all because of the display of spiritual might. Spiritual might causes you to do what was not normally possible.

That display of spiritual might had not been seen before, that a man dead for four days came out of the grave and started talking, walking and living among the people.

Truth and integrity

Judges 9:16: And now if you have acted in truth and integrity when you made Abimelech king; and if you have done well with Jerubbaal and his house; and you have done to him as his hands did, (LITV)

beauty-355157_640Truth and integrity are inextricably linked together. One goes with the other. Integrity can be defined as a reputation for truthfulness. And it is easier to speak the truth than to have integrity. Integrity takes time.

It only takes a little error to spoil long-term integrity. It takes small flies, the bible says, to make the carefully prepared ointment of an apothecary to give forth a foul odour (Ecclesiastes 10:1).

It is easier to have bushes growing around than to have crops that will be beneficial as food on a consistent basis. To have crops, you need to be deliberate about it, cultivate the needed seed, constantly clear the weeds, pay attention to what is planted over time till they result in the right harvest of crop (Proverbs 24:30-34).

Before Abraham could be fully trusted by God, it was after he had walked with him for decades. God he given him a child and then demanded that he sacrifice the son. When he took steps to obey that order, God confessed that he truly feared him (Genesis 22). What Abraham professed and his action truly lined up. He was a man of genuine integrity.

He was asked to give up the promise, which Isaac stood for and he was willing to go all the way.

God then said: truly I know you feared God, since you did not withhold your only son from me. Abraham’s integrity was tested and he passed. He was solid. Are you? It was very clear that Abraham was not passionate about God because he needed something from him. He followed for God’s sake.

But not so for Adam and Eve. Eve was not willing to sacrifice her desire for wisdom nor Adam his desire for Eve’s company, to hold on to the will and word of God (Genesis 3).  You will also be tested.

Jesus tested a man that came to him expressing his desire for eternal life. He was directed to the Law of Moses, which he said he had kept. But Jesus said he still lacked one thing, commanding that he should sell all he has to follow him (Mark 10:17-21). He walked away from that proposition a sad man.

With that the state of his heart was revealed. He showed he was not really as eager for eternal life as he had confessed. His integrity was tested. It was not solid.

He was being asked to move his identity and pursuit from what is temporal to the eternal, from the material to the spiritual, but he clung to what he had, rejecting what he can have with Jesus.

From that story Jesus revealed that essentially, eternal life is not in dos and don’ts but in him, in following him, being with him, since he himself is eternal life (1John 5:11-12).

In the Garden of Eden God had to put angelic “gatekeepers” on the way to the tree of the life after the sin of man, to prevent access to it. But in Jesus the tree was now on the earth, but “gatekeepers” are still on the way to it, that is the humanity that covered his divinity.

So you have to be given a special revelation of Jesus, just like Peter was, who was able to penetrate beyond the veil of the humanity of Jesus to declare: you are Christ the son of the living God (Matthew 16:13-17). It is then we can go to him for the life that he offers.

A man said to Jesus, “say the word and my servant will be healed (Matthew 8:8-13),” not wanting him to come under his roof for that purpose. He was sure that the words of Jesus were dependable. He is the Word (John 1:1-3), he is integrity personified. The bible says that God upholds the world by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3).

An integral part of holiness is truthfulness. Holiness starts and ends with the way you use your mouth (James 3:1-2).

The bible says that God desires truth in the inward part (Psalm 51:6), thorough truthfulness. When God finds his truth in you, he allows his wisdom into you also.

Paul admonished that we should not lie one to another as members of the same body (Ephesians 4:25).

The word of God is truth but there are some who handle it deceitfully (2Corinthians 12:2, 1Thessalonians 2:3-5). Because of the deceit in their heart, they twist the meaning of the word to fulfil their hidden agenda. Because of their un-purified desires, seeking to make merchandise of the people, they do not go through due diligence to get at what the heart of God is saying, but they push the agenda of their flesh.

Life and death are in the power of the tongue, those who love (use) it will eat its fruit (Proverbs 18:21). When we speak the truth we are sowing the right seeds, the seeds of life, but if we tell lies, it is not just something innocent to get you out of a bind but there are seeds of death being sown.

In God is light and no darkness at all (1John 1:5), but lies are manifestation of darkness because darkness is all about cover up. The more you lie the more darkened your heart is and that prevents the light of God from shining in it.

Then you wander in darkness and confusion, wondering what befell you. You do not know that you have sought to build a house of lies and it has come tumbling down on you, you have sown the seed of lies and have reaped darkness. What you taught was going to give you temporary gain, has now given you long-term pain.

To lie is to sign up to partner with the devil, whom Jesus says is the father of lies and by extension father of liars (John 8:44).

That means when you lie you bring yourself under the devil’s influence because a father is an influencer, but when you are for truth, you are for light, and God becomes your father. He is the father of lights (James 1:17), of the truth, in whom there is no variableness or shadow of turning.

On your journey to become a man of integrity, truth should be your companion, hold firmly to it. A good name is more to be desire than great riches (Proverbs 22:1).

The other side of obedience

Judges 3:4: They were for the testing of Israel, to know whether Israel would obey the commandments of the LORD, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.

cape-verde-320790_640The writer of the book of Judges was very sure that the reason God put the children of Israel in the midst of the other nations, pagan nations, was because he wanted to see how loyal they were to him (Judges 3:3-8).

Hezekiah was set up by God with the emissaries of the king of Babylon, who came to visit him. And instead of giving glory to God for his miraculous recovery from a severe illness, he only showed them how powerful he was, opening up his treasury to them to gain their admiration (Isaiah 38-39, 2Kings 20, 2Chronicles 32:24-26, 31). He refused to share about how powerful his God, who made him to recover, was.

He was carried away by the attention he was getting, and forgot to give God the glory. He had done many things that seems to imply he was a seeker of God, but when foreigners came, he decided to “be like the Romans in Rome,” to speak their language, to hide his God away from their conversation. To display his power, and not God’s.

God said to him through prophet Isaiah that he left him at that time to know what was really in his heart.

It was a test of how highly he held God, and he failed.

Jesus was tempted, tested on all points yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15), but the same cannot be said of Adam and Eve. They were tested on a few points yet they sinned (Genesis 3).

When the bible says that we should not love the world nor the things in the world (1John 2:15-17), it was because we will face temptation in that direction.

There is the pull of the world, its ideology, its reasoning, its pursuit, its identity. When Paul said we should not be conformed to this world (Romans 12:1-2); that means we will be under the pressure to conform, just as Hezekiah did.

The devil has set up the system of the world (2Corinthians 4:4), and his pervasive influence is to ensure that conformity is the norm.

And even if you think you are not conforming, that you trying to be different, you are still conforming because he has different versions of what you can be. You can be an idol worshipper, or an atheist, they both suit his purpose perfectly.

But God has only one prototype for you to be transformed into. That is Jesus (Romans 8:29). We are called to not conform to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our mind.

It was easier for the children of Israel to conform to the wrong examples around them than hold fast in faithfulness to the word of God. God seems far away but the practices of the pagan nation with the bizarreness and colour, and the foreignness, seemed quite attractive.

Though the children of Israel had all the laws of God, they could easily be persuaded to rebel against it because of the resident evil, the nature of sin within them, which makes them to conform to what they see in sinful acts rather than walk with God by faith.

Whatever relationship that upholds the word of God in your life is the good one, and the bad is the one that pulls you away from the word.

That means the onus is on you to know the word, which is the truth, to be able to better judge the wrong, the lies, and differentiate them from the truth, no matter the pressure that comes.

God said that a false prophet, worthy of being stoned is the one who seeks to pull the Israelites away from allegiance to him and his word as delivered by Moses (Deuteronomy 13), and it does not matter his previous activity or reputation.

The test is about obedience to the word of God. It was on the point of obedience that Adam and Eve failed and it is that point you are expected to pass.

Jesus hammered on obedience as the sign of love for God. According to him: love for God is not just what you declare but what you live out. It is not just what you say, but what you display (John 14:15, Deuteronomy 30:20).

From the Old Testament to the New Testament, obedience is everything, even the Son of God (Jesus) had to pass the test of obedience. Paul wrote that Jesus was obedient to the death on the cross and he therefore was given a name by obedience that is above every other name (Philippians 2:5-11).

Your obedience will also give you a name in the realm of the spirit. A demon, speaking through a man in the book of Acts, said Jesus I know, Paul I know, but who are you (Acts 19:11-17)?

In that incident, certain people, who were not obedient to Jesus, attempted to cast out devils with his name. They had seen how effective the name was in the mouth of Paul in dealing with similar situations, so they decided to try it out.

They did not know that the name of Jesus is for the use of the obedient, just like Jesus was. It is for the use of the believer who obey God, having listened to and trusted in his Son (Mark 9:7).

Jesus said concerning those who believe: in my name they will cast out devils (Mark 16:15-18), they will speak with new tongues, they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover. The name is not for all, but for those who are obedient to the gospel (2Thessalonians 5:8, 1Peter 4:17).

They have passed the test of faith in Jesus they did not see. They have obeyed from the heart the gospel of his grace (Romans 6:17).

When Jesus told Peter to launch into the deep, it was a test of obedience (Luke 5:1-7). That day, he had toiled all night and did not catch any fish, though he was an experienced fisherman.

He was already packing up to go. But he said to Jesus after that instruction: “At your word I will. I allow your word to direct my will.”

And at the other side of obedience Peter found abundance. When he obeyed and launched his net to the deep, he caught so much fish that his net started to break. Peter will be the first tell you that on the other side of obedience is abundance.

He asked Jesus later in his journey with him: we have left all and followed you, what would we have in return. Answer: Whatever you have left for my sake and the gospel, you will get multiple folds in return (Matthew 19:27-30).

 

Ask for springs of water

Judges 1:15: She said to him, “Give me a blessing. Since you have set me in the land of the Negeb, give me also springs of water.” And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.

rainbow-67902_640Jesus specifically associated asking and receiving with the experience of the Holy Spirit. He said: “which one you parents, would the child ask for bread and he would give a stone or a fish and would give a scorpion? How much more will the heavenly father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him (Luke 11:9-13)?”

In the books of Acts of the Apostles, the phrase “filled with the Holy Spirit” was commonly used. If we juxtapose it with the words of Jesus recorded by Luke, it is as if the Holy Spirit is food to be eaten, like bread and fish, which was a common staple of the people around that time. It was an analogy they could relate with. He was showing them that they need the Holy Spirit all the time.

The experience of filling was also associated with the concept of the Holy Spirit as spiritual wine. That was the image communicated from the reaction of some onlookers in the Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples in the upper room.

Some of the onlookers mocked saying they are filled with new wine because of how they spurt out words in the religious pilgrim’s native tongues though they came from different parts of the world for a feast in Jerusalem at that time. That was a miraculous working of the God.

And when Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus, he said that they should not be filled with wine wherein in excess but should be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). The idea is that after you have been filled with the Holy Spirit, just like natural wine, you will soon need to be refilled to remain under the influence, to live under the influence. You have to be in the state of constantly being filled with the Holy Spirit.

In the focus verse, Caleb’s daughter called springs of water, blessing. She was going to be married off to Othniel (a warrior) and as dowry Caleb gave the couple the land of Negeb which corresponds to the salvation experience (Judges 1:12-15). But she wanted something more. She wanted springs of water and she asked for it. (She represents the church married to Jesus, and she does not want a dry salvation experience but a flourishing one, so she asked the father for springs of water, the Holy Spirit) (Acts 19:1-7).

Coming to the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is referred to as the blessing of Abraham that should come upon the gentiles (), just as Caleb’s daughter called springs of water a blessing.

Jesus associated the Holy Spirit with water. We understand this based on the interpretation John to some words of Jesus. During a feast in Jerusalem Jesus said that: if anyone thirsts he should come to me and out of his belly will flow rivers of living waters (John 7:37-39). Water flowing from your inner core makes you a source of refreshing to others, makes you a source of blessing.

That is what receiving the Holy Spirit is all about. It is not just about personal refreshment, it is the movement of the Holy Spirit, bringing heaven to the earth through you; it is your bringing the kingdom of God near others. It is God expressing his essence through you.

The experience of the Holy Spirit is about empowerment. Jesus said we shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon us (Acts 1:8). The water in the land given to the Caleb’s daughter will cause the land to flourish, it will bring prosperity, self-sustainability; it will become a blessing to other lands.

With springs of water you have resources, abilities that are from the presence of God. You get to live from the fountain of grace, never feeling dry. You are led from the realm of the physical, the mental, emotional or the human will to the express control of the Holy Spirit. You get to live by the divine power, and manifest the glory of God.

It can be argued that until the experience of the Holy Spirit is fully realised in your life, you are yet to take delivery of all for which Christ came to die for.

That was the hook Peter used to draw in 3000 men into the fold of Christ in Acts 2 who had witnessed first-hand, the coming of the Holy Spirit upon a group of believers of which Peter was part (Acts 2).

He told them that if they believed in Jesus as they have, they will also receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. That definitely caught their attention.

They were not being asked to join a religious group, they were already a religious bunch. They had travelled many miles to observe a religious festival in Jerusalem, which they do yearly.

They did not come for a set of creeds to follow. They had enough in the book of the law written by Moses.  They were interested in something more and God gave it, the opportunity for the Holy Spirit to come into them, the very Spirit which moved the prophets in the time of old, became a resident reality in their once they believed.

What they witnessed was a miraculous working of the Holy Spirit, when Galileans started speaking magnificently of the glory of God in their native languages. And they wanted something like that. Peter explained to them that the experience was linked with believing in Jesus, that Jesus was the gate to it, and 3000 of them went all-in. To them, the offer of an experience of the Holy Spirit was too good to be rejected.

With the Holy Spirit, God brings his intimate presence to man just the way he designed it to be from the beginning. When God made man he made him with intimacy with divinity in his makeup (Genesis 1:26-28).

The presence of God was to be his natural habitat, something to be experienced within and around him. But with sin, there was a hindrance to that reality. So the only thing Jesus did was to take care of the issue of sin and allow the free flow of the Holy Spirit experience for man. That is restoration.

Anything that blocks the experience of the presence of God in man should be rejected. Religion can block the experience of God, it can be bondage rather than liberating, limiting rather than transforming, especially when you refuse to bend when the wind of the Holy Spirit is blowing, when you hunger not for more of God, as you create a monument of what you think you have known that made you superior to others. Then you have become like the Pharisees, who would not submit themselves to the experience of the Holy Spirit because they felt self-sufficient. They will not ask for springs of water because they are not thirsty but are full of themselves.

God’s fulfilment of his word

Joshua 23:14: “Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the LORD your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed. (NASB)

priest-36356_640God fulfils his word. In the beginning of the book of Ezra, the bible said that: so that the words of God by the mouth of his prophet Jeremiah might be fulfilled, God stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia to issue a decree that the temple in Jerusalem be rebuilt (Ezra 1:1).

It was so that the word of God might be fulfilled that he sent Moses to them four hundred years after the coming of the children of Israel to Egypt to lead them out (Exodus 3).

At that time they were fed up with the problem in the Egypt. Their existence as a people was becoming burdensome. Their children were being killed by their Egyptian overlords (Exodus 1:22).

And the Lord remembered the promise, the covenant that he made with Abraham hundreds of years before when he sent Moses (Genesis 15:13-14).

He folded his sleeves and got to work delivering his people, in submission to his own words, and in order to fulfil it. No wonder the bible says that God elevates his word above his name (Psalm 138:2). He bounds himself by his word and he expects nothing less from us, that we make his word our boundary.

The coming of Jesus was the fulfilment of the promise God made in the Old Testament. After Jesus rose from the dead, he spoke with two disciples on the way to Emmaus who were discussing about him that he was a great prophet but his life was cut short.

Jesus who hid his identity from them joined them and explained that the issues surrounding the birth and death and rising from the dead of the Messiah were all linked with the prophecies in the Old Testament (Luke 24:13-27). It was all about God’s faithfulness, all about the fulfilment of the word of God.

Because God is faithful he is committed to his word. God has spoken about the end of the world and that is the way it will be. But some people may think that the end is not coming to this world.

Peter was very adamant that those who think that the world will not end are mistaken, that the reason the world is still here is not because God had changed his mind but that he is long suffering towards all not willing that anyone should perish but that all should come to repentance (2Peter 3). He is giving time for people to come back to their senses and return to their God.

Once God said it, it will be fulfilled. He said that his word is like rain coming to the earth which does not return to him void but fulfilled its purpose (Isaiah 55:10-11).  When a soldier came to Jesus to heal his servant, he told him: say the word only and thy servant will be healed (Matthew 8:6-13). He was sure that once Jesus said it, it will happen. It is the same world that made the heaven and the earth and it is still being sustained by it. The same word also puts a time limit to this age.

He is the God of history and the God of the future. He is the alpha and the omega, he starts things and brings them to an end. He is the Lord and there is no other.

He said: I will do my will and perform all my counsel. When Jesus taught us to pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven, he wants us to be participants in bringing it to pass (Matthew 6:9), because prayer is not just some religious observance but an active participation in bringing God’s will to pass. That is just the way God designed it, for man to be on the earth and for him to work together with him, starting with the naming of all the animals and also Eve (Genesis 2:18-23).

Daniel had that understanding of the need to partner with God to bring his will to pass. So even though God has said through prophet Jeremiah that seventy years after the Babylonian invasion, the people will come back to their land, Daniel still set out to remind God and move his hand to bring it to fulfilment.

The book of Isaiah said that those who mention the name of the Lord should not keep silent till he restores the glory of Jerusalem (Isaiah 62:6-7). God may want something, but men on the earth must be moved to want the same thing and to make the demand for it to happen in prayer in an heaven-earth synergy. That is why in the last verses of the book of Revelation is recorded this phrase: the Spirit and the bride says come (Revelation 22:17). It is not just the Spirit calling for the second coming of Jesus but also the bride, the church in synergy.

Because God wants something does not mean it will happen (1Peter 3:8), there is need for us to cooperate with him. There are kings in Israel that God said that he will establish their kingdom but God change his mind, when they rebelled against him, as stopped cooperating with him in obedience to bring the word of God to pass.

God changed his mind about continuing with the priesthood in Eli’s line because his children were unruly and he did not restrain them (1Samuel 2:12-36).

He expressed disregard for God, not exalting him in the way he handled his children as they treated the service of God disdainfully. And God, speaking through Samuel set out to do away with his lineage a priest and that found fulfilment many years later when Solomon replaced Abiathar (1Kings 2:26-27) with another priest. God moved away from his earlier course of action, when Eli was not cooperating based on his lackadaisical attitude. Though it happened many years later but the word was still fulfilled.

God is committed to his word. He said if I have said it, it till come to pass (Psalm 33:9). When Jesus came as prophet, he spoke about the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and the invasion of the city (Matthew 23:37-18). All these were verified historically to have happened decades later.

His disciples drew his attention to the beautiful temple in Jerusalem being built by Herod that has been decades in making (Mark 13). And Jesus spoke about its destruction, which is similar to the prophecy of the destruction of the world at the end of time.

Where what has been invested in for many years, the pride of men will come tumbling down and Jesus will set up his eternal kingdom as spoken of in the book of Daniel (Daniel 2:34-35, 44-45).

It will be fulfilled what God has said about Jesus that he will set up a kingdom on earth, an endless kingdom (Luke 1:33). There will be the New Jerusalem, and there will be new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1). In the Revelation that God showed John about Jesus, Jesus said: behold I make all things new. That will be fulfilled (Revelation 21:5).