On obedience

woman-149928_640Genesis 7:5: And Noah did all that the LORD had commanded him.

Obedience to God always has to do with paying a price. You need to pay a price, which is a price in your self-will, a price of commitment, a price for change.

For Moses to obey God to take the mantle of leadership in Israel (Exodus 3) he had to change the plan he had for his life. He cannot go on the road he had channelled for himself and also go on the path of God.  God has called him to bring change, for that he needed a change of direction.

When God called him, he can no longer be a private man. Everything he did, even the woman he married was up for scrutiny.  Aaron and Mariam complained of the wife he married (Numbers 12:1). If not for his obedient to the call of God, he would have continued living with his father-in-law, herding his sheep, unknown, unsung.

David was called by God to be king, without that call he would not have gotten into the trouble with the current king Saul. He would probably had died as a shepherd in the backwoods of Bethlehem. He would not have amounted to anything.

But the road to becoming a king was fraught with many challenges. The call attracts many opposition, puts you in conflict. (Paul said, a door has been opened to me, but there are many adversaries [1Corinthians 16:9].)

It is a principle that runs throughout the bible. Even Jesus could not escape the conflict which comes with being yielded to the call of God. If he had remained a carpenter, he would not have been a threat to anybody, and his life would not have been cut short, because it was those who opposed him because he obeyed God who worked towards his death.

Abel was obedient to God, doing what pleased God, but he died in the hands of his brother who was jealous of the result he got with God, because that made him feel inferior (Genesis 4:1-12). Therefore you can obey God into trouble.

It was because the disciples obeyed God, as they became witnesses in Jerusalem after his resurrection, that they were persecuted and suffered social dislocation from Jerusalem as they were dispersed abroad (Acts 8:1).

If Paul was not obedient to the heavenly vision when as a Pharisees of Pharisees, a Jew among Jews, asked to take the message of Jesus to the end of the gentiles’ world, he would not have received so many beatings in his life, lied against and jailed for an offence which he knew nothing about, suffered shipwreck (2Corinthians 11:23-30). The path of obedience is the path of conflict, do not let anybody deceive you otherwise.

As mentioned earlier, if Jesus had not yielded to the call of God, he would not have died on the cross. He would have lived a quiet life, and died as an old carpenter. But yielding to the call of God, he gets to be the life-giving spirit to us all (1Corinthians 15:45).

Therefore, regardless of how difficult it was, obeying the call of God is worth it because that is the key to our lasting significance.

David had no claim to significance except in the context of the call of God on his life. God told him: I brought you from following sheep to be shepherd over my people Israel (2Samuel 7:8). He needed to understand that he was not appointed king for himself, but because of God’s people.

Solomon who became king after him, was not the firstborn. So kingship for him was a call not just about his lineage.

He was chosen among many possible candidates, though the child from an adulterous relationship, and the least morally sound choice for a king after the formidable reign of David.

After being picked to be king, he did not take his position with levity, but when he had the opportunity he asked God for wisdom to be the best king possible (1Kings 3:5-13), so he will serve the people to the optimum. And he ushered in a time of prosperity and abundance in Israel, because the one who is called gets to partner with God to change the wold.

Gideon, if not for the call of God to be a deliverer for Israel in the book of Judges, would have died an insignificant man. His natural credentials are poor. The least in his father’s house, from the least tribe. His self esteem was not in the best shape, but his obedience was, and that was the key through which though an unknown man, he was translated to national prominence almost overnight. That is what obedience to the call to stand out can do for you.

Those who answer God’s call get to change the world. This is because they carry the presence of God. When God called Moses, he wasn’t supposed to try to make it on his own, the same with Joshua, and everyone else God called. They were meant to be extensions of him, carrying out his mind, his power, presence and purpose, mandate.

When Jesus sent his disciples to the mission field, he said he was going to be with them supernaturally (Matthew 28:20). He said: I am not going to leave you as orphans, I will come to you (John 14:18).

Those who answer God’s call create change in their generation. They are no mean men, they have been chosen to cooperate with the God of the universe. But they have also set themselves up for great conflict.

The conflict is because the devil has set himself on a path of conflict with God. Paul said that we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers (Ephesians 6:10-12), against spiritual wickedness in high places, who push out knowledge that are in opposition to the true knowledge of God (2Corinthians 10:4).

Another name for Satan is rebellion. Samuel told King Saul that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, while rebuking him for disobeying God, or modifying the command of God (1Samuel 15:23).

Obedience is death to self, since we are the slaves of the one we obey, we also manifest, represent the one we obey. When Eve disobeyed God in the wilderness, she stopped representing God, and she manifested the devil (Genesis 3). So a walk of obedience is a walk manifesting God, manifesting light and power and presence of God.

When Abraham sent his servant to get a wife for his son, he was not supposed to represent himself but Abraham. He was a trusted servant and that was what he did (Genesis 24).

Because of the level of obedience that Jesus operated in, he was able to tell the disciples that if they have seen him they have seen the father (John 14:9). The one you obey have established control over you. That we why are told not to obey the flesh, allowing its works to be established in our life, unto death, but rather we should obey the Holy Spirit, leading to life (Galatians 5:16, 6:8).

True knowledge

woman-164238_640Genesis 3:11: He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

We now have different sources of knowledge. But when God made man he was his only source of knowledge. His gateway for knowing anything was his knowledge of God (Genesis 2-3).

He knew the names that he should give the other animals because of his vital connection with God. That he knew his wife is also extension of his knowledge of God.

After God made Eve and brought her to Adam: he said this is now the bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. Without being told, he knew, since he was operating at God’s own frequency of knowledge in the knowledge of the truth.

But that is a different experience to the knowledge of good and evil that man got into when he ate the wrong fruit. The knowledge that the devil introduced into the garden was that man can have his way against God’s instruction and go scot free. That was a lie and since that time it has been downhill.

In the focus verse, “Who told you?” is a question about the source of what we know, because the source itself is the message. Jesus said: the words that I speak to you are Spirit and life (John 6:63).

We should know things by the Spirit of God (1Corinthians 2). Paul said that the things of God are spiritually discerned and the carnal mind cannot know them. He said that no man knows the things of God but the Spirit of God in him, and it is to know the things of God we have been given the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit embraces the thoughts and life of God and communicated that to us. The bible says that the Holy Spirit teaches by comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

But the knowledge of good and evil which Adam and Eve gained when they ate the forbidden fruit after which their eyes were opened subtly conveys a rejection of the life and the thoughts of God.

But Jesus brings the life and thoughts of God. The bible says that the law came through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:14, 17).  Jesus comes as the sun of righteousness (Malachi 4:2), the heat is the grace the light is the truth, and both are intricately linked.

And the bible says that the sun of righteousness will rise upon us with healing in his wings. The only reason we need healing in our spirit, soul and body as human being is because the false knowledge of good and evil comes with the judgement of death.

The dominion of the devil which Adam and Eve inadvertently signed to when they obeyed him, since we become slaves to the one we obey, is marked by the operation of sin and death.

Once the devil was able to establish the dominion of sin in the first human being, death became a reality in the life of man. It was like picking up one end of a stick, you automatically pick up the other end. Once you choose the wrong path, you automatically chose the end of the path, which is how death follows sin, not because God is wicked but because as free moral agents we get to make our choice either for good of for evil.

We are to pursue the knowledge of God. Peter said we need to grow in the knowledge of God (2Peter 3:18).

We need to pursue God to the hilt. But the devil has other ideas, he blinds people’s eyes so that we do not embrace the true knowledge of God (2Corinthians 4:4).

In the ministry of Jesus opening of the eyes of the blind featured prominently. He says: I am the light of the world, meaning, he is true enlightenment (John 9:1-5). He warned against our being deceived when people say I am the Christ, drawing disciples after them, to a counterfeit knowledge (Luke 21:8).

When the disciple followed Jesus, they had the opportunity to learn of him. To hear from God we need to be near to him. Zacchaeus was not satisfied with just hearing about Jesus (Luke 19:1-10).  He wanted to see him, be near to him, though he did not feel worthy.

Jesus felt his hunger and looked up to see him on a tree on which he climbed to see Jesus as he passes. Though with a tough exterior and he heart longs for Jesus. His hunger for Jesus drew something from Jesus, his attention, just as the touch of a woman with the issue of blood touched Jesus physically and drew power from him (Luke 8:43-48).

She wanted to touch Jesus without being noticed, just as Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, without his knowledge. However, Jesus committed himself to him, because of his hunger for his presence. Jesus could not resist hunger for him, as it is written those who hunger and thirst for righteousness shall be filled.

Zacchaeus did not allow his height or lack of it to hinder him from seeing Jesus. He did not allow his public image to hinder him. He was both a man with ill reputation and financial means in the society being a tax collector, a chief among them and an extortioner.

His hunger cuts through all these to reach out to Jesus, and after his encounter, where he felt and saw the massive love that comes from Jesus. His hard heart was melted and he decided to return the money he stole and many more. Jesus did not go to him judgmentally, but with his love. And Jesus then told him, today salvation has come into this house, in a great communication of God’s love.

Jesus has empowered us by the Holy Spirit to communicate his love to the world. That is the core of the gospel, for men to embrace the love of God. Paul told an audience in Athens: the mistakes of the past God has winked, and now call everyone to a new start to faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 17:22-33). Everyone needs to be told, offered an opportunity to respond to and embrace the gospel of Jesus for a new start with God.

When Jesus announced his mission in a synagogue, the first thing he was: “preach the gospel to the poor, open the eyes of the blind, heal the broken hearted (Luke 4:18-19),” all by the anointing. But since he is not here now, he has the church which is his body (Ephesians 1:22-23), to carry on with his mission, communicate his power, his healing, his glory, his love.

Jesus is the light (John 9:1-5), and people need to know that to set the free from darkness, out of confusion, blindness, he is their guy. They need to be told that they need him to get out of their confusion. He is the life, and people need to know to get them out of the death grip. He is the power of God, and they need him to win in life.

Time

clock-272483_640Genesis 1:1: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

God is eternal, beyond comprehension, since human comprehension has in it the paradigm of chronology and increment.

God is not limited by time, nor confined by it, since he created it. The bible says that time and chance happen to us all (Ecclesiastes 9:11). That means time is a component of human life. Moses even prayed: teach us to number our days so that we might apply our heart to wisdom (Psalm 90:12). Applying our heart to wisdom, is about knowing what to do per time to get the right result. The sons of Issachar were described as those who understand the times, knowing what Israel should do per time (1Chronicles 12:32).

David was a man who was in the habit of asking God for what to do. When an army came to route his place when he and his men were not around, carrying away their properties and wives and children, rather than panic he asked God what to do (1Samuel 30:8). The result was nothing short of miraculous. He experience the restoration of all things.

Job had a similar experience. At a time it was as if his life has gone down the drain, but at the end he had restored to him double what he lost (Job 42). The bible says God restored double to him after he prayed for his friend.

Maybe the best thing for you to do with your time is see how you can pour into others. How you can be of benefit to them. Rather than be worried about yourself, why not immerse yourself into prayer for others?

Paul wrote that we need to redeem the time, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16). Even God, when he became man as Jesus, he had to conform to the dictates of time. He said: I must work the work of him who sent me, while it is day, the night comes when no man can work (John 9:1-5).

When God set man in the garden, he was to spend his time working, taking charge of and developing the garden to his full potential (Genesis 2:15). There is the garden of your life, your family and ministry that you have been give the custody of, to maximise, to make the best of it over a period of time. You have no excuse, because with wise work and hard work you are definitely going to make a success of it. There is wise work and hard work.

Paul when has comparing his ministry with that of other apostles said that he laboured more than them all. And the effect of his ministry is still being felt till today (1Corinthians 15:10).

However in the book of Ecclesiastes, we read that it is not just about hard work, but there is something called smart work. We read that that the labour of fools wearies them because they do not know how to get to the city (Ecclesiastes 10:15); and if the cutting instrument is sharpened then less energy is used to cut down the tree. Wisdom, the bible says, is profitable when we allow it to direct us (Ecclesiastes 10:10) because it is not good enough to pass time, but using time smartly to better ourselves and our world.

The incarnation represents God’s smart work and hard work in time to save us from our sins, to bring salvation. That was God limiting himself to time, as the word became flesh and dwelled among us (John 1:15, 12-14, 17-18). It was one of the greatest wonders of all time, heralding what will soon happen to the believers on our inside in time, as they become born again by the incorruptible seed of the word of God (1Peter 1:21).

It was hard work because it involved the painful death on the cross, and it was smart work, because by that one sacrifice God sanctified forever those who believe (Hebrews 10:12, 14).

That God became man is not logical, it is not within the mental power of man to grasp. How can time and eternity coalesce? It confuses and mesmerises men. It is offensive to many and on that point may have shut the door of the gospel to themselves.

The incarnation of Jesus was prophecy (Isaiah 7:14) and miracle manifest. When Gabriel was talking to Mary about her supernal conception of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38), he said the power of the highest will overshadow her and she will give birth to Jesus, the Messiah. That was an information that she can handle. She could not handle the fact that Jesus was God.

But as revelation progressed, Paul would later write boldly: this is the mystery of godliness God was manifested in the flesh (1Timothy 3:16).

John also wrote so that we do not get it twisted that in the beginning was the Word who was God and that he is the one who was manifested in the flesh and when we believe in him we will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). And he established later in his epistle that when the identity of the son of God is called to question their can be no salvation.

For there to be a new beginning for humanity after the sinful mishap of Adam, there must be the word which is light going forth, and it did in the incarnation of Jesus.

In the first verse of the bible we saw God saying to the worn-down earth: let there be light (Genesis 1:1-3). And when John was introducing Jesus he said that he is life, in a connection back to the creation of the world, when God caused living things to manifest. And John also said of Jesus: in him was life and the life was the light of men, and the light shines in darkness, which could not comprehend it.

The presence of darkness in the second verse of the bible necessitated the divine declaration: “let there be light” at the beginning.

Darkness was the prevailing situation but it did not prevail for long as God created a new order of light and life. While the situation in the first chapter was largely physical, with the coming of Jesus as light and life, the problem was largely spiritual. The accurate knowledge of God was far from humanity. With spiritual darkness we could not accurately see God and the god of this world, Satan, has blinded the minds of those who do not believe (2Corinthians 4:4).

And we are not changed except we believe. The devil was able to mess up the new beginning that God set up in the first chapters of the bible, when he got man to disbelieve the word of God, but now in the new order of things, we are restored when we believe Jesus the Word of God.

The bible says that in time past, God revealed himself to the father through the prophets, but the light they received was limited, the life they expressed was limited, but in Jesus the limitation in the experience of God was removed (Hebrews 1:1-3).

Jesus told a church in the book of revelation that they should go back to the first works in repentance (Revelation 2:1-5), because they are loved has waxed cold, as a measure of repentance they are supposed to go back to the first works, as it were, turn back the hand of time, go back to what they used to do at the beginning of their relationship with God, then they will experience God anew. This is because loving God is not some esoteric idea, it is exposed in what you do with your time (1John 2:15-17).

In comparing Mary and Martha, Jesus said that Mary by sitting down at his feet had made the better choice in the use of her time, rather than what Martha was doing. Martha was engaged in many activities for Jesus, but not listening to Jesus (Luke 10:38-42).

One major sign that you love God is that you listen to him and not just what you do for him. Even Jesus had to have a listening ear. In a prophetic work concerning him, he said, sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but my ears you have opened (Psalm 40:6).

Isaiah wrote that God wakes him morning by morning to hear as the learned, so that he may know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary (Isaiah 50:4). He was not permitted to speak if he had not heard from God, he was not permitted to express anything except the divine opinion and perspective.

Even when it comes to fasting, it is about the will and ways of God, not just about feeling and obligation. God told Isaiah the kind of fasting he wants, the one that is according to his will. It is not just about what you do, it is also about why you do it, hence the need to be receptive to God all the time (Isaiah 53).

When God made man the first person he listened to was God. Then everything was well with man, he had peace, pleasure and power. But when he listened to his wife, who had listened to the serpent, against the will of God (just as Saul listened to his soldiers instead of the one who gave him an assignment) and he became invaded with fear, lack, struggle and weakness.

Listening to God bring peace (curing us of fear), being what he ministers to our heart. When there was turbulence in the seas as Jesus was coming with his disciples on a boat (Mark 4:39), he said peace be still. He calls us to come near to him to learn from him, since his burden is light and his yoke is easy and we will find rest for our soul (Matthew 11:28-30). And part of carrying his yoke is to listen to him.

Listening to God also brings pleasure. The bible says that in the presence of God, where we get to listen to him, there is fullness of God and in his right hand pleasures forever more (Psalm 16:11). In the presence of God we are under the shadow of his wings for protection (Psalm 91). Peter listened to Jesus in his fishing business and he experience abundance (Luke 5:1-6).

Listening to God is power. It is by hearing and doing what the father does that Jesus expressed so much power in his lifetime (John 8:38).