And he said to them all, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. (Luke 9:23)
Jesus, speaking in the verse above used the word ‘cross’ to denote the ‘death’. Of course, through the death of the cross he paid for the sins of humanity. So, did he mean we are also to expect to be crucified like he was? No. Rather “taking up our cross daily” signifies “dying to the flesh daily”.
As believers we must be aware of the potency in our flesh to hinder or possibly stop the move of the spirit, the work of God in and through us. The flesh sometimes manifests as a veil denying men to see the glory of God upon us. As we allow the working of the spirit, putting the flesh to death, we create room and space for the holy spirit to work in and through us.
Oftentimes, the manifestation of the flesh is in our holding on to material things. We want to boast about our certificates, cars, houses, achievements and even sometimes our spiritual knowledge of scriptures. If there was any man in scriptures who had enough things to boast about, Paul was one.
In Philippians 3: 4 – 7, he itemized a lot of these things that he could boast about. Asides those, looking at his life, there were a lot of things to boast about. He was a Hebrew of the Hebrews (this was a strong spiritual boast in those days), a scholar who learned from the best (more like attending Harvard in our time), in prayers, fervent, in spiritual understanding he wrote a large part of the new testament we all read today and the list goes on and on. But instead of holding on to all of these, he said:
Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake, I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ. (Philippians 3: 8)
Paul, instead of holding on to all he had achieved, he counted them as “dung”, “garbage” instead, why? To gain Christ. To give more room for Christ to be revealed to him. As such, our holding on to these things actually rob us of the possible revelations of Christ that have been given to us to walk in.
It is interesting how we allow the flesh to have its way in our affairs every day without even noticing it. Recently, the Lord began to show me this in my own life. I noticed many of them were things that even though good to have, they were taking too much space in my heart.
Sometime ago I said to myself, I want to achieve this and buy that before the end of the year. I want to get better at work so I need to take that course, or learn that new software, etc. Even though all of these things are good, the moment they begin to become my top premonition, that’s likely the flesh.
The Lord wants to be first in all our affairs. The moment this happens in our lives, we are likely to have died completely to the flesh. This is also explained in Luke 9: 57 – 62.
Lastly, when temptations come, they are meant to check the amount to which our flesh is in control of our lives. To think that Judas and Peter were both followers of Jesus, but the devil knew that if Judas was tempted by money, that his flesh was still alive in that area, and he could be led by the flesh into betraying his master, is a strong indication showing us the potency of the flesh.
“But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions)” James 1:14 AMP
Jesus overcame temptations by dying to the flesh. He didn’t just overcome by knowing scriptures, which is good but, he overcame because he didn’t allow lust for the material things of this world to be found in him.
“…And he has no claim on Me. [He has nothing in common with Me; there is nothing in Me that belongs to him, and he has no power over Me]” John 14:30
I will close with the words of Jesus, deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Christ.
I call you blessed
Everyone says “Evolve or Die”, “make sure to stay at the top of the game”, “Create your own niche”, “Be Unique”, “Stand-Out”, while I believe all these are true, we must be careful to know in which context this advice holds true.
In our pursuit of success in our careers I believe this is true. I always counsel the same. Read books, be unique, Create a special value, do something new and I always give the example of some of the former prominent chat applications like 2go, BBM. Those were the most famous messaging famous some years ago, but now no one knows where they are anymore. And that’s why you always notice your phone applications updating themselves, the programmers keep adding new features to them so they still relevant and keep being useful to their customers.
But, in spiritual things, there’s no new teaching. The teaching is same. The message doesn’t change. The message was Jesus, it is at present Jesus and in years to come, it will be Jesus. Don’t try to sound New, trying to sound New would lead you to error.
Definitely in time, we would grow, increase in knowledge of scriptures, have deeper insight into the scriptures. We would be able to explain things simpler and more clearly because of access into deeper revelation but the message stays same JESUS.
Paul speaking to Timothy said:
And the things that you have heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit you to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:2
See the trend. Paul taught Timothy some things, EXACTLY this same things Timothy was to teach some Faithful Men, this faithful men are then to teach this SAME things to OTHERS (me and you).
It is Jesus the same yesterday, today and forever. And did you just say it’s going to be boring? No. He is new Every morning but still the same.
It’s the same Gospel, the Same Spirit, the same Jesus.
*all scriptures are quoted from the KJV except otherwise stated.
“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;” (Eph. 4:4)
Recently, I was re-reading the account of the first pentecost after the death and resurrection of Christ. The account gave details about the infilling of the Holy Spirit received by the disciples, fulfilment of the prophecy of Joel, the boldness of Peter in preaching to those present and the resulting multitudes who came to receive Christ through Peter’s message that day.
In this account, there is a very important verse in Acts 2, which I believe was pivotal to what we read today in Acts 2, and it is the first verse of this chapter:
“And the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.”
I believe the phrase “ONE ACCORD” really describes the state of how God’s people (the Church) is to be. Everyone comes to fellowship together in unity irrespective of their background, life experiences, self worth, achievements and without any wall of division or segmentation in their hearts. The Holy Spirit through Paul wrote to the Ephesians saying:
“Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all” (Eph. 4: 3 – 6 NLT)
Notice the first statement…”Make every effort!” I believe the Holy Spirit knows strongly the importance of brethren dwelling together in unity and as such, encourages us strongly to make sure that this is seen and witnessed amongst us. So today, I want to encourage you, make every effort to keep the Church of God united in the Spirit! Note that the Church is not limited to your local assembly but believers round the world. It is One body of Christ! One Church!
Scriptures again and again tell us of the importance of this unity. In the description of the Church given in 1 Peter 2:5, the Church is described as a spiritual house.
“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2: 5)
Jesus speaking said:
“And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:25)
I believe this explains the weakness we see in the Church today. There is so much division amidst ourselves, along denominational lines, ethnic lines etc. One person is saying I am of this group, while the other says I am of that group. One says I know better, the other says, No! I have more resources than you, so I’m better, causing so much strife and contention within a house which is supposed to stand together in one accord. It is One Faith! One body! One Father of all!
Paul writing to the Corinthians on the issue of strifes and contentions wrote:
“For you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world? When one of you says “I am a follower of Paul” and another says “I follow Apollos” aren’t you acting just like people of the world? After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us.” (1 Cor. 3 : 3 – 5 NLT)
Paul again writes:
“Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.”Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow only Christ”. Has Christ been divided into factions? Was I, Paul, crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul? Of course not!
(1 Cor. 1:12 – 13 NLT)
In other instances, scriptures describe the Church as a body which needs each part to function perfectly. The eyes are not greater than the hand, neither is the head better than the stomach. All parts need each other to function. The eyes can’t walk on its own, it needs the legs for that, and of course while in motion the legs need the eyes so it doesn’t fall into a ditch. None less, none greater.
“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit” (1 Cor. 12: 12 – 13 NLT)
“All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it” (1 Cor. 12: 27 NLT)
Today, I encourage you to strive to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Don’t seek exaltation for one part of the body over another. Strife and contentions weaken the body, don’t do it!
Pray this with me:
“As a believer,
I will make every effort to keep myself united with my brethren,
As a part of the Spiritual house that Christ is building,
I will not be part of strife or contentions that weaken it.
As a part of the body of Christ,
I will contribute my part to its growth and functioning,
Without thinking I’m better or lesser than the other parts,
All this by His grace.
It is one faith, We have one body and one Father over all,
Who is Lord of all. Amen”
Thanks for reading.
I Call You Blessed
Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the Children of Israel, saying unto them, The Lord bless thee and keep thee. (Num. 6: 23 – 24 KJV)
It is the Father’s will to bless us. Beyond that conviction, it is important to know what the blessing is, how it is received , what qualifies one for it and why God blesses.
And God blessed them and said to them, Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it [using all its vast resources in the service of God and man]; and gave dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of air, and over every living creature that moves upon the earth.
The account above is of the beginning; God was proclaiming a blessing to man even before he was created. Even when he was without works, without any good or bad deeds, he was blessed. He came into life with that blessing upon his life. He was created to be in charge, to subdue, to have dominion. He was blessed. Even though this blessing was lost, when he fell but it was restored in Christ. Even before we had any works, the Father blessed us!
May blessing (praise, laudation, and eulogy) be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual (given by the Holy Spirit) blessing in the heavenly realm! (Eph 1:3 AMP)
He blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm. I find this amazing, that the account in Ephesians 1 is similar to Genesis 1. While Genesis 1 explains what happened at the beginning, Paul, in Ephesians 1 through the Holy Spirit explains to us what happened at the point we were born into God’s household. And in both instances, God blessed us when we were without any good works. Before we even thought about service to Him or doing good or paying our tithe or offerings, we were blessed with all spiritual BLESSINGS in CHRIST JESUS.
Everything we want is in God’s blessing for us. Everything God has blessed us with is in Christ. All our requests for life are in Christ and Christ is in us.
Notice Ephesians 1:3 tells us He blessed us in Christ Jesus, telling us the channel with which God blessed us is Christ Jesus. As the verse describes this blessing as spiritual, I do believe they can be manifested in the physical. Various scriptures tell us of God’s blessings upon the believer.
But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption: (1 Cor. 1: 30)
Christ has been made unto me wisdom
Christ has been made unto me righteousness
Christ has been made unto me sanctification
Christ has been made unto me redemption
It is in Christ that we are blessed not on account of any good works we have done. In Christ, we have a sound mind. Notice scripture does not say we will have it, it says we already have it.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love and of a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7)
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed. (1 Pet. 2:24)
It is part of God’s blessing upon the believer’s life that we should be in good health. Scripture also tells us that the blessing of Abraham is upon the believer.
“That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Gal. 3:14)
And here is one of the blessings God proclaimed upon Abraham:
“And I will make of thee a great nation, that I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 12: 2 – 3)
I believe one of the reasons God blesses us is so we can be a blessing to all the families of the earth. We are God’s channel of blessing the earth. One might be tempted to say, “of the 10 richest people on earth, none of them is a believer”. Well, we need to start seeing that the blessing is not first, financial! Of course it may manifest as financial but God’s blessing upon our life is far more than money. We need to have this perspective. That’s why every now and then, I tell myself “Samson, you are blessed”.
Brothers and Sisters, whether we feel like it or not, we are blessed, and not because of what we do or don’t do but because of what Christ did. And we are blessed to be a blessing.
He Calls us blessed.
If a believer becomes Righteousness-conscious, Son-conscious, Satan will be afraid of him – E.W. Kenyon
At Redemption, we were transferred from death to life. Our spirit man was regenerated, made a new creation and gained the righteousness of Christ so that we can boldly declare that we have the same standing before the Father as Christ has. We are now His beloved children (as Christ is beloved) accepted in Christ Jesus, free from the hold of sin and death and now translated into the kingdom of God. We who were slaves and servants to sin, and by extension were under the domain and rule of the devil, can now boldly declare that ‘Now are we sons of God’. Yes, we can call him Father.
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God,…” (1 John 3:2)
“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:” (Col. 1:13)
“Having predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1: 5 – 7)
Redemption brought so many benefits to the believer, that it will take until Christ returns for us to fully unravel it. Scriptures teach that the salvation of our soul occurs as our soul learns of what happened to our spirit at redemption, and this will continue until Christ returns or we are translated in death. This indicates the magnitude of what happened to us when our spirit was regenerated and of the awe of the wisdom of God demonstrated at redemption.
As believers, we are to seek to know about these mysteries. We are to learn about who we are. In all of Paul’s letters, two things he taught the most were (1.) Christ – who He is, and (2.) the Church – who we are and who Christ has called us to be. It is in learning about this that we can really take full advantage of the benefits of redemption.
“But these oppressors know nothing; they are so ignorant! They wander about in darkness, while the whole world is shaken to the core. I say ‘You are gods’, you are children of the Most High. But you will die like mere mortals and fall like every other ruler” (Ps. 82: 5 – 7)
Ignorance is expensive. Trust me, you don’t want to be ignorant. We need to know who we are. We know who we are as we learn of our rights at redemption. We learn that at redemption we received sonship; the right to call him Father, having a right standing as regards righteousness before the creator of the universe. We learn of our right to rule over sin, sickness and diseases and over principalities and powers and every ruler in the dark places of this world. We learn of our right to God’s presence every minute of the day, and our right to use the name of Christ in healing those who are sick and raising the dead and much more.
With our knowledge must come consciousness. When we learn of this truth, we are to live daily with the consciousness of it, that is the secret to living victoriously in this wicked world.
We are conscious that God is with us, assuring His protection.
We are conscious that we are seated in heavenly places far beyond the reach of principalities and powers, as such we don’t live in fear.
We are conscious that we are loved by our heavenly father, as such we cannot be depressed because all things (both good and not so good experiences) work together for our good.
We are conscious that we are not slaves to sin, but servants unto righteousness.
We are conscious that by his stripes we are healed, and can speak to our bodies ‘No sickness here’.
Brethren, the key is not just to have a mental acceptance of the truths of redemption but to be conscious of them daily. That is exactly what scares the devil, the knowledge of who we are in Him. No wonder Paul prayed for the Ephesian Church (and us in extension):
“Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;”
“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:”
“The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints”
“And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power”
“Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places”
“Far above all principality and power and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only this world, but also in that which is to come” (Eph 1: 16 – 21)
It is my prayer that we may come into full understanding of what Christ did on the cross for us.
I call you blessed