Hold On

‘Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life’ ~ Proverbs 4:13

These words were spoken by God Himself to King Solomon ‘When I (he) was a boy in my father’s house, still tender, and an only child of my mother’ (Proverbs 4:4). A similar word was also echoed to the Israelites when God commanded them, ‘Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and the laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you’ (Deuteronomy 4:1). God also uttered something similar to Joshua when He told him, ‘Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written on it’ (Joshua 1:8). Throughout the Bible, holding on, following, and not letting go of God’s Word hold central theme. This is repetitive because there is a very high tendency for the human fragile heart to slip God’s instruction through its darkened crevices, for human feet to become lame and wayward and follow the wrong path, and for human feeble minds to let go and evaporate into thin air words of instruction from the Lord.

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In fact, the only time that God the Father spoke from heaven directly to humans while Jesus, God the Son, walked on earth was when He said; ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’ (Matthew 17:5). Besides ascertaining Jesus’s Sovereignty, God then addresses in finality to the disciples present; Listen to him! God did not say, marvel at His miracles, or go and learn about Him in some institution, or conduct research of His existence then you’ll see. No. God’s instructions were simple, listen to Him! Because in listening to the right Source, then can one get the right instruction AND THEN hold on to it. However, many fail to listen and so hold on to the wrong things, follow deadly paths, and let go of the truth altogether. Jesus says, ‘To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the market-places and calling out to others: ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn’ (11:v16-17). In other words, they do not listen and so have nothing to hold on to.

When God tells us to hold on to instruction, it is for our own sake. Like He told Solomon; guard it well, for it is your life, or to the Israelites; so that you may live, or to Joshua; then you will be prosperous and successful. Many remain in rebellion to God’s Word thinking that they are doing a disservice to God, but in reality, they are doing a great disservice to themselves. A man who does not eat does great disservice and harm to their body, and not to the food that remains uneaten. God says, ‘Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord’ (Deuteronomy 8:3). But in this day and age, many cannot survive without food even for a day, but somehow can forgo Spiritual food, the Word of God- not just daily but even for years on end. Little do they know that while they ‘grew fat and kicked; filled with food, he became heavy and sleek. He abandoned the God who made him and rejected the Rock his Saviour’ (Deuteronomy 32:15). While many feed their physical bodies on a daily basis, they do not even think of feeding their spirit man. Paul says, ‘Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified’ (Acts 20:32).

The mark of Christian is one who holds on to the Word. Jesus says, ‘If you hold on to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free’ (John 8:31-32). Unfortunately, many so-called Christians settle in knowing the Word but do not hold on to it, and so are not really led by God (Disciples). To such Jesus says, ‘you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead’ (Revelation 3:1). It is only by ‘remaining in Christ’ (John 15:4) that He can remain in us and then reveal to us His mysteries, as we bear fruit for His Kingdom. Solomon notes, ‘The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day’ (Proverbs 4:18). When most get saved, they settle at the first gleam of dawn and do not advance to the full light of Christ, because they fail to hold on to the teachings. As a result, they fail to see that their ‘faith is growing more and more’ (2 Thessalonians 1:3). It is only by holding on to God’s Word can we see real change. Jesus says, ‘The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe’ (John 6:63-64).

One’s life can be evaluated by what they hold on to. A person who clutches at straw eventually experiences a drowning. While those who rely and hold on to themselves or others experience unlimited disappointments, for ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord’ (Jeremiah 17:5). When the Israelites held on to Egypt as their hope, it was to their detriment. God says of Egypt, ‘You have been a staff of reed for the house of Israel. When they grasped you with their hands, you splintered and you tore open their shoulders; when they leaned on you, you broke and their backs were wrenched’ (Ezekiel 29:6-7). It is only by holding on to God’s Word can one stand. Paul tells Timothy; ‘I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience’ (1 Timothy 1:18-19). Holding on to godly instruction was critical for Timothy to experience real growth in his faith, just like for any Christian because ‘some have rejected this and so have shipwrecked their faith’ (v19). But in our case, we should hold on!

 ‘Earnestly contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints’ ~ Jude 1:3

‘So then brothers stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter’ ~ 2 Thessalonians 2:15

‘Hold fast the pattern of sound teaching, which you heard from me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus’ ~ 2 Timothy 1:13

Dreams: God’s Visuals

A Dreamer whose dream came true was Joseph. One day, seventeen-year-old ‘Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more’ (Genesis 37:5). Joseph’s dreams of exaltation seemed to do him no good, and instead, he was debased and sold off to slavery in Egypt. Little did he know that the dreams were a glimpse to his future. However though, he found himself spiralling from slavery to being a jailbird, because some dreams take time before they are fulfilled. While in prison, Joseph became not only a dreamer, but a dream interpreter which started off with his faith-filled remark, ‘Do not interpretations come from God? Tell me your dreams’ (40:v8). God then uses dream interpretation as the card that gets Joseph out of prison to fulfil his destiny- that of being Governor of Egypt. ‘The Lord was with Joseph’ (39:v2), and when the Lord is with someone, God openly reveals Himself. He says, ‘When the Prophet of the Lord is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams’ (Numbers 12:6). Elihu, full of God’s Spirit of wisdom and understanding, says;

‘For God does speak- now one way, now another- though man may not perceive it.

In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men.

As they slumber in their beds, he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings.

to turn a man from wrongdoing and keep him from pride. ’

(Job 33:14-17)

God constantly speaks to us in many ways. However, most times we do not pick up what He says because we are either too busy to notice, or our spirits are not sensitive to His leadings. When we are asleep however, our bodies are inactive and our spirits become more active. And so in that state, God uses that opportunity to speak to us in visual, coded forms- dreams. The King of Babylon says, ‘I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous. I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in my bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me’ (Daniel 4:4-5). Only when King Nebuchadnezzar was rested, could God use that opportunity to speak to Him. Job who was suffering anguish says, ‘When I think my bed will comfort me and my couch will ease my complaint, even then you frighten me with dreams and terrify me with visions’ (Job 7:14-15). Beyond giving us a glimpse of the future, God also uses dreams to speak warnings to us, to keep us from wrongdoing and from pride, as Elihu states.

However, this is not to mean that all dreams originate from God. And this is where discernment comes in. Sometimes, ‘a dream comes when there are many cares’ (Ecclesiastes 5:3), and so dreams may be a regurgitation of one’s fears and worries buried in their subconscious- not necessarily God speaking. Sometimes, the Evil One corrupts our dreams so that ‘while everyone is sleeping, his enemy comes and sowed weeds among the wheat’ (Matthew 13:25). It is only by having a close relationship with God, can one distinguish if a dream is from God or not. The devil, a murderer and thief, usually snatches our critical dreams which God has spoken to us, and makes us forget them. However, God is faithful and ‘reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what dwells in darkness and light dwells in him’ (Daniel 2:22). So when we pray, God can reveal a dream and its meaning to us. It also helps if one writes down a significant dream for remembrance.

Oftenly, when God speaks in dreams, it is at a critical point in one’s life. For instance, when one is at a crossroad and does not know what to do, then God may use a dream to bring clarity. When Joseph was considering to divorce Mary, ‘an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream’ (Matthew 1:19) and told him not to divorce her. God also uses dreams to reinforce what He already spoke to someone in another form. When God told Gideon that he would defeat the Midianites, Gideon remained doubtful. God then tells him, ‘If you are afraid to attack, go down with your servant Purah and listen to what they are saying. Afterwards, you will be encouraged to attack the camp’ (Judges 7:10). ‘Gideon arrived just as a man was telling his friend, ‘I had a dream’’ (v13). The dream was of a ‘round loaf of bread tumbling into the Midianite camp’ (v13) and ‘struck the tent with great force that the tent overturned and collapsed’ (v13). The dream signified Gideon’s victory over the Midianites, and ‘When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he worshipped God’ (v15).

Dreams also hugely offer warnings that should not be ignored. Joseph tells Pharaoh, ‘The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God and will do it soon’ (Genesis 41:32). The dreams predicting of a looming famine was given in two forms indicating its urgency. It called for action to be taken in planning and storing food. A dream serves a purpose and so action needs to be taken. For instance, the birth of Jesus entailed many dreams. This is because Jesus served a purpose, like we all do. Joseph and Mary were ‘warned in a dream not to go back to Herod’ (Matthew 2:12) in order to save Jesus’s life. Taking heed, they fled to Egypt. Sometime later, an ‘angel appeared in a dream to Joseph’ (v19) to leave Egypt. They were again ‘warned in a dream’ (v22) not to go back to Bethlehem, and so ‘they withdrew to the district of Galilee’ (v22). When Jesus, after completing His ministry, was brought before Pilate, God also used a dream to warn Pilate to have nothing to do with His trial. ‘While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: ‘Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him’ (27:v19). Pilate took warning and so was able to clear himself of any charges in the crucifixion of the Messiah. In the same way, a warning dream is only effective if it is heeded; pray against the calamity and take action where necessary, and as directed by God.

When it comes to interpreting dreams, God is a personal God, and when He speaks to one in dreams, it is applicable to their life or one whom they dream about. Dreams use symbolism and so their meaning are usually not outright and need to be unravelled in line with personal circumstances. And so a symbol in one’s dream may not mean the exact in someone else’s dream. Daniel says, ‘No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God who reveals mysteries’ (Daniel 2:27-28). It is only God’s Spirit, the Spirit of Wisdom, who can reveal what a dream means. By going back to God with our dreams, He only can reveal its meaning to us because God is interested in building a relationship with us, even via dreams. Daniel tells the King, ‘As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than other living men, but so that you, O King, may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind’ (v30). While God used the dream to reveal ‘what will happen in days to come’ (v28), He also used it to show the proud King His greatness and power. After Daniel told the King the meaning of the dream, the King remarked, ‘Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery’ (v47). No matter their purpose, dreams point us to the Source, to God’s power and majesty. And the more we behold Him in awe, then we will be able to easily discern and interpret dreams. 

‘And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women’ ~ Joel 2:28-29

That One Unforgiveable Sin

‘And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven’ ~ Matthew 12:31

Jesus spoke these words to the Pharisees with such finality. This was after He had healed ‘a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute’ (Matthew 12:22). After the healing, the Pharisees said, ‘It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons’ (v24). Jesus knowing their thoughts replies to them, distinguishing His Kingdom and that of Satan, and continues to say, ‘But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you’ (v28). Their unbelief even when the Kingdom of God was right before them was what led Jesus to openly state that all other sins of speaking ‘a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven’ (v32). But unbelief even after the Kingdom of God was right before their eyes, even after all evidences and convictions, would not be forgiven. And so Jesus repeats, ‘anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come’ (v32). In other words, Jesus termed damned all those who do not believe in Him even after His appearances to them, because it is only by believing in Jesus, does one receive the Holy Spirit.

When one remains in unbelief they ‘always resist the Holy Spirit!’ (Acts 7:51) and by extension are speaking against Him. Ignorance, denial, doubt and all other sins are forgivable, but remaining in unbelief even after Jesus appears to one is unforgivable. Jesus even says, ‘If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains’ (John 19:41). For those who were ignorant of God before the coming of Jesus, Paul says ‘In the past, God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent’ (Acts 17:30). After Jesus Christ was revealed, now ‘the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men’ (Titus 2:11). To each individual, opportunities to hear the message of Christ and repent are given because ‘He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance’ (2 Peter 3:9). Those who hear the Gospel time and time again, and yet do not take action flirt with unbelief, like King Agrippa who asked Paul, ‘Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?’ (Acts 26:28). Paul replies, ‘Short time or long– I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains’ (v29).

After hearing of the Gospel in whatever form and seeing its power demonstrated in many ways, those who still remain in unbelief choose to be against God by default. Jesus elaborates, ‘He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters’ (Matthew 12:30). As a result, ‘we must pay more careful attention therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away’ (Hebrews 2:1). In the past, God used Prophets and Angels to reveal His Word to men, but through Jesus Christ, His own voice now speaks. Paul therefore warns, ‘For the message spoken by angels was binding, and every disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him’ (v3).

God speaks to Moses about The Prophet ‘like me’ (Deuteronomy 18:15) and says, ‘You must listen to him. . . If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account’ (v15,19). Jesus, whom God was speaking of, says, ‘if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins’ (John 8:24). Paul bluntly warns those who refuse God saying, ‘See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven?’ (Hebrews 12:25). Eventually, judgement must come to all men, and so Peter says, ‘For it is time for judgement to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?’ (1 Peter 4:17).

Those who put on a façade and call themselves Christians while in reality harbour unbelief, and those who fall away even after receiving the truth are considered worse than an unbeliever. Peter says, ‘If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them’ (2 Peter 2:20-21). Paul corroborates, ‘It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened . . . if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace’ (Hebrews 6:4). Peter and Paul were not speaking of those who are weak in their faith, but those who purposeful remain in unbelief even when they know the truth. They only put on a façade as ‘Christians’, ‘having a form of godliness but deny its power’ (2 Timothy 3:5).

We are then cautioned that; ‘If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God’ (Hebrews 10:26-27). If those ‘who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses’ (v28), ‘How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?’ (v29). Those who in their hearts deny Jesus but outwardly profess to know Him have already signed their doom. But for those who are ignorant and doubtful, Jude urges us to, ‘Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them’ (Jude 1:22). However, remaining in doubt for prolonged periods is also unbelief, and does more harm than good. One then becomes hardened at heart and will always find an excuse to doubt because, ‘If they do not listen to the Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead’ (Luke 16:31). So the reality is that belief starts with faith as small as a ‘mustard seed’ (13:v18).

Jesus answered, ‘I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep’’ ~ John 10:25

Until Christ Forms in You

‘My dear children, for whom I am in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you’ ~ Galatians 4:19

Christ became like us and was ‘born of a woman, born under law’ (Galatians 4:4) and ‘shared in their humanity’ (Hebrews 2:14). Now exalted and ‘seated at the right hand in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 1:20), He urges us like Paul does to the Galatian Church; ‘become like me, for I became like you’ (Galatians 4:12). Christ became human like us to ‘destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil’ (Hebrews 2:14), in order to ‘set free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death’ (v15). As a result, Christ became ‘our righteousness, holiness and redemption’ (1 Corinthians 1:30), and so enables us to share in His divine nature. This is in keeping with a non-negotiable directive from God, ‘Be ye holy for I am holy’ (Leviticus 11:44).

When the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit, first meets a dormant spirit, excavation occurs. He convicts us ‘of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgement’ (John 16:8). What was once acceptable in our eyes become repugnant. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we release one by one what is not of God, making room for Him in our hearts. Slowly by slowly, ‘he will guide you into all truth’ (v13). While the initial formation of the Spirit can be unnoticed, a lot is occurring in the spirit man. We feel the kicking, tugging, and pulling inwardly, but outwardly our state remains. At this point, we must still continue to attach to the Spirit of God with the binding of faith, ‘the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen’ (Hebrews 11:1). While we may not see all the fruits of the Spirit manifested in us all at once, we still have faith that the working of the Spirit will bear much fruit in season.

Jesus says, ‘In your patience possess ye your souls’ (Luke 21:19), and so we ought to feed the Spirit to its complete formation by ‘stand(ing) firm to the teachings’ (2 Thessalonians 1:15). Paul commends Timothy that, ‘from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’ (2 Timothy 3:15). During our infancy stage, we might be like the Ethiopian Eunuch who was ‘reading the book of Isaiah the prophet’ (Acts 8:28) but did not understand ‘who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?’ (v34). But as long as we ‘diligently search the Scriptures’ (John 5:39), the Spirit is feeding and will eventually ‘take from what is mine (Jesus’s) and make it known to you’ (16:v15), because the Spirit can ‘speak only what he hears’ (v13). While we nourish our spirit man with Scriptures, Jesus assures us that ‘the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will bring to remembrance everything I have said to you’ (14:v26). But how can the Spirit teach and bring to remembrance that which we do not know in the first place? Or as Paul asks, ‘How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?’ (Romans 10:14). And so, the Scriptures is of nutritional value in the formation of Christ in us, by the work of the Spirit. Because through the Scriptures, we attain ‘the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness’ (Titus 1:1).

‘During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears’ (Hebrews 5:7). Likewise, as Jesus in us forms, our cries ought to become louder, as we linger in prayer. When we ‘build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit’ (Jude 1:20), the Spirit ‘himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express’ (Romans 8:26). The more we pray, the more the Spirit builds us up in our faith for ‘God is the builder of everything’ (Hebrews 3:4). Prayer and reading of Scriptures are inseparable, and leaving one for the other makes us a ‘flat cake not turned over’ (Hosea 7:8). And because ‘God gives the Spirit without limit’ (John 3:34), we should not limit the Spirit by neglecting to acquire in prayer, ‘the fullness of him who fills everything in every way’ (Ephesians 1:23).

When we continue in God’s Word and prayer, we who ‘were given the one Spirit to drink’ (1 Corinthians 12:14), begin to birth out the Christ in us. His eyes, ears, mouth, and heart begin to form in us until we see what He sees, hears what He hears, speaks how He speaks, and ‘the eyes of your heart enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you’ (Ephesians 1:18). We then become ‘filled to the measure of all the fullness of God’ (3:v19). Jesus tells those who have reached this point, ‘Blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear’ (Matthew 13:16). He commends us because our spiritual eyes and ears of understanding have been fully formed to perceive and receive all what the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding says to a point that ‘he will tell you what is yet to come’ (John 16:13). For the Spirit is also a Spirit of Prophecy. Paul even writes, ‘Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy’ (1 Corinthians 14:1).

When we eventually ‘become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ’ (Ephesians 3:13), we overflow with the Spirit which inhabits not part, but the whole of our being. When one surrenders all to Jesus, ‘streams of living water will flow from within him’ (John 7:38), which is His Spirit. Being full of the Spirit means that we need to overflow by being ‘active in sharing your faith, so that you will have an understanding of every good thing we have in Christ’ (Philemon 1:6). At this point, ‘we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth’ (2 Corinthians 13:8). Because ‘It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age’ (Hebrews 6:4-5) to easily fall out. So, sharing and fellowship, ‘continuing in His word’ (John 8:31) and ‘pray(ing) without ceasing’ (1 Thessalonians 5:17) are the only sure ways that we ‘do not quench the Spirit’ (v19), the Spirit which formed Christ fully in us.

‘For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the Head over every power and authority’ ~ Colossians 2:9-10

The Loving God

‘I have loved you,’ says the Lord.

But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’

~ Malachi 1:2

The phrase ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:16) has been rightly used but wrongly upheld. Its full effect does not resonate with its hearers because many do not appropriate it to themselves. John who made this statement rightly does so, because he himself appropriated this Word to the point he refers to himself as the ‘disciple whom Jesus loved’ (John 13:22, 20:2, 21:20). After Jesus showed all His disciples ‘the full extent of his love’ (13:v1) by washing their feet, John seemed to take the words Jesus said to heart. After washing their feet, Jesus told them, ‘I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you’ (v15). Here, Jesus shows the fluidity of love, that it ought to be passed on- because love cannot remain stagnant. Neither can it be contained. However, before love can really be passed on, it ought to be internalized, and so Jesus asks, ‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ (v12). Unfortunately, many do not understand love because they do not know the Source of love as ‘love comes from God’ (1 John 4:7). Some also have not fully grasped and appropriated the extent of God’s love to them personally. And so what exists in the world and in many people are attempts of failed love, misconstrued love, and mere appearances of love.

So the biggest question many today ask is, what is love? Attempts of romance movies, love songs, and novels have failed to answer that. No wonder many are released each day with a revised, usually downgraded form of love that borders lust, insanity, and abuse. For Christians who believe that God is love, it is usually with a generalized connotation that proceeds to robotically explain, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16). Although this is the core way God showed us His love, many do not appropriate it to themselves and so do not quite understand what Jesus has done for them. It then becomes hard to understand the nature of love, and of God (who is love). As a result, many fail to go and do likewise. 

So how has God loved you? He Himself says, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness’ (Jeremiah 31:3). God’s love is everlasting; it has no beginning or end for He has no beginning nor end. He says, ‘I am the first and the last; apart from me there is no God’ (Isaiah 44:6), and so apart from God, there is no love. God’s love is also unchanging, and does not fluctuate based on fleeting feelings for ‘I the Lord do not change’ (Malachi 3:6). The love of God is also active, it is not passive, for He draws us, hinting that ‘he first loved us’ (1 John 4:19). God does not use coercion, manipulation, or tricks to draw us, but uses not just kindness, but loving-kindness. In Hosea, God says He draws us with ‘cords of human kindness’ (Hosea 11:4), meaning that God stoops low to our level to show us love, to show us Himself in a way that we can understand it.

In that regard, we may fail to explain what love is because God, who is love, is indescribable. ‘Oh the depth of riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!’ (Romans 11:33). While we may not explain love, we can mention and express the qualities of love because God expresses qualities of Himself (of love) to us. Paul, who had a personal encounter and close relationship with God attempts to ‘show us the most excellent way’ (1 Corinthians 13:1)- that of love, that of God. He opens the Chapter by explaining that all our human efforts apart from God, apart from love, is meaningless. He then proceeds to explain the character of love, the character of God. With the attributes Paul mentions, each one is backed by God Himself through His entire Word. Thus, it should be appropriated to each personally because ‘man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord’ (Deuteronomy 8:3). In the same way, one can only know the full extent of God, of love, when they open His Word, which is His love letter to each of us.

Love is patient– ‘Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes’ (Hosea 3:1)

Love is kind‘I will restore them because I have compassion on them’ (Zechariah 10:6)

Love does not envy‘I made it beautiful with abundant branches, the envy of all the trees of Eden in the garden of God’ (Ezekiel 31:9)

Love does not boast‘Who being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness’ (Philippians 2:6-7)

Love is not proud– ‘Whoever comes to me I will never drive away’ (John 6:37)

Love is not rude‘I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her’ (Hosea 2:14)

‘So the Lord spoke kind and comforting words to the angel who talked with me’ (Zechariah 1:13)

Love is not self-seeking– ‘Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion’ (Isaiah 30:18)

‘For I seek not to please myself but him who sent me’ (John 5:30)

Love is not easily angered– ‘For I am God, and not man- the Holy One among you. I will not come in wrath’ (Hosea 11:9)

Love keeps no record of wrongs– ‘I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more’ (Isaiah 43:25)

I will not accuse you forever, nor will I always be angry, for then the spirit of man would grow faint before me- the breath of man that I have created’ (Isaiah 57:16)

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth– ‘For this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth’ (John 18:37)

Love always protects– ‘How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel?’ (Hosea 11:8)

‘For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you’’ (Isaiah 41:13)

Love always trusts– ‘The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it’ (Genesis 2:15)

Love always hopes‘Tell the righteous it shall be well with them’ (Isaiah 3:10)

Love always perseveres‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame’ (Hebrews 12:2)

Love never fails- ‘. . .  so great is his unfailing love’ (Lamentations 3:32)

‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’ (Hebrews 13:5)

‘This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us’ ~ 1 John 3:16

‘For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord’ ~ Romans 8:38-39

‘This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins ~ 1 John 4:10

The Power of Two

‘Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: if one falls down, his friend can help him up . . . Also, if two lie down together they will keep warm . . . Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves’ ~ Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

When God created man, He said that, ‘It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’ (Genesis 2:18). Before the Flood, God told Noah to ‘bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you’ (6:v19). When Jesus sent out the seventy-two disciples, He sent them ‘two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go’ (Luke 10:1). When God discharges people in pairs, it signals work He wants to do through them, ‘For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them’ (Matthew 18:20). It is God who appoints, establishes, and discharges mankind to participate in His work because we are ‘God’s fellow workers’ (1 Corinthians 3:9). While God works through individuals, He discharges two for a work that reflects His Unity. The Oneness of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is made plain. While two are brought together for His work, His presence brings completion as in the Trinity because ‘A cord of three strands is not quickly broken’ (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

The primary reason that God discharges two is for His work. When God presented Eve to Adam, and they were eventually banished, their mission remained. ‘So the Lord God banished him from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken’ (Genesis 3:23). The directive, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it’ (1:v28), still remained. When the Flood ceased, God directed Noah to, ‘Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you . . . so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it’ (8:v17). When Jesus sent out the seventy-two, He told them, ‘Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore to send workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves . . . When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell then, ‘The Kingdom of God is near you’ (Luke 10:8).

This commission still stands to every Believer. Like to the Twelve, Jesus’s words to all Believers is, ‘Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned’ (Mark 16:15). Unlike the first work which became cursed after the fall of man so that, ‘By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground’ (Genesis 3:19), the last work given to man, the Great Commission, requires no human effort and is not cursed. God remarks, ‘How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”’ (Isaiah 52:7).

The work of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ dispensed to all Believers is no work at all. Jesus says, ‘I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labour’ (John 4:38). Jesus the ‘Chief Cornerstone’ (Ephesians 2:20) and foundation of the Church already laboured for the harvest and thus said ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30). With the harvest ready, what Believers do in sharing the Gospel is not ripening the fruit, but acting in obedience to God. For the Holy Spirit, ‘will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgement’ (16:v9). So when Believers share the Gospel, the Holy Spirit does the work (and not we ourselves) in bringing conviction to an individual at His own set time and discretion. Paul remarks, ‘I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow’ (1 Corinthians 3:6).

However, as we go about sharing the Gospel, God may partner us with people for a period of time to carry out His mission effectively. When Paul began his ministry, he began fulfilling the Commission solo. After a while, ‘the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work which I have called them’’ (Acts 13:2). Through their partnership, God also used Barnabas to give company and fellowship to Paul after his conversion because, when Paul tried to join the community of the twelve disciples on his own, ‘they were all afraid of him, not believing he was a disciple’ (Acts 9:26). But through his partnership with Barnabas, God worked through them to do many miracles and wonders. As they proclaimed the Gospel in places where the Light of Christ had not yet come, the Holy Spirit working in them was so effective that people shouted, ‘The gods have come down to us in human form!’ (14:v11). They were greatly astonished by the men that, ‘Barnabas they called Zeus and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker’ (v12). These were names of their gods. Little did they know that the Spirit working in them was that of the only true God- the Maker of heaven and earth and all that is in it.

When God brings two together, it is usually for a set purpose. Once that purpose is fulfilled, then they may proceed with their individual missions. After Paul and Barnabas had completed their Commission, they ‘parted company’ (15:v39). When God sent Jonathan along David’s way, ‘Jonathan became one in spirit with David and loved him as himself’ (1 Samuel 18:1). In the midst of trying times, Jonathan was appointed by God to be a friend and confidant to David. He also played a key role in helping David secure his life from Saul who wanted to kill him. Jonathan says to David, ‘Whatever you want me to do. I’ll do for you’ (20:v4). When Jonathan managed to save David’s life and later died, David laments, ‘I grieve for you Jonathan, my brother, you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women’ (2 Samuel 1:26). When God put Rachael across Jacob’s path, he ‘kissed Rachael and began to weep aloud’ (Genesis 29:11). Jacob found respite during a difficult time of fleeing from his brother. God brought him and Rachael together during this trying time not just for love sakes, but for Kingdom sakes for she gave birth to Joseph, ‘a fruitful vine’ (49:v22).

When God brings our way a companion, friend, spouse, or anyone who we become one in spirit with, they may appear to initially bring relief and joy to our lives. God uses them to bring His comfort to us for, ‘Blessed be God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God’ (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). While they may be a breath of fresh air, what truly marks the people who God brings into our lives is their aid in advancing us towards the Light of Christ, or their help in assisting us in spreading the Good News of Christ. The power of two is divinely recognized so much that ‘A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses’ (Deuteronomy 19:15).

‘Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?’ ~ Amos 3:3

Matters of the Heart

‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can understand it?’ ~ Jeremiah 17:9

The anatomical structure of the heart has been understood by professionals in the medical industry. The heart is the organ that pumps blood and oxygen in our bodies, ensuring we keep alive. This is well understood. The heart also sits enthroned in man and is central to human emotion, so that ‘out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks’ (Matthew 12:34). The heart governs our emotions which shift like shadows, and this, no one understands. In spiritual matters, the heart is known for pumping all that is of our fallen flesh, and thus is deceitful above all things. Jesus says, ‘For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immorality, thefts, false testimony, blasphemies. These are the things that defile a man’ (15:v19-20). While the heart is essentially responsible for keeping man alive, it is also responsible for keeping sin alive in man. The heart is beyond cure, because it is desperately wicked. Its evil desires only cease to exist when it stops beating.

The story of the heart does not end with man. It ends with God who says, ‘I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve’ (Jeremiah 17:10). Solomon cautions, ‘Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgement’ (Ecclesiastes 11:9). God knowing ‘that every inclination of the thoughts of his (man’s) heart was only evil continually’ (Genesis 6:5), still promises a reward- whether good or bad. This means that God Himself has found a cure for the heart and only those who receive it will be rewarded positively. David makes this realization and says, ‘How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you’ (Psalm 119:9-10). Solomon adds, ‘So then, remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh: for youth and vigour are meaningless’ (Ecclesiastes 11:10).

While the evil desires of the heart have no natural cure, the heart can be given a spiritual alternative to thrive in. God Himself gives the heart a flexibility to absorb and turn to whatever it is fed. In essence, the heart needs a continual spiritual surgery to incline to the right side and avoid its natural inclination to the left, to its evil tendencies. David writes, ‘I have inclined mine heart to perform your statutes always, even unto the end’ (Psalm 119:112). The inclination is not done by human hands and with a scalpel, rather it is done by a harbouring of God’s Word in one’s heart. Paul notes, ‘For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart’ (Hebrews 4:12). Paul introduces a mystery that the Word of God separates the soul (where the heart lies) and the spirit, thus enabling one to distinguish what is of the heart (fallen), and what is of the spirit (true). The Word of God exposes the camouflage of the heart, which deceives people that their heart and spirit is one, and so invoke the saying, Follow your heart. But the fact remains that ‘there is a way that seems right to man but in the end it leads to death’ (Proverbs 14:12).

The heart can’t stand the Word of God. Since its inclination is set on evil, when a foreign entity of truth is introduced, it tries to repulse it. It can’t make sense of it. It takes time to incline to it. But the more the heart is fed on God’s Word, it has no option but to gravitate toward the right because the pull of God’s Word is stronger. That is why God urges, ‘These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door-frames of your houses and on your gates’ (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). In other words, ‘Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful’ (Joshua 1:8).

For the heart to be inclined rightly, the Word of God needs to be impressed upon the heart. An impression does not take a day to make. The deeper the impression, the longer and harder it has been pressed. Thus, God urges people to teach His Word to their children, because the earlier the better. Solomon says, ‘Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, ‘I find no pleasure in them’’ (Ecclesiastes 12:1). For an impression to be made in the heart, the Word of God also has to be continually dispensed. The heart has to be daily inclined to the right, because its inclination is not a one-off affair. By meditating on God’s Word day and night (continually), we give no room for the heart to assume its natural deceitful position. It is only then that we can be prosperous and successful in keeping God’s command which Jesus summarizes as, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment’ (Matthew 22:37).

Those who refuse to ‘listen or pay attention’ (Jeremiah 7:24) to God’s Word and instead follow ‘the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts’ (v24) only follow deceit. For such, it is the heart that governs them. They are depicted as having ‘cast your (God’s) law behind their backs’ (Nehemiah 9:26). God even says to such, ‘You hate my instruction and cast my words behind you’ (Psalm 50:17). Those who also are double-minded are considered to be following their evil heart because the heart can only be inclined to the right. An inclination has no middle-ground and that is why David says, ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way of everlasting’ (139:v23-24). Those who remain double-minded and partly follow their hearts, alongside those who altogether fully follow their hearts bring judgement upon themselves. Solomon advises such by sharing his experience; ‘I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labour. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless and vexation of spirit; nothing was gained under the sun’ (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11). Solomon concludes by saying, ‘I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness’ (v13).

‘He (God) taught me and said, ‘Lay hold of my words with all your heart, keep my commands and you will live. Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them’ ~ Proverbs 4:4-5

‘If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened’ ~ Psalm 66:18

‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight’ ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

Prayers: Messages Received

‘God heard them, for their prayer reached heaven, his holy dwelling place’ ~2 Chronicles 30:27

Prayer: Bowed heart, bended will, lifted spirit. Mumblings, rumblings, sobs. . . silence. Waiting. Hoping. Trusting. Believing. Believing in the ‘Name which is above every name’ (Philippians 2:9). Amen. Open eyes. Back to the physical realm. Everything looks the same, but in the spirit realm, explosions have occurred. Prayers lifted up have pierced the heavens and reached the One seated on the throne, with our Mediator at His right hand side. Our messages have been received with much delight. Angels are then dispatched to carry out the will of the Almighty in accordance to what we have prayed and believed for. On earth, we call it prayer answered. In heaven, it is known as His will being done. ‘For it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom’ (Luke 12:32).

When Daniel ‘was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill’ (Daniel 9:20), he makes a spiritual discovery. ‘While I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice’ (v21). Angel Gabriel then gives Daniel ‘insight and understanding’ (v22) and tells him;

‘As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed’


As soon as Daniel began to pray, an answer was given; ‘for everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened’ (Matthew 7:8). Daniel being highly esteemed, expedited the answer. He was highly esteemed and so received a prompt response because, ‘I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord’ (Daniel 9:2). Knowing the will of God from His Word is a sure way to get heaven to positively respond to prayer, as one prays with an understanding. James lays bare to those who don’t understand God’s will; ‘When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures’ (James 4:3). God is interested in His ‘will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ (Matthew 6:10), and so when we pray according to His Word, then an answer is given as soon as we begin to pray. We become highly esteemed because we are concerned about His business. The angel tells Daniel, ‘Since the first day you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard and I have come in response to them’ (Daniel 10:12). Indeed, ‘the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much’ (James 5:16).

When effectual prayers go up, answers come down. However, sometimes, the answers seem delayed- not because God did not dispatch a response, but that our prayers are caught up in heavens. In another instance, ‘Daniel mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotion at all until the three weeks were over’ (Daniel 10:2-3). After the praying and fasting, nothing had seemed to happen. But ‘God is not a man, that he should lie’ (Deuteronomy 23:19) because He says ‘whatsoever you shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you’ (John 16:23). When the Messenger of the Lord finally appears to Daniel, he tells him, ‘The prince of the Persian Kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me because I was detained there with the king of Persia’ (Daniel 10:13).

This clearly shows that sometimes the Evil One confiscates our answers to prayer. And so we think that God has delayed or denied us while in reality, our accuser has detained our answered prayers, intending for us to lose faith in God and ultimately loose our blessing. A double strike, because the Evil One is bent to ‘steal, and to kill, and to destroy’ (John 10:10). The devil steals our prayers in order to kill our dreams, and destroy our complete trust in God. And so while trusting God for answered prayer, we are to wait and watch. We are to bind the strongman because Jesus has given us ‘the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bound on earth will be bound in heaven, whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven’ (Matthew 16:19). God in His goodness has given us the key to unlock open heavens, and decree in agreement with His Word for the release of His will upon our lives, and reverse any demonic delay and detainment.

Sometimes though, it is doubt that stands in the way of answered prayer. ‘But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man and unstable in all he does’ (James 1:6-8). Do you doubt God? Do you doubt His existence and Sovereignty? Do you doubt His goodness? Do you doubt His wisdom? Do you doubt His Word? ‘For He who believes in God must believe that he is, and that he is rewarder of them that diligently seek Him’ (Hebrews 11:6). When we doubt Jesus asks, ‘O ye of little faith, why did you doubt? (Matthew 14:31), and so ‘As you have believed, let it be done for you’ (8:v13).

Prayer must begin in God and end in God. Prayer must recognize that God is our only helper. He is to be our only option, like the three Hebrew boys who said, ‘If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O King. But even if he does not, we want you to know you O King, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up’ (Daniel 3:17-18). Prayer is courage. Prayer is total surrender. It is not just mere words, ‘for wisdom is proved right by her actions’ (Matthew 11:19). When King Hezekiah received news of his illness that ‘you are going to die, you will not recover’ (2 Kings 20:1), he turned to his first and last option. He ‘turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord’ (v3). The Lord heard and before long, responds, ‘I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you’ (v5). Again, when an enemy threatened to attack his Country, King Hezekiah turned to his only deliverer, and so God says, ‘Because you prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria . . . the Lord has spoken against him’ (Isaiah 37:21,22).

Prayer is communion, prayer is unity with the trinity, prayer is continuity, prayer is fellowship, prayer is worship, prayer is praise, prayer is privilege, prayer is petition, prayer is brokenness, prayer is wholeness, prayer is belief, prayer is listening, prayer is agreement, prayer is surrender, prayer is sacrifice, prayer is remembrance, prayer is knowledge, prayer is wisdom, prayer is spiritual exercise, prayer is combat, prayer is manifestation, prayer is bringing heaven on earth, prayer is faith, prayer is hope, prayer is medicine, prayer is participation, prayer is discovery, prayer is divine, prayer is effective, prayer is air- it is constantly inhaled and exhaled.

‘May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice’ ~ Psalm 141:2

The Name of God: Hidden but Now Revealed

‘And now I am no more in the world, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name –the name you gave me- so that they may be one as we are one’ ~ John 17:11

A name has a meaning if not a significance. There is probably a meaning or meanings to your name. God’s name also holds many meanings, but there is a name He clearly reveals to mankind which He wanted us to know about, so that we can take it up for ourselves- for our own good. Jesus prays audibly for the benefit of the disciples in order to relay the significance of that name. He tells God the Father, ‘While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me’ (John 17:12). Jesus talks about God’s name which was given to Him, that He used to protect His disciples with. He then beseeches the Father to keep Believers safe by the power of that name, even as He departs from the world. What name is that? Matthew gives us a hint when he records what the angel specifies to Joseph about the mysterious pregnancy of his fiancé, Mary, ‘She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name JESUS, for he will save his people from their sins’ (Matthew 1:21). The angel was specific on the name and so the name was not just a random name from a random selection. It was God’s name. A name that would embody a person, for Jesus means ‘the salvation of Yahweh’.

God who had remained hidden for a long time despite the many other names that was used to describe Him (Adonai, El-Shaddai, Elohim, Jehovah etc.), finally revealed Himself in a clear manner. Isaiah notes, ‘Truly you are a God who hides himself, O God and Saviour of Israel’ (Isaiah 45:15), while Habakkuk says, ‘His splendour was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden’ (Habakkuk 3:4). But not anymore, God clearly revealed Himself to the world using His Word, His name. ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning’ (John 1:1). In other words as Jesus puts it, ‘Rather, it is the Father, living in me who is doing his work’ (14:v10) because ‘I am in the Father and the Father is in me’ (v11). Paul puts it this way, ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting men’s sins against them’ (2 Corinthians 5:19), but saving whoever believes in Him. So, God fully pulls back the curtain and reveals Himself, His true name- Jesus. Jesus, ‘the image of the invisible God’ (Colossians 1:15) is the name of God, hence the character of God. He is the glory of God, as He tells the Father of ‘the glory I had with you before the world began’ (John 17:5), since Jesus is ‘before all things and in him all things consist’ (Colossians 1:17).

In other words, Jesus is the name of God, hence Jesus is God. In essence, someone calling you by your name holds more meaning and shows an understanding that they know you, as opposed to them calling you ‘that person’. Thus, God reveals His name to us in order to use it, but more so to take it up as well. Believers upon getting saved use the name of Jesus in prayer and worship and do that rightly so. However, many do not take that name upon themselves as God intended. When we take up that name, we are protected because we have taken the highest name. The devil and his minions therefore cannot harm us even as we live in his kingdom- the world. When someone believes in Jesus and gets saved, they take up His name. Like a marriage whereby the wife takes up the name of her husband, the head of the household, so Believers take up the name of Jesus, who is ‘the head of the body, the church’ (Colossians 1:18). Salvation is therefore Biblically symbolised as a marriage because a person becomes one in spirit with God. Jesus says, ‘Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me’ (John 17:21).

Just like God saw that something was missing when man was alone, so are we missing without God’s name in us. Jesus expresses God’s desire, ‘I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one’ (v23). So just like couples are happy when they become one, so is our joy made complete when we find Christ. Paul notes of this perfect union between Christ and Believers, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the Church’ (Ephesians 5:31-32). So, Believers carry the name of Jesus because the Spirit in them is that of Jesus who says, ‘I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you will also live’ (John 14:18). Through the Holy Spirit, Believers enter into a perfect oneness with God because they bear the name of God- God in them.

One will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’; another will call himself by the name of Jacob; still another will write on his hand, ‘The Lord’s’, and will surname himself by the name of Israel’ (Isaiah 44:5). This Scripture prophesying of what we presently have demonstrates the awareness that we as Believers need to have in order to fully activate the power of the name we bear. A woman who bears her husband’s name only makes it evident when she acts the part. By keeping the vows she made, then the name she bears proves true. In the same way, living out our salvation according to the Word is how we can truly and powerfully call ourselves by God’s name. Jesus says, ‘If you continue in my word, you are really my disciples’ (John 8:31). So bearing the name of Jesus is not mere lip-service. Christianity has never been lip service, but an awareness of Who is in us, and carrying out His will every moment of every day, for the rest of our lives. Paul clearly knew the name he carried and no wonder he greatly manifested the power of God, ‘for the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power’ (1 Corinthians 4:20). He says, ‘From henceforth, let no one trouble me for I bear on my body the marks of the Lord Jesus’ (Galatians 6:17). All Believers should also be able to say this and live it out because they carry the name of Jesus. And all those who don’t know Jesus Christ are invited to take up His name by repenting their sins and inviting Jesus as Lord in their hearts.

‘In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with righteousness by the man (Jesus Christ) he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead’ ~ Acts 17:30-31

But Who Are You?

Who are you? Is a question of introduction asked by those who are not familiar with you. Rarely does God ask who we are because ‘What we are is plain to God’ (2 Corinthians 5:11). In fact, God calls us by name because ‘The Lord knows those who are his’ (2 Timothy 2:19). Although all of us ‘are his offspring’ (Acts 17:28), some alienate themselves from God by persisting in unbelief, or failing to increase their knowledge of Him. Once we alienate ourselves from the ‘True Vine’ (John 15:1), we are rootless- we neither belong here nor there. We come to a place whereby we do not know ourselves, and so our identity is marred. ‘Having a form of godliness but denying its power’ (2 Timothy 3:5) is a dangerous zone one can find themselves in, because it is either one believes and knows God, or doesn’t- there is no middle ground. Some seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish Priest, went ‘around driving evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who are demon possessed’ (Acts 19:13). ‘One day, the evil spirit answered them;

‘Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?’


In as much I found this comical, it was not funny for the sons of Sceva who were asked this because ‘the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding’ (v16). This is because the seven sons of Sceva did not know ‘the Lord and the power of his might’ (Ephesians 6:10), and so while casting out the demon, they would say, ‘In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out’ (v13). Already, they were doomed for destruction because they did not know the power of Jesus Christ, nor appropriated it. They were second-hand receivers of Jesus’s power and had no experience of walking with Him side by side. Therefore, they invoked the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches, and not whom they actually believed in. For if they did, then they would know that the name of Jesus requires no backing for ‘He is before all things, and by him all things consist’ (Colossians 1:17). The name of Jesus is ‘above every name’ (Philippians 2:9) and so it does not matter who preaches it, be it Paul or anyone else. And when we invoke the name of Jesus, all other personalities should be, and become shadows in His glorious and magnificent light. This however requires a total belief in Jesus.

The Lord knows them that are His. And the devil knows those who belong to God. As Believers in Christ, we are given the opportunity and privilege to ‘serve him shoulder to shoulder’ (Zephaniah 3:9). Jesus Himself says, ‘A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master’ (Matthew 10:24-25). When Jesus our Rabbi, our Teacher, teaches us His ways, then He qualifies us to serve Him shoulder to shoulder. In other words, we serve alongside Him and become like Him- we do not an any point become greater than Him for Jesus says, ‘All things have been committed to me by my Father’ (11:v27). A Believer who knows Jesus and the power He bestows upon them is also known by the devil by the merit of Jesus, and thus the evil spirit said ‘I know about Paul’.

Jesus I know’, said the evil spirit. The devil clearly knows who Jesus is. So when Jesus set foot on earth, many did not recognize His ‘fullness of Deity’ (Colossians 2:9). It is actually the devil who even recognised Him first. So when two demon possessed men met with Jesus near the tombs, they asked, ‘What do you want with us Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?’ (Matthew 8:29). In another instance, an evil spirit speaking through a man it possessed remarked to Jesus, ‘I know you who you are- the Holy One of God’ (Luke 4:34). While most were doubting, and some even mocking Jesus, the devil knew who He was without even being told. The devil even recognizes the power and authority of Jesus, and knows that at his appointed time, Jesus ‘will soon crush Satan under your feet’ (Romans 16:20).

Those who refuse to come to the light of Christ and instead choose Satan’s gloom and doom, will eventually be denied even by the father of lies himself who will ask, but who are you?. ‘And the devil, who deceived them was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever’ (Revelation 20:10). Jesus warns, ‘Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven’ (Matthew 10:32-33). Those who continually refuse to believe in Jesus and even antagonize Him are left to their devices. Jesus says of them, ‘You belong to your father the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning not holding the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!’ (John 8:44-45).

Demons tremble at Jesus’s presence and so when Jesus rebuked a deaf and mute spirit out of a boy, ‘the spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out’ (Mark 9:26). In another instance, when an evil spirit saw Jesus, it said, ‘Swear to God that you won’t torture me!’ (5:v7). Clearly, the devil is under God’s radar and so cannot harm God’s Children without His consent. In fact, Believers have been given ‘authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy, nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven’ (Luke 10:19-20). So those who claim to believe in Jesus need to ‘leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity’ (Hebrews 6:1) in order to overcome all the power of the enemy. When the people at Ephesus saw and heard what the evil spirit said about Jesus and Paul, and what it did to the imposters, ‘they were seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honour. Many of those wo believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly’ (Acts 19:17-19). This is all because Paul and the other Apostles knew who they were in Christ, and His power. Do you?

You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that and shudder’ ~ James 2:19

‘Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’ ~ Philippians 2:9-11