Winter wonderland appeared overnight outside my window.
No doubt I have some special talents and skills. Some accumulated with experience, study and practice. The disciples too. Jesus knew. Mark 9:33-34 recorded this realistic scene. Jesus knew they were disputing among themselves who would be the greatest. I can imagine the conversation among them:
- Peter: I should be the leader. I am always the leader and spokesman. I have the revelation knowledge. I was the first to declare that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and that Jesus has the words of eternal life. (John 6:68-69)
- John: I am the chosen one. I am the beloved of Jesus. Jesus let me lay on His bosom. I can accurately conceptualize and summarize the essence of the words He has spoken. In fact, I know Jesus best. I have a better and more complete in depth revelation knowledge of God and Jesus, the Son of God. I even recorded down Who He said He really is. I believe in every word He has spoken. I believe Jesus trusts me most and will entrust His mother to my care if in need.
- James: I should be the commander in chief. I am fiery and unafraid of evil. I can call down fire to burn those who oppose Jesus! I am in the Lord’s inner circle of three (Peter, John and James) and saw Jesus’ glory on the mountain of transfiguration!
- Philip: I managed to convince the skeptical Nathanael to join us here! I am the first evangelist! I am good in economics, market prices and figures too. I make sure I stay quite close to Jesus so I can ask Him stuff and also serve Him. For example, Jesus asked me where we shall buy bread. I am the one who knew how much it would cost to feed five thousand. (John 6:5, 7) I am the first cross-cultured missionary. The Greeks come to me so I can bring them to Jesus.
- Andrew: I. I am the first evangelist. I went and persuaded Peter to join. Remember? I am a populist. The little boy came to me and offered his five barley loaves and two small fish. See, how popular I am? The Greeks look for Philip but Philip still has to find me to bring them together to Jesus. (John 12:20-22)
- Matthew: Stop. I am the most qualified and experienced in crucial departments: accounting, tax evasion investigation, inland revenue and custom duties collection, reports writing etc. I am also most well versed in Moses’ laws and Jewish tradition and practice.
- Thomas: I am the realist. You need to be realistic and demand the specific practical evidence and details. You must doubt and challenge everything before you can be an effective leader. Never take things at face value. I make sure we clarify and know what Jesus is talking about and the exact route we can use to go where He is going. (John 14:5, 20:24-29) but I have loyalty. I am willing to die with Jesus. (John 11:16)
- Nathanael: I am the man of integrity. Jesus said so!
- Judas Iscariot: I am the man of the highest integrity. See, you all entrusted me to keep your money box. I even have the discretion to give to the poor, take and spend what I need to. I also have friends in the high places, like the Chief Priests and the Pharisees.
- James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, and Simon the Patriot: We are the true disciples. Action speaks louder than mere words. The Master (Jesus) sent us out, gave us authority and power to go preach the kingdom of God, heal the sick and cast out demons. We did that faithfully. Leaders are action and performance-oriented, with evidence of fruit.
In conclusion, I should not be thinking that Jesus is merely talking to His disciples. I too, like the disciples above, could make assumptions about my human abilities and qualifications when I lapse into self-engrossment and human efforts even though I do not vie for any leadership position. Jesus was not against His disciples performing well and becoming leaders. But at that time they missed the whole point about His life ministry, which is not a kingdom on earth. And His successors are to make disciples of all nations. This mission is to be fulfilled by His followers until He returns.
Definition of a disciple:
This is the definition of a disciple. A disciple is a person who continues in God’s Word until they experience freedom. Put together with John 15:8, where Jesus said a disciple is one who bears much fruit, we can say that a disciple is someone who continues in God’s Word until they are free and it can be witnessed in their lives as fruit. (Andrew Wommack)
I now realize that in the previous two chapters of 2 Corinthians Paul spoke of his relationship in Christ with God and then with man. In the third chapter he described his relationship with the Holy Spirit, his power source. I summarize below my understanding. Indeed this is my favorite chapter!
Chapter 3: Paul’s Ministry of the Holy Spirit
- Paul described the Holy Spirit as: The Spirit of the living God, the Spirit of Christ, the Lord.
- The Holy Spirit writes letter in the heart, gives lives, changes lives.
- New covenant of the Spirit gives life.
- Ministry of the Spirit is far more glorious than the ministry of the Old Testament.
- Whenever the Scripture is read and the people turn to the Lord, the Holy Spirit removes the veil in hearts to see Jesus as the Christ.
- The Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
- The Holy Spirit transforms us into the same image of the Lord, from glory to glory.
- Paul’s sufficiency is from God who made him minister of the new covenant of the Spirit who gives life.
- The ministry of the Spirit is also called: the ministry of the new covenant, the ministry of righteousness and the ministry of glory.
- Holy Spirit causes: Boldness, unveiled heart when the truth is preached, liberty whenever one turns to the Holy Spirit, transformation of lives.
Towards the end of last year I went through a challenging time in the physical and spiritual realms. The incident drew me to re-examine my daily timetable and reprioritize my life. I decided to get into the spiritual realm to handle it and it meant halting other stuff and adopt a new schedule as follows:
Put God-factor as number One. How? Praying in tongue persistently in most of my waking hours. Read the word of God whilst praying in tongue. My spirit prompted me to read 2 Corinthians so I have been doing that until now. Read. Meditate. Pray. Let the Lord speak to me. Receive and record down His revelation. Meditate and act upon it by faith with the position I have in Christ and the authority I have as a believer.
Result was significant and the manifestation was completely over by the third week. I resumed my normal routine incorporating the modifications as above. The experience changed my perspective and lifestyle. I have been reminded that there is no off time in walking by the Spirit. Discerning from the state of the world today, it is evident that the spiritual realm is getting more real and is increasingly taking precedence over the physical realm.
As I have been praying for new direction this year, I realize that this is a year we need to walk deeper in the Spirit (Ezekiel 47:5 Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross; for the water was too deep, water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed. 6 He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he brought me and returned me to the bank of the river.)
Yesterday while driving I pondered on the purpose of the church (a gathering of Christians) and thought of what Jesus did and what He commissioned His apostles and disciples do, the same and more. Healing is a major need in the physical human world. The ability to heal makes a significant difference in a church compared to others. Weekly I hear of individuals seeking healing from one place to another. I also find that in my current Bible study subjects the topic of healing is really prominent and relevant. Walking in the Spirit means walking in the power of healing because the Spirit gives life to our mortal bodies. This is the direction to develop further this year in our walk with the Lord both as an individual and as an assembly of people together for the purpose of worship, prayer, praise and looking unto God.
Ezekiel 47:7 When I returned, there, along the bank of the river, were very many trees on one side and the other. 8 Then he said to me: “This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. 9 And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes.
47:12 Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine.”
I have not been thinking aloud for sometime. What have I been doing? Well I have been studying and sitting for exam. I am serious. The last time I studied for exam was when I did a postgraduate degree for a second career. The current three years’ course is for my “third career”. Yes, my family members are laughing out loud when they read this. At my age and my station? Unbelievable! Well, why am I taking up such a seemingly directionless challenge? I could have easily gone on a world cruise and enjoy watching, listening and recording a great variety of perspectives of many sights, sounds and tastes.
For the benefit of my closed ones and other passers by, here is a random list of my study goals in no order of importance. As some may observe the goals are personal.
1. to be a role model for the younger generation who have aversion to study in my extended family. (I include this goal because several very young members are still students)
2. to compel me to leave the soft couch and sit on a chair with hard back.
3. to change my habit from random information skimming to a focused in-depth study.
4. to have a clear sense of direction.
5. to have a specific higher goal.
6. to practice self-discipline.
7. to exercise my memory and brain functions.
8. to practice long-suffering and perseverance.
9. to learn focus and deter distraction.
10. to equip for a third career. (I include this goal as a commercial motivation for myself and the younger generation too!)
Have I achieved or progressed in any of the above goals? To some degree, yes. I did not include my spiritual and goals of higher values in the above list. They are personal too. Have I achieved or progressed in them? Yes, very much. Would I recommend to my peers such a course? Yes, definitely. Far, far better than going on a world cruise. From a spiritual watchman’s perspective, cruising in the sky has a wider and more panoramic view than taking a ride in a boat.
Education gives us facts and knowledge. But wisdom gives us the abilities to use knowledge for good productive purposes -doing the right thing, with the right people/object, at the right time and place, producing the right outcome. A successful businessman described how he was saved from a financial disaster through the operation of wisdom instead of knowledge.
Here is his experience with the supernatural wisdom.
He talked about a business deal that he was looking about buying this entire apartment complex. He said the financial numbers looked great. Everything looked really good. He said I kept wanting to do it and the more I prayed about it, the Holy Spirit said, “No!” And he said I know when the Holy Spirit says no the Holy Spirit says no. “We had signed a letter of intent but we had not signed a contract on the property to buy it. And so I went to see the vendor.” He said, I prayed some more in the Holy Spirit because it looked really good in the natural. And the Spirit of God on the inside of me said no. And so I said, “We are not going to do this.” The vendor just went ballistic, crazy. But three months later or something the city condemned the building and they had to move all the people out of it and for months they did not get their money. It would have been a complete financial disaster. The Holy Spirit knows things that we do not know and if we listen to the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit will keep us out of trouble.
Where do we find wisdom? We find wisdom in Christ. Christ lives on the inside of you, and you can learn to draw from your spirit on the inside.
Colossians 2:3 (NKJV) in Whom (Christ) are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
1 Corinthians 2:16 (NKJV) For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:30 (NLT) God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (TPT) For God made the only one who did not know sin to become sin for us, so that we who did not know righteousness might become the righteousness of God through our union with him.
Who you are affects what you do. So, if you see yourself as righteous, having been made by God “the righteousness of God in Christ”, there are certain places you will not want to go and certain things you will not want to do because that is not who you are.
My thinking has a lot to do with where I go in life. God is a lot more concerned with where I am going than where I came from. God is in the spiritual realm. He has the best thoughts for me. If I do not begin to think there, I cannot go there in the natural. But if I begin to think in a different realm, that is, the spiritual, my thoughts will help me go there and bring back to the natural every spiritual blessing and prove the perfect will of God in my natural life.
It was an awesome spiritual encounter. I was woken by the worship song downstairs. My housemate was ministering to a first year correspondence Bible College student group in the living room. The song was powerfully sung. I thought it was a recorded or online video but the guitar was clear and the surround effect was too good not to be live. They only sang one song, a Chinese original composition called “You are Worthy”. I did not know the number of participants. It sounded like a full house. The music was great and powerful too. I could not figure out whether there was one or two guitars. Then they prayed in tongue. It blended into the music and the song. I became wide awake and joined the praying in tongue in my room.
Later, when their class was over they prayed in tongue again. This time I was sitting at my desk, continuing my own study. I was also praying in tongue. I realized that I was singing in tongue, and it was a gentle beautiful song in an unknown tongue. The students then took turn to pray in understanding. The music was playing softly in the background. After their closing prayers I heard people talking and leaving.
I was impressed to open my Bible to see what the Lord has for me about my tongue (spiritual song). And the verses I received were most appropriate. They are taken from Psalm 119:97-104 MEM. Here is a description of what it means:
It means mighty, overpower.
Meaning: God waters His servants. God gives life-sustaining knowledge to His servants. God waters His people with understanding and insight. The two forms of MEM show Moses (in the open) and the Messiah (the “hidden” water).
The above confirms my spiritual song just now. When I was singing I could feel the flow in my spirit, like calm water, gentle, peaceful and refreshing. I could also feel the joy and sweetness in my soul. The Lord indeed gives understanding and insight to me and the students as they too prayed in tongue, expressing their passion and love for the words of the Lord in their spirit.
It was near midnight when the last of the students left. I then found out that there were only ten students. One young couple served as worship leaders and another older couple could sing very well too. One guitar accompanied the singing. But it was a powerful passionate worship team I heard. Who are the rest? Awesome!
Psalm 119:97-104 New King James Version (NKJV)
97 Oh, how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98 You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies;
For they are ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the [a]ancients,
Because I keep Your precepts.
101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way,
That I may keep Your word.
102 I have not departed from Your judgments,
For You Yourself have taught me.
103 How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.
Psalm 119:100 aged
Kings go out to battle. Great kings do not stay back in their comfortable palaces (comfort zone) and wait for news. They do not send a second in command instead. They go out to do the battle themselves, not as a figurehead!
This is the lesson we learn from King David and how his decision not to go to the strategic point of victory had cost him beyond anything he had achieved. Those who stay in their own comfort zone never achieve anything of lasting value. Worse, They could even lose all they have valued.
The world today sees through such hypocrisy. We are not persuaded by mere words. We want to see kings who effectively walk their talks.
Praise God for there are some hands-on kings (raised from senior citizens)!
We pray that there are kings who have the right value, can hear the Lord, make the right decision at the right time, for the right motive that aligns with God’s will, regardless of what those ignorant of God’s strategies may scorn and mock. The Bible is full of examples of adversaries from two different perceptions. perception from the wise and perception from the fools. The Bible also tells us very specifically who wins and why, how to be wise and how not to be fools.
History records how wise kings operate strategically and boldly.
King David was a wise king when he listened to the Lord. He failed big time when he chose not to listen. He was wise when he aligned his heart with the heart of God.
2 Samuel 11:1 New King James Version (NKJV)
David, Bathsheba, and Uriah
It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.
1 Corinthians 2:12
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
I was there when he set the limits of the seas, so they would not spread beyond their boundaries.
God blessed two groups of living creatures at creation: the fishes and the birds, the human beings, male and female in God’s own image. Then He blessed them. God created other things as well: day, night, heaven, earth, seas, grass, fruit trees, sun, moon, stars, animals and other living creatures on earth. But the Bible recorded in Genesis God blessed two groups as quoted below.
Genesis 1:22,28 New King James Version (NKJV)
Fishes and birds: 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”
Human beings made in the image of God: 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Why? What do they have in common that other creatures do not have?
Looking at the fact that each has its own domain of operation, we can note the distinct demarcation: fishes in the seas (water), birds in the sky, humans on land. God has granted humans dominion over the whole earth at creation.
There is a word repeatedly used by God in the creation process. “Divide/Separate”. In Genesis 1:3-18 (Quoted in parts) God again makes distinction between two opposite realms: light and darkness, day and night, heaven and earth, dry land and seas.
1:3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. ..
6 Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” 7 Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. ..
9 Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; …17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.
Why does God make such clear demarcation between light and darkness, heaven and earth, land and seas? Verse 14 gives us an indication, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years;” I believe the distinction is landmark, to guide the whole human race as an entity in survival on this the earth, and each person as to the span of his/her life on earth.
Landmark is a physical guide for a traveler. The Apostle Peter described Christians as sojourners/travelers.
1 Peter 2:11-12 (NLT)
Living Before the World
New Living Translation
Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners”(Sojourners) to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.
God wants His people to be different and make a difference in the fallen world. He has set landmarks which guide us. This is what He said, “Do not remove the ancient landmark which your fathers have set.” (Proverbs 22:28)
A WARNING ABOUT REMOVING BOUNDARIES/LANDMARKS
Deuteronomy 19:14 [ Property Boundaries ] “You shall not remove your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.
Hosea 5:10 “The princes of Judah are like those who remove a landmark; I will pour out My wrath on them like water.
EVEN THE SEAS HAVE BOUNDARIES WHICH THEY ARE FORBIDDEN TO CROSS OVER
Proverbs 8:29 I was there when he set the limits of the seas,
so they would not spread beyond their boundaries.
And when he marked off the earth’s foundations,
6 …The waters stood above the mountains.
7 At Your rebuke they fled;
At the voice of Your thunder they hastened away.
8 They went up over the mountains;
They went down into the valleys,
To the place which You founded for them.
9 You have set a boundary that they may not pass over,
That they may not return to cover the earth.
Jeremiah 5:22 New King James Version (NKJV)
22 Do you not fear Me?’ says the Lord.
‘Will you not tremble at My presence,
Who have placed the sand as the bound of the sea,
By a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass beyond it?
And though its waves toss to and fro,
Yet they cannot prevail;
Though they roar, yet they cannot pass over it.
Are there boundaries in the spiritual realms? The answer is yes. In the Book of Daniel, the angel Gabriel told Daniel that he was delayed by the prince of Persia and prince of Greece and angle Michael had to come to his aid so e could come to Daniel in answer of Daniel’s prayer. Apostle Paul also mentioned the existence of such territorial and hierarchical spiritual rulers of darkness and hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12) Revelation 12 described a war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the devil and his angels. “but they did not prevail, nor was there a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out…”(12:7-9)
In summary: God sets boundaries to separate. Do not cross them. Do not allow breaking down of such boundaries. That was why Nehemiah and his team returned to Jerusalem in 444BC to rebuild the walls. There is spiritual significance in walls. They are landmarks for demarcation and distinction.