The Heart of a son or daughter serving the Father as the Father’s friend.
We, as born again believers, are called to be sons and daughters who are serving in the kingdom of God, but at the same time friends of God. Malachi prophecies of our day, in the New Covenant, that God will treat us as sons who are serving the Father (Malachi 3:17). Paul tells us in the New Covenant: you are no longer servant or slave but son, and if a son then an heir of God through Christ (Galatians 4:7). Many born again believers do not know why they serve their Father God, and have so many questions about the attitude they should have, when they are serving the Lord. We will not be having an exhaustive study, but will try to make it as succinct as possible, going straight to the point, many other aspects of service are developed in depth, if one takes each aspect of service on its own. But our purpose is to have a glimpse of what it means to serve the Lord.
1. Am I a slave of Jesus or God?
Many believers think that they are slaves of Jesus or of the Lord, and they think God is just using them. For a slave has no freedom, he is bound to his master; he does what his master tells him to do, and does not have a say in the matter. People who think of themselves as a slave of Jesus or God, most of the time, do not serve the Lord with a joyful heart. They have the wrong perception of God, and it affects their relationship with the Godhead too. When Paul says that we are slave or servants, it is to try to make an analogy, because he wanted to explain to us the spiritual truth because of the weakness of our mind, but there is no analogy that is perfect. So He says for instance: Then being made free from sin, you became the slaves of righteousness. I speak in the manner of men because of the weakness of your flesh; for as you have yielded your members, as slaves to uncleanness, and to lawless act unto lawless act, even so, now yield your members as slaves to righteousness unto holiness (Romans 6:18-19). We are sons and daughters who are serving their Father God.
Jesus talks about the parable of the talents, in Matthew 25:14-30, the Master is our Lord. He gave to one of the servants five talents, to another two talents and to another one talent, but the one who received one talent, did not want to serve the Master because in his heart he had a wrong perspective of the Master. He said: Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, an austere man, severe man, harsh man… (Matthew 25:24). He was viewing the Lord as a slave master, who is harsh, austere to his slaves. Whenever in our mind we are thinking that we are serving a God who is a slave master, we will act like this servant that received one talent.
But what was the difference between the two other servants who received five talents and two talents respectively? The bible says in Matthew 25:14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants (Doulos), and delivered unto them his goods. The word servant is the Greek word Doulos which means slave or bondservant. So the three servants were bondservants or slaves of the Lord Jesus, but how is it that the third one acted differently? What revelation did he not have that, the other two had? Romans 1:1 Paul a servant (Doulos), bondservant or slave of Jesus… Paul called himself also a slave or bondservant of the Lord Jesus, but we know how Paul was used mightily by God for the furtherance of the Gospel. So what is the revelation that Paul had about him being the slave of Jesus?
As a man thinks in his heart so is he (Proverbs 23:7), and out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34). They all confessed that they were bondservants of the Lord Jesus, but obviously the thoughts of their hearts were different, for it resulted in different types of service for the Lord. Jesus tells us if we commit sin we are slave of sin (John 8:34). They confessed they were slave or bondservant of Jesus because of the weakness of the flesh of the brethren. To make an analogy: that just like a slave is not free and only does the will of his master, likewise born again Christians, though they are called to freedom, they should not use their freedom to practice sin again, but to only practice righteousness. And Peter tells us, that if we are overcome by a thing, we are brought into bondage by that same thing (2 Peter 2:19). So if we are overcome by sin, we are brought into bondage by sin. Once upon a time, before we came to Christ, we were slaves of sin, we were in that prison of sin. But now that we are in Christ we have been delivered from that prison of darkness, its power and have been translated into the kingdom of Jesus (Colossians 1:13). We were in the prison of sin, we were sinners but now we are righteous.
We are in Christ Jesus, the place where we are kept. He has given us His name, the name of the Lord Jesus. The name of the Lord is our strong tower, the righteous run into it and they are safe (Proverbs 18:10). We are in Christ Jesus now, our secret place, righteousness is our new prison, and it is no longer sin. Sin shall no longer have dominion over us, God, through the Spirit that now dwells in us, has given us divine empowerment, or grace to practice righteousness (Romans 6:14). Now that the spirit of God lives in us, we are empowered to live the same kind of life Jesus lived on earth, since we are in Christ and Christ is in us. As a slave of righteousness in Christ, we are called to liberty and where there is the Spirit of the Lord, there is liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17).
Now that we know that we have been freed from the prison of sin, and from the power of darkness, we are called to liberty in our new condition of righteousness, that has been imputed to us by God. We serve Jesus voluntarily, if Jesus were a harsh task master, he would consume with fire everyone who does not believe in Him. But our Jesus, once He frees us from the power of darkness, gives us our free will, to serve him with our heart. God gave each one of us a free will, to serve Him or disobey Him. Adam and Eve decided to disobey Him. Brethren, God is good; this revelation of the goodness of our God must sink deep into our spirit. The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who trust in Him (Nahum 1:7). It is the goodness of the Lord God that leads us to repentance (metanoia= to change our mind, to renew our mind) (Romans 2:4).
God is good, so let us renew our mind; let us stop thinking that He is a harsh man, an austere man, a slave master. Satan and his power of darkness were the ones holding us in slavery. But Jesus has freed us and He wants us to serve Him freely, voluntarily. Paul realised how God was good, and what He has done for him, and voluntarily decided to become a bondservant of Jesus Christ. Paul decided to trust in the Lord, that He was a good Master, so did the two servants in the parable of the talents. They saw the goodness of the Lord in their lives, and decided to change the way they viewed God. For us Christians, when we say we are bond servants of Jesus, it means that we have voluntarily decided to follow Jesus, and be loyal to Him, we have decided to forsake our old ways and embrace Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). We have put on Christ Jesus and our new man, which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness (Romans 13:14, Ephesians 4:24).
2. I am a friend of God.
Now that we have a better understanding of what the Lord Jesus and Paul meant, when they talked about being a bondservant of the Lord. We can build on that foundation, and see what kind of relationship the Godhead has with his servants. God says through the prophet: but you Israel are my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham My friend (Isaiah 41:8). And again by the mouth of James: And the scripture was fulfilled which said, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God (James 2:23).
From the very beginning, God was not only after servants, but He wants His servants to be His friends, and in the New Testament He wants sons and daughters, who are serving Him and are also His friends. Even in the Old Testament God called the Nation of Israel His son, even His firstborn (Exodus 4:22). Israel as a Nation was the son who was serving his Father God. God wants to share intimate things with His friends. The same righteousness which was imputed to Abraham has been imputed to born again believers. It is the righteousness of Jesus, the righteous one. God wants each one of us, His servants, to realise that He wants to be our friend. Jesus tells us how he sees us, and how He wants us to see Him. Henceforth (from this time forward) I call you not servants (doulos); for the servant does not know what his lord does: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you (John 15:15).
Brethren, you are friends of God, friends of Jesus, friends of the Holy Spirit. The Godhead is wanting to confide in you, wake up! God does not want any of us to have a mind-set of a servant like the world has. God is telling us, I know you will serve Me but I do not want you to be thinking like the world is thinking about their boss. You are my servants but you are also my friend. If you only see yourself as servants you will never see the big picture. For a servant is only preoccupied by the list of tasks he has to accomplish to please his master. A servant will obtain his favour by the amount of work he or she does. The longing of God’s heart is for His servant to realise that He wants them to be His friends. A servant, most of the time, if not all the time, is only working because there is a reward.
God is faithful, He says: I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I did not say unto the seed of Jacob, Seek Me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right (Isaiah 45:19). God knew that many times we will seek Him or serve Him, not for who He is, but for what He can do for us. So he swore to reward us, even when we only seek him for what he can do for us. A friend, though he might need your help from time to time, is not relating to you primarily for what you can give him, but for who you are. Because he loves you, a friend sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). The blood brothers of Jesus did not believe in Him (John 7:5) but the disciples believed in Him, even when they all stopped walking with Jesus. Jesus asked them: will you also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life (John 6:67-68).
Friends stick around, even when you are no longer popular, when you are no longer politically correct, when you have lost it all. The disciples of Jesus were His friends, they did not always understand all the teaching of Jesus, and some of the teaching they wished Jesus had not taught them, because it antagonised people. When Jesus started to talk about people eating His flesh and drinking His blood, he was losing his popularity. Some of the disciples even said: This is a hard saying; who can hear it (John 6:60)? David is a type of Christ; Jesus the Son of David. David had a servant who was also his friend by the name of Hushai.
2Samuel 15:32 And it came to pass, that when David was come to the top of the mount, where he worshipped God, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat rent, and earth upon his head:
2Samuel 15:33 Unto whom David said, If you go on with me, then you shall be a burden unto me:
2Samuel 15:34 But if you return to the city, and say unto Absalom, I will be your servant, O king; as I have been your father’s servant previously, so will I now also be your servant: then you may defeat the counsel of Ahithophel for me.
2Samuel 15:35 And do you not have there with you Zadok and Abiathar the priests? Therefore it shall be, that whatever thing you shall hear out of the king’s house, you shall tell it to Zadok and Abiathar the priests.
2Samuel 15:36 Behold, they have there with them their two sons, Ahimaaz Zadok’s son, and Jonathan Abiathar’s son; and by them you shall send unto me everything that you can hear.
2Samuel 15:37 So Hushai David’s friend came into the city, and Absalom came into Jerusalem.
David the king was friends with his servant Hushai, Jesus our King wants to be your friend too. Let us look at what a servant friend can do for his master. Hushai was loyal to David. If he had only been a friend, there would have been no loyalty. For a servant is only after reward or wages what he can get from the master but if the master can no longer pay him, he changes masters. Hushai mourned when David lost the kingdom, when Absalom caused the kingdom of David to suffer violence. But David had a retreat plan. Hushai wanted to go away with David, but David explained the war plan to him. That is why Jesus told us, I no longer call you servant but friends, because now you know the plans that I have heard from My father, you know the war plan, how we are going to defeat the enemy.
The plan of David was to have his friends in the system of Absalom, but not really for Absalom. He already had spies in the system of Absalom to defeat it. In the same manner, Jesus tells us from the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of God suffers violence but the violent take it by force (Matthew 11:12). The plan of Jesus is to redeem the entire earth, not just the few of us! For of the increase of His government or empire there shall be no end (Isaiah 9:7). He wants us to be in the world, but not of the world (John 17:16). Just like Zadok and Abiathar were already in Absaloms system but were working for David. He wants us to be like Joshua and Caleb who went to spy out the promised land.
Many of us are acting like Hushai the servant of David; we want to go away with our Master Jesus. The disciples asked to go away with Jesus, but Jesus reminded them that they were not only His servants, but more, they were His friend. He told them, I do not pray that the Father should take you out of the world, but that He should keep you out of the evil one (John 17:15). So Jesus told them, I want you to go back into the world, because, it is only a retreat plan, it is to our advantage that I, Jesus, go away, if I do not go away the Helper would not come, the Holy Spirit (John 16:7). But do not worry, in three days I will be back from the grave, I will be resurrected. It will be possible for each one of you to be born again. I will breathe on each one of you and you will receive the Holy Ghost (John 20:22).
And at Pentecost you shall receive power when the Holy Ghost has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses in your city, in your country and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). If I stay with you or if you come with me to heaven now, there is only one of Me, but when I am resurrected, the same Spirit that raised me from the dead, will be in all of you, and everywhere you will go, it shall be recorded: these who have turned the world upside down have come here too (Acts 17:6). Yes, we will turn the kingdom of darkness upside down; take back what is our King Jesus, like David, with his servant-friends, were able to take back the kingdom from Absalom.
Because we are servant-friends of God, He wants to tell us what he is doing in people’s lives, so that we can be involved. A friend will have more work done than a servant. Because he knows what his Master-Friend wants. He has spent time with Jesus, in prayer and in the word and he knows what the will of Jesus is, and what the heart beat of Jesus is. Jesus will tell us the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37. The man fell among thieves, and was wounded and left for dead, the priest and the Levite saw him, but did not help him, they were rushing to go to the temple “to serve the Lord”. Like good servants they were preoccupied by checking all the boxes in their list of tasks. A friend of God would have known the heart of God, God’s heart goes to the wounded, the weak, and the oppressed. A Servant-friend of God would have stopped and helped that wounded man, and would not be thinking that God was mad at him, because he did not get to the temple on time or even did not make it at all!
3. Jesus our Model of a Son who is serving His Father and is also His friend
Paul rightly says in His introduction in the book of Romans: Paul a servant of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:1). Paul, prior to his conversion, was a Pharisee, a disciple of Moses, and of the great Pharisee of his day Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). But all his life he missed Jesus. Jesus told the Pharisees and all the ruling authorities of the Jews, you search the scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life, but these are they which testify of Me, Jesus. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life (John 5:39-40). The Jews reviled the blind man who had received his sight saying: we are disciples of Moses you are a disciple of Jesus (John 9:28).
We can read from Genesis to Revelation, and know all the scriptures off the top of our head, like those Pharisees, and not have the revelation of Jesus. There are many sincere born again believers who have not been able to see Jesus in the bible. They are disciples of Moses or of Elijah or of Elisha, etc. But they are not disciples of Jesus. Paul told everybody whose disciple and servant he was: Paul a servant of Jesus. All the characters in the bible point us to Jesus, we must see Jesus, all the other characters have their limitations, but we must look unto Jesus the originator or author and finisher or perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of the creation (Colossians 1:15). When we see Jesus we see God. The way Jesus served God is the way God wants us to serve Him. Jesus came to show us the way, and He tells us, follow Me, and I will make you what God pre-ordained you to be.
1. Kings and priests serving their Lord
Jesus the King of kings and the Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16), decided to come down from heaven and serve us. He relinquished His power and abdicated His throne, to come down to earth to serve God the Father. To show us how we are supposed to serve one another and the Lord. Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:6-8).
Many of us are so full of ourselves, believing we are potentates in the kingdom, because we possess great power in the secular world or in the church setting, or we possess great sway. But the bible tells us, that our Lord Jesus is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and the Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15). Everything we have in life we have received from God, for every good and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (James 1:17). All our secular achievements and our clerical achievement come from God, so let us be like Jesus, who decided to serve God by humbling Himself.
Jesus is King of kings and our High priest. If one wants to talk about power, or secular power, there is no one who has more power than He. Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, found it the hard way, he had to lose the kingship and be insane, before he acknowledged that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses (Daniel 4:25). Pharoah also had to find it the hard way: he said who is the Lord that I should obey His voice to let His people Israel go? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go (Exodus 5:2). All the power and authority is given unto Jesus in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). If we talk about clerical authority and ranks, he is the Apostle and High Priest of our confession (Hebrews 3:1). He is the Chief shepherd and the Overseer or Bishop of our souls (1 Peter 5:4, 1 Peter 2:25).
Being all in all, He humbled Himself and came to serve us. Brethren, you and I are kings, queens, and priests and priestesses. Peter says: But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvellous light (1 Peter 2:9). Having Jesus as our Model, let us serve the Lord and the brethren like He served. You see brethren we cannot be kings and slaves at the same time. Since we have now the understanding of what Paul and Jesus meant when they used the word doulos, to denote the Christian servant, let us be confident of whom we are; we are kings and queens voluntarily serving the King of Kings and our fellow brethren. We voluntarily made the commitment not to go back to our former prison of sin, but to stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage (Galatians 5:1).
Think of the queen of England; because it is a hard winter, she decides to go on Christmas Eve to serve the homeless people their Christmas meal. It does not remove anything from her royalty; she is still the queen though she is serving people. Or think of one of the heirs to the throne, who decides to go and serve in the hospital, where the soldiers, who have been wounded in a battlefield, are admitted. The fact that the heir to the throne is bandaging soldiers’ wounds, does not remove anything from him being heir to the throne. We are children of God, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ Jesus (Romans 8:17). We serve the Godhead because we want to, and we have an understanding of who we are.
2. God Loves you and is not trying to punish you.
Many sincere believers in their Christian life think that God is punishing them. They serve with that mindset; God is punishing me for my past life, for my mistakes, etc. they think that God is humiliating them in public because of their past life. Brethren if anyone thinks that God is out there to humiliate him or to punish him, you should sit down and think again, why are you serving the Lord. Many of us are still comparing God to our earthly parents, who when we have done something wrong, they punish us by asking us to weed the garden. Or they love us more if we work hard in the house. The way we define God must be according to His words in the bible, not according to what our experience with our earthly parents is.
We are children of God, we are heirs of God, we are kings and priests, and we are queens and priestesses. God is Love (1 John 4:8). We must know and believe the love that God has for us (1 John 4:16). The only reason we love him is because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). And the little love that we have for him, it is Him who has shed His love abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost who was given unto us (Romans 5:5). Therefore brethren it is God, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, who works in us both to will and do for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).
God is the one who puts that desire to serve Him in us, and it is the Love of God in us that compels us to love Him back and love our neighbours and serve (2 Corinthians 5:14). When we know and believe that perfect love that God has for us, it will cast out all fears (1 John 4:18). We will not be fearful that maybe God is punishing us or humiliating us for our past life, that is why we are serving Him. No, but once love has been perfected among us and in us, we will have boldness in our serving, because as Jesus is, so are we in this world (1 John 4:17). He is King and priest, so are we, He is loved by the father, so are we. Jesus did not serve the Father as a punishment for his mistakes, he did not make any.
The love that God has for us is unconditional. It is the agape love; the God kind of love that is initiated by Him and is perfected by Him through the Holy Spirit that dwells in us. Long before our parents thought about conceiving us, two thousands years ago, for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). And furthermore, before the foundation of the world, the Lamb was slain (Revelation 13:8). We did nothing to deserve that love, but He first loved us. It is not because we fast, or we pray, or we serve the Lord that He loves us, His love is unconditional. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6); for if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life (Romans 5:10).
So now that we are born again, we have been reconciled with the Father. He loved us unconditionally. We will be prospered, healed, rescued, restored, and saved by the life of Jesus, who is now in us through the Holy Spirit that is in us. Now that He was raised from the dead, and lives forever more: because He lives we shall live also (John 14:19). Paul prayed that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith; that we being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints, what is the width, and length, and depth, and height. To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that we may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:17-19).
Jesus the Son of God our Model, when he went to the Jordan to be baptized by John; the voice of the Father came from heaven saying: this is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:17). Jesus had not yet fasted for forty days, nor resisted the devil yet, nor performed any sign yet, nor started His ministry yet. But the Father told Him: He was beloved and God was pleased with Him. When the devil tempted Jesus, he said if you are the Son of God… (Matthew 4:3). The devil knew, that love was the driving force of Jesus, to serve the Lord, even in fasting, Jesus did not view those forty days of fasting as God punishing Him, no, He knew that He was the beloved of God and God was pleased with Him. Jesus was rooted and grounded in the Love of God; he knew and believed the Love that the Father has for him.
Before Jesus suffered His passion, he was with Peter, James and John, on the Mountain of transfiguration. Moses and Elijah appeared to him, and a voice came from heaven: this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased, hear Him (Matthew 17:5). Jesus had not yet shed any drop of blood, but the father loved Him. Brethren it is the love of God that compelled Jesus to serve Him, and for you and me it is the love of Christ that compels us to serve him. God told us to hear what his beloved Son has to say about serving the Lord. What was his secret?
People came to Jesus and asked Him; what shall we do, that we might work the works of God, serve God, minister to God (John 6: 28)? Jesus answer was: this is the work or service or deed of God, that you believe on Him (Jesus) whom He has sent (John 6:29). We have done the first work or the first deed, we have believed in Jesus: that is why we are born again. Now that we are children of God, God loves us just as he loves Jesus (John 17:23). So before we do anything for God, before we do any service in the church, or for the brethren, enter a fast, and all those things we must do as believers, God is telling us the same thing He told Jesus: you are My beloved son or daughter, in whom I am well pleased. You are accepted in the Beloved Jesus (Ephesians 1:6). The born again believer starts off his journey or service in the Lord, accepted and beloved of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Love was the driving power in the ministry of Jesus, whatever He did on earth as servant of God: He did it knowing and believing that God loved Him. Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again. No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father (John 10:17-18). Jesus starts by letting his disciples know, that it was not as a punishment that He was going on the cross, the Father did not command Him to go to the cross, because He did not love Him, or was mad at him, but because the Father loved Him. No one forced Jesus to obey the Father’s commandment, but it was the love of the Father that became a driving force.
When people are rooted and grounded in the love of God, they serve the Lord with all their heart, they go to unimaginable lengths to serve Him. Greater love has no one than this, that a man should lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). A servant will never tap into that kind of love, but a friend will. That is why God wants us to become His friends, so that we may tap into that greater love, not just that we know the inner motivation of our Master, but we are also part of the implementation of His purposes on earth. After the Passover meal, Jesus talked to his disciples at length about that love connection, from John 13 to John 17, He wanted them to get it, it was crucial. They need to be rooted and grounded in that love of God, for service, for ministry, and for everything in the kingdom. For without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). But faith works by love (Galatians 5:6).
The disciples were relying on their will power, on their strong personalities to serve the Lord Jesus. Peter boasted in his flesh and said to Jesus: Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for Your sake (John 13:37). Jesus knew they were not yet rooted and grounded in love, they might be willing in their spirit but their flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41). Peter if you rely on the flesh, you will not be able to follow, hear what I, Jesus, have to say, you need to be rooted and grounded in love. Jesus told Peter: before the rooster crows you will deny me three times (John 13:38). But Peter, wanting to prove the Lord wrong, said: even if all are made to fall away or to stumble, yet I will not be (Mark 14:29).
Brethren, we heard that voice from heaven that told us: this is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear him. Let us hear what Jesus has to say to us about following Him. He is our model. He served the Father on earth in the flesh, and finished His course. He knows best, what it takes to complete this journey as servant, workers, and ministers of God. He is telling us Love is the key. For we, brethren, are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3). Jesus said to Peter and to the other disciples: let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me, Jesus (John 14:1). Even if you do not get it right the first time, and blow it because you had your confidence in the flesh, do not be troubled. You had done the first work by believing in Me, whom the Father sent. Even when you are faithless or do not believe, yet; I, Jesus remain faithful because I cannot deny Myself (2 Timothy 2:13).
We all know that Peter denied Jesus, and wept. Not just Peter but all the disciples forsook Jesus. And they did not even believe that He was raised from the dead, when the women brought them the information, that they had seen the Lord. But Jesus remained faithful to His word, he does not quit on us. He started to teach us this love of God that we need for our walk with God, He will see to it that we grasp it, until we are rooted and grounded in the love of God. So in the Last chapter of John, John 21, Jesus comes again to His disciples who are discouraged and have gone back fishing. And taught them again about love and asked Peter three times: do you love Me? When they were rooted and grounded in the love of God, Jesus ascended to heaven because he knew that they would even be able to do greater miracles, than what Jesus did (John 14:12). For their faith was now working by love.
We see the result in the book of Acts, how the disciples literally turned the world upside down, wherever they went. Power without love is brutal and can be deadly. I told you we are queens and kings serving our Lord. We decree things and they are established unto us (Job 22:28). John the apostle needed that teaching on love, before God could entrust him with more power for service. For prior to that teaching on love, James and he were always fighting for positions: they wanted to be seated, one at the right hand and the other at the left hand in the kingdom of Jesus (Mark 10:37). If a born again believer, is still fighting for recognition in church, where he or she sits, whether people give a title or not, they have not yet been rooted and grounded in love.
The same John and his brother James, prior to that teaching of Jesus on Love, were so concerned about their reputation. They tried to force people to receive their message. They entered one city of Samaria with Jesus, and the people did not receive them, so they asked Jesus: Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elijah did (Luke 9:54)? Jesus told them you do not know of what manner of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them (Luke 9:55-56). God has not given us the Spirit of fear but of power, love and sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). When a person has not been rooted and grounded in love, he wants to see everybody in hell, he rejoices to tell people you are doomed, he has no compassion on the people.
As soon as they do not receive his condemning message, he sends them to hell and tells them that God will burn them like he did in the day of Elijah. He tells them, God has cursed you because you did not receive my message, therefore I shake the dust off my sandals against you. Jesus said to us: whoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words; when you depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment, than for that city (Matthew 10:14-15). Although Jesus said it, but He himself never did that, even on the cross, he did not do it. He gave people a second chance, maybe next time someone will come and you will receive his message. And Philip the evangelist went to Samaria, and Samaria received Jesus, and the same John who wanted to call down fire on them, came to minister the baptism of the Holy Spirit to them with Peter (Acts 8:4:24).
Jesus is our Model, we are servants of Jesus Christ like Paul rightly said (Romans 1:1). Prophets of old had their temperaments. And God was telling us, that though they were pointing us to Jesus, they were not perfect. Jesus is the image of the invisible God; He is the perfect representation of the heart of God. Elisha cursed the children who made fun of him, because he was bald. A she bear came forth and tore those forty two children (2 Kings 2:23-24). But Jesus said: let the little children come to Me, do not forbid them; for such is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:14). Power without love is cruel and can be deadly.
A person who is pronouncing curses on other believers, or calling down hell fire on those who do not receive his message, is not a disciple or servant of Jesus, but a servant of Elisha and Elijah, or a servant of Moses; who because he was mad, portrayed God to be mad at the people, and struck the rock the second time, when God only asked him to speak to the rock (Numbers 20:7-12). We understand that sometimes men of God have a stiff-necked congregation, like Moses had, but all these things are recorded for our sake, so that we can learn what not to do. Jesus never portrayed God as an angry God. We are servants of Jesus and we follow Him.
I remember a couple of years back, God told me to go into a church and join their night vigil. I was not known by anybody in that church, but the Lord told me to go there. So I went, and asked their permission if I could join them in the night vigil. I joined them for at least four months every Friday night, but they were suspicious, they thought that I was not a true believer, but a witchdoctor who had come to cast spells on their church. They had a lot of wrong doctrines, and there were lots of emotionalism, and not the move of the Spirit of God. But since I did not fall down on the floor like all of them when one blew on the microphone, they thought I was resisting their “move of the spirit”. They attacked me from the pulpit, but I kept praying as god was leading me. Then they preached that just like Elijah called down fire on the prophets of Baal, the fire of God should fall down and kill all the witchdoctors in their midst. That if there is any witchdoctor he should come out and confess or else he will die.
I was the only new person in the group, all the other members had been coming for years to that night vigil, so I knew they were talking about me and everybody knew it. But I started to rejoice and dance in their midst as they were binding the so called “spirit of witchcraft” that was in their midst, and that the so called witchdoctor should drop dead, so that “god” would show his power in their midst. But God told me, just to dance so I was dancing, so they thought it was not working. So they decided to fast, so that the witchdoctor would drop dead now in their midst. So every Friday they would all fast, even the pregnant women. May God have mercy on all the nonsense that goes in churches!
So this time they were on fire, they had fasted, and they passed the word around, that they should not shake my hand at all when I came into the meeting. I do not know, maybe they thought I would steal their spiritual power when I shook their hand. Lots of superstition that had nothing to do with spirituality. So they prayed and fasted and called down fire, but I was still dancing. And they came up with the so-called “anointed oil” that everybody in that night vigil should put their “anointed oil” on his or her hands and forehead. When they came to me, I opened my two hands and they put their “anointed oil” on and I rubbed it in my hands, I put some on my forehead and just to mock them, I also licked my two hands, so that they would see that even if I drink anything deadly, it shall by no means hurt me (Mark 16:18).
So they started to bind and ask “god” to kill the witchdoctor. Now that they had fasted, prayed and on top of that added the “anointed oil” surely the witchdoctor would be dropping dead in their midst. I sat down for a second, because I was tired of being on my feet. As I bowed my head, they were thinking that the anointed oil was having it’s effect. So four of them came and stood behind me, and they were holding hands, “they thought that the prayer of agreement is about holding hands”. God have mercy! So they were speaking in what they believed to be “tongues”. And God told me, they think that they have defeated you because you are sitting. So immediately I stood on my feet and started to dance again. Ah, they were demoralised! After the forth month of fasting, then some of their members started to say to their leader, maybe there is no witchdoctor? But if you know that there is a witchdoctor tell us plainly, instead of insinuating, and they started to accuse one another of false prophecy and all kinds of things, but I remained silent.
And finally on the sixth month, when they had tried everything and starved themselves to death for nothing, putting some pregnant women at risk. As soon as I entered the building on that Friday night, the leaders called me aside and told me, that they felt like God was telling them to ask me: what was the message of God for their church. I said a couple of things, but it is only for their church, but I also told them have you finished your witchdoctor hunt? I told them God showed me your doctrines are wrong, and your church is turned upside down, because of it; you are carnal and not spiritual. You judge by appearances and not by the spirit of God, you need to mature and change your doctrine. They were not happy, they kicked me out. Deep inside me I wanted to say a bad word, or at least shake the dust off my feet against them, but I did not do it. When I came home, I called my pastor, who was doing a mission trip in Angola, and he told me you should have at least shaken the dust of your feet against them.
But I am a disciple of Jesus, I give people another chance. That one day God will send them another person, who will give them the same message, and maybe they will receive it. Almost a year later, God spoke to me again to go and apologise to them. I said get behind me Satan! And the Lord said it is I. I said, Lord you have got to be kidding do You not remember the way they treated me, they were the ones who did me wrong, and they should be apologising to me! But after some hours of arguments with the Lord, I decided to obey Him. I went to that church again before their night vigil, and I apologised to their leader for the way I left, and I have nothing against them.
They did not even apologise back! But they acted as if they were “super spiritual”, as always! But they asked me to join them again. I said no thank you! God told me to apologise not to join that nonsense again! I did not actually say that nonsense, but in my heart I thought it. I think deep inside of me, I was like John and James who were hurt in their pride, when those Samaritans did not receive them. Since I know what Jesus said about how we should respond towards those people. So I followed Jesus, and did not say anything against them, that would be like a curse or a judgment against them, when I spoke to them I was not at all angry and I was as diplomatic as I could be. But still they did not receive my message. I have done my part, but I could not help myself, how could I heal myself from the way they treated me?
When I apologised to them, although I was right, but I realised that it was not for them that God asked me to apologise. Because of the way they acted toward me, I still had something against them and I could not let it go. Deep inside of me I was saying “I serve the Lord and you say that I am a witchdoctor!” But even Jesus was accused of having a demon and casting demons by Beelzebub the ruler of demons. I thank Jesus for partaking in the fellowship of His suffering. But after that apology, that burden was lifted. When I walk in front of that building, I do not try to hide anymore, trying to avoid their members, but I walk “TALL”. I greet them, and I am no longer angry at them, for prior to that apology whenever I walked in, I felt like something was squeezing my bowels. Praise God I am free, from that latent anger.
We mature even in our emotions; we are still living in this flesh, and when people hurt us we feel it. But as we mature in the Lord we learn to die daily (1 Corinthians 15:31). And it does not take hours, or we do not nurse that latent anger for a year, but we shake it off as soon as we can, and we do not allow the sun to go down on our wrath (violent anger). We get angry but we do not sin, not giving the devil any opportunity (Ephesians 4:26-27). I was angry, but I decided not to sin against my brethren, by reviling them for the way they treated me. The devil banks on the fact that we will nurture that anger, until it becomes a violent anger or wrath, and we will not be able to control what we say to other people or what we do. Self-control or temperance is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23).
The fools wrath or violent anger is known at once, but a prudent man covers shame (Proverbs 12:16). The fool is the one who says there is no God (Psalm 14:1). He does not acknowledge God in his situation. Acknowledging God, is acknowledging what His word says we should do in the situation we find ourselves in. The prudent is the one who puts wisdom into practice. We know that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and of knowledge, but the fool despises wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 9:10, Proverbs 1:7). If we acknowledge God in our situation, this is the reverential fear the Lord wants from us, then he will give us the wisdom to get out of that situation, without being ashamed, or doing something that we will regret for our entire life.
In Genesis chapter four, we see how Cain gave place or an opportunity to the devil, to nurture his anger, till it became wrath. He was angry because of God’s respect for the person of Abel and received his sacrifice, but his person and offering, God did not. God warned him: why are you angry? And why is your countenance fallen? God wanted to help Cain with his anger, and God even told him what to do, so that the Lord would also respect him and his offering, if you do well, you will be accepted. But he did not acknowledge God, and allowed the devil to take opportunity through his violent anger (wrath) and he murdered Abel. No matter how angry we are, and our countenance is fallen, Paul gives us a divine instruction. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath, not your wrath but the wrath of God: for it is written , vengeance is Mine and I will repay, says the Lord (Romans 12:19).
Not that we should be praying that God should pour his wrath on the people who hurt us, no, that is not what Paul means. We do not wrestle with flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12). We love the people, we hate the devil that is behind them. God will pour His wrath on the devil and free the individual being manipulated by that demon. We love the people but hate the devil that is working in them. God will judge Satan, the prince of this world (John 16:11). My prayer is that we will become more like Jesus, and serve one another and serve the Lord.
4. Jesus is talking to His disciples about how to serve God
John 13:1 Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come, that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
John 13:2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;
1. Love everybody even your enemies
Jesus, when He was on earth, served God the Father and we are all supposed to imitate Jesus. The three and half years He spent on earth He loved everybody even his enemies. From the day he was born to the day He departed to the Father, he loved them to the end. No wonder that His faith always worked on earth, since we know that faith works by love, and God is love. If we want to please the Godhead, we must love our fellow human beings. He who says I love God, and hates his brother or sister is a liar; for he who does not love the brother or sister whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen (1 John 4:20)?
Sending everybody to hell, or wishing our physical enemies to die, is not practicing the love of God. This is what the Lord tells us: Say unto them, as I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn, turn from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel (Ezekiel 33:31)? Jesus even loved Judas Iscariot His betrayer. He wanted him to turn from his wicked ways and be saved, to the end He loved Judas and even washed his feet. Jesus did not like what Judas was doing, he was a thief, stealing from the money box of His ministry (John 12:6). We do not have to like or condone the evil behaviours of people, but we have to love them with the unconditional love of God.
Also Jesus did not like the hypocrisy of the rulers of the Jews, the religious leaders of his days. He said: woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!… (Matthew 23:13). Paul also did not like it when Peter and the other Jews were playing the hypocrite, he withstood Peter to his face and rebuked him openly (Galatians 2:11-16). We do not have to like or agree with evil practices of people, but we have to love them. Jesus loved those scribes and Pharisees and even Judas because He died on the cross even for them. Jesus tells us: but I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you, and persecute you (Matthew 5:45). Then Paul will hammer the point home: Bless those who persecute you: bless, and do not curse (Romans 12:14).
For if you only love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the publicans or tax collectors do the same? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you do more than the other? Do not even the publicans do so? Be therefore perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:46-48). Jesus is asking us to see people as God sees them, they are His creation, he sent His only begotten Son into the world to die for them, so that none of them should perish. Even when people are not believers we must see the work of God in them, for they are his creation. You and I brethren, are sons and daughters of our Father in heaven, for He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45).
2. How can I lovingly serve others even my enemies
Jesus could love even Judas because the Spirit of the Father was in him. He saw in Judas, someone whom God wanted to save. Jesus was doing everything unto the Father. So when we serve, we are not trying to please men, or be seen by men, but are doing the will of God from the heart (Ephesians 6:6). Many times we are frustrated in our service, because we are trying to impress people. Thus when they do not notice us or appreciate us we are frustrated. But if in our heart we already know and believe that we are serving the Lord, it helps; because we believe our Father, who sees in secret will reward us openly (Matthew 6:4).
See Jesus in everybody and it will be easy to serve them as if you were serving Jesus. Jesus tells us: For I was hungry, and you gave me food: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: Naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see You hungry, and fed You? Or thirsty, and gave You drink? When did we see You a stranger, and took You in? Or naked, and clothed You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and came unto You? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, you have done it unto Me (Matthew 25:35-40).
Jesus was trying to have them realise that he wants them to see Jesus in every believer, and to see a believer to be, in every unsaved person. If we knew that the person standing before us was Jesus, our attitude would change. We would serve with all our heart. Abraham entertained three strangers, who were going to Sodom, and two of them were angels and one of them was the Lord Jesus (Genesis 18). Paul tells us: let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels, and even the Lord Jesus like Abraham did (Hebrews 13:1-2). When we have that in mind, we will respect one another; we will refrain from talking anyhow, to people because we see Jesus in them. The truth is that Jesus is in them if they are born again, Jesus and God the Father are dwelling in them through the Holy Spirit that they received when they believed.
I was doing a bible study in a home church and one of the sisters said to me, bother G, you do not know my husband! I cannot see Jesus in Him at all, he is a mad man, I can see Jesus in my pastor, my elder and serve them with love, but not my husband he is mad, forget it there is no hope for my husband! I kept quiet for a almost twenty minutes because I did not know what to say to her, or how to help her see Jesus in her husband that she thought was mad. She vented all her frustrations concerning her husband… and the Lord, by the spirit led me to open in John 10:20. And I said sister, you said your husband is mad, and you cannot see Jesus in him!
Let me read to you the word of the Lord in John 10:20 and many of them said: He has a demon, and is mad. Why do you listen to Him? So I said to the sister, you see people also thought that Jesus was mad, is it not what you are saying about your husband? And they said: why should they listen to Him? Is it not what you are saying about your husband? Why should you listen to him? Why should you lovingly serve him? The people in the day of Jesus did not understand Jesus. They did not understand what He was talking about. It might be that you have a problem of communication with your husband, and you do not know what he means deep inside him when he talks to you? The crowd did not understand him, but the disciples, who were close to him, when they were home, they would ask him to explain what he meant in His discourse.
I said sister maybe you need some closeness with your husband to understand what he means, like the disciples were close to Jesus and they could know what was in the heart of Jesus, when He made those discourses. She said: we already live in the same house, what more closeness can we have than this? I explained to her that the brothers of Jesus lived and grew up with Him in the same house, but they did not believe in Him at all (John 7:5). Being under the same roof for years does not guarantee the closeness and the intimacy. Judas also was with Jesus but betrayed him at the end, for he did not believe in Jesus. I helped her, the best I could, with the scriptures to show her what Jesus could do in her situation.
3. Do not focus on people’s short comings
Only Jesus is perfect, and does not have short comings. All of us, in one way or the other, need working on. We are a masterpiece in process. We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has pre-ordained that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). God is the Potter and we are the clay (Isaiah 64:8). He sets us on the potter’s wheel, and moulds us until we are conformed to the image of His son Christ. It is time for us to stop looking at the straw in our neighbour’s eye, for many times we do not see the beam that is in our own eye (Matthew 7:3). Let us believe that God is at work in that brother’s or sister’s life, and it will be a masterpiece when God is through with them.
But what can we do meanwhile? We still have to deal with people’s rudeness, bad temperament, filthy language, manipulative ways, etc. Paul tells us: finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, and whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things, take an inventory of these things, conclude these things, suppose these things, esteem these things and impute these things (Philippians 4:8). Many times we only focus on the bad side of people, but God is asking us to take an inventory, to list all the things that are praiseworthy in the life of people and to focus on that.
4. Show no partiality in serving
There is no such a thing as a second class citizen of the kingdom of God. When we are in Christ Jesus there are no Jews, no Gentiles, no circumcised and no uncircumcised but Christ Jesus is all in all (Colossians 3:11). For Jesus is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition or separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace (Ephesians 2:14-15). As far as God is concerned, when we are in Christ Jesus, both Jews and Gentiles are the same before Him, they are one new man in Christ.
We have received the same Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit who was in Jesus, is the same who was in His Jewish disciples, is the same Holy Spirit who is in the Gentiles. Peter was shocked when God poured out the same Holy Spirit upon the gentiles, though they were uncircumcised. And the gentiles also spoke in tongues (Acts 10: 44-45). Brethren no matter what our past life has been, when we come to Christ we become one new man in Christ. Let nobody look down on you because you had a different path in life, because you were not born in church, or did not grow up in church or had a lawless life. When we come to Christ we are that same one new man. Self righteous brethren can look down on us and despise our service to the Lord, but we are accepted in the Beloved Christ (Ephesians 1:6). This is the way we must see every believer regardless of their background, we are one new man in Christ, and therefore we honour them and serve them as if we were serving Jesus Himself.
No one can forbid you to serve the Lord, no matter what your past has been, because you have received the Holy Spirit, just as they have (Acts 10:47). Peter who prior to that, thought the gentiles were not clean, so they could not be one new man in Christ as they were. Finally he had this mind blowing, ground shaking revelation, and opened his mouth and said: I perceive that God shows no partiality or God is no respecter of persons. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him (Acts 10:34-35). Brethren you are accepted by God, by Jesus and by the Holy Spirit. Never feel that you are an inferior child of God.
Through Jesus Christ, now that we are one new man, we both have access by one Spirit to the Father (Ephesians 2:18). Brethren your access is not restricted, the same access to God that Jesus had is the same access that you have, is the same access that Peter had, by the same Holy Spirit. You can come boldly to the throne of grace that you may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). All the mercies and graces you will ever need for serving the Lord is made available to you, just like it was available to Jesus and to his disciples. You have no limitation, for God who dwells in you through the Spirit, his power is without limit (Number 11:23).
You never have to feel inferior in the sight of God because you were born in a nameless part of the world, in a despised village, town, country or continent. Jesus gave us the best example: he lived and grew up in Nazareth of Galilee of the Gentiles. Jesus despised that part of Israel with passion. They say about Jesus and all the people who came from His region: can anything good come out of Nazareth (John 1:46)? The religious leader said: search and look in the scriptures, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee (John 7:52). But Jesus proved them wrong. Brethren, where you come from is not a limitation, God is in you; with God all things are possible. They accused Jesus of being a bastard saying to Him, “we were not born of fornication” (John 8:41). Insinuating he was born out of fornication since Mary was pregnant before being wedded to Joseph.
Brethren, let the religious and self-righteous people talk about your past, it does not matter, and God has accepted you and Jesus too. You are fit for his service. Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob in John 4. He ministered the word to her, she was married five times and divorced, and the man she had now was not her husband. But Jesus gave her no condemnation because of her past life. After she believed in Jesus to be the Christ, Jesus used her as a powerful evangelist to go and evangelize Samaria. All the men heard what she had to say about Jesus, and they followed her to where Jesus was, so that they too could hear the words of Jesus. Brethren there is no partiality with God, we have the same access and the same Holy Spirit.
People sometimes think that if they were born in a certain part of the world, they would be more effective for ministry. People walk with an inferiority complex and low self-esteem. The world may look down on you because of where you come from, or your speech but God did not make a mistake when he created you. You are the crown of His creation, His masterpiece. You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). God has made from one blood (Adam whom He created) every nation of men to dwell in all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings (Acts 17:26). In other words, God is the one who planted you in that part of the world you are living, it is not a mistake He loves you and loves where you come from.
You do not need to be born a Jew or born in Jerusalem or be baptised in the Jordan, where Jesus was baptised, to serve the Lord acceptably. Even in the remotest parts of the world, when you receive Jesus as your Lord and saviour, you receive the same spiritual benefits Jesus Himself had. We are saying God does not show partiality. If the Jewish born again has more benefits than the Gentile born again, then God will be showing partiality. If believers from the western world, who can afford to travel to Jerusalem and be baptised in the Jordan, where Jesus was baptised, have more spiritual benefits than a believer from the third world, who will never be able to afford that trip to Israel, then God will be showing favouritism. Will He give more Spiritual blessings to the rich believers who can afford the trip to Israel, or afford the “holy water from The Jordan” or who can afford “the anointing oil from Jerusalem?”
They look like stupid questions, but many believers and many ministries are sending their people to Israel. Telling people to be baptized in the Jordan, they sell the olive oil from Jerusalem and the holy water from Jerusalem. Jesus said you will know the truth and the truth will make you free. There is nothing wrong with visiting Israel as a tourist. It is a beautiful country, and people, if they have money can visit it, it has good history. But many ministry’s are deceiving people, and letting people think that if they go there, and be baptized there in the Jordan, and have water from the Jordan River, or the olive oil from Jerusalem, they will have a greater spiritual blessing. Paul will tell us who has bewitched you, O foolish Galatians, that you should not obey the truth (Galatians 3:1)? Paul tells us these are men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means for gain (1Timothy 6:5).
Then what is the truth about all that? The Samaritan woman at the well, in John chapter four, asked Jesus a crucial question. Our fathers worshipped on this mountain and you Jews say that in Jerusalem, is the place where one ought to worship (John 4:20). Are you saying, that if I do not worship in Jerusalem, God does not consider my prayer? Are you saying that location matters to God? I have heard some preachers saying that there is a special portal in Jerusalem, in bethel, on Mount Carmel, so if I want to be blessed, I must go to those places and sow a big amount of money. Not just in Israel, they have special revelation from “god” that there are other portals, but especially in their city, “cities where they have their churches”. So they ask people to sow a big amount of money, because they have a portal over their head.
May God forgive preachers! God has blessed you with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). You have an open heaven everywhere you go, for when Jesus was baptised God rent the heaven and sent the Holy Spirit on Him (Luke 3:21). If this was not enough to make you believe, when Jesus died, the veil of the temple was rent in two from top to bottom (Mark 15:38). God was letting the world know that in Christ Jesus your heaven will always be opened. When God rent something in two, who is he who will go back with a sewing needle to sew it back together. God was telling us that we have access to him now. I do not need a portal that is in various geographic places, when I have an open heaven 24/7 in Christ Jesus. Jesus said I am the door, if anyone enters by Me, he will find pasture (John 10:9). Since I am born again, I am in Christ, I have entered the door which is Christ Jesus. He has opened a door for me that no one can shut (Revelation 3:7).
And no one will shut my heaven, because Jesus is the one who has the Key of David (Revelation 3:7). To shut my heaven you need to take the key of David from Jesus. Jesus said what is in His hands, no one can pluck it out of His hands (John 10:28). And He said I am going to the Father, my Father is greater than I (John 14:28). Jesus is in the Father. In other words if anyone wants to get back the key of David to shut the door that God has opened for me, or shut my open heaven, he has to defeat God the Father first and then defeat Jesus, it will never happen. Furthermore not just Jesus is my door and has opened a door for me, rent the heaven for me, but He has placed me in. I am now in Christ; I am not standing on the other side of the door, I am in the house. I am seated with Christ Jesus at the right hand of God the Father in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6).
Therefore Jesus told the Samaritan woman, that the location does not matter anymore, either in Jerusalem, or in Samaria or to end of the earth it does not matter anymore. The hour is coming, and now is when Jesus will be crucified, buried and raised from the dead, ascend back into heaven, then send the Holy Spirit. At that time, people will be neither worshiping God the father on this mountain of Samaria, nor in Jerusalem (John 4:21). The people will be worshiping God in Spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). The Father was desirous to indwell human beings so that he could have a permanent fellowship with them.
The only way that we could be in the Spirit is to have the spirit of God in us, in other words to be born again. Now that we are born again Paul tells us: but you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if any one does not have the Spirit of Christ he is not His (Romans 8:9). Brethren when you are born again you are always in the Spirit since the Holy Spirit dwells in you forever (John 14:16). We may walk in the flesh sometimes but we must realise that we are in the Spirit 24/7. I do not need to pray in tongues or even to pray at all I am always in the Spirit. That is what God was wanting from the beginning of the creation, so that we can worship Him 24/7 since we are in the spirit 24/7. Therefore it does not matter where I am in the world, God is with me, Jesus is with me and the Holy Spirit is with me. Jesus said I will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).
When you were born again, it does not matter where it happened in the world. Be it in England, or in USA, or in India, or in Taiwan or in Nigeria, or in Australia, anywhere in the world, it does not matter. As far as the kingdom of God is concerned, we were all born in the same heavenly city. Is God not good? There is no partiality with Him, there is no such a thing as heavenly England, or heavenly China or any other place in the world so let no believer put you down, or look down on you because you come from a different part of the globe. Then where are all the born again believers from, what is their city of birth both the Jewish believers and the Gentile believers.
The Jerusalem above is free and is the mother of us all. For it is written: rejoice, O barren, you who do not bear! Break forth and shout. You who are not in labour! For the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband (Galatians 4:26-27). Brethren the earthly Jerusalem, is found in the land of Israel, and has children born after the flesh. But all born again believers, Jews or Gentiles are from the Jerusalem above which is the mother of us all, it has no children after the flesh, she is barren in that sense, because we must all born by her by faith in the Seed of Abraham, which is Christ Jesus. So that’s why Jesus told Nicodemus you must be born again. For it does not matter where you are born in the earthly Jerusalem or you are the descendant of Abraham after the flesh; you must be born again by faith in that Jerusalem above.
Jesus is telling us the same thing, it does not matter whether you are born from born again parents after the flesh, you yourself must put your faith in Jesus to be born in that Jerusalem above, the mother of all the believers, Jews and Gentiles. So whether I was saved in Warrington, or in New York, or in Metz, or in Pointe-Noire, or in Mali, or anywhere else in the world, we were all born again in that Jerusalem above. There is no partiality with God. Our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). Never be intimidated by people, or other believers because of their earthly citizenship. Many times we think that every good thing comes from America. So they tell us that they have been Christians for generations so they know better than all the other believers.
But today most of the wrong doctrine is coming from America. Brethren even if you are the first person to be born again in your family, never be intimidated, because you know you have the same heavenly citizenship as all the other believers of the world. Follow the example of Jesus and you will serve the Lord acceptably. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ or his representatives, as though God were pleading with you through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20). As a servant of God every one of us is to represent Christ in the world. When people see our life they will want to come to Jesus too.
Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens (a native of the same town: our Jerusalem Above) with the saints (Jewish saints and Gentile saints), and of the household (those who dwell under the same roof and compose the family) of God (Ephesians 2:19). Our God has no partiality; he is telling us that even if here on earth some are worshiping, in cathedrals, in stadiums, in mega churches, in a booth, in a hut, in the plantations, in their bedroom. Since we are always in the Spirit and always in our Jerusalem above, we are all worshipping under the same roof, under the roof of our Father for we are members of his household. So even in my bedroom the presence of God is always with me. I do not need to go to Jerusalem, to have a portal! I belong to the household of God, I am in Christ. I am a child of God.
Do I at least need to be baptised in the Jordan? Our baptism is the symbol that we died with Christ to our sins and were buried with Him, we put off our old sinful nature and rose again with Him on the third day. Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). Two thousand years ago Jesus died, was buried and was raised from the dead, when we became born again the death and the resurrection of Jesus happened in us. So either we are baptised in the Jordan or the Congo River, or in any swimming pool in the world, or any pond all over the world it does not matter. It is about what Jesus did, not the water, or the location. Paul said to the Ephesians: There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all (Ephesians 4:4-6).
In other words no matter what the location of your baptism was or the water used, you have received the same Jesus, the same God the Father, the same Holy Spirit, the same faith, the same hope. There is not difference between you and any other believer around the world. If there were any difference God would be showing partiality. Cornelius and all his household was saved, at Joppa, and were baptised there, Peter did not ask him to go with him to the Jordan to be baptised (Acts 10:31-48). The Ethiopian Eunuch to whom Philip explained the gospel and was saved, was baptised along the road that goes from Jerusalem to Gaza (Acts 8:26-38). Philip did not say to him, let us ride to the Jordan and I will baptise you there, no. As soon as they found some water he was baptised, because Philip knew it was not about the water or the location, or a river it was about the death and the resurrection of Jesus. Nowhere in the book of Acts or in the epistles were the gentiles believers asked to go to the Jordan in Israel to be baptised.
Still in our discourse of how to serve God without showing partiality, because God does now show partiality. Paul tells us: in Christ Jesus, since we died with Him and rose from the death with Him. Let us put off the old man with his deeds (our sinful nature with its deeds). Let us put on the new man, the one new man in Christ, who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him (God) who created him (the new man). Where there is neither Jews nor Gentiles, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarians, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all (Colossians 3:9-11). Today the word barbarian has a different connotation, but in the days of Paul, barbarians were foreigners who were non Greek or non Roman, the people who were less civilised than they, who were unacquainted with their language, laws and manners. And Scythians were people from the northern part of Asia and Europe adjoining to Asia, the Romans and the Greek thought of the Scythians to be savage people.
As servants of God we must not think of some brothers or sisters to be savage, for God does not see them that way. He is in them through the Holy Spirit now. We must not despise brethren because their culture is different from our culture, because their laws and manners are different from ours. Because we think they come from a third world country. Because they do not speak our language, because they are not as technologically advanced as we are. And the other way also, believers from the third world, must not be intimidated by those of the developed world. Before God we stand as equals. Paul experience that problem, he was a Hellenist Jew, a Jew who used the Greek language. He was a roman citizen who was born in Tarsus, and came to Jerusalem when he was a youth to study to become a Pharisee.
Paul’s Hebrew was not perfect, he could write well because he was learned, but when he spoke Hebrew he spoke it with a Greek accent. So some of the Jewish brethren despised him because of that. For his letters, they say, were weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible (2 Corinthians 10:10). Paul was of a short stature too, it did not help! Paul could relate with the Scythians for the many people in Asia are not of a great physical stature either. He could identify with what the other barbarian believers felt, because among his own people they despised his speech, because he did not have the real Jewish accent. See Christ Jesus in all people; overlook all those things the unsaved people are still stumbling over. See yourself as God sees you, the world may say that you are a barbarian or a Scythian of this century, but God is saying you are accepted in Him. In fact he will even use you mightily like He did Paul, to silence those who looked down on you, for God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).
5. All things are yours because you are sons and daughters of God.
John 13:3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
John 13:4 He rose from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
It is very important that we know this truth, if we do not know that all things are ours we will be serving the Lord with a wrong motive. We will never want to be God’s friends but only servants. Friends spend time fellowshipping with each other, but servants are only interested in what they can get, they finish their list of tasks and ask for their wage. Jesus knew that the Father had given him all things into His hands. So he was not serving to have the approval of God but he enjoyed doing things that are pleasing to the Father. He knew that whatever He asks, He receives of Him, because He keeps His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight (1 John 3:22). A friends motivation in serving is to bring Joy to His friend that asked him to serve.
As believers all things are ours, God gives us richly all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). God who did not spare His own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things (Romans 8:32)? Many times in the word, supermarkets advertise “buy one get one free” you need to buy first! They are just playing with your mind. Instead of telling you, buy one and the second you will have it at 75% off. They know everybody wants something free. But God is telling us freely give us all things, He is not playing with our minds, no, Jesus bought it all for us by dying on the cross. Therefore let no man glory in men, none of us paid for that, nobody else but Jesus did it for us, no apostle, prophet, pastor, evangelist or teacher, no one but Jesus. For all things are yours (1 Corinthians 3:21): the world, or life, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and you are Christ’s; and Christ belongs to God’s (1 Corinthians 3:22-23).
Believers who do not know this reality serve God with a lot of frustrations. They always complain when God is blessing another believer. You are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, also an heir of God through Christ (Galatians 4:7). In Luke chapter fifteen, when the prodigal son came back home, the elder brother was not happy because the Father had restored the younger brother. The elder son was angry, and would not go in; therefore the Father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to His Father: “lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat that I might make merry with my friends” (Luke 15:28-29). Because he did not know that he was heir of God, that all things were his, he was serving the Lord to try to get the father’s wage. But the Father was wanting to fellowship with him like friends do. This elder brother was not friends with His father but only servant, he wanted to have a goat and party with his friends, but the Father wants to be your best friend, he wants to party with you too.
The Father told the elder son: “son you are always with Me, and all that I have is yours” (Luke 15:31). If you want a goat it is not a problem! Ask, and it shall be given to you, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you (Matthew 7:7). Until now you have asked nothing in My name (the name of Jesus); ask and you shall receive, that your joy my be full (John 16:24). But what I want is friendship, to have fellowship with you. I want us to go out in the field together and work together like I did with My Son Jesus, for He said: the Father who dwells in Me does the works (John 14:10). When you become born again the Holy Spirit comes and dwells in you, so the Father and Jesus come and make their home with you and they want to do the work through you. They want to fellowship with you as you go out in the field day by day. Jesus and the Father wants each one of us to have fellowship with them. John tells us: all that we are declaring to you is so that you also may have the same fellowship, for truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:3).
6. We must all serve and be served.
John 13:5 After that he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.
John 13:6 Then He came to Simon Peter: and Peter said unto him, Lord, are You washing my feet?
In the days of Jesus, when they went for supper most of the time, if they had servants in that house, the servant would be the one washing the feet of the guests before supper. When they entered into that house to eat the Passover supper, no one washed their feet. So at the end of the supper Jesus decided to wash their feet. To let them know that when people are following us, we need to serve them and not to be served; even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto or to be served, but to minister or too serve, and to give his life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).
In the Old Testament, there is a basin, called the sea. One sea, and twelve oxen under it (2 Chronicles 4:15). The ox is the emblem of a servant; the priests would wash their feet in that large basin before ministering before the Lord. The twelve oxen under that basin, God was telling all the twelve tribes of Israel that all must serve the Lord. And here our High Priest Jesus takes a basin and begins to wash the feet of His twelve disciples. Just like Jesus our High priest washed the feet of his twelve disciples, we as priests are supposed to minister and serve all believers. Not just the ones we like for even Judas was one of them. We are supposed to minister and serve them. We are the Spiritual Israel now, and just like the twelve oxen were under the basin in the temple, we are each one of us to wash the feet of the brethren.
Peter said you shall never wash my feet! Let us not have any false humility in us, that we refuse that other people should minister to us. It takes lots of humility to receive ministration from someone we know is a true servant of God. When people want to serve us or to minister to us let us never say no, for by so doing we are robbing them of their blessings; for he who waters shall be watered himself also (Proverbs 11:25). If we serve people God will send people to serve us, if we minister to people God will send people to minister to us, and it is the principle of sowing and reaping. We sow one apple seed but we have an apple tree which will give us on average 10, 000 apples in its life span. Generations down the line will sometimes still be watering us because we watered them.
Jesus is our example, He came to serve in the world, and he came to water the world, to minister to his disciples. And even today thousands of years down the line, we are serving Jesus now. We are watering Jesus now. If we serve others Jesus Himself will come and ask us to sit down and He will serve us. Luke 12:35 Let your loins or waist be girded about, and your lights burning;
Luke 12:36 And you yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he comes and knocks, they may open unto him immediately.
Luke 12:37 Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he comes shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to eat, and will come forth and serve them.
It is actually to our advantage to serve others for the Lord Jesus himself will come and serve us.
7. What is the meaning of the washing of the feet?
John 13:7 Jesus answered and said unto him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”
John 13:8 Peter said unto him, You shall never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, if I do not wash you; you have no part with me.
John 13:9 Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
John 13:10 Jesus said to him, He who is washed or bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean or is clean every whit (the smallest part or particle imaginable): and you are clean, but not all.
John 13:11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore He said, You are not all clean.
John 13:12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and sat down again, he said unto them, do you know what I have done to you?
I want you to know the true meaning of the washing of the feet. What message was Jesus passing on to His disciples? The Jews were instructed to wash their feet, when they came into a person’s house. It was part of their purifications but they lost the true meaning of it, and it became just a tradition of the fathers (John 2:6). They will argue in length about the manner people should wash their hands if they do not wash the ways their fathers did it, they will find fault. Hence they found fault in the disciples of Jesus because they did not wash as it was instructed (Mark 7:2-3). We can laugh today, but many of us also read the bible, and we do things in church but we do not know why we are doing them, what was God saying when He instructed that thing. May we have understanding of what Jesus means in the scriptures.
The feet symbolised the conversation of believers: general course of manners; conduct, behaviour; deportment; especially as it respects morals. Since we are in the world we will have the tendency to pick up the things of the world, their behaviours, their conducts, and their immorality. We will, if we are not careful, walk like them and talk like them. So the washing of the feet was a way for God to tell them let not your conversation be like the unsaved people. But cleanse yourself from the ways of the unsaved people. Paul explains it to us: That He might sanctify, set us apart, separate us from the world and cleanse us His bride with the washing of water by the word (Ephesians 5:26). The water is the word of God, when Jesus ministers the word of God to us, through a sermon, or a bible study, or when we read the word of God for ourselves. Our conversation is being changed, our behaviours and our conduct are being changed and we are being transformed into the image of Christ and no longer conformed to this world. And do not be conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:2).
Serving or ministering to people is not merely giving them some money, helping them with their groceries, dropping their kids at school, helping them run their business, etc. The most important part of serving or ministering to people is to wash their feet. To see their life transformed, that first of all they give their life to Christ and then help them by the washing of the word of God to change their conduct, behaviour and become Christ like. If we miss that, we have missed the whole point of why Jesus came to serve us. We help them put off concerning the former conversation (conduct, behaviour) the old man, who is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts (Ephesians 4:22). Only let your conversation(conduct, behaviour) be as it is worthy of the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel (Philippians 1:27).
When we are born again we have been washed in the blood of Jesus. We are as white as snow. He has imputed His righteousness to us. Thus Jesus is telling us, He who is washed or bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean or is clean every whit (the smallest part or particle imaginable): and you are clean, but not all. As I want to keep washing you with my word so that your conversation (conduct, behaviour) will change and you be transformed in the image of Christ. There will always be Judas in our church setting. They go to church but they have an ulterior motive, they are not born again, they are the people who are not clean. But if you are born again you are clean and have been bathed in the blood of Jesus, every smallest particle imaginable of your body has been washed by the blood of Jesus. You are clean; now keep reading the word of God to be transformed into the image of Christ.
8. A leader servant
John 13:13 You call me Master and Lord: and you say well; for so I am.
John 13:14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
John 13:15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.
John 13:16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, the servant is not greater than his lord; neither he who is sent greater than he who sent him.
We have seen the true meaning of the washing of the feet. But also we have seen that in the houses it was supposed to be done by a servant not by the master or lord. And here Jesus is showing them that as a believer, when we are entrusted by God to lead His people, we serve them not rule over them. Jesus tells us: you know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and that they are to exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whoever will be great among you, let him be your minister or servant; And whoever will be chief or first among you, let him be your servant or slave: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto or to be served, but to minister or to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:25-28).
We are to have dominion and authority over the demons and principalities that are tormenting our brethren. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you (Luke 10:19). God did not give us authority to rule over brethren! Peter will hammer the point of Jesus home. Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre or for dishonest gain, but of a ready mind or eagerly; Neither as being lords or masters over God’s heritage (those that God entrusted to you), but being ensamples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, you shall receive a crown of glory that does not fade away (1 Peter 5:2-4).
Jesus is telling each one of us to take him as our example. John 13:17 If you know these things, happy (supremely blessed, happy blessed) are you if you do them. You will see how God will move in your life in a new way.
Brethren this is a succinct study on the heart of a servant-friend. There is a lot to say about this subject, but we will stop here and continue, another time if God permits. But now that you know these things, if you do them, you are supremely blessed. I encourage each one of us to go back and read the bible. And see all the parables of Jesus about serving God in that new light. May God bless you and empower you to serve Him as a friend.
Until we meet again, remain blessed, and know that it is well with you.