6 Aug 2014 by Adeline Lum CM-
On 19th of July, Pr Peter Tsukahira talked about how we can align ourselves to God’s purpose at the SOM Conference 2014 “Israel and the mystery of GOD’s favor” held at Grace Convention Centre in Petaling Jaya.
What does Israel teach us about finding God’s favor?
Jesus is God’s most favored son, a chosen picture for all human to follow through all times. If you want to know the Will of God, look at how Jesus lived his life. But when we come to God’s plan in favoring nations, God only chose one nation as a picture of what He desires throughout history. And that is Israel.
“Israel is bound to God in an unbreakable bond. God would never change his mind about Israel,” said Pr Peter.
When Israel is glorifying God during the times of David, Israel was the emblem of God’s strength and glory amongst the nations. But when they are disobedient, they become an example of an inescapable chastisement from God.
What does God’s choice of Israel teach us about the Kingdom of God?
Why should we look to Israel? Pr Peter shared that if you doubt God’s favor over Israel, we only need to look at Jesus whose primary message is the Kingdom of God.
Jesus began his ministry by proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matt 3:2 NIV) and he also taught his disciples to pray with, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt 6:10 NIV) In fact, many stories, particularly in the book of Matthew, began with the same words of, “The Kingdom of God is like…”
Hence, when we become believers in Christ, this phrase of ‘the Kingdom of God’ is never really far from us. But to many people, this phrase sounds vague, spiritual, and general.
Most of us believed that the Kingdom of God began in the ministry of Jesus. After all, Jesus is the King of kings and Lord or lords. (Rev 19:16) Hence, some of us perceive that the Kingdom of God began when Jesus came to establish His Kingdom on earth.
However, Pr Peter shared that the Kingdom of God actually started in the book of Exodus (Chapter 19) among the Israelites, who is a group of people ruled by God, the King. By looking into the results of Israel’s history in the Old Testament, it gives us a future perspective.
This is because God intended to use Israel as a nation to show Himself to the nations of the world.
“God didn’t recycle the whole nation but started with one man called Abraham, passed down to his son Isaac, then Jacob, and then 12 sons,” said Pr Peter.
From Jacob to Joseph, the sons of Israel migrated and flourished in Egypt. And when Moses brought them out of Egypt to the Sinai desert, they are finally freed from slavery! But what are they freed to do? All their lives, they had only known being slaves.
“In the desert, you know during summer time, finding shades is a matter of life and death. They (the Israelites during the time of Moses) were massive and disorganized slaves who did not ever know freedom. If you were to take the most dysfunctional nation in the world, it could not be worse than Israel because they could not even survive,” said Pr Peter.
‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” (Exo 19:4-6 NIV)
“God says, ‘I become King.’ Therefore, you and Israel become the kingdom of God, which is a kingdom of priests,” said Pr Peter.
Likewise, when we believed in Jesus Christ, we are accepted into the Kingdom of priests as well. (Exo 19:6) We are not here by accident, because like how God appointed the Israelites to be ‘a kingdom of priests’, He calls us into the Kingdom of God for the purpose of priesthood as well.
What does it mean to be chosen?
Jesus said to his disciples, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you…” (John 15:16 NIV)
Although we live in a fallen world, separated from God, He desires for everyone in the world to know and accept Him. (1 Tim 2:3-4) He calls out to every one of us and some of us responded.
“Whatever your story is, something in us began to turn. Jesus said, ‘For many are called, but few are chosen,’” said Pr Peter. (Matt 22:14 NASB) In other words, all are called, but only those who responded to God’s calling are chosen.
“It’s God who call but you choose to be chosen. It’s the call to give up your human life, give up your selfishness, your ambitions, and your hopes. It’s when we are ready to give up those things, we can answer those call. It’s giving up what is yours and taking what God gives,” said Pr Peter.
‘Chosen’ is called Fascia in Greek, meaning to effectively call and the person comes out. And this is only the first step of getting into the door of the Kingdom!
So, what happens when You are Chosen?
Firstly, we need to learn about the one who chose us. We need to learn about the character of God, called as discipleship. After we understand who God is, the greatest discovery in the Kingdom of God is to understand, “Who am I in the eyes of God?”
“The person who calls us is our loving father and creator. God not only called us or chose us, but He designed every one of us from even before the day we were born and before our names are given; there’s already a plan in his mind and more than that, there’s a dream in his heart for you.”
“First, you learn about Him. Then, you learn about you! Here’s where the real excitement comes. Here’s where the real passion of His Kingdom is revealed. He’s not going to force you to live the life that He has planned for you. If you’re ready, you got to buckle your seatbelt,” said Pr Peter.
But many of us prayed that prayer, “God, tell me what you really want me to do in my life.” However, God knows when we mean our prayer. Sometimes, we are not ready to do His Will, God chose to remain silent and patiently waits for the time you are willing.
God gives You an Ability for His Kingdom!
When you come to the point when you’re ready to do what God asked you to do, He anoints you with abilities to glorify His Name and advance His Kingdom.
“Very quickly, you realize, ‘Hey! I can do this!’ You even come to a point, ‘Hey! I am good in this!’ If you began to do what He dreamt in His heart for you to do even before you know Him and you’re born, this ability emerges.
“It’s called your gift given by the Holy Spirit. That gift given is holy, pure from God; holy in the sense it’s set aside for you, no one except for you can touch it but only you. You do what God tells you to do and then you realize that gift is powerful and designed for you,” said Pr Peter.
Pr Peter used to think during his younger days that the Holy Spirit behaves like a Santa Claus who gives gifts at the fastest person who springs up to him. He recalled always sitting at the front row, anticipating in sprinting forward to receive the speaker’s anointing.
But after years of asking for specific gifts by the laying of hands of anointed pastors, the results remain fruitless. Pr Peter realized he could not use any of those gifts because they were not meant for him, but specifically for the pastor or speaker.
“When you do what God wants you to do, you will start to realize this ability. I believe when God sees us using the gifts He gave us, it just delights Him so much!
“Maybe, it’s not even connected to what you’re talking about. You use that gift and you obey what God says. That’s what you call ‘the anointing’, which is God’s hand. But the anointing is for your use. And if you don’t use your anointing, it will remain not used forever,” said Pr Peter.
When we move according to our anointing, we help other people to help find out their calling and function as well because of our obedience. This is because the anointing of God bears fruits and multiplication!
“It’s important because at the end of all this, all of us will be standing before the King who designed us before we were born. We would have to individually give an account of our priesthood in the Kingdom because after that, we want Him to say the words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!” said Pr Peter.
When we recapture the Kingdom of God, Pr Peter shared that Christianity will have a movement. But because we do not understand how the Kingdom of God works, we tend to spiritualize the Kingdom. For example, sometimes we think that the presence of Jesus in our lives symbolize the Kingdom of God. But if we think this way, we are identifying the Kingdom with feelings.
“That’s why so many churches are designed to produce those feelings, and not produce the lives that want to create the actual fruits of advancing the Kingdom. We need to stop spiritualizing. We need to realize the Kingdom of God is a very practical and down-to-earth Kingdom.
“Each individual is anointed by the Lord to produce fruit. God never intended every people to be in the religion part of the Kingdom; 11 out of 12 tribes did something else!” said Pr Peter. In other words, every believer in Christ—whether in ministry or in the marketplace or at home—holds their priesthood in their respective field.
Pr Peter shared an illustration of how we cannot use someone else’s gift though it might be a fine gift. When David was only a shepherd teenager, he volunteered himself to King Saul to kill Goliath. But instead of wearing the best armor owned by King Saul himself, David only took with him a slingshot. He was gifted in using the sling.
Continuing the story, Pr Peter also explained how God’s gifts are very practical. Having no sword, David only had a slingshot to defend his flock of sheep. Furthermore, shepherding on the hillside of Bethlehem allowed David to refine his skills of picking fine stones of different compositions, shapes, and sizes. He must have practiced slinging for a thousand times while shepherding, even killing a bear and a lion. (1 Sam 17:36)
That is why young David was confident of killing Goliath. It is said that David picked five stones, because number five resembled God’s grace, goodness, and favor towards human. Pr Peter explained that we may have spiritualized the number of stones because there were practical applications of picking only five stones.
Firstly, David knew the fight with Goliath cannot last long and must end very soon because of Goliath’s bigger size. The longer the fight, the less chance he has to win.
Secondly, David knew that the only place he could strike Goliath is the exposed small area of his forehead, which is not covered by his head helmet. Every part of Goliath’s body is covered with armories.
Thirdly, David went to fight Goliath with a strategy. As soon as the battle started, David sprinted across the battlefield towards Goliath. Signaling Goliath’s defensive stance, he looked straight ahead at David, exposing his forehead. In that instance, David slung the stone, which hit squarely on his forehead, the only place that would kill him.
From this story, Pr Peter shared how David’s anointing as a skillful warrior came with long hours of practice, wisdom, and most of all, practicality.
“David was a gifted warrior! He was gifted with his sling. I tell you this story because some of you already know your gifts. Some of you need to realize that that the gifts that God gives you are very practical. He’s not going to hold you accountable for something else.
“Did you do what He made you to do? We are only accountable to those areas that we are responsible for. If you know what’s going to be in the final exam, why are you reading more? We all want our responsibilities to be big. This Kingdom is real and practical. God already gave us and they are practical,” said Pr Peter.
In a nutshell, by knowing God and who we are in God’s eyes, we will be given abilities for His Kingdom! Do you know what God has anointed you with today? When we know, we are able to align ourselves to His Purpose.
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