It hasn’t entered our mind…

IT HASN’T ENTERED YOUR MIND…

I Corinthians 2/But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.

The phrase I wish to draw attention to in this passage of scripture is:

‘Nor have entered into the heart of man’

You have heard people say: ‘…in fact the thought never crossed my mind.’

Well, there are thoughts that have never entered our heads, nor ever will – cross our minds – this side of the heaven-of-heavens.

As a painter/poet/preacher it is my daily grist to the mill, to have no shortage of imaginative ideas. That doesn’t guarantee that they are good ideas. Nor that, (especially painting) they are ever followed-through on.

But when it comes to spiritual matters, the imagination mustn’t take over, to the negation of truth.

It can be customary, in some people’s minds to automatically equate ‘divine inspiration’ with the role of the artist, writer or composer.

I remember asking an accomplished musician, who was also a Bible teacher, and therefore a Christian, if he thought those with no spiritual confession or commitment to Christ, could possibly be enabled by Christ in any way to pen the overtures they composed.

His answer was: ‘No.”

And I agreed. That is not to say – that many who do not profess to follow Christ, cannot write or produce something memorable, worthwhile, of lasting worth, and that very much adds to our lives. To suggest that they couldn’t – would be totally wrong.

However, divine revelation or inspiration, if it is to come from Jesus Christ and therefore the Holy Spirit, demands first, the pre-requisite of knowing Him personally.

[NB: There are exceptions to this, when God has a task to accomplish, he may well give revelation to an unbeliever cpr. Pilates wife (?)]

However Christ’s genuine enablement is an experience, and will not contradict the Holy Scriptures in the content, that the enablement provides.

The way I see God’s enablement as an artist, or as a Christian writer is best explained in terms of direct and indirect inspiration.

There are times when, what I say or write, is very much with a sense of His inspiration and enablement directly.

At other times what I already am as a Christian, will influence what I produce, and I cannot claim any direct (prophetic) inspiration from God for the painting, poem, post, or preach.

When it comes to painting or poetry – I do not seek His direct inspiration all that much.

Paul the apostle says this:

Romans 9/

  1. I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit…

Notice Paul (as all Christians should be) was acutely aware of his conscience in a living-relationship with God’s Presence in his life.

Conscience plays a big part when it comes to having a sense of inspiration. The balancing of our minds with the Mind of Christ, must always be taking place.

We never become anything other than human, in this life. A human being in fellowship with God.

He has however, bestowed upon all true Christ-ones, the great blessing of now becoming ‘sons of God’ (Romans 8/14).

But it doesn’t yet appear what we shall be like – when we reach that heavily destination. We will though, be more than human when we get there. In one passage we are told we shall be like the angels…

Matthew 22/30: For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.

All that this means is not clear.

Which brings me back to the phrase I have drawn attention to at the beginning:

‘nor have entered into the heart of man’

Think of it – things that we cannot as yet comprehend!

Beyond our imagination. Things too high and wonderful for us to comprehend. 

I Corinthians 13/

For we know in part and we prophesy in part….

…For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

So the atheist or agnostic who must have it all comprehended and packaged to meet the criteria of their intellect, is missing the whole point of the supernatural. We won’t understand it all.

The spiritual is not devoid of logic or the power of reason – it’s just that we use our reason to accept that certain things are beyond the limitations of that same reasoning ability.

Notice this verse of scripture – 

We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ,

Let’s note here – ‘proud thing’. Unfortunately knowledge puffs up with pride. Pride was the original sin. We are told God resists the proud but gives unmerited favour to the humble.

It’s humbling to realise that the intellect is very limited, and has not yet received many of the things that God has prepared for those who love Him…

The proud mind that considers itself greater than God is headed for a fall, such thinking sets itself up AGAINST the true knowledge of God.

And it is the proud heart of man that despises and/or rejects God and His council for the throning of his own intellect, in all matters of life and death.

We must start by accepting… 

…as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My (God’s) ways higher than your ways And My thoughts higher than your thoughts.

By taking the place of humility – we have a better chance of comprehending the things of God – and there is even a chance that we shall receive that Divine inspiration and revelation spoken of earlier.

In fact the verses at the top of this post go on to reveal that:

10 …God has revealed them to us through His Spirit…

He will lead believers into all truth – i.e. lead the prepared heart that fellowships with Him.

In simple terms there are things revealed and things not yet revealed.

But Oh – the wonder! The unimaginable beauty and superior life that awaits those who look for His Coming in faith and hope. Oh the wonder of the afterlife still not revealed! We have glimpses, yes – sometimes wonderful glimpses. But glimpses just the same.

And yet many prefer the lower life and instruction that comes from this world alone.

I thank God for the times my inner human spirit has rose to see like I had never seen before.

Glorious times, that don’t happen every day with the same intensity. But faith has been established in my heart. Faith that says:

Hebrews 11/6:

… he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

If I am to glimpse more – I must begin with the oracles* of God (Bible).

For more – I must meditate on these* things…

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The Followed or the followers

THE FOLLOWED OR THE FOLLOWERS?

It’s interesting how persuasion works.

The salesman/woman gives us information in a confident manner, directing our attention to what is advantageous in their product.

They have a goal in mind – a sale, of course.

To that end they exercise persuasion. Persuasion through words.

Often we have done our own research and would not be there in the first place, if we had not already made up our minds to buy. Usually we are at least 90% persuaded already.

Sometimes though, if the salesperson is too pushy and overbearing, I go in the opposite direction, to the point where I decide to buy the same product elsewhere, or even, further my investigations for an alternative.

So their manner, sometimes exercising deceptive ploys, or punctuated with a belittling approach etc. turns me off.

But what if the product is the best one you can buy, the best on the market and at the best price?

If I take umbrage at the salesperson, I am (in this context) according to the old proverb: ‘Cutting off my nose to spite my face’.

But it’s difficult to get past the bad salesperson’s approach.

Nevertheless I must – as I am after value for money and a good performance product.

It would be great if it was otherwise, – but I’m afraid not everyone who says: “Lord, Lord…” is the genuine ‘article’, not everyone is the real McCoy, when it comes to their profession of being a Christian.

And not everyone who is genuinely and sincerely a child of God, is void of bad attitudes. 

They still need to change in that particular area, and need help to see it.

Jesus never finishes perfecting His people.

My point is this – if you want to become a follower of Christ – look away from the shortcomings of those who purport to represent Him, and delve into the Bible, to find the real thing.

Look unto Christ – examine His life and see His perfection, or be drawn to Him further, if you have already called on His name for salvation.

Don’t fall into the trap of using the shortcomings of imperfect human beings, as an excuse not to pursue the Person of Jesus Christ.

Christ is the light of perfection, in Him is no darkness at all.

One gentleman who examined Jesus Christ to find who He was, did so with the intention of disproving the Resurrection.

As one writer puts it – the book ‘Who Moved the Stone?’ by Frank Morison was…

…the inner story of a man who originally set out to write one kind of book and found himself compelled by the sheer force of circumstances to write another.

His persuasion in becoming a follower of Christ was the result of looking into the gospel stories, as opposed to being greatly impressed by Christ’s followers.

Man will always fail. Christ will never fail.

Jesus said to Peter:

22 …“If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”

Jesus was telling Peter in essence, that he was not to overly concern himself with other human beings, but to get his priorities right and follow Him.

By all means learn from genuine sincere believers in Christ – they should be that example you are looking for. But better still learn from the one followed rather than His followers.

Empty philosophical deceit

Colossians 2/8: Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

This verse of scripture meant a lot to me when I first became a follower of Christ Jesus.

Philosophy (to state the obvious) activates our reasoning powers.

Every philosophical opinion, from a held point-of-view on everyday life, to some political manifesto, is held in some loosely defined philosophical way.

I’m thinking of the word philosophy in a dictionary definition sense of:- a theory or attitude that acts as a guiding principle for behaviour: and/or the study of the theoretical basis of a particular branch of knowledge or experience:

According to the above verse from the bible, philosophy can cheat us.

Philosophy of whatever kind, can rob us of the supernatural, because it does not readily embrace the idea of spiritual revelation from a Living God.

Rather it relies only on man’s ability to reason, and to find answers to profound and deep questions, through the use of his reasoning powers – alone.

The obvious conclusion we have to come to, when relying ONLY on man’s reasoning powers is this: – our imagination can justify, any ‘doctrine’ that mankind wishes to dream up.

Left to our own devices – we can create our own morality and find reasons, if we have enough fallen-imagination – to justify the most despicable behaviour.

And of course man has done so, many times.

If deviously-clever enough, man can embrace evil as good and make good – evil.

There has been such a slide from wholesomeness, that the imagination doesn’t know where to stop, as it manufactures justification(s) for whatever it chooses, producing  a man-made morality.

Today, long accepted norms are being cast aside with reckless abandon.

And many of the rejections of God-given morality are couched in philosophical terms that can sound so plausible, but reject many other counteracting considerations by simply not mentioning them.

In all of these ‘new approaches’ to morality – there is no higher power, taken into consideration. No revelation from the creator is considered. If man can use his darkened imagination he can dream up anything.

That’s the world we live in today. Man is his own god. When men disagree on questions of morality, they do not seek the One with the higher reasoning power.

But rather lean on their own understanding, and fail to acknowledge God in all, or any, of their ways.

Their wisdom is earthly, sensual and devilish.

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

If there is no ultimate creator-God authority, then there is only one opinion versus another opinion, especially in areas of morality.

No one refers to the absolute, everything becomes relative and a war of words.

Your opinion if it differs from mine is going to remain different, while someone else comes along and presents yet another opinion, and another, and another.

A world full of views and opinions all trying to convince each other.

God in the person of The Lord Jesus Christ – intervenes and leaves us His divine thoughts of righteousness, revealed to chosen men and written down under His influence (The Bible).

These revealed precepts – are recorded in human language but with the hand of God on-them perpetually.

These are given as the ultimate light to which all ‘philosophies’ must be held up to.

Man-made philosophies are – weighed in the balance of God’s word – and found wanting.

Reach for the higher wisdom – written down – for our consumption, and don’t allow the aberrant philosophies that are rampant today to spoil/cheat you …through empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2/8)

Age

AGE

You are a person of your generation. You look around to notice that a generation, has passed on from you.

Sorry to inform you – but there is a generation that sees you as old.

Everybody is young or everybody is old depending on your telescope usage, that spies on time.

I have a 25 year-old inside me, but I am not 25. I’m seen as old to real 25’s.

You are fit?

You are fit, but getting past it – old to that young whippersnapper, who moon-walked past you on the street the other day.

His moon-walk revved up to full throttle.

You can do twenty press-ups, but beware of your green face, when the guy ten years younger than you – does forty.

The march of time. Grow old gracefully.

I heard of the death of a forty year old. Many die young.

Where does the Lord God figure in the age stakes? 

He has neither beginning of days nor ending.

Hebrews 7/Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.

Age is the result of corruption. Old bones and skeletal collapse.

Passing through this scene of time – we distract ourselves with what is here and now. With what the world has to offer.

And pop star after pop star – deflated, dejected passes away in tragic fashion. 

They received all the adulation, attention, idol worship ‘all this will I give you…’ said the god of this world.

But the fame and fortune and adoration is a big let down, and yet many crave it. Too young to think there is another side to the coin of fame.

‘This is the most important moment of my life’ they gasp, as they wait to be voted in or out by the entertained public.

We are all passing-through.

A man named Solomon sought to find what was beneficial to do and be involved in – under the sun. He bought the T-shirt on most of the possible things we could give ourselves to.

He tried ‘em all and remained convinced that it was all – emptiness.

He concluded despite his fame and fortune, there was only one maxim – Fear God and keep his commandments.

But, even so, Solomon in all his glory, had not tasted the new covenant that was-to-come in the Person of The Lord Jesus Christ.

Today, It is spiritually duller than before – and we need Christ’s help more than ever, to enter behind the veil, into the absoluteness and veraciousness of the Almighty – through His Son.

Yes we age with each passing day. Time and tide waits for no man.

Now is the acceptable time to awake to the gospel, before age takes it’s final toll.

John 6/67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. 68. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Satisfaction

SATISFACTION

Sir Mick – couldn’t get any satisfaction. Or at least his lyric couldn’t.

Our chosen dictionary gives us this definition – 

satisfaction – fulfilment of one’s wishes, expectations, or needs, or the pleasure derived from this:

Does that definition satisfy?

Custard and ice-cream – I once asked for cold custard and warm ice-cream, in a restaurant.

But mis-communication or not – I’m always satisfied with this dessert combination.

In fact we often have the main course in restaurants and drive home for our own dessert – which of course should read –  warm custard and cold ice cream.

What is it – that needs satisfied?

We can safely say there are different kinds of satisfaction – physical, mental, emotional, sexual, circumstantial, spiritual, communal, aesthetic, verbal, etc. etc.

As Sir Mick couldn’t get satisfaction, so Mr. Dylan sings differently –

One things for certain, when it comes my time

I’ll leave this old world with a satisfied mind

Saul of Tarsus  – perceived as he was, as a renegade Jew – had a name change and tells us – 

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

So is contentment another word for satisfaction?

This man Saul better known as Paul also adds –

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content…

Whatever state!? Surely not?

This guy, must have had something very special going for him. Something supernatural. Supernatural/spiritual help to be able to make such a statement.

So spiritual satisfaction then?

Did he have physical satisfaction?

He says – 

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ…

He states clearly that he had suffered the loss of all things. Think of the two words – Satisfaction or suffering.

Loss did not mean dis-satisfaction – he had a satisfied mind because he had the excellence of the knowledge of Christ. That is – he knew Christ and therefore absorbed all the knowledge that Christ communicated to him. And it was enough. Enough in every sense of the word.

A footnote of claritydon’t forget Jesus had gone up from the earth in front of many disciples – they saw him go. It was different for Paul. He met him in spirit on the Damascus Road. So Paul walked with Him in spirit and in truth. Paul did not see him walking in a man’s earthly body, as the disciples did.

He (Paul) had physical hardship many times, he was not married and lived a celibate life, his emotional needs were satisfied in Christ, circumstantially he was content, regardless of what befell him. He enjoyed the communal satisfaction provided by true genuine fellow disciples of Christ – but on occasions – stood alone. Satisfied in Christ, content, caught up with the Person of the Holy Spirit and the many revelations he was given.

Again he tells us – 

It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord:

His certainty of spiritual revelation – was the result of God’s proven record in supplying them before.

Paul had one area that he had to handle – he was caught between two desires. The desire to serve God and His people and the desire to leave his body and go and find the eternal satisfaction of living with Christ in the heaven of heavens.

For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better…

Am I, are you, satisfied? What are we looking for? In the list of our satisfactions are we missing what Paul continually had – even in the absence of a perennial comfort zone?

Paul speaking:

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

 

Vulnerable with whom?

VULNERABLE WITH WHOM?

We can talk about what is happening in society. We can talk about what is happening in the world.

But what, (perhaps needless to say), is happening inside us, is what we are most familiar with.

Being self-conscious human beings, means – our self-awareness leads us to personal concerns – first.

Everyone’s aspirations differ, I guess with some overlapping, but never quite the same.

Our mind is pre-preoccupied with the body we live in. First-things-first is usually subjective.

We are fragile flesh. Prone to the same highs and lows.

Body, soul and spirit beings.

Inescapably we succumb to self-interest first, punctuated by a few sacrifices we may have made for others along the way, in order to change our self-oriented daily narrative.

Christians or non-Christians, acts of charity, and good deeds-done are common to all.

Some have been more sacrificial than others, in their service to their fellow man.

I am way down the pecking order when it comes to good deeds done, to the benefit of my fellow man. 

I can only hope that my service of ‘words’ has helped others to some small degree, along the way.

But mankind is housed in flesh, and we all have this earthly tent in common. We live in these corruptible bodies, with all our mutual limitations.

We are prone, as is said of Elijah: ‘to like passions.’

James 5/17: Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months

Despite these ‘like passions’ common to us all – Elijah (Elias) was a spiritual man, able to pray and receive answers.

Many believe in vulnerability. Many believe they should share their weaknesses openly with all who will listen.

This they usually conclude is being real. We should be free to share our innermost weaknesses and needs, they believe, to authenticate our genuineness.

Others consider this to be airing their dirty linen in public.

 Dictionary –  To discuss very private, personal matters, especially that which may be embarrassing, in public or with other people.

When we share such private thoughts, we leave ourselves open to ridicule or unfair judgment from others.

It establishes in their minds a certain outlook towards us.

Even if we grow, and overcome those inner weaknesses, it may well be, they remain convinced, that we have not, indeed, overcome.

And should we fall yet again into negative behaviour of whatever kind, they affirm to themselves that indeed, we have not moved on.

Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is not the whole answer to finding help. We need to ask “with whom can I, or should I, be vulnerably open?”

Those who are at all familiar with this blog, and this season of Christian-perspective posts, will not be surprised in the least at my next exhortation:

Vulnerability, that is – being vulnerable and therefore usually confessional  – in an acceptable manner is firstly vertical, before it is horizontal.

Prayer to Christ Jesus the one who is seated at the right hand of God the Father, in an unimaginable way, and who ever lives to represent those who want Him as their saviour and advocate, is the vertical friendship that I am referring to.

Proverbs 18/24

A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Christ Jesus is that friend that sticks closer than a human being/brother, if He is invited into our lives.

He is never surprised at your vulnerability, nor ignorant of your attempts to be and do what is right. He is compassionate and understanding, willing to forgive when you fail, and willing to comfort the downhearted in His presence, where there is fullness of joy.

Be – as vulnerable as you want to be – with Him. Tell Him honestly what you think of yourself. Share with Him your most intimate thoughts.

Having done this – you can then move from vertical communion with Christ to the horizontal, in finding a real, true human friend, to open your heart to.

This is not always an easy task. But don’t give up, there are still some genuine, ethically sound, sincere counsellors who will keep confidence, and lend a helping hand.

You know I’m going to add – Christian ones.

Despite the onslaught of failure amongst people in positions of trust, and despite the hypocritical representation of religion, there are still those who are salt and light.

Men and women dealing with the same weaknesses Elijah, and you and I, contend with, both in ourselves and our fellow human beings.

Like Elijah the prophet – we can still pray and get results, especially in areas of subjectivity.

To finish – I must bind myself to the first part of the verse quoted above:

Proverbs 

A man who has friends must himself be friendly…

I raise my glass of coke –

“Here’s to your friendship”

Foolishness

FOOLISHNESS

If someone took a $100 bill or £100 note, and tore it up – allowing it to flutter over the mountain side.

I’m pretty sure everyone would agree that they were being foolish?

However – I don’t often hear the word foolish being used nowadays. Is it just me?

Foolishness is usually not used as often as swear words to describe the unacceptable behaviour of others.

There are approx. 84 bible mentions of the word foolish, 20 for foolishness, and 189 for the word fool.

Here are a few to ponder –

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. (Psalm 53/1, 14/1)

A fool despises his father’s instruction, (Proverbs 15/5)

…any fool can start a quarrel (Proverbs 20/3)

A fool vents all his feelings, (Proverbs 29/11)

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, (Proverbs 12/15)

The somewhat dated story is told – (It goes something like this): –

A lady, when questioned by a bible salesman, if she read the bible much?

Answered – “Oh yes, all the time!” 

“Would you mind going and fetching it for me to have a look?” (No doubt with the idea that he could sell her a ‘superior’ printed version).

When she returned, in the act of handing him the bible to scrutinise, a small pair of rimless reading glasses fell out of her large bible.

“Oh!” she said – “I lost those years ago!”

Does that behaviour fit the ‘foolish’ category?

I wonder how much behaviour is just plain – foolish-lying to ourselves?

…………………………

James 1/22: …deceiving your own selves.

Plainly still hidden?

PLAINLY STILL HIDDEN?

Supposing there was something absolutely essential to mankind. Essential perhaps to man’s very survival. It was as plain as day. ‘As plain as the nose on your face’,  as they say.

Yet – nobody noticed it or was aware of it. It was in front of them – but they couldn’t see it.

I wonder – to help me complete this short post if you can give me an example?

To give me an example would not be possible. As you then would have already noticed it – and therefore it fails to meet the criteria, of being plainly out of sight.

Although – it is in the realm of possibility, that you alone can see it – and no one else – and therefore it gives you authority in providing the example.

I reckon all the great inventors, pretty much knew something before everyone else. It was hidden to the rest of us, and eventually revealed by them.

So clearly I am referring to something – hidden.

Something plainly needed by the human race, yet hidden, and therefore unseen, out of sight.

There is much that mankind does not know.

When man discovers something for the betterment of, or service to, the human race, it can be embraced triumphantly.

But sometimes embraced, as though now, there was nothing else left to find out.

We should be thankful for any great discoveries in medical science. But refrain from getting on our ‘high horse’. We still don’t have a cure for the common cold.

It’s that ‘high horse’ thing that God most dislikes. Yet many on their high horse (with no real understanding) blame God for being on his!

The original sin was one of pride – Isaiah 14/13-15:

You said in your heart,

    “I will ascend to the heavens;

I will raise my throne

    above the stars of God;

I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,

    on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.

14 

I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;

    I will make myself like the Most High.”

15 

But you are brought down to the realm of the dead,

    to the depths of the pit.

The fall of this spirit took place before mankind followed suit and fell into sin.

The ‘I’ factor is loud and clear in this passage of scripture.

Lifting oneself up is the expression of a proud heart. Taking the best seat at the feast, rather than the lower seat, it being the host’s (not the guest’s) prerogative to ask you up to a higher one.

Those who exalt themselves shall be humbled. 

Thinking too highly of (oneself), is a danger, as pride goes before a fall.

Nowadays the emphasis is on holding on to a good self-image to the exclusion of whether it is based on fact or fiction.

A bad self-image and a good self-image can both be flawed.

A good self-image is self-acceptance, accepting ourselves as we are, without living a life of pretence or with delusions of grandeur. It is thinking of ourselves in a sober manner – not too highly and not too lowly.

Recognising our strengths and our weaknesses, without being morbidly introspective about the weaknesses, nor puffed-up with insolent pride perhaps over some ability we have.

Bringing our weaknesses to Jesus Christ, who converses with His Father on behalf of those who desire Him to do so.

There are many things, (spiritually speaking), that I have yet to see, – yet to find out.

I am thankful for what has been shown to me. Things I have great certainty over.

But I will always be on the road of discovery, when it comes to my relationship with Jesus Christ.

In this life I will always only – ‘know in part’.

But I’m told to hold fast to what I have already received, and to walk by the same rule.

I am also told that the things I have received are hidden to many others:

I Corinthians 2/6-8.

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

That thing, that is hidden to many, is the essential thing I referred to at the beginning of this post.

It is a drawn-up and carried-out plan for the salvation of the human race.

Is it plain to you? Or plainly – still hidden from your understanding?

There is coming a day regardless of what theological standpoint we take, – there is coming a day – when Christ will return to take only those who are part of his mystical body (the church) –  still alive on earth – into the air in a rapturous experience.

A day when Christ who is hidden from the sight of the eyes of multitudes today, will return no longer hidden, but in plain view – for every eye shall see Him –

Revelation 1/7:

“Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen.

will they recognise Him or will recognition be hidden from them also?

Is the gospel message then, plain for you? To be acted on immediately? Or does it remain hidden even though you can hear it from many preachers?

About that opening paragraph:

Supposing there was something absolutely essential to mankind…It was in front of them – but they couldn’t see it…?

A question of thought

A QUESTION OF THOUGHT

Regardless of the purpose or subject matter of our blogs, I wonder do you ever have the thought that perhaps we should be thinking about more important matters?

Everyday life presents us with many demands upon our thinking power.

I marvel at how prolifically our minds produce thought after thought. Never in the same order, day after day.

Oh yes, there are things our minds return to often, but nothing is programmed en masse to repeat exactly what we have thought before.

The greatest of all ‘computer systems’ – the human mind.

It would be customary, as the subject matter of this blog would suggest in recent posts, to move on now to some profound biblical subject, directing our thoughts to what I would deem of most importance.

But rather, I’m stopping short of this. I simply ask myself the question and therefore you – what should we apply the use of our minds, our cognitive abilities – to?

What should we be thinking about? What is of most importance to you?

We can’t dwell on profundity 24/7, the necessities of life demand that we focus on the warp and woof of daily living, that tax our thought life.

Did you leave the trash cans out? What about that bill you owe – is it paid yet? That couch could do with a new ‘throw’. The cat needs fed. That programme starts at 8.30. Did you call your sister? You haven’t finished reading that novel, where did you leave it? Thinking about another tragedy in the world?

But you are home – the busy working day is over – what now? Thought about what is next? Or has what is next determined your thinking?

TV on? Wow! Six Ads. in a row – telling you what you should be thinking about.

What are you thinking about anyway? Anything important?

Luke 12/24-26

25 And which of you by being overly anxious and troubled with cares can add a cubit to his stature or a moment [unit] of time to his age [the length of his life]?

Pondering

PONDERING

The pace of modern day living (or is it post-modern living?) is great.

It seems to accelerate with each passing day.

When we factor-in the fact that we are all inescapably getting older, this increase of pace is not always welcome.

When we reach a certain age, we become resentful of the increased pace, and simply don’t want to keep up with it.

Staying abreast of all IT developments, becomes boring to those of a certain age. We don’t want to know anymore. Our curiosity has wained.

And unless needing to know the recent developments for our job, we run out of interest and enthusiasm.

But of course I must be fair, and add: ‘personally speaking’ 😎!

In contrast many folks just love the latest gadgets and updates and new discoveries. They can’t wait to engage the cogs of their brain in the latest advancements.

And that’s fine – ‘whatever floats your boat’.

Maybe I’m not so much a ‘technophobe’, as a ‘techno-slob’, ie too lazy to find out the latest.

But my main point in this piece, is the fact that speed sometimes because of greed, calls for mental gymnastics and involvement in business and busy-ness – and robs us of contemplation that may lead to something much more rewarding.

Luke 2/18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

Mary had acquired supernatural angelic insight – not directly from the angels, but from the message communicated by a bunch of shepherds. Just like you and I are – in this post.

She had no reason to doubt this news that they brought, simply because she knew about encountering angels herself, and she knew about how special the child was – to whom she had given birth.

But notice what she did with this and no doubt with all that had been revealed to her: she…pondered them in her heart.

Are we too busy to ponder? Especially things of tremendous import? Are we so caught up with the pace of daily living that no time is left to ponder our destiny?

There are some, if not many, blogs that address Christians. Which is fine.

How can this blog address everyone and anyone, in spiritual terms?

Since the spiritual terms are a learnt language only those who have experienced them can truly or fully – understand.

Just like Mary she had previous spiritual experiences of truth given directly from God. And was able to receive and ponder, the shepherds revelations.

So we find then a spiritual principle, if, having received spiritual revelation, it is followed by meditation (pondering), our understanding of what we have received – will increase.

But here is the good news – the reverse is also true – as we ponder the scriptures – revelation, or greater revelation – is given as a result!

In other words it works both ways.

Now all we need is for you and I to mentally slow down, and give enough time to the pondering meditations that bring us to the life of Christ’s revelation.

Jesus speaks to Peter:

Matthew 16/17 – Then Jesus answered him, “Blessed [happy, spiritually secure, favoured by God] are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood (mortal man) did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 

 

 

Old wine or new?

OLD WINE OR NEW?

There are quite a few ‘sayings’ around, that carry the message that – things take time.

‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ – will do, to make the point.

I’m sure there are more.

Luke 5/39 – And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’ ”

There is an ‘immediately’ in this verse, preceded by ‘no one…’ immediately’ – so not right away then?

Someone enjoys a glass of wine. He has chosen that favourite wine for years. He avoids anything new.

“Would you like to switch to this other wine..?”

“No thanks…this is my favourite…”

End of story.

He will not budge. His mind is already made up.

There might be a case for saying the older he is – the less likely he is to change. Younger folks tend to enjoy trying something new.

Will you persuade him/her differently, by verbally challenging their present choice day after day?

Maybe a week later, – getting them to change?

Maybe a year later…?

Who knows – Rome wasn’t built in a day.

What if it was – “Would you like to stop smoking?”

“No thanks – I enjoy it.”

Now – decades later, after much scientific/medical facts being 100% established that it is bad for your health – people will be more quickly persuaded that the ‘old (cancer inducing habit of smoking) is not better’.

The old way was never better. But popular belief held that it was ok to smoke, it was cool.

When medical evidence became conclusive – they did not straightaway desire the new idea – of stopping.

“Would you like to become a follower of Christ?”

“No thanks I’m ok the way I am.”

“I prefer my old lifestyle – and I’m not really interested in a new one”.

I Corinthians 5/17  – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

When? When will they become new, when will you realise that the old is not in fact better, how long will it take you to be persuaded?

When it comes to the Christian gospel of change – To start with we all say: ‘the old is better…’ I know I did.

Set in our ways – is it not a bit annoying that others want us to drink the wine they prefer? When we have always chosen the one we drink every week?

What is going to persuade us to change?

In the context of being presented with the Christian message – what do people rely on in order to stay convinced the old – their own way – is better?

Medical science? Intellectual debate? Evolution versus Creationism? Drug-induced existentialism? A study of comparative religions? A searching hipster-trail tour of India and such places, searching for their ‘true’ selves?

All this takes time, and many have chosen these paths to pursue, to keep themselves convinced the old wine is better, or metaphorically – smoking is ok.

Whilst all along the old way of smoking, the old wine, the old sin-dominant lifestyle, the old rejection of Christ,  is grossly inferior, and the new preferable.

The new wine’s superiority is explained below:-

Psalm 34/8 – Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

In case you didn’t know.

IN CASE YOU DIDN’T KNOW

1 Corinthians 3/ (Amplified Bible)

  1. However, brothers and sisters, I could not talk to you as to spiritual people, but [only] as to worldly people [dominated by human nature], mere infants [in the new life] in Christ!

In case you didn’t know – this is Paul the Apostle speaking to the Corinthian – Christian believers.

Firstly he addresses them as ‘brothers and sisters’. All true Christian believers, share the family resemblance of Christ. He has instructed us to know and address each other as part of the same spiritual family.

So Paul is speaking to Christian brothers and sisters.

Every Christian claims that there IS a spiritual life, and not as the atheists would claim i.e. zero now and zero after the grave.

Spiritual people then?

Apparently not.

“I could not talk to you as to spiritual people…” 

What does that mean? The whole point of the Christian message, or teaching, is that all Christians have become spiritual people – out to share the message that Christ is Lord! He is to be worshipped as the only living and true God, and all His followers worship Him in spirit and truth. Becoming increasingly spiritual as Christ is.

So what’s this? –

 “I could not talk to you as to spiritual people…” 

In understanding this, it is first necessary to say that the great thing about acceptance with God is acceptance of God!

However, acceptance of God – is no excuse for doing things that find no acceptance with God.

Confused?

Christian acceptance with God (Salvation of repentant sinners), is based on man’s response and acceptance of Christ personally as Lord and Saviour.

This is a two-way acceptance.

This two-way acceptance is sealed amidst an experience Christian’s refer to as ‘being born again’.

We accept Christ and the sufficiency of His sacrifice for sins, and He in turn accepts us.

Christ comes into our lives in a very real and personal spiritual way.

Now we are in the family of God.

Every family has acts of obedience and disobedience in it. Children mis-behave, but (I hope) mostly are still accepted and loved, despite bad behaviour.

The bad behaviour varies in magnitude or seriousness.

The spiritual nature of these Corinthian believers was subject to the frustration and hindrance of the nature all men and women are born with. The sinful nature.

This conflict/warfare/frustration is described in 

Galatians 5/17 –

17 For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in DIRECT OPPOSITION TO EACH OTHER [CONTINUALLY IN CONFLICT], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do.

I have capitalised to make the point.

Until we encounter the person of Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit – we cannot know the spiritual nature that can be inherited from Christ Jesus.

When we do have such an encounter – it does not mean that the old nature we are born with disappears.

All Christians at some time, continue to succumb and yield themselves to this lower nature, even though they are spiritual people.

There are degrees of this.

But hopefully, true Christians, mostly allow the new nature to have pre-eminence in the battle described above. (Galatians 5/17).

The Corinthians were not doing so well in this warfare.

Consequently Paul could not address them as spiritual, but as weak and as yet immature believers.

So to share the deeper things of God, would not yet, be appropriate, when the instruction they needed was of a more foundational type.

In order to properly hear and obey the truth of God, we must enjoy the inner life of Christ filling our inner beings, in order to hear as we ought to hear, and understand properly the things God wishes to teach us.

When the old nature is strong – we end up in the place the Corinthians were in – accepted in Christ – but with unacceptable behaviour manifesting, rather than the fruits of the Holy Spirit winning the day.

In the rest of I Corinthians, Paul, speaking on Christ’s behalf, under the enablement of The Holy Spirit – addresses some of the unacceptable behaviour.

After teaching many more things to the Corinthians, (sixteen chapters in fact). Paul partly ends with these words, in I Corinthians 16/22 (quoted below).

Instructing us that acceptance of Christ and His ways, is essential, even though the Corinthians were immature and needed to grow in greater spirituality.

Paul highlights the only disqualifying ‘heavy’ note that he can’t put down to anyone’s spiritual immaturity.

Someone then, would not be his brother or sister in Christ if the following applied:

I Corinthian 16/22 – …If anyone does not love the Lord [does not obey and respect and believe in Jesus Christ and His message], he is to be accursed.