Category Archives: correctness

…and correction?

…and correction?

Most Christian bloggers like to edify, exhort positively, and comfort us all, in our journey through this fallen world.

I have received from a number of Christian blogs, the encouragement I needed for a certain ‘day in the life’.

It would seem though, that some subject matter is best avoided if your goal is to be popular, when blogging.

However most Christians would agree that we are not called to win popularity competitions, and yet they love the ‘amen’ to their posts, and often (or mostly) it is genuinely given.

They are glad when others are edified, and rightly so. We all need encouragement.

But again I often wonder if anyone wants to address the mess?

Sometimes we need to repent and return to the first works – indeed repentance from ‘dead’ works returning to our first love of the Lord Jesus Christ, entering into a closer walk with Him.

For this to happen we need to be corrected.

The human heart and mind is prone to wander. And sometimes in the midst of our convicted conscience –  the last thing we need is someone laying heavies upon us that point out our faults and failings.

But conversely – does this mean this should never be done? We live in a world where no one wants to listen to correction.

Does that include the Christians? Who are told:

NKJV – Hebrews 12/5 …do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him…

Amplified version – 

My son, do not make light of the discipline of the Lord,

And do not lose heart and give up when you are corrected by Him;

Going on to say:

For the Lord disciplines and corrects those whom He loves,…

This is like a foreign language to some Christians, who have been fed on daily bread that is only buttered on one side and coated with sugar.

Having said that – some have suffered dry bread with no butter or sugar!

If you get the analogy – I refer to an unbalanced diet. Too much or too little of one thing. Christians who are ‘unexposed’ to necessary teaching to enable proper spiritual growth.

You see we all need different sustenance. We all need a different word from The Lord, according to our developmental requirements.

God the Father has one priority, like any good father, He wants to raise His children well, and allow them to reflect more perfectly the image of their brother – The Lord Jesus Christ.

We by inheritance are also children of God. There is only one ‘Only Begotten’, but:

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

So correction is very much a part of a good wholesome growth plan for a child’s life.

Not some harsh unfair manipulation or provoking of children, through abuse – but a balanced diet of edification, exhortation, and comfort – and correction.

But what about God’s adult children, who are still children in grown-up bodies manifesting self-absorption and injuring others?

This is a big subject I know. And I am not going to do it justice in this short post.

But let’s remember we are meant to grow in grace (thank God it’s grace!) and be changed from glory to glory, as by the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives, who might just tell us from time to time:

 ‘You are wrong’.

I don’t find correction easy to take – do you? Especially if it comes from a source other than God. But that’s where we must step away and examine and discern if it is just our own flesh and self-will that doesn’t like the truth, or if in fact the devil is trying (as we say) ‘to do a number on us’. Usually his condemnation has a tiny reference to something true and a whole deluge of lies. Know the difference.

 

Prayer: Lord help us to hear the still small voice of edification or correction. Amen

 

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Falling

FALLING

Unfortunately we hear of prominent and not so prominent Christians falling into sin.

We know of those on the front line, presenting themselves as leaders and wanting to please God in all things, who fall into sin. (usually sexual in nature).

Others who are depending on their leadership, are startled and disappointed and feel betrayed.

When this happens it creates the idea that in leadership, there seems to be no one to trust, no one living  according to God’s right way. There seems to be a dearth of victorious Christian Living, starting with leaders.

However we wrestle not against flesh and blood. And those in the front line are first to stand in the gun sights of the devil.

We must first therefore realise this fact, and cover them with prayer.

No one in leadership is any more ‘impenetrable’ than others. They are human and subject to the same like passions as anyone else.

Things of protocol must be put into place and the need to be covered with answerability to a plural leadership of their fellow eldership – lived out practically.

The wicked have drawn the sword

And have bent their bow,

To cast down the poor and needy,

To slay those who are of upright conduct.

We see from these verses who is in line for the ‘roaring lions’ attention – those of upright conduct. (I Peter 5/8)

Often before they fell they were men or women of upright conduct. We often forget quickly the character they have shown, and the good they have accomplished. The body of Christ (the church) killing their own wounded.

At the same time we must keep before us the standard God’s word clearly spells out. And not slide into moral laxity.

There is one paramount way to keep our hearts from the demands of the prince of the power of the air – and it is by having presence of mind to appropriate continuously what the Grace of God has provided.

Our God in calling us to forgive 70×7 per day – gives us a glimpse into the fact that He too will practice what He preaches. Plenteous in mercy and forgiveness.

He will not respond to pretenders however, who think to laughingly avail themselves of this promise of forgiveness, whilst they carry on sinning, as though it was acceptable to do so.

That’s called hypocrisy.

Grace is a revelation. It is a revelation not just for salvation – but that through the grace of God we can LIVE!

Always availing ourselves of His promises and His strength to maintain our hearts in good condition before Him.

Let’s pray for those who have fallen. And if they were in a position of leadership and injured others in their fall, let’s still allow them into fellowship with forgiving embrace – but only where we find the sincerity of humility and true repentance. Otherwise if they continue in sin, we become guilty of bidding them God’s-speed in their misdemeanours.

This calls for good discernment. The bible warns about wolves in sheep’s clothing:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles?

We shall (we are told) know them (the sincere men and women of God) by their fruits. The actions they take, the attitude they carry, the character they show, their speech, prayer life, fairness, empathy, and so on.

Prayer:

Lord help us to stand dependant on you alone. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

 

as unto spiritual…

AS UNTO SPIRITUAL…

I Corinthians 3/

1. And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

Who is Paul the Apostle addressing here?

Answer – ‘brothers’ – brothers-in-Christ of course, because all the Corinthians he is speaking to, were not his kith and kin.

Not natural kith and kin but ‘brothers in Christ’.

And in addressing brothers, (bearing in mind that his epistles were to the whole church) – he is addressing his ‘sisters-in-Christ’ also.

Is he addressing you and I? Bearing in mind that the Bible (used always-and-eternally in the hand of The Holy Spirit) – is addressing all believers for all time. We conclude readily then, that he is speaking to us also.

All you need to qualify for hearing this epistle – is to be a ‘brother/sister-in-Christ’.

Hmmm?

Can’t imagine that everyone I’m addressing has joined this family of believers?

Anyway – that is for you to decide.

But Paul reveals indirectly to us that there are varying depths of spirituality among believers in Christ.

And that there are matters they were not yet able to comprehend.

The surprise perhaps in this passage is this – he was addressing them all. And he puts them all in the same category (unlike John did in his epistle). Paul refers to them as ‘babes in Christ’.

John – in I John 2 refers to little children, young men, and fathers.

Paul speaks to them all as ‘babes in Christ’. And coupled with this designation is the idea that they are still carnal.

The word carnal can mean different things. But essentially it is the natural sinful mind we are born with.

Everything in the Christian life is a matter of exchange.

We trade in our thoughts, our self-righteousness, our selfishness, or mental problems, our limited reasoning, our emotional hang-ups – and in exchange we receive the joy of The Lord, The peace that passes understanding, the fruits of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of The Holy Spirit, God’s strength, his righteousness, his holiness, his forgiveness and above all His love.

So now everything is ‘rosey in the garden’?

No – simply because we still have everything that life throws at us to contend with.

But with the attributes of Christ within us – we now must learn to yield ourselves to The Lord of our life, and allow those attributes to control us.

This takes time and inner development under the hand of God. But we grow, we mature, we enter into what the Bible describes as being grounded and settled – all through the exercise of faith that expresses itself in biblical meditation, praise and worship, prayer, and joining ourselves in true and real fellowship with the family of God.

Colossians 1/

23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

Notice the behaviour that accompanied the ‘babes in Christ’ designation that Paul reveals to us as the epistle continues – 

For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? 

As we look and listen we recognise similar traits in the church today. Manifesting the fact that we all need to grow up – 

Ephesians 4

14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

 This calls firstly and foremostly for a willingness – yes a willingness – to come together at the foot of the cross and lay it all down – all the carnality – AND EXCHANGE it for His life.

Tomorrow as an area of my spiritual immaturity is made clear to me – I need to return to the one with whom I first made the great exchange – and offer Him my mistakes, my sin, my immature behaviour – “Sorry Lord please come and let your life rule over mine!”

The problem with the law

THE PROBLEM WITH THE LAW

In my last post I set about establishing the need for the law, now I want to look at the limiting factor to it’s effectiveness.

We looked at the need for the law to highlight right from wrong, good from bad.

The law was given by Moses, but the first law we ever see in scripture was communicated to the first man and the first woman.

Later God wrote the ten commandments on stone, delivered ‘downhill’ by Moses.

That first ‘law’ given to a man named Adam and a woman named Eve was:

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you[c] shall surely die.”

For mankind’s highest good a prohibition was instituted by God. A law, in other words. “You shall not eat etc…”

Woman and man violated that law, with catastrophic consequences.

God’s created mankind were now in rebellion, having inherited a fallen nature.

Fast forwarding, we understand that the giving of the law previous to the New Testament, as in the ten commandments and as in Leviticus etc. was half the answer.

It was incomplete as a way of addressing the sin problem. If you like it was the first half of a whole.

There was a divine order of things, first the law was given, then the second covenant arrived in the timing of God.

That’s why Christ came to fulfil/complete the law. Not only pointing out the problem, but providing the answer as to how it (sin) could be defeated and righteousness restored to the human race.

Speaking He says: Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

However, although the law is pure and holy, something more was needed than pointing out the sin problem. What was needed was the impartation of the ability to overcome sin.

So the law was limited until the bringing in of a better hope took place, in the Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

He fulfilled the requirements of the law and offered His power, the power of an endless life, to His disciples, thus providing the enablement necessary to overcome sin’s dominion in our lives.

The law called for the perfect standard of God. But it was rendered ineffective by man’s fallen nature (flesh), and our inherent inability to respond to the law’s demands:

For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh…

The law can only accomplish it’s life changing work in the hand of The Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit of God alone, who takes the word of God and instead of it being written on stone – He writes it on the human mind and spirit.

But He must be invited to do so by mankind.

This enables us to have the mind of Christ, and with it, His enablement to live like Him.

Because we still live in this body, we often fail to attain Christ’s standard and are become transgressors of the law again, when we stop relying on The Holy Spirit and the Living Word of God, to keep our minds pure and free.

We are told that the law on it’s own was an incomplete answer by the expression here, of ‘For what the law could not do…’

So there was something the law could not do. Regardless of what that was, it reveals the truth that it was not complete as a solution to the problem, due to the fallen nature of man and his inability to keep it.

The law did not change man, but remained to educate him as a schoolmaster, teaching him he was wrong, and pointing him to the coming solution.

We are told that it was the fallen nature of man, that rendered the law ineffective (weak through the flesh), when it came to overcoming sin in our lives.

Christ came therefore to fulfil the law by taking the punishment for sin that the law demanded, becoming the required sacrifice for sin – it (the law) – also demanded for justice to be done, and forgiveness and atonement through Christ The Lamb of God – came to be released.

Restoration of the sinner could then take place – with release from the law’s penalty – then following, to the repentant sinner who believes.

His sacrifice provided forgiveness, because our sin was now atoned for. Forgiveness must be sought, and the gift of His righteousness received by a willing heart.

So the law is good and acceptable, but because of the fallen nature we each live in – it is unable to change us. Only Christ working in us by The Holy Spirit can change us.

The New Testament, the New Covenant, the New Agreement, God wishes us to enter into in partnership with Him – is joy unspeakable and full of glory. It is freedom from the dominion of sin, it is life and life more abundantly, it is the inner spirit of man coming alive.

The cross of Christ is the place and time in history when this New Agreement was released to mankind for the receiving.

Refuse to receive and we are left under the law – condemned and guilty.

This is a vast subject, it is part of the mystery that was hidden from man until the appropriate time.

There is much to say.

But a post is limited in it’s content, nevertheless those who have ears to hear will hear!

Right and wrong – good and bad?

RIGHT AND WRONG – GOOD AND BAD?

You’ve heard it said: “There’s good and bad in everyone…”

(as an aside – check out Paul McCartney’s song: Ebony and Ivory)

* “There’s good and bad in everyone…” Now there’s a statement for you.

What does it mean?

Have you got six weeks, while I address the whole subject?

The following will have to do as we make a start anyway.

Concerning our opening statement* we can take the easy route – and simply agree, and leave it at that. Most people think they know what is meant by this statement.

But then, is it also right that there are varying degrees of good and varying degrees of bad? I would say it is self-evident that there are.

However that the human – nature is intrinsically and mysteriously flawed is also self-evident.

I could go for my preacher hat straight away and lay some scriptures on you.

But instead I’d like to lead-up to that possibility.

Firstly where does our personal idea of good and bad come from i.e. in our individual experience?

Well – keeping it simple – it comes from our inner knowledge.

We may feel philosophically highfalutin and hold the view that – really good and bad is subjective and there are no absolutes when it comes to the subject.

But then things happen.

Your house is broken into and your possessions stolen, or worse still your house is burnt to the ground.

The person holding the view that good and bad is a subjective thing only, are suddenly flabbergasted by this event.

Rightly offended or devastated by this intrusion and assault upon their sensibilities.

So can we say then that it is universally subjective, i.e. common to us all to feel this response? I think we can.

So it’s not too big a statement to say that we would all feel the same violation in this instance.

Good and bad is more than simply something dependent upon our subjective perspective, but based on what the law reveals to us all.

Even those who reject the law of God, as in the law provided by Jehovah, as in provided by Christ The Lord, have – we are told – a form of the law written within the human psyche.

Romans 2:14-15 King James Version (KJV)

14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

This is something that is inescapable, unless we hold to some kind of nihilistic anarchistic self-destructive philosophy. We cannot escape the sense of right and wrong that we all have.

Now of course in certain things, what is acceptable or not acceptable varies from culture to culture.

But let’s start by acknowledging that there is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in the first place.

And to simplify the whole discussion – I hold to the law of God as revealed in the Old and New Testament. I believe it is the supreme guide for all of mankind.

Those who do not see the Bible as inerrant, have reason to hold the view that certain immoral practices are morally acceptable.

After all who or what has the right to challenge their point of view? If there is no supreme being who makes His will clearly known to mankind and has given a law to inform us of what is acceptable and not?

The Bible is an inerrant divinely inspired pure guide to all behaviour, telling us clearly what is right and what is wrong.

If you want to discuss a particular way of acting or living you consider acceptable i.e. ‘right’, but I find it ‘wrong’ – my reference straight away is to the bible, as I state my case.

But If you do not accept it (the bible) as the perfect guide – there is no need for further discussion. That’s where we disagree.

No need to argue. The bible plainly says it is wrong, but you feel we have somehow moved on from what it says. Whereas I consider it (the bible) inerrant and there is no moving on from it that does not end in disaster for the human race.

The bible is not open to private interpretation, and can’t be twisted to suit our self-created, self-centred preferences when it comes to behaviour.

We all need to understand it better but when it says: ‘you shall not steal’ it means it.

Too simplistic?

No – not when we are looking for a foundation on which to build before we discuss nuances.

If we do not have a starting point, we have only multiple human-dreamt-up preferences described in scripture as:

…but every man did that which was right in his own eyes

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way…

So a world full of everyone doing what is right in their own eyes is confusion personified.

There is a higher revealed order. There is a universal guide found in the world’s best-seller. The so called contradictions man finds in the book, are the result of man’s unaided conclusions as he exalts his own intellect above that of The Most High, and lays aside weightier matters whilst ‘straining at gnats’ with his own ingenuity. (Matthew 23/24)

Thinking himself superior than the divine wisdom revealed in the New Testament.

A call to humility is God’s first requirement. Then we have a chance of change and have a chance of the eyes of our understanding being enlightened.

We read Paul The Apostle, as he starts us on the road to understanding law, in the epistle to the Romans saying: Romans 7/

What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”

So sin exists – it is the universal affliction in the nature of man – and in case we are in any doubt about this – the law keeps us right.

But this is only part of the story of the good news of the gospel. Nevertheless in an increasingly lawless world, it seems man does not want to be corrected, by any kind of law.

But in the governments of all countries there exists an implementation of law, whether they implement the righteous law of God, or what is the dictates of a dreamt up regime that seeks to rule with an iron hand, calling for bondage and servitude to their selfish demands.

Breaking the law of God – and we look for punishment. Sincere confession of having broken the law and The God of all grace is willing to forgive and receive us as sons.

There is good and bad in everyone? Maybe, but perfection? – No.

That’s why the gospel offers us salvation as a free gift, if we acknowledge the scripture: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…

No one escapes the punishment of the law, unless someone else takes their punishment.

Thank you Jesus for taking mine!

Encouragement…

ENCOURAGEMENT 

Everybody likes to be encouraged.

The Christian message contains much encouragement .

But the present reality in the Western world, of a falling away from God and His ways is blatantly obvious, as predicted in scripture.

There has been moral decline before – in history. So for those who don’t hold to the idea of this being the last of the last days – they can at least admit that confusion and every evil work is increasing on the earth?

Many ministries dwell solely on everything encouraging in the Word of God. And it is difficult not to – as we all need encouragement, and perhaps don’t get enough of it, especially in light of the moral climate worldwide.

We are to seek edification and to edify each other – it is what the family of God is all about.

Some cultures seem to look for the emotional high aspect of fellowship/friendship more than others. There is the emotional high expressed demonstratively – shall we say.

Then there are ‘quieter’ cultures who place more emphasis on the friendship that is demonstrated by quiet faithfulness in always being there for one another.

We all need verbal appreciation from others, starting at childhood. But we also need the helping hand that doesn’t make a song-and-dance about it’s actions.

Some Christian ministries avoid any reference to anything negative.

When the child is about to put it’s hand in the open coal fire – a warning shout of love is absolutely necessary. Even though the warning may sound shrill.

Any warning shouts of love, that include the gospel message, society needs to hear today is often not appreciated.

Of course it can be said that there are those who carry a negative ‘holier than thou’ attitude and it turns people off, when these folks hand out correction.

But the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction to the point where there is less exhortation to improvement in our walk with God.

No growth required, no correction, no call in preaching to increase Christ-likeness presented in teaching as something to be sought after as part of what being a Christian is all about. Just stroke our ‘ego’ and we shall be alright.

God’s Word would call us to balance.

Encouragement should be looked for on a broader basis than one that can only hear ‘you can make it’ ‘you are special’ and ‘you are loved’.

Lord help us to seek a closer walk with you, that is not dependant on the constant verbal propping-up that others supply, but at the same time embraces demonstrative encouragement and empathy, needed,  when we go through the valleys of despondency or discouragement.

Paul tells us that ‘no man stood with me’ (II Timothy 4/16-17), yet The Lord did. Revealing that he was a mature saint, setting us an example to follow, in making Christ our all in all, and all we need.

So let us maintain the balance between receiving encouragement from each other, and directly from The Lord Himself.- taking on board Paul’s advice to Timothy:

I Timothy 1/

Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.

Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:

Prayer into the air? Part II

I continue to share just some things on the subject of prayer. There is of course much more to examine by way of learning on the subject, but I am limiting myself and rather than taking a full perspective-type look, needing quite a few blog posts, I hope there are some encouraging points in this the last, for now, on the subject.

PRAYER INTO THE AIR? Part 2 (2019)

The Lord Jesus Christ walked in constant 24/7 communion with His unseen Father. This, if you like, is why we often fall short as Christians – we don’t walk in that constant communion.

But at least we know how we are to set ourselves, what our task for the day is – it is to walk in this constant-communion with The Lover of our souls.

The Bible describes this communion in words that should be familiar to every true Christian: Galatians 5/25: If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

We who have received Christ, by giving Him permission to enter and make His abode with us, are ‘born of His Spirit, washed in His blood’, as the old classic hymn tells us.

He is the one in whom we live and move and have our being.

The instruction that accompanies living in The Spirit – is that we need to also walk in the Spirit, – which speaks of constant communion.

In simple terms God-conscious – all of the time. Walking in communion each moment of the day.

It is when we fail to walk in the Spirit and instead walk again as we walked before we met Christ, in the desires of the flesh, whatever they be – then we get into problems again. One of the results of this neglect can include neglecting payer.

Prayer first and foremost is the ‘Practice of the Presence of God’ – this is faith.

In that relationship of communion with God The Father through Jesus His Son – we walk as Jesus walked (I John 4/17)

All the answers we need spring-up and come into our hearts and minds as a result of that relationship.

So there is no formula for prayer, or for getting answers to prayer – there is only relationship.

Jesus gives us a profound insight in the story of Lazarus.

When lifting His eyes to heaven and praying to His Father – He is heard to say in earshot of His disciples (v42): John 11/

4Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!

 ‘I know that You always hear Me…’ is the profound insight, revealing to us that He was indeed, in constant fellowship and conversation with His Father in heaven, – in short, that is prayer!

Constant conversation internally, to such a degree that there was no need to speak audibly, but He did so for the benefit of those around Him – so that they would realise that He asked the father to raise Lazarus from the dead and the Father was about to give an instant answer to the prayer, and a miracle was about to take place.

This has to be the most dynamic kind of praying. The kind that receives instant results, as demonstrated in the life of The Lord Jesus Christ.

Daily – miracle after miracle came – through communion with His Father.

When we pray our greatest joy would be – those kind of answers. Instant coffee answers.

But our experience is somewhat different is it not? Hyper-faith messages do not allow for any other kind of answers. Some in the ministry, consciously or unconsciously create a kind of exclusive mystique around their ministry.

This would lead us to believe that all their prayers, are all instantly answered and bring their desired result. Why? Because they have greater faith than the rest of us, or so we are (by some ministries) led to believe.

So that if you do not get your answers exactly as you have asked – it is your unbelief that is the problem. This is the impression some are left with, after listening to faith preachers.

The truth is these ministries may well be strong in faith, and have proved God on many occasions, but often large portions of Scripture are abandoned or not referred to in this kind of preaching.

Taking this ‘lack of faith accusation’ on board some lose the actual faith that they had in the first place. Concluding it was not enough, and therefore they are weighed in the balance and found wanting.

Condemnation comes next – and we know who that comes from.

It is true that we all need at some time to be upbraided for our unbelief. But make sure you know who is doing the correcting!

For Christians – God Corrects and doesn’t condemn – there is a difference, but many Christians take condemnation from the devil thinking it is correction from The Lord.

II Corinthians 11/32. 

But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.

God does correct in love.

Mark 16/14

Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen…

On other occasions The Lord similarly corrected the disciples for their unbelief. (e.g. Matthew 16/11)

But supernatural things have taken place without any kind of human origination, other than the maintaining of a relationship with The Lord on a daily basis.

An example would be Peter, who decided to go to the housetop and pray before a meal.

Without any kind of ‘special’ faith on this occasion, he simply entered into his normal communion with The Lord in prayer, and suddenly he fell into a trance, and had a vision, in which he was directed by God in a certain way (for full story read Acts 10 v9).

My point is – God sovereignly planned (i.e. therefore the Father’s will) that he should be supernaturally directed to certain people, through the giving of this vision.

So this beyond-the-ordinary spiritual experience did not require greater faith on his part. He had a trance experience, not to be confused with demonically induced trance states, those who are involved in the occult – seek to attain.

For the Christian it is – relationship through prayer. Prayer maintaining relationship.

When we are in relationship with God and His word, and things don’t happen exactly according to our hopes or desires, even after much prayer. This is one of the chief discouragements for believers.

What happened? Why was the prayer not answered?

Already we are asking questions.

Now God can handle us asking Him a question – but we can’t question God.

See the difference? When we genuinely do not understand – we can ask The Lord any question.

But when things do not work out as we think they should – many question God, but really it is an accusation, not a genuine question.

We cannot accuse God, there is no counsel against Him. There is one accuser of the brethren and of God. (Revelation 12/10. Genesis 3/1).

The disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith – it always struck me how on the surface it seemed to me, that He changed the subject.

Luke 17/

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.

If you have faith as small as…

Jesus was just stating the facts. He was not increasing their faith. He felt it more important to say what faith could bring.

We desire to be honest. But desire also to maintain a good confession of faith.

So let’s settle for holding on to the faith we have, that is nourished through relationship, and not get carried away into the realm of reasoning that steals the faith we have.

Answers? They must come as relationship becomes more intimate.

 

Proper Denial

PROPER DENIAL

There is a reluctance within us, that all of us, can claim to have. A reluctance to warm towards anything that calls for a dying-to-ourselves.

Jesus calls men and women to deny themselves and ‘take up their cross daily’ (Luke 9/23).

A rich young man came to Him one-time.

Matthew 19/21 Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”

To help us with this godly ‘tall order’ (for such humans as we), let’s highlight the positives first of all. Jesus looks at us (as He did this man), and loves us.

Secondly he gave this young man clear instructions as to what he had to deny and forsake – within himself.

He had a love for money, more than a love for God. We are told that – not money, – but the love of money is the root of all evil. (I Timothy 6/10)

Escaping from an evil heart, escaping from this love of money, the young man was unable to do, and we know this greatly saddened him, and no doubt saddened the saviour of men, who has the ability to put His finger right on the idols of our hearts.

The man might have asked ‘how to do’ – what he was asked to do, but he didn’t.

As I write these words – I examine myself to ask what it is I still put-before loving God?

Even with a heart full of gratitude for all the experiences I have had over the years, where intimacy with Christ came as a gift from Him, I realise how easy it is to take steps away rather than towards Him.

It’s easy to prefer the temporal things of this world’s distraction, in a nutshell: ‘it comes naturally’.

Regarding the call of God to walk away from the distractions, lift the cross, and take the burden whilst pushing through to the presence of God – I realise is challenged by the self-life that will always prefer the alternative to doing this.

The Cross of Christ is all about letting go the temporal. It’s all about giving-in to The Father. It’s all about exercising faith and consequently denying self, in order to obtain the greater riches of spiritual experience and the love of God.

The third benefit offered to the young man – was treasure in heaven – or better put – heavenly treasure (19/21) –  which can start now in our experience of seeking first the kingdom of God. (Matthew 6/33)

But we must recognise that this does not come naturally but spiritually.

Unless faith is involved in the exercise of self-denial it can lead to a substitute for self-denial, and self is all the more accommodated and enthroned in our lives. This is a subtle one. Many do not detect the difference.

But Paul refers to it in Colossians 2/23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

Self-indulgence is a thing of the fallen nature we live in. From that same nature can come a ‘form’ of self-denial, a pseudo self-denial if you like.

Notice what seems right in self-imposed religion is not true self-denial through faith, because the result as Paul explains has no value against the indulgence of the flesh, (the sinful nature) because it can engender pride and superiority through asceticism, which only adds to the glorification of self.

It is by attending to matters of devotion and prayer, that the ability to leave behind the distracting things of the self-life is strengthened. Strengthening the inner man.

Many engage in ascetic practices, but step into the spiritual-‘unknown’ and leave themselves open to uncharted territory.

They have no experience of Christ in their life through faith, so seek spirituality in their own self-life, by all kinds of practices of self-inflicted punishment. Self denial is not an end in itself.

We need a perfect guide book, to keep us right. The Bible – The Word of God is that guide book.

In it we hear the Son of God calling us to forsake all and follow him (Luke 14/32-4). At the same time we can hear the voice of self telling us not to bother.

As we go to Him and enter into a fresh relationship with Him, we are more able to walk away from – and therefore deny – the selfishness resident within each one of us.

Poetic Interruption I

To the observant – we have moved from ‘interlude’ to ‘interruption’, perchance I get lost on the Roman numerals. I’m still in poetic mode – before I return to weightier matters. Interruption is not as soft a word as interlude. Nevertheless, I Trust it will be a pleasant interruption in your day.

CHANGE?

You have in mind

Some kind

Of plan not in view

A cerebral plot

Is all you’ve got

But it may not come true

What to do…?

The whole week planned

Every address scanned

One by one you will visit friends

And ask them for the small loan

And ask them to stand by you

What a pickle you’ve gotten into

What a dilemma ensued

This is your last chance

to make amends

After this – entrepreneurship – ends

Still – if friends be friends indeed

You will succeed

And out of the ashes – rise

It’s a great idea – but it’s all you’ve got

One more bite at the cherry

To carry out that plot

But as each – pats you on the back

And money finds no exchange

You at last consider that

Maybe – you – have got to change?

The points are..?

Here is a little bit of a challenge offered to the patient:

I used to preach using ‘scribbled’ notes. Writing down just enough to trigger the subject in my mind, as I depended on God to accomplish what seemed good to Him, through the preaching.

I came to realise that these notes became somewhat redundant, as sometimes, perhaps a long time later, I couldn’t recall the theme or content of the sermon, due to their brevity, or lack of clarity.

So I mostly write-out my sermons now, departing from, or sticking with the ‘script’, as I sense I should or shouldn’t at the time of preaching.

So see what you can make of this pdf of ‘ancient’ notes from the past. See if you can get the points!

 

ROAD TO UNDERSTANDING 1 copy

Go and do likewise…

Go and do likewise…

In the context of the Christian message – what do you think is the most important part of the message of the Gospel?

One of the surprising things I noticed about God-in-Christ relating to human beings was the Son of God actually asking someone what they thought. Seeking their opinion.

Luke 10/

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’”

Regarding the word ‘Selah’ – a word used in the Psalms, the nearest we can get to its meaning is: ‘stop and think this over’.

So do so – stop and think over how strange this is. The Divine maker of heaven and earth asking a human being how he reads something. How he understands it.

Allowing myself to get a little out of context – What do you think is the most important part of the Christian message?

And how about telling God Himself what you think it is, as though He asked your opinion – as in “How do you read it?”

Having decided what it is – and having told God in prayer – your reading of things, find out what He wants to add.

You will find as you answer the question – and offer it to Jesus Christ in prayer, that you will have no alternative but to search further into the Bible to find if you are right or wrong.

As in the case of the man who was an expert in the law of God – you may well be right – BUT…

God will add to your understanding, as He did here. If you (we) take the time to search further.

This man had his understanding developed by The Son of God. He was right in his conclusions, but they needed advanced and developed in order that he consider other things, embracing a fuller picture. Just as you and I need to develop in the things of God.

If your answer to my question: “what is the most important thing in the Gospel message?” – involves correct understanding of the Bible – you can be sure that Jesus will follow our right conclusions, (after adding His),  by also saying to us, (as he did to the man in the passage quoted) –

37 …“Go and do likewise.”

 

Mis-Non-communication

Mis-Non-communication

I have been reflecting again on the communication dilemma that besets mankind.

Mankind is greatly handicapped when it comes to understanding his fellow man/woman.

I believe – that man is born with sin ingrained in his nature. And although it’s somewhat of a mystery, it is clearly seen by it’s fruits of death. It greatly effects his ability to discern and judge properly.

I realise that not everyone takes that view.

Let me start by being overly-simplistic in my illustrations of what I would like to share in this post.

The number 4 – is what I mean. But you think I mean four. And someone else thinks I mean IV.

The same thing only different?

I saw a beautiful blue sky the other day – I meant cerulean but you thought I meant ultramarine.

Two friends sitting conversing, while the radio weather forecast is being shared. One friend heard: ‘Mist or fog will descend…’

The other friend was aghast at the weatherman treating us as children in sharing the forecast:

“Imagine…” she said – “referring to Fog as ‘Mister’…”

I speak of the resurrection of the dead, a fundamental belief in the Christian Faith – but you read into my statement – the idea of coming back from the dead as in re-incarnation, something I do not believe in. You have misunderstood my words.

I talk of freedom of spirit – you think I mean a so called: ‘free spirit’ – someone who dabbles indiscriminately in every experience under the sun, eventually experiencing the negative consequences. No I meant Christ setting us free.

‘Jimmy’ tells ‘Carol’ he loves her. Poor Carol goes away on a high, looking forward to the future romantic interlude with Jimmy. Failing to realise he should have added ‘As a friend…’

A lot of verbal argument is not so much to do with disagreeing as it is in misunderstanding the other person in the argument.

He thought you meant this – when you meant that.

Mis-communication is common to man.

‘Put the bin out…’ meant – for refuse collection. You ran for the fire extinguisher.

When it comes to sharing the Christian faith, many think what is shared is A-ok and even hit like buttons – when they have in actual fact misunderstood.

I was largely guilty of ignoring the signs, when God was trying to get through to me. Every prompt He sent my way I dismissed with my own reasoning.

This was not always a conscious act on my part.

I misunderstood.

Paul the apostle tells us of his pre-conversion days that the wrong he committed was done ignorantly and in unbelief – actually going way off-track – in that he thought he was actually pleasing God.

When any kind of message is sent our way – it can either create fear, indifference, annoyance, or we misunderstand it, and wrongly conclude what it actually means.

Think about this. Why do we so easily misunderstand? And misunderstand each other?

Man’s condition.

Just part of the result of a fallen world under the limitations of human flesh, the natural mind forms all kinds of wrong conclusions.

I love Candy.

No not the girl – the sweets – the confectionery. What did you think I meant?

Ephesians 3/4