Category Archives: empathy

…avails!

…avails!

Dictionary definition – Avail: to be of use, advantage, profit, or assistance (to). Have force or efficacy, serve, help, to be of value or profit.

In case we have forgotten. In case it has slipped our minds. There is only one way we can stand.

You see if God should mark iniquities – no one could stand. (Psalm 130/3)

And if we cannot stand, we fall, and if we fall, we are cast off forever.

But the Victor has prevailed. He has conquered sin and death and hell. His blood shed on an erected cross, due to His nail-pierced hands feet and side – is the blood that alone, can cleanse our conscience from dead works to serve The Living God. (Hebrews 9/14)

His blood – the blood of Jesus Christ The Lord – prevails and avails for me.

There is a place where God dwells. The holy – holy – holy God. The Everlasting God. The God of compassion and Grace. (Isaiah 6/3) (Genesis 21/33) (I Peter 5/10).

That place is known as The Holiest of all, or the Holy of Holies. But there is a veil that shuts us out from this Holiest place. Rightly so – as the iniquity in our lives separates us from His Presence. (Hebrews 9/3)

Much as He would like too – He cannot receive us – because His nature is so absolutely contrary to the one we have inherited from our forefather(s). (Habakkuk 1/13)

But wait! The Lamb has prevailed against all the odds of sin and shame, making a public exposure of evil principalities and powers – triumphing over them at the cross. (Colossians 2/15)

He was obedient unto death. (Phil. 2/18). He knew no sin (II Corinthians 5/21). The curtain keeping us from this Holy place, has been ripped from top to bottom – all who will – can now enter in. (Matthew 27/51)

Embrace The Lamb today, The Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. (John 1/29)

When I am assailed by the tyranny of perfectionism – finding myself still unworthy. The blood like a flood washes my perception aside and I glory in Christ’s provision.

When I am in the belly of the ‘great fish’ of this negative world, the blood avails for me – and I am swept into the sea of God’s forgiveness and forgetfulness. (Jeremiah 31/34).

When I find yet another fault dismissing me, and rendering me a breaker of the law – His blood cries out: ‘Acceptance in The Beloved’. (Ephesians 1/6).

Revelation 5/5

…“Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”

The Lamb is the Lion – The Lion is the Lamb.

Perfect in all His ways – gentle, lowly, meek and beautiful is the Lamb who gave Himself for the sins of the world.

Mighty and powerful because of His meek and lowly nature – The lamb comes as The Lion and prevails over everything that exults itself against His Father.

And here am I, unable to look up and beating my chest – as His Word comes to me. (Luke 18/13)

Though still unable to understand or accept the first part – I embrace the second:

1st:

…’Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things…

I am embraced with His unmerited joy – because The Lamb has prevailed and The Lion has conquered:

2nd:

…Enter into the joy of your lord.’

But what of my hidden faults? – No lesser position do I take – despite what is hidden – I rest, because of what is in plain view it is the blood that avails for me. (See the lintels of my heart – Exodus 12/22)

For with the Psalmist I cry out: ‘Cleanse me from secret faults’. (Psalm 19/12). And the blood cleanses me from all unrighteousness. (I John 1/9)

When beaten, put down and condemned I turn and with a whispered prayer ‘Lord pour in the oil and the wine – the kind that restores my soul’ And as ‘Up from the grave He arose’ – He reaches out His hand to the drowning Peter and says: …’why did you doubt?’ (Luke 10/32, Matthew 14/30)

So I will not doubt – His blood avails for me!

I am more than a conqueror through Him who loved me and gave Himself for me  — He is my peace, He is my life – He is Saviour and Lord. (Romans 8/37, Ephesians 2/14, Colossians 3/4)

His blood avails for me!

Tug of War

TUG OF WAR

The man in the team pulling his weight in the tug of war, is helped by the fact that others are sharing the load.

Imagine him against the whole of the other team. No problem of course – if you are Samson.

(Joshua 23/10): One man of you shall chase a thousand, for the Lord your God is He who fights for you, as He promised you. 

Spiritually speaking, as Christians we are in a tug of war against the darkness of this present age. And I reckon there are a multitude of ways of dividing us.

There are all kinds of devices used by the unseen enemy, who manifests himself in unbeliever’s flesh, who are used by him to dis-unify, disrupt and weaken the saints of God. II Corinthians 2/

11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

Problem is, he will also use the flesh in us (Christians), never mind the unbelievers.

I would love to say we are all aware of this and we all take the necessary action to maintain unity, and to stop this flesh in ourselves and others on the team from dis-unifying the church, and causing us to let go of God’s ‘rope’. But I’m afraid experience tells me different.

Amidst the increased pressure of the day in which we live, we who are not overtly ‘brave courageous and bold’, as the old western song about Wyatt Earp used to tell us – have only one means of maintaining our unity as believers.

That one means is humility.

Being able to talk and communicate in such a way that there is no self-righteousness and oneupmanship, present in our midst.

Because I see little of this, as it is really meant to be, I can find myself despairing of finding like-minded believers to ‘attach’ myself to, who likewise long for the commanded blessing of God, that is promised to those who will dwell together in unity.

But to finish this very short post – we had better get our act together, and as one person put it – be not sworn together in doctrine, frozen together in tradition but melted together in love.

We can’t do that without The Love of God Himself flowing in our midst.

“Lord we are your people and if we will humble ourselves and pray…”

II Chronicles 7/14

The Crowd v The Individual

THE CROWD v THE INDIVIDUAL

Daniel 6:15-17

15 Then the men went as a group to King Darius and said to him, “Remember, Your Majesty, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.”

16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”

17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed.

There are many examples throughout history of the crowd versus the individual. Many times the individual has been wrongly treated, mis-judged, wrongly accused, misunderstood and so on.

To mention a few, we could look at: Joseph by his brothers, Lot by the Sodomites, Samson by the Philistines, Paul by the Jews…

There are many examples, but in the New Testament:

We think of Stephen the martyr, preaching the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, that brought him a stoning at the hands of those (the crowd) who wanted to shut their ears to this truth. (Acts 7/57-59).

We think of course, of The Lord Jesus Christ the ultimate example in His sinless perfection suffering at the hands of mankind (the crowd).

The great irony in the case of The Lord, was the fact that though he was taken and crucified by the free-will choices of many – it all played into God’s ordained plan. In the sense that His wisdom and prescience, decided that as man would do this – it would be the very thing that would liberate man from the dominion of sin and eternal separation from God.

It was God giving Himself to meet His own requirements for an eternally efficacious sacrifice for sin.

There is always an inconclusive tension between man’s free will choices and God sovereignly ordaining that certain things should come to pass.

It is of course, the age-old theological debate that will always end in us knowing IN PART.

Whereas for God the knowledge of how this works is, as they say, ‘A breeze’.

Being convinced of the personality, character and deeply benevolent heart of Our Heavenly Father – we ought to prove it, by believing Him even when we don’t understand.

We shall not understand eternal matters fully until fully in eternity.

Daniel was thrown to the lions – the crowd had decided he must be – and used a ‘politically correct’ decree to see him put there.

We are not told what was going on internally with Daniel, as he ventured into that den to face the lions.

The devil since then and before, walks about like a roaring lion…

1 Peter 5:8

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

Notice the good advice given to prevent his unseen, but real presence, having sway over us – Be sober, be vigilant…

We are to keep a proper watch over our minds as we yield to God – this keeps us insulated from the devourer, as we remain fixed on The Lord. (James 4/7).

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (I John 4/4)

Darius wasn’t keen, to say the least, that Daniel should be put as a pigeon amongst the cats, but a law and it’s unrighteous application to Daniel’s case prevented Darius from freeing Daniel.

It was nothing short of a miracle that Daniel was not devoured by the hungry beasts.

Darius issued a decree that ‘he only should be worshipped’ – that’s what it boiled down to.

And his word once written could not be altered.

It’s wonderful to know that if a sinful human king had to keep the word he had written, how much more is the Word of our Heavenly Father, The King of Glory, written forever and cannot be broken. (John 10/35)

He has promised Eternal Life to those who repent and believe and His word cannot be broken – it is decreed forever.

God’s Word is not some whimsical law written to re-enforce God’s ego (He doesn’t have a sinful ego). It is the Word of God that shall never pass away. (Matthew 24/35)

The result of Daniel’s innocence was that the angel of God shut the mouths of the lions. 

And in case we think they had their teeth removed before Daniel got there, here is the result when the false accusers, were subsequently cast into the den by the same King who, as a result of seeing Daniel’s survival – had a demonstration of the power of God Almighty shown to him.

And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.

If we read the whole chapter and more, we will discover, as with the whole Word of God, many lessons both for this life and the next.

The crowd versus Daniel – when the crowd seems to win. In the crucifixion of The Lord Jesus, when the crowd seems to win. In the life of Stephen the martyr when the crowd seems to win.

When in actual fact the victors in all three examples is Stephen, Daniel and The Lord Jesus Christ – simply because the eternal purposes of God had been served.

So that whether deliverance in this world – Daniel.

Or deliverance for the next – Stephen.

They both were winners through The One who conquered the crowd’s inflicted crucifixion – demonstrating deliverance in this life, (returning from the dead), whilst releasing the gift of eternal life to all who would believe, thus serving that eternal purpose of God.

Zechariah 3/

The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

At the right time

AT THE RIGHT TIME

For those of us who have been travelling the narrow way that leads to life eternal, and are familiar with all things Christian, know what it is, to sit under – or to give – sermons.

There are all kinds of different approaches to sermonising – sermons in series, prophetic words straight from the Holy Spirit’s inspiration for the moment, Systematic sermons on a given subject, book-study sermons – where e.g. an epistle is expounded from start to finish.

But here’s a word about The Word. It’s found in Proverbs 15/

23 A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!

There is no expounded word for you like the word that comes at the right time.

Perhaps you are going through a time of trouble. Perhaps you are deliberating over a particular decision you hope to make. Perhaps you are downhearted and feeling disappointed. Perhaps you are struggling due to physical infirmities. Perhaps you have been attacked verbally or otherwise by the insensitive and uncaring. Perhaps you are struggling to understand life, or people, or indeed the Bible itself.

Well, God can quicken (make alive) inside you the very Word you need to hear.

Jesus said:

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

That’s the word you need in the situations mentioned above.

When God quickens His Word to us – it will always set the Christian Free. Even when He corrects us it is given to set us free – free from the mistakes and free from the condemnation of the mistakes we all make.

So, much as we can continue to appreciate the expounding of God’s Word generally – we must always remember to look for the word – (amidst the Preacher’s word and all he is saying), – that is a ‘word in season’ for you. 

Even if you forget the rest of the sermon but walk away with what The Holy Spirit speaks into your life – the sermon has been worthwhile.

A word such as this, that reaches to the very core of your being, is once again God Himself speaking to you.

We cannot live by bread alone as Christians. We need the Word of God quickened in such a fashion.

How good it is to receive this 

word spoken in due season, how good is it!

Spare a Prayer?

SPARE A PRAYER?

There are innumerous ways of looking at the subject and idea of prayer.

There is what is commonly known as ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ (Matthew 6/9-).This can be repeated or enacted in an emergency, at moments of desperation.

It can be vain repetition with no faith or proper understanding and yet because it is so powerful – being The Word of God – as it is, that God might surprise you and step in to answer it – even though you don’t know what you are doing, having never prayed before.

The atheist is going to experience many human dilemmas where ‘vain is the help of man’. Where many situations expose clearly their inadequacy that comes rushing to the fore.

Situations where he/she reaches rock bottom, their faith in unbelief, crumbles and they cry out: ‘God help me!”.

I consider that I have experienced many ‘variations on the theme’ of prayer.

There is the zealousness-of-youth kind of praying – fervent and loud.

There is the spiritual experience(s) aspect of prayer where you can experience God taking over and praying through you. (Romans 8/26).

There is the ‘in quietness and confidence’ kind of prayer where the believer waits on God, sensing His Presence.

There is the entering into a burden kind of praying – where we release the concern and burden we carry – back to God.

There is the God-consciousness kind of praying that can be a 24/7 walk with God. (Galatians 5/16).

There is the ‘praying without ceasing’ kind of praying where we commune with God continuously, perhaps at a time of crisis.

(I Thessalonians 5/17)

Someone once said it isn’t the long prayer, or the loud prayer that is effective – but the prayer of faith.

And in this short post, I have only scratched the surface of the subject of prayer.

The honest prayer has to take priority and is the foundational pre-requisite for successful praying.

Look up the full story of an honest gentleman in need, and how honestly he addressed The Saviour:

Mark 9:24

24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

A poem revisited

A POEM REVISTED

It’s that girl again

The one who moved in coffee shop circles

The one who tried to write a story

With her feet

And a new seat

At the coffee shop opposite –

Across the street

Whose head-story she would not repeat

As she journeyed in hopeful imagination

                        …

Maybe a needy person she would find

And buy them a coffee –

Perhaps an old lady

Fumbling for her money

Spectacles broken

Unable to differentiate

Between her coins

She would step up to fulfil her reason

For crossing the street for that other latte

She determined not to encounter

A nothingness scenario

                         …

After all – impulse had driven her here

To the pub with no beer

Silently she sat in another poem

Her thoughts drowned by the passing traffic

[search my post: other poem: ‘Another Coffee’ Sept. 22]

Two good men(?)

TWO GOOD MEN (?)

Trying to act humanely

She reached out her hand unassumingly

Helped the old guy get back on his feet

He had to keep going – he’d someone to meet

He was lightly made-up

Which was why her hand was enough

To send him on his way again

He thanked her – his appreciation was plain

She watched him slowly walk away

Waiting to make sure he didn’t go astray

Or wobble to another stop or

Fall or encounter some other mishap

Turning on her heels she set-off herself

To meet the man who took her ‘off-the-shelf’

There he was waiting in the doorway

In-her-life – to make sure

She too – didn’t fall prey or go astray

If so – be glad!

IF SO – BE GLAD!

I Thessalonians 2/

10 You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutlyand justlyand blamelesslywe behaved ourselves among you who believe; 11 as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and chargedevery one of you, as a father does his own children, 

There it is – a snatched few moments of the apostle Paul’s address to the Thessalonian believers.

Let’s break it up – extract something – from it.

Notice the words – devoutly, justly, blamelessly

Couple these with another three – exhorted, comforted, charged

Ok – so we have two triplets

The first one tells us of the kind of men who were involved with and addressing the Thessalonian church.

Devout men. Let’s see that – as deep commitment to Christ.

Just menmorally upright and fair

Blamelessinnocent of wrongdoing (not perfect but walking with a clear conscience)

In the second triplet we hear what they were doing:

From the mouth of such men came exhortation, words and actions to provide comfort, and an urging imploring kind of involvement with these believers in Christ.

Today as you look at those who lead your local church, do you see – devout leaders, morally upright and fair in how they handle the oversight of the church? Do you see blameless persons eager to stay blameless?

Are you being exhorted with the Word of God, receiving the comfort of those same scriptures, and being encouraged to advancement?

If so – be glad that you are. And give God thanks.

I as you

 I as you

And now I am in your shoes

Looking at me – this religious oddity

And in your shoes I see me

As utterer of strange language

And in your boots I be

And kinda get how you see me

In your coat – I see

I’m a purveyor of strange things

I – as you –

see me

and my strange persistency

See

Some kinda crusader?

Wondering why I bother

repeating myself

As you –

I see me

As a one-track-mind(er)

Who has consistently

shared the same message

I step back into me

And realise

I will never be you

And you will never be me

But you can become as I be

Because I was as you be

We can both meet at the cross of calvary

No violence

No violence 

‘Over and out!’ he shouted down the phone

‘Over and out?’ I asked – reasons for – unknown

‘Yes we always part that way,’ he said

‘Leftover from back in the day’

 

He was talking to an old school friend

The one who used to drive him round the bend

Marvellous what the years can change

When we mature and rearrange

Our thinking – on things once in concrete

We learn life is not so black and white

Things that before we held in a tight grip

We can now studiously allow to slip

And though we hold our principles fast

We embrace differences – so friendships will last

So into the air I say:

Agree to differ – and from all violence turn away

Response?

RESPONSE?

I guess whether Christian or non-Christian – when it comes to writing articles, making comments, writing a post, or preaching a sermon, it is stating the obvious to say that we want to think, that what we have spoken or communicated in whatever form – is relevant.

Think of the thousands who put fingers to keys in blogging format to get heard/responded to.

We quite like the idea of others being affected by what we say, – do we not?

Eliciting either affirmation, wonder, admiration, pleasant surprise, thanks, agreement et al.

All responses we, (unconsciously perhaps?), seek for, when communicating.

You write a post on some pop star – and it adds another ten people to the ‘fan club’/followers, or they love the song you have posted, and look for more of same.

Political movements seek to harvest followers for their cause or politician.

And of course, those running a business are delighted when you respond by ordering their product.

Posting – speaking – communicating – blogging – vlogging – whatever involves visual or verbal communication has usually some goal in mind.

And we sit back in our chairs satisfied, when positive response is received.

It’s a basic human instinct or need to be appreciated.

When the negative response comes along, we of course don’t like it. And either ignore it – or enter into verbal fisticuffs with the perpetrator.

(Which usually is non-profitable and a waste of time. The exception proves the rule when both parties learn something)

Now normally this introduction of mine would have some such above mentioned goal in mind, i.e. eliciting response of some kind, as I lead us to some salient point.

That is – it would seek to get your affirmation or  positive response, followed by actions you might take – as you – whatever…

Join the club or buy the product or change your life.

But guess what? – that’s it. I simply want to point out we are all looking for response.

So when I talk to God – I am looking for response. I send my words to Him in prayer, and at times am more conscious of His response than others.

I guess you didn’t expect this to end up on the subject of prayer?

Again – guess what? – neither did I…

[No response to this Post – called for, or is there?]