Category Archives: experience

Examine…

Examine…

I Corinthians 11/

27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

We are exhorted in this passage of scripture to ‘examine ourselves’.

It is of course in the context of the Christian celebration of The Lord’s Supper.

The Breaking of Bread, as we call it, has been given to us through the Lord’s command, to ‘proclaim The Lord’s death till He comes’.

‘Till He comes’ – As in His Second Coming.

But the examination of our own hearts and minds is, of course, an ongoing daily exercise for all Christians, apart from it being a prelude to partaking of The Lord’s Table.

The Psalmist getting before God in prayer says: (Psalm 139/23):

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

Try me, and know my anxieties;

24 

And see if there is any wicked way in me,

And lead me in the way everlasting.

So this expands our understanding of self-examination, including as it does, and as it should be: examination that must take place in The Presence of God, so that He is also the one doing the examination.

To be spiritually aware is a God given gift to all those who are born again, of God’s Spirit.

It is The Holy Spirit who leads us into an awareness of our own sinfulness and it is The Holy Spirit that leads us into a greater sense of The Presence of God, forgiving our sin.

There is a morbid introspection that is constant and unrelenting – this is not the examination God requires. Such an examination is self-filled and that’s all. It does not take into account that God wishes to replace our (sinful) self-life with His own life giving Spirit. It also leaves the door open to the enemy’s condemnation.

The condemnation Christ has removed (Romans 8/1).

Rather the examination God requires, which we exercise as a means of continuing to ‘walk in the Spirit’ (Romans 8/4) – is expressed correctly in this Scripture:-

II Corinthians 13/

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.

So the question is – are we continuing on in faith? The faith that prays no matter what. The faith that acts on the fact that GOD IS! (Hebrews 11/6). Regardless of circumstances, feelings, failures or anything else. It seeks The Lord knowing that He will be found and that His strength will replace our discovered weakness as we look within, or are conscious that we ‘dropped the ball’ today! Pray – find – confess – and…

Rise, let us be going…

Returning strength

RETURNING STRENGTH 2022

The story of Samson’s ‘slippery slope slide’ and eventual demise, is a strange, strange story.

I revisited it for this post.

It got me to thinking how, when we examine stories in the Old Testament, we inevitably compare the lifestyles and happenings of that time with our own, (even unconsciously) when reaching our conclusions.

So that some of the moral judgements we make come from our New Testament believer’s perspective.

We need therefore, to start our examination by doing our best to put ourselves in the time-frame of the persons and events we are examining.

Samson was not (especially in the light of New Testament morality) a paradigm of moral character.

No need to list his misdemeanours and lack of moral strength and integrity.

He – we must also conclude, was (as we all are) the ‘product’ of his time.

The traditions, socially acceptable and unacceptable modes of behaviour, were different to ours today.

To use the most arbitrary and poor example – did they ‘belch’ when having a meal together?

This is unacceptable in most western cultures.

We note how Samson was too easily seduced by women. Having said this – it took some time for his resolve-not-to, – to cease.

We can be seduced by all kinds of things. To prevent this we need to listen and act upon:

Ephesians 5/15:

15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

There are things we can ‘use’ in this world, but must not abuse them or allow them to abuse us and hinder our spiritual walk:

I Corinthains 6/

12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

(NB: We need of course, to read this verse in context) – but many non-Christians don’t realise what true freedom is and often are deceived as to what true Christianity is. Often considering that it is only to do with a strict regime of ‘dont’s’.

Samson the lyric of the song says: ‘had the strength of a thousand men, his strength lied in his hair’

It didn’t of course – his hair was an outward sign of obedience to God who strengthened Him to carry out his will – often executing judgment on the practitioners of the occult.

But we are in a completely different time. God we are told winked at previous behaviour realising that man was limited in his comprehending ability as to the perfect way of God. And of course Christ hadn’t yet come to the earth, but was in heaven – not as a man, but as the Son of God.

Acts 17/30

30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men everywhere to repent:

When Jesus came – that which was as-it-were ‘part understanding’ was completed in Him.

Matthew 5:17

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

Jesus completed the revelation of that which had a passing glory, whilst He is The Glory that remains eternally.

II Corinthians 3/

11 For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.

He and all His ways remain and He, with The Father, is the supreme authority over the universe.

For heaven and earth shall pass away but His word will never pass away.

Matthew 24:35

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

So it’s because of our revelation of the New Testament that we are more fully enabled to conclude that Samson was flawed. But perhaps less flawed in his day, depending on our rule of measurement. (?)

Yet he kept as sacred, the one thing that God asked him to be obedient in.

That was the agreement between him and The Most High. Until he broke the agreement and gave that which was holy unto the dogs.

When any of us grow weak spiritually, violate our conscience and in a place of discouragement grow cold towards our Lord and Saviour, sometimes there is a period of time before we arise again.

Samson is a picture of this. As nearing his demise, his hair started to grow again. And with that, an opportunity to renew his vows. An opportunity to put himself into a yielding place with The Lord God.

He had no eyes, as they were gouged-out by the occult practicing Philistines, but he could feel the pillars and through his prayers of renewal his strength was returning with his hair.

We know the rest of the story. We cannot comprehend all the emotions that this man went through, nor what his communion with God fully consisted of. But the fact that his God-given strength returned, suggests strongly that He had returned in repentance to the author of his strength.

We can surmise…

[based on the fact that we too are subject to weakness, just like the high priest example of the Old Testament given in Hebrews – Hebrews 5/

He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness.],

…that a time of refreshing from God’s Presence came upon Samson.

Samson was subject to a weakness that overcame him. He returned to strength in the mercy of God to overcome the alien Philistines.

Samson executed the judgement of God on the heathen Philistines, laying down his own life as a result.

Now the high demand comes to us through the Glorious King of Kings and Lord of Lords – tall order though it is, it remains God’s exhortation to us New Testament believers: Matthew 5/

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…

Idols (?)

IDOLS (?)

They genuflect before their idols

No idols do they see

Only girl-power or man-power

To which they bow the knee

                          …

And now what shall you say?

You don’t agree in any way?

You – love – them

Those famous fancies flaunting

Futile fantasies

                          …

Love? The line has been crossed

Between goodwill – and cultish attachment

They – have you – emotionally

Just as they used to scream and shout

Beginning with Frank or was it Bill?

Followed by the Fab Four no doubt

                          …

Such scenes we did perceive

As females fainted and became undone

And wobbly

All weak at the knees and

Likewise – It seems – at the seams

                          …

We laughed – didn’t take it seriously

And some of it was pinch of salt

But the ‘worship-need’

Found expression in the wrong place

Set on the ‘object’ of the eyes

(Whilst emotions were in ‘outer space’)

                         …

Young men too – on the Imitation Train

Following their idols right around the bend 

                         …

For all that feeds the limited nature

Into the lower nature

Loving not the Creator –

but the creature

                         …

But now back-up a bit

And take a long-studied look

See this world like a writhing can of worms

And ask yourself

What will change the horror of

Desperation-arms and hands

Reaching and clutching at the roof?

                         …

No backbone – just jelly-fish views:

‘If it feels good – do it’

The cry that becomes the decree

                         …

The world is losing control

To a – greater – not lesser – degree

Unless you accept the control of you and me

By outside forces that dictate your dictionary

                        …

There are already many antichrists

On the planet

Slowly roping-you-in

Burying in deceit

Their rampant hearts of sin

                        …

And if you would be aware

As true awareness should be

You’d better stop and listen

To the gospel that comes free

                        …

There’s a solid rock to reach

A sure foundation like an oak

Of a solid tree

Dispelling any darkness that

Flourishes in you and me

                        …

I could not find a way

That wasn’t turmoil-ridden

Justifying all that was forbidden

Until the day idols were demolished

Heralding a different kind of living

                       …

I now stand free on solid soil

Subjective peace for inner turmoil

And though I must prepare

For stormy weather

I’m cuff-linked to His Word

In The Rock I find my tether

                     …

‘With Christ in the vessel

I can smile at the storm’

Despite the world’s rejection

Indifference – ridicule and scorn

                     …

“God’s Grace please leave me never!”

As I worship Jesus forever

…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 to – 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!

Milk and Meat

MEAT AND MILK

When the scripture refers to milk or meat in the context of doctrine or simply truth, what is God telling us?

Some might think that this refers to education or the lack of it.

But if it is education, it is of a spiritual kind.

Progress in the Christian life must come directly from God Himself.

Who would deny for one minute that the names known by most as stalwarts in the faith such as Finney, Wesley, Khulman, Graham, Muller, Bonhoeffer, Spurgeon, Nee, and so on…

(some will subtract here or add – there is a lot of opinions always present amongst Christians),

…were mature ‘meat’ lovers.

Let’s turn to the verse where we find these terms:

Hebrews 5:13-14

13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

The King James uses the term ‘Strong meat’ and as you can see above, the NKJ gives us SOLID FOOD.

I think this helps paint a better picture for us. Because immediately we can think of babies fed at the breast or with milk from a bottle. They haven’t moved on to solids yet.

Firstly though let’s establish the fact that there is only one kind of food. 

Matthew 4/4

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

So whether milk or solid food – we cannot stay alive spiritually without the milk of The Word. Or the solid food of The Word. But it is the same food (or menu!)

You are reading this blog post, I’m glad you are. But let me assure you that the red letter verses herein, will feed you in a far better way than anything I say about them.

So if you abandon this post and turn to and open, your bible – heh! You can’t go wrong!

Are you still here?

So what’s the difference between the milk and the solid food?

In my view, spiritual experience and experiences, is the answer.

Paul the apostle was a well accomplished individual in his religion – in many ways surpassing his peers:

Galatians 1/14

And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.

But he was spiritually blind. A head full of knowledge but his experience was limited and religious.

Until one day he ran out of steam fighting his conscience and he experienced/encountered the Living Christ on a road to Damascus. (Acts 9)

There and subsequently, he came to visions and revelations of The Lord. (II Corinthians 12/1).

He used his ‘spiritual faculties’ – serving God with his spirit in the Gospel, from that day onwards. (Romans 1/9)

He was changed and transformed by the working of The Holy Spirit in his life. Finding that spiritual things were spiritually discerned. (I Corinthians 2/14)

He advanced, just as he had advanced in the Jewish ‘religion’, so that all that he had learned at the foot of the scholars of his day, gave way to all that he learned at the feet of Jesus. (Acts 22/3)

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself learned all from His Heavenly Father, not from the local rabbis. Yes he conversed with them, but did not travel the accepted route to ‘the meat’ school. (John 7/16) 

It was His intimacy with The Father that was His place of schooling as a man.

John 7/15

And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?”

That’s the great challenge for all Christians, namely intimacy with God. In that place of communion our senses are more and more exercised to discern…

Inner development is the result of communion with The Father, responding to His revelation, growing stronger in spirit, eating His Word, developing our spiritual senses, as we more deeply know, what we might even have known before. That is going from milk to meat.

It is a challenge to be malleable in God’s hand, to seek greater intimacy and to respond daily to His developing hand in our lives.

Lord please give us grace.

Contending…

CONTENDING…

Jude 1

2 Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

You will notice I have highlighted a phrase in bold type. What does it mean?

You ask me – and I will ask you – and we can both ask God what it means.

A lot of preachers/teachers will reach now for the greek lexicon or seek, by whatever means, to understand the original words.

Let’s instead, look at the phrase in different bible translations:

fight for the faith…

defend the faith…

fight hard for the faith…

continue your fight for the Christian faith…

put up a real fight for the faith…

earnestly persevere in the faith…

stoutly defend the truth…

carry on the struggle for the faith…

to hold very strongly to what you do believe…

strive strongly for the faith…

to agonize for the faith…

Well – does that help us grasp what this means?

Seems to me there is no simple thought that sums up, all that is contained or built-into this exhortation from the writer Jude.

There is more involved in ‘contending earnestly for the faith’ than just one thing. And I hazard a guess that this post will touch on but a few.

I observe that in America (USA) there is a ‘movement’ that calls for the return to the principles that America was founded on. In a nutshell summed up in the word ‘Freedom’.

Many of the actions of those who contend for this return, give us one possible definition we may or may not want to embrace, as an example of ‘contending for the faith’ (?)

The greatest challenge in contending for the faith, once delivered to the saints, is to move in God’s anointing in all that we think, say and do. A tall order in light of our wayward contrary natures.

It is possible whilst contending for the faith to grieve or quench The Holy Spirit. How? By allowing that which is of the flesh to get the upper hand, so that abruptness, rudeness, anger and eventually resentment and bitterness takes us into a different kind of ‘contending’ or ‘contention’.

So that we are no longer contending in a godly manner.

But to know the difference between warring according to the flesh or according to The Spirit – whilst taking our faith into the public arena – can be a lost art. (II Corinthians 10/3, 4) (Ephesians 6)

Jesus was daily involved in highlighting behaviour. Good behaviour and bad behaviour.

Laying out in His sermons all that pertained to acceptable behaviour in the sight of God. Thus doing He was contending for the faith.

Some of this behaviour he addressed, was within a political or secular environment/background. So in that sense it could be suggested that as salt and light we should enter the political or media realm to put forth the righteous principles of Christ and therefore by so doing – contend for the faith.

(I am not an American – but a Northern Irishman) – and I have seen in my country, things done in the name of religion which for me have nothing to do with contending for the faith. Yet they are – in some people’s perceptions – exactly that.

Very quickly – if we stand with political activists who (perhaps on certain topics) contend for the tenets of scripture – we get pigeon-holed and branded with all the other policies they hold – which we may not want anything to do with.

So it’s a difficult mix – faith, principles of righteousness and political stances.

Proper contending for the faith I believe, is summed up in the words of Paul the apostle:

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

If we read-on-into the rest of the verses, we started with, Jude is obviously telling the believers that a mix of doctrinal error and lies are to be addressed and counter-acted with the unadulterated truth of God. 

This is contending for the faith, because faith comes by and stays by hearing the Word of God. (Romans 10/17)

Jude also covers the subject of sin and sinful men in the church. Contending for the faith then, is becoming aware of the behaviour that can creep into the company of God’s people, which is contrary to the behaviour of Christ The Lord.

A watchful eye therefore is called for, by leadership, and everybody else, to enable the people to keep to the faith, and the uprightness required.

So – contending for the faith is holding to sound doctrine. And adhering to the great foundational truths once delivered to the saints, and – experientially walking in The Spirit. (Romans 8/1, 4)

Living like Jesus is contending for the faith. Glorifying God in our body and spirit is contending for the faith. (I Cor. 6/20)

Entering in to spiritual warfare in the enablement of God is contending for the faith. (Ephesians 6/12)

Intercession in prayer – is contending for the faith.

Punching someone on the nose for not following us – is…

You spotted the deliberate mistake, right?

I woke up one day

I woke up one day

I woke up one day and they were gone

The pop stars and rock stars and political bodies 

The styles of cars, and terminated oddities

                          …

I woke up one day after many wake-ups

And drew a line under the hoodies

And crudities – no longer in fashion

                          …

I observed how it all changed

Itemising the things that were no longer arranged

In that popular manner

They even use different grammar

                          …

I woke up another day and remembered the names:

The Presley’s and Lennon’s and Crosby’s and Connery’s

The Bolan’s and Cagney’s and names I’ve forgotten

                          …

I couldn’t see them in the present day

Their vapours had appeared and

Disappeared another way

                          …

I saw in their absence the crushing line of years

Years bumping up together –

At least – that’s how it appeared

                          …

I sneered –

I couldn’t bring them back except on celluloid

I couldn’t stop reminiscing – and concluding

Preparation is impossible to avoid

In light of the facts of corruptible flesh –

                          …

All singing and dancing their candle was lit –

If you think that’s all that matters –

You’re not getting it

                          …

But they represented earlier life – when energy

Aplenty was mis-spent in youth

Grabbing for straws we all together

Went at things – hell-for-leather

                          …

Time was wasted

But it’s hard to duck and dodge

It being so

For answers – we didn’t know where to go

                          …

As I was drifting into retro-reminiscing

Concluding there’s nothing new under the sun

I remembered it was all about having fun

                          …

But I woke up (as I was telling you a moment ago)

To find another name added to the roll call

At the Oscar Dinner, Show or Ball (?)

                          …

People – all those – we all know

Who represent passing time

There are times when I can be – feeling it so…

                         …

I woke up one day and found a mirror

I saw a man there – who was waiting his turn

I hadn’t realised he had grown old

And was supposed to feel it

I didn’t know – ‘cause I was never told

                          …

What am I supposed to do?

I can’t stop the train

Heading for the end of the line

The buffer stops and the buck stops here

Before The Creator – I must appear

                         …

Meantime back at the ranch or lunch

My mind wanders to a pier

A saying – batted about – yesteryear

‘Take a long walk – along a short pier’

                          …

This and similar quips come to mind

“Is he in?” We used to ask

“Who?” Was the scripted reply

“Mr. Norwood”

                          …

No one knew Mr. Norwood –

He had passed away

Looking in the mirror one day

To find he was ‘out of time’

(‘My sweet old fashioned baby…’)

                          …

I looked in a book one day

I found it again

Glancing through – romancing through

I saw faces long gone

Who wore those faces of youth

Just like mine

                          …

I compare the photos in collage

Fresh looking young man I was

Peering curiously at the world

                          …

As the quiet man in the background

I strolled passed everything

Observing – surprising – amounts of forms

“How’s the form?” Greeters would ask

                          …

Greeters long gone

Many and varied deaths they had

The ‘around the corner’ alcoholic

His name was John

                          …

He passed away

A friend of my brother’s

I didn’t know

I knew him one night in a bar – drunk or so

I was with a girl – she wanted to go

                          …

Deal out the memories like a pack of cards

Go on – put them out there – spread across the floor

The floor of your mind

And think to yourself – of all who have gone

They represent your journey – your encounters

With the strange – the normal –

And those above the norm

                          …

Wake up some day and realise it won’t be long

Before we join them beyond outer space

The end we must face

If I tell you the great sequel

You will think me – too strait-laced

                          …

Every generation must face these things

What do you bring to the table?

Your ideas are not enough

Because only enough is enough

                          …

Things – will – are – and – will still –

get rough

And if you don’t find answers that’s tough

                          …

Today I woke up and banged the keys

Today I woke up with a sneeze

Finishing off now – I must go…

                          …

Go home to that photo album

You possess

And have another look

That’s your family – friends –

And acquaintances that mark time for you

                          …

What age are you now?

There’s no need to say

You look around to answer but…

                          …

I’m on my way

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

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!

Disliking success

DISLIKING SUCCESS

Jonah knew God. Jonah heard God speak. Jonah didn’t like what He (God) said – so he ran away.

We know the story.

He was asked to go and preach to a certain ‘bunch’ of people.

These people were sinners (‘who isn’t’ we might ask?), but they needed to give up their wrong ways and acknowledge God.

They did!

And guess what? Jonah did not like the result of his successful preaching.

This has to be one of the most contradictory stories in the bible. Preachers preach to be successful, to see results, to bear fruit. Having done so, Jonah was not pleased.

First he did everything he could to – not preach.

A whole series of events including a dive to the depths of the sea into an unknown/unspecified species of fish.

At the end of the day – Jonah had God – so demonstrate His sovereign hand in his life, that he could only obey, after much rebellion and refusal to do as he was bidden.

I remember teaching Jonah’s story and perhaps I wasn’t the first to establish that Jonah was on a downer.

He went down to Joppa, down to the harbour, down into a boat, down into the ‘hold’ in the boat, down into his bed, down into the sea and down into a fish.

He came up in a rather sickly but necessary way onto the shore again.

He then decided he had better just do what God asked him to do.

Humility is going down before the feet of Jesus. All who genuinely do so will come up again and follow Him.

As we call folks to obey Christ and accept His salvation – rather than do so, some will set-off on their journey to the depths, or having reached the depths of being on a downer, I hope-they-will-learn from Jonah and come back-up by obeying God.

We all, like sheep, go astray. We think our way is best. There is a way and it seems right to us (it is our own invention) – but the end of it – is death.

There are many plans in a person’s heart but the counsel of God above and beyond our thinking and decision making – will stand.

The biggest part of a Christian’s life is not our performance as in doing good –  but rather with the awareness of our imperfections and shortcomings – we embrace and appreciate with humility the fact that God should choose us to be his sons and daughters, as we exercise faith in Him.

We would have been among those who listened to Jonah’s repentance message, demonstrated by the fact that we listened and responded to Christ’s message.

If you are in any way like myself, you will not be celebrating a life lived the way you wanted it to be. 

One hundred percent pleasing to God would be wonderful. But in my own estimation I fall far short.

Nevertheless I rejoice because Psalm 32 says:

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,

Whose sin is covered.

Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,

And in whose spirit there is no deceit.

At that time in history the Ninevites enjoyed the experience of Psalm 32. Regardless of what subsequent generations of Ninevites did.

Every generation is confronted with the same message – a message that won’t be categorised as ‘cool’ or ‘newly current’, because it’s as old as time itself.

It will never change and defies man’s so called intellectual advancement, scientifically or in any other way.

The Message is clear: John 3/16:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Jonah probably saw the Ninevites as a threat to his own nation because of their barbarous ways.

They stand as an example illustration of how even the most hardened individual(s) can turn and be changed by the Power of Christ and His salvation.

Following…

FOLLOWING…

As we are growing up and travelling through life – we look up to, and follow (in whatever way) – certain individuals, usually ones that we admire.

Mentors, those in authority over us, parents. But also those hailed as heroes, (perhaps in our own peer group), are often looked-up-too.

Successful athletes would be an example, as borne out by the aftermath of the Olympic Games.

Young teenagers imitate the behaviour of footballers, as they argue with referees or get into scraps with the opposition players.

Paul the apostle exhorts the people:

Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

This ‘following’ referred to, could mean various things.

Wherever Christ is going – you follow Him and go there too.

Whatever behaviour Christ engages in, – you follow – you do the same.

Or like the first disciples when people were looking for Jesus, the disciples indicated the inquirers should follow them as they led them to Him.

20 And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:

21 The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. 22 Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.

On this particular occasion we are not told if Jesus addressed the Greeks, or if they were in earshot of the next words He said. But if you follow real disciples today, they will lead you to Jesus.

Also as we listen to others expounding the Word of God, we have the opportunity, if what they say agrees with the Bible – to rise up and obey the instruction – this is also following them, and what they teach, in some cases, until you find Jesus for yourself.

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!”