Category Archives: faith

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

Peace

PEACE

John 20/

19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

Jesus having been crucified dead and buried – arose and stood in the midst of His followers.

It is not new to anyone at all familiar with The Christian Faith to realise that all Christians believe that Christ Rose from the dead.

And not only arose but appeared to various disciples at various times before eventually – many of them saw Him ascend upwards into the realm of the heaven of heavens. A spiritual dimension beyond the natural eye.

It is difficult for us to describe exactly, the bodily form of The Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ – when He appeared to His disciples. It is the dimension of the spirit manifested visibly. There is a mystery regarding it.

*NB: [Did He ascend to the Father just before this? He tells one woman not to touch Him, and yet Thomas to put his fingers into His scars. Food for thought and another post.]

It is not the purpose of this post to go into this phenomena.

But that He appeared before them is beyond doubt.

I want to think for a moment, of not only what He showed, (His resurrected self), but of what He said:

“Peace be with you.”

There are all kinds of things that disturb our peace. And let’s be honest we all like to live a peaceful life.

Except maybe for those who have never known peace in the first place. Or those so controlled by their lower nature that peace is something they neither know in experience or pursue.

Here is a mix of biblical exhortations concerning peace:

Seek peace and pursue it…

Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:…

Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it…

And finally what Jesus said to His followers:

My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

There is one source of true peace: Jesus Christ Himself. A relationship with Him brings inner peace, because of sins forgiven and acceptance into His spiritual kingdom, through fellowship with Him.

For any Christian to pretend that they never lose their peace, or are never troubled would be a lie. Indeed Paul the apostle who knew the peace of God perpetually in his life, nevertheless did not see the need to pretend in order to make his case for God-given peace.

He says: (II Corinthians 7/5)

For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. 6 Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus…

Inside were fears. Fear attempts to disturb/destroy our peace. He finishes off, however, with the great truth: NEVERTHELESS – GOD!

When there’s nothing else to cling to and, as the song says: ‘When our time has come…’ We have the promised and abiding peace that tells us that all will be well with our soul and spirit.

Peace returns – [as an old female saint I once knew would say] – when we: Let go and let God.

There will always be things that seek to disturb our peace, rob us of our peace, distract us from abiding in Christ – but the great truth is – we have been given His Peace in the first place, just like He delivered it to His disciples in His resurrection power, as He came into the room, having risen from the dead!

Thank God for the peace and assurance that we can meet Him without the fear of loss.

Even so come Lord Jesus!

…………………………………………………………………………..

* JOHN 20 17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Foolish

FOOLISH 2021

Galatians 3:

v1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so [c]many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain

Paul the Apostle is addressing this Galatian group of believers.

But of course it is ordained of God that, when one of His Specially Chosen Early Apostolic leaders, writes to a particular ‘branch’ of God’s church – it is more than meant for, or sent to – just them.

It is sent to all believers throughout history who follow on, by inheritance, from the early formed church/churches.

The Word of God will never pass away. Anything that the Holy Spirit  has placed His indelible fingerprint upon – will remain as His Word forever.

Jesus said:

Matt. 24/

34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

Paul, saddened, grieved and a little perplexed, is addressing a fundamental problem pervading the Galatian church.

This problem can, or has, pervaded the lives of believers ever since, and indeed at one time – knocked me off-course for a couple of years in my Christian life.

Paul is very straight with them, out of love and concern, trying to wake them up to spiritual reality. Wake them up to the completeness of Christ’s Salvation.

“O Foolish Galatians…” – exclamation mark!

“Who has bewitched you…”?

Without even going into the original meaning of the Greek etc. as we can do, when seeking to expound some aspect of God’s New Testament. Let me instead pass on what the dictionary means by the word ‘bewitched’:

to attract or interest someone a lot so that you have the power to influence them:

to put a magicspell on someone or something in order to control him, her, or it

Either definition will do – First – attracted and therefore distracted. Distracted from the real wonderful message, into their own ideas. (Manmade gospel)

Second – (bewitched)  – Coming under the control of something, someone, or a spirit not of God.

That was how Paul found these believers. They got away from the wonderful New Testament message of Salvation by Faith – through God’s Amazing Grace – and their whole focus was on themselves and their own performance.

He spends most of the rest of the epistle addressing and correcting this legalistic distraction, in order that the Galatians will become re-focused on Christ.

We must look to Christ in prayer for everything to do with the spiritual life.

The following is a spiritual seeing:

25 For David says concerning Him:

‘I foresaw the Lord always before my face,

For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken.

26 Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad;

Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope.

This was the spoken spiritual reality of someone staying on course by faith – seeing the invisible God – (see also e.g. Heb. 11/27) so as to walk pleasing to Him, without wrongly, losing sight of Him completely and then trying to live like Him. It doesn’t work. The Galatians were trying it and failing.

Paul put them right.

Are your eyes on God in prayer? Will you respond (by the hearing of this encouragement) – in faith? (see verse 2).

Prophesying today

PROPHESYING TODAY

It is dangerous to ‘generalise’ when we have limited information.

Limited information can cause a limited conclusion. A faulty judgement can therefore be made about a given scenario.

Jumping too quickly to conclusions.

However, in some situations in life, in extenuating circumstances, a decision needs to be taken quickly, because

of how a particular scenario will or might play-out and effect us personally.

This ‘deficient information factor’ makes that decision hard to make.

We do our best – and proceed to make the decision, even with inadequate information, because if it goes a certain way, it will perhaps effect us personally.

I would imagine those who deal in the stock market, find themselves in that situation daily (?).

It can be, that we may not have the time to make full enquiry. And our decision as a result can be a good one or a bad one – as time will usually tell.

We can best hope that by our necessary decision making, no one gets hurt or damaged, as we make the decision.

I’m thinking of how people resign from a particular position they occupy, in perhaps a company, a political party, a Medical Practice, a church etc.

Making their decision, but not basing it on full knowledge, sometimes just suspicion.

It is still true to say, that unless one undertakes a thorough comprehensive research study, our lack of information can cause us to form the wrong conclusions.

The Bible says in James 1/So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; . It’s easy to reverse this – speaking with limited knowledge and without proper discernment, and in self-righteous anger (quick to wrath), making wrong judgements.

Biblically we are exhorted in different ways to be careful about judging given situations or people. 

Some make the mistake of thinking we are never to judge anything. The bible doesn’t teach this – but it does call us to ‘judge righteously’ according to the truth of God’s Word.

Jesus said: John 7/

24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

The spirit in which we judge is also of paramount importance. Anger and bitterness in our hearts and we have judged wrongly already, and must hear ‘judge not that you be not judged’.

Matthew 7/ v1“Judge  not, that you be not judged.

It may seem now that I am about to change tack to a different subject, but that’s not what I am doing.

Because I am thinking of the discernment necessary and the full knowledge needed, of what is said – before judgements can be made in response to modern day prophetic utterance.

Prophecy in the bible in it’s basic definition is simply ‘inspired utterance’. Jesus spoke with supreme wisdom and perpetual inspiration/revelation. 

Those who penned the scriptures were given Grace of an unequalled kind. No one (as in ‘ordinary’ Christians) prophesying since the Apostles and prophets, chosen by Christ, will be given that same calibre of Grace. Therefore they will not speak as authoritatively.

That does not mean that someone with a true gift of prophecy (inspired utterance), will not speak with authority.

Just not of that particular unique kind that penned The Word of God.

The Bible cannot be added to, it remains perpetually in the hand of The Holy Spirit to accomplish whatever God sends it to accomplish. Isa. 55/

11 

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;

It shall not return to Me void,

But it shall accomplish what I please,

And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Whether this ‘accomplishing’ takes place in the individuals heart or in accomplishing the task of giving to mankind foreknowledge of the future, in prophesying what is to come.

But modern day, inspired utterance, still calls for men and women to be in touch with God.

We are exhorted to speak as the ‘oracles of God’.

1 Peter 4:11

If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever.

Some Christians live more incomplete lives than others, when they exclude from their experience the possible exercise of Spiritual Gifts, as found in I Corinthians chapter 12 etc..

Even those who believe that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and therefore accept the ‘manifestation of The Holy Spirit’ doctrinally, (another way of saying ‘the gifts of The Spirit’) – even so, may not fully manifest those gifts.

Certain cessationists dismiss the Gifts of The Holy Spirit – as not being for today.

If the manifestations of The Holy Spirit, are not taking place today – it is not because God has turned the tap off, or that such a thing is not possible, but rather for the reason, that  they are not sought for fully, or not allowed in the assembly of God’s people, usually as a result of cessationist theology or limited revelation/experience in the leadership.

The lack of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit may also be because of the ‘falling away’ that is happening on the earth and even in the churches. We read of a somewhat parallel time in the time of Samuel the prophet: 

I Samuel 3/1…And the word of the Lord was precious (rare) in those days; there was no open vision.

The gifts are not as manifest as in previous eras. (This can also be the result of how much there is – full or limited pursuing thereof): Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 

Those who accept the gifts, rightly so, as being for today – may not, however in practice, manifest them in the church.

Prophecy is for every member – we may all prophesy one by one.

All may speak ‘inspired utterances’.

These utterances of the spoken gifts are as follows – prophesy, speaking in different tongues and interpretation, word of wisdom, word of knowledge.

There are other gifts, or manifestations of The Holy Spirit, but the above are the spoken gifts.

11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

When it comes to prophesying – we are told: 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 

All prophesying’ does not make us all prophets.

A prophet is someone who has a proven track record in words of knowledge, words of wisdom, prophesying by forth-telling or fore-telling.

The fruit of which gives help, direction and deliverance to the church.

It may entail foretelling, but must include:

 3 (But he who prophesies speaks)… edification and exhortation and comfort to men.

Except, on the rarer occasions when it can contain correction or rebuke, depending on the situation. Such correction should come from an established proven Prophetic ministry, that God has set in the church.

The rest of the church present, where a prophecy is given, are meant to engage in discerning if the prophecy is brought by The Holy Spirit and does not violate the principles of God’s Word.

29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. 

We must be careful to:

19 Quench not the Spirit.

20 Despise not prophesyings.

21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

Unfortunately some dismiss anything prophetic, when we are told we can all prophesy, (and the Word of God cannot be broken).

We must judge firstly the prophecy – and after this depending on the fruit in their lives – if need be – then the vessel who brought the prophecy.

If what they are – in themselves, clearly shows them to be false prophets, or carrying a wrong spirit, or disrupting and damaging the people of God, then they need to be subject to the sanction of the church.

But – and this brings me back to my original point – full or limited knowledge…

If a foretelling prophecy does not come to pass, being of a foretelling nature, the first thing to establish is – is it completely wrong? Genuine prophets can make mistakes, but this does not mean they are to be dismissed as charlatans.

To dismiss them out of hand, is to get the cart before the horse. We are to judge the prophecy, as to it’s correctness or otherwise. But if it is wrong, we should not automatically disqualify the prophet.

Unless he/she has a track record of damaging the church, causing confusion, and perhaps obtaining a ‘following’ through dishonest gain.

Titus 1:

10 For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11 whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. 12 One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 

The Gifts or manifestations of – The Holy Spirit are for our profit as the Church. 

And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,

There can be a lot of ‘hype’ in televised prophesying, especially in a certain country. But we need to see-through the hype and ask the question ‘Is this of God?” Secondly is this person a true servant of Christ – who loves The Lord.

Not easily or immediately discernible sometimes. But we must not ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’.

Regarding foretelling and not the less consequential type of prophesying, (edification, exhortation, and comfort), here is the safeguard:

Deuteronomy18

21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.

There is both warnings for those who hear the prophetic word, in this passage:

 And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.

And for the prophet who prophesies:

20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’

However these warnings aught to be heard in the light of the greater Covenant of The New Testament.

Dry Bread?

DRY BREAD?

‘Dry bread’ – can be a metaphorical description of something that is not appetising.

We read a blog, a book, an email, a news item, and it seems dry to us – consequently we remain ‘unfed’.

But then in favour of the communicator –  ‘you can please some of the people some of the time but not all etc…’

Dry bread for one person however, can be a happy meal for another.

And that’s why pleasing: ‘all of the people all of the time…’ is an impossibility. Because the meal/message  will be ‘dry bread’ to some.

In the Old Testament the people of God, collected fresh manna (food) each day.

But to them it became stale, even though it wasn’t.

And so staleness can be in the people – not in the food.

Stale people spiritually – do not respond to fresh spiritual bread. It doesn’t appeal. It isn’t appetising because their palette is not sympathetic to it.

Their palette is corrupted. It’s like salt …’but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men’.

(To slightly arrest the scripture) To those who have no taste for it, the food has lost it’s savour.

But the food has not lost it’s flavour/savour – instead the palette of those who are offered the food, can be non-appreciative.

[We see this in Numbers 11/4-6]

This is an illustration of the truth we find in…

I Corinthians 2/14

…the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

To be able to get the natural man who has no taste for the things of Jesus Christ, – to stop, listen, learn, and respond is impossible. Unless – unless – God touches their heart and mind.

For those who want God to touch them. They must deny their natural appetite (as in earthly thinking) and put themselves in a place where God has their time and attention. It is called prayer and bible meditation.

In that place – low and behold – spiritual food becomes an acquired taste.

In which place, He (God), will eventually serve-up a spiritual meal.

Such folks entering into real prayer will suddenly find the things of God extremely appetising – and such a meal, will change their whole life.

It may not happen straight away – but with patience it will happen. (See also Luke 5/39).

Oh, TASTE AND SEE that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

(Psalm 34)

Wilderness

WILDERNESS

Matthew

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said…

There are different things to be said about a wilderness. Though not completely synonymous with a desert – nonetheless I think of miles of undulating untarnished sand, when I think of a wilderness, as by my own definition.

[NB: wildernesses are probably more rugged than what I have in mind cpr. Wilderness of Judea etc.]

In one sense a wilderness can be a beautiful place. However with no water to drink – a nightmare scenario.

Jesus went there as led by The Holy Spirit. Led by God The Holy Spirit – Jesus the man however encountered another spirit in that wilderness.

That other spirit 1) came to Him 2) took Him somewhere and 3) spoke to Him.

Came to him more than once in His state of fasting, and no doubt more than once throughout His life on earth.

Jesus was tempted like any other man.

Hebrews 4/

15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

That temptation came, in the form of words from that other spirit. Jesus dealt with the words with Words. His much more powerful Word of Truth dispelled the words of deceit that came from the fallen angel.

When we are told that the devil ‘took Him’. This is a description of what it is to be tempted – the thoughts he subsequently suggested were sinful – the thought to go to the Holy city or the high mountain were not sinful. The Christ allowed this. Just as He allowed the demons to enter the pigs/swine. (Matthew 8/31)

In all of this wilderness experience, Jesus emerged triumphant having held to His shield of Faith and the sword of the Holy Spirit which is the Word of God.

Let’s do the same in 2021.

The Agreement

THE new AGREEMENT

God has drawn up an agreement. He would like you to sign it. But He wants you to sign it willingly. He will not force you to sign it – even though it is the greatest agreement you could ever sign.

He had an old agreement that He improved on. If this old agreement could have given you the ability to be a good person, then no doubt He would not have sought to draw-up another.

But the New Agreement has made the old obsolete, by virtue of it’s greater revelation.

The new agreement is based on better promises that God has made.

In the Old Agreement, God laid out clearly what was expected of you, had you agreed to adhere to it and sign up for it.

The problem was, it told you what was required on your part to fulfil your side of the covenant (another name for the agreement), but the old covenant failed to enable you to do what was required. It told you what not to do – but not how  – not to do it.

It told you what was required to fulfil your side of the agreement – but no one who has ever signed up to the old agreement has ever kept their side of the covenant.

Regardless of how much those who signed up tried, it was impossible to fulfil every jot and title of what was required of them, in keeping their side of the ‘bargain’.

God found it incredulous that they were unable to keep His requirements in this old agreement. Incredulous because He had never experienced the nature your first forefather and mother chose to have.

God had never experienced human nature up to the time of the New Agreement, and therefore couldn’t grasp why human nature could not keep the old agreement.

This was the only thing God had no experience of, as it (sinful human nature) was totally and completely contrary to His nature.

This nature was destructive and potently disastrous for all of God’s creation.

So to understand your nature and it’s corrupt state – He came to earth, took upon Himself your human nature, and although His human body was incorruptible – He allowed it to become corrupted as in loaded with sin in death – so you would not be punished forever, and giving you His divine nature to partake of, you are now able through Him to keep your side of the new agreement.

Will you sign today?

Neutral zone?

Neutral zone?

This lockdown experience can ‘slow-torture’ our lives into neutral zone.

Neutral zone as in shelving all our endeavours into ‘suspended animation’.

That could sound slightly peppered with the idea of despair. (?)

If we take our example from one of the fathers of the faith it’s a case of – far from it!

Paul the apostle gives us insight into his humanity, but also his triumphal experience as a born again Christian, coming as it does through faith.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

He tells us of trouble and perplexity but without despair.

So a 24/7 joyous trouble-less high is not what being a Christian entails.

It does of course firstly entail matters of life or death before it is a whole pile of other things.

‘Where and how shall I spend eternity?’ Is usually a foundational question when examining the Christian faith.

No despair, Paul the apostle indicates in the above verses.

Reason? Because we are never forsaken. 

It is the unforsaken-ness that gives the Christian the strength and sustaining solace they need regardless of the situation, they might find themselves in. God is with us (Emmanuel) always, even to the end and further.

However I must admit to a certain neutral dwelling zone that I can drift in and out of. What about you? 

I examine this – in order to come to fresh conclusions.

Conclusions that will spur me on to lay hold, more firmly, upon eternal life again.

I Timothy 6/12

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life…

Disillusionment knocks at the door, in light of the chaos abroad.

With no immediate change, or with prolonged sameness, can come disillusionment.

But there is no disillusionment when it comes to the things of God, they are constant.

As the old hymn says: “All may change but Jesus never – Glory to His name!”

Shaking off disillusionment, like Paul did – with the serpent into the fire. (Acts 28/4-6)

Nevertheless I must admit to missing, gathering with, God’s people and lifting the roof in praise. And I mean really lifting the roof!

As far as I am concerned all the clever-most technology will never substitute for human beings – being together ‘in the flesh’, but the great thing and advantage Christians have is being together ‘in the Spirit’.

If that was not the case, being in the flesh as in gathering physically together, would be of little consequence.

What a blessing to be both together in each others company and to worship in ‘spirit and truth’ at the same time.

Meantime, we’ve been doing Zoom. We edify and exhort one another. I’m sure you too are tapping into some online expression of church life?

Depending on the changing shifts of covid-safe rules, we can gather together as church, in a limited way.

In all of this invisible attack (virus), on our world – the question that is exchanged between non-Christian and Christian persons alike, is: ‘What is this achieving – why is it happening – what’s the cause, what’s the point etc.?’ Or something similarly expressed.

What ‘it’ (the pandemic) is supposed to do – as with all trials and tribulations we encounter as human beings – is to cause us to fall on God.

Luke 20/

18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken and shattered in pieces; and on whomever it falls, it will crush him.”

There is a brokenness that accompanies humility where the failures of our own efforts and the empathetic hand of God meet, as we fall at His feet in prayer. Falling ON the Rock Christ Jesus. There is coming a terrible day when the Rock Christ Jesus will fall ON all ungodliness.

But many do not recognise The Rock upon which we must fall.

Romans 9/33

As it is written and forever remains written, “Behold I am laying in Zion a Stone of stumbling and a Rock of offence; And he who believes in Him [whoever adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] will not be disappointed [in his expectations].”

One of the ways the God of the Bible is a stumbling stone to many is – expressed in the old chestnut: “Why does God allow these things?” (Pandemics)

So they stumble in unbelief (through skewed reasoning).

Whereas whoever trusts in Christ will not be disappointed now and in the long term, especially in the long term.

The way of Christ is in total contradistinction to the other spirit that dominates human beings. He hates anything to do with Christ. He is the antichrist spirit.

Christ is a rock of offence to him, and to those opposed to the gospel.

But he who believes in Jesus Christ the Son of God, will not be disappointed with Him.

Like everyone else I am disappointed in how things are in this world at the moment. An understatement don’t you think?

But I am not disappointed with Christ.

But here is my abrupt end to this post – Christian out there, what is God saying to us? 

How does He want us to respond to this pandemic and the state of affairs we find ourselves in?

One thing is for sure our God-dependancy increases with the weakening effect and lack of answers this pandemic has produced.

Who out there will turn to Christ in acknowledgement of how inadequate we still are in the 21st century?

Does this virus not clearly expose the weakness of mankind, and knock him off any self-satisfied or ‘smugness perch’?

Our need of God is self-evident, brought home by things such as this pandemic.

Nevertheless mankind will continue to look for answers through his own ingenuity – until the next humbling event hits the earth.

Give me ingenuity for vaccine finding – but with the big big plus – of welcoming individually, the Presence and Person of Christ in this lost and dying world.

Tendencies

TENDENCIES

I recently found myself agreeing with a Christian Radio host when he said that some believers in Christ tend towards the emotional and some towards the cerebral.

How true – and usually we look next, for some label to differentiate the two.

* The obvious one that comes to mind are the labels Pentecostal or charismatic and evangelical/theological or liberal.

Much as I like the one label for all (Christian), – in reality we are all influenced by these labels*, in forming a ‘picture’ of what different Christian folks are like and what they believe or major on.

This labelling of course is in flux – as everyone searches for a name to crystallise what they believe in, or stand for. So new ones emerge through time.

Spiritual experiences – as in experiencing the Holy Spirit – is not synonymous with emotionalism.

Deep theological thought is not synonymous with no experience of The Holy Spirit.

Someone has put it this way – (speaking metaphorically) too much emphasis on the power of God and we blow up. Too much emphasis on The Word of God and we dry up – but the Spirit and the Word and we grow up.

Paul the apostle had great intellectual ability, but he was first to admit how limited and insufficient this was when it came to spiritual matters.

Philippians 3:

though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:

I Corinthians 2/11

…Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.

Galatians 1/

12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Spiritual discernment is not emotionalism. Nevertheless when God moves in power you can be sure your emotions will give great response.

As we refrain from leaning on our own understanding and ask God for His enabling Holy Spirit – let’s not limit what He can do, by knowledge uninspired by God Himself.

Don’t allow or use theological knowledge to limit or direct God to fit into our understanding about what He must and must not do.

Conversely when God meets with us in a powerful way – don’t drift into trying to reproduce such a wonderful experience by soulish imitation.

The narrow way leads to life.

Lord help us.

Cult message

Cult message

There you were – just travelling on, minding your own business.

And someone came into your life with a message. 

Ever happened to you? Was it a good – real – genuinely worthwhile message? Offering good news or bad?

As a child along with others in my street – we heard a message offering all kinds of fun and games – baseball stands out – it wasn’t part of our culture, so had the novelty factor.

Next thing I’m given parental permission to visit this large house to partake in these fun and games.

I can’t remember exactly, but I was around the eight-year-old mark.

Fast forward in cutting the story short. And I’m being indoctrinated with some kind of bible stuff? I’m nodding in agreement, because I’m too young to know better either way.

Then I’m changing into white robes and being ducked below the water. A frightening experience, especially as the water stuck in my ears and I couldn’t hear properly afterwards. Frightening for a child of eight.

I was told it was all “ok” with my mum and dad.

Of course it wasn’t, they hadn’t even been informed.

Recreational games with other kids was all they ‘signed up’ for.

The gentleman who had recruited myself and other kids for this fiasco was sending back head counts to his homeland, of how successful his ministry had been.

Of course I never went back, and I can’t actually remember if my parents took any further action.

Back in the day – things were ‘let go of’ more readily.

Today of course, there would be an outcry, and as they say ‘heads would roll’.

I eventually received ex-communication notice from this group of charlatans. Praise God!

Notice I have not mentioned their name, as in their religious label.

Did this experience do any lasting harm? Naw!

But what a glorious contrast when I had a 100% real, conversion experience, when falling to my knees Jesus the Christ revealed Himself to me, as I wept my way into his spiritual kingdom, at my bedside in the house I was reared in.

Colossians 1/13

13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,

God Himself did the work. I am so thankful that He came looking for me. And I fell under His revelation and conviction.

That was 50 years ago today.

Immature

IMMATURE

I Corinthians 3/

However, brothers and sisters, I could not talk to you as to spiritual people, but [only] as to worldly people [dominated by human nature], mere infants [in the new life] in Christ! I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Even now you are still not ready. You are still worldly [controlled by ordinary impulses, the sinful capacity]. For as long as there is jealousy and strife and discord among you, are you not unspiritual, and are you not walking like ordinary men [unchanged by faith]?

To the skeptic, the unbeliever, the discreditor, the anti-Christ who is looking to disqualify and dismiss Christians and their faith. The kind of things that the Corinthian Christians were failing in – gives the necessary ammunition for verbal castigation by accusers.

These words of Paul, under the enablement of the Holy Spirit, do a number of things. Firstly they dispel the myth that when a person becomes a Christian, they are perfect in thought, word and deed from that moment on.

And of course we are, (as is often said): positionally. That is we are accepted in Christ by the triune God.(Ephesian 1/6)(Hebrews 10/14). 

However in raising our children, we cannot expect perfection from them. They are immature, born sinful – sinful from birth, and we never have to teach them how to be insubordinate or throw a selfish tantrum.

So Paul aware of the corporate immature dissension and division amongst his spiritual children in Corinth – refers to them as babes/infants – as they failed to demonstrate spiritual maturity, the maturity that comes through time and handling of the Word of God.

Some folks have of course never experienced what it is to be spiritually born again – born from above. 

But for those of us who have – we now must adjust to this new life in Christ.

When Lazarus came from the tomb after Christ had called him forth from death, after life came back into his (it was perceived – stagnant body) others needed to remove the ‘wraps’, the grave clothes, he was still bound with.

When we come into new life in Christ we must grow up spiritually. And as in the natural there are stages of growth all the way to adulthood, so it is with new spiritual life.

We need others at times to change our spiritual diapers, just like others were needed to remove Lazarus’s grave clothes, so he could walk in newness of life.

So Paul tells the Corinthians that he cannot speak to them about deeper things, while they still indulge in their childish, spiritually immature ways.

Notice he describes their spiritual immaturity as being ‘dominated by human nature’.

On a different occasion he reminds other Christians elsewhere that when we are new born babes in Christ – old things pass away and all things become new.

New in the very core of our beings. New from the regenerated human spirit out into outward behaviour, in thought word and deed.

Spiritual feeding is the feeding of the human spirit and mind of the believer by ‘masticating’ the Word of God.

And the deep things revealed in this Word of God cannot be grasped by those who are infants, and learning how to be and in the process of being, – all God has made us in Christ.

The immature live half in God and half in themselves. So Paul feeds them with milk. Although the Galatian’s epistle brings us the deep things of God, just like any other epistle, it needs to be grasped in a greater way than they could manage, at that time.

The mature partaking of the divine nature, will be fully matured when they reach heaven. Meantime varying levels of growth, revelation, inner development will exist amongst believers.

I often say that we don’t learn spiritual things off pat, but often the same things over and over again, but at a progressively deeper level.

The accusers of those who profess to follow Christ will pick on the areas of immaturity, but in all accusations, the Christian has the advantage of being able to respond in the words of the epistle to the Romans:

Romans 8:33-35

33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

On Fire

ON FIRE

[This is not a biblical study of the fire of God, of which there is much to say, but rather a reference to a turn of phrase commonly used in Christian circles]

Christians are familiar with the expression: ‘On Fire for God’.

Certainly in my youth I would have seen myself as being ‘On Fire for God’ (and by God’s grace – I was).

This fire was accompanied by perceived necessary zeal that went with it.

There is no doubt we are more idealistic in our younger years.

So – fire + zeal + idealism – makes for a potent positive concoction.

I remember well, how we took to the streets to spread the gospel. Great days!

I pause, because years ago, we were told of the older generation reminiscing in spiritual nostalgia about the ‘good ol’ days’. ‘Things were better then etc.’… Followed by the question: “But what about now?”

Paul’s exhortation to “forget those things which are behind…” usually came in the midst of verbal advice to stop basking in the past and press towards the mark for the future prize.

“Don’t think of being ‘on fire’ in the past tense – make sure you are on fire now!”

Well – am I? Are we?

There is no doubt in my mind that there are seasons in God. And if I compare myself in this present season – with seasons of the past – I can drift into discouragement, as a result of reflecting too much on great former seasons of the manifest presence of God.

However I am reminded:

17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:

18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Such a season is not necessarily of our own making. And v18 – tells us the response we should make.

As I sit writing this piece, I have the thought that there is nothing to add.

Honesty to the rescue!

I always try to  be absolutely honest with The Lord in prayer.

Matthew 6:7-8

And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.

“Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray:…

So with a heart that wants to be on fire, and zealous for the Lord, and hopes it still is. Here’s my prayer – [care to join me?]

“Lord I’m not the youthful ‘zealot’ anymore – but my heart still longs to please you. Forgive me for any shortcomings and let me burn with your fire…” Amen