Category Archives: faith

Extremes or…

 

EXTREMES OR…

There are many extremes in life. Extreme cults, extreme doctrines, extreme sinful behaviour, extreme fanaticism, extreme politics, indeed – extremes in everything.

Proverbs 11

Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, But a just weight is His delight.

Balance is a word we could use to describe the antithesis of extreme. However, the opposite to extreme in a dictionary definition may not include the word balance.

But in the context I wish to use it – usually extreme views allow for none other, and are completely unbalanced or imbalanced.

There is a closed heart and mind in extremity, that is obsessed with a particular aspect of something, to the exclusion of all other considerations that might be presented as just as, or more feasible.

A just ‘weighing-up’ in considering a given view, is necessary.

A willingness to allow for – another aspect, without leaving already held convictions, which you are in no doubt about.

To come to a balanced view on a given subject in the context of biblical truth, we need to search the scriptures.

Understand that we cannot contain all of God’s understanding.

Job chapter 36/25-26

All humanity has seen it;

    mortals gaze on it from afar.

How great is God—beyond our understanding!

    The number of his years is past finding out.

Romans 11/32-34

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

    How unsearchable his judgments,

    and his paths beyond tracing out!

“Who has known the mind of the Lord?

    Or who has been his counsellor?”

It is difficult to remain true to something or someone when we don’t understand that persons attitude, opinions, behaviour, words, etc.

But the character of God communicated in the pages of scripture – if we seek them out diligently – will inform us of the fact that ‘God is love’.(I John 4/8) His character is revealed clearly – and He can be trusted!

But we must not mistake what love is.

And the poets have been trying to tell us for centuries.

If we are to hold a balanced understanding of God and his attributes of love – again – we need to make a study. Many form lifelong conclusions on little to no knowledge of the Word of God.

Vehemently denouncing God as simply a tyrant who is out to destroy us all.

Lack of knowledge or the desire to seek it out – leaves us with an extreme view.

Yes God is long-suffering forgiving the humble who request that forgiveness.

Yes God will eventually judge the world and destroy evil, and whoever chooses to remain in rebellion against Him.

Yes God does not always reveal things He knows we cannot handle.

Yes even when we don’t understand He asks us to trust Him.

When all hell breaks loose – let us remember:

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

…and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you,

16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand…

There we have it – Paul by God-given revelation still spoke of some things that even the Apostle Peter admitted were some times hard to understand.

But the balance to this is there are things clearly shown to us – upon which we can trust – guaranteeing our eternal future, if we embrace them and the giver of all truth Himself.

Prayer – Help us with hard things, and assure us more – of the certain things.

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Endurance

ENDURANCE

2 Timothy 4:3

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

Hebrews 6:14-16 King James Version (KJV)

14 Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

James 5:11

Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

There are people who have endured terrible things and have come forth as gold tried in the fire.

I want to sit at the feet of such people, and confess that because of your experiences, (and there is no knowledge without experience) – I can learn of you.

Compared with many folks, – I have only experienced a light affliction by comparison.

It would be right therefore that I sit at their feet to learn of them.

But if you are a lesser mortal like me – one of the biggest things you have had to endure IS YOU!

Hello? Often I have been my own worst enemy. When God is ‘straining’ as it were – to get me to accept His word, His promises, and His forgiveness – I have failed to receive because of my own thoughts. And He tells me (Isaiah 55 7-9)

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.

All of us are born only knowing OUR WAYS. And mankind seeks answers WITHIN THE CONFINES and notice I emphasise the CONFINES of his own thoughts and his own ways.

But this is the word of  God – Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

Regardless of how many people corrupt this Word, regardless of how many twist it to mean what it doesn’t mean and throw it aside like SOME CULT LEADER who lead hundreds to their death – THIS WORD WILL NEVER PASS AWAY.

This Word will never conform to man’s opinion, man must conform to THIS WORD.

And this word tells me –

 ‘Last days’ things we must do:

Matthew 10:22

… you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.

So that tells me that part of THE GOSPEL MESSAGE OF SALVATION and there is no other message for the salvation of the world, other than this one.

This message tells me that part of salvation entails

ENDURANCE. Notice ENDURE – BE SAVED.

So the terrible times we are living in – must court the response of endurance, having entered into the free gift experience of acceptance with God through Our Lord Jesus Christ.

How’s your endurance level?

And when we hear of some of the things people – Christians fall out over – it lets me know their endurance/tolerance level is very low.

A somewhat humorous illustration of weak endurance is the fact – that – if a man takes the flu he needs a woman to show him how to ENDURE IT.

But this message of ENDURANCE is the Word of the Lord

And when we want answers of how we should respond in these days we will ONLY find them in this word of God.

This Word who was in the beginning…and who is God – was sent forth to call into being the very planet we live on. (John 1/1-5)

That’s how powerful this Word is –

That same word was sent forth by the Holy Spirit into the hearts of mankind – to open the heavenly realm to them.

And this Word comes to give us many different instructions. And instructions for these end times.

I do not have a strong Theological position when it comes to eschatology. But I see enough to know that end times – means hard times.

And hard times – end times or not – sometimes must be endured.

But part of the ability to endure comes from the very word that tells us TO ENDURE. It is our rock-solid foundation that insulates us from the bad times to come.

God’s word is the BALM that takes away the pain. It ‘rights’ the mind.

A man demon-possessed met the word of The Lord which was – ‘…come out of him’ – and the result was healing. Concerning God’s Word the people asked:

“What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.”

If you are like me you consider yourself a rather weak kind of soldier, whose endurance level is poor. But one thing I know – without the Word of God and the Presence of God in my life, as I trust Him daily – I could not cope.

…His truth shall be your shield and buckler. (Psalm 91/4)

God is a very present help in times of trouble.

Prayer – 

“God give us your tenacity to endure joyfully to the end!”

Continually in conflict…

Continually in conflict… 

There is a ‘turn-off’ button or mechanism in every human being with regard to the things of God. This tendency can be recognised or ignored.

We are so far removed from God’s likeness, so different in nature than He is, that we do not immediately relish anything to do with God’s nature.

God’s nature is the divine nature of course.

It’s like hearing of a far-off land where we have never been. We have never experienced what it is like. It is contrary to what we are used to. It’s a land that we can only be told about, without ever experiencing it. So it is with our insensitivity and plain ignorance regarding God almighty’s nature, we haven’t been there.

Until we are – or if you like until we do!

That’s the difference between the true Christian and the unbeliever. Christians have encountered the divine nature.

So the nature man is born with and the nature of God – do not ‘co-habit’ in harmony.

Galatians 5:17 Amplified Bible (AMP)

17 For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do.

Change therefore is necessary, change to enable the two natures to become compatible. And the onus is on us to get into line.

Even after such a statement – the natural man can rise up and give us all the old cliche-negatives about not bowing to this ‘big ogre’ in the sky. Misrepresenting God and His true nature.

If God was to fully manifest His nature to us individually – we would die.

Exodus 33/

22 So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. 23 Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”

Moses privileged to encounter God (and His divine nature) in a powerful way, nevertheless could only experience a manifestation of God that would be described as seeing God’s back.

When the New Testament time had come – God found a way of showing His nature to man by taking upon Himself – human (in His case sinless) nature, in the person of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.

Mankind initially was made in God’s likeness – but that likeness or nature was lost when mankind chose to carelessly believe a lie, from another spirit.

Some say Eve was deceived into this – but Adam simply did not exercise proper judgement (discernment). He chose without due consideration.

The likeness of God that man was born with, was marred and increasingly lost, and was replaced by a fallen nature. Subsequently inherited by the human race, inasmuch as we can only reproduce after our own (fallen) kind.

Because we are contrary to God in our very essence, i.e. in simple terms – our minds and human spirits, we cannot appreciate properly just how far removed we are from the divine morally-perfect nature of God.

So everything man contemplates in the arena of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, is born out of man’s own spiritually-unaided intellect, unaided by the divine nature.

Unless that enablement is sought and found, through relationship with Christ and His Word.

So on subjects such as abortion, same sex marriage, gender, heterosexuality, homosexuality, fornication, adultery, Civil rights, to mention but a few. Man can only lean on his own darkened understanding, and try to be guided by [the/or/a] moral law. But man tends towards making up or changing the rules/laws as he goes along.

So that potentially man’s nature is able to take whatever comes into his head and present it as acceptable. Finding ways to justify everything and anything.

Given enough rope he will hang himself. An example would be to ask the question: “will man cross the ‘final frontier’ and justify child-molestation?” Dreaming-up and legislating so that it becomes morally acceptable?

We recoil from such an idea – but at one time man recoiled at things God finds unacceptable – which man now accepts as part of the fabric of our society.

Rather like children at school, who are given a subject in the debating society. Sometimes they are given what side of a given ‘argument’ they must defend. They have that side of the debate thrust upon them, and they must defend that stance.

They are instructed to present a case for or against the motion, depending on what their teacher gives them to represent.

There is in such an exercise – no conviction-starting point from which to offer their ‘arguments’ in the debate, it having been allocated by a teacher.

They can present arguments on both sides, as asked to, arguments obviously stemming from their own calculated reasoning powers.

But in preparing for the debate – there is no concrete unchangeable reference to begin with, when deciding moral issues, if it is a debate entailing the question of morality.

Rather – research, history, other personalities and their views, codes within people groups, and so on, comes to the aid of the teenager in trying to form his/her argument, regardless of whether they believe it or not.

They can debate well – something they have put a case together for, having been given no choice but to do so. In other words man can find ways of justifying almost anything, if he puts his mind to it.

And according to the nature we are born with – we will desire certain things – and seek justification in indulging in those things.

As the result of many cooks spoiling the broth, and no acceptance of an authoritative God-standard the result is ultimately confusion and every evil work.

So rather than conforming to the divine law – we change it so we are ‘free’ to indulge the lower nature, in whatever form it manifests. Self-justifying our actions according to human nature, but not according to the divine nature.

There are therefore (in matters of morality) many disagreements on many different subjects, because everyone bases their formed opinion on conclusions that have come, unaided by the divine nature.

Someone skilled in persuasive argument or speech – will probably win the day.

But rather – a starting point must be found that we put first – in all our reasoning.

An inerrant guide must be sought. This inerrant guide might be mis-interpreted, but it is the only means of reference, because it contains the words of eternal life. (John 6/68)

The words that are birthed in the divine nature, rather than the flawed human nature. That guide of course is The Bible.

A lot of the conclusions we come to are marred, not taking into account realisations or conclusions that can only come into our minds, through encountering God Himself and partaking of His divine nature in contrast to our own.

II Peter 1/4:

by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

So here we have the majority of the human race who have never encountered God and his divine sinless nature, trying to come to right conclusions on sex, abortion, fairness in trade, human relationships, etc. etc.

As a result mankind is left to his own devices. We alter God-given norms, trusting in our own intellects, we are blind to the fallen nature, that remains untouched by God. Untouched because we refuse to let Him do so.

Mankind then, uses the attributes he possesses that are faulty and inadequate to say the least.

So two things – Regarding the fallen human nature of mankind:

1) Mankind can justify and defend anything he wishes, as being morally acceptable, as there is no (he concludes) flawless standard to contradict him – only the opinions of others.

2)   Mankind has no idea of how abhorrent to a Holy God the terrible acts of sin that are taking place to an increasing measure, on this planet. Therefore he fearlessly continues on in his stubborn way.

Do not be like the horse or like the mule which have no understanding…(Psalm 32/9)

Mankind has no concept of this. One encounter with The Living Holy and Loving God and man will immediately know how abhorrent and unacceptable this sinful nature is, and as a result he will cry out for salvation.

Paul the Apostle did that very thing:

“O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

There are periods of time when God seems unreachable. But the fact is He is never unreachable. There are degrees of encounter, as Grace provides.

His promises are true – 100%, but we must know what we are asking for, and how God works to provide that divine encounter that opens us up spiritually – in a way that is incomparable.

James 4/

9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

He will lift you up in spirit – that’s an actual, supernatural, spiritual experience! When it happens we know for sure that we have encountered the divine nature, by encountering The Lord himself.

In these verses we find the instruction as to what to do – and with it the promised result!

The result is an encounter with God and His divine nature that changes us forever!

Natural and Spiritual

NATURAL AND SPIRITUAL

I came across this paragraph from old notes I still have from many years ago when I taught a Saturday morning Bible School, as part of the church I was a part of, at the time. I’m not sure if I was the author, or had taken on-board something someone else had pointed out:natural spiritual insert jpgIt reminded me of one simple truth that I will finish this post with.

But the pasted notes above, are in the context of how the church embraces the revelation of God’s truth (in this context the restoration of total immersion water-baptism for those who are of an age of understanding and who want to follow Christ).

God tells us in His word, however that:

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.

The truly bible-defined spiritual person – will receive and discern and know the things of God. But here we read of the ‘natural’ man finding them foolishness.

Having just embraced and accepted a biblical revelation of truth and acted upon it, man – the natural man – can reject a further truth of similar import. Which was what happened (as the above note pointed out) following the revelation of Water baptism.

Showing us clearly that there is a ‘natural man’ and there is a ‘spiritual man’. We all have the option of either remaining or becoming a spiritual person – or of returning to a hardened condition of heart that can’t grasp the things of the Spirit of God. Especially when He offers us further revelation from the Word of God.

To acknowledge the possibility of this retrogressive step, is only the first part in seeking to maintain our walk with The Lord so as to be open to, and receive further enlightenment, thus refusing to let the natural man take over.

It highlights the fact that God wants His people to remain true, and in fellowship with Him. Remain up to date in ‘first love’ relationship with Jesus.

This is a tall order when we are buffeted and our faith is tried – but it is God’s call to us all – and as we remain in close fellowship ‘near to the heart of God’ – we remain open to further enlightenment.

I marvel at how people fail to recognise the things of God. I marvel less when I consider that without God’s help I too, can be that ‘natural man’ with that ‘natural perspective’ that does not recognise the ways of God.

We are however in good company, when we realise that the first disciples were in the same boat. In fact literally in the boat, when they failed to recognise that nothing could harm them with Christ in the vessel. Their fear and therefore their natural man was winning the day. (Matthew 8/25)

We live in strange times – you who believe – will you join me in seeking the answers God wants to give us from His word – regarding how we should respond to and live in these perilous times? (II Timothy 3/1)

as unto spiritual…

AS UNTO SPIRITUAL…

I Corinthians 3/

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

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

Who is Paul the Apostle addressing here?

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

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

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

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

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

Hmmm?

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

Anyway – that is for you to decide.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everything in the Christian life is a matter of exchange.

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

So now everything is ‘rosey in the garden’?

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

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

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

Colossians 1/

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

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

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

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

Ephesians 4

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

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

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

Fallen? – Get up!

FALLEN? – GET UP!

You have fallen. Get back up. You have fallen physically – get back up. You have many bruises emotionally – come to Christ for healing. You are beset with clamorous confused thoughts – turn to God’s word, to replace them. Settle on His word(s).

In western movies we all remember the stagecoach, which having lost it’s two drivers/riders – runs wildly onwards – out of control, the horses having no guide.

A cowboy on horseback outrides/outruns the stagecoach hops on board and the two damsels inside are rescued, as he brings the stagecoach to a halt.

Regardless of how out of control things may seem – there is one who is willing to draw alongside and take control of your life beginning with your thought-life. He is always ahead of you, able to double back and embrace you and save you.

But how hard it initially is to ‘calm down’, stop and relax, gather up your thoughts to get past the turmoil of emotion.

But you can do it! Faith begins in God’s word, faith is strengthened by reading the Word, faith provides the ability to enter into rest again.

Easier said than done? Yes – but let’s be reminded that regardless of how instant the help seems, or not – trusting beats remaining in the turmoil.

Paul the apostle exhorts us:

casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

Bringing every thought into captivity is not easy when in a ‘whirl’ over a given negative situation.

That’s why some preachers exhort us to ‘Praise God in every situation’. Praise takes our mind and focuses it on God! His attributes are multiple – there is much to Praise God for.

Praise is the voice of faith.

I believe God needs our co-operation – if He is to help us. We are all slow to give Him or co-operation at times.

Sometimes the choice of the will is all we have. The choice we must take is to use our faith.

Lord we who are so weak – use our faith – to co-operate with you in order that your strength be made perfect in our weakness!

(II Corinthians 12/9)

The Mystery

THE MYSTERY

2 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; 3 meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, 4 that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.

To some the knowing of the MYSTERY, has been given:

11 And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables,

‘To you it has been given…’

We cannot know the mystery, except it be given to us.

We can’t find it any other way. Not by ingenuity of the most ingenious kind, not by reading books alone, nor by oral tradition, nor by scanning every man-made philosophy.

As we read, as we listen, as we seek, as we ask, as we knock – yes in the course of doing so – it can be given us ‘to know…’

But ‘to you…’, Jesus said to His chosen disciples ‘it has been given to know the mystery…’

What mystery?

The mystery of the kingdom of God.

Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began

A mystery kept secret.

This mystery of God’s kingdom cannot be given to sinful man. Therefore what the mystery is – is unknown to those from whom it is hidden.

That means they strive and struggle with their own intellects to dismiss it as mumbo-jumbo. They attack the gospel because they are left without it’s revelation.

The more they search for fault in the bible and are proud of their arguments, the further away do they go from it’s revelation, as they substitute their own reasoning powers for the offered revelation of the mystery.

God never intended the abandonment of reason, just repentance from sin. Non-repentant man, the natural man, cannot receive the things of the mystery, until he firsts takes the place of humility.

A man or a woman must go through an inner life-changing spiritual experience as he/she hears the gospel, and responds, in order to really understand it.

That’s why Paul talks of ‘the revelation of the mystery…’

It is a revelation, which is inner illumination supplied by The Holy Spirit of God.

The content of the mystery, is manifold. Not comprehensively understood this side of heaven.

As we walk with Christ Jesus, the possibility remains continuous of understanding more of this mystery.

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory…

Those who totally accept Christ as Lord and Saviour – are given insight into this mystery, God has ordained that it be so.

Receiving revelation of the mystery, is not the same as knowing all things. There is always more insight into the mystery, but to the believing Christian much can be revealed. We see this in the life of John, Paul, Peter, and so on.

They played their part in transcribing in the Power of the Holy Spirit whatever God placed within their spirit and understanding, but Paul informs us even though he was given an abundance of revelation – he/we still only ‘know in part’.

Many, aware that they can’t understand spiritual matters and are unable to conclude – consider that everyone is in the same boat. They therefore dismiss out-of-hand anything to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ. “After all they conclude, how can we know for sure?”

When God moves in your heart in response to the invitation to do so – you will know without a doubt.

The multitudes who received a healing miracle from Christ – knew beyond a shadow of doubt that this man had the words of eternal life.

However the plight of mankind is made clear – despite witnessing the feeding of four or five thousand people from a handful of  loves and  fishes human nature still has the capacity to doubt and turn away from the King of Kings.

So Paul in light of the deceitfulness of his own heart and ours, exhorts us in the following way:

13 Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.

Hold fast despite what life throws at us. Hold fast to the sound words of Christ. Hold fast in faith, despite feelings. 

Hold fast to the only set of thoughts on the planet that are 100% true and reliable. Hold fast and trust the son of man, The Son of God, whom to know is life eternal!

Questions?

QUESTIONS

We have no concept of the numbers…

No concept of the amount of human beings who will live with or without Christ forever.

It is knowledge that is beyond us.

How many people have populated the earth since the beginning of time?

Of course – impossible to know.

Concerning numbers – there is – a certain 144,000 mentioned in the Bible. As yet such a number has not found it’s way to my scrutiny. I know it has in other cults. But I haven’t studied its context or implications.

So questions like “What happens to those who never hear the gospel of Jesus Christ?”

Or “what happens to those who live a ‘good life’, without having accepted this gospel?”

Considerations like “they will be judged by the light they have received”

All of these ponderings/considerations are common amongst Christians.

But it reminds me of The Lord when He answered the Pharisee:

28 Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her.”

29 Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.

The Lord Jesus points out things lacking in the Pharisee’s understanding – 1) a big enough knowledge of the scripture and 2) his lack of experience of the power of God.

When it comes to imponderables, there are no easy answer solutions. There is a point man reaches in his reasoning powers, when in humility he must succumb to the fact that unless the Holy Spirit enlightens the scriptures by His power, we will not become knowledgable concerning certain things.

This should not hinder our faith, but bolster it, in the understanding that without faith it is impossible to please God. So when our enquiries lead us astray from a steadfast faith in Christ – we have given heed to modern fables:

I Timothy 1/4…give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do…

So godly edifying is in faith. Faith waits to be further enlightened, it waits to gain insight previously absent.

So questions we cannot immediately answer, or questions we find imperfect answers to, should not throw our faith, but rather establish even more our need for God’s help, as we admit our finite limitations.

Many start to turn away from God by virtue of the answers they seem unable to obtain.

Doubt sets in – or spiritual carelessness. And the imponderables provide an excuse to turn again to the weak and beggarly elements this world has to offer.

Paul responding to the Galatian believers – who had gone astray in their thinking – is heard to say: 

I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

Regardless of how difficult some things are to understand, we must hold fast to what we already know, and realise that the complexity of life means that when the age-old temptation to dismiss God arises, because we have things that disturb us – there is no reason to depart from the faith.

We think of Job and the affliction he endured – and how he just could not grasp how such a thing could happen to him – and yet he did not curse God or reject Him.

All that I have just written can be challenged by the experiences of life, but God does not change. We must change to a position of waiting on God for His further help.

But when everything cries out – “this is unfair, or how can this happen…” we against-the-odds must find grace to fall on the Rock – Christ Jesus, in confession of our dependancy on the One who has the words of eternal life.

Job is an example – when he cried: “Though he slay me – yet will I trust him”.

In light of some of the things other people have suffered and survived – surely we can handle one of the ‘imponderables’ that comes under the heading of theology, and survive with our faith intact – rejoicing that we can only know in part anyway!

I Corinthians 13/12

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

 

Seeing the Invisible

SEEING THE INVISIBLE 

There is always the mysterious side of prayer.

When it comes to what actually happens in the unseen spiritual realm.

As Christians we are called to see into this realm.

How much we do – or don’t, depends on the Grace we have been given individually, it depends on our measure of faith. It depends on our own dedication and faithfulness to God.

After we release our prayers – usually through inner desires communicated to The Lord Jesus, (our representative before the Heavenly Father), or that which we audibly and visibly release from our beings in a prayer meeting with others – what happens after that?

Indeed we have limited knowledge of what this ‘triggers’ in heaven.

Having released our words into the spiritual invisible realm, sending them to our advocate, – it is interesting that we often set about immediately to judge the results by what we see or don’t see in the visible realm, the natural world.

And yet the scripture says: …7 For we live by faith, not by sight.

We are told in the following scripture that Faith sees the invisible:

27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.

“Seeing Him who is invisible”

That about sums up the difference between the two realms – or worlds – if you like.

In fact we hold a privileged and blessed position if our faith does not depend on seeing things in the natural world – Jesus communicating to doubting Thomas says:

29 …“Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

What’s it to be, are we to walk looking at the visible or the invisible?

Paul came to spiritual visions and revelations and expected more.

You and I at least need to look in the spirit – indeed, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.

Prophets could often see the invisible – that’s why of course, they were referred to as ‘seers’.

Who agrees that it is a piece of cake to walk according to the visible world we live in?

Where all our senses respond to the natural.

So when we release our prayers – we are exhorted contrary to our natural senses – we are exhorted to look at the invisible to see our prayers answered.

Jesus did this consistently and into the natural came the answers.

At least we of little faith – can look into the word of God that speaks of the invisible things to see, the spiritual realities.

We must cultivate our inner life with Christ.

We need to realise that there is a seeing literally – a God-given vision with our eyes closed or open. It can be an ‘open vision’, but also it is – we must realise – our understanding that gets to see. 

‘The eyes of our understanding are enlightened’. This too is seeing the invisible. But spiritual things are spiritually discerned. They are more than words on a page. They are more than some form of dead theology.

There are obvious examples from scripture of ones who needed their inner eyes enlightened so that the invisible was made visible. 

What they saw remained invisible it’s just that now they could see or see into the invisible.

2 examples –

31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face.

17 And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

Elisha could already see into the invisible, now the young man received grace and help to also see what was invisible.

Any glimpse we get into the spiritual realm, helps our faith. Calling and causing us to realise that Jesus came to make the invisible father – visible. But now He calls us to see Him in the spirit.

All we can do is keep looking in prayer and into the eternal word, and be open to God according to His word, and only according to His word – granting us sight to see what the natural eyes cannot, or understand what our natural understanding cannot comprehend.

Let’s not pretend we see things, vainly puffed up by our fleshly minds – but at the same time – let us not sell ourselves short. As Christians we have this privilege bought-for-us at the cross of calvary, after which the Holy Spirit was given to lead us into all (therefore more) spiritual truth.

We are already blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places (the unseen realm) in Christ Jesus.

More Lord we pray!

The problem with the law

THE PROBLEM WITH THE LAW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Woman and man violated that law, with catastrophic consequences.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But He must be invited to do so by mankind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is much to say.

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

Encouragement…

ENCOURAGEMENT 

Everybody likes to be encouraged.

The Christian message contains much encouragement .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Christian ministries avoid any reference to anything negative.

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

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

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

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

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

God’s Word would call us to balance.

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

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

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

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

I Timothy 1/

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

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

Prayer into the air? Part II

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

PRAYER INTO THE AIR? Part 2 (2019)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II Corinthians 11/32. 

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

God does correct in love.

Mark 16/14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What happened? Why was the prayer not answered?

Already we are asking questions.

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 17/

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

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

If you have faith as small as…

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

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

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

Answers? They must come as relationship becomes more intimate.