Category Archives: hearing

Conundrum (of sorts?)

CONUNDRUM (of sorts)

Some time-a-go a brother in Christ (with tongue in cheek) nicknamed me – ‘Brother Conundrum’. This idea was not based on how he found me – but rather as a ‘synonym’ for my surname: Riddles.

So – true to my name – here is somewhat of a conundrum.

I have noticed folks who hit the like button after reading my posts, those whom I have investigated with a view of reciprocating, – leave me wondering why they hit the like button in the first place?

Because some, not all of course, leave me with the distinct impression that their ‘philosophy’ of life is not in line with my own beliefs. In fact they are worlds apart.

But no doubt I am not alone in this observation, as you compare your own notes with other posts, by other persons.

I guess this poses the question again, ‘why do we hit the like button’? (I visited this some time ago…)

As one blogger put it – ‘he hits the like button to show his appreciation for the effort the person put into writing it in the first place’. Quite a noble reason, I think.

Here are just a few more possibilities –

‘I don’t agree with it – but like the way it is written’, ‘I hit the like button to let them know there is room for us all, even if I don’t agree with them…’, ‘my ‘like’ is ‘points for effort’, ‘I liked one sentence and it was enough to hit the ‘like’ button, but I don’t accept the rest’ and so on…

This might work out as – 

Atheists liking faith-filled posts. Skeptics loving the optimism of a faith blog. People who follow other religions, putting the words through the sieve of their religious beliefs, making my words into something I do not intend.

Again just a few ideas of how people hear things in different ways and having properly mis-interpreted 😳 find something to ‘like’.

All this goes to establish in my mind the need for God’s help, if any of us are to properly understand the scriptures and therefore spiritual matters. Or do we make do with the whole conundrum of things?

The help of the Third Person of the Godhead – the Holy Spirit is needed to enable anyone to understand the things of God, and therefore there is need for His help in order to understand what I write about His Word (The Bible).

Or to be more succinct – His help to understand the Bible.

I wonder are you familiar with…, have you ever read… the following scripture?

I Corinthians 2/

These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But 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. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.

I draw your attention to ‘nor can he know them’.

And closing this post abruptly – I ask you to please go on ‘liking’, but I…

Ephesians 1/16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

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TRUE LIGHT

TRUE LIGHT

In mocking tones, sometimes amidst a workforce, I have heard it said: “Oh – they have seen the light…”

What they mean is – they have become ‘religious’. Referring to anyone who starts professing to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

Whether knowingly or unknowingly the reference they use to ‘seeing the light’ is usually connected to the experience of one ‘Saul of Tarsus’, who had a name change to ‘Paul the Apostle’.

He had a very dramatic experience on the Damascus Road, where he encountered a blinding light, and heard a voice, all part of a supernatural revelation of Jesus Christ. (full story – Acts 9)

He referred to this experience, later in his life, referring to this encounter with Christ – he adds – as ‘by one born out of due time’.

I Corinthians 15/

After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.

So it was Christ and His radiating Glory that he saw.

The terminology used in describing this experience is arrested descriptively by innocent or not so innocent commentators when they discover someone newly come to faith in Jesus Christ The Lord.

And really it is a good description of conversion, whether used kindly or mockingly.

I saw the light in 1970 – 48 years ago.

The bedroom in which I saw the light no longer exists. But I walk in the light every day as I am enabled by the Giver of light.

There is no light without ‘The Life’.

John 1/

3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not [a]comprehend it.

Christ’s imparted life-giving Spirit to the repentant heart illuminates the inner man in an unmistakeable way.

…The last Adam (Christ Jesus) became a life-giving spirit.

(I Corinthians 15/45).

However there are other ways of receiving ‘light’. 

Unfortunately there is ‘light’ that-is-in-fact darkness. It is offered outside of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it is clearly referred to in the Bible in this way:

35 Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness.

How can light be darkness – it sounds contradictory?

But it isn’t. It is all to do with your source.

The electricity company supplies electricity and therefore light to my home. There are other companies vying for the business – they too can supply the light.

We could also quote the old adage – ‘all that glitters is not gold’ when highlighting that all ‘light’ is not to be embraced.

Let me sound a warning-shot over your bow – not all light is the true light that has come into the world, to illuminate mankind to the truth of the gospel, namely that there is

…one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,

John 1/8-10

That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

Luke 11/35-

Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness.

Jesus could not have made it clearer that all light presented in numerous philosophies and religions can in actual fact be darkness.

II Corinthians 11/14.

And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.

May you and I encounter the true light of Christmas – born in Bethlehem – the true light has come.

It hasn’t entered our mind…

IT HASN’T ENTERED YOUR MIND…

I Corinthians 2/But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.

The phrase I wish to draw attention to in this passage of scripture is:

‘Nor have entered into the heart of man’

You have heard people say: ‘…in fact the thought never crossed my mind.’

Well, there are thoughts that have never entered our heads, nor ever will – cross our minds – this side of the heaven-of-heavens.

As a painter/poet/preacher it is my daily grist to the mill, to have no shortage of imaginative ideas. That doesn’t guarantee that they are good ideas. Nor that, (especially painting) they are ever followed-through on.

But when it comes to spiritual matters, the imagination mustn’t take over, to the negation of truth.

It can be customary, in some people’s minds to automatically equate ‘divine inspiration’ with the role of the artist, writer or composer.

I remember asking an accomplished musician, who was also a Bible teacher, and therefore a Christian, if he thought those with no spiritual confession or commitment to Christ, could possibly be enabled by Christ in any way to pen the overtures they composed.

His answer was: ‘No.”

And I agreed. That is not to say – that many who do not profess to follow Christ, cannot write or produce something memorable, worthwhile, of lasting worth, and that very much adds to our lives. To suggest that they couldn’t – would be totally wrong.

However, divine revelation or inspiration, if it is to come from Jesus Christ and therefore the Holy Spirit, demands first, the pre-requisite of knowing Him personally.

[NB: There are exceptions to this, when God has a task to accomplish, he may well give revelation to an unbeliever cpr. Pilates wife (?)]

However Christ’s genuine enablement is an experience, and will not contradict the Holy Scriptures in the content, that the enablement provides.

The way I see God’s enablement as an artist, or as a Christian writer is best explained in terms of direct and indirect inspiration.

There are times when, what I say or write, is very much with a sense of His inspiration and enablement directly.

At other times what I already am as a Christian, will influence what I produce, and I cannot claim any direct (prophetic) inspiration from God for the painting, poem, post, or preach.

When it comes to painting or poetry – I do not seek His direct inspiration all that much.

Paul the apostle says this:

Romans 9/

  1. I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit…

Notice Paul (as all Christians should be) was acutely aware of his conscience in a living-relationship with God’s Presence in his life.

Conscience plays a big part when it comes to having a sense of inspiration. The balancing of our minds with the Mind of Christ, must always be taking place.

We never become anything other than human, in this life. A human being in fellowship with God.

He has however, bestowed upon all true Christ-ones, the great blessing of now becoming ‘sons of God’ (Romans 8/14).

But it doesn’t yet appear what we shall be like – when we reach that heavily destination. We will though, be more than human when we get there. In one passage we are told we shall be like the angels…

Matthew 22/30: For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.

All that this means is not clear.

Which brings me back to the phrase I have drawn attention to at the beginning:

‘nor have entered into the heart of man’

Think of it – things that we cannot as yet comprehend!

Beyond our imagination. Things too high and wonderful for us to comprehend. 

I Corinthians 13/

For we know in part and we prophesy in part….

…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.

So the atheist or agnostic who must have it all comprehended and packaged to meet the criteria of their intellect, is missing the whole point of the supernatural. We won’t understand it all.

The spiritual is not devoid of logic or the power of reason – it’s just that we use our reason to accept that certain things are beyond the limitations of that same reasoning ability.

Notice this verse of scripture – 

We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ,

Let’s note here – ‘proud thing’. Unfortunately knowledge puffs up with pride. Pride was the original sin. We are told God resists the proud but gives unmerited favour to the humble.

It’s humbling to realise that the intellect is very limited, and has not yet received many of the things that God has prepared for those who love Him…

The proud mind that considers itself greater than God is headed for a fall, such thinking sets itself up AGAINST the true knowledge of God.

And it is the proud heart of man that despises and/or rejects God and His council for the throning of his own intellect, in all matters of life and death.

We must start by accepting… 

…as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My (God’s) ways higher than your ways And My thoughts higher than your thoughts.

By taking the place of humility – we have a better chance of comprehending the things of God – and there is even a chance that we shall receive that Divine inspiration and revelation spoken of earlier.

In fact the verses at the top of this post go on to reveal that:

10 …God has revealed them to us through His Spirit…

He will lead believers into all truth – i.e. lead the prepared heart that fellowships with Him.

In simple terms there are things revealed and things not yet revealed.

But Oh – the wonder! The unimaginable beauty and superior life that awaits those who look for His Coming in faith and hope. Oh the wonder of the afterlife still not revealed! We have glimpses, yes – sometimes wonderful glimpses. But glimpses just the same.

And yet many prefer the lower life and instruction that comes from this world alone.

I thank God for the times my inner human spirit has rose to see like I had never seen before.

Glorious times, that don’t happen every day with the same intensity. But faith has been established in my heart. Faith that says:

Hebrews 11/6:

… he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

If I am to glimpse more – I must begin with the oracles* of God (Bible).

For more – I must meditate on these* things…

Age

AGE

You are a person of your generation. You look around to notice that a generation, has passed on from you.

Sorry to inform you – but there is a generation that sees you as old.

Everybody is young or everybody is old depending on your telescope usage, that spies on time.

I have a 25 year-old inside me, but I am not 25. I’m seen as old to real 25’s.

You are fit?

You are fit, but getting past it – old to that young whippersnapper, who moon-walked past you on the street the other day.

His moon-walk revved up to full throttle.

You can do twenty press-ups, but beware of your green face, when the guy ten years younger than you – does forty.

The march of time. Grow old gracefully.

I heard of the death of a forty year old. Many die young.

Where does the Lord God figure in the age stakes? 

He has neither beginning of days nor ending.

Hebrews 7/Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.

Age is the result of corruption. Old bones and skeletal collapse.

Passing through this scene of time – we distract ourselves with what is here and now. With what the world has to offer.

And pop star after pop star – deflated, dejected passes away in tragic fashion. 

They received all the adulation, attention, idol worship ‘all this will I give you…’ said the god of this world.

But the fame and fortune and adoration is a big let down, and yet many crave it. Too young to think there is another side to the coin of fame.

‘This is the most important moment of my life’ they gasp, as they wait to be voted in or out by the entertained public.

We are all passing-through.

A man named Solomon sought to find what was beneficial to do and be involved in – under the sun. He bought the T-shirt on most of the possible things we could give ourselves to.

He tried ‘em all and remained convinced that it was all – emptiness.

He concluded despite his fame and fortune, there was only one maxim – Fear God and keep his commandments.

But, even so, Solomon in all his glory, had not tasted the new covenant that was-to-come in the Person of The Lord Jesus Christ.

Today, It is spiritually duller than before – and we need Christ’s help more than ever, to enter behind the veil, into the absoluteness and veraciousness of the Almighty – through His Son.

Yes we age with each passing day. Time and tide waits for no man.

Now is the acceptable time to awake to the gospel, before age takes it’s final toll.

John 6/67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. 68. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Satisfaction

SATISFACTION

Sir Mick – couldn’t get any satisfaction. Or at least his lyric couldn’t.

Our chosen dictionary gives us this definition – 

satisfaction – fulfilment of one’s wishes, expectations, or needs, or the pleasure derived from this:

Does that definition satisfy?

Custard and ice-cream – I once asked for cold custard and warm ice-cream, in a restaurant.

But mis-communication or not – I’m always satisfied with this dessert combination.

In fact we often have the main course in restaurants and drive home for our own dessert – which of course should read –  warm custard and cold ice cream.

What is it – that needs satisfied?

We can safely say there are different kinds of satisfaction – physical, mental, emotional, sexual, circumstantial, spiritual, communal, aesthetic, verbal, etc. etc.

As Sir Mick couldn’t get satisfaction, so Mr. Dylan sings differently –

One things for certain, when it comes my time

I’ll leave this old world with a satisfied mind

Saul of Tarsus  – perceived as he was, as a renegade Jew – had a name change and tells us – 

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

So is contentment another word for satisfaction?

This man Saul better known as Paul also adds –

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content…

Whatever state!? Surely not?

This guy, must have had something very special going for him. Something supernatural. Supernatural/spiritual help to be able to make such a statement.

So spiritual satisfaction then?

Did he have physical satisfaction?

He says – 

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ…

He states clearly that he had suffered the loss of all things. Think of the two words – Satisfaction or suffering.

Loss did not mean dis-satisfaction – he had a satisfied mind because he had the excellence of the knowledge of Christ. That is – he knew Christ and therefore absorbed all the knowledge that Christ communicated to him. And it was enough. Enough in every sense of the word.

A footnote of claritydon’t forget Jesus had gone up from the earth in front of many disciples – they saw him go. It was different for Paul. He met him in spirit on the Damascus Road. So Paul walked with Him in spirit and in truth. Paul did not see him walking in a man’s earthly body, as the disciples did.

He (Paul) had physical hardship many times, he was not married and lived a celibate life, his emotional needs were satisfied in Christ, circumstantially he was content, regardless of what befell him. He enjoyed the communal satisfaction provided by true genuine fellow disciples of Christ – but on occasions – stood alone. Satisfied in Christ, content, caught up with the Person of the Holy Spirit and the many revelations he was given.

Again he tells us – 

It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord:

His certainty of spiritual revelation – was the result of God’s proven record in supplying them before.

Paul had one area that he had to handle – he was caught between two desires. The desire to serve God and His people and the desire to leave his body and go and find the eternal satisfaction of living with Christ in the heaven of heavens.

For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better…

Am I, are you, satisfied? What are we looking for? In the list of our satisfactions are we missing what Paul continually had – even in the absence of a perennial comfort zone?

Paul speaking:

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

 

Vulnerable with whom?

VULNERABLE WITH WHOM?

We can talk about what is happening in society. We can talk about what is happening in the world.

But what, (perhaps needless to say), is happening inside us, is what we are most familiar with.

Being self-conscious human beings, means – our self-awareness leads us to personal concerns – first.

Everyone’s aspirations differ, I guess with some overlapping, but never quite the same.

Our mind is pre-preoccupied with the body we live in. First-things-first is usually subjective.

We are fragile flesh. Prone to the same highs and lows.

Body, soul and spirit beings.

Inescapably we succumb to self-interest first, punctuated by a few sacrifices we may have made for others along the way, in order to change our self-oriented daily narrative.

Christians or non-Christians, acts of charity, and good deeds-done are common to all.

Some have been more sacrificial than others, in their service to their fellow man.

I am way down the pecking order when it comes to good deeds done, to the benefit of my fellow man. 

I can only hope that my service of ‘words’ has helped others to some small degree, along the way.

But mankind is housed in flesh, and we all have this earthly tent in common. We live in these corruptible bodies, with all our mutual limitations.

We are prone, as is said of Elijah: ‘to like passions.’

James 5/17: Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months

Despite these ‘like passions’ common to us all – Elijah (Elias) was a spiritual man, able to pray and receive answers.

Many believe in vulnerability. Many believe they should share their weaknesses openly with all who will listen.

This they usually conclude is being real. We should be free to share our innermost weaknesses and needs, they believe, to authenticate our genuineness.

Others consider this to be airing their dirty linen in public.

 Dictionary –  To discuss very private, personal matters, especially that which may be embarrassing, in public or with other people.

When we share such private thoughts, we leave ourselves open to ridicule or unfair judgment from others.

It establishes in their minds a certain outlook towards us.

Even if we grow, and overcome those inner weaknesses, it may well be, they remain convinced, that we have not, indeed, overcome.

And should we fall yet again into negative behaviour of whatever kind, they affirm to themselves that indeed, we have not moved on.

Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is not the whole answer to finding help. We need to ask “with whom can I, or should I, be vulnerably open?”

Those who are at all familiar with this blog, and this season of Christian-perspective posts, will not be surprised in the least at my next exhortation:

Vulnerability, that is – being vulnerable and therefore usually confessional  – in an acceptable manner is firstly vertical, before it is horizontal.

Prayer to Christ Jesus the one who is seated at the right hand of God the Father, in an unimaginable way, and who ever lives to represent those who want Him as their saviour and advocate, is the vertical friendship that I am referring to.

Proverbs 18/24

A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Christ Jesus is that friend that sticks closer than a human being/brother, if He is invited into our lives.

He is never surprised at your vulnerability, nor ignorant of your attempts to be and do what is right. He is compassionate and understanding, willing to forgive when you fail, and willing to comfort the downhearted in His presence, where there is fullness of joy.

Be – as vulnerable as you want to be – with Him. Tell Him honestly what you think of yourself. Share with Him your most intimate thoughts.

Having done this – you can then move from vertical communion with Christ to the horizontal, in finding a real, true human friend, to open your heart to.

This is not always an easy task. But don’t give up, there are still some genuine, ethically sound, sincere counsellors who will keep confidence, and lend a helping hand.

You know I’m going to add – Christian ones.

Despite the onslaught of failure amongst people in positions of trust, and despite the hypocritical representation of religion, there are still those who are salt and light.

Men and women dealing with the same weaknesses Elijah, and you and I, contend with, both in ourselves and our fellow human beings.

Like Elijah the prophet – we can still pray and get results, especially in areas of subjectivity.

To finish – I must bind myself to the first part of the verse quoted above:

Proverbs 

A man who has friends must himself be friendly…

I raise my glass of coke –

“Here’s to your friendship”

Plainly still hidden?

PLAINLY STILL HIDDEN?

Supposing there was something absolutely essential to mankind. Essential perhaps to man’s very survival. It was as plain as day. ‘As plain as the nose on your face’,  as they say.

Yet – nobody noticed it or was aware of it. It was in front of them – but they couldn’t see it.

I wonder – to help me complete this short post if you can give me an example?

To give me an example would not be possible. As you then would have already noticed it – and therefore it fails to meet the criteria, of being plainly out of sight.

Although – it is in the realm of possibility, that you alone can see it – and no one else – and therefore it gives you authority in providing the example.

I reckon all the great inventors, pretty much knew something before everyone else. It was hidden to the rest of us, and eventually revealed by them.

So clearly I am referring to something – hidden.

Something plainly needed by the human race, yet hidden, and therefore unseen, out of sight.

There is much that mankind does not know.

When man discovers something for the betterment of, or service to, the human race, it can be embraced triumphantly.

But sometimes embraced, as though now, there was nothing else left to find out.

We should be thankful for any great discoveries in medical science. But refrain from getting on our ‘high horse’. We still don’t have a cure for the common cold.

It’s that ‘high horse’ thing that God most dislikes. Yet many on their high horse (with no real understanding) blame God for being on his!

The original sin was one of pride – Isaiah 14/13-15:

You said in your heart,

    “I will ascend to the heavens;

I will raise my throne

    above the stars of God;

I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,

    on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.

14 

I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;

    I will make myself like the Most High.”

15 

But you are brought down to the realm of the dead,

    to the depths of the pit.

The fall of this spirit took place before mankind followed suit and fell into sin.

The ‘I’ factor is loud and clear in this passage of scripture.

Lifting oneself up is the expression of a proud heart. Taking the best seat at the feast, rather than the lower seat, it being the host’s (not the guest’s) prerogative to ask you up to a higher one.

Those who exalt themselves shall be humbled. 

Thinking too highly of (oneself), is a danger, as pride goes before a fall.

Nowadays the emphasis is on holding on to a good self-image to the exclusion of whether it is based on fact or fiction.

A bad self-image and a good self-image can both be flawed.

A good self-image is self-acceptance, accepting ourselves as we are, without living a life of pretence or with delusions of grandeur. It is thinking of ourselves in a sober manner – not too highly and not too lowly.

Recognising our strengths and our weaknesses, without being morbidly introspective about the weaknesses, nor puffed-up with insolent pride perhaps over some ability we have.

Bringing our weaknesses to Jesus Christ, who converses with His Father on behalf of those who desire Him to do so.

There are many things, (spiritually speaking), that I have yet to see, – yet to find out.

I am thankful for what has been shown to me. Things I have great certainty over.

But I will always be on the road of discovery, when it comes to my relationship with Jesus Christ.

In this life I will always only – ‘know in part’.

But I’m told to hold fast to what I have already received, and to walk by the same rule.

I am also told that the things I have received are hidden to many others:

I Corinthians 2/6-8.

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

That thing, that is hidden to many, is the essential thing I referred to at the beginning of this post.

It is a drawn-up and carried-out plan for the salvation of the human race.

Is it plain to you? Or plainly – still hidden from your understanding?

There is coming a day regardless of what theological standpoint we take, – there is coming a day – when Christ will return to take only those who are part of his mystical body (the church) –  still alive on earth – into the air in a rapturous experience.

A day when Christ who is hidden from the sight of the eyes of multitudes today, will return no longer hidden, but in plain view – for every eye shall see Him –

Revelation 1/7:

“Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen.

will they recognise Him or will recognition be hidden from them also?

Is the gospel message then, plain for you? To be acted on immediately? Or does it remain hidden even though you can hear it from many preachers?

About that opening paragraph:

Supposing there was something absolutely essential to mankind…It was in front of them – but they couldn’t see it…?

Old wine or new?

OLD WINE OR NEW?

There are quite a few ‘sayings’ around, that carry the message that – things take time.

‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ – will do, to make the point.

I’m sure there are more.

Luke 5/39 – And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’ ”

There is an ‘immediately’ in this verse, preceded by ‘no one…’ immediately’ – so not right away then?

Someone enjoys a glass of wine. He has chosen that favourite wine for years. He avoids anything new.

“Would you like to switch to this other wine..?”

“No thanks…this is my favourite…”

End of story.

He will not budge. His mind is already made up.

There might be a case for saying the older he is – the less likely he is to change. Younger folks tend to enjoy trying something new.

Will you persuade him/her differently, by verbally challenging their present choice day after day?

Maybe a week later, – getting them to change?

Maybe a year later…?

Who knows – Rome wasn’t built in a day.

What if it was – “Would you like to stop smoking?”

“No thanks – I enjoy it.”

Now – decades later, after much scientific/medical facts being 100% established that it is bad for your health – people will be more quickly persuaded that the ‘old (cancer inducing habit of smoking) is not better’.

The old way was never better. But popular belief held that it was ok to smoke, it was cool.

When medical evidence became conclusive – they did not straightaway desire the new idea – of stopping.

“Would you like to become a follower of Christ?”

“No thanks I’m ok the way I am.”

“I prefer my old lifestyle – and I’m not really interested in a new one”.

I Corinthians 5/17  – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

When? When will they become new, when will you realise that the old is not in fact better, how long will it take you to be persuaded?

When it comes to the Christian gospel of change – To start with we all say: ‘the old is better…’ I know I did.

Set in our ways – is it not a bit annoying that others want us to drink the wine they prefer? When we have always chosen the one we drink every week?

What is going to persuade us to change?

In the context of being presented with the Christian message – what do people rely on in order to stay convinced the old – their own way – is better?

Medical science? Intellectual debate? Evolution versus Creationism? Drug-induced existentialism? A study of comparative religions? A searching hipster-trail tour of India and such places, searching for their ‘true’ selves?

All this takes time, and many have chosen these paths to pursue, to keep themselves convinced the old wine is better, or metaphorically – smoking is ok.

Whilst all along the old way of smoking, the old wine, the old sin-dominant lifestyle, the old rejection of Christ,  is grossly inferior, and the new preferable.

The new wine’s superiority is explained below:-

Psalm 34/8 – Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

In case you didn’t know.

IN CASE YOU DIDN’T KNOW

1 Corinthians 3/ (Amplified Bible)

  1. 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!

In case you didn’t know – this is Paul the Apostle speaking to the Corinthian – Christian believers.

Firstly he addresses them as ‘brothers and sisters’. All true Christian believers, share the family resemblance of Christ. He has instructed us to know and address each other as part of the same spiritual family.

So Paul is speaking to Christian brothers and sisters.

Every Christian claims that there IS a spiritual life, and not as the atheists would claim i.e. zero now and zero after the grave.

Spiritual people then?

Apparently not.

“I could not talk to you as to spiritual people…” 

What does that mean? The whole point of the Christian message, or teaching, is that all Christians have become spiritual people – out to share the message that Christ is Lord! He is to be worshipped as the only living and true God, and all His followers worship Him in spirit and truth. Becoming increasingly spiritual as Christ is.

So what’s this? –

 “I could not talk to you as to spiritual people…” 

In understanding this, it is first necessary to say that the great thing about acceptance with God is acceptance of God!

However, acceptance of God – is no excuse for doing things that find no acceptance with God.

Confused?

Christian acceptance with God (Salvation of repentant sinners), is based on man’s response and acceptance of Christ personally as Lord and Saviour.

This is a two-way acceptance.

This two-way acceptance is sealed amidst an experience Christian’s refer to as ‘being born again’.

We accept Christ and the sufficiency of His sacrifice for sins, and He in turn accepts us.

Christ comes into our lives in a very real and personal spiritual way.

Now we are in the family of God.

Every family has acts of obedience and disobedience in it. Children mis-behave, but (I hope) mostly are still accepted and loved, despite bad behaviour.

The bad behaviour varies in magnitude or seriousness.

The spiritual nature of these Corinthian believers was subject to the frustration and hindrance of the nature all men and women are born with. The sinful nature.

This conflict/warfare/frustration is described in 

Galatians 5/17 –

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.

I have capitalised to make the point.

Until we encounter the person of Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit – we cannot know the spiritual nature that can be inherited from Christ Jesus.

When we do have such an encounter – it does not mean that the old nature we are born with disappears.

All Christians at some time, continue to succumb and yield themselves to this lower nature, even though they are spiritual people.

There are degrees of this.

But hopefully, true Christians, mostly allow the new nature to have pre-eminence in the battle described above. (Galatians 5/17).

The Corinthians were not doing so well in this warfare.

Consequently Paul could not address them as spiritual, but as weak and as yet immature believers.

So to share the deeper things of God, would not yet, be appropriate, when the instruction they needed was of a more foundational type.

In order to properly hear and obey the truth of God, we must enjoy the inner life of Christ filling our inner beings, in order to hear as we ought to hear, and understand properly the things God wishes to teach us.

When the old nature is strong – we end up in the place the Corinthians were in – accepted in Christ – but with unacceptable behaviour manifesting, rather than the fruits of the Holy Spirit winning the day.

In the rest of I Corinthians, Paul, speaking on Christ’s behalf, under the enablement of The Holy Spirit – addresses some of the unacceptable behaviour.

After teaching many more things to the Corinthians, (sixteen chapters in fact). Paul partly ends with these words, in I Corinthians 16/22 (quoted below).

Instructing us that acceptance of Christ and His ways, is essential, even though the Corinthians were immature and needed to grow in greater spirituality.

Paul highlights the only disqualifying ‘heavy’ note that he can’t put down to anyone’s spiritual immaturity.

Someone then, would not be his brother or sister in Christ if the following applied:

I Corinthian 16/22 – …If anyone does not love the Lord [does not obey and respect and believe in Jesus Christ and His message], he is to be accursed.

Freedom

FREEDOM

The word – freedom – can mean different things to different people.

There are Pharisaical religious bondages that many need to be freed from.

Hostages know all about the joy of freedom when eventually they are rescued.

To be able to visit your place of worship freely without restriction is another appreciated liberty.

Freedom of speech is championed by many.

The lines of a chorus come to mind – “Are you free!?” “Have you got the victory?”

Succinctly that’s what freedom consists of – victory.

Free from an addiction, free from oppressive bullies, free from a restrictive governmental regime, or on a lighter note – Free from having to pay to park. Free from nuisance phone calls.

I have read that in some countries such as the USA an ornamental key – the key to the city is presented to esteemed visitors, residents, or others whom the city wishes to honour. This is a variation on the freedom of the city tradition.

But true freedom is not – being allowed to do exactly as we wish, especially at the expense of others. So freedom, must also include, having rules.

The imposition of one persons will on another is generally interpreted as oppressive, and robbing them of their freedom. It certainly can be.

But the imposition of a long-suffering and tolerant Saviour-God’s will upon mankind, if we would only wake up to it, is the imposition of a rule of love that brings mankind to the best possible place he could be in.

The Lord Jesus Christ wants to ellicit our willing response out of the freedom of choice that we have. He wants us to honour the rules of His kingdom, the kingdom of God.

True freedom is the ability to do what is right.

Jesus is willing to give that freedom, that liberty, that ability to walk with Him, and so overcome all that this present world contributes in binding us to the tyranny of sin.

But there must be a strong desire to escape to spiritual freedom.

Paul the Apostle says: Wretched and miserable man that I am! Who will [rescue me and] set me free from this body of death [this corrupt, mortal existence]?

He goes on to affirm the way of freedom:

Thanks be to God [for my deliverance] through Jesus Christ our Lord! 

We have all seen the movie scenes where there is an exchange of the kidnapped for the ransom, and it usually involves a walk of some kind, from one place to another, from the oppressors into the arms of a loved one.

Jesus has paid the ransom, now a walk must take place from the bondage and imprisonment of sin – to Him. 

Seems only appropriate, as you or I consider our imprisonment of whatever kind – for me to ask have we begun our walk to freedom in Christ?

Some bible verses without the references – 

So if the Son makes you free, then you are unquestionably free.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Calling

CALLING

I mentioned in a previous post that the church are the called out ones pertaining to The Lord.

Called.

What do you make of that word?

In Christian and ‘religious’ circles – we often hear that someone has a ‘calling’. Or has received a ‘calling’.

We used to talk of ‘callings’ in life – doctors, nurses, schoolteachers, and other noble professions.

We might ask if that is still the case?

When does a ‘calling’ become just a job?

Called’ – Paul the apostle was ‘called’.

Romans 1/1 – Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God

All true Christians are ‘called’.

There is much to say about this ‘calling’. I will only touch on it, in this relatively short post.

Hebrews 3/1 Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.

In this verse – ‘calling’ – has an adjective preceding it. – the adjective is Heavenly. Christians are given a heavenly calling.

A calling that comes to us on earth, but is of a completely different nature and experience, and is spiritual – not earthly, sensual and devilish. (James 3/15)

There is the earthly and the heavenly and they are ‘worlds’ apart.

Notice the heavenly calling spoken of, by the Hebrew writer is something, – as one bible version puts it – to ‘partake’ of.

This calling, of course, refers to our future – coming home – totally translated state – into the heaven of heavens to ever be with Christ. (NB: But not just our future).

We are called to go there – to ever be with The Lord.

So there is a place called heaven (I like to refer to it as the heaven of heavens – so we don’t get puerile accusations that we mean the clouds in the sky or outer space or something…)

But true Christians have already been translated into the kingdom of God, even though our bodies are still upon the earth.

Colossians 1/13: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

So the heavenly calling of which true Christians partake of or share in – is firstly and foremostly a spiritual – phenomena, experience and place.

According to scripture we have already been raised up, and are seated together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 2/6 …and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

This is the connection every true believer in Christ experiences, whose spirit has been born unto God through Christ Jesus.

You see Christ is seated at the right hand of God the Father. And the new birth – (which is experiencing the result of asking Christ into our innermost beings) brings us into daily contact with the one who is already in the heaven of heavens.

That means we are there also – even though still living in this earthly body.

So the heavenly calling is to be experienced every day. Too often we become ‘earth bound’ in our thinking, and weak in our experience of the heavenly realm that we are called to enjoy in Christ.

Those who do not know (spiritually) The Lord – have only this present earthly, bodily, fallen state of being, to live in.

So can you hear the call?

It comes through the Word of God. How is God going to get your attention as the author of your faith – if you refuse to read the book He has authored? (Hebrews 12/2)

When you ‘expose’ yourself to the Book – you expose yourself to hearing the call.

Romans 10/16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (The Bible)

To hear the call – is to hear the Word.

God has ordained preaching and preachers – it is God’s idea. But there are also false teachers and preachers and prophets.

So turn to the book – to hear the preaching.

And to hear the call to the heavenly relationship God has for all those who will put their trust in Christ.

As you read the book – you will get to know whether God can be trusted in the first place.

Many have a very limited view of God. Based on a few things picked up second-hand over the years. They probably couldn’t even tell you why they believe what they do.

So again – ‘calling’ from God – is into fellowship with Himself. It is of a spiritual nature beginning now in experience and finalising when we pass from this life into His eternal present/presence forever.

Word in you…

WORD IN YOU….

AMPLIFIED VERSION – John 5:

38 You do not have His word (Scripture) abiding in you [actually living in your hearts and minds], because you do not believe in Him whom He has sent.

The word – ABIDING and as expanded ‘LIVING’, – is very important, in this portion of scripture.

We are told that The Word of God, The Bible, The Scriptures, is something they do not have ABIDING (Living) in them.

You may give lip-service to the authenticity of the Bible. You may read it from time to time – but does it abide in you?

That’s the challenge here.

You see this Word is the most powerful thing on earth – in fact it is more POWERFUL than heaven or earth. For we are told heaven and earth will pass away (in exactly what way I’m not sure) – but …read on in – 

Matthew 24:

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

That’s how powerful this Word is – it will never pass away! That means it is Eternal. If God has said it – it cannot be changed. Jesus said the scripture cannot be broken.

John 10:

35. and the scripture cannot be broken;

Amplified:

35. (and the Scripture cannot be undone or annulled or broken)

That my friends is what you have the opportunity to put inside you, through meditation on this Word day and night (Read Psalm 119 or Psalm 1)

It blows my mind and I cannot live without it!