Category Archives: hearing

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!

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…is not tedious?

…is not tedious?

It might be true to say that most of us who write and publish posts, (I haven’t taken a survey to prove the point 😎 ) – forget what we have published and haven’t.

I guess most of us have writings (potential posts) – on stand-by – ready to be used. But if you are like me, you forget whether you posted what is on your desktop or not – and so have to check older posts.

Also – depending on our personalities as we try to objectively view our work – (again I’m surmising) – notice that we have a certain emphases – there are certain opinions or held beliefs we return to often.

This is usually because they are ingrained into our lifestyle and we have proven them to be true and/or are convinced of their importance and that therefore we do others a service by sharing them. 

In the case of Christian writing – there are certain truths that we find essential and foundational and important and we want to keep drawing the attention of others to these truths.

So although perhaps we ever change the angle we come at these truths from – we fundamentally want to say those things again!

I have noticed some of my emphases, just as I have noticed the tendencies/emphases of other writers/bloggers.

Sometimes the artist in me wants to act on the old saying: (it may have originated in some comic TV show, I’m not sure…) “And now for something completely different…”

Poetry allows me to discover, share and explore a wide range of subject matter, from the profound to the ridiculous.

However when it comes to exercising my gifting as a teacher of the Word of Truth – I do find myself returning to the same important truths again and again.

Paul writing to the Philippians says (PHILIPPIANS 3/1):

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. 

 NKJV –

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.

He obviously wrote what he thought necessary for their spiritual health and wellbeing – and indeed God has to repeat Himself over and over to us as we are slow of heart to believe, slow at grasping spiritual realities.

But it is true that people look on the surface of things, and are happier with what is immediately ‘grasp-able’. 

Our mental or spiritual inertia slows us down from pursuing, – as though our very lives depended on it – the spiritual dimensions, God calls, all willing-persons into.

But it can be a thankless task to preach what people do not want to hear. Don’t want to hear because such preaching can highlight the need for change, and we can’t face change – “just at the moment thanks…”

People who have gone from one piece of misfortune to another, or who have gone through traumatic experiences or who have gone into the valley of despair, are often the most likely to look for something better, the most likely to desire life-changing answers.

Then there is the ‘God-factor’ (in preaching) the part that God plays in drawing people to Himself. One needs to come to a realisation that God is actually on your case, and wants you to fellowship with Him.

He has ordained that He will draw you to Himself, through preaching. We might (even rightly) conclude that He has chosen a very imperfect means of reaching mankind.

Because there is not a preacher on earth who doesn’t need to listen to preaching himself, in order to embrace change.

Preachers are imperfect persons, but sharing the Word of God as the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, is a mandate they have received from heaven.

But people easily turn-off, distracted in their minds and preferring something easier, something they are used to. 

Something that brings entertainment instead. It’s easier to hit the like button for things that interest us already or that ‘tickle our fancy’ in some non-threatening or non-challenging way.

There is no end of subject-matter in the scriptures, but there definitely are majorly-important truths that must be given priority.

It is the calling and requirement as ministers of reconciliation to preach the gospel message, and to delve into and share the truths God would have us all to walk in.

If I could partake of God’s unlimited insight and supreme knowledge, for a moment,  I think I would like to know, by receiving a list from His hand – everyone who is at that point in their lives where they are ready to transition from the ‘dead in sin’ state of existence to finding the righteousness of Christ through His life-giving Spirit.

Here’s how the word of God describes that transition, a post-salvation description:

13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

Now is this (if you have got this far in the first place) where you now switch off – or will you look into these things, i.e. the things of the gospel of Jesus Christ for yourself to see what you will discover?

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!”

Positive Thinking

POSITIVE THINKING

Most people have heard of ‘the power of positive thinking’.

And indeed remotely right thinking people would espouse this approach to life.

But notice – man by putting himself forward as the centre of the created universe – sees the source of development of mankind and everything progressive, as within man’s capabilities alone.

All progress and advancement is down to man developing his ability independently of any God figure.

Because the Christian message, as taken from the Bible, also espouses right thinking of the spiritual kind, the two approaches to life can eventually, unwittingly or otherwise,  merge in people’s psyche.

Merge to the point where the Christian message and the ‘Positive thinking’ message seem to be the same thing. Notice I say -‘seem to be’.

So that when discussions take place between Christians and non-Christians the non-Christians ask what all the fuss is about – and such declarations as e.g.: ‘But I believe that anyway…’ take place from the self-help, ‘we can do it’ school of thinkers.

They think that within mankind is untapped resources, waiting to be discovered and all problems of mental health, disease and violence will eventually succumb to man’s ongoing development (evolution).

So keeping this post short – it behoves us to understand the fundamental and crucial difference, between positive thinking on it’s own and one of the fundamentals of the Christian faith – expressed in Psalm 121

…From whence comes my help?

2  My help comes from the Lord,

Who made heaven and earth.

Christian truth is not dependant on what man can ‘conjure up’ exercising his own reasoning powers, but is dependant on what God sends our way by revelation from on high.

We have the scrolls containing the Word of God, preserved (supernaturally) as God’s guide to and for mankind.

But unless we search for and enter into a living relationship with Christ – the book largely remains inaccessible to us or alternatively is largely hi-jacked to affirm our own ‘positive thinking’ (or otherwise) philosophy, subtracting what we think sounds affirmative to our own reasoned outlook, and leaving the rest.

Such folks extract from the pages of the bible whatever they can use, whilst ignoring the rest.

We can’t ignore any of the scriptures. They must be taken as a whole, and the progress (in God’s timing), of the Old Agreement merging into the New Agreement clearly unfolds as we seek God for further revelation on it’s pages, revealed to the inner man.

The word of God is meant to open us up. But for this to happen and true spiritual knowledge to come our way – we must actually open ourselves through a willing choice we make – and allow it inside, in the first place, asking God’s assistance to make it’s spiritual content known to us, in the same way as those who wrote it – first received it.

The Bible – full of life-affirming and positive words of encouragement, is nevertheless more than this.

It clearly presents Jesus Christ as Lord and Master, in fact, King of kings and Lord of lords. It tells us, the most positive thing we can think – is that

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

(John 3/16)

How can we get any more positive than this?

Paul’s Contribution

PAUL’S CONTRIBUTION

Paul the apostle, perhaps more than anyone else – paved the way – in seeking to understand what the problem was, and what the solution consisted of.

In a previous post, I talked about the law of the Old Testament, and how it clearly pointed out right and wrong, good and bad, acceptable behaviour and unacceptable behaviour in the eyes of a sinless God.

Paul heralded the New Testament or New Agreement, in preaching-form and teaching-form.

He, during his times aside with God, explored many facets of how to live the Christian life.

For those of us (perhaps all of us), who experience what it is to fail God, Paul we find, had the same struggles.

He, by experiencing what it was to be a sinner saved by grace, looked at the whole subject of how to be Christlike, and wrote in his epistles – teachings to instruct believers who would come after him – how to overcome sin, death and hell.

He experienced temptation to sin, like all of us, and found how to live victoriously, so that he could say: 

Philippians 1/

20 according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.

He stayed in an expectant state of mind and lived in the hope of pleasing Christ in his 24/7 walk with Him until he departed this life.

But he was well aware of another law warring in his members that tried to bring him into captivity… (Romans 7/23): But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

In light of Paul’s determination and desire to walk perfectly before The Lord – he sought for answers regarding how to do this.

He found as all men and women will find, that sin is lying at the door of our hearts and minds, seeking our co-operation.

There are, I guess, folks who never seem to have a care in the world. Sinning is just a wrongly accepted part of life. But that means they spend their lives suppressing the voice of conscience. This is what the scripture describes as ‘hardening the heart’.

Others are daily looking to live as they should, in the light of what God asks of us, but find it an ongoing struggle. But the beautiful thing about them is the fact that THEY WANT to live a sincere and righteous existence. It’s just they can’t seem to find the ‘how to’ of doing so.

That’s what Paul sought and found for us, paving the way and exhorting us to grasp the truth that living righteously will automatically take place as we maintain a close relationship with Christ through prayer, and meditation on the Word of God.

There is much we could say on this subject but I want to simply make the point that Paul and indeed all – sin – and seek the same answers – as he did – to the problem.

Paul struggled for a period of time, as we struggle. 

However Paul the apostle proved that God could supply all we need to help us live the victorious Christian life, and penned the answers, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

The wisdom he was able to obtain – is clearly laid-out for us in the epistles God inspired him to write.

This was his major contribution to the church, remaining throughout it’s history and available to us today.

Read and inwardly digest – the answers are there!

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!

The Only Potentate

The only Potentate

I Timothy 6/

14 that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, 15 which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honour and everlasting power. Amen.

It’s the world versus Jesus.

The world-system perpetuated by the powers of darkness.

Jesus Christ is holy harmless and undefiled. His life, more than any other, stands out as the antithesis to every failed attempt to live a righteous life.

There was no blemish found in Him.

But as I write these words there can arise in the hearts of men and women all kinds of thoughts exalted against the acceptance of the Son of God and His words.

As a result many won’t recognise Him for who He is.

He endured all kinds of contradictions of sinners against Himself.

His words and thought-life go contrary to what comes naturally to mankind.

Therefore He is not immediately embraced and welcomed. Just as He was rejected by those of His own in the region of His upbringing, so He is rejected by those who cannot get past their own thinking, which does not immediately correlate with His.

So if we truly stop and think things over – we can trace in ourselves thoughts of resistance to His gospel.

Even Christians need self-awareness of the things we still resist God in, because of our further need for more of His renewing work in our thought life.

He came to do a complete work – but in it all, in everything to do with us, He needs our co-operation.

God – to use a human phrase/description – is a gentleman.

He does not need to flex His spiritual muscle or demonstrate His ability to wipe us out, as some kind of self-indulgent egoist might.

I was fishing with my young son and his friend, quite a few years ago, when this tall and muscular guy arrived at our side – i.e. by the riverside.

He loured at us and asked if we had ‘caught anything’. When we said we had, he said ‘you wouldn’t be trying to fool me would you?’

He then proceeded, without permission, to haul onto the riverbank, the keep-net revealing the fish we had caught. 

Grunting he threw it carelessly into the water again. He lifted a piece of cloth, we had, and wiped his hands – throwing the cloth into the river.

It didn’t take a particularly spiritual man to discern the evil accompanying this person.

The whole time I remained silent.

He then began to say things to me, that I would not repeat in this post.

In all of this I remained in faith. Discerning the evil – but remaining in Christ’s peace.

He left – walking along the riverbank – I could see he was now engaging with someone seated in the distance.

So I immediately packed things up and we headed home. I was most concerned for, and conscious of, my responsibility for my neighbours son, (never mind my own) – who had been left in my care.

This person is a picture of the opposite to the God I serve. God dwells in unapproachable holy light. His nature is in complete contrast to ours, incomprehensibly so.

I have described in this incident with this human being and his controlling and threatening behaviour a picture of the complete opposite to the way of Christ.

The paradox is of course, God can reach the end of His long-suffering and eventually must judge the world and it’s incessant rebellion against Him, His name and His nature.

Yet we account that the longsuffering of the Lord is salvation, for those who will receive it.

He is gentle by nature, but uncompromising in character. He is loving and forgiving, and when reviled – reviles not in return. He is wholesome in every way, humble, meek and lowly yet powerful and able to call ten thousand angels to His side. He is absolutely sure of who He is, has wisdom that is uncorrupted by this world. He stretches forth His hands as The Holy Spirit works upon our minds – and offers us the gift of eternal life to those who believingly-commit their lives to Him. He is never surprised and knows the end from the beginning. He is obviously extremely complex in His understanding and yet addresses us simply. He is touched by the feeling of our shortcomings and infirmities. Yet He watches daily as thousands pass from this life with an extremely limited knowledge of what to expect after death. Thousands who perhaps did not give Him a second thought for most of their days.

Some struggle with the God of the Old Testament and the judgement He meted out – but don’t stop to familiarise themselves with the corruption, debauchery, degeneracy, cruelty, occultism and so on – present and rampant in the nations He judged.

God had a problem on His hands – Almighty though He is – His creation went wrong. Due to the element of free-will God allowed to reside within his created beings.

To manifest His true character of holiness, meekness and gentleness – (great strengths and manifestations of His power), He needed (through the work of Christ) to bring man to a place where He (God), could begin to show Himself as He truly was.

It’s hard to trust someone we don’t know. The only way we can begin to trust them, is if they communicate to us in an acceptable manner, and we hear sincerely, about their character and life. Concluding (or otherwise) that they can be trusted.

Christ showed us The Heavenly Father – God was manifest in the flesh. Now man, unfit to partake of the things of God – could at least observe Him, and all His attributes:

14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

God speaks – man can’t hear. God offers help – man doesn’t want it. Man is natural – God is spiritual. God gives (at least) 490 chances a day – to us – to ask for forgiveness – we ignore all of them through unbelief. (Matthew 18/22)

When we start accusing God and agreeing with the fallen god of this world – what audacity to think it strange that God should judge us.

Instead His long-suffering and ‘long’ arms are outstretched to us all, calling us to return to ‘… the Shepherd and Bishop of (y)our souls’.

Yes it’s the world system of darkness behind everything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.

But wait! 

Do you hear the still small voice beckoning us in the living room of our consciences – to come to Him, all of us who labour and are heavy laden?

The Only Potentate is calling us into His Royal courts where he steps down and washes our feet – what power! What beauty! What a Saviour!

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:

To know…

TO KNOW…

Luke 10/

22 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

There are people out there searching.

Some know what they are searching for – others do not.

Some have a clear idea that the spiritual is real, and choose to examine or study comparative religions.

Some seek spiritual experiences through drugs. Some become fascinated with anything that ‘amazes’ in the category of magic.

Others have a philosophical turn of mind and move from one manifesto to another in a search for conclusions about life and the afterlife.

Some swing towards the highly emotional, while others lean on the intellect.

My search ended at my bedside, at the age of twenty, where in brokenness I found Jesus Christ through the Person of The Holy Spirit.

The experience was tangibly real and unmistakeable.

Many have similarly become Christians through such an experience. Normally referred to as ‘being born again’.

Experience-oriented confessions, can lend themselves to criticism, if they are not based on the result of a solid and inerrant examination by the microscope belonging to The King of kings and Lord of lords.

The Bible is a collection of writings that exist as a result of God and man co-operating, in which co-operation – God took the initiative.

Everything in the realm of spiritual experience for the Christian, must be scrutinised by this Word of God. There is much we could say about this.

Some Christians have not experienced The Holy Spirit in the same way as other Christians, more accurately stated as: ‘not as intensely’.

But at the same time all may genuinely belong to Christ. 

So when we say ‘experienced’, even in this we are in for misunderstanding, among other fellow believers. It’s easy to misunderstand each other when referring to or sharing our own subjective reality.

Those who have genuinely experienced God in their life, can find themselves in unsought conflict with other believers who have not had a similar powerful experience.

Truth is – unless we experience the anointing of God in a ‘Pentecostal’ way (not referring to denominational preference by the term)  chances are – we will treat with suspicion, anything or anyone who speaks in ‘Pentecostal’ jargon, or who seem to emphasise the supernatural.

I often use the illustration of the the swimming instructor who teaches others how to swim from a manual of instruction, written by an olympic champion/expert.

As a result others learn to swim as he stands at the side of the pool shouting expert instructions on how best to learn.

Only to eventually be exposed as not being actually able to swim experientially himself.

Suddenly at the end of the course the now – swimming pupils know by experience – more than the instructor. 

If we do not experience the experience experienced by the one with the experience – how can we really affirm it’s authenticity?😎

Answer – if it’s in the Word of God – then we at least must give them the benefit of the doubt.

As Christians, we mature and grow if we worship in SPIRIT and TRUTH – these (i.e. spirit and truth) must be inseparable if we are to progress and be transformed from glory to glory, as by The Spirit of God – which works to make us more like the Altogether Lovely One we serve! (II Corinthians 3/18)

‘No one has it all!’ – is a saying I have heard over the years. And it is true both intellectually and experientially. There is always more to be revealed from holy writ, and there is always more to receive from the moving of The Holy Spirit in our lives as believers.

We aught to learn from each other, holding firm to what we have been assured of, and at the same time, remaining open to the revelation other believers have received.

Referring to our opening scripture we read:-

and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

The Son of God, makes a choice and reveals The Father by revelation of The Holy Spirit.

Every time we commune with God, there is an opportunity for the eyes of our understanding to be enlightened further.

Opportunity to have a greater spiritual experience of getting to know our Heavenly Father through His Son.

The level of intensity varies. But He is our Life. We need him now. We shall know Him fully in the afterlife.

God is love – but we must embrace that love, acting on the promises of God. Draw near to me and I will draw near to you! (James 4/8)

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.