Category Archives: help

…and correction?

…and correction?

Most Christian bloggers like to edify, exhort positively, and comfort us all, in our journey through this fallen world.

I have received from a number of Christian blogs, the encouragement I needed for a certain ‘day in the life’.

It would seem though, that some subject matter is best avoided if your goal is to be popular, when blogging.

However most Christians would agree that we are not called to win popularity competitions, and yet they love the ‘amen’ to their posts, and often (or mostly) it is genuinely given.

They are glad when others are edified, and rightly so. We all need encouragement.

But again I often wonder if anyone wants to address the mess?

Sometimes we need to repent and return to the first works – indeed repentance from ‘dead’ works returning to our first love of the Lord Jesus Christ, entering into a closer walk with Him.

For this to happen we need to be corrected.

The human heart and mind is prone to wander. And sometimes in the midst of our convicted conscience –  the last thing we need is someone laying heavies upon us that point out our faults and failings.

But conversely – does this mean this should never be done? We live in a world where no one wants to listen to correction.

Does that include the Christians? Who are told:

NKJV – Hebrews 12/5 …do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him…

Amplified version – 

My son, do not make light of the discipline of the Lord,

And do not lose heart and give up when you are corrected by Him;

Going on to say:

For the Lord disciplines and corrects those whom He loves,…

This is like a foreign language to some Christians, who have been fed on daily bread that is only buttered on one side and coated with sugar.

Having said that – some have suffered dry bread with no butter or sugar!

If you get the analogy – I refer to an unbalanced diet. Too much or too little of one thing. Christians who are ‘unexposed’ to necessary teaching to enable proper spiritual growth.

You see we all need different sustenance. We all need a different word from The Lord, according to our developmental requirements.

God the Father has one priority, like any good father, He wants to raise His children well, and allow them to reflect more perfectly the image of their brother – The Lord Jesus Christ.

We by inheritance are also children of God. There is only one ‘Only Begotten’, but:

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

So correction is very much a part of a good wholesome growth plan for a child’s life.

Not some harsh unfair manipulation or provoking of children, through abuse – but a balanced diet of edification, exhortation, and comfort – and correction.

But what about God’s adult children, who are still children in grown-up bodies manifesting self-absorption and injuring others?

This is a big subject I know. And I am not going to do it justice in this short post.

But let’s remember we are meant to grow in grace (thank God it’s grace!) and be changed from glory to glory, as by the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives, who might just tell us from time to time:

 ‘You are wrong’.

I don’t find correction easy to take – do you? Especially if it comes from a source other than God. But that’s where we must step away and examine and discern if it is just our own flesh and self-will that doesn’t like the truth, or if in fact the devil is trying (as we say) ‘to do a number on us’. Usually his condemnation has a tiny reference to something true and a whole deluge of lies. Know the difference.

 

Prayer: Lord help us to hear the still small voice of edification or correction. Amen

 

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Extremes or…

 

EXTREMES OR…

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

Proverbs 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Job chapter 36/25-26

All humanity has seen it;

    mortals gaze on it from afar.

How great is God—beyond our understanding!

    The number of his years is past finding out.

Romans 11/32-34

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

    How unsearchable his judgments,

    and his paths beyond tracing out!

“Who has known the mind of the Lord?

    Or who has been his counsellor?”

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

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

But we must not mistake what love is.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When all hell breaks loose – let us remember:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Falling

FALLING

Unfortunately we hear of prominent and not so prominent Christians falling into sin.

We know of those on the front line, presenting themselves as leaders and wanting to please God in all things, who fall into sin. (usually sexual in nature).

Others who are depending on their leadership, are startled and disappointed and feel betrayed.

When this happens it creates the idea that in leadership, there seems to be no one to trust, no one living  according to God’s right way. There seems to be a dearth of victorious Christian Living, starting with leaders.

However we wrestle not against flesh and blood. And those in the front line are first to stand in the gun sights of the devil.

We must first therefore realise this fact, and cover them with prayer.

No one in leadership is any more ‘impenetrable’ than others. They are human and subject to the same like passions as anyone else.

Things of protocol must be put into place and the need to be covered with answerability to a plural leadership of their fellow eldership – lived out practically.

The wicked have drawn the sword

And have bent their bow,

To cast down the poor and needy,

To slay those who are of upright conduct.

We see from these verses who is in line for the ‘roaring lions’ attention – those of upright conduct. (I Peter 5/8)

Often before they fell they were men or women of upright conduct. We often forget quickly the character they have shown, and the good they have accomplished. The body of Christ (the church) killing their own wounded.

At the same time we must keep before us the standard God’s word clearly spells out. And not slide into moral laxity.

There is one paramount way to keep our hearts from the demands of the prince of the power of the air – and it is by having presence of mind to appropriate continuously what the Grace of God has provided.

Our God in calling us to forgive 70×7 per day – gives us a glimpse into the fact that He too will practice what He preaches. Plenteous in mercy and forgiveness.

He will not respond to pretenders however, who think to laughingly avail themselves of this promise of forgiveness, whilst they carry on sinning, as though it was acceptable to do so.

That’s called hypocrisy.

Grace is a revelation. It is a revelation not just for salvation – but that through the grace of God we can LIVE!

Always availing ourselves of His promises and His strength to maintain our hearts in good condition before Him.

Let’s pray for those who have fallen. And if they were in a position of leadership and injured others in their fall, let’s still allow them into fellowship with forgiving embrace – but only where we find the sincerity of humility and true repentance. Otherwise if they continue in sin, we become guilty of bidding them God’s-speed in their misdemeanours.

This calls for good discernment. The bible warns about wolves in sheep’s clothing:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles?

We shall (we are told) know them (the sincere men and women of God) by their fruits. The actions they take, the attitude they carry, the character they show, their speech, prayer life, fairness, empathy, and so on.

Prayer:

Lord help us to stand dependant on you alone. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

 

Endurance

ENDURANCE

2 Timothy 4:3

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

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

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

James 5:11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And this word tells me –

 ‘Last days’ things we must do:

Matthew 10:22

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

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

This message tells me that part of salvation entails

ENDURANCE. Notice ENDURE – BE SAVED.

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

How’s your endurance level?

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

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

But this message of ENDURANCE is the Word of the Lord

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

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

That’s how powerful this Word is –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God is a very present help in times of trouble.

Prayer – 

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

Continually in conflict…

Continually in conflict… 

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

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

God’s nature is the divine nature of course.

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

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

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

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

Galatians 5:17 Amplified Bible (AMP)

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

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

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

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

Exodus 33/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II Peter 1/4:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul the Apostle did that very thing:

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

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

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

James 4/

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

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

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

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

Poetic Pause II

THE MAN OF GOODWILL

The musical appreciation night has ended

Partakers leave the country cottage

Pylon lights are non-existent

Turn left – turn right – down the road

And you will find the lights of civilisation

Father and daughter leave in darkness

In the car – turning right

They forget the left-turn first

Disoriented having made the wrong choice

They drive as though on a better road

But alas – on a lesser track

Thirty miles an hour is ok for the road of left then right

But the road of right-only can’t handle this supersonic speed

Travelling on down – headlights all there is –

Turn a sudden corner veering to the left

Do not see the ramp to hedgerow

And up they go – ramp-grass leading to hedgerow

Of solid ground – the car ditches – wheels spin in the air

And it’s bottom rests on said – peak

“Daddy! Daddy!” Cries the child

“All right darlin’?” He questions back

Opening the car door as though that indicates – go

He steps out and disappears below

Another “Daddy! Daddy! – Are you alright?” –

He forgets that hedgerows have height

But no bones broken – no heart attack

He helps his daughter from the car in the pitch black

What now? – the teenager offers to go find a house

To enlist the help of others

Walking in the dark she finds a house and lights

A dog in the doorway growls it’s disapproval

The courageous child is not daunted

“Nice dog – it’s alright”

Friends of the friends who held the musical night

Are glad to help the lost-ones home

We shall leave the car ’til morning 

A contractors crane is sought to lift the car to the road

They do little things to help the contractor

And leave him a ten-pound note for lunch

Home safe and sound the car undamaged

They wait to receive the bill

But never hear from the contractor again

Obviously a Man of Good Will

 

…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!