Category Archives: Love

Poetic Pause VII

VACATION

In the shack – logged-up-insulated

Warmth created by log fire

With smell of coffee hanging in the warmth

And wooden tables – wooden chairs

Wooden kingdom of-all-things-wood

The floor also on which we stood

Vacation time – time to unwind

Go fishing – trudging through nature

Early morning dew

Late afternoon return – making sleep

A new experience

Beans and burgers and bacon

And barley-made soup

And laughs at silly things

Like drinking from empty cups –

So absorbed in reading are we

And neon firelight

Flashing intermittently

Across our faces as we glance at each other

Absorbed in married-love that is cosy and guilt-free

We laugh and pretend – syrupy sentiment

When really we know it’s the real thing

And not the callous acidity of skepticism

We have left far behind

in the rat-race-pace of post modernism

Solid together – joining in deep felt love

And not only felt – but agreed on

We are people we can trust – whittled down to two

Loyal – immensely real – immense and intense

Loves emotion – that rises and falls

But in falling – falls into something

Equally good

As emotion rises and falls like the eternal sea

High-tide low-tide – is still the tide

Relationship in the shack – bedroom at the back

Taking turns about – to make the breakfast

Dishes done – part of the fun

Vacation time – time to unwind

It’s ok to enjoy being kind

Tender advances and hug-dancing

To music quiet in the background

Just loud enough to know it’s there

All stretched out in more than romance

Covenant agreement once for all

Fast forward to old age

Neither having ever left the stage

Love continues as the play is played-out

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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!”

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!

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.

 

Proper Denial

PROPER DENIAL

There is a reluctance within us, that all of us, can claim to have. A reluctance to warm towards anything that calls for a dying-to-ourselves.

Jesus calls men and women to deny themselves and ‘take up their cross daily’ (Luke 9/23).

A rich young man came to Him one-time.

Matthew 19/21 Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”

To help us with this godly ‘tall order’ (for such humans as we), let’s highlight the positives first of all. Jesus looks at us (as He did this man), and loves us.

Secondly he gave this young man clear instructions as to what he had to deny and forsake – within himself.

He had a love for money, more than a love for God. We are told that – not money, – but the love of money is the root of all evil. (I Timothy 6/10)

Escaping from an evil heart, escaping from this love of money, the young man was unable to do, and we know this greatly saddened him, and no doubt saddened the saviour of men, who has the ability to put His finger right on the idols of our hearts.

The man might have asked ‘how to do’ – what he was asked to do, but he didn’t.

As I write these words – I examine myself to ask what it is I still put-before loving God?

Even with a heart full of gratitude for all the experiences I have had over the years, where intimacy with Christ came as a gift from Him, I realise how easy it is to take steps away rather than towards Him.

It’s easy to prefer the temporal things of this world’s distraction, in a nutshell: ‘it comes naturally’.

Regarding the call of God to walk away from the distractions, lift the cross, and take the burden whilst pushing through to the presence of God – I realise is challenged by the self-life that will always prefer the alternative to doing this.

The Cross of Christ is all about letting go the temporal. It’s all about giving-in to The Father. It’s all about exercising faith and consequently denying self, in order to obtain the greater riches of spiritual experience and the love of God.

The third benefit offered to the young man – was treasure in heaven – or better put – heavenly treasure (19/21) –  which can start now in our experience of seeking first the kingdom of God. (Matthew 6/33)

But we must recognise that this does not come naturally but spiritually.

Unless faith is involved in the exercise of self-denial it can lead to a substitute for self-denial, and self is all the more accommodated and enthroned in our lives. This is a subtle one. Many do not detect the difference.

But Paul refers to it in Colossians 2/23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.

Self-indulgence is a thing of the fallen nature we live in. From that same nature can come a ‘form’ of self-denial, a pseudo self-denial if you like.

Notice what seems right in self-imposed religion is not true self-denial through faith, because the result as Paul explains has no value against the indulgence of the flesh, (the sinful nature) because it can engender pride and superiority through asceticism, which only adds to the glorification of self.

It is by attending to matters of devotion and prayer, that the ability to leave behind the distracting things of the self-life is strengthened. Strengthening the inner man.

Many engage in ascetic practices, but step into the spiritual-‘unknown’ and leave themselves open to uncharted territory.

They have no experience of Christ in their life through faith, so seek spirituality in their own self-life, by all kinds of practices of self-inflicted punishment. Self denial is not an end in itself.

We need a perfect guide book, to keep us right. The Bible – The Word of God is that guide book.

In it we hear the Son of God calling us to forsake all and follow him (Luke 14/32-4). At the same time we can hear the voice of self telling us not to bother.

As we go to Him and enter into a fresh relationship with Him, we are more able to walk away from – and therefore deny – the selfishness resident within each one of us.

Word with Power

WORD WITH POWER

I Corinthians 4/

18 Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. 20 For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. 21 What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?

There are many avenues that this portion of scripture opens up to us, by way of instruction.

Subjects we could seek understanding on.

‘Some are puffed up…’ Paul says.

So we could look at the subject of pride and ego, haughtiness, obnoxious self-righteousness.

Or we could look at God’s will – what is it? How do we know His will?

It’s not His will for example, that any should perish – what does that mean etc.? (II Peter 3/9).

Or we could examine ‘word’ and ‘power’.

Paul knew the difference between what we call ‘head knowledge’ and ‘heart knowledge’.

Put simply (but perhaps not always simple to grasp) head knowledge is knowledge with little experience. Little spiritual reality. Little as I am often found to say – spiritual revelation.

Paul was not interested in people who wanted to impress him with their ‘theological or otherwise’ knowledge obtained by use, or over-use of brain power.

He puts us in the picture when he says:

II Corinthians 12/1-3

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

In this verse he both excludes ‘boasting’ – (there goes any credit obtained through being ‘puffed up’ with pride, which I referred to earlier.)

 Next he clearly shows us how true insight, and understanding is obtained, namely – by revelation. In this instant citing both ‘visions and revelations,’ to be his expectation – springing from a close walk with God.

Now some might say, that what Paul experienced was the result of special grace, obtained to establish the work of God.

I agree up to a point, he was one of the chosen, who would pen holy-writ, passed down to us to maintain the communication of the faith.

But to suggest that any or all Christians should not therefore look for the revelation of the Holy Spirit is a gross error.

We live by the revelation of Jesus Christ, as granted by the Holy Spirit, anything less and we sell ourselves short. We miss out on our inheritance as the saints of God.

That God still speaks prophetically today is part of our inheritance and it will not cease this side of heaven. It is God’s enablement to take us from head knowledge to heart knowledge.

The work of the Holy Spirit is to ‘lead us into all truth’ – that’s the work of inspiration and revelation that He continues to accomplish in the hearts of believers today.

Paul knew that the result of a close walk with God, meant that the Holy Spirit would use the believer to bring the message of God in or with – power.

He knew that genuine spiritual believers, were not full of dead theology, and self-righteous opinions, but rather had a daily Holy Spirit-filled life, that kept pride at bay.

Pride was the original sin, that corrupted a pre-creation being, bringing sin and death to mankind.

John the apostle, another man who obtained revelation, tells us the things that are not of God (The Father) – 

I John 2/16 – For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

This includes you will notice – the pride of life.

Knowledge can puff-up with pride, we are told elsewhere.

I Corinthians 8/1

We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies…

And Paul perhaps hearing that opinions leading to strife and stubbornness that divides believers, was the result of the sharing of words to win arguments or score points – he realised, clearly meant, that the Holy Spirit was grieved and quenched. (I Thessalonians 5/19), (Ephesians 4/13).

We can speak all the words we want – but how many are with God’s enablement?

So he wanted to find those who had an intimate relationship with The Holy Spirit, (‘kingdom in power’) rather than those who sought to impress with their theology.

He could and would tell the difference by his own sensing of what God was ‘in’ and what he was not ‘in’. He could tell the difference by what he discerned with spiritual discernment, so that the true believers who had a good relationship with Christ would come into view on his visit.

…I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. 20 For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.

How we need God’s powerful enablement in these days as we seek to understand, and expound the Word of The Living God.

This word of God is the only – I say again – the only – thing on earth that provides a solid foundation for this ailing and increasingly perplexing world in which we live.

Lord send your word – but send it with power!

Fables or Edification?

Fables or Edification?

I Timothy 1: (KJV)

As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,

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:

Paul the apostle is talking to Timothy under the inspiration and revelation of The Holy Spirit. Paul knew a place of abiding at times like this, at times when the tongue of his pen became that of a ‘ready writer’ (Psalm 45/1).

This place of abiding is described by The Lord Jesus:

I John 15/5

 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

Everyone who enjoys blogging knows what it is to be ‘on form’ or not – as the case may be – when writing their blog.

But the place of inspiration enjoyed periodically by the chosen disciples and apostles of Christ is not the place of some kind of emotional high, or ‘all right’ day. This is a place that is/was specially set aside by God in the human spirit.

A place in which He has taken up His dwelling, bringing peace, joy, forgiveness, spiritual strength, – I could list the attributes, all of which are the fruit and gifts of The Holy Spirit.

In this place at a deeper level than any other Christians can experience, the chosen Apostles penned scripture – out of their treasury of God-given insight and revelation, acquired by the constant working of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

Everything in this world today cries out with a rasping voice against Holy Writ, cries out in it’s behaviour, mentality and attitude against any attempt to suggest that the Bible is the solid foundation of an upright society.

A falling away from God – just as it was in the days of Noah.

Unfortunately this biblical solid foundation can be mis-represented by some who claim to agree with it, but in works they deny it.

Titus 1/

16 They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

This adds the more to the confusion in the minds of those who are genuinely searching for the affirmation of their suspicions that indeed, the Bible does hold the only answers to the need of a lost and dying world.

If you are one of the discouraged seekers-after-God – I quickly direct you away from false disciples and confusion – to the book itself, and to God who gave it to his chosen servants.

Paul had left Timothy, even before this address, with a solid foundation of what was of God, and now he exhorts him to teach and tell others that they, in turn, teach nothing outside this framework: charge some that they teach no other doctrine. i.e. the doctrine or truths, Timothy was already established in.

The world is a hodgepodge of doctrines and philosophies all vying for the attention of men and women’s minds.

It is not amazing, but it is a maze, a maze of contradictions and voices telling us how to live our lives. And some might even tell us what they suggest is even pleasing to God. When in fact it is abhorrent to Him.

Fables wrapped in sophisticated language but which espouse and seek to excuse things that clearly contradict The Word of God.

Paul asks Timothy to love out of a pure heart.

We can espouse love out of an impure heart, a bad conscience, and void of faith. It will sound good, but without these other ingredients of purity, faith and a good conscience, it will not bake a good cake.

Instead with regard to believers in Christ, Paul both exhorts and reminds us that ‘…godly edifying which is in faith…’ is what awaits all believers hungry for true fellowship with each other in the gifts and fruits of The Holy Spirit.

It is a great joy to love and be loved in the purity of Christ. It is a wonderful, wholesome and exhilarating experience to worship The Lord Jesus, being edified in our faith by the mutual contribution of other true believers.

Often we get a foretaste of heaven, strengthened in the inner man to rise in expectation of meeting fully and completely the One who laid down His life for us.

There was a veil in the temple, that The Lord ripped from top to bottom through His own flesh on the cross – this veil no longer hinders our faith, as by that same God-given faith through His Word, we enter into fellowship daily with the Altogether Lovely One.

As we turn from the beggarly elements of man-made philosophy that man would offer us – and embrace the true riches of Christ.

Are you on board? What part of the journey are you on? Look unto Jesus the author and finisher of faith! (Hebrews12/2).

Who am I addressing?

WHO AM I ADDRESSING?

The subject of ‘How to live the Christian Life’, occupies the ministers of God’s word in their capacity as Pastor, Minister, Padre, Teacher or whatever job description they choose for themselves.

The ‘How to’ covers the outworking of thoughts, words and deeds, rather than just the ‘academic’ aspect of bible study, which is not what it is all about.

God gives His word to change us.

To live the Christian life, is – in the eyes of most fair-minded people – to do with being good.

You profess to be a Christian – you therefore, it is assumed – profess to be good.

However “I’m a  good person”, can be an oft repeated phrase from the mouths of Christians or non-Christians, alike. It would take another post to expound and examine the scripture that tells us: They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.”

Christian Blog posts offer encouragement in this ‘How to live the Victorious Christian Life’ endeavour, i.e. how to live as a Christian should.

How to overcome life’s problems, how to have confidence, how to think positively, how to handle adversity, overcome fear, share the faith – one could continue the list of topics. All relevant to Victorious Christian Living.

Prophesying as described in the New Testament must include edification, exhortation and comfort. (I Corinthians 14/3)

And who doesn’t need those?

Christian writing attempts to edify the believer, exhort them to better things, and provide the comfort that the Christian needs in an alien environment, where Christianity is mis-understood and maligned out-of-hand.

However, there is a saying about ‘putting the cart before the horse’. And I sometimes question that when it comes to Christian posting this can happen.

I have asked myself the question when posting: ‘Who am I addressing?’ And of course it is, in one sense, a limited audience, and we cannot answer the question exactly.

But it does need to be stated that Christian teaching apart from the preaching of the message of ‘Salvation through Christ’, is not always for everyone.

By that I mean that children in Primary school are not taught adult themes, unless the teachers are mis-guided and unwise.

There is ‘growth level’ to be considered, before many subjects can be approached. If a child asks an adult-themed question, then of course paring-it-down to their level, without too much incomprehensible detail, should be done. 

Rather than dismissing the subject and rejecting the child’s genuine enquiry. This calls for wisdom of the first order.

So when handing-out different exhortations to Christians, it might be fair to ask: ‘who is listening in?’

The Christian life can be lived on a natural plain, by good-living people. Humanists perhaps claim to be just as good as any Christian, and they don’t see the need for all the ‘super-spiritual’ stuff.

So what do they do with the teaching on ‘how to live’ from the Bible?

Leave out the supernatural aspect of Christianity and there is nothing left.

I can teach you ‘person of the planet’, alive and well on planet earth guy or gal, how to live a morally correct life, without you being a Christian!

But what a contradiction! I’m simply informing your humanist quest for good or moral living. Appealing to your sense of moral fair-play, but in all of this you remain an unbeliever, relying on your own self-effort and attempts to – be good, overcome, be positive, fulfil your dreams, be confident – all of this can be equally un-Christian as Christian, for one reason only:

You have not yet received, encountered, met or had a revelation of Jesus Christ.

So who is my audience? To whom do I address my posts? To whom are Christian posts directed?

To stand a chance of getting what is said, there must be what the scripture talks of as a starting point, a place of first principle(s):

Referring to Christians who should have matured more than they had – the writer says:

12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food…

First is first – we can’t benefit as we should from all the other principles ie. the second, third, fourth, fifth, and so on principle, until we have embraced the first principles of repentance from dead works and faith in Christ as Saviour.

The good news is however, that the work of conversion to Christ is not the work of man’s hand, but God’s. That means He has His own way of feeding your mind with truth, and there is no set formula, or learnt mantra that you must possess in order to grasp the things of God.

There is a progression, as there is in most things, but if you get chapter six read-to- you in a book, without the first five chapters, you may in fact still get the gist of what is being written, ie. get an idea of the story.

God can use any Christian teaching to penetrate the human heart, and there will be something, even though addressed to Christians, something in there, that He can use, to bring you to Himself. So I encourage you to read Christian posts.

But coming to first things first we read in the bible:

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,

Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Dogmatic as this may seem to the unbeliever – it is true-truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Get this and your understanding begins to flower in the things of God and Christianity.

Those Christian blogs then begin to address you as a believer who has a relationship with the one who has the words of eternal life.

I pray for blessings in your quest to find Him.

Said like it is.

SAID LIKE IT IS.

Most of us like to hear and live in good news. We all thrive on encouragement. To feel we and our efforts are worthwhile.

Accomplishing goals, perhaps in our work situation, and being congratulated as we advance the business in whatever way, is very rewarding.

We know that children thrive on encouragement, during both their formative and teenage years.

And a lot of us can look back and perhaps surmise that we should have received more of said encouragement, as we grew up. Looking back also on the fact that perhaps we should have encouraged our own children more than we did?

There’s an old doo-wop song (maybe I’ve miss-genre’d it) that goes something along the lines of: “I love how you love me”.

That’s an interesting line. Does it mean I love the fact that you are in love with me, or is it a case of  ‘I’m so glad you love me, as I love you’, ie. I love your reciprocation, or is it the particular way that the love is shown?

Everyone thrives when they are treated well.

There are many Christian ministries that make the edification of the believer their priority.

In some Christian cultures more than others – everything must be and remain positive. There is no room for the negative note. It is assumed that any negative sentence in some way negates faith.

Sometimes this lacks reality. It can drift into a sugar-coated smarmy-type message if it becomes insincere.

Conversely – other Christian messages only express what they are against. So much so that we never find out what they are for.

What I appreciate about the Bible is that it only ever ‘says it like it is’.

Both positively and negatively.

The fact that the human race has fallen, and is in need of salvation – is a negative fact. It’s broken and needs fixed.

The fact that God is Love – incorporating His Divine-love (Agape) attributes of love, such as justice, mercy, righteousness, judgement, longsuffering, joy, peace, correction, compassion, empathy, healing, acceptance, eternal life, deliverance, and so on and so on…

Should cause us to wonder why we are running away from Him? The one who is real and only speaks and says it ‘like it is’?

God is sincere.

I was recently preaching, and shared the point that most ideologies have a smattering of truth. It’s only (to use my illustration) when you lick the chocolate from the bar, you find out what the rest of it consists of.

And if it’s marzipan it’s going in the bin, as far as I am concerned.

Now there are professing Christians, who are not the real McCoy. Just as there are charlatans in every other walk of life that we can think of. From con-men salespersons, to rogue builders, from corrupt governmental officials to sport-cheats. Usually what is underneath – eventually comes to the surface, and we find out that the smattering of positives are a gloss for what is below.

Truth(s) on the surface are not enough, regardless of how ‘positive’ and ‘seductive’ they may seem. It’s what is underneath that is important, what is the foundation on which the ideology is built?

As far as the Christian message is concerned – Paul, God’s wise-masterbuilder tells us: 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 

The same God who says: He so loved the world that He gave His son a ransom for many, is the same God who says He will turn the wicked into hell. (Psalm 9/17)

If He was only interested in sales-talking you into His kingdom and onto His ‘team’ as it were, He would leave the negative realities of life to the side. But He doesn’t, because He is the God of all truth.

So when you are told, for example, to follow your dreams. Stick with it and prosper in whatever you set yourself to do.

All of this kind of talk may well be necessary, and fruitful. But it can pre-suppose that there is nothing wrong in the world that needs addressed and changed.

The broken need positive love. But the negative is: life has taken it’s toll and that’s a fact. For all kinds of reasons people suffer, and not to state that fact out of some kind of perceived performance necessary in positive thinking is to live in fantasy land.

True faith confesses the positive message of Christ’s deliverance and His willing impartation of all that is spiritually positive to see us through this dark world.

So let’s hear the facts of life as they are, but let us fully and completely embrace the positive message of a Loving Saviour, who lays down His life to take it up again in resurrection power. Life-giving life-changing power to transform us internally to embrace the wonderful positives of a walk with Him.

Romans 8/31:

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

5,000+

5,000+

Matthew 14. Mark 6. Luke 9. John 6. John 6/32. Exodus 16.

Jesus had healed sick folk, and now they came for more.

So He healed all the sick in this crowd also. It was getting late – time for food – God knows you need food.

The crowd however were ill-prepared, it had been the excitement of seeing the miracles that drove them to this new place, seemingly without forethought for necessary natural food. So thrilled were they, by the spiritual food that Christ provided.

Andrew said – “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

How far will this blog post word-meal go? Enough for everybody?

Unless God takes hold of it – it won’t go far.

The young boy came to see the celebrity – (but more than a celebrity was here) but the boy had come prepared (food-wise) – he was one of the few, who had done so.

Was he there because he heard that no man ever spoke like this man?’

Why – that fact alone should be examined by all, to see if it is true, – as true it is!

Peter had the perfect-take on the words this God-man spoke, exclaiming that He had the words of Eternal Life’.

Think of it ‘Eternal words’.

Let’s examine the sequence of food provision.

NOTICE THE SEQUENCE –

FIRST – The HUMAN – in this case a young boy, who it would seem had more forethought and practical common sense than the adults – gives what he has to the DIVINE.

God doesn’t ask for something we cannot give Him, He only asks for all! Your body, soul and spirit in keeping with His desire for reciprocal love.

SECONDLY – THE DIVINE does something with what the human has willingly given. He in conference with the rest of the Trinity (the Triune God) (looks up to heaven) and the DIVINE influence takes hold of the natural food, and it multiplies supernaturally.

THIRDLY – He gives the influenced HUMAN PROVISION back to the HUMAN SERVERS (12 of them).

Sometimes God takes things off-us and gives it/them back super-enhanced and multiplied.

FOURTHLY – THE HUMANS give it to their FELLOW HUMAN BEINGS. This is how what the (HUMAN) preacher supplies – becomes something else in the hand of God.

So here’s the order in this instance – HUMAN – DIVINE – HUMAN – HUMAN.

There were twelve baskets of leftover fragments. Where in such a remote place did they get twelve baskets? Well – they came in a boat, usually a fisherman’s boat.

I reckon there were plenty of fish-baskets on such a boat.

But the twelve baskets were ‘waste not want not’. On another occasion (Old Testament) God sent manna (likewise exercising His supernatural influence), from heaven. But if we are to be fed spiritually we need reminded that…

…Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ ”