Category Archives: new life

Spiritually natural

Spiritually natural

It’s difficult to write about many of the wonderful things of God – in the present climate, when so much needs fixing.

There needs to be a turning wholeheartedly to The Only Living and True God, through His Son The Lord Jesus Christ.

There is nothing new under the sun. In simple terms good and evil is in conflict, and has been since the beginning or before. 

The rise and fall of evil men will go on. The Rise and Rise of good men will also continue.

There is an event we term The Rapture, when Christ will return, but no man knows the hour or the day. That will be the greatest ‘uprising’ in history!

Meantime evil men grow worse and worse.

There is a scripture that encourages those who carry precious pearls to not throw them before swine:

6 “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

This is a snippet of wisdom communicated by The Lord Jesus. Clearly informing us that there are precious and beautiful things God is willing to reveal to mankind. But these precious things are not to be shared with animalistic natures, who will have no discernment as to their beauty, and who will trample them under foot.

Treating the things of God’s nature with disdain, ‘like the horse or like the mule which have no understanding….’

John 2:24 Amplified Bible:

24 But Jesus, for His part, did not entrust Himself to them, because He knew all people [and understood the superficiality and fickleness of human nature],

Superficiality and fickleness will not receive the things of God. God will not entrust His precious hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge and revelation of Himself to such.

This teaches us that to even begin to understand, experience and prove the goodness and self-evident existence of the creator of the universe – we must first approach Him with a heart that desires to depart from evil, whilst honouring and respecting the things of God.

All around us is animalistic and ungodly defiance. But read ‘the book’ to see how it all pans out.

Most genuine preachers, feel their own inadequacies when it comes to the things of God, desiring to be a more worthy expounder of His truth.

If only we could walk flawlessly before Him, practicing everything we preach.

God does not however require an unnatural ‘holier than thou’ attitude, cloaked in false humility, whereby we unrealistically take on some kind of pseudo ‘holiness’ – as one preacher put it becoming so heavenly minded we are no earthly use.

Conversely however – some are so earthly minded they are no heavenly use.

God wants us to be human and spiritually-natural, able to laugh, be normal, have fun and talk about everyday things.

But at the same time holding close to our hearts the things of Himself He has revealed to us.

Allowing His thoughts (Bible) to fill our minds – giving them priority over the natural things of life.

There is no holiness without The Holy Spirit!

Balance – a great word to keep us on track.

To sum up we are to mind the natural things as in for example: culture, – with the enablement of God – who gives us spiritual discernment to separate the wheat from the chaff. So that we can enjoy those everyday things of life because our minds, hearts and spirits are fixed on God.

As a painter and a poet (as far as I know 😎) I cannot enjoy any of these or any other activities for that matter, unless my heart is right with The Lord. Then I experience His promise:

I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Helped and energised to enjoy all the things that make up life – He has given us – to enjoy.

I Timothy 6/17

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.

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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.

Heading for the new land

headed for the new land

HEADING FOR THE NEW LAND

When I painted this piece – I found the subject suggesting itself, as the painting progressed.

This is usually how it works for me.

It’s an exception as I rarely set out to paint a biblical subject or truth.

But I came across the painting again (it is no longer in my possession and I have forgotten who bought it).

I was consequently reminded and reflected on the fact that I am heading for a new ‘land’.

The heaven of heavens is my destination through no merits of my own – rather because of the fact that, admitting I had no merits – led eventually to finding great grace and acceptance in Christ.

Because of what I have experienced of the heavenly sphere (already) down here in this lower sphere, I believe and therefore I speak.

II Corinthians 4/

13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, 14 knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you.

I will be raised up passing from this land to the ‘new land’. Who told me that? The person who gave the words as just quoted.

The painting which of course is metaphorical shows horses being changed from flesh to spirit. 

They enter speedily into a land of light, and en route they pass a tree of life. No one can fully and completely enter the light before entering eternal life, represented by the tree.

A tree of life that in Scripture was guarded to prevent man from remaining eternally in sin.

Genesis 3/22

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.

24 …and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

The tree of crucifixion dealt with the sin problem. Allowing man to partake of the other tree and gain eternal salvation and life through Christ.

There is no sword in the painting – to prevent the entrance to eternal life.

The painting is of course in watercolour – still a fresh and beautiful medium. Just like the gospel message.

Selah.

What’s in a name?

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

What do people do in times of bombardment? In times of war?

Their lives are devastated through the loss of loved ones, livelihood, and dwelling place.

Those of us who have not experienced this, can only surmise the physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual impact that this brings, and the toll it takes.

We feel inadequate to even make a suitable comment by way of offered empathy or understanding. Mix-in the fact that there may be little we can do to offer assistance.

True Christians of course, offer the gospel as the news everyone needs to hear. We claim and proclaim that in the gospel message, God addresses the need of mankind and offers salvation in His Son The Lord Jesus Christ.

One of the first things a Christian will tell you is to ‘believe on The Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved’.

‘Saved’ means – delivered, set free, opened up spiritually, born again inside – in the spiritual new birth, saved is to receive the gift of forgiveness, as we invite Christ to come into the innermost human spirit to dwell there.

There are others ways of explaining what salvation is.

The birth of Faith in the heart with confession of the mouth, is one of the priority factors in the process of being saved/converted. (Romans 10/9-10)

But I want to highlight what can be faith in ‘different clothes’, to speak in metaphor.

When someone is devastated through a horrible experience, and human help is in short supply, and indeed all else has failed – through deep brokenness and pain the human spirit almost automatically cries out in it’s brokenness. Cries out to the divine.

However one requirement is needed above all. We are told that ‘… “whoever calls on the name of the Lord [in prayer] will be saved.”

Notice call upon – ‘the name’.

Get someone’s name wrong in the doctor’s waiting room, as the doctor calls out, and that person will remain in their seat, with no medical attention or help forthcoming.

Get their name wrong and they will not be responding to your call.

Get God’s name wrong and the promised help cannot be brought to the needy heart.

It is not a small thing with God that His name be overlooked or that He be called by a name He does not recognise.

I guess that kinda sums up the comparative religions problem?

There are many names for God in the bible. In simple terms each one brings out a different aspect of His character, but they are all ‘add-ons’ to His name Jehovah.

In the New Testament we are told:

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

I don’t think anything needs to be added to this. It’s plain and simple. The New Testament name of the one who brings salvation is Jesus Christ The Lord.

But just in case there is any doubt we also read:

12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

So in a condition of deep despair, when you have suffered in the flesh – take God at His word and call upon the name of The Lord, getting His name right, is realising He is God, and in fact – the only living and true God.

Faith awaits His response. Even when His response seems slow – it is sure.

When our cheek/gums are frozen by the dentist – he supplies the help we need.

We have no ‘sense’ of the help, or that he has carried out the procedure properly. No ‘sense’ that the problem has been fixed. Until some time later – when our insensitivity has been removed.

God will give that sense of assurance that He has responded, whether straight away or later, as faith waits expectantly.

 

Hidden wisdom

HIDDEN WISDOM

Regardless of what ‘times’ we are living in, and how close to the end of the world we are, it was, is, and will always be more than a matter of the prophetic outcome of the planet.

We are told that the times and the seasons God has set within His power (Acts 1/7). In other words God in divine wisdom has a way of letting man operate and function, in making his own choices, but He will order things in such a way that His total plan will not be hindered.

God is resisted and hindered from blessing the individual heart, on all sides, because of the rebellious will of man, but He will still both in pre-determinate counsel and in His response to man’s choices – bring to pass all the good pleasure of His will. And often of course God takes no pleasure in the actions He must take, unavoidably take, in response, to the awful choices and deeds of mankind.

God’s ways He tells us are ‘past finding out’ (Romans 11/33) – but He has revealed hidden mysteries, in New Testament times.

True Christians can partake of God’s hidden wisdom (I Corinthians 2/7). But there are things – yes secret things – that belong to God alone. (Deuteronomy 29/29).

Getting every conceivable answer to every conceivable question is not going to happen. And that frees us to realise that the foundation of faith in Christ is based on something else.

Our faith in Christ as the Saviour of the world is based on Him, not on understanding everything and therefore believing.

Yes I love to understand and receive revelation on The Word of God, but when I look at His life on earth, I am left speechless with regard to so many aspects of what He thought, said and did, I am left in admiration for the one they placed on the tree.

No man ever spoke like this man, nor did what He did. Laying down His life for mankind and taking it up again in resurrection power is the message to be believed. (John 10/18)

The voice of unbelief cries out perhaps like never before, man is wise in his own conceits – but the still small voice is still whispering to the human heart –

‘Follow me…’

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.

Uncool language

UNCOOL LANGUAGE

The next generation considers the last generation uncool.

Nothing new under the sun.

That’s just how it is. Mindsets change in art, fashion, culture, taste, etc etc. and if we do not conform to the majority’s take on things – we are relegated to the ‘uncool’ waste bin by others.

Then the pendulum swings and certain things return – back in vogue again.

The traditional ‘whatever’- has a certain appeal and many are interested in everything historical, but they don’t think of using a gas light to light their bedroom, or wash their clothes by hand to save electricity. I speak generally of course – western world – and all that.

So we visit museums, and read books to re-enforce our interest, if it happens to be in the things of the past.

What about religion?

Because two thousand years has passed since Christ walked the earth – there is the inevitable historic-context-aspect of all things Christian.

Don’t let the historical context deceive you into thinking it is not relevant for today. We are talking eternal truth here!

In a previous blog I drew our attention to religion as a label for things not necessarily desirable. To sum this up – Isaiah 29/13:

Therefore the Lord said: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honour Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me, And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,

That for me sums up the bad aspect of religion. We look for bad religion personified in the Pharisees, and Pharaisical hypocrisy. It’s a paying of lip-service only, to spiritual matters.

An outward conforming to rituals and a system, but one void of compassion, tenderness, heart or spirit, and relationship with God.

But sometimes when we encounter in a piece of writing – an old fashioned means of expression, it can rob us of the relevant content of the utterances, simply because we straightaway relegate the wording to a bygone era, and dismiss the content as uncool, and irrelevant in today’s world, simply because of it’s tone, or it’s King James English.

We too-quickly overlook the message because the wording smacks of a dead and buried past.

There are many different expressions of Christianity – and if we are wise we will bypass the awkwardness of the language, or the off-putting phrases and ambiguous language and seek the heart of the message.

Receiving or rejecting it on it’s content only, not on it’s choice of words.

If the heart of the message is good then listen more attentively. If the message is true-truth, then embrace it.

Pilate with The Lord Jesus Christ standing before him, asked the question: ‘What is truth?’.

Well – he missed it completely! But of course, there is nothing wrong with the question.

Pilgrim’s Progress is full of truth (circa 1678). For those who don’t know, it is a book written by John Bunyan. 

There have been re-written, more modern, versions of the book, as far as I know.

But grab a copy of the original – sift your way through it – to find sound, revelatory truth – good for all peoples.

It’s about a journey, the journey we are all on. And it is based fully on Biblical truth.

Read of Pilgrim’s progress through the many obstacles that stand in the way of those who sincerely, one hundred percent, want to know true-truth.

You are fighting against the odds increasingly in these days, but find the ancient message in ancient language or otherwise. Sift your way to the true-truth of Eternal Life!

Truth must get inside

TRUTH MUST GET INSIDE

If I told you, they were giving away an introductory voucher for a large sum of money down at the new store. And I wasn’t lying. You have two options – suspicious response, or allowing the information into your psyche as you believe me and make your way down to the store for the hand-out.

So it is with the truth – we either respond with suspicion, our minds entertaining all kinds of other information by which we question what is shared with us, by way of comparison.

We don’t wish to be gullible, especially with the arrival of ‘the scam’, and it’s spread in epidemic proportions.

But letting the truth in is more important than simply hearing the truth.

There are many things offered to us, which we do well to refuse to allow in on us.

But at some point we must allow ‘true truth’ to get inside us, we must yield to it, and allow it to effect and change our lives.

The one million dollar question to be asked though, quite clearly is: ‘is it really the truth?’

If we are convinced it is and it isn’t, we are in big trouble.

Especially in light of eternal issues, and in the context of eternal truth.

The truth is a person, the second person of the Godhead Jesus Christ. (John 14/6)

What’s the response? Suspicion and comparison with the collection of information and knowledge you have obtained throughout your life’s journey – or in a child-like way – reception of the stated fact?

Letting this truth inside you, calls for more and deeper examination once it is inside, once it has been received, entertained, allowed space in your brain.

The only thing to avoid is ignoring it.

Ignoring is good if it is not the truth. Ignoring (when it is the truth) is to remain ignorant of the truth.

Paul, one of the major leaders of all time in the church, was a man on a mission to destroy the Christian church, he was as maybe most of you will know – stopped supernaturally in his tracks. It happened on a road to Damascus. (Acts 9/1-7)

After his conversion, and he became a follower of Jesus Christ he had this to say:

12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, 13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.

NOTICE HE PRACTICED HIS RELIGION IGNORANTLY AND IN UNBELIEF.

That’s where, as they say, I rest my case. The truth is the truth, even if I am accused of dogmatism when I share it.

Buy the truth, and do not sell it,

Also wisdom and instruction and understanding.

Proverbs 23/23

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?

Perfection

PERFECTION

How many Times have you heard this response when someone has been caught in the act of wrongdoing and stands accused:

 “Well I’m not perfect you know!!”

What does such a response mean? Well, how about – “You don’t expect me to make mistakes – but I do!” or “Ok! Ok! But you make mistakes as much as me!” or “You expect too much from me…”

We usually equate certain types of behaviour with immaturity or childishness.

And when Jesus exhorted his disciples and us with these words:

48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Or as the Amplified version of the Bible amplifies it:

48 You, therefore, will be perfect [growing into spiritual maturity both in mind and character, actively integrating godly values into your daily life], as your heavenly Father is perfect.

We should get the picture that we all – young, middle-aged or old, suffer from the same thing: ‘immature behaviour’.

Again how many times have you heard this incredulous statement:

“Imagine a man of his age – how could he do such a thing..?” Again equating misbehaviour with immaturity.

We are not complete. We are not at that point of ‘perfect’ maturity, in our behaviour.

We don’t have it all together. We are not without fault and shortcomings. However the point is – what do we do with these shortcomings, common to us all?

Carry on as usual doing the same childish things? Or allow change to come into our lives?

There are two types of maturity-perfection-completeness.

Firstly – there is the completeness given as a gift. Secondly – the completeness we are, (and always will be), searching for in our behaviour, indeed searching for the rest of our lives.

Christ offers us His perfection to partake of. And then offers to change us from the inside, once we have sincerely accepted Him into our lives.

Christians are given the ‘Robe’ of Christ’s righteousness as a gift. This is a spiritual garment.

We can hear this indicated in the scriptural exhortation to ‘…put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts’. (Romans 13/14)

My five month old grandson sat with his dad who was watching his favourite soccer team on the television. His mum dressed him in one of his dad’s soccer shirts, and there they sat ‘twins’ (early indoctrination 😊).

The shirt was obviously ‘drowning’ the child. But he will grow up into it.

That’s the gift of God – we find acceptance when we receive Christ as Lord, God The Father sees us perfect/mature/fully grown in His perfect son.

But now we need to grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— (Ephesians 4/14-16).

We can look at this as owning ‘positional’ perfection, but needing to obtain increasing measures of Christ-likeness in our daily experience – outworked in our behaviour.

Getting into original greek words etc. we come across other nuances of meaning when it comes to being blameless: ‘without indictment’, ‘unchargeable’, ‘above reproach’, ‘unquestionable integrity’.

How are we doing?

Seems to me there are two types of human being: 1) Those who have accepted the gift of forgiveness and completeness by receiving Christ personally into their lives, asking Him to take over as Saviour, Master and Lord.

2) And those who either don’t care about being good, adult or mature in their character and behaviour, or who strive to be perfect without the assurance of the gift of perfection, and spend their lives failing. Concerning the completeness I speak of as a gift we read (Hebrews 10/14):

  • New King James Version
    For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
  • Amplified Bible
    For by the one offering He has perfected forever and completely cleansed those who are being sanctified [bringing each believer to spiritual completion and maturity].

This perfection that is a gift is based totally on Christ’s finished work on the cross.

I had to come into a deep sense of my own sinfulness, in which I cried out to Jesus to forgive me. Through God’s supernatural working I came into a Revelation of The Son of God – and I knew I had been forgiven.

I am on that road – that journey – to maturity – that narrow way that always leads to spiritual life. I am still growing into this ‘robe’ of righteousness, by The Grace of God.

Can’t get through

Hi to all! – I’ve had a lull in posting, (and ‘liking’) due to technical problems with my iMac. I start back on track with something I may have examined before:

CAN’T GET THROUGH

What can we say to the person who can’t get through?

Let’s have a pause here.

If I don’t continue – the interpretations of this opening remark are potentially endless.

Get through to what?

Well regardless of whether we admit it to ourselves or not – there is a spiritual vacuum within every person on the planet.

Or more correctly put – we are all born with this spiritual vacuum within. Some have handled this by dismissing the idea of there being a spiritual vacuum. Dismissed chiefly, by ignoring it.

For every affirmative statement of the fact that there is a Living God – there is a doubt antithetically offering itself to our minds.

I think of those who at one time examined the Christian message and slowly but surely came to realise how positive and true it was. Then having taken the necessary steps as instructed by others ‘in the know’ – they proceeded to call on God in prayer.

Only to find they ‘couldn’t get through’ – that it didn’t seem to make any difference. Nothing happened. I didn’t experience a thing. I tried that and it didn’t work.

So obviously (they conclude) the only thing remaining to do – is walk away.

Question: Doubt. – What is it?

Answer: Lack of faith –

 ‘Wow! Thanks for that’. I hear you say.

So there you where – you decided to act on the call to prayer exhortation from your Christian friend. Or as a result of your own deliberations over the Bible verses you had read.

‘They that call on the name of The Lord shall be saved.’

You called – but doubt stepped in and said ‘Has God said…?’

So you felt nothing – thoughts were swimming – no result – what’s this about? Didn’t work for me.

Doubt then began to speak in familiar language – what about all the other religions, surely they have something to offer also?

How can we be sure of any of this stuff?

I mean I prayed and nothing different happened to me. I didn’t sense anything different.

But who told you nothing happened? Your emotions? Your body? Or did your will just decide nothing happened?

‘Well my mind told me to consider all the teachings of the other religions as this was only fair, who is to say that Christianity only, has the answers?’

So now we have expressed a number of thoughts the end result of which, nevertheless is – doubt.

So in this very brief examination of faith and doubt, one thing we can safely conclude is found in the example and experience of one who listened to the preaching of Paul the Apostle.

Acts 26:27-29 (NKJV)

27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.”

28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”

29 And Paul said, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.”

Persuasion is ours, for many reasons. When Christ heals you, and you know it – despite the skepticism of others – you are persuaded.

When you are burdened down with guilt, and Christ forgives you and frees you from guilt, lifting the heavy weight – you are persuaded.

When you set out to write a book exposing the myth of Christ and His death and resurrection – and by examining the scriptures you are soundly convinced that contrary to your doubts – it (the bible) is the authentic means by which God has communicated to mankind – you become persuaded – like Frank Morrison who wrote the book ‘Who Moved the Stone’.

In my own case I came to recognise the total reality that God’s hand was imparting unmerited favour to me – He so touched my life – I could only but bow to His supernatural hand of persuasion upon me.

He moved first – I responded.

Becoming persuaded, calls for a certain tenaciousness in searching until we find the answers we are looking for.

We need to recognise that doubt will knock at the door, sometimes persistently, but a tenacious examination of the truth of the scriptures will lead to being fully persuaded.

Romans 4:20-22 (KJV)

20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;

21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

Religion

Religion

You have heard the saying to ‘squeeze the life out of something’.

This is what religion does.

Of course in order to sound plausible I need to start by defining ‘religion’.

My plausibility is not the type that involves deception, by the way.

‘Religion’ is a term used – in Christian churches that have experienced the life-giving power of Christ, – to highlight the opposite-experience. 

Another word that is used is ‘Legalism’, when describing the opposite to ‘joy unspeakable and full of Glory’.

The Pharisees are usually offered as examples of this negative use of the word ‘Religion’.

They were caught up in the outward appearance of things, they added to the Word of God, with man-made concepts, rules and regulations.

They majored on the minors and minored on the majors.

Jesus speaking of the Pharisees said:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

Until Jesus completed God’s revelation to man communicating it in His New Covenant – the law stood it’s ground, as it were, as given in the Old Testament.

Jesus didn’t destroy the law – He fulfilled it.

Forgive my analogy but for me (as an artist/painter) I see the Old Testament Law and its demands as the drawing before the colour was added.

I know – not the soundest of analogies.

But Christ came to give us Life and Life more abundant. Whereas many Christians are like the Pharisees who wish to bind folks with heavy burdens.

One gentleman responding to a gospel invitation to become a Christian – was heard to say: ‘No thanks I have enough problems of my own..!’

You see all he heard was an invitation to ‘religious rules’ and a lack-lustre life of asceticism.

Jesus puts it this way, illustrating lifeless drudgery –

For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

God has His laws – but they are the laws of liberty!’

James 1/25

But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it…

Not religious servitude to a hard taskmaster. But words of life to guide us in our behaviour.

Speaking of the liberty offered to everyone who will believe – God says:

II Corinthians 3/

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

The Holy Spirit is the life-giver and He then feeds us spiritually with His word/law.

None of this makes sense until we meet Him.

But the purpose of this post is to say that ‘religion’ in the negative sense, in the sense that I have just described, and alluded to, will neither satisfy you or set you free from the influence of sin.

Only a living relationship with the Living God will do that.

There is a proper use of the word religion in James 1/27 (If you care to have a look).

As I write this it crosses my mind that I may well have written on this before? Well, I shall do so again.

But it is extremely important that we are not deceived into a Pseudo-version of Christianity.

As you enter the New Year – please search for the real thing!