Category Archives: new life

The Prayer Life of Christ

The Prayer Life of Christ.

Jesus addressing Peter says:
But I have prayed that your faith will fail not. (Luke 22/31-33)

This is a very interesting revelation we are offered here – we are given special insight into the private prayer life of the Lord Jesus.

He knows what is going to happen in the life of Peter.
He knows beforehand that Peter will deny Him.
This is the foreknowledge of God operating here.
Knowing something will happen before it actually does.
God knows everything that will happen before it does.

We are conscious of a fact of life. Namely, that life consists of the past, the present, the future. But even as I speak we are not in the present anymore.
The present in one sense does not exist. Because time will not stand still.

‘As I…’ (…let’s stop there).

the ‘As I…’ has just passed away.

We are in a different present than the one we were in – a few seconds ago.

But God knows what will happen in a few hours time, everywhere in the world.

God is in eternity. Now is eternity – time without end? Or is eternity a dimension in which there is no time, no past present or future? The eternal now.

Well, the bible tells us – we only know ‘in part’. And there is a day coming for all believers in Christ when we shall no longer know ‘in part’, but know – even as God knows us. (I Corinthians 13/9)

We shall have the total eternal perspective on existence.

Jesus knew the future for Peter – and He tells him so. Tells Peter that he (Peter) will deny Him (Jesus).

Peter has no intention of believing this word. Based on his inner sense of love for Jesus, and his zealous desire to be faithful.

Matthew 26/33 : Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.”

Jesus knew that Peter would stumble, and deny Him. Knowing he would, Jesus took a certain course of action.

He knew Peter would sin in this way. He knew the ‘disaster’ would happen. He did not prevent Peter from denying Him.

Peter had freedom of choice which was not taken away from him. Nor is it taken from you or I.

There is a day of reckoning (commonly called) – when the goodness of God must put an end to all that is destructive, at which time, on which day, the rebellion of free will – set on – the rebellious violation of goodness and righteousness, must be stopped.

Jesus did not pre-arrange a situation for Peter in order to keep him from that hour of temptation.

Peter had to be there. He was one of the most zealous of the disciples, even though he was perhaps the one most exposed in scripture regarding his personal shortcomings and failings.

Now the disciples already knew the Lord’s prayer. Peter did not (as far as we know) pray that prayer on hearing the prophesy of Jesus. (about his denial and the cock crowing – Mark 14/30)

He didn’t believe The Lord’s prophetic word, because he didn’t want to believe it.

Nobody who is a genuine Christian wants to believe they will fail the Lord.

And it should be our hearts desire every day to walk with Him without failing Him.

But we are still encompassed with the infirmity of our own limited flesh. Referred to in scripture as ‘this body of death’. So unfortunately we shall fail The Lord, and need to return in humility once again. There will be many ‘once again’s’ in the Christian life.

But by the Grace (unmerited favour) of God we do not lose our place of salvation, while we return to our Advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ the Righteous. The one who is the propitiation for our sins. (appeasing God’s righteous indignation and supplying offered forgiveness)

Returning to our initial thought in this post. We are given insight into the prayer life of The Lord Jesus, as He communes with His Father continuously. Leaving us an example to do the same.

‘I have prayed the Father that your faith fail not’. prayed Jesus.

Wow! But surely Peter did fail? Yes he failed and denied the Lord, despite every intention initially, of not doing so.

But thanks to Jesus praying and agreeing with His Father – Peter was not cast off as a failure.

The good news is – he returned!

He went out and wept. And his mistake was an occasion for God to teach him a wonderful lesson, that he would learn more deeply for the rest of his days.

The lesson of how to walk with God in a Christ-dependant manner.

Not only dependant on Christ for salvation and eternal (future) life only.

But a lesson in learning how to walk with Jesus minute by minute, even in His earthly absence, after He (Jesus) had departed to be with the Father.

Walking in other words with The Holy Spirit, as his constant companion.

Peter’s bravado was based on his own ability. Our own ability will fail us when it comes to spiritual matters.

We must learn to live in the Holy Spirit and to walk in the Holy Spirit.
Faith gives us entrance into a relationship with The Lord Jesus Christ.

The outcome of that faith is a spiritual experience whereby we literally encounter God, The Holy Spirit, and having begun in The Spirit – we shall not be perfected in the strength of our own natural ability. (Galatians 3/3)

To encounter Jesus in this way is the most wonderful experience possible, this side of heaven.

To have our guilt removed by the Highest authority in existence. To satisfy God Almighty’s sense of Justice and at the same time to receive His forgiveness and freedom from condemnation and guilt, is or can be, a Time Surpassing any other in your life and mine.

All made possible through the finished work of Christ on the cross, where justice had it’s day and forgiveness was released to those who would ask for it.

Bearing in mind that God is omniscient (all knowing) – we conclude from this episode in Peter’s life that man’s freedom of choice, and God’s freedom of choice, go unhindered.

Whether man decides (volition) or not to satisfy God’s loving commands, there is always a place for returning to God, when, like Peter, we make a mistake.

However there is a sobering scripture addressing a lack of returning to God:

Whoever is stubborn [stiff-necked] after being corrected many times will suddenly be hurt [broken] beyond cure [healing]. (EXB translation – Proverbs 29/1)

Always a place for returning to God.
Unless we choose to die without doing so.

Stay where you are?

STAY WHERE YOU ARE?

I have been leading prayer meetings. And preaching on a Sunday. And writing blog posts.
Art will soon be ‘SPRING-ing’ up again.
When I sort out my work shed (studio)

Meantime…

I would like the inhabitants of the world to do exactly what I tell them.
But I am not a betting man.
So I won’t bet on it coming to pass.

I was thinking about the many thought processes people engage in. Whether it’s some mathematical equation – or learning of a medical kind, or maybe re-reading your scientific notes on the ‘origin of the species’.

Think of the intellectual horns that are often locked in many different fields, as view opposes view. Opinion versus opinion.

A ruler named Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!” (speaking as he was to Paul the apostle).

To the average intellect – it is plain to be seen that this Ruler – was somewhat disturbed from his comfort zone, as Paul the apostle presented a message to his ears, and to those close by.

Festus was in a certain place intellectually – and cemented into his own way of going, his own way of living. Set in his ways, as we say – and feeling uncomfortable – he grasped for a response from his own reference data, filed away under the heading of *’my personal philosophy about life’.

Everybody has one of *those, so it is not hard to conclude that he was no exception.

A file containing the things we have established consciously and unconsciously that determines our lifestyle, goals, aspirations, outlook on a myriad of subjects, and – as we think in our hearts – so we are.

Enter Paul – disturber of our certitudes shaker of our mattress and bedclothes – turning-over our bed and throwing us onto the floor of his gospel.

React, react, react. Only way to handle this intruder – who has come to turn our world upside down. This would demand a change in us (were we to entertain it) – therefore ‘much learning does make him mad’, is the most comfortable response. Warding off his intrusion, and the intrusion of Christ.

‘I will stay where I am thank you very much’ – tucked up in the comfort of a bed of half-truths.

Then King (Herod-) Agrippa II, the other man in authority – responded: “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”

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…”

Acts 26.

Infinite One

INFINITE ONE

Intellectual bankruptcy –
that’s what I reach
When the grey matter
runs out of steam

The limitations
of finiteness
plain to be seen

Not far to go
one paragraph
ought to do
– to show

clearly we are through

Through with
our ‘great capacity’…
– a dud –
– a damp squib –
Running out of breath

Breath easy – at the infinite
Speak easy – to the infinite

Because a listening ear
is promised
But only as we bow
and give way

How can we do otherwise?
Wise in our own conceits
will never do

Obvious to me.

Obvious to you?

We need the lover
of our souls
to make us whole

From without – to within
Jesus knocks at the door
And brings the preparation
of the gospel of peace

To finiteness –
Infiniteness gives His words
To rebuke –
to love – to comfort – to save

Infinite – finite
Infinite – mingles with the finite
’til one gives way

You lose the chess game
every time.
You have never
better words
in this
scrabble-esque game
than what is supplied by
the Infinite One
Jesus –
the Only Begotten Son.

Negative/Positive Truth

NEGATIVE/POSITIVE TRUTH
(Two ‘brands’)

There are many, what we call, negative attitudes carried by all kinds of different people, from all walks of life.

To counteract this there is a ‘brand’ of Christianity that tries to go the opposite direction.

It propagates a positive-speech only message.

Everything must be said in a non-corrective fashion. We mustn’t use any words that give the idea that we are excluding people from the camp.

Everyone should be embraced with the understanding that we all need the Grace of God.

Never point out sin, or give people the impression that you are not an understanding person. That you don’t have sympathy and empathy for them.

Don’t preach at people, accept them just as they are. Give them mental massages, rather than mental messages.

Don’t mention their faults, in case they feel rejected.

Preach lesson 56 in the book of 100 lessons, don’t start at lesson one, per chance it’s something that has a hint of fault finding in it.

Teach them straight away from the spiritual ‘University’ curriculum. Don’t start at the spiritual ‘Primary School’ text books, per chance they feel – you are saying they are ‘stupid’.

What’s that? ‘They have never visited a Christian – ‘school of thought’ – at all?’

Doesn’t matter, throw them in at the deep end of the pool, don’t start by demonstrating the swim strokes, lest they feel disqualified from the Olympic swimming team standards, feeling inadequate because they don’t measure up, through you – pointing out – what they are doing wrong.

This approach says – being positive must not allow the antithesis. Start with adhering to the premise that there are no negatives.

“People need loved not corrected”, is usually how it goes.

And so as this approach to Christian preaching and teaching takes place, (with no balance to it) ‘spiritually’ spoilt children are raised, who have no spiritual backbone and end up flighting from local church to local church. They move around looking for a fresh ‘massage’. (Romans 16/18)

An example of a response from those used to the positive affirmation only message might be: (e.g.)
“Someone told me that they preferred the coat I wore last week than the one I’m wearing now. So I’m out of here. I don’t need that kind of negative talk!’

A lot of this ‘positives only’ kind of teaching/preaching stems from the idea that we must accept people exactly as they are, after all if it wasn’t for the Grace of God, in accepting us, how could we possibly stand?

This is true.

But God has accepted born again believers with the purpose of raising us into maturity, in our walk with Jesus.

To do this He wants to change us. The key to growing in a right way, is knowing how to appropriate the message of God’s grace properly, through our experience of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit in our lives.

However the very fact He wants to change us, incorporates the idea, that we are needing to be changed from something to something, in the first place. (II Corinthians 3/18)

It involves a purging process. We cannot be changed from sinful behaviour to that which is acceptable with The Lord God – if we don’t know what the negative behaviour is – that we are meant to be changed from, – in the first place.

We should not sit as ‘holier than thou…’ in our heart attitude to our fellow man. We all need to experience change together. (Isaiah 65/5).

But there is something missing in the ‘positive only’ message, that brings us out of balance into a lop-sided pseudo Biblical stance.

Immediately someone tries to point out what is wrong with others, they are labelled a ‘legalist’, accused of standing with the devil and so on, (and believe me I have had my fill of real legalism).

They get labelled ‘self-righteous’, throwers of stones that they should throw at themselves.

‘Judge not that you be not judged’ is conveniently pulled out of the ‘positive only’ storehouse – a scripture they use not to inform but rather (contradicting their own ethos) to accuse with.

And in reaction to the man who wants to point out that sin is a real problem, that needs sorted (he admits – starting with his own sin first) – low and behold those who are positive thinking (dare I say it – ‘junkies’) start to accuse the same man in language they claim to have previously found abhorrent.

Failing to realise that they are now suddenly in violation of their own positive-only stance, by pointing out (negatively) – the faults of those who point out faults!

The point is – life is both positive and negative. Let’s be real. That’s not only a good place to start – but the only place to start.

Sin is man’s problem and dilemma – to overlook the existence of sin and rebellion and selfishness, to overlook that the world is in, and has always been in – a mess – through rebellion against a Holy and Loving God, is the ‘Emperor’s new clothes’ blindness scenario, (a future post on this to come).

NB: The negative (to be pointed out) is sin and the positive is goodness, (the goodness of God) – per chance this (in the context of this post) needs to be clarified.

Now let’s pause here and mention another ‘brand’ of Christianity: The hard-nosed, often hard hearted, religious Pharisaism of legalistic and hell imposing judgementalists, who consider they are specially chosen to condemn the world to hell on God’s behalf.

They condemn everyone and anyone who does not conform exactly to their particular Manifesto.

Condemning and dismissing all and sundry. Imposing the sentence of death and annihilation on anyone who dances on a dance floor, or takes a little wine for their stomach sake, or tries to look clean and well dressed, (such vanity they would claim).

They are they – who strain at gnats and swallow camels, (Matthew 23/24).

Who live in a demonic dictatorship mentality, where they sit as ‘judges of all the earth’. They are ‘soaking wet’ with – ‘cultish’ manipulation and control, with no desire to set anyone free from anything.

But rather they are religiously (hell) bent on getting others to join them and become ‘exclusive’ as the elite propagators of a death cult. (take your pick with regards to what such groups choose as their label, Christian or otherwise), (Matthew 23/15).

So what is missing in these two ‘brands’ of Christianity? (we could mention other religions that pretty much fit these descriptions also).

In the first ‘brand’ there is shallow acceptance, easy believe-ism, addressing their audience as though there is no problem whatsoever, and they are free to join the ‘love-feast’. You are accepted and there is no need to change.

The other ‘brand’ have outward-conformity rules that all must strictly adhere to, there is no promise of ‘Life and life more abundant’. (John 10/10)

Only adherence to their narrow-minded religious rule book, will bring acceptance. Step out of line once – and there you go – on your way to hell again.

(There is such a place as hell, make no mistake, but who is going there, is alone decided by the judge of all the earth, who will do what is right). (Genesis 18/25).

So the obvious word that comes to mind when addressing ‘what is missing’ in both these messages is the word balance.

The term ‘A word in season’ refers to a word that is right for the situation it addresses.

(Proverbs 15/23) -A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, And a word spoken in due season, how good it is!
The knowledge we communicate whether negative truth or positive truth, is dependant on the need of the hour.

I needed badly to hear that I was a mess (the negative truth). Before I could reach out for the delivering hand of Jesus Christ. He took me out of my ignorance and unbelief through sin, – into the truth and experience of His Glorious Gospel of Peace (the positive truth), (Romans 3/23) (John 3/16).

I am so thankful for His Saving Grace, that even when I was DEAD in trespasses and sins – He came to point it out and positively offered me his love and companionship, supplying His liberating changing ability to set me free from the dominion of my own selfishness. (Romans 6/14).

Having begun in a relationship with Him – I will not be made perfect by my own unaided willpower, but rather through a personal daily relationship with Him. (Galatians 3/3).

I am so thankful that I saw the need to be guilty first (the negative truth) before I could lose my guilt, as the highest authority in the universe forgave me (the positive truth), (Romans 3/19) (I John 1/9).

(Questions: ken.riddles@btinternet.com)

The Mysteries

The Mysteries

Dictionary definition of –
Mystique
noun
a quality of mystery, glamour, or power associated with someone or something: the mystique surrounding the monarchy.
• an air of secrecy surrounding a particular activity or subject that makes it impressive or baffling to those without specialised knowledge.

There is a mystique that is created around certain individuals, cultish groups, or religions.
It is the part (copied and pasted below) of the above dictionary definition that I have in mind:

• an air of secrecy surrounding a particular activity or subject that makes it impressive or baffling to those without specialised knowledge.

An air of secrecy that can baffle those who seemingly do not have this (person’s) specialised knowledge.

To manipulate or control the minds of cult followers, this aspect of ‘specialised knowledge’ is propagated in the ears of the followers by the ‘guru’ figure who seeks unquestioning obedience.

This can lead to bazaar acts of subservience to the leaders wishes. This deception can illicit blind loyalty which can be expressed in all kinds of ways, inclusive of sexual deviance, all cultivated by an idea that this person has superior knowledge, outside the norm.

Often these individuals claim god-given enlightenment, and that they are ‘special’.

That they are cut from a ‘superior’ cloth than the rest of mankind. And therefore unfaltering and un-altering obedience is the obvious response to this superior being – (don’t think so).

For everything that is one hundred percent genuine in the life of The Lord Jesus Christ – there is an exact deceptive copy.

You name them and you will find that – for every genuine attribute of His – there is a false alternative.

There is a false pseudo version of all He is. And all of His wonderful attributes are claimed – to be also found in many false Christ’s or cult leaders who deceive others into the kind of sick subservience they demand.

Jesus does not violate the free gift of volition he has given to all of mankind. The free gift of ‘free-will’. The power of choice.

In the interests of destroying what destroys – He will eventually step in and wind things up for good.

This will come in His timing and no one knows the hour or the day that this will happen.

But only then will He completely overrule the free-will of man from His standpoint of infinitely superior wisdom, and in the benevolent interest of all of His creation. Responding in pure righteousness to the litany of sinful wrong decisions since time began.

In the light of all of this – it is important that we (as the scripture says:) ‘believe not every spirit’. (I John 4/1)

But the Christian gospel is brought to us by God (who is a Spirit) and unfortunately many will believe the lying manipulation of deceivers who claim – ‘Lo here is the Christ or there is the Christ…’ (Matthew 24/23)

All done to usually seek some kind of advantage over their followers for their own gain and the feathering of their own nest. (Unfortunately this can creep into the Christian church also).

Concerning the Lord Jesus Christ it was said of Him – that ‘No man ever spoke like this man’ (John 7/46)
He was and is the Son of God.
He was one-hundred-percent genuine. In Him was found no sin.

Many however – were the accusations railed against Him. The accusations were false. But He was/is true.

Unfortunately no one can claim His spotless, blameless character/nature. Because all have sinned and fallen short of His glory and standard.

All includes you and I.

And so to claim in light of what I have just written that I can claim to have knowledge that is not common to all, might at first sound like a contradiction to the above paragraphs.

Lining myself up to be tarred with the same brush as those referred to above.

But consider the words of God and what He claims for His followers –

Addressing His followers –
Colossians 1:9
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
God desires Christians to have and therefore supplies knowledge of His will – and the point I’m making in the context of this post – He therefore supplies/makes available – wisdom and spiritual understanding.
Not everyone has that wisdom and spiritual understanding filling them.
But it is offered to Christ’s followers, and is part of their inheritance as believers.

This is not given to make us superior or to court the blind obedience of others, but it is something that is God-given, and sets us apart from others, through the gift of God, and His unearned favour.

Here we read of this understanding that He has given us.
It has been given by revelation. The Son of God has come and given us an understanding.

There was a time when we didn’t have it – like many who still don’t. But then the Holy Spirit entered our lives and He has ‘given us an understanding…’

1 John 5:20
And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

Listen too, to what the Apostle Paul says:

1 Corinthians 4:1
Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.

Stewards of what? The mysteries of God.

Revealing that what we know is a mystery.

Here is a dictionary definition of mystery:
something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain…

Difficult, even impossible to understand or explain.

Yet the revelation of these mysteries, has been given to true… (notice I say ‘true’, as in ‘genuine’, for every true genuine professor of Christ – there is a false one)
…given to genuine followers of Christ, and we steward the mysteries carefully.

Does that mean we want others to consider us superior, or a cut above the rest, or that we want others to follow us, in some kind of repugnant subservient way?

Not at all. The only way anyone should follow me – is if I take them and introduce them to Jesus Christ.

Let me know if you desire directions – after which you can go to Him yourself.
………………………………………….
MATTHEW 13/10-12
10 And the disciples came and said to Him (Jesus), “Why do You speak to them in parables?”
11 He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you (His followers) to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.

(bold highlighting – mine throughout)

Unfinished

UNFINISHED

The wind was sufficient to help him up the hill
Pushing at his back with impromptu gusts
He saw up ahead the break in the fence
And on reaching it, he quietly slipped through
No sooner had he entered the field when
A greater gust of wind than before, pushed
him so hard, he propelled forward and
fell face first onto the ground
The sting of his cheek hitting a broken tree branch
Caused him to cry out in pain
He lay there for a moment or two before slowly
Trying to rise up again.
As he did so he noticed something a few feet ahead
He stepped forward to examine it
Reaching his hand in behind a few weeds
He grasped the object
It was a…

The terrible disappointment of this short
story is that it shall not be finished,
by my choice of will.

Increased expectation of a climax or finale – gone.
Unfinished – like your life and mine.

………………………………………..

For myself, I’m glad to report I know
what the sequel of my life is.
By choice I will be part of what is promised.
(I Thessalonians 4/17)