Category Archives: new life

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!

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Age

AGE

You are a person of your generation. You look around to notice that a generation, has passed on from you.

Sorry to inform you – but there is a generation that sees you as old.

Everybody is young or everybody is old depending on your telescope usage, that spies on time.

I have a 25 year-old inside me, but I am not 25. I’m seen as old to real 25’s.

You are fit?

You are fit, but getting past it – old to that young whippersnapper, who moon-walked past you on the street the other day.

His moon-walk revved up to full throttle.

You can do twenty press-ups, but beware of your green face, when the guy ten years younger than you – does forty.

The march of time. Grow old gracefully.

I heard of the death of a forty year old. Many die young.

Where does the Lord God figure in the age stakes? 

He has neither beginning of days nor ending.

Hebrews 7/Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.

Age is the result of corruption. Old bones and skeletal collapse.

Passing through this scene of time – we distract ourselves with what is here and now. With what the world has to offer.

And pop star after pop star – deflated, dejected passes away in tragic fashion. 

They received all the adulation, attention, idol worship ‘all this will I give you…’ said the god of this world.

But the fame and fortune and adoration is a big let down, and yet many crave it. Too young to think there is another side to the coin of fame.

‘This is the most important moment of my life’ they gasp, as they wait to be voted in or out by the entertained public.

We are all passing-through.

A man named Solomon sought to find what was beneficial to do and be involved in – under the sun. He bought the T-shirt on most of the possible things we could give ourselves to.

He tried ‘em all and remained convinced that it was all – emptiness.

He concluded despite his fame and fortune, there was only one maxim – Fear God and keep his commandments.

But, even so, Solomon in all his glory, had not tasted the new covenant that was-to-come in the Person of The Lord Jesus Christ.

Today, It is spiritually duller than before – and we need Christ’s help more than ever, to enter behind the veil, into the absoluteness and veraciousness of the Almighty – through His Son.

Yes we age with each passing day. Time and tide waits for no man.

Now is the acceptable time to awake to the gospel, before age takes it’s final toll.

John 6/67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. 68. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Vulnerable with whom?

VULNERABLE WITH WHOM?

We can talk about what is happening in society. We can talk about what is happening in the world.

But what, (perhaps needless to say), is happening inside us, is what we are most familiar with.

Being self-conscious human beings, means – our self-awareness leads us to personal concerns – first.

Everyone’s aspirations differ, I guess with some overlapping, but never quite the same.

Our mind is pre-preoccupied with the body we live in. First-things-first is usually subjective.

We are fragile flesh. Prone to the same highs and lows.

Body, soul and spirit beings.

Inescapably we succumb to self-interest first, punctuated by a few sacrifices we may have made for others along the way, in order to change our self-oriented daily narrative.

Christians or non-Christians, acts of charity, and good deeds-done are common to all.

Some have been more sacrificial than others, in their service to their fellow man.

I am way down the pecking order when it comes to good deeds done, to the benefit of my fellow man. 

I can only hope that my service of ‘words’ has helped others to some small degree, along the way.

But mankind is housed in flesh, and we all have this earthly tent in common. We live in these corruptible bodies, with all our mutual limitations.

We are prone, as is said of Elijah: ‘to like passions.’

James 5/17: Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months

Despite these ‘like passions’ common to us all – Elijah (Elias) was a spiritual man, able to pray and receive answers.

Many believe in vulnerability. Many believe they should share their weaknesses openly with all who will listen.

This they usually conclude is being real. We should be free to share our innermost weaknesses and needs, they believe, to authenticate our genuineness.

Others consider this to be airing their dirty linen in public.

 Dictionary –  To discuss very private, personal matters, especially that which may be embarrassing, in public or with other people.

When we share such private thoughts, we leave ourselves open to ridicule or unfair judgment from others.

It establishes in their minds a certain outlook towards us.

Even if we grow, and overcome those inner weaknesses, it may well be, they remain convinced, that we have not, indeed, overcome.

And should we fall yet again into negative behaviour of whatever kind, they affirm to themselves that indeed, we have not moved on.

Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is not the whole answer to finding help. We need to ask “with whom can I, or should I, be vulnerably open?”

Those who are at all familiar with this blog, and this season of Christian-perspective posts, will not be surprised in the least at my next exhortation:

Vulnerability, that is – being vulnerable and therefore usually confessional  – in an acceptable manner is firstly vertical, before it is horizontal.

Prayer to Christ Jesus the one who is seated at the right hand of God the Father, in an unimaginable way, and who ever lives to represent those who want Him as their saviour and advocate, is the vertical friendship that I am referring to.

Proverbs 18/24

A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Christ Jesus is that friend that sticks closer than a human being/brother, if He is invited into our lives.

He is never surprised at your vulnerability, nor ignorant of your attempts to be and do what is right. He is compassionate and understanding, willing to forgive when you fail, and willing to comfort the downhearted in His presence, where there is fullness of joy.

Be – as vulnerable as you want to be – with Him. Tell Him honestly what you think of yourself. Share with Him your most intimate thoughts.

Having done this – you can then move from vertical communion with Christ to the horizontal, in finding a real, true human friend, to open your heart to.

This is not always an easy task. But don’t give up, there are still some genuine, ethically sound, sincere counsellors who will keep confidence, and lend a helping hand.

You know I’m going to add – Christian ones.

Despite the onslaught of failure amongst people in positions of trust, and despite the hypocritical representation of religion, there are still those who are salt and light.

Men and women dealing with the same weaknesses Elijah, and you and I, contend with, both in ourselves and our fellow human beings.

Like Elijah the prophet – we can still pray and get results, especially in areas of subjectivity.

To finish – I must bind myself to the first part of the verse quoted above:

Proverbs 

A man who has friends must himself be friendly…

I raise my glass of coke –

“Here’s to your friendship”

Plainly still hidden?

PLAINLY STILL HIDDEN?

Supposing there was something absolutely essential to mankind. Essential perhaps to man’s very survival. It was as plain as day. ‘As plain as the nose on your face’,  as they say.

Yet – nobody noticed it or was aware of it. It was in front of them – but they couldn’t see it.

I wonder – to help me complete this short post if you can give me an example?

To give me an example would not be possible. As you then would have already noticed it – and therefore it fails to meet the criteria, of being plainly out of sight.

Although – it is in the realm of possibility, that you alone can see it – and no one else – and therefore it gives you authority in providing the example.

I reckon all the great inventors, pretty much knew something before everyone else. It was hidden to the rest of us, and eventually revealed by them.

So clearly I am referring to something – hidden.

Something plainly needed by the human race, yet hidden, and therefore unseen, out of sight.

There is much that mankind does not know.

When man discovers something for the betterment of, or service to, the human race, it can be embraced triumphantly.

But sometimes embraced, as though now, there was nothing else left to find out.

We should be thankful for any great discoveries in medical science. But refrain from getting on our ‘high horse’. We still don’t have a cure for the common cold.

It’s that ‘high horse’ thing that God most dislikes. Yet many on their high horse (with no real understanding) blame God for being on his!

The original sin was one of pride – Isaiah 14/13-15:

You said in your heart,

    “I will ascend to the heavens;

I will raise my throne

    above the stars of God;

I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,

    on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.

14 

I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;

    I will make myself like the Most High.”

15 

But you are brought down to the realm of the dead,

    to the depths of the pit.

The fall of this spirit took place before mankind followed suit and fell into sin.

The ‘I’ factor is loud and clear in this passage of scripture.

Lifting oneself up is the expression of a proud heart. Taking the best seat at the feast, rather than the lower seat, it being the host’s (not the guest’s) prerogative to ask you up to a higher one.

Those who exalt themselves shall be humbled. 

Thinking too highly of (oneself), is a danger, as pride goes before a fall.

Nowadays the emphasis is on holding on to a good self-image to the exclusion of whether it is based on fact or fiction.

A bad self-image and a good self-image can both be flawed.

A good self-image is self-acceptance, accepting ourselves as we are, without living a life of pretence or with delusions of grandeur. It is thinking of ourselves in a sober manner – not too highly and not too lowly.

Recognising our strengths and our weaknesses, without being morbidly introspective about the weaknesses, nor puffed-up with insolent pride perhaps over some ability we have.

Bringing our weaknesses to Jesus Christ, who converses with His Father on behalf of those who desire Him to do so.

There are many things, (spiritually speaking), that I have yet to see, – yet to find out.

I am thankful for what has been shown to me. Things I have great certainty over.

But I will always be on the road of discovery, when it comes to my relationship with Jesus Christ.

In this life I will always only – ‘know in part’.

But I’m told to hold fast to what I have already received, and to walk by the same rule.

I am also told that the things I have received are hidden to many others:

I Corinthians 2/6-8.

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

That thing, that is hidden to many, is the essential thing I referred to at the beginning of this post.

It is a drawn-up and carried-out plan for the salvation of the human race.

Is it plain to you? Or plainly – still hidden from your understanding?

There is coming a day regardless of what theological standpoint we take, – there is coming a day – when Christ will return to take only those who are part of his mystical body (the church) –  still alive on earth – into the air in a rapturous experience.

A day when Christ who is hidden from the sight of the eyes of multitudes today, will return no longer hidden, but in plain view – for every eye shall see Him –

Revelation 1/7:

“Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen.

will they recognise Him or will recognition be hidden from them also?

Is the gospel message then, plain for you? To be acted on immediately? Or does it remain hidden even though you can hear it from many preachers?

About that opening paragraph:

Supposing there was something absolutely essential to mankind…It was in front of them – but they couldn’t see it…?

Pondering

PONDERING

The pace of modern day living (or is it post-modern living?) is great.

It seems to accelerate with each passing day.

When we factor-in the fact that we are all inescapably getting older, this increase of pace is not always welcome.

When we reach a certain age, we become resentful of the increased pace, and simply don’t want to keep up with it.

Staying abreast of all IT developments, becomes boring to those of a certain age. We don’t want to know anymore. Our curiosity has wained.

And unless needing to know the recent developments for our job, we run out of interest and enthusiasm.

But of course I must be fair, and add: ‘personally speaking’ 😎!

In contrast many folks just love the latest gadgets and updates and new discoveries. They can’t wait to engage the cogs of their brain in the latest advancements.

And that’s fine – ‘whatever floats your boat’.

Maybe I’m not so much a ‘technophobe’, as a ‘techno-slob’, ie too lazy to find out the latest.

But my main point in this piece, is the fact that speed sometimes because of greed, calls for mental gymnastics and involvement in business and busy-ness – and robs us of contemplation that may lead to something much more rewarding.

Luke 2/18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

Mary had acquired supernatural angelic insight – not directly from the angels, but from the message communicated by a bunch of shepherds. Just like you and I are – in this post.

She had no reason to doubt this news that they brought, simply because she knew about encountering angels herself, and she knew about how special the child was – to whom she had given birth.

But notice what she did with this and no doubt with all that had been revealed to her: she…pondered them in her heart.

Are we too busy to ponder? Especially things of tremendous import? Are we so caught up with the pace of daily living that no time is left to ponder our destiny?

There are some, if not many, blogs that address Christians. Which is fine.

How can this blog address everyone and anyone, in spiritual terms?

Since the spiritual terms are a learnt language only those who have experienced them can truly or fully – understand.

Just like Mary she had previous spiritual experiences of truth given directly from God. And was able to receive and ponder, the shepherds revelations.

So we find then a spiritual principle, if, having received spiritual revelation, it is followed by meditation (pondering), our understanding of what we have received – will increase.

But here is the good news – the reverse is also true – as we ponder the scriptures – revelation, or greater revelation – is given as a result!

In other words it works both ways.

Now all we need is for you and I to mentally slow down, and give enough time to the pondering meditations that bring us to the life of Christ’s revelation.

Jesus speaks to Peter:

Matthew 16/17 – Then Jesus answered him, “Blessed [happy, spiritually secure, favoured by God] are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood (mortal man) did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 

 

 

Old wine or new?

OLD WINE OR NEW?

There are quite a few ‘sayings’ around, that carry the message that – things take time.

‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ – will do, to make the point.

I’m sure there are more.

Luke 5/39 – And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’ ”

There is an ‘immediately’ in this verse, preceded by ‘no one…’ immediately’ – so not right away then?

Someone enjoys a glass of wine. He has chosen that favourite wine for years. He avoids anything new.

“Would you like to switch to this other wine..?”

“No thanks…this is my favourite…”

End of story.

He will not budge. His mind is already made up.

There might be a case for saying the older he is – the less likely he is to change. Younger folks tend to enjoy trying something new.

Will you persuade him/her differently, by verbally challenging their present choice day after day?

Maybe a week later, – getting them to change?

Maybe a year later…?

Who knows – Rome wasn’t built in a day.

What if it was – “Would you like to stop smoking?”

“No thanks – I enjoy it.”

Now – decades later, after much scientific/medical facts being 100% established that it is bad for your health – people will be more quickly persuaded that the ‘old (cancer inducing habit of smoking) is not better’.

The old way was never better. But popular belief held that it was ok to smoke, it was cool.

When medical evidence became conclusive – they did not straightaway desire the new idea – of stopping.

“Would you like to become a follower of Christ?”

“No thanks I’m ok the way I am.”

“I prefer my old lifestyle – and I’m not really interested in a new one”.

I Corinthians 5/17  – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

When? When will they become new, when will you realise that the old is not in fact better, how long will it take you to be persuaded?

When it comes to the Christian gospel of change – To start with we all say: ‘the old is better…’ I know I did.

Set in our ways – is it not a bit annoying that others want us to drink the wine they prefer? When we have always chosen the one we drink every week?

What is going to persuade us to change?

In the context of being presented with the Christian message – what do people rely on in order to stay convinced the old – their own way – is better?

Medical science? Intellectual debate? Evolution versus Creationism? Drug-induced existentialism? A study of comparative religions? A searching hipster-trail tour of India and such places, searching for their ‘true’ selves?

All this takes time, and many have chosen these paths to pursue, to keep themselves convinced the old wine is better, or metaphorically – smoking is ok.

Whilst all along the old way of smoking, the old wine, the old sin-dominant lifestyle, the old rejection of Christ,  is grossly inferior, and the new preferable.

The new wine’s superiority is explained below:-

Psalm 34/8 – Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

In case you didn’t know.

IN CASE YOU DIDN’T KNOW

1 Corinthians 3/ (Amplified Bible)

  1. However, brothers and sisters, I could not talk to you as to spiritual people, but [only] as to worldly people [dominated by human nature], mere infants [in the new life] in Christ!

In case you didn’t know – this is Paul the Apostle speaking to the Corinthian – Christian believers.

Firstly he addresses them as ‘brothers and sisters’. All true Christian believers, share the family resemblance of Christ. He has instructed us to know and address each other as part of the same spiritual family.

So Paul is speaking to Christian brothers and sisters.

Every Christian claims that there IS a spiritual life, and not as the atheists would claim i.e. zero now and zero after the grave.

Spiritual people then?

Apparently not.

“I could not talk to you as to spiritual people…” 

What does that mean? The whole point of the Christian message, or teaching, is that all Christians have become spiritual people – out to share the message that Christ is Lord! He is to be worshipped as the only living and true God, and all His followers worship Him in spirit and truth. Becoming increasingly spiritual as Christ is.

So what’s this? –

 “I could not talk to you as to spiritual people…” 

In understanding this, it is first necessary to say that the great thing about acceptance with God is acceptance of God!

However, acceptance of God – is no excuse for doing things that find no acceptance with God.

Confused?

Christian acceptance with God (Salvation of repentant sinners), is based on man’s response and acceptance of Christ personally as Lord and Saviour.

This is a two-way acceptance.

This two-way acceptance is sealed amidst an experience Christian’s refer to as ‘being born again’.

We accept Christ and the sufficiency of His sacrifice for sins, and He in turn accepts us.

Christ comes into our lives in a very real and personal spiritual way.

Now we are in the family of God.

Every family has acts of obedience and disobedience in it. Children mis-behave, but (I hope) mostly are still accepted and loved, despite bad behaviour.

The bad behaviour varies in magnitude or seriousness.

The spiritual nature of these Corinthian believers was subject to the frustration and hindrance of the nature all men and women are born with. The sinful nature.

This conflict/warfare/frustration is described in 

Galatians 5/17 –

17 For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in DIRECT OPPOSITION TO EACH OTHER [CONTINUALLY IN CONFLICT], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do.

I have capitalised to make the point.

Until we encounter the person of Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit – we cannot know the spiritual nature that can be inherited from Christ Jesus.

When we do have such an encounter – it does not mean that the old nature we are born with disappears.

All Christians at some time, continue to succumb and yield themselves to this lower nature, even though they are spiritual people.

There are degrees of this.

But hopefully, true Christians, mostly allow the new nature to have pre-eminence in the battle described above. (Galatians 5/17).

The Corinthians were not doing so well in this warfare.

Consequently Paul could not address them as spiritual, but as weak and as yet immature believers.

So to share the deeper things of God, would not yet, be appropriate, when the instruction they needed was of a more foundational type.

In order to properly hear and obey the truth of God, we must enjoy the inner life of Christ filling our inner beings, in order to hear as we ought to hear, and understand properly the things God wishes to teach us.

When the old nature is strong – we end up in the place the Corinthians were in – accepted in Christ – but with unacceptable behaviour manifesting, rather than the fruits of the Holy Spirit winning the day.

In the rest of I Corinthians, Paul, speaking on Christ’s behalf, under the enablement of The Holy Spirit – addresses some of the unacceptable behaviour.

After teaching many more things to the Corinthians, (sixteen chapters in fact). Paul partly ends with these words, in I Corinthians 16/22 (quoted below).

Instructing us that acceptance of Christ and His ways, is essential, even though the Corinthians were immature and needed to grow in greater spirituality.

Paul highlights the only disqualifying ‘heavy’ note that he can’t put down to anyone’s spiritual immaturity.

Someone then, would not be his brother or sister in Christ if the following applied:

I Corinthian 16/22 – …If anyone does not love the Lord [does not obey and respect and believe in Jesus Christ and His message], he is to be accursed.

Freedom

FREEDOM

The word – freedom – can mean different things to different people.

There are Pharisaical religious bondages that many need to be freed from.

Hostages know all about the joy of freedom when eventually they are rescued.

To be able to visit your place of worship freely without restriction is another appreciated liberty.

Freedom of speech is championed by many.

The lines of a chorus come to mind – “Are you free!?” “Have you got the victory?”

Succinctly that’s what freedom consists of – victory.

Free from an addiction, free from oppressive bullies, free from a restrictive governmental regime, or on a lighter note – Free from having to pay to park. Free from nuisance phone calls.

I have read that in some countries such as the USA an ornamental key – the key to the city is presented to esteemed visitors, residents, or others whom the city wishes to honour. This is a variation on the freedom of the city tradition.

But true freedom is not – being allowed to do exactly as we wish, especially at the expense of others. So freedom, must also include, having rules.

The imposition of one persons will on another is generally interpreted as oppressive, and robbing them of their freedom. It certainly can be.

But the imposition of a long-suffering and tolerant Saviour-God’s will upon mankind, if we would only wake up to it, is the imposition of a rule of love that brings mankind to the best possible place he could be in.

The Lord Jesus Christ wants to ellicit our willing response out of the freedom of choice that we have. He wants us to honour the rules of His kingdom, the kingdom of God.

True freedom is the ability to do what is right.

Jesus is willing to give that freedom, that liberty, that ability to walk with Him, and so overcome all that this present world contributes in binding us to the tyranny of sin.

But there must be a strong desire to escape to spiritual freedom.

Paul the Apostle says: Wretched and miserable man that I am! Who will [rescue me and] set me free from this body of death [this corrupt, mortal existence]?

He goes on to affirm the way of freedom:

Thanks be to God [for my deliverance] through Jesus Christ our Lord! 

We have all seen the movie scenes where there is an exchange of the kidnapped for the ransom, and it usually involves a walk of some kind, from one place to another, from the oppressors into the arms of a loved one.

Jesus has paid the ransom, now a walk must take place from the bondage and imprisonment of sin – to Him. 

Seems only appropriate, as you or I consider our imprisonment of whatever kind – for me to ask have we begun our walk to freedom in Christ?

Some bible verses without the references – 

So if the Son makes you free, then you are unquestionably free.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Calling

CALLING

I mentioned in a previous post that the church are the called out ones pertaining to The Lord.

Called.

What do you make of that word?

In Christian and ‘religious’ circles – we often hear that someone has a ‘calling’. Or has received a ‘calling’.

We used to talk of ‘callings’ in life – doctors, nurses, schoolteachers, and other noble professions.

We might ask if that is still the case?

When does a ‘calling’ become just a job?

Called’ – Paul the apostle was ‘called’.

Romans 1/1 – Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God

All true Christians are ‘called’.

There is much to say about this ‘calling’. I will only touch on it, in this relatively short post.

Hebrews 3/1 Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.

In this verse – ‘calling’ – has an adjective preceding it. – the adjective is Heavenly. Christians are given a heavenly calling.

A calling that comes to us on earth, but is of a completely different nature and experience, and is spiritual – not earthly, sensual and devilish. (James 3/15)

There is the earthly and the heavenly and they are ‘worlds’ apart.

Notice the heavenly calling spoken of, by the Hebrew writer is something, – as one bible version puts it – to ‘partake’ of.

This calling, of course, refers to our future – coming home – totally translated state – into the heaven of heavens to ever be with Christ. (NB: But not just our future).

We are called to go there – to ever be with The Lord.

So there is a place called heaven (I like to refer to it as the heaven of heavens – so we don’t get puerile accusations that we mean the clouds in the sky or outer space or something…)

But true Christians have already been translated into the kingdom of God, even though our bodies are still upon the earth.

Colossians 1/13: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

So the heavenly calling of which true Christians partake of or share in – is firstly and foremostly a spiritual – phenomena, experience and place.

According to scripture we have already been raised up, and are seated together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 2/6 …and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

This is the connection every true believer in Christ experiences, whose spirit has been born unto God through Christ Jesus.

You see Christ is seated at the right hand of God the Father. And the new birth – (which is experiencing the result of asking Christ into our innermost beings) brings us into daily contact with the one who is already in the heaven of heavens.

That means we are there also – even though still living in this earthly body.

So the heavenly calling is to be experienced every day. Too often we become ‘earth bound’ in our thinking, and weak in our experience of the heavenly realm that we are called to enjoy in Christ.

Those who do not know (spiritually) The Lord – have only this present earthly, bodily, fallen state of being, to live in.

So can you hear the call?

It comes through the Word of God. How is God going to get your attention as the author of your faith – if you refuse to read the book He has authored? (Hebrews 12/2)

When you ‘expose’ yourself to the Book – you expose yourself to hearing the call.

Romans 10/16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (The Bible)

To hear the call – is to hear the Word.

God has ordained preaching and preachers – it is God’s idea. But there are also false teachers and preachers and prophets.

So turn to the book – to hear the preaching.

And to hear the call to the heavenly relationship God has for all those who will put their trust in Christ.

As you read the book – you will get to know whether God can be trusted in the first place.

Many have a very limited view of God. Based on a few things picked up second-hand over the years. They probably couldn’t even tell you why they believe what they do.

So again – ‘calling’ from God – is into fellowship with Himself. It is of a spiritual nature beginning now in experience and finalising when we pass from this life into His eternal present/presence forever.

That word ‘church’…?

That word ‘church’…?

You probably know that the word church (Gk. ecclesia) apart from other nuances we might speak of – chiefly refers to those who are the ‘called out ones’.

The word sanctified – is to do with being ‘set apart’.

Called out and set apart.

Hmm?

Now of course men love to enter into all kinds of ‘disputes’ over original Hebrew and Greek words, and are often found to …strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

Apparently those who do so are blind guides,

Matthew (Amp.) 23/24 You [spiritually] blind guides, who strain out a gnat [consuming yourselves with miniscule matters] and swallow a camel [ignoring and violating God’s precepts]!

Man loves to step into the debating chamber and skew these and other words to make them into all kinds of things.

One commentator, (Not a ‘skewed’ one as far as I know) writes the following. From which I glean he isn’t too happy with the word Ecclesia, or at least, maybe how he perceives what man can skew it to mean (?)- 

He writes – 

In the earlier Greek It was pronounced “ku-ri-a-kos” or “ku-ri-a-kon.” As you can see, this word doesn’t even resemble the Greek word “ecclesia” whose place it has usurped. In the earlier Greek It was pronounced “ku-ri-a-kos” or “ku-ri-a-kon.” 

The meaning of “Ku-ri-a-kos” is understood by its root: “Ku- ri-os,” which means “lord.” Thus, “kuriakos” (i.e., “church”) means “pertaining to the lord.”

As far as I can see there is nothing wrong with this comment. But neither is there anything wrong with the message, – that the disciples of Christ form a body of folk who are ‘called out’ of the world system of spiritual darkness.

So let’s take both words on board (ecclesia and kuriakos) – what have we now?

Called out ones pertaining to the Lord.

That’s ok with me!

The use of the word KISS – seems appropriate here?

KISS = Keep It Simple Stupid.

Let’s try. The church is the people. Not a building, not bricks and mortar.

The church are ‘called out – ‘ones’. Just like Christians are Christ – ‘ones’.

‘Ones’ are human. Followers of Christ are human beings, apart from the faithful angelic host who remained in allegiance to The Lord Jesus Christ.

The church – made up of individual Christians – refers to every individual on the face of the earth who is/are the true (the real thing) followers of Jesus Christ.

“Hello out there!  You are part of my forever family, if you are a Christ-one. If you are set-apart, and you are amongst those who are the ‘called out ones’.”

Just think of it – you may not see my face this side of heaven – but you might get an invite to my mansion in the heaven of heavens, when we both arrive there! (John 14/2)

In case there is someone reading this who thinks to themselves – “What presumptuous self-righteousness! – to consider himself sure of heaven”

To think of oneself as so righteous and above everyone else that God is somehow obliged to allow such a presumptuous human being – entrance into His eternal abode – bah!

At this point the thought crosses the mind of yours truly –

“I wonder – if what is obvious to me is perhaps completely unknown to some readers”?

Namely my guarantee of entrance into the eternal heaven of heavens, is based on the fact that (metaphorically speaking) I have signed the contract – but God Himself is the one who has drawn it up!

There is nothing in me  – no good work, no impressive noble thoughts, no wonderful behaviour, in fact in my flesh there is no good thing, that God could be remotely impressed by.

And yet I am going to heaven when I die!

Just one thing gives me entrance to His heavenly kingdom. Just one thing gives me ‘membership’ to the world church of Called out ones pertaining to the Lord. Only one thing enables me to enter the place of being set apart, and only one thing has made me a Christ-one.

In a phrase – The cross of Jesus Christ.

But at this point I better end by allowing God to do the talking:

Psalm 107/2

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so…

(I just did)! Redeemed and heading for heaven.

Romans 5/9

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

Justified – and I’m justified – in saying – heaven awaits me because I am told I shall be saved from wrath through Him. He (and His sacrifice on the cross) is the only thing I’m relying on.

Acts 2/38

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

(I did repent, I was baptised, my sins were remitted and I did receive the gift of the Holy Spirit)

No wrath to come, God with me now and for eternity, Justified, called out, set apart – and I have nothing whatsoever to boast about. Not even any good works that I do!

When it comes to heaven I simply receive the free gift. 

My mind is blown – at this agreement I have entered into with The Living God!

Ephesians 2/8 – For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

 

Healed from a distance…

Healed from a distance.

Mark 7:25-27 Amplified Bible (AMP)

27 He was saying to her, “First let the children [of Israel] be fed, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the pet dogs (non-Jews).” 28 But she replied, “Yes, Lord, but even the pet dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 And He said to her, “Because of this answer [reflecting your humility and faith], go [knowing that your request is granted]; the demon has left your daughter [permanently].” 30 And returning to her home, she found the child lying on the couch [relaxed and resting], the demon having gone.

A woman came to Jesus on behalf of her daughter. Who had been taken hold off by a demonic spirit.

The mother was not a Jew.

The Jews were God Almighty’s chosen people.

God – since way back – wanted the Israelites to follow Him like no other nation would, upon the earth.

At certain times they failed to do so, miserably, throughout their history.

But it’s not over yet.

After Jesus – the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world – died on the cross – God turned to the gentiles and offered them salvation through The Lord Jesus Christ, and the Jewish people would need to recognise Jesus as the Messiah if they too were to join God’s sons (children) – 

Romans 8/14 –

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

The Syrophenician woman was a gentile, but not able yet to avail herself of Christ’s full salvation.

History had still to take it’s course, before Jesus would die for the sins of the world.

Jesus would die to answer the correct demand of justice, and at the same time release God’s offer of forgiveness to a lost and dying world.

So she could not avail herself of the perfect salvation God was in the process of accomplishing through His Son on the cross.

But she did get her request answered.

Interesting, that in her case, because of her chronic need should there have been on her part – any ‘race-snobbery’, or anti-semitism, it was dispensed with.

Need, as they say – is a great leveller.

She just knew this was no ordinary man, and all else must be set aside if she was to avail herself of what she intuitively knew Christ could offer.

Her daughter, received no direct encounter with Christ. She was not present when her mother interceded on her behalf.

But rather – the power or God hit her and she was set free, even though no doubt miles away.

No laying on of hands, no application of clay, no instructions to go to the local priest, no outward sign of Christ’s involvement. 

Just His spoken word(s) in response to her need and her mother’s spoken request mixed with faith, on her behalf.

We can be far from persons in need. Jesus is no longer in the flesh on the earth. Yet the power of God can be released to those who make their requests known unto God, on behalf of others.

The Holy Spirit is a very present help in times of trouble.

Psalm 46/1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.