Category Archives: Peace

Peace

PEACE 

ROMANS 10/

14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?

15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,

Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

My feet I think it’s safe to say – are not beautiful. Nevertheless my hammer-toes feet can take me to a place where people worship, or the highways and by-ways where I can share the gospel. My feet suddenly are saw to be beautiful if I share the gospel.

In previous posts I hope I say it like it is. Say it like it is – concerning this old world we are living in.

Affirming that we do not need to look far to see the mess.

But what do we read here (above)?

…the gospel of peace,

Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

Gospel means good news. The Gospel is a message. A good news message.

A good news message offering peace. We have all heard the saying: “Peace be with you”.

And of course there is no peace without the peace-giver. No spiritual peace that is.

When the irate father rebukes his child and shouts: “Give my head peace!”, and the child subsequently remains silent. You could say the father’s head has found peace.

But of course this is not a true description of Peace.

There are other glad tidings mixed in with this message of peace. The Christian gospel is a message carried by beautiful feet to those who will listen, i.e. to those who realise there is a problem and the message is sent to cure it. Otherwise the feet of the message carriers, have an aroma of death…

16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.

Those desiring true spiritual life welcome the refreshing message of sins forgiven to all receivers of Christ. Sweet sounding feet indeed.

 There are many ways to try and acquire peace of mind, peace of spirit but only Christ supplies true peace – He gives peace to the human heart.

We are made that way, i.e. made to need this peace. It is a peace that is difficult to describe to those who are in turmoil and have not as yet experienced it – and that’s because it is a PEACE THAT PASSES UNDERSTANDING’ –

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

This peace comes when the conscience comes into line with Christ’s forgiveness, and by faith we take Him at His word, receiving His peace for the forgiveness of confessed sin.

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

This gospel of peace brings news of this peace that passes understanding. But it is to be experienced to be fully appreciated, as it is not just the understanding of it’s existence that confirms it – but actually allowing God to impart it to us.

Sin destroys and is synonymous with death. It can be pleasurable, but only for a short time, as the conscience will raise it’s objections to it, and there is only one way to silence those objections – through the forgiveness of God offered to us all, if we will turn away from sin and turn to Christ.

The conscience can operate instantly before we misbehave or with delayed reaction, after we have sinned, if ignored in exchange for the pleasure of sin for a season, it will return and smite us.

I know what it is to be ‘smitten’ for my mistakes many times, but after failing – I have turned to Christ and He has imparted His peace again, to the satisfaction of my inner need.

If we ignore Christ speaking to our conscience, we can eventually end up fitting this description:

Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

But the conscience (if not seared) can also lie dormant until awakened by Jesus Christ.

With a dormant conscience, folks either don’t see there is a problem – or set about solving the problem by telling themselves “I’m a good person”.

What they mean is their intentions would be – to be good.

Other folks quickly find fault with them, find things that are not so good, and there is a vice-versa reciprocation in such exercises, and suddenly it isn’t enough to want to be a good person.

God says ‘There is none good but God…’

We are told to worship God ‘in the beauty of holiness’.

And holiness is of The Lord.

Holiness never gets a mention in the vocabulary of post-modernism. There is largely never talk of becoming more holy, except when comedians or playwrights want (as they seem to always want) to mock ‘Holier than thou’ Pharisaism. So that becomes their total perception of what Christianity is.

In order to find Christian Peace – we need to recognise where the cause of all disturbance in the human frame comes from.

It comes from that mysterious ‘virus’ called sin.

The reason that the feet of those who carry the gospel message are beautiful is [to quote scripture again]:-

Ephesians. 6/15

…and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

It is the good news of the gospel of peace to all who will receive it and it’s author – Christ Jesus Himself.

Therefore my desire is that all would know…

Ephesians 1/2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

as unto spiritual…

AS UNTO SPIRITUAL…

I Corinthians 3/

1. And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

Who is Paul the Apostle addressing here?

Answer – ‘brothers’ – brothers-in-Christ of course, because all the Corinthians he is speaking to, were not his kith and kin.

Not natural kith and kin but ‘brothers in Christ’.

And in addressing brothers, (bearing in mind that his epistles were to the whole church) – he is addressing his ‘sisters-in-Christ’ also.

Is he addressing you and I? Bearing in mind that the Bible (used always-and-eternally in the hand of The Holy Spirit) – is addressing all believers for all time. We conclude readily then, that he is speaking to us also.

All you need to qualify for hearing this epistle – is to be a ‘brother/sister-in-Christ’.

Hmmm?

Can’t imagine that everyone I’m addressing has joined this family of believers?

Anyway – that is for you to decide.

But Paul reveals indirectly to us that there are varying depths of spirituality among believers in Christ.

And that there are matters they were not yet able to comprehend.

The surprise perhaps in this passage is this – he was addressing them all. And he puts them all in the same category (unlike John did in his epistle). Paul refers to them as ‘babes in Christ’.

John – in I John 2 refers to little children, young men, and fathers.

Paul speaks to them all as ‘babes in Christ’. And coupled with this designation is the idea that they are still carnal.

The word carnal can mean different things. But essentially it is the natural sinful mind we are born with.

Everything in the Christian life is a matter of exchange.

We trade in our thoughts, our self-righteousness, our selfishness, or mental problems, our limited reasoning, our emotional hang-ups – and in exchange we receive the joy of The Lord, The peace that passes understanding, the fruits of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of The Holy Spirit, God’s strength, his righteousness, his holiness, his forgiveness and above all His love.

So now everything is ‘rosey in the garden’?

No – simply because we still have everything that life throws at us to contend with.

But with the attributes of Christ within us – we now must learn to yield ourselves to The Lord of our life, and allow those attributes to control us.

This takes time and inner development under the hand of God. But we grow, we mature, we enter into what the Bible describes as being grounded and settled – all through the exercise of faith that expresses itself in biblical meditation, praise and worship, prayer, and joining ourselves in true and real fellowship with the family of God.

Colossians 1/

23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

Notice the behaviour that accompanied the ‘babes in Christ’ designation that Paul reveals to us as the epistle continues – 

For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? 

As we look and listen we recognise similar traits in the church today. Manifesting the fact that we all need to grow up – 

Ephesians 4

14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

 This calls firstly and foremostly for a willingness – yes a willingness – to come together at the foot of the cross and lay it all down – all the carnality – AND EXCHANGE it for His life.

Tomorrow as an area of my spiritual immaturity is made clear to me – I need to return to the one with whom I first made the great exchange – and offer Him my mistakes, my sin, my immature behaviour – “Sorry Lord please come and let your life rule over mine!”

Positive Thinking

POSITIVE THINKING

Most people have heard of ‘the power of positive thinking’.

And indeed remotely right thinking people would espouse this approach to life.

But notice – man by putting himself forward as the centre of the created universe – sees the source of development of mankind and everything progressive, as within man’s capabilities alone.

All progress and advancement is down to man developing his ability independently of any God figure.

Because the Christian message, as taken from the Bible, also espouses right thinking of the spiritual kind, the two approaches to life can eventually, unwittingly or otherwise,  merge in people’s psyche.

Merge to the point where the Christian message and the ‘Positive thinking’ message seem to be the same thing. Notice I say -‘seem to be’.

So that when discussions take place between Christians and non-Christians the non-Christians ask what all the fuss is about – and such declarations as e.g.: ‘But I believe that anyway…’ take place from the self-help, ‘we can do it’ school of thinkers.

They think that within mankind is untapped resources, waiting to be discovered and all problems of mental health, disease and violence will eventually succumb to man’s ongoing development (evolution).

So keeping this post short – it behoves us to understand the fundamental and crucial difference, between positive thinking on it’s own and one of the fundamentals of the Christian faith – expressed in Psalm 121

…From whence comes my help?

2  My help comes from the Lord,

Who made heaven and earth.

Christian truth is not dependant on what man can ‘conjure up’ exercising his own reasoning powers, but is dependant on what God sends our way by revelation from on high.

We have the scrolls containing the Word of God, preserved (supernaturally) as God’s guide to and for mankind.

But unless we search for and enter into a living relationship with Christ – the book largely remains inaccessible to us or alternatively is largely hi-jacked to affirm our own ‘positive thinking’ (or otherwise) philosophy, subtracting what we think sounds affirmative to our own reasoned outlook, and leaving the rest.

Such folks extract from the pages of the bible whatever they can use, whilst ignoring the rest.

We can’t ignore any of the scriptures. They must be taken as a whole, and the progress (in God’s timing), of the Old Agreement merging into the New Agreement clearly unfolds as we seek God for further revelation on it’s pages, revealed to the inner man.

The word of God is meant to open us up. But for this to happen and true spiritual knowledge to come our way – we must actually open ourselves through a willing choice we make – and allow it inside, in the first place, asking God’s assistance to make it’s spiritual content known to us, in the same way as those who wrote it – first received it.

The Bible – full of life-affirming and positive words of encouragement, is nevertheless more than this.

It clearly presents Jesus Christ as Lord and Master, in fact, King of kings and Lord of lords. It tells us, the most positive thing we can think – is that

16 …God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

(John 3/16)

How can we get any more positive than this?

Paul’s Contribution

PAUL’S CONTRIBUTION

Paul the apostle, perhaps more than anyone else – paved the way – in seeking to understand what the problem was, and what the solution consisted of.

In a previous post, I talked about the law of the Old Testament, and how it clearly pointed out right and wrong, good and bad, acceptable behaviour and unacceptable behaviour in the eyes of a sinless God.

Paul heralded the New Testament or New Agreement, in preaching-form and teaching-form.

He, during his times aside with God, explored many facets of how to live the Christian life.

For those of us (perhaps all of us), who experience what it is to fail God, Paul we find, had the same struggles.

He, by experiencing what it was to be a sinner saved by grace, looked at the whole subject of how to be Christlike, and wrote in his epistles – teachings to instruct believers who would come after him – how to overcome sin, death and hell.

He experienced temptation to sin, like all of us, and found how to live victoriously, so that he could say: 

Philippians 1/

20 according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.

He stayed in an expectant state of mind and lived in the hope of pleasing Christ in his 24/7 walk with Him until he departed this life.

But he was well aware of another law warring in his members that tried to bring him into captivity… (Romans 7/23): But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

In light of Paul’s determination and desire to walk perfectly before The Lord – he sought for answers regarding how to do this.

He found as all men and women will find, that sin is lying at the door of our hearts and minds, seeking our co-operation.

There are, I guess, folks who never seem to have a care in the world. Sinning is just a wrongly accepted part of life. But that means they spend their lives suppressing the voice of conscience. This is what the scripture describes as ‘hardening the heart’.

Others are daily looking to live as they should, in the light of what God asks of us, but find it an ongoing struggle. But the beautiful thing about them is the fact that THEY WANT to live a sincere and righteous existence. It’s just they can’t seem to find the ‘how to’ of doing so.

That’s what Paul sought and found for us, paving the way and exhorting us to grasp the truth that living righteously will automatically take place as we maintain a close relationship with Christ through prayer, and meditation on the Word of God.

There is much we could say on this subject but I want to simply make the point that Paul and indeed all – sin – and seek the same answers – as he did – to the problem.

Paul struggled for a period of time, as we struggle. 

However Paul the apostle proved that God could supply all we need to help us live the victorious Christian life, and penned the answers, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

The wisdom he was able to obtain – is clearly laid-out for us in the epistles God inspired him to write.

This was his major contribution to the church, remaining throughout it’s history and available to us today.

Read and inwardly digest – the answers are there!

To know…

TO KNOW…

Luke 10/

22 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

There are people out there searching.

Some know what they are searching for – others do not.

Some have a clear idea that the spiritual is real, and choose to examine or study comparative religions.

Some seek spiritual experiences through drugs. Some become fascinated with anything that ‘amazes’ in the category of magic.

Others have a philosophical turn of mind and move from one manifesto to another in a search for conclusions about life and the afterlife.

Some swing towards the highly emotional, while others lean on the intellect.

My search ended at my bedside, at the age of twenty, where in brokenness I found Jesus Christ through the Person of The Holy Spirit.

The experience was tangibly real and unmistakeable.

Many have similarly become Christians through such an experience. Normally referred to as ‘being born again’.

Experience-oriented confessions, can lend themselves to criticism, if they are not based on the result of a solid and inerrant examination by the microscope belonging to The King of kings and Lord of lords.

The Bible is a collection of writings that exist as a result of God and man co-operating, in which co-operation – God took the initiative.

Everything in the realm of spiritual experience for the Christian, must be scrutinised by this Word of God. There is much we could say about this.

Some Christians have not experienced The Holy Spirit in the same way as other Christians, more accurately stated as: ‘not as intensely’.

But at the same time all may genuinely belong to Christ. 

So when we say ‘experienced’, even in this we are in for misunderstanding, among other fellow believers. It’s easy to misunderstand each other when referring to or sharing our own subjective reality.

Those who have genuinely experienced God in their life, can find themselves in unsought conflict with other believers who have not had a similar powerful experience.

Truth is – unless we experience the anointing of God in a ‘Pentecostal’ way (not referring to denominational preference by the term)  chances are – we will treat with suspicion, anything or anyone who speaks in ‘Pentecostal’ jargon, or who seem to emphasise the supernatural.

I often use the illustration of the the swimming instructor who teaches others how to swim from a manual of instruction, written by an olympic champion/expert.

As a result others learn to swim as he stands at the side of the pool shouting expert instructions on how best to learn.

Only to eventually be exposed as not being actually able to swim experientially himself.

Suddenly at the end of the course the now – swimming pupils know by experience – more than the instructor. 

If we do not experience the experience experienced by the one with the experience – how can we really affirm it’s authenticity?😎

Answer – if it’s in the Word of God – then we at least must give them the benefit of the doubt.

As Christians, we mature and grow if we worship in SPIRIT and TRUTH – these (i.e. spirit and truth) must be inseparable if we are to progress and be transformed from glory to glory, as by The Spirit of God – which works to make us more like the Altogether Lovely One we serve! (II Corinthians 3/18)

‘No one has it all!’ – is a saying I have heard over the years. And it is true both intellectually and experientially. There is always more to be revealed from holy writ, and there is always more to receive from the moving of The Holy Spirit in our lives as believers.

We aught to learn from each other, holding firm to what we have been assured of, and at the same time, remaining open to the revelation other believers have received.

Referring to our opening scripture we read:-

and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

The Son of God, makes a choice and reveals The Father by revelation of The Holy Spirit.

Every time we commune with God, there is an opportunity for the eyes of our understanding to be enlightened further.

Opportunity to have a greater spiritual experience of getting to know our Heavenly Father through His Son.

The level of intensity varies. But He is our Life. We need him now. We shall know Him fully in the afterlife.

God is love – but we must embrace that love, acting on the promises of God. Draw near to me and I will draw near to you! (James 4/8)

Prayer into the air? Part II

I continue to share just some things on the subject of prayer. There is of course much more to examine by way of learning on the subject, but I am limiting myself and rather than taking a full perspective-type look, needing quite a few blog posts, I hope there are some encouraging points in this the last, for now, on the subject.

PRAYER INTO THE AIR? Part 2 (2019)

The Lord Jesus Christ walked in constant 24/7 communion with His unseen Father. This, if you like, is why we often fall short as Christians – we don’t walk in that constant communion.

But at least we know how we are to set ourselves, what our task for the day is – it is to walk in this constant-communion with The Lover of our souls.

The Bible describes this communion in words that should be familiar to every true Christian: Galatians 5/25: If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

We who have received Christ, by giving Him permission to enter and make His abode with us, are ‘born of His Spirit, washed in His blood’, as the old classic hymn tells us.

He is the one in whom we live and move and have our being.

The instruction that accompanies living in The Spirit – is that we need to also walk in the Spirit, – which speaks of constant communion.

In simple terms God-conscious – all of the time. Walking in communion each moment of the day.

It is when we fail to walk in the Spirit and instead walk again as we walked before we met Christ, in the desires of the flesh, whatever they be – then we get into problems again. One of the results of this neglect can include neglecting payer.

Prayer first and foremost is the ‘Practice of the Presence of God’ – this is faith.

In that relationship of communion with God The Father through Jesus His Son – we walk as Jesus walked (I John 4/17)

All the answers we need spring-up and come into our hearts and minds as a result of that relationship.

So there is no formula for prayer, or for getting answers to prayer – there is only relationship.

Jesus gives us a profound insight in the story of Lazarus.

When lifting His eyes to heaven and praying to His Father – He is heard to say in earshot of His disciples (v42): John 11/

4Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!

 ‘I know that You always hear Me…’ is the profound insight, revealing to us that He was indeed, in constant fellowship and conversation with His Father in heaven, – in short, that is prayer!

Constant conversation internally, to such a degree that there was no need to speak audibly, but He did so for the benefit of those around Him – so that they would realise that He asked the father to raise Lazarus from the dead and the Father was about to give an instant answer to the prayer, and a miracle was about to take place.

This has to be the most dynamic kind of praying. The kind that receives instant results, as demonstrated in the life of The Lord Jesus Christ.

Daily – miracle after miracle came – through communion with His Father.

When we pray our greatest joy would be – those kind of answers. Instant coffee answers.

But our experience is somewhat different is it not? Hyper-faith messages do not allow for any other kind of answers. Some in the ministry, consciously or unconsciously create a kind of exclusive mystique around their ministry.

This would lead us to believe that all their prayers, are all instantly answered and bring their desired result. Why? Because they have greater faith than the rest of us, or so we are (by some ministries) led to believe.

So that if you do not get your answers exactly as you have asked – it is your unbelief that is the problem. This is the impression some are left with, after listening to faith preachers.

The truth is these ministries may well be strong in faith, and have proved God on many occasions, but often large portions of Scripture are abandoned or not referred to in this kind of preaching.

Taking this ‘lack of faith accusation’ on board some lose the actual faith that they had in the first place. Concluding it was not enough, and therefore they are weighed in the balance and found wanting.

Condemnation comes next – and we know who that comes from.

It is true that we all need at some time to be upbraided for our unbelief. But make sure you know who is doing the correcting!

For Christians – God Corrects and doesn’t condemn – there is a difference, but many Christians take condemnation from the devil thinking it is correction from The Lord.

II Corinthians 11/32. 

But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.

God does correct in love.

Mark 16/14

Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen…

On other occasions The Lord similarly corrected the disciples for their unbelief. (e.g. Matthew 16/11)

But supernatural things have taken place without any kind of human origination, other than the maintaining of a relationship with The Lord on a daily basis.

An example would be Peter, who decided to go to the housetop and pray before a meal.

Without any kind of ‘special’ faith on this occasion, he simply entered into his normal communion with The Lord in prayer, and suddenly he fell into a trance, and had a vision, in which he was directed by God in a certain way (for full story read Acts 10 v9).

My point is – God sovereignly planned (i.e. therefore the Father’s will) that he should be supernaturally directed to certain people, through the giving of this vision.

So this beyond-the-ordinary spiritual experience did not require greater faith on his part. He had a trance experience, not to be confused with demonically induced trance states, those who are involved in the occult – seek to attain.

For the Christian it is – relationship through prayer. Prayer maintaining relationship.

When we are in relationship with God and His word, and things don’t happen exactly according to our hopes or desires, even after much prayer. This is one of the chief discouragements for believers.

What happened? Why was the prayer not answered?

Already we are asking questions.

Now God can handle us asking Him a question – but we can’t question God.

See the difference? When we genuinely do not understand – we can ask The Lord any question.

But when things do not work out as we think they should – many question God, but really it is an accusation, not a genuine question.

We cannot accuse God, there is no counsel against Him. There is one accuser of the brethren and of God. (Revelation 12/10. Genesis 3/1).

The disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith – it always struck me how on the surface it seemed to me, that He changed the subject.

Luke 17/

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.

If you have faith as small as…

Jesus was just stating the facts. He was not increasing their faith. He felt it more important to say what faith could bring.

We desire to be honest. But desire also to maintain a good confession of faith.

So let’s settle for holding on to the faith we have, that is nourished through relationship, and not get carried away into the realm of reasoning that steals the faith we have.

Answers? They must come as relationship becomes more intimate.

 

Proper Denial

PROPER DENIAL

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

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

A rich young man came to Him one-time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poetic Interlude XIII

THE SERENE SCENE

Serene scene – or so it seems – to you

Serene scene – whispering a fond adieu.

Seems to me – what it seems to you

Seems the colour is the colour

to choose

to infuse

the feeling of the moment

A monumental piece of work

For the 21st century? (sic)

But it’s only a place – far from you – (near me)

And will be forgotten in a week or two

(thus the adieu)

To sit at such waterside and reflect upon

The world God made and what’s going on.

Time is travelling on

And on…and on…and on…

‘No time like the present’

But then there is no present

It’s here – but then it’s gone

So reflection in the mind

Reflections in the Pond

In this screwed up world…

Mental Reflection is not what is going on

Not on this non-reflective surface

Of a world gone wrong.

They won’t reflect –

except for the chosen few

Who couldn’t serenely rest until

They got through…

Got through to the meaning of life

Finding the One who is True

Then satisfied – they arise

Despite societies onslaught

They serenely Rest in the Son

and properly enjoy

the serene scene…

with serenity of heart

enhanced like it’s never been

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.

 

Word with Power

WORD WITH POWER

I Corinthians 4/

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

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

Subjects we could seek understanding on.

‘Some are puffed up…’ Paul says.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He puts us in the picture when he says:

II Corinthians 12/1-3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This includes you will notice – the pride of life.

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

I Corinthians 8/1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lord send your word – but send it with power!

The unseen hand

THE UNSEEN HAND

The sun beats down on

old familiar adjective street

Later the moon showed-off it’s roundness

scaring away all clouds

by arrangement with the weather

Starry starry night so oft referred to

in painting, poem, and song

All on the back-cloth of that blue

That blue from dark outer value

to cobalt hue near the light

That’s the blue – memories are made of

That’s the blue that in partnership

with fresh air and approaching spring

galvanises the senses in smell, sight 

sound and touch

in impressionable youth

when emotions are fixed for good

It’s that night of sensing weather

that repeats the memory

for years

on it’s return

The essence of human emotion

when the experience of

similar landscape

hints at the eternal

when all is well – with feelings of safety

and just being young and interested

in all that is about us –

in activities-engagement

of one kind or another.

In moments – just moments

God placed His hand

Just to say: ‘I’m still here’

And I mistook it for enjoyment of life

in those things He had made

Like young Samuel I could hear

But I didn’t know

He stayed knocking

Until one more winter arrived

This time

with spiritual surprise

The inner storm of conflict

Passed

And eternal peace was inherited

Fables or Edification?

Fables or Edification?

I Timothy 1: (KJV)

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

Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.

Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:

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

This place of abiding is described by The Lord Jesus:

I John 15/5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Titus 1/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul asks Timothy to love out of a pure heart.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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