Category Archives: understanding

Thoughts…

Thoughts…

There is no human being that can recall or recount the thoughts that went through their mind yesterday. In fact I would suggest the same applies to the thoughts you had within the last ten minutes – how about last two minutes?

By recall/recount I mean every single thought in the order you had them – exactly as they were.

You see it is a pretty impossible task to do so. We can recall that we were thinking about a given subject – but we cannot re-run verbatim every thought we had in a given day.

God has no problem with this. The ability to do this – is well within His brief.

Let’s face it – God having created mankind, is of course, of a superior intellect than all of mankind put together. If this were not so – then how could He have the ingenuity to create us in the first place?

But God’s thoughts towards mankind are not always the same. Yes – always the same in His intentions, because of the salvation wrought by and through The Person of His Son – but God’s thoughts are often thoughts of response to what mankind is thinking and doing on the earth

At given seasons, at given periods of history, at specific times, and in the context of given situations that have arisen on the planet, God’s thoughts are thoughts that arise in response to man’s thoughts, words, and actions.

Here is an example of God having thoughts at a given time and situation:

Jeremiah 29/

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

We talk of finding the context, when we quote a given piece or pieces of scripture. And it is wise to do that. But God’s Word is beyond just grammatical considerations. Or contextual ones.

A big additional factor with the thoughts of God, rather than just the words of men unaided by God is mentioned in:

John 6/63 (Jesus speaking) where we read:

…The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.

Words as spoken by God Himself, have creative power, miracle working power.

When God speaks – His purpose for doing so, – may differ greatly from season to season. And what He says is often in response to earthly situations, that man finds himself in, or has brought upon himself.

God thinks and then speaks. Almost just as we do. Except that proper pre-meditation often escapes human beings, who so easily speak wrongly, or out of turn.

Concerning man’s thoughts – we are told in Psalm 94/11 that God knows the thoughts of man:

The Lord knows the thoughts of man, That they are futile (vain empty)…

And yet, what are we to do? We cannot think with some other mind (?) – we have only the one. And yet God invites us to do that very thing –

5 …Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…

He invites us to think His thoughts after Him – this should be a major concern for every Christian, namely, to fill his/her mind with the thoughts of God – utilising the means He has provided as in Bible meditation.

We are also given insight into God’s thoughts in Psalm 40/4:

Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works

Which You have done;

And Your thoughts toward us

Cannot be recounted to You in order;

If I would declare and speak of them,

They are more than can be numbered.

So God, we can be assured, has ‘thoughts toward us’, – thoughts in our direction.

He considers and has not abandoned mankind.

Even when we have abandoned Him, He still wants to communicate, and wants us to listen. That’s why He both sent prophets to speak His thoughts to us, and has enabled men to write His thoughts down, in scripture.

God thinking and speaking again in response to man’s thoughts and actions says this:

Jeremiah 6/

Hear, O earth!

Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this people—

The fruit of their thoughts,

Because they have not heeded My words

Notice ‘the fruit of their thoughts”

What fruit is our thoughts producing?

God will tailor-make His thoughts and Words by way of response, to suit the fruit of our own thinking, responding in accordance with whether our thoughts are godly or sinful.

Repentance in the simplest understanding of the word means to ‘change our mind’.

We can say why God wants us to do so i.e. (‘change our mind’) when He says – 

Isaiah 55/

7 Let the wicked forsake his way,

And the unrighteous man his thoughts;

Let him return to the Lord,

And He will have mercy on him;

And to our God,

For He will abundantly pardon.

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are My ways higher than your ways,

And My thoughts than your thoughts.

He realises that mankind left to their own thoughts manifests futility. We must trade-in our old vehicle of communication (the sinful mind) for God’s superior model (pure thoughts of Christ). Properly understood this is repentance.

We live in a day where man’s own thoughts and ways are increasingly (and at a more rapid pace) abandoning the thoughts and Words of God.

In order for God ‘to move’ in mercy and grace (unmerited favour) toward an individual – that individual must fulfil the ‘conditions’ God requires.

God ‘moving’ is the work of The Holy Spirit that comes to influence an individual in such a way that they find a consciousness of their own sin followed by a yielding to the same Holy Spirit that draws them to Christ as Saviour and Lord.

This is a subjective experience available to every person on the planet. However we are told ‘few are they that find…’.

This ‘few’, is a comparative term – [has to be] – when we consider the innumerable multitudes that have passed through the scene of time.

The Word from God goes out: Matthew 11/28:

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Our own ways (thoughts), keep the soul and spirit of man in a place of struggle, burden, turmoil, hopelessness, and condemnation.

But Christ offers us life and life more abundant. Not a problem-less existence, but a Peace that passes understanding (our understanding).

…avails!

…avails!

Dictionary definition – Avail: to be of use, advantage, profit, or assistance (to). Have force or efficacy, serve, help, to be of value or profit.

In case we have forgotten. In case it has slipped our minds. There is only one way we can stand.

You see if God should mark iniquities – no one could stand. (Psalm 130/3)

And if we cannot stand, we fall, and if we fall, we are cast off forever.

But the Victor has prevailed. He has conquered sin and death and hell. His blood shed on an erected cross, due to His nail-pierced hands feet and side – is the blood that alone, can cleanse our conscience from dead works to serve The Living God. (Hebrews 9/14)

His blood – the blood of Jesus Christ The Lord – prevails and avails for me.

There is a place where God dwells. The holy – holy – holy God. The Everlasting God. The God of compassion and Grace. (Isaiah 6/3) (Genesis 21/33) (I Peter 5/10).

That place is known as The Holiest of all, or the Holy of Holies. But there is a veil that shuts us out from this Holiest place. Rightly so – as the iniquity in our lives separates us from His Presence. (Hebrews 9/3)

Much as He would like too – He cannot receive us – because His nature is so absolutely contrary to the one we have inherited from our forefather(s). (Habakkuk 1/13)

But wait! The Lamb has prevailed against all the odds of sin and shame, making a public exposure of evil principalities and powers – triumphing over them at the cross. (Colossians 2/15)

He was obedient unto death. (Phil. 2/18). He knew no sin (II Corinthians 5/21). The curtain keeping us from this Holy place, has been ripped from top to bottom – all who will – can now enter in. (Matthew 27/51)

Embrace The Lamb today, The Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. (John 1/29)

When I am assailed by the tyranny of perfectionism – finding myself still unworthy. The blood like a flood washes my perception aside and I glory in Christ’s provision.

When I am in the belly of the ‘great fish’ of this negative world, the blood avails for me – and I am swept into the sea of God’s forgiveness and forgetfulness. (Jeremiah 31/34).

When I find yet another fault dismissing me, and rendering me a breaker of the law – His blood cries out: ‘Acceptance in The Beloved’. (Ephesians 1/6).

Revelation 5/5

…“Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”

The Lamb is the Lion – The Lion is the Lamb.

Perfect in all His ways – gentle, lowly, meek and beautiful is the Lamb who gave Himself for the sins of the world.

Mighty and powerful because of His meek and lowly nature – The lamb comes as The Lion and prevails over everything that exults itself against His Father.

And here am I, unable to look up and beating my chest – as His Word comes to me. (Luke 18/13)

Though still unable to understand or accept the first part – I embrace the second:

1st:

…’Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things…

I am embraced with His unmerited joy – because The Lamb has prevailed and The Lion has conquered:

2nd:

…Enter into the joy of your lord.’

But what of my hidden faults? – No lesser position do I take – despite what is hidden – I rest, because of what is in plain view it is the blood that avails for me. (See the lintels of my heart – Exodus 12/22)

For with the Psalmist I cry out: ‘Cleanse me from secret faults’. (Psalm 19/12). And the blood cleanses me from all unrighteousness. (I John 1/9)

When beaten, put down and condemned I turn and with a whispered prayer ‘Lord pour in the oil and the wine – the kind that restores my soul’ And as ‘Up from the grave He arose’ – He reaches out His hand to the drowning Peter and says: …’why did you doubt?’ (Luke 10/32, Matthew 14/30)

So I will not doubt – His blood avails for me!

I am more than a conqueror through Him who loved me and gave Himself for me  — He is my peace, He is my life – He is Saviour and Lord. (Romans 8/37, Ephesians 2/14, Colossians 3/4)

His blood avails for me!

Milk and Meat

MEAT AND MILK

When the scripture refers to milk or meat in the context of doctrine or simply truth, what is God telling us?

Some might think that this refers to education or the lack of it.

But if it is education, it is of a spiritual kind.

Progress in the Christian life must come directly from God Himself.

Who would deny for one minute that the names known by most as stalwarts in the faith such as Finney, Wesley, Khulman, Graham, Muller, Bonhoeffer, Spurgeon, Nee, and so on…

(some will subtract here or add – there is a lot of opinions always present amongst Christians),

…were mature ‘meat’ lovers.

Let’s turn to the verse where we find these terms:

Hebrews 5:13-14

13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

The King James uses the term ‘Strong meat’ and as you can see above, the NKJ gives us SOLID FOOD.

I think this helps paint a better picture for us. Because immediately we can think of babies fed at the breast or with milk from a bottle. They haven’t moved on to solids yet.

Firstly though let’s establish the fact that there is only one kind of food. 

Matthew 4/4

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

So whether milk or solid food – we cannot stay alive spiritually without the milk of The Word. Or the solid food of The Word. But it is the same food (or menu!)

You are reading this blog post, I’m glad you are. But let me assure you that the red letter verses herein, will feed you in a far better way than anything I say about them.

So if you abandon this post and turn to and open, your bible – heh! You can’t go wrong!

Are you still here?

So what’s the difference between the milk and the solid food?

In my view, spiritual experience and experiences, is the answer.

Paul the apostle was a well accomplished individual in his religion – in many ways surpassing his peers:

Galatians 1/14

And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.

But he was spiritually blind. A head full of knowledge but his experience was limited and religious.

Until one day he ran out of steam fighting his conscience and he experienced/encountered the Living Christ on a road to Damascus. (Acts 9)

There and subsequently, he came to visions and revelations of The Lord. (II Corinthians 12/1).

He used his ‘spiritual faculties’ – serving God with his spirit in the Gospel, from that day onwards. (Romans 1/9)

He was changed and transformed by the working of The Holy Spirit in his life. Finding that spiritual things were spiritually discerned. (I Corinthians 2/14)

He advanced, just as he had advanced in the Jewish ‘religion’, so that all that he had learned at the foot of the scholars of his day, gave way to all that he learned at the feet of Jesus. (Acts 22/3)

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself learned all from His Heavenly Father, not from the local rabbis. Yes he conversed with them, but did not travel the accepted route to ‘the meat’ school. (John 7/16) 

It was His intimacy with The Father that was His place of schooling as a man.

John 7/15

And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?”

That’s the great challenge for all Christians, namely intimacy with God. In that place of communion our senses are more and more exercised to discern…

Inner development is the result of communion with The Father, responding to His revelation, growing stronger in spirit, eating His Word, developing our spiritual senses, as we more deeply know, what we might even have known before. That is going from milk to meat.

It is a challenge to be malleable in God’s hand, to seek greater intimacy and to respond daily to His developing hand in our lives.

Lord please give us grace.

Contending…

CONTENDING…

Jude 1

2 Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

You will notice I have highlighted a phrase in bold type. What does it mean?

You ask me – and I will ask you – and we can both ask God what it means.

A lot of preachers/teachers will reach now for the greek lexicon or seek, by whatever means, to understand the original words.

Let’s instead, look at the phrase in different bible translations:

fight for the faith…

defend the faith…

fight hard for the faith…

continue your fight for the Christian faith…

put up a real fight for the faith…

earnestly persevere in the faith…

stoutly defend the truth…

carry on the struggle for the faith…

to hold very strongly to what you do believe…

strive strongly for the faith…

to agonize for the faith…

Well – does that help us grasp what this means?

Seems to me there is no simple thought that sums up, all that is contained or built-into this exhortation from the writer Jude.

There is more involved in ‘contending earnestly for the faith’ than just one thing. And I hazard a guess that this post will touch on but a few.

I observe that in America (USA) there is a ‘movement’ that calls for the return to the principles that America was founded on. In a nutshell summed up in the word ‘Freedom’.

Many of the actions of those who contend for this return, give us one possible definition we may or may not want to embrace, as an example of ‘contending for the faith’ (?)

The greatest challenge in contending for the faith, once delivered to the saints, is to move in God’s anointing in all that we think, say and do. A tall order in light of our wayward contrary natures.

It is possible whilst contending for the faith to grieve or quench The Holy Spirit. How? By allowing that which is of the flesh to get the upper hand, so that abruptness, rudeness, anger and eventually resentment and bitterness takes us into a different kind of ‘contending’ or ‘contention’.

So that we are no longer contending in a godly manner.

But to know the difference between warring according to the flesh or according to The Spirit – whilst taking our faith into the public arena – can be a lost art. (II Corinthians 10/3, 4) (Ephesians 6)

Jesus was daily involved in highlighting behaviour. Good behaviour and bad behaviour.

Laying out in His sermons all that pertained to acceptable behaviour in the sight of God. Thus doing He was contending for the faith.

Some of this behaviour he addressed, was within a political or secular environment/background. So in that sense it could be suggested that as salt and light we should enter the political or media realm to put forth the righteous principles of Christ and therefore by so doing – contend for the faith.

(I am not an American – but a Northern Irishman) – and I have seen in my country, things done in the name of religion which for me have nothing to do with contending for the faith. Yet they are – in some people’s perceptions – exactly that.

Very quickly – if we stand with political activists who (perhaps on certain topics) contend for the tenets of scripture – we get pigeon-holed and branded with all the other policies they hold – which we may not want anything to do with.

So it’s a difficult mix – faith, principles of righteousness and political stances.

Proper contending for the faith I believe, is summed up in the words of Paul the apostle:

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

If we read-on-into the rest of the verses, we started with, Jude is obviously telling the believers that a mix of doctrinal error and lies are to be addressed and counter-acted with the unadulterated truth of God. 

This is contending for the faith, because faith comes by and stays by hearing the Word of God. (Romans 10/17)

Jude also covers the subject of sin and sinful men in the church. Contending for the faith then, is becoming aware of the behaviour that can creep into the company of God’s people, which is contrary to the behaviour of Christ The Lord.

A watchful eye therefore is called for, by leadership, and everybody else, to enable the people to keep to the faith, and the uprightness required.

So – contending for the faith is holding to sound doctrine. And adhering to the great foundational truths once delivered to the saints, and – experientially walking in The Spirit. (Romans 8/1, 4)

Living like Jesus is contending for the faith. Glorifying God in our body and spirit is contending for the faith. (I Cor. 6/20)

Entering in to spiritual warfare in the enablement of God is contending for the faith. (Ephesians 6/12)

Intercession in prayer – is contending for the faith.

Punching someone on the nose for not following us – is…

You spotted the deliberate mistake, right?

Tug of War

TUG OF WAR

The man in the team pulling his weight in the tug of war, is helped by the fact that others are sharing the load.

Imagine him against the whole of the other team. No problem of course – if you are Samson.

(Joshua 23/10): One man of you shall chase a thousand, for the Lord your God is He who fights for you, as He promised you. 

Spiritually speaking, as Christians we are in a tug of war against the darkness of this present age. And I reckon there are a multitude of ways of dividing us.

There are all kinds of devices used by the unseen enemy, who manifests himself in unbeliever’s flesh, who are used by him to dis-unify, disrupt and weaken the saints of God. II Corinthians 2/

11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

Problem is, he will also use the flesh in us (Christians), never mind the unbelievers.

I would love to say we are all aware of this and we all take the necessary action to maintain unity, and to stop this flesh in ourselves and others on the team from dis-unifying the church, and causing us to let go of God’s ‘rope’. But I’m afraid experience tells me different.

Amidst the increased pressure of the day in which we live, we who are not overtly ‘brave courageous and bold’, as the old western song about Wyatt Earp used to tell us – have only one means of maintaining our unity as believers.

That one means is humility.

Being able to talk and communicate in such a way that there is no self-righteousness and oneupmanship, present in our midst.

Because I see little of this, as it is really meant to be, I can find myself despairing of finding like-minded believers to ‘attach’ myself to, who likewise long for the commanded blessing of God, that is promised to those who will dwell together in unity.

But to finish this very short post – we had better get our act together, and as one person put it – be not sworn together in doctrine, frozen together in tradition but melted together in love.

We can’t do that without The Love of God Himself flowing in our midst.

“Lord we are your people and if we will humble ourselves and pray…”

II Chronicles 7/14

The Crowd v The Individual

THE CROWD v THE INDIVIDUAL

Daniel 6:15-17

15 Then the men went as a group to King Darius and said to him, “Remember, Your Majesty, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.”

16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”

17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed.

There are many examples throughout history of the crowd versus the individual. Many times the individual has been wrongly treated, mis-judged, wrongly accused, misunderstood and so on.

To mention a few, we could look at: Joseph by his brothers, Lot by the Sodomites, Samson by the Philistines, Paul by the Jews…

There are many examples, but in the New Testament:

We think of Stephen the martyr, preaching the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, that brought him a stoning at the hands of those (the crowd) who wanted to shut their ears to this truth. (Acts 7/57-59).

We think of course, of The Lord Jesus Christ the ultimate example in His sinless perfection suffering at the hands of mankind (the crowd).

The great irony in the case of The Lord, was the fact that though he was taken and crucified by the free-will choices of many – it all played into God’s ordained plan. In the sense that His wisdom and prescience, decided that as man would do this – it would be the very thing that would liberate man from the dominion of sin and eternal separation from God.

It was God giving Himself to meet His own requirements for an eternally efficacious sacrifice for sin.

There is always an inconclusive tension between man’s free will choices and God sovereignly ordaining that certain things should come to pass.

It is of course, the age-old theological debate that will always end in us knowing IN PART.

Whereas for God the knowledge of how this works is, as they say, ‘A breeze’.

Being convinced of the personality, character and deeply benevolent heart of Our Heavenly Father – we ought to prove it, by believing Him even when we don’t understand.

We shall not understand eternal matters fully until fully in eternity.

Daniel was thrown to the lions – the crowd had decided he must be – and used a ‘politically correct’ decree to see him put there.

We are not told what was going on internally with Daniel, as he ventured into that den to face the lions.

The devil since then and before, walks about like a roaring lion…

1 Peter 5:8

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

Notice the good advice given to prevent his unseen, but real presence, having sway over us – Be sober, be vigilant…

We are to keep a proper watch over our minds as we yield to God – this keeps us insulated from the devourer, as we remain fixed on The Lord. (James 4/7).

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (I John 4/4)

Darius wasn’t keen, to say the least, that Daniel should be put as a pigeon amongst the cats, but a law and it’s unrighteous application to Daniel’s case prevented Darius from freeing Daniel.

It was nothing short of a miracle that Daniel was not devoured by the hungry beasts.

Darius issued a decree that ‘he only should be worshipped’ – that’s what it boiled down to.

And his word once written could not be altered.

It’s wonderful to know that if a sinful human king had to keep the word he had written, how much more is the Word of our Heavenly Father, The King of Glory, written forever and cannot be broken. (John 10/35)

He has promised Eternal Life to those who repent and believe and His word cannot be broken – it is decreed forever.

God’s Word is not some whimsical law written to re-enforce God’s ego (He doesn’t have a sinful ego). It is the Word of God that shall never pass away. (Matthew 24/35)

The result of Daniel’s innocence was that the angel of God shut the mouths of the lions. 

And in case we think they had their teeth removed before Daniel got there, here is the result when the false accusers, were subsequently cast into the den by the same King who, as a result of seeing Daniel’s survival – had a demonstration of the power of God Almighty shown to him.

And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.

If we read the whole chapter and more, we will discover, as with the whole Word of God, many lessons both for this life and the next.

The crowd versus Daniel – when the crowd seems to win. In the crucifixion of The Lord Jesus, when the crowd seems to win. In the life of Stephen the martyr when the crowd seems to win.

When in actual fact the victors in all three examples is Stephen, Daniel and The Lord Jesus Christ – simply because the eternal purposes of God had been served.

So that whether deliverance in this world – Daniel.

Or deliverance for the next – Stephen.

They both were winners through The One who conquered the crowd’s inflicted crucifixion – demonstrating deliverance in this life, (returning from the dead), whilst releasing the gift of eternal life to all who would believe, thus serving that eternal purpose of God.

Zechariah 3/

The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Diverse

DIVERSE

I sometimes marvel, (the older I get – the more it is so), at how diverse the human race is.

Better reach for the dictionary here to clarify in which way I mean ‘diverse’:

Dict.: showing a great deal of variety; very different:

This can be a blessing, or one in disguise, or divisive, or a cause for conflict or violence.

DRAGON’S DEN TV SHOW (English version)

Someone like ‘a Dragon’, loves folks to come across with confidence, with a track record of making money, they don’t like sloppiness, or uncertainty, want pitch-perfect people, and people who are going to make them a lot of money.

They like clear answers to their questions. But don’t always like the answers, if the answers don’t re-enforce their way of thinking.

Suddenly they like your suit, when it is established, that you will make them money. Otherwise you have a rubbish tailor.

Head rules heart – sympathy gives way to cold reasoning and hard facts. 

And of course we somewhat concede to them (The Dragons) in the context of the programme, as their experience in business teaches them to consider angles perhaps, (and indeed it is the case with many of the ‘pitchers’), that others have missed – something important in their business strategies.

But mixed into the Dragon’s business-like voiced-responses there is a spattering of personal everyday-life ‘revelations’.

Sometimes the ‘asides’ are whimsical and nothing to do with business, but expose simply their personal tastes.

And of course we think some of their rudeness is totally uncalled for, and includes bullying.

But if you ever wanted a programme demonstrating a sampling of the diversity of personalities, well this is it.

Human nature, expressing the heart of mankind can be observed in the Den. Yes in the context of earning a living, but with a spattering of non-related subject matter, as we get glimpses into their lives, both Dragons and those pitching.

…For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks… (Matthew 12/34)

What I notice to my chagrin sometimes in life in general, is the things that impress some folks.

(Enter – my responses of incredulity) – at the diversity of that which impresses others.

As a Christian I have a built-in morality check, it is called having a conscience.

This means the behaviour of others either impresses me or doesn’t. (My conscience tells me when my own behaviour is not impressive!)

If you examine what impresses others and what receives the accolades of the crowd, you will find that it often is morally reprehensible.

In the admiration of Hitler, back in the day, I would suggest we have an example of that which did impress others, but did not include moral considerations.

And morality can easily be left out of the list of requirements that elicit admiration.

There you have it – without further development. What impresses you? What impresses me? What impresses society?

The things that impress the younger generation usually differ from that which impresses the older.

A lot of this is to be expected, and has always been the case.

My father, when I was enthusiastically responding to pop stars and their sound, would utter these words: “Let ‘em up – you’ve given him enough’!’ By so exclaiming – he was linking the noise they were making (musically), to the noise someone would make whilst being beaten up.

It’s laughable now – but there are far more serious differences that expose the moral decline of both younger and older, that have been embraced, by our world.

A lot of it, is put down to eclecticism – live and let live.

But being convinced of a better way only comes to those who begin with a felt need.

Followed by an examination of big issues, beginning with those in their own hearts. An honest appraisal of what is happening in this world is called for. As we say ‘it’s as plane as the nose on your face’ that something is terribly amiss. And diversity or no diversity, we must seek the permanent answers God has provided.

Should you never cross the door of a Christian church – you nevertheless must be translated into another kingdom now, on the earth, that’s what God is saying to whoever will listen.

Seeking God is prayer-initiated. Speaking to Christians, God says this:

Colossians 1:13

Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

Paul tells us – it’s already done (= has translated) – for all who have been converted.

New King James Bible:

13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,

Conveyed or translated – this is a spiritual experience that God brings to those who will believe.

The kingdom of God is Jesus in the heart of those who will believe, as The Holy Spirit enters their life.

We can be as diverse/different as chalk and cheese in our likes and dislikes and preferences – but there is one piece of dogma about Jesus Christ, that applies to all –

Acts 4/

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

At the right time

AT THE RIGHT TIME

For those of us who have been travelling the narrow way that leads to life eternal, and are familiar with all things Christian, know what it is, to sit under – or to give – sermons.

There are all kinds of different approaches to sermonising – sermons in series, prophetic words straight from the Holy Spirit’s inspiration for the moment, Systematic sermons on a given subject, book-study sermons – where e.g. an epistle is expounded from start to finish.

But here’s a word about The Word. It’s found in Proverbs 15/

23 A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!

There is no expounded word for you like the word that comes at the right time.

Perhaps you are going through a time of trouble. Perhaps you are deliberating over a particular decision you hope to make. Perhaps you are downhearted and feeling disappointed. Perhaps you are struggling due to physical infirmities. Perhaps you have been attacked verbally or otherwise by the insensitive and uncaring. Perhaps you are struggling to understand life, or people, or indeed the Bible itself.

Well, God can quicken (make alive) inside you the very Word you need to hear.

Jesus said:

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

That’s the word you need in the situations mentioned above.

When God quickens His Word to us – it will always set the Christian Free. Even when He corrects us it is given to set us free – free from the mistakes and free from the condemnation of the mistakes we all make.

So, much as we can continue to appreciate the expounding of God’s Word generally – we must always remember to look for the word – (amidst the Preacher’s word and all he is saying), – that is a ‘word in season’ for you. 

Even if you forget the rest of the sermon but walk away with what The Holy Spirit speaks into your life – the sermon has been worthwhile.

A word such as this, that reaches to the very core of your being, is once again God Himself speaking to you.

We cannot live by bread alone as Christians. We need the Word of God quickened in such a fashion.

How good it is to receive this 

word spoken in due season, how good is it!

Disliking success

DISLIKING SUCCESS

Jonah knew God. Jonah heard God speak. Jonah didn’t like what He (God) said – so he ran away.

We know the story.

He was asked to go and preach to a certain ‘bunch’ of people.

These people were sinners (‘who isn’t’ we might ask?), but they needed to give up their wrong ways and acknowledge God.

They did!

And guess what? Jonah did not like the result of his successful preaching.

This has to be one of the most contradictory stories in the bible. Preachers preach to be successful, to see results, to bear fruit. Having done so, Jonah was not pleased.

First he did everything he could to – not preach.

A whole series of events including a dive to the depths of the sea into an unknown/unspecified species of fish.

At the end of the day – Jonah had God – so demonstrate His sovereign hand in his life, that he could only obey, after much rebellion and refusal to do as he was bidden.

I remember teaching Jonah’s story and perhaps I wasn’t the first to establish that Jonah was on a downer.

He went down to Joppa, down to the harbour, down into a boat, down into the ‘hold’ in the boat, down into his bed, down into the sea and down into a fish.

He came up in a rather sickly but necessary way onto the shore again.

He then decided he had better just do what God asked him to do.

Humility is going down before the feet of Jesus. All who genuinely do so will come up again and follow Him.

As we call folks to obey Christ and accept His salvation – rather than do so, some will set-off on their journey to the depths, or having reached the depths of being on a downer, I hope-they-will-learn from Jonah and come back-up by obeying God.

We all, like sheep, go astray. We think our way is best. There is a way and it seems right to us (it is our own invention) – but the end of it – is death.

There are many plans in a person’s heart but the counsel of God above and beyond our thinking and decision making – will stand.

The biggest part of a Christian’s life is not our performance as in doing good –  but rather with the awareness of our imperfections and shortcomings – we embrace and appreciate with humility the fact that God should choose us to be his sons and daughters, as we exercise faith in Him.

We would have been among those who listened to Jonah’s repentance message, demonstrated by the fact that we listened and responded to Christ’s message.

If you are in any way like myself, you will not be celebrating a life lived the way you wanted it to be. 

One hundred percent pleasing to God would be wonderful. But in my own estimation I fall far short.

Nevertheless I rejoice because Psalm 32 says:

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,

Whose sin is covered.

Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,

And in whose spirit there is no deceit.

At that time in history the Ninevites enjoyed the experience of Psalm 32. Regardless of what subsequent generations of Ninevites did.

Every generation is confronted with the same message – a message that won’t be categorised as ‘cool’ or ‘newly current’, because it’s as old as time itself.

It will never change and defies man’s so called intellectual advancement, scientifically or in any other way.

The Message is clear: John 3/16:

For 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.

Jonah probably saw the Ninevites as a threat to his own nation because of their barbarous ways.

They stand as an example illustration of how even the most hardened individual(s) can turn and be changed by the Power of Christ and His salvation.

Following…

FOLLOWING…

As we are growing up and travelling through life – we look up to, and follow (in whatever way) – certain individuals, usually ones that we admire.

Mentors, those in authority over us, parents. But also those hailed as heroes, (perhaps in our own peer group), are often looked-up-too.

Successful athletes would be an example, as borne out by the aftermath of the Olympic Games.

Young teenagers imitate the behaviour of footballers, as they argue with referees or get into scraps with the opposition players.

Paul the apostle exhorts the people:

Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

This ‘following’ referred to, could mean various things.

Wherever Christ is going – you follow Him and go there too.

Whatever behaviour Christ engages in, – you follow – you do the same.

Or like the first disciples when people were looking for Jesus, the disciples indicated the inquirers should follow them as they led them to Him.

20 And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:

21 The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. 22 Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.

On this particular occasion we are not told if Jesus addressed the Greeks, or if they were in earshot of the next words He said. But if you follow real disciples today, they will lead you to Jesus.

Also as we listen to others expounding the Word of God, we have the opportunity, if what they say agrees with the Bible – to rise up and obey the instruction – this is also following them, and what they teach, in some cases, until you find Jesus for yourself.

Contentment

CONTENTMENT

1 Timothy 6:6

Now godliness with contentment is great gain…

Godliness produces many spiritual fruits in our lives. If we follow Christ and He enables us to reach a godly lifestyle reflecting the Person and characteristics of Our Loving Saviour then one of those fruits can be a deep contentment.

In the Old Testament when the people of God, the Israelites, where walking in a godly manner – they were under the cloud by day and the fire by night. (This refers to the Presence of God visible in this way).

In so walking correctly they were content.

When discontentment enters into our lives either through sin, unbelief, or adverse circumstances – it can be difficult to enter into contentment again.

Sometimes discontentment can lead us to many wrong choices and actions – discontentment in thought word or deed.

I have always liked the saying (as we say: ‘That old chestnut…’) – ‘I’M SATISFIED WITH A DIS-SATISFIED SATISFACTION.’

I have always considered myself a discontented kind of human being. Even when I achieve something successfully – I’m already looking for the next thing that needs achieved.

Failing to take the time to enjoy the sense of accomplishment, in the first place.

I do know this, that when the scripture ties these two together (i.e. Godliness and contentment) – it does so with purposefulness and intent.

Reaching Godliness and the heart is content. In fact nothing will produce lasting contentment apart from a living relationship with God Himself.

All subsequent discontentment that we allow to creep back into our lives, must be brought to Him and He will give us peace again.

Here are some scriptures that reference contentment or lack of it.

Jesus giving advice to Roman soldiers:

“Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”

Paul the apostle speaking:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

I would suggest the secret he refers to is a walk with Christ and the Godliness it gives.

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Strength is the second part of the ‘secret’. Strength from God that produces godliness and therefore contentment.

Conversely – It can be a clear sign that God is influencing you if you are a non-Christian – if you enter an emotional state you can’t quite define.

God strives with men, until the discontentment we feel as a result brings us to the realisation that we are in need of Christ as Saviour and Lord. This is a kind of discontentment to do with a convicted conscience.

Finally God says:

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

He has to be with us in the first place before He will never leave us 

– But maybe you have already asked Him into your life?

…Teejus…

Life Gets Teejus Don’t It? 2021

We can be going through our daily routine. We can be catching that train, eating that lunch, doing those household chores, visiting ‘the club’, having coffee with that same old friend, doing our daily exercise-walk, and going to church on Sunday etc.

Whatever it is for you. Whatever entails the same mindsets. You can do it with much or little thought, perhaps on ‘automatic pilot’. So that at night the thought crosses your mind: ‘Did I do my exercising-walk today? Or was that yesterday?’. Showing – that you were on ‘automatic pilot’ when you did it.

Routine, routine routine.

The old lyric goes:

‘I open the door an’ the flies swarm in.

I shut the door an’ I’m sweatin’ again.

I move too fast an’ I crack my shin.

Just one durn thing after t’other.

As far as I know the title of the song is Life Gets Teejus Don’t It? (One assumes tedious?)

I look back on tremendous ‘lived moments’ with The Lord Jesus Christ – my personal Saviour. Is He yours?

Personal. Personal moments daily. Some I can look back on were very powerful. Tangible unmistakable moments of unspeakable joy! When Jesus manifested Himself to me. I am very very thankful for those personal moments, with the lover of my soul.

Then there are the quiet moments that come like a momentary gentle breeze brushing my inner man.

Glimpses – yes glimpses only – into the eternal realm.

And now we have what is coming upon the earth – in contrast.

Times of shaking, times of sorrows increasing in this world of ours, moral decline left right and centre, people dropping like flies and yet man still doesn’t ask the important questions.

Then there is Covid. And the isolation of the population. Then there is coming out and back to semi-normal. Then there is getting back to routines.

Then there is ‘Life Gets Teejus Don’t It?’.

Yes – that which is common to man – we have a routine life to live – that involves responsibility for family and friends. Responsibility to do the best we can.

Times for the Christian to remind him/herself of the wonderful things of God, even during times of no ‘open vision’.

Time in a nutshell to embrace the great truth:

Matthew 4/

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Time to eat drink and live the Word of The Living God. The most precious treasure in all the earth!

It is never routine reading.

Watcha gonna find?