Category Archives: understanding

Like passions

LIKE PASSIONS

There are different types of mentality that people ‘carry’, about spiritual matters, religion, or Christianity.

Consciously or unconsciously they carry certain fundamental conclusions that influence any further thoughts they might have on the subject of spirituality.

When presented with certain Christian thoughts, talks, or articles they have read or conversations they have been privy to – they ‘shoot down’ any presented conclusion that others (e.g. preachers) might offer.

Using their (metaphorically speaking) gun-thoughts, they satisfy themselves that they have reason to dismiss any exhortation the preacher might present.

There are many dismissive thought patterns but here are a few examples:

All religions are divisive and only cause wars.

Evolution has dismissed religion as mythical.

There are too many hypocrites in religion and I want no part of it.

No one has proven God’s existence.

It is impossible to be sure about God’s existence.

There are no absolutes.

Some mythological person living in the clouds will not get my allegiance.

And so it goes on…

If you have been a Christian as long as I have. There is probably not a lot of other products of human ingenuity to be encountered as reasons to dismiss faith and belief in Jesus as the Christ of God.

To engage with those who carry such dismissive attitudes – can be difficult – let’s be real.

However sometimes Christians do not live up to what they call others to follow.

That’s simply because they too – though followers of Christ – are subject to ‘like passions’.

The term ‘like passions’ is found in the New Testament, in James 5.

The King James Version of the Bible, uses this (in my view) very descriptive summary of what we all are:

17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are,

The Amplified version of the Bible expands it more fully –

17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours [with the same physical, mental, and spiritual limitations and shortcomings],

But the verse goes on to reveal a remarkable thing – 

and he prayed intensely for it not to rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its crops [as usual].

There is no genuine Christian who would not long to be like Elijah the prophet, as we read of the fruit of his ministry and service to God Almighty.

Yet we also learn of the nature he had. The same nature you and I are born with. Subject to sin – evil desires – unbelief – and so on.

Yet despite the shortcomings of Elijah – he overcame them not through ‘rule keeping’ but through relationship.

The relationship God offers to you and I.

Is it real? – you bet it’s real!

When you pray ‘no rain’ and there is no rain. And you pray ‘rain’ and there is rain. We kinda get the picture – right?

It is real!

Yet it is the same nature referred to here with: spiritual limitations and shortcomings, that stops the rain when the desire is – for rain.

There is only one thing we can do to annul our ‘born in sin’ nature – in order to bring the natural rain or the Rain of God’s Presence.

Here is the key – 

Jeremiah 29/

13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Thought for the…

Thought for the

‘Thought for the day’ is a familiar phrase, especially amongst Christians.

I was contemplating this phrase.

What – only one thought for a whole day?

Is that ‘a thought’, as in a theme for the day?

Maybe I should be fare and admit that it can also read: ‘Thoughts for the day’ (Plural).

‘Thoughts for this day’ – like now – what thoughts, should we be having, in our present day, as we pass through this strange year of Covid?

Is there good thoughts we might have missed?

Thinking is usually preferred over mindless behaviour.

Bringing us to the phrase: ‘Mindless aggression’. Suggesting someone who wants to be mad at the world regardless of any restraining thoughts offered by others to assuage their anger.

Aggression where the voice of conscience is drowned-out in unrestrained abuse, heaped on anyone who stands in the way. We see plenty of that in society – do we not?

Thoughts for the day – hmm – how about: ‘love your neighbour as yourself?’

Or ‘humble yourself under God’s mighty hand’?

Or ‘turn the other cheek’ when struck?

I played the part of Lentulus a Roman courtier, in Androcles and the Lion, by G.B. Shaw, a school production – back in the day.

Do you turn the other cheek when they strike you?” I said to Androcles in my snivelling cowardly voice tapping him weakly on the cheek, with trepidation, per chance he didn’t agree with turning the other cheek, after all.

The play suggesting (in my view) that such ‘turn the other cheek’ behaviour caused consternation, or incredulity. Lentulus looking for some kind of explanation for such extraordinary behaviour.

Who wants tested on turning the other cheek?

But to return good for evil is certainly ‘a thought for the day’ worth embracing.

Thoughts for the day – I marvel at how many thoughts we think in just one – 24 hr. – day.

God also thinks continuously. The difference is –

“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.

Higher thoughts – for the day.

If His thoughts are higher, then there is no point in looking to understand them – using our lower thoughts (minds), alone.

How about having the thought of embracing His ‘higher thoughts’, for our ‘thought-for-the-day?’

Open the book (Bible) anywhere and meditate thereon – and you will find higher thoughts entering the realm of your lower mind.

The preacher…

THE PREACHER MAN

An artist – a painter, is not known for one of his paintings, but known for the accumulative effect of his life’s work. That’s why we have retrospective exhibitions.

Likewise he who is instructed in the things of the kingdom of God brings forth old things and new – to represent the whole counsel of God. (Matthew 13/52)

So in a sense the preacher who is so instructed, doesn’t have one sermon to share on a given Sunday morning – but has the sum total of his experience with the Lord to offer to anyone who is hungry for spiritual reality.

What a joy it is to find people who are hungry to hear and learn and know by experience – this wonderful Word of this Wonderful God.

To varying degrees Christians realise their need to ‘eat’ this Word. And usually those who eat little – are those who live by ‘bread alone’ Whereas man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4/4)

Some sought Jesus because he could whip up a good meal, others sought Him because He alone – had the words of ETERNAL LIFE. (John 6/68)

So the preacher must be ready to give what he feels is the specific for the morning, but be ready to go somewhere else as he ‘rummages’ through the treasury God has put in his heart.

What the listeners must do is shut out every other voice but the voice of The Holy Spirit who can apply the word in ways the preacher is unaware of.

Curtains

CURTAINS 2021

Have you ever thought about curtains? Of course you have – although the ladies perhaps more than the men?

But curtains – not as in room decor – but as in that which divides, separates, shuts out, covers, stops.

We have all heard of the iron curtain.

[The Iron Curtain was a political boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1991.

The term symbolises the efforts by the Soviet Union (USSR) to block itself and its satellite states from open contact with the West and its allied states].

So in real life, as in history – dividing and separating.

There is another curtain/veil mentioned in the Bible.

The curtain/veil that separated the holy place from the holiest-of-all place in the Old Testament description of the Temple.

However in the New Testament we are told that…

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. (Acts 17/24)

This is very much a New Testament statement. Because of course it was a different story/dispensation/time under the Old covenant.

In the Old Covenant only the high priest could enter the most holy place (holiest of holies) – once a year. That was it – no one else could enter the Presence of God Almighty.

He is the intensely Holy God of light and perfect righteousness, who Presented Himself in the holiest-of-all place in the temple i.e. e.g.David’s tabernacle, or temple of Solomon.

One of the things the preventative curtain/veil represents is the extremely antithetical nature of God in contradistinction to the nature of man. 

They must stay separated. If not – and we see this on a number of occasions in the Old Testament – God can only consume, judge and eradicate the carrier of sin, who ‘stumbles’ into His Presence. (e.g. I Samuel 6/19)

We do not have the slightest notion of how perfect God is and of how awful and despicable sin is to God.

I have tasted how sinful my own heart is in the Presence of God – on quite a few occasions.

And – but for the Grace and Mercy of God as the scripture says: Psalm 130:

If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? 4 But there is forgiveness with You.

There is no standing before Him. Thankfully there is a veil to keep us out!

However – and this is the good news: If God can find us righteous – we can go beyond the curtain and dwell in the Presence of God without the fear of destruction. But He can’t find our nature anything but sinful – that’s why He must IMPUTE righteousness to us, as a gift to be received or rejected.

That veil that keeps us out of God’s Presence, is taken away in Christ. Now all that remains is for us TO COME TO HIM, ASKING FOR MERCY.

Receiving Christ as our Saviour ‘enables’ God to find us IN His Son – He now sees that acceptable, holy and righteous nature is with us, which enables us to enter into His Presence without fear of retribution. 

Because we inherit a new nature, that takes away our sin, and makes us righteous in Christ, we can enter and dwell continuously in God’s Presence, – with us always – even to the end of our life or the world itself.

We become – by accepting Christ – righteous enough to enter the holiest of holies.

Those who do not accept Christ have a remaining veil over their minds, the veil of the sinful fleshly natural mind. That cuts us off from spiritually experiencing the Presence of God, or appreciating the bible.

14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.

The veil that separates us i.e. our own fleshly nature, our sinfulness, with all it’s tendencies, is no longer the irremovable obstacle that previously prevented us entering the Presence of God, and indeed His Person entering us.

So that every believer in Christ becomes a temple not made with hands, but one that allows God to dwell within.

Christ’s flesh on the cross, represented the destruction of all that separates us from God’s Presence. As His flesh was ripped so the veil in the temple at that time was rent in two at the same time:

44 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.

45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.

The reality of the complete opposites, as found in God’s nature and ours – is never diminished. It never changes from being so. That which is of the flesh is flesh, and that which is of The Holy Spirit is spirit.

THE BIGGEST TRUTH THAT MANKIND CANNOT GRASP when considering God – IS HOW COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY DIFFERENT GOD’S HOLY NATURE IS IN COMPARISON TO MAN’S.

That’s why man can blaspheme, ridicule, accuse, mock and reject the God of the bible. He hasn’t a clue as to what he is doing in rejecting Christ.

He cannot grasp what all the fuss is about – when God corrects or punishes sin.

God is some big ogre who is out to condemn and bully mankind – is the perception of the unbeliever. He never stops to think that he is a sinner and deserving of punishment because of how ugly his nature is.

The same veil on his mind, the veil of unbelief also stops him seeing the love, mercy, long-suffering, goodness, gentleness, life-giving, all-wise and forgiving God who wants to come and give us spiritual life and life more abundantly! The One who has made a way for the nature of sin to be replaced with His nature in our lives.

Acts 16/31

So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved…”

Perfectionism (tyrant?)

THE TYRANT OF PERFECTIONISM

I don’t know if you share such conclusions, but I often think of, time I have wasted in my life.

The thing is – I can, but won’t be – terrorised by that thought-tyrant.

The thought that we could have done better, been more profitably employed, accomplished more, been a better servant, given more, took a right turn instead of a left at a particular juncture in life, been more adventurous, stepped out in faith more and so it goes on.

And unfortunately I too readily, become a candidate for the deposition of such thoughts. This is borne out of a basic desire inherent in most ‘normal’ people – the desire to do well, be morally upright, accomplish something, and so on.

The most important motivation for the professing Christian is to please God and to be in obedience.

But when you are overwhelmed with your own failures one aught to inoculate oneself with a good dose of reality.

Because such shortcomings, are common to all humans.

To be perfectly free from such conclusions of sinfulness or imperfection is impossible. 

There was only One who fulfilled the call of perfect timing and the perfect use of time, coupled with His morally perfect life.

An examination of the life of Jesus, should leave us aghast at such perfectionism!

I however, am easily disappointed in yours truly, sometimes a justified disappointed for a real reason, sometimes not justified, because of the perfectionist tyrant, trying to unfairly discourage.

One needs to know the difference between legitimate desirable self-examination and awareness and morbid introspection.

One needs to keep one’s conscience healthy – yes. But also be aware – 

II Corinthians 2/

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

You can become aware of this perfectionist tyranny besetting your moral aspirations, when you examine your own thinking. It is by your own contrivance, as you are overwhelmed by a ‘million’ (imaginary?) things you are not doing.

You can also realise that it can be the result of a dark power that is engaged in sending fiery darts into your mind.

Ephesians 6/16

…above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.

So your sense of imperfection and disappointment with yourself, can be the result of your own invention or demonically inflicted.

There is a whole biblical teaching too long to go into in this post, that establishes the alien-workings of darkness summed up in the apostle Paul’s words to us:

Ephesian 6/

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places.

The Only Living and True God is not such a tyrant, but at the same time, is only too aware of our shortcomings.

His desire for us is firstly and foremostly that we engage with Him in relationship. Then as any good Father – He then starts to help us to mature and grow out of our immature behaviour.

And – as a by-product – make better spiritual use of our time.

We cannot live in perfection or spiritual maturity straight away after we have encountered and submitted to Jesus. In the sense that the Christian life is an ongoing growing experience.

That’s why we account that His long-suffering is our salvation.

Christ offers us perfect acceptance when we choose Him as Lord. This is our perfection. It suffices God’s requirements, that we ask Him into our lives.

II Peter 3/

15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you,

Most(?) people want to live right. Do good and be a follower of what is right. But they can’t find the ‘how to’ of the whole thing. And all of us are blind to many of our shortcomings. 

Until we meet Jesus and allow Him to start to change us from the inside-out, we shall remain the same – unchanged.

So yes we do need to be perfected, but not by the dictates of the perfectionist tyrant.

Footnote: It could be suggested that the last thing this secular world needs is to be reminded that perfectionism can be a tyrant. Some might suggest – no one is the least bit interested in moral perfection. But is excusing any and all behaviour, else why still indulge in it?

United understanding

UNITED UNDERSTANDING 2021

I’ve noticed that certain words become characteristic of different groups of people. 

Organisations, sales teams, philosophers, artists, baseball fraternities, churches or mega church movements with different campuses. Media groups. Indeed there is accompanying word-talk in every area of life, involving groups of people.

Plumbers can sit and have an intelligent conversation about on-the-job experiences, and leave me feeling that I am listening to a foreign language. Not foreign to them, because they all know the acquired lingo.

New-age-type-people similarly have a certain language where the same words come into play in their communications.

Even in this dictionary definition we find some of those commonly used words:

a broad movement characterized by alternative approaches to traditional Western culture, with an interest in spirituality, mysticism, holism, and environmentalism: the New Age movement.

Particular words/phrases and their popularity in the Christian church worldwide seem to come and go. 

Words such as breakthrough, prosperity, soaking, story, and so on.

If you listen to people sharing – one after the other – you will find these common expressions cropping up in their speeches.

Now where exactly am I going with this? Well I’m drawing attention to language to lead us into considering the awful blight of mis-communication.

When you mix with Christian church members for a period of time – you will pick up on the in-house lingo. And find yourself using the words you are hearing them use.

When I was a young Christian I went to serve God on a team that included an older American believer. 

When I arrived home and amongst members of my youth group again, I was addressing God as Gad, as my acquired American pronunciation prevailed for a short while.

Taking on board common terms of expression, helps us to feel that we fit in. Plus we adopt/adapt these words because we have a desire to communicate and be understood.

But this does not always end well.

It’s always been of interest to me, and at times a matter of incredulity on my part – to realise how difficult communication can be, between human beings, in the church or otherwise.

Slightly digressing but illustrating my point – I remember a lady making a comment after seeing one of my paintings in a post I did some years ago.

She commented that she was wary of the painting, because in her eyes it was ‘new age’.

Nothing could be further from the truth, but she remained unconvinced, even when I assured her of my soundness, when it came to Christian doctrine.

It looked new age to her, and in her eyes, new age it was going to be.

That’s the similar problem with words.

In this case regarding the painting – she couldn’t grasp the fundamental motivational aspect and style of my paintings – which is a search for, and expression of – good design. Basically that’s it!

When we are young we all speak a similar language, using words common to the ‘gang’.

I have experienced the difficulty of trying to express from the heart – truth with integrity, only to be misunderstood and/or misunderstood completely.

There is nothing new under the sun. The disciples walked with God every day but had the same difficulties. Wanting privileged seating rights, and debating who should be the greatest. What sort of communication was this?

It is part of the blemish of the fallen race: mis-communication, misunderstanding, dogmatic division, disunity, factions, false-accusations, biting and devouring one another, and so on. (Galatians 5/15, I Corinthians 1/10, 3/3)

An awful state of affairs. And yet!

Psalm 133

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is

For brethren to dwell together in unity!…

…For there the Lord commanded the blessing—

Life forevermore.

So how come the church seemingly cannot utilise this wonderful truth of unity to see the manifestation of God moving in power?

Because of mis-understanding and an ingrained inability to speak the same thing. To agree. To be of the same mind in The Lord, despite using similar lingo.

To be perfectly joined together. To agree to differ and still be able to have transparent fellowship.

Man in his nature wants to be right – even when he is wrong. Often digging our heels in – in a conversation is the beginning of disunity and division.

There doesn’t seem to be a mechanism to reach agreement by using language. By conversing – a lot of the time – disunity becomes worse.

That’s because the sinful nature contained in these bodies of ours is set on fire by the tongue, which has the characteristics of hell fire. (James 3/6)

The only solution is when believers 100% set themselves to be wrong – and corporately hear ‘the same thing’ from The Lord Himself, who is always right. (Phil. 2/5)

Allow His mind to be in them – in understanding, in speaking and in agreeing what is right.

I Corinthians 1/ Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

Peace

PEACE

John 20/

19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

Jesus having been crucified dead and buried – arose and stood in the midst of His followers.

It is not new to anyone at all familiar with The Christian Faith to realise that all Christians believe that Christ Rose from the dead.

And not only arose but appeared to various disciples at various times before eventually – many of them saw Him ascend upwards into the realm of the heaven of heavens. A spiritual dimension beyond the natural eye.

It is difficult for us to describe exactly, the bodily form of The Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ – when He appeared to His disciples. It is the dimension of the spirit manifested visibly. There is a mystery regarding it.

*NB: [Did He ascend to the Father just before this? He tells one woman not to touch Him, and yet Thomas to put his fingers into His scars. Food for thought and another post.]

It is not the purpose of this post to go into this phenomena.

But that He appeared before them is beyond doubt.

I want to think for a moment, of not only what He showed, (His resurrected self), but of what He said:

“Peace be with you.”

There are all kinds of things that disturb our peace. And let’s be honest we all like to live a peaceful life.

Except maybe for those who have never known peace in the first place. Or those so controlled by their lower nature that peace is something they neither know in experience or pursue.

Here is a mix of biblical exhortations concerning peace:

Seek peace and pursue it…

Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:…

Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it…

And finally what Jesus said to His followers:

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.

There is one source of true peace: Jesus Christ Himself. A relationship with Him brings inner peace, because of sins forgiven and acceptance into His spiritual kingdom, through fellowship with Him.

For any Christian to pretend that they never lose their peace, or are never troubled would be a lie. Indeed Paul the apostle who knew the peace of God perpetually in his life, nevertheless did not see the need to pretend in order to make his case for God-given peace.

He says: (II Corinthians 7/5)

For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. 6 Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus…

Inside were fears. Fear attempts to disturb/destroy our peace. He finishes off, however, with the great truth: NEVERTHELESS – GOD!

When there’s nothing else to cling to and, as the song says: ‘When our time has come…’ We have the promised and abiding peace that tells us that all will be well with our soul and spirit.

Peace returns – [as an old female saint I once knew would say] – when we: Let go and let God.

There will always be things that seek to disturb our peace, rob us of our peace, distract us from abiding in Christ – but the great truth is – we have been given His Peace in the first place, just like He delivered it to His disciples in His resurrection power, as He came into the room, having risen from the dead!

Thank God for the peace and assurance that we can meet Him without the fear of loss.

Even so come Lord Jesus!

…………………………………………………………………………..

* JOHN 20 17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Happiness?

HAPPINESS?

I was thinking of the word – Happiness.

Happiness – where do I stand in the ‘happiness’ stakes?

My dictionary gives us this for happy:

  • feeling or showing pleasure or contentment:

Happiness – hmmm.?

Paul the apostle tells us that (I Timothy 6) / Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

I do have a deep abiding peace in my spirit.

In fact – a peace I can’t explain – one that passes my ability to figure it out.

Philippians 4/

and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

However I like the old sayng that made it’s journey around the church years ago:

I’m satisfied with a dissatisfied satisfaction.

In my own nature and personality I’m a discontented kind of a guy.

When we find a negative tendency in our personality – (and we are all so different) – we need to feed ourselves, as Christians, with God’s antidote: – the Word of God.

This both counteracts our negative tendencies and also brings change.

God is in the changing business. He, as a faithful Heavenly Father takes time to raise His family correctly.

Raising us in the nurture and admonition of His Word (see also Ephesians 6/4)

Reminding ourselves of all the wonderful promises He has given us, through the New Testament and Old Testament writers, is giving God the opportunity to work in us.

He uses His Word to accomplish the changing and maturing of the Christian’s heart.

I Thessalonians 2/13

…the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.

This brings greater wholeness in our lives – and consequently greater contentment.

So role out your own definition of happiness, if you wish. But perhaps, godly contentment may not be what you have in mind?

Godliness brings contentment – whereas the pleasure of sin is only for a season.

Contentment starts deep within – growing from the assurance that Christ has made me acceptable, through no merits of my own.

I drift from the contentment He provides – and get restless, but when that happens it’s time to get back into the power-house of contentment, through prayer and Bible meditation.

Passivity and contentment are not the same thing. How easy it is to become passive, especially in this present lockdown situation.

But, nevertheless, I need to be reminding myself that my contentment is in Christ.

Complete by Grace bringing contentment:-

Colossians 2/

For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. 

Foolish

FOOLISH 2021

Galatians 3:

v1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so [c]many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain

Paul the Apostle is addressing this Galatian group of believers.

But of course it is ordained of God that, when one of His Specially Chosen Early Apostolic leaders, writes to a particular ‘branch’ of God’s church – it is more than meant for, or sent to – just them.

It is sent to all believers throughout history who follow on, by inheritance, from the early formed church/churches.

The Word of God will never pass away. Anything that the Holy Spirit  has placed His indelible fingerprint upon – will remain as His Word forever.

Jesus said:

Matt. 24/

34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

Paul, saddened, grieved and a little perplexed, is addressing a fundamental problem pervading the Galatian church.

This problem can, or has, pervaded the lives of believers ever since, and indeed at one time – knocked me off-course for a couple of years in my Christian life.

Paul is very straight with them, out of love and concern, trying to wake them up to spiritual reality. Wake them up to the completeness of Christ’s Salvation.

“O Foolish Galatians…” – exclamation mark!

“Who has bewitched you…”?

Without even going into the original meaning of the Greek etc. as we can do, when seeking to expound some aspect of God’s New Testament. Let me instead pass on what the dictionary means by the word ‘bewitched’:

to attract or interest someone a lot so that you have the power to influence them:

to put a magicspell on someone or something in order to control him, her, or it

Either definition will do – First – attracted and therefore distracted. Distracted from the real wonderful message, into their own ideas. (Manmade gospel)

Second – (bewitched)  – Coming under the control of something, someone, or a spirit not of God.

That was how Paul found these believers. They got away from the wonderful New Testament message of Salvation by Faith – through God’s Amazing Grace – and their whole focus was on themselves and their own performance.

He spends most of the rest of the epistle addressing and correcting this legalistic distraction, in order that the Galatians will become re-focused on Christ.

We must look to Christ in prayer for everything to do with the spiritual life.

The following is a spiritual seeing:

25 For David says concerning Him:

‘I foresaw the Lord always before my face,

For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken.

26 Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad;

Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope.

This was the spoken spiritual reality of someone staying on course by faith – seeing the invisible God – (see also e.g. Heb. 11/27) so as to walk pleasing to Him, without wrongly, losing sight of Him completely and then trying to live like Him. It doesn’t work. The Galatians were trying it and failing.

Paul put them right.

Are your eyes on God in prayer? Will you respond (by the hearing of this encouragement) – in faith? (see verse 2).

What does this mean?

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

What does this mean?

What does it really mean?

If you are not in the scientific community, you may not have a clue, as to what a particular communication means. If you are not in the Household Calvary you may not understand the instruction being handed down. If you are not in the Plumber’s Guild you may not comprehend the words in the manual and so on…

In other words you need to be what we refer to as: ‘In the know’.

To be ‘in the know’ often requires us to be ‘in the club’.

When it comes to spiritual matters we need to realise that certain words are not dissimilar straight across the religious spectrum. But in actual fact can mean completely different things to different adherents of particular religions.

The bible talks about those: Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. II Timothy 3/7.

And so we ask our question: “What exactly does this mean?”

These words are found in the context (if you care to look it up) of the end times. The end times can be a day or a thousand years. One day still to go. Or one thousand years still to go.

It is the ‘end-times’ from God’s perspective. As to Him – outside of time – who looks into time – a thousand years is the blink of an eyelid and likened to one day.

So we are given a list of (last day) end-time things in II Timothy 3.

One of the characteristics of those walking in the end times is people learning, (knowledge increasing) – but unable to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Therefore what chance have you, of knowing the truth, if you have only the road of learning to walk down?

There is need of some other element. Some other means. Some other experience that will take you from simply using your cerebral faculties in an educational pursuit of learning.

According to this scripture there will be those who are always learning, but never able to find the truth.

So are you, am I, ‘in the know’? What club must I join to truly understand the communication?

It’s not a club. It’s a kingdom we must enter into, through the door, Jesus Christ.

To begin with, we need to stop searching in all other religions, because they will only provide somewhat similar turns of phrase, and knowledge that leaves us still void of knowing the truth.

Ever increasing in learning – yes. But unable to grasp what only Jesus Christ can reveal.

This post is challenging you to stop learning and seeing learning, as the only means of knowing the truth. And start asking who the Person of Jesus Christ really is? Jesus answered, “I am the way and THE TRUTH and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

As we come to a revelation of who He Truly Is – it’s only then that we can KNOW the truth. Knowing the truth is firstly knowing a Person.

Examine His claims and seek to enter into a relationship with Him.

That’s the ‘if you are not in – you cannot truly know’ aspect of the gospel.

Jesus Christ said:

9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

And knowing the Person of Jesus through submissive prayer, we can go on to know the truth as taught by Him through His word.

Prophesying today

PROPHESYING TODAY

It is dangerous to ‘generalise’ when we have limited information.

Limited information can cause a limited conclusion. A faulty judgement can therefore be made about a given scenario.

Jumping too quickly to conclusions.

However, in some situations in life, in extenuating circumstances, a decision needs to be taken quickly, because

of how a particular scenario will or might play-out and effect us personally.

This ‘deficient information factor’ makes that decision hard to make.

We do our best – and proceed to make the decision, even with inadequate information, because if it goes a certain way, it will perhaps effect us personally.

I would imagine those who deal in the stock market, find themselves in that situation daily (?).

It can be, that we may not have the time to make full enquiry. And our decision as a result can be a good one or a bad one – as time will usually tell.

We can best hope that by our necessary decision making, no one gets hurt or damaged, as we make the decision.

I’m thinking of how people resign from a particular position they occupy, in perhaps a company, a political party, a Medical Practice, a church etc.

Making their decision, but not basing it on full knowledge, sometimes just suspicion.

It is still true to say, that unless one undertakes a thorough comprehensive research study, our lack of information can cause us to form the wrong conclusions.

The Bible says in James 1/So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; . It’s easy to reverse this – speaking with limited knowledge and without proper discernment, and in self-righteous anger (quick to wrath), making wrong judgements.

Biblically we are exhorted in different ways to be careful about judging given situations or people. 

Some make the mistake of thinking we are never to judge anything. The bible doesn’t teach this – but it does call us to ‘judge righteously’ according to the truth of God’s Word.

Jesus said: John 7/

24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

The spirit in which we judge is also of paramount importance. Anger and bitterness in our hearts and we have judged wrongly already, and must hear ‘judge not that you be not judged’.

Matthew 7/ v1“Judge  not, that you be not judged.

It may seem now that I am about to change tack to a different subject, but that’s not what I am doing.

Because I am thinking of the discernment necessary and the full knowledge needed, of what is said – before judgements can be made in response to modern day prophetic utterance.

Prophecy in the bible in it’s basic definition is simply ‘inspired utterance’. Jesus spoke with supreme wisdom and perpetual inspiration/revelation. 

Those who penned the scriptures were given Grace of an unequalled kind. No one (as in ‘ordinary’ Christians) prophesying since the Apostles and prophets, chosen by Christ, will be given that same calibre of Grace. Therefore they will not speak as authoritatively.

That does not mean that someone with a true gift of prophecy (inspired utterance), will not speak with authority.

Just not of that particular unique kind that penned The Word of God.

The Bible cannot be added to, it remains perpetually in the hand of The Holy Spirit to accomplish whatever God sends it to accomplish. Isa. 55/

11 

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;

It shall not return to Me void,

But it shall accomplish what I please,

And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Whether this ‘accomplishing’ takes place in the individuals heart or in accomplishing the task of giving to mankind foreknowledge of the future, in prophesying what is to come.

But modern day, inspired utterance, still calls for men and women to be in touch with God.

We are exhorted to speak as the ‘oracles of God’.

1 Peter 4:11

If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever.

Some Christians live more incomplete lives than others, when they exclude from their experience the possible exercise of Spiritual Gifts, as found in I Corinthians chapter 12 etc..

Even those who believe that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and therefore accept the ‘manifestation of The Holy Spirit’ doctrinally, (another way of saying ‘the gifts of The Spirit’) – even so, may not fully manifest those gifts.

Certain cessationists dismiss the Gifts of The Holy Spirit – as not being for today.

If the manifestations of The Holy Spirit, are not taking place today – it is not because God has turned the tap off, or that such a thing is not possible, but rather for the reason, that  they are not sought for fully, or not allowed in the assembly of God’s people, usually as a result of cessationist theology or limited revelation/experience in the leadership.

The lack of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit may also be because of the ‘falling away’ that is happening on the earth and even in the churches. We read of a somewhat parallel time in the time of Samuel the prophet: 

I Samuel 3/1…And the word of the Lord was precious (rare) in those days; there was no open vision.

The gifts are not as manifest as in previous eras. (This can also be the result of how much there is – full or limited pursuing thereof): Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 

Those who accept the gifts, rightly so, as being for today – may not, however in practice, manifest them in the church.

Prophecy is for every member – we may all prophesy one by one.

All may speak ‘inspired utterances’.

These utterances of the spoken gifts are as follows – prophesy, speaking in different tongues and interpretation, word of wisdom, word of knowledge.

There are other gifts, or manifestations of The Holy Spirit, but the above are the spoken gifts.

11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

When it comes to prophesying – we are told: 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 

All prophesying’ does not make us all prophets.

A prophet is someone who has a proven track record in words of knowledge, words of wisdom, prophesying by forth-telling or fore-telling.

The fruit of which gives help, direction and deliverance to the church.

It may entail foretelling, but must include:

 3 (But he who prophesies speaks)… edification and exhortation and comfort to men.

Except, on the rarer occasions when it can contain correction or rebuke, depending on the situation. Such correction should come from an established proven Prophetic ministry, that God has set in the church.

The rest of the church present, where a prophecy is given, are meant to engage in discerning if the prophecy is brought by The Holy Spirit and does not violate the principles of God’s Word.

29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. 

We must be careful to:

19 Quench not the Spirit.

20 Despise not prophesyings.

21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

Unfortunately some dismiss anything prophetic, when we are told we can all prophesy, (and the Word of God cannot be broken).

We must judge firstly the prophecy – and after this depending on the fruit in their lives – if need be – then the vessel who brought the prophecy.

If what they are – in themselves, clearly shows them to be false prophets, or carrying a wrong spirit, or disrupting and damaging the people of God, then they need to be subject to the sanction of the church.

But – and this brings me back to my original point – full or limited knowledge…

If a foretelling prophecy does not come to pass, being of a foretelling nature, the first thing to establish is – is it completely wrong? Genuine prophets can make mistakes, but this does not mean they are to be dismissed as charlatans.

To dismiss them out of hand, is to get the cart before the horse. We are to judge the prophecy, as to it’s correctness or otherwise. But if it is wrong, we should not automatically disqualify the prophet.

Unless he/she has a track record of damaging the church, causing confusion, and perhaps obtaining a ‘following’ through dishonest gain.

Titus 1:

10 For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11 whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. 12 One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 

The Gifts or manifestations of – The Holy Spirit are for our profit as the Church. 

And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,

There can be a lot of ‘hype’ in televised prophesying, especially in a certain country. But we need to see-through the hype and ask the question ‘Is this of God?” Secondly is this person a true servant of Christ – who loves The Lord.

Not easily or immediately discernible sometimes. But we must not ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’.

Regarding foretelling and not the less consequential type of prophesying, (edification, exhortation, and comfort), here is the safeguard:

Deuteronomy18

21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.

There is both warnings for those who hear the prophetic word, in this passage:

 And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.

And for the prophet who prophesies:

20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’

However these warnings aught to be heard in the light of the greater Covenant of The New Testament.

Dry Bread?

DRY BREAD?

‘Dry bread’ – can be a metaphorical description of something that is not appetising.

We read a blog, a book, an email, a news item, and it seems dry to us – consequently we remain ‘unfed’.

But then in favour of the communicator –  ‘you can please some of the people some of the time but not all etc…’

Dry bread for one person however, can be a happy meal for another.

And that’s why pleasing: ‘all of the people all of the time…’ is an impossibility. Because the meal/message  will be ‘dry bread’ to some.

In the Old Testament the people of God, collected fresh manna (food) each day.

But to them it became stale, even though it wasn’t.

And so staleness can be in the people – not in the food.

Stale people spiritually – do not respond to fresh spiritual bread. It doesn’t appeal. It isn’t appetising because their palette is not sympathetic to it.

Their palette is corrupted. It’s like salt …’but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men’.

(To slightly arrest the scripture) To those who have no taste for it, the food has lost it’s savour.

But the food has not lost it’s flavour/savour – instead the palette of those who are offered the food, can be non-appreciative.

[We see this in Numbers 11/4-6]

This is an illustration of the truth we find in…

I Corinthians 2/14

…the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

To be able to get the natural man who has no taste for the things of Jesus Christ, – to stop, listen, learn, and respond is impossible. Unless – unless – God touches their heart and mind.

For those who want God to touch them. They must deny their natural appetite (as in earthly thinking) and put themselves in a place where God has their time and attention. It is called prayer and bible meditation.

In that place – low and behold – spiritual food becomes an acquired taste.

In which place, He (God), will eventually serve-up a spiritual meal.

Such folks entering into real prayer will suddenly find the things of God extremely appetising – and such a meal, will change their whole life.

It may not happen straight away – but with patience it will happen. (See also Luke 5/39).

Oh, TASTE AND SEE that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

(Psalm 34)