Category Archives: word in season

Back from the dead

BACK FROM THE DEAD

Here is someone, making request, that a dead person come back from the dead and preach to his unbelieving family. He is taking  it for granted that such a back from the dead preach – will guarantee they do not enter the place of torment he was in, because they will believe.

Luke 16/

27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent*.’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded** though one rise from the dead.’ ”

Sometimes It is not a bad idea to be able to simplify and ‘boil down’ to one or two salient points, certain ponderings we might have.

What is being communicated in the above verses, is that – what one might consider an infallibly persuasive proof of the truth of life after death and the need to repent, (i.e. someone coming back from the dead) – in fact is not a guarantee of necessary persuasion** that comes to those who will believe in God.

If someone you know that has died – appears to you tonight in your bedroom as you are nodding-off to sleep, one would imagine, such an experience would guarantee from that moment on, that you would become an out-and-out believer in Jesus Christ as Lord, because of the warning they would bring. But in itself it is no guarantee.

So again – here we read that someone coming back from the dead and sharing the reality of the afterlife with you – is no guarantee that you will choose to receive Christ and thereby inherit eternal life.

Something else must take place before the faith you have is true saving faith, the faith that pleases God and the faith He is looking for from every human being on the planet, before eternal life is guaranteed.

In this context therefore, we read that there is no guarantee, even though reached by a person ‘back from the dead’ that someone, will repent* (change their mind) and become a dedicated follower of Christ Jesus The Lord.

It reads: ‘neither will they be persuaded** though one rise from the dead.’

So what will persuade you and I to follow Christ? We are given the answer:

When we hear the Word of God from the Old or New Testaments, as given by the prophets, (Old Testament prophets and New Testament prophets or apostles as the case would also be), and believe – i.e. commit our lives to the One who gives us this bible truth (i.e. Jesus the Christ).

So the five unbelieving brothers if they had rejected the bible, would also reject any idea that they should come to Christ and forsake sin, even though one back from the dead was to bring the message, that they should do so.

Jesus exhorted others to believe in Him, to believe His words, or to believe Him because of the miracles He had performed. And yet the Pharisees and others refused to do so. Jesus, as in John 1/14 – is shown clearly to be The Word of God. The Word made flesh. The Personification of all truth.

John 14/ Jesus said:

11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.

The Pharisees would often unbelievingly ask for a sign from Jesus. 

They had no intention of believing in Him. Even when they witnessed miracles they still would not believe, and turn to Him in acknowledgement of His Messiahship.

They were part of the generation – the evil and adulterous generation – who looked for a sign.

38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”

39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it

The heart and mind must open to the Word of God – only by so doing is the whole reality of all that Christ both began to do and to teach, consequently able to dawn upon us.

This will bring the revelation to us, of our need to bow our knees and receive Him as King of kings and Lord of lords.

So this Bible is the most important document on the face of the earth, – yes the all time best seller – but more than that, a God-given, God-ordained means of reaching mankind with the message that leads to eternal life.

John 20/

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Positive only…II

PART II ‘POSITIVE ONLY’ PREACHERS

(see previous blog post for part I)

I am not drawing a comparison with the ‘positive only’ preachers and the Pharisees, but Jesus instructed his disciples regarding the Pharisees – 

saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.

So we learn from this, that anything that is backed by the Word of God we must ‘amen’ asking God to help us embrace it and see it manifest in our lives.

But bear in mind the preachers of all things positive, also need to grow in grace. 

Their presentation of the 100% pure word of God, they are publicly reading and referring to, – is in fact, being referred to and read – by those who are subject to like passions (sin) as everyone else.

The transmission of the divine thoughts given to prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah etc. were pure, and they received the Word of God, in a state of Grace whereby the Holy Spirit suspended their sinful nature leaving the Word they received uncontaminated by flesh.

Isaiah 6:6-8

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said:

“Behold, this has touched your lips;

Your iniquity is taken away,

And your sin purged.”

No earth-born though born-again preacher or prophet will be used in that way again, after the close of the cannon of Scripture. We can only expound the Word imperfectly. Not because the Word is errant but we are, and need to maintain a place of humility as we handle this Word of Truth.

Proverbs 30/4-6

Every word of God is pure;

He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.

Unintentional though it may be when we listen to ‘positive only’ preachers there can be  a frustration one can experience because we are left feeling we ‘do not have enough faith’.

Due to the hyper-positive presentation it can seem affirmed that ‘It is your fault that you don’t get healed.’ And so on.

This frustration can challenge or diminish the faith that people already have. 

It can discourage and condemn, even unbeknown to the preachers, and rather than sowing The Word to create faith, frustration at not living up to the mark, can instead be the result.

Giving them the benefit of the doubt, this is the opposite result the faith preachers are trying to achieve.

When Jesus corrected unbelief there was always a positive outcome. Why? Because He was/is The Son of The Living God!

The gentleman who cried out: “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”– had unbelief, but still obtained a positive outcome because The Sovereign Lord saw his humility and healed his son, despite his limited faith. (Mark 9/24)

God is so for us – He marvels at the unbelief of humans, who fail to grasp the fact that He is.

Often what ‘Positive Only’ (again – my description) preachers do not refer to from the pulpit – is the struggles that all Christians and non-Christians can experience.

It might be an idea and would possibly help, if they were vulnerable enough to admit their own struggles. And to add how they overcame by faith, (if that is the case).

But they choose to emphasise God’s perspective, and I can understand this.

But knowledge ‘puffs up’, and if ‘successful’ preachers, are not careful, spiritual pride can creep in, and the enemy can get an undetected hold.

The danger of this sin of pride, God was aware of, when He faithfully dealt with Paul the apostle.

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 

This (Paul), is the same man – who was perhaps the prime example of someone who celebrated the promises of God, more than anyone, and saw the miracle working power of God in action, time and time again. The same man who said:

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells…

With our limitations, common to man, we must come to The Lord and exercise the faith we have, in the hope of further increase.

But I would suggest – that increase will only come with the revelation of The Holy Spirit, and not by paying lip-service to the preacher.

Nor will it come by mental gymnastics that hope to manifest the miracle working power of God without enduement from On High.

Mental agility that tries to manifest spiritual realities without the enabling power of The Holy Spirit, will not do.

We must look for the manifestation of The Holy Spirit – yes even in such a day as this! Why? Because…

7 …the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:

Notice it is profitable to all.

Let’s finish with the words of Paul:

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.

‘Positive Only’ preachers

POSITIVE ONLY’ PREACHERS

PART I

There is a certain kind of preaching which is A to Z, wall to wall, positive.

We could say it’s the best kind.

Some Christians have experienced only a little of what ‘100% positive’ preachers preach. 

[But then again who can make such a statement – as to what other Christians have experienced when it is subjectively between you and God?

How much you have experienced of the Divine nature, just as a measure of faith is given to each Christian, is determined by our hunger for The Living God, and the acts of Grace The Lord of all, deems suitable for each individual. Though Saving Grace is equally exercised for all. (II Peter 1/4) (Romans 12/3).

Conversely it is true that the depth to which, we have experienced God, will show in our lives.]

Christian knowledge is true knowledge when accompanied or married-to spiritual experience (of the Christian kind of course).

I am not overly familiar with the controversies that some folks engage in with regard to criticising what I think is called ‘Word of Faith’ preachers. (?)

I personally only see preachers. What they preach I try to discern on an individual sermon per sermon basis.

Many of the ‘Positive-only’ preachers (my description), emphasise faith, faith, faith.

Rightly so – they refer to all the promises of God – 

II Corinthians 1/

19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. 20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.

We are challenged to believe the promises, embrace them, and allow the Holy Spirit to make them real, real, real.

When you listen to faith-(‘only’?) preachers, their main concern is to get people out of their limited mentality when it comes to the mightiness of God. 

We as human beings sooooo limit God, in our mental appraisal of His Greatness.

But one is tempted to say we are in good company. If you consider Peter and the rest of the disciples good company (?).

I’m guessing we could objectively conclude, that they did not live up to what the faith preachers, would perhaps suggest should be in everyone’s life, permanently, perpetually.

Conversely, once we concede perversely, that ‘all spiritual blessings in heavenly places’ –  somehow should ‘not!’ be in our daily lives, then we go against God’s desire for us. (Eph. 1/3)

But the reality of the disciples limitations is also apparent:

Mark 9 – 17 Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. 18 And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.”

19 He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.”

The disciples openly (howbeit privately to Jesus) confessed their limitations:-

Matthew 17

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”

When we think of how Peter was used after Pentecost, we can see his/their improvement was down to the work of The Holy Spirit’s actual manifestation/moving, and not just to their mental/spiritual faith development.

So the next time you marvel at how little faith you seem to have, marvel too at how little Peter, James, John, Andrew, et al also initially had.

The ‘Positive Only’ preachers who preach the promises, or simply the Word of God, can seem to be in a league of their own. Elite, untouchable, head and shoulders above the rest of us.

The reason we can perceive them as such – is because they preach The Word of God, and emphasise, rightly, all the promises of God, and all that Christ has purchased for us on the cross, and so it seems that they are swimming in a faith-filled, problem-less existence, where they have only success, success, success.

Unless they tell us of their failures also (?).

As a possible consequence of ‘positive only’ preaching (again my term for it), we can be persuaded to consider that they are as perfect as The Word they preach, (the Bible) and that they have it together 100%. Whereas if such were the case there is no room for improvement, or spiritual growth in their lives.

If what they preach is in The Word, then we aught to embrace it and seek to live-it-out – miracles an’ all.

But sometimes these preachers, in correcting those who have criticised them, or their ‘positive only’ approach, are prone to creating the impression that they (those who criticise them) are lesser individuals, because they do not ‘get’ their positive-plus preaching, or the results that they claim for their lives.

And (it must be also pointed out) that sometimes their critics don’t get what is being preached, because their hearts are skeptical to the point of blatant unbelief.

But it is also possible that those who have faith, are having their present measure of faith undermined and belittled, because it doesn’t fit the preacher’s idea of what it should produce.

Jesus Himself, of course, corrected many:-

O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me…

But Jesus was perfect in thought word and deed and as such is seated at the right hand of God The Father, in the heaven of heavens – as we speak (and forever).

Preachers representing Jesus the Christ of God, must preach The Word (II Timothy 4/2), and all the purity and perfection of that Word.

But they too are ‘works in progress’.

The ‘positive only’ preachers, having preached against those who believe things are unattainable for mortal man – can create the impression that they have ‘arrived’, and perfectly practice and walk by faith.

Again they may not mean to do this – but the impression can be taken from their positive-only stance.

With that message there can be a certain kind of ‘positive dogmatism’, that leaves out of the picture, e.g. the fact that they had a bad day – the other day – and said something in the flesh. Or that something they prayed for didn’t come to pass.

For example, having prayed for someone to be healed, who subsequently rather – died, wouldn’t exactly re-enforce their faith building message. So often this example from their experience is not mentioned.

Unless to make the point, or suggest, that the person who died, didn’t fully embrace faith as they should have. (Which may or may not be the case).

They can’t bring this failed moment, into their preaching as it takes away from the ‘Positive Only’ message.

However someone listening carefully to a ‘faith/positive only’ ministry, may discern correctly, hints of imperfection, in the course of their presentation of all things bright and beautiful.

That’s just how it is – people not only get the benefit of God’s gifting in an individual whether as an apostle, prophet or teacher, but also we receive the ‘benefit’(?) of their limitations and idiosyncrasies.

(Look for Part II in a few days time)

Born a second time?

Born a second time? 

There is no doubt that approaching the things of God in a cold theological way is not enough when it comes to being convinced that you should give your life over to The Son of God, – done so – through prayer.

But what’s the difference between studying presented truth, perhaps presented in some book of theology from whatever source and coming into a Living relationship with The Christ of God?

There is no fixed way that a person must adhere to, when it comes to experiencing the born again experience. No fixed way in the sense that every personality is different and must discover God’s working in their life, as it lines up with His Word.

The term ‘born again’ is found in the gospel of John 1/1:

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

So Jesus is calling all, to an experience that He calls ‘being born again’.

Unless one is born again…..

Well – unless one is – we cannot see, – experience, – understand – know the things of God as God intended us to know them.

However many have started their born again journey in the very way I have suggested at the beginning – namely: in a cold theological way.

The reason for this is that such a person may be genuinely looking for the answer or answers regarding this born again experience.

And as I have stated before a number of times – the door of truth must be gone through or initially sought before this born again experience can take place.

Buy the truth and do not sell it—

    wisdom, instruction and insight as well.

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free

Notice I have clumped these few verses together without even giving the references – simply to say these verses could be the start of the search that will bring you to the born again experience.

Rather than elaborating on the ‘how to’ – let this be the start of your own search of the scriptures, if as yet you have not been born again.

Acts 17/11

These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

What is it saying..?

Here’s an extra mile challenge – meditate on this and let me know…

WHAT IS IT SAYING…?

This short post is to glean from others in the hope that in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

We all understand that there are many translations of The Bible.

Which is partly why students of The Word, delve into original Hebrew or Greek etc.

Not having done so on this occasion, I thought I would reproduce the translations of one verse of scripture, that I was about to use.

Whether someone offers their view on this, will depend on who reads it, and if anyone is so inclined to want the answer themselves.

So here they are – what do you think? PROVERBS 18/24. KJV:

A man that hath friends must show himself friendly, and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

ASV

He that maketh many friends doeth it to his own destruction; But there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

AMP

The man of too many friends [chosen indiscriminately] will be broken in pieces and come to ruin, But there is a [true, loving] friend who [is reliable and] sticks closer than a brother.

AMPC

The man of many friends [a friend of all the world] will prove himself a bad friend, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

BRG

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

CSB

One with many friends may be harmed, but there is a friend who stays closer than a brother.

CEB

There are persons for companionship, but then there are friends who are more loyal than family.

CJB

Some “friends” pretend to be friends, but a true friend sticks closer than a brother.

CEV

Some friends don’t help, but a true friend is closer than your own family.

DARBY

A man of [many] friends will come to ruin but there is a friend [that] sticketh closer than a brother.

DRA

A man amiable in society, shall be more friendly than a brother.

Only a few of many more.

Which translation is the most accurate – and do they appear to contradict each other?

More importantly – What is God telling us?

Feel free to let me know.

Ignoring

IGNORING

It is difficult to share with those who won’t listen – is it not?

God has the same problem:

John 8:46-48

And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”

God mentioning those who …do not hear

You may have seen elderly (or young) ladies sitting outside department stores holding-out magazines – and usually muttering something like ‘Thank you sir’ whilst naming the magazine they want you to buy, held forth in their hand.

They are usually ignored.

‘The harsh’ – usually mutter something like: “Go and get a job”, under their breath.

I remember once giving a gentleman, doing the same thing, a fair amount for the magazine – only to receive a rather nasty rebuttal and refusal to give me the magazine. 

Apparently (I can only guess), I had insulted him with my contribution (?). What made things worse was the fact that I couldn’t reason with him as he had very little grasp of English.

So I let it go – he with my contribution and I with no magazine.

No one likes to be ignored.

Yet because God isn’t seen to be sitting in front of them – many choose to ignore Him.

Nor will they consider listening to the means He has chosen, by which He wants to communicate.

Therefore they do not hear what He has to say. 

Programmed – mind already made up – habitual shut down of the natural faculties – when (just as with the magazine seller), someone tries to engage with them.

Engaging with them to present the Gospel.

There are a bundle of questions not easily answered when it comes to God and His ways.

This inability to answer all the questions under the sun can be – stumbling block number one – for some folks.

Whereas in contrast they fail to consider the many answers already given in the book of books. (The Bible)

A few immediately unanswerable questions about God, and ignoring Him therefore, becomes the easy option.

There is a closing of the mind to any words purporting to represent God and His salvation.

But there is a spiritual element in this, revealed in scripture:

But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake.

This scripture tells us a number of things. …god of this age… The ‘god of this age/world’ has various other names – most common of which is ’the devil’.

minds…blinded: A blinded mind is the mind that immediately switches off and ignores the message – and can be demonically programmed to do so.

The means God chooses to reveal Himself is through the words of a message, usually preached = For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord,

should shine on them….Lastly what is supposed to happen and will happen to those who have ears to hear and will stop in their tracks to give the gospel a chance, is the reception of God’s enlightenment (light) inside – as you experience it’s transforming power. Light received through His Word (Bible).

…gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

The Bible’s words are light – light shines – and God wants to shine His Words on and into you and I. So we will hear/see them in our hearts and turn and be converted.

If anyone responds to this and seeks Him…

John 5:25

Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.

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.

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)

Wilderness

WILDERNESS

Matthew

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said…

There are different things to be said about a wilderness. Though not completely synonymous with a desert – nonetheless I think of miles of undulating untarnished sand, when I think of a wilderness, as by my own definition.

[NB: wildernesses are probably more rugged than what I have in mind cpr. Wilderness of Judea etc.]

In one sense a wilderness can be a beautiful place. However with no water to drink – a nightmare scenario.

Jesus went there as led by The Holy Spirit. Led by God The Holy Spirit – Jesus the man however encountered another spirit in that wilderness.

That other spirit 1) came to Him 2) took Him somewhere and 3) spoke to Him.

Came to him more than once in His state of fasting, and no doubt more than once throughout His life on earth.

Jesus was tempted like any other man.

Hebrews 4/

15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

That temptation came, in the form of words from that other spirit. Jesus dealt with the words with Words. His much more powerful Word of Truth dispelled the words of deceit that came from the fallen angel.

When we are told that the devil ‘took Him’. This is a description of what it is to be tempted – the thoughts he subsequently suggested were sinful – the thought to go to the Holy city or the high mountain were not sinful. The Christ allowed this. Just as He allowed the demons to enter the pigs/swine. (Matthew 8/31)

In all of this wilderness experience, Jesus emerged triumphant having held to His shield of Faith and the sword of the Holy Spirit which is the Word of God.

Let’s do the same in 2021.

Neutral zone?

Neutral zone?

This lockdown experience can ‘slow-torture’ our lives into neutral zone.

Neutral zone as in shelving all our endeavours into ‘suspended animation’.

That could sound slightly peppered with the idea of despair. (?)

If we take our example from one of the fathers of the faith it’s a case of – far from it!

Paul the apostle gives us insight into his humanity, but also his triumphal experience as a born again Christian, coming as it does through faith.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

He tells us of trouble and perplexity but without despair.

So a 24/7 joyous trouble-less high is not what being a Christian entails.

It does of course firstly entail matters of life or death before it is a whole pile of other things.

‘Where and how shall I spend eternity?’ Is usually a foundational question when examining the Christian faith.

No despair, Paul the apostle indicates in the above verses.

Reason? Because we are never forsaken. 

It is the unforsaken-ness that gives the Christian the strength and sustaining solace they need regardless of the situation, they might find themselves in. God is with us (Emmanuel) always, even to the end and further.

However I must admit to a certain neutral dwelling zone that I can drift in and out of. What about you? 

I examine this – in order to come to fresh conclusions.

Conclusions that will spur me on to lay hold, more firmly, upon eternal life again.

I Timothy 6/12

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life…

Disillusionment knocks at the door, in light of the chaos abroad.

With no immediate change, or with prolonged sameness, can come disillusionment.

But there is no disillusionment when it comes to the things of God, they are constant.

As the old hymn says: “All may change but Jesus never – Glory to His name!”

Shaking off disillusionment, like Paul did – with the serpent into the fire. (Acts 28/4-6)

Nevertheless I must admit to missing, gathering with, God’s people and lifting the roof in praise. And I mean really lifting the roof!

As far as I am concerned all the clever-most technology will never substitute for human beings – being together ‘in the flesh’, but the great thing and advantage Christians have is being together ‘in the Spirit’.

If that was not the case, being in the flesh as in gathering physically together, would be of little consequence.

What a blessing to be both together in each others company and to worship in ‘spirit and truth’ at the same time.

Meantime, we’ve been doing Zoom. We edify and exhort one another. I’m sure you too are tapping into some online expression of church life?

Depending on the changing shifts of covid-safe rules, we can gather together as church, in a limited way.

In all of this invisible attack (virus), on our world – the question that is exchanged between non-Christian and Christian persons alike, is: ‘What is this achieving – why is it happening – what’s the cause, what’s the point etc.?’ Or something similarly expressed.

What ‘it’ (the pandemic) is supposed to do – as with all trials and tribulations we encounter as human beings – is to cause us to fall on God.

Luke 20/

18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken and shattered in pieces; and on whomever it falls, it will crush him.”

There is a brokenness that accompanies humility where the failures of our own efforts and the empathetic hand of God meet, as we fall at His feet in prayer. Falling ON the Rock Christ Jesus. There is coming a terrible day when the Rock Christ Jesus will fall ON all ungodliness.

But many do not recognise The Rock upon which we must fall.

Romans 9/33

As it is written and forever remains written, “Behold I am laying in Zion a Stone of stumbling and a Rock of offence; And he who believes in Him [whoever adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] will not be disappointed [in his expectations].”

One of the ways the God of the Bible is a stumbling stone to many is – expressed in the old chestnut: “Why does God allow these things?” (Pandemics)

So they stumble in unbelief (through skewed reasoning).

Whereas whoever trusts in Christ will not be disappointed now and in the long term, especially in the long term.

The way of Christ is in total contradistinction to the other spirit that dominates human beings. He hates anything to do with Christ. He is the antichrist spirit.

Christ is a rock of offence to him, and to those opposed to the gospel.

But he who believes in Jesus Christ the Son of God, will not be disappointed with Him.

Like everyone else I am disappointed in how things are in this world at the moment. An understatement don’t you think?

But I am not disappointed with Christ.

But here is my abrupt end to this post – Christian out there, what is God saying to us? 

How does He want us to respond to this pandemic and the state of affairs we find ourselves in?

One thing is for sure our God-dependancy increases with the weakening effect and lack of answers this pandemic has produced.

Who out there will turn to Christ in acknowledgement of how inadequate we still are in the 21st century?

Does this virus not clearly expose the weakness of mankind, and knock him off any self-satisfied or ‘smugness perch’?

Our need of God is self-evident, brought home by things such as this pandemic.

Nevertheless mankind will continue to look for answers through his own ingenuity – until the next humbling event hits the earth.

Give me ingenuity for vaccine finding – but with the big big plus – of welcoming individually, the Presence and Person of Christ in this lost and dying world.

Tendencies

TENDENCIES

I recently found myself agreeing with a Christian Radio host when he said that some believers in Christ tend towards the emotional and some towards the cerebral.

How true – and usually we look next, for some label to differentiate the two.

* The obvious one that comes to mind are the labels Pentecostal or charismatic and evangelical/theological or liberal.

Much as I like the one label for all (Christian), – in reality we are all influenced by these labels*, in forming a ‘picture’ of what different Christian folks are like and what they believe or major on.

This labelling of course is in flux – as everyone searches for a name to crystallise what they believe in, or stand for. So new ones emerge through time.

Spiritual experiences – as in experiencing the Holy Spirit – is not synonymous with emotionalism.

Deep theological thought is not synonymous with no experience of The Holy Spirit.

Someone has put it this way – (speaking metaphorically) too much emphasis on the power of God and we blow up. Too much emphasis on The Word of God and we dry up – but the Spirit and the Word and we grow up.

Paul the apostle had great intellectual ability, but he was first to admit how limited and insufficient this was when it came to spiritual matters.

Philippians 3:

though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:

I Corinthians 2/11

…Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.

Galatians 1/

12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Spiritual discernment is not emotionalism. Nevertheless when God moves in power you can be sure your emotions will give great response.

As we refrain from leaning on our own understanding and ask God for His enabling Holy Spirit – let’s not limit what He can do, by knowledge uninspired by God Himself.

Don’t allow or use theological knowledge to limit or direct God to fit into our understanding about what He must and must not do.

Conversely when God meets with us in a powerful way – don’t drift into trying to reproduce such a wonderful experience by soulish imitation.

The narrow way leads to life.

Lord help us.

On Fire

ON FIRE

[This is not a biblical study of the fire of God, of which there is much to say, but rather a reference to a turn of phrase commonly used in Christian circles]

Christians are familiar with the expression: ‘On Fire for God’.

Certainly in my youth I would have seen myself as being ‘On Fire for God’ (and by God’s grace – I was).

This fire was accompanied by perceived necessary zeal that went with it.

There is no doubt we are more idealistic in our younger years.

So – fire + zeal + idealism – makes for a potent positive concoction.

I remember well, how we took to the streets to spread the gospel. Great days!

I pause, because years ago, we were told of the older generation reminiscing in spiritual nostalgia about the ‘good ol’ days’. ‘Things were better then etc.’… Followed by the question: “But what about now?”

Paul’s exhortation to “forget those things which are behind…” usually came in the midst of verbal advice to stop basking in the past and press towards the mark for the future prize.

“Don’t think of being ‘on fire’ in the past tense – make sure you are on fire now!”

Well – am I? Are we?

There is no doubt in my mind that there are seasons in God. And if I compare myself in this present season – with seasons of the past – I can drift into discouragement, as a result of reflecting too much on great former seasons of the manifest presence of God.

However I am reminded:

17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:

18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Such a season is not necessarily of our own making. And v18 – tells us the response we should make.

As I sit writing this piece, I have the thought that there is nothing to add.

Honesty to the rescue!

I always try to  be absolutely honest with The Lord in prayer.

Matthew 6:7-8

And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.

“Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray:…

So with a heart that wants to be on fire, and zealous for the Lord, and hopes it still is. Here’s my prayer – [care to join me?]

“Lord I’m not the youthful ‘zealot’ anymore – but my heart still longs to please you. Forgive me for any shortcomings and let me burn with your fire…” Amen