This page will contain various posts of teaching to the Body of Christ. Scrolling down will reveal new posts on an ongoing basis. Blessings.
…for Christians only….
Beginning with this first piece, I hope to add others under this general heading: ‘For Christians only…’
But of course it isn’t! Truth is truth, as such, it is for all searchers!
For those who have the staying power and can give themselves to the search for truth – and for those who wan’t to give themselves to it – it looks at various topics at greater length for greater depth.
The Lord Jesus Christ nearing the end of a sermon on a mountainside mentions a gate and a road or pathway that leads to life. It is a narrow gate and a narrow way, but it leads to life. Matthew 7:14
What was He referring to, and what are we to understand by this? Before we get to our examination of this ‘narrow way’ I would like to draw our attention to the human condition, in the context of spiritual matters.
Jesus the sinless Son of God encountered continuously human beings unable to understand Him.
We might ask: “Is it any different today?”
“How is it you do not understand?” He said to His disciples. Matthew 16:10-12.
On another occasion we read in Luke 18 verse 34: “But they understood none of these things…”
We are also told that Joseph and Mary “…did not understand the statement which He (Jesus) spoke to them”. Luke 2:49-51
Again at another time we read: “They did not understand that He spoke to them of The Father”. It was the Jews that Jesus was addressing here, and we discover that they too didn’t understand. John 8:26-28.
His disciples again didn’t get what The Lord was saying when He spoke of His betrayal: “But they did not understand this saying and it was hidden from them so that they did not perceive it…” Luke 9:44-46.
The Pharisees listening to what Jesus said about a shepherd and sheep, were unable to get the meaning of the illustration: “Jesus used this illustration but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them” John 10:5-7.
Jesus plainly told His disciples on one occasion that the actions He had just taken would not be understood by them. But this time He added something that would bring a rest and an assurance, if they would take it on board. He added the words “…but you will know after this”. In other words: “You don’t get it now, but there is coming a time when you will.” John 13:7.
On many occasions Jesus remonstrated with His hearers: with words similar to: “Perceive you not yet…? How is it that you do not understand…?” He referred to those who “shall hear and shall not understand” He spoke of those who would “hear not, nor understand…”
And then as we move further into the New Testament and listen to God speaking in and through the Apostle Paul in the epistle to the Romans, we learn not just the disciples, not just the Jews, not just the Pharisees but “There is none that understands…” Romans 3:11
Why is any Christian surprised today by the inability of non-Christians to appreciate what they have been saying about The Messiah, The Saviour of the world, The King of Kings and Lords of Lords? History is repeating itself and they too don’t understand.
Clearly this understanding is something beyond the power of intellect, as no doubt there must have existed amongst the many people that Jesus was addressing, someone of an immense intellect – yet unable to understand.
But we are getting closer to somehow realising that spiritual matters require an extra dimension, if they are to be understood, when God tells us He has “chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise…” I Corinthians 1:27
He tells us that spiritual realities are “…hidden…from the wise and prudent and…revealed to babes…” Matthew 11:24-26
Yet again why should we be surprised that we too, are often unable to understand what God is saying to us today? We are prone to leaning on our own understanding. Greater than us have also done so. They too have remained ignorant as to what God was saying.
We read in Hebrews 3:v15: “Today if you will hear His voice do not harden your heart”. If you will hear His voice? We used to say “If…” small word with a big meaning. “If…” That signifies clearly a certain type of person, a person who wants to hear. Do you, do I, want to hear? Well, “If…” you will hear His voice, here is what to do: “…harden not your heart.”
That’s a starting point isn’t it? Something to do in our pursuit of hearing God’s voice.If we at least have a notion that God is trying to get us to acknowledge that His ‘Still small voice’ is speaking to us, in order to give us understanding – then “Harden not your heart”.
What are we to do when God is telling us something we have not yet heard or perceived? “Do not harden your hearts…” Don’t right it off, or close yourself to it, because you don’t understand or perceive He is speaking to you. At least suspect that He is speaking!
Hardening the heart is what the children of Israel did for forty years. It involves ignoring God or resisting His voice. They wandered aimlessly in unbelief. They would not believe God, nor believe in His goodness. Unbelief is a refusal to accept the voice of God speaking into the spirit of your mind. “Well He might be speaking to me, but I don’t understand a word of it, so I will not persevere.” This is hardening the heart.
There is the famous ‘parable of the sower’. The sower went out and liberally scattered his seed, it fell on all kinds of different ground.
The ground represented the minds of men and women. The seed was God’s spoken words. It is not difficult to liken the hard ground to the hardened intellect of unbelieving man. No penetration. No fruitbearing. No result. But today “If…”
The good ground in the parable, had one ingredient that made things work. Scripture tells us that the good ground represented those who out of an HONEST heart received the word. Luke 8:15.
They bore fruit, the word penetrated their open minds, and like Peter they were able to say: “You are THE CHRIST the Son of The Living God” Faith entered their hearts by the supernatural penetration of God’s Word.
“Faith comes…” we are told in Romans 10 v17: So if it comes, it may not be here yet! It does arrive at your hearing ears. But what are your ears to hear? “…and hearing by the word of God.” – The word of God comes to your ears to enter the spirit of your mind, and create faith that says: “I believe what you are saying, and now I understand it” That’s why we read in Hebrews 11 v3: “By faith we understand…” We get increased faith by hearing the word of God, if we harden not our hearts, in turning away from the voice of His word.
But mankind has a hearing problem. Mankind has a problem understanding and perceiving spiritual realities. You may not have understood yet, that Jesus Christ is the son of God. How then will you come to that place of perceiving it? We perceive by faith. Faith that comes by hearing the word of God.
Peter the fisherman did perceive and understood that Jesus was the Christ. But Jesus was able to tell him, and us, the key to spiritual perception and understanding. It is revealed in the words that Jesus addressed Peter with when Peter confessed: “You are The Christ, the son of The Living God.” Matthew 16:16.
Jesus responded with “…flesh and blood has not revealed this unto you, but My Father who is in heaven” v.17
Peter had a Spiritual Revelation.The eyes of his understanding were enlightened.God himself, the God many don’t understand or believe in, touched Peter in the spirit of his mind and convinced him that Jesus, a carpenter from Nazareth, was without a shadow of doubt the incarnate son of The Living God.
Peter had the same revelation that John the Baptist had. The same Almighty Father God enlightened the mind of John. Telling him to look for the one upon whom the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity-Godhead would descend. The time came and as Jesus rose from the water, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him. John was enabled to see this supernaturally. He was able to see what others could not have taught him, and what others in fact did not immediately understand.
This same Jesus of Nazareth that John saw with enlightened eyes, he would also call: “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. John 1:29.
But both Peter and John the Baptist would face moments of trial concerning what they saw and knew by the Revelation of God.
Just as many have moments when faith arises in their hearts and minds, they catch a glimpse under Gods influence of Jesus as He truly is the Son of God, but something rises up within them in opposition to the clarity they have received, That something is the unbelief that is common to man. Variously referred to as earthly, sensual, devilish in nature. The Flesh, the carnal nature, the natural man, the law of sin that wars in our beings and exalts itself against the knowledge of God. We are all born with this nature, and will die trapped in this body of death, unless ‘Faith comes’ to set us free.
That nature that is common to man, is that state of unbelief that comes upon a man again, that takes him back into that place where his mind is darkened. Back to square one: “How is it you don’t understand?”
Exactly what Jesus said to the disciples (those present when he fed the five thousand with a lad’s five loaves and two fish), who were yet again in unbelief, even after partaking in that miracle: “Do you still not understand?”
Peter the man with the revelation, the illumination, from God Almighty regarding the infallible fact that Jesus is the Son of God, denies that he ever knew Him, and a cock crows after the deed is done. The cock crows signifying Peter’s denial of the revelation he had previously received. The cock crows signifying the fulfillment of the Son of God’s prophesy predicting beforehand, what had just taken place, namely that Peter indeed would deny knowing Him. Peter had a bitter lesson to learn. Peter, the man who was willing to lay down His life for Jesus. Fails miserably, just like so many of us, he learns that in our ‘flesh there dwells no good thing’
Self-reliance took a tumble on that occasion, but there arose a man who had gone further down the narrow road that leads to life! A man who, having gone out weeping, would return a stronger spiritual man. The words of Jesus prophecy echoing in his ears and bringing faith back into his heart. “When you are converted – strengthen your brethren”. Luke 22:32.
In other words you have denied me, but my word will bring you out of that unbelieving state, back into the revelation that the Father has given you, and you shall then be able to teach others also, that repentance (change of heart and mind) leads to spiritual revival.
Unbelief led to a darkened mind, but confession of sin led to the restoration of enlightenment.
John the Baptist in prison, about to be beheaded who had heard and seen spiritual revelation, and was convinced as only someone who had – could be, that Jesus was the Christ, The Saviour. The Lamb of God sent into the world to save mankind from eternal separation from God. Now locked up in prison he sends to Jesus a message of doubt: “Are you The Coming One, or do we look for another?” Matthew 11:3.
Immediately Jesus responds and sends a message back.
Doubts – despite previous supernatural revelation – sent to Jesus.
Faith sent back to John’s doubting mind through Christ’s uttered words.
But surely if this was the Son of God, He would deliver John from this terrible fate? Why was He so slow in exercising supernatural deliverance? Why was it taking so long to release John and reward him for ‘preparing the way of The Lord’?
Into the darkest dungeon and into the doubting mind of John comes the word of God: (Matthew 11:4) “Go and tell John…” Jesus then refers to the supernatural evidence of His deity, blind seeing, lame walking, lepers cleansed, deaf hearing, dead raised up, poor hear the gospel.
Someone had to deliver that message. Jesus Himself did not go to John. God has chosen to reach all of us – inside! In the deep recesses of the spirit of our minds, because that is the place where the Spirit of God will reveal Himself. It is necessary that The Holy Spirit who descended upon Jesus is the one who descends upon us. It is necessary that the revelation John the Baptist received is received by us: “Behold The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
To John remaining in prison comes the words of spirit and life, breaking the shackles of unbelief in his inner man – he goes free and dies a martyr’s death. How narrow a walk, how narrow a way. God help us all!
Someone else had to deliver the message from Jesus. Just like I am sending this message to those who are perhaps being tested.
Jesus did not visit John personally in prison. But He sent His word. Faith’s highest calling is to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4
Physical deliverance did not come John’s way. As darkness sought to creep over his mind the light of Christ’s word penetrated his innermost being, reaffirming that of those born of women, none greater than John had arisen: “…blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” Matthew 11:6.
The children of Israel did not enter the Promised Land because of unbelief. They wandered around for years. A place of rest, peace with God, is offered to every human being. Rest – body, soul and spirit. But just as they were caught up in their own thoughts, self-will and emotions, their natural senses raging aflame with unbelief, and thus failing to find a literal Canaan Land of rest. So we too, distracted by the physical world are unable to find faith and enter into a Living relationship with The Living God.
The natural man we are told in the Bible receives not, the things of The Spirit of God. I Corinthians 2:14.
So we better just walk away then.(?)
It isn’t going to happen, we don’t understand, we don’t perceive spiritual things, we aren’t getting it!
When people start picking holes in the Scriptures, try to find fault in the life of Jesus, spend hours debating evolution, or criticising the lifestyle of some religious Pharisee who claims to be a Christian – in all of this they are just not getting it. They don’t understand what it is really all about.
As long as it’s possible to find someone, especially a professing Christian, who fails miserably in their lifestyle, I have a readymade excuse to justify my own hardness of heart, – but not before God. We are none the wiser when it comes to understanding who Jesus is, nor understanding what He says, when our heads are full of thoughts that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God.
When you and I, born of woman, made from the dust, born with a nature that naturally is self-centered, separated from the life of God – try to comprehend the things of God, we are lost, if left to our own devices.
There is no course we can take at the Technical College that will change our condition. No silk purse is to be made out of this sows ear.
We must acknowledge our plight, and go against the tide of popular and ignorant opinion. We must humble ourselves under the mighty hand of the Living God.
Talk to Him. Confess your need to Him.
Saul of Tarsus before he became Paul the Apostle tells us that he obtained mercy because what he did in persecuting the Christians, he did IGNORANTLY IN UNBELIEF. Paul who eventually understood so much, began his walk with Christ by being humbled on a road to Damascus, where he received the REVELATION that changed his life.
How will you and I fare, in moving from ignorance and unbelief into the revelation and understanding of God?
THE GOD OF EXCELLENCE
God is a God of EXCELLENCE. He wants to transform us and renew us in the ‘spirit of our minds’ so that we too will seek to be ‘EXCELLENT’ in all that we put our hands to. Now at first sight, I think you will agree – this seems to be too tall an order.
There is a type of Perfectionism that we can try to achieve in continuous frustration. The frustration of such Perfectionism can be increased by the Old Testament Law written on stone. The more we try – it seems – the more we fail, or so the law will always remind us.
But as we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us, to reveal His will through His word, and as we hear God’s Word as the words of a Loving Father, or as words communicated by the lover of our souls, we shall find encouragement, direction, edification and comfort, self acceptance, and automatic change that comes to produce greater excellence.
God wants to change our ‘couldn’t care-less attitudes’, our ‘lazy approach’ to things. He wants to change our slovenly ‘I’m no good at this’ efforts. He wants to change our ‘make- do with less’ decision making. He wants to renew us in our thinking so that whatever our hand finds to do – we do to the best of our God-given ability as unto The Lord.
We do not need to strive for perfection, losing our Peace, and getting agitated. But neither can we deal with a slack hand, or throw the meal together on the plate – any ol’ shape. Tidy the house and brush things under the carpet. Throw the sheets over, instead of making the bed properly. Leave ‘it’ – (whatever ‘it’ is) – until it is too late. Turn up for church twenty minutes late. Say ‘we will’ – when we know that ‘we won’t’ and so on. All symptoms of a mentality that does not glorify God, and which God is able to change.
The precious Holy Spirit wants to work in us ‘good things’ and enable us to be more like this EXCELLENT Saviour we serve.
That we are Christians – will be shown by our love, by the fruits and gifts of The Holy Spirit in our lives. That we are Christians – will be shown by how we treat others, will be shown by the way we do things. Will be shown – by how we treat ourselves. Seeking to maintain for example – personal hygiene.
Our outward appearance will reflect our inner reality. Our outward actions will reflect our inner reality. The way we set about accomplishing the tasks of everyday life will also reflect our inner reality. And though we may not achieve as high a standard as others – yet we should – in faith – seek to please The Lord by doing what we do – as well as we can in the enablement of The Holy Spirit.
God Our Lord – the God of Excellence:
Psalm 8:9 – O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth!
With Gods enablement – We are – ‘The Excellent Ones’
Psalm 16:3 – As for the saints who are on the earth, “They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.”
NB: (It is a blessing for you to search out the scriptures alluded to in this Post, rather than me itemising them, which I have largely refrained from doing. )
THE LORDS PRAYER
In looking at this advice that Jesus gave His disciples in response to their desire to pray correctly. I saw it, for perhaps the first time, as something that had nothing to do with a formula or a ritual OR EVEN JUST AS A WAY TO PRAY. I saw it as a REVELATION OF THE WILL OF GOD.
Think of it in those terms as we look at some of the elements of these verses.
First of all the WILL OF GOD REVEALS THAT our prayers are to be directed to
the ETERNAL realm. Our father in heaven.
Elsewhere in scripture we are similarly told to set our affections on things above.
But before that, let us notice a profound truth – a profound start to prayer. OUR Father.
It is God’s will that He find people who will have Him as their Father. (Abba Father).
He who is beyond the realm of time and space is WANTING TO FATHER SOMEBODY. Could He not father some angels? Is He their father? Does it say that the angels see Him as Father?
Want to know how to pray? First take God as your Father. See that He actually wants that type of relationship.
You will remember also, if you are a Bible person: If we being evil know how to give good gifts… how much more shall your HEAVENLY FATHER give the Holy Spirit to those who ask.’
Hallowed be your name…….the will of God is that His name be Hallowed on earth and everywhere else….(sanctify, consecrate your name, purify).
So this is expressing to God that WE agree with His name being set apart as pure. A revelation of Gods will is that His name be reverenced.
Your kingdom come …His kingdom is where everything is meant to be alright, it is not as the earth where everything is not all right.
It is an eternal kingdom. God’s will is TO FIND on earth those who prefer His alright kingdom.
God’s will is that nothing in His kingdom will be as it is in earth’s kingdom of carnality, rebellion and sin.
Therefore we need another kingdom to come here. He reveals we ought to pray for it to come.
So this prayer is not a formula – it is an expression of God’s DEEP DESIRE.
It describes His campaign plan for conquering earth.
The scripture informs us – we don’t know how to pray as we should. It also informs us that if we pray according to His will we are heard and we have our requests. The so called ‘Lord’s Prayer’ then is revealing that will, enabling us to pray aright.
YOUR WILL BE DONE. One of the crucial points in this revelation of the Will of God – is that God is looking for those who want His will to be done. Again the DEEP DESIRE of God revealed. He is longing for those in the midst of the rebellion of earth, who want His will to be done.
The devil fell to earth to get the inhabitants of the earth to agree that his will (the devil’s) should be done.
Now prayer is saying, as fallen creatures ‘God we welcome you/your will/your way/ your word/your thoughts. Change us.
WE REVERSE THIS REBELLION. God longs for that.
Falling – mankind took the gift of free-will and threw it back in the face of God, by making the wrong choice in the garden paradise.
Democracy acknowledges as one of its primary principles: man’s right to choose.
God desires men to (choose to) welcome Him. He came to His own and His own received Him not. God wants to be wanted.
What it must do for God to have men and women who say: ‘as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.’
Or to say: ‘If none go with me still I will follow you’.
Does God have needs? I believe so. He desires to be loved in return for his great love.
“Father forgive them for they know not what they do” Forgive who? The ones He wants to love Him.
If any man loves God the same is known of Him.
If we could pray exactly as God wanted us to pray we would always get answers.
Always, if we ask anything according to his will – being heard – we would receive.
Jesus knew how to do this all the time.
And jesus being asked for this kind of help – help to pray – gives us tremendous insight – in revealing God’s will through The Lord’s Prayer –
This when it is read as formula or ritual – is read from the wrong side of the veil. A veil is upon the mind of many.
This plan of God is a follow-up to the great demonstration of His love.
He has proved to us that He loves us, – convinced, – we will desire Him as Father, Hallow his name, desire his kingdom now, and act on this revelation of his will in prayer.