Wednesday, 24 May 2017

A Word from Sister Carol.

It came as no surprise when Pastor first broached the subject of
sharing the bringing of the word to our Sunday Prayer & Praise meeting @ Harvest Family Church, as our dear sister & preacher, Rabqa, is in Townsville *shining her light for a season* upon her much loved children & grandchildren.

I already had an inkling from the Holy Spirit that this could be the next step in my walk with Christ, here in His church on this island, but readily admit I was unsure if I had indeed been gifted by the Holy Spirit in this area of service.  However I am committed to trusting in, & obeying, what the Lord asks of me.  I was aware there would be attack from satan.  In fact I had already been subject to an attack on my physical health & strength with a persistent flu virus combined with the need to digest the blessing of my Dear sister's, Denise, acceptance of her call home to Jesus.

Most can relate to these times as part of life's journey.  However as a Christian I *stand on the Word* & firmly believe that He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world. [1 John 4:4]
Still, when I started to put together a paragraph or two, that niggling, treacherous, malicious voice would be there, questioning, accusing, living up to his title as the great accuser!

  • Are you really ready enough for this?  After all, you're not a teacher.
  • Where are your qualifications? What college have you attended?
As often as I would demand, Get thee behind me satan! he just didn't seem to get the message ~ or so I thought.


In truth it was I who was missing the obvious.  Why hadn't I put on my armour?

Some may be wondering , What armour am I speaking of?

I reread a passage from a study we did of author & evangelist, Perry Stone's book: There's a Crack in Your Armour, Perry writes: Anyone who is a Christian is also a soldier ~a concept I, myself, am not unfamiliar  with as I was raised by parents who loved God, & served & worshiped as 3rd generation *Christian Soldiers* within the Salvation Army.


Perry goes on to state: In the book of Ephesians, written by the apostle Paul,who was very familiar with Roman soldiers, Roman guards, their military training, equipment & methods of battle. Perry describes the book of Ephesians as being divided into 3 sections, the 1st section  being Ephesians chapters 1~3, relating to the work of God in the life of a Christian.  The second deals with the walk of the Christian, described in chapters 4~5 followed by the 3rd which is  the warfare of the Christian in chapter 6.

Verses 10~18 says: Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord & in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh & blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armour of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, & having done all, stand.

Paul goes on to describe this armour.

Stand, therefore, having girded your waist with truth... girded refering to what we would know as a girdle or wide belt made from strong leather...having put on the breastplate of righteousness...The Oxford Dictionary gives us a challenging insight  into the values attributed to the word which is a verb ~ or as my grade 3 English teacher taught us an *action* or *doing* word.

TAKE A MOMENT TO THINK ABOUT THESE DEFINITIONS:
wise, moral, just, virtuous, upstanding, upright, good, honest, ethical, honourable, fair, reputable, of good reputation, trustworthy, justified, appropriate, worthy, fitting & apt~ a list only obtainable by the Lord's grace.

That mocking voice of satan laughs: Do you think you have all these attributes? then that still small voice deep in my soul says: He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world. Get thee behind me satan!

Paul goes on to say: And having shod your feet  with the preparation of the gospel of peace, above all, taking the shield of faith with which  you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one & take the helmet of salvation  & the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer & supplication in the spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance & supplication. [pleading humbly]

One of the greatest battles in history was fought by a simple shepherd boy named David. King Saul was anointed by God & God was very generous to Saul.  The Lord had told Saul to destroy King Agag & all he owned but Saul disobeyed God.  He took king Agag alive & his people he totally destroyed with the sword. Saul & the army spared Agag & the best of his sheep & cattle, the fat calves & lambs ~ everything that was good, these they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised & weak they destroyed.  Because of his sins of deceit & rebellion the Lord eventually rejected Saul as King.

The Lord sent Samuel to  Jesse of Bethlehem for He had chosen his youngest son, David, to be anointed as future king.  The Lord does not look at the things that people look at.  People look at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart. [1 Samuel 16:7]

Since the Spirit of the Lord had left Saul an evil spirit had been sent to torment him.  David, who was a shepherd, calmed his sheep in times of stress by playing his lyre.  Now he eased the pain in Saul's heart with music.  Saul like him very much.  As David played his lyre Saul would feel better & the evil spirit would leave him.  God, who is merciful, showed mercy on Saul in his hours of despair despite the depth & horror of his sins.

How blessed are we in this age of Christianity that the gentle hand of Jesus can lead & direct us through His Holy spirit & will ease our heart, body, mind & spirit, renewing us with this reminder found in Romans 12:21: Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good & How beautiful on the mountain are the feet  of those who bring the good news, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, Your God reigns. Isaiah 5:7

The word of God to Jeremiah when he was sent to the Potter's House was: Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does? declares the Lord.  Like clay in the hand of the Potter, so are you in my hand.

Jesus came to this world & paid for our sins on the cross @ Calvary so that we too, as Gentiles, are included in God's promise of eternal life: Whoever has the son, has life; whoever does not have the son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:12

Prayer: Heavenly Father, for what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people ~ all you deem worthy through the love of your son, Jesus, & I will hope in your name for your name is Good. Amen.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Humble Yourself Under the Mighty Hand of God.~ Ganeida


Last week we spoke about why being good isn’t good enough, the role of God’s law in establishing critea for what is good, it’s purpose in showing us God’s standard, our inability to meet that standard & our need for a saviour. Sin is anything against God’s Law & since no~one has ever been able to keep God’s Law He sent His son, not only to keep His Law but to show us how it’s done!

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord, establishes that the penalty for our sin is death. The grace of God is that He bore our sin that we might be free from the penalty of our sin.

1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Homologeō means to speak in accordance, to agree with ~ in this sense to agree with God that we have sinned & we fall short of His glorious standard.

Unconfessed sin has consequences.
·      Psalm 32:3~4For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
·      Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercyProverbs 28:13

·      Psalm 66:18 If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.

·      James 1:14~15 teaches us that Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

·      It affects our ability to recognise & repent of wrong actions & thoughts causing us to be “seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron” 2 Timothy 4:2 or “because of the hardness of their heart (have) become callous.” Ephesians 4:18-19.

Without a true understanding of sin & our complicity with it, it is impossible to move to a position of lasting change.

In John 3:1~21 we have the record of Jesus explaining to Nicodemus the new birth & God’s requirements for entering the Kingdom. “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit…”

According to Jesus salvation does not come through a prayer prayed. Salvation comes through baptism in water & the Holy Spirit, one for the remission of sins, the other for power to walk as sons of God. Belief is always followed by action.

When the heart becomes convinced [if you believe in your heart that God raised Him [Jesus] from the dead] there will be a corresponding action, public confession [If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord] ~ You will be saved.

Salvation is an ongoing process which goes by the fancy name of sanctification. This is what Paul speaks of in Philippians 2:12 Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.

As Paul instructs Timothy [2Tim2:15] Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.
Salvation is a work of God’s grace & our works cannot save us but there should be a correlation between what we believe & our actions.  

The early church fathers understood this. Clement stated A person who does not do what God has commanded shows he does not really believe God. To claim to trust God while refusing to obey Him is a contradiction.

Yet we saw last week it is absolutely impossible for anyone to do what God requires unless there is a deep & fundamental change in that person’s nature. This is what it means to be baptised in the Spirit. This is what Jesus meant when He told Nicodemus he must be born not only of water but also of the Spirit & what Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 5:17 as the *new creation*.
Being baptised in the Spirit does not mean you must speak in tongues, or fall in the Spirit, or handle poisonous snakes. It does mean that having agreed with God that you are a sinner you can begin to walk in the Spirit ~ & all walking in the Spirit means is that you are enabled & empowered to do that to which God has called you.

Walking in the Spirit, working out your salvation, is a partnership between you & God.  He leads, you follow. And it begins in the mind. Romans 12:2 says Don't copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

The first & major battleground is the mind & many people lose the battle before they even realise they are engaged in warfare. Genesis 3:1 The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, "Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?"

Eve lost the battle before she even touched the fruit.  Doubt was planted in her mind & it led to disobedience. Paul elaborates in 2 Corinthians10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”.

Everything we read & see & hear needs to be considered in the light of God’s absolute Truth:   the theory of evolution, secular humanism, existentialism, the cults, the occult, other religions.They may hold some truth ~ which is the great deception of satan, but they are never The Truth. You cannot have Christ & the world.  You have to choose ~ & your choice holds eternal consequences ~ yet there are none so blind as those who refuse to see for
 
  Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don't understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4

The early Christians used 3 methods to establish new believers in the Faith:
·      Sound teaching
·      Righteous example
·      The Transforming work of the Holy Spirit.

And they identified 3 distinguishing marks of the faithful
·      Separation from the world [John 15:18`19]
·      Unconditional love [John 13:34~35]
·      Obedient trust [John 14:1, 21]

Sound teaching gives us the truth, example shows us that it can be done, & the Holy Spirit empowers us For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.2 Timothy 1:5:17 Ezekiel foretold it in Ezekiel 36:26 "Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Jesus promised the Holy Spirit. John 16:7 But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don't, the Advocate won't come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.

From Passover to Pentecost there is a period of time called *Counting the Omer.* Counting the Omer is intended to remind us of the link between Passover, which commemorates the Exodus, and Shavu'ot, which commemorates the giving of the Torah.  Jesus, as the living Torah, the Word of God, chose Shavu’ot, or Pentecost, for the releasing of the Holy Spirit upon the world & His impact was immediate. Jesus continued in John 16:7 And when He comes, He will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:…
And He did!  On that very first Pentecost the Peter who had so cravenly denied even knowing Christ, terrified he too would end up on a Cross, who stayed away from the crucifixion of Christ & hid in an upper room, suddenly emerges into the busy Jerusalem streets celebrating Shavu’ot & proclaims the gospel with such boldness & conviction that 3000 people believe on the spot!

Such is the power of the Holy Spirit in a man’s life that one of the *Sons of thunder* who once asked: ‘Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?’ became known as *the Disciple of Love.* 

The great Christian apologist, G.K Chesterton once said: Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.

The difficulty lies in our pride. James 4:10 says: Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you & Romans 10:3 says For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness.
The sin of pride will prevent you from admitting your sin, admitting there is a God, admitting there is an absolute Truth, admitting your need of the Holy Spirit, admitting your wrong thinking but to the Humble God gives favour. Proverbs 3:34

Christianity was never meant to be a *to Do* list.  It was meant to restore a right relationship between God & mankind so that we could enjoy God’s presence, benefit from His goodness & grace, & enjoy Him forever.

James 4:8 encourages us to: Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.

Seek the LORD while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. Isaiah 55:6~7

Humble yourself & let the Holy Spirit show you how to walk in Love, victory & power.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

So You Think You're a Good Person? ~ Ganeida

The title of today’s message is: So You Think You’re a Good Person?

It’s interesting, isn’t it?  We all basically think we are good people.  Last week a couple lost custody of 2 of their children over videos they posted on~line *pranking* the kids but, hey, *We’re not bad people.*  In other words they basically think they are good people.

People do wrong things yet still consider themselves to be good people.  Decent people.  We compare ourselves to others & conclude we’re not doing so badly in the *decent human being* stakes. What I want to look @ today is why being good isn’t good enough & what Jesus taught us about being good.
If I asked you to define the meaning of *good* I suspect most of us would be a little vague so we will start with a definition.

The usual Hebrew word for *good* is tov & it means: good, beautiful, to function as it was designed to function. In the beginning everything was tov. It was beautiful.  It functioned as it was meant to. The Greek word agathos carries pretty much the same meaning Good, Goodly, Goodness describing that which, being "good" in its character or constitution, is beneficial in its effect; it is used. [Vines] Connotations of virtue, honour, morality are inherent in the idea of functionality.
We could stop right there & acknowledge no~one always *functions as they were designed to function* all the time because this is a fallen world.

In the 3 synoptic gospels the story is related of a young man who approaches Jesus & calls him *Good Master.* Jesus responds "Why do you call me good?... Only God is truly good”.[Mark 10:18]

It is an interesting story because this young man thought he was a good person. He kept the Torah.  He kept the 10 commandments. I’m quite sure he was expecting Jesus to pat him on the back & say something along the lines of: Well done thou good & faithful servant; enter into the kingdom. But Jesus doesn’t. He looks @ him with love & esteem & tells him he lacks one thing.  He needs to sell his riches & follow Jesus. The young man is shocked, appalled ~ stygnazō. Jesus does not tell him he hasn’t kept the Torah; He says, in essence, it is not enough!


Now this man’s riches were not his problem per se.  However they were preventing him from following Jesus & thus became a stumbling block to him. His problem was self~righteousness.

We must understand that goodness from God’s point of view does not consist of doing all the right things but of being the right thing, of functioning in the way we were created to function.

If I asked anyone: Are you a good person? I’m pretty sure most people would answer, Yes, then give me a list of things they do that they think are morally good:  I donate to charity; I help my neighbour; I haven’t robbed any banks lately; I look after my family. Christians might add: I tithe; I help out at church; I pray…Yet it is not enough.  It will never be enough. Romans 3:23 says: For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard.

God gave us a standard, the reason for it & the reason why it was insufficient.

Galatians 3:19 Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. God gave his law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people.
The number one reason God gave people His Law was so that we would understand that we have sinned, how we have sinned & consequentially our need of salvation.

See if you believe that you’re a good person you have no need of a saviour.  If you have no need of a saviour you have no need of Jesus Christ. If you have no need of Jesus you cannot enter into the Kingdom.

Romans 3:20 ~ For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.

According to Paul the Law is good ~ Romans 7:1
But still, the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good.

The problem is not with the law; it is with us.  Put as simply as possible we think of the Law in negative terms:  Thou shalt not… & when we think like that we believe the law has been designed specifically to steal our pleasures, to rob us of happiness, to curb our freedoms when the Law was designed for the exact opposite purpose.  By showing us how sinful we really are; our selfishness, our greed, our hostility, our lack of love etc it shows us what we lack in order to be happy, successful, able to fully enjoy our pleasures & operate in freedom.

I will give you a really practical illustration.  One of the 10 commandments is Thou shalt not bear false witness…False witness is lying about your neighbour. Proverbs 6:16~19 elaborates: There are six things that the LORD strongly dislikes, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

Lying displeases God & yet 60% of adults can’t have a 10 minute conversation without lying at least once! [University of Massachusetts, 2002]

What’s more Jesus said: "Don't misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God's law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. [Matthew 5:17~18]

The Law continues to be valid because men still need to understand their sinfulness in God’s sight.  If there is no absolute right or wrong, if there is no moral law, there is nothing to prevent anyone from doing whatever they like whenever they like.  I don’t know about you, but I should not like to live in a world like that.
If you have ever been stolen from, if you have ever been betrayed, if you have ever suffered from gossip & slander you know it is the most awful, gut wrenching feeling.

What’s more it is absolutely impossible to keep God’s Law.  The Jews have been attempting it since God gave Moses the 10 commandments & still James said: For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God's laws.[2:10]

The Law shows us the impossibility of us being able to keep God’s law. There are literally hundreds of Laws in the Old Testament making it difficult to remember every one, let alone keep them all, but God, knowing the people He made, was prepared to let them try & they still got it wrong. So do we.  The reason is simple.  The essence of the law, according to Jesus Matthew 22:39~40Jesus declared, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first & greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’… All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.”…

The law is about our relationships with God & with people.  It is about how we treat others & in essence is to do with the state of our heart rather that what we do or don’t do. Human relationships are messy.  Often our relationship with God is messy too.

The Good News is we don’t have to keep the Law.  We don’t have to be perfect. There is only one thing we have to do & for many people it is the hardest thing ever because it involves our pride, our sense that we are *good people*, moral people, that we don’t need someone telling us what’s right & wrong or how to behave.

God disagrees with us ~ ALL are sinners; ALL fall short of the glory of God. ALL are in need of salvation. Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. [Romans 3:19] And knowing this God sent His son.

“Show them how it’s done, son…”

Jesus not only kept the law, He kept the heart intent of the law.  That is, He fulfilled the law perfectly according to God’s intentions & purposes so when satan wanted to accuse Him he could find no sin in Him.  Free of sin Himself Jesus became the only perfect & acceptable sacrifice.  He took our place.  He bore our sins & our punishment that we should not have too but He did not simply give us a free pass into heaven. Matthew 3:2 From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."

Jesus taught repentance. What is repentance? The Greek word metanoia means to change one’s mind, resulting in changed actions. What it is not is intellectual acquiesce.  It is not just saying, Oh, well, I believe in God… That will not save you from the wrath of God or the judgement of God because
even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. James 2:19

Romans 10:9~10 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.

The Holy Spirit comes into your life with this confession & it is He who enables us to then live as we are meant to live. Paul says something quite wonderful in Philippians 3:8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.

When we are sinners, relying on our own righteousness, our own sense that we are good people, we feel no need for a saviour.  We may think Christians are mad, weak, deluded.  We may laugh at them or dislike what they say & what they believe but Oh! How different it all looks from the other side!

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes ~ the Jew first and also the Gentile. 

And this little word save, sozo in the Greek, means more than just to rescue from judgement.  It embodies to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health, make whole [Strongs] ~ in the same sense that shalom, peace, is more than an absence of conflict. Sozo allows one to enter into the abundant life Jesus promised. 

It is through His Holy Spirit that Jesus imparts His righteousness, His goodness, & it is the only way for us to become the people that we like to think we are.

Friday, 28 April 2017

As we Come to the End.~ Ganeida

Scripture teaches us that there is an end to all things.  A time is
coming when the heavens will be rolled up like a scroll & the earth will disappear in fire & smoke. Before that happens Jesus taught that there would be signs indicating that the Last Days were upon us.

We are in those Last Days & it is just as 2 Peter 3:3&4 says: Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”

Because we believe that Jesus is coming back again, just as He said He would, the love of God compels us to speak of these things, in season & out of  season. 2 Peter 3:4 goes on to say: The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

We do not want you to be ignorant of the Truth or be destroyed for lack of knowledge. [Hosea 4:6]

There are a lot of excuses people give for not believing Scripture, for not attending Church, for not wanting to be labeled *one of those Christians* ~ & they are just that: excuses. Not everyone who calls themselves a Christian actually is one so to reject God on the basis of what a church or a pastor or a *christian* has done is not only illogical; it is dangerous. Rejection of God is not new.  Even back in Job's day And yet they say to God, 'Go away. We want no part of you and your ways.' [Job 21:14]


God's invitation has never been to church, or to a pastor or to other Christians.  It is an invitation to know Him personally; an invitation to shed guilt & shame & to be freed from the stronghold sin has on your life.  The choice has always been ours ~ but true choice is based on knowledge of the facts so it is no surprise to find Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don't understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

Satan doesn't want people to know the Truth least they turn from their rebellion & are healed. [Matthew 13:15] 

How then should we live?  What should we do?    If you have not repented of your sins & made yourself right with God through His son Jesus Christ then that is the very first thing.  The promise has always been that if you draw close to God, then He will draw close to you. [James 4:8]

The rest of us need to understand the Times we are living through, informed by scripture.  Understand that you are in a battle.  Two Kingdoms are coming together in a final cosmic battle: the Kingdom of God & the kingdom of satan. It is a battle between the children of Light & the children of Darkness. It involves the wrath of God, of satan & of the Nations. [Revelation 14] It is why we are seeing such turbulence among so many nations, so much conflict, so much cultural turbulence. The world is being polarized because satan knows his time is short. [Revelation 12:12]

Matthew 24:7~8 talks of the pre~tribulation signs & events that occur on earth to indicate the sort of world we will live in. I do not have the time to teach on prophetic fulfillment. I will confine myself to 4 signs Jesus mentions in Matthew 24, warning of the coming of the end. 


  • The first thing Jesus warns about is deception ~ false messiahs, false religion, false truths.
  • There will be wars & rumours of wars.
  • Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
  • famines and earthquakes in various places
These are the birth pangs, the beginning of sorrows.  Now some people would tell you that there will simply be a steady increase in these things & they will come more & more frequently but anyone who has ever experienced childbirth knows that's not how it works.  Labour pains will increase in strength, duration & proximity, falter, even cease for a period, then begin again & build until there is a final tipping point from which there is no return. 

So the first thing we must do is Watch. [Matthew 24:42] "So you, too, must keep watch! For you don't know what day your Lord is coming." 1 Thessalonians 5:6 confirms thisSo be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded

 Or I could point you to the parable of the 10 virgins: 5 of whom were wise, 5 of whom were foolish. In these days we cannot afford to let our lamps go out, or the oil of the Holy Spirit diminish in our lives for to do so imperils us & leaves us outside the Kingdom. 

Watching helps us to guard our minds. We will be alert when it comes to doctrine for we remember scripture warns us to not be deceived.  We will not worry because we know that wars, rumours of wars, Nations & kingdoms squabbling, earthquakes & famines will happen but Jesus says they do not indicate the end.  We have time yet to obey the command to preach the gospel to every creature.

The 2nd thing is Pray.  Perilous times are times to don all our spiritual armour & pray in the Spirit. [Ephesians 6:18] It saddens me when I hear so called Christians condemning tongues for 1 Corinthians 14:2 says: For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries in the Spirit. This is prayer that is fully in the will of God because the Spirit of God is Himself directing our prayers. Jude 20 commands us to pray in the Holy Spirit & Ephesians 3:16 informs us that the Holy Spirit strengthens our inner man & 1 Corinthians 14:4 tells us, “He that speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself.”~ so praying in the Spirit helps us guard our Spirit, builds our faith & strengthens us spiritually for the spiritual battle.

The 3rd thing is something we are not to do.  Enter not into temptation. It is perfectly possible to freely choose to enter into temptation ~ & we will reap the consequences. This is the reason we must watch & pray for they guard our hearts & minds so that when we are tempted we recognise the deceit of the enemy & are strong enough to resist.

The fourth thing Is Oil in our Lamps. This of course refers to the parable of the wise & foolish virgins & the oil is the unction of the Holy Spirit.  However as I was researching this I came across something interesting & I believe it is pertinent to this discussion.  There is a close relationship between the Greek word for oil[elaion] & the word for mercy [Eleos].  In these last days it is going to get harder & harder to keep our hearts tender & loving & merciful towards others. Matthew 24:12 says Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. The next verse tells us that the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.  What's more  God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 The love & mercy we need to persevere to the end are obtained through the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is vital for our spiritual well being.

Like the parable of the 10 virgins the parable of the Talents is an End Times parable. The 5th thing is Don't Hide that Which Belongs to the Lord. The men in question were given money to invest & that is certainly one way to interpret this parable because robbing from God has always been a religious pass time. Malachi 3:8 "Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me! "But you ask, 'What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?' "You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me."

However I believe there is another way to understand this parable. Acts 2:17 In the last days,' God says, 'I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.

God has always blessed His people with gifts.  When we hide them, refuse to use them, make excuses to not obey a call of God on our lives, we effectively rob Him. Paul explicitly instructs Timothy to *stir up* the gift that is in him. 2 Timothy 1:6. God's gifts have been given to use to use in His service. To not do so robs God & dishonours us.

Lastly there is a specific prayer for the end times.  It is mentioned in Luke 21:36 & comes at the end of Jesus discourse on the End Times. Keep alert at all times. "And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man."

I can't think of a more important prayer for believers in these times. In Matthew 13:starting at verse 24 Jesus explains that in this world Jesus & His followers sow the good seed of the Kingdom while Satan & his disciples sow tares in amongst the good seed. The wheat & the tares are allowed to grow side by side until the harvest but when the harvest comes the wheat & the tares are separated, the tares to be gathered up & burnt, the wheat to be gathered into God's barn.

The end times creates a great schism. The world becomes clearly divided between those who believe & those who don't; those who follow the spirit of God & those who follow the god of this world; those who continue in love & mercy from those who have allowed their love to grow cold; those who are exercising their gifts for God & those who are not. Stay vigilant.  Remain alert.  As his time grows short satan is seeking to take as many as he can down into hell with him.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Discerning the glitter from the Gold. ~Ganeida

This week we are going to have a quick look @ true & false prophets. For the purposes of this study we include all teachers, ministers, & prophets together collectively. 

 Hosea 4:6 says My people are being destroyed because they don't know me. Since you priests refuse to know me, I refuse to recognize you as my priests.

I do not want to see any of you fail to receive your reward because of a lack of knowledge. These are confusing times & more now than ever we need to be grounded in the word of God.

One reason for this can be found in 2 Timothy:
You should know this, Timothy,  that in the last days there will be very difficult times. You should know this, Timothy,  that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

In other words, according to 2Peter 2:1,2 But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered.

There has always been a problem amongst God’s people, & within the church, with false prophets~ people who, for whatever reason, teach untruths.  I am not speaking of those who speak the occasional untruth by accident but of those who wilfully & deliberately set about teaching things that cannot be found in scripture, cannot be supported by scripture, ~ or twist the scriptures to suit their own purposes.

Jude hadn’t wanted to write about the trouble in the church.  He wanted to write about the salvation all believers share in but he was impelled by the times he lived in ~ & so are we ~ for …some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God's marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives.
The word for immoral is aselgeia & it means intemperance; licentiousness,  lasciviousness,  insolence, outrageous behaviour ~ & the definition for licentiousness is lacking legal or moral restraints; disregarding sexual restraints. Lasciviousness means reflecting or producing sexual desire or behaviour, especially that is considered indecent or obscene.

Jude isn’t writing to unbelievers.  He is writing to believers & we have seen the disasterous results in the Catholic church when immorality is found acceptable. However there is a less obvious, far more subtle, & generally accepted poison that has worked its way into the body of Christ. Romans 1:29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarrelling, deception, malicious behaviour, and gossip

Greed, deception [lying], quarrelling, gossip aren’t seen as such terrible things but such thinking is completely unbiblical.  It is roundly condemned throughout scripture. [Romans, Corinthians, Galatians & Ephesians all have something to say about it]. Two are listed as an abomination: a lying tongue & a false witness ~ gossip & lies! [Proverbs 6:16~19]

Jude says that wickedness suppresses the truth[v.18] & he gets quite blunt in verses 18 & 19. They [that is the apostles] told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires

These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God's Spirit in them.  Again, we are not talking about unbelievers but people within the church.  Without God’s Spirit you get religion & without the Spirit to restrain the natural instincts you get ungodly desires uncontrolled.

Perhaps the most needed gift within the church today is the gift of discernment, that ability to sift the truth from lies, to tell the false from the genuine, sound doctrine from corruption.  Not all churches are the same.  Not all doctrine is sound.  According to Galatians 5:9 This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough!

That being the case I am going to give you 7 things that will help to separate the wheat from the chaff.

We know that satan is a liar & the father of lies.  All false doctrine originates with him. There is a different gospel. Galatians 1:6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel.

There are false ministers.

2 Corintians11:12: But I will continue doing what I have always done. This will undercut those who are looking for an opportunity to boast that their work is just like ours. These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.

They produce false Christians…. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not2 Cor.11:26
As Jesus stated The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. Matthew 13:38

Therefore how do you discern the Truth?

2nd Peter describes genuine & false believers.
In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone
The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.
So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. .[1:5~10]

2nd Peter 2 lists several ways false teachers operate.
·      They deny the Master who bought them. [v1]
·      Immorality[v2]
·      Greed [v3]
·      Lies [v3]
·      Proud & arrogant [v 10]
·      They scoff @ things they do not understand [v 10]
·      They delight in deception [v13]
·      They commit adultery with their eyes [v14]
·      They brag about themselves [v18]
·      They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin & corruption [v19]
1.We see that false teachers have a different source.  They invent cleverly made up stories [2P1:16] Matthew 15:9 says Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God. Colossians 2:22 also speaks of man made doctrines.
2. They have a different message.
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.

Jesus is central.  Anything else, no matter how clever, or how wise it seems, is not of God. We have everything we need because we have the Holy Spirit.  Without Him we have only ourselves & this leads to people making up things to compensate for the lack of power in their lives.
3. They have a different position.
They do not have the freedom that a true Christian has for if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. John 8:36 Peter condemns them as promising freedom yet themselves being slaves to depravity. [2:19]
4. They produce a different character.
The Holy Spirit produces fruit according to Galatians 5:22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
The counterfeit produces arrogance and slander (2:10). *experts in greed*, *eyes are full of adultery* (2:14)& they “despise authority” (2:10).
5.  Different Appeal
This is, I think, pretty self explanatory.  The true prophet, the true teacher, the true minister, will always appeal to scripture.  What does God’s word say?  They will speak the hard things, exhort people to grow closer to God & live according to His standards.  The false will offer comforting lies, refuse to confront sin, & appeal to people’s flesh.
6. Different Fruit
[v8] The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. We looked at the preceding verses earlier so we know we are meant to grow in knowledge, understanding, faith, moral excellence.  A stagnant Christian is a dead Christian.
The false people are as useless as dried-up springs or as mist blown away by the wind. [2P2:17]
7. Lastly they have a different end.
This is the most appalling thing of all & the reason that we must be vigilant as a church & as individual believers.
For the true believer:  So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; [2P1:10~11]
But for the false there is only *swift destruction.*


Remember last week we said everything reproduces after its own kind.  Satan reproduces himself in those who knowingly or unknowingly follow him.  Christ reproduces Himself in us through the work of His Holy Spirit.