Friday, 16 February 2018

Rules of Engagement. ~ Ganeida


What I want to begin studying with you is what I am going to refer to as the Rules of Engagement.

You understand what I mean in purely secular terms. They are the military directives that govern the circumstances under which ground, naval & air forces will engage in warfare, including the treatment of civilians & the taking of prisoners. That various armies & governments do not abide by these common agreements does not negate them, which is why people can be tried & punished for *war crimes* even though they may have committed such crimes while engaged in battle & acting under orders. 

Unfortunately far too many Christians fail to grasp that when we were transferred from the Kingdom of Darkness into the Kingdom of Light, we actually changed armies. In any warfare this is considered an act of treason. Many fail to grasp that they were in anyone's army at any time at all so they are poorly prepared when they find themselves thrown into the midst of a battlefield. Some of us understand the armour of Ephesians 6 is not metaphorical but expend our energy engaging in battles that deplete our strength.  We may fail to maintain our armour or our equipment & far too often, despite our prayers, despite our faith, despite doing everything we can & then taking our stand against the enemy, nothing changes.  We do not get breakthrough. We do not see that which we prayed for come to pass.

Paul, instructing Timothy, makes it abundantly clear that like it or lump it we are soldiers: 

 Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. [2 Timothy 2:3~5] 

The soldiers Paul had in mind were Roman soldiers: men who could march 20 miles a day with full packs, then at the end of a days march build a bridge & set up camp complete with ditch & a spiked wall; soldiers who spent most of their time in training.  This training not only taught a soldier how to use the equipment provided, it taught a soldier how to engage the enemy & fight as part of a well disciplined team. So you can see that the first things required of us are training & discipline because Paul has already pointed out we have been enlisted & there will be hardship.

We covered a lot of this when we looked @ Ephesians 6 & I do not want to go over old ground but we have talked before about how the bible works on multiple levels: we can read it as a straightforward account of history; we can read it metaphorically; we can read it prophetically. For the next little while I want us to study it as a legal document.

Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.  

When man first fell from his glorious estate God issued a declaration of war against the enemy. Peace has never been declared, & as in any war, although the victory may have been won, there are last minute skirmishes. This is where we are. ... thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ [1 Cor. 15:57] & 2 Corinthians 2:14 talks about Christ's triumphal procession. The tense indicates it is an ongoing, continual state of things.  In Roman times the Victorious Commander led his army through the streets with all his defeated foes put on display.  It was a celebration. So we know the victory is already ours.  Why then are we often so defeated?

I would suggest to you that satan brings the charge of treason against us & his accusations are based on legalities within scripture.  We know from Job 2:1~6 that satan has access to God in heaven.  We also know that he is the accuser. In Zechariah 3:1~2 we are given the picture of the high priest, Joshua, standing before the angel of the Lord & on his right hand, satan, to accuse him.  In Revelation 12:10 he is called the accuser of the brethren & he operates day & night. Understand that satan doesn't like losing people & so he fights tooth & nail to ensure we never become the warriors God intends for us to be, for then he would be defeated a 2nd time ~ & at the hands of mortal men.

Now, we know we are not to come into agreement with satan.  We are not to be the accuser of our brethren; that is satan's job.  We are to agree with the word of God for that word is Truth & Life [John 17:17 & Proverbs 4:22] 

We also understand that there are times when we can operate in Christ's authority because he has given us that authority: over demons [Luke 9:1], all the power of the enemy [Luke 10:19], healing [Luke 9:1], authority to announce the forgiveness of sins through Jesus [John 20:23] & to move mountains [Matt. 17:20]. We have authority over our families, over our businesses, our communities BUT... we do not have authority over other people!  Each person of the age of accountability is responsible for themselves. If we try to exert authority over other people we are operating in witchcraft for we are attempting to over~ride their God~given free will. So when we go to pray for our loved ones who do not know Christ, don't want to know Christ & are in active rebellion against Christ we run up against this conflict.  We cannot over~ride their free will.  We need to understand they are actually standing in agreement with satan about themselves & their lives & satan has the legal right to hold them in bondage because they have, in fact, given him the legal right to do so! The only person with the legal authority to break this legal stranglehold is Christ.

The first thing I want to examine in how we break this dead lock is 3 different dimensions to prayer.  Again, depending on the subject under discussion prayer can be looked @ in different ways so understand that I do not believe these are the only aspects of prayer but we are looking at breaking a legal hold so we are looking @ prayer from that viewpoint. See if we try & engage the enemy & assert our authority when we have no legal right to do so we will fail.

When we approach God for our own needs & fellowship we approach Him as Father [Luke 11:12].  In the Lord's prayer we come into agreement with what God has already declared.  In Luke 11:5~6 we have the story of a man waking a friend late @ night to meet the needs of another friend.  This is intercession & in intersession we approach God as a friend who can help when we can do nothing ourselves.  When we pray for our communities, the bereaved, the hurting we pray as to a friend who can help. But in Luke 18:1~8 we have the story of the unjust judge which teaches us to persist in prayer to get verdicts in our favour & on our behalf.  In this third type of prayer we operate within a judicial system.

1 Peter 5:8 talks about the devil, our adversary, in the Greek antidikos, which according to Strong's means: properly, a prosecuting attorney arguing a case-at-law; an "opponent at law" .  In other words satan prowls around looking for those against whom he can bring a legal case. In Revelation12:10 the word for accuser is katēgōr, a non standard Greek word, used just this once & also meaning accuser.  In context I would also understand this as a legal position.

In Revelation 12:11 we are given 3 keys for dealing with these accusations:
The blood of the Lamb
The word of our testimony
not loving our lives until death.

We will consider these 3 things in the coming weeks & how we are meant to apply them to our lives in order to see satan's strongholds cast down & broken legally so that we can stand in a legal position & take hold of that which has been promised.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

The Real Word of God. ~ Rabqa

There are many people that need the real truth of the Word, the real power not some genetically altered version of it. It is literally a life or death situation.

The real Word of God is the difference between hopelessness & hope, between misery & joy. It is all about heaven & hell; I will get to the point & be blunt. For some it is about whether or not they kill today. It is about whether or not they steal today. & for others it is about whether or not they go home & abuse their spouse, their children or themselves, or whether or not they fall on their face before God & start learning how to live His way.

Now when the pulpits strip away the real power from the Word, what do you think happens to all the people who would have otherwise heard what they needed to create a new life in Christ?

Jesus is the gateway to the truth, now He isn’t a truth or some truth He is the truth as we see in John 14:6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.

Jesus said that He is the Way It is important for us to see He has a certain way of doing things, & if we will submit to His way, then everything will work out. But so often we wrestle & struggle with Him, trying to get Him to do things our way. It just doesn’t work. Let Jesus be the way in your life.

Have you ever been in a car with someone who does not know where he is going & refuses to ask for directions? Many people think there are many ways to God, & they search for the truth in different places, ignoring the directions that God gave us. However, the reality is through Jesus Christ. AS you follow Jesus, who is the Way, He will lead you in truth & you will experience fullness of life. Pray for those who do not yet know Jesus, that they too will find life & truth in Him.

He is the supreme nourishment for our soul. Once we accept Him, we have the ability to use His Word to transform our minds that is to renew our way of thinking so that we not only talk about Him, but we live His way. It is a higher & much better way with love at its very core.

Everything the Word offers says we can do & have is because of love. God loves so much that He wants the best for us~spiritually, physically, financially & in every way. He is a good God who wants to see His Children blessed in all ways, but it starts on the inside.

God’s Word is here to help us & stop us our old ways of thinking & get filled with new thoughts, higher thoughts that bring us hope, joy, peace & satisfaction. Notice I did not say religion is going to bring us those things. Religion based on genetically altered Bible teaching cannot do that. Today I find it is mostly a soft soap distortion of the real thing.

You see what is not real is always soft. Real love does not coddle. There are times for everything but sometimes we need to be challenged. The real, unadulterated Word of God nearly always does that. When we begin to read the Word of God with open eyes & an open heart, we will find that it can be both healing & abrasive. It is going to challenge us.

You see you can go higher in life. You can more than you think. God knows that you need to be challenged. His Word is full of challenging ideas or principals that fly in the face of reality & the genetically altered religious ideas that keep us numb, board & lazy. God created us for adventure. Life without is an adventure & faith makes it more so. Let me say without God it is vanity.

When people only are drinking & eating religious genetically altered spiritual meals, they become conditioned to believe the worst. When the real truth comes, they usually reject it outright because it smacks against what they have been hearing for so long. I can say this with authority because it has
happened to some people I have met in the last year.

Hearing the truth is a jolting experience. It presses us & pushes us to get out of our comfort zone& so something different.

Teaching on confessing the Word & using our own inner faith to bring out the power of the Word in everyday life is one of those jolting teachings. It makes a lot of people mad.

I have seen people get quite cross just hearing Scriptures about having faith in God. Because they know it leads to the kind of teaching they hate, they don’t care if Jesus said it. They really don’t want to hear anybody repeat what He said in that area. & they especially don’t want to hear you take what He said & start applying it.

You may wonder why all the hatred about something that is in the Word God? It is because does not sit well against their genetically altered idea about how things should be. It flies in the face of “tradition”

Dealing with tradition can be tough because people don’t like you messing about with sacred cows.

When Christians are confronted with faith teaching that blows away traditional church theology, they fight it with everything they have. They trash other Christians who believe it. They reject it & ridicule it, trying to stomp that teaching into the ground.

I can hear you thinking why would anyone ridicule others for believing what Christ said? It is all because of FEAR. Fear is at work~fear of losing the old, comfortable traditions. It is fear of change in the Church. I have also experienced that.

They say things like “There they go those name it & claim it people!” & “Blab & grab it!” They are actually sneering at the word faith, even though that is what got them saved in the first place.
When folk make fun of “Word of faith” people I always ask well “What would you like to be called word of doubt?” It is this simple if we call Christ our Lord. We have decided on varying degree of application.

If the teaching makes you mad, then you have to ask yourself why~not superficially, but really go to God & search your heart. When Jesus healed,He taught & spoke about faith all the time.

Jesus did things that are radical to our thinking & used faith as a basis. If He did it why would any Christian be mad at his fellow believers for following Christ’s lead? Even if you don’t want to apply that particular teaching, why get angry at others & hot under the collar?

Some of course have gone overboard with faith; But I don’t think it is because of the teaching itself is invalid. It is more likely to be they tried to live on someone else’s faith & never really developed their own.

Folk are not perfect. They are going to make mistakes. But don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Instead, just seek wisdom from the Holy Spirit & hold onto your childlike faith in Him.

You do not have to crush what you do not understand. You not have to criticize what you do not personally believe. Maybe you don’t understand the revelation of someone else received on that. Maybe you don’t know how far God wants to take them.

We all must let God be God, knowing that He can handle these things. He didn’t call us to fight each other...especially over His teaching!

I praise God that through technology my messages go all over the world. I get to share life changing principals in the world with all kinds of people who might not otherwise hear them. In some parts of the world they don’t have running water but somehow they may have a computer. I don’t understand it, but it’s true, the power of communication today is boundless.

I am not looking for a fight but I will not pander to the flesh, nor will I genetically alter the Word of God to fit into a politically correct viewpoint~even if it preached from pulpits across the world. God’s Word is far too valuable. Romans 12:2 AMP Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].

Rom12:1 teaches That God is telling us to dedicate everything about ourselves to God, not just our possessions, money time, energy & efforts, but also our bodies & that includes heads, hands tongues & even our minds, emotions & attitudes.

We are to dedicate everything about ourselves to God as a “living sacrifice” holy, devoted, consecrated & pleasing to Him. This is our reasonable, (rational, intelligent) service & spiritual worship. (AMP)

All too often we get the impression that to totally serve & worship God means to involve our bodies & spirits, but there is more. Here Paul is saying that we are to serve & worship Him with our minds & emotions also. Invite God to think & speak through you. Let Him touch people through you. You can even serve God with your face by smiling & showing yourself to be friendly to other folk. Allow God to use all of you. The more of yourself & your life that you release to Him, the more you will be fulfilling & experience His peace & joy.

& in 12:2 which we have just looked at informs us that God has a plan in mind for us. His will towards us is good & acceptable & perfect, but we must completely renew our minds before we will ever experience the good things God has planned. We renew our minds & get a new attitudes & new ideas by studying God’s Word. His Word is truth as we saw a little earlier.

Notice that God is not talking about using the Word to change our spirit. That is because our spirit was already transformed when we received Christ as our saviour. It was an instant change~a rebirthing which dissolved the sin that separated us from our Saviour & Lord & put us back into spiritual alignment with God. If you died the moment after you gave your life to Christ salvation would be enough to get you to Heaven, but it’s not enough to live victoriously on earth.

God commands us to be “transformed.” Notice that this is not something He’s going to do for us. He tells us to it by “renewing our mind.” To do things His way. The Word is where we find His way of doing things. It is our manual for living life the best way. You may ask what can transformation do for me? It is going to help you prove or show the good & acceptable, & perfect will of God. The more you renew your mind, which is your way of thinking, the more you will see God’s good acceptable & perfect will come to pass.

The opposite is also true; if you don’t renew your mind, you will not see God’s good, acceptable or
perfect will come to pass. It is pointless to wish & hope that God will come through for you. Wishing & hoping does not bring His perfect will to pass; you must refuse to be conformed to this world & be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

God wants your brain engaged in this. He wants you to think His way; His way of thinking is what will change you; the way it works is from the inside out. First, you transform your spirit through salvation. Then, you transform your soul (mind, will & emotions) through renewing the mind. It is those two transformations that lead you to actually living His way, which is when you begin to see manifestations in your life.

Now this is not about becoming a faithful religious person. Religion will not transform you. It conforms you. Because it usually works from the outside in; giving you a list of dos & don’ts so that you “fit in” to the way it wants you to be. Religion has its basis in experience & sense knowledge. It usually is pretty faithless & nearly always tones everything down to a watery version of what Christ taught; in other words panders to the flesh.

Christ called us to be fishers of men, sadly we have not done that, but we have become keepers of aquariums.

That is what the church has become in a lot of ways. Instead of reaching out & bringing people to God & show them how to live a true, pure & faith filled life, the focus has turned to keep the fish happy, even though that is not what Jesus taught us to do.

It is so sad but the church is caught up in making the fish cosy & happy making sure that the water is just the right temperature. Do the fish have enough flakes to eat? Are the bubbles going in the right direction? Are the little cave & coral the right colour? Then they think to themselves...we, better not open the aquarium up to others to much, that is to say we do not want to mess up what we have got going & scare the fish away.

That is a genetically altered church! We are not fishers of men but keepers of aquariums!
You know aquariums are beautiful, but actually they are prisons...just ask the fish. We have imprisoned the fish! We do this every time we conform ourselves to what everybody wants in the church, instead of opening our eyes & hearts to heaven to see what God wants. He wants more fish!

God wants people saves, healed, at peace & spiritually strong, physically, emotionally, financially & in every other way. He wants them transformed with His Word so they can prove His good, acceptable & perfect will.

It is not the Pastors job to transform the fish, but it is his job to feed the fish, the fish’s job is to take that food & meditate on it & apply it so that they can prove His will for their lives. That is what God wants for all of us.

God did not create us to go stagnant. He most certainly does not want us to sit passively in pews doing nothing for Him all week long, just coming to the tank to feel the bubbles & have a snack on a
few fish flakes. That is a perfect recipe for conformity. We are called to be transformed not conformed.

Again we look at Romans 12:2 NkJ) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

The Greek word for conformed is suschematizo. Compare “scheme” & “schematic.” Refers to conforming oneself to the outer fashion or outward appearance, accommodating oneself to a model or pattern. Suschematizo occurs elsewhere in the New Testament only in 1 Peter 1:14, where it describes those conforming themselves to worldly lusts. Even apparent or superficial conformity to the present world system or any accommodation to its ways would be fatal to the Christian life.

The best way to know God’s will is to become familiar with the Bible. That is because virtually everything you need to know concerning the will of God is in the Bible. If you get to know God’s Word & understand it clearly, you can know the will of God (Psalm 119:6, 7, 9 105).

Another way you can know the will of God is through prayer, when you commune with Him & learn what pleases Him. The Bibles says “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts” ( Col3:15). This means that the peace of God is like a regulator, so that when you violate the will of God His peace leaves you& you will have inner turmoil, immediately discovering you are going against God’s will. Knowing God’s Word & knowing the peace that comes about through a continuous relationship with Him are the best ways of knowing God’s will (John 15:4).

It is also true; however, that God will show us His will through a number of other means. He will show us His will through godly counsellors (Proverbs 19:20; 20:18; 24:26). We can also discern His will through circumstances; through the inner voice of the Spirit of God speaking to us; or through visions or dreams (Isaiah 1:1; Acts 2:17). He can reveal His will to us in many ways.

The key is to be sure we are submitted to Him & are willing to do whatever He shows us. If we purpose to do His will, we will know His leading.

Finally, for people who seemingly are unable to discern God’s positive directions, I recommended you to pray, “Father, I want you will above all else. Please do not let me miss your plan & purpose for my life.” Such surrender has the guarantee of His guidance Proverbs 3:5,6).

Church is important & God told us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves. It is a command. Church is for our own good because God wants us united & we need each other, but it is not a place we go to get conformed. Church is a place we all come together to learn & be transformed. It is a place to celebrate God & one another’s transformation, too. It is where we meet & encourage each other, & get stirred up so that we can go back out into the deep where lost fish are

Thursday, 8 February 2018

The Foundation of the Gospel. ~ Ganeida

I said I was going to cover Hebrews 6:1~2 ~ with a good deal of trepidation.  Like many of you, I find Hebrews difficult. It's not that I dislike Hebrews.  It is however a complex book that cannot be skimmed & still understood, partly because it is very much a Hebrew book written for other Hebrews, who would have understood, without explanations or study, much of what is contained therein.

To quote D Thomas Lancaster: The epistle to the Hebrews contains some of the most difficult material in the whole New Testament. A careful reading of the book reveals multiple levels of complexity & sophisticated biblical allusions employing rabbinic methods of argumentation.  For example, read the first 2 chapters.  The writer assumed his readership understood what he was writing, but he was writing at a level of biblical literacy that far surpasses our own today. He expected his readers to recognize & understand subtle  allusions to numerous Old Testament passages.  He bandied about quotations from the Torah, the Psalms, & the prophets in a sort of apostolic shorthand to invoke whole concepts & inter~textual relationships.  He employed rabbinic modes of exegesis & argumentation that required his readers to be well studied & adept in those forms of discourse.  So what did he mean by saying to his readers: You still need milk?

Paul, I might add, had the same problem with the Corinthians [1 Corinthians 3:1~2]

So lets start by looking @ what Hebrews 6:1~2 actually says:

Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.

According to scripture these 6 things are the foundation of our faith but even in the 1st century we had a problem with the church.  Many believers, dare I say the majority of believers, failed to *press on to maturity*.  They didn't even have a good grasp on the basics.

I am going to go through these six things one by one though it may take us more than 1 session to cover them all.

The first foundation is Repentance from dead works.

Repentance is metanoia.  As we have seen metanoia means a complete change of direction.  In essence it means, not sorrowful regret, but a complete change of heart: conversion. Thus our *dead works* is referring to our sins, not to obeying God's commandments. Conversion gives us the *new heart* [Ezekiel 36:26] which will cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances according to Ezekiel 36:27. David understood the heart & obedience go together.  Psalm 119:11 Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You... Grace does not release us from obedience.  Grace enables us to walk in obedience.

Nor is  repentance a one off thing, as you might imagine from the way some people teach salvation.  It is an ongoing thing because we are still in this world, still tempted by the things of this world but 1 John 1:9 assures us: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Again, our confession is not sorrow for our sin.  All too often our sorrow is more sorrow @ being caught out than any desire to really change. No, our confession is our agreement with God that we have transgressed His Law & a genuine desire to change because only then can the Holy Spirit come alongside to help us.

Lastly we have a good deal of confusion about the Law.  The way it is mostly taught you would be inclined to think the whole Law was done away with @ the cross but a little common sense will show that this cannot be the case. Jesus, Himself, said He did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfil it. [Matthew 5:17]  When pushed, He condensed the Law into just 2 commands: Love God; Love people.  [Matthew 22: 37~40] Even, until fairly recently, Christian countries adhered to the 10 commandments.  Jesus words & the 10 commandments are the essence of God's Moral Law & we are expected to adhere to that for throughout the epistles you find the writers expounding on the moral Law we are expected to keep. Grace does not give us licence to sin like the devil.

The second foundation is faith toward God. 

Remember faith is not quite the same as belief because even the demons believe [James 2:19] & they have a much better grasp on spiritual things than most Christians.  Again & again in scripture we see faith linked to action. What we really think & believe is what we will express through our words & our actions. Again we are reminded that we must discipline our thoughts because our thoughts control our actions.  We can say we have faith in God all we like but if we blame God for every little setback, if we do not trust in His goodness & that He is working everything out for our good then we actually do not have biblical faith. 

The Greek says pisteos epi Theon ~ literally faith on God, in the sense of relying on him. Now a Christian should rely on God for every aspect of his life but we need to understand neither the gospel nor the bible as a whole is about us.  It is about God.  It is about His plans, His Grace, His redemption, His promises.  With that in mind you begin to see that faith is not an ethereal thing but based on verifiable facts.  From Genesis on God promised a Messiah & the Hebrew people lived in that hope for generations.  It was fulfiled in Jesus Christ.  God promised & He kept His promise.  So too will He keep & fulfil all His other promises: the redemption of Israel, the resurrection of the dead, the Messianic Age, the judgement of the living & the dead.

We talked last week about the internal tension in scripture & here you see it again for we are saved by grace & all our righteous deeds are as filthy garments but God is also a God who rewards the righteous & punishes sin.  There is a coming Kingdom & even the saved will give an account & be rewarded or suffer loss. It is not either or; it is both. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 We are to trust that what God has told us is true & will come about, even if we cannot see it because we are to walk by faith & not by sight. [2 Corinthians 5:7] These things are greater than personal salvation.  It includes the redemption of the entire world from the effects & ravages of sin. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. Romans 8:18~21

We then come to *washings*.

The Greek word is baptismos ~ baptisms, plural.  This probably refers to something similar to the didache, instructions to new converts before receiving baptism, & baptism would refer to full immersion because that was the practice of Judaism, from which the early church arose. Besides this is a letter to Hebrews & this is how they practised baptismos.

This  probably refers to the initiation rite after a probationary period that allowed full participation in the life of the church, including partaking in communion, of the first believers. We see vestiges of a similar thinking in the catechism of some churches or the instruction given before confirmation or the taking of first communion. It is, actually, extremely biblical.  In Luke 14:25~34 Jesus specifically says we are to count the cost of being His disciple.

We have no instruction about this here because everyone knew what was being spoken about.  Judaism practiced ritual immersions of various types ~ after menstruation for example, before entering the temple, after handling a dead body ~ for repentance of sins, as John did.

I would include here the baptism of the Holy Spirit ~ the full surrendering of ones mind, will & spirit to the Holy Spirit because only He can help us crucify the flesh & lead us in the way we should go. Without the oil of His presence the other becomes merely empty ritual.

Next is laying on of hands.

The laying on of hands implies an impartation & a ratification of a new disciple signifying the passing on of knowledge & tradition to the next generation.  It was not something to be done lightly [1 Timothy 4:14] but it was a basic tenet of the faith. It implies commitment on the part of the believer.

There are 3 different functions for the laying on of hands in the bible: to impart blessings; ritual substitution [ie temple sacrifices]; ordination ~ or imparting the Holy Spirit. Blessings would include praying for children & the sick.  Substitution is irrelevant as Jesus became our substitute sacrifice.  The laying on of hands for ordination is like the passing on of a baton for any form of ministry.  It imparts authority in the Holy Spirit ~ hence why it is not to be done hastily or carelessly.

The resurrection of the dead.

One life.  One death. One resurrection. This is what Jesus taught. The physical resurrection of the body will happen for If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. 1 Corinthians 15:19 

The body is important because it will be raised to rule & reign with Christ on this earth.  It is not a spiritual resurrection.  We will not be ghosts, just as Jesus was not a ghost.  The body will be physical, if changed, with the need to eat because the resurrected Christ ate,  the ability to perform physical tasks because Jesus cooked for His disciples on the shore ~ & this is such a large topic I am going to leave it @ that.

Eternal Judgement.

This is the gospel according to Jesus: Repent of your sins; trust in God: get baptised; become a disciple, then you will be resurrected  & enter into eternal life. We should be living with these 6 essential things firmly in mind.

None of us like to think about facing the judgement of God.   Any time I can think of in the Old Testament when God showed up men quailed.  They fell down as dead men.  They could not stand, nor look upon His glory. In fact, Jesus had to empty Himself of His glory in order to minister as a man [Philippians 2:7] & become the High Priest who understands our frailties. [Hebrews 2:17]

As Christians I think we would live very different lives if we truly grasped the implications of the life we live in this world, this life. God will reward each person according to their deeds [Romans 2:6] First Corinthians teaches on this very clearly. ...each man must be careful how he builds on it.  For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. [3:10~15]

What's more ...we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. There are things God has planned specifically for us to do that His glory might be revealed through us.  Inasmuch as we fail in these tasks we fail in our faithfulness to our Lord & King & we will be held to account, & we will be rewarded or suffer loss accordingly.

What I want to hear when I face that judgement is Well done, good & faithful servant. [Matthew 25:23] Those found faithful in small things will be put in charge of greater things & enter into the joy of their master. 

Wednesday, 31 January 2018


 Unless otherwise stated all biblical quotes are from the NASB.

I want to begin studying some of the deeper things of God with you but before I do that I want to make sure we are firmly established in the faith. We will look @ our foundational doctrinal beliefs from Hebrews 6:1~2 but while what we believe is important ~ & it is important that we understand why we believe what we do~ the very first thing that is needed is our commitment to not just be believers in Jesus, but to be His disciples.

We have looked @ some aspects of discipleship before but today I want to consider why we, in the west, find discipleship so hard, what Jesus disciples understood about discipleship that we do not, & what made all the difference.

In the west we think of Jesus & His disciples as we would a teacher & his students & so we miss the point completely because that is not the relationship of a Rabbi & his disciples.  The whole idea of discipleship was to conform the student to the image & likeness of his master. They were to walk like him, talk like him & ultimately think like him. This is what the scriptures mean when they say things like: For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; Romans 8:29 When we talk about the authority of the believer, when we talk about doing the works that Jesus did & doing  the greater works [John 14:12], when we talk about being overcomers, it is all based on the assumption that we are being conformed into the image & likeness of Jesus Christ.  

Only those who are being conformed into His image can do what Jesus did, speak with His authority & know His will. And  now you know why so much of Christianity is powerless & without authority.  We have a lot of believers, baby Christians, but very few who are willing to become disciples & do the hard work required of a disciple ~ & it is hard work.  The Holy Spirit will help us but He will not do for us that which we are meant to do for ourselves. If belief was all that was needed then there would have been no need for any of the Epistles but we have the Epistles to correct errors in people's thinking & behaviour because mankind is always looking for the easy way, the shortcut, the quick fix. You will not find it in discipleship.

Jesus followed the Old Testament pattern.  Just as Elijah called Elisha [1 Kings 19:19] Jesus called Peter & James & John, Andrew, Philip, Matthew, Bartholomew, Thomas, James bar Alpheus, Simon, Jude & Judas Iscariot. And each of those 12 men understood what was required of them.  Just as Elisha left his farm & his parents so too did these men walk away from their life's work & their families to become a disciple. 

So too have you been called for " No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day."  John 6:44 Now consider: what have you given up to be a disciple of Jesus? What are you hanging on to that should have been let go of ?  See we have a very distorted view of discipleship.  We think we can have Jesus & the world. Jesus is the app that makes our lives run more smoothly.  And right there, we fall. 

James 4:4 
You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

See, the rabbi/disciple bond ran deep.  It was often deeper & tighter than  family bonds but here's the crunch: it was a relationship wherein the disciple ministered to his rabbi.  He ran his errands. He cooked his food.  He did the washing.  He cleaned his house because we are to Humble [ourselves] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt [us]. James 4:10 Before we can walk in the power & authority of Christ, before we can walk in His glory, God has to show us that He can trust us: He can trust us in the small things so that He can trust us with the big things. 

Why was this how disciples were trained?  I would suggest to you it is because ...Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. [1 Corinthians 8:1]  Love was the defining bond between a rabbi & his disciples. This is why Peter's denial cut so deep, why Judas betrayal was considered so outrageous. The bond between a rabbi & his disciples over~rode all other relationships.  It was built & founded on mutual love. 

We have all known Christians with a lot of head knowledge & very little patience with actual people.  This is not the way of discipleship.  This is why Jesus had his disciples with him 24/7.  Some things can't be learned except through  the osmosis of relationship.  Day by day Jesus modeled the way of life lived by a lover of God.  Day by day the disciples saw what it was to walk with God, empowered by His Holy Spirit. This is why Paul says: Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 

Today  one way Jesus disciples us is through His Holy Spirit.  This is an excellent reason for developing a close relationship with the Holy Spirit that we might say with David:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way. Psalm 139:23~24
Or Psalm 51:10
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me...

It is the Holy Spirit who will search our hearts & reveal those things that displease God but even so we will struggle to make the necessary changes until we realise our very culture fights against us.  Every moment of every day we battle an onslaught of information, an onslaught of sex, an onslaught of music, an onslaught of scientific & philosophical thought that directly counters the thoughts, will & purpose of God so unless we are very intentional about guarding our hearts we will slowly become transformed, not into the image of Christ, but into the image of the world. 

So what was different in Jesus day?

Firstly the whole culture ~ & I do not just mean it was a middle~eastern culture as opposed to a western culture.  I mean it was a God~centric culture surrounded by paganism. Every adult Jewish male, including Jesus, wore phylacteries containing passages from Exodus 13:1–1011–16Deuteronomy 6:4–911:13–21. These were actually meant to be quite small [about the size of a penny]but some of the pharisees made theirs bigger & Jesus didn't think much of it: "But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments....Matthew 23:5 They wore tallit [the tassels] on the 4 corners of their outer garment. They prayed 3 times a day.  They sacrificed @ the temple. They kept the feasts ~ as an entire people. Even today, when Shabbat begins, everything shuts.

They were a people who knew their scriptures. They could & did, argue, debate, discuss the meaning & application of their scriptures.  How often do you see Christians informally discussing the scriptures when they gather together?  I would guess not often.  We discuss the weather, ourselves, news events, and unfortunately, & far too often, other people. We confine discussion of the bible to church & bible study but that is not how it was in Jesus day. I am going to leave aside Haverim [the close spiritual friend who will become as Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.  Proverbs 27:17] quite simply because I do not have time to discuss it in depth.

At different times we have discussed how what we call the Lord's prayer is based on the Jewish Amidah, about renewing our minds & taking every thought captive. It is here where the Jewish believer of Jesus day differs from the Christian of today: Paul taught Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; 1 Thessalonians 5:17 & we go, Oh! That's quite impossible.  If it were impossible Paul would not have said it. Our problem is we do  not understand what Paul meant. So what did he mean?  

Have you seen the movie Fiddler on the Roof?  At one point someone asks the Rabbi, Is there a blessing for the sewing machine? & the Rabbi replies:There's a blessing for everything!

In Jesus day Jewish life was saturated in prayer ~ & it is simplier than you might think. It does involve a radical rethinking of how we approach daily life but it has the ability to transform our minds &  alter our thinking. Deuteronomy 8:10 gives a command to bless God lest the people be tempted to think  their prosperity is from their own efforts.  To bless, in Hebrew thinking, is to praise. We do this when we say Grace before a meal.  We thank God for providing our daily bread.  Grace is a brakah ~ a short prayer of praise for God's goodness to us.  Brakah were an integral part of every Jew's prayer life. The first one would be said as soon as you awoke.

Blessed are you, oh lord our God, King of the Universe for returning my soul to me for yet another day.

If you apply your thinking this short prayer could be easily followed by any number of others:
Blessed are you, oh lord our God, King of the Universe for : the rooster that woke me
                                                                                                : clothes to wear
                                                                                                : food to eat
                                                                                                 : a spouse to love...
On & on it goes because Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. James 1:17

Praying like this changes our attitude.  It makes us very aware of all the good things in our lives that we take for granted ~ like using the toilet.  Yes, there is a blessing for this, but as anyone who has a disability in this area can testify it is a true blessing to be able to use the toilet!  It stops our grumbling & focus our attention on ...whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8 

Praying like this not only saturates our lives in prayer, it creates in us an attitude of gratitude & an abiding awareness of the presence of God, His closeness, His love, His care for us.  It helps us to understand that God's attitude towards us is always one of love, of desiring fellowship, of rejoicing over us.  If you want to know just how critical our attitude is, consider what happened when the Israelites began grumbling & mummered against Moses.  Gratitude opens our hearts for blessing.  There is always something to be thankful for, always someway we can see the Hand of God moving in our lives.

Is this easy?  Nope.  Cultivating this mindset means being very intentional in our thought life.  Most of us don't pay all that much attention to our stray thoughts or to our daydreaming.  Our thoughts ramble through our minds willy~nilly & all too often they veer into rehashing an old argument or stewing over how somebody wronged us, or overlooked us, or how unappreciated we are: me, me, me.  Finding things to bless God for changes our focus completely. Everything becomes God.  We become more positive about life in general & far more grateful for all the good things that are showered upon us without our deserving or even asking.

We have forgotten that the Christian life is one of discipline because we find it so hard to hold in tension all the various things Scripture has to say.  There is Grace, the unmerited favour of God towards us, but there is also I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. 1Corinthians 9:27  There is faith & works, there is the being still & knowing  am God & there is contending for the faith but if we are to have the single eye, if we are to love God with evrything in us then we need to learn how to focus our attention on the one thing that truly matters: Jesus Christ, the author & finisher of our faith.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Noah ~Rabqa

As the years passed, people began to fill the earth. But when God saw that man’s wickedness covered
the earth, and that every imagination of his heart was only evil continually it grieved the Lord.

And the Lord said, “I will destroy mankind, which I created, from the face of the earth.” But the Lord looked on Noah with favour. Noah, a righteous man, perfect in his generations, walked with God.

Genesis 6:5-8 reveals two things that displease God: wickedness & evil imaginations & thinking.

Because those things described the condition of peoples heats during Noah’s day. God decided to destroy all mankind that is everyone except Noah & His family because Noah found grace & favour in His eyes.

Noah had the right heart otherwise, he would have been destroyed with all the other people practiced wickedness, evil imaginations & evil thinking.

One of the lessons we can learn from Noah’s story is that many people today are being destroyed for the simple reason that their hearts are not right before God. In their hearts they regard wickedness, they allow imaginations & they think bad thoughts.

We cannot imagine how many areas of our lives would be straightened out if only we would just get our hearts right with God! Our hearts may not be filled with tar that is blatant evil we read about in Noah’s time. But bad attitudes & wrong thinking certainly qualify as evil imaginations & evil thinking. We need to have right attitudes toward everything we do, because our attitudes basically determine everything else about our situations. If our hearts are full of bad attitudes & our minds are full of “stinking thinking,” we will not make much progress in life.

We need to have, tender hearts. We need to hear & heed the voice of conscience so that the moment we realize we have a bad attitude about something or someone, we can make the necessary adjustments. That is why proverbs 4:23 instructs us to Guard your heart above all else for it determines the course of your life. This verse is teaching us to Value & protect our mind, emotions & will. Practically that means that we need to examine our attitudes & our thoughts on a regular basis & make adjustment as need.

Many people are deceived into believing they cannot help what they think, but we can choose our thoughts. We need to think what we have been thinking about, when we do that, it does not take to long discover the root cause of a bad attitude.

Satan will always try to fill our minds with wrong thinking, but we do not have to have to receive anything he tries to give us. For example if some tries to gives us a spoonful of poison we would not take it. If we are smart enough not to swallow the poison, we should be smart enough not to allow satan to poison our minds, attitudes &, ultimately our lives.

So often we fail to guard our hearts as diligently as we should, & we allow too much junk & too many negative thoughts into our minds. We need to remember the familiar phrase “garbage in, garbage out.” & realize that we cannot take in garbage & produce good things. We must be attentive not only to our actions, but also to our thoughts, imaginations, motives & attitudes. God
looks at these things because He is a God of hearts. Whatever you do, make sure you have a right heart before the Lord, & you will reap abundant life instead of destruction.

We see in Hebrew 11:7 Philips. It was through faith that Noah, on receiving God’s warning of impending disaster, reverently constructed an ark to save his household. This action of faith condemned the unbelief of the rest of the world, and won for Noah the righteousness before God which follows such a faith.

Noah’s obedience in building the ark so far inland was physical evidence of His trust in God.

When we look at Noah we can’t but help see how obedient he was, God told him to build an ark & went on to tell him how do this in Gen 6 :14-16 AMP Make yourself an ark of gopher or cypress wood; make in it rooms (stalls, pens, coops, nests, cages, and compartments) and cover it inside and out with pitch (bitumen).

15 And this is the way you are to make it: the length of the ark shall be 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits [that is, 450 ft. x 75 ft. x 45 ft.]. 16 You shall make a roof or [a]window [a place for light] for the ark and finish it to a cubit [at least 18 inches] above—and the [b]door of the ark you shall put in the side of it; and you shall make it with lower, second, and third stories.

The version you probably are more familiar with is the NKJV which reads: Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. 15 And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. 16 You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks. Every ancient culture has its memory of the worldwide flood.

God went on to tell him that He was going to course rain to come which would food the earth & destroy the earth so everything that is on the earth shall die. But He will establish His covenant with Noah to take his wife & his sons & their wives. God also told him to take two of every animal, birds, creeping things of the earth all of their own kind & that he was to keep them alive. & they would be male & female. He was to take food for them all to eat & he had to gather it altogether. Gen 6:17-22.

If the average animal was the size say of a sheep, the ark had a capacity for 125,000animals. Putting that into perspective, there are 4,000 animals from 350 different species at Taronga Park Zoo. That means you could fit 31 Taronga Zoos in Noahs ark. Now this was the first boat that was ever built. It is not like it came with an instruction manual. It was back breaking work that required blood, sweat & tears. Now this took an incredible amount of faith to build the ark. Let me ask you who in there right mind would build a boat in the desert? Who hammers away for over a thousand years on something that they might not even need. Who banks their entire future on something that has never happened before?

According to Jewish tradition Noah did not start building the ark, First he planted trees, after they were fully grown, he then cut them down, sawed them into planks & built the boat. Here is an interesting piece of information: not until the nineteenth century did a
ship of that size get constructed again. Yet that design & ratio is still considered the golden means for stability during storms at sea. Noah’s act of obedience literally changed the worlds obedience & it will change your world too. Do whatever He tells you to do.

Noah built the ark because God commanded it. It was what he was called to do. Sawing planks & hammering nails for him was an act of obedience. & when everything was said & done, it was the longest act of obedience recorded in Scripture. From the start to finish, Noah’s one act of obedience took tens & thousands of days! & with each daily act of obedience, he glorified God. No matter what tool you use in your trade whether it be a hammer, a keyboard, a mop, a football a spreadsheet, a microphoneor an espresso machine is an act of obedience as you use them.

It is the mechanism whereby you worship God. It is the way you do what you are supposed to do. In Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
Be diligent in Bible Study & practice Scripture memorization & mediation. Let the Word in you produce praise to God & edification of others. Serve Jesus’ purposes in every thought, word & deed.

Always in the New Testament, the call to wholehearted discipleship is accompanied by the call to a life of devotion. To devote is to concentrate on a particular pursuit or purpose. A life of devotion to Christ pursues His purpose that is His being reproduced in us.

Stop putting yourself down & thinking what you do is not important. Remember the old proverb, “For want of a nail? It goes like this: For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe the horse was lost. For want of a horse the rider was lost. For want of a rider the message was lost. For want of the message the battle was lost. & all for the want of a horseshoe nail.” In God’s eyes small acts of obedience are big things. When you joyfully do little things they are like big things, then God will do big things like they are little things. That is how His kingdom advances. Yet again do what God has told you.

What went through Noahs mind when God told him to build the ark in the middle of a dry, dry land? The Bible says in Genesis 6:22 So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him. Noah’s obedience is a patriarchal model of God working in tandem with man for establishing of His kingdom purposes on earth. Noah walked with God; walking takes place step by step. The trouble with us is that we want God to reveal the second step before we take the first step of faith. But until we take the first step He will not reveal the next step we have to be obedient to the measure of revelation He has given us, if we want more of it. That is why we spiritually get stuck; we only want to follow Christ to the point of precedence that is the place where we have been before, but no further. We are so afraid of doing what we have never done before because it is unfamiliar territory. So we leave unclaimed new gifts, new anointing & new dreams that God wants to give us. We must push past the fear of the unknown. We have to do something different.

The African impala can jump three feet high & ten metres long, yet it can be contained in a small enclosure with 1.2 metre high walls. Why? You may ask because it will not jump if it cannot see where it is going to land. We have just the same problem, don’t we? We want a money back guarantee before we take a leap of faith, but that eliminates faith from the equation we are called to walk by faith & not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJ). Again do what God has told you to do.

Genesis 6:7-8 And the LORD said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing—all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them.” 8 But Noah found favour with the LORD.

One of the dirtiest, most damaging lies that the devil ever told you was when he said, “You aren’t important.” Don’t you ever believe that.

You are important! Every born-again member in the Church of Jesus Christ has a part to play in God’s plan. God has something for you to do that no one else can do just like you can. If you don’t take your place and do your part, things won’t be quite right.

I can just hear you thinking, “Oh, I’m just one person. What could I possibly do that could be so significant?”

Look in Genesis six, and you’ll see the answer to that question. There you’ll see that the people on the earth were so wicked that God had regretted that He’d made them. He was ready to wipe the whole population out–but He didn’t. Why? Because of one man as we have just seen: Noah! One obedient man saved the human race.

Think about that. What if Noah had said, “Well, this is just too much pressure for me. I can’t live upright before God in the middle of this ungodly generation. I mean, everybody around me is living the other way. Every man around me imagines only evil in his heart. I can’t make any difference in this dark world anyway. I’m just one man.”

Praise God, Noah didn’t say that. He didn’t picture himself as an insignificant man whose life didn’t matter. According to Hebrews, he saw himself as a man to whom God had spoken and by faith he obeyed God. And because of that he ended up being the only thing that stood between mankind and total destruction.

Next time you’re tempted to shrug off the instructions of God and be disobedient, next time you catch yourself thinking, “It doesn’t matter what I do”–remember Noah. Consider the fact that, whether you understand it or not, God is counting on you to carry out your part of His plan. Live like you’re someone important in the kingdom of God. And sooner or later you’ll realize you are.

In Genesis 9:11 God said Yes, I am confirming my covenant with you. Never again will floodwaters kill all living creatures; never again will a flood destroy the earth.”

Genisis 9: 13-14 He would put His rainbow in the clouds as a token of His promise. Whenever He brings rain clouds over the earth, you will see the rainbow, and I too will see it, and honour My covenant