Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Changed by God's Presence ~ Rabqa

It is so good to know that a brief moment in the presence of God can impact your life-your entire life;
so much so that you will; never be the same again. Approximately thirty eight years ago I walked in to a church, my life was a mess, I thought I’d never get back on track.

I can’t explain the feeling I had that day, for the first time in my life I knew that God was real. I mean I always believed, but now I just knew it; I was in awe of His great love & realised my need for Him in my life Although I didn’t physically see God or audibly hear Him, I knew I was in His presence & reached out to Jesus; A few days later I asked Him to my life & I have never looked back.

The Word of God is full of testimonies of lives that were dramatically changed by being in the presence of God. In Isaiah 6:1-8 it says It was in the year King Uzziah died[a] that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. 2 Attending him were mighty
seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3 They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!” Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke. Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.”
Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us? ”I said, “Here I am. Send me.”

A seraphim is a fiery gliding angelic being; also a fire coloured agile gliding desert creature, presumably a fiery serpent. The root word is the word seraph meaning to set on fire, to burn. Accordingly, the seraphim may be angles of a fiery colour or appearance, or flam like in motion or clearness. Only in Isaiah 6:2 &6 does the word appear as seraphim; in all the remaining five
occurrences (Numbers 21:6 & 8; Deuteronomy 8:15; Isaiah 14:29 & 30:6), it is translated fiery serpents & appears along with scorpions & vipers. Perhaps the colour or motion of earthly fiery serpents resembles that of fiery angels.

The ministry of the seraphim is closely related to the throne & praises of God. They are seen constantly glorifying God-extolling His nature & attributes, & apparently supervising heaven’s worship. It is possible the seraphim are the parsing angels of Psalm 148:2 though they are not specifically identified as such. Whereas cherubim are positioned beside & around the throne of God (Psalm 96:1); Psalm 99:1; Revelation 4:6), the six winged seraphim are seen as hovering above the throne as they minister in worship.

Before God can use us He needs to cleanse us, Isaiah realised that he had a sinful unclean mouth that needed to be dealt with, I believe that because Isaiah cried out for his heart to be changed, God sent help.

The coming forward of the seraphim with a coal of fire is recorded in verse six as an instantaneous happening, but answers may not always come quickly to us. We all prefer miraculous deliverance,
but most of the time the Lord puts us through a cleansing process.

Notice that God forgave Isaiah’s sin & than issued a call: “Who will go for us?” Isaiah responded “Here I am send me.” Isaiah’s heart wanted to serve the Lord, & God knew that. He (God) will always look at the person’s heart making sure that it is the perfect heart, & can always change the behaviour.

This truth should encourage those who want to be used by God, but who often feel that they have too many flaws. But God uses cracked pots as the saying goes. We come to Him as we are, & He moulds & makes us into vessels fit for His use. (2 Timothy 2;2).

After Isaiah’s mouth had been cleansed, God called saying “Go & tell this to the people”... (V9). The call, the anointing &the appointment can occur in different time periods, but no matter how they take place or in what order, the process of preparation is as important to us today as it was to Isaiah long ago. One thing is sure when God calls us into His presence, He is going to deal with us, & we must let Him do that. He is doing a good work!

During these precious moments in the presence of God, Isaiah’s life was completely changed. His vision of a filled throne brought strong encouragement & hope during a time of uncertainty & despair. While beholding the awesome glory of the Lord, Isaiah was compelled to worship, repentance & service to His God. His wise reaction empowered him for his calling & propelled him toward his destiny.

All creatures are compelled to react when they encounter the presence of God in Matthew8:29 we Learn: They began screaming at him, “Why are you interfering with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before God’s appointed time?”

Time in this verse refers to Jesus’ overthrow of satanic forces anticipates their final destruction on the day of judgement.

In Luke 23:39. The thief on the cross said to Jesus “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us... When we encounter the precious presence of God, worship is the only reaction that will change us from the inside out In John 4:24 Jesus said: God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.

Worship God frequently, employing your spiritual language as well as your own understanding.

John’s gospel introduces the Holy Spirit as the key to a tritely dynamic devotion to God. It anticipates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit who will become the very energy of the believer’s devotional life. The Holy Spirit will maximise prayer & worship, minister through the Lords Supper, & enable the believer to continually draw his life from Jesus Christ Himself.

When we are faced with the awesome holiness of God, Isaiah cried in 6:5 “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.” Here he had a revelation of God’s glory & recognised his need for repentance. God’s presence will open your eyes of our heart to respond for repentance.

This was Jesus’ message in Mark 1:15 The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”

This was Jesus’ announcement of a new era of salvation of which repentance & belief in the gospel were perquisites. Later He sent forth the twelve in Matthew 10:1 & the seventy in Like 10:1; 9 Jesus sent them with the same message of repentance.

Pastor Cho from Seoul, Korea (Who has the largest church in the world) when asked what he considered to be the reason for the tremendous growth he was experiencing in his church. They were probably expecting him to outline various programs, but instead he simply answered, “I just preach the Kingdom.

In that small statement hangs the essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Colossians 1:9-13, 21-23, Paul reminds us as born again believers; God has delivered us from the kingdom of darkness & translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.

Membership in this unshakable kingdom brings tremendous privileges & benefits. 2 Peter 1:3-4 declares that we have already been granted everything pertaining to life & godliness through the knowledge of God. We have precious & magnificent promises that grant us the privilege to become partakers of the divine nature.

Repentance toward God is the only requirement for entry into this glorious kingdom. Repentance is simply turning from your way of running your life, & giving your life to Jesus. He alone can open the door by cleansing you from sin & purifying your heart.

Isaiah’s motivation for service was born out of time spent in God’s presence. It was during those precious moments that God was able to reveal His heart to Isaiah & impart vision.

Isaiah wrote in 6:8 (AMP) Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send? And who will go for Us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

One of the tasks of the Holy Spirit is to call godly leaders in the kingdom. All men & women are called to God (Romans 8:28, 30); yet only a few
respond (Matthew 7:13, 14; 22:14; John 15:16) Leaders however experience a different kind of call & are called in different ways:
1. Many are called sovereignly. Moses was singled out by God who spoke to him from a burning bush (Exodus 3-4:17). The child Samuel was called while he was sleeping (1 Samuel 3:1-18). Young Isaiah was worshipping in the temple when called by God ( Isaiah 6:1-9).

2. Others are called through men. Samuel went to David & anointed him with oil (1Samuel 16:1-13). Paul instructed Titus to appoint elders in the churches of Crete (Titus 1:5). There is a difference between being a man of God-as all are called to be, & being God’s man-one called to leadership.
Your succuss in serving God & fulfilling His vision for your life depends upon your obedience to the call, boldness to relate the message, & perseverance to complete the vision.

When confronted with opposition to the call of God on the lives of the disciples they prayed to be filled with boldness to relate the message. Acts 4:29 And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us,
Your servants, great boldness in preaching your word

The apostle Paul never forgot that moment on the road to Damascus when he was knocked off his donkey. In an instant, Paul was changed from a persecutor of the Church into a persecutor of satan. He told King Agrippa about his heavenly vision & call to preach the Gospel. He said in Acts 26:19-20 “And so, King Agrippa, I obeyed that vision from heaven. 20 I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must repent of their sins and turn to God—and prove they have changed by the good things they do.

Paul was totally committed to His call to spread the gospel & establish churches throughout the known world. He lived what he wrote, that “the gifts & callings of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). His life demonstrated three basic concepts of leadership:
1. He was committed to the goals & spirit of his call (Philippians 3:7-8).
2. He translated his objectives into the lives of his followers (2 Timothy 2: 1-2) & bore all necessary hardship in pursuing that end (2 Corinthians 4:8-11; 23-33). He was alert to change. He adapted to cultural, social & political changes & therefore never lost his relevancy (1 Corinthians 9:19-22).

We see that he was totally changed by his encounter with God & not disobedient to his assignment.

Paul persevered to finish the race that was set before him. At the end of his life of service to God, he could confidently say I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. (2Timothy 4:7)

Whether Paul regarded his life as a battle, a race or a test of the truth of the gospel, he had achieved victory. The past with its many duties, has been completed; the present is secure in faith; the future promises rewards.

Do not be frustrated by opposition. Continue to stand strong. Be tirelessly faithful in those things God has commissioned you to do.

Faith believes absolutely in the divine inspiration of the Scriptures. Therefor the man or woman of faith has a very high view of the Bible, & is able to courageously face opposition unmoved.

God desires to reveal Himself to all who will seek Him with their whole heart. Draw near to the Lord today in prayer & He will draw near to you (James 4:8). I must warn you though: One moment in the presence of God will spoil you & change your life forever. You won’t be satisfied with empty religion. You will hunger for more, & your desire will be to serve Him continually. You may even respond to the Lord the way Isaiah & countless others have: Here I am send me.

Acknowledgements Cathy Duplantis.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Christmas 2018.

Christmas didn't begin in a stable.  It began in a garden, envisioned, planned for, anticipated from the foundation of the world.  

Jesus talks about this.  The story can be found in Mark 12:1~12 & Luke 20:9~19.

We have a tendency to break scripture up into different bits & pieces but really, it's not like that; it is one continuous story & it began in a garden.

Genesis says that God planted the garden [Gen., 2:8] & in that garden He placed the man He had formed out of the dust of the ground. The man was to watch & tend the garden.  The Hebrew word used is shomer.  It is the legal term used for a custodian or guardian who is entrusted with the care of someone else's possessions. 

The man blew it.  He gave away his authority to the snake aka, Lucifer or satan & created a problem that affected everything in all of creation: the plants, the animals, the very earth itself.  Everything came under a curse & is subject to decay. [Romans 8:20]

Now Adam & Eve's sin was not disobedience.  Disobedience was the result.  Their sin was pride.  They were tempted by the lie of satan: "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” [Gen. 3:5]

Ever since every generation has struggled with the desire to be like God; Omniscient, powerful, all knowing, able to control people & events around them.  It manifests in different ways.  At the extreme we get the Hitlers, the Ho Chi Minhs, the Stalins but we also see it in our families, our schools &  all  religions.  We see it in fortune telling & tarot. 

Channelled correctly this tendency has given man the fortitude to emigrate to foreign lands, build cities, travel to the stars but it also creates an independence of thought & behaviour as expressed by William Ernest Henley in Invictus:

I am the master of my fate, 
      I am the captain of my soul. 

Man has always thought he can do it on his own without God's help.  All that was needed was better education, freedom from poverty, equality of the sexes...but none of these things have created the utopia man's heart & soul craves for because we were not created to be independent of God.  We've tried that.  We've tried it for thousands of years & it has always failed.  It will always fail.  We were created in the image of God, not to be God, but to reflect the exact likeness of Him, but that hasn't stopped us from trying to do it our way.  Our problem is not of action; it is of the heart.  We can do all the right things yet still be wrong in our hearts. When the heart is wrong everything else also becomes wrong.

And so when you come to the scriptures you see the slow revelation of God's plan @ work to bring the heart of man back into alignment with the heart of God because that is the only way we will ever fix everything that is wrong with this world.

God planted a garden. It had a hedge & a pit & a watchtower~ the safeguards that God gave Israel to help them know He was the Great I AM, their Helper, their Redeemer, their strong tower. Those safeguards were the Mosaic Law; the ordinances for worshipping God & their Priests to watch over them like shepherds watching their flocks.  It did not turn out well.  Read the story.  Again & again it went wrong.  The Law was used to grind people under.  Worship became ritual.  The shepherds fleeced the flock. 

God wasn't fazed.  As Jesus tells it He sent servants ~ the prophets, filled with the Holy Spirit & the Word of God ~ but instead of listening to them & correcting what was wrong the people beat them, killed them, persecuted them:  Isaiah was sawn in two; Jeremiah was stoned; Ezekiel, Micah & Amos were martyred; Zechariah was killed between the steps & the temple altar & his blood was sprinkled on the horns of the altar.

God wasn't in a hurry.  Again & again you see God separating, one man, one family, one people & giving them revelation that was then meant to go out across the world, narrowing the bloodline to an exact person, an exact place, an exact time in history because He had done everything else He could.  He gave Moses the moral code on Mt Sinai; The Israelites couldn't keep it.  He gave them an earthly priesthood through Aaron; it became corrupted.  He gave instructions for worship & saw it turned into religion. 

Then, as Jesus tells it, God sends His son because surely they will recognise & honour His son but He knew He couldn't send His son as a grown man.  He had to come in the ordinary way, subject to the same frailties, the same temptations, the same pressures as any other human being.   Everything had been prepared from the foundation of the world for this one moment in time when God entered the world as a human baby but  He still had to grow in wisdom & stature [Luke 2:52], just like anybody else.

What we need to remember each Christmas, what we MUST remember, is that Jesus didn't remain a baby.  He grew up to become the spotless lamb slain from the foundation of the world. [1 Peter 1:20] We must remember because anything else is only half the gospel.  This is not a pretty story.  It is not a myth or legend borrowed from other cultures. This is a legal matter dealing with events that occurred @ the beginning of time that have impacted every life ever since & as such is of vital importance for every human being. Every life has been corrupted by sin.  Every life needs redeeming.  Every life is valuable to God. Every life is sustained by Him but, not  every life will spend eternity with God. We were given free will.  We get to choose.

We know how the story ends.  Every Christian should bear in mind how the story ends. Jesus points out that the owner of the vineyard eventually returns & metes out justice. These are things we should know & bear in mind;

The earth is the LORD'S, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it. [Psalm 24:1]

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities ~ all things have been created through Him and for Him. [Colossians 1:16]

The earth is not ours.  We are only it's caretakers & @ present satan rules it but ~.  Everything belongs to Jesus.  One day soon He is returning to claim that which is His & when that day comes He will not come as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes.  That time has come & gone.  He will come as a conquering King to rule & to reign.  Jesus is no longer that baby in a stable.  He has not been that baby for 2000 years.  Make no mistake.  He is a Prince.  He is a Ruler.  He is a King. He is not a baby to be ooohed & aahed over. He is a glorious King before whom the wise fall down & worship.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Explaining the Silence. ~ Ganeida

The prolonged silence from this blog is due to a number of issues beyond
our control.  In quick succession the parent we were caring for was taken into aged care [ this was not our desire or wish but we did not have POA]; our youngest son married a wonderful young lady; the parent died; our grand~daughter arrived [somewhat late]; I had oral surgery & as KG5 prepared to graduated we came down with a nasty viral infection.  All in all we have felt somewhat battered & bruised & in need of some R&R.

Our ministry is going through some major changes so if the Spirit moves, please pray that we hear accurately & in detail from the Holy Spirit.
Our first Rhema graduate [middle son] & our last, KG5.
We are very proud of them both.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

The Devil Cannot have Power Over You. ~ Rabqa

The movie industry has glorified the devil & his demons. They have portrayed him as some mystic, supernatural power that is almost impossible to banish. But nothing could be further from the truth!

At the same time they have portrayed God as a benign grandfatherly bloke who smokes cigars. Or worse, they deny His existence altogether. It is a sad commentary on our society, yet sadder still is the fact that many Christians have been duped as well. They give their lives to Jesus but hold on with their finger tips while the devil beats their brains out.

I have heard many people talk about how bad the devil whipped them. If you listen carefully, you will hear their doctrine loud & clear, “You just never know what God is going to do; it depends on how he feels.”

Now God is not moved by feelings; He goes strictly by His Word. That is why to put a stop to all the myths about satan’s power. To prove this we need to go to the Word of God. Turn with me if you will to Matthew 16: 15-18 (NLT) Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God, Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John,[ because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’)] and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.

In verses 17& 18 Jesus is talking about the rock of faith. He tells Simon Peter that on faith he has just displayed He will build His Church &...the gates of hell will not have power over the person who walks in faith.

God wants us to know that the Church is not going down; it’s going up! Jesus paid the price for our victory with His death on the cross...Colossians 2:15 In this way, he disarmed[a] the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

We need to speak this word & say something like: Thank you, for disarming the spiritual rulers that were against me & making a bold display of them by triumphing over them on the cross.
The conquest of hostile spiritual forces is described in terms of a homecoming victory celebration of a Roman general. The idea here is that God, through the cross events, divested Spiritual rulers & authorities of their uncontested rule & authority over redeemed people who live under Christs Lordship. The fact that He made a public spectacle of them affirms that they are not annihilated, but that their authority has been curbed.

We will look again at Matthew 16:17 Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.
Jesus knew that His Father had revealed this to Peter because He knew that a carnal mind is enmity against God. We see in 1 Corinthians 2:14 But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.

Recognise that the natural mind cannot understand or receive from the Holy Spirit. Know that only the spiritually alive can discern spiritual wisdom.

Holy living calls us to rely totally on God for spiritual wisdom, rejecting the wisdom of the world. Holiness devotes time & energy to knowing the Lord. Choosing to associate with other believers rather than be unduly influenced by the world’s values.

I hear folk say that God didn’t answer my prayers & I have been praying for years & years.

I wonder had they been praying according to God’s Word.

The gates of hell will not have power over the Church. It might be interesting to know what instructions God gave to the Church. In Mark 16:15-18 And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

Jesus told them to go in all the world & to preach & publish openly the Gospel to every creature of the whole human race. People from every Christian church accept & attempt to carry out this verse. But we see in verses 17&18 Jesus says believers will cast out demons, speak in new tongues, & lay hands on the sick. Some churches do not practice these things, & many teach against them.

I honestly believe that a few moments of sincere thought will reveal to the seeking soul that if Jesus meant for us to carry out Mark 16, then He most certainly intended for us to carry out verse 17& 18 as well. It is such a dangerous business to pick & choose among scriptures. If we are going to follow the full Gospel, we cannot take the scriptures we are comfortable with & ignore the rest. We need the whole council of God’s Word, not just bits & pieces of it.

Do not try to fight the devil in your own senses. When you are in a spiritual battle, carnal weapons are useless. The weapons that God gave to the Church are not carnal but are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4). Use the weaponry of God.

God created everything with words. Everything we see, even the chair you may be sitting on right now, was made by faith through words. Our words are containers-they carry things. When you say “Lord come into my Life,” the words are so powerful that they regenerate your inner man. The gates of hell will not have power over you-faith filled words. It is written...Thus saith the Lord thy God...Get thee behind me, satan...Get thee hence...Words-not just any words, but the words of God spoken in faith-will get the devil running fast. You need to open your mouth & give him a kick.

We are given a profound promise in Deuteronomy 28:7 The LORD will conquer your enemies when they attack you. They will attack you from one direction, but they will scatter from you in seven!
Think about that for a moment; that power is available to you. You & I are not the only ones who have found ourselves in a spot of trouble when enemies are raised up against us. David found himself in quiet a predicament. But remember, David was under the old covenant-he couldn’t
come boldly to the throne of grace He had to have a high priest offer sacrifices for his sin once a year. That wasn’t David’s only limitation. He was nothing but a little, ruddy, pimple-faced boy. But God had spoken through his prophet that David would be the next king.

A few years later, David was hiding in a cave with people trying to kill him. I am sure that David sat in that cave thinking, “Lord didn’t you anoint me & call me your anointed? I don’t look anointed I’m stuck in a cave eating beans & berries. What happened”?
David was depressed. But the Bible says that David meditated on God’s Word. & then he came out of that cave & kicked the Philistines in the head.

While he was sitting in that cave, he realised that he was king because God said so. It didn’t make any difference that he wasn’t sitting on a thorn or living in a palace. It didn’t matter what Saul thought or said. David was going to sit on that throne because God said so!

Do not forget that that the devil tried to do everything to destroy God’s plan. But the boy did become king. He did sit on a throne. God did establish him.

Have you ever wondered why a man like David would look over the balcony at Bathsheba taking a bath? Why did he get embroiled in such a mess? The answer is simple; he wasn’t filled with the Holy Spirit. He did not have someone on the inside convicting him. He was still living under the Old Covenant. The Holy Spirit would come upon him, but he wasn’t the temple of the Holy Ghost.

You & I have a better covenant than David, because of the blood Jesus shed; we have the Spirit of truth living on the inside of us. We have better promises. Promises like the gates of hell will not have power over us. (Matthew 16:18)

Now when Jesus died He did not go straight to Heaven. First He went to hell & blew the socks off the devil & kicked the doors down. Then Jesus began to preach a revival in hell. The Bible says that He set the captives free & paralysed the demons & devils. He snatched the keys to death &
the grave from satan. Later he was in the throne room of God with a bucket of His own blood & threw it across the alter & declared that man had become the righteousness of God!

Father God looked at His Son & basically said “All claims against man have been satisfied. Any man can come boldly before the throne of Grace!” The reality of redemption through the blood of Jesus introduced a new & better covenant for whosoever believes.

In Ephesians 1:3 it says All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.
The Greek word for praise is epaninos means approbation, commendation, approval & praise.
Epaninos expresses not only praise for what God has done for us, but also for who He is,recognising His glory.

Have you ever wondered what it means to be blessed with spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ. We start getting a deeper revelation of those heavenly places in the same chapter in verse 17-23 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.]
I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honour at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.

Now move down to Ephesians 2:6-8 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.

According to Scripture, we died with Christ when He died, we were buried with Him, resurrected with Him, & we now are seated with Him in heavenly places. I hear you ask “How can we be seated with Him in heaven when clearly we are on earth? Simply because we are spirits, we have souls, & live in a body. Physically, we are on earth, but simultaneously we can be spiritually seated with Him in heaven. That belief gives us the ability to enter His rest. The work of Christ is finished & we can enjoy its results. His kingdom offers righteousness, peace, joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17), & it is available to us right now, not just when we get to heaven. God wants us to enjoy the life that Jesus died for to give us starting the moment we accept Him as our Lord & Saviour.

Have you ever entered Gods rest? Have you ever trusted Him completely to do what needs to be done in you & your life? Are you perhaps still working in the flesh trying to do what only God can do & the results are frustration & disappointment? Perhaps you just need to sit down! I do not mean physically but spiritually. We can sit in a chair & still be worried, fearful & anxious. God is not
calling us to rest from our work, but in our work. As we go about our daily business, we can do it all while seated in Christ. He is our Refuge & our Hiding Place.

Be zealous & exert yourself & strive diligently to enter that place of rest. It is available today, so do not let it pass you by. Release all your frustrations & worries-& have a seat in Christ.

Are you now beginning to see why the gates of hell cannot have power over you & the Church. God has seated us in heavenly places with Him & kicked the devil out of heaven a long time ago! There is no force in hell strong enough to have power against the Church. & there is nothing the devil can do that shall have power over you & me.

It is no wonder that Jesus said in John 16:33 ...”be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Do you know what this means? It means that you & I are sitting in heavenly places with Jesus. US! We are there with Jesus because God said it. Just like He said David would be king! If you think it won’t work or sounds too good to be true, than you are calling God a liar. You may think that you did not call God a liar. If you read what God said, you may think that you can’t take it literally. Just like a man I heard of who said “you should never read the book of Revelation because you’ll misunderstand. Misunderstand what? The Word of God? The Word of God is life! The devil tries to keep people from reading Revelation because the first chapter says that anyone who reads it will be blessed (Revelation 1:3).

The devil does not you to be blessed. He does not want you to know that he gets kicked in to the lake of fire. His only power is in deceiving you out out of your power. Instead of letting the devil beat your brains out, be determined to take your blood brought authority & use it against him. Tell the devil “You can’t touch me because you can’t touch Heaven. I am the body of Christ. I maybe the toenail on the smallest toe, but that still places me high above you.”

Listen, the most powerful force on earth today is the body of Christ. When the Methodists, Baptists, Catholic, Assemblies of God, Pentecostals, Presbyterians & Episcopalians get together in the unity of faith, we will evangelise the Word for Jesus (Ephesians 4:13-16) When we all get in one
accord the Holy Spirit will get involved. When we take our doctrines & set them aside & just preach Jesus, the world will get saved.

Jesus died on the cross for you & I & all those people out there. He let people whip Him, spit on Him & pluck His beard out. Today, He’s standing in heaven as King of Kings. He is not beat up, & living in an old shack. He said that you & I are the body of Christ. He said that the Father is excited to see us.

So get excited! When you go up, the devil will go down! You are seated in heavenly places & the gates of hell do not have power over you.

The devil though he had the whole world wrapped up in a package back in the Garden of Eden. He could not figure out any way that God could get the world back from him. He’d destroyed the animal kingdom. He destroyed the vegetable kingdom. He destroyed the human kingdom.

But God is an artist He just started painting a picture right in front of the devil. Looked at the
serpent & said you are going to craw on our belly & eat the dust of the ground all the days of your life.

God said that to the snake because yielded His vessel to satan. Satan is not a snake but a fallen angel.

Then the Lord said, “I am going to put enmity between you & Me; between your seed & the woman’s seed (Genesis 3:15).

Now the devil was confused-Woman doesn’t have any seed. God just continued to paint. Through the ages, satan tried to stop that seed from coming. He just never imagined that Jesus would be born of a virgin. He knew he could destroy anything born of woman, but he just did not realise that Jesus would be born of God.

After the crucifixion & resurrection, the devil said, “If we had known we would never have crucified Him” (1 Corinthians 2:8).

God is still painting that picture, only now it’s you & me that He is talking to. You’re seated in heavenly places with Jesus. He is saying, “The gates of hell do not have power over you. You’re My Church.” You do not have a problem with the devil, he has a problem with you

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

For The Meek~ Rabqa

Isaiah 11:1-10 Out of the stump of David’s family[a] will grow a shoot— yes, a new Branch bearing
fruit from the old root. 2 And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.3 He will delight in obeying the LORD. He will not judge by appearance nor make a decision based on hearsay.4 He will give justice to the poor and make fair decisions for the exploited The earth will shake at the force of his word, and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked. 5 He will wear righteousness like a belt and truth like an undergarment.

6 In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all.7 The cow will graze near the bear. The cub and the calf will lie down together. The lion will eat hay like a cow.8 The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra. Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest
of deadly snakes without harm.9 Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the LORD. 10 In that day the heir to David’s throne[b] will be a banner of salvation to all the world. The nations will rally to him, and the land where he lives will be a glorious place.

We learn in verse 2 that God declares his Spirit is the Spirit of wisdom & understanding, the Spirit of council & might, the Spirit of knowledge & the reverential & obedient fear of the Lord. How have you experienced the Holy Spirit’s ministry in each of these ways? If you have not, ask God to give you such experiences with His Spirit.

In verses 3 & 4 we see that Jesus did not make decisions by the sight of His eyes or the hearing of His ears, yet He was of quick understanding. If we follow His example, not relying on what we see or hear with our natural senses, but watching & listening for the Holy Spirit to lead our hearts, we will also understand quickly what we would otherwise not learn in a lifetime.

Moses was head strong in his zeal for his own people, & it resulted in his killing a man (Exodus 2:11-12). His heart was right in his desire to correct things, but he was always frail. Moses had a mighty passion, & that is one of the best things in the world when God has control & it becomes a passion for souls to be born again. But apart from God it is one of the worst things.

Paul was tremendously zealous, &, breathing out threats, he was sending men & women to prison. (Acts 8:3). But God changed him, & later said he could wish himself accursed from Christ for the sake of his fellowmen, his kindness according to the flesh Romans 9:3-4. for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters.[a] I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would
save them. 4 They are the people of Israel, chosen to be God’s adopted children.[b] God revealed his glory to them. He made covenants with them and gave them his law.

He gave them the privilege of worshiping him and receiving his wonderful promises.
Paul does not actually wish that he was cut off from Christ so that other Jews would be saved, but his grief for them was so deep that it brought him virtually to that very point.

God took the headstrong Moses & moulded into the meekest of men. He took the fiery Saul of Tarsus & made him the foremost exponent of grace. God transform each & every one of us in the same manner, & plants in us a divine meekness & every other thing that we lack.

Smith Wigglesworth tells of a boy in the Sunday school he went to, of a boy with hair so red as his temper. He was a trail. He kicked his teachers& the superintendent. He was simply uncontrollable. The teachers had a meeting where they discussed the matter of expelling him. But they thought that God might somehow work in that boy, & so they decided to give him another chance. One day he had to be kicked out & he broke all the windows of the church. He was worse outside than in. Sometime later, they had a ten day revival meeting. There was nothing much going on in the meeting, & people thought it was a waste of time, but there was one result the redheaded lad was saved.

After he was saved, the difficulty was to get rid of him at their house. He would be there until midnight, crying to God to make him pliable & use him for his glory. God delivered the lad from his temper & made him one of the meekest, most beautiful boys you ever saw. For many, many years he has been a mighty missionary in China.

Smith continues to say that he can remember the time when he used to go white with rage & shake all over with temper. He could hardly hold himself together. But the time he waited on God for a period of ten days; in those ten days he was being emptied out, & the life of the Lord Jesus was being worked in him. His wife testified to the transformation that took place in his life. She said she never saw such a change. She could never cook anything from that time that has not pleased him. Nothing is too hot or too cold; everything is just right.

God must come reign supreme in your life. Will you let Him do it? He can do it & He will if you let Him.

It is no use trying to tame the old man (Eph 4:22). But God can deal with him. The carnal mind will never be subjected to God but God will bring it to the cross where it belongs & will
be put in its place. With God’s transforming power, we can become pure & holy, having the meek mind of the Master. God takes us just as we are & transforms us by His power.

Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the [a]earth.

Meek does not mean weakness but rather controlled strength. The word comes from the idea of humility & self discipline.

Psalm 42 As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. 2 I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him? 3 Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying “Where is this God of yours?”
4 My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God singing for joy and giving thank house of God singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration!
5 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Saviour and 6 my God!
Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you—even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar.7 I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.8 But each day the LORD pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.9 “O God my rock,” I cry, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?”10 Their taunts break my bones. They scoff, “Where is this God of yours?”11 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Saviour and my God!

In verse five of this Psalm we see the sons of Korah struggling with depression, I would like for us to exam in how they handled their situation, because it shows us what to do when we feel depressed. As we dissect this verse, we find three distinct responses the sons of Korah give to their depressed feelings, First, they put a question to their souls & ask themselves “Why am I so discouraged? "Then they give an instruction to their souls “Put your trust in God. " Finally they declare “I will praise My Saviour & My God."  We might say the sons of Korah had a chat with themselves. We must follow this basic pattern of action as we come out of them & into victory.

We learn that the Psalmist is discouraged. Discouragement destroys hope, so naturally the devil always tries to discourage us. Without hope we give up, which is exactly what the devil wants us to do.

The Bible repeatedly tells us not to be discouraged or dismayed. God knows that we will not be victorious if we get discouraged, so He always encourages us as we start on a project by saying to us, “Do not be discouraged.”

God wants us to be encouraged not discouraged.

When discouragement or condemnation tries to overtake us, the first thing we need to do is to examine our thoughts. What kind of thoughts have you been thinking? Have they sounded something like this? “ I’m not going to make it; This is too hard, I always fail; It has always been the same. Nothing ever changes. I am sure other folk do not have this much trouble getting their minds renewed. I may as well give up. I’m tired of trying. I pray, but it seems God doesn’t hear. He probably doesn’t answer my prayers because He is disappointed in me”.

If these examples represent your thought life, then no wonder you get discouraged or feel commended! Remember, you become what you think. Think discouraging thoughts, you will become discouraged. Think condemning thoughts & you will come under condemnation. Change your thinking & be set free.

Instead of thinking negatively, think more like this: Well, things are going a little slowly, but praise God, I am making some progress, I am glad I’m on the right path that will lead me to freedom; I had a rough day yesterday. I chose wrong thinking all day long. Father forgive me, & help me to keep on keeping on. I made a mistake, but at least that is one mistake I won’t have to make again. This is a new day. You love me, Lord. Your Mercy is new every morning. I refuse to be discouraged. I refused to be condemned. Father, Your Word says that you do not condemn me. You sent Jesus to die for me. I will be fine-today it will be a great day I ask you to help me choose right thoughts today.

I am sure you can feel the victory already with this type of cheerful, positive, God-like thinking. Practice this type of thinking today.

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
Meet the conditions, & God will fulfil His Word to you. Note this verse says “Shall be filled.” The Spirit of God is crying out “Listen! Every one who is thirsty, come to the waters. And you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. The words have no money mean that God’s abundant life is free. The Spirit of God will take the things of Christ & show them to you so that you may have a longing for Christ in His fullness, & when there is that longing, God will not fail to fill you.

See the crowd of worshippers who have come to feast. They are going away utterly dissatisfied, but on the last day, that great day of the feast Jesus will stand & cry out, saying, 37 Now on the final and most important day of the Feast, Jesus stood, and He cried in a loud voice, If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink!

38 He who believes in Me [who cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me] as the Scripture has said, From his innermost being [continuously] springs and rivers of living water. (John 7:37-38 AMP).

Jesus knew that they were going away without living water, & so He directed them to the true source of supply. Are you thirsty today? The living Christ still invites you to Himself, &I want to testify that He still satisfies the thirsty soul & fills the hungry with good things.

Notice that Jesus didn’t say will flow once in a while from those who believe in Him. He said these rivers of living water will flow continuously. That living water is the Holy Spirit.

In this passage, Jesus talks about the out pouring of the Holy Spirit, which we have received if we have accepted Jesus as Lord & Saviour-the Person & the power of the Holy Spirit in us.

The river of living water flows within you & me. It is not supposed to be stopped but it is to bubble up within us. & we can release the power of that living water in an even greater measure by receiving the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to fill you today & everyday.

When Smith Wigglesworth was in Switzerland he learnt of a man who met with a particular congregation. He attended their various meetings, & one morning at their communion service, he arose & said, “Brothers, we have the Word, & I feel that we are living very much in the letter of it, but there is a hunger & thirst in my soul for something deeper, something more real than we have, & I cannot rest until I enter in to it.” The next Sunday this man rose again & said, “We are all poor here, there is no life in this assembly, & my heart is hungry for reality.” He did this for several weeks until it got on the nerves of these people, & they protested, “Sands, you are making us all miserable; you are spoiling our meetings. There is only one thing for you to do, & that is to clear out.”

He went out of the meeting in a very sad condition. As he stood outside, one of his children asked what was the matter, & he said that they should turn me out from their midst for being hungry & thirsty for more of God! Smith did not know anything more of this situation until later.

Days later someone rushed up to Sands & said. “There is a man over hear from England, & he is speaking about tongues & healing.” Sands said that he would fix him, he went to the meeting & sat near the front & would challenge him with Scripture. He said that he would dare him to preach these things in Switzerland; & that he would publicly denounce him. So he went to the meetings. There he sat. He was so hungry & thirsty that he drank in every word that was said. His opposition soon petered out. The first morning he said to a friend, “This is what I want.” He drank & drank of the Spirit. After three weeks he said, “God will have to do something new or I’ll burst.” He breathed in God, & the Lord filled him to such an extent that he spoke in other tongues as the Spirit gave him utterance. Sands is now preaching & is in charge of a new Pentecostal assembly.

God is making people hungry & thirsty after His best. & everywhere He is filling the hungry & giving them what the disciples received at the very beginning. Are you hungry? If you are God promises that you will be filled. If you ever see a “shall” in the Bible, make it yours.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

The Importance of Joy. ~ Ganeida

I want to deviate [sort of] for the next few weeks from the Beatitudes; we will come back to them later but the Holy Spirit has been pressing this on my heart & it ties back into the Beatitudes so we are going to *take the scenic route* as my father used to say ~ meaning he was going home the long way!

Shortly before His death Jesus had this to say to His disciples: These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. [John 15:11]  What things? 

Condensed down into one simple statement it amounts to this: Keep My Commands! There is a promise attached to this command: you will abide in my love & your joy will be complete. [V10/11]

I hope you are beginning to see why I have spent so much time on the Beatitudes.  Not only is this Jesus foundational sermon, it lays down the principles by which we can grow in love.  What's more, we are given a measuring stick.  We can asses how we are doing in our spiritual walk by the amount of joy we posses.  I am not talking about happiness.  Happiness is fleeting & dependent on outward things.  I am talking about the joy of the Lord, which is our strength. [Nehemiah 8:10]

Now I pointed out last time there is a really loose linguistic link between joy & grace.  Joy is a grace. In the Greek Joy is chara but the word most closely related to it is charis ~ grace!  Nothing is more detrimental, nothing is so off~putting, nothing is such an anomaly as a Christian devoid of joy! We have got a reputation for being kill~joys & despite the command to neither grumble nor complain [Philippians 2:14] Christians often seem to do an awful lot of both.  I ask you, how on earth are we meant to convince the world that God is real , we are overcomers & nothing is so awesome as being a child of God when we whinge & bicker & grumble & complain about our lot in life just like anybody else & more than some?!

So let's start with gongysmos, variously translated as grumble or complain & containing nothing of joy.  It could be translated as a muttering, murmuring, low and suppressed discourse,  the expression of secret and sullen discontent, murmuring, complaint.  In other words it's a really stinky attitude being verbalised which is rebellion against God & rebellion is as the spirit of witchcraft.[1 Samuel 15:23]  It is the means by which we express our discontent with what God has assigned us as our portion in life!  Not a good place to be!

It is from this place of discontent a lot of other stinky attitudes flow resulting in a people devoid of joy & lacking the life of Christ flowing through them.  Living according to the Beatitudes should result in lives filled with joy but as we pointed out last week most of us have never seen this lived out so we struggle to wrap our minds, let alone our will & our flesh, around the concepts because we just don't know what it actually looks like when it is lived out. 

The biblical book that addresses the subject of Christian joy is Philippians & I am going to use, very loosely because the Holy Spirit has a way of running off at a tangent with these things, Warren Wiersbe's book on the subject. Wiersbe identifies 4 key areas where we can have the joy of the Lord: in spite of our circumstances; in spite of people; in spite of things; defeating worry.

The first principle I am going to give you is found in John 15:  Abide in me as I abide in you...Just as the branch cannot bear fruit fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.

We know this.  It gets repeated over & over but how soon we forget & find ourselves wallowing as we attempt to do things in our own strength instead of relying on the Holy Spirit.   Galatians identifies joy as a fruit of the Spirit. That means  it is not a normal, natural human condition.  Joy is something supernatural.  

I am a gardener, not a horticulturalist, but I know, because my grandfather did it, that when you graft a plant onto another plant it will naturally produce fruit just like the parent plant.  In this way my grandfather was able to grow 14 different species of roses on one rose vine.  In order for the graft to merge with the new parent plant, all other food sources must be removed so that all the graft's sustenance is coming from the root. 

When we are born again we are grafted into the body & life of Christ. Paul calls this being  grafted against  nature [Romans 11:24] because we are meant to  allow the full nature of Christ to grow in us.  In order for the graft to take well we need to draw all our sustenance from Christ & cut of anything else that will prevent the graft from taking.  Against all that is natural we will then produce the supernatural fruit of the Spirit.  It is absolutely impossible for us to produce this on our own or to fake it.  It must draw it's life from the root or the graft will wither & die, or merely produce natural fruit. 

This is such a fundamental principle it really should be taught in more depth than I have knowledge.  For example, root stock for most grafted plants is sturdy, pest resistant, disease hardy, adaptable to climate conditions etc but all root stock has one fallible trait;  it will persistently attempt to shoot below the graft so that the plant will revert to it's original form.  This is true of us.  Our old nature will persistently attempt to shoot up again returning us to old habits, old ways of thinking, actions contrary to the new nature we have in Christ.  The only way to combat this is to follow the instructions, resolutely cutting off everything that belongs to the old nature.  This is described in various ways as picking up your cross, crucifying your flesh, renewing your mind but it amounts to the same thing ~ working out our salvation with fear & trembling.

Remember last time we pointed out salvation works on 3 levels: we are saved [our spirit is immediately renewed when we believe on Christ] but we don't get the new body [obviously] @ the same time; that is for the hereafter ~ & we don't get the new mind; we have to constantly work at renewing that. [Romans 12:2] And it can all be just too hard.  We know what we should do but our flesh & our will is weak. We are used to relying on those 2 things because they are made for this world.  It is much harder to rely on the Spirit; we aren't used to doing that & many, many people give up before they learn but it doesn't have to be  so difficult.  

Jesus pointed out helps in His sermon on the mount: So we have a discussion concerning anger, & one on immorality, one about marriage, another about integrity, one on retaliation & loving our enemies.  These are all things that affect our ability to walk out the instructions Jesus opened with. We then find Jesus discussing 5 spiritual disciplines: Prayer, fasting, giving, serving & forgiveness ~the  things that will aide us in our spiritual growth & the things that will hinder us. To this list I would add bible reading, that is reading aloud, because Jesus instructed that His words abide in us.  As He is no longer physically around the only way to follow that instruction is by bible reading. 

Now I will show you something that I find fascinating.  You can read more about it here. Dopamine, serotonin &  oxytocin are the neurochemical drivers of the *happiness trifecta*.  They are released when we help others ~ so serving, giving, forgiveness all release chemicals in the brain that make us feel better! Jesus said it; science proves it!  All sorts of fascinating things happen to the brain when we pray in tongues. Here is one study. Or even when we just pray ordinarily.  

It is no surprise then to find that Paul, writing about joy to the Philippians, references the mind @ least 16 times.  In other words our attitude matters.  How we think, what we think about, how we think about what we think about determines the amount of joy we are going to experience. Proverbs 23:7 tells us For as he thinks within himself, so he is. In other words if we fill ourselves with bitterness, griping, complaining, unforgiveness we are going to release a lot of toxins into our bodies that are not very good for us & will prevent us from experiencing the fullness of joy that Christ destined us for. On the other hand, when we practice giving, serving, forgiveness we release good things into our bodies that are going to help us. 

Many people think that joy is simply something that happens to us but the bible actively teaches that there are actions & attitudes we can foster that will encourage joy to abide in us.  Joy is not the same as happiness. John 16:20 points out  a fundamental aspect of Christian joy:  Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy.  Christian joy is something that by definition is greater than ourselves, greater than our circumstances, greater than the people we interact with, greater than those things we worry about.  It is greater than anything that grieves us or causes us sorrow.  We understand that Jesus was * a man of sorrows & acquainted with grief*... Yet, 

who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [Hebrews 12:2]

I don't have time to go over the full teaching [you can find it here] but I will remind you briefly of Jesus attitude as He hung on that cross.  Again & again He referenced scripture, each & every time affirming the goodness of God the Father, the Father's love, the Father's redemption.  Remember to reference one line is to reference the whole in Hebrew thinking so even when Jesus quotes that great cry from Psalm 22, My God, My God, why have you foresaken me? we need to remember how it ends:

I will declare your name to my people;
in the assembly I will praise you.
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honour him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
For he has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him

but has listened to his cry for help.

Joy is not the denial of realityIt is assurance even in the face of adversity.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Faith to Live By ~ Rabqa

About six centuries before the Christian era, God gave the prophet Habakkuk a revelation that would provide the basis of the gospel; But the righteous will live by faith.( Habakkuk 2:4). Habakkuk struggles with His faith when he sees men flagrantly violate God’s law & distort justice on every level, without fear or divine intervention. He wants to know why God allows the growing iniquity to go unpunished. God’s answer satisfies Habakkuk that he can trust Him even in the worst of his struggles because of His matchless power & wisdom. This is the key verse in Habakkuk 2, which accurately express the prophecy of the theme of the Christian message; it is actually stated three times in the New Testament: in Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11 & Hebrews 10:38.

Of these three passages, Habakkuk’s prophecy is most fully expounded in Romans. In fact it provides the central theme for the epistle. To obtain a proper perspective on the book of Romans as a whole, we may compare the book to a symphony by a great composer like Beethoven.

The first fifteen verses of chapter one are the introduction. Then in verses sixteen & seventeen, Paul presents the main theme: But the righteous shall live by faith. (Verse 17).

The symphony is then divided into three main movements. The first consists of chapters through eight. In this movement, Paul’s approach is doctrinal. He worked out a detailed, logical analysis of his theme, showing how it harmonises with the prophecies & patterns of the Old Testament. The second movement consists of chapter’s nine to eleven. Paul here applies his theme to Israel. He shows how Israel’s attempt to achieve righteousness by works rather than by faith had blinded them to their Messiah & so deprived them of the blessings offered to them by God through Christ. The third movement consists of chapters twelve through to sixteen; where Paul emphasises the practical. He shows how his theme must be worked out in various activities, relationships & duties by daily living.

To appreciate a symphony properly, we need to pick out the composers main theme when it is first
introduced & then follow it carefully through the whole piece. Unless we keep the main theme in mind, we will not fully appreciate the various modifications & developments it undergoes in the successive movements. The same is true to the book of Romans. First we need to grasp the main theme that runs through the whole epistle: The righteous man shall live by faith (Romans 1:17). We now need to keep this theme always in mind as we study the epistle’s main division, noting how it applies to each particular subject that is dealt with. This will give unity & consistency to our understanding of the whole epistle.

In Romans 1:16 Paul states one of the basic requirements for experiencing the power of God for salvation: 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 (N L T).
The Jew first: Paul’s missionary practice in every city was to begin preaching the gospel in the Jewish synagogue, & then once the Jews had heard or refused to hear, to preach than to the Gentiles. This follows the pattern of God throughout most of the Old Testament, the pattern of Jesus during His earthly ministry, & the pattern of evangelism in the early church (Acts 1:8)
We should all be proclaiming the gospel boldly. Faith closes boldly & unswervingly to believe what God has said. Faith must learn again to believe totally the testimony of Scripture! Among the keys to faithful living is the truth of our conversion. Faith frees us to live as never before for the good of others.

In Verse 17, Paul tells us how this truth of salvation can be known: This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”

The word faith occurs three times in the King James Version which says that God revelation comes from faith to faith. That means that it originates in God’s own faith-faith that His Word will accomplish its preordained purpose. It is transmitted through the faith of the one who delivers the message. It is appropriated by faith of the one who receives the message. & the
message itself is, again “The righteous man shall live by faith.” From beginning to end, the theme is faith.

Let’s examine the message more closely. It could not be stated more simply: “The righteous man shall live by faith. We learn from this verse that those who are just shall live by faith. Faith is having confidence in God. It is important that we learn to be consistently confident, & NOT occasionally confident. Let me give you an example of this.

In my early days of preaching I was absolutely terrified of getting up to speak, I had never done any public speaking But the thing that got me over my fear was I knew without a doubt that the Holy Spirit would be with me & of course He was & I might add that He still is. I couldn’t do it without Him, He is there helping from the start of putting my message on paper & all the way through to the end of delivering it.

This of course didn’t happen overnight I had to grow in my confidence to place where I am now;
whether they reject or accept me it does not alter my confidence level. My confidence is in God & not people.

Romans 1:17 speaks about the whole issue of faith. It says that we shall live by faith. The King James Version of the Bile says “The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith” In other words we can go from faith to faith. We can lose a lot of precious time till we become consistent in our faith walk.

We all can have consistent & confident faith; we need to ask God to help us to resist the enemy’s attack when he tries to rob us of that faith. We must learn to go from “faith to faith” with overcoming confidence.

In the Gospel of John he continually focuses on the divine eternal life. John 1:4 The Word gave life to everything that was created,[a] and his life brought light to everyone. In 3:36, he reordered John the Baptists testimony concerning Jesus; He who believes in the Son has eternal life. John 4:6 I
tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. 10:10 says... My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. 10:27-28 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, finally in 20:31 ... that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.

John’s first epistle returns to this theme 1John 5:11-12And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.

It is so important to see that John used the present tense throughout. “He who has the Son has life” You who believe...have eternal life.

Paul also spoke of this life we have in Christ in brief & vivid phrases in Philippians 1:21 he said For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.& in Colossians 3:4 And when Christ, who is your[a] life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. For Paul & likewise for John, life in Christ was a present reality, not just a future hope.

We see that this is the essence of the gospel message. There is a divine, eternal life that has its source in God alone. God has made this life available to us in Jesus Christ. As we receive Jesus by faith into our hearts & yield our lives to Him in full obedience, we receive in Him the very life of God. Now this life is not something reserved for another world or a future existence. But it is something that we can have & experience here & now. Whoever has the Son has life... (1John 5:12). We learn from this passage that we have everlasting life at this very moment & on into eternity. It is ours at the very moment that we truly put our faith in Jesus Christ.

Having received this new kind of life through faith in Christ, we are faced with a challenge of working it out from day to day in practical living. I hear you ask “How can I do this?” Simply by faith. This truth is contained in Pauls opening theme: The righteous man shall live by faith (Romans 1:17). From a practical standpoint, the verb “live” is one of the most all-inclusive words we can use. Everything we do at any time is included: eating, drinking, sleeping, working & the innumerable other activities of life. Through Faith, every one of these common activities can become a way to express the life of God that we received within us.

We are often prone to assume that mundane actions of daily life have no spiritual significance & offer no place for the application of our faith. But Scripture actually teaches the opposite. It is only after we have successfully applied our faith in the simple, material areas of life that God will promote us to higher spiritual responsibilities. Jesus laid down this principal in Luke 16:10-11. If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. 11 And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?

God will test our fitness to receive the true riches of heaven by our use of material possessions.

Therefore, in examining how w can work out our faith in daily living, we will consider two practical, down-to-earth areas: Food & finance. Once a believer has learnt to apply his or her faith in these two areas is likely to be leading a successful Christian life. On the other hand, if a person has not brought these basic areas under God’s control, it is usually a indication that his or her whole life needs to be adjusted.

Romans 12:1 And so, dear brothers and sisters,[a] I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

Paul here is telling us that we are to dedicate everything about ourselves to God that is not just our possessions money, time, energy & efforts, but also our bodies, heads, hands, tongues & even our mind, motions & attitudes.

We are to dedicate everything about ourselves to God as a living sacrifice, holy, devoted consecrated & pleasing to Him. This is our reasonable or rational intelligent service to Him.  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 says 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 people. Allow God to use you all of you. The more of yourself & your life that you release to Him the more you will fulfilled & experience His peace & joy.

Paul deals with a variety of practical issues related to the Christian life. In Romans 14:2 he says For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables.

Among Christians there is room for toleration & differences of strictness regarding such issues as eating & habits (Verses 2-4) & observing special days in the Christian life (verses 5-6). Since both parties do it to honour God (verse 6) neither should look down on the other. Yet Paul does say that the Christian who refuses to eat certain things is weak or immature in the faith since eating is really morally relative. & in verse 23 he states But if you have doubts about whether or not you
should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning. This verse means that if a person has scruples about matters not wrong in & of themselves should not act contrary to his conscience because to violate the conscience is not acting in faith but sin.

1 Timothy 4:4-5 Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks. 5 For we know it is made acceptable[a] by the word of God and prayer.
Every creature God made for man’s health & nourishment is good for that purpose & is to be received with thanks. Our food consumption should be preceded by the Word of God & prayer as we believe that the Lord will sanctify & bless it.

1Corinthains 10:31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Through faith our daily meals take on the nature of a sacrament, of which we partake for God’s glory. This was one of the most immediate & obvious effects produced in the lives of the first Christians by the out pouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Their meals became spiritual feasts of worship. Luke says in Acts 2:46-47 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity[a]— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

This gives us a snapshot of the life of the believers in the early church. Being part of a local church is one of the great joys & responsibilities of every believer. However, it involves more than showing up on a Sunday! How do you participate in the life of your Church? While you experience different levels of involvement in a church during different seasons of your life, be sure to consistently avail yourself of opportunities to fellowship, worship serve & receive teaching of the Word.

We will now turn to the book of Ecclesiastes & 5:17 (NKJV) All his days he also eats in darkness, And he has much sorrow and sickness and anger.

To eat in darkness is just opposite of eating from faith. Such a man does not acknowledge his food is a gift from God. Therefore it is not blessed & sanctified. The result is that he has much sorrow, sickness & anger. To eat without faith is to invite sorrow sickness & anger.

For the sake of time I am going to pause here & continue next time.

Acknowledgements Derek Prince.