Sunday, 30 August 2015

Praying God's word. Rabqa

All Scriptures are from N L T unless otherwise stated.

The prayers of the Bible are an amazing gift from God & they have much to teach us how Jesus, Job, Moses, David, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Peter, Paul, & many others talked with God.

These prayers also help us to talk to God, just as Jesus used several of David's prayers in His final moments on the cross.

Matt 27:46
At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Ps 22:1 My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Lk 23:46 Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.

We find in the Prayers of Scripture, help carry our thoughts & emotions to God. When we use the prayers from God's Word humbly & expectantly
they encourage us in our own prayers,& we open our hearts & lives to deeper faith, renewed strength, fresh blessings, & God's power.

True faith is humble & humility is the opposite of the proud selfishness & self-centred ambition that characterises this present evil age. self~centredness is the essence of worldliness. Therefore to be a self-centred person is to be at enmity with God.

God invites us to come closer to Him through the prayers of His Word. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness Rom 8:26
As we pray God's Word from our hearts, the Holy spirit breathes new life into our prayers & also into us.

We can use God prayers to praise & honor Him. Love prompts action, which reflects what God did for us in the incarnation. Because of love & for the sake of restoring relationship, God in the person of Jesus came near. Ps 37:4 tells us that as we delight in the Lord He awakens desires within us that reflect His heart.

True praise, that is praise with active faith that is greater then emotion, it is a daring thing, because it challenges us to leave old old paths of the human heart behind & reach for something beyond ourselves, giving ourselves up to God.

God commands us to take delight in Him as we see in psalm 37:4 Take delight in the Lord & He will give you the desires of your heart. The command confronts us & calls us to a higher way of thinking, That isn't easy, it costs us something It may begin as hard work but it doesn't end up that way.
God never leaves us where we are. With every effort we make to draw nearer to Him we are promised that He will come close to us James 4:8
Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.

When you dare to delight in the Lord He will not only give you your hearts desire but He becomes it.

When you pray God's Word you will discover that God Is moving in your life. Some of the Scriptures you can pray to praise & honor God are Ex 15:6&7
Your right hand, O LORD, is glorious in power. Your right hand, O LORD, smashes the enemy. In the greatness of your majesty, you overthrow those who rise against you. You unleash your blazing fury; it consumes them like straw. Ps104:1-10 Let all that I am praise the LORD. O LORD my God, how great you are! You are robed with honour and majesty. You are dressed in a robe of light. You stretch out the starry curtain of the heavens; you lay out the rafters of your home in the rain clouds. You make the clouds your chariot; you ride upon the wings of the wind. The winds are your messengers; flames of fire are your servants. You placed the world on its foundation so it would never be moved. You clothed the earth with floods of water, water that covered even the mountains. At your command, the water fled; at the sound of your thunder, it hurried away. Mountains rose and valleys sank to the levels you decreed. Then you set a firm boundary for the seas, so they would never again cover the earth. You make springs pour water into the ravines, so streams gush down from the mountains
Ps 145:1-7 I will exalt you, my God and King, and praise your name forever and ever. I will praise you every day; yes, I will praise you forever. Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness. Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power. I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendour and your wonderful miracles. Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness. Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about your righteousness.

 Jer 32:17-20 O Sovereign LORD! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you! You show unfailing
love to thousands, but you also bring the consequences of one generation’s sin upon the next. You are the great and powerful God, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. You have all wisdom and do great and mighty miracles. You see the conduct of all people, and you give them what they deserve. You performed miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt—things still remembered to this day! And you have continued to do great miracles in Israel and all around the world. You have made your name famous to this day.

Luke 1:68,70,74-75Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people
Luke 1:70 just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago Luke 1:74-75 We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.

It is so good to praise the Lord for He has done great things for us, the main thing He did was to rescue us from satan's clutches He deserves all the glory, praise, & honour.

We need to pray to confess our sins & humble ourselves before Him.
Jesus has many names & titles but the one I like best of all is the one the Pharisees gave Him Friend of the sinners. He said in Lk 19:10 that He came to seek & save those who are lost. A true friend will love you even when you don't deserve it & will look out for you when you have lost your way.
John 15:13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Brotherly love in this verse summarises the entire duty & direction of Jesus. The direct simplicity of this statement establishes the priority & the path we are to follow. Our priority is to love one & another. & Our path is to love as Christ loved us. Laying down His life.

Who can measure this love? Christ gave up the comforts, joy, & adoration of heaven to be sullied by the soil of the earth & carry the sins of sinners. His bearing of agonising pain through beatings, nails in His hand, the spear in His side, the thorns on His head, all exemplify His love, We must follow His example. We see the manner of His love & are called to to bear with others' sins with inflicted pain with stabbing cruel remakes & treatment. This I know sounds impossible to our human nature, but as temples of the Holy Spirit who has poured out the love of God in our hearts we can ask for & receive the grace & kindness to love as Jesus loved.

I know we love to think as Jesus as our friend But friendship is a two-way street. We need to ask ourselves what kind of friend am I to Jesus? If we are some ones friend then we are going to care for our relationship & be mindful of the things that could be hurtful or cause distant between us. Nothing caused Jesus more pain then sin. we need to draw near to God Heb 10:22-23

Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.

Faith excepts the Bible record of who Jesus is & what He has accomplished on our behalf. It also draws near to God & clings to Him tenaciously. the believer accepts the benefits of Jesus' sacrifice & enters God's presence with confidence Faith believes the Bible implicitly, knowing it is God's living self-expression & submits to it's judgement. & faith is willing to suffer with Christ knowing it will receive a good reward.

Remembering how much our sins cost Jesus helps us to be a better friend, including the prayer of the Word of God of confession &
humbling ourselves before God.

2 Sam:7:20 What more can I say to you? You know what your servant is really like, Sovereign LORD.
 Ps 19:12How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults.

In these prayers there is real humility & a description of what sin does does to us. Ps31:10 I am dying from grief; my years are shortened by sadness. Sin has drained my strength; I am wasting away from within. Ps 40:12 For troubles surround me too many to count! My sins pile up so high I can’t see my way out they out number the hairs oh my head I have lost all courage.
2Sam 7:20-22 tells us that He knows us completely & yet He still loves us. You know there is There is none like Him.

Some Scriptures we can pray when confessing sins & humbling ourselves are found in Ps 38 1-4
O LORD, don’t rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your rage! Your arrows have struck deep, and your blows are crushing me. Because of your anger, my whole body is sick; my health is broken because of my sins. My guilt overwhelms me— it is a burden too heavy to bear. also Verse 18 But I confess my sins; I am deeply sorry for what I have done Ps 131:1-2
LORD, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me. Ps 51:7-9 Purify
me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. One of my favourite verse in Psalm 103:12 As far as the east is from the west so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Ps 119:169-179 O LORD, listen to my cry; give me the discerning mind you promised. Listen to my prayer; rescue me as you promised. Let praise flow from my lips, for you have taught me your decrees. Let my tongue sing about your word, for all your commands are right. Give me a helping hand, for I have chosen to follow your commandments. O LORD, I have longed for your rescue, and your instructions are my delight. Let me live so I can praise you, and may your regulations help me. I have wandered away like a lost sheep; come and find me, for I have not forgotten your commands

God loves us so much that He is concerned about our everyday needs. It is a tendency for us to rush in to the throne room with a shopping list of wants. Throughout His Word He encourages us to come boldly into His throne room. (Heb4:16) I can only imagine what it looks like in heaven. Our Heavenly Father is seated high upon His throne & exalted, around His throne are Seraphs hiding there faces in worship before the awesome wonder of the Ancient of Days (Isa 61:1-2) & like children we come rushing in making our wants & wishes known.

That is a rough picture but there is still grace & beauty in it, for we are all children of the Father saved by faith in His crucified son (1Jn 1:10-12)
We can come boldly & without fear because God is Abba Father, He is our Dad, our Daddy God (Rom 8:15). He knows our daily needs & cares deeply about them. He is concerned about them. We need to be concerned about the condition of our heart, & the more our heart matures the more it will beat in rhythm with His. It is God's deepest desire that we grow & mature in our understanding of what it means to have a relationship with him.
Here are some Scriptures we can pray for our every day needs.
Ps 23:1-6
The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk
through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD FOR EVER 

Ps 104:24-30 LORD, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures. Here is the ocean, vast and wide, teeming with life of every kind, both large and small. See the ships sailing along, and Leviathan, which you made to play in the sea. They all depend on you to give them food as they need it. When you supply it, they gather it. You open your hand to feed them, and they are richly satisfied. But if you turn away from them, they panic. When you take away their breath, they die and turn again to dust. When you give them your breath, life is created, and you renew the face of the earth.
 Ps 68:7-10 O God, when you led your people out from Egypt, when you marched through the dry wasteland, Interlude the earth trembled, and the heavens poured down rain before you, the God of Sinai, before God, the God of Israel. You sent abundant rain, O God, to refresh the weary land. There your people finally settled, and with a bountiful harvest, O God, you provided for your needy people.
Ps 69:16 Answer my prayers, O LORD, for your unfailing love is wonderful. Take care of me, for your mercy is so plentiful We will now look at prayers for direction & guidance. The Bible tells us that God guides His children through all kinds of circumstances.

He went ahead of Israel through the wilderness, leading them with a pillar of cloud by day & a pillar of fire by night. (Ex 13:21) He sent angels to lead Lot & His family out of Sodom (Gen 19:16) &
Peter out of prison (Acts 12:7) Both David & Isaiah describe God as affectionate as a Shepherd ( Ps 23; Isa 40:11) & Micah prophesied about Jesus " He will stand to lead His flock with the lords strength" (Mic 5:4)
It is surprising to note that no where in the Old or New Testament do we find a step by step process by which we can determine God's will.

God's guidance stems from our relationship with Him. Our Shepherd wants to feed us, carry us in His arms, hold us close to His heart, & gently lead us. (Isa 40:11). We are to pray continually (1Thess 5:17) Because it is impossible to discern God's leading in our life without prayer, they are to be relational prayers, relational prayers don't just seek His will but also His face, they put us in a place where the Lord can help us discover His leading & to respond with deeper obedience & love. God reminded His people in Isa 30:15 Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.

All to often we want to run ahead of God, running our own lives, then ask God to bless us. Oswald Chambers says: "If we could see the floor of
God's immediate presence, we would find it strewn with toys' of God's children who have said "this is broken, I can't play with it any more, please give me another present." Only one in a thousand sits down in the midst of it all & says ' I will watch My Father mend this'.

Some Scriptures to pray for guidance & direction. Ps 25:1 O Lord I give my life to You. 3-4 No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced, but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others. Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow.

Ps 119:129-136 Your laws are wonderful. No wonder I obey them! The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand. I pant with expectation, longing for your commands. Come and show me your mercy, as you do for all who love your name. my steps by your word, so I will not be overcome by evil. Ransom me from the oppression of evil people; then I can obey your commandments. Look upon me with love; teach me your decrees. Rivers of tears gush from my eyes because people disobey your instructions.

Now we will look at prayers to say thank you & give praise. Take a moment to think where would you be without Jesus, Ephesians 2:12 sums it up nicely
In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope.

Without Christ describes the estrangement we had before He was in our lives, He is the fountainhead of futility & hopelessness. I can never go past the prayer in Ephesians 1:18-21 (NKJ)
the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

We can't thank God enough & praying His Word cultivates us & opens our eyes to the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints. It is like praying all the blessings that God has ever given you.

Jesus met ten lepers at the Samaritan boarder but only one came back to say thank you. What about the other nine? probably to caught up in themselves, & the gift of healing they had just received then to remember the Giver.
The one who came back fell at the feet of Jesus, giving thanks for what he had done, he was a Samaritan, Jesus told him to stand up & go, his faith had made him whole. Lk (17:15-16;19).What Jesus was in fact saying was that his faith had saved him.

True gratitude makes us come back to God, we have a choice, we can go our own way & be distracted by all God has given us, or we can come to Jesus & worship Him for all He has done for us.

Some Scriptures we can use to offer up our thanks. 1Chron 29:10-15 O LORD, the God of our ancestor Israel, may you be praised forever and ever! Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O LORD, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength.
“O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name! But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us! We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.

Ps 28:6-7 Praise the LORD! For he has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving Matt 11:25-26 At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way!

Remember our walk with the Lord is by faith. Be encouraged; His Word will not return to Him void. It always accomplishes that for which it was sent.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

The Ministry of Reconciliation. ~ Ganeida

Before we begin I have word from the Lord to share.  This morning the Lord reminded me of Joshua & Caleb ~ the two spies that were not intimidated by the size of the people in the land the Lord had promised them & believed the Lord would deliver the land to them as promised.  I believe the Lord said we live in occupied territory ruled by a usurper but we are to occupy the land until He comes. Even take territory. The battle rages but we have not been called to lay down our weapons yet.

John 3:16-17New King James Version
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved

Romans 5:5New King James Version
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

2 Corinthians 5:18-19New King James Version
18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
Three verses, 3 words:



These are the 6 things the Lord gave me for today.  There is an interconnection but before we can see how they relate to each other & to us we have to look at them individually.

Let us start with John 3:16.  This is a very familiar verse but the Lord only highlighted one word for me.  Gave.  God gave.  God is love [1 jn 4:9] & love always gives.  As followers of Jesus our walk with God begins & ends with this verse.  God gave us His son & in Him we have salvation, redemption, provision, healing, joy, eternal life…& so much more. As it is explained in 2nd Corinthians… that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself,

John 3:16 says very specifically God gave His only son. Now one of the names of Jesus is Sar Shalom, in English usually rendered, Prince of Peace.  As we keep finding this is not a terribly accurate rendering of the original Hebrew. Sar does not expressly imply royalty.  Rather it means an overseer, or one who rules over, is responsible for, something.  Jesus oversees, is responsible for, Shalom.

Shalom is one of those Hebrew words for which there is no good & accurate translation that carries the exact Hebrew meaning. Broken into it’s Hebrew components it implies teaching, learning, a direct connection between God & Torah. Bear in mind that Torah is nowhere mentioned in the New Testament.  The word is the Greek nomos.  In Scripture it is not a legal definition.  It means teaching & so the New Testament application is that Jesus’ teaching is our Torah, our teaching with the application of a better covenant based on better promises Hebrews 8:6. In the Greek use of nomos it is implied there is a normal or usual application of Torah but there are exceptions that are valid while still within the law.  For example the soul that sins shall die; the legal exception is Christ died for us so that we do not have to die.

Shalom is a word that expresses the fullness of God ~ what Moses was aware of when God’s glory passed before him. It includes contentment, completeness, wholeness, well being, harmony, health, welfare, safety, prosperity, fullness, rest, tranquillity ~ the fullness of God as expressed through the Ruach haKodesh in Jesus Christ.  This is not only the why but the how of *God with Us*. So when we have shalom we have all of God in Jesus Christ through His Holy Spirit.  When we bless using Numbers 6:24-26: YHWH bless you and keep you. YHWH make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. YHWH lift up His face upon you and give you SHALOM

We invoke a very powerful blessing.  Remember there is death & life in the power of the tongue.  Shalom invokes the fullness of life in God.
The next word is Hesed, love.  Remember we said hesed is agape in the Greek & is talking about the way God loves.  It speaks not of feelings but an attitude of lovingkindness, mercy & loyalty. It also implies redemption from enemies & troubles, preservation of life, redemption from sin & keeping of the covenants.

 As I was thinking about Romans 5:5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us, a verse that is used to teach we have God’s love abiding within us, The Holy Spirit showed me something. This is a verse that can be read to mean something completely different & I believe both readings are correct.

What is the very first of the 10 Commandments?

That’s right.  Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all thy strength…the Holy Spirit enables us to love God with heart, mind & strength because Hebrews 8:10 says : For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

Paul is quoting from both Jeremiah & Isaiah.  It is reiterated in Romans11:27 & Hebrews 10:16 & expanded upon in 2 Corintians 3:3 when Paul says: You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

The result of this is Tov ~ a people who are functioning in the way that they were designed to operate.  The old Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it this way:  What is the chief end of man? Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever. ..

That is what Adam & Eve had.  That is what they lost. They were able to walk with God in the cool of the evening & enjoy His company.  As soon as they sinned they hid from Him, unable to enjoy His company because they were far more aware of their wrong than they were of God.

Which brings me to 2nd Corinthians…
2 Corinthians 5:18-19New King James Version
18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
Jesus told us to go into all the world & make disciples.  What we offer is the Ministry of Reconciliation. 

The church has a history of focusing only on salvation but to focus exclusively on salvation is to miss the mark.  It is certainly to miss what Jesus meant when he told us to make disciples.  Disciples are followers.  They exhibit the character of the one they follow.  If we are followers of Jesus we will exhibit His character. 

What did the character of Jesus look like?  He was Emmanuel, God with us, God made man, God clothed in flesh to walk amongst us & show us how it is done.

Ours is a broken world, a dysfunctional world, a world that knows neither peace nor wholeness. It has a distorted understanding of what it is to love & to be loved.  It has a distorted understanding of what it means to follow Jesus.  It has a distorted understanding of what it means to be useful & functional. We are a throw away society & one of the things we throw away is people.  We throw away babies in abortion; we through away the disabled, the mentally impaired, the mentally ill, the veteran, the homeless, the addict, pets for a holiday, children for a job, money on toys that will never satisfy the deep emptiness at the core of our being.

When we come into union with Christ a number of things happen but probably the most important is we stop arguing with God.  We agree we are sinners in need of a saviour.  As soon as we do that we come into agreement with God & He can begin to do something about it because all provision for us has already been made for us in Christ.

It is Jesus who said that He came that we might have life, & have it in abundance John10:10.  The life Jesus speaks of is the zoe life, the God~life, & we are meant to experience it in abundance, above & beyond what is natural, an extraordinary life, a life of excess ~ excess in God. That is the meaning of perissos.  This is our ministry.  No, it can’t be done without salvation but our lives are meant to be attractive, to declare the glory of God & what He has done for us & in us.  Our love for Jesus should be a consuming fire that draws others towards God.  We were never meant to go about *bible~bashing*. We are meant to live the gospel.

I have 2 thoughts to finish on.  Both come courtesy of Buddy Bell & though he was speaking on the Ministry of helps I believe both thoughts are pertinent here.

The first is this: People will never grow beyond the leadership.  Please pray for your leaders.  Leaders need to pray for each other that we will always to continue to grow, to be passionate followers of Christ, that we will grow to know Him more & more.  Passionate people who love God more than anything or anyone else are going to display more & more the zoe life of perissos & the ministry of reconciliation will flow naturally & abundantly out of that passion.  As the leadership, so the people.  It is mutually beneficial.

The 2nd thought is this: Sunday is meant to be, at least in part, a celebration of the life lived well for God.  When we arrive here on Sunday are we hoping for enough food to see us through the coming week or do we arrive excited to share how God has lived through us last week?  Hosea6:6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

God gave that we might have life.  Let us go & do likewise.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Obedience. ~ Rabqa

There is more Scripture in this message than anything else, because God calls His people to obedience, & only He can tell us what obedience means to Him.

All Scriptures are from NLT unless otherwise stated.

The Greek word for obedience is hupakoe the word signifies attentive hearing, to listen with compliant submission, assent & agreement. It is used for obedience to God's commands, & for Christ's obedience.
Obedience is carrying out the word & will of another person, especially the will of God. In both the Old & New Testaments the word obey is related to the idea of hearing.

Obedience is a positive, active response to what a person hears. God summons people to active obedience to His revelation.
Man's failure to obey God results in judgement. In the Old Testament covenant between God & man, obedience was the basis for knowing God's blessing & favour (Ex 19:5;24;1-8)

Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. Ex 19:5 Then the LORD instructed Moses: “Come up here to me, and bring along Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of Israel’s elders. All of you must worship from a distance. Only Moses is allowed to come near to the LORD. The others must not come near, and none of the other people are allowed to climb up the mountain with him.” Then Moses went down to the people and repeated all the instructions and regulations the LORD had given him. All the people answered with one voice, “We will do everything the LORD has commanded.” Then Moses carefully wrote down all the LORD’s instructions. Early the next morning Moses got up and built an altar at the foot of the mountain. He also set up twelve pillars, one for
each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he sent some of the young Israelite men to present burnt offerings and to sacrifice bulls as peace offerings to the LORD. Moses drained half the blood from these animals into basins. The other half he splattered against the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it aloud to the people. Again they all responded, “We will do everything the LORD has commanded. We will obey.” Then Moses took the blood from the basins and splattered it over the people, declaring, “Look, this blood confirms the covenant the LORD has made with you in giving you these instructions.”Ex 24;1-8
We see in these verses not to trust yourself to obey God's Word but to depend on the Holy Spirit.

God Call's His people to wisdom. Wisdom is knowing how to apply truth. This book Exodus) gives principles that teach us how to live wisely &
please God. It also teaches us certain wise practices. The Holy Spirit will train us to practice wisdom as a discipline that will lead to the fullness of life.

In verses 4-6 the sealing of the covenant was complemented. Moses acted as mediator between God & the people. The dividing of the blood pointed to a twofold aspect of the covenant; the blood splashed on the alter demonstrated God's gracious forgiveness in accepting the offering; the blood sprinkled on the people bound them to God.
The twelve pillars represented the twelve tribes of Israel.

Samuel emphasised that God's pleasure was not a sacrifice in 1 Sam 15;22 What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings & sacrifices or your obedience to His voice? Listen! Obedience is a better than sacrifice & submission is a better offering then the fat of rams.
Even the promise of a new covenant emphasised obedience as God's gift. Jer 31:33

But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days,” says the LORD.

“I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
In the New Testament, the Obedience of Christ stands in contrast to the disobedience of Adam. The disobedience of Adam brought death, but the perfect obedience of Christ bought grace, righteousness & life. Rom 5:12- 21

When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. Yes, people sinned even before the law was given. But it was not counted as sin because there was not yet any law to break. Still, everyone died—from the time of Adam to the time of Moses—even those who did not disobey an explicit commandment of God, as Adam did. Now Adam is a symbol, a representation of Christ, who was yet to come. But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other Man, Jesus Christ. And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to
condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous. God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Adam was characterised by disobedience, while Christ is characterised by obedience. We are in Adam by birth but in Christ by faith. In Adam we are commended to die, but because of Christ's redemptive work we can be justified & live if we are in Him by faith.

One purpose of the law was to make sin obvious & so to make evident the need for redemption.

Heb 5:8 NKJ Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
We should be studying Jesus' life as our model for suffering & obedience.
He who is devoted to Jesus recognises his fleshly tendency to become lackadaisical & studies to avoid it.

The Scriptures shape his thinking & he devotes time to prayer, to waiting upon the Lord & to praise & thanksgiving.

Heb 11:8-10
It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.

Abraham demonstrated his faith by obedience in leaving Ur & journeying to unknown land, in living long years in the promised land as a foreigner in temporary quarters Acts 5:7) & patiently waiting his permanent abode.

1 Pet 1:2
God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.
It is imperative that we understand that we know that we are chosen by God & set apart by the Holy Spirit in order to live obediently to Jesus Christ.

God call His people to obedience. As Jesus was absolutely obedient to His father's will. so His Church is to be obedient to His.
Obedience is to characterise the lives of the saints. This means they do God's will & deny the desires that formerly controlled them. Faithful
obedience purifies God's people.

Is 1:19 If you will only obey Me you will have plenty to eat. But if you turn away & refuse to listen, you will be devoured by the sword of your enemies. I the Lord have spoken.

We need to understand that repentance & obedience are reasonable to a willing & obedient heart, but folly to one with a resistant & rebellious attitude.

We may believe that if we sin we will be be immediately be made aware of it; but sin is subtle, & our hearts may not perceive or acknowledge our guilt.

So those most in need of repentance & cleansing may have no awareness of their spiritual state. Therefore, we must continually examine ourselves before the Lord, asking Him to enlighten our hearts to any unacknowledged sin & to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.

Acts 6:7 NKJ

Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith. 

Rom 15:18,19 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word & deed, to make the Gentiles obedient In mighty signs & wonders by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem & round about to Illyricum I have preached the gospel of Christ.

In verse 18 where Paul says "not accomplished" he is saying that he will not speak of things that Christ has not accomplished through him in Word & deed, that is by the proclamation of the truth, by demonstration of miracles & powerful answers to prayer, & in his own example of a Christlike life.

Signs & wonders accompanied Paul's preaching to authenticate it in the eyes of those who heard.

Eph 6:5
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.
Do not be merely a people – pleaser at work! Serve the Lord in all you do. Recognise that it is He who has signed you to that post of responsibility.

Ephesians has much to say about building Godly relationships. This is one of the major themes in the New Testament. Our relationships are to be loving, truthful, & selfless, & submissive. In other words Ephesians exhorts that we relate to others as Jesus relates to the Father & to us.

Phil 2:8 He humbled Himself in obedience to God & died a criminals death on a cross.
Paul describes in majestic terms the three-step process of Jesus humbling Himself in verse 7 he emptied Himself, became a servant & became a man. His obedience unto death made possible eternal life for all who place there trust in Him.

Titus 2:5
To be discreet, chaste, home-makers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
Older women are to assume the responsibilities of their new position in the gospel. These include providing a proper example to the younger women & teaching them Christian character & domestic responsibilities least they bring disgrace on the faith by abusing their new found freedom.

1Pet 1:14
So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then.

We must become Characteristically obedient! Do not let former desires to continue to shape or direct your life.

God calls His people to obedience. As Jesus was absolutely obedience to His Fathers will. So His Church is to be to His. Obedience is to characterise the lives of the saints. This means they do God's will & deny the desires that formerly controlled them. Faithful obedience purifies God's people.

Ex 5:2
And Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, nor will I let Israel go.
Pharaoh was considered to be divine. So he had a difficult time believing that a God of enslaved people, even if He did exist, could present a threat to him as long as that God & His people stayed captives.

1 Sam 15:22 NKJ So Samuel said: "Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings & sacrifice, AS in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold to obey is better than sacrifice, & to heed than the fat of rams".

Do not substitute religion for obedience to God's Word. Know that disobedience & rebellion are witchcraft in God's sight. Understand that to hear Gods Word & not practice or obey it, is to reject it.
Belief results in obedience; what we practice provides evidence of our faith. Faith is not merely a propositional affirmation. It determines action, produces obedience & through overcoming, becomes fruitful. Acts5:29 tells us that we ought to obey God rather than man.

Rom 6:16
Don’t you realise that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.
Obey Christ your new Master not sin your old master.

The book of Romans reveals a new victorious

method for dealing with sin. Living free of sin's rule is now possible because we are no longer slaves to sin, but have become slaves of God, & able to choose righteousness rather than being bound to the old nature. Obedience to the Word of God gains a new nature of holiness.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Under the Shadow of His Wings. ~ Ganeida

We are living in evil days; days where men are calling
evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!  Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight!… Isaiah 5:20/21

If we are wise we know there is only one place where safety is to be found & the only way to be in that safe place to be absolutely rock solid in our understanding of who we are in Christ & what He has done for us.

What I want to look at today is God’s provision of a safe place.  I am going to start with 2 scriptures.

The first is from Psalm 64:4/5 Let me dwell in Your tent forever; Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. Selah.  For You have heard my vows, O God; You have given me the inheritance of those who fear Your name

The 2nd is Ruth 2:12 ~ May the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done."
There are 2 ideas that are established in these verses & they are wonderfully tied together in the person of Jesus Christ.

The first idea is in the little word *tent*.  In Hebrew the word is ohel.  By now we have done enough word definitions that you will immediately know more is hidden in the meaning of this word than first appears.

Firstly we have the 2 letters
that form EL, one of God’s names, separated by the letter Hay. In Hebrew, words that comprise the EL word with another letter in the middle are usually words which lead towards something. yesheva4me  It can be a picture of returning to God by means of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. John J Parsons ~ Hebrew for Christians.  Ohel is also one word for the basic framework of reality.

In Genesis 24:67 we read that Isaac brought Rebecca to the tent of his mother Sarah, & he took Rebecca as his wife & loved her… Why?  By this point Sarah is dead & this event takes place immediately Abraham’s servant returns with the chosen bride for Isaac.
In effect Isaac is revealing to Rebecca his mother’s world view, her reality, the path she followed & the reality, or the world view, he wanted in his own home.  When Rebecca understood that he married her.  You see Isaac wanted to pass on a Godly heritage & he understood that both partners needed to work in unison in order to achieve that. Sarah was a woman of Faith.  Rebecca was to follow in her footsteps, understanding that wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord, & that the centre of their marriage, their family, was to be God.
Keep this in mind as we move forward in history. 

I will come back to discuss the Ark of the Covenant in detail but for now I simply want to point out a progression. 

The first *house* that was built for the Ark was a tent.  It was always placed in the centre of the Hebrew camp & the tribes of Israel encamped about it in a designated order. This is the next meaning of ohel [tent].  It can mean the Tent of Meeting; that is the tabernacle, the holy place, the place where God meets with His people.

 By the time of Jesus Jesus is refers to His body as the temple John 2:21 with the logical extension in 1 Corinthians 6:19 Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,
Under the New Covenant we ourselves become the meeting place for God.  That is a very wonderful thing but there is something more here & it is revealed through the 2nd word we are looking at.  That word is kanap; wing.

Please bear with me.  I will go slowly but I want you to fully grasp God’s provision & what scripture reveals about God’s protection. 

I have found that God is a brilliant teacher.  He provides pictures.  He provides actions to perform. He provides things to taste & things to say; things to hear & things to touch. One of the first things He provided was an instruction that all Hebrew men were to wear tzitzit . These are literally tassels, but can mean *wings* as we will see & traditionally you will see them on the corners of the prayer shawl though nowhere in scripture is this term used.  The term you will probably be more familiar with is *outer garment*.  This would have been some sort of cloak or *mantle* such as Elijah wore & on each of its four corners you would have found a long *string* or tassel. Twined in the knot pattern was *the blue thread* as commanded in Exodus.

The blue dye to make this thread was farmed from the murex trunculus or Chilazon & you needed 12,000 snails to make just a thimbleful of dye.  Consequentially it was hugely expensive & eventually the snails were farmed to extinction.  A garment with this would have been expensive & passed down from father to son.
Each blue thread is knotted 613 times for the 613 laws of Moses ~ 365 prohibitions, 248 affirmations. It includes the Shema: Hear oh, Israel, the Lord our God, The Lord is one. They were worn as a visible reminder to walk according to God’s Laws. The blue colour represents the ruach hakadesh ~ God’s Holy Spirit. It also is the servant thread & represents messiah in the same way the servant candle of the menorah is symbolic of Jesus.

To cover oneself with the tallit, the mantle, is to cover oneself with the presence of God & to form a private, personal *tent* & may have been part of what Jesus meant when he gave instructions about a *prayer closet*.

Now we will return for a moment to the Ark of the Covenant. You will remember that God specifically instructed that the lid for the Ark was to include cherubim.  Here we find the word Kanap, meaning wing, edge, hem. The Cherubim spread their wings over the Mercy Seat & God speaks from between the cherubim.  What was sprinkled on the mercy seat?  The blood of the sacrifice!

The Greek for mercy seat is hilasterion ~ the word usually translated into English as propitiation.  It has the same root as atonement. Jesus is our propitiation, our mercy seat, our atnonement.  As the tassels of the tallit represent God’s Word & God’s authority so we find refuge under His word & under His authority. He is our tallit, our covering, our prayer shawl.

Romans 13:14 says Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof. The final part of this chapter is referring specifically to the 2nd coming of Christ. We are instructed to understand the present time; to wake from our slumber; our salvation is nearer that it was; that the night is nearly over & the day here.

Revelation 19:12 talks of the names on Jesus thighs ~ an image I always found a little weird but is perfectly explained by the tallit because the names of God are here: Yaweh; The Word of God; King of Kings; Lord of Lords & the tassels would fall against Christ’s thighs as he rode.

There is one more image of the tent or the wing.  It is very subtle & it is given specifically to women & it has caused more controversy at different times than just about anything else in the bible; that is a woman’s hair. The Greek word is peribolaion, literally something thrown about oneself such as a mantle or veil but is not the same word Paul uses when referring to an actual head covering.  That word is katakalyptō.

  Now I know you will all be thinking by now, “Well, that’s all very interesting & just like Ganeida but where is the practical application?

Psalm 27:5
For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.

Psalms 31:20
You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man; You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.

Psalms 17:8
Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings
Col 3:3
For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.
God has given us these wonderful pictures & practical reminders so that in the day of Trouble we know where to turn.  We know whence cometh our help.  We know where to find it.  He wants us to know how to find Him & how to hide ourselves in Christ. 
Under the old covenant people had to travel to the Place of Meeting & offer a blood sacrifice for sin & other sorts of sacrifices through a priest & it became a problem every time they were sent into exile but Paul says we have a better covenant with better promises. [Hebrews 8:6]

We are the temple, the living stones.  The Holy Spirit dwells within us in the Holy of Holies. We can have immediate & personal access to God because we are all priests.  Our bodies are to be a living sacrifice but Christ is our atonement for sin. When we enter in to that place we find Grace poured out at the Mercy Seat, forgiveness of sin, & the wings of the Lord spread wide sheltering us.
This does not mean we will never suffer trial or tribulation or persecution.  It does mean we have a place of refuge where, like Christ at Gethsemane, we can be strengthened for the fight. We are called to be overcomers.  If that is to happen we need something to overcome but there is no need to fear.  God has told us where we will find our strength & provision.  All we need is to be found in Christ. We need to spend time, not seconds or minutes, but hours, becoming intimate with God ~ & how hard that is to carve out of our busy schedules! The blessing is God is always available.  He will take the meagerest of our offerings & multiply it. Revelation 22:17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.”And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”

In these last days we are being called to make our home under the safe shelter of His wings & in the refuge of His tabernacle.'