Sunday, 31 December 2017

All Things New. ~ Ganeida

For Christians Hanukkah is about celebrating God's Light in a dark world. This is not, naturally, how our Jewish friends celebrate it.  For them it is primarily about the Maccabees stand @ Modein  & the re-dedication of the Temple, the miracle of the oil, & preserving a pure Jewish culture amongst pagans but these things are only the beginning. For us it is about so much more, for everything in scripture points to Christ & this is true of Hanukkah.

Hanukkah is also known as the Feast of Dedication & the Festival of Lights. Just the name alone reminds us of James 1:17: Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. [NASB]

We have mentioned already that white light is a combination of all the other colours that can only be seen when light is refracted.  This is what happens to cause a rainbow.  Thus the hanukkiah lights break God's promises into their component parts but the reality is that God & His promises are one.  The covenant is the  outworking of a single promise: that man should be redeemed from the fall & restored to his former relationship with God.

I am combining the last 3 covenants because in a sense they belong together because they are the promises of the New & better covenant. [Hebrews 8:6]

The 6th covenant is the covenant of Redemption. 

Matthew 26:18  we read Jesus words ~“As you go into the city,” he told them, “you will see a certain man. Tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.’”

Jesus celebrated the Passover.  It must have had deep significance for Him as He prepared to become our sacrificial lamb.

Now we have celebrated the Passover & understand there is prophetic revelation in this festival also.  From the wrapping of the Afikomen to the seder cups, Passover reveals to us the Lord Jesus Christ.

Remember there is the cup of sanctification for we are sanctified through the blood of Jesus; there is the cup of salvation ~ His blood poured out for the salvation of many [Matthew 26:28]; There is the cup of redemption ~ redemption from God's wrath; & there is the cup of the Kingdom.

When we celebrate communion we celebrate the cup of redemption:

As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.”

And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. Mark my words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.
At this point everything in History changes. It is the most dramatic event in history for it sets us free from the domination of sin.  It changes our whole destiny for 1 Thessalonians 5:9 says For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. 

There are 2 facets to our redemption.  The 1st is the obvious one: we are set free from sin's power over us. John 8:36 tells us So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. If we are set free from something we are also set free for something. Once we are truly set free we are free to love & serve God as He desires to be loved & served, not out of obligation but  because we are the new creation & he has put a new heart in us, for Ezekiel 36:26 promises us: And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart

The Holy Spirit is so important to a believer.  Without Him we do not have the New Heart & we do not have that tender, responsive heart that enables us to put down our flesh & operate out of the new heart.  Oh, we can try.  People do all the time.  Every New Year's they make resolutions that they never keep.  Only the Spirit of God has the power to overcome our flesh & allow us to walk in the Spirit as sons of God!  This is why Jesus told Nicodemus he had to be born again.  The old wineskin will not hold the new wine.  This is why you see so many Christians struggling with the sins of the flesh.  They have not been born again. They have believed unto salvation ~ & stopped right there. That is a terrible pity. Not only do they miss out on so much God wishes to bless them with, they stunt their own growth & the growth of the Kingdom of God.  

Consider your church, for example.  How many attend services each week?  Now, how many new believers do you see each week? Each month? Each year? Francis Chan, speaking of his own church, confessed that around 1 000 believers attended services yet they only saw 100 people saved in a year.  He considered this a terrible failure.  He is right.  You would sack employees who were so terribly inefficient! We were not called out of Darkness & given the Holy Spirit so we could skulk in our church buildings week after week!  No!  The Holy Spirit was given that we might be witnesses for Christ. [Acts 1:8] And here's the thing~ You can't do that in your own strength.  You quite simply can't.  Oh, words might come out, but without the Power of the Holy Spirit there is no life, no power to convict & bring change. What's more, all sorts of things will hold you back from sharing Christ: fear of what to say. Fear of what people will think.  Fear of rejection ~ but if you truly believe John 3:16 & you are born again you will have God's own heart to reach the lost & dying of this world.

Which brings me to the 7th covenant; the covenant of Peace. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. [Isaiah 9:6] In John 14:27 He says: "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." I have said it over & over but it is worth saying again; the peace Jesus speaks of is not an absence of conflict.  Rather it is the calm in the midst of the storm, the Jewish idea of Shalom~ wholeness of body, mind & spirit for in Christ all the promises are Yes &  Amen. [2 Corinthians 1:20]

Indeed Jesus foretold that in this world we would have thlipsis [John 16:33] ~ pressure, affliction, distress of mind, trials & distressing circumstances but we were to take courage for He had overcome the world. What's more You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. [1 John 4:4]  What's more He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us & that alone should give us great confidence & great peace. 

When it comes to witnessing Luke 12:11/12 says "When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say;for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say." Matthew 10:20 put the same idea this way"For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you." Luke 21:15 goes so far as to say: for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute.

Now I am aware that these verses are referring specifically to a legal defence but I do believe they have a wider application if we know how to listen to the Holy Spirit & I will give you an example from our time in the Park preaching the gospel to everyone on this island.  

Those who know me in *Real Life*, know I am not the bold aggressive sort. In fact I'm quite timid, so preaching in the open where not everyone cares to hear the gospel was more than a little intimidating & I was often quite anxious beforehand. As I like preaching & am not nervous about public speaking, this was something new for me. Sometimes I used notes but not all the time & this particular day I felt led to *freelance*.  

It was a very bright, glarey day & I had dark sunglasses on when I stood to speak.  I always open with prayer so I left my sunnies on.  And I left them on when I was finished praying so I could gather my thoughts in private but I hadn't opened my eyes.  As I waited the Holy Spirit began to scroll the message down my mind ~ exactly as if I was watching a movie & @ exactly the right pace for my speaking voice.  All I had to do was speak what I could see in front of my eyes. Never before nor since have I preached an entire message with my eyes shut!  If I opened them, the message disappeared, so I kept them firmly shut & simply preached exactly as I was shown! So you see, we can have peace, even if we find witnessing difficult, because the Holy Spirit will give us exactly what to say when we need it.

Finally we have the Covenant of the Kingdom.  On earth as it is in heaven.  There will be a new kingdom, & we look forward to that. Meanwhile part of our job here on earth, as ambassadors of Christ, is to exercise kingdom authority in the here & now. As Jesus explained to the pharisees: nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or, 'There it is!' For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst." [Luke 17:21] The KJV puts it  behold, the kingdom of God is within you

Entos, within.  Understand, the kingdom is only within you if Christ is within you. Christ can only be within you because Jesus sent the Holy Spirit.

...for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. [Romans 14:17] There is an atmosphere of the kingdom, a kingdom reality that only the truly born again experience.  It is not something that comes & goes.  It has nothing to do with how you feel. It is not dependant upon your circumstances for it is rooted in Christ Himself.

This is what the covenant buys us. So as we light the covenant candles we remember.  From Adam to Revelation, Christ with us. Christ within.  Christ without.  Christ all about. For in Christ all things are made new. Shalom.

Monday, 25 December 2017

The Promises of God ~ Rabqa.

 All Scriptures are from NLT unless otherwise stated. 
The Promises of God ~ Rabqa.

Today we are going to be looking at the promises of God 

Isa 61:1-2 The Spirit of the Lord God is on me, because the Lord has chosen me to bring good news to poor people. He has sent me to heal those with a sad heart. He has sent me to tell those who are being held and those in prison that they can go free. He has sent me to tell about the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day our God will bring punishment. He has sent me to comfort all who are filled with sorrow. 

This is the Bible passage that Jesus read in the temple that affirmed His calling at the start of His public ministry in Luke 4:14-21. When you read the whole of Isaiah 61 chapter in the context of Luke 4, we can read that it was actually God the Father who sent His own Son into the world to proclaim the good news of the kingdom. 

Jesus came to open the prison doors & set the captives free. I believe this refers to the prison of sin, guilt & condemnation. Jesus died so that our sins could be forgiven completely removed along with any sense of guilt & condemnation.  

Jesus can heal us everywhere we hurt! He wants us to help us mentally & emotionally, as well as spiritually. I did not know this for a long time, so lack of knowledge caused me to live a dysfunctional life. I was abused emotionally which left me wounded but then I discovered Jesus wanted to heal me, give~& all of us beauty for ashes.  

When we accept Jesus as Saviour & Lord, a great exchange takes place in the spirit realm. He gives us everything He has & is we are supposed to give Him not only everything we are but even what we are not. He takes our weakness & gives us His strength. He takes our sickness & gives us His health & healing. We give Him our sin & He gives us His righteousness. He will give us beauty for ashes, but we must be willing to give up our ashes. We can live in the past & press into the future at the same time. Let go of what lies behind & start enjoying the new life that Jesus has for you. 
When I accepted Jesus my sin –filed life, miserable hopeless life was swallowed up in His goodness, mercy & grace. If you have problems, you are just the person Jesus died for. He came for the sick & needy, not for those who need nothing. It is not a shame to be needy. The greatest need that most people have is to admit they have a need. 

It is time for you to enjoy God’s favour (Isa 61:2). That means He will bless you even though you do not deserve it, if you place your faith in Him God wants you to enjoy yourself & your life. He wants to heal you everywhere you hurt! He wants to heal you spiritually, mentally, physically, financially & socially. Do not close off any part of your life to His healing touch. Invite Jesus into every area of you life & ask Him to make you whole.       The message of the kingdom is simply this... Good news for the poor. Healing for the broken hearted. Freedom for the captives. Wide open spaces to those imprisoned. Comfort for the grieving. & so much more.  This is why Jesus came two thousand years ago and it is the same reason why the Holy Spirit is with us today.   If you are hurting, just open up your heart to the Holy Spirit and let the love of God bind up your broken heart. If you are grieving, let the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort bring His everlasting comfort in your time of mourning. If you are imprisoned, let the Lion of Judah set you free from all that keeps you in chains so that you can truly live a free life. 

Psalm 5:11But let all who put their trust in You be glad. Let them sing with joy forever. You make a covering for them, that all who love Your name may be glad in You. 
In the NLT Bible version of this verse, the psalmist asks God to 'spread His protection over them'. The Amplified Bible says 'make a covering over them'. When I think of this promise, I imagine that Papa God spreads a huge canopy, a nice warm comforting blanket over us that provides warmth, protection and shelter all the days of our life.   The knowledge of a loving God that is brooding over us and protecting us will cause us to trust Him even more & fill us to overflowing with unspeakable joy. I chose this particular photo of cloud cover to remind me that just as the clouds can shield us from the heat of the sun's rays, so God's love covers us and shields us from the harshness that life can bring our way.    May each one of us snuggle under the blanket of God's protecting love today and may our hearts be filled with joy knowing that we are safe and secure today and for the rest of our lives. 

Ephesians 3:17-19 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. 

Time is very valuable commodity. Have you ever found yourself wishing there were more hours in a day? Ask God to teach you to live wisely. Pay attention to the way you spend your time & make the most of every opportunity. 

Verses 18-20 teach that is such a powerful passage that we can obey & stay ever filled with the Holy Spirit. We do this by speaking to ourselves through our thoughts or to others through our words in psalms & hymns & spiritual songs. We need to keep thoughts & words full of God’s Word by continuously offering praise & giving thanks to Him. 

 This promise is part of the amazing prayer that the Apostle Paul prays for the church at Ephesus in Ephesians 3:14-21. In this prayer, Paul makes his requests known to the Father from whom His family in heaven and earth is named after (v 14 & 15) that He might strengthen our inner man by the power of His Holy Spirit.   The whole point of this prayer is that the Holy Spirit would root us deeply in the love of God so that we would have power to be able to know (grasp, understand) the vastness of His immeasurable love that has been given to us in Jesus Christ our Lord.   The love that God has for us cannot be comprehended any other way. It is far too great for us to be able to grasp in our human understanding. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to make God's love a reality to us. In Romans 5:5, Paul says that God has poured out His love into our hearts by His Spirit.   My prayer today is that each and every one of us would have a love encounter with God through the personal working of His Holy Spirit. I pray that the Spirit of God would give us power to grasp how deep, how wide, how long and how high His love is for us and that we would be filled to the full measure of God's fullness with His everlasting, unending love! 

1John 1:7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. 
Jesus is called the Light of the World. In Him is no darkness, only brilliant, glorious light. The good news of the gospel is that when we receive the free gift of God, which is the life of His own Son, we are completely cleansed from all unrighteousness and forgiven from all our sin.   We have become children of the light because we are now joined completely into the holy life of Jesus. Romans 8:1 says because of this exchange, there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ (NKJ). Our adversary the devil is called the accuser of the brethren. His aim is to continually bring accusations against us that would somehow cause us to feel ashamed and hide from God. When you hear these accusing voices, declare the finished work of the blood of Jesus over your life, for it is the cleansing power of Jesus' blood that keeps us walking in the light!   We have no need to hide in shame from God. Jesus Christ has secured our place in His Father's heart and His blood has covered our past sins, our present sins and our future sins. You can rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ. When He cried it is finished! on the cross, He meant it. 

Does this mean that we can go on living a sinful life? No of course not, however, we can rest assured that if we walk in the light as Jesus is in the light, His blood cleanses us from ALL sin.  

In this verse we find that there is power in the shed blood of Jesus Christ! You & I are continually cleansed, not just once in a while but frequently & continuously.  

The Bible states that there is only one requirement on our part that is we must freely admit we have sinned & confess those sins.  

We must be quick to repent, & not to try & hide anything from God. He will never reject you, but repentance releases the power of His blood on your behalf & makes it effective in your life. Confess your sins & allow the blood of Jesus to cleanse you on a regular basis.  

Matthew 5:3 God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. 

We live in an upside down Kingdom. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 says that God has chosen the poor of this world to shame the rich, the weak to shame the strong, the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. I am thankful that God has chosen the poor, the weak and the foolish!  In today's promise, we read that the Kingdom of God actually belongs to the poor in spirit. I believe that being poor in spirit is just acknowledging that we need God to do for us what we can't do for ourselves. Being poor in spirit is to live a life of simple dependence on God's love and His life. If we were rich (spiritually, not materially) we would not think that we had any needs at all!  Being poor in spirit keeps us dependent on the one and only true life source. Jesus speaks about such things in the book of Revelation in chapter 3:14-22 to the Laodicean church. When we think we are rich and in need of nothing, we tend to live independent, isolated and separated. God doesn't want us separate, but very close to His heart.   So if you are feeling hungry today for His presence, dependent for God to be your very life source, you are in the best place that you could possibly be! For blessed are the poor in spirit, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these! 

Ephesians 6:11 Put on all of God’s armour so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.  

In Ephesians 6, Paul the Apostle exhorts the church at Ephesus to put on the full armour of God in order to be able to stand against the tricks of the enemy. It is interesting to note that the armour does not belong to us, but it belongs to God. It is His armour.   He has given us His helmet of salvation to guard our mind and give us peace. He has given us His breastplate of righteousness to protect our heart. He has given us His belt of truth so that we would know the truth and the truth would set us free. He has prepared our feet with shoes of peace so we can proclaim the good news wherever we go. He has given us His shield of faith so that when we lift it up, we quench all of the fiery arrows from the enemy.   And last but not least, He has given us an offensive weapon, the sword of the Spirit, the very Word of God so we can advance the kingdom. Our God and Father has given us everything we need to live a godly life through Jesus Christ our Lord. We stand in His armour, His power, His protection... not our own. So having done all to stand in the power of God's might, continue to stand. 

Many of us fight the battles in the realm of our emotions, but as Ephesians 6:11 -18 teaches, our battle is not just with our emotions, but with the spiritual forces that play on our emotions.  

In the King James Version of Ephesians 6:12 we are told that we do not war with flesh & blood but against principalities & powers. rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. This means we war against strong spiritual entities. 

It is so important for us to see that we cannot fight darkness with darkness. I believe the way to resist & overcome our powerful spiritual enemy is not by venting our anger & frustration in some fleshly manner. Rather, we need to put on our spiritual armour as described in Ephesians 6:13-17 & yield ourselves to the power of the Holy Spirit within us as we pray. 

We would not leave home half dressed. But many of us forget to put on our spiritual clothing. Every day forces of satan wage war against us, & it is important to protected with this spiritual protection & authority, we can learn about our spiritual armour in Ephesians 6:10-18, & as we put our clothes on each day, also put on our armour & pick up our sword! For example, walking in peace is equivalent to putting on the shoes of peace, or walking in righteousness, is equivalent to putting on the breastplate of righteousness which protects our heart in the soulish realm from all condemnation. God supplies the armour we need to defeat all the attacks of the devil, but you must put it on. 

God is always there for us when we need comfort & or encouragement  as we see in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 AMP Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of sympathy (pity and mercy) and the God [Who is the Source] of every comfort (consolation and encouragement), 
4 Who comforts (consoles and encourages) us in every trouble (calamity and affliction), so that we may also be able to comfort (console and encourage) those who are in any kind of trouble or distress, with the comfort (consolation and encouragement) with which we ourselves are comforted (consoled and encouraged) by God. 

Have you ever been disappointed, hurt or mistreated? Have you had changes in your life or are you experiencing loss of some kid? Have you failed in some way? Are you just simply tired? What is your trouble today? These verses tell us that God wants to help you by comforting you when you need it. 

The Holy Spirit is actually called the comforter (John 14:26)). His various names describe His character. They reveal what He does & what He desires to do for believers. He is willing to do a great deal for us if we are willing to receive His help. 

For many years I became angry when I could not get the comfort from family or friends when I needed it, I am sure they were trying BUT now I realise that God would not allow them to give me the comfort I should have been seeking from Him. God was longing to give me that comfort by the power of the Holy Spirit. If only I had asked!  

God will allow people to do only a certain amount for us, & no more. Even those people who are extremely close to us cannot give us everything we need all the time. When we expect others to do for us what only God can do, we have our expectations in the wrong place, & we will always be disappointed. 

No comfort is as good as God’s. People can never give us what we really need unless God Himself uses other people to reach out to us, which He often does. Whether He uses another person to comfort you or He comforts you Himself By the Holy Spirit, let me remind you that He is the Comforter. Ask & receive His comfort whenever you need it. 

These are just some of the wonder promises of god, let them renew your mind & don’t just read these wonderful promises but process them slowly, deeply, prayerfully & repeatedly, letting the truth of them change our thinking & strengthen your faith. 

We see from psalm 119:49-56 Remember your promise to me;     it is my only hope. 50 Your promise revives me;     it comforts me in all my troubles. 51 The proud hold me in utter contempt,     but I do not turn away from your instructions. 52 I meditate on your age-old regulations;     Lord, they comfort me. 53 I become furious with the wicked,     because they reject your instructions. 54 Your decrees have been the theme of my songs     wherever I have lived. 55 I reflect at night on who you are, O Lord;     therefore, I obey your instructions. 56 This is how I spend my life:     obeying your commandments. 

Verse 56 teaches to practice obedience to God’s WordUnderstand that it is the key to further understanding. 

By living your life according to the Scriptures & its instructions you will grow in godliness.