Friday, 27 January 2017

Let's Talk About Love ~ Ganeida.

  The deepest cry of the human heart is to be loved without condition, no matter what. The gospel of grace announces that you are.~Tullian Tchividjian.

The cry of the heart is so deep that when it is not met the body resorts to anything at all to try & meet that emptiness within: drink, drugs, sex, partying, extreme sports, the entertainment industry with its adulation, the sports field with its hero worship … on & on we go & yet the emptiness remains. The hunger remains unabated. The craving for love is all consuming.

Oh, we call it other names: narcissism, ego, attention seeking; in a child we call it a temper tantrum or rebellion but whatever we call it, it is the heart crying out for love, for the reassurance that no matter how badly we have screwed up, no matter how awfully we behave, no matter what mistakes we have made or how out of control our tongues have been, there is a way back to love.

The gospel announces that God showed his love for us while we were still sinners by dying for us. Romans 5:8 We have done nothing to earn it.  There is no way we can pay him back. There are no conditions attached to His love.

Oh, but… ~ you say. Aren’t Christians supposed to:
·      Not drink
·      Not smoke
·      Not do drugs
·      Not do sex outside of covenant marriage
·      Be generous to the poor….long, long list & many people have their own ideas of what a Christian should look Like & how they should behave.

So we have a problem, don’t we?  A whole lot of people running round saying they are Christians yet behaving in ways that really make you wonder. I suggest to you there are 2 reasons for this.

The first is simply that their flesh is in control of their spirit.  They have not learned to renew their mind by the washing of the Word.  Nor have they learnt to crucify their flesh. You see when we become a new creation our spirit is renewed by God immediately & all the benefits of the Kingdom life are ours but there are things we have to learn to do:
·      Walk in the spirit
·      Obedience
·      Crucify our flesh
·      Renew our minds

When we do this consistently we see evidence of the fruits of the Spirit manifesting in our lives.  Does God love us more or less?  NO!!! God is faithful.  He has entered into covenant with us.  He does not change towards us but until we align ourselves with His will we will constantly miss the mark.

Which brings us to the second, & most important, thing: Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Without the Holy Spirit it is, quite simply, impossible to live the Christian life.  See these are just some of the things the Holy Spirit does in us & for us:
·      The Spirit regenerates us (John 3:5-8; Titus 3:5).
·      The Spirit glorifies and testifies of Christ (John 15:26; 16:14).
·      The Spirit sanctifies us (2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:2; Rom. 5:16).
·      The Spirit teaches us to pray (Rom. 8:26-27; Jude 1:20).
·      The Spirit bears witness in us that we are children of God (Rom. 8:16).
·      The Spirit enables us to obey the truth (1 Pet. 1:22)
·      The Spirit Shed’s God’s love abroad in our hearts (Romans5:5)…

Without the Holy Spirit we don’t even get off first base.  Without His help we can do nothing.  We may have head knowledge, we may give lip service, we may believe with our intellects but we cannot walk the walk & if we cannot walk the walk we do not know the love of God & we certainly can’t show it to others! (1John 4:8)

The Holy Spirit is the foundation of us walking out our salvation.  Our salvation rests upon the shed blood of Jesus but understanding what that means & how to accept, abide & live in the love of God is the work of the Holy Spirit.  If we quench Him, if we grieve Him, if we silence Him, He cannot do the deep work in our hearts & lives that break bondages of rejection, isolation, fear, anger, depression because it is love that castes these things out. 1 John 4:18 says that perfect love casts our fear: fear of rejection, fear of being isolated, the anger generated by fear, the depression resulting from fear. The cure for everything that ails the human condition is Love ~ the love of God.

Remember we have discussed the definition of God’s love over the past few weeks & one of the things we discussed was the letter samech, the middle letter of the Hebrew word for love, hesed.  

We said the circular shape of the samech can be seen as a picture of God, our support, who has no beginning and no end.  This centre letter is seen by the Sages as a picture of the heart of God where one can reside and be protected by the strong outer circle.

There is no safer place to be than encamped at the centre of God’s love. It is the Holy Spirit who shows us how to abide there.  It is from the place of deep security that we are enabled to minister to others the love that they so desperately crave.

Now I am going to spend the rest of our time discussing what God’s love looks like when we allow the Holy Spirit to exercise it in our lives.  None of us will do this perfectly all the time but we should be growing in our ability to walk in God’s love & thus exercise His love through us to others.

Matthew 7:12 says "Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.”

1st Corinthians 13 explains how we would all like to be loved & thus how we should also love others.
We know this passage very well ~ so well we may have stopped *listening* to it when we hear it.

This is not a lovey~dovey passage despite the fact it is commonly read at weddings.  It is actually a stinging rebuke to a church that was out of control & exercising all the spiritual gifts yet behaving way worse than the pagan culture around them.

Paul starts out by examining 6 spiritual gifts in the light of love & concludes that each & every one of them is useless if they are not exercised in love. Throughout the passage the Greek word agape  is used to define this as God’s sort of love. The gifts are tongues ~ yes, speaking in tongues, not simply eloquence~ prophecy, knowledge, faith, giving, and martyrdom. 

Love is patient… Here the Greek, makrothumeō, means to be patient with people, as opposed to circumstances.  It is one of the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5 so we know that it is not a gift but the result of character development & character development is something we do; something we practise; something we train ourselves to do in order to become more Christlike ~ & we do so with the help of the Holy Spirit because without His help we cannot do this consistently.

Love is kind ~ chrēsteuomai ~ gentle, benign, bearing in mind Kindness means to withhold what harms, as well as give what heals. [Keith Krell]    This is a verb so its extended meaning would include acts of charity, the good works that God has prepared in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:10

Love is not jealous ~ envious, spiteful. This is why we are enjoined to pray for our enemies & those who despitefully use us.  It helps us keep our hearts clean before the Lord so that when we are *squeezed by our enemies, the love of Jesus comes out.*

Love does not brag ~ or boast~ perpereuomai. This is a great Greek word, like our windbag: pompous, overinflated, self~important, looking for praise, the result of being insecure.

Love is not arrogant. This implies disrespect & disdain for others.  Arrogant people do not care how they use others in their quest for power. It is proud & vain & we know how much God resists a proud heart.
Love is not rude: aschēmoneō.  This actually means to behave in a way that causes others to censure you; to be indecorous as well as tactless, discourteous & impolite.

Love is not … zēteō. This is usually translated as self~seeking, wanting one’s own way, but it also means it doesn’t seek another’s life. Not revengeful. I have included this definition because we see a lot of *wanting justice* when someone has received a great hurt but that is not the way of love. We who have received such great mercy need to extend that same mercy to others. This is not easy when dealing with unlikable people, people with whom we profoundly disagree or who are diametrically opposed to us.  The scripture I have found most helpful in dealing with these sorts of people is Ephesians 6:12: For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Our fight is not against people.  It is against those things that control them & cause them to act in ways contrary to being made in the image of God.

Love is not easily angered ~ paroxynō

 This means to not irritate or provoke as well as to not become irritated or provoked. Love is not going to tempt others to sin through provocation, nor will it be quick to take offense.

It keeps no account of wrongs: Logizomai

 Is a bookeeping term, so you don’t keep track, you don’t enumerate over & over, you don’t think about wrongs done ~ so much easier said than done but again, this is why we need the Holy Spirit to help us. This is why we must seek to abide within the protective circle of God’s love. When we are secure in the love God has for us we will find it so much easier to allow the Holy Spirit to control how we deal with other people.
It takes no pleasure in wrongdoing: injustice falsehood, evil of any kind. There is a reason many Christians limit their intake of the News.  Too often it focuses on & broadcasts peoples’ sins.  This should be a cause for grieving, not something to be ogled on National T.V. It is why we are ordered not to gossip.
We then come to a set of positive confessions:
·      Love rejoices in the Truth.
·      Bears all things ~it doesn’t expose another’s failings, criticise in public, nitpick. Rather it becomes a covering which protects & shields another.
·      Believes all things. This is our word for faith, pisteuō.  We take the word of God very seriously & so we believe what it says about God & what it says about people. We believe that it is the kindness of God that leads people to repentance[Romans2:4] & we will do our outmost to ensure we do nothing that would hurt another’s understanding of how much God loves them because no~one is beyond the reach of God.
·      Hopes all things~ that is, it is confident & trusting.  We are not to give up on people because God never gives up on people. After all, He didn’t give up on us & I can assure you I was a pretty hard chestnut to crack.

·      Endures all things; remain constant; perservere. Hypomenō is a military term that means to hold your ground at all cost ~ even unto death, as Christ did for us.  Those of us with children running from God, deep in rebellion, the very prodigal of prodigals, should take great comfort from this. We are to stand in the gap for our loved ones until the very end.  Never give up hope.  Never waver. Love Never ends.

I would remind you again that the first Christians were renowned for their acts of love, for succouring the sick & dying that even their own families would have nothing to do with.

Our world can be a very scary place but I want to remind you of something Fred Rodgers once said: "Always look for the helpers, There's always someone who is trying to help." I did, and I came to see that the world is full of doctors and nurses, police and firemen, volunteers, neighbours and friends who are ready to jump in to help when things go wrong.

At no time is love needed more than when things go wrong but we have to prepare our hearts for great acts of love by practising in the daily grind of unlovable neighbours, pesky children, grumpy, elderly parents, the sinkfuls of dishes, & dirty toilets, when our children rebel, our witness is rejected, & our world turns catawumpus.

As Victor Hugo said “You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving. The great acts of love are done by those who are habitually performing small acts of kindness.” Go ye forth & do likewise because we are to be doers of the word, not hearers only. 

Saturday, 21 January 2017

He will Cleanse You. ~ Rabqa

1Jn1:9(AMP) If we freely admit that we have sinned & confess
our sins He is faithful & just true to His own nature & promise & will forgive our sins, dismiss our lawlessness & continually cleanse us from all unrighteousness; everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought & action.

Notice that we are told in this passage of Scripture If we will confess our sins to God, He will continuously cleanse us. I believe this is the spiritual parallel to the way our blood continuously cleanses our body.

Our blood works for us all the time to keep us cleansed of all poison, & the blood of Jesus works all the time, continuously cleanses us from sin in all its forms & manifestations (1John 1:7).

There is power in the shed blood of Jesus Christ! You & I are continually cleansed, not just every once in a while but frequently & continuously. The Bible states that there is only one requirement on our part: We must freely admit that we have sinned & confess our sins. Be quick to repent. Do not try to hide anything from God. He will never reject you. Besides He knows everything anyway.

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. God is faithful. God is just in all that He does. God promises to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. All that He requires is that we trust in His goodness and risk exposing our heart to Him by confessing our shortcomings.

When we confess our sins, we are vulnerable and honest before our God and Father. When we confess our sins to God, we openly declare that we are relying on His mercy to cleanse us from all unrighteousness and that we can't do it ourselves. It takes faith and trust to live a transparent life before God, but that is the pathway to real freedom.

When we keep things in the dark, those things have power over us and will keep us enslaved in one form or another. When we bring things into the light that lurk in the shadows of our heart, we experience new found freedom over those things.

The amazing thing is that God is not surprised by what we confess, for He knows us better than we know ourselves. He does not judge us when we open our hearts to Him, but rather the opposite happens. In Psalm 103:13-14 (AMP) AS a father loves & pities his children, so the Lord loves & pities those who fear Him with reverence &awe. For He knows our frame, He earnestly remembers & imprints on His heart that we are dust.

When we are vulnerable and honest before God, compassion rises up in His heart towards us because He understands our frailties. The confession of our sins is for our benefit, not His. He has already dealt with the issue of sin that once separated us through the shed blood of Jesus... once and for all! All God wants is for us to be completely free! Free from a guilty conscience and free from condemnation and the accusations from the enemy! So if there is anything that is keeping you from experiencing the intimacy of being with your Daddy God, be assured in knowing that He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness!

 Lamentations 3:21-23 Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. We see here that we can have hope & exception of all that is good. We learn that the Lord is full of mercy, compassion & faithfulness. The writers positive thoughts about God brought him out of the depressed state he was in. When we think about our problems we sink lower & lower, but thoughts about the goodness, mercy & kindness & faithlessness of God give us hope. We need to thank God every day for His abundant mercy! His mercies are new every morning. Surely we would live miserable, defeated lives separated from His presence & if it were not for His compassion & willingness to forgive us. When we meditate on God's mercy & truly realise how much He willingly forgives us, we can much more easily show mercy to others. Good relations are impossible unless we are generous with mercy & forgiveness. Being merciful simply means we are good to those who do not deserve goodness. We have received unmerited blessing from God, & He expects us to give to others what we have received from Him. Let the goodness of God flow through you, because He has created you to be blessed & to be blessing.

 In Luke 6:37 Jesus said that we are to forgive our enemies & be kind, doing favours in such a way that people benefit from them. In this way we show ourselves to be like our Father in heaven, for He is merciful, kind & good. He promised that we would lose nothing & our reward would be great. God is our vindicator, & we always come out on top if we do things His way. God's mercy is new every morning, & I for one am glad because I am sure that I use my allotted portion every day. I am grateful for a fresh start every day. God desires mercy not sacrifice.

When we make mistakes, He does not want our sacrifice. Jesus is the only sacrifice ever needed. He wants us to admit our mistakes, repent & receive forgiveness & mercy. When others make mistakes & hurt or offend us, He wants us to give them mercy & not require sacrifices from them. Which means is that we are not to make people feel guilty or pay for their errors, but to give them the gift of mercy instead, just as we receive that gift from God.

God is faithful. He is full of compassion. His mercies are new every morning. As a believer, you know all that but simply knowing that is not enough. For it to do you any good, you have to recall it. You have to remember it again & again in order to rekindle your hope & stir your faith. So, make it a point to remind yourself of God's faithfulness every morning. Remind yourself of the benefits that are yours in Jesus.

Psalm 103 spells out those benefits:

  •  1. He forgives all your sins. 
  • 2. He heals your diseases. 
  • 3. He redeems your life from destruction. 
  • 4. He crowns you with loving kindness & tender mercies. 
  • 5. He satisfies your mouth with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. 
  • 6. He executes righteousness & judgement for you against oppression. He sets you free. 
  • 7. He makes known His ways to you. 
  • 8. He gives you His grace & mercy in times of need. 

Make it a point every morning this year to say those things out loud to the Lord. Stand before Him in prayer & recall His mercies to you. Keep it up & by the end of this year you will be stronger in faith & more confident of God's love then you have before. Psalm 136:1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever .

The Hebrew word for "forever" is olam. It is derived from the verb alam (veil from sight or conceal), olam refers to that infinite & everlasting expanse God has created. It is both an unending expanse of space (universe) & time (eternity), indicating the limitless dimensions in which God's sovereignty is displayed. The word sometimes refers to the remotely distant past.(93:2) & sometimes to the remotely distant future (Jer 25:5). God is called El 'Olam "the everlasting God" (Gen 21:33 Is 40:28). As God is eternal so is His mercy le olam, that is, "unto the forever.

The literal meaning for the word "endures" is "because forever is His mercy. The word MERCY in Hebrew is chesed is also translated lovingkindness, unfailing love or steadfast covenant love, & is similar to the New Testament word for "grace." God love (mercy) is repeated line by line in this poem. God's mercy endures forever! His willingness to act on man's behalf is still operating in the earth. His mercy never runs out. Neither has it abated or weakened. Praise the Lord for His mercy endures forever.

Mighty & powerful things happened when Israel said these words. They are words of praise & adoration to God. When Solomon finished building the house of the Lord, the trumpeters & singers lifted up their voices as one, & with trumpets, cymbals & instruments of music, they praised the Lord saying, " For He is good for His mercy endures for ever." Jehoshaphat appointed singers unto the Lord to go before the army & say, "Praise the Lord for His mercy endures forever."

It has been thousands of years since the Lord said His mercy extended to a thousand generations, & His mercy continues to reach you day after day. He is still plenteous in mercy to those that call upon Him. Spirit, dare to stretch your faith to take in boundless mercy of God. & say with your mouth, "The Lord is good & His mercy endures forever. His mercy surrounds me every day.

 2 Chronicles 5:11-14 teaches that worship is a powerful way for us to draw near to Him as it was in Solomon's day. If you long to experience His presence in your life then worship, worship, worship.

In the Old Testament, God's glory visibly filled the temple overwhelming the priests to the point where they were unable to stand. Today, under the New Covenant you & I are God's temple (1 Corn 6:19) God wants to display His glory in & through us as dramatically as He did in the physical temple of Solomon's day. When God's glory is manifested in your life others will look at you & know what a great God you serve, because the power of His goodness toward you is visibly evident to them. God wants to fill your temple with His power & glory. Hebrews 13:15 Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name. Practice persistent, patience & praise. Devotion is concentration on a particular pursuit, purpose or cause. He who is devoted Jesus recognises his fleshly tendency to become lackadaisical & studies to avoid it.

The Scriptures shape his thinking, & he devotes time prayer, to waiting upon the Lord & to praise & thanksgiving. Great things happen when you continually confess the mercy of God. Faith raises up inside you. The reality that God loves you begins to sing through your spirit. What's more, it brings honour to your Father when you believe His Word & magnify His love & mercy. You honour Him when you speak of His goodness & lovingkindness, when you talk about Him as your Father of love who does good. It blesses Him when you praise Him as the great God of the universe who is eager to bless & even gave His own Son because He so loved the world. so much.

 I add that if you had been the only person on the earth, Jesus would have still have gone to the cross, in obedience to His Father so that you may spend eternity with Him.

 David was a man after God's own heart. He knew how to praise his God. Until you have the Word dwelling in you richly so that you can speak Psalms & praises out of your own spirit, use the praises of David to magnify God. Speak them or sing them out loud to the Father. Put His Word continually on your lips. You will soon begin to experience the joy of realising that God is indeed rich in mercy because because of His great love with which He loved us. Your faith will rise to new heights & your Father will be blessed, & so will you.

We learn from Psalm 89 that it is a messianic psalm reaffirming the Davidic covenant in which his seed will reign. It shows that God is able to rescue His promise from the depths of the grave, if necessary to fulfil it. Verse 15 shows us blessed are those who worship in joy & happiness.
Acknowledgements Gloria Copeland.

Friday, 13 January 2017

The Family Likeness~ Ganeida.

   The Australian poet, Bruce Dawe, who I had the privilege of being taught by, once wrote a funny & satirical poem called Condolences of the Season in which he commiserates with his newborn son on being a patchwork of family traits:

a matronly cosmogony of mums hover above your pram or bassinette
 and by an infallible process of recall
place each distinctive trait (the eyes, for instance,
 which could only be Uncle Tom's, nobody else's,
Aunt Lena's rugged chin, of course
and, yes, who could mistake those ears of Cousin Ted's?

We’ve all done it, scanning the face of some helpless newborn for vestiges of ourselves. My son went so far as to ask me to bring pics of him & his twin so he could prove to his wife that his newborn son looked just like him!

We recognise distinctive family traits immediately.  In my family it is large & luminous eyes; most of our children inherited them, while from their father they inherited a distinctly practical approach to life.  We get it in the natural so why don’t we get it in the supernatural?

I suggest to you we don’t get it because we do not recognise ourselves in the Father & can’t recognise His son in us, because at our core we believe ourselves to be unlovable & unworthy of the love the Father showers upon us. It is a lie & it comes straight from the pit of hell. Satan would like us to believe it because it cripples the work of the Holy Spirit within us. It prevents us from coming to the Father & the reassurance that He does indeed love us.

John 3:16 ~ & we all know it so you can say it with me says: For God so loved the world that He gave His only beloved son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Now put your name in there:  For God so loved…..that He gave His only beloved son that ….believing in Him should not perish but…..should have eternal life.

You are of such value that God gave the most precious thing He had in order to free you from sin. The very moment you confess Jesus as Lord & believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you become a new creation: 

2 Corinthians 5:17 ~Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Say *In Christ.*  Here is our key.

Proverbs 14:12 says There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death

Please listen carefully. There are things we do as Christians, good things, right things, things we are encouraged to do, things we know we ought to do & all too often they lead to death.

We’re told to read our bible.  We’re told to pray.  We’re told to come to church & fellowship with other believers, come to prayer group & bible study, love our neighbour even if they’re awful & these are all good things. They are all *Christian* things but I tell you bluntly that without the one necessary thing they will lead to death.  They will lead you to religion, they will lead you to loyalty to a church or a denomination or a Pastor instead of leading you into Life abundant.

Psalm 103:7 ~ He revealed his character to Moses and his deeds to the people of Israel.

Too often we read our bible to learn about God, rather than asking the Holy Spirit to reveal God to us as we read!  Many Christians know God’s deeds without knowing Him! Just like the ancient Israelites.  Moses knew God’s character ~ & because He knew God he had a completely different relationship with Him.

Yes, we are to know about God; it helps build our faith but it is far more important to know God Himself.

For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. Romans 8:29~30

I believe that it is our lack of *being in Christ* that is responsible for most of our difficulties as Christians. Why is it so hard to love our neighbour?  Because we don’t love ourselves & we don’t love ourselves because we do not know who we are in Christ.  We do not know who we are because we do not take the time to spend in God’s presence allowing Him to address the deepest needs of our hearts.

If I truly know I am loved by God then fear will not control me; peer pressure will not control me; anger will not control me; what others think of me will not control me; sin will not control me…How do I know this?  Because scripture says these things:

·      Galatians 5: ~23 22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,  faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

·      John 7:38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

·      Luke 12:32 "So don't be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.

·      Luke 6:20 Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher

·      1 John 4:17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

·      1 John 3:1 See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don't recognize that we are God's children because they don't know him.

Over & over & over God promises wonderful things to His children but most Christians never walk in that authority & freedom. I believe this is one of the greatest hindrances to our own healing, authority, power.  We believe God can do anything & everything He pleases but we do not believe He loves us enough to do so for us! We don’t trust Him to answer in the affirmative because we don’t really know Him & what He is like. We see His work in others but do not see it in ourselves & begin to think that so & so is more spiritual than we are, that God loves them more than us, & it’s just not true.  Scripture tells us God is not a respecter of persons but that He loves those loving me, And those seeking me earnestly do find me. Proverbs 8:17

It is really, really simple. 2 Peter 1:3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvellous glory and excellence.

Say By coming to know Him.

We are going no~where fast until we come to know the one who is our saviour deeply & intimately. It is perfectly possible to operate in all the charismatic gifts & yet not know the one who gives the gift.

Matthew 7:22~23
On judgment day many will say to me, 'Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.' But I will reply, 'I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God's laws.'

There is power in the name of Jesus as we see in Mark 9 & Luke 9 but as the disciples pointed out they were not of Jesus’ company.

Hebrews 6:17~19  So when God wanted to make the unchanging nature of His purpose very clear to the heirs of the promise, He guaranteed it with an oath.  Thus by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be strongly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and steadfast. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,…

There is nothing to fear for those who belong to Christ in drawing closer to the Father.  Indeed we are encouraged to come boldly to the Throne of Grace. 

Our human nature tends to crave the charismatic but we should be looking for the signs of the fruits in our life.  The Fruit of the Spirit is the sign to us that we are growing in our relationship with Jesus. I love the charismatic.  I love seeing Jesus manifest Himself to heal, to free, to reveal Himself but it is by the fruit that I know I am growing in my relationship with Him. The lack of fruit in my life tells me I need to spend more time with Him.

Lastly I want to discuss something I have taught on before but it never hurts to reinforce a teaching. We have talked a good bit about how much God loves us but I want to leave you with the biblical definition of Love.  Most of us have heard the Greek word *agape* used to describe God’s type of love.  It was the best equivalent in the Greek the N.T writers could come up with as the Hebrew hesed is a word that has no literal equivalent in either Greek or English.

To understand what is being conveyed you must grasp hesed as a covenant word.   Rabbi Simlai claimed that "The Torah begins with hesed and ends with hesed."  The Torah, the 1st 5 books of our bible, are the books of the Law ~ or teaching ~ that taught the Hebrews how to relate to God.

Like the Hebrew word shalom, hesed has a broad meaning but is perhaps best understood through the Hebrew pictographs: I am quoting from Tiffany Ann Lewis’ TheSound of Lovingkindness.01
MAY 201
Chesed is spelled with the three Hebrew letters:  chet – samech – dalet.

ח  The chet is a picture of a fence symbolizing protection or separation.  It is also the symbol of life as it is the first letter of the word for life chayim.  Interestingly, it is the letter eight a number that represents “new beginnings”.

ס  The samech is another letter of support and protection.  The ancient pictograph of the samech is that of a prop or support, thus it represents God’s support.  The circular shape of the samech can be seen as a picture of God, our support, who has no beginning and no end.  This centre letter is seen by the Sages as a picture of the heart of God where one can reside and be protected by the strong outer circle.

ד  The dalet is a picture of a door or a pathway, a porthole you might say.  Because the dalet is the last letter in the word for lovingkindness (chesed), we can picture ourselves walking through that door and into the next word.  In John 10:7, Jesus releases one of His 7, “I Am” proclamations and says; “…Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.”  

While the word is translated variously as lovingkindness, mercy, grace, loyalty, fidelity  ~ & certainly includes all these aspects of God’s character, the protective covenant covering of His love for His people, His relentless pursuit of them, is at the core of what this sort of love means.

Understanding this it is easy to see why the N.T writers chose the neutral Greek word *Agape* to describe love crucified. This is the word chosen in Romans 5:5  For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. 

We understand the biblical definition of love is not a sentimental feeling.  It is always an action. If you look at the definition of love described in 1 Corinthians 13 & compare it to Galatians 5:22~23 you will see they are nearly identical.  This is how God manifests His love to us.  The closer we walk with Him the more we will experience this love & because it has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit that is the love we will manifest.

Experiencing God’s love & manifesting God’s love through us depends on 2 things we mentioned earlier:

·      coming to know him,
·       Remaining In Christ

It is our prayer that each of us, both individually & as a church, grow in our love & relationship with our Lord & saviour, Jesus Christ.