Friday, 18 August 2017

Renew Your Mind.~ Ganeida.

Romans 12:2 says: Don't copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

The Kgv is the better known version.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

This is a non~negotiable command & upon our obedience depends much of the success or failure of our Christian walk because everything we hear, see, touch, taste & experience is filtered through our intellect. 

For example, I loathe seafood.  My tastebuds tell me it tastes bad.  My nose says it smells bad. My touch tells me it’s gross, & I’m told things like crabs & prawns scream…therefore my brain insists that all seafood is bad.

I can remember Cait’s violin teacher explaining that her fingers would remember where they needed to be on the strings for each note because her inner ear would *hear* the note & the fingers would automatically fall in the right place because her brain had been trained to hear & obey. They would know where they needed to go.

In the same way a Christian needs to train themselves so that they *know* how to think the way God thinks.

Our society likes things like memes.  They condense a Truth into a short pithy statement that helps us to remember & so I am going to give you one of those to remember. Say after me:

What you put into your mind matters.  It matters to God & therefore it should matter to us.  It should matter to us because it affects profoundly the sort of lives we live but for most of us we have never learnt to filter what goes into our minds.

 We grow up in a world that is constantly feeding our minds & we are so used to it we never think about it.  We never question it. We put on the t.v or the radio. We listen to the canned music @ the shops or on the phone & all the while the world is drip~drip~dripping a world view into our subconscious.  What’s more, in one way we are   wired to focus on the negative.  That may seem counter~productive but in fact it is a survival tactic.  We are geared to be aware of danger & avoid it. Toxic thoughts are dangerous.  BEWARE!

I am going to illustrate the importance of our thought life with a Jewish story I read recently:

A student asked the Maggid (Jewish preacher) "I understand that we believe that everything which Hashem (God) is doing is good and that we have to acknowledge the good even when it comes in very painful ways. I can even accept that we have to thank Hashem for all the painful parts of life. But how is it possible to do so in 'the same way' that we express our thanks for 'the good'? When we thank Hashem for the 'the good' we do so with joy. But how could we possibly be joyful over the things that break our heart?"

The Maggid thought for a moment, and told the young student that he was asking a good question. He sent him to seek the answer from the Rebbe (teacher) Reb Zusha by addressing the question to him.

It is well known that Reb Zusha was a very poor man who did not have anything remotely close to an easy life. When the young man arrived at Reb Zusha's hovel, he was shocked to see Reb Zusha living in such stark conditions.

When the young man explained why he had been sent by the Maggid, Reb Zusha was puzzled. "Are you sure that the holy Maggid wanted you to ask Zusha for an answer? It is a good question, but Zusha can't answer your question. Zusha doesn't know the answer, because Hashem never did anything bad to Zusha. Hashem has done only good to Zusha."

We want to be like Zusha but to be like Zusha we need to understand 2 things to begin with.
·      1. Genesis 1:27 says So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
·      Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

God created us in His image.  That means our minds are capable of a great deal more than we usually use them for. It also means that when we put our trust in Godly wisdom we are capable of actually rewiring our brains & that is, in fact, what Romans is teaching.

Conformed [syschēmatizō] ~ to fashion in accordance with; assimilate oneself to…

World [Aiōn] ~ an era or age, thus those things that mark an era or age

Transformed [Metamorphoō] ~ to change one’s form, be transfigured

Renewing [Anakainōsis]~ renovation, renewal

Mind [nous] ~ intellect

Discern [dokimazō] ~ test, prove, try ~ & remember that this testing is not for God’s benefit but for ours.

Good [agathos]  ~ good, profitable, generous, upright, virtuous

Acceptable [euarestos] ~ well pleasing, acceptable, grateful

Perfect [teleios] ~ fully developed, fully realised.

To be a fully realised human being capable of being grateful & proving God we have to renew our minds.

There is actually a science called neuroplasticity that is the science of creating new pathways in the brain.  It is used in cases of severe brain trauma.

 Here are some neuroplastic facts: Our unconscious brain is operating in 400 billion actions per second building networks within the brain & 200 actions per second at the conscious level. As you are thinking you make choices.

We are a tripart human being: Mind, spirit, body & we are meant to operate this way: the Spirit is designed to control the soul [mind] & the soul is designed to control the body.

The brain has a spirit part & a physical part. The Mind gives understanding to what the spirit implicitly knows.
I Lay before you life & death, blessings & curses, therefore Choose life that you & your offspring might live…Deut 30:19

We have freewill.  We get to choose how it all works out.  How it works out is very much dependent on how we think about things.

The other interesting thing is we are wired for love, for positivity.  There are no circuits in your brain for depression.  There are no circuits for anxiety. There are no circuits for discouragement, negativity, despair, hatred, bitterness, unforgiveness ~ fear.  We actually have to learn these things.  We wire our brains to think in these ways ~ & if we can learn them we can unlearn them!  We become the thoughts we think, the choices we make from our thinking.

As we are thinking we make choices & those choices get wired into our brains & actually change them! Our choices cause a physical change in our bodies. That is a scientific fact & can be verified scientifically according to Dr Caroline Leaf.

The physical body follows the instructions we give it via the choices we make. When we think we create proteins & those proteins group together to create thought trees.  Healthy thoughts create little, fluffy pink protein balls.  However when we choose negativity: the envy, the strife, the bitterness, the self~pity etc we create neurological chaos. 

Just like positive thinking, the negative groups together creating an unhealthy environment that given enough time & negativity becomes toxic. That alone tells me it is dangerous to be a passive recipient of whatever comes my way.  I need to filter what I allow into my thought life. 

2 Corinthians 10:5 says we are to be casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. [ERV]

So the normal human life is meant to be one of love & positivity that creates a healthy mindset, healthy neurological pathways in the brain & that results in right thinking & better life outcomes.

Guess who owns the other mindset! The enemy of our souls! We are warned For as he thinketh in his heart, so is heProverbs 23:7 & Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23.

You want to know why so many Christians struggle so much with sin, with anger, strife, envy etc?  It’s because they have not worked to renew their thinking!  I can tell you ~ & you can tell others ~ that such & such a thing is considered to be a sin in the eyes of God but you will not break a habit, you will not convince anyone of the error of their ways until their thought life is brought under the control of Christ! It is physically impossible for them because they have wired their brain in a particular way.

You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil~the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. Ephesians 2:2

God has given you every tool you need in order to choose life, to create positive, healthy thought patterns but He absolutely is NOT going to do the hard work for you.  His Holy Spirit will help you but He wants you to do the work. You see God did not create automatons.  He did not create robots.  He created man in His own image capable of freewill, capable of choice & He wants us to freely choose the path of Love.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Lord, Lord. ~ Ganeida

Our confession of saving faith is this:

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  Romans 10:9

It is not Revelation 3:20 Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.
There is a good reason for this. Firstly Romans specifically says that this is how one is saved.  Secondly, Revelation is speaking to believers, not non~believers.  Therefore simply inviting Jesus into one’s heart does not guarantee salvation.

So what exactly is Romans 10 saying?

What is meant by the term *Lord* & what are the implications for us?

The Greek word is Kyrios: which denotes authority.
In Classical Athens, the word kyrios referred to the head of the household, who was responsible for his wife, children, and any unmarried female relatives. Biblically it was the term that identified Christ as God, replacing the Hebrew term Adonai, which was used for YHWY. Adonai is the plural of Adon, Lord or Father, with connotations of master or owner but also of a strong base or foundation. The ai at the end of the root word adon intensifies the meaning of the word stressing God’s sovereignty as Supreme ruler, Lord of all.

It is an important distinction because, as we have seen from our study of the Hebrew word Shema, there is a close connection in Hebraic thinking between hearing & obeying.

So the first thing I would point out is that by using the term Lord you come into agreement that you have been rescued … from the kingdom of darkness and transferred … into the Kingdom of his dear Son… Colossians 1:13

You have changed allegiances & this brings certain privileges & responsibilities.  Firstly we have the right to now call God, abba, father, which, as we have seen, is part of the meaning of the word Adonai.  As our father God is now particularly responsible for us.  All the promises are ours but some promises are conditional; others are not but He is our firm foundation.

Jesus Himself taught this in Matthew 7:24 & 25~
Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.  Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.
When we confess with our mouth we confirm the scriptures: for through Him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can't see ~ such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. Colossians 1:16

1 Corinthians 8:6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we exist. And there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we exist.

Romans 11:36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.

This is in direct contrast to worldly thinking which says things like: everything was created from nothing; you are your own god; you are master of your own destiny; man is just another animal.

You cannot confess Jesus is Lord if you still believe mankind controls his own fate. God is sovereign & we were made for his good pleasure, not for our own pleasure.

What’s more Jesus gives a warning about calling Him Lord, but not obeying his commands.

Then he said to the crowd, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23
 "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?"  Luke 6:46

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. Matthew 7:22~23

Following Jesus has always been about more than just the outward appearance.  It is about the state of our hearts.  If all we do is read our bibles & give lip service we are like Israel of whom Isaiah said: And so the Lord says, "These people say they are mine. They honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.  Matthew & Mark both reissue Isaiah’s warning.

So there is an obligation on us, if we claim to be the Lord’s, to follow His commands.  Do you know what Jesus’ commands are?  Have you studied for yourself to see how He requires you to live as His witness? As His follower?

We know :
 “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” Luke 10:27~28
Agapaō kyrios ·ho sy theos….love the Lord thy God…
Agapaō ~ God love. Kyrios ~  Lord, Father, master, owner.

We know from John 15:13 That There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends.  He says we are His friends if we obey Him. Thus we are called:

·      To lay down the life of our own feelings, impulses, desires, affections. [kardia, heart]

·      To lay down our physical life [psyche]

·      To lay down our ischus ~ whatever power, strength, influence we have in this world.

·      To lay down our own intellect & understanding for Proverbs 3:5 says Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

This is what it means to die to self, to pick up our cross & follow Him, for we are to take on the life of Christ, the mind of Christ, the authority of Christ.  It is neither an easy thing nor a light thing.  In fact it is completely impossible unless we have God’s Holy Spirit to show us how it is done.

1 John 4:9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.
In contrast Jesus says of the world: and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. John 5:40

1 Corinthians 2:16 says We have the mind of Christ…that is the Holy Spirit enables us to understand the spiritual matters of the Kingdom For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. 1 Corinthians 3:19

When we spoke of repentance we explained it was a turning away from the world & turning completely to follow hard after God. That is what repent means. That means we bring ourselves under the command of the Holy Spirit.  We listen to His voice & we obey Him. His voice will teach us how to obey the commands of Jesus.  His voice will enlighten our understanding of scripture. His Spirit will teach us to hate what God hates & to love what God loves. As our understanding grows so will our obedience.

We cannot have our cake & eat it too.  We have to let our sin go ~ all of it; whatever it is.  We have to be brave because Christ requires courage of us & say with the psalmist:
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23~24

The second part of Romans 10:9 speaks about what we believe in our heats.  The Greek word is pisteuō ~ which is the word for faith, For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

2nd Corinthians 13:5  exhorts us to: Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

The reason for this is found in Hebrews 10:26 Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins…The writer to the Hebrews goes on to explain that deliberate sin tramples the blood of Christ underfoot & outrages the Spirit of Grace. Such behaviour shows no evidence of appreciating the sacrifice of Christ.  No reverence.  No appreciation. No love.

There is a very simple, very telling test we can apply to see if our faith is genuine.

1 John 5:4
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world ~our faith.

When we are genuinely born again we will reverence the blood of Christ.  We will not willing act in such a way as to leave the way open for Him to be openly mocked & shamed. Rather our lives will give evidence of the New Creation & the resurrected Christ because He is indeed Lord.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

A Ministry of Reconciliation ~ Ganeida

We have looked @ communion in many different ways.  We have studied the elements & their symbolism.  We have considered some of the prophetic elements. We have considered our role in communion.  

Shortly I will invite you forward to partake of the communion elements.  I will not minister to you because according to 1 Peter 2:9 “… you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God's very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”

So each of you is a priest ~ & we are priests according to the order of Melchizedek, just as Jesus is.  As priests we need to understand what our role is, which according to Paul in 2nd Corinthians 5:17~21:  … means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.  For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

John explains in John 3:17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

The word rendered task or ministry is diakonia & literally means *our service*. Our service is to minister reconciliation.

What is this reconciliation?

In this, as in all else, we are to be followers of Christ .  The first thing is to bring people near to God. Ephesians 2:13 ~But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.
That is a very wonderful thing. We spoke last week about being a peculiar people: something different, unique, rare & precious because Christ lives in us. Thus wherever we go, to whomever we speak, whatever we do we bear the Christ~light & thus bring people near to the presence of God, through Christ in us ~ & that is a grave responsibility because all people may have ever known of Christ is what they know of us.

We offer hope ~Romans 5:1
Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us
In the midst of a world gone mad ~ & the world has always been more than a little mad ~ we can have serenity of Spirit because we know the Truth: we were sinners who have been saved by Grace.  We are a new creation.  The past cannot hold us in bondage. Everything for which we could not forgive ourselves has been forgiven by the blood of Christ.
In the story of Heidi’s Children the child, Marta, is listening to 2 old men talking.  Heidi likens their conversation to carpenters who have hammered  in bent nails & are now taking them out to drive them in straight & true. That is what the blood of Christ does for us.  It takes all the bent, crooked, twisted things in our lives & makes them straight again.  If you have ever tried to remove a bent nail you know that is not always an easy process.  Some nails can be very stubborn. Our testimony is that you do not have to be trapped by your past.  The weight of guilt & sin & shame do not have to continually weigh you down.  That is the message of the cross.
Furthermore For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life..Romans 5:10

God is no longer some far off disinterested deity who must be appeased by good works & adherence to the Law. He has poured his very life into us, declaring us righteous by His blood & enabling us, by His Spirit to live our lives in ways that please Him.

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity~the man Christ Jesus.
We have unprecedented access to God.  Under the old covenant only the High Priest could enter the Holy Of Holies & speak with God.  Only the Levites could minister to the Lord.  Only Israelite men could enter the inner court.  Everyone else was confined to the outer court. Yet Hebrew 4:16 says: So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:16 Don't you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?
Both individually & corporately we are now God’s temple. This has certain ramifications when we speak about the ministry of reconciliation because we minister as priests.

We have our outer court, our flesh; we are to crucify our flesh.  We have our inner court; our will, our mind, our emotions; we are to renew our minds.  And we have our holy of Holies ~ our inner man, our spirit, wherein the Holy Spirit of God indwells in us. Our carnal flesh & our carnal minds are to be sacrificed.  That is our priestly duty:
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:16

Now as I was restudying this, I discovered something fascinating & it is pertinent to our study here.  Originally the three temple courts were not called the outer court, the inner court & the Holy of Holies.  The Outer Court was known as the Way; the Inner Court was known as the Truth & the Holy of Holies was known as The Life because the life of God dwelt there.  When Jesus said:  I am the way, the truth & the life He was claiming to be the very temple of God ~ an idea that makes much better sense of Jesus claim in John 2:19: All right," Jesus replied. "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up

If you are the temple of God then you carry this idea within you:  You know the Way [Jesus]; you know the Truth [Jesus] & you have His Life

In the Holy of Holies we find The Mercy Seat formed by the Ark of the Covenant & the cherubim.  It is here we can find the heart of God & petition Him for all our needs.  When we speak of the ministry of reconciliation we may have all sorts of things on our hearts: friends, relatives, children, parents, spouses, neighbours, communities ~ all of whom need to know Christ.  All of whom will perish without Him.
Our example is Christ.  It was on the cross …God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. Colossians 1:19 & 20
We looked @ this last week. Christ sought forgiveness for His enemies. He took care of the material needs of His dependents. He glorified God. 
We may manage the first 2 without great difficulties but when you have a rebellious child sheer terror can overwhelm us.  It can feel helpless & hopeless but let’s be clear: That’s where God does His best work.
Fifteen years ago 4 of our 5 children entered their teen years & only 1 out of 5 was walking with the Lord. I had been faithful to teach them according to the Light I had @ that time but satan got his claws into them & one by one I saw our children fall into his clutches.  There seemed to be nothing I could do & my prayers grew rather desperate. I’m sure I’m not the only one who knows this feeling.
Then one day the Lord took me to Isaiah 54:13 which in the KJV reads:  And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.
*According to Strong's
Concordance 7965 Shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. Shalom comes from the root verb shalom meaning to be complete, perfect and full.*  Shalom is a blessing.  The Lord has pronounced a blessing over our children. So I pray prayers of thankfulness & rejoicing.

Prayer is part of the ministry of reconciliation.  Prayer is where we enter the throne room boldly & petition our God for all our needs.  That includes all our needs for reconciliation ministry.
Take a moment to meditate on Jesus ministry of reconciliation on the cross & consider the deep meaning of His words as He prepared to reconcile the world to God:
He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me." After supper he took another cup of wine and said, "This cup is the new covenant between God and his people~ an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.

As I invite you to come forward & give thanks to the Lord [for His mercy endures forever] ask Him to reveal how you are to minister His reconciliation to others.