Thursday, 31 May 2018

Pursuing Intimacy. ~ Ganeida

We are going to be talking around this subject for the next few weeks & try & pull a number of different threads together to make a whole cloth. Our common thread is the work of the Holy Spirit but I want to start with a quote about Kathryn Kuhlman.  

If you don't know Katheryn Kuhlman, she was an American Pentecostal evangelist who was a part of the healing ministries of the 40's & 70's, best known for the powerful healings that followed her ministry though she herself insisted: "I've never healed anyone... people are frequently healed en route to services, going home, and I'm not anywhere near."  Video's of her ministry can still be found on~line & she is considered one of the most prominent healers of her time.

However the quote is from this week's Charisma News & it highlights something very important & very scriptural.

As she traveled the United States, Kuhlman embraced a considerably different approach. Instead of following the calculating strategies of her peers, "Kathryn realized that simply by honoring the Holy Spirit and by being in God's presence, healing could be released," says Bill Johnson... She rarely prayed for individuals at all, instead creating an atmosphere of worship and faith in which people claimed to receive healings through the power of Holy Spirit." ~ Candy Gunther Brown

This is why it is important; Mark 16:17 ~ 18 says:

"These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."

Keep in mind our end goal: And He was saying to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Luke 10: 2 The command is to go & preach the gospel.[Mark 16:15]  The promise is that these signs will why are we seeing so few signs?  Why do some Christians deny that these things even take place?  I believe Kathryn Kuhlman was on to something.  Deep intimacy with the Spirit of Christ releases His supernatural power in our lives.

There are 2 aspects to this intimacy:
  • So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." [John 8:31~32]
  • "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." [John 4:23~24]
We must know the Truth, the Truth about God; who He is; what He's like; His character; His attributes; His persona.  If we don't we will make mistakes & attribute to Him things that are not part of His nature. Thus we cannot be free. His truth is found in His word: His Living Word [Jesus] & His written Word [the bible]. We must have His Spirit for it is the Spirit that leads us into all the Truth. [John 16:13]

Bill Johnson points out that all human action comes from either one of two basic emotions: fear or love.  He makes the point that much of what is deemed *spiritual warfare* arises from fear.  The devil is happy to have you chase him all over the place, any attention being better than none, in the name of Spiritual Warfare but this is not Jesus pattern.  When Jesus dealt with the devil He dealt with Him. We have far more trouble dealing with the devil because we don't deal with him!   We compromise.  We leave doors open.  We fail to establish ourselves in the Truth. We fail to put on our armour but where do we get our armour from?  We get it from our source:  Jesus Christ! 

All these things can disrupt our intimacy with Christ.  We are told in John 15 that Christ is the vine & we are to remain in Him! For without him we can do nothing!   It is very simple.  We are not to chase the gifts, the signs & wonders, the manifestations of the Holy Spirit.  We are to pursue God: heart, soul & mind then the gifts, the signs & wonders, the manifestations will follow!

Still with me? I want to draw your attention to a principle established in Genesis & expounded on throughout scripture because so many of us suffer from the modern disease of *I want it & I want it now!*  We have not learnt the art of patience, of being still & knowing that God is God.

At some point after God created the earth there was a war in heaven.  The archangel Lucifer rebelled & led a third of the angels into his rebellion. They were cast down to the earth. [Revelation 7] Now on earth God had established a garden.  The garden was not the entire earth but only a portion of it & its boundaries were 
the Euphrates, Hiddekel (Tigris), the Pishon and Gihon Rivers. We know from Ezekiel 28 that Lucifer knew about this garden, indeed had walked in it prior to his fall. In this garden God placed a man & a woman & in blessing them issued a command: "As for you, be fruitful and multiply; Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it." [Genesis 9:7]

Here is our principle: Adam & Eve did not posses the entire earth even though they had been given authority & dominion over it.  They only ruled that part of it that they could manage well.  They started with the garden with a mandate for expansion. They were to grow into their inheritance ~ & so must we. We do not inherit everything @ once even though everything belongs to us in Christ Jesus.  We are limited by how well we allow ourselves to be ruled by Christ's Spirit. You do not give rulership of a kingdom to a child even though he owns everything by right of inheritance.  You wait till he matures, training him in how to govern well.  As it is in the natural, so it is in the spiritual. We must grow in maturity.  There are no shortcuts.

Now I admit I like shortcuts.  If I can see a way to make something quicker & easier I will take it!  It does not always end well.  When my mother taught me to sew I always omitted tacking my seams.  So dull & unnecessary  ~ & I got away with it so long as I was sewing cotton or flannel but the day I tried that on satin...oh. My.  Never was there such a mess.  The unpicking took forever.  All my seams were a frayed mess.  It took three times as long & much more trouble & exasperation than if I had just done it right the first time!  So it is in the spiritual.  You can get away with the short cuts only so far.  When the real trouble arises you want to get it right & the only way to be sure of that is to have practised doing it right all the way along!

You know, Jesus understands the allure of the shortcut.  He came to seek & to save that which was lost [Luke 19:10].  We were lost in the garden when we handed our God given authority to satan ~ & the whole of creation fell with us.  Everything became subject to death & decay [Romans 8:21], not from choice, but because we were the guardians & we handed our authority over to satan whose desire is only to kill, steal & destroy [John 10:10]. So when satan came to Jesus in the desert satan knew why He had come.  He knew what Jesus was going to take back ~ & you can bet your booties, after going to so much guile to obtain it in the first place, he did not want to give it back! So he makes an offer: he takes Jesus to a high place from whence He can see all the kingdoms of the world And the devil said to Him, "I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish...[Luke 4:6] Shortcut! Notice there is no disputing over who owns the kingdoms of the world. Satan does.  And he expressly states that it has been handed over to him.  We know God gave the authority to Adam & Eve so the only possible way satan got that authority is from them! Aren't you pleased Jesus rejected the shortcut?!

But Adam & Eve lost something much more important than their authority when they began listening to satan.  They lost their intimacy with God. 

Prior to the fall Mankind had unbroken intimacy with God. They partnered with Him.  Genesis 2:20 says Adam named the animals God brought to him & as a little aside: we have spoken of how concrete a language Hebrew is & how names indicate attributes.  So here are two animal names & their Hebrew meanings.  Not that I know what language Adam & Eve spoke with God but the O.T is written in Hebrew & so...
  • Dog~ Kelev= like a heart/loyal heart.
  • Cat~chatel= to wrap around
    How accurate is that?!
It also seems that God had a habit of walking in His garden in the cool of the evening. Now if you've ever had kids you know that evening is the time for intimacy.  When the day cools down & they are headed to bed, that's when they want to talk; ask the big questions; get held & loved on.  It seems God & Adam & Eve had something of the same deal going on but the day they listened to satan was the day they hid from God.  A deep sense of wrongness, guilt, shame & disaster overwhelmed them. God's perfect *tov* had been broken & they couldn't put it right!  I imagine they were pretty panicked about that!

Original sin did not begin with Adam & Eve.  It began with satan & part of God's plan to bring satan to judgment was through establishing Adam & Eve in Eden & giving them the authority & power to rule. They were to co~labour with God to establish Heaven in Earth.  It's right there in the first command.  Multiply.  Have Godly seed.  Expand your borders. Once that intimacy was broken the co~labouring with God was also broken. The way back into intimacy with God is through the Holy Spirit & that has only been made possible through the shed blood of Jesus. 

The glory that covered Adam & Eve fell from them & they were naked.  Embarrassing.  So they covered themselves with fig leaves but in Genesis 3:21 we read 
The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. The thing about garments made of skin is that they belonged to someone else first.  In order to cloth Adam & Eve appropriately something had to die. One or more of the animals Adam had named & taken care of. You see this reflected again with the Paschal lamb.  The lamb was brought into the tent & cared for by the family before being slaughtered.  

There is a cost to sin.  Adam understood the cost when something had to die to cover his shame.  The Israelite's were made to understand the cost of their freedom. The cost for our sin was the very son of God. He covers our nakedness.  He removes our shame & guilt. His blood cries mercy. It was poured out for the remission of sins.  It also provides a way to restore everything that has been lost through the fall.  It brings us back into intimacy with God, for Jesus taught that we can approach God as Abba, father.

That is all well & good but when we are born again we are not born fully fledged spiritual adults knowing all things.  We are born as babes. newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. 1 Peter 2:2~3 And like babies we are meant to grow up spiritually for one day we will judge angels [1 Corinthians 6:3], we will rule with Christ [2 Timothy 2:12], become an heir with Christ [Romans 8:17] Paul is adamant: Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature. [1 Corinthians 14:20] & Hebrews 5:13 Everyone who lives on milk is still an infant, inexperienced in the message of righteousness.

Intimacy brings maturity.  Just as a parent does not share the stresses of their job or financial worries with a child, nor will God share His deepest intimacies with those too immature to handle it. We need to grow up!  It is not time deprivation that prevents us.  It is not busyness.  It is not weariness.  It is laziness.  Jesus was time deprived; He made time.  He was busy ~ busier than you or I~ yet He made time.  He grew weary ~ yet found His strength in the Father's presence.

The harvest is ripe; the workers are few. We hold our Lord & saviour's blood cheaply because we have not taken the time to grow intimate with Him & hear from His heart  how much it cost Him to save us from ourselves.  Oh, we know intellectually, but until we know it deeply enough to allow it to change us then we remain as children: immature, thoughtless, selfish, ungrateful.  I do not believe that is really true of anyone here so let us pursue God with all our might & strength for then we will see the glory of the Lord work miracles to bring in His harvest because the more I study scripture, the better I know our Lord, the more I am convinced that everything to do with our spiritual life boils down to just this one thing: How intimate we are with Jesus.

Monday, 28 May 2018


Matthew 5:3 NKJ) “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Each Beatitude includes a pronouncement of blessing, a description of the ones considered as blessed, & an explanation for the blessing. The poor in spirit are those who recognise their spiritual poverty& casting aside all self dependence, seeking God’s grace.

The Greek word for blessed is makarios It comes from the root mak indicating large or long duration. The word is an adjective suggesting happy, supremely blessed, a condition in which congratulations are in order. It is a grace word that expresses the special joys & satisfaction granted the person who experiences salvation.

Psalm 37:4-5 NLT) Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.
5 Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you.
These verses teach that as long as we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our hearts. I have learnt that letting God give me something is so much better than trying to get it for myself. Most of us struggle greatly in our lives, trying to make things happen that only God can do. He wants us to seek Him, & He promises that He will add the things we desire if & when the time is right.

We are to commit our way unto Him & let Him bring the things we desire to pass. Jesus said “All those who labour & are heavy-laden should come to Him”. (Matthew 11:28-29) His ways are higher than our ways, & His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. In other words God knows much better than we do what we need to do!

I spent so much of my life struggling to do something, I worked really hard at life, but life still was not working for me.

My first Bible was a gift from my grandfather when I was quite young. Little did I know when he gave me that Bible so many years ago, how long it would take for me to let go of my ways & submit to God’s.

I do not know why we tend to be stubborn, but we do. I encourage you to let go of your ways & let God be God in your life. He wants to give you the desires of your heart as you commit your way to Him.

Psalm 37:23 The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.
God will tell us the way to go, but we have to do the walking. A walk with God develops by taking one step of obedience at a time. Some folk want the entire blueprint for their lives before they will make one decision. God does not usually operate that way; He leads us one step at a time.

By faith we take the step God has shown us, & then He gives us the next step. At times we may fall down & must get back up; we may stumble, but He always helps us. We continue on by His strength & His grace, knowing that every time we face a fork in the road which is a place of decision, God will guide us.

The poor have a right to everything in heaven; this is one of the richest places which Jesus brings us.

Dare to believe it, I do. I dare. I believe & I know that I was very poor. When God’s Spirit comes in as a ruling controlling power of our lives, He gives us His revelation of our inward poverty & shows us that God has come with one purpose: to bring heavens best to earth. He also shows us that with Jesus He will indeed freely give us all things (Romans 8:32).

An old man & an old woman had lived together for seventy years. Someone said to them, “You must have seen many clouds during those days.” They replied, “Where do the showers come from? You never get showers without clouds.” It is only the Holy Spirit who can bring us to the place of realisation of our poverty; but, every time He does it, He opens the windows of heaven, & the showers of blessings fall.

But we must recognise the difference between our own spirit & the Holy Spirit. Our own spirit can do certain things on a natural level-it can even weep & pray & worship-but it is all on a human plane. We must not depend on our own human thoughts & activities or our personalities. If the baptism means anything to you, it should bring you to the death of the ordinary, where you are no longer putting faith in your own understanding but, conscious of your own poverty, you are ever yielded to the Holy Spirit. Then it is that you body becomes filled with heaven on earth.

To get nearer to God, to be in the place of helplessness & see a tide rising go back to our verse Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. God is making us very poor, but we are rich because our hands are stretched out towards Him in this holy day of His visitation to our hearts.

Exercising lordship over another is not of God.

Psalm 37:40 NLT) The LORD helps them, rescuing them from the wicked. He saves them, and they find shelter in him.

We learn from this verse that the primary thought is trust in God to bring about economic justice in His time.

When we grasp the idea of being poor in spirit & identify ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, we have come to a place where we can now see that all things are possible with God. We recognise that God has unlimited supply, & our poverty of spirit, we are entitled to all that God has for ours is the kingdom of heaven.

When Jesus came to Sychar, a city of Samaria being wearied from his journey (John 4:6), He sat down by a well. His disciples were not with Him because they had gone to buy food in a nearby town (v8). When they returned they saw Him at peace. He was not looking for food but was quite relaxed. When Jesus was not interested in eating the food they had bought, the disciples said to one another, has anyone brought Him anything to eat? (v33) This shows us the possibility for a man to live in God, to be absorbed in God with no consciousness of the world under any circumstances. & He said to them Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe[a] for harvest. That is food, the spiritual life in God, which is joy in the Holy Spirit.

He comes to enrapture our souls, to break every bond of mere human affection & replace in us the divine instead of the earthly, the pure instead of the unholy, the eyes of faith that see God instead of human feelings. The divine Son of God is to be in us, mightily moving through us, as we cease to be. This poverty of spirit spoken in this Beatitude helps us.

In spite of our meekness, humility & helplessness, all that God has is ours.

Matthew 5:4 NKJ) Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
Those who mourn are not necessarily people in bereavement, but those who express the sorrow of repentance.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 NLT) And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died[a] so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.

15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died.[b] 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died[c] will rise from their graves. 17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 18 So encourage each other with these words.

Those who have fallen asleep in verse 13 are those who have died, in the time of Paul puzzlement arose how the dead could benefit from Christ’s return. Paul pointed out that they shall rise first & the living will follow them (VV16&17).

In verses 15-18 we learn of the threefold announcement of the Lords coming. This is
one of the most beloved passages about the second coming, & it is also one of the most detailed. We are told that there will be a threefold announcement of the Lords coming; a shout, the voice of an archangel & the trumpet. In addition there is a threefold promise to believers: 1) the dead in Christ shall rise. 2) we who are alive will be caught away with them; & 3) we shall always be with the Lord.

People get the wrong idea about mourning. In Switzerland, they have a day set apart to take wreaths to graves. Smith Wigglesworth questioned the people’s ignorance & said “Why are you spending time around graves? The people you love are not there. All that taking of flowers to the graves is not faith at all. Those who died in Christ have gone to be with Him, which Paul said is “far better” (Phil 1:23).

Smith’s wife once said to him, “Watch me when I’m preaching I am so near to heaven when I’m preaching that someday I’ll be off.”

One night she was preaching, & when she had finished, off she went. He was going to Glasgow & had said goodbye to her before leaving the house, the doctor & policeman met him at the door. He knew she got what she wanted. He could not weep, but was in tongues praising the Lord. Humanely, she was everything to Smith; but he could not mourn in the natural, & he just laughed in the Spirit. The house was soon filled with people. The doctor told him that he could do no more for her. Smith went to her lifeless corpse & commanded death to give her up, & just for a moment she came back to him. God said to him, “She is Mine; her work is done.” & Smith knew what He meant.

They laid her in a coffin, & he brought his sons & daughter into the room & said, “Is she there?” They answered” No, father.” So Smith said that they would cover her up.

 If you go on mourning the loss of loved ones who have gone to be with Christ-I say this in love-you have never had the revelation of what Paul spoke of when he showed us that it is better to go than to stay. (2 Corinthians 5:8). We read this in Scripture, but the trouble is that people will not believe it. When you believe God, you will say, “Whatever it is, it is alright. If You want to take the one I love, it is alright, Lord."

Now the mourning that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 5 is mourning in the Spirit. God will bring you to a place where things must be changed, & there is a mourning, an unutterable groaning until God comes. Jesus mourned over Jerusalem. He saw the conditions; He saw the unbelief; He saw the end of those closed their ears to the Gospel. But God gave a promise that He would see “the labour of His soul, & be satisfied” (Isaiah53;11) & that he would “see His seed” (v10).

What happened on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem was a promise of what would be the results of His travail, to be multiplied a billion fold down through the ages in all of the world. AS we enter in the Spirit into travail over conditions that are wrong, such mourning will always bring results for God, & our joy will be complete in the satisfaction that is thereby brought to Christ.

Faith removes all tears of self pity.

Psalm 23 is so comforting. In it the Psalmist David tells us the Lord leads, feeds, guides & shields us to lie down & rest, & He refreshes & restores (v3) our lives. I like the way the Amplified translates this verse He refreshes and restores my life (myself); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake. & the O K J puts it this way He “restoreth my soul” The soul is comprised of the mind, the will & the emotions.

With our souls, we process our circumstances, we entertain our thoughts, we feel & express emotions & we make decisions. What a wonderful promise-that God will restore our souls! The word restore means to bring back into existence or use; or to bring back to an original sate or condition. The word is often used in a situation when a dethroned ruler is put back on his throne. Restore also means to make restitution, to cause to return, or to refresh.

When David says that God will restore our souls & our lives, I believe he means that God will return us to a state or condition we were before we erred from following the good plan He had predestined for us before our births, or before satan attacked us to draw us out of God’s plan for our lives.

WE can take confidence that God will lead us in the path of righteousness, uprightness & right standing with Him. I believe Davis is saying that God individually leads each of us in the path that is right for us, a path that restores us in every way to the good places He has for us.

God has a path predestined for your restoration. If you will allow Him to do so, He will guide you by His Holy Spirit along the unique way that leads to restoration & to being able to fulfil the great purpose He has for your life.

We must live in such a pure atmosphere that God will shine in & through our souls. I am satisfied that as we get to know the Son of God, we will never be weak anymore. The tide will turn. Let us look at Matthew 5:4 again Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.

Did Jesus mean mourning over death? No He meant mourning over our sons & daughters who have not yet reached heaven, who know nothing about the things of the Spirit Life. When God places within us a morning cry to move the powers of God, then He will send a revival in every home.

It is possible to get a spiritual mourning over lost souls without having the very next thing
that God says, [you] shall be comforted,” As though God could give you a spirit of mourning over a needy soul, then not give you victory! It is the mighty power of God in us. & when the Spirit brings this mourning attitude over lost souls & over all failures that we see in professing Christians, until we can go into the presence of God with that mourning spirit nothing will happen. But when that happens, rejoice God will bring you through.

Revival is coming. God’s heart is in the place of intense passion. Let us bend or break, for God is determined to bless us. The joy of the service, the joy of the suffering to be utterly cast upon Jesus. God is coming forth with power. There must be no coming down from the cross but going on from faith to faith & from glory to glory with an increasing diligence so that we may be found in Him “without spot & blameless” (2Peter 3:14). The spirit of mourning will turn into rejoicing as we are faithful before Him.

The end of real faith is always rejoicing.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Obedience: The Pentecost Key. ~ Ganeida

Do you remember being a child & thinking: When I grow up I won't ever... [inset pet hate of choice here].  How did that work out for you?

The thing about life is none of us ever get to do exactly as we please. When we were little we were trained to say *Please* & *thank you*, to wait our turn, to follow the road rules & now we are grown most of us do those things automatically.  We don't think about them,  They are a part of us. They form the bedrock of  societal good manners & civilised behaviour. Those who did not learn those things as children become society's rejects.  We consider them ill~mannered & uncivilised.  When we have our own children we patiently train them & put rules in place for their safety & well being. We understand how this works in the secular, yet invariably fail to apply this to spiritual things.

I want to point that out because in everything our Lord said after His resurrection, before He returned to heaven, He gave a very particular command: Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." [Acts1:4/5]

The Holy Spirit was a promise. Acts 1:1 

Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised... And in 2:39 Peter clarifies For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself, but the command was not to leave Jerusalem until the promise had come because without Him there is no power. 

When we discussed the baptism of the Spirit we looked @ how The Holy Spirit baptises us into Jesus, water baptises us unto repentance then Jesus baptises us into the Holy Spirit. Matthew 3:11 says of Jesus He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire...& He is given for a very particular purpose: but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth...

For clarity's sake the Greek word for fire is pyr [as in pyromaniac] but in Hebrew it would carry the force of an adjective as in fiercely, firey  & power of course is our word dynamis ~ dynamite. Without the fire & the power it is actually impossible to do what Jesus asked because we have no kingdom authority to do it. To do the Kingdom work we need Kingdom authority & that authority is vested in us through Jesus & His empowering by His Spirit.

Now Most Christians get as far as receiving Jesus.  That's neat.  And they're ok with the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete, someone who comes alongside to help & comfort & seal them unto the day of redemption.  Most get baptised in water whether by sprinkling, dunking or full immersion~ but many are less comfortable with fire & power. 

There is a problem with that.  To reject the fire & the power is an act of rebellion.  It sows seeds of disobedience because Jesus' very last instructions before leaving earth were:
but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth~ Acts 1:8.

The Holy Spirit was not given primarily for our own comfort, though we love & revere His presence in our lives.  He was given to equip us for the ministry of reconciliation. [2 Corinthians 5:18] Now, it is very obvious from scripture that the Holy Spirit operates in multiple ways: teacher; guide; advocate; helper but his primary purpose is to equip us for the Kingdom.

The disciples were expressly told to wait on the arrival of the Holy Spirit. Out of the hundreds, & even thousands, who followed Jesus earthly ministry there were only 120 on the day of Pentecost who actually were where they were told to be, doing what they had been told to do.  The key to a victorious life in Christ is obedience.  You must wait & receive the Power of the Holy Spirit for without it you will be defeated.

As you study the scriptures out you find Jesus died @ Passover & rose on First Fruits but from Passover the Jews counted 50 days known as *counting the Omer* which led them into Shavout: the Festival of Weeks.  Originally a harvest festival, by Jesus time it was celebrated as the giving of the Law to Moses on Mt Sinai. PentÄ“kostÄ“  is simply the Greek word meaning 50th. I do not think this is a coincidence. When we talk about being empowered by God's Spirit one of the things we mean is being empowered to live out His moral Law.  Not the ceremonial Law, which was done away with @ the cross, & not the cultural Laws, but the Spiritual Laws that form the foundation of moral & ethical living: which is why the New Testament writers are so forceful in telling us to put away the old man & put on Christ, to reject everything that we once were because the Holy Spirit rejuvenates us & empowers [Titus 3:5] us to live in a new way.  Without the Holy Spirit that sort of lifestyle is impossible.  The Jews tried it & Jesus showed them that not only could they not keep it, they had no real understanding of it's purpose!

Jesus made it very clear that the Spirit was given for evangelising. Now there is something very interesting about the word dynamis.  It is almost always translated power & that is a correct translation but it also means potentiality.  In other words the giving of the Holy Spirit brings us into our full potential in Christ.  We need to understand that simply being sealed with the Spirit does not bring us into our potential.  We need to be empowered.

And the next aspect is the sort of power we are talking about when we talk about the dynamis of the Holy Spirit because it is not power as the world understands power. It is not about being pre~eminent, not about controlling others, not about being *boss*.  It is about self~control.

I am going to be very blunt but if you are walking by the Spirit there is nothing to worry about.  I have heard many, many Christians say that their life is their witness so they don't need to preach the gospel.  My answer to that is simple.  Unless your life consistently displays the fruit [fruit, not gifts] of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control [Galatians 5:22~23] then your life is no witness @ all!  This is a very small island.  I cringe when I watch Christians short~tempered & impatient with the checkout girls @ IGA, complaining loudly about ques, waiting & the slowness of the service. I squirm @ the backbiting, the gossip & the slander.  These things are not from the Holy Spirit but they are rife in Christians who are in disobedience to the command to be filled with the Spirit.

The scripture says very clearly that faith comes by hearing, & hearing by the word of God.  There is no way of squirming round this one.  One's life, no matter how exemplary, is no substitute for the Word of God!

What's more, when you step out in obedience God confirms His word. Mark 15:16 These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues...

Obedience brings gifts in its wake.  I find this particularly fascinating because in Jewish culture a potential bride indicated her acceptance of a proposal of marriage by accepting the gifts proffered.  Refusal of the gifts meant refusal of the proposal. If the church is Christ's bride then her acceptance of His gifts indicates her acceptance of Him & she will display her gifts for the common good.  According to Paul: But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit;to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. [1 Corinthinas 12]

Jesus made the value of our obedience very clear: John 5:30
So Jesus replied, "Truly, truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself, unless He sees the Father doing it. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does.

If Jesus, the son of God, needed the Holy Spirit [John 1:32] needed the Holy Spirit to walk in obedience then how much more do we!  He delights in doing so.  It is His delight to point us to Christ & to transform us into His likeness.  We are meant to be like Jesus.  Not like the world.  We cannot transform ourselves on our own.  We need the Holy Spirit's help but there is a catch.  Do not complain that you have not been shown the Father's will if you have not obediently followed that which He has already given to you!

The apostles were empowered because they obeyed the command to wait & be filled.  Do not dismiss the blessing of a life submitted in obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Just as we trained our children & our parents trained us, so will the Holy Spirit train us in obedience because that is the key to walking fully in the freedom & authority we have in Christ.

Friday, 11 May 2018

A Different Sort of Mother: Jael ~ Ganeida

Today is Mother's Day & it is customary to discuss God's views on Mother's, motherhood & women in general.  To be quite honest our Proverbs 31 stereotype makes me weary just thinking of her.  None of us are that perfect.  I have something of the same problem with Mary ~ though for slightly different reasons.  I am not much like either of those women & @ a guess, neither are you if you are a woman, a wife, or a mother. To my surprise the name The Holy Spirit gave me was Jael.

I nearly laughed.  Seriously?  The woman who drove a tent peg through Sisera's skull?  That Jael? Yep.

You find Jael's story in Judges 4 which we will now read.

I am going to deal with some context problems firstly because Jael's murder of Sisera is one of the bloodiest in scripture, only surpassed by Ehud's killing of his king & completely ununderstandable on a superficial reading.  Firstly Jael was a married woman.  She was married to Heber, a Kenite man, who was related to Moses via marriage. The Kenite's were nomads, living in tents but their trade was as metalsmiths. What's more, as metalsmiths the men would have been highly valued by both sides of the war to make & mend weapons. One wonders which side they worked for; the Caananites?  The Israelites? Neither? Both?  Interesting because the army of the Caananites was demolished.  No~one escaped but Sisera & he fled to Jael.

In the conflict between the Israelites & the Canaanites the Kenites were officially neutral. This does not mean they didn't support one side or the other, only that they, themselves, were not @ war with either nation. They were, however, living in a war zone & subject to the fallout common to any conflict zone.  What's more, Heber had removed himself & his family away from other members of his tribe [v11] so the family did not have the protection of other families around them.  On top of all this the men were away from the camp.  How do I know?  Because when Sisera arrived it was Jael who went out to greet him.  If the men had been there it would have been Heber who greeted the stranger & offered him hospitality.  What Jael actually did was dangerous because Jael & Heber would have had separate tents & for a man who was not her husband to be found in a woman's tent meant immediate death for both of them.  

Next understand that the Caananites practised child sacrifice, idolatry, incest, bestiality, & homosexuality.  They were an incredibly cruel & amoral people ~ & @ one point in scripture God instructs the Israelites to completely wipe this people out because they were so incredibly wicked.  Sodom & Gomorah were Caananite cities.  Sisera is described as being incredibly cruel to the Israelites & oppressing them harshly [EXB][AMP] so  he arrived @ Jael's tent with a reputation for cruelty.

What of the standard of hospitality?  Surely Jael dishonoured the sanctity of the hospitality tradition? Did she, I wonder?  There are several things to consider.  Firstly Jael is a woman without the protection of men living in a war zone.  Secondly, the honour of her family is in her hands.  We have discussed the concept of honour & shame in Middle~eastern societies when we looked @ the story of the Prodigal Son. For women this always included sexual purity. Sisera is a brutal soldier who has just suffered a humiliating defeat & Jael is vulnerable, an easy target for asserting his dominance & male pride. Thirdly, although this is not stated in scripture, we know from studying ancient cultures that these were always family groups.  Although scripture does not implicitly state it, it is probable that there were other women & children in the camp: Jael's daughters & grandchildren.  As acting head of the family her first priority was to protect the rest.

In context Jael's action's start to make sense.  Sisera is a threat.  He is a threat to her honour.  He is a threat to her security.  He is a threat to her family ~ so she acts to eliminate the threat. Deborah  is pretty pleased about it.  She calls Jael *most blessed among women.* [5:24]

Now we know  For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.  [Romans 15:4]

What can we learn from the story of Jael? What in particular can we learn about what it means to be a mother, a wife, a woman in God's eyes?

The first thing I notice about Jael is she identifies the threat to her family.  She sees Sisera coming.  She knows who he is.  She knows his reputation.  She can guess what has happened because he is on foot, not riding, not in one of his *iron chariots*, battered & weary & alone & she knows she has decisions to make.  Other people's safety rides on the choices she now makes ~ & she doesn't have a lot of time to make a choice.  If she gets it wrong her life & other's lives will be lost. Jael has discernment.  Even though, technically, Sisera should be no threat she knows what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:14...even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

The next thing I notice is her courage. She doesn't hide in her tent & pretend no~one is home & hope that the threat will go away. She doesn't pass the responsibility on to someone else.  Sisera is weary & thirsty.  Offered or not he would have sought somewhere to shelter & something to drink.  He has specifically sought out Jael's tent knowing the family is on friendly terms with the king.  I find that a fascinating comment.  Expedient... & so Jael goes out to meet him headfirst. She faces the danger.

Thirdly, she doesn't wallow in indecision.  Having identified the threat & faced it, she acts.  She nails it dead.  There will be no resurrection.

I believe that for too long the church has pushed a warped view of what godly women look like & how they act.  Dear sisters, whether you are a mother or not, you have a family ~ either natural or spiritual ~   & you are called to be a warrior in Christ's army.  You are living in a war zone ~ a spiritual war zone. Like Jael you are called to identify anything that threatens your honour [your high calling in Christ~ Phil 3:14 KJV ] , face it with courage & act to eliminate it! We are equipped with everything we need to defeat our enemies & to walk in victory.  Like Jael we have the tools we need to act on behalf of the families we are called to protect & shelter.  Jael took ordinary, everyday household items & turned them into weapons to defeat her enemy.  So can we.  Our weapons are our faith, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Prayer. They are ordinary, everyday things but they are extremely powerful. I believe God honours our courage because it displays trust in God, His goodness, His lovingkindness, His favour towards us.  Jael teaches us that we can be brave  & courageous, warrior women, & that we can be this AND have a meek & gentle spirit. [1 Peter 3:4]

In the Greek  praus, means an attitude of friendly warmth, patient, kind & gentle ~ & surprisingly Jael was these things! Hisuchios is the word translated gentle or quiet & denotes self control ~ someone who is considered in their responses rather than acting impulsively.  However that did not stop Jael from acting to defeat a threat!  Nor should it stop us!  How often do we allow things in our lives & relationships out of a mistaken understanding of godly womanhood? This strong, steady consistency of character is valuable.  We do not see Jael losing her head.  We do not see her giving way to her emotions or acting out of fear.  Instead she keeps a cool head. She assesses the situation.  She acts calmly.  She does not inflame the situation.  

I think it is sometimes difficult for Western women who, for the most part, have lived lives of safety & security, to understand what women in a war zone understand perfectly well: a male, any male, fresh from action & having been too close to death, is capable of horrendous things. She had not been raped ~ but that made the threat no less real.  So long as Sisera lived that was a very real possibility.

So let us learn from Jael to weigh the threats in our life to living successfully in Christ, then act calmly & rationally to completely eliminate those things from our lives. Amen.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Why is Communion Important? ~ Rabqa

Communion is not just a religious observance. It’s a holy time of fellowship with God. Matthew,
Mark and Luke all talk about this event. We are told in Matthew 26:26 that the night Jesus was betrayed, He and the disciples ate a last supper. This was a holy event in response to the commandment by Moses to memorialize an event named “Passover.”

So, what was Passover? In Exodus 12, we read about the first Passover. The Israelites were living in slavery in Egypt. God wanted to free them, so He sent Moses as His messenger. However, the Egyptian Pharaoh did not want to lose his slaves and refused to let them go. God sent nine plagues to convince Pharaoh to let His people leave, but Pharaoh wouldn’t listen. So, God sent one last plague. The plague was that the firstborn male in every family was to die on a specific night. The only way to escape this plague was to put the blood from a male lamb on the sides and top of the outside door of the house. When the death angel saw the blood, he would “pass over” that house, and everyone inside would live.

Jesus said in Luke 22:19, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” Therefore, all believers may receive Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, at the instruction of Jesus.

The Bible doesn’t instruct that there’s a set time or place to participate in this memorial. A certain person does not have to officiate. You can take Communion in a church service, at home with your family or by yourself. It is a holy time to remember what Jesus has done for you.

The Apostle Paul gave some instructions to believers in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26:

For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.’ In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement
confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it.’ For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.”

What do think about when you partake in the Lords supper? The next time you receive this special meal/ remember that Jesus’ body was broken & His bloodshed for you; & celebrate that your sins are completely forgiven, Rejoice that one day He will come back. Receive the healing, restoration & strength that He purchased for you with His body & blood.

So, get some wine or grape juice and a cracker, and spend time with the Lord. Take the time to come to God over the Communion table. As you begin, say something like this:

Father God, in the Name of Jesus, we recognize that Jesus’ body was broken for us, that His blood was shed on our behalf. We acknowledge that He carried sin, sickness, disease, sorrow, grief, fear, torment, unforgiveness, strife and lack for us. Through His sacrifice for us, we have complete forgiveness and cleansing before God and total deliverance from the works of Satan. And, we thank You for it all, in Jesus’ Name.

Now, accept everything Jesus’ sacrifice provided. Call yourself forgiven. Rejoice that God holds nothing against you, and withholds nothing from you that you ask for that’s His will. Thank God that Jesus prays for you, and provides for and protects you. Be glad that God has made you worthy to be called His child.

Also, refuse to accept sickness and disease. It’s from Satan, so reject it. Refuse to receive it any longer. You are partaking of the sacrifice of Jesus’ body, so receive the healing He provided, in Jesus’ Name.

Next, hold the bread, and read Luke 22:19 out loud, “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.’”

Eat the bread.

Now, hold the cup, and read Matthew 26:27-28 out loud: “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.’”

Drink the cup.

Jesus used the occasion of the Passover meal to inaugurate the New Covenant. The symbolism of the Passover meal under the Old Covenant was about to be fully sissified through the crucifixion in this historic moment. Jesus transformed the meaning of the elements of the Passover meal into New Covenant thought. The bread now represents His Body which would be given, & the cup His blood, which would be shed for the forgiveness of sins. The holy requirements of
God & the Old Covenant were about to be forever satisfied. A new & living way into the presence & provision of God was being prepared through Christ, the Lamb of God. A new eternal bond was being established by the blood of Jesus Christ. God was soverignly inaugurating the new ultimate covenant.

Finally, thank God for what He has provided for you through Jesus Christ. Acknowledge that you are blessed. Praise God for His exceeding great and precious promises, and the fact that you have the right to enjoy those promises.

You are healed! You are redeemed, and you are delivered from the authority of darkness. You have been accepted and moved into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. You are the head and not the tail. You are above only and not beneath. You are not left out of anything good. All that you do, prospers. Praise God in Jesus’ Name for the new life you enjoy!

As you continue to think on the importance of Communion and what God says about it, here are a few other suggestions that will help you with this special act of remembrance:

* Read 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. What stands out to you the most?

* Make an outline of the steps to receive Communion.

* Determine what you will expect as you receive Communion.

Though Pharaoh didn’t pay heed to the first nine plagues, this tenth one got his attention. He let God’s people go. God commanded that this event be celebrated each year as “Passover,” so the Israelites would remember God’s great deliverance in bringing them out of Egypt and slavery.

Let’s move forward in time to Jesus and the disciples as they were celebrating the feast of Passover in Matthew 26:26. At this meal, Jesus took a piece of bread, blessed it, tore a piece off for each disciple and announced, “This is my body, which is given for you.”

Celebrate the Lords supper often. Approach it with faith, receiving the life & healing it provides.

When He said this, Jesus was actually referring to the coming hours when He, the perfect Lamb of God, would be beaten, tormented, crucified and buried. Jesus said His body would be broken for us. That was foretold by a prophecy in Isaiah 53:5 that says, “…He was whipped so we could be healed.”

Does that mean that we should believe God wants to literally heal our bodies? How about mental and emotional healing? Does God want to heal that, too? The resounding answer is “YES.” Peter quotes that prophecy after the fact in 1 Peter 2:24, “…by whose stripes you were healed.”

The punishment Jesus took in His body was not just an exercise in suffering. Every lash of the whip was a provision for healing. As the leather straps marked His flesh, which was to heal cancer. The metal barbs cut his skin—that was to heal diabetes. Again, the whip fell across His back—that was for healing of mental anguish. The whip ripped into His muscles—that was to replace crippled limbs. And on and on it went. Jesus was whipped so you could be healed. It’s simply a matter of believing and receiving this provision of God.

Then, in Matthew 26:27-28, Jesus took a cup, gave thanks and passed it to the disciples saying, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which [ratifies the agreement and] is being poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Jesus also said to drink the wine, or grape juice, to remember that His blood as a sacrificial offering would establish a new agreement: God’s acceptance of men as His children. Jesus’ death and resurrection made a way for us to have a relationship with God. Because of what happened in the Garden of Eden with Adam, we were born separated from God by sin, and there was no way to bridge the gap. We couldn’t get free from the punishment of sin without dying. Jesus took our punishment and died—He paid for our death with His death, so we can live as children of God. His act has caused us to be forgiven and right with God.

You see, Jesus is the final, perfect Passover Lamb. He fulfilled the requirements as set forth in Exodus 12. He was a male, unblemished by sin, and He was willing to die in our place. When we accept the perfect sacrifice of Jesus in our life, His blood causes the death angel to pass over us.