Wednesday, 19 September 2018

For The Meek~ Rabqa

Isaiah 11:1-10 Out of the stump of David’s family[a] will grow a shoot— yes, a new Branch bearing
fruit from the old root. 2 And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.3 He will delight in obeying the LORD. He will not judge by appearance nor make a decision based on hearsay.4 He will give justice to the poor and make fair decisions for the exploited The earth will shake at the force of his word, and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked. 5 He will wear righteousness like a belt and truth like an undergarment.

6 In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all.7 The cow will graze near the bear. The cub and the calf will lie down together. The lion will eat hay like a cow.8 The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra. Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest
of deadly snakes without harm.9 Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the LORD. 10 In that day the heir to David’s throne[b] will be a banner of salvation to all the world. The nations will rally to him, and the land where he lives will be a glorious place.

We learn in verse 2 that God declares his Spirit is the Spirit of wisdom & understanding, the Spirit of council & might, the Spirit of knowledge & the reverential & obedient fear of the Lord. How have you experienced the Holy Spirit’s ministry in each of these ways? If you have not, ask God to give you such experiences with His Spirit.

In verses 3 & 4 we see that Jesus did not make decisions by the sight of His eyes or the hearing of His ears, yet He was of quick understanding. If we follow His example, not relying on what we see or hear with our natural senses, but watching & listening for the Holy Spirit to lead our hearts, we will also understand quickly what we would otherwise not learn in a lifetime.

Moses was head strong in his zeal for his own people, & it resulted in his killing a man (Exodus 2:11-12). His heart was right in his desire to correct things, but he was always frail. Moses had a mighty passion, & that is one of the best things in the world when God has control & it becomes a passion for souls to be born again. But apart from God it is one of the worst things.

Paul was tremendously zealous, &, breathing out threats, he was sending men & women to prison. (Acts 8:3). But God changed him, & later said he could wish himself accursed from Christ for the sake of his fellowmen, his kindness according to the flesh Romans 9:3-4. for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters.[a] I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would
save them. 4 They are the people of Israel, chosen to be God’s adopted children.[b] God revealed his glory to them. He made covenants with them and gave them his law.

He gave them the privilege of worshiping him and receiving his wonderful promises.
Paul does not actually wish that he was cut off from Christ so that other Jews would be saved, but his grief for them was so deep that it brought him virtually to that very point.

God took the headstrong Moses & moulded into the meekest of men. He took the fiery Saul of Tarsus & made him the foremost exponent of grace. God transform each & every one of us in the same manner, & plants in us a divine meekness & every other thing that we lack.

Smith Wigglesworth tells of a boy in the Sunday school he went to, of a boy with hair so red as his temper. He was a trail. He kicked his teachers& the superintendent. He was simply uncontrollable. The teachers had a meeting where they discussed the matter of expelling him. But they thought that God might somehow work in that boy, & so they decided to give him another chance. One day he had to be kicked out & he broke all the windows of the church. He was worse outside than in. Sometime later, they had a ten day revival meeting. There was nothing much going on in the meeting, & people thought it was a waste of time, but there was one result the redheaded lad was saved.

After he was saved, the difficulty was to get rid of him at their house. He would be there until midnight, crying to God to make him pliable & use him for his glory. God delivered the lad from his temper & made him one of the meekest, most beautiful boys you ever saw. For many, many years he has been a mighty missionary in China.

Smith continues to say that he can remember the time when he used to go white with rage & shake all over with temper. He could hardly hold himself together. But the time he waited on God for a period of ten days; in those ten days he was being emptied out, & the life of the Lord Jesus was being worked in him. His wife testified to the transformation that took place in his life. She said she never saw such a change. She could never cook anything from that time that has not pleased him. Nothing is too hot or too cold; everything is just right.

God must come reign supreme in your life. Will you let Him do it? He can do it & He will if you let Him.

It is no use trying to tame the old man (Eph 4:22). But God can deal with him. The carnal mind will never be subjected to God but God will bring it to the cross where it belongs & will
be put in its place. With God’s transforming power, we can become pure & holy, having the meek mind of the Master. God takes us just as we are & transforms us by His power.

Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the [a]earth.

Meek does not mean weakness but rather controlled strength. The word comes from the idea of humility & self discipline.

Psalm 42 As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. 2 I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him? 3 Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying “Where is this God of yours?”
4 My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God singing for joy and giving thank house of God singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration!
5 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Saviour and 6 my God!
Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you—even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar.7 I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.8 But each day the LORD pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.9 “O God my rock,” I cry, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?”10 Their taunts break my bones. They scoff, “Where is this God of yours?”11 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Saviour and my God!

In verse five of this Psalm we see the sons of Korah struggling with depression, I would like for us to exam in how they handled their situation, because it shows us what to do when we feel depressed. As we dissect this verse, we find three distinct responses the sons of Korah give to their depressed feelings, First, they put a question to their souls & ask themselves “Why am I so discouraged? "Then they give an instruction to their souls “Put your trust in God. " Finally they declare “I will praise My Saviour & My God."  We might say the sons of Korah had a chat with themselves. We must follow this basic pattern of action as we come out of them & into victory.

We learn that the Psalmist is discouraged. Discouragement destroys hope, so naturally the devil always tries to discourage us. Without hope we give up, which is exactly what the devil wants us to do.

The Bible repeatedly tells us not to be discouraged or dismayed. God knows that we will not be victorious if we get discouraged, so He always encourages us as we start on a project by saying to us, “Do not be discouraged.”

God wants us to be encouraged not discouraged.

When discouragement or condemnation tries to overtake us, the first thing we need to do is to examine our thoughts. What kind of thoughts have you been thinking? Have they sounded something like this? “ I’m not going to make it; This is too hard, I always fail; It has always been the same. Nothing ever changes. I am sure other folk do not have this much trouble getting their minds renewed. I may as well give up. I’m tired of trying. I pray, but it seems God doesn’t hear. He probably doesn’t answer my prayers because He is disappointed in me”.

If these examples represent your thought life, then no wonder you get discouraged or feel commended! Remember, you become what you think. Think discouraging thoughts, you will become discouraged. Think condemning thoughts & you will come under condemnation. Change your thinking & be set free.

Instead of thinking negatively, think more like this: Well, things are going a little slowly, but praise God, I am making some progress, I am glad I’m on the right path that will lead me to freedom; I had a rough day yesterday. I chose wrong thinking all day long. Father forgive me, & help me to keep on keeping on. I made a mistake, but at least that is one mistake I won’t have to make again. This is a new day. You love me, Lord. Your Mercy is new every morning. I refuse to be discouraged. I refused to be condemned. Father, Your Word says that you do not condemn me. You sent Jesus to die for me. I will be fine-today it will be a great day I ask you to help me choose right thoughts today.

I am sure you can feel the victory already with this type of cheerful, positive, God-like thinking. Practice this type of thinking today.

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
Meet the conditions, & God will fulfil His Word to you. Note this verse says “Shall be filled.” The Spirit of God is crying out “Listen! Every one who is thirsty, come to the waters. And you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. The words have no money mean that God’s abundant life is free. The Spirit of God will take the things of Christ & show them to you so that you may have a longing for Christ in His fullness, & when there is that longing, God will not fail to fill you.

See the crowd of worshippers who have come to feast. They are going away utterly dissatisfied, but on the last day, that great day of the feast Jesus will stand & cry out, saying, 37 Now on the final and most important day of the Feast, Jesus stood, and He cried in a loud voice, If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink!

38 He who believes in Me [who cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me] as the Scripture has said, From his innermost being [continuously] springs and rivers of living water. (John 7:37-38 AMP).

Jesus knew that they were going away without living water, & so He directed them to the true source of supply. Are you thirsty today? The living Christ still invites you to Himself, &I want to testify that He still satisfies the thirsty soul & fills the hungry with good things.

Notice that Jesus didn’t say will flow once in a while from those who believe in Him. He said these rivers of living water will flow continuously. That living water is the Holy Spirit.

In this passage, Jesus talks about the out pouring of the Holy Spirit, which we have received if we have accepted Jesus as Lord & Saviour-the Person & the power of the Holy Spirit in us.

The river of living water flows within you & me. It is not supposed to be stopped but it is to bubble up within us. & we can release the power of that living water in an even greater measure by receiving the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to fill you today & everyday.

When Smith Wigglesworth was in Switzerland he learnt of a man who met with a particular congregation. He attended their various meetings, & one morning at their communion service, he arose & said, “Brothers, we have the Word, & I feel that we are living very much in the letter of it, but there is a hunger & thirst in my soul for something deeper, something more real than we have, & I cannot rest until I enter in to it.” The next Sunday this man rose again & said, “We are all poor here, there is no life in this assembly, & my heart is hungry for reality.” He did this for several weeks until it got on the nerves of these people, & they protested, “Sands, you are making us all miserable; you are spoiling our meetings. There is only one thing for you to do, & that is to clear out.”

He went out of the meeting in a very sad condition. As he stood outside, one of his children asked what was the matter, & he said that they should turn me out from their midst for being hungry & thirsty for more of God! Smith did not know anything more of this situation until later.

Days later someone rushed up to Sands & said. “There is a man over hear from England, & he is speaking about tongues & healing.” Sands said that he would fix him, he went to the meeting & sat near the front & would challenge him with Scripture. He said that he would dare him to preach these things in Switzerland; & that he would publicly denounce him. So he went to the meetings. There he sat. He was so hungry & thirsty that he drank in every word that was said. His opposition soon petered out. The first morning he said to a friend, “This is what I want.” He drank & drank of the Spirit. After three weeks he said, “God will have to do something new or I’ll burst.” He breathed in God, & the Lord filled him to such an extent that he spoke in other tongues as the Spirit gave him utterance. Sands is now preaching & is in charge of a new Pentecostal assembly.

God is making people hungry & thirsty after His best. & everywhere He is filling the hungry & giving them what the disciples received at the very beginning. Are you hungry? If you are God promises that you will be filled. If you ever see a “shall” in the Bible, make it yours.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

The Importance of Joy. ~ Ganeida

I want to deviate [sort of] for the next few weeks from the Beatitudes; we will come back to them later but the Holy Spirit has been pressing this on my heart & it ties back into the Beatitudes so we are going to *take the scenic route* as my father used to say ~ meaning he was going home the long way!

Shortly before His death Jesus had this to say to His disciples: These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. [John 15:11]  What things? 

Condensed down into one simple statement it amounts to this: Keep My Commands! There is a promise attached to this command: you will abide in my love & your joy will be complete. [V10/11]

I hope you are beginning to see why I have spent so much time on the Beatitudes.  Not only is this Jesus foundational sermon, it lays down the principles by which we can grow in love.  What's more, we are given a measuring stick.  We can asses how we are doing in our spiritual walk by the amount of joy we posses.  I am not talking about happiness.  Happiness is fleeting & dependent on outward things.  I am talking about the joy of the Lord, which is our strength. [Nehemiah 8:10]

Now I pointed out last time there is a really loose linguistic link between joy & grace.  Joy is a grace. In the Greek Joy is chara but the word most closely related to it is charis ~ grace!  Nothing is more detrimental, nothing is so off~putting, nothing is such an anomaly as a Christian devoid of joy! We have got a reputation for being kill~joys & despite the command to neither grumble nor complain [Philippians 2:14] Christians often seem to do an awful lot of both.  I ask you, how on earth are we meant to convince the world that God is real , we are overcomers & nothing is so awesome as being a child of God when we whinge & bicker & grumble & complain about our lot in life just like anybody else & more than some?!

So let's start with gongysmos, variously translated as grumble or complain & containing nothing of joy.  It could be translated as a muttering, murmuring, low and suppressed discourse,  the expression of secret and sullen discontent, murmuring, complaint.  In other words it's a really stinky attitude being verbalised which is rebellion against God & rebellion is as the spirit of witchcraft.[1 Samuel 15:23]  It is the means by which we express our discontent with what God has assigned us as our portion in life!  Not a good place to be!

It is from this place of discontent a lot of other stinky attitudes flow resulting in a people devoid of joy & lacking the life of Christ flowing through them.  Living according to the Beatitudes should result in lives filled with joy but as we pointed out last week most of us have never seen this lived out so we struggle to wrap our minds, let alone our will & our flesh, around the concepts because we just don't know what it actually looks like when it is lived out. 

The biblical book that addresses the subject of Christian joy is Philippians & I am going to use, very loosely because the Holy Spirit has a way of running off at a tangent with these things, Warren Wiersbe's book on the subject. Wiersbe identifies 4 key areas where we can have the joy of the Lord: in spite of our circumstances; in spite of people; in spite of things; defeating worry.

The first principle I am going to give you is found in John 15:  Abide in me as I abide in you...Just as the branch cannot bear fruit fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.

We know this.  It gets repeated over & over but how soon we forget & find ourselves wallowing as we attempt to do things in our own strength instead of relying on the Holy Spirit.   Galatians identifies joy as a fruit of the Spirit. That means  it is not a normal, natural human condition.  Joy is something supernatural.  

I am a gardener, not a horticulturalist, but I know, because my grandfather did it, that when you graft a plant onto another plant it will naturally produce fruit just like the parent plant.  In this way my grandfather was able to grow 14 different species of roses on one rose vine.  In order for the graft to merge with the new parent plant, all other food sources must be removed so that all the graft's sustenance is coming from the root. 

When we are born again we are grafted into the body & life of Christ. Paul calls this being  grafted against  nature [Romans 11:24] because we are meant to  allow the full nature of Christ to grow in us.  In order for the graft to take well we need to draw all our sustenance from Christ & cut of anything else that will prevent the graft from taking.  Against all that is natural we will then produce the supernatural fruit of the Spirit.  It is absolutely impossible for us to produce this on our own or to fake it.  It must draw it's life from the root or the graft will wither & die, or merely produce natural fruit. 

This is such a fundamental principle it really should be taught in more depth than I have knowledge.  For example, root stock for most grafted plants is sturdy, pest resistant, disease hardy, adaptable to climate conditions etc but all root stock has one fallible trait;  it will persistently attempt to shoot below the graft so that the plant will revert to it's original form.  This is true of us.  Our old nature will persistently attempt to shoot up again returning us to old habits, old ways of thinking, actions contrary to the new nature we have in Christ.  The only way to combat this is to follow the instructions, resolutely cutting off everything that belongs to the old nature.  This is described in various ways as picking up your cross, crucifying your flesh, renewing your mind but it amounts to the same thing ~ working out our salvation with fear & trembling.

Remember last time we pointed out salvation works on 3 levels: we are saved [our spirit is immediately renewed when we believe on Christ] but we don't get the new body [obviously] @ the same time; that is for the hereafter ~ & we don't get the new mind; we have to constantly work at renewing that. [Romans 12:2] And it can all be just too hard.  We know what we should do but our flesh & our will is weak. We are used to relying on those 2 things because they are made for this world.  It is much harder to rely on the Spirit; we aren't used to doing that & many, many people give up before they learn but it doesn't have to be  so difficult.  

Jesus pointed out helps in His sermon on the mount: So we have a discussion concerning anger, & one on immorality, one about marriage, another about integrity, one on retaliation & loving our enemies.  These are all things that affect our ability to walk out the instructions Jesus opened with. We then find Jesus discussing 5 spiritual disciplines: Prayer, fasting, giving, serving & forgiveness ~the  things that will aide us in our spiritual growth & the things that will hinder us. To this list I would add bible reading, that is reading aloud, because Jesus instructed that His words abide in us.  As He is no longer physically around the only way to follow that instruction is by bible reading. 

Now I will show you something that I find fascinating.  You can read more about it here. Dopamine, serotonin &  oxytocin are the neurochemical drivers of the *happiness trifecta*.  They are released when we help others ~ so serving, giving, forgiveness all release chemicals in the brain that make us feel better! Jesus said it; science proves it!  All sorts of fascinating things happen to the brain when we pray in tongues. Here is one study. Or even when we just pray ordinarily.  

It is no surprise then to find that Paul, writing about joy to the Philippians, references the mind @ least 16 times.  In other words our attitude matters.  How we think, what we think about, how we think about what we think about determines the amount of joy we are going to experience. Proverbs 23:7 tells us For as he thinks within himself, so he is. In other words if we fill ourselves with bitterness, griping, complaining, unforgiveness we are going to release a lot of toxins into our bodies that are not very good for us & will prevent us from experiencing the fullness of joy that Christ destined us for. On the other hand, when we practice giving, serving, forgiveness we release good things into our bodies that are going to help us. 

Many people think that joy is simply something that happens to us but the bible actively teaches that there are actions & attitudes we can foster that will encourage joy to abide in us.  Joy is not the same as happiness. John 16:20 points out  a fundamental aspect of Christian joy:  Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy.  Christian joy is something that by definition is greater than ourselves, greater than our circumstances, greater than the people we interact with, greater than those things we worry about.  It is greater than anything that grieves us or causes us sorrow.  We understand that Jesus was * a man of sorrows & acquainted with grief*... Yet, 

who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [Hebrews 12:2]

I don't have time to go over the full teaching [you can find it here] but I will remind you briefly of Jesus attitude as He hung on that cross.  Again & again He referenced scripture, each & every time affirming the goodness of God the Father, the Father's love, the Father's redemption.  Remember to reference one line is to reference the whole in Hebrew thinking so even when Jesus quotes that great cry from Psalm 22, My God, My God, why have you foresaken me? we need to remember how it ends:

I will declare your name to my people;
in the assembly I will praise you.
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honour him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
For he has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him

but has listened to his cry for help.

Joy is not the denial of realityIt is assurance even in the face of adversity.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Faith to Live By ~ Rabqa

About six centuries before the Christian era, God gave the prophet Habakkuk a revelation that would provide the basis of the gospel; But the righteous will live by faith.( Habakkuk 2:4). Habakkuk struggles with His faith when he sees men flagrantly violate God’s law & distort justice on every level, without fear or divine intervention. He wants to know why God allows the growing iniquity to go unpunished. God’s answer satisfies Habakkuk that he can trust Him even in the worst of his struggles because of His matchless power & wisdom. This is the key verse in Habakkuk 2, which accurately express the prophecy of the theme of the Christian message; it is actually stated three times in the New Testament: in Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11 & Hebrews 10:38.

Of these three passages, Habakkuk’s prophecy is most fully expounded in Romans. In fact it provides the central theme for the epistle. To obtain a proper perspective on the book of Romans as a whole, we may compare the book to a symphony by a great composer like Beethoven.

The first fifteen verses of chapter one are the introduction. Then in verses sixteen & seventeen, Paul presents the main theme: But the righteous shall live by faith. (Verse 17).

The symphony is then divided into three main movements. The first consists of chapters through eight. In this movement, Paul’s approach is doctrinal. He worked out a detailed, logical analysis of his theme, showing how it harmonises with the prophecies & patterns of the Old Testament. The second movement consists of chapter’s nine to eleven. Paul here applies his theme to Israel. He shows how Israel’s attempt to achieve righteousness by works rather than by faith had blinded them to their Messiah & so deprived them of the blessings offered to them by God through Christ. The third movement consists of chapters twelve through to sixteen; where Paul emphasises the practical. He shows how his theme must be worked out in various activities, relationships & duties by daily living.

To appreciate a symphony properly, we need to pick out the composers main theme when it is first
introduced & then follow it carefully through the whole piece. Unless we keep the main theme in mind, we will not fully appreciate the various modifications & developments it undergoes in the successive movements. The same is true to the book of Romans. First we need to grasp the main theme that runs through the whole epistle: The righteous man shall live by faith (Romans 1:17). We now need to keep this theme always in mind as we study the epistle’s main division, noting how it applies to each particular subject that is dealt with. This will give unity & consistency to our understanding of the whole epistle.

In Romans 1:16 Paul states one of the basic requirements for experiencing the power of God for salvation: For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile (N L T).
The Jew first: Paul’s missionary practice in every city was to begin preaching the gospel in the Jewish synagogue, & then once the Jews had heard or refused to hear, to preach than to the Gentiles. This follows the pattern of God throughout most of the Old Testament, the pattern of Jesus during His earthly ministry, & the pattern of evangelism in the early church (Acts 1:8)
We should all be proclaiming the gospel boldly. Faith closes boldly & unswervingly to believe what God has said. Faith must learn again to believe totally the testimony of Scripture! Among the keys to faithful living is the truth of our conversion. Faith frees us to live as never before for the good of others.

In Verse 17, Paul tells us how this truth of salvation can be known: This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”

The word faith occurs three times in the King James Version which says that God revelation comes from faith to faith. That means that it originates in God’s own faith-faith that His Word will accomplish its preordained purpose. It is transmitted through the faith of the one who delivers the message. It is appropriated by faith of the one who receives the message. & the
message itself is, again “The righteous man shall live by faith.” From beginning to end, the theme is faith.

Let’s examine the message more closely. It could not be stated more simply: “The righteous man shall live by faith. We learn from this verse that those who are just shall live by faith. Faith is having confidence in God. It is important that we learn to be consistently confident, & NOT occasionally confident. Let me give you an example of this.

In my early days of preaching I was absolutely terrified of getting up to speak, I had never done any public speaking But the thing that got me over my fear was I knew without a doubt that the Holy Spirit would be with me & of course He was & I might add that He still is. I couldn’t do it without Him, He is there helping from the start of putting my message on paper & all the way through to the end of delivering it.

This of course didn’t happen overnight I had to grow in my confidence to place where I am now;
whether they reject or accept me it does not alter my confidence level. My confidence is in God & not people.

Romans 1:17 speaks about the whole issue of faith. It says that we shall live by faith. The King James Version of the Bile says “The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith” In other words we can go from faith to faith. We can lose a lot of precious time till we become consistent in our faith walk.

We all can have consistent & confident faith; we need to ask God to help us to resist the enemy’s attack when he tries to rob us of that faith. We must learn to go from “faith to faith” with overcoming confidence.

In the Gospel of John he continually focuses on the divine eternal life. John 1:4 The Word gave life to everything that was created,[a] and his life brought light to everyone. In 3:36, he reordered John the Baptists testimony concerning Jesus; He who believes in the Son has eternal life. John 4:6 I
tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. 10:10 says... My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. 10:27-28 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, finally in 20:31 ... that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.

John’s first epistle returns to this theme 1John 5:11-12And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.

It is so important to see that John used the present tense throughout. “He who has the Son has life” You who believe...have eternal life.

Paul also spoke of this life we have in Christ in brief & vivid phrases in Philippians 1:21 he said For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.& in Colossians 3:4 And when Christ, who is your[a] life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. For Paul & likewise for John, life in Christ was a present reality, not just a future hope.

We see that this is the essence of the gospel message. There is a divine, eternal life that has its source in God alone. God has made this life available to us in Jesus Christ. As we receive Jesus by faith into our hearts & yield our lives to Him in full obedience, we receive in Him the very life of God. Now this life is not something reserved for another world or a future existence. But it is something that we can have & experience here & now. Whoever has the Son has life... (1John 5:12). We learn from this passage that we have everlasting life at this very moment & on into eternity. It is ours at the very moment that we truly put our faith in Jesus Christ.

Having received this new kind of life through faith in Christ, we are faced with a challenge of working it out from day to day in practical living. I hear you ask “How can I do this?” Simply by faith. This truth is contained in Pauls opening theme: The righteous man shall live by faith (Romans 1:17). From a practical standpoint, the verb “live” is one of the most all-inclusive words we can use. Everything we do at any time is included: eating, drinking, sleeping, working & the innumerable other activities of life. Through Faith, every one of these common activities can become a way to express the life of God that we received within us.

We are often prone to assume that mundane actions of daily life have no spiritual significance & offer no place for the application of our faith. But Scripture actually teaches the opposite. It is only after we have successfully applied our faith in the simple, material areas of life that God will promote us to higher spiritual responsibilities. Jesus laid down this principal in Luke 16:10-11. If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. 11 And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?

God will test our fitness to receive the true riches of heaven by our use of material possessions.

Therefore, in examining how w can work out our faith in daily living, we will consider two practical, down-to-earth areas: Food & finance. Once a believer has learnt to apply his or her faith in these two areas is likely to be leading a successful Christian life. On the other hand, if a person has not brought these basic areas under God’s control, it is usually a indication that his or her whole life needs to be adjusted.

Romans 12:1 And so, dear brothers and sisters,[a] I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

Paul here is telling us that we are to dedicate everything about ourselves to God that is not just our possessions money, time, energy & efforts, but also our bodies, heads, hands, tongues & even our mind, motions & attitudes.

We are to dedicate everything about ourselves to God as a living sacrifice, holy, devoted consecrated & pleasing to Him. This is our reasonable or rational intelligent service to Him.  All too often we get the impression that to totally serve & worship God means to involve our bodies & spirits, but there is more. Here Paul says that we are to serve & worship Him with our minds & emotions also invite God to think & speak through you. Let Him touch people through you. You can even serve God with your face by smiling & showing yourself to be friendly to other people. Allow God to use you all of you. The more of yourself & your life that you release to Him the more you will fulfilled & experience His peace & joy.

Paul deals with a variety of practical issues related to the Christian life. In Romans 14:2 he says For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables.

Among Christians there is room for toleration & differences of strictness regarding such issues as eating & habits (Verses 2-4) & observing special days in the Christian life (verses 5-6). Since both parties do it to honour God (verse 6) neither should look down on the other. Yet Paul does say that the Christian who refuses to eat certain things is weak or immature in the faith since eating is really morally relative. & in verse 23 he states But if you have doubts about whether or not you
should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning. This verse means that if a person has scruples about matters not wrong in & of themselves should not act contrary to his conscience because to violate the conscience is not acting in faith but sin.

1 Timothy 4:4-5 Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks. 5 For we know it is made acceptable[a] by the word of God and prayer.
Every creature God made for man’s health & nourishment is good for that purpose & is to be received with thanks. Our food consumption should be preceded by the Word of God & prayer as we believe that the Lord will sanctify & bless it.

1Corinthains 10:31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Through faith our daily meals take on the nature of a sacrament, of which we partake for God’s glory. This was one of the most immediate & obvious effects produced in the lives of the first Christians by the out pouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Their meals became spiritual feasts of worship. Luke says in Acts 2:46-47 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity[a]— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

This gives us a snapshot of the life of the believers in the early church. Being part of a local church is one of the great joys & responsibilities of every believer. However, it involves more than showing up on a Sunday! How do you participate in the life of your Church? While you experience different levels of involvement in a church during different seasons of your life, be sure to consistently avail yourself of opportunities to fellowship, worship serve & receive teaching of the Word.

We will now turn to the book of Ecclesiastes & 5:17 (NKJV) All his days he also eats in darkness, And he has much sorrow and sickness and anger.

To eat in darkness is just opposite of eating from faith. Such a man does not acknowledge his food is a gift from God. Therefore it is not blessed & sanctified. The result is that he has much sorrow, sickness & anger. To eat without faith is to invite sorrow sickness & anger.

For the sake of time I am going to pause here & continue next time.

Acknowledgements Derek Prince.