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Examining Biblical Scripture Torah Portion Examined

Genesis Creation Story: Richness of the Truth offered by Creation Scripture

Genesis Creation Story

Genesis 1:1 to 6:8

In the Genesis Creation Story we find a richness, a wealth of power and truth, and through this an added empowerment to our everyday walk of faith.

“In the beginning GOD.”

I was reading this morning the first Torah Portion* for this Hebrew year which has just begun. Reading the Torah Portion puts the entire Pentateuch** to our eyes and mind in the space of a year. Gentiles reading alongside the Jewish people can gain much in re-reading the Book of the Law over and over again.

In my re-reading today I realised several keys:

  1. “Let the earth bring forth grass…” By about 1:11 I realised afresh: Oh, what a creative Creator He is. From out of nothing, sprang the earth: beginning with light, the heavens and eventually bio forms, life forms of grass, living creatures… and finally Mankind. He created life forms in order that they may beget life. Wow! Let us never take that for granted. Though the planets and solar systems existed before the earth itself, in some sense, life as we call it, did not. No bio life existed before GOD called it into being.
  2. Then along the way of reading chapter 1 of Genesis, I realised what a disaster we have made of the beauty of the world. I won’t dwell on that here.
  3. “And Adam said… She shall be called Woman” in Genesis 2:23 and I realised as he called all the animals so he called Woman. Does that mean he has superiority over her? Ouch!
  4. Eve probably didn’t hear GOD say not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but only that Adam had told her GOD had said that, which would explain why she over-stated saying, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.” (3:3)
  5. The interminable struggle between good and evil, man and the devil, is synthesised in these words, “He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” (3:15)
  6. Genesis does not share all the children borne of Eve, because there were many alive by the time Cain married (4:17), and this was easily accomplished since they all lived nearly 1000 years.
  7. Through Seth, men began to call upon the name of the LORD. This is important: i. Through Seth’s line came Noah. ii. the name of the LORD is important. This latter point will be made in future posts, just as I have referred to it before.
  8. GOD called human beings “Mankind” (5:2)… isn’t it remarkable how today, even this is being assaulted by those who wish to call us “humankind” or “people-kind” so as not to seem anti-feminine.
  9. Noah was the great grandson of Enoch, who never died but “walked with GOD; and he was not for GOD took him.” (5:23)
  10. “Sons of GOD” aka fallen angels (6:2) had sex with daughters of men and from these intercourses were mighty men descended. And there were “giants on the earth” (6:4). These offspring could well be the “gods” of ancient belief systems such as held in Greece, Rome for the West and others (I’m less familiar with) from the history of the East.

Contemplating Genesis Creation does not conflict with other religions or scientific belief. In fact, it enhances, explains from a Judea-Christian heritage how the earth and everything in it began, developed.

May I encourage you to read through the beginning of time to Noah. May I also encourage you to get a copy of the Torah Portions (free at: www.torahportions.org) and consider the Word of GOD deeply, richly and fully as you continue on your journey to knowing GOD more intimately.

Shalom and GOD Bless.

*Torah Portion: that part of the first five books of the Bible allocated per Sabbath Saturday. The Torah is the first five books of the Bible as written by Moses from GOD’s “dictation”.

** Pentateuch: the first five books of the Bible

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Reflections and Poetry

Overcome the Flesh: Emotion as Flesh

Overcome the Flesh

“My soul clings to the dust;

Revive me according to your word.”

(Psalm 119:25)

As mature believers we need to learn to ignore the flesh and that includes our emotions.

When the world has said feed the emotions, we have followed with inner healing. That was important and much good has come from it. But the Season has changed and now we need to learn to ignore the flesh in order to soldier in the fight for souls.

How do we overcome our emotions in a healthy way?

We recognise the flesh is death and the spirit is life.

We do not ignore pain and suffering. Jesus heals and we must allow him to do his work in us. And in ourselves, we will discover life beyond pain, learning to rejoice in all circumstances (Philippians 4:4-9 ), and recognising that what Satan or man means for evil, GOD allows for good (Genesis 50:20). When we trust in His sovereignty, we see our lives unfold on His terms; then we live freely and soberly, fully conscious that this is the Time for our lives to be solely committed to Him.

“So shall I meditate on Your wonderful works.” (Psalm 119:27b)

When we fully embrace the mercy and justice of the LORD, His timing and His strategy, we will no longer suffer — not because we are in denial, but because we have learned to overcome the flesh.

Hallelujah, where the Spirit is, there is LIFE.

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Reflections and Poetry

Empty Vessels: The Church needs to Change – Part 7

We are empty vessels — or we are meant to be

Paul likens the Church of Jesus to a human body (1 Corinthians 12:17), and to each of us as pot or jug (2 Timothy 2:21). We are meant to be empty vessels, ready to be filled with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, with no personal agenda, desires, or ambitions.

How are we doing?

I’m am surrendering everything. But at times the flesh does rise up; I do have preferences and sometimes strong emotions. But I’m wanting to lay down my life, every moment of every day, to be available to GOD for His purposes.

It isn’t easy for me. It’s splendid when it happens. I feel His presence surrounding, covering, filling me with energy and peace. But though I want to be filled daily, sometimes I get distracted…

How are you doing?

Church in the Community vs GOD

We are meant to be available to the LORD. Often times we can find opportunities to help in our communities, to help in our churches. Is that the same thing?

I’m working that one out. Good works are not necessarily GOD works. And yet, there is such need to hear the Good News, the true Gospel of Yeshua Jesus, and to see an outpouring of His Holy Spirit, as Jesus and then the disciples did. I wish He would simply give me a clear mandate, a vision for my own life, a way to minister to those in need. I am committed to being available, undistracted, patient and expectant, though I do see opportunities in my community pass me by. I’m torn.

More of Him, less of me

As I trust in His leadership, His guidance, His roadmap, I ask Him to keep me small, keep me empty, keep me available. Then, when He’s ready, I ask Him to use me, fill me, aid me to be the person, the presence in others’ lives, that will reveal Jesus to them.

Amen.

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Reflections and Poetry

What to do when your handbag is stolen

What to do when your handbag is stolen?

  1. Pray for its return — even if that means looking in bins in the side streets of the theft.
  2. Pray for the person who stole — maybe they will be wholly convicted and turn to Jesus.
  3. Thank the LORD your person wasn’t stolen, your arm wasn’t broken, or your child didn’t go missing. There are always better situations, but also always there are worse.

I’m most struck by the fact that I could “afford” to lose the £275 cash that was in the wallet. I could “afford” the loss of my favourite eye glasses (‘m tying with poor vision, grateful I can touch type). I could “afford” the hassle of having to notify the banks, replace the cards — including my driver’s licence, find a new handbag, etc etc. Losing that amount of money hurts (I had literally just gone to the ATM). But I won’t starve as a result, and I will not take that for granted.

I didn’t have any house or car keys in the bag. Thank the LORD for that!

I didn’t get injured. Thank you for your protection, Father.

I didn’t panic. And one kind person who overheard my plight at the bank offered me money for a taxi (I didn’t accept as it wasn’t necessary).

So, what do we do when we have a handbag — or wallet, or keys, or something else of relative value? We call the police and other relevant parties. But we find the good and thank GOD for that. We praise Him in ALL seasons. We count our blessings.

I am still reflecting upon the occurrence. I was in a shop and had set my bag down — foolishly. GOD didn’t intervene, didn’t warn me, didn’t scold me either.

I don’t know why this happened today. Beware of the thief who comes in the night to steal and destroy. The adversary isn’t only the devil, but sometimes is a person.

I’m sad, I’m reflective. I feel a little bit bruised and a bit alone. But these feelings will pass. And in the meantime, I focus on the kindest shown me by the store clerk who contacted the police and the man in the bank who offered a helping hand. And I praise GOD I’m here to tell the story.

I’m dwelling on the aftermath and the peace which will eventually be fully restored. That’s how we process and recover from the experience of a theft.

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Reflections and Poetry

Perish… Perish Not: A Reflection

I am still. I perish not!

I pause in this busy life to reflect. And I reflect on direction, purpose, and ultimately my thoughts rest on Vision.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18)

I guess I’m perishing… because I don’t have a vision. Rather than create one, I’m waiting on My GOD. But in so doing, rather than feel as though death is at my door, I am at peace as I wait upon my next steps.

I have plenty of passion, loads of skill, but no clarity. And as I wait upon the LORD, He renews my strength (Isaiah 40) and I long for, hope for and pray for His vision for the next phase of life.

I am not a great strategist. So if I had a direction or mission or vision for ministry, I’m sure I would need the LORD to weave it all together for me.

But as I have said, I don’t even have a vision. So, I wait. I think he’s waiting for me to wait, and perhaps then He’ll move me. For years, I’ve desired for Him to move mountains with mountain moving faith (Matthew 17), and that he’d use me. But I realise I’m the mountain who needs moving. And first I must be still.

I am including a lovely piece from a new on-line friend, Gary Gay. He talks about intimacy with GOD and this dovetails nicely with my reflection today. Intimacy will prevent our perishing:)

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (Psalm 23)

Amen

Intimacy Affects Everything by Gary Gay

Everything in scripture from Genesis to Revelation is about relationships.  The main reason Jesus came was to restore man’s relationship to God.  To the degree of intimacy, we have in our relationship with the Lord Jesus, is the degree we have peace in the face of tribulation.  Intimacy will quench every fear, everywhere, every time.  Intimacy draws us close to Him regardless of our circumstances.  After counselling for thirty years, I have never found an exception to this truth.

Intimacy takes one’s focus off self.  It puts the burden of truth on our creator and relieves us of all our fears.  Alternatively, self-focus will lead us to some level of worry or fear.  True intimacy invites the Lord Jesus to inspect every area of our life, thoughts, words and deeds.  His inspection should be of no concern unless we are hiding behind fig leaves, we have sewn together (see Gen. 3:7).

Intimacy with the Lord Jesus affects every area of our lives. Intimacy is the answer to every concern we have.  If we fear intimacy, we are self-focused and give place to the evil one.  Intimacy brings light to every dark place in us.  The level of peace one has reveals the level of intimacy.  An outside force cannot affect true intimacy.  Meaning one cannot blame someone or something for our lack of peace or intimacy.  The only thing that can come between our relationship and the Lord is self-focus and we are in charge of that.

Intimacy is the foundation for everything that follows in the building of our relationship with Him.  The next step is trust; trusting Him for and in everything.  Trust ushers in abiding/rest in Him.  This relationship is a three step dance.  Intimacy, trust and abiding/resting bring us to the promises of God, revealing the Kingdom of God, which is the promise land.  He brings us to the dance, and He will take us home.    

Gary Gay

You can get in touch with Gary directly by email at: alpha1omega@earthlink.net

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Examining Biblical Scripture

Wisdom of GOD: Church needs to Change – Part 6

Making the best of the Lockdown

All over the world, churches, like so many other institutions, have had to close down and/or alter their way of working.

Jesus is rebuilding His church. Covid has given Believers the opportunity to take notice, heed His presence, and pray. The direction we take will determine the substance and style of the new church as it emerges from the compulsory pause it has experienced world wide in recent months.

We, the body of believers, need to be unified in heart and mind, resting in His presence. We developed this insight in previous posts, Church needs to Change: parts 4 and 5.

We also need GOD’s wisdom to move forward, so that through His blessed Holy Spirit guidance — not our assumptions, impatience, or presumption — the church of Jesus will prosper.

From 1 Corinthians 2:10-13 we read,

“But GOD has revealed them [the things which GOD has prepared for those who love Him] to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of GOD. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is within him? Even so, no one knows the things of GOD except the Spirit of GOD. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from GOD, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by GOD. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”

Jesus said he would build this church. Through the Spirit whom he sent to us, he shares with those who will receive, all those things GOD has prepared for us. Wisdom would suggest not to get ahead of Jesus’ lead.

In order to receive, we need to abide (John 14), rest in the presence of GOD through the His Spirit, and listen before we act.

In this way, we receive guidance, wisdom, strategy — all things needed to serve in a way that will create the Church of Jesus: not by might, nor by power but by My Spirit! (Zechariah 4)

He who waits upon the LORD will renew his strength (Isaiah 40). And not only strength, but also wisdom, direction and the plans of GOD can be given to us when we wait upon Him.

Why follow the Spirit?

Jesus said, “it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7)

In order for the church to be re-built, we need to do so under the direction of Jesus. It is his church, and through the Holy Spirit who came after him, he will equip us.

How do we follow the Spirit?

How do we learn the wisdom of the Holy Spirit? Through dreams, visions, promptings, words and scriptures. But if we do experience dreams or see visions, how can we discern they are of GOD? How can we depend upon the Holy Spirit to speak to us?

GOD promises to will speak to us when we wait upon Him. He spoke to Abraham. He spoke to Joseph. He spoke to Jesus and He will speak to us… And if we listen, trust and obey, we will be the vessels who advance the Kingdom of GOD, not through man’s church, but through the church of Jesus.

When we wait upon GOD, He will speak to us. He says He will and is not a liar. We test what we receive, by looking at the Word (nothing of the Spirit of GOD will contradict His Word), through sharing with others (it is known that GOD may share the same dream with more than oe person, for example), through stepping out in faith (with care, put into practise what you hear and watch what unfolds), for GOD will not ‘give us a serpent’ when we ask for a blessing (Luke 11:11).

The church needs to be given fresh vision and new life. This will come from Jesus. It doesn’t mean all that has gone before is wrong, but it does mean we’ve lost our way and spending time with the LORD will allow us to recalibrate and allow Jesus to initiate the way forward.

 

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Reflections and Poetry

LIFESTYLE: Learning to follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit

Opportunity

I have been invited to mentor new theology students and to act as a guest lecturer at a UK University. This is something I’d love to do. But I believe I must turn it down — at least delay it for the immediate future. Why? Because as much as I’d like to support the student endeavour, I have no sense from the Holy Spirit that this is the time for me to do it.

If I ignore the prompting, I am denying the university and the candidates GOD’s perfect choice.

Surrender

I am seeking to live totally surrendered to the Spirit of GOD.

In times past I would (unwittingly) contort the circumstance to fit my passion, heartfelt desire, ambition or hope. No more. My single desire is to be available to GOD and to follow only the prompting of the Holy Spirit, for only in this is there real fruit.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faith, patience and self control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

If I am to minister, it must be by the power and presence of GOD, not in my flesh. I have tried using my talents and gifting, and there has been some “success” for others as I have ministered. But it has taken me a long time to realise that the use of talent is not the same as making talent available to GOD. I’ve jumped the gun many times, for good intent. But now I shall wait upon GOD for His timing, rather than assume because I’m able that it is GOD’s choice.

I have offered and spent my talents; so many diverse skills have I picked up along life’s journey. But I’ve come to the conclusion that since everything is to GOD’s glory, making myself available to Him is what matters and I must exercise the discipline to do this.

Lifestyle of Service

I believe we are all called to a life of service, but it is not of service to man but service to GOD. Good deeds are wonderful, but as Believers, GOD deeds are the deeds we must focus upon. Sometimes there is overlap, but sometimes not. In all things, we make GOD our focal point, for His will to be done and to His glory.

The great commandments are these:

To love the LORD our GOD with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbour as ourself. (Luke 10:27) GOD comes first, and out of our love for Him, flows a ministry to others.

The World’s Perspective

In the World, there are many goodwill organisations who seek to help those in need. Much good is done by these world organisations. Recently however, cracks of corruption and abuse have been revealed in some of these organisations.  They are flawed.

We as Believers in Jesus are not meant to “do good deeds” in the World system but rather to obey the above commandments. We need to distinguish between these two strategies. Some of us are called to work within these systems and that is right, when we are called to it. But it is important we do not place reliance on World systems nor to assume we are to place our trust in them.

Love, Honour, Obey

When we follow the Holy Spirit, we are certain to be following the path that the LORD has chosen for us, the path which He needs us to follow for His ends. It is time we lay down our lives in deed as well as in word, and surrender to the will of GOD. When we love Him, when we seek Him, when we desire to honour and obey Him, and as we wait upon Him, He will reveal to us His will. The still small voice of His Holy Spirit will prompt us in directions that may surprise. Let us wait on Him for His surprises, and see where He will lead.

Do others say with me, “Amen”?

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Examining Biblical Scripture

In His Presence examined: The Church needs to Change – Part 5

When I wait upon the LORD He renews my strength (Isaiah 40:31) . Hallelujah!

What about everything else that needs doing in life?

Following on in the Series “Church needs to Change”, I address the second point on the list, that of engaging with GOD’s presence.

I Corinthians 1:29 says, “that no flesh should glory in His presence”.

Basking in GOD’s presence is a glorious experience: a spirit to Spirit encounter as ours meets with His.

But is it for its own sake? As we spend time with the LORD and when He chooses to anoint us by His Holy Spirit, is it only to draw closer to Him? Is it not also to walk under His direction, to offer solace to others, or healing, or words of wisdom… as and when He may direct us?

In Psalm 119, the Psalmist asks, “Direct my steps by Your word, And let no iniquity have dominion over me.” Amen.

Our Walk is Revelation

Jesus loved both Mary and Martha, but it was Mary who sat at his feet, whom Jesus defended against Martha’s criticism that her sister did not help with the practical household duties (Luke 10:38-42).

I have been “sitting at Jesus’ feet” of late — or to say more accurately, I have been spending a lot of time reaching out for GOD’s presence, and receiving. But it has meant I’ve had little else on my agenda. Indeed, I didn’t even post a newsletter last week (as those who usually receive it will be aware). Am I being distracted? Or perhaps it is simply that the LORD has my full attention, at last.

It is difficult to navigate the matter of seeking GOD’s presence. Society is busy and offers plenty of duties and distractions. Covid-19 Lockdown across the world has offered GOD’s children time to spend with him. How have we spent that opportunity, or what, in this regard, can we do going forward?

Day Jobs, Family Ties, Responsibilities and Choices

Paul of Tarsus built tents for a living. He did receive some payment for his preaching and teaching, but by and large, he supported himself — he had a day job. He encourages all who can to work, to be self-respecting and self-sufficient, and in turn to support those who cannot work.

He has also written to us about family ties being a blessing, though singleness he sees as better, being without the distractions of spousal obligations (1 Corinthians 7:34-38).

We all have our responsibilities, yes, and we can make our own choices. There is, after all, “no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1)

But…..

Luxury of the presence of the Holy Spirit

But my current thinking is, we cannot afford to ignore the opportunity of GOD’s presence in our lives. Spending time with the LORD and resting in His presence is a luxury; it is a luxury we must take. How else can we grow and walk continually “according to the Spirit”? How else can we become more like our shepherd, Jesus?

When I rest in His presence, I find my experience sometimes daunting, sometimes sleepy, sometimes like a wave (or waves) of His glory pouring over me. Sometimes I sense peace, other times I gain wisdom. Always it is a bit scary yet totally lovely. I do it for the sake of intimacy with Him, and then I seek to encourage others.

Baptism of Holy Spirit

We all must work out our own salvation “with fear and trembling,” as Paul writes (Philippians 2:12). But our journey needs to have encounters with GOD personally, sometimes through His word, but also through the intimacy of His Spirit.

Jesus prayed. He did nothing His Father did not direct him to do. He is our model.

Jesus said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” (John 14:26) And he said, “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of me.” (John 15:26)

Jesus departed so that the Spirit might come to us. He told his disciples, “…if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7)

We need the active presence of the Holy Spirit in our day-to-day lives

Let us no longer engage in our journey without the Spirit of GOD… not only as He resides in us through the act of our salvation when we made our commitment to Him, but also through His repeated anointing, infilling and indwelling, to lead and guide us.

Questions remain

I am aware I’ve not answered my own question about how we use the anointing He brings. I believe it is all dependent upon Him. As He engages with us, He’ll let us know where we walk and when, how we proceed with others. Nothing is meant to be in our flesh, not by our will but by His.

I think we are to wait as long as we can, listening, abiding, allowing Him to fill us.

As for me, as I manage to live in His presence, then my next steps will be directed by Him. That too will no doubt be daunting, exciting, peaceful and enriching. For in His presence “is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11).

May we all drink deeply of Him, abide with Him, and grow in Him, Amen.

 

 

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Reflections and Poetry

Why are we trying so hard? – A reflection on the Supernatural Working of GOD

Surrender! That is the key to everything as we relate to Yehovah GOD the Father and Jesus, His Son. Actually, I find surrender is difficult, but I persist in my efforts.

Here’s a short reflection, perhaps something some of you can relate to:

I am discovering the reality of intimacy with GOD the Father.

Oh, I’m not special. I’m just determined. And I won’t leave Him alone. Of course when he draws near, then I draw back. But I’m getting better at hanging in.

And in the waiting, I am seeing that reality is far more spiritual than it is natural.

When I gaze inwardly for a while — as I pray, I begin to feel His presence. Then when I open my eyes, what I see is the same before I closed them… and yet, it is different somehow.

I want to be close to the Father because that is what the Father wants.

I don’t want to manufacture anything. And I’m not worthy of a heavenly experience. But He says He wants me — by His Word. And so I am getting a little braver and allowing myself to surrender to Him more and more. I wait. I close my eyes to block out the physical. And I sense His presence.

Oh Father, keep me brave. And don’t give up on me. I’m beginning to discover that reality is spiritual. As that reality becomes more and more clear, I sense I will understand the miraculous. (In times past, I did bring some healing, through the laying on of hands or discernment, all in Jesus’ name. But that was decades ago.)

Maybe now, as any of us allows Him to come closer, perhaps we will be able to lay hands on people or even simply to walk passed them — as Peter did in Acts, and they will be healed.

Hoping for more

Jesus did it. He promised we would do even more. Peter did it. We must be brave and hope. One day, I’d love for GOD to move a mountain. Wouldn’t you? Could we be brave enough to allow Him to use us to do it?

It’s all through the Holy Spirit — which sounds easy, doesn’t it? So why is it so hard?

He’s so awesome. I do get quite nervous around Him, and I suppose I run away.

I think it’s time I stopped running, hiding; instead time to rest, and abide.

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

I will build my Church: Church needs to Change – Part 4

“I will build my church”

Jesus said, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18)

The whole scripture includes reference to Peter, the rock. Peter and the other apostles faithfully did follow Jesus’ call to make disciples. But from the third century onward, the development of the Christian church was taken over. Constantine made Christianity the official religion under Rome. Putting the church into Man’s hands has ensured the building of brick and mortar churches, where the people inside have become reliant upon what a priest or pastor ministers, rather than those followers of Jesus all becoming ministers as he intended, all reaching beyond the walls of the buildings to those who do not know the Gospel.

Elements of Jesus’ Church

I’d like to look one-by-one at the fourteen points I devised in a recent post ( https://laruspress.com/the-look-of-the-new-church-church-needs-to-change-part-3/ ) to discuss what Jesus’ Church is meant to look like and how we might give him room now to build it. Today I shall look at the first quality, that of Unity.

Unity

From 1 Corinthians 1:9-10 “… that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from great death, and does deliver us…” As we trust Him, He works in us — not only person by individual person, but also in us collectively. Oh let us capture the value of being a part of a whole, not only an individual saved by His grace.

Psalm 133:1 “How good and pleasant it is when brethren dwell together in unity”. There is no room for argument in that clear statement. But I want to define Unity, to take this a step beyond the obvious. In doing so, I draw attention to Jesus’ words and prayers as testified in the Gospel of John.

John 14: “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?” Just as we know through the Spirit of GOD, that Jesus is in us who believe, so too is the Father in us.  And since we all have the Spirit of Christ, are we all then through the Spirit, not also with one another? How important is it then, and valuable and critically beneficial for the Gospel, when we who abide in Christ, are also in unity with one another. Just as in the physical world, working in unity is superior to our individual endeavours in our witness and effectiveness, so too in the Spiritual realm, unity must be hugely important to the Father. Remember, this whole journey of salvation is about the glory of GOD; it is not about us. Once we are saved at the cross, we need also to move through the cross who leads us to deep intimacy with Jesus our Saviour, but also with the Father of Creation. GOD made us and put us in the Garden of Eden to be in relationship with Him.

We are not to be like the Hebrews who told Moses, ‘You go talk to God and report back to us’. Rather, we collectively and individually are meant to seek relationship with the Father. How important then to be in unity: being gracious with one another, reflecting GOD’s goodness, love and purity, which extends in and through one another.

Unity then is not copying one another; it is not being the same or thinking the same as each another. It is discovering and abiding together with GOD: It is allowing the Holy Spirit to indwell us and fill us — individually and corporately. This brings glory to GOD. And further, as we become entwined spiritually with Jesus, our intimacy with him as a body of believers exposes the love of the Son and the Father to the world.

This is my prayer: that the body of believers in Yeshua Jesus will grow together in intimacy and love, that our understanding and relationship with the Father will grow and deepen, and that — at last — mankind’s purpose for GOD’s creation of us will be fulfilled.

Categories
Reflections and Poetry

Maturity: Overcoming Disappointment with a Soft Heart

We all have a need to be useful

We all have a sense we have some purpose on this earth, and quite naturally, want our purpose to be fulfilled. We have gifts and talents, given by GOD, to support the fellowship of Believers. GOD has given some to be apostles, some prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers. Some are called to be watchmen, some to serve, still others to encourage. There are several lists of ways GOD has fashioned us to serve. See Romans 12, Ephesians 4, 1 Corinthians 12, Hebrews 2 for those lists.

As I walk in the presence of the LORD, I offer myself to Him. Often that means surrendering my spiritual gifts to the service of others. Sometimes that offering is received; sometimes it is not. Sometimes fellow Believers are not able to see the gift or the offering, or if it is seen, it is not received. This is heart-breaking. There is a need, which we can fill — even offer to fill, but the one in need does not accept that support.

This must be heart-breaking for GOD as well: Prayer is offered up to Him, someone pleading for help. Help comes in the form of another Believer. Yet the help is undetected by the petitioner, or rejected because the form is not what is expected or “acceptable”.

How then do we walk in love and grace, honouring GOD, honouring others, when injustice or disappointment or lost opportunity arises?

What not to do

Do not take offence.

Do not blame, or complain.

Do not become hard-hearted.

What angered GOD when the Hebrews were in the desert was their complaining. Such behaviour is not the mark of a mature Believer.

What to do

Work it through with dignity and grace:

Forgive.

Bless.

Seek GOD for another opportunity to use the gifts we have.

Past experience teaches us grace

Many years ago, as a quality singer and lover of GOD, I was on a worship team in my home church. Unfortunately, the team leader and I didn’t connect very well. That happens sometimes; we can’t naturally “get on” with everyone. But it caused me a lot of pain because I wanted to serve GOD with my abilities, and was frustrated and limited because the relationship with the leader was poor.

A wonderful minister within the church — not a leader but a fellow congregant — could see my suppressed pain.

He said, “When you are disappointed or frustrated, go to GOD first.” His wife, an equally mature and wise minister said, “You have a sweet spirit. Keep it.” I took away from that encounter that I was to pray when injured, and not to become hard-hearted.

Like all of us, I have taken some knocks delivered from within the Body of Christ. “Church” is our greatest source of pain, I think. But it is also our greatest source of support, as witnessed by these dear ministers.

It is a fact of our humanity, that we learn more from disappointment, failure and heartbreak, than we do from victory and success.

Because I took that advice to seek GOD first and to keep a sweet spirit, now I have become a minister. Such is the development of every Believer. We are children first, then young men, and finally fathers in the LORD (1 John 2).

It is a hard road

Being a follower of Jesus, serving in the Body of Christ, is often a thankless task. But our reward is in Heaven and our Father is pleased as we give, love and devote ourselves to service. Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. One of his dearest friends, Peter, rebuked him for it. But Jesus stood fast. We are to humble ourselves to receive, just as we are to offer ourselves to serve.

Let us allow ourselves to be available, both as servants and as recipients of His grace and love, as we relate to others. This is preparation for us as his Bride.

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

The look of the New Church: Church needs to change – Part 3

A friendly reader asked me what I thought the church would look like as we allow Jesus to develop his church. I didn’t know…

So I prayed.

First, the LORD showed me a blueprint in the Spirit, which I didn’t understand. I said, “I don’t want a blueprint for ME but for You, LORD!” As I stared at the spiritual blueprint, various aspects grew as part of a potential 3D model of towers in the LORD. It became clear to me that the blueprint in the picture was Jesus’ Church.

As I prayed about this, the LORD led me to 1 Corinthians, which I began to read with Jesus’ Church in mind. Several elements were revealed…elements of Jesus’ church. All of these elements are supported by Biblical references, primarily from 1 Corinthians. These are the towers that could rise up as we allow Jesus to build his Church.

So, get your Bible…

  1. 1 Corinthians 1:10 UNITY
  2. 1 Corinthians 1:29 HIS PRESENCE
  3. 1 Corinthians 2:10-13 WISDOM OF GOD
  4. 1 Corinthians 3:9 VESSELS (empty building)
  5. Matthew 25:19 DISCIPLESHIP (verses the oak trees which are taking existing nutrients = existing church)
  6. 1 Corinthians 3:17 HOLINESS (also supported in 1 Corinthians 10)
  7. 1 Corinthians 4:2 FAITHFULNESS
  8. 1 Corinthians 4:8-16 HUMILITY
  9. 1 Corinthians 6 INTEGRITY
  10. 1 Corinthians 9:4, 7, 11, 14 SELF SUSTAINING
  11. 1 Corinthians 13:10 LOVE/PERFECT LOVE (the aim)
  12. 1 Corinthians 14:3, 5, 12, 25, 26 EDIFICATION (and CONVICTION)
  13. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 GOSPEL
  14. 1 Corinthians 16:2 on COLLECTION (none as Paul represents)

Products which will result from the establishment of Jesus’ Church

  1. INTIMACY (family; in Matthew 12:50 Jesus says, “For whoever does the will of my Father in Heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”)
  2. FEARLESSLESS (fear of GOD, not man; Proverbs 1:7 & Psalm 118:6)
  3. OBEDIENCE and HEALTH (Deuteronomy 11:22)

I could break this down into more detail, but I encourage us all to mediate on scripture for ourselves. Please challenge me if you do not agree or see something else in the scriptures I’ve presented that contradict what I’m suggesting. And certainly, let us pray that the church of Jesus becomes manifest as we pray, seek GOD, surrender fully, and wait to do as He leads us.

Shalom, dear friends.

Categories
Politics and Society today

Spirit of Rebellion is Rife in Society — Exposed: Trade all for the Glory to GOD

I heard the Shofar in our neighbourhood today and I wonder if anyone — beyond myself and the person blowing it — knew what it was? All glory to GOD!

Society today

Whether Black Lives Matter (which of course they do) or Belarus oppression (of course a corrupt government should “go”) or Secondary School Grades (certainly grades must represent pupils’ progress accurately) — rebellion against what is perceived an injustice is expanding across the globe. Even though the causes may be reasonable, rebellion is dangerous in today’s society, for we are on an international precipice of anarchy, for which Satan lusts.

We are in danger of anarchy

Not taking the authority of our leaders seriously is dangerous.

It is dangerous because without authority, either society implodes or nations become authoritarian in order to prevent further chaos. Although leaders have become weak and moral bankruptcy seems the norm, the Word of GOD has not changed: we are to pray for our leaders and to take their authority seriously (Romans 13).

Freedom has had its hand. Oppressed societies have seen reformation and revolution. But freedom — once something to be cherished — has been badly abuse. Now our rebellion is reaping clash and chaos.

Freedom is in decline

With the gradual expansion of personal freedom (women’s vote, the pill, legalised abortion and divorce are just a few samples of such expression) and the desire for Western-styled democracy around the globe; from the explosion of sexual and political expression and recreational drug abuse during the 1960’s in the USA and UK, to Arab Spring — citizens across the world have demanded their rights to liberty and so have they received. But have we not gone too far now, where the exploitation of liberty has led to an attack of the most fundamental of our freedoms? Now freedom of speech, freedom of thought and freedom of faith are under threat as many vocal youth and those who support them, seek to ban that which is distasteful to their tender feelings and brand it as unlawful. Speaking our minds has become unacceptable, even illegal in some cases.

And so, ironically, our freedoms are in decline; bit-by-bit, in order to restore order, we may well lose our rights altogether, in the name of human rights and freedoms.

Remain GOD-focused

People of GOD, we must not get caught up in the “fight” for Human Rights. Though many are righteous causes, they are fleshly causes and however justified the complaint may seem, the spirit behind it is rebellion, not GOD.

Instead, People of GOD, we must:

  1. pray (Philippians 4:6)
  2. be led humbly and of the Spirit of GOD (Romans 8:14)
  3. purify ourselves unto GOD and be not of this world (James 4:8 and John 18:36)
  4. be effective in our prayer and witness (2 Timothy 1:3 and Psalm 66:16)

We must not join the bandwagon but rather, allow GOD to set us apart. This is CRUCIAL, for His will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven (Matthew 6:9-13) .

We are followers of Jesus, in order to bring Glory to GOD. Jesus pointed to the Father, and called us all to himself so that we might be saved, and bring Glory to GOD. We have been set apart. We are not of this World, but we exist to bring Glory to GOD. We are to be in the World but not of the World, and we bring Glory to GOD. We trust in Him and bring Glory to Him. This time on Earth is short, we are in transition, on a journey, to bring Glory to GOD. Extinction Rebellion and all other strands of rebellion today are ultimately of the Enemy’s doing and do not bring Glory to GOD.

Love, Trust and obey

We must stand in obedience to Him only, raise up the standard of Truth and Life in Jesus, pray for GOD’s will to be done on Earth as in Heaven, and love, trust and obey. That is our duty, that is our call, bringing others to a knowledge of the Truth, not by raising the voices of self-righteousness, not by joining the crowd, but by being the standard bearers of GOD’s love, mercy and truth.

Hallelujah, all Glory to GOD and Amen.

 

 

Categories
Reflections and Poetry

Intimacy: Seeking the Presence of our Creator GOD

I read the Bible, I read books, I am inspired by music too.

But most of all, I seek His presence

Yet push him away, I do.

That’s a little ditty that describes my heart versus my behaviour.

Seeking Intimacy

If I could spend all my time with the Father, I feel sure I would. And yet, when time and stillness are available,
I realise I have yearning but also hesitation. I do seek Him, but I don’t always give all my attention.

Why do I hesitate? He comes gently, carefully, peacefully. And yet, I am afraid, even quivering a little as He draws me to His presence.

I am discovering, as I meditate on scripture and am inspired by others who share their experiences*, that although I have been encompassed by His presence in the past, I am still learning about Him and know Him so little.

“I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23) comes to mind and I wonder, does he think that of me?

I look up the scripture in its entirety, “And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practise lawlessness.”

The Word gives me solace.

In our walk with Jesus

There is total surrender when we commit our lives to Jesus. We say the words but to what degree do we practise “total surrender”?

We are imperfect, made perfect in Jesus’ sacrifice for us, so this isn’t to lay a guilt trip on anyone, and in fact I’m sharing in the way that I am, personalising this, because I want readers to have the sense that it’s okay not to be perfect, even though we are called and are responsible to give our all.

We can rest assured his work is finished and his salvation sure. And yet, I don’t want to take this for granted.

The days are closing in

There seems to be endless speculation on the timing of Jesus’ return. Some say we will first be raptured, others say we go through the tribulation just like everybody else, as witnesses to the reality and goodness of GOD. What seems to be agreed is that these are unprecedented times and as the world and its systems and human beings spiral out of control, we who love Jesus hope there will be an end to the way things are. So whatever an individual believer’s End Times theology, I think most readers will be on the same page: the world is in bad shape, we are called to witness goodness, and must not take that call for granted; time is short!

And in our remaining short time, we are to mature into His likeness and to witness to others His goodness and truth. I believe we can no longer do this without the manifest presence of GOD: His Holy Spirit working in and through us, not any longer.

For centuries, it seemed the gifts and callings for the Holy Spirit were dormant. There may have been pockets of outpourings and a peculiar few anointed, but by-and-large the traditional denominations operated outside of the manifestations of the Spirit until Azusa Street (1906-1915) in California and the birth of the Pentecostal movement.

Now now now now, we need the Holy Spirit and we need Him fully. True surrender, as I understand it, is to allow Him to fill us to the brim and to operate in His call. The anointing comes to us for ministry and His presence fills us. We need the Spirit to operate in signs and wonders, to build the body of Believers and to surprise and delight others to discover GOD for themselves.

The Cost of Intimacy

But it does cost. I am learning that to ask the Holy Spirit to fill me requires courage and patience to wait for Him. It isn’t just allowing Him to fill me when His circumstances permit, but to ask for Him to dwell in me always, then yielding when He does, seeking to live in His presence always, placing the illusion of control at His feet.

It isn’t romantic. It isn’t fleeting. It’s always. And for an independent person like me, that’s hard.

But without Him, am I even on the narrow road? Without willing to surrender fully, am I truly available? Am I truly committed? Taken literally, if I have committed to give Him my all, then what does that look like?  And am I doing all I can to live for Him, for my Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith?

What is our need

I write this today out of compulsion to yield and to encourage others to yield to Him. GOD will not give us a serpent or a stone when we ask for bread. Jesus is the bread of life. But he returned to the Father in order to send to us the Holy Spirit: comforter, presence and power of GOD, not only for salvation but for anointing as well, to live as Jesus did whilst on the earth, and to be as Jesus was whilst on the earth. I certainly cannot fulfil this call in my own strength. I need His Spirit, not only to dwell within me but to be ignited within me, leading me, transforming me, inspiring me to “be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

Will we surrender?

Taking everything into account: the cost of surrender and the reward of His presence, can we do anything else?

As David the shepherd wrote long, long ago, “He restores my soul;… He leads me in paths of righteousness… For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me… You anoint my head with oil [of the Holy Spirit]… Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (excerpts from Psalm 23)

My prayer

Oh Father, lead me into Your way everlasting,

Amen.

 

* Most recently, I’m in the process of reading Terry MacAlmon’s 30 Seconds in His Presence… will change your life forever! as shared with me by a dear sister and prayer partner. Graham Cooke is also someone whom I also find inspiring — urging us to draw closer to Our LORD Yehovah GOD, Creator of this whole entire spectacular universe.

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

The Importance of Intimacy

What is intimacy?

I’m talking about emotional connectedness to another person when I use the word intimacy. All people crave the opportunity to be closely connected to another person. Sometimes it is expressed in physical closeness such as sexual intercourse. But that is just one aspect and it is possible to be intimate in a purely platonic way. In fact, emotional intimacy is needed by us all, and sexual intimacy is a fraction, sometimes used as a mere substitute for the satisfaction and fullness shared through personal intimacy.

Intimacy with GOD

Psalm 63:1 states, “Joy in the Fellowship of GOD.”

When we first become “born again” we discover intimacy with Jesus (1Corinthians 1:9). Fellowship with him is profoundly comforting, interesting, fulfilling. But that doesn’t remove our craving for human intimacy. It is natural and in fact encouraged to fellowship with other Believers (Acts 2:42). As we share in our journey, we strengthen one another (Acts 16:5).

Intimacy with the people of GOD – the Fellowship of Believers

We are designed for relationship. When GOD saw Adam was alone, it was “not good” and so He made woman.

People were created for relationship with GOD and with one another. And so in our spiritual walk, we yearn to share our experiences with others who also are on a journey with GOD. Intimacy is what arises out of those relationships, when we are real with one another, open, sincere and vulnerable.

Quest for Intimacy

In our walk through life, we can become desperate for intimacy. We can seek to share and find no one to share with; this is tragic. Fellowship in a church body is meant to satisfy that need for intimacy. If the church doesn’t do it, who will?

At the same time, life experience often provokes us to develop self-protection, which thwarts intimacy; we may block the very thing we crave in order to protect ourselves from the threat of embarrassment, vulnerability or judgement. In western culture, we say to the casual question, “How are you today?” — “Oh, I’m fine” when actually we may be suffering in silence.

I used to think that fellowship was encouraged so that we would grow in Christ. This is true, but this is only part of it. When we fellowship, our need for intimacy is satisfied (or should be) through healthy, sincere relationships with other believers.

But sometimes — for any number of reasons — that doesn’t happen. Then what?

Which comes first?

Fellowship with Jesus or Fellowship with his Followers — which is our priority?

For me, it’s fellowship with Jesus. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to have personally intimate relationships with other Believers. In fact, Paul in his various letters touches on this… He encourages people to get along (Philippians 4:2), he longs for the company of friends (Romans 15:24). Like anyone, Paul recognises the very human need for good friends.

Jesus had his twelve disciples, but three: Peter, James, John, were particularly close to him.

How do we find intimacy?

As we grow and mature in Christ, we naturally gravitate to others who have a similar perspective. Generations and cultures are crossed. When we delve deeply into the Word of GOD and we grow in maturity — from milk to meat — and as hunger for the knowledge of GOD is fed, we naturally discover relationships with others who are on a similar path. But we don’t really find intimacy, rather it finds us. When we are open to whom GOD gathers, we may become friends with those of a different culture, different generation, different socio-economic background. All this is the unifying power of the Gospel in action. Remember, when others who do not know Jesus see us, they should recognise us for our love (John 13:34-35).

We have to be willing to take risks to develop relationships… Taking a calculated risk, through observation, openness to others and gauging compatibility, helps us to build healthy relationships in as safe a way as possible. This should be possible within the family of Believers. When it isn’t safe in a church environment, then how has Christian society gone so wrong?!

“Home Groups”, Holiness, Openness… and is there a Vacuum?

The Church that Jesus started met on hillsides in the thousands. He also had smaller gatherings of 12, 70 and more. As we build our relationship with Jesus, we are encouraged to meet in large gatherings, customarily aka “church” and smaller groups — often called “cell groups”, “home groups” or “fellowship groups”.

In the smaller group, it is the intention to have prayer and share times where we can be more real and vulnerable. Such groups are intended to be like “mini – families” aren’t they, where we can be ourselves as we grow closer to GOD and develop in holiness. But does this work? Do we feel safe or real as we do in a family? Do we have the courage to be “messy”: genuine and open as we explore the Gospel and grow in total vulnerability? Or is our openness limited as it is in a social group where we enjoy one another’s company, but not wholly as a fellowship of Christians seeking to grow and share fully?

Let’s be real in our expression of intimacy

When we are open to the Word of GOD, we naturally become vulnerable as His word opens our hearts and our minds. It’s important to be self-aware of our needs, our desires. But wisdom says: be aware; emotions can get entangled with our growing spirituality. That’s part of our humanity.

Most of us come to GOD with baggage. He heals. When we allow Him to do the healing, and walk in the wisdom of His righteousness and moral fibre, we are protected from damaging that process for ourselves and for others.

Intimacy, vulnerability, these are aspects of our humanity. But the Bride needs to be open to the bridegroom first and foremost. His Holy Spirit touches us in ways we could never imagine. As we allow that process, as we connect with him on a deeply personal level, we grow in His likeness. And we are healed, set free, and are truly alive.

As we express ourselves with Jesus, we should be able to express ourselves with one another; but truthfully, this is more difficult isn’t it?

Let’s be wise, understanding our need, sharing our love

When we understand the human need for intimacy and GOD’s desire for us to fellowship, we can better accept ourselves and one another as we expose our weaknesses and celebrate our victories together.

In these circumstances, we must not judge — not ourselves, not one another. For if we judge, GOD’s judgement will bear down upon us. We will clam up, just as others will clam up around us.

Let us also be aware of guilt, shame, anger and hurt. Explosions of emotion can come out when we have pent them up. We store our emotions, hiding in our shame. But GOD wants us to allow the light to shine into all of our hidden corners, so that we can be healed and restored. There is no one without failure, and only those who have overcome are truly free from the condemnation of self and fear of others. In the process of breaking free, we can rejoice for those who share until we are ready ourselves to be transparent.

Beware the critical heart

Like anyone, I have wanted to be close to others, sharing in joys and sorrows at a deep and sincere level. Sometimes it has been easy to find a fellow who is likewise inclined. But I’m sure we have all been in circumstances where we are disappointed, where there doesn’t seem to be camaraderie.

There have been times when, in my frustration, I have become critical. Unaware of the source of my disappointment — experiencing a lack of intimacy — I have forced intimacy by expressing criticism. Even a negative expression of emotion feels better than none to one who is deeply lonely or feeling isolated. This is not good!

I have learned and I share this with you so that if this “rings true” for you, you might recognise your need for intimacy that is not being fulfilled. May I encourage us all to discover our need for intimacy and to find a humble, sincere, transparent way to express ourselves in a safe environment.

When we see others give and take in a setting of openness, then it would seem to be a safe place to share ourselves.

Share with me

When have you experienced the intimacy of the fellowship of Believers? It would be great if you could share about it to encourage others.

If there are times when you have you been denied the opportunity to draw close with fellow believers, would you share that too?

You can comment below or simply share with me privately by emailing me at: sarahtun@laruspress.com

Shalom and GOD bless.

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

What IS the Church of Jesus Christ?: Church needs to Change – Part 2

Torah preamble

On Saturday morning, I read the Torah Portion Plus… ie the Torah portion allocated for Jews this week as through the year, including a part of the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible) plus an Old Testament portion and a New Testament Portion (for Messianic Jews and Gentile Followers of Yeshua). The whole consisted roundly of: Deuteronomy 1 – 3, Isaiah 1 and Matthew 24 (to verse 22).

I read the Torah Portion scriptures every Saturday, the actual Sabbath of Yehovah Father GOD, and recommend it thoroughly. He speaks through His Word but with the Torah Portion He speaks particularly loudly, clearly, timely; that has been my experience. But I digress….

Today, marking through the failures and successes of the Hebrews in the desert, then the opening of Isaiah’s prophetic word to the Jews, and finally, the end of the age according to Jesus, I suddenly had a revelation of minute data I’d been gathering and contemplating for several years. I am not special by the world’s standards at all. I used to hope I was but that longing search for expression that would be appreciated by man has died, along with the will to live my life my way. So, I am not one of note. And I am a woman. And I am approaching retirement age. So I am surprised He has shared with me this morning but I must pass this on to all who will read.

To all who are searching for GOD’s will to be done on earth as in heaven (Lord’s prayer: Matthew 6; Luke 11), read on. For the LORD has seen fit to show me me the entirety of His plan through His Kingdom and the Church designed by Jesus, and how the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of Jesus Christ are meant to be woven together. It is so simple, you might even miss it, or think you’ve known it all along.

Others must, of course, test this Word, to ensure I am correct. The Spirit of the LORD will convict us of all truth. When we allow Him to direct, we are small and He is great, and His kingdom will come on earth as in heaven.

Two Gospels, One Truth

The Gospel of the Kingdom of GOD is not the same as the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Gospel of personal salvation. Jesus came to earth, born of a virgin and by the Holy Spirit, lived perfectly as the son of GOD, died innocently and rose again by the power of GOD and overcame sin and death for all who believe and follow him. Believing this and committing to following this Jesus brings us salvation from our own sinfulness and everlasting death.

The “Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). What is this gospel?

The Gospel of the Kingdom

The Gospel of the Kingdom is how earth can be run when GOD is in charge; when people live their lives as unto GOD, we are in an Eden, as GOD intended us to live.

The Gospel of the Kingdom is the love, justice, mercy and grace of Jehovah GOD, which we Believers are meant to live, as described in Acts 2 and 4. It is how earth is meant to be run, with people living their lives unto death in the name of Jesus. It is living as Jesus builds his church… which has little to do with the church we attend on a Sunday morning (I will share more shortly).

The Gospel of the Kingdom is the earth running as it would if it were heaven, with GOD’s judgement, truth, mercy, grace, integrity, values, peace, and love being the hallmarks of society in word yes, but in deed also.

Throughout the ages of man, since Jesus returned to the Father in heaven and sent the Holy Spirit, man has been attempting to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ through missionaries, testimony and preaching, often by coercion and physical force. But this is not Jesus’ way. His way is through the living, breathing church; as it was in the beginning when the early church, primarily led by Jews, was established, many gentiles also came to believe. In the same way now, this is the way forward for the church, if the church is to influence those who do not believe to recognise Jesus as the way to GOD.

Recently in a prayer group, a brother urged others to meditate on the LORD’s prayer, for all its nuances; every word, he rightly said, is for us to digest. Well said.

“Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven” is the focus here.

While we attend church on a Sunday morning, as prescribed by Constantine in approximately 300 AD, we miss Jesus’ church almost entirely. Even though in the reformation, theology became more closely linked to the Word of GOD, yet the structure of church changed little.

Paul in 1 Corinthians addresses the idea of meeting together. There is his plea for order and for courtesy. Do not forsake meeting together, but when you meet together, don’t “pig out” (eat excessively) or blab uncontrollably. But rather, have time to listen (to the Holy Spirit and to one another), allow order and sequence. That’s about it. He did not presume to adopt or prescribe a set structure. Why do you suppose that is?

Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” didn’t he? (Matthew 16:18) I believe the church we witness today and have witnessed for some 1700 years has little to do — perhaps even nothing to do — with Jesus’ true concept of his church.

Church on a Sunday has been man’s way to “do church”, just as religion across the globe and throughout cultures has been man’s way to get to GOD. On the other hand, just as Jesus is GOD’s one way for man to get to Him, Jesus’ church is GOD’s way for us to be church.

Preparing the Bride

What has all this to do with preparing the bride for Jesus’ return? We are to live as though for heaven… fully surrendered to the Holy Spirit.

As we live and pray GOD’s will be done on earth as in heaven, the kingdom of GOD and the kingdom of heaven will influence the whole earth; GOD’s will on earth can be done as it is in heaven, through our corporate lifestyle of surrender to Him and in our love, justice, mercy and grace. As we are the church and as we live as the church of Jesus, the will of GOD is done. OUR LIFESTYLE IS CHURCH. And this will bring more of heaven to earth, touching the lives of humanity around the globe.

The way to be church is the way to be as people who follow Jesus. It’s one and the same thing. Church is not a service nor a building. Church, you’ve heard it said, are the people of GOD. I’ll add one more element: church is the people of GOD surrendered and living as followers of Jesus, united in his love, justice, mercy, and grace; it is living in the power of the Holy Spirit rather than in the power of the flesh. It is living a lifestyle of service to one another rather than partaking in a service.

Meeting on the Sabbath (Saturday) is just the beginning

For about a decade, I’ve been saying privately that the Church Age is finished, and that GOD has fundamentally left the church and is waiting to send his son to return. (Yes, there are kingdom churches but they are rare; and there are moments of His glory descending in a service, but that is an infinitesimal fraction of what He has intended all along.) This morning I understand much more clearly: Jesus is asking us to allow him to build his church before he comes.

After 1700 years of our trying, isn’t it time we gave up our authority and allowed Jesus to take authority in our hearts and also in our “church”? For the church is not a building but fellowship and being together (see previous blog: https://laruspress.com/church-needs-to-change/ ). We are family and we are sent out ones, called to live as witness to what family is meant to be in the eyes of GOD our Father.

Coronavirus is a gift to the church, not a curse

What the devil means for evil, GOD intends for good. 

What lockdown and suspension of places of worship has done has given all people an opportunity to slow down, to contemplate our lives, to “smell the roses”. For followers of Jesus, it has been an opportunity to recalibrate our relationship with GOD. And to recalibrate the concept of church.

I pray we will do that, have done that, and that there is room now to let go, let GOD, and get out of the way to let Jesus build his church.

Will we do it?

Categories
Politics and Society today

Food for our Health

Psalm 103:5 says,

“Who satisfies your mouth with good things,

So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Father GOD takes care of our health when we take care what we eat!!

Hallelujah, what else is there to say?

Shalom:)

Categories
Reflections and Poetry

Rising above Disillusionment

“And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:17)

Preparing the Bride means followers of Jesus all, as the bride of Christ, are to grow in maturity and to be ready for his return. This includes rising above disappointments and even betrayals that we may experience from others.

People often disappoint us. Even best friends, close family members, colleagues with whom we’ve shared secret concerns — anyone can betray us and life is full of shocks, let downs and discouragements. That is not a surprise but how we respond makes us mature or makes us bitter.

Going beyond forgiveness

When someone lets us down, how can we respond in a way that places us above the disappointment? Do we forgive or do we obsess about the betrayal? We can be offended, resentful, bitter, depressed or angry. Or we can rise above.

Forgiveness is important but along with that, profoundly stronger than the offence, is to recognise we understand more, know more, are superior to any offence caused us. And when we sit above it, we realise we have reached a level of maturity and strength no set-back can damage. We have more wisdom than the offender, and nothing can damage that inner confidence, resilience and strength that we have acquired through our walk with GOD.

This is profound. For us. And for the offender. Whether the hurt was caused deliberately or whether it was an oversight doesn’t matter to us. We move on. We are free and beyond the circumstance. We are strong, resilient and liberated from the offence and from the circumstances that resulted.

“I rejoice in all circumstances” Paul of Tarsus writes. Beaten, battered, falsely accused, imprisoned — none of this really mattered to Paul. I suspect he knew, not only that GOD was sovereign: all-knowing and all-seeing and all-powerful, but also that freedom comes from our attitude to our circumstances. Rising above sentiments that entrap us in negativity, moving on from disappointment, are not just warm fuzzy sentiments of love and forgiveness toward others who may have wronged us; empowerment is fostered within us which moves us forward, above and beyond what has happened to us, and into the realm of maturity and refinement that cannot be shattered.

“He who overcomes….” Jesus says repeatedly in Revelations. We can choose to be Overcomers. Such choices will be key to our development, our effectiveness and ultimately, to our success in whatever business or employment or experience we face.

Will you allow GOD to elevate you through your painful experiences? Pain brings gain when we overcome as a result. If we want human intimacy or crave justice, we can be held back. But when we yearn for GOD’s supremacy in our lives and desire His victory, we overcome. As we meditate on the Word of GOD, we are built up. Scriptures such as “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” and “Whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely…. Think on these things” (Philippians 4) will carry us through dark times. Dark times will come but how we deal with them can make us strong Overcomers.

Hallelujah, Yeshua Jesus has made a way for us in all things. He is our Saviour, our Messiah, not only in our way to heaven, but in our walk on earth as well.

Categories
Politics and Society today

Beware the Spirit of Rebellion: Spirit of Rebellion in the UK

Black Lives Matter. Women’s Lives Matter. Babies Lives Matter. Muslim Lives Matter. Christian Lives Matter….

But human rights can get in the way of real communication and real progress, and sometimes it does.

Human rights doesn’t seem to look at culture and can demand equality rather than recognising there are differences that need resolving. Just shoving a label of accusation at one group and and demanding rights for another isn’t a real solution, is it?

When I saw recently that the UK government was being sued by some Christian churches because of the lockdown, I thought that was an ultimate betrayal of the spirit of freedom, and the scripture that asks us to pray for and obey the government (Romans 13, Titus 3).

There is a spirit — an evil spirit — behind the declaration of human rights. Please hear me through…. the sentiment is precious and relevant and important. But split the hair and what do you get? An excuse for complaint, defiance and rebellion.

When our blood begins to boil at perceived injustice, ask: is this the Holy Spirit? If it is not, it is the flesh (1 Corinthians 3). There is no middle ground.

I think life matters. I think church matters. But GOD matters more than anything else, and He wants us to be changed, transformed, through the renewing of our minds, not through strife and demand. Fighting the government is not what GOD wants. And we, in our pursuit of Jesus, Holiness and Sanctification, must want what GOD wants.

Rebellion in the guise of the pursuit of our human rights is not Godly.

Church, wake up to what GOD is saying. He is sovereign. He is not disturbed by a virus, but He can use that virus to speak to us. In all circumstances, we allow GOD to reign, correct? So, let us rise up in faith, and spiritual warfare…. but not warfare in the flesh. Let’s not assume church is meant to remain as it was. Don’t fight for what GOD wants to change. Swim in the stream of the Holy Spirit. Discern and discover how GOD wants to move now.

I will follow on in another blog post, more about church and our need to allow GOD to reshape His church — His people — into the likeness of His son, Jesus/Yeshua, the “author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

I pray. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture Watchman on Alert BLOG

The Bride of Christ

Who is the Bride of Christ and where does that phrase come from?

The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins

Matthew 25 begins,

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.”

“Afterward the other virgins came along also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’

“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

The bridegroom is Jesus, the virgins are brides; but what about men who follow Jesus? Although we are in an age of increased liberalities in society and some are taking those liberalities and applying them to the Gospel, am I advocating marriage between men? Nope. Nor am I proposing women take a  man’s role as groom so that men become brides. Well then, this bridegroom/bride analogy leads us, I think, to a reasonable question: How are men to relate the the bride analogy? Is it important?

The term “Bride of Christ” is a phrase that does not actually appear in the Bible. It suggests that the Church (ie the followers of Jesus) is the bride, since Jesus is the bridegroom, and this supports the Matthew 25 scripture above. The beauty, grace, and surrender of the bride offers a clear relational context to the bridegroom who is the faithful love, friend, protector of his bride. But is it masculine? Doesn’t seem so to me. So I wonder, do men have a problem relating to it?

Some phrases we adopt are not necessarily Biblical; an easy way to avoid assumptions and misdirections is to look up phrases we are keen on to see where they appear — if they appear — in scripture. In the case of the marriage analogy, I raise the question of masculinity because as we walk in the Spirit, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). In other words, gender doesn’t matter to GOD!

Finally, as an afterthought and in the desire to remove human assumption, it is possible that the virgins are a collection of people, both men and women, when Jesus refers to the virgins: innocents. For Jesus does not call these people brides — we have done that. He merely refers to the bridegroom who is coming and the virgins who are waiting. We have filled in the rest. Note however, Revelation 22:17 does seem to refer to the Church as a bride, and so this afterthought is most likely just a diversion.

The Bride is to prepare… for what?

To introduce this concept of “Preparing the Bride” and how I’ve come to the conclusion the emphasis in this Blog needs to shift in that direction, you might like to start here:

https://laruspress.com/preparing-the-bride-from-watchman-on-alert/

and then come back to this post.

This blog is for men and for women who seek to grow, to learn, to discover more about ourselves, our faith and our Jesus. Time does seem to be growing short and so I believe it is time I gear what I write to preparing myself and preparing others for Jesus’ inevitable return.

What do we need to prepare?

  1. total surrender to the Holy Spirit and the Word of GOD
  2. the oil of the Holy Spirit
  3. readiness for where GOD wants our attention and focus
  4. fellowship to help each other as we all prepare
  5. alertness to the truth and a willingness to lay down our assumptions about the Gospel and the Word of GOD.

The Remnant

As we live in the End Times, not knowing when Jesus’ return will be yet living as though it is tomorrow, we are the remnant, the ones who are sold out for Jesus. To walk in the Spirit, without compromise, without fear, without fleshly desires, is our goal. We pray, we praise, we trust GOD.

Come Lord Jesus, come.

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

PREPARING THE BRIDE

ATTENTION: BLOG NAME CHANGE…..

I am a Watchman and I have been seeking the LORD on all matters, asking for discernment regarding current events and how they connect to the Word of GOD and the timing of Jesus’ return. Then I’ve shared them on this blog.

Now, I believe, it is time we prepare as Jesus’ Bride. He is coming soon! We do not know what “soon” means to GOD, but we are to prepare and I am called to encourage us — myself included — to weigh up all matters in our lives and shed that which is not of GOD and focus on our purpose in Christ Messiah…. and prepare for the Wedding Day!

And so, whilst I am still a Watchman, I am changing the name of this blog from Watchman on Alert to Preparing the Bride…

Jesus/Yeshua is the Groom. All we who follow him make up The Bride. It is a profound image given to us. It is perhaps harder for men to relate to it than for women. For women, it is easy to consider Esther as she spent a year pampered, preparing herself — body, but also mind and spirit — to meet the king, when she would be considered amongst many to be his new bride. How can men prepare as “the bride”? Perhaps it is more for them a way of preparing for battle: putting on armour, developing military strategy, preparing the mind and body and spirit for the battle ahead. For it is so true that we are all brides and soldiers for him who died to save us. Perhaps then, men can more relate to Jesus’ return as a general arriving to lead the troops in battle. What all of us can relate to is that we will have a celebration when he returns, as we all hail Jesus and give glory to Jehovah GOD who reigns in the universe, who is full of grace, mercy, justice and truth.

And so I ask you the reader, to filter everything you read from me as through the spectacles of Jesus’ return. You are his and he is yours. Let us “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) as we draw closer to GOD through His Word, by His Spirit. We are his bride. Come Lord Jesus.

Hallelujah and Amen.

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

Eve’s Calling – Addendum

A couple of weeks ago I posted about Eve’s calling, and the equality of women to men in the eyes of Jesus/Yeshua ( https://laruspress.com/eves-calling-perhaps-the-most-important-post-ive-ever-written/ ).

I have a little more to share on this topic, because I want to emphasise the importance of being led of the Spirit, not only for women but for all Believers.

Life in the Spirit

In our Father GOD’s New Testament church, there is no law. We are called to “walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16) The “flesh” is not only physical, but all things carnal; sin is living according to our will, rather than the will of GOD. It is possible to “be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48), as we surrender our will to live according to the will of the Father, walking in the Spirit rather than in the flesh.

The first step to living in the Spirit is surrender; just as we surrender our whole lives to Jesus, we enter into an existence where, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

It is in this realm of surrender that women are released to lead, to speak, to preach.

Life in the Flesh

However, when women lead out of their own will, havoc ensues. It is a different sort of havoc than that which men create.

Women who have sought to dominate men have done so from a spirit of control, and this is no better than men dominating women through aggression or abuse. Women who have strived for equality in the natural have pushed their equal rights beyond Godly endorsement to the degree that families are crumbling, babies are born out of wedlock at an astounding rate, and some are not born at all but are aborted. This is not equality but a denial of the unique qualities which women possess; it is sin and rebellion and lust for power.

All efforts in the flesh are dead works. These stem from pride or fear or lust and “I” is at the centre. All of us are capable of using our talents, gifts, education, aspiration to our own ends. But when they are to the glory of GOD, there is real life.

Just as men and women are equally capable of evil, so are they equally capable of goodness and all the other fruits of the Spirit when walking in the power and presence of Yehovah GOD.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

It is not for women to compete with men in the natural; but it is for each of us to live led by the Spirit in order to fulfil our unique purpose and calling in Christ. For “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25) “For where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)

Warning signs of the flesh

For me, the neon signs of my flesh rising up are strong emotion and strong sense(lessness) that I am right and others are wrong. Though the facts may bear this out, the reality is that when we feel our own anger and act upon it, the place for righteousness has been put aside. Women have a strong sense of justice, but Holy Justice is not the same as self-righteousness. We can put our feet wrong when we are certain what we sense is right but deliver a message out of anger, frustration or criticism. Righteous anger will not lose self-control which is a fruit of the Spirit; gentleness, peace and joy remain when we walk in the Spirit.

Rebuke from GOD is sharp and strong, but it is not emotional or critical. “There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.…” (Romans 8:1) If our message attacks or condemns, it is not of GOD. If I stew, am bitter or hostile toward others, I am not walking in the Spirit of GOD. The Spirit of GOD convicts, is sharper than a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12), but it does not cut, it does not seek to destroy. It speaks the word in season, and allows GOD to do the convicting.

Waves of Spiritual living

But we can take heart! Even Paul said that although he aimed to live a perfectly spiritual life, he had not attained it (Philippians 3). Like him, we strive to the upward call of Christ.

Living life in the spirit is a bit like living on the sea: waves of life and waves of flesh, ebb and flow. What does that mean for the woman with a call to lead? I believe it means that as we are called, we must do as the LORD leads, and we must do all that we can to ensure we are led of the Spirit. This is true for all Believers, but for women leaders, it is key to ensuring we are not deceived, we do not lead out of any sense of control or rivalry, and we depend fully on GOD.

My prayer for freedom and unity

I pray that women will be set free to witness according to their calling and that men will endorse this. I pray that there will be no glass ceiling but rather that all people are released to use their giftings, free from any man-made law or imposed assumptions. I pray that women will be “as Eve” in the garden and all men “as Adam” and we will all develop as children of GOD by the power of the Spirit and in the name of Jesus.

Amen.

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

The Real Identity of Jesus – Addendum

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the man Jesus in a post called, “The Real Identity of Jesus” ( https://laruspress.com/the-real-identity-of-jesus-is-jesus-man-or-god/ ).

Another’s teaching triggers my own thought

Recently, I was listening to the last teaching that Ravi Zacharias recorded before he died. He spoke about the temptation / testing of Jesus in the wilderness, after his forty days of fasting.

Have a look at Matthew Chapter 4 to consider…

As I was listening, a thought occurred to me: If Jesus were not a man, would Satan think he could tempt him? If Satan saw Jesus as GOD, then surely he would not try. Satan would not quote scripture to GOD — but he would to a man whom he was attempting to trick.

Jesus defeated Satan, quoting scripture, being of sound mind and purpose, linked to the Father in faith, truth, love and common will. Jesus was the son of GOD, only doing His will, but what does that mean?

History

Jesus came to earth as a baby, born of a virgin, fathered by the Holy Spirit of GOD. But he was flesh. He was a man. And in being a man, he defeated the sin of the first Adam, he defeated temptation of Satan, he died and rose again, defeating all of our sins.

I am not saying Jesus is not GOD. I am saying Jesus is a man.

Let us consider, pray and ask for GOD’s help to understand. As in John 16:13 it says, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”

Help us Father, to see you, to see Jesus – our beloved Yeshua, to see the Spirit, as you see, as you are, as you breathe and live and love us; allow us to see You.

In the precious name of Yeshua/Jesus,

Blessings and Amen.

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

Church Needs to Change: Part 1

Climate change… and Church change

Humanity’s days have been changed by a health-scare of Biblical proportions. If the earth wants great restoration toward a more life-giving climate and landscape, its population must learn from the 12-week hiatus experienced around the globe as air polluting activity has been suspended.  Manufacturing, industry, use of cars and haulage, airline activity: all these and more have largely been placed on hold, more or less for three months on rotation, beginning in China in January and transferring along the continental pathways until finally reaching South America, where it is rising to a peak as I write. Will this change our way of life permanently, and can we step back from the brink of a ruined earth as we back off from polluting lifestyles?

The church is a living organism which also needs new air…

Places of worship have also been closed and church services have been put on pause as society has been navigating the pandemic. Now churches can open (in England where I live). But if we in the body of Jesus/Yeshua want a full restoration of GOD’s reign in society, we need to be transformed, not only by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12) but also through the expression of our faith. For a vitally different Holy Spirit-inspired adaptation and transformation, we need change in our worship, our prayer and in our action.

But how and into what should the church be changed?

First comes recognition and surrender; then can come change. And with the Holy Spirit outpouring, anything is possible.

When the first century church met, they congregated in homes and shared their food (Acts 4). Today when we meet, by-and-large, we sit while listening to one person speak for a good length of time on some part of the Bible. We contemplate what’s said, perhaps praying before and/or afterward; we sing a bit and shake hands as we enter and leave. Some places have coffee and snacks following the service. We usually don’t know many of the other folks present, and nor do we take the time to build relationships with each and every person. Some places are more lively, others more serene; some people are deeply committed to the concept of church, while others remain more on the fringes. Many people live lives of quiet desperation though few of their counterparts in a congregation will know it.

I don’t think this is all GOD intends for His church. In fact, I’m certain it’s not!

I have a desire to worship the Father in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24), as Jesus teaches. I’ve had that desire for decades and I’m not the only one. But I do not believe it is going to happen unless we abandon everything we know about church and church service, and begin with a blank slate both individually and corporately.

This is our chance! Coronavirus, Covid-19 and the shutdown have given us much more time to spend with GOD. He has made room for change. And here’s what I’ve concluded:

In order for the church to minister effectively, for its people and for the outreach of the Gospel, it must change radically.

What is Church?

Today church is not what it was designed to be. Before I sound too negative, here’s why I say that:

The word church means two things. From the Greek translation of Biblical references in the New Testament, church is translated from two words:

Oikos = family

Ekklesia = sent out ones

There is no reference to a building, but to the human body (1 Corinthians 12) and to the body of believers aka church existing to serve.

So, once we recognise the word church doesn’t mean a physical structure of bricks and mortar, we can consider what it is meant to be: a family of sent out ones … sent out to serve those who are not in the family, so that they can discover GOD and the saving grace of His son for themselves, and to support  the poor (Galatians 2:10), widows and orphans within (and external to) the church group (James 1:27). Remember, We will be recognised by our love for one another and for the Father and for the Son,

“A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

When we look at the fact that church isn’t brick and mortar, then what will we do with the brick and mortar buildings? Whether owned or rented, we do generally speaking, attend a weekly service in a building.

I once studied under a pastor who had a small congregation called Celebration Church. It was so-called because the pastor knew that was what a Sunday* morning was meant to do: celebrate Jesus Saviour — Yeshua Messiah.

Taking that on board, when we meet as a large group can it simply be “in celebration” of Jesus’ resurrection power? Shall we celebrate the Creator and thank Him for His creation? Can we earnestly seek the power of the Holy Spirit and surrender as we pray to receive?

In 1 Corinthians 14:26-32 Paul pleads with the congregation in Corinth to have some order, urging them to express their gifts but one at a time.

“… If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn and let one interpret.” (vs 27)

Is this all there is?

How have we gone from being disorderly to virtually lifeless? Is this all there is? I don’t believe so. I think we barely scratch the surface. But if we let go and let GOD, He can lead us into celebration and allow the move of His Spirit.

Life in the Spirit

“Now the Lord is Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Corinthians 3:17) That would imply the converse is true: where there is no spirit, there is no liberty.

Some folks believe the gifts of GOD’s Spirit were only for the Apostles who knew Jesus personally. I don’t agree. But I do think that we have a long way to surrender before we can walk truly in the life, liberty and power of the Holy Spirit.

So, let us surrender

I don’t know what GOD’s church is going to look like. It will have something to do with a five-fold ministry (Ephesians 4:11), with elders and deacons thrown in. It won’t be a top down organisation and no one will be called “father” (Matthew 23:9).

But I don’t think it is intended that we know. Rather, as we yield ourselves to our GOD, prostrate and waiting, without chairs (except out of compassion for those with physical ailments in need of healing) and without sermons but rather walking in the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and with willing hearts to share, we will discover what church is meant to look like. And that, after two centuries of floundering, will be something to celebrate!

*Past posts I’ve written convey my attitude that Sabbath is Saturday and so is the day we ought to be congregating, but custom seems still to overrule.

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture Politics and Society today

Eve’s Calling: Perhaps the most important post I’ve ever written

Eve’s Calling

(I urge you to spend significant time on this one… better to have your Bible handy as you read this blog post!)

In the beginning

In Genesis 1 and 2, we read that as GOD created, He said, “it is good”. But when He saw that Adam was alone, it was “not good”. So he created Eve. Together they would subdue the earth (Genesis 1:26) Eve would be Adam’s helper, comparable to him…

“The LORD said, it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

…but then came the Fall and all that changed. Eve’s position has been misunderstood across all history, throughout the earth, ever since. Women have endured great misery, often times considered no more than chattel. Both men and women have suffered as a result, for when the role of women is misdirected, all lose.

When Jesus came to rescue us from our sin, included in that was a rescue from the denigration of women. Over and again, he ministered to women, surprising his disciples and enemies alike. John 4 is just one example where we read as he minsters to a woman at a well, and releases her to evangelise to her entire town.

In marriage

In our marriage, I have sought to be a help to my husband. Likewise, he has helped me. Our mutual support has not been as might be expected from a traditional interpretation of “helpmeet”, however. If a wife as helpmeet is meant to take instruction or guidance in order to do tasks my husband wants done, then I am not a good helpmeet. But if a helpmeet is to encourage her spouse to walk in his calling and to walk as Jesus would in faith, love, and peace, then I have walked according to my wifely purpose, aligned with my gifts and calling from GOD.

Godly Character:

I am a Watchman by calling, and I have been used by GOD to support my husband, pointing and confirming decisions which are worthy of GOD’s calling on him as a teacher of the Word, and to guard against those which are not. I have encouraged him to act or respond in love, rather than anger, frustration or fear. In other words, I have been used to help him to walk in the character of Christ. Lest I should misrepresent our relationship, he has done the same for me, and I owe much of my maturity and wisdom from being married to him. Iron does indeed sharpen iron (Proverbs 7:17) and God makes all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). Such has been the case in our marriage.

Networking:

Sometimes I have been a connection or link between my husband and those who have provided him teaching opportunities. GOD has connected me to people in ministry who would find his teaching a support to their ministry and who have endorsed him in his own.

In these two general ways, I have been a useful helpmeet to my husband, so that he may fulfil his calling. I have also had opportunities to explore my own calling as a Watchman, which my husband has endorsed. The combined overall result as we exercise our callings has been to offer support to the community of Believers, and work towards the building of GOD’s Kingdom.

Glass Ceiling:

I have, however, encountered some blockages and some setbacks, some (though not all) of which have been because I’m a woman. Some leaders believe women are not to lead men, siting scriptures in Ephesians 5 and 1 Corinthians 11. But there are other scriptures that contradict any interpretation that women are not to speak or to lead, for example in Acts 18 and Galatians 3. But most important, when we look at all of Jesus’ interaction with women while on earth, he respected them, raised them up, and gave them responsibilities where none was customary. So, for arguments’ sake, I’d say that any scripture that suggests women are not meant to lead is more than outweighed by scripture which endorses the capabilities and gifting of women, including women as leaders.

In the Garden of Eden

In Kenneth Hagin’s booklet, “The Origin and Operation of Demons” (Faith Library Publications, Rhema Bible Church, Kenneth Hagin Ministries Inc., Tulsa Oklahoma, 1978, p8) Hagin suggests that long before the creation of man, Satan was in the Garden of Eden. Indeed, it is true to say he fell to earth long before the earth’s creation, before time (Isaiah 14:7).

When Adam and Eve were in the garden, so too was Satan. Perhaps he was watching enviously as Adam and Eve worked harmoniously, together. Then, he tricked Eve, Adam disobeyed God, and the rest is history.

Why this matters

“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”” (Genesis 1:28)

It is profoundly important to understand that Eve’s original calling to subdue the earth has been limited, confined and distorted since the Fall; this has been Satan’s intention.

There was a consequence to the Fall, which GOD outlines in Genesis 3:14-20. Just as the relationship between all humanity and GOD was damaged as a consequence of sin, so too was the relationship between man and woman. But these relationships should have been restored through salvation.

Since salvation restores relationship with GOD though Jesus, then logically, the curse of man and woman is also overcome through that salvation. However instead, many times it is (mis)understood that women are to submit to husbands but not men to their wives. The conclusion is therefore, that women are subordinate to men. While this is too HOT and complex a topic to explore in depth in a blog post, I’d like to point out my thesis, which is that women are meant to “subdue the earth”, just as are men, and so they are equal partners, just as they are equally saved and restored to the Father through Jesus the Son. Eve’s calling was to subdue the earth, alongside Adam, before the Fall. So restored to GOD, we are meant to work together. Spouses are subordinate to one another in all things — for example in the marriage relationship:

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21) and “the husband should fulfil his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.” (1 Corinthians 7:3-4)

GOD’s intention for man and woman

Helper was never intended to mean subordinate. Both Adam and Eve were to work in harmony. While Satan provoked the fall of mankind, he has also contorted the consequence of events in the Garden in society since. The moment when Eve was tempted and deceived by Satan has been misapplied by those in authority to explain why a woman cannot be relied upon to speak, to lead or to minister to others in her own right even today. This is tragic and has fed right into the will of the enemy. Imagine what could be achieved for the Kingdom of GOD, for example, if women and men worked in harmony, and each had the opportunity to fulfil their Call? Even though the Fall triggered the problems between men and women, Salvation should restore the original relationship and design for women’s true purpose and authority equal to that of men.

What does salvation imply?

Jesus’ salvation brings us all to equality, and we no longer need to bear the burdens of sin. Instead we are offered the life that was originally planned: walking in the liberty and unity that relationship with the Father brings. But are we — both male and female — living in freedom, or under punishment and condemnation? That is not GOD’s will but something Satan has perpetuated.

Paul states in Galatians, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal 3:28-29)

GOD’s intention is that Jesus saves us and restores our relationship with GOD as it was planned from the beginning…. to pre-Fall status. We see in how Jesus related to and respected women, a model for Christian family and society, which unfortunately has not always been manifested as it should.

Are women equal in Jesus’ eyes?

If you look at the actions of Jesus, he surprised many in how he related to women. I’ve already mentioned John 4 and the woman at the well. Jesus overarched tradition by talking to her alone, and not only did he talk to her, but he was the catalyst for her evangelistic outreach to her whole community.

And what of the woman caught in adultery? (John 8) Jesus released her, entrusting her to “sin no more”.

We know of the woman who anointed Jesus and washed his feet with her hair (John 12). And Mary, who sat at Jesus’ feet, “studying” rather than working in the kitchen with Martha (Luke 10).

Jesus showed respect to women and also released them into ministry. Mary Magdalene was first to see him and she was the one to report his resurrection to the men (John 20). The list of Jesus’ encounters with women demonstrates his respect, appreciation and value towards them.

Eve’s Calling

Today, women are meant to be released into ministry, not hindered, and not contained only to help men. Eve was such a woman. She was called to subdue the earth. Sadly, she failed to detect Satan’s manipulation and she shared the forbidden fruit with Adam. For that the couple fell from GOD’s grace. But Jesus brings us back, both male and female, into GOD’s grace and forgiveness, when we repent.

Hallelujah, Jesus saves and restores us to the Father and sets us free to fulfil who we are and who we were created to be.

I pray that all people will experience the liberty of Christ Messiah and the wholeness of the Calling for which they have been saved.

Amen.