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Hebraic Roots: Israel and Jewish Culture Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

James & John knew their Bible

It’s so important to know the Old Testament. In it is such rich supply of GOD’s Word to His people, both Jew and Gentile.

Value of the Old Testament

Apostles to Jesus: James and John knew their Bible, the Holy Word, the Scriptures back in their time — which is what we Gentiles call The Old Testament.

Jesus only referred to the Bible Scriptures of the Old Covenant or Old Testament. The new wasn’t written yet. Jesus was writing it on the hearts of those who were following Him at the time.

I discovered a text many others of you may know… But I didn’t know it. Although I’ve read the Old Testament in full, start to finish, at least 4 times (as well as the Pentateuch, Psalms and Proverbs numerous times, as well as the prophets repeatedly), I never recognised this until today:

Zechariah 4:11-14,

11 Then I answered and said to him, “What are these two olive trees—at the right of the lampstand and at its left?” 12 And I further answered and said to him, “What are these two olive branches that drip into the receptacles of the two gold pipes from which the golden oil drains?”

13 Then he answered me and said, “Do you not know what these are?”

And I said, “No, my lord.

14 So he said, “These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth.”

The two anointed ones who are on either side of Jesus?!

I believe it is this scripture that James and John refer to in Mark 10:37,

“They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.””

It must be, surely! Unless of course it matters that one text says “stand” and the other says, “sit”. Whether these young men were wanting to be those anointed, or simply had the concept of being on either side, I suspect they were referring to the concept of being on either side as mentioned in the Zechariah text.

The brothers wanted a place next to Jesus in Heaven. They recognised Him as “the Lord of the whole earth” and wanted to be anointed to be next to Him.

Why seeing this matters

Kernels of truth hidden from view pop up all the time when reading the Old Testament. It is not just history and law. it is Truth that helps us, enables us, to know GOD better, to know Jesus better, and to be better guided by Holy Spirit to live the life laid out for us.

What does this text reveal?

It reveals these disciples knew their scriptures. It reveals these disciples recognised Jesus as Messiah. It reveals they were looking out for themselves and/or wanted to be close to Jesus in eternity. It helps to confirm,  especially for Jewish people, the validity of scripture.

We need to know all scripture

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16)

At the time when Jesus walked, the only scripture available was what was written already by those chosen by GOD. They are irreplaceable. Jesus didn’t come to replace but to confirm the Law. We need both Testaments to complete the scriptures.

Every blessing

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Examining Biblical Scripture Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Slavery

I’m looking at the perspective of the Hebrew person who was rescued out of slavery in Egypt and trying to adapt to freedom.

I’m writing to scrutinise scripture rather than simply as a personal reflection, because we are living in a society combating prejudice against historic slavery but often with bias.

I’m writing, hoping to bring awareness to myself and to anyone reading, about how GOD’s perspective is from a completely different angle to ours and we need, I believe, to learn to look from His perspective in all matters.

I’m looking at Deuteronomy 6

The written record has just reiterated the 10 Commandments in Chapter 5. In Chapter 6 here is some of the language GOD uses to address those who will go into the Promised Land with Joshua after Moses has died…

“Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you… “ (v 3a)

“… when you have eaten and are full — then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of Egypt, from the house of bondage. You shall fear the LORD your GOD and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name. You shall not go after other people’s gods….” (v 12b-14a)

“You shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your GOD, His testimonies, and His statutes which He has commanded you.” (v 17)

GOD’s address

The language is conditional, bossy, abrupt, direct and without any subtly… because these “children” though descendants of their fathers who were in slavery, have not recovered and are not accustomed to freedom.

The instructions are clear, avoiding any doubt or confusion: the behaviour expected is a bit prescribed, because they have descended from slaves and are accustomed to strict instructions. It would seem that that is what they felt safe with so far…

What is important to note

Slavery is constrictive, and it forces boundaries. But boundaries in themselves are not necessarily bad. These Hebrew people will be going into the Promised Land where the cities will be taken from others and they will not need to build. The land will offer delicious food — it is the Land flowing with Milk and Honey. They will have absolute freedom, which they have never experienced before. 

Freedom is the ability to make decisions and choices without any inhibitions or barriers. GOD is offering boundaries as a means of protection to those who’ve not experienced freedom.

Freedom with Responsibility is what we all need

While we may prefer freedom, our downfall occurs when we have freedom and handle it badly, making dreadful mistakes. We can learn from any mistake but some mistakes are better not to make. GOD sets boundaries to protect us: To love the LORD your GOD with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and to love your neighbour as yourself.

Holy Spirit and Boundaries

When we are filled with and walk with and are in partnership with the Holy Spirit, there is total freedom because Holy Spirit within us is our safeguard from error. Ignoring Him brings unpleasant consequences and spiritual death. Walking with Him brings protection and life!

Slavery is horrible bondage. But absolute freedom is risky; a sense of responsibility can protect us from ourselves.

From Slavery to Freedom

Historically, although the Hebrews gained their freedom it took a long time for them to grow accustomed to walking in it. They needed GOD’s boundaries and they needed to be thankful. Instead they  often grumbled, doubted, complained, disobeyed. Today, let us enjoy the liberty and freedom we have without forgetting who GOD is and what He has done through Jesus for us.

Sometimes scripture is cited ‘we are slaves for Christ’… that is not so that we obey the Law. It is not so that we feel condemnation when we err. It is so that we can enjoy belonging to Him and utilise boundaries so that we can enjoy our GOD-given freedom with responsibility.

Every blessing,

Sarah

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Examining Biblical Scripture Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

The Power of the Cross: ticket for LIFE

The Power of the Cross holds the ticket to Life

The power of the cross is that through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have the opportunity for eternal life. How does this work?

Isaiah 49:6 says “‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant

To raise up the tribes of Jacob,

And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;

I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,

That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

In coming to earth, Jesus — GOD in the flesh — offers restoration between GOD and mankind. But how could His presence on earth make such a difference as to conquer death to mankind? What does “salvation” actually mean?

The LORD gave Jesus the commission to rescue the Jewish people, GOD’s elder son. But the commission of the Son, his suffering and his mission, was deemed to be too powerful and too huge a sacrifice to limit salvation only to the Hebrew people. 

GOD sent the son for ALL and faith in Jesus saves anyone who follows Him.

What Jesus did

Jesus was born without an earthly father, who is the source of our sinful nature. It is the sinful nature that separates us from GOD. So, with Holy Spirit as the father, Jesus was born without sin, unlike every other human being.

“I didn’t come to replace the Law but to fulfil it.” (Matthew 5:17)

GOD provides the Law in order to help mankind recognise their rebellious and sinful nature and to repent. Through sacrifice, mankind is able to repent and return to relationship with the Father. But while mankind demonstrates his inability to avoid sin, he is not able either to keep the Law. Therefore he needs something beyond the Law to save him.

Jesus offers reunion between the Law and the Father, between mankind and the Father, between Life and the source of Life. Faith in Him sets us free from our own sin through His sinlessness and His sacrifice. Jesus provides the “ticket” to eternal life.

Salvation enables freedom for the sinner, to reach the Father by His grace

Forgiveness, offered by the Father through faith in the Son, is the ticket to heaven after life on earth and freedom from oppression whilst on earth.

The first Adam sinned and gave up his immortality; the second Adam replaced sin and death with the opportunity for salvation and eternal life.

So, who is Jesus?

Jesus is the saviour for mankind: born of a virgin, He lived, taught, died, and in rising again brought victory over death. Jesus triumphed over sin and death. 

Faith in Him allows us to reap the benefit of resurrection. Faith in Jesus is the ticket to eternal life. The power of the cross is the resurrection power of a sinless substitute for our sin. 

Life is eternal for those who believe and follow Jesus. The power of the cross is the ticket to life!

“No one comes to the Father except through me”

Jesus said this not because He’s racist or egotistical but because no one else before or after, was sinless AND no one else before or after, defeated death. Those are the credentials Jesus has, and no one else. So like it or not, He’s the only Way to reunion with the Creator of the Universe, GOD the Father.

Shalom and God bless… may this explanation be useful to you and yours.

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Is GOD near or far? A look at faith v religious practice

Is GOD near or far?: Looking at Faith and Religion

Hebrews 4:12

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Many people believe in GOD but don’t know GOD intimately as those who are born again claim to experience Him. How can I know that? Because I’ve been in both camps — which I’d call the “before” and “after” camps: before being born again and after being born again

What’s the difference between born again and not born again? And why does it matter?

Firstly: What’s the difference between being born again or not born again? Biblical Christianity puts the Bible as the first reference point. Born again people generally do that. We base our lifestyle on whether or not it lines up with the Bible’s recommendations for a peaceful and fulfilled life. Although sometimes we fail in our walk, the Bible is our guideline, our plumb line, our reference point.

However, that isn’t a sufficient explanation because many adhere to the strict code or legalistic lifestyle of following the rules in the Bible, not because they have had a revival in their hearts but because they are religious about their commitment to ensuring society — or at least their family — tows the line!

Being born again is a realisation that ‘I want to follow Jesus and I cannot live the life I want to lead without him; and then it is a decision to commit my life to him, to surrender and start again, to look ahead and not behind, and to allow the Holy Spirit to lead me.’ And then there is baptism which is a public profession and experience of being immersed in water as Jesus was.

“What must we do” to be saved? some asked Peter in Acts 2:38. “Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Observations

Let’s make no assumptions as to salvation of another person…. Only GOD sees our hearts.

To be born again means we’ve repented of our mistakes, and surrendered our lives to Jesus. This is what makes us “saved” according to John 3:16 (and other verses of course). But isn’t that also what we do in the Protestant Church when we get confirmed or in the Roman Catholic church when we go to confession?

An aside for a moment…

There is a specific trigger for this my writing this post: I mentioned to someone recently that I was sad that they were keeping GOD at arms length, although I was delighted they had faith in Him. The response was polite but the person did take exception to my comment.

I suppose it seemed as though I had made an assumption that I knew their relationship with GOD. So the other person was taken aback by my comment, which is quite right and a fair point… no one can know another’s relationship to GOD.

AND YET, there are certain markers. The most apparent one is, Do we put GOD first!? Is our relationship with Him the most important in our lives? With this question in mind, I continue on the main track once again…

How do we know we have a personal relationship with GOD?

  1. We need the Holy Spirit. He is the comforter whom Jesus ascended into heaven in order to send after him. He, like the father and the son, is GOD (John 14).
  2. Jesus said we must be “born again (John 3:16) – which is to have a personal encounter with the living GOD, based upon an experience or decision or both, where we willingly die to our old life and seek to start again, knowing GOD is listening. We can trust we are forgiven and are reborn, brand new and without sin.
  3. Paul wrote we must have faith in order to please GOD (Ephesians 2), and that we are saved by His grace. Faith, by definition is, “the substance of what we hope for”, it is evidence-based. James says faith without works is dead, so while works includes good deeds, it also includes a tangible hunger for GOD’s Word, the Bible (more below). Without faith it is impossible to please GOD (Hebrews 11:6). And – by the way – faith comes from GOD. It is a fruit of His Spirit (Galatians 5:22); we can’t drum it up. But we can ask for it!
  4. Do we have a desire and commitment to our relationship with GOD which is lasting and ongoing?…. I thought my friend was keeping GOD at arms length. Did I presume or did I sense or observe a lack of engagement? 
  5. Do you have a hunger for the Bible as GOD’s Word? In John 1:1 we read, “In the beginning was the Word….. and the was GOD and the Word became flesh…” That’s Jesus! Do you “Love the LORD your GOD with all your heart, soul, mind…. (Jesus quoted Deuteronomy)? Good works without the Love of GOD first, is NOT Christianity, but simply good deeds. Are you a person wearing the label Christian? Does that mean you are going to heaven? Being a person who believes in Jesus is a necessary start, but that alone doesn’t mean one is going to heaven. According to Jesus’ own words, to some he will say, “I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:23) You can’t whip up your faith. You can only follow; ask and it will be given, seek and you will find; knock and the door shall be opened to you. 
  6. Have you passion to know GOD? It can grow! I was ignorant but I was open… and then the Spirit of GOD began to convict me of my ignorance. I chose to listen. Through 3 different people in the space of 48 hours, I heard “My people are destroyed/perishing for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6) and I realised I was one of those people!
  7. So much hinges on the Bible, our hunger for it, our growth from it. I started at the top of this post with Hebrews 4: “Word of GOD is living and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword” ….. “and discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  Our walk hinges on the Word of GOD, which is why Paul writes to Timothy and says, “study to show yourself approved…” A deep study of theology reveals how Jesus’ identity matters, that only as the son of GOD, only he could take our place on the cross, taking all our sin — everyone’s sin — and then how painfully he was abandoned as evidenced by his question to his Father, “why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15) The more we study, the more we can grow. And yet, even this is not what gets us into heaven.
  8. Is the Holy Spirit active and alive within us: convicting us of sin, prompting us to dig deeper. Do we allow the Holy Spirit to go to the heart of our matter, not only touching our minds? What leads us to heaven is to have our names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 21). And it is through relationship with the Lamb of GOD, through the Holy Spirit, through our following him, that we are born again, saved for our place in heaven. Jesus said, “In my house are many mansions…” and “I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2).


These are markers of our relationship with GOD. But of course, only GOD knows the heart.

On the structures of religion in Christianity

What about the ceremonies of religious denominations?

  1. What about confirmation then? And our promises and vows made to GOD at this time? Is this less than baptism? Zach 4:6 says, “Not by might, nor by power but by My Spirit says the LORD of hosts.” At Jesus’ baptism it was then that the Spirit descended upon him like a dove.
  2. IF GOD is at the centre, then do we get to choose how we come to Him? Intimacy, unity, lap of Abba/Daddy comes through baptism: sign, obedience, step of commitment. Some people are committed born again believers and yet they are in a culture where they are confirmed rather than baptised. Does them make a  difference to GOD? All I know is that I was confirmed at 16, born again at 24 and was challenged at 31 to be baptised. GOD convicted me and I was baptised. It was only then, after my first 7 years as a Christian, that  I truly began to grow: hunger, read, pray, improve my human relationships. I believe I was saved from 24 and destined for heaven. But it was after 31 that I really, really began to grow and be useful to others — helping them to grow in the likeness of Jesus.

So, what’s the difference between GOD being near or far? 

Our relationship with GOD, which includes our hunger for His Word and our prayer life through the Spirit, is what makes the difference between a person of religion or faith and the person who is born again.

We can define our relationship with GOD as something that goes far beyond attending church, though developing fellowship with other believers is important.  

Romans 12:1-2 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

We surrender and we allow our minds to be renewed (not washed as in brain washed) seeing things from GOD’s perspective, beyond what we know and see in the here-and-now. And within us, we’ll notice that there is much more is going on as we develop our understanding of GOD’s Spirit within us.

Why bother with church?

And yes we attend church for fellowship, because iron sharpens iron, and being part of a family keeps us strong and supported. If we merely attend a religious act or ceremony, it may take us to church but does it help us or others to grow? To be with the people: our brothers and sisters in Christ, who also have a relationship with GOD is a wonderful opportunity to share His love, to discuss His word, and to grow in His likeness. When we are in fellowship, we have the opportunity to work as one body: hands, eyes, ears, hearts all working together to give us the ability to function fully. (1 Corinthians 12)

And finally, in our walk we look ahead not behind: “Forgetting what is behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the upward call of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14) It is not our behaviour, our deeds, our successes or our failures that marks us for an intimate relationship with GOD… but it is our hearts — our yearning for Him and the growth of our spirit within us — which sets us apart for Him.

Conclusion about religious Christianity: Jesus tore into the religious pharisees because they were hypocrites many times in Matthew and of them he also said,

“Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34) Religion alone does not cut it with Christ.

We cannot presume anyone’s level of intimacy or faith with GOD our heavenly Father. But we can encourage intimacy, sincerity, and if we meet with opposition, we can pray for that heart to be convicted and that mind to be renewed. If the spirit dwells within, alive — born again — and well, then the person will experience conviction. He or she will choose what to do with that, and they are encountering the living Creator of the Universe. When that occurs, GOD is at work and the “arms length” no longer applies.

Hallelujah!

Secondly: Why does it matter whether or not we are born again? 

It matters to GOD whether we are born again because Jesus said ‘unless you are born again you cannot see the kingdom of GOD’. So arms length or intimacy now is not only about how we experience GOD now, but also where we end up later…

Where are we at now?

Reader, Are you a long-term believer or one new to the faith? 

Solution: Read the Word. Spend time with GOD in prayer. You’ll find answers.

Reader, are you a person with faith who doesn’t know how to get closer to GOD or even whether or not you want to? 

Solution: Read the Word. Spend time with GOD in prayer. You’ll find answers.

Reader, are you a person who doesn’t believe? 

Solution: That’s okay, you can read the Word and even ask GOD if He’s there, in prayer. You’ll find answers.

Is GOD at arms length or intimate with you?

We are all equal as human beings. GOD offers us all the same opportunity. He meets us wherever we’re at and if we allow Him, He draws us to Him, from arms length to close. 

I pray you’ll be closer to Him today than you were yesterday. I pray that for myself too. 

Shalom — I ask for GOD’s peace for you, and GOD’s blessing too.

Categories
Hebraic Roots: Israel and Jewish Culture

The Jewish people: the elder brother

Story of the Prodigal Son: 

Older brother is Israel, including all the Jews today.

Younger brother are the Gentiles who follow Yeshua.

From Luke 15

11 Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. 13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with [d]prodigal living. 14 But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. 15 Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the [e]pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” ’

20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, [f]‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.

25 “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’

28 “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’

31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 32 It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ ”

As I engage with the song below

I realise the weeping for Joy that the LORD has as this Jewess sings of her love; “the LORD GOD Almighty reigns”. For her, that LORD encompasses the Messiah and Ruach as well as the Father.

As we meditate on this truth, let us pray for more of His elder sons and daughters to come to him in the name of Yeshua. Hallelujah! 

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Examining Biblical Scripture

Stress Coping Mechanisms

How many times do people say in a crisis, “Well, at least we have our health!”?

When our health is vulnerable, there is a great deal of stress. So, what Stress Coping Mechanisms can we use to overcome?

Walk on Water

We do not have the power to control our environment. Often we don’t have control over our circumstances. Storms in life will come and go, be they health storms or other situations. But when we focus on Jesus and allow ourselves to walk on water — as he did in all things — we get through the stress. Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus — and sometimes that takes sheer determination — the author and finisher of our faith gets us through the storm.

Scripture

“…for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10b) is just one of hundreds of scriptures that we can choose to digest when our stress level is high. Resting in the Word of GOD, either reading the Bible, listening to Scripture-based music, or listening to a recording of the Word, will feed the soul.

“The word of GOD is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

The word strengthens us, convicts us, sharpens us, prepares us. Dwelling in the word allows us to draw near to the Lord. Remember, Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:1)

I urge myself and all: take time in the word — more time. 

Unity in Prayer

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)

The Body of Christ Jesus/Yeshua Messiah needs one another. When we are experiencing high degrees of stress, it may be tempting to complain or to hide — opposite reactions but quite typical responses to challenging times. To complain builds no one up and changes nothing; it is our flesh rising up. 

We need a new perspective; let’s take the mountain view. When we truly believe GOD is sovereign and loves us, we have nothing to complain about. It doesn’t mean things will always be rosy, but it does mean we recognise good things grow out of adversity and GOD doesn’t make mistakes. 

Sometimes we need others to support our prayers — to keep our arms lifted up like Moses had his arms upheld during battle. (Exodus 17:11) The Lord Jesus asked his friends to pray with him in Gethsemane. Prayer is something we all need and sometimes we need others to pray for us, when we cannot find the focus, peace, or words to pray. And of course the Holy Spirit gives us utterance whether or not we are lost for words. (Acts 2:4)

Asking for prayer support is important. Equally important is to be firmly rooted in knowing you are reliant upon the LORD and not on people. Sometimes the Lord allows trying circumstances simply to stretch and to grow us; sometimes He allows it so we will be drawn to come together with others.

“But He knows the way that I take; and when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)

More fruit

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

We can know we need prayer when we are losing a hold on our love or joy or peace or…. When tempers flair, or try to, it us usually the flesh and not the spirit rising up. Yes, there is righteous anger, but more often than not, our anger is emotional turmoil welling up inside of us and exploding outward. When fear rises up, swapping it for the fear of the LORD is not only wisdom, but restorative too.

The Lord always offers good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11), and these gifts include the fruits of the spirit. When we are in a stressful situation, or a situation that is stressful for us, we ask, seek, knock, find: the Lord is waiting to encourage and to help us.

Knowing the end from the beginning

“I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” (Revelations 22:13)

In the end, Jesus wins! He has already won. We need to live in that truth as our reality all the time. When we do, the stress has nowhere to occupy.

As we dwell on the word and allow our minds to be renewed daily, we are restored. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

Overcoming the flesh

Doubt, control, fear: these are all activities which like to live in the mind. But Jesus has overcome the flesh, the world and the devil. Faith in him means we do not have to doubt, control or fear anything or anyone. 

The flesh is in our will. The flesh is in our thoughts. The flesh is in our emotions. We shall not yield to the flesh any longer. Instead, we say as Jeremiah said, “Ah, LORD GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for you.” (Jeremiah 31:17) Help us to surrender any remaining flesh to you.

We say, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God, for the pulling down of strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4) Lord, deliver us by Your mighty hand.

And we declare, “When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men” that “to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift” and so we say thank you Lord, for our portion, our sufficient portion to overcome.

We stand on the promises of God. “To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:7) 

And we trust Him: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Meditate on these things, trust the Lord, and the stress will wash away.

Amen

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Spirit v Flesh

When all is said and done, the Spirit brings life and the flesh does not. 

We have a choice in this life as to how to be guided: spirit v flesh — which will we choose?

“Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)

Spiritual Walk

For those of us who know Jesus, every road we walk, every journey we take, is an opportunity to grow spiritually. As we surrender, so we grow into maturity and into freedom. It is so vital to embrace whatever comes our way, if we want to walk the Jesus Way.

There are no coincidences, no mistakes, and no surprises for GOD. He is sovereign and as we embrace that reality, we find great peace. Yes, we make mistakes, but Our God has room for our mistakes. It is better to walk in peace than to fuss about mistakes. 

Our mistakes are part of the roadmap — markers taking us closer to our destination: dwelling in the unity of the Spirit with our Saviour. As we yield to the Lord, surrendering our time, efforts and hearts, we grow closer to him and we become more like him.

Jesus said to his disciples, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.” (John 15:4)

Fleshly Walk

On the other hand, when we seek our own will, or fret or fear our circumstances, we feed into the flesh, where there is no real power or revelation. We might get what we think we want, but it will not be fulfilling.

“… those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed….” 2 Peter 2:10

Though we may be most capable, yet, His capabilities far outweigh our own.

Surrender, Pray, Praise

May I encourage us all, myself included, to walk the walk of faith, focusing on what the Word of GOD speaks into our situations, and yield not to the flesh. 

How do we do that? 

We take time: We stand still and see the salvation of our God (Exodus 14:13).  We wait upon the LORD to renew our strength. (Isaiah 40:31) We worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness (Psalm 29:2). We trust and obey (Isaiah 50:10).


The fruit of the Spirit

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Now the works of the flesh are evident,which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of 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. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:16-26)

As we yield to the Lord, we see His provision and His wisdom. So, let us trust in Him and lean not on our own mental processes (Proverbs 3:5). 

Acknowledging Him enables us to walk by faith and see His salvation in all our circumstances. The outcome is as the LORD chooses, but when we rest in that throughout any situation, we have that peace of GOD which truly does pass all understanding. (Philippians 4:7)

Hallelujah! The Lord reigns.

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture Supernatural & Prophetic

Praying for your Spouse

Psalm 88

1 O Lord, God of my salvation,

I have cried out day and night before You.

2 Let my prayer come before You;

Incline Your ear to my cry.

3 For my soul is full of troubles,

And my life draws near to the grave.

4 I am counted with those who go down to the pit;

I am like a man who has no strength,

5 Adrift among the dead,

Like the slain who lie in the grave,

Whom You remember no more,

And who are cut off from Your hand.

6 You have laid me in the lowest pit,

In darkness, in the depths.

7 Your wrath lies heavy upon me,

And You have afflicted me with all Your waves. Selah

8 You have put away my acquaintances far from me;

You have made me an abomination to them;

I am shut up, and I cannot get out;

9 My eye wastes away because of affliction.

Lord, I have called daily upon You;

I have stretched out my hands to You.

10 Will You work wonders for the dead?

Shall the dead arise and praise You? Selah

11 Shall Your lovingkindness be declared in the grave?

Or Your faithfulness in the place of destruction?

12 Shall Your wonders be known in the dark?

And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

13 But to You I have cried out, O Lord,

And in the morning my prayer comes before You.

14 Lord, why do You cast off my soul?

Why do You hide Your face from me?

15 I have been afflicted and ready to die from my youth;

I suffer Your terrors;

I am distraught.

16 Your fierce wrath has gone over me;

Your terrors have cut me off.

17 They came around me all day long like water;

They engulfed me altogether.

18 Loved one and friend You have put far from me,

And my acquaintances into darkness.

A wife’s prayer for her husband (or husband’s for a wife)

This morning as I continued my way through Psalms, I reached Psalm 88 and was struck at how apt it is to my personal storm (see Hold On).

My husband is in hospital at the moment. And this psalm as a prayer seemed apt for us both. Some lines echo for myself, others on his behalf.

Verses 1, 2 are my voice, telling GOD how I have felt through this time.

Verses 3 – 5 are a reflection of my husband’s position in hospital, vulnerable and very sick.

Verses 6-9a expands upon hubby’s position. He is unconscious – even his eyes cannot see.

Verses 9b – 13 echoes my cry to the LORD to be heard, for the situation to change, for GOD to act.

Verses 14-18 describe the faithfulness of my husband (15) but the consequences of GOD’s seeming silence.

After reading the Psalm in silence, and recognising the parallel to our lives at the moment, I read it again out loud. 

Then the LORD gave me the word: REVIVE. And that is the call and prayer for today: that my husband will revive now. 

“Now” does not mean immediately, although it can mean immediately. Now means it shall begin. Time is GOD’s by creation and mechanism. Yesterday, tomorrow and today are not restrictions for GOD. He manages all matters from His framework.

I know the LORD has heard me. Even the doctors testify of the repair in progress. I have given the time to the Father Yehovah GOD, and the time is in His hands.

Why I say this to you

I am not writing this to you for prayer support, although if the LORD prompts you to pray, that is wonderful. I am not writing this as a means of cathartic expression. I am writing this to you, who are married, so that you too might be led to apply a psalm to your situation. It may be Psalm 88 or another.

I am not restricting this to married people, for all of us have prayers for our loved ones. 

But I am also saying something specific about the prayers of married people. The two become one flesh is hugely significant; to overlook it is a lost miracle. For GOD has given us a way to pray for our spouses that, until recently, I overlooked. We can pray as one flesh: we can pray and take on the afflictions of our spouse in a supernatural way, if we have the GOD-given faith for it and the revelation. We do not become sick but we gain insight into the illness and ultimately, we can command it to go, In Jesus’ most wonderful name.

Blessings all as you meditate on Psalms and prayerfully consider this word I’ve shared.

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture Politics and Society today

America has fallen: doom but not gloom

America has fallen. It’s doom… but it’s not gloom.

At last, the beautiful and wonderful and Godly beacon of light to so many other nations, for truth and liberty, prosperity and democracy, and “in God we trust” is busted.

It has been falling for a long time. Some Believers have been steadfast for Jesus, but many, many Americans and the nature of American society has been turning, over a time span of decades, from purity and holiness intended by the founding fathers, to degradation, greed, lust and so much more evil.  Last night, as Americans stormed the Capital in Washington DC, as Senators and Governors debated inside about the fraudulent election and what — if anything — to do about it, America landed in muck! And it is unlikely ever to get out of it…. it is more like quicksand than dung or mud or any other filthy substance we can wash from.

I’m sorry. I have good news but that comes at the end of the article.

Jeremiah 14-16

I have been reading Jeremiah, chapters 14-16. Some dear sisters in the LORD have pointed this to me today, and I’ve picked up on it. 

The verses in Jeremiah which jump out at me this day are, 

14:11-12: Then the LORD said to me, “Do not pray for this people, for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Bu tI will consume them by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence.”

To my view, this are a direct warning from God

14:21b: Remember, do not break Your covenant with us.

To my view, this a demonstration of the cries (or manipulations) of the Jewish prayers

15:19b: You shall be as My mouth. Let them return to you, but you must not return to them.

To my view, here is an example of the directness of Yehovah and Jeremiah in discussion

16:10b-11: Why has the LORD pronounces all this great disaster against us? Or what is our iniquity? Or what is our sin that we have committed against the LORD our God?

My response: ‘Oh, the vanity of the Jewish response to God’s warning’

As you have a look at these three chapters in Jeremiah, I wonder if you’ll spot a pattern within these chapters which shows a bleak though relevant outcome in the Word. I did.

Back to America

America is in chaos. At this opportunity, I’m not going to preach sides. That’s not what this post is about. There was a president in office who was pro-life and pro-Israel. This gave huge encouragement to those in or supportive of those “camps” and tremendous consternation to those with opposing views. At the heart of the matter, many and most Christians thought of Donald Trump as a modern-day Cyrus, and one who certainly was beneficial to the causes of and perspective of Christians. It is primarily to you that I am writing…

How Trump “lost”

This doesn’t boil down to one issue. At best, it is complicated. And I even put “lost” in parenthesis to account for the debate over whether he won a huge majority and was cheated or he lost the vote. 

God is sovereign. Trump leaving office is not something God didn’t know about or expect; it isn’t something that the enemy slide by the Father. The loss also doesn’t mean that Trump was all the things the media and his opponents said he was: a liar, a cheat, disreputable, crooked. Nor does it mean Trump was not God’s choice in 2016. The loss also doesn’t mean that the American Constitution failed. If the result of the election is fraudulent, it isn’t something the Constitution couldn’t have handled. No, my thought is that Trump lost for one key reason…

Moses strikes the rock in anger

In Numbers 20:10-11 it states, And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock? Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.”

But the LORD was not pleased with Moses and Aaron. Verse 12 continues, Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe me, to hallow me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” (Numbers 21:12)

At the end of Deuteronomy, nearing the time of Moses’ death, the LORD leads Moses up Mount Nebo and shows him all the land and says, “…This is the land of which I swore to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, “I will give it to your descendants.” I have caused you to see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.” (Deuteronomy 34:4).

Moses died in Moab, without entering the Promised Land.


Hold this truth and draw it into what I shall say about the end of President Trump’s time in office.

Why Trump lost

You will know, those who follow what I write about or what makes me “tick”, that my hubby and I have been building a ministry called Sabbath Rest Ministries. Now before you wonder at the strange digression from Trump v Biden, and the United States and its democratic structure, read on. Sabbath is totally relevant to GOD. Anyone who follows Yehovah and His son Yeshua/Jesus will be familiar with the 10 Commandments and the fulfilment of those by Jesus. Do you also know what is the Sabbath which Jesus upheld?

God’s Sabbath is the seventh day of the week. The Hebrews knew when the Sabbath was and historically, so do we. It is what we in English call Saturday. Sunday became “the Lord’s Day” by papal decree some time after Constantine declared Christianity to be the state religion of Rome. The Sunday worship originated from the Roman Catholics.

If you study scripture (another time I might highlight certain scriptural references), you will learn that the Sabbath is of critical importance to our God. It is the seal which He places upon His children. It is the day of rest which He created and stipulated. It is made for man, not man for it. It is the most detailed commandment which the LORD defines in scripture.

Exodus 20:8-11 says, Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your email servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that sin them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

God has never changed the Sabbath, though man changed the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday — thereby separating Christianity from Jewish tradition. As it was done by what is the Roman Catholic Church, it is, perhaps, the last reform we must make before we have completely returned to the roots of Jesus and the early church.

There are many reasons why the LORD might have allowed Trump to lose power

My most pronounced thought as to why the LORD allowed Trump to be trumped in the election is that Trump endorsed the Pope’s bid for Sunday to be the day of rest for man. 

In 2019, the Pope visited the White House and President Trump was pleased to endorse a move to mandate Sunday as the day for family and rest in Texas.

Many will find other reasons, likely all from man’s point of view. I can think of several, all from my own thinking. But I reckon actually, that it is the importance of God’s Sabbath to God as expressed by His Forth Commandment which He wants hallowed, which caused GOD to remove favour from the President.

Selah Blessings and Shalom as you ponder this “food for thought”.

Jesus’ Return – 2 stages: Doom and Light

The Doom 

With a change in party and leadership in the White House from relative conservatism to liberalism, significant change including a continuance of moral decay is likely. Abortion will rise, rather than fall as it did during the Trump presidency. If it is accurate to say that the election was fraudulent and it remains unchecked, then democracy in America is likely to be contaminated forever. And as it has been said many times, where America goes, the world goes. So, if America is lost, then so too is the world.

These statements are debatable but I only mention them as a consequence of the change toward social democracy (as the Democrats claim to be) or cultural communism (as the Republicans suggest their opponents to be). This is not my main two-fold point, which is that the endorsement of Sunday lost Trump his leadership… and that the loss of the Sabbath must be restored.

The Light

Finally, although there is doom, there is no gloom, not when you let go of the world and everything in it, as we who purport to follow Jesus must do. If the world falls far enough, the Lord Jesus will catch his children, and the earth will be transformed: lost yet found, by the Prince of Peace, the Light of the World.

For it is said in Revelations 21:1-2a Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem…

Categories
Torah Portion Examined

What about Prophetic Dreams: sample the Torah Portion of Genesis 41

There has been a lot of dreaming and posting of dreams by current prophets. What about prophetic dreams? Can we rely upon them?

God reveals to Joseph, who in turn interprets dreams

This week’s Torah Portion includes Genesis 41: Pharaoh’s dreams and Joseph’s release from prison to interpret them.

It prompts me to consider the wealth of prophetic dreams that have been posted in recent months and weeks surrounding the November election in the United States.

When Joseph interpreted dreams, it yielded immediate fruit. It seemed the dreams came from GOD and GOD gave deliverance through the interpretation of them.

What about the prophecies today?

Are they of GOD? Do they bear godly fruit?

There has been such an abundance of the prophetic that I have deliberately not kept up. I gather there were numerous prophecies claiming victory for President Trump. These have been dampened by the facts. And now we wait, because nothing is yet concluded, irrespective of what the mainstream Trump-hating media might like to proclaim. Although they claim Trump’s claims of election fraud are baseless, so equally it can be said that the media’s proclamations of a Biden victory are premature at least, baseless they may prove to be, ironically.

So what do we make of the contemporary prophets? Is it too soon to tell? Are they false prophets? Have they been misguided? Are they cheats?

I would not wish to judge or assume these men and women are false. They may be in error, or time will reveal they are correct. Or perhaps GOD has allowed them to see the election outcome wrongly; remember Ahab listened to his 400 prophets who had been deliberately deceived rather than listen to Micah (2Kings 22).

So, what shall we do about the prophetic voice today?

Listen, take stalk, wait, and do not be disheartened. It is not the prophet we must follow and rely upon but GOD alone. So, each of us must ask our Father to share with us personally: What are you saying, LORD? What are you doing, LORD?

And then each of us listen to the still, small voice for himself.

In the meantime, Psalm 46 is a huge encouragement… “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble…” As we meditate on this Psalm, Yehovah Father GOD will reveal more of Himself to us.

(Thanks to Kelly Johnson for sourcing today’s image: My Sheep Hear My Voice)

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

Sabbath Rest and the 23rd Psalm

The concept of the Sabbath Rest and the 23rd Psalm have a lot in common. The following phrases refer to both:

Abide in Him.

He shall enter My rest.

On the seventh day He rested.

Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

These are Biblical phrases we are familiar with. But all together, what do they mean?

Today I examined the 23rd Psalm and my recent considerations about the Sabbath jumped out at me as I read it…

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul;

He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake….”

We lack nothing when we abide with the Father: we shall not want.

We rest — in green pastures. In the resting, we are restored to full capacity.

All this leads us to the righteous path, and that is for the sake of His name (not ours).

Ah rest. When we abide, when we receive, when we STOP, we are in the rest for which He created us. For He created us for fellowship with Him (and for each other), so that we would be together in rest.

The curse of work came after the Fall and labour came as a result of sin. (Genesis 3) GOD created the world in six days, but not even that was work. Creativity is not work. Work interrupted rest, and continues to do so. But that was not GOD’s original intent. 

The Sabbath rest was made for man to escape from labour, from work. 

The Father blesses the Sabbath and those who receive it are blessed. 

The consequence of disobedience or walking our own way is to miss the rest GOD offers.

On the seventh day, He rested. He offers the Sabbath for man to rest likewise, because otherwise man’s labour would continue and he would miss the fullness of life which is offered to him by GOD.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; 

For You are with me, Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me…”

Even though we may face tough challenges, disappointments, tragedy and even physical death, we remain in rest when we remain in Him. He is our shield and our guide; in times of trouble He is our protector.

Sabbath rest is not just a day of the week to rest (though it is that). And it is not just the seventh day which GOD ordained. It is a state of mind and a state of being — in the company of and abiding with Father GOD.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;

And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

The LORD provides. While we must carry out our labours, for ‘he who does not work, does not eat’, and sound work is good for a sound mind, He does provide for those in need, and for those whom He has called according to His purposes.

As we rest in Him, we can know that He holds us in the palm of His hand. He cares for us, nurtures us, comforts us and keeps us in His perfect peace when our eyes are fixed on Him. (Isaiah 26:3)

And so, let us abide in His word, abide in His rest, and abide in the hope set before us. 

To be in fellowship with Him — that is the reason for our being. And He promises that, through the rest He provides, when we come unto Him, He indeed is present for us, as our shepherd, our protector and our provider.

Amen and Amen, thank you LORD.

Categories
Torah Portion Examined

GOD’s Commitment to Israel (Torah Portion Hosea 13)

GOD’s Commitment to Israel: Torah Portion Hosea 13

God’s commitment to Israel is everlasting, even though he has extended that commitment beyond the Jewish people.

This week, the Torah Portion Hosea 13 in particular, has stuck with me.
The LORD says to the Jews, “Yet I am the LORD your GOD.” (Hosea 13:4)

Hosea 13:1-11

“When Ephraim spoke, trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended through Baal worship, he died. Now they sin more and more, and have made for themselves moulded images, idols of their silver, according to their skill; all of it is the work of craftsmen.

They say of them, “Let the men who sacrifice kiss the calves!”

Therefore they shall be like the morning cloud and like the early dew that passes away, like chaff blown off from a threshing floor and like smoke from a chimney.

“Yet I am the LORD your GOD ever since the land of Egypt, and you shall know no GOD but Me; for there is no saviour besides Me. I knew you in the wilderness, in the land of great drought. 

“When they had pasture, they were filled; they were filled and their heart was exalted; therefore they forgot Me.

“So I will be to them like a lion; like a leopard by the road I will lurk; I will meet them like a bear deprived of her cubs; I will tear open their rib cage and devour them like a lion. The wild beast shall tear them.

“O Israel, you are destroyed, but your help is Me. I will be your King, where is any other, that he may save you in all your cities? And your judges to whom you said, ‘Give me a king and princes’?
“I gave you a king in My anger, and took him away in My wrath….” 

Perhaps these verses grabbed my attention because I’ve been pondering lately GOD’s identity relative to other gods. Do you remember Paul spoke to the Athenians about their altar To The Unknown God and explained their unknown god was the Creator of the Universe, one not made by human hands? (Acts 17:23) Just this week I heard some new ideas about the Nephelim (giants – half angel half man; see Genesis 6:4) being behind much of the confusion, destruction and perversion arising across society in these days. I am aware that some people believe these Nephelim, who are the offspring of fallen angels called “sons of GOD” and the daughters of man, long ago were manifested as gods and given names in Greek such as Zeus, Apollo, Hermes and so on. There was nothing of this in the recent teaching, but rather sometimes, by association, GOD brings one idea (Yehovah GOD as the God of the Hebrews) to our minds in order for us to make connection with another idea (existence of other gods). So, I’ve been thinking about our Yehovah GOD in relation to other gods which man has idolised throughout history.

Any case, back to Hosea: 

In the context of Yehovah GOD declaring to the Hebrews that He is their GOD and they’d have none other (Hosea 13:4), and upon reflection of the Athenians and the fallen angels and Nephelim, I realise that whether a god has any power or not, different cultures have different gods. That the GOD of the Hebrews happened to be the actual GOD of the universe: all powerful, eternal, creator, is pretty awesome for them.

It really hits home to me, as a Gentile:

So, in Hosea 13, Yehovah GOD says the the Jews, “I AM” and He says it exclusively to them and they are to be exclusively His. 

Jesus (called Yeshua in Hebrew) tells his disciples not to go out to the Gentiles but only to those of the House of Israel (Matthew 11) and reiterates this to a Gentile woman who sought his help for her demon-possessed daughter when he says as recorded later in Matthew, “It is not good to take the children’s bread [ref to Jews] and throw it to little dogs [ref Gentiles]. And she said, “Yes, Lord, even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.” And then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith. Let it be as you desire.” (Matthew 15:26-28). 

After his resurrection, Yeshua Jesus commissions his disciples to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)

Yes, the Gentiles have been grafted in (Romans 11), adopted, welcomed into the Kingdom of GOD by faith. How heinous this must have seemed to the Jewish people of the time who had been brought up on their exclusive access to GOD; and yet those Jewish people who followed Jesus’ Way gave way to him, in faith. 

It is my heart’s desire to share Yeshua Messiah with those Jewish people who  have found the truth in Jesus. And of those still seeking more truth, yes, they need to know the Gentile Jesus is their Jewish Messiah. The Gentiles were accepted by him and have been grafted in, not to replace the Jews, but because GOD loves Jew and Gentile and his son. GOD has not excluded, replaced or abandoned His chosen children. He is still their GOD. He is simply now also GOD for the Gentiles as well, for those who will accept Him. Yeshua is Messiah to the Jews and Saviour to rest of the World,

“… It is too small a thing that you should be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6)

Hallelujah and Amen.

Categories
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

Categories
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.

 

Categories
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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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.

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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
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?

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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.