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
Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Was Jesus lonely?

Loneliness is

…. having the sense that no one else understands you, or at least your immediate situation.

“Get wisdom! Get understanding! 

….. Love her, and she will keep you.

Wisdom is the principal thing;

Therefore get wisdom. 

And in all your getting, get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:5…6, 7)

I understand wisdom: a knowing of what significance a situation may have, or a knowing of how to handle a particular situation so that relationship and peace are retained. How is understanding different?

Understanding is 

…. a recognition of the human condition, and the humanity of any particular circumstance. In this case, I am learning and sharing about loneliness.

Companionship 

Where companionship is the sharing of common memories and/or goals or perspectives, loneliness is the absence of that sharing.

Jesus had close friends around him: the 12 specific people chosen from a sea of people who would call themselves followers or disciples of Jesus and his teaching. Amongst those twelve were three with whom he seemed to share a deeper intimacy: Peter, James and John were with him at the transfiguration, and were called out to be nearer at Gethsemane. So, Jesus had the physical presence of friendship. 

Companionship goes beyond physical company

Having companionship curbs being alone, but does it prevent loneliness in our souls? I don’t think so.

Companionship, in a deeper sense, is that sense of a shared journey in life — or in a season of life. Perhaps this is why it is so pleasant to live and grow in one community over a long period of time, and this is why physical separation can be so challenging for us as human beings.

Jesus had the companionship of his heavenly father and proximity of his earthly mother; so perhaps he did not feel loneliness as we do from time to time. Or perhaps he felt deeply lonely whenever he explained things to his twelve and they did not understand. 

And likely, at the most profound level, an incredible depth of loneliness is what he was experiencing on the cross when he exclaimed, “”Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?: that is, “My GOD, my GOD, why have you forsaken me?”” (Matthew 27:46)

On an intellectual level, I believe Jesus had to have experienced loneliness as part of his walk, so that he understood our human experience entirely. 

We experience loneliness when we feel isolated, not understood, or unable to share with at least one other human being what we are living in our journey of life. When someone else has had the same revelation born from a similar experience, we feel that sense of community we as human beings need.

Counselling and Psychology

The beauty of pastoral counselling and the study of human psychology is that it offers engagement with another person, giving us the sense of being heard or understood, helping us immensely against loneliness. But that human understanding or intellectual understanding is finite. 

GOD’s counsel goes much deeper, goes to our very core. 

Dreams

This very morning, I awoke having had two dreams — short images in my mind —which, upon reflection, have given me an inner, personal, deep understanding of two questions I carried to sleep with me last night. Reflection on each image has helped me to remember the questions and understand GOD’s answers to me. 

I asked GOD to help me to understand two issues, one personal, one relational. The images he has given me have provided me with total and complete understanding. And with understanding, I know how to proceed.

Ask and you shall receive

My friendly reader, ask for wisdom and for understanding. Wait upon the LORD, and He will provide. 

Was Jesus lonely?

On a human level, Jesus must have been lonely from time to time. But he did not remain in that place, but would have had the wisdom and understanding to move beyond it. Even by declaring his being forsaken, others heard! And so in sharing, the inner pain would have been reduced. Whilst being GOD, walking as a man, His aloneness must have been profound; and yet, whilst being a man, as son of GOD, his earthy experience must have been truly unique and enthralling. 

Our Journey

Each of us has our years on this earth. There will be times when we feel no one understands or cares. And yet, we have a GOD who totally understands because He has experienced what we have experienced. And that, is what true companionship is… the sharing of understanding and experience. 

Our earthly journey will be full of “hello” and “goodbye” which sounds tragic — or at least glib. But in reality, our journey is our own. No one has precisely the same life experience, perspective or challenge. If we are wise, we will share our life with others. That will bring pain sometimes, because sometimes those with whom we share drift apart from us, or move, or pass away. But it will offer tremendous joy in the meantime, and enable us to learn and grow as well.

The human condition

…. is part joy, part sadness, and a journey and passage of time between the two. An old adage says, “It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.” (Tennyson) This is wisdom, this is true, and when we know life will offer some highs and some lows, we can engage in life knowing that it is better to live life than to fear it.

Shalom and GOD Bless.

Categories
Character Development Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

2022: Getting Priorities Straight

2022: Our Getting Priorities Straight

I don’t “do” new year’s resolutions. I haven’t in years. Somewhere along the way I realised they didn’t work for me. 

And somewhere along the way leads me to my point now, today:

2022 has to be about intimacy with our Father Yehovah GOD. And it is about loving one another. This will bring together the church as the bride of Yeshua Jesus, and this will bring others outside the “church” — ie the communion of believers — to see our love for GOD, our love for one another. Either observers will mock us or will draw closer to GOD Himself.

“Love the LORD your GOD with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbour as yourself.” Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy and spoke of what we shall do to inherit eternal life.

This is a short post because I’m spending quality time with my Father this week. And today I’m also researching and preparing some words to deliver to our brethren in due season.

Let’s no longer seek approval from man but from GOD. As we do, we will find favour with some and receive attack from others. But if we know we are doing as the LORD commands, we have peace within. And that, in the BIG PICTURE will please Him, one another and ourselves. 

Let us be present with Him today. Let us be still. Let us abide (John 15). And let the world turn toward us and say, “Now that’s commitment!”

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Guest Posts

Intimacy Affects Everything

Guest Post by Gary Gay

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

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

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

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

Gary Gay

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

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

Are you following Jesus?

A Meaty Word

God does not change. His Word does not change. But God moves. Are we following?

In the desert 4000 years ago, God gave the Hebrews a sign to follow. Today, like the pillar of light at night, and the pillar of smoke by day, we need to follow God, undeterred by fear, distraction, assumption or the fulfilment of our worldly interests.

When Moses led the Hebrews out of Egypt and across the Red Sea, they told him to go to the mountain and talk to God. They didn’t want to speak to Him directly.

When Samuel was prophet to the Hebrews, they told him they wanted a King. They didn’t want to follow God’s priests and prophets, but wanted to be like other nations.

Just as the Hebrews needed fresh manna every day while they were in the desert, in order to survive, so we need fresh manna daily to survive spiritually. Are you receiving your manna every day, or are you living on the stale bread that was yesterday’s revelation?

We are a chosen priesthood. We are salt and light. But salt that has lost its savour is not good for anything.

This is not a message for Unbelievers, although anyone seeking to discover who the Creator is — whom we call our heavenly father — and how Jesus, His son, made intimacy with the Father possible and forgiveness attainable, is welcome to read and is invited to receive God’s Spirit through faith in Jesus. But this message primarily is for those of us who proclaim Jesus as Lord and Saviour. I’m asking: are you truly following him daily, surrendered to the Father’s will, allowing the Son to point to the Father and lead you in Truth, Rightness with God, and total surrender to His Spirit?

When Moses led the people to the Promised Land, they did not go in. For forty years they were held back because of lack of faith. I don’t want to be held back. I don’t want to miss God’s blessing because I think I know best what His Word means and what His ways are. I don’t want to assume my understanding of His Word, the Bible, is as infinite as is my God. I don’t want to be afraid of the New Wine Skin and stick to the old, safe understanding of my faith. What about you?

Throughout church history, when a Godly man made a discovery in the Word, he preached his new revelation and was lamb-basted for it. Once it was accepted as truly divine revelation, a denomination was formed. People clung onto the new leader and felt assured they had The Truth. But a new wall surrounded this new clan, who — like others before them — listened to their leader and allowed the leader to fellowship with God on their behalf. But God wants us each to fellowship with Him. It’s great and important to seek new revelation; it’s important to mentor and to be mentored by a spiritual head. But actually, any revelation of A Truth from the LORD comes to express one aspect or another that He wishes people to know at a given time. He does not reveal the whole truth. In fact, even Jesus did not know when his time would be to return. Even Jesus did not know all of the Father’s heart and will.

As it was with John Knox in Scotland, as it was with the Baptists late in the 1800’s, so it is even now amongst Evangelicals and Charismatics: God keeps revealing, keeps doing a new thing, but only a remnant follow. And the remnant are mistrusted by the rest. Each time God carries only a remnant into new understanding of the Truth and they battle against the reviling of the larger body of Believers. I pray no Believer will miss out on Jesus’ return, but am seriously concerned many will, because of this attitude that what is New is not to be trusted.

Following Jesus

What an arrogant title I’ve chosen for this message. Who am I to question who is following Jesus? But this message is important to anyone who subscribes to the idea that, to be a Christian, we are to follow the Lord Jesus: follow his example, take his word seriously, and love the LORD our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and (then*) love our neighbour as ourself. (Matthew 22:37)

What I’m concerned about is that not only has humanity fallen down since the beginning of time, in its following of the Creator of the universe, but it is still falling down, taking for granted the cross, but most of us who are steadfastly walking are walking our own walk. Father God sent his son, a loving person of great wisdom and sacrifice, so that we could best see the Father through the eyes of the Son, and discover for ourselves who God is. Yet even those who are dedicated, committed, born again, fall. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) but what does that verse go on to say, “for those who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”

Is the Holy Spirit active in your life? He is totally accessible, completely available, and wholly dedicated to enabling you to live a life of surrender. Are you willing to live that life? He is refreshing and will quench your thirst for God. Are you thirsty for God? I am.

Faith without works is dead (James 2:17). And works is not only feeding the poor, preaching the gospel, taking care of prisoners. Works includes our walk with the Lord. We are called and committed followers.

We all fall. But when we fall are we repentant? The core of our faith is at stake as we consider this question. Do we take for granted our walk with God, our salvation, our place in His presence in Heaven? Or to we value Him and our relationship with Him above everything else? Do we walk a surrendered life or is our life, after our surrender, our own?

This is the question for today: Are we living a truly surrendered life?

As time is short, and I believe Jesus is returning very soon, I am urging every reader to:

  1. get into his Bible, use a search engine such s Bible Gateway to look up scriptures, find what the Word says about the Holy Spirit, and learn
  2. study under a pastoral leader by all means, but don’t take for granted his understanding of the Word, but dig into it yourself, allowing the Holy Spirit to lead you into God’s truth for today
  3. pray for God’s divine revelation to come to you, and for His Holy Spirit to fill you
  4. ask for protection against false teaching, wrong understanding, and for discernment of Truth
  5. trust God hears and answers your prayers

We who have become born again have made a commitment to follow Jesus. He has made a way for us to draw close, through intimacy with the Holy Spirit who hovered over the earth at creation and is the power and presence of God who dwells within us now. He convicts us of Truth… and we need to be listening.

This word is a bit tougher than what I usually write. But the imperative is clear: we need to be surrendered, not taking for granted our relationship and salvation, but striving to draw closer to Father God every step of our way. Jesus points us in the right direction. Let’s continue to run our race to completion. Jesus is coming soon… we do not know the day or the hour… but like the virgins with their lamps, we need to have ours full of the oil of the Holy Spirit, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the bridegroom who is Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2)

In coming weeks, I’ll be downloading some revelation I’ve had over the last several months. I hope you’ll test it rather than dismiss it. I hope you’ll share your discoveries with others. I hope it will make you draw closer to God as He draws closer to you.

 

*brackets are my own for I have inserted “then” because I believe to love our neighbour first is not of the Lord, but is Humanism and human effort rather than an act of surrender to God.

Categories
Politics and Society today

America On the Brink

I don’t write regularly because while I do enjoy it, I am attempting to write only what the LORD leads me to write, when He leads me.

I send out Soaring Post sparingly because, as there is so much that all of our email in-boxes are bombarded with, I aim to be read when I post, and not overlooked.

Today I’m posting and sending about the upcoming federal election in the United States of America. The presidency is at stake. Some say the leader of America is the leader of the free world. Certainly, the country is extremely influential globally in many spheres, namely: morally, financially, culturally. When America has preached righteousness, it has touched the world. When it has preached carnality, likewise it has influenced the world.

The current series I am writing for Larus Press is Preparing You for GOD’s Call.

So, how is the US federal election tied to readers, most of whom are probably not American and therefore, not eligible to vote in an American federal election? There is a vital connection, so I ask you to please bear with me as I explain my thinking…

Sometimes we are called to learn and to grow, while at other times we are called to application. Today, and over the next few days, we as a Nation of Believers in Jesus are called to pray; the days are short. In preparing you for God’s Call today, I am encouraging you to grow in your prayer life, and in particular, your intercessory prayer life. To pray for American and the voters there is the Call.

UNESCO – the world organisation that “encourages international peace and universal respect for human rights by promoting collaboration among nations” (see: UNESCO) has just voted that The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is only an historic site for Muslims, not for Jews, nor for Christians. Perhaps their thinking is that if they grant Arab supremacy, the Muslims will be appeased.

But what does this UNESCO vote signify in the Spirit?

Time is short. Zechariah 12 speaks about the attempt that will come to sever Jerusalem from the Jews; it prophecies the rage and battles that will ensue as a result. We are called to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122). The war over Jerusalem is inevitable. I say time is short, because the signs that this war is coming sooner rather than later, are increasing.

How is the election in America hinged on the events in Jerusalem? They may or may not be directly connected… What is significant in this US election is that, because the days are short, the state of the nation now, perhaps more than ever before, is critical for its fate. Like the vote over Brexit* – which has touched the hearts of many of my readers as a significant number are British – I think this particular election in America is pivotal to the way GOD sees it: Will America, in these Last Days, be seen by GOD as a sheep nation or a goat nation? (Does this mean that Jesus will only look at the immediate and not at the history of a nation? I do not know. Witness the virgins and their lamps… Matthew 25)

As recorded in Matthew 25, in the Last Days, upon Jesus’ return to earth (to Jerusalem), he will judge the nations and separate those of his (sheep nations) from those who will go eternal punishment (goat nations). I believe the American election is significant to the judgment it will incur as a nation in GOD’s eyes.

So, it is important that we pray for those who must vote. And for those with the right to vote, I say it is important to vote, to vote the way the LORD leads you.

Now this election is very unusual, because both candidates are so appallingly unpopular. Neither is particularly moral, trustworthy or righteous; they do not seem to me even to be “nice people”.

Imagine standing in the polling booth and gazing at your ballot, marking the person you dislike the least. With the bizarre way the candidacies have developed, this is the situation many in the United States face on Tuesday 8th November.

To say the situation surrounding the main candidates in the upcoming US election is bizarre is an understatement. There are several candidates, although only the two main party candidates get national and international press and television coverage. Of the two candidates, one is bombastic, rude to the degree of almost lewd, a creator of a casino empire with multiple sins, yet who defends the rights of the unborn and stands for Christianity in a bold, unapologetic manner. The other is deceptive, sly, cunning – like a fox or snake, she is untrustworthy and is currently under FBI investigation – yet, she is an experienced politician, is cool under pressure, and extremely intelligent. Neither Hilary Clinton nor Donald Trump are particularly moral, though their weaknesses are different. It is almost unfathomable to think these are the choices out of 300 million people. And yet, doesn’t a nation get the government it deserves (French lawyer Joseph de Maistre, 1789, who opposed the bloody French Revolution)? Perhaps it is the American people, more that these two candidates, who are to be scrutinised for how the nation got to this point of amorality.

Now, while American voters must choose the path of their least resistance, the rest of the world awaits.

Perhaps it will be as a Believing American I spoke to recently said… that after the election, the winner will drop dead, or will step aside and a capable american-flagVice President will step in. Nothing is impossible with GOD, and in these times in America, with this particular election, anything could happen!

The Brexit result came as a shock; even those who wanted to leave thought they’d lost before the ballot boxes closed. The election predictions for the US also are “too close to call” at this stage. We don’t know if there will be an acceleration of the liberalisation that Hilary Clinton heralds. Or, if Donald Trump wins, perhaps there will be a turn back to old standards, including both good and bad.

I believe, whichever the result, the LORD knows and has the result in the palm of His hand. But just as He wants that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9), He wants us all to stand in the gap and call for His will to be done upon this once GOD-fearing nation, itself born to give liberty and freedom to all who come to its shores or are born into it.

We don’t know whom the LORD would choose to win this election. One might think to have a leader who wished to abolish abortion would be GOD’s choice (Trump). But perhaps this is not the mind of GOD. Perhaps he wishes Christianity to be persecuted, so that more would come to Christ. What I do believe is that a vote toward morality and truth, a vote that stands for the truth of Jesus, a vote away from selfish ambition and personal gain, could herald this nation as a “sheep nation” and so be saved at the coming of Jesus.

So, as I write to prepare you for GOD’s call, I encourage you to be as one who stands in the gap for the nations and the world. Let us pray for this nation of the United States, with its rich history of defending Christianity and God’s truth. Let us pray that the nation does not get “the government that it may deserve”, but a Godly government that will lead people back to Him. As the world stands on the brink of change, let us draw near to GOD, that He might rescue the nation of the United States from itself, and lead it – and all the nations – back to Himself.

In Jesus’ name, I pray. And everyone says…. Amen.

 

*Brexit is the nickname given by the British media and its citizens regarding the referendum held last June to determine whether the UK leaves or remains as a part of the European Union. The vote was in favour of leaving; therefore, steps have begun in the process for Britain the leave the EU. Personally, I believe the result of the vote also speaks spiritually, declaring that Britain is a sovereign nation. To make a long discussion short, for me, the result of the vote signifies (knowingly or unknowingly by the voters) a rejection of the worldly principles encapsulated in the EU, and that Britain now stands as a Godly nation – a “sheep” nation – before GOD.

 

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

Take Nothing for Granted

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV)

Our faith is strong, our commitment true, so why read, study, pray and praise daily?

We need our lay our dependence totally upon him. As we journey, and go deeper into the purposes God has for us, the way is uphill… not only invigorating, challenging, awesome, but also debilitating, full of the unexpected, and – at times – painful.

We read the Word to discover Jesus and our way to walk; we’ve become committed and know Jesus is our Lord and Saviour, so what is the need for daily refreshing?

We study the Word to show ourselves approved; so once we know the Bible, why do we continue to review it?

We know and trust God’s sovereignty; so why refresh His mind with our prayers? Why are we called to pray without ceasing? (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Because sometimes the Way is stormy and hard, to be full of the Spirit and the Word of God is not only the best way forward, but even the only way forward.

God is all-knowing; he knows we are thankful. So, is it really necessary to praise Him and thank Him frequently?

The answer is a clear and resounding “Yes!” because of the battle between the flesh and the spirit. When I pause from the habit of reading, studying, praying and praising, my flesh rises up and all-so-quickly, my frame of mind shifts from hope, faith and love to worry, despair and fear.

In the battle between flesh and spirit, the weapons of the Word and prayer guard my heart and mind. To walk in His Spirit is freedom, and to do so requires repeated and continual surrender. Yes, I have been saved and am born again (John 3:7), but the process of sanctification – of becoming purer and more holy and loving – will continue for the rest of my life.

As a follower of Jesus, my life’s work is to grow deeper in love with him and to share that love. The flesh cannot do this. So, to pray and praise, to read and study enables His Spirit to fill me. More of you, Lord, and less of me is the heart’s desire of Believers.

So we to study and live, surrendering our flesh; we draw closer and closer to the person God has created us to be: in His image. That’s why taking nothing for granted, we read, study, pray and praise.

Come Holy Spirit, fill us to be more like you. Prepare us for all you have for us, so that we may overcome every obstacle and rejoice in all circumstances.

 

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

From My Will to Holy Spirit Will

My strength or Holy Spirit Strength

“…I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 20:17)

We have surrendered our life and our will to God. We want to utter His prayers and do His works, based on His will and not our own. Jesus said we can move mountains if we have faith. Bathed in prayer, we can walk in the Spirit and not in the Flesh.

But how can we be certain we are praying the prayers of the Holy Spirit? How do we pray God’s prayers and not our own? Is there a ‘ceiling’ above which our prayers do not rise, unless they are prayers inspired by the will of the Father?

I’d like to suggest a strategy that works for me, to help me be ‘less of me and more of God’ in my day-to-day walk.

1) ‘He who waits upon the LORD shall renew his strength’ (Isaiah 40:11)

As I wait in a quiet place I find God joins me. As I make room for Him, he shows up to inspire and to lead me ‘beside still waters’.

2) ‘All scripture is God-breathed’ (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

As I sit, reading and re-reading a passage of scripture, those words become alive, guiding me and inspiring me. Through the Word of God I hear the Will of God on a daily basis.

3) ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength’ (Philippians 4:13)

Expecting God to speak or to move through my prayers and my actions creates in me humility and hope. I can’t make Him do as I please but I can expect Him to respond to the prayers and intercession He has anointed me and inspired me to pray.

4) ‘Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness’ (1 Chronicles 16:29)

When I pray in tongues, when I sing or dance as led by God’s encouragement and freedom, I begin to lose myself in worship and adoration. When that happens I am beginning to enter into a private place with the LORD where He draws me close, speaks to me and leads me in His way everlastingly.

5) ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.’ (Matthew 7:7-8)

Breakthrough comes when we wait, spend time with God’s Word, expect Him to come, and worship Him. This is not a formula but a promise.

If we want to ‘live and move and have our being’ in Him, we need to commit our way to Him and He will give us the desires of our heart. Meditating with Him will draw our desires toward Him and His will can be done on earth in and through us, His surrendered servants.

Ready: Decide to spend quality (and quantity) time daily with the LORD

Set: Choose a time and space that will ensure freedom from distraction

Go: Start tomorrow: Commit your way onto the LORD and He will direct your path

Categories
Reflections and Poetry

Why make Jesus your Lord as well as saviour

What is the difference between Jesus as Lord and as saviour?

Life is a journey of decisions and experiences, achievements and mistakes, victories and defeats. When we choose to live a life surrendered to the creator of the universe, we have peace with God, man and ourselves. We have the assurance that every outcome is within His purposes and for our ultimate good. There is a difference between Jesus as Lord and as saviour.

Ready:  If you have become born again, you are saved by God’s grace,  and you have received eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:8) Jesus is your saviour. But have you surrendered your life to his Lordship?

Set: When we allow Jesus to be our Lord it means we follow him, we surrender our lives to his will and direction. Jesus as Saviour means our spirit is reborn; Jesus as Lord means we allow him to lead us, even into the valley of the shadow of death; yet will fear no ill.

To receive all God has for us, surrender is the key. While salvation leads us in to eternal life in Heaven, surrender ensures life on earth is within the Father’s will. When we know we are within the sovereign will of God we have peace – peace that passes all understanding.

If you have hard decisions, are stressed or confused, suffer persecution or prejudice, you can rest assured that the LORD God, in His sovereignty, is aware of it. He has allowed you to be in your current situation for your ultimate benefit. He does not will that any perish. When you surrender to Him, you can be certain that the creator of the universe, with ultimate authority and power, has things in hand. There is nothing that passes His gaze or awareness.

1. Choose to place your life into His hands, surrendering your will to His.

2. Trust God. He loves you; he knows you intimately, and has placed the deepest desires and passions within you and wants them to be fulfilled.

3. Search even the nooks and crannies of your will and yield them to the Father. In this you will find peace.

Go: Surrender! God has the best plans and purposes for us. His protection is complete. He even watches our backs! So, we surrender, knowing ‘not your will but mine Lord’ is the safest place we can be.

“Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.” (Isaiah 58:8 NKJV)

 

 

Categories
Examining Biblical Scripture

How to Be Super Spiritually Fit

How to Become Super Spiritually Fit

Ready:  How can you find and sustain intimacy with God so your mind is renewed and your spirit is toned to lead you? There is no formula to use to become more intimate with God, but it is intimacy with God that will keep you super spiritually fit. You will never deepen your relationship with Christ by filling your brain with my words. So, I’ll keep it short to give you the time to go away and apply – that is spend time with God – so He’ll renew your mind and transform you with His Spirit, so you become more like God. Psalms

Set:  Start with God’s Word. Choose a scripture and spend time with it… Try Psalm 23 or Philippians 4:13 to start with.

1. read it 2. roll it around in your mind

3. focus on whatever part of it jumps out at you asking, ‘what does this mean for me today?’

4. chew it – memorize a phrase or listen to your inner heartbeat: that part of you that knows that you know that Jesus Christ is the most real part of your life.

5. Ask God to reveal Himself to you… and wait.

6. Thank Him – just thank Him for being who He is and for anything else that is bubbling up inside of you.

7. Stay as long as you like – or go if you must – but go knowing the God of Heaven, Creator of the universe is filling you with His Holy Spirit to make you strong.

Go:  Now go! Choose a peaceful physical space and go into the Word of God. From this moment forward, settle for nothing less than intimacy with your Heavenly Father.