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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

What angers GOD and how does He measure anger?

GOD’s anger is for a moment but His favour is for a lifetime. (Psalm 30:5)

What angers GOD?

Israel and the Hebrews disobeyed. At the heart of it all, this is what dismayed GOD and caused Him to be angry with them.

Likewise for us, we must walk with Him, surrendered to the degree of our understanding, willing to grow in His likeness. This is our call as disciples of Jesus. This means we are called to obey Him. He seeks a “contrite spirit” and to be followed on His terms, not our own.

Psalm 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.”

In this GOD takes delight.

How does GOD measure our obedience?

GOD looks to the heart of mankind, and of an individual, to see How close (or far) from Him is their walk.

“I am exceedingly angry with the nations at ease;

For I was a little angry [at the Israelites], 

And they [other nations] helped —

but with evil intent.” (Zechariah 1:15)

Let’s look at GOD’s behaviour towards Israel

When we look at Zechariah 1, we see that the LORD allowed nations to overcome Israel as a consequence of her disobedience. And yet, when entreated upon by Zechariah, GOD says that although He allowed “four horns” — four nations — to rise against and conquer Israel, their motive was impure. Part of their motive was for evil. And so, He was even more angry with these Gentile nations.

GOD recognised the evil in the nations who conquered Israel and they would not have their reward.

So we today must discern our motive

Today, why are we following Jesus? Is it out of fear? Yet perfect love casts out fear. Fear is unnecessary.

Why are we following Jesus? Out of duty? 

Why are we following Jesus? Because He’s True?

We need not be afraid

When we look through scripture, we see how devoted GOD is to Israel, in spite of her sin.

Inevitably, the people of Israel are brought back to the land Israel, as promised in Zechariah 1,

“I am returning to Jerusalem with mercy;
My house shall be built in it,” says the Lord of hosts,
“And a surveyor’s line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem.” (Zechariah 1:16)

So, that temple later is rebuilt…. and in 1948, that nation is reborn. GOD keeps His promises.

And we who are In Christ

We who have Jesus and abide through the Holy Spirit, have no excuse or reason to disobey, to frustrate the plans and purposes for our individual lives nor as the Church. Just as we see GOD keep His promises to the nation of Israel even though they are disobedient, we also can trust He provides for us and protects us. We need not fear… nor disobey, but must allow ourselves to surrender fully to Him so His work can be achieved in and through us as is His intention and desire.

Let our Light Shine

Matthew 5:16 say, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Let us not grow weary nor disobey His voice when He speaks to us. Let us not take lightly the following of His will and His timing. Let us not frustrate the will of GOD but let us shine brightly, so that others can see the path and follow it.

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GOD'S STORY

GOD’S STORY pt 44: Evil entices Eve

Evil entices Eve?

“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

“And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” (Genesis 3:1-3)

The cunning serpent engaged with Eve and asked her a question. Innocent Eve engaged with him by answering. She shared her heart; he was keen to capture her heart. Motivation is key to what is good and what is evil.

Satan wanted to entrap Eve. Eve was Adam’s helper, and so it is reasonable to conclude that she wanted to help him. But she got distracted.

Let us not get distracted

Eve said she couldn’t even touch the fruit! This was an exaggeration. Rather than thinking it was a lie, I reckon Eve believed what she said: if she touched that fruit, she would die!

When Satan heard her exaggeration, and saw her intensity, he used it against her. He sowed doubt.

Genesis 3:4-5 says, “Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

I wonder that his voice wasn’t soothing (manipulative) and calm, stroking her with words that would entice her with his false gentleness in contrast to GOD’s awesome and frightening power.

Remember, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) tells us we are made to fear GOD. 

Don’t touch!

Perhaps Eve touched the fruit. It’s logical to imagine that she looked, and touched it to test the danger. Then, when she didn’t die, perhaps she concluded the perceived threat was unfounded. 

When Eve “saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6)

Eve got distracted, thought and doubted the danger. Then in her attempt to be helpful, she put Adam first before GOD, inviting him to eat. 

The consequence of this was absolute mayhem!

The cunning serpent, who’s motive was to destroy GOD’s Creation, distracted Eve from her calling to help her husband and enticed her to doubt GOD. Eve, desiring to be helpful to Adam, tested GOD’s word and found it wanting. She chose to follow the voice of the serpent and her own inner desire, rather than to trust GOD’s warning.

Adam’s fall

Satan engaged with Eve; he set her up. Adam was present and allowed her to be deceived. He observed, he took the fruit and ate as she had eaten. 

What was his motivation? I think Adam didn’t want to lose Eve. Just as she prioritised Adam over GOD, so did Adam put Eve first rather than GOD. The rest, as the cliche goes, is history.

More about Adam next week.

Blessings and prayers for ourselves… Let’s keep ourselves on the mission the LORD has given us, without getting distracted from our major task which is to love and obey the Father of Life.

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GOD'S STORY

GOD’S STORY pt 28 What is Blessing?

“Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.“ (Genesis 2:3)

GOD blessed the 7th day. 

What is blessing? 

GOD made a covenant with Abraham. A covenant is more than a commitment or promise. It runs so deep — like a marriage GOD makes an everlasting promise to Abraham…

Genesis 17:4-7 reads, “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.” Read further into the chapter to grasp the entire promise GOD made with Abraham. 

Everything that Abraham might do would be blessed. His family from generation to generation would be blessed. Those who would bless him and his people the Hebrews would also be blessed. 

A blessing is an undeserved favour, a gift, a talent, a free pass to rest and comfort and peace.

GOD blessed the 7th day, making it holy and a blessing to man.

Preparing the Bride for GOD’s Story

How do we prepare as the Bride of Christ? One aspect is to learn GOD’S STORY. He created us in His image…. Piece by piece, and peace by peace, we learn to walk as He has walked. And we learn His perspective. 

What is the Lord’s Day

As far as we Gentiles understand, Jesus rose on “Sunday” and so, although Sabbath was declared by the LORD in the Wilderness as the 7th day ie “Saturday” (based on scripture and the Hebrew equivalent), the established Church moved the official Christian day of worship from Saturday to Sunday during the 4th Century.

I can’t help wondering, when we moved the day of worship to the 1st day of the week, what is the blessing of the Sabbath day that we are missing?

From GOD’s perspective, He called one day to be holy, a day of rest, a Sabbath. That was the 7th Day and no one disputes that is what we call “Saturday” The Jews keep their Sabbath as Saturday even to this day. But the established Christian church, by-and-large throughout the world, is not keeping that 7th Day holy. 

Are you aware the day of worship was moved from Saturday to Sunday? We can worship seven days a week, and that is grand! But it might be rare amongst Christians to be aware that The Lord’s Day is not the same day as the Sabbath day. When we worship at church on a Sunday that is not GOD’s Sabbath day.

Chosen because it was the day of Jesus’ resurrection, were we called to change our day of worship and rest? 

GOD’s Sabbath Day

What does GOD make clear to those who hold onto the Sabbath — His chosen Sabbath — and make it a holy day?

In Deuteronomy 7:12-16 GOD says, 

“Then it shall come to pass, because you listen to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers. And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall not be a male or female barren among you or among your livestock. And the Lord will take away from you all sickness, and will afflict you with none of the terrible diseases of Egypt which you have known, but will lay them on all those who hate you. Also you shall destroy all the peoples whom the Lord your God delivers over to you; your eye shall have no pity on them; nor shall you serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you…..”

And Deuteronomy 11:9, 14 reads,

“… and that you may prolong your days in the land which the Lord swore to give your fathers, to them and their descendants, ‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’” & “… then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil.”

Deuteronomy 28:1 is the culmination:

“Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth.”

GOD offers abundance, prosperity, blessing, victory. peace.

Finally, we know GOD asks for obedience over sacrifice. All the sacrifices in the world are nothing to Him compared to an act of obedience. As it says in 1 Samuel 15:22, 

“So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.”

And so the challenge

I challenge us all to make Saturday our personal Sabbath to the LORD. 

When we obey we’ll learn His perspective and gain His wisdom. We don’t do it for the blessing but out of obedience. And we allow Him to respond as He will.

Categories
Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Stillness with GOD

Doing v Being

Too often we are pulled here and there as to what to “do” but Jesus has taught us that we are to “be”.

The more we try to do, the less there is of us to simply be. Are we like Martha, who strives to organise and prepare and do all that is needed? Or like Mary, who took the better place as Jesus’ feet.

Yes, as James has written, “Faith without works is dead”; but yet we must be still, because running around in our own strength is pretty much fruitless.

Why stillness

Out of the stillness we discover ourselves and in the discovery, our being will allow our doing to flow.

Allow GOD to wrap you in His arms, hold you in His grasp, keep you under His protection. Then, eventually, our being will flow toward our doing and we shall express our Call.

More of GOD means less of me. But that takes time: to empty and to only then to fill; to be and only then to do; to rest and only then to move.

More of GOD means we rest, then discover, and finally we express our rebirth through word and action.

I believe much of our destiny is wrapped in how we deal with stillness and our developing of a habit to listen with the LORD. Recently I was encouraging someone to listen to their heart before making a decision. I suggested they not pay attention to what they wanted (their will), nor how they felt (their emotions), nor what they thought they might do (their mind), but rather to be still, to listen and to seek to hear their heart…. it is here that we can find GOD’s voice.

GOD’s rest

“…. They shall (not) enter my rest” GOD has said (Hebrews 4:3). There are so many levels and much to dig to understand that phrase, but at a simple level, what does the LORD mean? What is His rest, and how do we enter into it?

GOD’s rest is…

Obedience, surrender, communion, peace with the LORD — these are aspects of GOD’s rest. There is much about the Sabbath entwined in this phrase, but that is for another time to discuss.

For now, simply let us extend our time and our

Doing v Being

Too often we are pulled here and there as to what to “do” but Jesus has taught us that we are to “be”.

The more we try to do, the less there is of us to simply be. Are we like Martha, who strives to organise and prepare and do all that is needed? Or like Mary, who took the better place as Jesus’ feet.

Yes, as James has written, “Faith without works is dead”; but yet we must be still, because running around in our own strength is pretty much fruitless.

Why stillness

Out of the stillness we discover ourselves and in the discovery, our being will allow our doing to flow.

Allow GOD to wrap you in His arms, hold you in His grasp, keep you under His protection. Then, eventually, our being will flow toward our doing and we shall express our Call.

More of GOD means less of me. But that takes time: to empty and to only then to fill; to be and only then to do; to rest and only then to move.

More of GOD means we rest, then discover, and finally we express our rebirth through word and action.

I believe much of our destiny is wrapped in how we deal with stillness and our developing of a habit to listen with the LORD. Recently I was encouraging someone to listen to their heart before making a decision. I suggested they not pay attention to what they wanted (their will), nor how they felt (their emotions), nor what they thought they might do (their mind), but rather to be still, to listen and to seek to hear their heart…. it is here that we can find GOD’s voice.

GOD’s rest

“…. They shall (not) enter my rest” GOD has said (Hebrews 4:3). There are so many levels and much to dig to understand that phrase, but at a simple level, what does the LORD mean? What is His rest, and how do we enter into it?

GOD’s rest is…

Obedience, surrender, communion, peace with the LORD — these are aspects of GOD’s rest. There is much about the Sabbath entwined in this phrase, but that is for another time to discuss.

For now, simply let us extend our time and our stillness with GOD, to ponder any scripture, to develop our submission, our following of Him: our rest in Him. Then, from that place of rest in GOD we can fulfil His will, our destiny in this world.

with GOD, to ponder any scripture, to develop our submission, our following of Him: our rest in Him. Then, from that place of rest in GOD we can fulfil His will, our destiny in this world.

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Reflections and Poetry

It’s tough to obey

“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.” (2 Cor 13:5)

It’s difficult to obey

At least it is for me. Oh, I want to… but it’s difficult to live the surrendered life, every moment of every day. But it’s what I’m called to do.

Even Paul struggled. ‘I don’t do what I want to do…’

“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” (Romans 7:15)

I think I used to use that scripture as an excuse. If Paul struggled then who am I to overcome? This helped me so that I wouldn’t get too down on myself. But to continue to use it would be an excuse, because I now know that he who is in me gives me the power to overcome, if I really want to.

Disobedience holds no charm for me anymore. And as I become better able to hear the spirit within me, I know the way to take. But sometimes I still cling on to my way… my way to organise my time, my way to organise my paperwork, my way to organise. And this is the root of the problem: my way is inefficient, my way is limited, my way is not the best way.

Do you struggle too?

I’m improving. It sometimes takes days now to rebel. And there is no joy or satisfaction in the result when I do. Instead, I want to sit at Jesus’ feet as Mary did… choosing the better way (Luke 10).

Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus feet and heard His word…. “and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.””

But time is short; I realise I have limited lifespan and limited time before the world implodes.

I also realise I’m not as smart as I need to be, in order to accomplish what I need to accomplish. I’ve asked for 10 points more to be added to my IQ. But if I don’t surrender, it isn’t going to happen.

So common sense tells me to let the Master lead. At least he’s a just and good master. Perhaps I don’t need any more brain cells to recognise the only sensible way forward is to surrender and obey.

My prayer

I pray first for greater self-discipline, to wait on Him and do as he leads… ‘no more, no less’… is my prayer.

“Heaven help me!” I cry, as the expression goes.

“Father, Master of the Universe, give me the self-discipline to see this through: to wait on you, to follow your lead, and to love. Amen.”