Friday, 17 November 2017

Light the Red Candle ~ Ganeida.

For a greater understanding of covenant you are referred here, though we will be looking @ this story again when we come to the Abramic covenant.

As we consider Hannukah please remember the idea behind the festivals is not new revelation ~ though we may receive that~ it is to remember.

We sing:
Though the world sees and soon forgets
We will not forget who you are and what you've done for us
what you've done for us [Jesus Culture]

We remind ourselves what God has done for us!

These are the things I would like to remind you of before we begin:

·      In each instance it is God making the covenant & He says: I am the LORD, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed. Malachai 3:6

·      Covenants are legal contracts & as such are absolutely binding.  Once entered into they cannot be altered or changed in any way. Who has done such mighty deeds, summoning each new generation from the beginning of time? It is I, the LORD, the First and the Last. I alone am he.  Isaiah 41:4

·      The end purpose of all God’s covenants is restoration For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God's curse. But with eager hope the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay. Romans 8:19~21

·      Each & every covenant is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:20 For all of God's promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding "Yes!" And through Christ, our "Amen" (which means "Yes") ascends to God for His glory.

And so we light our first candle. Red.  The covenant with Adam. The Light is separated from the darkness.

Genesis says that God created the heavens & the earth & the earth was chaotic, dark, empty. Then God said, Let there be light… Isn’t that interesting? 1 John 1:5 says: This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. God brings light: the light of revelation; the light of wisdom; the light of salvation. Remember, we have studied the Hebrew of the opening sentence of Genesis & understand that the cross was laid @ the very foundation of the world ~ something the New Testament reminds us of in Revelation 13:8.

In this world God planted the garden we call Eden & He created a custodian to look after this garden. Note Adam was placed in the garden to tend & care for it but his mandate from God was to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth & govern it: shomer, someone entrusted with the custody & care of another’s possession, so he was meant to do this from the garden but something went wrong. He & Eve sinned.

Sin has consequences. By sin death came into the world, both physical death & spiritual death. It cost them a life where everything was provided for them.  It cost them marital harmony. It cost them ease of childbirth & sibling harmony but in amongst it all is the promise: I will cause hostility between you & the woman & between your offspring & her offspring. He will strike your head & you shall strike his heel. We know from Genesis 1:1 & from Revelation [13:8] restoration was already provided for but now God has spoken it forth. Here begins the epic battle between God & satan for the possession of man’s soul.

As Numbers 23:19 reminds us:
God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?
Adam died without seeing the promise fulfilled.

The world carried on & the seed of sin grew until God flooded the earth but God did not forget His promise. There is a short account in Numbers 21:4~9.

The Israelites have come out of Egypt & have been wandering around in the wilderness for some time & they’ve had a gut~ful. They complained long & loud ~ against Moses.  Against God: There’s nothing to eat!  There’s nothing to drink.  We hate manna! They were very ungrateful. They got poisonous snakes for their trouble.  Many were bitten & died.

They came to Moses & confessed their sin & God instructed Moses to make a bronze snake & hang it on a pole so that all who looked upon it would be healed.

Have you ever tried to hang a snake on a pole? I tell you, it can’t be done.  My sons were notorious for bringing me dead snakes, occasionally live ones, & snakes are slithery, slippery creatures that slide off sticks! However, if you put a cross piece on your pole you can drape your snake with some hope he’ll stay put. Or you can nail your snake to a pole.  Either way it is a picture of sin being nailed to the cross, of Christ bearing our iniquities & bringing our healing. I believe this is what Moses did because John 3:14 tells us: And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up

The promise came to fruition in another garden, on another tree & satan was defeated.

John 1:3~ 5 God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
From the moment God first spoke into creation He dissipated darkness & brought light because all darkness is, is the absence of light.

Scripture contains greater & greater revelation of the nature & character of God until He reveals Himself in the person of Jesus Christ who enjoins us to:
Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light." After saying these things, Jesus went away and was hidden from them. John 12:36

This is the first promise, the promise of restoration.  It was made to the first woman. At that point @ which she bit into the fruit of the knowledge of good & evil, God’s glory departed.  Without God we stand naked & ashamed & the only clothing that can cover our shame & nakedness is the clothing God Himself provides.  Adam & Eve were provided with skins but Jesus clothes us with His own righteousness.

Up until the moment they sinned Adam & Eve had not known pain, or want, sickness or death. All is provided in Jesus Christ.  As the children of Israel were commanded to look upon the bronze snake & be healed, we look to the one God lifted up, in whom all the promises are yes & amen.

There is a beautiful symmetry to everything God does. As the tree brought a curse through Eve so were those who were hung on a tree cursed

…the body must not remain hanging from the tree overnight. You must bury the body that same day, for anyone who is hung is cursed in the sight of God. In this way, you will prevent the defilement of the land the LORD your God is giving you as your special possession.  Deuteronomy 21:23

That is no longer so because Jesus took it all upon Himself: the curse of the land, the curse of sin, the curse upon mankind. 

Colossians 1:19~20
For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ's blood on the cross.

All we have to do is reach out & claim it.
This promise is fulfilled for satan was defeated on the cross but we are still waiting the completion of the promise when satan is removed completely from his position of usurpation of those God chose to govern & the governance of the earth will be returned to us. Revelation 5:10

We have been promised so much.  It can be difficult to hold it all in remembrance but God doesn’t have our problem. He doesn’t forget.

Psalm 89:34
My covenant I will not violate, Nor will I alter the utterance of My lips.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Jesus, Light of the World. ~ Ganeida

The Jacarandas are blooming. Our roads are strewn with purple blossoms.  They are a sign that summer is nearly here & Christmas is coming. We know how to look about us & understand the weather but Jesus said: You fools! You know how to interpret the weather signs of the earth and sky, but you don't know how to interpret the present times. Luke 12:56
The sad part about that is that God has given us everything we need to interpret the times we are living in. One of the reasons we have so much difficulty is because we have allowed satan to cut the church off from its root for Paul tells us in Romans 11:18 …You do not support the root, but the root supports you…. & that root is Judaism.

Again in Romans 3:6 we are told
And this is God's plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God's children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.

The Christian Church began as a sect of Judaism & as such, for many years, followed the religious practises of the Jews ~ as did our Lord & saviour, Jesus Christ.

Now we are not Jews & Jesus was very clear: "Don't misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. Matthew 5:17

Jesus accomplished the purpose of the Law & because He kept it perfectly we are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. Romans 3:22

2Timothy 3:16 tells us All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right… and yet the church has traded the scriptures for paganism.

You are right to ask: What does it matter whether we called it Easter or Pascha? Whether we celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah?  It is a good question but not the right one, therefore I do not wish to talk about that question in this discussion.  What I would like to address is what we lose when we forget our root.

We will start in Genesis 1:14.
Then God said, "Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days, and years.
Seasons  is the Hebrew word moed. It means appointed times [by invitation]. These became the appointed Feasts of Israel when they came apart from the everyday to spend time with God.

The moed work on 3 levels:
·      The 1st is the literal event whether it is Passover or the harvest or Esther approaching a king on behalf of her people.

·      The 2nd is the remembrance of the event & its celebration.

·      The 3rd is the prophetic prediction & fulfilment of the moed in the person of Jesus Christ.

Each celebration is a precursor & revelation of Jesus Christ.  We have looked @ this in detail when we have celebrated Passover & we have studied Sukkot & Hanukkah before but in the weeks leading into Christmas/Hanukkah I would like to study Hanukkah in more detail.

John 10:22
It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication.

Immediately we have a wonderful picture of God’s redemptive Love.  Here is Jesus *the Light of the World* walking in the place dedicated to the Living God during Hanukkah.  Hanukkah is also known as the *Festival of Lights*.  From a Christian standpoint Hanukkah is all about Jesus, & Jesus as the Light of the World.

When Jesus declares He is the Light of the World the Greek word used is phōs ~ & yes, it can be translated light [John 8:12] .  It could also be translated radiance for Hebrew 1:3 declares

The Son radiates God's own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honour at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.

Here the Greek word used is apaugasma . This compound word comes from apo (from) and augazo (to shine forth, to beam upon).  But the Greek noun disguises a Hebrew verb – kavah – to burn. [Skip Moen]

Now we have been educated along Grecian lines so our mind set is Grecian & we will read  something like Hebrews 1:3 & immediately put it in the past tense so that it becomes static, a done deal, but that would not be true to the text because, as Paul tells us, He was a Hebrew of Hebrews. [Philippians 3:5] Thus he had a Hebrew mindset & in Ancient Hebrew there is no such thing as a static verb.  Hebrew verbs always include the idea of movement. Thus when Paul uses the verb apaugasma he is not thinking of radiance as being an attribute of Jesus. Jesus does not shine.  Rather Paul is thinking of it as an action of Jesus.  His radiance, His burning, is thus an ongoing action that is continually purifying us ~ because that is the idea of the burnt sacrifice, to purify that which is impure.

This idea is sustained further along in the passage for the word katharismos [purification] refers to ceremonial cleansing. The blood cleans us but it is Jesus who makes us righteous. [1 Corinthians 1:30]

Nothing is static in God’s kingdom.  It is either growing or it is decaying ~ & so are we.

Although Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday celebrating the rededication of the temple after its desecration by Antiochus Epimane in 168 BC, its symbols [oil & light] are uniquely Christian. Christians do not celebrate hannukah the same way Jews do for we are looking particularly @ the prophetic & it's fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

The hanukkiyah is the special 9 branched menorah used at Hanukkah. The middle candle is called the shammash, or servant candle & it lights all the others. The shammash represents Jesus, who left His glory & came as a servant according to Mark 10:45  “…For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Now the menorahs were originally oil lamps & oil, always, everywhere in scripture, signifies the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Kings were anointed with oil.  Priests were dedicated with oil.  Prophets were anointed with oil to proclaim the word of God. Jesus title, Messiah, means anointed.

What is interesting about the candles is that once lit they become active.  They burn. Thus we are reminded of Christ’s radiance, His purifying power, that He is the light of the world & those who follow Him won’t have to walk in spiritual darkness… [John 8:12]

But there are 8 other candles!  Traditionally each candle is a different colour & here again we have a wonderful manifestation of our amazing God & how He saw the end from the beginning & how all things are unified in Christ!

There are 7 colours in a rainbow & when combined those seven colours produce a clear white light.  It is only when light is fractured that we see the other colours. Each of those colours represents a covenant God made with mankind & each covenant reveals some aspect of Jesus, & throws open more revelation of the person & nature of God.

Red: The covenant with Adam . Genesis 3:14~17 all about God’s provision of light & its purposes is read.

Orange. The covenant with Noah [Genesis 9:9~17]

Yellow.  The covenant with Abraham[ Genesis 12:3~7 & Genesis 17:1~8] symbolised by the stars ~ more light!

Green. The covenant with Moses. [Exodus 24]

Blue. The covenant with David [2 Samuel 7:8~16]

Indigo. The covenant of Redemption [[Matthew 26:26~29]

Violet. The covenant of Peace Revelation 21:1~4; 16~21

White: the Bridal Covenant [John 14:1~3; Revelation 19:6~9]

From the moment Adam & Eve fell into sin in the garden there has been ongoing revelation from God to bring people back into right relation with Him, culminating in the Bridal Feast of the Lamb. When we celebrate Hanukkah we remember, step by step, this ongoing revelation. We see Jesus, the promised redeemer, already prepared, in Genesis, in the giving of the Law hidden in the meaning of Torah [Behold, son of God, nailed to a cross], in the promise to David of an everlasting kingdom, & into the New Testament & the glorious, triumphant return of Christ to claim His bride!

Compare that to a Christmas add presently showing where a small child calls it *Santa’s Day*. You see, satan has been able to meddle with everything the church has borrowed from the culture around it because it was his first, but the things God has ordained he cannot touch.

Now I am not saying you shouldn’t celebrate Christmas.  That is not it at all for Romans 14:15~16 says In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honour him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honour the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God.

What I am saying is that the Holy days ordained by God Himself are His personal invitation to come & spend time with Him & receive greater revelation. I am sure it is possible to celebrate these days as a secular Jew.  I do not believe it is possible to celebrate them as a secular Christian, firstly because to celebrate is to run counter to the culture around us & thus must be very intentional.  Its very intentionality means a greater awareness of what we are celebrating & why.

Secondly there are no mixed symbols. Christmas trees, yule logs, even present giving, have their roots in paganism & though most Christians have long since forgotten the origins, here we have a representation of the *two materials* metaphor [Leveticus 19:19], a mixing of the holy & the profane.

Thirdly, there is a subtle trap in Christmas that is not in Hanukkah. When our focus is on a baby in a crib it is too easy to forget, why He came, what He came to do, how He suffered for us, the price He paid & that He will return.  All of that is in Hanukkah.  God does not let us forget the big picture.

So as we move through this season, however we choose to celebrate it, I will be taking you briefly through the covenants & reminding you that that baby in His crib is still the Lord of Lords & King of Kings who is returning in all His burning radiance, not as redeemer but as judge & conqueror.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Thinking like God Thinks ~ Rabqa

This what God says in Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear? We find these incredible thoughts of God in His Word. What God thinks & what He says are exactly the same.

Jesus said His words would never disappear they are eternal. If Jesus was standing in front of you speaking, you would not get anything except the Word of God. Jesus & His Word are the same yesterday, today & forever.

We need to renew our minds to the Word of God. We do this by absorbing the Scriptures, so we get into us what God thinks about situations. What does He say about fear? About sickness? About lack? About the abundant life He wants us to live? When we hear what God says, we can start to say the same, & that brings our thoughts in line with His.

The Bible is the greatest faith book, the greatest health book, the greatest prosperity book, the greatest miracle book, ever written. Whatever we need it is there. It contains God’s answers for any problem we face~answers to fear, discouragement, depression, failure, inferiority & much, much more.

The apostle Paul says in Colossians 3:16 NKJ) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly If you let the Word have its home in your heart & mind, it will give you insight & intelligence & wisdom. Let God’s Word dwell in you richly, then you will see the difference in your life!

We must give the Word first place in our lives, whether it is in our homes, our marriage or at work. Let God & His Word be our soul’s vital necessity.

When we get the Word of God into our mind, it starts to play on the T.V screen of our heart. It becomes real to us that the picture rises up on the inside to dominate the flesh & overtake our life. The Bible is the T.V guide we use to tune in to the channels where God’s answers for our needs are~our T.V guide for relationships, for healing, for finances, for marriage & family, for every area of
life. It is through the Word of God that we seek God’s face & know His ways.

God’s Words are living & powerful, but they don’t get into us automatically. We have to do something to take hold of them in Proverbs 4:20, a father gives his child some important advice: My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words.

This Father is passing on wisdom to his child, but the child has to do something to receive it. He has to listen & to pay attention to it.

God our heavenly Father says the same thing to us. He says listen to My words~don’t ignore them. Listen to them, take them in, agree with them, do them for verse 22 says for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body.

The best way to listen to the Word of God is to hear yourself say it that is to speak it out aloud. This is a fundamental principal of faith

Rom 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. When we hear the word of life coming from our own mouths, the Holy Spirit will use them to reprogram our minds & reshape our heart.

Faith grows by hearing the Word of God constantly. The quickest way to grow in faith is to hear yourself saying the Word, meditating on it, muttering it & affirming it. Scriptural meditation is simply saying & thinking what God says. A bit like a cow chewing its cud, you go over it, ponder it, think about, it speak it, again & again...until it gets down into your spirit & The Holy Spirit gives you personal revelation of its truth.

James talks about the power of words, he says our tongue is like the rudder of a ship. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. 5 In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.

These verses teach us about the power of the tongue. There is power in the tongue indeed, for good or evil. We can bless ourselves or curse ourselves by the way we speak. When we bless, we speak well of; When we curse we speak evil of. By the words we are the pilots of our lives, & we have the power to direct our course by the things we say. We need to set our mouth in the right direction. What we say is the key that opens the door to our lives.

Our faith will be no higher than our words, what we speak is what we become. What we saturate ourselves with, whether words of life or words of death will shape what we become.

So say what God says about you. Not what the world is saying. Not what the television or the newspapers are saying. Not what your spouse or your bosses are saying. & not what your own subconscious habits are saying. Listen to God’s words, & give attention to your own words by speaking God’s words. Renewing your mind is not just about what you say, of course. It’s also about what you believe in your heart.

1 Cor 9:25 AMP)Now every athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately and restricts himself in all things. They do it to win a wreath that will soon wither, but we [do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness] that cannot wither.

Those of us who intend to run the race to win must conduct ourselves temperately & restrict ourselves in all things. We cannot expect someone else to make us do what is right. We must listen to the Holy Spirit & take action ourselves.

Paul said in verse 27 he buffeted his body. He means that he disciplined it because he did not want to preach to others, tell them what they should do & fail to do it himself. Paul was running the race to win! He knew he could not develop his potential without bringing his body, mind & emotions under control.

Self discipline is essential to the Christian life. Unless we discipline our minds, mouths & our emotions, we will live in ruin. Unless we learn to rule our tempers, we can never achieve the success that rightfully belongs to us.

God wants us to train our minds like athletes in training to be champions. Champions are not born; they are developed. It is hard work & it is not easy.

Renewing the mind involves disciplining both what we choose to say & what we choose to think. We discipline our mouths by refusing to speak negatively & instead speak the Word of God & things that line up with His Word. We discipline our minds by refusing to follow unhealthy thoughts patterns & focusing on the good things of God.

Like an athlete who trains consistently, our strength, skill & effectiveness increases as we go on. On the other hand, like an athlete who slackens off training & goes on a junk food binge, if we slacken off compromise this discipline, we will go backwards.

Our faith muscles need to be strong~we need to be fit in the spirit. It is no different to someone going to the gym to lift weights; they start out with small weights then add more & more. Each time they lift the weights there is repetition after repetition that is going over the same thing. Over time muscle develops.

It is just the same with speaking & thinking on the Word of God. You practise it, you train with it, you repeat it again & again, & over time the muscles of your mind & spirit become strong.

Dr Margaret Court gives an example from her own life: In the late 1970s she went through a serious depression. She had a torn heart valve & was wrecked with an inferiority & guilt; she was obsessed with examining her past for sins to confess. She had a busy life as a mum with four children under eight, & in addition they had significant financial problems.

The fear she felt was horrific. Morning would come & she wished it was night & visa Aversa She felt in her spirit she could see roaring lions & other vicious animals about to eat her.

As a result of this she suffered terrible insomnia. Every night she would climb into bed only to get up again to get a glass of wine & take a sleeping tablet. She was convinced she would never sleep without them. But there is a history of alcoholism in her family, & she was in serious danger. This war went on inside her night after night.

In 1982 she started attending Bible College & encountered teaching about the power of God’s Word & started to say scriptures like 2 Tim 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. & Rom 5:17 For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.
We learn in 2 Tim 1:7 that timidity is the same as fear, which is not from God & that God gives us power, love & self discipline, a calm & well balanced mind.

I am going to tell you a little secret fear will never stop coming against us. We must learn to do what God tells us to do whether we feel fear or not. We must do it afraid if necessary, but that is what courage does; it feels the fear & does it any way!

I always used to think if I felt fear I was a coward, but I have learnt when God told Joshua repeatedly to fear not (Jos 1:9; 10:8), He let him know that fear was going to attack him, but that he must walk in obedience to what God spoke.

We are not cowards if we feel fear. We are cowards only if we let fear rule our decisions.

Fear is a spirit that produces physical & emotional systems. When fear attacks us, we may feel shaky & weak or find ourselves sweating. It may take everything we can muster just to speak or move. None of that means we are cowards. The Word of God does not say “sweat not, shake not or tremble not: The Word says many times “fear not.”The way to conquer fear is to press on through it & get to
the other side of it~the side of freedom, which is the side of power.

What do you believe about yourself? Do you believe you must have approval from others in order to be happy? If so you will never be happy when anyone disapproves of you. Do you believe you are always wrong? If you do you will continue to produce wrong behaviour. Your life will bear fruit on the outside of what you believe about yourself on the inside.

God wants us to behave correctly, so He gives us what we need in order to that. God never requires us to do something without giving us what we need to do it. God gives us the gift of righteousness so we can become righteous in what we think, say & do! Although we sin, God’s free gift of righteousness cannot even be compared to our sin. Our sin is great but His free gift of righteousness is greater. Our sin is swallowed up in His righteousness. Our righteousness is not found in what people think of us, it is found in Christ.

Let that truth sink into your heart & mind. Jesus Christ is your righteousness. You are righteous in Him, & because of that God is pleased with you.

Make declarations based on Scripture, such as I am delivered from all evils & lust of the world; they have no hold over me. Alcohol, you have no hold over my life. Margaret (Court) said the temptation to drink to help her to sleep continued for about two months. Then it was like a light bulb went off inside of her. The Word became revelation, & one day she went to get a drink & it tasted dreadful. It had no hold anymore. & she hasn’t had a drink since that day.

2 Cor 4:18 so we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

When you face difficult times, tell yourself that it cannot last forever, this too shall pass.

You can probably look back at your life & see many difficult times you endured even though you thought at the time I can’t stand this for another day. The devil probably tempted you every five minutes to believe the trial was going to last forever.

As you consider how many times you have already made it to the other side of pain, you can be
confident you will make it again through Christ who strengthens you (Phil 4:13). & on the other side of trials, you will see how God turned those experiences into good for your life (Rom 8:28).

If you have had a problem for more than six months, you probably feel as though your problem has lasted for an eternity. But our years on earth are only a little drop of nothing compared to forever. Paul said in 2 Cor 4:17-18 that the season of trials pass, but Paul learnt to keep his eyes on the prize of heaven & trusted God to prepare him so that God’s glory was revealed through his life.

When you are tempted to become discontented, remember: “This too shall pass” Your afflictions are light & momentary from the perspective of eternity. No matter how bad your current situation may look. God loves you. Never let go of the truth that God loves you, no matter what happens in your life. You can trust that everything will work out because of His great love for you.

You may be wondering why does the Word of God have this kind of power, it is because the Word applied by the Holy Spirit to your life, brings your natural life into line with the spiritual realm. By speaking it & attending to it you are connecting with the spiritual realm & calling things from that
realm into your natural life. In other words you bring the seen into the unseen.

The spiritual is more real than the natural. In the spiritual side of us that is connected with God. The flesh dominates most people, but not the child of God who is walking by the Spirit. God wants our soul to line up with our new spirit, & when soul & spirit line up, it keeps the flesh in line.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam & Eve rebelled against God. At that point the human spirit died & the mind took charge. But your spirit was always ordained to rule over your mind & body. When you gave your heart to Jesus, He brought life back to your spirit man. Now, as coheirs with Christ, seated with Him in heavenly places (Eph 2:6), we are able to realign our life with the spiritual realm.

The supernatural flows through us when we take time to meditate on the Word of God & build ourselves up in the Holy Spirit by prayer. We are supernatural people. We are just passing through this earth. Through the Word of God we bring our Words & thoughts into alignment with our identity as God’s children. As our words frame this new reality, they ignite within us & drive out the things that have hold on us.

In other words we bring the unseen into the seen. According to 2 Corinthians 4:18, the realities of the world that we can see are temporal that is they are temporary & subject to change. The things we can’t see, the realities of God & the spiritual realm, are eternal & unchanging. When you renew your mind to the Word of God, you can start to draw those unseen eternal realities into the seen.

Our faith doesn’t move God. It realigns us with the Word of God & the Spirit of God to receive from the things of the Spirit.

Imagine a catamaran sailing on the water, which is an extremely stable kind of boat because of its two hulls. It does not heel over in the wind, & even if it lifts up on one side, the captain has control of the rudder, pushing the boat through the winds & the water.

The words of our mouth & the thoughts of our minds are like the two hulls of the catamaran. As we bring them both into line with the Word of God they stabilise our life.

You are the captain of your boat: the master of your mouth, your thoughts & your heart. As long as you control what you allow onto your vessel & as long as you keep control of the rudder~what you
say & what you think~ Philippians 4:7 says Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus
Prayer & peace are closely connected. One who entrusts cares to Christ instead of fretting over them will experience the peace of God to guard him from nagging anxiety.

In difficulties & problems, whether it is in relationships, health, character, attitude or anything else, many people will turn to drugs alcohol, cigarettes & all sorts of other things because they think it will bring stability or soundness to their life. They look for peace in all the wrong places~New Age practices, Eastern meditation, fortune telling & palm reading. They listen to all kinds of false prophets’ hoping they will pick up clues about the meaning of their lives & the shape of their future.

We have the greatest prophet living inside of us that is the Spirit of Jesus. It is knowledge of Him that we experience peace.

2 Peter 1:2 May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.

The opening phrase matches the greeting in 1 Peter 1:2. Knowledge is an important term in this letter (See 1:3,8; 2:20) The strengthened form of the Greek word epignosis indicates religious or moral insight, as used in the New Testament for other uses of knowledge gnosis (See 1:5,6; 3:18). The frequent references maybe an effort to combat a form of Gnosticism, an esoteric religious philosophy, which stressed knowledge as the way to God. Peter’s message is that true knowledge is found in God of Christ & the scriptures.

Allow the Word of God to be the stabiliser in your life. It will take you through whatever you are going through by the power of the Holy Spirit

Acknowledgments: Dr Margaret Court

Thursday, 2 November 2017

The problem with Gomer. ~ Ganeida

Sow for yourselves righteousness,
       reap the fruit of unfailing love,
       and break up your unplowed ground;
       for it is time to seek the Lord,
       until he comes and showers righteousness on you. Hosea 10:12

Gomer.  Mention Gomer & you probably immediately think, "Oh yes, Hosea's harlot."  And everybody is so busy knowing all about Hosea acting out Israel's apostasy in his marriage they completely miss the point. I mean, it's a great story, isn't it?  We all know it ~ or think we do; the man of God allying himself to a strumpet & thundering at Israel.  And we leave it at the church door with the biscuit crumbs & used tea bags. But the story of Gomer & Hosea is more than an old testament story that has no relevance for us because all of scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness [2Timothy3:15~17]

Now I guess you know where I'm going to start.  Sorry people but this really needs to be put in context because without the context you may miss the slow slide into apostasy that brought about Israel's downfall & which has such frightening parallels for our own age.  Besides I do so love history!

Hosea ministered to the Northern Kingdom of Israel in the last decades of its existence during the 8th century, somewhere between 750 BC & 722 BC, Israel having divided into 2 kingdoms after the death of Solomon under the rule of his son Rehoboam.  Rehoboam ruled the old kingdom of Judah.  Jeroboam ruled the new kingdom of Israel but there was a problem.  Jerusalem lay in the old kingdom & the Israelites were obligated to go  down to Jerusalem for the great feasts.  You can imagine, I'm sure, Jeroboam's paranoia & insecurity at having most of his subjects packing up to trek down to Jerusalem several times a year, so Jeroboam devised a solution ~ & not one that pleased God .  Enter in the worship of Baal ~ again!

Now under Jeroboam's rule Israel flourished.  It was a powerful military state with considerable wealth [remember the Queen of Sheba travelled to see Solomon in all his glory & marvelled at it & Israel was still experiencing God's favour].  It influenced International affairs.  However it was in internal disorder & with Jeroboam's death in 746 BC it erupted into civil war.  Over the next 10 years Israel was ruled by 5 different kings with tenuous claims to the throne.  Some only ruled for a matter of weeks, some for a few months, each successive ruler slaying the one who preceded him.  Utter chaos.  This was Hosea's world ~ & Amos' ~ & Jeremiah & Micah's!

Into this fevered political mix add Tiglath~Pileser III, who became ruler of Assyria in 745 BC with the stated purpose of restoring the Assyrian Empire!

This was also Gomer's world & the thing to note, because it is easy to miss in translation, is that the word for prostitute is also the word for one who has offered herself to Baal in worship.  That is, she was a temple prostitute, or perhaps, more likely, an ordinary Israelite matron who had partaken of the sexual aspects of worshipping Baal ~ as so many others did.  She was not an anomaly.  She was a perfectly ordinary Israelite woman of her time who saw nothing wrong with what she was doing.  Now, having waded through a series of commentators, I know that is not everyone's viewpoint but it is mine & I will tell you why. When we come to Daniel we run up against exactly the same thing & remember I am an English major, not a theologian!  God is absolutely consistent with His symbols!  Idolatry is a particular beef of His, starting with the commandment to have no other gods but Him, working it's way to forbidding David from building the temple because not only was he a man of war, but for his sexual sin with Bathsheba, all the way into the New Testament where He declares our bodies are temples for the Holy Spirit & not to defile them!  Absolutely consistent.  If she was just a prostitute that is one thing, & she should have been stoned to death for it.  If she was a temple prostitute or one who has partaken of Baal's fertility rites, that is something else, something different & it implies far more than just the selling of her body.  It implies that she has sold herself to another god.

Now the thing with immorality is that it coarsens our sensibilities.   Abuse of love diminishes the ability to love deeply.  Over time many gentler attributes are lost & people become brazen & proud ~ & so we see with Gomer.  She is used to a variety of sexual partners & the novelty that would heighten her sexual experiences ~ & you see it all about you today.  Sex sells ~ everything from toothpaste to luxury apartments, deodorant to porches.  You see it in the trampy clothes the girls wear that are too short & too tight & highlight all their selling points ~ & make no mistake, whether they know it or not they are selling themselves in the sexual market.  You see it in the way the boys talk to the girls.  There is no respect.  Our world is very like that of 8th century Israel.  The political climate is uncertain. War lurks on the horizon. In so many churches Christianity has been compromised.  The whole face of Europe is likely to change in the next 30 years & it will become part of the wider Islamic territories.  How have we come to such a pass?  The answer is in Hosea.

As Christians, as a people who have been grafted into the root & branch of  the people of God through faith in Jesus Christ, we are in a peculiar position.  Much of what was originally directed to the Hebrew tribes also pertains to us because God does not change & His expectations & directives to His particular people are the same yesterday, today & forever.  So what Hosea has to say pertains to us, to our nations, to our churches, to our personal walks with God.

"Well", you say, "I'm not into worshipping idols".  Really?  Are you sure?  I am going to highlight some of the main themes that run through Hosea because we need to be vigilant & make sure that we ourselves are not on the wide road to destruction.

Firstly I want to point out the nature of the man who originally made these claims against Israel.  His nature tells us whether his testimony is trustworthy or not.  Hosea was a man whose walk with God was so intimate that he not only heard but clearly understood what God was saying to him.  Having heard he obeyed!  I imagine that was no easy thing given what he was asked to do.  He was asked to obey by his actions before he was called to speak out so God could speak through Hosea's life.                

Hosea is an anthology, a collection of sayings gathered together but orbiting around 2 main themes: the judgement of God & the love of God.  There are approximately 150 statements concerning Israel's sin & more than half of those deal with her idolatry though she is also upbraided for lying, murder, insincerity, ingratitude & covetousness.  The judgement of God moves inexorably from a condemnation of the Royal household, who instigated the Baal worship , to the religious leaders of the time who have failed in their responsibility as teachers, who have encouraged the apostasy & profited from it & practised the false & syncretistic rites of their times & seduced the people into the same, to the nation as a whole. 

There are consequences to this sorry state of affairs.  Hosea's first born son is named Jezreel.  Jezreel was the place recorded in 2 Kings 9~10 where the Royal House of Omi was exterminated by the House of Jehu.  It is a pronouncement of judgement on the Royal household of Israel, a warning of what is to come.  Hosea's second child, a daughter named Ruhamah [not pitied]  is a warning that God has run out of patience with His stubborn people, to the point that by the third child, Lo~Ammi [not my people] God has rejected them. 

Through Hosea God makes a pronouncement that has held true down through the ages:  My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.[4:6]  Wherever a nation has backslidden [ 4:16]  & the priests blame others while no longer being concerned with God's work [4:4] the people have become like a dove, easy to fool & stupid. [7:11]  It is frighteningly simple.  If the teachers do not teach the people become lazy & spiritually weak & flabby, unable to resist temptation when it arises, unable to tell right from wrong, unable to discern the truth, mistaking wrong for right, each doing what seems good in their own eyes.  Where there is a lack of the knowledge of God in the land a lack of faithfulness, kindness & social order follow.  Look around you today; tell me what you see.

The problem with Gomer is that she's not the point.  She never was.  We have Hosea, as the prophets tend to, ranting & raving about the people's sin & warning of the judgement to come.  If that was all then we are all without hope but there is a wonderful image in Hosea 13.  God is still telling Israel what is about to befall them & says I will meet them like a bear deprived of her cubs.  Remember God is a jealous God.  If we say we are His He has a particular & vested interest in our well being & He has all the protective instincts of an enraged mother bear who finds her cubs gone from her.  

  However harsh the pronouncements they are always done out of a spirit of love to bring God's people back into alignment with the will of God.    Yes, God loves us but His is not an easy wishy~washy love of the sort Hollywood is so good at dishing up for God is also Holy;  God is just ; God is righteous.  God loves us enough to want to grow us up, to develop our spiritual backbone & moral fibre.  He loves us enough to tell us the harsh truths. What we do with the truth is up to us.   

The Problem with Gomer ~ & it is a problem that defines so much of the church~ is that she forgot a basic biblical principle.

Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

Jesus Himself warned about this: But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander. Matthew 15:18~19

We have talked a good deal recently about our thoughts, about renewing our minds, about putting on the mind of Christ because the consequences of disobedience are subtle but sure.  We either allow God to determine our thoughts or our culture will.  Wherever we take our world view from will determine what our world view will be. Our actions will follow where our thoughts have dictated.

Scripture is a very realistic look @ fallen humanity.  It understands The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? Jeremiah 17:9

The good news is we have been freed from the clutches of sin ~ but ~ we must grasp hold of that freedom & apply it or it will do us no good at all! In this we are far better of than Gomer for we have the unmerited help of the Holy Spirit to guide us & He will guide us into all truth. [John 16:13].  In a world where truth has become *relative*, the Scriptures still stand as our guide because John says [17:17] Thy word is truth ~ Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.

I’ve said it before, I will say it again ~ & again: if you want to know the will of God, know His word.  It is never irrelevant.  It is never outdated. All of it is useful for teaching & correcting us in what is right & moral & how to relate to a world that, like Gomer, has followed after the lusts & desires of its own heart rather than seeking the things of God. 

Jesus promised us the abundant life that is found in Him: a life that is not in bondage to the things of this world, a life that walks in joy & freedom despite the heartbreak of a fallen world that does not wish to acknowledge how desperately they need its saviour!