Saturday, 23 September 2017

Laodicea ~ Ganeida

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20

Laodicea.  Last man standing.  The church of the end times. The church that received a scathing condemnation from our Lord.  The church of our times.  And what was Laodicea's great crime?  Lukewarmness.  

We in the west, with centuries of Christianity behind us, are very comfortable with our religion ~ & we don't like to be discomfited but hear what Christ says, "Behold, I stand at the door & knock!"  Spoken, not to unbelievers but to believers, believers who considered themselves spiritually mature, spiritually rich, spiritually wise.

Now it is one thing to know what the bible says.  It is another thing entirely to understand it ~ & it is a third thing altogether to see how the lessons for the Laocidean church apply to us in this present age.  And let's be blunt.  From the Laocidean point of view things looked pretty good.  They belonged to a "rich" church situated in a sophisticated, cosmopolitan city that had benefited from the trade that passed along the 3 major highways. They minted their own coinage, had their own banks.  The city was part of the Roman aqueduct system with schools in medicine & the arts & they had a thriving commerce built around the the exceptionally fine soft black wool for which it was famous throughout the Empire.

Note something else also.  Laodicea does not stand accused of any of the sins of the flesh; not adultery, not fornication, not pornography, not drunkenness nor incest.  They do not stand accused of false doctrine nor of heresy & yet this is the church of whom Christ says he will vomit them out of His mouth!  Because they have no passion.  Because they have no zeal.  Because they have no enthusiasm. This ennui, this smugness  has resulted in something far worse.  This is a church that has forgotten its first responsibility.

 You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? ... You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid... Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.[Matt. 5:13 ~ 16]

The Laodicean church is a church that has lost its savour.  Rather than teaching the world to conform to Christ, the church is conforming to the world.    Rather than separating from the world, they embrace it. They are neither out in the world evangelizing, nor are they completely separating from the world.

 The very first thing the church is, if it is anything at all, is a peculiar people set apart for the use & purpose of the Lord God.  That is the meaning of sanctification.  That is why we are told to pursue holiness.  We are vessels of the Living God.  We are temples for the Holy Spirit. We are pilgrims & sojourners.  This is not our home, not our final destination.  We are meant for something else but if we deny our high calling we are fit neither for this world nor for the world to come!  And Christ is very clear; He will spit such a people out of His mouth!  Not if, not maybe; He will do it!

Now this passage of scripture is deep & rich with symbolism so bear with me as we unravel some of the hidden secrets of this passage.

The first thing to deal with is the speaker, whom we know from earlier passages to the other 6 churches is Christ Himself.  Here He identifies Himself as the Amen, the faithful & true, the ruler of God's creation. The Jewish Talmud Shabbat 1196 renders the original meaning of amen as EL MELECK NE'EMAN, an acrostic for God is a trustworthy king.  It refers back to Isaiah 65:16 He who blesses himself shall bless himself in the God of Truth.  Christ presents himself as king & ruler ~ a king & ruler who is not very impressed with His subjects!

You say you are: [referring to spiritual riches]
Christ informs them that they are spiritually blind
.........................wretched [in bondage to sin]
.........................miserable [in need of God's mercy, mercy they will not receive]
.........................Poor [lacking in love & power]
.........................naked [a metaphor for unconfessed, unrepentant sin, usually idolatry ~ in this case the worship of man through science & humanism, as was the Greek way.]

Hear what Christ says!  Buy from me gold...white clothes...salve. Buy!  This is not *cheap grace*.  The Laocideans are told it is going to cost them ~ & cost them dearly!  They are going to have to get serious about their sin.  They are going to have to get out of their comfort zone & get serious with God.

So what exactly is Christ telling them to do?  Firstly the *gold* is the sort mentioned in 2nd Chronicles, the sort Daniel knew, the sort Christ Himself acquired, the gold of humbleness.  Now humbleness is not, biblically speaking, running round like Uriah Heep.    Humbleness is knowing we can do nothing without God & our acknowledgement of that comes in one simple way: prayer!  When we are serious about prayer we combine it with fasting.  Prayer & fasting, that is to humble ourselves.  That is to put aside our everyday selves to focus on God alone. It is sacrificial & it costs the person who practises it something in terms of time & comfort.  It indicates a commitment to their walk with God.  For a rich church like Laodicea giving alms is often a substitute for sacrificial living & requires very little of the person in terms of personal sacrifice. Not good enough!  Nowhere near good enough.  The first commandment is to love God with all we have & are. That means more than giving out of the largess that is ours from God in the first place!

The second thing that needs to be bought is white garments.  Now remember the Laocidean church is a rich church & it is in the heart of *black wool* country ~ a wool renowned throughout the empire for its exceptional softness & fineness.  Many in the Laocidean congregation would have owned garments from this fine black wool.  Bit like owning a designer dress.  They are being asked to exchange their old *designer* life for the new one, one characterised by a life governed by the Spirit, one wherein they exchange sin for righteousness.

There is yet a third thing they need to buy ~ salve for their eyes that they might see.  Laodicea had a school of medicine & produced many salves.  The one mentioned here is kollourion which was shaped like small loaves. Anoint [egkrisai ~ literally *rub in*] your eyes with the bread (of life).  The symbolism is there.  In other words fill your mind with scripture.  Keep it always before your eyes.  Meditate on it.  This is what will work through your whole body to bring sight & healing!

To this last of churches, so self deluded, so blinded they are completely unaware of their true spiritual condition, Christ says, "I stand at the door & knock..." the 2nd verb suggests a continious ongoing action because despite everything this is still a church Christ loves & thus He also disciplines it. It is there in the name.  Laocidea comes from two Greek words that, as so often happens in scripture, can have two meanings: peoples' opinions [ie a church where each one is doing what seems right in their own eyes & not what scripture deems right] & a people judged.  Says it all really.  When the church reaches this level of self delusion Christ will act to cleanse & purify it. The church brings judgement on itself.

It is no easy thing to be a member of  the Laocidean church. It is difficult to survive in a climate of spiritual apathy.  It is hard to retain your zeal & fire for the Lord when no~one else is at all enthusiastic but Christ exhorts us to be zealous & for those who overcome He promises the right to sit with Him on His throne.

 Laodicea was so self deceived they could not see their way, nor their danger.  As the end times church we are warned to read the signs of the times, to repent, to prepare, to be ready.  Christ will come.  He is hurrying to meet the bride prepared for him from before the dawn of time.

Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

This message was first published on Out of the Silence as Last Man Standing.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

The why of our Position ~ Ganeida.

As Australia confronts the Postal Vote on the so called same sex marriage
issue I want to go over some of the reasons why this church has taken the stance it has & stands with other Rhema churches advocating that marriage is meant to be between one man & one woman for life. 

We all know that the rate of divorce in the church is about the same as for outside the church so be aware I am not dealing with the facts but with God’s ideal plan & purpose.  In an ideal world these would be one & the same thing but this is a fallen world full of fallen people, therefore the ideal is just that: an ideal.  Just the same, the ideal is what we should strive for.

I am not going to run through all the verses about homosexuality.  That is a separate issue.  I am dealing with what God has said about marriage.  Besides there are enough people already yelling & screaming about homosexuality.  I don’t believe that is how Jesus approaches the issue either.  Rather He points people to God’s standard of Holiness.

Firstly I believe we need to be very clear about who we are meant to be representing.  There is something ingeniously called *the Social Gospel* which seeks to tie social issues & the gospel together.  I don’t believe it can be done without causing great harm to the cause of Christ. It clouds our thinking when we are not clear because often the cause of Christ & the cause of the world do not, & can not, run in tandem.

We have looked @ 1 Peter 2:9 before: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Holy, hagios, separate from common condition & use; dedicated…pure…righteous… Chosen, eklektos, called out…

A great deal of the Old Testament is about defining the difference between the holy & the profane so that people understood there is a difference & would recognise it when they saw it.  There is a standard God holds too. When He calls us out of darkness He makes us a new creation ~ a creation that is meant to reflect Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, not the world.  Everything that is of the world is now to be rejected. Indeed we are enjoined in Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things

Jesus Himself says: “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavour? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.
 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.  Matthew 5:13~16

Salt is a preservative.  It was used extensively in the ancient world to stop rot & decay, not just as a flavouring.  If it doesn’t do its job it isn’t good for anything. 
So too are Christians meant to add that tart flavouring to life because salt is not sweet.  When we align ourselves with the world we are not doing the job we are called to do & I want to be very, very clear here: Vilification of anyone is never ok but according to 2 Corinthians 5:20  We are Christ's ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, "Come back to God!"
Part of our ministry of reconciliation is to stand against sin.  It is not love to tell people it is ok to go on sinning, God loves them & accepts them just as they are.  That is hatred. That says we don’t care that they will spend an eternity in hell.  That says, I’m ok, I don’t care about you.
We have spent the last 2 weeks looking @ renewing our minds & so we understand sin begins in the mind & grows to become actions & when those actions lead to rebellion against God, they lead to death.
James 1:14~15 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

As Christ’s ambassadors we represent the Kingdom values rather than the world’s values & we will be hated for it because I can assure you, sinners don’t like being called to account.  They want everyone to tell them their sin is not really sin & it’s perfectly natural & normal to behave as they do.

Nothing operates in a vacuum.  There are consequences to our actions, consequences to our choices. Therefore we need to make wise & Godly choices.

So let’s look @ what the bible actually says about marriage.

As the Scriptures say, "A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one." Ephesians 5:31 Proskollaō ~ to stick like glue. This is exactly what Jesus says in Matthew 19:5 ~6 Quoting from Genesis 2:24 

“Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ And he said, 'This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.' Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together."

And we know what God says about all creation as He first made it: It was good, Tov…functioning perfectly in the manner in which it was designed to function.
Likewise Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7 …each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband…BECAUSE of the temptation to sexual immorality.

He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favour from the Lord. Proverbs 18:22

It is disingenuous to claim the scriptures knew nothing of homosexuality, that it was a different world. That is to display an incredible lack of knowledge of the Greco~Roman world. Homosexual *love* was the height of love in Greece.  It was rampant throughout their empire.  In fact, without becoming too graphic, their schools & mentoring program were used to groom young men for older lovers. Rome, as in so much else Grecian, copied their morals & it is not surprising to find many Latin words describing homosexual acts ~ & both Nero & Elagabalus actually married their male lovers.  As Israel was occupied by Rome in Jesus time & the nation as a whole was quite secular, homosexuality was certainly known of & practised but no~where in scripture is marriage ever referred to as anything other than being between a man & a woman.
What’s more the scriptures lay down clear guidelines for the behaviour of men & women within their marriage. 

Ephesians 5:25~33 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, ...

1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honour to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Proverbs 12:4 An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.

 Hebrews 13 :4 Let marriage be held in honour among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

And there is a reason for marriage:
Jeremiah 29:6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease

Malachai 2:13~16

And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord's altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favour from your hand. But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”

Marriage was designed to be a reflection of the covenant relationship between God & His people.  It is described everywhere in scripture as the marriage between a Groom & His Bride ~ male & female. This is partly why divorce is so abhorrent.  It is a cornerstone of the church because where 2 or 3 are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them… so each Christian family becomes a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit ~ a mini church~ & there they partner with God for the raising of *Godly seed.*

As our nations & our world abandons the biblical view of marriage we should not be surprised if more & more they reflect bygone pagan nations but there is a cost, in biblical terms.

Proverbs 14:34 Godliness makes a nation great, but sin is a disgrace to any people.
If you want to know what happens when a nation abandons God & follows after their own wisdom just look to the history of Israel.
So you see, none of this is about our *gay* families, our *gay* neighbours, whether this is just or fair in secular terms because we do not belong to this world.  This is about God.  As His ambassadors we are called to represent Him, His concerns, His values, His message ~ & sometimes people aren’t going to like that because it is not what they want to hear.  It is not what they believe. Just the same our allegiance must remain with God.
I am very aware that many Christians have come to a different conclusion but with respect that is not the conclusion I have come to after much research, study & prayer.  It is not a new dilemma. Joshua 24:15

But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD."

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Renewing Your Mind. ~ Ganeida

We are looking at what it means to renew your mind according to Romans 12:2.  We dissected this verse last week but it is not the only scripture that addresses this issue so what I am going to do is list some of the bible instructions God issued regarding the use of our minds & then I am going to look at practical applications.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it

2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Colossians 3:2  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Psalm 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Ephesians 4:23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord
Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus

Hebrews 3:1Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, even Jesus

So the scriptures tell us that what we think about is important & we are to control our thoughts because ultimately our lives are governed by our thoughts.  All sin begins as a thought that is allowed to grow.  All confusion begins when we allow satan’s thinking into our minds, instead of God~thoughts because satan is the author of confusion.

James puts it most bluntly when he says: So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. [1:21]

In other words we have the ability to change the pattern of our thinking through scripture. Instead of the filthy, the carnal, the worldly we are to think on whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

I think a great many Christians have never considered taking this instruction literally or acting on it but clearly these are not meant to be just pretty uplifting words but words of life that have the power to change us from the inside out.

If everything we are & do begins with our thoughts, then the power to direct our lives in godliness, righteousness, selflessness begins with our thought life.

I will give you an example of how this affects our thinking & impacts on our actions.
On April 12th, 1912, a man called John Harper boarded the Titanic with his 6 yr old daughter to answer an invitation to speak @ the Moody Church in Chicago. 

He was a Scot, a Glaswegian & an evangelist.
When the Titanic began to go down he woke his daughter, wrapped her in a blanket & handed her into lifeboat 11 knowing he would never see her again. Harper then gave his lifejacket to someone else calling out: Women & children & unsaved people into the lifeboats. He prayed for the salvation of the terrified unsaved all around him on the upper deck until the Titanic went down & then he grabbed wreckage & swam from person to person asking: Are you saved? & as succinctly as possible gave them the gospel message before they died.  He was a remarkable man & he fully understood Greater love hath no man

How different to Captain Schettino of the Costa Concordia who, having grounded his vessel, saved himself while leaving many of his passengers to perish.

One thought as God thinks, thinking of others before himself.  The other thought as the world thinks, thinking only of himself.  Which one is worthy of emulating? Which one was more Christlike? Which would you rather be?

Science is finally catching up with the scriptures. Our thoughts are not ethereal.  They are real & they have real consequences. They occupy *mental real estate.* In scientific terms this means that our thoughts give out epi~genetic signals that wire the brain & actually change our DNA. Where the mind goes the brain follows.  What we focus our thoughts on, grows & influences our actions & the changes can be seen in our brains.

This should cause us to pause & carefully consider the sort of thought life we are cultivating for if we are allowing the world to dictate to our thoughts along the lines of: Trump will embroil the whole world in a nuclear disaster; my marriage is a mess; my kids hate me then you are wiring your brain according to worldly wisdom when Jesus very plainly said Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it fear.  John 14:27

If you turn to Ecclesiastes 7:29 Solomon says this:  But I did find this: God created people to be virtuous, but they have each turned to follow their own downward path.

God created you virtuous [Chayil:Strong, powerful, mighty, with abilities, efficient, able, wealthy, & forceful] Some translations use upright [yashar] which is a more correct translation. The implication is the same.  You were created to reflect the image of God, absolutely perfect, but our choices lead us on a downward path.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 says Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end

We are designed to be able to access the goodness of God.  If you don’t already then I would encourage you to develop a continual inward dialogue with the Holy Spirit.  He’s your best friend.  He will lead you into all Truth & so no matter what comes at you in the course of a day you can access His wisdom.  Holy Spirit, how should I react to this?  Holy Spirit, What should I say?  Holy Spirit, would this please Jesus? You get the idea.
Now there are several other things I want to briefly discuss & the first involves our coming together as a church.

Hebrews 10:25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.

Now there are some very practical reasons for this instruction but the one I want to focus on is what happens physically when we gather together. Ephesians 4:3 says Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.

I have heard Christians say some pretty bizarre things about unity & I have seen people turn fellowship & unity into a sort of idol.  This is completely unbiblical & not at all what scripture is talking about because this unity is of the Spirit & not something we can create ourselves.

However… we have talked about how what we focus on & think about is what grows in us & it changes our DNA. What we focus on & grow affects our actions, so here is the interesting thing: When we arrive on Sunday morning we each arrive with a week’s worth of baggage & we each arrive as an individual.  Each heart beats separately to its own rhythm.  As we begin to praise & worship & to focus on Christ our physical bodies change until all our hearts begin to beat in sync ~ literally all our hearts beat as one! We become united in Christ!  Not through our own efforts but because the Spirit within us brings us into unity for His sake. This has serious implications for our Love Walk, for our Church unity & for the body of Christ as a whole.
Lastly I would encourage us all to up the anti on our prayer life & here is why: when a Dr Newberg conducted an experiment @ Pennsylvania University on the effects of prayer on the brain he discovered some very interesting things.

When we speak or pray in an ordinary way our frontal lobe fires up & lots of extra activity can be discerned in this area of the brain. More circuits are created & gamma waves increase in prayer.
According to the Gamma brain waves are the fastest brainwave frequency with the smallest amplitude. They are associated with the “feeling of blessings” reported by experienced meditators such as monks and nuns, and with peak concentration and extremely high levels of cognitive functioning.

Neuroscientists believe that gamma waves are able to link information from all parts of the brain.

The bottom line is if you want to be smarter, more peaceful, wiser, calmer & more blessed then increase your prayer life. 

That is wonderful of course but something even more extraordinary happens when we pray in tongues.  When we pray in tongues all that frontal lobe activity shuts down while the areas reflecting self~consciousness are still active. Tongue speakers have been found to be more emotionally stable & more positive than other people. Why?

I would suggest it is because the thought life is more God controlled, more focused on positives & far more likely to bring them into true unity & peace with the people in their lives.  So when God tells us to renew our minds it is not just to help us live moral, upright lives.  That is possible by sheer strength of will for some people.  No.  It is so He can bless us abundantly with all the goodness He desires for us ~ the abundant life Jesus promised. As we renew our minds we enter into a kingdom way of thinking that enables God to work effectively in our lives. 

 For more about the science of renewing your mind see Dr Caroline Leaf:

Friday, 18 August 2017

Renew Your Mind.~ Ganeida.

Romans 12:2 says: Don't copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

The Kgv is the better known version.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

This is a non~negotiable command & upon our obedience depends much of the success or failure of our Christian walk because everything we hear, see, touch, taste & experience is filtered through our intellect. 

For example, I loathe seafood.  My tastebuds tell me it tastes bad.  My nose says it smells bad. My touch tells me it’s gross, & I’m told things like crabs & prawns scream…therefore my brain insists that all seafood is bad.

I can remember Cait’s violin teacher explaining that her fingers would remember where they needed to be on the strings for each note because her inner ear would *hear* the note & the fingers would automatically fall in the right place because her brain had been trained to hear & obey. They would know where they needed to go.

In the same way a Christian needs to train themselves so that they *know* how to think the way God thinks.

Our society likes things like memes.  They condense a Truth into a short pithy statement that helps us to remember & so I am going to give you one of those to remember. Say after me:

What you put into your mind matters.  It matters to God & therefore it should matter to us.  It should matter to us because it affects profoundly the sort of lives we live but for most of us we have never learnt to filter what goes into our minds.

 We grow up in a world that is constantly feeding our minds & we are so used to it we never think about it.  We never question it. We put on the t.v or the radio. We listen to the canned music @ the shops or on the phone & all the while the world is drip~drip~dripping a world view into our subconscious.  What’s more, in one way we are   wired to focus on the negative.  That may seem counter~productive but in fact it is a survival tactic.  We are geared to be aware of danger & avoid it. Toxic thoughts are dangerous.  BEWARE!

I am going to illustrate the importance of our thought life with a Jewish story I read recently:

A student asked the Maggid (Jewish preacher) "I understand that we believe that everything which Hashem (God) is doing is good and that we have to acknowledge the good even when it comes in very painful ways. I can even accept that we have to thank Hashem for all the painful parts of life. But how is it possible to do so in 'the same way' that we express our thanks for 'the good'? When we thank Hashem for the 'the good' we do so with joy. But how could we possibly be joyful over the things that break our heart?"

The Maggid thought for a moment, and told the young student that he was asking a good question. He sent him to seek the answer from the Rebbe (teacher) Reb Zusha by addressing the question to him.

It is well known that Reb Zusha was a very poor man who did not have anything remotely close to an easy life. When the young man arrived at Reb Zusha's hovel, he was shocked to see Reb Zusha living in such stark conditions.

When the young man explained why he had been sent by the Maggid, Reb Zusha was puzzled. "Are you sure that the holy Maggid wanted you to ask Zusha for an answer? It is a good question, but Zusha can't answer your question. Zusha doesn't know the answer, because Hashem never did anything bad to Zusha. Hashem has done only good to Zusha."

We want to be like Zusha but to be like Zusha we need to understand 2 things to begin with.
·      1. Genesis 1:27 says So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
·      Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

God created us in His image.  That means our minds are capable of a great deal more than we usually use them for. It also means that when we put our trust in Godly wisdom we are capable of actually rewiring our brains & that is, in fact, what Romans is teaching.

Conformed [syschēmatizō] ~ to fashion in accordance with; assimilate oneself to…

World [Aiōn] ~ an era or age, thus those things that mark an era or age

Transformed [Metamorphoō] ~ to change one’s form, be transfigured

Renewing [Anakainōsis]~ renovation, renewal

Mind [nous] ~ intellect

Discern [dokimazō] ~ test, prove, try ~ & remember that this testing is not for God’s benefit but for ours.

Good [agathos]  ~ good, profitable, generous, upright, virtuous

Acceptable [euarestos] ~ well pleasing, acceptable, grateful

Perfect [teleios] ~ fully developed, fully realised.

To be a fully realised human being capable of being grateful & proving God we have to renew our minds.

There is actually a science called neuroplasticity that is the science of creating new pathways in the brain.  It is used in cases of severe brain trauma.

 Here are some neuroplastic facts: Our unconscious brain is operating in 400 billion actions per second building networks within the brain & 200 actions per second at the conscious level. As you are thinking you make choices.

We are a tripart human being: Mind, spirit, body & we are meant to operate this way: the Spirit is designed to control the soul [mind] & the soul is designed to control the body.

The brain has a spirit part & a physical part. The Mind gives understanding to what the spirit implicitly knows.
I Lay before you life & death, blessings & curses, therefore Choose life that you & your offspring might live…Deut 30:19

We have freewill.  We get to choose how it all works out.  How it works out is very much dependent on how we think about things.

The other interesting thing is we are wired for love, for positivity.  There are no circuits in your brain for depression.  There are no circuits for anxiety. There are no circuits for discouragement, negativity, despair, hatred, bitterness, unforgiveness ~ fear.  We actually have to learn these things.  We wire our brains to think in these ways ~ & if we can learn them we can unlearn them!  We become the thoughts we think, the choices we make from our thinking.

As we are thinking we make choices & those choices get wired into our brains & actually change them! Our choices cause a physical change in our bodies. That is a scientific fact & can be verified scientifically according to Dr Caroline Leaf.

The physical body follows the instructions we give it via the choices we make. When we think we create proteins & those proteins group together to create thought trees.  Healthy thoughts create little, fluffy pink protein balls.  However when we choose negativity: the envy, the strife, the bitterness, the self~pity etc we create neurological chaos. 

Just like positive thinking, the negative groups together creating an unhealthy environment that given enough time & negativity becomes toxic. That alone tells me it is dangerous to be a passive recipient of whatever comes my way.  I need to filter what I allow into my thought life. 

2 Corinthians 10:5 says we are to be casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. [ERV]

So the normal human life is meant to be one of love & positivity that creates a healthy mindset, healthy neurological pathways in the brain & that results in right thinking & better life outcomes.

Guess who owns the other mindset! The enemy of our souls! We are warned For as he thinketh in his heart, so is heProverbs 23:7 & Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23.

You want to know why so many Christians struggle so much with sin, with anger, strife, envy etc?  It’s because they have not worked to renew their thinking!  I can tell you ~ & you can tell others ~ that such & such a thing is considered to be a sin in the eyes of God but you will not break a habit, you will not convince anyone of the error of their ways until their thought life is brought under the control of Christ! It is physically impossible for them because they have wired their brain in a particular way.

You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil~the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. Ephesians 2:2

God has given you every tool you need in order to choose life, to create positive, healthy thought patterns but He absolutely is NOT going to do the hard work for you.  His Holy Spirit will help you but He wants you to do the work. You see God did not create automatons.  He did not create robots.  He created man in His own image capable of freewill, capable of choice & He wants us to freely choose the path of Love.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Lord, Lord. ~ Ganeida

Our confession of saving faith is this:

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  Romans 10:9

It is not Revelation 3:20 Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.
There is a good reason for this. Firstly Romans specifically says that this is how one is saved.  Secondly, Revelation is speaking to believers, not non~believers.  Therefore simply inviting Jesus into one’s heart does not guarantee salvation.

So what exactly is Romans 10 saying?

What is meant by the term *Lord* & what are the implications for us?

The Greek word is Kyrios: which denotes authority.
In Classical Athens, the word kyrios referred to the head of the household, who was responsible for his wife, children, and any unmarried female relatives. Biblically it was the term that identified Christ as God, replacing the Hebrew term Adonai, which was used for YHWY. Adonai is the plural of Adon, Lord or Father, with connotations of master or owner but also of a strong base or foundation. The ai at the end of the root word adon intensifies the meaning of the word stressing God’s sovereignty as Supreme ruler, Lord of all.

It is an important distinction because, as we have seen from our study of the Hebrew word Shema, there is a close connection in Hebraic thinking between hearing & obeying.

So the first thing I would point out is that by using the term Lord you come into agreement that you have been rescued … from the kingdom of darkness and transferred … into the Kingdom of his dear Son… Colossians 1:13

You have changed allegiances & this brings certain privileges & responsibilities.  Firstly we have the right to now call God, abba, father, which, as we have seen, is part of the meaning of the word Adonai.  As our father God is now particularly responsible for us.  All the promises are ours but some promises are conditional; others are not but He is our firm foundation.

Jesus Himself taught this in Matthew 7:24 & 25~
Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.  Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.
When we confess with our mouth we confirm the scriptures: for through Him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can't see ~ such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. Colossians 1:16

1 Corinthians 8:6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we exist. And there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we exist.

Romans 11:36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.

This is in direct contrast to worldly thinking which says things like: everything was created from nothing; you are your own god; you are master of your own destiny; man is just another animal.

You cannot confess Jesus is Lord if you still believe mankind controls his own fate. God is sovereign & we were made for his good pleasure, not for our own pleasure.

What’s more Jesus gives a warning about calling Him Lord, but not obeying his commands.

Then he said to the crowd, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23
 "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?"  Luke 6:46

On judgment day many will say to me, 'Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name. But I will reply, 'I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God's laws. Matthew 7:22~23

Following Jesus has always been about more than just the outward appearance.  It is about the state of our hearts.  If all we do is read our bibles & give lip service we are like Israel of whom Isaiah said: And so the Lord says, "These people say they are mine. They honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.  Matthew & Mark both reissue Isaiah’s warning.

So there is an obligation on us, if we claim to be the Lord’s, to follow His commands.  Do you know what Jesus’ commands are?  Have you studied for yourself to see how He requires you to live as His witness? As His follower?

We know :
 “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” Luke 10:27~28
Agapaō kyrios ·ho sy theos….love the Lord thy God…
Agapaō ~ God love. Kyrios ~  Lord, Father, master, owner.

We know from John 15:13 That There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends.  He says we are His friends if we obey Him. Thus we are called:

·      To lay down the life of our own feelings, impulses, desires, affections. [kardia, heart]

·      To lay down our physical life [psyche]

·      To lay down our ischus ~ whatever power, strength, influence we have in this world.

·      To lay down our own intellect & understanding for Proverbs 3:5 says Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

This is what it means to die to self, to pick up our cross & follow Him, for we are to take on the life of Christ, the mind of Christ, the authority of Christ.  It is neither an easy thing nor a light thing.  In fact it is completely impossible unless we have God’s Holy Spirit to show us how it is done.

1 John 4:9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.
In contrast Jesus says of the world: and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. John 5:40

1 Corinthians 2:16 says We have the mind of Christ…that is the Holy Spirit enables us to understand the spiritual matters of the Kingdom For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. 1 Corinthians 3:19

When we spoke of repentance we explained it was a turning away from the world & turning completely to follow hard after God. That is what repent means. That means we bring ourselves under the command of the Holy Spirit.  We listen to His voice & we obey Him. His voice will teach us how to obey the commands of Jesus.  His voice will enlighten our understanding of scripture. His Spirit will teach us to hate what God hates & to love what God loves. As our understanding grows so will our obedience.

We cannot have our cake & eat it too.  We have to let our sin go ~ all of it; whatever it is.  We have to be brave because Christ requires courage of us & say with the psalmist:
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23~24

The second part of Romans 10:9 speaks about what we believe in our heats.  The Greek word is pisteuō ~ which is the word for faith, For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

2nd Corinthians 13:5  exhorts us to: Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.

The reason for this is found in Hebrews 10:26 Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins…The writer to the Hebrews goes on to explain that deliberate sin tramples the blood of Christ underfoot & outrages the Spirit of Grace. Such behaviour shows no evidence of appreciating the sacrifice of Christ.  No reverence.  No appreciation. No love.

There is a very simple, very telling test we can apply to see if our faith is genuine.

1 John 5:4
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world ~our faith.

When we are genuinely born again we will reverence the blood of Christ.  We will not willing act in such a way as to leave the way open for Him to be openly mocked & shamed. Rather our lives will give evidence of the New Creation & the resurrected Christ because He is indeed Lord.