Indecipherable

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Jesus answered, “Most certainly I tell you, unless one is born of water and spirit, he can’t enter into the Kingdom of God! That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Don’t marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’ The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but don’t know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

John 3: 5-8

These few verses are part of Nichodemus’ question about how to become a Christian and the miracle of the new birth of a person who comes to God. We cannot enter the kingdom of God unless we are born of flesh into this world, and born of the Spirit of God in spiritual life. So Christians are people who are born into this world by the water of natural birth, and born into the kingdom of God, thought the work of the Holy Spirit. The flesh alone can never enter into the kingdom. Before we are born of God through the Spirit, we are dead to God. Our souls have no spiritual life and we do not sense God, or want His presence, or see our need to repent and be changed.

The powerful working of the Holy Spirit is what resurrects the soul, and brings us to a place of repentance for our sins, and gives us the faith to believe. The change is so deep and thorough, that it is called the “New birth.” Becoming a Christian is an amazing new beginning that happens to a person who is seeking God with all their heart. The Spirit works in our minds and hearts to see our need, and feel the horror of our failures and sins.

When we see this, we then seek forgiveness for them, because without forgiveness there is no salvation to God. We turn to God. We search the Scriptures for answers, and the Holy Spirit guides our search, and we find the answer in Jesus. He is the one that can forgive us, for He has died and paid the price for our sins. When we come to Him, there is full and free forgiveness and we are born again.

This whole work in our lives is the work of the Spirit of God. This working is at the will of God and according to His purposes. The Holy Spirit speaks and prompts, as He pleases. No one can tell His purposes and we can’t predict His ways. The wind blows in our world and we cannot predict it. So with the Spirit of God. He will work out His purposes and He will bring many souls to repentance and faith.

We cannot tell what He will do. We pray for other people that they will believe and find this new life in Christ. We must spread the message and be ready to tell the good news to whoever asks us. This is God’s work and is indecipherable to the human mind. It is a work that cannot be stopped, and a work that will spread to everyone who God is changing.

When we are born of the Spirit, we have a whole new life and way of thinking. We can now relate to God, and we can see the effect of the Holy Spirit in our own lives and the life of other people. Our lives are now directed by the Holy Spirit, and we learn from Him and the power of God rests in us.

Security in Christ

We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Thessalonians 1: 3

Surely this is the most comprehension description of the Christian life.

As Christians, we are so loved by our Saviour and the remembrance of His sacrifice, that we have a real confidence in what He calls us to do. Others might decry us or side-line us, but He will never do that. Every Christian has a destiny in this life, as well as heaven. We serve our Lord in faith, knowing He will never leave us or dampen our efforts for Him.

We serve Jesus with love. Love is our motivation for every thought, word and deed. We are continually looking to the everlasting kingdom and spreading the good news of His love for sinful people and the readiness of God to forgive and change us.

The Christian keeps going. The hope we have in Christ is our motivation until the end of our journey in this world. Whatever our circumstance, our Saviour, Jesus, is with us all the way. At times we may doubt this, since we do not feel or have any sense of His presence. But we go forward in faith, based on the many promises of God’s Word.

Who can separate us from the love of Christ?”

Romans 8: 1

No one is able to do that, and should we go through periods of doubt or not wanting to be in the kingdom of God, yet still He holds us, until the temptation is past. Our place in the coming kingdom is as secure, as we are in eternity already.

None shall pluck them from my hand..”

John 10: 28

Today is unique. Let us pray for willing minds and hearts to obey and opportunity to serve the Lord.

He who calls you is faithful, who will also do it.”

1 Thessalonians 5: 24

A horn lifted up

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A horn for faithful servants

“Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding…”

“Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens…

“And he has raised up for his people a horn, the praise of all his faithful servants, of Israel, the people close to his heart. Praise the Lord.”

Psalm 148:7-8,13-14 NIV

All things living praise the Lord. All weather and all inanimate creations and objects, praise the Lord. The splendour of the Lord is above anything made or imagined. We are His people who are made for His glory, and so we might also share in that glory.

All natural forces are subject to His control and nothing happens that is outside His purposes. Even the wrath of human beings against His person, are a praise to His name and a fulfilment of prophecy.

God, the Lord, the Creator and Almighty God has given us a majestic horn to be the praise of His people. This person of Jesus Christ, is comfort and love to us. No one can take us away from Him and His glory is observed everywhere, by His faithful people.

His name is JESUS. 

A name far above any other and every being He has created, will surely bow the knee to Him.

All can appreciate the revealed creation, but only those with living souls, can see beyond the physical and into the spiritual. We see Jesus, lifted up as our Saviour on that dreadful cross, suffering our shame and the due penalty for our sins. He has done this and has risen again, by His own power, and by that same power we shall also rise.

God has exalted His name, like the horn of blessing that triumphs over all sin and death. He is authority, power and dominion and He has done this, because of who He is. God over all, the only Saviour, the king of all who come to Him in repentance and faith. The horn is the object of praise from the people of God. Only He is worthy, because only He is the righteous one. Through Him we are made righteous, to worship Him and love Him.

Shadows

We have walked these days in years to hold

Together, the way of life with twinèd soul

Our shadows merge and meld as we sped

Sometimes before or behind or overhead

The past is gone the future unknown

Our present held as one higher shown

Fear fled, faith grown and a holy confidence

Blots out gloomy shadows as love’s recompense

In His light, all darkness fled, as high noonday

And shadow cannot glory steal away

Open door

“For I do not want to see you now only in passing; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, even though many oppose me.”

1 Corinthians 16: 7-9

Paul had to know the voice of God and the character of God as his daily company and constant companion. He was chosen as a worker in God’s harvest field, and was called to suffer as a Christian and to face opposition from all sides.

Paul’s life was given over to the teaching and encouragement of God’s people, and his desire was to speak to them face to face and share all spiritual blessings with them. Paul’s desires was that people should be saved and find their way to a living faith in Jesus Christ. This is also our desire. Family, friends, and people we work with, all need the love of God and to hear the message of eternal life for all who believe.

But Paul cannot spend lots of time in Christian fellowship, when there has been a great opportunity for the spread of the gospel and salvation of souls in Ephesus. A door of opportunity has opened to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ and he will follow this opening according to the will of God. He says that many oppose him in this work. It is unclear who the opposition are, but it must have been very discouraging to Paul to have to face this, even though he was doing God’s work and bringing people to faith in Christ.

Nevertheless, Paul made good use of the opening of a door in Ephesus, and will come to the Corinthians at the right time. God has permitted him to suffer all these hardships, and Paul will not give up his fight to obey the calling of God.

This is very encouraging to us. Paul was a great sinner, and was rescued from his self-righteous life. Here he is, fully committed to God and wiling to do things that other people disapprove of. He loves God and lost people more than the acclaim of other people. We must follow his lead and do the work God asks us to do, whatever that might be. He has no rancour with the opposition but will carry on in obedience to his Master.

“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”

Luke 7: 47

Paul understood his spiritual debt and his love for the Lord Jesus was all-consuming. I pray we all enter into that situation and prove the power of God and His love for all His people.

Mad vocabulary

There are words in our vocabulary that most do not understand. The words “crazy” and “mad” are particularly difficult to interpret.

They are dangerous words because no one really knows what they mean and people use them according to their own understanding. The words are emotionally loaded and can cause no end of insult or hurt. They also reinforce our personal prejudices towards other people.

The meaning for “crazy” seems to be used as the same as “mad”

Dictionary definition: “mad: especially as manifested in wild or aggressive behaviour.”

“Stupid or unreasonable”

“Insane”

This view is troubling to people who suffer mind illness. Outsiders regard Psychiatric hospital as “the mad house.” People who talk in this way, have views of what the terms mean and imbibe attitudes from the media and films.

Psychiatric hospital is a place of refuge. People sit quietly trying to cope with their suffering and find a way of dealing with the turmoil that is happening inside. There are no cowards in Psychiatric hospital. For many it takes time and for some it is a lifetime of inner conflict and pain. It is a shame that people who are there, are so defamed. It is easy to take up the misnomers and use them without really thinking about what they are.

What is “insane?”

Can someone lose their mind?

What does losing your mind mean?

These questions are kept unanswered for most people, and because of the lack of clarity, that wrong ideas proliferate. It is like an everlasting conundrum that goes on and on. Perhaps because our minds are so unique and so complex, that it may be impossible to make a general statement of meaning. Perhaps it is meant to be hidden and only interpreted for the individual.

This still does not address the massive stigma and the unfair prejudice and insulting speaking that sufferers have to tolerate. The media has accusations to answer.

When there has been a murder reported on the news, some have qualifications attached, such as “the perpetrator was suffering from mental health issues.”

This influences attitudes massively. The qualification sets up the idea that mental health patients murder people. They do so, for sure, but 99% if murders are carried out by the “sane” people. So the reporting is massively scewed. The general population gets the idea that all “crazy” people are murderers.!

If a person suffering from a physical illness does something wrong, the illness would not be reported. For instance, Cancer sufferers would not be portrayed in this kind of negative light. Sufferers of physical illnesses and disabilities, are regarded as heroes and get positive coverage in every situation. This is not enjoyed by the sufferer of mind distress or illness. Therefore, this biased reporting is prejudicial and creates a culture of fear around sufferers. The discrimination suffered by those suffering from mind illness seems endless.

In our present society we have become more used to the idea of “Depression” and what this illness is about. However, this usually is doubled as a description of being “a bit down” unfortunately the facts about the actual illness are less well known. Depression is a painful debilitating illness that can hold people in such a terrible place for extended periods of time. Somehow we are frightened of that, and if we were to find out about it, it might reveal something about ourselves that we don’t want to know. It’s easier to side-line sufferers and keep quiet. Depression is an illness and should be treated as such. As with other illnesses, the sufferer get better.

In recent times the term “manic” has been taken up in popular speaking. When we are busy and doing a lot of things, we say we are “manic.” Manic is used as an alternative for “busy.” This is not helpful. Being busy does not make your mind ill. Some talk about “manic” weather. Weather cannot be manic- it cannot be ill- it is not a person with a mind.

We use the terms for mind illness as if it is nothing at all and assign the terms to trivial things. This is hurtful and excludes sufferers, exacerbating exclusion and loneliness. Some think they are helping and trying to break down barriers that the words hold, but not understanding what it is like for the insider. Sufferers are not consulted and they have enough insight to remain quiet. Who wants their inner life paraded in public, especially with the lack of understanding and crushing stigma that is still felt.

It will take more than royal interest to break this problem open. It should be down to the sufferers themselves to decide how this is played out. There are still too many who think they know but have no direct experience. For the sufferer, the fear of exclusion, keeps the person quiet. Suffering is silent. For many sufferers of mind illness, it becomes impossible to fit into “normal” social settings, because they see things so differently.

Some reach the conclusion that the world outside is “mad” and the place of peace is not there. Some are so sensitive in thoughts and ideas, that a creative outlet becomes very important. To be able to exercise powers and use the mind to solve problems and express ideas, is a powerful use of our highest powers. Many poets, Artists, writers, or any creative people, are sufferers of this kind of illness. People who are mind-sufferers have the ability to operate on that level. This is not always understood either.

Anyone can suffer from a mind that tips over into psychosis. This is a very scary word…

It is portrayed in films as violent, out of control and dangerous. This can be true, but not for everyone. Psychosis is a problem if the sufferer does not recognise their own state. This is when behaviour can become a problem. If outside agencies are involved, it makes things difficult for the sufferer who doesn’t understand what is happening. It takes time to sort through the mind and come to an understanding, and to assign events, feelings and thoughts to their right place. It is difficult to relay that to other people, and so the sufferer is left alone and outside the group.

Our society still has work to do in recognising the worth of having mind sufferers around. Indeed, our society has become increasingly unable to understand and accept people who are different. Christian circles are no different. Mind sufferers need to know the Lord Jesus, because He understands everything. He will teach and bless and give amazing strength to people who are sidelined and rejected. He has been there too…..

Treasure

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“The Almighty will be your treasure, and precious silver to you. For then you will delight yourself in the Almighty, and shall lift up your face to God. You shall make your prayer to him, and he will hear you. You shall pay your vows. You shall also decree a thing, and it shall be established to you. Light shall shine on your ways.

When they cast down, you shall say, ‘be lifted up.’ He will save the humble person.

He will even deliver him who is not innocent. Yes, he shall be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.”

Job 22:25-30

Who or what do you consider to be valuable to you?

Usually we think of family, friends or people who have significantly helped us. Does the Lord our God even figure in our response thoughts?

This passage is particularly striking. It stands out because of the out-of-this-world promises it makes to sinful people, as we all are. When we ponder on the disposition of God, it just overtakes our minds at His mercy, and we are amazed at who He is and what He is prepared to do for us.

The Almighty God who has rescued us from certain judgment and eternal death, is, in Himself, our treasure. How He is in Himself, His eternal character and person, is what we like to think on and as we ponder His perfections, attributes and mighty deeds, it lifts us up to worship Him. We love Him because of who He is, and not just what He can do for us. God is our portion and the more we realise that, the quicker we are to draw near in His presence and lift our minds and hearts to Him. We look up continually.

As we look to God, we adjust ourselves to Him and seek His likeness in our lives. When we ask Him for power, blessing and every holy grace, He will answer our prayer and give it to us. Whatever we ask for, we receive. God does not hold back from those who continually pursue Him. This is His purposes for us.

We keep our promises to Him, obey and honour Him in everything. So then His light will be shining on our lives and His favour will remain on us and all we do.

The humble person has the power to command events. When this world would cast us down or bring what we do into disrepute, we will still say “lift it up.” God will not allow His servers to suffer loss, blame or shame. The extent of this is extraordinary. It effects not just ourselves, but everyone around us. The person who is not right with God, will be delivered because of the righteousness shown by the Christian. God blesses people and places, because the Christian is there. Where the Christian is, the Holy Spirit brings blessing to everyone around.

This is a passage that shows the closeness of a true relationship with God. The clean-ness of our hands is the measure of the holiness of our hearts. We must desire the right situation and walk closely with God, asking for big things that will show His glory and bring the petitioner closer to Him.

There is no one like the Lord and to understand that is treasure. The person who is lifted up by God, who has been forgiven by God, has been given the necessary righteousness, so they belong to God, is now become treasure to people around.

May we be like the Lord our God, where our selves are not seen, and He is magnified in all we do.

Women who glorify God