All posts by words and signs

I serve Christ in many different ways. I love Him for who he is and what He has done for me. I would try to give other people the opportunity to find Him for themselves. Bring all things under submission to Him who fills all things and to who all things belong.

A tight issue

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“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you don’t forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  Matthew 6:14-15 WEB

Forgiveness is a tight issue. There is no wriggle-room… 

It’s easy to forget the enormity of what we have been forgiven and delivered from as the people of God. Forgiven is the hallmark of our psyche. We must never forget what we have been cleansed from. It should be the thankfulness in our prayers and joy of deliverance in our songs. 

The unforgiving human psyche has no understanding of its wretchedness and sees no value in forgiveness. Indeed, we justify ourselves so comprehensively that we don’t see our sin. Even as Christians we need to pray for a sensitive conscience that sees sin and temptation coming and deals with it. The soul that has felt its rottenness can more easily pray for these insights. 

However, the river runs deeper than we suspect. God puts a condition on our forgiveness from Him. He is clear and speaks clearly to us. If we refuse to forgive another person for the wrongs they have done against us, then we will not be forgiven. This is supremely difficult. God does not allow any deep hurt or major sin to be excluded from this condition. This is because, the wrong we have done against the holy God, could not be greater. We have purposefully and continually sinned against His person and perfect law. If He is prepared to forgive us, we are expected to no less forgive our detractors. 

The reason is that we will become increasingly like Him in all our dealings, even in this world. The Christian grows in grace and becomes more like the Saviour Jesus. If we are serious about faith, repentance and walking with God, this will be our mindset. 

Unfortunately we think that God is like us and we can pick and choose what parts of God’s righteous demands in our life we will obey. This is not a godly mindset and shows a lack of understanding of our own sinfulness. 

The Lord Jesus forgave the cruelty of the men who tortured Him and nailed Him to a cross. We have absolutely no excuse for not forgiving anyone. This is a difficult statement. 

It is easy to justify ourselves. The command is clear. If we want to be forgiven we must forgive. The mind of Christ must be in us and take hold of us, so that we think as He thinks, and forgive as He forgives… 

May we love Him with an unfailing love…

Visions of Rainbow

 

Genesis 9:13-17 WEB   “I set my rainbow in the cloud, and it will be a sign of a covenant between me and the earth. When I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow will be seen in the cloud  and I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh, and the waters will no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.  The rainbow will be in the cloud. I will look at it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”  God said to Noah, “This is the token of the covenant which I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

The rainbow is a symbol of the promise of God to stay the hand of judgment and offer forgiveness and new life to the fallen human race. God’s powerful judgment fell on wicked humanity to purge the earth from their sin. He saved only eight. So, God sent the rainbow to comfort and keep humans and offer His mercy to them.

When the clouds gather and trouble follows our way, the reality of the rainbow assures is that salvation is at hand. When we repent and believe we are rescued from wrath. The everlasting covenant of God brings us mercy and joy in the colourful bow that overarches the earth. It includes every colour in the physical spectrum, and reflects the truth that God’s people will be from every “kindred, tribe and tongue.”

The promise does not depend on us – we have no control over the rainbow. It depends on a holy and faithful God. He will bring His people safely home. As we can never reach the end of the rainbow, so we never reach the end of God’s mercy.

 

Ezekiel 1:27-28 WEB    “I saw as it were glowing metal, as the appearance of fire within it all around, from the appearance of his waist and upward; and from the appearance of his waist and downward I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him.  As the appearance of the rainbow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. This was the appearance of the likeness of Yahweh’s glory. When I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard a voice of one that spoke.”

The glory of Christ is hard to express. His beauty glows like a vat of glowing super hot metal. We cannot look at that brightness, as it is beyond the ability of human eyes. Christ appears as fire and an unworldly light surrounds Him. That light is the radiance of the rainbow. The glory of it in the sky cannot be manufactured. It is the absolute radiance of God’s glory, brighter than any earth based rainbow. Sun and water pale into insignificance compared to the crystal light, a light not created. It is best seen in the day of rain, the darker days, when we need the reassurance of the promise of God.

The rainbow was a likeness of the glory of the Lord. The glory of the Lord is His holiness. That holiness makes His promises certain and reliable. We can trust the Lord because of who He is and He is not bound by this world and it’s rules. He made the world and everything that exists. This realisation causes the disciple John, to fall down in wonder, amazement and terror. This is the only appropriate reaction to the Lord of all.

 

Revelation 4:2-6 WEB    “Immediately I was in the Spirit. Behold, there was a throne set in heaven, and one sitting on the throne that looked like a jasper stone and a Sardius. There was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald to look at. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones. On the thrones were twenty-four elders sitting, dressed in white garments, with crowns of gold on their heads. Out of the throne proceed lightnings, sounds, and thunders. There were seven lamps of fire burning before his throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. Before the throne was something like a sea of glass, similar to crystal. In the middle of the throne, and around the throne were four living creatures full of eyes before and behind.”

The rainbow-circled throne is the seat of the everlasting ancient of days. The judge inhabits His throne shining in His glory of Jasper and emerald. Around that great central throne are twenty four thrones where the elders sit. They sit to judge with robes white, washed in the blood of the Lamb, sacrificed before the world was born. The people of God are assuredly His even before time began.

These twenty four elders have gold crowns which they have won in the fight for the souls of women and men. The sound is of extreme turmoil in the heavens and the light comes from the perfect light of eternity that forever blazes in the presence of God. These lights are the Spirit of God who does all things perfectly and makes perfect every redeemed soul born to God. The holy, all-seeing God has never relinquished His sovereign will and the majestic outworking of His mercy towards His redeemed people.

 

Revelation 10:1-3 WEB   “I saw a mighty angel coming down out of the sky, clothed with a cloud. A rainbow was on his head. His face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire. He had in his hand a little open book. He set his right foot on the sea, and his left on the land. He cried with a loud voice, as a lion roars. When he cried, the seven thunders uttered their voices.”

This could be no other than the Lord Jesus Christ. He is robed in the beauty of the skies. Above His head, the crown of a glorious rainbow, glorifies His person and position, as the sovereign King of all. His feet straddle burg land and sea and His voice asserts His authority as the pinnacle of creation. All other voices bow to Him. The eternal promise stands unshaken. The people of God will prevail and the promised heritage of Christ will be brought safely to the perfect kingdom.

May we ensure we are part of that place. To face the rainbow circled King with unwashed robes, is eternal exclusion from His feast. As we look on Him, and remember what He has done for sinful soul like ourselves, may our knees and will bow to Him. The rainbow promise stands, so let us enter in, before Genesis ends and Revelation begins…

 

 

Judges with Christ

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“Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church?”      1 Corinthians 6:2-4 NIV

The people of God are to be full of faith and the wisdom that comes only from God. We should be able to judge the situations of life with great insight and correct judgment. This is true of our family life, work life and church life. The principles of godly living are through our whole being. Our thought processes are learned from protracted, personal reading and study of the Word of God. In other words, we have spent time with God and know Him and are totally devoted to Him.

Our personal state before God is the key to how we live our lives. The level of wisdom we have from God is dependant on our desire for Him. To be like Jesus will involve sacrifice, and there will be very difficult experiences to go through, so that we will be in harmony with the mind of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

The circumstances of this life and the mindset of Christ that Christians all share, will teach us and make us able to make godly judgments, especially when things go wrong. To walk with God is difficult because most others will not be going in that way. The closer you get to your Saviour Jesus, the more will be your desire to be like Him.  This will usually alienate you from the mindset of others going another way. Criticism can be very difficult to handle and more wisdom will be required. Once a person starts down the way of wisdom, they can only go forward. We must take up the cross and follow, if we are to gain the crown.

The price is high and the testing is tough. If you are to be a judge with Christ, you must follow His way. Every one of us must learn sound judgment, and have knowledge about God’s ways and human ways, and use these perspectives to judge as Christ would judge. Are we anywhere near that situation? Are our churches places where that happens?

We can find ourselves in the situation where the people in the secular life are far better at judgment than the people who are supposed to belong to God. Christians who take the mantle of judgment and oppress the people of God with their own views and loveless character, just cause even more problems for people. Christians who set themselves up as totally correct counsel, but twist the Word to suit themselves, face their own judgment before a holy God. It is a fearful thing to set ourselves up as authorities, and deviate from the ways of God, which we have access to in the Scriptures. Our attitude to these Scriptures is of vital importance. Perhaps in these days, we should revisit the words of the prophets of old, who spoke plainly and truthfully for God.

As Christian people we must all train our minds to think rightly and seek the ability to contribute positively to the lives of others, and make wise decisions regarding our own lives and our families. As we learn and prove the Lord’s ways, so our realm of influence will grow. The test of time will prove our witness for the Lord Jesus and other people will see it and be built up in the Lord. Our families will see the love of God working out in daily life, and see the difference between God’s ways and this world’s ways.

Then there is the skill of communicating with people. To communicate with sound judgment, is a God-given ability. It comes to be part of us, as we immerse ourselves in the Word of God, and speak to people around us. This is dependant on the work of the Holy Spirit in us, witnessing with our spirit and speaking rightly to us. The law of love always applies. Not just speaking what pleases, but sharing what God would have us say for the long term good of sisters and brothers and those still outside the kingdom. These can seem to be hard words, but we must be clear and not baulk under fear of being misunderstood.

Wisdom, discretion and godly words, always go together. Our prayer is that our words will help and not hinder. Even if some are offended for a time, our words and deeds will be brought to the full fruition of the fruit of the Spirit and the rescue of souls from this dark world.

It’s easy to be a hypocrite. To be sincere means a complete change in heart and mind, and a complete daily surrender to the truth of Christ and the power of the Spirit. Lord, may it be so within me and in all your holy people who love you with an unending love…

The axe

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“The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:10-12 NIV

The privilege of the nation of Israel is almost over. They have not followed their God and Saviour. The huge benefits they have received in terms of spiritual history and holy example, have not turned the nation to God. Salvation is by grace alone and the Israelite nation has not exercised faith in their Messiah. There have been the remnant that have believed and have been saved. The rest have rejected the way to God in favour of idols and man-made rules.

The picture is of a sharp and heavy axe that is being raised to cut down the tree that has born no fruit for God. They have grown for themselves bad fruit that only benefits them in this life, but is not the fruits of righteousness that God requires. The rules and regulations they have constructed around the purity of the sacrificial lamb, has rendered the offering of no value. The legalism of the Jewish system, cannot save them from the consequences of their sin. So, the tree will be used as fuel in the fire against them.

The same is true for all those who refuse God and His offer of a free and full forgiveness through Jesus the eternal Son. All who lack the fruits of righteousness, faith, love, peace and joy, will face the axe of separation from God’s kingdom and eternal life.

But, there is hope for the Jews, and the Gentiles.  The water baptism of repentance carried out by John the Baptist, paves the way for the saving work of the Saviour, Jesus Christ. God will rescue His people and He will break down every barrier that we can construct against Him.

This Jesus is more powerful than even the powerful John the Baptist. In fact, this Saviour, Jesus, has such authority and reverence, that John is not worthy to even carry his shoes. The amazing, holy, spirit- filled John the Baptist, is lower than the shoe-shine boy…

This Jesus is going to do such a work in people’s lives that they will be filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit of God. All those who repent and believe will be immersed in the power of the Spirit and their lives will be on fire for God. These will be the fruitful wheat on the winnowing floor of the Saviour of the world. As they are chosen and as they repent from sinful hearts and lives, they are winnowed up into the barn of eternity. The threading floor will be cleared. The wheat will be lifted to God and the dead chaff into the fire unquenchable.

This is no game of leisure. This is a winnowing, a sorting that is going on all the time. The destiny of the wheat and the chaff couldn’t be more polarised. There is no in-between or compromise with the outcome, but a serious and permanent state of being when the threashing floor is cleared. There is no stopping the axe or the winnowing fork. The Sovereign Lord of all is this Saviour, the Garner of repentant souls. All who seek Him and forsake their sin, are saved from the fate of those who refuse Him. These repentant ones are the souls who live to God and are the wheat in the garner of the Lord.

The situation of the nation and religion of the Jews, is not unique to them. Without careful study of the Scriptures and earnest seeking the Lord for ourselves, we also fall into the deadness of orthodoxy. We will remain as chaff without the work of the Spirit in our souls. We must take this Scripture to ourselves and think on its seriousness. The contents of the threshing floor will be sifted. This world will be judged by its Saviour. Wheat or chaff? This is the final destiny of all people.

Pressing on…

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“I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me..”Philippians 3:12

There is an urgency in the Christian life that supersedes everything else. It over reaches education, work, relationships, service, earthly pursuits – all are second to the need to know Christ and walk with Him. The pity for the Christian is that often, we don’t think so. At least we might agree in principal when pressed, but a person cannot realistically follow in the same way as the Saviour of the world.

The Apostle Paul spoke these words from a position of privilege in this world and in His religious society, but He counted it all rubbish compared to Christ. He realised his power was from the Holy Spirit and his authority to speak from the Word of God. His complete demeanour was humility and his whole life was on the altar of sacrifice to the glory of God. It is a wonder that such a man as he once was as a self-righteous and proud Pharisee, could be the spokesperson for God. Most of the New Testament was written by him and the teaching he has recorded for us is intense and challenging.

Christ took hold of Paul to rescue him from sin and punishment and to lift him up in the eternal kingdom as a bright light. Paul teaches us how to live our lives to please God and to teach others the way as well. Paul’s life was not his own and he could tell people to copy him, as he was copying Christ.

We can excuse ourselves by saying Jesus is God and it was easy for Him to walk this world… but the example of Paul, leaves us with no excuse. As Christ took hold of Paul to change and conquer his pride and selfishness, so it is the same for us. Every child of God is part of that eternal kingdom and has a personal life with God. The Saviour Jesus pursues and takes possession of those who are His people. He saves them and raises them to new life in Him. He forgives them when they repent and keeps their lives safe in His personal care.

The Christian takes hold of these same things, because they are valuable. To walk with Christ is an amazing privilege and a right given to every redeemed child of God. The Christian “presses on…” there is great effort and urgency about vehemently following Jesus everywhere He would go. The Christian presses on and on, right to the end- right to the shores of the last river until they are welcomed into the eternal city. There is no time off. What ever our situation, there are opportunities to show Christ and help others to believe in Him too. Our remit is huge and life-engulfing, so we need to constantly remind ourselves in the Scriptures, of what we are and who we serve.

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”  1 Corinthians 15:58 WEB

“And I thank him who enabled me, Christ Jesus, our Lord, because he counted me faithful, appointing me to service;”  1 Timothy 1:12 WEB

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil. Cling to that which is good. In love of the brothers be tenderly affectionate one to another; in honor preferring one another;  not lagging in diligence; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;  rejoicing in hope; enduring in oppression; continuing steadfastly in prayer;   Romans 12:9-12 WEB

Whatever we do is for the sake of Christ and whoever we interact with or are involved with, we are witnesses for Him. Self takes a back seat and we take hold of our Salvation and obey our Lord Jesus. The glory is ahead, laid up for us in the presence of God. This is our eternal rest. Meanwhile as we walk here in this life, we serve and we find that same rest, in Him…

Wait a bit…

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John 4:34-38 NIV
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

If we are the people of Christ Jesus, then His motives and purposes are for us also. Jesus came to do what His father told Him to do. Jesus was the sin-bearer and Saviour of the world, and came into the world to finish the work of God. (His work) The three persons of God had planned this work before the ages of human history began. Before the Universe had space and time, God purposes an innumerable fellowship of people, that would be rescued from spiritual death. Throughout history, the three persons of the trinity have been working this out in human history and calling these people to faith. When they are all gathered into the kingdom, then God will wind up human events. Jesus will be the ultimate judge and justice and mercy will prevail. Jesus came into time and space to finish the work of salvation for His people, once and for all. He finished it all so that sinful people could be redeemed from the slavery of sin, and be set free from death and judgment.

So it’s all done. Finished. Accomplished. The way to life stands open and the offer of salvation stands available for all. The fields of people who need a Saviour could not be more ready. They are white with the fruit of the work of God in human hearts. They are white with opportunity to bring in an amazing harvest. But the saying goes in the affairs of people – “wait a bit, we have plenty of time to do God’s work. There is plenty of opportunities coming up and we don’t need to rush or stress ourselves too much. God will work it all out – it’s His work. Be still and pray and wait. Don’t put yourself under pressure…” This is our default position.

Jesus the Saviour calls us to open our eyes. Waken up to what is going on around you and get your self ready for work, work in the harvest field of your own community. The people in your street, block, town, workplace are ready for the harvest. If you gather the harvest you will get your wages if eternal life both for yourself as those you bring to faith. This is every Christian, not just a chosen few with certain credentials. All you need is love for Christ and love for souls. If you don’t have these, then your faith is suspect.

Let us live in faith. The one who tells out the message and the one who brings the people to faith will rejoice together. There is no craven competition, or trying to get people into our church/ club. All is for the kingdom of God and for the rescue of souls, not for our little empire we think we own.

There are Christians who God calls to labour and work for seeming little results. They sow the seed in faith and they don’t stop, even though it is backbreaking and heartbreaking. Many true hearts have never seen the good of what they did, but one day when the kingdom of Christ is reigning, they will see what they did. There are others who salvage many people for God because of the sacrifices of the ones who sowed the seeds. They seem more fruitful on the surface, but they are just enjoying the privileges of those gone before.

This is for every Christian. It is a way of life. It is a way of thinking. The days are evil and short before the Lord will return. We must reap now and every day and never stop telling the good news about forgiveness and the way to God. Every opportunity you get, take it. Maybe you are a sower of the seed of the message, or maybe a harvester. The only thing that matters, is that you are fulfilling your task to go everywhere and speak the power of God in salvation.

The nourishment of life for Jesus Christ, was to do the will of the Father who sent Him this work to do. It is the same for us. It is our spiritual sustenance and our reward and our complete joy. There is no secondary service or part time or passive contributions. All is for Christ and for all those who are and will be His people.

His schemes

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“Now I also forgive whomever you forgive anything. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, that no advantage may be gained over us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes.”   2 Corinthians 2:10-11 WEB

Satan is a most miserable creature. His skills are telling lies at all times and blaming people for every ill. He makes those who listen to him as miserable as he is.

The Christian has been forgiven and continues to be forgiven by God. Satan will tell all sorts of twisted truths to loosen our hold on Christ and the finished work of salvation, which He accomplished for His people. We must learn to distinguish his lies and gross exaggerations. He loves to blame.

Satan is smarter than any human. He can operate a ring of deceit and accusation with impunity and undermine the faith of the believer. We need to know how he operates and the subtleties of his schemes. The Word of God will tell you all you need to know and the experience of life will teach us how to resist him.

The one single attitude we must watch for, is the growth of an unforgiving spirit. It happens really easily, and grows virulently. We are to forgive each other and forgive others who sisters and brothers have forgiven as well. There is no forgiveness for the person who does not forgive.

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you don’t forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15 WEB

The main offensive seems defensive. We must keep our lives free from sin and keep short accounts with God. We must forgive and make forgiveness a way of life, so that no bitterness or rancour grows in our hearts.

Any tolerated weakness of the flesh is a chink in our armour. We must face our enemy with all the armour of God and our breastplate of righteousness utterly clean. Our salvation must be our crowning glory and our minds ready against Satan’s wiles. Know your Bible. You will get no victory without it. Trust the power of the Word of God and the Spirit within. Work and witness for the Master and the message of peace you share will fortify your own soul.

God will protect you from the lies and blame. The devices of the devil, that you don’t understand, God will keep you in His grace.

So let us be brave and holy and devoted. The victory is the Lord’s and all His redeemed people.