The weak and the strong

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There are Christians who are so capable and come across as confident and full of knowing the right thing to do… others are more susceptible to the hurts of life and appear “weaker.” I think in reality we are all struggling, just some cover it over better.

We all desperately need the Lord.

When troubles strike, we see it clearly. This is good! At this time we see ourselves as we really are- dependant on the mercy and strength of our Father in heaven and in constant and life-supporting help of the Holy Spirit. We also become more aware of our sins and failings. If this leads us to repent, that is good. If it only produces anxiety, that is unfruitful.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Maybe it is better to be afflicted with difficulties and to have the sensitivity to feel them, rather than just learn how to try to cope by ourselves. Maybe these afflictions will make us run to the Lord more quickly instead of building ourselves up in self-confidence. To have any hope or good thinking about our personality, abilities, strengths or character, is ultimately foolish. We perish without the Lord, and our Christian life will falter and descend into sinful mindsets that dishonour God. Without the Lord, all our supposed “goodness” will eventually fade.

Each moment we live for Him, is in His fellowship and He keeps His people close and strengthens them in His love. What if we could be open to each other about our desires and beliefs? What if everyone was open about what they want out of life or how they want to serve God? What if we were able to honestly support each other and stir each other up to good works?

We would be much closer for sure. But the culture in so many Christian groups today, is not conducive to trust. We hide and cover over good and bad, in order to try to maintain an independent outlook for ourselves and our lives.

Perhaps we are not so capable or confident after all. Maybe we need to come down from the exalted thinking about ourselves and seek the Lord humbly. A dependant culture on true Christian sisters and brothers, who will mutually help each other, is a precious environment. It cannot be manufactured, but is the work of the Holy Spirit in each life. A group of Christians is built together by the Spirit of God, and not organized by our own strategies.

The dependency culture in our spiritual lives with God is good. It is the way we should walk with God. We can hope in God and He will forgive and strengthen us in our inner person. If we do not depend on Him, then we will not ultimately have the hope, of a living and vibrant faith in Christ. So the weak who lie at the feet of their Saviour and look only to Him, turn out to be the powerful ones. The knowing that they are nothing in themselves, has resulted in a faith that can move mountains and a trust in God that conquers all.

A place to avoid at all costs

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Hell- a place for real that is almost never talked about and seldom ever thought about. We don’t believe in it, therefore it doesn’t exist.

When we begin to ponder that this place might be real, we also begin to wonder what it is like. There are some clues in holy Scripture. Jesus talked about hell and gave very graphic and clear illustrations about it.

It is a place where humans and demons experience the second death. The second death is a living death. The person is separated from God and all goodness, forever. It is a place of sorrow, regret and the never ending agony of a condemning conscience. There is no way out. All chances have passed and the possibility of forgiveness has passed away at the point of physical death.

This is why we cannot think of this state of being, it is the ultimate horror where the gnawing of guilt has no remedy. In that place, we rehearse our sins and how we affected others with our bad attitudes. Our refusal to come to God, that kept others in the dark also, will haunt us. Those we loved are destined to suffer too, alone and forever afraid, because we didn’t pray or witness to them.

We will know the full extent of our sinfulness and our mind will remind us of it all. Like Dante’s inferno, layers and layers of blame and regret. There are no distractions to relieve the pain – darkness reigns and no friendly word of encouragement breaks the constant flow of negativity. We will think of what might have been, and the glory that could have been ours, but we refused it.

God describes us as “lost” and so we are. Lost to joy and peace and to hope. In that dreadful place we are forgotten. No one looks for us or misses us. We hang in the web of futility and the sting of death pierces our souls. The warnings we were told, torments our minds and the anger burns against ourselves that we were so careless.

“Run from the wrath that us coming!”  God tells us that His wrath waits to pour out punishment on those who refuse Him. We must run to Him. We must earnestly seek His forgiveness, and get this relationship sorted out now. Why play Russian roulette with your soul? The stakes couldn’t be higher. We play with folly and are seemingly senseless to our need and eternal state. Jesus holds out His hands. He implores you to come. Everything is done for you and the banquet is ready. Why turn away?

“Seek the Lord, while He can be found..”   Putting it off is folly. You don’t know your end. Trying to do a deal with God, which shows our conceit and total lack of understanding of the deep rottenness of our sin… The transaction is already made- He has paid for your soul in full. Only Jesus can make you fit for His kingdom.  Arguing your own way – that leads straight to destruction.

You have nothing. All you can do is come to Jesus for mercy and He will freely forgive. He takes your rottenness and gives you untold blessings forever. His love is boundless and strong. He will never leave you and fill your life with His Holy Spirit, and such power and love for Him and other people.

The two lifestyles and two destinies could not be further apart. They are eternally apart and a great chasm is placed between them that no one can cross. We have a picture, which Jesus shows us of a man fining himself in hell, and the utter futility of his thinking. He had everything in this life, but ignored his soul. Now he has lost it all.

Jesus gives us another picture of a man, given over to wickedness, and yet he turns his eyes to Jesus and repents when he faces death. He is completely forgiven and meets Christ in the heavenly kingdom, in everlasting joy.

What is the difference? Faith. Falling at the feet of the loving Saviour and finding joy and peace. It is the same for all of us. The way stands open as yet.

Either hold on to nothing and loose everything, or let go of our own sinful self and gain an eternity of everything- love, joy, peace with God.

A place to avoid at all costs…

Enlightenment

Ephesians 1:18-19 NIV
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. …”
As Christian people we all, and always need our spiritual eyes open so that we can understand more and more who we are, in Christ. Our grasp of the massive hope we have in our Saviour Jesus deepens our love and devotion. It is a real and certain hope which we can view with enlightened eyes. We have an inheritance because we belong to Christ and which we share with all the people of God. Our inheritance is kept for us until we enter into its glories, when our Lord returns to bring all His people home to His glory. Even as we live in the here and now, we have the power of God to sustain us, keep us in His grace and enable us to walk worthy of Him who loves us.

Hebrews 6:4-6 NIV
“It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. …”
Surely this reference to enlightenment is frightening. It speaks of people who have received some enlightenment to believe, and yet have turned away. People who hear the gospel and understand the message, and yet reject Christ and fall back again into their chosen sinful lifestyle. These people have known the sweetness of the Holy Spirit working in them, and yet they grieve Him away with unbelief. They actually know and realise the goodness of God and have an inkling of the glory of the kingdom that will come, but fall away from it all to enjoy this transient world kingdom.
Once they have fallen away, they are irrevocably lost. No matter what they hear, see or understand again, they are forever barred from salvation. They are lost already and nothing or no one can bring them back. It is a fearful state and one that should fill us with holy fear, that we are safe in our Lord Jesus.

Hebrews 10:32-33 NASB
“But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated.”
Christians are being encouraged to think of the days when they were searching for Christ. They are to remember the time when they were enlightened, illuminated, brought into the full light of gospel day. That wonderful moment and day of salvation, brought in days of trouble and hardship for them. The Christians had to go through days and long periods of suffering for the sake of their faith in Jesus Christ. They felt the pain of rejection by society and the stigmatisation of their way of life and were publicly reviled for their holy deeds and words. They were, as a group of people, subject to such negative prejudice, that when one suffered, all suffered. There was a bond of fellowship that kept them close to each other and their Saviour. When one was punished, all were punished by the pain of reproach. Such is the cost of enlightenment in the power of the Spirit.

Psalm 19:8 ESV
“The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.”
Everything that comes from the mind and voice of God is right. The Lord of all speaks only truth. To those who love Him, His Word causes rejoicing. No part is ordinary or commonplace. Every command He makes is pure and we can follow it with complete confidence. These great and precious edicts and teachings open our inner eyes to see God and give us clarity of understanding and wisdom.
If we do not love His Word, we do not love Him. Those who love His Word find themselves taken up with it, reading and obeying. This is what gives light to the understanding and wisdom to the soul.

The heavenly man

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1 Corinthians 15:49 NIV
“And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.”
We automatically think this is for heaven, but it doesn’t have a time frame. For sure, we will be transformed into the likeness of Christ as we enter the city of gold. All our sinful traits and behaviours will disappear forever- never remembered or discussed. But, we are redeemed right now, here, in time and space.
Our full and total redemption draws near, but the reality of it is in our lives on earth, is a present experience.

This is for now. We are to bear the image of the heavenly man, every day. We will with Him, learn from Him in His Word, everyday. That’s quite a challenge.! The earthly part of us fades away and the character of our Saviour, Jesus, shines through- Lord, help me today..

How much is too much?

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The idea of too much. Often this is an opinion about other people or from other people. It is a changeable measure according to perceptions. What one person regards as too much, another might think it not enough..!

The things we have become too much, when we are simply responding to what we feel we want. Need and want are not the same. Passing over the line is a point in each persons mind and we each must realise it.

In the wealthy Western world, too much is encouraged in the name of entrepreneurial principles. We create need, to make money, to keep economies afloat and business booming. People have problems with covetousness, and business taps into that predisposition in our psyche. Christmas is a time when we see this rampant. We can see it’s ugliness and the misery it causes people who cannot purchase the dreams on display.

It is cruel. The inability to get the stuff everyone else has, or to meet the heightened expectations of family, leads to misery. There must be a way out of this endless cycle of greed. Our deeper needs remain unmet and we focus on the trivial, rather than the other way round.

How much love for God and holiness of life can you take? How much love for God’s ways is too much? We have the idea in our minds that if we are too holy, people won’t like us or be able to relate to us. We hear comments about “Holy Joe’s” and “little Miss perfect”. We make fun of people who seek to live good lives and who try to do what is right. Names are used to sideline people who reject the world’s way and to keep ourselves from feeling too bad.! After all, we must not be extreme.!

Jesus is perfect. We can love and trust Him because He is perfect. The scripture says we must follow Him and be like Him. That means we must seek holy lives and attention to the detail of the motivations of the heart. Sounds like “holiness” all round for those who seek heaven.

Perhaps the truth that we are forgiven all when we come to Christ, makes us complacent. We become careless so easily, and stop “working out our own salvation with fear and trembling.”
We don’t examine the Word, and so do not go deeper into truth and grow to maturity in the ways of God. Daily living becomes sloppy and we stop examining ourselves and think that to be that extreme in seeking God, is not “normal.”
If others around us are also accepting of less than godly deeds, words and thoughts, then we sink down lower still. People who love God are supposed to sharpen each other and help each other grow in grace..!

In holiness, there is only perfection. If we desire God, then holiness is the aim and priority in our lives. After all, heaven is the place where holiness is the norm, and true believers want to be there for that reason. We get contaminated very easily. We substitute religious practices with growth in godliness. We think going to church is evidence of belief.. the devil is in church too. His job is to keep the people asleep and unaware of what is happening to them. Self-righteousness is a deadening sin and gives a false impression of holiness. Let us search the scriptures for real. Only as we put on Christ, are we becoming holy.

Holy? You can never get too much.

Worldly inclinations? We will always love them too much, until we are made perfect in righteousness. When we finally see the face of our Beloved, it will all fall away, and we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

Redeemed

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With your mighty arm you redeemed your people..” Psalm 77:15

The Holy Lord of heaven and earth has redeemed His people. No one else could do it. The people were dead in sins and all kinds of trespasses, and totally unable to choose or improve their lot. They were insensible to God and waiting for destruction, dead in every sense. But God, out of the riches of His mercy, came and suffered and died, paying the dreadful price for sins.

The righteous God died for unrighteousness people and made a way for them to be brought into His own family. As He reached out to them, the Holy Spirit enlightened the mind and heart and the person was given the faith to believe and a life-changing power turned the person for death to life. The Holy God was able to resurrect that person, just as God the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ was resurrected on the third day. All those who possess this life are marked for God and an eternal life with Him.

All this, God did. It is His will and power that has acted in this way towards His chosen people. This is His mighty arm. It took this amazing plan and purpose to work this salvation. If He had not done so,there is no salvation. We would never choose Him and all humankind would be lost in its corporate and particular sins.

Do not carp and quibble. If you don’t want to loose out, throw down your weapons and repent. Don’t allow false arguments to keep you out of heaven.

“Seek the Lord, while He is near. Call upon Him, while He can be found…”

Mary

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The figure of Mary the mother of Jesus, is right at the centre of the Christmas story, and she is hailed as a holy and separate person, above and different from ordinary types, such as you or I. However, if we consider her situation and what she had to face as a young teenage girl, we begin to see things we hadn’t previously noticed.

She must have suffered considerably at the hands of gossips and back-biters, as she coped with the noticeable bump of the developing baby, and no husband. Left out and rejected, she had to prepare for the arrival of her child, knowing that Joseph, her fiancé, would probably set her aside.

God assured her, through the angel, that he was in complete control, and that the baby was no ordinary child, but his own beloved Son, Creator of the universes.

Mary believed. She did not complain, worry, fret or seek the refuge of popular people. She patiently and faithfully, carried out her time, knowing that the person she was carrying, was the Saviour of the world, and her Saviour also.

Joseph also believed the angel who spoke to him from God. He took Mary and kept her safe and comforted her, taking her through the long journey to Bethlehem.

Mary rejoiced to be so highly thought of by God and we can read her song of praise in Luke chapter one. She put all her trust and hope in God and knew that He would deal with her sinfulness and make her what she was not – a good woman.

Mary knew that her son would some day be cruelly killed, for the sins of the world and her own sins. This baby was her Lord and God who would one day rule all things. Mary’s God is also our God, and we need to trust him and follow him, as Mary did. The humility of obedience is the mark of every person who loves Him and walks with him in faith.

 

Women who glorify God