Do you think God is a nice person? Is He respectable? Does He behave the way polite people think He should? Does He always do what is expected of Him?
There are many nice people with good manners, which they have learned, and seem to live fairly respectable lives. There are many who think this aspect, is the definition of a Christian.
There are many who think they are Christians, because they pride themselves in their respectability. They appear good. Under the surface, they are a mass of jealousies, bad temper, dishonesty and pride. These attributes are masked by the outer layer of niceness.
Jesus called them “whited sepulchres.” Looking good on the outside but inside only harbouring dead men’s bones. We need great discernment to work out the real goodness from the fake. Only a real Christian can do this, because we need the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to understand words and deeds. We need courage to face our convictions and act on them.
False Christians are very dangerous, and dupe many into thinking wrong, and to believe lies. Self examination is not a human strong point, but we learn it as we walk with God and grow in wisdom and understanding.
God does not behave as we do. We must find Him and become like Him. To know Him is a huge shock to us, as we discover God is not as we expected. He does break the rules, go against popular opinion and does outrageous things. Many disapprove. The Lord of everything does as He pleases, and we bow to Him. If we do what He asks of us, we will be full of joy and love will prevail.
It is better to be honest about yourself, make a mistake, or social “gaff” and apologise, than to adopt the outer veneer of the hypocrite. The Christian loves sincerity and righteousness, and we must be those people, not act like them…
Eventually, the rot within will come out so that it is seen. We might dupe our family and friends, but we cannot hide from God. If we sow the wind, our souls will reap the whirlwind.
I am married to the love of my life. I’ve been married to him for 50 years. For 50 years we have worked together and talked together and He has supplied all my needs and has been my constant companion and true love. I need to be married to Him because I am a very expensive woman. I cost an exorbitant price, that He had to pay for me to get me to be His partner. He had to send his only Son to rescue me from slavery, and to pay the ultimate price so that I could be His. He willingly laid down His life to possess me and to make me equal with him in His glory and in His power. In fact, He Himself came to live in me and to be in me and to give me strength all the days of my life, so that one day I would be with Him in eternal bliss. This is the ultimate love story, a story of heart rending passion and power.
No one can provide for me except Him. Only He has sufficient resources to provide for me in this life and in the life to come. I do require physical things and possessions to help me in my life, but more than anything I require love and devotion and bravery and a power, to work and be me, every day. His provision for me has been extraordinary and I have seen it especially, in these recent days. God is not a father or husband who gives out as he can afford, but He gives all things richly to enjoy, for me, my good and for my comfort. He is a God of all comfort and all things are His possession, so He gives freely to me as His daughter, and His servant, and as His queen.
No one can take me away from my Lord and God. Neither can they ultimately disappoint me, for my eyes are on Him. I wait for Him as a look at the skies. One day He will return in that body that once walked the Earth, and I will fly to Him, and I will never be separated from Him again. I shall see my love and touch Him and know Him, in the most richest and fullest way that there is. The passion of redemption will be fulfilled and His glory will be revealed in me. This is personal because there is no one like me and there is no one like Him. He relates to me as a person of the closest relation, and everything that I am is His.
What human can compete with this? We are all lost people we are all dead in our sins and are all ultimately weak. We are only made strong and whole and good as we find this God – as this God finds us, and binds us to Himself eternally. I am expensive and I will always be expensive, because my Saviour bears the marks of that cost in His body for eternity. Anyone who loves Him must be loved by Him, for only He is the Redeemer and to know Him really is life and peace. You will know him and you will share that incredible glory forever if you just believe.
“But to you who fear my name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in its wings. You will go out, and leap like calves of the stall.”
Here is the final comfort for all who love Jesus. It is the unending promise made to all who fear the Lord and have pursued wisdoms ways, right to the very end of their lives. To pursue God is to love Him entirely and rest completely on His power to sustain us and keep us in the right and out of the wrong. It is a power that never sleeps and will never leave off it’s purifying effects on the human soul. The fear of God makes us clean, for we would not dare to enter His presence in our filthy clothes. The heavy curtain of separation has gone and we are free to enter in, ripped apart by the death of our Saviour on the cross. Everyone has free assess and the way to God could not be more plain.
However, nowhere does God leave aside His purity, glory or holiness. We approach Him and the Father of all living, and the one who holds our lives in His hands, with humility and love. We cannot skip in foolishly, or enter the mercy seat, with filthy sins around our feet. We enter as forgiven children, who love their Father and await His commendation and blessing.
The sun of righteousness, in this verse, refers to the authority and purity of Jesus Christ. In Him are all the treasures of wisdom and power, and He will keep His own people and will forever rise on their perpetual day, as the constant sun-rise and sun-set. The glory of the skies is His and by imitation it belongs to His people also. Jesus rises as the last great and noble bird, spreading His wings as protection against the heat and storms of the day. His majesty has no comparison, and His being is radiant with the glory that belongs to Him.
These wings bring healing from the scorching of the day and the many hurts that infest the night. He will not allow His treasured possessions to be in pain or doubt, that is outside His sovereign will. This is peace. This is the rest from torment. The body and soul can lie down together so that the angel wings of the mercy seat touch in agreeable joy. They mend souls who rest in its hiding place, away for the gloom and negative effects of life in a world not yet ransomed.
The conscience rests in peace, because the price of its sin is paid, and the holiness that God requires is lived each day in the presence of the triune God. No one is ever alone. No one is passed over and left to work it out for themselves. The longer we tread the pathway, the wiser we become and the work of God is more obvious in our lives. There are those who must be wiser than serpents, who walk a tiresome road with Christ only, as their companion.
But they will skip like new- born calves, who have left the shelter of the mother’s womb and launched themselves out into the ever greater unknown, to live for God and enjoy His presence and power every day. The picture is not just for the day, but for the night also. There are bands of believers who will stop at nothing to reach the needy out there, and bring dignity and power to them who have temporarily lost their way. It doesn’t take much. A cup of coffee; a warm blanket, of a small book of love and faith and help.
Why would we not have courage to strike out, to give it all, as we are asked to do?
There is no loss in this service, no pain in the giving and no sickness that can ever overcome. The old live on and pass the skills down to others. Do not despise our calling, as the world might, but we show Christ in proportion to our love for Him. Love burns. It burns day and night and will never fail.
“The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them on their way, and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light, that they might go by day and by night: the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night, didn’t depart from before the people.”
Exodus 13: 20-21
What a picture for the people of God and the reality of the felt, seen and known presence of God.! He is the fire within, the burning in the lives of people touched by that fire. Those who are the over-comers, and who will reign in that City of Gold. No one will touch them, offend them or a word of blame be raised to trouble their stillness.
They will serve many and bring many to righteousness. Do not offend them, the people of God, for they are peerless and harbingers of grace above all others. Different generations have called them different names. The “recluses” for the sake of Jesus Christ; the “anchorites” who give their whole selves in holy sacrifice; those who live with passion, who are misunderstood, and suffer so much loss. Those who hold no earthly thing so dear and gladly give all away.
These are the people of Christ. All who love them, are loved, and all who hate them are cast out.
“Daniel, a hand touched me, which set me on my knees and on the palms of my hands. He said to me, Daniel, you man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright; for am I now sent to you. When he had spoken this word to me, I stood trembling. Then he said to me, Don’t be afraid, Daniel; for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard: and I have come for your words’ sake.”
Daniel 10: 10-12
So is the response to the prayers of the Seer. We will see God’s purposes and will rejoice to watch the outworking of His holy will. All are safe. Not one of His people will be lost. Do not be discouraged when it seems that people do not understand. This is the plan already. Watch and see the salvation of the Lord. It will come quickly, and no force will stop it.
“I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.”
Unfortunately we are taught that these two Christian women were arguing about something. We are not told what they were discussing, or what the dispute was about, but it wasn’t the price of fish! Perhaps there was a point of theological importance, which had bearing on their serve for God. Perhaps one had made a lifestyle choice that the other thought was ungodly. We don’t know.
The way women are presented in the Scripture, is not the same as from the pulpit. There are many stereotyped ideas about how all women are and women, as a gender, are presented, too often, in a derogatory way. This prejudice has a toll on the lives of women, and many pay a high price in their health and well being, because of this attitude. The unjust nature of this way of thinking, should be put right.
These women, in Philippi, are asked to have the same mind of Christ, which we all must have. A mind of humility, and preferring the other person before ourselves. We seek peace with each other, and fairness in all our dealings.
The Apostle tells us that Euodia and Syntyche, fought for the truth of the Word of God, with him and beside Him. Not under him or watched over or managed by him, but as equal co-workers in the work of God. They were right up there with Paul, on the front line. Paul had many co-workers, and he knew he was not above any of them. Neither did he speak or act like it. He never took money from anyone, and funded his own life and ministry by secular work.
He did not regard women as less, though we in church circles, still struggle with this issue. There are too many vested interests in organisations, and person empire building. Women are not optional extras, but necessary for the proper functioning of the body of Jesus Christ. Leaders give lip service to equality, but cannot step down, so that others can step up. The mind of Christ must be in us, as was in the Apostle who has set us this godly example. If your name is in the book of life, you are a worthy person, regardless for who you are or what you are. All who have life are equal with Christ and we treat each other as such.
What joy and peace and love, this fact, brings to the renewed heart. Only a heart that belongs to God, would ever have these pleasures. To the Christian, there is no one like the Lord, their Saviour and friend. No one can draw near like He can, and no one can still our fretting minds, like the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.
In all our circumstances, wether daily chores, or high octane endeavours, His grace is sufficient and will sustain us. How near can He be?
If God’s Spirit in in you, He is closer than your skin. He resides in you, your mind, heart and soul, because you are alive to Him, and are set free from the chains of having to bow to wrong ways. He brings liberty and rejoicing.
Heaven is within you, and the things of this life increasingly dim in value and desire. To know the closeness of God, is the only things we seek… knowing Him and the power that raised Jesus from the dead. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, the Lord is near. How happy we would be, to be living in that light and how contented would be our days, even in this troubled world.
Talking about people to another person, when they can’t hear, defend themselves and have justice, is murder. We don’t tend to talk positively about others, but rehearse their failures and faults. This is an evil thing to get involved with. Some people ask questions to find out information to use at a later date. We enjoy it, as it makes us feel better about ourselves and we get a buzz from sharing negative stories about that we have found out.
Gossip is an evil practice that destroys the reputation of other people, and also ourselves. People know we gossip, so will not trust us or want to share with us. It is a wholly destructive process of assassination and pulling down the reputation of people. We do it in our own lives, and can be indiscreet about what we share and undiscerning about human tendencies. Our society permits it in the media, which is full of salacious stories about people with “juicy” stories. Some people encourage this, as they benefit from the attention, but eventually it backfires on them, and they get badly hurt.
To entertain this “skill” ruins our lives and keeps God far away from us. When we participate it grieves the Holy Spirit and we loose out. We must run from it and keep away from people who practice it. What we say is of prime importance, as it shows what is going on in our mind and what we are really like. When our tongues are under control, our whole person is under control.
“A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much. If someone curses their father or mother, their lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness.”
No gossips or slanderers will inherit the kingdom. They are kept out with the rest of the wicked. It is that serious.
We must not gossip about others, or about ourselves. Prayer meetings can be placed of “legalised” gossip, where personal details are “shared” as prayer points. We are promoting ourselves, and talking about the people we talk to and “share” the gospel. God knows the details already, and since we pray to Him, we don’t need to rehearse them. Instead of showing ourselves as godly, we are ungodly,
The reach of gossip is wide and it’s methods are subtle. We must guard our hearts and bring our situations to God. Only He is trustworthy and He will not hurt people or spread rumours. We have all been subject to that, and it is very unpleasant.
The worst gossip, is family gossip. Family members will pick on someone they regard as a “problem” and will undermine the character of that person over years. The person is left out, and sidelined. They will feel and know the oppression, and it will end in disaster. Some people will not be able to sustain themselves under this pressure from people who are supposed to be “nearest and dearest” and life will end for the designated scapegoat.
It is so serious, and we all must address it. It keeps coming up as an issue, everywhere. Kill gossip before it kills you, your family and everyone around you. If we practice it on our family, especially our Mother and Father, God says our light will be snuffed out. No life, no testimony, no heaven. We will walk worthy of our calling and make our choice in Christ sure.
“The righteous despise the unjust; the wicked despise the godly.”
A heart that loves God, loves what He loves. God is the bedrock and perpetrator of justice. God hates oppression and the manacling of the human heart and mind in all its forms. God made us to be free. Free from tyranny and all oppression. Physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual prisons, are all constructs of the fallen human psyche and the evil forces it serves.
We live in unjust times. Oppression is everywhere. Everyone delights in telling others what to do. We dictate our viewpoint and inflict it on everyone. This is the purpose of the media. Righteous people reject this. We despise those who are unjust and are ruining the lives of people in our world. We may say so and speak about how we feel, but it will not be accepted. We have moved on from days when we were able to be free enough to go against the tide.
The wicked despise the godly. They will not listen and may take steps to silence you in their lives. They will ignore, gossip and slander you, so that you appear inconsequential, but God loves righteousness and justice. Hold your ground and keep your mind safe in Him. Keep despising evil and all that contaminates goodness and truth, for that is God’s way.
Do not be worried about being despised, they despised your Saviour and loving God, so why not you? They murdered Him, but He rose again and ever lives for us, and is in total control of all forces. God is not mocked. There is more than we can see or hear and He will deliver those who love Him.
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
Look around you, anywhere… do you see this? Do not be afraid. Remember, God is in control, and our Saviour Jesus will have all the honour.
“For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
“But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the LORD, ‘because you are called an outcast,”
It’s ok to be an outcast. In fact, it’s a bonus. God has mercy on those who find themselves on the receiving end of spite and hatred. Many suffer in this way, as the acceptable methods of controlling people are detrimental to our characters and emotional and spiritual life. We live in very difficult times, and the number of people, children included, suffering mind illness issues, is growing.
We have a situation in our world where governments are dictating to their societies, like never before. People are interred in their homes and life has shut down. Some people are loving the fact that they can exert power over others and tell everyone what to do. There is ultimate meddling in people’s lives and an accepted social, tyranny is over the whole world.
Many are feeling left out, isolated and fearful. We are told not to visit each other, no touching, keep the individuality of your face covered, and you must not go out unnecessarily. Oppression is everywhere, and people are being hurt in ways we have never known was possible. We are finding we are more than physical and have more needs that food and drink. Many do not even have these things.
Businesses are shut down, because the laws say they must for public safety. Families have no income and many are doing without. We have time to think and evaluate our lives and the situation in which we live, wondering about purpose and destiny.
Perhaps God will again renew the oppressed people and speak into our lives with His life. We may have lost our own, or at least the one we thought we had, but realise there is more. We don’t have to live with the oppression of others, and be so unhappy with our lot. Those who trust in God will be delivered and He has promised to supply our need. God will restore our health and heal our wounds. That’s a promise. Oppression does not last.
If we are disappointed with our lives and what is happening all around us, we have a refuge in God. He will deliver all who will trust Him and obey His Word.
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like- minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.”
How different we should be as Christian believers. To walk through life, united with Christ, is the greatest privilege a person could have. The person of the Holy Spirit is with us, in ever part of our being… in every molecule of our bodies, every nerve ending of our minds and emotions, and every part of our soul. We cannot help but be like our Lord and God, as He is ours and we are His. The comfort of His love is our true delight, and we avoid doing anything that would compromise that situation, like a true lover, who we cherish and adore.
Other people who have this same Spirit, are recognisable to us, by the same fruits of humility and grace. There is that common sharing of the presence of the Spirit, that only comes by the life of faith we share. The compassion we feel and show towards other people, is in everything we do, and our conversations are tempered with the salt of the Word of God, and our testimony to the goodness of God, every day.
Christians are like- minded people. The humility principal is set out for us here. The Saviour, Jesus, humbled Himself and obeyed the will of His Father, and gave Himself as a sacrifice for His people. He went right down into death for our sake, that we would never have to suffer the eternal consequences of our failure. But, He is therefore, “ highly exalted.” He showed who He really is by what He did, and so God gave Him the highest place. One day we also will share in that glory. It will all be because of Him. This is why we love, humble ourselves and serve, because we belong to Christ and will be glorified with Him.
What a Saviour we have! What love we should have and tender compassion to each other. How different this world would be if we gave ourselves, as Jesus did, and how exalted we would be in His eternal glory.