We seem to be living in a generation that is particularly against the idea and person of The living God. His name is defamed and blasphemed everywhere and people have found other ways to live their lives apart from God. We now have the right to choose anything we like and any lifestyle that appeals to our senses. The Bible is vilified and Christians are sidelined and regarded as unscientific. We are surely in the days of Noah; the days of Ninevah; the state of Sodom and Gomorrah; the time of the Queen of the South; the unbelieving days of Christ, when God walked the earth.
Noah was a sign to the wicked people in his day, to show them they needed a refuge from the judgement of God. They refused to believe and were all drowned in the flood. Jonah was a sign to the people in Ninevah, and he preached to them to repent and turn and be delivered from certain punishment. They repented and searched for forgiveness and turned away from their wicked lifestyles and trusted in God. They were saved. Sodom and Gomorrah would not repent, or turn from evil, but persisted in provoking God, so they were all consumed by the raging fire of God’s wrath.
News of the glory of Solomon and his glorious God, reached the ears of the Queen of Sheba. She travelled far across the world, carrying rich treasure for Solomon, so that she could learn about his wisdom and his God. People in our culture will make no effort to even hear God’s message to them- it does not matter how endearing it many be. The mighty Queen of Sheba will show them up and they will have no excuses left.
When Jesus walked on our world, he brought hope, forgiveness and mercy to many, many people. Many saw “the sign” and believed and were healed in body and spirit. He is the ultimate sign- the final sign of the message of deliverance and forgiveness to all who believe. Even yet there were those who refused to accept him. They wanted a “sign” A sign of their choosing.
As the crowds grew, Jesus said to them… “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom; and now something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and now something greater than Jonah is here.” Luke 11:29-32
Unbelief is not particular to any generation or age of man, it is specific to us all. God sends His messengers and “signs” to warn, teach, preach and lead people to righteousness. Either we come to God or we resist. The pattern is clear. If we kick against His mercy and will, we will be ultimately destroyed.
Our culture is no different from any other. We refuse and deliberately go our own way. Gods “signs” remain. The “signs” are seen in scripture, in history and in the lives of every Christian believer today. Our lives and behaviour and our words, are “signs” to our generation that there is another way, and we all must walk it, so that people see there is a difference.
The way is a blessed way, the only path to peace and blessing. Believers in Jesus walk the way because they love Christ, and the people around them – we live as living “signs” for the glory of God.
The blacksmith, the anvil and the hammer
There are people who have spent time on the anvil. The hammer descends and forms them into the shape required of the designer. They brave the heat of the furnace in white hot conditions, and feel the fall of the weight of the blacksmiths hammer. The sparks fly as the semi-molten metal is beaten into the design and the unyielding iron becomes mailable.
These are the sturdy, the robust, the unmovable. Only as we face the fire, the hammer and the anvil, will we be any use. Without the heat and pressure, we remain rough and cold. The beauty is revealed in the tough trial and the strength is forged under the pressure of the pain.
God knows exactly what he is doing. The making that happens between the cold hard metal and the stress of the oven are the very things that make the person able to withstand the increasing difficulties of life. Strength of the heart and mind have a direct correlation to the power in the soul in the face of trouble.
The iron in the fire and on the anvil, battered by the hammer in the hand if the blacksmith, is sure to overcome.. Let us not ask for deliverance from the planned purposes of the creator of living souls. May God’s people be reshaped in The Blacksmith’s forge so that they will become what He intends…
” Strengthened in every good work..” 2 Thessalonians 3:17
“Strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience..” Colossians 1:11
Psychology is the sovereignty of God worked out in the human psyche. You can work it out. The reality can be faced and all difficulties and anxieties faced up to. Then – the code is broken… No one exists unattached. To understand our attachment to God, is a place of peace for the Christian. Fear vanishes as we trust more wholly on our Creator and Father.
It can be painful, because we are far from perfect. We run the gauntlet of a whole range of thoughts, emotions and ideas. These can be helpful or not. When we face the things that we cannot share with others, it can cause hurt in our inner life as we try to face pains and the consequences of sin, by ourselves.
We do not need to be alone. There is a friend and confidant that will stick with us and bear us through the trials. Jesus has walked this earth already and fully understands what we face. He knows us personally, our sins and failures, and loves us regardless. He can instruct, convict and comfort us like no one else can. We need to come to His feet and seek His forgiveness, and he will lead us out into the green pastures again.
We are inclined to think that the people around us and the friends we know, are “real” and we need them. They can help us in the reality of our lives and we take their advice as insightful. But Jesus is real- the relationship we have with him is real, and as we rely on Him and nourish our faith, we grow up in Him. He is closer to us than even skin, or thought… He is the Saviour of our whole being and the power of spiritual resurrection in our lives.
When we are sinned against it causes so many difficulties that we become trapped in a web of thoughts and feelings and are unable to admit the faults of others, or sort out which is our own. This becomes a kind of prison, and can only be opened by the knowledge that God truly lives and loves you and you are of priceless worth to Him. In believing His promises to you, gives the courage to keep going.
This fact snaps the bands that surround the troubled soul and the psyche reverts to a peaceful state. “I will never leave you or forsake you..” Jesus offers His peace and joy to all who believe.
Forgiveness is very difficult. If we have been greatly wronged, forgiving can be more difficult than the actual offense and cause us great problems. To really forgive and set our turmoil aside, is the work of God’s Spirit within us.
To feel and know we are worthless is totally debilitating. Only the fact of the sacrifice JESUS made for us on the cross, and the realisation that he is the risen Lord, gives us true worth and courage to walk on.
Wisdoms way: When you are overwrought, follow the instructions you have learned and you will solve it. “I am the way, the truth and the life… No one comes to the Father except through me.”
The gap between this present reality and the blossoming of the true life of body and soul, will be non-existent. As the Christian steps over the threshold of eternity we will become more ourselves, than we have ever been, and a perfect image of Christ, which is our true desire. Never again will corruption, sickness, poverty or sin, ever snap at our heels, but we shall be truly free to extend our abilities, explore the many worlds beyond the space and time that we are presently confined to.
We will have no need of anything, and no strength will be lacking as we live as we are supposed to live, in true fellowship with the Spirit of God and the bodily presence of the Saviour. We shall be safe forever in the loving arms of a Heavenly Father, who has purposed that we should be there with Him. All our Fear will completely dissipate and love will be made complete in every realm, so that safety and confidence will be our constant experience.
I don’t know what I will do, because I wouldn’t be able to take it in anyway in this present restrictive atmosphere, but everything will be the expression of enjoyment, love and ultimate creativity.
No one will hold the Redeemed back, or remind us that we are only human. We shall stretch our hands out and praise our maker with every fibre of our being, and the strength of rejoicing will fill every part of mind and body as we fill up with his power and presence.
No longer will there be need for comfort or refuge or restraint, as the wisdom and majesty of God fills our being and we know him truly, and the power that raised Christ from the dead.
As we walk the ways of our life in the here and now, we walk closer to him with each passing day and feel and know a growing knowledge of his ways, truth and love, so that when he calls us home, we will go gladly, and it will not be a wrench, for we will be familiar with his presence and call out his name as we meet him.
What it will be to meet him face to face, I cannot know. To have no regrets, because he has washed them all away and to have treasure for him, to give him, will cause those wonderful words to be heard… “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord…”
What a gathering.! What rejoicing as we enter his felt and known presence for ever…
There is no salvation apart from Jesus Christ. We are all lost to God and deeply estranged from His holiness and eternal life. We are born sinful- not just sinful deeds, but hearts and minds that are hard wired to selfishness and sin. It is like a disease and infiltrates every part of our being. We are blind to God’s ways; deaf to His message telling us to turn away; stony hearts that have no love for God or Christ or the work of The Holy Spirit, and our persons in themselves are dead to who God is and what He requires of us.
We are in a desperate state. There is no way we can get ourselves up and clean up our lives, so that we will be acceptable. God is totally holy, pure, righteous and cannot accept us on our terms. The truth is we haven’t got any and lie dead, decomposing and sleeping our way into the grave and an eternal place of punishment – hell.
Perhaps you think you are doing quite well, and are a very nice person who reacts well to others and tries to treat other people well. After all, if we do not act and speak well we will have no friends. This shows up our problems… Our motivations for doing certain things are suspect and in real terms, are selfishness covered over with respectability. Our enemy keep us lulled to our situation before a holy God, and we walk through life being duped by our own thought processes.
Maybe you think I am going too far- people are not that bad… ?
The web of life gets complicated and as we go on in the world, the burden of guilt and blame builds up, and we all carry it to the grave, unless we are enlightened.
How far would you go to rescue an enemy? How long would you persist in seeking her in order to bring her to God? How much of you time and effort would you give for another? When we start to reach out to the people around us, we are suddenly confronted with a reality that we might not have seen in ourselves. People do not want to face up. People are happy as long as they have what they want. The role of selfishness in our lives is huge, but we might not recognize its various faces. How do I break through this in myself and another?
We might invite them to a meeting; talk to them about what Jesus has done; pray for them; give a Bible to read and some literature… That’s about all we can do… There must be a deep work in the inner soul, for anyone to be changed and made right towards, God. The change is spiritual and only the Holy Spirit can do this. Only he can show me my need for forgiveness and change, and awaken a desire for God and cleanness.
The love of God is so amazing, deep, all-encompassing. He is prepared to wipe the slate clean, and start a work in my heart, that will change me in every way, and actually make me holy. God does not need humans, but He wants us and has gone to extreme lengths to make people fit for heaven.
We are all “estranged” until God makes us righteous and brings us right into His family…
There is no other message like this – a truth that changes lives and minds and intentions, and gives eternal life….