Forgetting God

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Surely there is a time and place for seeking the help of others. Does God not work through others to carry out his will?

King Asa, king of Judah, fortified all his towns and cities to stop anyone from entering or leaving his territory. He had a shut-down policy on immigration. Then he took the precious items from God’s house and from his own palace, and gave them to the king of Aram to pay him off and stop him attacking Judah, but also to over-ride the treaty with Baasha, King of Israel. Bash was attacking Judah and Asa decided to use political measures to secure his territory.

Aram, started to over-come Israel, Baasha stopped his building and Asa commandeered all the stones for himself. Asa regarded this as his right to the spoils of war.

The Seer, Hanani spoke against Asa.

“Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped from your hand.”

Asa had tried to manipulate events and people, and had stopped trusting in the Lord his God, and so he becomes friends with Aram and got some things he wanted. But at what cost?

Hanani reminds Asa of God’s past faithfulness…

“Were not the Cushites and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen? Yet when you relied on the Lord, he delivered them into your hand.”

Asa appears to have forgotten this, or has left off his usual devotion to God and is now relying on himself.

Now we have an amazing statement, a promise to the faithful believers who are totally committed to the Lord…

“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”

Asa has missed the boat. He has committed himself to godless liaisons and so now there will be consequences for him.

“You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.”

You would expect Asa to repent…but he didn’t. He was furious and threw the Seer into prison and oppressed some of his own people. How foolish we are. When we find ourselves on a wrong course. Surely we would turn back, relent and change…but we often don’t.  Such is the foolishness of the human heart (even one that believes) that it will insist on a course of action, even when it is self-destructive.

God tried again… He sent Asa a serious disease that affected his feet. Even so, he would not seek the Lord’s help and remained stubborn to his dying day. He put his trust in the doctors and not in the Lord his God.

As we read this passage, we can see where Asa went wrong, but it is more difficult to see where we go wrong in our lives. We can pass judgement on the mistakes of others, but not see we are doing the same thing. God sent Asa godly Hanani to help him, but he refused.

Let us not be so foolish to ignore God’s provision and carry on in a godless attitude. Forgetting God is not wise, whether it is a mistake, or purposefully. If we remain unchanged and unchangeable, we miss so many blessings- and the opportunity to walk with God by faith.

 

Shame

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The man on the cross… Why is He there? Does it mean anything? Does it mean anything to us?

We see him there hanging halfway between heaven and earth. We see that broken body. We see that face which cannot be distinguished as any person in particular and see those wounds – so many without number. Nails puncture His hands and feet, pinning Him to the wood and that spectacle, hung up so all can see.

When artists paint this picture they paint a loincloth to shade Him from this disrespect, but in reality he was naked on the cross open to all taunts of the people who stood below his cross. They all laughed, mocked, pointed insults, scoffed at this one man, the God and maker of everything to pin their own shame upon him. That shame was not his own but ours. Ours the blame along with the agony and the punishment for eternal sins. The bloody wood remind us of the payment for sins – things done against God’s holy law, not disregarded but paid for by this blessed man. He took it all for our sake so that we would never have to suffer… Not human, but the unhuman love of the eternal Son.

Still to this day He remains the rejected Saviour. Still a race of loved creatures, who continue to heap shame upon Him. The shame of ignoring, silent rejection and indifference.

But the suffering Saviour no longer suffers on that wooden cross, but reigns over all, glorified on heaven’s throne. Forever glorious and the Saviour of all who come to Him…

Human kind remains, heaping up shame upon themselves, until the day each realise the reality of their need and each gives up their shame and He bears it all away…

Stand at the crossroads

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Stand at the crossroads.

Jeremiah 6:16

As the Prophet Jeremiah foretells, our human society stands at the crossroads of its life and spiritual future. We face a decision that in many ways has already been chosen for us. There are four possibilities but only one that leads us to life. There are many and varied arguments as to the “right” way to go. The Book of guidance is not regarded by us in our well-educated days, even Christians seem to have the right to pick and choose which words are to be accepted and which can be discarded.

We appear to have gained a right to pass judgement on the historic and carefully preserved sacred documents, though we may never have even read them, never mind studied them. The outcome is that “anything goes.” There is no need to pay attention to what God says about my person, my relationship to Him and where I will go after this earth-life is over. God will forgive anything anyway and is not dogmatic enough to make demands on my behaviour and life choices. So our view of Him is tarnished…we imagine He is like we are…

As we stand there at the parting of the roads, open the book of books, and the way to life will become transparent as the Spirit breathes energy into our minds and hearts.

Turn backwards to the road you have been on, and you will live life on the terms of the past, destined to repeat its mistakes and folly. It is actually the direction that goes downwards into the night.

Turn to the right and follow the dead trail of rules and regulations, binding us in a bondage that will suck all our life away, and lull our souls into complacency..

Turn to the left and live for yourself, subjugating the Spirit and sateing desire for the bodily needs. Truth twisted to suit the soul confirming us in the folly, and so we are condemned to die.

Walk on. Follow the straight and narrow roadway that leads to life everlasting. A life filled with the Spirit of the living God, mind and heart renewed through repentance and faith in the only Saviour.

But we will not follow the book. Our minds become darkened and the pathway is murky and full of fear… Therefore there is no rest for our souls….

We deny the book. We fudge the reality of the crossroads and we stumble into darkness..

Who will stand at the crossroads?
Who will point the way, proclaim the book and call out the warning?

This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ Jeremiah 6:16

 

The Holy Spirit

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Galatians 5:22-26 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

Ephesians 5:9 “For the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth.”

Revelation 2:7 “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”

1 Corinthians 14:15  “I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding.”

The Christian cannot do anything without the Spirit of God. Without the Spirit we are dead in sins and under the control of our wrong desires. There is no exception to this. When we first believe and put our trust in what Christ did for us on the cross, we get a new life and God’s Holy Spirit comes to live in us, every day, forever. Our desires change and we seek to walk with Him and conform ourselves to God’s ways. The power of the Spirit enables us to do this. Without this power we are dead.

The fruit of the Spirit is obvious, in that it is the opposite to the ways of this world. Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are not bullish, brutish, rough graces, but the reflection of the gracious Spirit, and are often thought of as Feminine traits. They are not just for the Christian woman, but for every Christian. The male dominance does not appear here. We are to live in subjection to each other, in the way of truth and righteousness.

There should be a holy respect for each other and a recognition of the power of God in the lives of his people. There is no “ordinary Christian.” Every person that belongs to God will overcome self, sinful desire, temptation and the enemy who is Satan. They will overcome by the power of the cross and the shed blood of Jesus, who calls for forgiveness for His own.

The Spirit promises victory to every believer who overcomes in the Spirit’s power, and they will gain eternal life with God, where the true fruition of these graces will bloom in every heart redeemed by Christ, for ever in the eternal kingdom.

Our whole lives must be subject to the Spirit, and we must cultivate listening to Him, as we read the word of God. As we follow the obedience of the conscience and promptings of the Spirit within, we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. The Spirit is not an impression or a feeling in the body or head, but the outworking of the deep understanding of the truth of God. He is a person, and is known as a person by all who humble themselves and seek his rich fruit, which propagates in their lives, and shows Christ to an unbelieving world.

Those who truly belong to Christ succumb to the work of the Holy Spirit and live in the delight of knowing His presence and power flowing through all of the person. The Spirit never contravenes the scriptures, nor can He disobey God. His nature is humble and gracious and this is also reflected in the life of the Christian, as we walk humbly with our God and seek to serve Him in all ways.

Anything that goes against scripture, is against the Spirit.

Hannah seeks a blessing

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Elkanah was a man who loved God and went up to the temple every year to worship and make sacrifices to His God. He had two wives. One called Peninah and one called Hannah. He loved Hannah the best and Peninah knew it and took her jealousy out on Hannah.

The scripture says, God did not give Hannah children, and Peninah had many sons and daughters. Peninah used this situation to torment Hannah. Hannah would cry and Elkanah would try to comfort her. He would tell her how much he loved her, but it was no good. Neither Hannah nor Elkanah could do anything about it.

Once a year they all went up to the temple in Jerusalem for the worship and sacrifices for sins. Elkanah gave Hannah a double portion… He loved her and wanted to show it.

Hannah made up her mind to do something about her pain.

What could she do?

She took it to the Lord. She was in earnest. She so greatly desired a child that she asked God for one directly. As she came to God, she knew she had to be honest and her relationship with God had to be right. She was so caught up in speaking to Him and petitioning her case, the old priest Eli thought she was drunk..!

This is what Hannah said to Eli, the old priest…

1 Samuel 1:15-16 NIV “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”

Eli blesses her and she takes comfort, eats some food and her appearance becomes brighter. Hannah goes home and waits in faith for God to answer her prayer.

1 Samuel 1:19-20 NIV “ Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”

When Samuel was three, Hannah took him up to the temple and gave him back to the Lord.

God had answered her prayer and now she was showing her thankfulness to God for what he had done for her.

She said…”I give him back to the Lord- for his whole life, so that he will be given over to the Lord.”

Hannah did not make an idol out of her son. She loved the Lord, and knew that it was all because of Him that she had been so blessed. God had taken away her shame, and Hannah worshipped HIM.

So we may ask and receive, not to indulge ourselves, but to know God and recognise his work in our lives, and to give Him back His own. We ask but do not receive because often we ask selfishly for our own desires.

God is not unkind, and blesses us, even when we don’t ask, and He answers way beyond what we could even think of asking. As He blesses us each day, we continually give back to Him what he gives and serve Him with full hearts.

 

 

 

Women who glorify God