Against you is against Him

Hi

Luke chapter 10 and v 16 says this.” He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.”

It is good to remember that we have an advocate who is Jesus as we witness at work.

This verse shows that one way to slam the door shut on Christ is to look at the people giving the messages rather than the God who is behind them: “My followers, whoever listens to you is listening to me. Anyone who says ‘No’ to you is saying ‘No’ to me. And anyone who says ‘No’ to me is really saying ‘No’ to the one who sent me” is another way of delivering our verse.

If we believe in how minutely God is involved in our lives, then it follows that what is preached on Sunday services and what we say and do to witness our faith at work has a purpose and is allowed by the Sovereign God. Therefore, a complaint that we have about a speaker or the message or the witness is a complaint against God. Rejecting or laughing at the spiritual food God has prepared is dangerous ground to tread for anyone.

This does not mean the speaker on a Sunday or we as we witness are infallible, by any means, but the wrong attitude effectively diminishes what we can glean from the message. For us as Christians as we listen to teaching and preaching, a safer approach would be to offer a prayer for help to understand and see how the food ( God’s word) is for our good ( Psalm 84 v 11) and for those who we witness to, to at least listen to our views, rather than us or our work colleagues to slam the door on the message or the messenger. Either we, as we listen to Bible teaching trust and have faith in God’s sovereignty and His love for us, or we do not. There is no safe middle ground ( Deuteronomy chapter 30 v 19).

For those rejecting our efforts to show them Christ, “how shall they escape…” .

So, let’s have confidence in “being Christians” as we go about our daily lives and let’s take on board what we are taught as we prayerfully receive Bible teaching.

Have a good week

Mark

Following the crowd

Morning

My title is given for this blog as all too easily I forget when at work who I am in Christ and what the end goal is as a Christian.

In the book to the Hebrews which has that same name we read “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.

Notice that the “promise remains” of entering His rest. This is the subject under discussion. At the time of the writing of Hebrews, the rest had not been attained. Nor has it been attained since. The rest is still in the future. It remains even for Christians today. Paul warns, “lest any of you seem to have come short of it,” indicating that though one has received forgiveness, God’s Spirit, and gifts of the Spirit, there is still a possibility of falling away. The chance may not be great, but nonetheless, some may fall short of it and in fact as we read about the times near Christsreturn, there is talk of a great falling away.

“For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it” (verse 2 of our verses in chapter 4). During the time of the Exodus, the people of Israel heard a message of good news from Moses. It consisted of redemption from slavery, the Passover, baptism in the Red Sea, and a journey through the wilderness to the Promised Land. The good news, then, included the occurrences of and the knowledge about all the steps along the way, all of the benchmarks. The purpose for which all those events occurred was the most important part. What good was it to have the death angel pass over their house, for them to receive redemption from slavery, if they never made it to the Promised Land? That is the warning here. The steps, though vital in themselves, are not as important as the goal.

This warning applies especially to us today. What Jesus Christ did in His life, in His death, and in His resurrection, is awesome, a wonderful and great gift. It is good news that these things have occurred, but they are not the good news. The good news is the goal, and that has not yet occurred. What Jesus Christ did is exceedingly important to the fulfilment of God’s purpose, but it is still possible for us to reject the Son of God even after we have accepted His blood for the forgiveness of our sins, as Hebrews 6, 10, and 12 also show very clearly. So in this analogy, life in, possession of and governance of the Promised Land was the culmination, the good news, the fulfilment—at least physically—of the promises to Abraham

The message that Jesus Christ brought, the gospel, is about the Kingdom of God ,the culmination, the goal, the fulfilment. Certainly it includes the knowledge of and information about those benchmarks along the way, but the Kingdom of God is the goal toward which every Christian is aiming. Let’s not forget!

Have a great week

Mark

Reverting to type

Its easy to revert to type at work.

This phrase is talking about behaving as I used to before I became a Christian and with Gods help had the beautiful life guidance from Scripture within me and doing so in order to fit in with those around me so as not to stand out and be open to ridicule or challenge.

The Bible says this in 1 Corinthians chapter 10 .. “Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell;  nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents;  nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. “

Israel’s experience in Egypt and in the wilderness is an object lesson that God desires us to reflect on frequently. These lessons are most forcefully brought to the fore during the spring as even today the Jewish nation begin rehearsing God’s plan of salvation in their annual holy days.

Once freed from their slavery to Egypt, it took the Israelites just seven days to cross the Red Sea, breaking completely clear of Egyptian control. In dramatic contrast, it took them forty years to walk the remaining few hundred miles! During this trek, every man of war numbered in the first census after leaving Egypt—with the exception of Joshua and Caleb—died without reaching the Promised Land. 

Will we allow ourselves to match this miserable record by failing to maintain our liberty?

What a costly expedition! The New Testament section of the Bible in the book of Hebrews clarifies the cause of their failure more specifically:

For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”

Clearly, they did not make the right efforts to defend their God-given liberties. Instead, they exacerbated their circumstances by failing to discipline themselves to submit to God’s rule over their lives, even though He freely rescued them from their slavery. They were unwilling to pay the costs of directing their lives as He commanded, despite knowing, through the many manifestations of His power, that He acted exactly as Moses had said He would.They reverted to type. 

Let’s therefore learn from this and while at work make sure we show Christ to others and not our old rotten self!

Have a great day

Mark

Living in site

Hi

As we witness, re witness, continue to witness to our work colleagues and others 2 Corinthians chapter 13 and verses 1-2 came to mind. It reads as follows:

This will be the third time I am coming to you. “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.” I have told you before, and foretell as if I were present the second time, and now being absent I write to those who have sinned before, and to all the rest, that if I come again I will not spare

One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.

So reads the law regarding witnesses, as recorded in the old testament.

In 2 Corinthians 13, the apostle Paul puts an intriguing twist on this law. Here, two or three witnesses are not different people, but different trips. The “two or three witnesses” are successive trips he made to Corinth. Each separate trip—or more correctly, his teaching during each separate trip—stands as a witness against those who fail to receive correction. Paul’s various visits to Corinth provide several witnesses against those who continue to sin.

Notice these verses from the Berkeley Version:

This is my third visit to you. “In the mouth of two or three witnesses every statement shall be confirmed.” I said, while previously there on my second visit, and I say it before my arrival while still absent, to those who kept on in their old sins and to all the rest, that when I come once more I shall not spare.

The message is the witness. Paul understood that, over time, one person can provide a number of witnesses. One person, several witnesses! This understanding has an important application for those of us who witness in the twilight of “this present evil age” as noted in Galatians. In part, that application is this: The Messiah is to preach the Good News—the gospel—of His Father’s Kingdom in two visits; His message will take the form of two separate witnessesWe commonly call them His two ministries or His first and second comings.

His first visit—or witness—took place nearly 2,000 years ago. Christ introduced it one Sabbath day by reading Isaiah 61 verses 1 and 2 in Nazareth’s synagogue. His Galilean audience were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. 

History repeats itself. When Christ soon stands to read Isaiah, many, unable to recognize Him as their Messiah, will respond as did the Galileans. At Christ’s second “visit,” His second witness/coming, many will again be “filled with wrath” and seek to destroy Him as we see in Revelation.

They have had enough witnesses through Christ, and so take heart, our role is to witness and provide opportunity. Those we witness to have the responsibility of what they do with your witness.

Mark

It takes work

Morning

Paul, in his letter we know as “Colossians” in chapter 3 says this “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” 

This is the practical application of “seek[ing] those things which are above” in V1 of our chapter. In effect, Paul is saying that, if we are seeking heavenly things, the resources to overcome these things will be available. They will be part of us because God responds to those who are truly seeking Him.

We must be patient. Our relationship with God is not magic. It takes work. Those of us who have had any of these problems understand that one must hold a tight rein on oneself to keep from doing the things that Paul says to “put off.” They are so deeply ingrained within us that they want to break out all by themselves.

Paul explains to the folk in Rome that he does the things he doesn’t want to do and vice versa.

Thus, we must discipline ourselves. We know that we are to “put off” those things that do not reflect the image of God and to “put on” the characteristics that do. “Putting on” and “taking off” are not always easy. Sometimes, we can readily apply or overcome certain things; they seem to come easily to us. But other character flaws are thorns in the flesh, they stick deep within us, and they embarrass us from time to time and make us feel guilty. They make us wonder whether we will be acceptable before God. Seeing this, we realize that overcoming them will take a great deal of work—and work requires discipline.

One of the final things that Paul mentions in this passage is love.. Love is the crown; it tops off, as it were, all of the other virtues, tying them all together. A true love for God and love for others—not to mention a proper love for ourselves—will motivate us to transform into Christ’s image.

The diligent “putting on” and the “taking off” will be the proof of our seeking God and the things which are above. When we understand this, we realize that even the ability to “put on” and to “take off” is a gift from God, as the resources to do this come from Him. God responds to those who make Him the focus of their lives, and this is who we exhibit. The evidence begins to show in the way we live our lives.

I hope these thoughts are an encouragement as we press on either at work or at play!

Mark

Why the Word?

HI folks

Just a quick thought today

We have in the Bible the Word of God—and Jesus says it contains power. It has power to cleanse a person’s mind, because we can think only by what goes into the mind, concepts that are contained in words. Words are merely symbols of ideas that we use to reason. We turn those ideas into action, into conduct, which becomes part of our character and our attitude.

In other places in the Bible, the Holy Spirit is compared to water and to oil. Both of these have revitalizing, nourishing, cleansing, purifying, and sanitizing properties to them. We are familiar with how we use water to cleanse things; water is the universal solvent. We do not use oil so much to cleanse things, but, on the other hand, the Samaritan in the parable treated the man’s wounds with oil (Luke 10 v 34). It had a purifying effect on him.

Therefore, we are washed by the water of the Word of God in conjunction with a new nature that is given to us by God through His Spirit. This begins to help us to understand why studying the Word of God is so important. We need those words in us so that we can think according to them, and if we believe those words, they will begin to purify and cleanse the way we think and understand. Understand even the most challenging of questions we might have.

Have a great week

Mark

Knowing God More

Hi

Often feel you are behind others in hearing God and knowing His voice? May be you are a new  Christian and see others more mature in their faith seemingly having much more of God?

Marks Gospel gives us this account: “ Then He came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him. So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything.  And he looked up and said, ‘I see men like trees, walking.’ Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly. Then He sent him away to his house, saying, ‘Neither go into the town, nor tell anyone in the town.’ 

Jesus healed many blind people during His earthly ministry, and four of them are recorded in detail in the gospels. Mark alone records Jesus’ miracle of healing the blind man from Bethsaida which happened not far from the scene of the feeding of the 5,000.

The blind man had been brought to Christ for healing by some friends or family. Before dealing with the man’s blindness, Jesus separates the afflicted man from the crowd, taking him out of town away from the inhabitants. As in another healing, He uses His spittle on the man’s eyes, and afterward, He commands the man not to tell others what had transpired.

This miracle illustrates important spiritual truths. Although the man may still have been able to sense light, he remained blind. His blindness is a physical portrayal of spiritual or moral blindness, indicating one who is incapable of discerning the spiritual and moral truths that are plain to those whom God has called.

His healing is unique in that it occurs in stages rather than instantaneously. 

This healing by stages pictures the process of a believer’s spiritual understanding, the conversion process each Christian experiences. Christ asks the blind man “if he saw anything”, and he looks up, indicating a natural first inclination toward the source of light to discern images. The man’s reply, “I see men like trees, walking”, reveals that he had not been born blind. However, he could not precisely discern the shape and magnitude of the objects he recognized.

Christ’s method of healing here shows that our spiritual enlightenment is a continuous process and Jesus will take the right amount of time and care in our development.

At first, we cannot see God’s truth clearly. Most of our spiritual blindness remains, but as our faith, obedience, and growth develops, Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith” , increases the clarity of our spiritual vision through the power of His Holy Spirit.

So as I say often, let’s press on and we WILL see more of Him, we really will.

Have a good week

Mark

Pressure can be good!

Hi

2 Samuel chapter 6 v 9 says this: “David was afraid of the LORD that day; and he said, “How can the ark of the LORD come to me?” 

Read the full story and you will see that David was afraid of the Ark – AND of God! 

Notice, however, that God did not rush down and give David the answer. He did not say, “David, do you see what you have done wrong?” He did not explain to David just why He struck his pal Uzzah. He made David work through the problem.

He does the same thing with us. When we find that we are out of sync with God, He does not simply rush to intervene and say, “Now there, there, my child.” He does not pat us on the head and say, “You are alright.”

Rather, He says, in effect, “Now do you understand that you are in hot water?” He asks, “Are you feeling pain?” And you say, “Yes!” Then He says, “Well, can you figure out why?” So we have to do that. It is often unpleasant but……it is the best way for us.

Upon close examination, we find that those who had advised David were complacent and neglectful. They thought that, because the Ark came to them on a cart from the Philistines, they could simply send it on to where it was supposed to go in the same way. Obviously, that did not work out so well!

The instructions for how to carry the Ark properly are found in a later book in the Bible. These instructions were learned correctly because David had to work his way through the problem.

Can we make mistakes like this? David was “a man after God’s own heart”! Of course we can! David made mistakes left and right, yet God loved him. When God puts us through such things, it does not mean that He does not care for us. David committed adultery with Bathsheba; killed Uriah the Hittite; caused the death of thousands and the death of his son, Absalom. All because he, at times, took God’s laws for granted.

We, too, can become complacent and neglectful as to how we live our lives. If we do not respond to God, He might allow life to give an increase to the pressure on us knowing that it is for the good.

Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 are the “blessings and cursing’s” chapters of the Bible. Consider these in light of the increasing pressure that God allows to draw us closer to Him and to stop taking Him for granted. Good does come out of what we might think is bad. It really does.

Mark

Press on…

Revelation 12 v 9 says this: “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”

Wow, some description! 

The dragon refers to Satan, who has deceived the whole world. But has the importance of that really sunk in? The doubtful resistance that is in each of us does not go away easily. It remains though we are converted. It still needs to be fought and overcome.

If we do not condition ourselves to be aware and choose the right way, it will continue to exert its influence. Much can be done to lessen its influence, particularly continuing to develop our relationship with God through study and prayer.

As we exercise God’s way, the influence of Satan the Devil begins to slip. There is a negative side to this in that, as soon as his influence starts to slip away, he tries harder to ensure that it does not leave us entirely. In other words, he picks up the intensity of his pressure on us.

But do not be disheartened! 1 Corinthians chapter 10 v 13 is still in the book. God only gives us what we can handle, and He provides a way of escape. God is always there protecting us, making sure that Satan does not increase the pressure to the point that we are unable to bear it. Unlike for Job of old, the fence remains round us. We can be sure that as we continue to grow, and Satan steps up the pressure, we will be equal to the task. Do we have faith in that? We had better have faith because the intensity of the pressure will get greater and greater, but as we fight the good fight, the blessings WILL also be greater and greater.

Press on!

Mark

Compensation

Morning all

Luke Chapter 5 verses 10 and 11 say this: …and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him. 

Jesus takes the opportunity of this miracle to call His disciples into a Teacher – student relationship with Him. He figuratively catches Peter in His net before commanding him to “catch men” for the Kingdom of God. Immediately, Peter, Andrew, James, and John leave their boats and nets behind and follow Him. They now understand that Jesus is more than capable of supplying their every need.

We are to apply this lesson in our own lives. When Christ speaks, it is always about obedience to God’s way of life. In this case, His teaching affected the disciples’ livelihoods. Worship and work form major parts of our lives, too, and in both we must consistently maintain righteousness.

Had Peter failed to obey Christ’s command, he would have failed to experience both the miracle and the resulting blessing. No one serves God without being compensated for his service. When we serve, sacrifice, testify, or stand for Him, He will suitably reward our efforts. When God asks us to invest our time, effort, talent, or anything else, we must not resent the opportunity. No one pays dividends on an investment as abundantly as God does ( Luke 6 verse 38 explains this well).

Have a great week

Mark