Heart Transplant

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I read some time ago about the studies of a psychoimmunologist Paul Pearsall around the unexpected symptoms experienced by heart transplant recipients. Pearsall apparently researched the mental side of heart disease, gathering data and formulating theories. He wrote a book called ‘The Heart’s Code’ which documents these theories. Pearsall himself went through a life threatening cancer during which he became friends with others experiencing the same heart diseases and facing the need for transplants.

A certain number of them, around 15%……were known to report quite spontaneously that they know things about the person whose heart they received, or else their behaviour or preferences changed, and when it was researched, it was found that these changes were indeed in the direction of being more like the person whose heart they had received.”

(Strengthening your Decisions Through ‘Cardiac Exercise’ Elaine Aaron ‘The Highly Sensitive Person’ Comfort Zone Newsletter August 2005 http://www.hsperson.com)

The heart is the very centre of a person’s body,, the organ which pumps our life blood around. “It can communicate instantaneously with all of the body, 73 trillion cells, via the circulatory system. Pearsall thinks, in fact, that the heart in its central location and with its contact with every cell is constantly sending out ‘info-energy’ that every cell recognizes, so that each cell uses its DNA to become a sort of holographic image of the energy coming from the heart. “ (Elaine Aaron as above)

I should point out here, that while I appreciate Elaine Aaron’s research on the physiology and psychology of highly sensitive people, as a Christian, I am aware that this ‘research’ from Paul Pearsall and Dr. Aaron contained in the above article is highly humanistic and biased against a Christian understanding of our spirituality. I do not recommend this kind of ‘teaching’, but I was interested in the findings regarding heart recipients.

The ramifications for us as human beings are vast. As Christians, we know that God changes our hearts, but we also know that scripture tells us that He desires to give us a completely new heart. When he spoke to the prophet Ezekiel, he told him to tell Israel that He wanted to literally give His people a heart transplant. He wanted to take out the heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. How can a heart of stone beat? Clearly God is talking about their hardness towards himself. You can’t get any harder than a stone and in fact, a heart of stone is a dead heart, there is no life in a rock, it is the result of thousands of years of compression and resistance against great geological forces.

Ezekiel 11:19,20

Then I will give them one heart and I will put a new spirit within them and take the stony heart out of their flesh that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgements and do them; and they shall be My people and I will be their God.

In scripture, we see this concept of having a change of heart and a subsequent change of personality a number of times.

Saul is given a new heart when he is anointed King. All of a sudden he is able to prophecy with the prophets, he becomes literally a new man.

1 Samuel 10:6

Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man”

1 Samuel 10:9

So it was, when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, that God gave him another heart’ and all those signs came to pass that day”.

Saul changed to the point that all who knew him commented on the change in his behaviour. He had become a new and different man because God had changed his heart.

David prayed for not just a change of heart when he repented of the sins of adultery and murder, but he asked God to create in him a clean heart and to renew a right spirit. He needed to become a ‘new’ man so that he no longer wanted to sin in the way he had.

Psalm 51:10

Create in me a clean heart, O God And renew a steadfast heart spirit within me”.

Psalm 16:7

I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; My heart also instructs me in the night seasons”.

God’s work on David’s heart had been such that he could trust the instructions from God which came from it.

In fact, we know that God called David ‘A man after my own heart’. This is a rare honour indeed.

The nation of Israel is also pictured in the book of Ezekiel as being the recipients of new hearts and God is the heart surgeon who removes the heart of stone to give them a heart of flesh. In all of these cases, the new heart results in a desire for the things of God and a new direction in their lives.

When we are born again, we receive a new heart. Old things pass away, all things become new. We now desire God himself and the things of God. Romans 12:2 tells us not to conform to the world but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind so that we can know the good perfect and acceptable will of God. There is a need to be changed to become more and more like Christ in order that we can know God’s mind, and also to know His heart.

God bless,

Steve and Anita

Why Everybody Hates You

 

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John 7:7

The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify of it that its works are evil.

John 15:18

If the world hates you, you know it hated me before it hated you.

John 15:19

If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

John 17:14

I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

1 John 3:13

Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.

1 John 2:15

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

1 John 3:14

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.

For the last twelve years or so, Steve and I have spent long hours talking and making sense of the world we entered after leaving the cult.  The world has changed markedly and continues to do so at a rate of knots.  But even more disturbing is the fact that the church has also changed.  We understood that we came out of a place which was an exception to the rule.  Once we wrapped our minds around the concept of the term ‘cult’, we expected to find different behaviour in other churches.  We have been deeply concerned  to find that in fact, much of the behaviour we saw in the cult is being replicated in other Christian organisations; churches and schools.
We were used to being treated badly by cult leaders, but we were not expecting to encounter abusive behaviour from what might be termed ‘ordinary Christians’.  What we discovered was that our cult experience was the thin end of the wedge.  In fact, as we went back over our histories, two separate and disconnected paths, we realised that we had both experienced really horrible behaviour from church people most of our lives.
Why was this?  Were we at fault?  Or were we just unfortunate enough to have been the target of a lot of badly behaved Christians?  Was our experience unique? I don’t think so. In the last twelve years we have done a lot of research and found that large numbers of Christians are leaving the church and not for the reasons that the so called researchers, like George Barna, have suggested. More often the stated reason for leaving churches is because the gospel is no longer being preached.  Genuine brothers and sisters in the Lord are offended with the false gospels, the false teachers, and the false prophets who arise in their midst.  They are faced with the choice of attempting to change the church or leaving.  It seems many, even after years of trying to get the leaders to see sense, have simply given up and looked for another place to fellowship. What they are finding is that there are very few churches now which appear to preach the gospel. If the gospel is not being preached, people sitting in the pews are not getting saved.  We heard the testimony of one man who sat in David Wilkerson’s Times Square Church and said that it was the first time he had ever heard the gospel in 20 years of being a Christian.  It was then that he actually became born again.  This is not an isolated example.
On this note, one preacher we have found to be the epitome of a good solid bible teacher is a man called Charles Lawson.  He is a Baptist pastor in Knoxville Tennessee.  He is what you might call an ‘old time pastor’, but he has done his research and is willing to discuss things from the pulpit that most pastors will not.  He talks about end times, the rapture of the church, he talks about the one world government and the occult.  He is filled with the Spirit and is a genuine brother in the Lord.  We delight in listening to his messages because for 12 years we have looked to find something similar in our country and have failed.  He is surely not the only pastor who preaches the gospel, but he is one we have spent a lot of time listening to.
line breakGood teachers aside, I believe there are two issues intertwined in this matter.  On the one hand  you have the hatred of the world for genuine believers, and on the other hand you have people who identify as Christians but are in fact not genuine believers because they have not been transformed. They have either come into the church on ‘another gospel’ or they have not been born again. So they are in fact still ‘in the world’ despite the fact that they believe in God.  Now bear with me, this is not about being accusatory, it is about observing and recognising the false and discerning the true.
Peruse the above verses.  You will find that Jesus made it abundantly clear that the world hated Him.   The world hated Him because the world is not of God.  Since born again Christians are of God, then it follows that the world is going to hate you. This is not a maybe.  Jesus was not saying ‘if’.  This is a rule of thumb.  The apostle John also reminds his readers that it should not be a surprise if the world hates you.  Because you are of God.
If the above is true then why am I seeing a whole lot of love for Jesus from the world.  And why is there such a conflation of world and church now in so many denominations. Everybody from Hollywood to the White House are saying that they are Christians.  And its not just happening in America.  I live in Australia and for the longest time our Prime Ministers made a big deal of being church going folk.  The Queen goes to church and is the head of the Church of England.  Are they all born again Christians? No.  No they are not. How do we know this? Because the world loves them, the world embraces them and they are not suffering persecution. And of course, their behaviour shows they are not.
I think what is happening here is that they are worshipping another Jesus.  The Jesus that they worship has a different source, the world.  The Jesus who walked the earth two thousand years ago and died on the cross, that Jesus was hated by everybody. Nobody wanted that Jesus to rule over them. Has the world suddenly changed since then?  No, interestingly, just as God doesn’t change, evil doesn’t change.
I think a lot of Christians assume that just because other Christians believe in ‘God’ that we are all worshipping the same God.  Not true.  There are many ‘Christ’s out there, and Jesus said that this would happen in the last days. But there are also many who are sitting in church believing they are brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus Christ, when in fact they have not actually even met Him.  They have not had a true conversion experience.  They might have been experiencing some kind of ‘spiritual’ experience, which it appears is a common thing even amongst pagan tribes.  We westerners tend to believe only in science and rational thought.  This is all well and good until you realise that much of what passes as science is rooted in pagan religion.  We have been fooled into thinking that there is no such thing as supernatural beings or supernatural powers.  Yet the Bible makes it clear that Satan is real, demons are real, angels are real, and they are constantly around us despite the fact that we cannot see or hear them.  Our religion has been influenced by such movements as the reformation – which in fact was simply a version of Catholicism and not true biblical Christianity (although it contained elements of it)  – and the charismatic/Pentecostal movements which were founded on various supernatural occurrences during so called ‘revivals’ over the last couple of hundred years. Many of those supernatural experiences were not of the Holy Spirit but were demonic in origin, and these experiences and the doctrines which support them have influenced our teaching and our expectations as believers.
We believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we are not cessationists.  We have prayed for and seen healings, miracles, baptisms in the Spirit etc.  But what we are looking for is transformation.  We need to see changed lives which are led by and bear fruit from the Holy Spirit.  That fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control. We tend to see the opposite in many Christians, or sometimes fake fruit.  Let’s look at that.
True Fruit                                                                          Fake Fruit
Love                                                                                   Affection
Joy                                                                                      High Spirits or Loudness
Peace                                                                                 Numbness
Patience                                                                            Inclusion
Goodness                                                                          Doing the right thing
Kindness                                                                           Tolerance
Gentleness                                                                        Psychology
Faithfulness                                                                      Prejudice
Self Control                                                                       Legalism
Christians in Western countries tend to believe that things should be a certain way.  We expect that Christians should act a certain way, generally according to the denomination we belong to.  Reformed churches behave this way, Pentecostal churches behave that way, Baptists do this, Presbyterians do that and so on.  What we have not really done is read our bibles, take note of what constitutes a changed life, the life of Christ within us, the life empowered by and filled with the Spirit of Christ.  We do not measure ourselves against scripture, we measure ourselves against the latest self-help book or teacher, not realising that these people are often not born again either.
A true born again Christian loves other true born again Christians.  You know when you have met somebody who is truly a new creation, you can see it in their eyes, the Spirit within you witness to the Spirit in the other person.  There is a unity which exists which does not need outward expression or conformity to a set of denominational rules or a set of rules which says ‘this is what a genuine bible believing Christian does’.  If the Spirit of him who raised Christ Jesus from the dead dwells within  you, then He who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies.  That same Spirit will empower you and that same Spirit will lead you and guide you.
Now obviously, Christians can be carnal.
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? … (I Corinthians 3)
 When Paul says carnal he is referring to immature Christians who are still spending most of their time walking in the flesh and therefore acting like ordinary men, unbelievers in the world.  We have obviously met a number of these.  The sort of behaviour though that we have experienced is more along the lines of people who don’t change at all over time.  They are not carnal sometimes and spiritual other times.  They really don’t have any Christian characteristics at all.  They are simply religious.
What we have to come to terms with in this so called post-modern society is that there is no longer a ‘church’ denomination which contains a bunch of born again believers.  True believers are now scattered.  Has it been this way from the beginning?  It is possible that this is so.  If true believers are salt and light then we cannot all stand in one clump, how can we salt the earth if we are sitting in one bunch every Sunday or weekday.  It is not possible for us to have a savoury effect.  Have you ever over-salted a soup or stew?  I have.  You can’t ‘unsalt’ it, you have to throw it out, you can’t eat it.  Likewise, we as believers are meant to be spread throughout the world and the so called ‘church’ on the earth.  We can come together to encourage each other, but I am starting to see that this coming together is going to get harder and harder, and we must find each other through other means than the local church organisation.  The church has now become like the world and the world like the church.  There is no longer any delineation, and the true believers are going underground.  Maybe it was always going to be this way at the end.
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We should no longer be surprised when we are hated both by the world AND others who identify as Christians.  IF the Holy Spirit is in you and not in the other so called Christians, you will be treated by them as you are by the world, because they are actually of the world.  Scripture tells us that there were believers in Paul’s day who turned away because of their love of the world; Demas (2 Timothy 4:10) was one of them.  We are told that if we are friends of the world we cannot be friends of God. (James 4:4).
The conclusion of the matter for us is that those who abused us and refused to change were not Christians to start with as they a) had no love for the brethren and b) were not transformed and c)did not have the fruit of the Spirit.  They were of the world and so hated us.  This goes for every other Christian we have not been able to communicate with or has treated us with disdain.  This is the only explanation that is viable.  Genuine believers may have bad days, or have some struggles with sin, but they do not habitually treat others with rudeness or disrespect.  Nor do I know anyone, who does not have a character disorder, even in the world, who would treat a perfect stranger with rudeness or disrespect.  But people who you know who habitually act coldly and arrogantly towards you yet claim to be believers and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ are not the genuine article.
It is in fact a huge relief for me to finally allow this truth to embrace my heart.  I do not have to feel bad that there are those out there who claim to be Christian who do not love me, despite the fact that I have striven to attain that love over the course of many years.  These ones cannot love, they do not have the love of God in them.
Only true believers can love true believers.
Only the world hates true believers.
And never the twain shall meet.

Refining Fire

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Our family were in the Dandenong Ranges during the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria a few years back. We did not suffer loss, but we had friends who did.  It killed many, changed many lives.  Many who were not even affected by the fires made significant life changes as a result of them.  They left the hills and went to live closer to the city where there is less bush to burn.  The reason they went to the hills in the first place was to find a haven, a tree change in the midst of the rat race.  What they discovered that living in the country has its own hazards and you can’t outrun the long arm of the Lord.

Suffering loss through a natural disaster covers the gamut of experiences.  As I said, you can remain physically untouched by the fires but still decide, out of fear for the future, to move house, and that is a traumatic enough experience, especially if you have lived for many decades unmolested by misfortunate and at peace.  Or you can lose everything.  One family we know of built a home amidst the bushland and literally away from everybody with only a dirt track running up and down gullies to get to their home.  When the fires struck they were in real danger.  What they thought was a secure haven became their worst nightmare.

This was supposed to be a good news story.  Just give me a paragraph or two.

One of the methods to fight large bush fires is to backburn. The rule is where the fire has already been, it cannot pass over again.  So fire fighters remove the source of the fuel where they think the wind is going to send the fire.  This usually happens in open country where the fire is getting out of control. Sometimes you get fire fighters in Australia doing what we call ‘burnoffs’ in the winter when the possibility of bush fires is a lot lower. They burn in the winter in order to reduce the severity of any possible fires in the summer when the conditions are a lot worse.

I find it really interesting from a spiritual point of view that when God talks about our works being tested by fire to see what will burn, God is pretty much doing the same thing.

But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. (1 Corinthians 13 :10-15)

Once the fire has taken everything from you, there is nothing left to burn. You get to a place in your life where there is literally nothing left in you, no  more idols, no more fleshly attitudes, no more obsessions or things you won’t let go of.  There is just you and God and your faith in Him because He has tested you and tested you.  I am here to tell you that the testing sometimes gets very very hot, to the point that you can’t think of one more thing that could possibly happen to you.  Once you get to the place where you trust God in all things because all of the fight has been burned out of you, you are just about numb and can do one thing and one thing only and that is praise God, then you know you have come to a place where you are on holy ground.  God does not try us to destroy us but to destroy our flesh.  He takes us through every possible testing, if we are willing, and wants to know what we will do with it.  Will we, like Job, choose unrighteousness over affliction?

Do not desire the night,
When people are cut off in their place.
21 Take heed, do not turn to iniquity,
For you have chosen this rather than affliction. (Job 36:20,21)

Or will we say to ourselves, like Job, God gives and God takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.

There is another thing about back-burning and God’s ways.  Sometimes He burns us before Satan gets a chance to.  If He controls our lives by taking us through afflictions so that He can burn away the dross and get to the refined gold, then Satan will have less with which to whip us if he gets a chance to set a fire in our lives. Because both God and Satan can arrange a scorched earth session.  If Satan gets to it you can be assured he will make it burn hotter for longer than God ever would.  He seeks to destroy, God seeks only our good. This is why God looks for the response of faith in affliction.  Remember:

Many are the afflictions of the righteous but God delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19)

koala-bushfires

The iconic picture that went viral after the Melbourne fires. It sums up the plight of the survivor. God gives us the cool water of the Holy Spirit to minister to us in the midst of our afflictions. Thankyou Jesus.

To be able to worship the Lord in the midst of affliction is the change God seeks in us.  But to get to this place, we can’t just wish it upon ourselves, God has to work the change.  Sometimes you think things just can’t get much worse, and then they do.  What I have discovered is that if you really look back at your life, you will see that you actually did survive, even if you feel like you have been run over with a truck.  Not only did you survive but you survived to praise the Lord. And this my friends and family is the place of true joy and life.  For God is eternal and unchanging, and whether we live in the best of times or the worst of times, He does not change.  He is still holy, perfect, righteous, just and merciful and He goes with us through the battle, through the pain, through the devastation, through the outrage.  And if we choose His ways, and to praise Him through it all instead of cursing God and turning away from Him, we will change.  We will become the sons and daughters of God that He is looking for.  People who do not look to their outward circumstances for evidence of God’s faithfulness, but recognise that His faithfulness is eternal and is therefore worth praising regardless of how we feel.

I used to hear sermons like this as a young Christian.  I don’t hear them nowadays, they would be considered to be ‘offensive’ to many.  Yes, because they are offensive to the flesh, they are offensive to the natural mind of man, not to the Spirit, and to the nature of Jesus Christ which He is working in us.  And He is not looking for men to pay lip service to Him either.  To find the genuine ability in a human being to praise God in the midst of difficulty is a rare thing, because narrow is the way and few are they that find it.

To be able to declare God’s goodness in the land of the living (as opposed to Hades) is a wondrous thing. How can any human being do such a miraculous thing unless God himself touches us.  He scorches our land, takes the fire through, takes everything, burns it to see what it is made of.  If it is flesh, it will burn, if it is Spirit, it won’t, because of course that which is of God is made of gold, silver and precious stones, as is the New Jerusalem. We must be made of things eternal, which moth and rust and thief can destroy (not to mention fire).

This is not a popular thing to say. Nobody wants to be told in the midst of difficulty that God is testing them.  Paul tells us that nobody enjoys chastening but afterwards reaps the peaceable fruits of righteousness (Hebrews 12 7-11)

11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

But it is true nevertheless.

Being in the midst of a trial makes you blind. You can’t see the big picture, often you can’t even see your own hand in front of your face. You often can’t see God, can’t hear Him, don’t know if He is listening to your prayer.  But keep going.  In fact, let me just say this. You may have what psychologists term ‘suicidal ideation’.  It’s just a fancy term meaning, even death looks good compared to this.  They just don’t want to use the term.  But I will.  Because death to the flesh is actually what Christians are involved in every single day of their lives.  But you have days when your life is turned upside down by difficulty and trauma, sometimes from all sides at once, and you think you can’t possibly cope with any more pain.  Yet you do.  Guess what?  The earth has just been scorched.  Once God has burned the ground, it doesn’t burn again.  You are safe on the scorched earth.  If you stand there, you are free.  You have nothing left but God. Yes it seems like its the worst possible thing that could happen to you, but it isn’t.  Allowing God to test you in the fire is going through death in order to find life.  It’s no longer I that liveth but Christ that liveth in me.

Have I made it?  Am I that person who can praise God in the midst of trauma?  Let me just say that in all honesty I wish I was.  But I am BETTER at it than I was ten years ago.  I am not blowing my own trumpet here, I am just able to say that yes, the fire has scorched the earth and I am standing on ashes, but what burned was necessary to burn, and what has not burned is my spirit and my soul, and I can stand and praise God and focus on Him and know the truly peaceable fruit of righteousness. AMEN!

Sowing the Spirit

wheat

For he that soweth unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8 NASB)

What does it mean to sow to the flesh or sow to the Spirit? Think about this in the natural. When you sow seed whether that seed be for fruit, vegetables or grain, you take the seed of the plant you wish to grow, which is actually a part of the plant itself and put it in the ground so that it can reproduce itself.  Then you tend it carefully, watering, weeding and keeping the scavengers and pests away and miraculously it grows! So what is the seed of the flesh?  It is the flesh itself, whether that be the thoughts and imaginations of the flesh or the acts of the flesh.  Jesus made it clear that even desires of the heart can be sin, they don’t have to be acted upon (Matthew 5:28).  Anything that is of the flesh, however small or hidden will reproduce itself – and remember that we hide seeds in the ground before they flourish into plants. Flesh will beget flesh as much as the seed of a man planted in his wife will beget a human being.  Other fleshly seeds will also produce after their own kind.  The seed of gluttony will produce more flesh – fat!  The seed of anger will produce outbursts of wrath. The seed of lust will produce adultery or worse, rape or pornography.  Not only that but the seeds of flesh also produce strongholds, otherwise called addictions.  Such is the ugly yield of sin, it ensures its own survival by creating a need in the host to continue to sow the seed. It is never ending and the fruit of the flesh is listed in scripture. But these are only some of them, the list is practically endless.

19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 KJV)

So what about the Spirit.  Lets not think upon these ugly sinful seeds for too long, they will of themselves even produce depression and weakness if we consider them for too long.  This is also why Scripture tells us that ‘bad company corrupts good morals’.  If we are walking in the Spirit, allowing the Spirit to have His way in our lives, we will reap the things of the Spirit.  Sowing to the Spirit has the very same physical outcome as sowing to the flesh does. We produce marvelous, glorious fruit, and the final outcome is eternal life.  Praise God!  The fruit of the Spirit is also listed by Paul in Galatians 5; they are love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, meekness and self control.  These fruit are the outworking of the seed of the Holy Spirit and remember that fruit itself contains seed. The fruit will bear more fruit after its own kind and against such there is no law. So instead of becoming a violent, ugly, wicked, venal and godless human being bound for destruction you will steadily become more Christlike so that there will be rivers of living water flowing from your midst.  The water speaks of the Holy Spirit and everything that is of the Spirit begets that of the Spirit.  It can be no other way.  The Spirit does NOT produce anything of the enemy or of the flesh. So next time you are concerned that something  you see in another human being does not seem to be Christlike, it very probably isn’t. The Spirit doesn’t produce discord, hate, fear, gossip, slander, arrogance or abuse no matter how often the person goes to church or lifts their hands to praise God.  Jesus told us we will know the false Christians by their fruit! (Matthew 7:16)

Seeds are so small and a very small amount of sin can affect our whole lives.  Sin causes us to become unclean, and Jesus likened sin to leaven, or yeast. (Galatians 5:9) I remember learning about yeast when I did Home Economics at High School. I remember the teacher showing us a rather waxy greyish unassuming and rather ugly substance which smelled a lot like raisins and looked like clay. You mixed the yeast with sugar so that it had something to feed off, then added water and then let it bubble so that the yeast activated.  Then you added it to the flour and mixed it together in a dough and allowed it to stand so that the yeast could work through the dough. When you came to knead the dough it was almost bubbly because the yeast had produced gases which were a result of the ‘live’ nature of the substance.  Sin is not a dead thing which just sits there.  It is alive, it grows, it works through our lives and it affects us wholly.  Only a tiny amount, a thought flitting through your mind, which then lingers and seems so innocent but so tantalising which then works on you.  It works on  your feelings, your mind and then finally your will and before you know it you have acted upon that little thought, that seed of the flesh and you have sinned. If you fail in one part of the law you have failed in the whole and if you live in the flesh you are under the law.  Any small infraction of the law becomes the weight of the guilt of transgressing the whole of the law. The whole is now affected, the whole of the law, the whole of your person, body soul and spirit.  A seed of the flesh will produce more of itself and remember whatever you sow multiplies exponentially.  One seed can produce a hundred of itself and each of those a hundred more, in the same way that a flea infestation will take over your house if you allow one flea to reproduce.

Only the blood of Jesus can cleanse us from the infestation of sin, from the fruit of our flesh.  But it is up to us to choose to sow the seed of the Spirit, not the seed of the flesh. When you partake of the fruit of the Spirit, that fruit takes root in you and begins to produce more of itself.  Remember you are merely the ground in which the seed is being produced, the work of the Spirit in us is of Himself, not of us. The seed of the Spirit is sown in good ground, the new nature, and produces more of Himself and we grow more Christlike.  It is the greatest and most wonderful miracle of all of God’s miracles, and He does this because of His own greatest sacrifice, His own Son who said of himself..

24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal

In these verses He was exhorting his followers to die to their flesh and allow their flesh to be crucified as He himself did so that they might produce much seed in the Spirit.  This is a principle in God which has almost been lost in this day and age.  So few men preach about the need to walk in the Spirit and few understand that unless they do they will reap of the flesh increasingly and reap more of it than they would have imagined.  We are so good at putting religious guises upon our works that many immature Christians are not able to recognise that which is sown to the flesh and that which is sown to the Spirit.

I myself am only beginning to understand this principle.  What does it mean to sow to the Spirit?  Begin the day with worship and prayer and you will find yourself wanting to focus more and more on the Spirit.  You will experience peace and joy and grow in the love of God.  Throughout the day you will want to remind yourself of that peace and will look for opportunities to take a few minutes here and there to pray and worship God. Unwholesome thoughts of fear, anxiety, anger and pride will be held at bay.  You will be focusing entirely on Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit, you will be remembering Scripture more and more, singing songs of praise and encouragement which the Holy Spirit will bring to your remembrance as your mind is renewed and your heart cleansed you will find yourself seeing the whole world in a new light.  THIS is reaping the Spirit!

As Romans 12:1-2 tells us, if we present our bodies as a living sacrifice, that is, we die to the flesh and put on Christ instead, sowing to the Spirit and not to the flesh and if we do not conform to the world, in other words if we make our declaration of allegiance to Jesus Christ and not the ruler of this world, we will be transformed. Our minds will be renewed and when our minds are renewed we will be able to know the will of God towards us.  It is an amazing process really.  We sow to the Spirit, we work with the Spirit, we allow the seed of the Spirit to take root in us, we tend it carefully pouring on the water of the Spirit to nourish the work of the Spirit so that our hearts and mind might be renewed as the Spirit is allowed to take over our lives in the same way that a field of grain is allowed to sprout and grow tall.  Then all who pass by will see the field of grain and be able to partake of the nourishment of the bread of life.

But I must warn you.  When the Holy Spirit begins to take root in your life and bears fruit, you will be changed. You will begin to even notice a change in your ‘inward parts’. It is both exciting and freeing but it is also a challenge to your flesh which will not just lie down and die, it will want to raise itself up again and fight what is going on, this new life which is being birthed and nurtured. Expect to have to fight with your old desires, the old thoughts and the old behaviours because they will want to have dominance again, and of course satan and his cronies will be there to aid the flesh every step of the way.  The flesh that was sown in our old natures will still have consequences.  The old crop will still be there waving in the breeze along with its seed.  It must be allowed to wither so that there is no more ability to sprout into more plants. Stand strong, fight the good fight, endure to the end and you will have the crown of life. Not only are we farmers, we are soldiers. We must have one hand upon the Sword of the Spirit as we work in the field and nurture the fruit. We must be prepared to chase away the scavengers, the crows which want to come and destroy the crop.

May the Lord of the harvest find a white field full of the fruit of the Spirit when He examines the works of your life!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Blood of Jesus and How It Changes Everything

 

 

Lambs frolicking in Christchurch, New Zealand (© Andrew Walmsley/Alamy)(Bing Australia)

Lambs frolicking in Christchurch, New Zealand (© Andrew Walmsley/Alamy)(Bing Australia)

 

 

Recently, I have been reading the book The Power of the Blood of Jesus’ by Andrew Murray. The teaching in this book has opened my eyes to the truths about the blood of Jesus Christ contained in scripture in a way that nothing else ever has. In fact, I can’t remember ever having read, or in fact heard, any teaching on this subject which is as in-depth or as revelatory as this. Murray is not alone in his studies on this subject, many authors and speakers have dealt with it over the centuries. However, this particular book is a classic and has been well-read and accepted as a sound theological treatise. In my lifetime, this has been a revolutionary and challenging book to read and I feel I am going to have to re-read it quite a few times. Our whole family in fact have been reading the book and discovering more and more about the wonderful salvation which is so freely available to all in the death of Jesus on the Cross.

The more I think about the power of the blood and how it cleanses and makes us fit to approach the throne of God, the more I realise how this fact also changes everything else about my walk with Jesus and in fact our lives and the history of our family up to this point.

Our family spent 15 years (1989-2004) in an abusive group called Brisbane Christian Fellowship. Much has been written about this particular organisation, and I won’t insult the church of Jesus Christ by calling it a church. It is a religious institution…that is all. There may well be true believers in its midst and the Holy Spirit will lead them out sooner or later. Strangely, when we left, we were told we were leaving them because we ‘were not of them’, a reference to the scripture 1 John 2:19

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”

In fact, they themselves were not of Christ. There was nothing which manifested in that place which was of Christ and despite the fact that they held communion and preached on the significance of ‘the one table’ for the whole body, they were woefully inadequate and in fact mostly wrong in both their exegesis of the meaning of communion and the execution of their offices as ‘elders’.

Steve and I have often discussed what it was that kept us in this place for so long. In essence, it was a lack of understanding of the true gospel. The whole time we were there we strove to be one with the members of the congregation, yet there was always a sense that we were failing and we couldn’t work out why. The elders would have had us believe that we were not obeying them and this was the result of it. We continually felt ashamed, oppressed and worn out. What was lacking was the realisation that we were trying to become one with darkness and there is simply no fellowship of darkness and light. (2 Corinthians 6:14)

We thought we had to somehow make ourselves fit to be members of the body of Christ and that somehow our actions or our acceptability to others (especially the elders) would ensure our acceptance into that body .It was a terrible thing to live with. We felt in our spirits always at odds with what our minds were telling us. We believed we were members of the body, yet we continually worked to gain acceptance into it. We were told on some occasions that we were ‘accepted in the beloved’ from the pulpit, and yet it was clear that there was an overarching yet subtle rejection of us as members of this group. We questioned why this was at every possible juncture. We asked people to our house and were rejected. We wondered why others were asked to go away on vacation but not us. We tried to be part of things like the ‘young marrieds’ group and were told that there were not enough spaces. There were plenty of opportunities for us to involve ourselves in the activities and social life of this place, yet over and over, we walked away with the impression that we were never really quite making it. An astounding observation in a group of people who claimed to be members of the body of Christ.

We had been part of a smaller church which had joined the larger congregation of BCF. We were told that we were joining with them in person because in Spirit we were all one in Christ and that we should rejoice that we were becoming part of the larger body. This was not only illogical it was a completely wrong reason to become part of BCF. If, in fact, (and it is true) we are all one in Spirit and regardless of where we live in the world we are all part of the Body of Christ, then we do not need to come together as one whole body in one place at one time every week. It makes no difference where we are. In fact, it is neither practical nor necessary to do so. We were lied to by the elders who agreed to join with BCF and we were also coerced into believing that this group of people were in fact actually part of the body of Christ in the first place.

Many times we were told as a congregation that we may not even be saved. A lack of assurance in our salvation was a very central part of the abuse that these men heaped upon their people. When we left, we thought that this was why we had always felt that we were disjointed as it were while we were in the group. Their explanation was ‘you were not really of us – they said we were not part of the body of Christ because in their parlance, that is what the ‘us’ means. It meant they were part of the body of Christ, or more specifically, they believe they ARE the body of Christ in Brisbane and all true believers should join them. If fact, all they do is begin new works in various places and hijack other people’s congregations or else encourage lost and hurting Christians to join them in the hope that this is a place where they will find their true calling. Again, it is all a lie.

For many years I questioned the ‘once saved always saved’ message. I believe now that this falls very far short of understanding what ‘saved’ even means. If we are able to come to the Cross of Jesus Christ, and understand what the blood of Jesus Christ has done for us, and we get well and truly converted and continue on in the faith (‘if we endure to the end we are saved’) as all who are given a revelation of this truth will do,I am convinced of it then there will be a mighty change in our lives. We will repent of our sins, we will understand our position in Christ as unassailable, and we will have a mighty saving faith in the blood to deliver us from sin and wickedness and the evil and darkness which surrounds us. BCF have repeatedly taught that we have no ‘position’ in Christ at all but this is to create doubt and fear and a toxic dependence upon the elders to save them.

The congregation of this ‘church’ are not filled with the joy of the Lord or of their salvation. They walk in fear, doubt, anxiety, distrust, frustration, despair and often loneliness and depression. We have always believed this was because of the terrible abuses heaped upon them by the elders. In fact we need to consider this very important and central fact. Are these ones who identify as Christians in fact saved? I believe not. In fact, I believe most of the members of the BCF congregation (if not many other churches in this country) are not saved at all simply because they have not been properly discipled, or taught, the scriptural truths which will in fact change them from sad defeated and fearful religious human beings into joy, faith and hope-filled believers.

It is the blood of Jesus Christ which saves, cleanses and defeats the power of sin in our lives. We are NOT dependent upon some false teacher or other to pronounce our acceptability to God, and these men are very adept at this kind of sorcery. Yet so many of the congregation are not saved at all. We, who were saved and came to Christ in a completely different environment, and were taught and discipled by other men in other ways, came into this environment believing that these people were exactly like us. How wrong we were. They had been taught lies and religious myths for decades and had learned to lean on the rotten bones of greedy sinful godless men instead of the true rock of their salvation, Christ himself.

One of the first sermons we heard in this place was by a man called Vic Hall, who now leads these people and their various churches around this country. He told us that we ‘do not have a pipeline to God’. He tried to tell us that our relationship with Jesus was now null and void and that in its place was the relationship with the elders of this congregation who would now be the face and voice of Christ to us and that we should obey them and it would be as though we were obeying Christ. It was not said in this kind of language of course, it was spoken in words which were much less clear and not all at once. Over the course of time, we stopped believing in Jesus, stopped reading our bibles, stopped praying in fact, and believed that our involvement with this church and its leaders was all that was necessary.

The truth of the matter, which I have only lately come to understand fully, was that there was no ‘us’ to be part of. This was not a church of Jesus Christ, this was no group of members of the body of Christ. Within its ranks there were individuals and marriages who were members of the body of Christ due to their conversion at some previous point and who had gotten themselves well and truly lost. Jesus has, and will, come to claim those ones. But nobody who has heard this un-gospel since a child, or has become a ‘christian’ within its ranks ( a precious few I think) or has stayed inside its gates for more than a few years will be able to call themselves truly saved until they leave and come once again to that bounteous place where the blood can cleanse them of their blindness, deception and wicked deeds. Indeed, the insidious hints and insinuations to the congregation that they might not be saved, that they may never enter heaven because they were not truly obeying, or believing in the un-gospel that was being preached was in fact twisted truth. There was no genuine gospel being preached, the blood of Jesus has been trampled underfoot for years, and there is no growth, change, deliverance or fruit of the Spirit.

26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?
(Hebrews 10)

Many have left this place claiming ‘there is no love here’. An idea which has created a great deal of angst in the leaders who have gone to great lengths to protest that there is indeed a great deal of love. They point to the ‘works’ which have been done there in the name of Jesus, yet as Paul points out, you can be prophesying, believing, giving all your worldly goods to the poor and giving your body to be burned but if there is no love you have nothing. These elders have simply pointed to all the ‘works’ they have done and failed to realise that love can be completely absent regardless of how busy you are as a Christian doing religious activities.

There was manifestly no love in that place, as many can attest, because of the lack of salvation, the lack of genuine change, of new creation, of the love of Christ. The love of the Father was not in them, therefore there was no love of the brethren.

As John proclaims…

“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loves not his brother abides in death.”(1 John 3:14)

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”(John 13:35)

“Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.”(1 John 2:10)

A precious antidote to this lack of love, is to understand what the blood of Jesus has done for us. It has enabled us to come to the cross as wicked sinners lacking in even the most basic love for mankind, to be washed and cleaned and to be given new life, robes of righteousness and the power to defeat sin. We now are new creations. We are now able to love, rejoice, hope, believe, trust, walk in the Spirit, know the mind of Christ, and grow and change into mature believers. There was no love at BCF because there was no gospel. There was no change at BCF because there was no gospel. There was no communion of the saints at BCF because there were no saints and there were no saints because there was no gospel.

I can’t stress enough the importance of this truth. The gospel has the power to save. The gospel has the power to save and only the gospel has the power to save. This is why Paul talks about a little leaven leavening the whole lump. (Gal:5:9) It only takes a partial gospel, an incomplete gospel, a slightly changed gospel, or indeed that most frightful of all things doctrines of demons, to deceive us, and we will not be able to partake of the whole of what is available to us.

Not only was BCF preaching a false gospel – come to the elders and be saved – but it was controlling and manipulating its members in cruel and unusual punishment. This was no mere mistaken preaching, this was the whole package of torment, anguish, fear, destruction and theft. People entered in believing they were partaking of the communion of Christ and left broken and battered not even realising they had partaken of demonic perversion and been made unclean and unworthy to be called Christ’s.

Jesus has had to come to us as a family and show us once again what the saving power of His Blood is all about. We have had to ask Him to cleanse us, forgive us, change us so that we no longer live in the oppression and false teaching which was heaped upon us by ungodly men clothing themselves as angels of light.

Their sin made themselves unclean, and because we had partaken of their false gospel we also were unclean.

7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we[b] do not lose those things we worked for, but that we[c] may receive a full reward.9 Whoever transgresses[d] and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.

(2 John 1:9-11)

If it is a sin to bring a false doctrine and equally a sin to share in this false doctrine, then we need to confess that sin before Jesus and repent of it, and be washed by his wonderful blood and be restored to Him. For we not only shared in those evil deeds by staying in that place and giving them our tithe, and essentially our approval, but we supported them in word and deed by participating in the life of the church including communion.

Paul was adamant about ensuring you don’t participate in communion in an unworthy manner.

“Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

(1 Corinthians 11:27-32)

In this same chapter just before he discusses communion, Paul also mentions heresies and divisions amongst the brethren.

For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

(1 Corinthians 11:18-19)

We participated in a communion of false believers preaching a false gospel and leading others astray. It was a synagogue of satan, or more pertinently, a church of satan (Rev. 3:9). We were not hearing the true gospel any more than we were loving each other and laying down our lives for each other. The blood of Christ was made to no effect, because there was no faith that all we needed to do was partake of His life. We were living sad religious lives led by angry, greedy religious men.

God has awakened our hearts to the gospel, has cleansed us in His life-giving blood and empowered us to live, pray, believe and trust in His provision and His grace for each and every day. THIS is the gospel, THIS is what brings the joy of the Lord, and THIS is what true communion with Christ is all about. We no longer have to strive to become members of the body of Christ, in Him and because of His sacrifice, His resurrection, we are made one.

A true believer will always love the brethren. They do not need to be harangued or attacked by preachers to do so. You know when you have spoken to another member of the body of Christ because there is that universal acknowledgement in the Spirit that here is another like unto ourselves who are united by the blood of Jesus. The love of God is in us because He loved us first and proved His love at the Cross. That love is shed abroad in our hearts and to our brethren and to the unsaved also upon we have great compassion as lost, as we once were ourselves.

No, the blood of Jesus is the ONLY thing which unites us as believers and that unification is present, eternal and functional wherever and whenever we find each other in this present darkness. Only a false gospel presented by messengers of Satan can erode and disrupt that unity. May it never be.

39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. ( Hebrews 10)

 

Much love,

 

Anita Brady

 

Excerpt from ‘Life of Hudson Taylor’ – The Exchanged Life

hudson taylor

Below is an excerpt from ‘The Life of Hudson Taylor’ which can be found in its entirety at www.truthnet.org

It was the exchanged life that had come to him — the life that is indeed “No longer I.” Six months earlier he had written, “I have continually to mourn that I follow at such a distance and learn so slowly to imitate my precious Master.” There was no thought of imitation now! It was in blessed reality “Christ liveth in me.” And how great the difference! — instead of bondage, liberty; instead of failure, quiet victories within; instead of fear and weakness, a restful sense of sufficiency in Another. So great was the deliverance, that from that time onward Mr. Taylor could never do enough to help to make this precious secret plain to hungry hearts wherever he might be. And there are so many hungry hearts that need such help today that we venture to quote at length from one of his first letters on the subject. It was to his sister, Mrs. Broomhall, whose burdens with a family which grew to number ten children were very real and pressing.

So many thanks for your dear, long letter…. I do not think you have written me such a letter since our return to China. I know it is with you as with me — you cannot — not you will not. Mind and body will not bear more than a certain amount of strain, or do more than a certain amount of work.
As to work — mine was never so plentiful, so responsible or so difficult, but the weight and strain are all gone. The last month or more has been, perhaps, the happiest of my life, and I long to tell you a little of what the Lord has done for my soul. I do not know how far I may be able to make myself intelligible about it, for there is nothing new or strange or wonderful — and yet, all is new!…
Perhaps I may make myself more clear if I go back a little. Well, dear, my mind has been greatly exercised for six or eight months past, feeling the need personally and for our Mission of more holiness, life, power in our souls. But personal need stood first and was the greatest. I felt the ingratitude, the danger, the sin of not living nearer to God. I prayed, agonized, fasted, strove, made resolutions, read the Word more diligently, sought more time for meditation — but all without avail. Every day, almost every hour, the consciousness of sin oppressed me. I knew that if only I could abide in Christ all would be well, but I could not. I would begin the day with prayer, determined not to take my eye off Him for a moment, but pressure of duties, sometimes very trying, and constant interruptions apt to be so wearing, caused me to forget Him. Then one’s nerves get so fretted in this climate that temptations to irritability, hard thoughts and sometimes unkind words are all the more difficult to control. Each day brought its register of sin and failure, of lack of power. To will was indeed “present with me,” but how to perform I found not. Then came the question, is there no rescue? Must it be thus to the end — constant conflict, and too often defeat? How could I preach with sincerity that, to those who receive Jesus, “to them gave he power to become the sons of God” (i.e., Godlike) when it was not so in my own experience? Instead of growing stronger, I seemed to be getting weaker and to have less power against sin; and no wonder, for faith and even hope were getting low. I hated myself, I hated my sin, yet gained no strength against it. I felt I was a child of God. His Spirit in my heart would cry, in spite of all “Abba, Father.” But to rise to my privileges as a child, I was utterly powerless.

I thought that holiness, practical holiness, was to be gradually attained by a diligent use of the means of grace. There was nothing I so much desired as holiness, nothing I so much needed; but far from in any measure attaining it, the more I strove after it, the more it eluded my grasp, until hope itself almost died out, and I began to think that — perhaps to make heaven the sweeter — God would not give it down here. I do not think that I was striving to attain it in my own strength. I knew I was powerless. I told the Lord so, and asked Him to give me help and strength. Sometimes I almost believed that He would keep and uphold me; but on looking back in the evening — alas! there was but sin and failure to confess and mourn before God.

I would not give you the impression that this was the only experience of those long, weary months. It was a too frequent state of soul, and that towards which I was tending, which almost ended in despair. And yet, never did Christ seem more precious; a Savior who could and would save such a sinner!… And sometimes there were seasons not only of peace but of joy in the Lord; but they were transitory, and at best there was a sad lack of power. Oh, how good the Lord has been in bringing this conflict to an end! All the time I felt assured that there was in Christ all I needed, but the practical question was — how to get it out. He was rich truly, but I was poor; He was strong, but I weak. I knew full well that there was in the root, the stem, abundant fatness, but how to get it into my puny little branch was the question. As gradually light dawned, I saw that faith was the only requisite — was the hand to lay hold on His fullness and make it mine. But I had not this faith. I strove for faith, but it would not come; I tried to exercise it, but in vain. Seeing more and more the wondrous supply of grace laid up in Jesus, the fullness of our precious Savior, my guilt and helplessness seemed to increase. Sins committed appeared but as trifles compared with the sin of unbelief which was their cause, which could not or would not take God at His word, but rather made Him a liar! Unbelief was I felt the damning sin of the world; yet I indulged in it. I prayed for faith, but it came not. What was I to do?

When my agony of soul was at its height, a sentence in a letter from dear McCarthy was used to remove the scales from my eyes, and the Spirit of God revealed to me the truth of our oneness with Jesus as I had never known it before. McCarthy, who had been much exercised by the same sense of failure but saw the light before I did, wrote (I quote from memory): “But how to get faith strengthened? Not by striving after faith, but by resting on the Faithful One.”

As I read, I saw it all! “If we believe not, he abideth faithful.” I looked to Jesus and saw (and when I saw, oh, how joy flowed!) that He had said, “I will never leave thee.” “Ah, there is rest!” I thought. “I have striven in vain to rest in Him. I’ll strive no more. For has not He promised to abide with me — never to leave me, never to fail me?” And, dearie, He never will. Nor was this all He showed me, nor one half. As I thought of the Vine and the branches, what light the blessed Spirit poured direct into my soul! How great seemed my mistake in wishing to get the sap, the fullness out of Him! I saw not only that Jesus will never leave me, but that I am a member of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. The vine is not the root merely, but all — root, stem, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers, fruit. And Jesus is not that alone — He is soil and sunshine, air and showers, and ten thousand times more than we have ever dreamed, wished for or needed. Oh, the joy of seeing this truth! I do pray that the eyes of your understanding too may be enlightened, that you may know and enjoy the riches freely given us in Christ.

Oh, my dear Sister, it is a wonderful thing to be really one with a risen and exalted Savior, to be a member of Christ! Think what it involves. Can Christ be rich and I poor? Can your right hand be rich and your left poor? or your head be well fed while your body starves? Again, think of its bearing on prayer. Could a bank clerk say to a customer, “It was only your hand, not you that wrote that check”; or “I cannot pay this sum to your hand, but only to yourself”? No more can your prayers or mine be discredited if offered in the name of Jesus (i.e., not for the sake of Jesus merely, but on the ground that we are His, His members) so long as we keep within the limits of Christ’s credit — a tolerably wide limit! If we ask for anything unscriptural, or not in accordance with the will of God, Christ Himself could not do that. But “if we ask any thing according to his will… we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”
The sweetest part, if one may speak of one part being sweeter than another, is the rest which full identification with Christ brings. I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize this; for He, I know, is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me; for in the easiest position He must give me His grace, and in the most difficult His grace is sufficient. It little matters to my servant whether I send him to buy a few cash worth of things, or the most expensive articles. In either case he looks to me for the money and brings me his purchases. So, if God should place me in serious perplexity, must He not give me much guidance; in positions of great difficulty, much grace; in circumstances of great pressure and trial, much strength? No fear that His resources will prove unequal to the emergency! And His resources are mine, for He is mine, and is with me and dwells in me. And since Christ has thus dwelt in my heart by faith, how happy I have been! I wish I could tell you about it, instead of writing. I am no better than before. In a sense, I do not wish to be, nor am I striving to be. But I am dead and buried with Christ — ay, and risen too! And now Christ lives in me, and “the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

And now I must close. I have not said half I would, nor as I would, had I more time. May God give you to lay hold on these blessed truths. Do not let us continue to say, in effect, “Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above).” In other words, do not let us consider Him as far off, when God has made us one with Him, members of His very body. Nor should we look upon this experience, these truths, as for the few. They are the birthright of every child of God, and no one can dispense with them without dishonoring our Lord. The only power for deliverance from sin or for true service is Christ. And it was all so simple and practical! — as the busy mother found when she too entered into this rest of faith. “But are you always conscious of abiding in Christ?” Mr. Taylor was asked many years later. “While sleeping last night,” he replied, “did I cease to abide in your home because I was unconscious of the fact? We should never be conscious of not abiding in Christ.”

Stinking Thinking

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When God made the universe, he judged that it was good. Everything that God makes and does and thinks is good, it is the outworking, the fruit, of his character and nature. As a holy, just and righteous God, his works are holy, just and righteous.

God made a garden, Eden, and furnished it with all kinds of fruits and edible things and then put man in the middle of it. He told him that he could eat from every tree in the garden except the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Up until the point that Eve and Adam ate of the fruit, everything in the universe was still good. When they ate in rebellion against God, the universe and the lives of Adam and Eve, changed. Everything was now not good, but bad, from God’s point of view, and I would suggest from ours also. Yet God had a plan in place which would turn everything around. All things work together for good to those who love the Lord (Romans 8:28). The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for us secured a way for us to once again be joined to God and for everything to again be good. But there is a catch. We have to die. The old nature, the old creation, the old ways of fallen man have to go into death. We can then, with a renewed mind, know the thoughts and intents of God and understand his will (Romans 12:2).

But what is God’s point of view. It’s not something we can know of our own volition. Here is the thing that caught us up in the garden of Eden. Satan tempted Eve by telling her that the fruit of the tree would make her wise. He was right and he was also wrong. He lied by omission. He also told her that the fruit of the tree would make her like God. He was also wrong. He himself had a warped mind. He was affected by the sin of rebellion and pride, and he believed himself to be like God anyway. Satan, the ultimate narcissist, wanted the whole of creation to revolve around him. The fact that he told Eve that she would be like God was not a lie in the sense that he believed himself to be God. She would, in effect, be like him, a fallen rebellious and wicked being. Whether he knew this or not, he deceived her into thinking that by taking the fruit she would be like the one true and living God, her heavenly Father who loved and nurtured her. Satan was wrong. How could sinning against God make you like God. Although God himself said that the man had become like one of Us to know good and evil (Genesis 3:22), that knowledge was now tainted and had changed the thoughts and motivations and very nature of His most beloved creation.

The fruit of the tree was good. It was a good tree because God made it. But it was never intended for man’s consumption. God knew that the moment man ate of the tree he would die spiritually. He would die not because the fruit itself was poisonous but because God did not intend the fruit for human consumption. It was the taking of the fruit against God’s express will that killed Adam and Eve. They sinned when they disobeyed.

It is an interesting thought actually that it was not the fruit itself which caused the fall of human nature. It was the choice to disobey and to steal from God that which belonged to God and was forbidden to man which corrupted the very nature of the human race. It was the decision that human beings were wiser, better at giving themselves what was good for them that caused the problem. It was the judgement that this fruit was good for them not bad for them which was the sin. The eating of the fruit was simply the result of having previously made the decision that they knew better than God.

In fact, it was a test. If they decided that God knew best, they would have left the fruit alone. The fact that they chose to take something which they believed was good actually indicated that they had already judged between good and evil. God said the fruit was not good for them, they said, yes, in fact, it was good for them, and they took what they believed was rightfully theirs. They judged between good and evil. It was quite literally the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.   The temptation was not actually to steal, but to judge of their own wisdom and reason.

This fruit, the knowledge of good and evil, belonged to God in more ways than one. He owned it because He made it, He made everything, but He also owned the ability to judge between right and wrong. God alone can make judgements about what is truly good and bad. Human beings cannot. When we took of the fruit, we not only rebelled against God, we stole from Him. We stole something which was not ours, and the first thing we did was consume it. Because we took something which was forbidden, and because the sin of stealing and the sin of rebellion changed us forever, the fruit then became death to us. The ability to judge between good and evil became warped. We do not judge as God judges, we judge by our own fallen minds. Our judgements about what is good and bad are judgements which are not balanced, they are warped according to our own particular predilections. And because human beings are all fallen and sinners, everything we think and do is fallen. Therefore our judgements, even as Christians, can be warped and fallen.

The best example of this that I can think of is the prosperity doctrine. Essentially it tells Christians that God wants them to be prosperous and healthy. This is true in part. God does want to bless us, but that blessing depends upon our obedience to His word. He does not bless fallen men in the same way that he blesses the righteous man. God’s original chapter of blessings and cursings, Deuteronomy 28, was based upon this understanding. However, what the prosperity preachers have not recognised is that they are basing their idea of what is the definition of prosperity upon their own fallen judgement. They claim that if you outwardly obey the word about tithing, which in fact does not even exist in the New Testament, then you will be blessed. What they are doing is expecting the congregation to continue to bring their ‘tithe’ into the church so that the pastors and full-time members of the church can be blessed by the income. What they are doing is self-serving.

We as human beings judge that certain things are good and other things are bad for us. Some of this is fairly easy to understand. For example, having money is a good thing. Not having enough money is not good. If you don’t have enough money you can’t buy food for yourself, or clothing or shelter etc. You can’t pay rent, you can’t get what you need for yourself in life. But let’s look at this from God’s point of view. God doesn’t need money in order to provide for his own. He clothes and feeds the birds of the air without money, and tells us not to worry about our lives because He knows our needs. Yet, the prosperity teachers tell us that if we tithe, give part of our money to God, he will bless us. They have it completely wrong. Their preaching is based on their own judgement of what is right and good.

Human beings naturally want the things that are good for themselves and their children. Food, clothing and shelter are seen as good things of course. But it doesn’t end there. Prosperity preachers tell us that having good things is not enough, we should expect the best. They read about how God clothes the flowers in finer array than Solomon and assume that we should all expect God to give us the very best from a human point of view. Solomon was the richest man in the world. But Solomon was only rich because when God told him to ask for what he wanted, Solomon asked for wisdom not riches. God gave him riches anyway as a reward. Solomon was a humble man who recognised that he could not rule a nation in his own strength. His judgement was impaired. Therefore, he wanted God to give him His wisdom, His knowledge, His ability to judge. This is why when the two mothers came to Solomon about the baby he was able to make a sound and wise decision. He had the mind of God on the matter, not his own mind. I doubt very much if a human being with a fallen mind would be able to make a sound judgement in this matter. And even if Solomon had by accident stumbled upon this decision himself, he would have made the decision in his own thinking, rather than trusting God to decide the best way for himself and the two women.

God’s judgements are sound and right. They do not appear that way from a human point of view because our thinking is fallen. This is why Paul urges us in Romans not to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

I have always had a problem with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. It is a method in Psychology which is based in human reasoning. It suggests that if you change the way you think, you change the way you behave. They are right in the fundamental assumption of course. They are just wrong in the way they execute it. No human being can change the way they think by thinking. All they will do is exchange one fallen pattern of behaviour for another fallen pattern of behaviour. And because all of our thinking has been affected by consuming that stolen fruit, we stand back, admire our ability to change other people’s behaviour and declare it good. Initially it may seem good, only because it is different. But we won’t be able to judge soundly that something is ‘good’ because although we think we know the difference between good and evil, it is a human perspective. God’s perspective, the only good we will ever truly know, is completely ignored. We cannot know his perspective until our minds are renewed. The only way our minds can be renewed is if God renews them. No fallen human being can change their own nature, it is impossible. The old cannot make anything except more of the same.

So we go to God, ask Him to renew our minds and wait upon Him.

Many times I have heard Christians say that God doesn’t tell us what to do in minute detail.  Our thinking needs to be renewed in all areas. Humanly speaking, the ability to make independent decisions is seen as a good thing, and God himself does not want us to be dependant upon other human beings for our lives. He wants us to depend upon, focus upon and learn from Him. As we grow to become more like Christ, we understand that in fact He truly does tell us what to do in minute detail. Not as a laundry list of legalistic demands, but in a moment by moment interaction where we seek the Lord as we need His wisdom and help in every situation. Every child who loves his father will ask his father a million and one questions and expect his father to answer those questions and give him guidance. We don’t do this as adults because in many ways we now know more than our parents. As Christians, however, we will never know more than God and it was in fact this very assumption which led Adam and Eve to sin. They were tempted to believe the lie that God hadn’t given them everything they needed for life and godliness, so they made their own decision.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5NKJV)

If we have our thinking changed by the word of God, by reading, meditating upon it and praying about what we read, we will begin to make godly, righteous decisions based upon the wisdom which comes from above.

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3 NKJV)

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)

But what of those things which seem outwardly, and to all human reasoning to be unutterably bad? When somebody we love dies unnaturally, or we become ill and we are not healed immediately, or when we suffer from some misfortune such as being fired from our jobs through no fault of our own or even being imprisoned or attacked unjustly what do we do? Are these things not bad from both our point of view and Gods?

God allows difficulties and trials to come upon us in order to test our faith. That much is certain. A mature faith is good in God’s eyes. Jesus intercedes on our behalf to God that we would become perfect without spot or wrinkle so that he can present us without blemish to God at the end of our time on earth. In order to do this, he uses our present circumstances, the fallen conditions of this universe, to our good. Since all things work together for good, we cannot presume that all means only the good things. All means all. It means both good and bad, and those things judged by God as good and bad, not just those things judged by us. Therefore, when we read about Job’s troubles, surely the very worst a human being can go through, we know that they are allowed by God so that he can test us, call us to greater holiness and then bless us even more than he did before. Joseph, David, Daniel and Paul and many others were taken through unjust trials and sufferings. They were unjust in that they did not do anything to deserve them. You might say that bad things happen in this universe as a result of the actions of our forebears Adam and Eve. In a way, we are wearing the consequences of their sin. But we are also wearing the consequences of everyone else’s sin, even if we are not directly suffering from the consequences of our own.

When we suffer, even when it is unjust suffering, the response God looks for is a heart filled with humility and patient endurance. It is easy to write such things. Yet my husband and I have suffered greatly over our lifetimes through various trials. We have encountered health, financial, family, spiritual, and relationship troubles yet we learned the hard way that complaining to God over and over does nothing for your faith or His response. When you finally get to the place of recognising your own sinfulness, and his utter righteousness, then you find yourself actually rejoicing in trials and thanking Him in the midst of them. I never thought I would get to the place where I could recommend this course of action. On the other hand, you can’t simply order somebody to rejoice in the midst of trials. You can’t fake it, and God isn’t stupid. He sees everything, including the thoughts and intents of our hearts. In our very deepest being, there needs to be a change wherein we actually transform, both in our thinking and our emotional state. We change from being ungrateful murmurers to being thankful rejoicers. Even writing that for me sounds a bit super-spiritual, and I used to hate people who threw out lines like that to me when I was younger.

I will say however, there are people who use times of suffering to preach and lecture others, usually younger Christians, about the ‘proper’ attitude. I say again, you can’t change somebody’s thinking by expecting outward conformity to rules. Only God can change us, and he does that when we come ourselves to His throne in humility and actually see the truth for ourselves. Not a very pleasant thing I must say. Yet, this death of pride gives birth to the renewal of faith, and such a renewal it is. Joy surely does come in the morning.

With love,

Anita

Changing The Way We Think 2

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Paul has written, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, a list of things that we should meditate on.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

1. Whatever things are true.

In scripture we are encouraged to speak the truth in love. To be able to do this we first need to know the truth. Jesus said in John 14:6, ‘I am the Truth.’

The opposite of that which is true is that which is false or a lie.

Ephesians 4:25 says, ‘Put away lying…’ That is to say, put away that which is a lie, that which is false or opposes the true.

Satan is called the father of lies. He is also referred to as the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10). His very nature is that of being opposite to all that is holy, clean, pure, righteous, honest.

Jesus said of the Pharisees (the religious system), ‘you are of your father the devil.’ (John 8:44)

These religious people who lived by a law that they themselves had changed and tweaked to suit themselves throughout the ages were full on opposing Christ and everything He was doing and saying. These people were His main protagonists and as we know it was eventually the religious system of His day that crucified Him. As an aside, it will again be, in these last days, the religious system which we see so much evidence of all over the world, that will oppose the true Church as she stands up for the truth of the gospel.

Everything of all or any religious system opposes God and Jesus Christ. These men hated Christ and crucified Him, they were of their father the devil who opposes all that is true.

Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life.’

Ephesians 4:25 goes on to say, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbour.

Ephesians 4:15, ‘Speak the truth in love.’

Zechariah 8:16-17 says, “These are the things you shall do: Speak each man the truth to his neighbour: Give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace; Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbour; And do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate,’ Says the Lord.”

To do this we need to know the truth for ourselves.

Abide in the word, you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.’ John 8:31

Paul said meditate on that which is true. Meditate on Christ, on who He is.

2. Whatever things are noble.

The word ‘noble’ has in its meaning: that which is of exalted moral or mental character or excellence,- of an admirably high quality, notably superior, excellent.

Another word for noble is honourable; that which is worthy of respect.

Here we could speak of things such that are dignified, reverent, not crass, not trashy, not unclean or dirty, not disrespectful but full of excellence.

In Philippians 1 Paul says that he prays for the saints in Philippi, v9 ‘that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment (why?) v10, that you may approve the things that are excellent (so) that you may be sincere and without offence.’

Proverbs 8:1-7a says, ‘Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice? She takes her stand on the top of the high hill, beside the way, where the paths meet. She cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city, at the entrance of the doors: “To you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men. O you simple ones, understand prudence, and you fools, be of an understanding heart. Listen, for I will speak of excellent things, and from the opening of my lips will come right things; For my mouth will speak truth; wickedness is an abomination to my lips.’

We could so easily fit the word honourable in here instead of excellent, ‘I will speak of honourable things..’

Honourable means worthy of honour and high respect, dignity and distinction.

Whenever I look at this I automatically think of the Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He is all of this and so much more.

Worship is to give reverent honour to God.

Whatever is worthy of worship is summed up as God the Father, Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Paul is encouraging the believers in Philippi and us today to think on the Lord Jesus Christ.

3. Whatever things are just.

We could easily insert the word ‘righteous’ here instead of ‘just’.

Abraham believed God and he was justified by faith and it was accounted to him as righteousness.

The just (righteous) shall live by faith. Romans 1:17

Romans 3:24-26 says, “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

We are justified by faith.

Romans 4:9b says, “for we say that faith was accounted to Abraham as righteousness.”

Romans 5:1 says, “having been justified (made just) by faith

Romans 1:16-17 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

What is Righteousness?

I have read it summed up like this,

“The Bible’s standard of human righteousness is God’s own perfection in every attribute, every attitude, every behaviour and every word and thought.” (http://www.gotquestions.org/righteousness.html)

Man’s own righteousness is measured against the clear Holy Spirit inspired plumb line of God’s Word. There is nothing we can think, do or say of ourselves that can match up to the life of Jesus Christ. The life of Jesus Christ is itself the plumb line we are compared to.

The righteousness of God is the very life of Jesus Christ.

We must meditate on the life of Christ, He is the example we are to follow.

Deuteronomy 16:20 says, “You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”

4. Whatever things are Pure.

We live in a day and age where to a large degree morality does not exist. Once upon a time society lived by moral standards that were based on the truths of the Bible. There is a flood of darkness pouring out over the earth like never before. All of the things spoken of in scripture that are foretold to happen in the last days leading up to the second coming of Christ are happening now right in front of our eyes.

Lets read what these scriptures say,

Romans 1: ” And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”

2 Timothy 3:1-4 “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,”

2 Peter 3:3 “knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts,”

Jude 1:17-18 “But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts.”
Jesus Himself foretold that in the last days lawlessness would abound and the love of many will grow cold.” Matt 24:12

The first thing to look at is the ‘Lawless’ issue. What is Lawlessness?

Daily we see more and more evidence worldwide of people ignoring the laws of the land they live in. Many on our roads no longer care about sticking to the rules. Many are now a law unto themselves.

The dictionary has this to say about the word ‘Lawless’.

-having no laws; not obeying the law, contrary to or without regard for the law, uncontrolled, unrestrained, unbridled, and unruly.

Lawless people are those who choose to live outside of the established boundaries or those who may even acknowledge boundaries but ignore them most of the time anyway.
Lawless people are unrestrained, out of control with no one or nothing to rein them in ie no boundaries. Anything goes, if it feels good do it, limitless promiscuity, pornography/sexual immorality etc etc.

These works of darkness are out of control all over the world at present and the situation is not getting any better. No matter how hard the law enforcement agencies work the flood of darkness continues to increase. The worlds legal systems cannot stop this flood of darkness. And let me say, this filth and darkness is rampant in the church also. Satan has infiltrated the church and so much of what is detailed in the Word of God as being ungodly and sinful is now accepted as normal in the church.

Man in general has chosen to discard and reject God and His Word and in so doing have thrown away the plumb line, the guide, the handbook telling us what to do, how to do it and when to do it.

God is Holy, Righteous, True and Pure.

We need to turn to Him and His Word, allow the Word by the Power of the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin, righteousness and judgement which in turn will lead us to repentance from sin and into a holy pure relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

5. Whatever things are lovely.

The dictionary sums up lovely as this;

whatever is sweet, gracious, generous or patient
beautiful, especially in a pleasing or charming way
delightful for beauty, harmony or grace
someone or something attractive
inspires love

I like the last one, inspires love.

Again this can be so aptly summed up in one person, Jesus Christ. Lets look at what else scripture speaks about in relation to inspirational love. Song of Solomon is full of dialogue between the Groom and His Bride.

S of S 1:9, “I have compared you, my love, to my filly among Pharaoh’s chariots. Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with chains of gold.”

S of S 1:15 “Behold, you are fair, my love! Behold, you are fair! You have dove’s eyes.”

S of S 2:2 “Like a lily among thorns,So is my love among the daughters.”

S of S 2:8-14 “The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes Leaping upon the mountains, Skipping upon the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold, he stands behind our wall; He is looking through the windows, Gazing through the lattice. My beloved spoke, and said to me: “Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away. For lo, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; The time of singing has come, And the voice of the turtledoves heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth her green figs, And the vines with the tender grapes Give a good smell. Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away! “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, In the secret places of the cliff, Let me see your face, Let me hear your voice; For your voice is sweet, And your face is lovely.”

Song of Solomon speaks of the love affair between Christ and His Church. There is a deep growing relationship here between the Groom and His Bride. They speak of the love they have for each other.

May I say respectfully that Christ our Bridegroom is lovely, pleasing, someone who is attractive though not in a physical or sensual way. He is the One who first loved us even though we were yet sinners. He is the One who is altogether lovely.

6. Whatever things are of good report.

The ESV uses the word ‘commendable’. We could also use instead, ‘of good reputation’ or ‘reputable.’ When we consider what we read, what we look at or listen to on our smartphones, tablets, laptops, TV’s, or in magazines, when we consider what we feed our minds and hearts with via our eyes and ears, do we stop to think whether these things are of good report. Are they reputable? Would we recommend any of these things to our wives, husbands, sons, daughters or even to our pastors???

As this post is written primarily to Christians I put that same question to each of you. Would you recommend any of this ‘stuff’ that you are into to Jesus Himself? Have you allowed the Holy Spirit to work in your life? If you say yes then there should be no hidden sin in your life.

Have you allowed the spotlight of the Holy Spirit to shine into every recess of your heart and soul to purge out all that is of darkness? Have you allowed the Holy Spirit to lead you through your house to point out all the idols that should not be there? Is there still secret sin in your life? ‘Stuff’ that you are hiding from others?

Remember, God sees everything. God hears everything. Are you into what God calls ‘wholesome’?

As I have sat here and considered what I have been writing it becomes all the more clear to me that the relationship I have with my Saviour is the most important relationship I will ever have. There is nothing on this earth, nothing in the spiritual realm that can give me what Jesus Christ can give me. All of what I have been writing about can only come out of the relationship I have with God through Jesus Christ.

Jesus Himself said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Our focus needs to be Christ at all times. You may think to yourself, How is that possible? Well it is possible through Christ alone. Christ has made it possible for all of us to change the way we think. As we dig deeper and deeper into His Word and feed spiritually on what is contained therein we will be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

His Word will wash and regenerate our entire being. We will be able to say that our minds are set on things above. We will be able to say that we have the mind of Christ. This will be true because we have learnt to know His mind through His Word. As a man thinks in his heart (soul: mind, will and emotions) so is he. Proverbs 23:7

Now when I find myself in any situation will I go straight to my own way of seeing things, will I interpret it according to my thinking based on what the world has taught me, or the way I was trained by my parents and all those other influences that were upon my life as I grew up, up until I came to Christ or will I turn to the Lord and what His Word says?

Will my automatic response be, How would you have me to handle this Lord?, or What should I say here Lord?, or Lord the ways of Your Kingdom are the only way, please lead me and guide me according to the Life and principles of Your Kingdom, in the way of your Righteousness.

It is all about changing the way we think.

Steve.