160. Back to the capstone.

Oh, I can bask in the wonder of the Word of God. Some scriptures are so miraculous in the powerful impact on my life that they are deep in my heart and easy on my tongue.  They become like dear friends, visited over and over again all the while discovering a new dimension and deeper dynamic.

One example is Zechariah 4.  Over many years the story of the returning exiles and the daunting task of rebuilding the wall (Nehemiah) and the Temple (Zerubbabel) served to encourage me in the darkest depths of depression and despondency.

Architecture and environment have always played a significant role in my life.  I cannot work or be creative when the room, the house and even myself are in disarray. Mostly tidiness is basic, but I have to admit beauty brings out the best in me.  I read Zechariah 4 and dream up the best of old-world charm to picture the capstone with one of the most well-known Biblical concepts written or chiseled on it: Grace.  The image I think up, changes from time to time.  Sometimes I see a beautiful arch in a garden that leads to an overgrown greenery where I can enjoy privacy and quietness in nature.  Other times the arch is the entrance to a magnificent mansion where a great feast is prepared.  Entering under the capstone of Grace brings you to the banquet in the presence of our Father himself – the ultimate delight of any child of God.  Our imagination is unlimited and free to make Biblical concepts visual.  When our imagination is submitted to the Holy Spirit we can “see” into the unseen to make our faith tangible.

Reality might be very far from the faith-picture. This is why we use our mind to confirm the promises of God.  We “see” into the unseen and cling to the manifestation of the vision of God’s word in our visible realm.

I always “see” pictures when I read, also when I read the Bible.  With the help of archeological reconstruction, it is easier to imagine the overwhelming destruction of Jerusalem after a cruel siege and a bloody defeat against Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian.  After seventy years the scars on the land and the city are demoralizing.  The Persian emperor, Cyrus the Great, decrees in extraordinary benevolence to assist the exiles in returning to Jerusalem for the rebuilding of the city.

Under the leadership of Nehemiah, the wall is rebuilt in record time – only 54 days.  The next formidable undertaking was the Temple.

The structure that was destroyed under Nebuchadnezzar was the Temple of Solomon.  It was one of the wonders of the ancient world, admired by other nations and emperors.  The wealth and splendour were widely known.  Musicians adorned the Temple with non-stop worship, day and night.  The Temple was the culmination of the triumphant vision of a people led by God from being slaves to being independent and free in a land of their own.

During the exile the dream of restoration to the greatness under king Solomon was kept alive.  The historical desire for reinstated prominence amongst the nations brought the exiles back with singular purpose and determination.

The people and material available were enough to discourage the best intentions.  The chronicles of the elderly of the glory and grandeur of the former Temple served to further dissipate all hope of ever bringing back the majesty of the past.

What then is the solution when everything looks so bleak?

The answer is in the mouth of the prophet. Zechariah and his visions are called by the Lord to embolden the exiles to tackle the impossible.

Our community today is in the grip of destruction. There is no measure of truth, no filter of propriety, no moral decency.  Everyone is free to inconsiderately spit out his annoyance in words of rage and exasperation.  The public domain is a playground for bullying and catty nastiness.  Posters and placards spell out the frustrated anger on series upon series of burning issues.

Just read the headlines of any news stream. The vulnerability of the individual is prominent when the bad and worst of the environment, the suffering of humans and animals and the breakdown of values and morals are heaped up and tossed upon whoever will listen.  Christian values are constantly under fire.  Where Christians themselves are not physically persecuted for their faith, the principles and standards for which Jesus lived and died are shouted down and blatantly attacked.

How will we resist and where will our help come from?

Exactly like Zerubbabel we must hear not to despise the days of small beginnings. (Zechariah 4:10)  Our redemption and hope are in the words of the prophet, in other words, the prophetic word of God that comes from our own study of the Bible or the mouth of prophetic ministry.  Our first call is the Word of God in our hand.  Listen and live:

So, he answered and said to me: “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel:
‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’
Says the Lord of hosts
.  (Zechariah 4:6)

Then he said, “This is God’s Message to Zerubbabel:

‘You can’t force these things. They only come about through my Spirit,’ says God-of-the-Angel-Armies.  (The Message)

These powerful words are not words of violence, backed up by missiles and warships or big-mouth politicians who have to give up on unrealized promises.  These are God-words and the hope and destiny of our community are guaranteed in the prevailing words of Scripture.  It is the power of the Holy Spirit within every child of God living in the invisible Kingdom of Jesus that will win the battle for goodness and love in our world community today.

How do we know this is the solution?  The words are assured and secured in the mouth of the speaker – the Lord of hosts, the God-of-Angel-Armies.

He says:

Now it’s time that my people know who I am, what I’m made of—yes, that I have something to say. Here I am!” (Isaiah 52:6, The Message)

The promise is fail-safe because of his NAME. We know with whom we have to do. He knows everything.

God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one are impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.(Hebrews 4:12-13, The Message)

He is the great Judge, the wonderful Counsellor, the Prince of Peace in our warzone of scandalous excess and enmity.

In Jesus we can fight the words of anger and violence of our modern catty culture and respond with love and grace.

The key is the word on the capstone:  Grace grace.

It is counter-intuitive, in blunt contrast to cultural demands – it is our march under the logo of GRACE.

Grace is not passive.  It is the active inspiration that builds up and encourages. It could only be our emblem when we live in full surrender to the powerful principles of the Holy Spirit. He will remind us of everything Jesus has said and done, so that we could rebuild the Temple of worship in our community.

Grace is favour, unconditional, undeserved sympathy and loving action to the benefit of others.  Grace prompts confession and draws people to the Kingdom (Zechariah 12:10)

The Holy Spirit is the spirit of Grace  (Hebrews 10:29)

It is our strength for all in all.




159. Speak to the mountain!

I thought I knew what grace meant.  I have written about it.  I know the Scriptures; I know this particular text in Zachariah – it is one of my favourites.  I can just imagine the capstone; a beautiful stone-built arch with the miraculous word: grace carved out on it.  It has to be the logo of my life.  I claimed it, I framed it and I own it in my imagination.

Still, there is more to learn.  I should have known.  The Word of God is multi-facetted and never one-dimensional.  There is always something new – a new angle, a new perspective.  Zachariah 4 has been put in the spotlight again in the last few weeks.  Let us read together:

Who are you, O great mountain?
Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain!
And he shall bring forth the capstone
With shouts of “Grace, grace to it!
  (Zechariah 4:7)

Zerubbabel had a gigantic task.  He had to restore the Temple that lay in ruins after a cruel siege of Jerusalem about 70 years before and the subsequent exile of the people of Judah into Babylon.  The Temple had been built by Solomon after the death of David and was the climax of the Hebrew civilization and conquering of Canaan, the promised land of the slave nation that was led out of Egypt by Moses.

The people were discouraged and the planners and builders did not know how to restore the Temple to its former magnificence. The prophet Zechariah is called by God to encourage the leaders and to inspire the restoration project. Zechariah proclaims a series of visions with the interpretation thereof.

Start small, he says.  For who has despised the day of small things? (Zechariah 3:10)

Every gargantuan task starts in the ideas of people, the planning on paper and the first bricks to be laid.  They could not be dismayed and cast down by the city in ruins. Nehemiah had already rebuilt the wall in a record time of 54 days.  The Temple was next.  Just the thought of the former glory of the Temple, almost defeated the whole project. The overwhelming task proved to be too much.

God steps in.  In the words of Zechariah, He promises the immense, miraculous, super natural power of the Holy Spirit, through which nothing is impossible.

Hear the words and see the way being made:

This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel:
‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’
Says the Lord of hosts
.  (Zechariah 4:6)

The visions of Zechariah are the insight into the unseen, that reveals the super-natural to encourage and enable. It is exactly where we find strength today – in the prophetic word of God.  Our vision into the unseen uncover the “veil” of mystery and expose the reality of God’s powerful intervention that facilitate the impossible into a wonderful work of the Holy Spirit.

Nothing is impossible when we “see” the way God sees. This is the perspective that the prophetic brings.

The Brenton Septuagint Translation has an interesting variation on the words of this verse.

Who art thou, the great mountain before Zerababbel, that thou shouldest prosper? whereas I will bring out the stone of the inheritance, the grace of it the equal of my grace.

[The Septuagint is the translation of the Old Testament Jewish scriptures from Hebrew to Greek in the third and second centuries before Christ by Jewish scholars for the Greeks.  Later, after Jesus, the Greek Christians used this translation as the authentic version of the Old Testament.  Sir Lancelot Charles L Brenton translated the Septuagint into English in 1844]

Our inheritance is written on the capstone.  Grace that equals God’s grace.  It is powerful words.

It is words of empowerment to equip us for everything we need, however impossible.

How do we know that grace is a power that works in our favour?

 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.  (Acts 4:33)

God’s grace empowered the apostles.  The realm in which this most colossal task in the entire history of mankind, of establishing the Christian church happened, is grace.  The fledgling start of Christianity in the acts of the handful of Christ followers who were empowered by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, cannot be described in human terms.  The core of the statement is, of course, that by the power of the Holy Spirit, everything is possible.

The Holy Spirit is the main player in the story. He makes all the difference.  The Holy Spirit is the power of the grace of God. He is the invisible drive that makes the mountain a plain.

One could never disregard or underestimate the Holy Spirit’s role in a situation or in the life of a born-again Christian. The Holy Spirit moves the mountain in the unseen, without you being able to see or feel.  Things happen in the unseen with miraculous impact in the seen.  He is the breath of God, the source of life, the wind of power (John 3).  One cannot see breath, see the wind or see the source of life.  One can experience the effect thereof.

God is good and He wants good things for you – all for your benefit.  The cross of Jesus is the guarantee.  He can make things work to unfold to your advantage even if you could not imagine it in your wildest dreams. It is his character as He defines himself in Exodus 34:6:

And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,

God is love – you have heard it all before, often. He cannot do anything but from love. He does not have love; He is love. It is his being, his character and the source from which He acts.

Believe it – even though it might not feel that way. The Holy Spirit is not a feeling. He is the life-giving source that works according to a higher plan that you cannot feel.

This is how CS Lewis describes it:

It is quite right that you should feel that “something terrific” has happened to you (It has) and be “all glowy.”  Accept these sensations with thankfulness as birthday cards from God, but remember that they are only greetings, not the real gift.  I mean, it is not the sensations that are the real thing.  The real thing is the gift of the Holy Spirit which can’t usually be—perhaps not ever—experienced as a sensation or emotion.  The sensations are merely the response of your nervous system. Don’t depend on them.  Otherwise when they go and you are once more emotionally flat (as you certainly will be quite soon), you might think that the real thing had gone too.  But it won’t. It will be there when you can’t feel it.  May even be most operative when you can feel it least.


CS Lewis:  Words to live by. [My emphasis]



158. Biblical Maths.

Well, Maths has never been my passion, but I do know something of the basic principles.  Life demands Mathematics, especially basic calculations with plus, minus, division and multiplication.  I can measure and fit, do my simple sewing jobs with a tape measure, check bank statements, make budgets and calculate prices to make better decisions.  I always play my game with the supermarket cart to make a rough estimate of the total before I get to the cashier.  I like it when I am close.

We have talked about Biblical numbers. Mathematicians are excited about numbers.  It is their language. The Bible gives us many numbers and measurements, even being such an ancient document and so many things might have changed over the years.  We need the scholars to explain some of the old measures and weighs. Noah’s ark was built according to meticulous godly instructions.  The desert Tabernacle was built on God’s measurements.  I remember my mother used to say: it doesn’t matter how many noughts are before the one; only those after the one make a difference. She said: Jesus is the ONE and it doesn’t matter that your life is a nothing; with Jesus there is multiplication. This can only happen after you have invited him onto your life.  He has to be first.

We haven’t talked about marriage in Pebbles so far.  We have talked about relationships – often.  We have emphasized how relationships make us happy and unhappy.  A human being always lives in relationship, even when alone and unattached.  One is born into a family and live in community and the healthier those attachments are, the happier and stronger a person is.

Biblical Maths does not always work like earthly Maths.  God is one, but consists of three persons.  Man is one but is made up of spirit, soul and body.  The number three signifies perfection and completeness.

Paul writes about the three basic principles of Christianity – faith, hope and love (1Corinthians 13).  Jesus talks about the three principles for a strong life – prayer, fasting and giving (Matthew 6).

This year, my husband and I celebrated 35 years of marriage.  I have always found a strong tower and a safe haven in my relationship with him and the home we have been able to build.  However, I know very well that it is not because of us, the fact that we are “good” people or a twist of fate that we have a strong connection.  I know for sure that our relationship is grounded in the grace of God and He is the third person in our marriage.  Our marriage can be expressed mathematically – 1+1+God=1 relationship.

My very dear friend sent me Scripture to congratulate us.  I have realized again: the Bible says it best.  Read with me the precious words of God’s relationship maths.

It’s better to have a partner than go it alone.
Share the work, share the wealth.
And if one falls down, the other helps,
But if there’s no one to help, tough!

 Two in a bed warm each other.
Alone, you shiver all night.

 By yourself you’re unprotected.
With a friend you can face the worst.
Can you round up a third?
A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped

(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, The Message)

There is an old legend of a man who had to teach his sons the power of unity and standing together.  He gave them a bundle of sticks, tied together, to break.  They could not. When he untied the bundle the individual sticks were easy to break.

We live in Christ.  The church is built on the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus – again three elements the power of which is the foundation of the Church of Jesus.

Within the church we are bound to Jesus, to each other and to the Word of God.  Together we are unconquerable and impact our world in the most effective way possible.

It is heavenly Maths – Jesus + God’s word + born-again people = the Church.

Maybe it sounds good on paper, as a philosophy or doctrine.  Jesus didn’t die for a theory, doctrine or philosophy.  He died for people.  It is his life in us that transforms us from the inside out.  Christianity is not a prescription for life – it is a wholly changed life.

The principles under discussion are radical and fundamental.

When a person submits to faith, hope and love, his life will change fundamentally and profoundly.  Faith changes life and death – everything inside and around a person.  A decision to follow Jesus impacts your life, your decisions, your family and your circumstances.  You change the course of your life – the whole ship turns and takes your generation to a higher level, to a life of excellence.

Your decision impacts the lives of your offspring, even those whom you do not even get to meet on this earth.

Isn’t this something?  Let us rejoice in the power of rebirth.

Let us think a bit further on the Mathematics of our wonderful world.   Have you heard of the Fibonacci sequence, according to which each number is the sum of the two preceding ones, starting from 0 and 1.  For example: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, etc.

Fibonacci numbers are strongly related to the golden ratio.  The golden ratio is expressed in the Greek letter phi (Φ)and the numbers 1.618.

Fibonacci numbers appear unexpectedly often in mathematics.  They also appear in biological settings, such as branching in trees, the arrangement of leaves on a stem, the fruit of a pineapple, the flowering of an artichoke, the uncurling of a new fern and the arrangement of a pine cone’s bracts.

Scientists point towards the symmetry and predictability of nature to express the miracle of creation and the magnificence of nature.  They also ask why it should be so certain and sure.

The answer is efficiency.  The sunflower can fit the maximum amount of seeds if they are positioned at the angle of an irrational number.

God’s mathematics is applied in the godly rhythm of an agricultural year, seasonal changes, day and night and heat and cold. In this drumbeat of the Almighty with mathematical precision there is seed for the sower and bread for the eater (Isaiah 55).

In that same way, God’s mathematics will care for all our needs and will feed our souls daily.  The Word is the seed and Jesus is the Bread of Life.

A relationship is expressed in God’s mathematics.  It is how it works well.

In the Kingdom, that invisible Kingdom of God on earth, it is I PLUS my fellow Christians (innumerable) PLUS God EQUALS a powerful Kingdom to meet the needs of this world.


Lord, I submit myself and my “impossible” relational issues to the authority of the Holy Spirit and expect a miracle from God to take it in hand and work it out for my benefit and joy.

God will change your heart if needs be, make you strong and bring peace in your home and heart and circle of people.

157. The sound of the trumpet

This time span before the Passion (traditionally called Easter, which we will refer to as The Passion) is important to find depth of meaning in a tradition spanning thousands of years.  A tradition of this kind runs the risk of becoming stale and clichéd, even if the significance of the event it commemorates reverberates over many centuries.  It is our own passion to seek renewal in the old, to learn more in the known and to experience the power in the familiar.

It is easy to fall into complacency while upholding tradition.  Our goal is to know God more in every feast when we rejoice in the goodness and grace of our Father.

The nation of Israel heard the sound of the trumpet when they gathered around the mountain where God manifested his presence.

Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled.  (Exodus 19:16)

This is the goal.  We are praying to hear the trumpet and tremble at the sound.  This is the time of year to fall down on your knees in awe and reverence for the great work Christ has done on the cross.

Let us time travel – back to an evening meal and a dark night that followed…


Jesus and his disciples sat down for the Passover meal, according to the tradition of many centuries.  It felt ordinary, but it was uniquely special and never to be repeated.

Look out for the extraordinary in every feast.

This meal began in an unexpected way. It was not customary for the host to wash the feet of the guests. It was done by either the guest himself or a slave. Jesus is comfortable in ‘breaking the laws’.

Peter’s pride excluded him.  He wanted to dictate and control.  He felt uncomfortable with the change.  Jesus insists on doing it his way.  Baptism is arrival in the Kingdom.   Thereafter only a washing is necessary to get rid of the grime of the world in which we have to travel.

that He might sanctify and cleanse her [the church] with the washing of water by the word.(Ephesians 5:26)

To receive Jesus, is to submit to his way of doing.  Obedience is our worship, even if it feels awkward in the context.

Judas’s betrayal was foremost in Jesus’ mind. Judas acts normal. If the other disciples might have grasped the full implication of the situation, they would have prevented him to go ahead.

On the host’s left was the place for the guest of honour.  That place was reserved for Judas. It was yet another appeal from Jesus to Judas to reconsider his actions.

To offer the guest something from the meal was a special invitation to conversation.  The host was saying, this is especially for you  – let’s talk. Jesus offered it to Judas.  When your own devices and plans separate you from God, look out for the invitation to conversation.  God speaks no blame, no reproach – just an invitation. (Isaiah 1:18)

Again and again the appeal came. The darkness and own agenda in Judas’ heart won him over. When Judas received the morsel from Jesus (an invitation to communicate) the devil entered him.  He was so set on his own plan that he could not respond to Jesus’ many appeals.

John mentions that when Judas went out, it was night.  This is very significant. Deeds of darkness take place in the dark.  Leaving the presence of Jesus is darkness. Leaving Christ to follow your own plans is your soul’s night.


Some wealthy friend of Jesus probably gave Him the key to this walled garden outside the city gates to use whenever He needed peace and quiet.  Jerusalem was too crowded for gardens and ceremonial rules forbade soil or manure in the sacred city.  The garden that is shown to tourists comprises of about eight olive trees, so old they look like rocks.

Judas knew that Jesus planned to go there and that is where he planned the arrest to take place.

John states there was a company of soldiers plus the officers from the chief priests and Pharisees.  The officers were the Temple police.  The Temple had police to keep order and the Sanhedrin (Jewish Council of 70) had police to carry out their decrees.  There was also a band of Roman soldiers.  The Greek word used is speira.  It had three meanings: a Roman cohort, which means 600 men or auxiliary soldiers of 1000 men (240 cavalry and 760 infantry).  It is sometimes used for a detachment of 200 men.

Even the word in the last meaning indicated an overwhelming force to arrest a simple Galilean carpenter.  The authorities were clearly very scared of Jesus and His influence and expected a small war.  They sent an army to grab Him!!  Just think how surprisingly simple the arrest took place – in surrender and peace – fully under the control of Jesus himself.

Peter was willing to fight, even against an overwhelming armed force.

He cut the soldier’s ear off.

When the church draws the sword, it cuts the people’s ears off.  Their ability to hear the Gospel is taken away.  Only a touch of Jesus can heal their ears.  The Gospel only penetrates with a touch of Jesus himself.


Jesus is before Annas.  Only John mentions this.  Annas was the power behind the throne of the high priest. The high priest was a collaborator with the Romans and lived in ease, comfort, prestige and power.  The family of Annas was very rich and he was the power behind it all – knowing how to play the game.  The shops inside the Temple were called the Bazaars of Annas.  He was notorious and of course very angry that Jesus had upset his comfortable flow of money at the cleansing of the Temple court.

The questioning before Annas was a mockery of justice, done in secret and haste under the cover of night.  Jesus had no hope of a fair trial.  He knew how things would go.  He went through the motions.  In a reading of all four accounts of the trial, found in the four Gospels, it is obvious that Jesus was in control and conducted his own trial.


Peter’s denial has been the subject of many sermons and comments over the years. Peter’s desire to support Jesus is undeniable. He drew his sword in the garden and he was present in a situation where he could have been dragged off and imprisoned just for being where he was. Yes, he failed in courage, but only because he was in a situation which the others did not even face.

Peter loved Jesus – that is a fact. He was in that courtyard because of love and loyalty.

Peter was redeemed. One must realize that the story of his denial would get around and he would suffer great humiliation with a sense of profound failure. But Peter did not flee from his family in Jesus, the other disciples. He found refuge in their company and somehow found his way back behind the closed doors where the disciples waited in fear after the crucifixion.

Jesus saw his courage, his loyalty, and his love. Jesus looked at him, not in reproach, but in love.The eyes of Jesus that night preserved Peter’s soul. Jesus saw his dear friend buckle under the pressure of vicious judgment and overwhelming odds of heartless and brutal authority. He communicated His love and redemption to Peter and that preserved Peter in a night of bitter regret and breakdown. It was notthe look of “I told you so”.

Keep in mind that Peter had the revelation from the Father that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16: 13-20).

Judas went back to the leaders, threw the money down and said: I have betrayed innocent blood.  He died by his own hand, full of guilt, lonely and broken without ever realizing with Whom he had to do.

Revelation knowledge made Peter brave. His courage is amazing; his defeat diminishes in the light of his leadership in the church later on.


The Jewish leaders twisted their charge against Jesus. To them He was blasphemous (Matthew 26:65). Pilate would not act on a charge like that and would dismiss it as a religious quarrel. They made it political with the hint of rebellion in. They accused Jesus of claiming to be a king.

They denied every principle they had in order to get the death penalty. They suddenly confessed they have no king but the Caesar.

Samuel said to the people God is their king (Samuel 12:12). When the Romans first instituted taxes, there was almost a bloody revolt. The declared God to be their king and only to Him they wanted to pay tribute. Now they claimed Caesar as king – a shameful about-face. Pilate must have gasped in astonishment.

PILATE, on the other hand, behaves very strangely. He most certainly realized that the trump up charges of the Jews were a series of lies.  He was deeply impressed with Jesus.  He did not want to condemn Him to death – yet he did.

Jesus is the majestic conductor of His own trial. Pilate recognized that Jesus is actually in control. He is not a pathetic victim of cruelty. Pilate treated Him with respect. He knew Jesus was different and special.

Jesus speaks directly about His kingdom. He does not try to explain. He states the truth. He knows He is about to die and gets the message out straight and undiluted.

He makes it clear that His kingdom is in the hearts of men, not of this earth and that the conquest would be love.

Pilate says: See the man. The word Pilate uses is ho, the normal Greek word for human being, but the Greek thinkers often used it for the ideal man, the heavenly man. Pilate is surprised that the torture has not finished Jesus off.

Pilate says he has the power to release Him or execute Him. Jesus is clear that Pilate has no power at all except what is given to execute God’s plan. Jesus is in a triumphant procession on His way to the cross.

BARRABAS:  The choice of the people stayed with them forever. They chose the man of bloody force and violence and rejected the man of love and gentleness. Throughout the centuries this choice was made again and again.


It was the death most dreaded in the ancient world.

When a verdict was pronounced the execution took place immediately after. The convicted had to carry his own cross and after scourging it was a bloody procession of lashing and mocking to get the staggering prisoner to the place of execution. In front of him was a soldier with a placard stating his crime and he was led through as many streets as possible to serve as a warning to all watching. There was another reason for the long detour to the cross. If any person could bear witness in his favour, he might come forward to do so. In this case the procession stopped and the trial repeated.

The placard for the Cross was written in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. It was three of the great nations of the ancient world. The culmination of their talents could have been great. The Romans taught law and good government, the Greeks taught philosophy and art and the Hebrews had access to the one true God.

Jesus was the supreme beauty and the highest thought of God. In him was the law of God and the kingdom of God. In him was the very image of God. All the world’s seekings and strivings found their consummation in him. It was symbolic that the three great languages of the world should call him king. [William Barclay]


The tunic woven in one piece was described exactly as the one the High Priest wore. The function of the High Priest was to be the connection of the people to God. The Latin for priest is Pontifex, which means bridge-builder. This is exactly what the cross did. Jesus was the perfect High Priest, the bridge-builder to the presence of God.

The other Gospel tells of Jesus dying with a great shout on His lips. They do not say the words (Matthew 27:50; Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46). John tells us what He said. He said these words not in weary defeat, but in a voice that one does not expect from a dying man.

The words: it is finished is one word in Greek = tetelestai. It also means great shout.He died when the price was paid and God said enough. He leaned back His head and gave up His spirit as if He rested after the work is done.


To make sure that Jesus was dead, a soldier thrusted a spear into His side and out flowed water and blood. It was a sure sign of death, but also the sign of a very sick man.He literally took our sickness on Him on the cross. Another prophecy was fulfilled: They look on him whom they have pierced – Zechariah 12:10.

Joseph and Nicodemus stepped out boldly after the death of Jesus. Joseph fearlessly approached the Romans for the body of Jesus. In His death he drew men unto Him just as He prophesied (John 12:32).

Death has meaning.  It is never wasted.  Through Jesus God showed his presence in death.  After he died secret disciples stepped forward – the worst has happened. Now the tables are turned.


It was customary to visit the tomb for three days after the burial. They also believed that the spirit of the person hovered for three days but then departed. The body would then become unrecognizable through decay.

Jesus’ friends were not allowed to make the journey on the Sabbath – they would break the law.  Sunday morning Mary came early. Greek= proi, which means the last of the four watches between 3-6am. Still dark grey – she couldn’t wait any longer.

Mary might have thought the Jewish leader took the body, but it is unlikely that they would touch a dead body or have anything to do with the dead over the Sabbath.

Peter was still acknowledged as the leader – it was to him that Mary went. Peter was amongst his brothers in his failure, defeat and heartbroken state of bewilderment.

John ran faster, he was younger. John looked in but Peter ran right on and in – typical of his nature. Peter was amazed and still, but John’s mind started working. If somebody stole the body why did they leave the grave clothes?

The clothes were not disarranged. The clothes were where the body had been and exactly in the shape of the body – in their folds. The grave clothes told a whole story of their own. They looked as of the body has just evaporated from them.  The napkin for the head was folded neatly. The sight spoke to John and he believed. He saw with his own eyes and believed.

Love was the foundation of faith. Love brought Mary to the tomb, love made John believe. Love opened his eyes and mind.

 Love is the interpreter of life. Love knows truth when the mind is still struggling and uncertain.

MARY in the garden

The scene in the garden where Mary recognizes Jesus is probably one of the most dramatic moments in literature. Mary was the first to see the risen Christ. Her love is the driving force of all her actions. She brought the news to the disciples, was probably left behind in the race, but comes back to the garden. They have already left again, running to the others with the news. Mary stood weeping. She didn’t know where to now, what to make of things. She was confused and bewildered. She could not recognize this man talking to her through her tears. Her sorrow blinded her. In loss we weep for ourselves. The loved one is with God, no need for tears there. But we feel the sharp pain of loss. As long as our tears are lifted up to God so that we do not miss the glory.

Mary’s eyes were on the tomb.It is looking in the wrong direction. Our eye must be on heaven and God with us where we will know that our loved one is in His presence. Tears are good, cry, grieve – but do not despair and keep your eyes on the tomb.


Greatness of this event – truly the greatest in history– transcends time.

Jesus was on His way to enter heaven triumphantly as described in Revelation 5. He was the first fruit of the church(sheaf of wheat) to wave before the Father, just like at the Feast of the Firstfruits.

“Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, when you come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest.

And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morning after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it” (Leviticus 23:10-11)

The Feast of the Firstfruits is celebrated after the Sabbath in the week of the Passover and the first sheaf of wheat is waved before the priest. Jesus was the first fruit of the harvest of the church and was glorified before the Father.

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  (1 Corinthians 15:20)

(Easter is associated with the Babylonian feast of first fruits, a spring festival when the pagans asked their fertility god (Ishtar – where the name Easter comes from) for new babies. The egg hunt is to celebrate the attempts to conceive new life.  Fertile things in nature are worshipped like rabbits. The people wore new clothes to celebrate the buds on the trees.)

Our Easter is all about the resurrection– the first fruit of the church.


We have to explain things in calculated time. In a glorified state Jesus could enter time and leave it again as He wanted to. He had full control over His glorification. He was back in His heavenly realm and showed Himself on earth to whom He willed and when He wanted. He entered the seen from the unseen as He conducted His appearances until the Ascension.

THOMAS – briefly

Thomas refused to be dragged into something he did not understand. He was strong and wanted to come to his own conclusion. Jesus respected this and invited him to  investigate. Thomas is honest to the bone. He had to be sure. His faith was established on truth, not on stories of others and things that didn’t make sense.

When he received his confirmation, he surrendered in victorious worship.His faith was based on full revelation and worship flows spontaneously.


The Gospels were not meant as biographies. The aim of the words is not to give information, but to communicate life.

It is to give life to the image of Jesus so that the reader can meet Him personally to learn from Him directly and experience true life through Him.

We read to know God, not history.


156. Fight the fortress.

They talk of conventional wisdom.  I know it is defined as traditional or customary wisdom.  I think the context often implies modern wisdom or current wisdom. I admit that wisdom changes with the accumulation of knowledge.  Medical science can attest to that, to name only one example.  If wise living changes with the times and advances in the natural and human sciences, then how would we know how to make decisions to the benefit of our communities?  What is the measure?  How will we know what is right and wise?

Wisdom is ultimately the application of knowledge.  It is defined as follows:

Wisdom, sapience, or sagacity is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense and insight. Wisdom is associated with attributes such as unbiased judgment, compassion, experiential self-knowledge, self-transcendence and non-attachment, and virtues such as ethics and benevolence.

It is a mouth full of words – wonderful words.  As I read it, I yearn for living like that.  It sounds good, it IS good and it will be good – no doubt.

The first important principle is that thoughts and action go together.  Wisdom is expressed in action.  The inner being of a human is directed by his thoughts and is demonstrated in his actions.

Thoughts are private – actions are public.

That with which your mind is occupied, is manifested in your being and defines you as a person in community.

Wisdom is the guide to determine and take control of our mind.  It is our topic under discussion – a big one indeed!  Thoughts and decisions from our inner being shape our lives.  We have talked about the significance of mind-contracts that establish something that has never existed.  Out of these flow tangible and real consequences.

The Bible has a lot to say about our thought-life.

He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, he who rules his [own] spirit than he who takes a city. (Proverbs 16:32)

We have talked about Romans 12:2.  The change in our inner being takes place with the renewal of our mind.  Paul is very outspoken on this subject.  Sharp and clear he says:

The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will.

 The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture.We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.

 Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6, The Message)

Not only does this Scripture describe the world in which we live with its culture of scandal and outrage, but also enlightens us to the fact that our thought-world is under evil attack.  Our enemy plants thoughts to paralyze our action.  I have heard it being said that the devil cannot be accused of laziness, as he is always ready with an attack of fear and confusion. He will pounce on every weak moment to sow anger and fear.

In all this we are equipped by the Word of God to fight on all fronts, clearing the ground of every obstruction.

Verses that I cling to like a desperate being drowning in the flood of fear and dejection of this world are the encouragement and comfort to be found in Philippians 4.

Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life,  then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ. (TPT)

The Amplified says: Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything…

 There it is – the disease of the day – anxiety.

How will we saturate our day with prayer?  It is a challenge especially when life’s demands swallow us just to spit us out dead tired at the end of a day.  Prayer is to call the Lord of hosts, of heaven’s armies into our thought world and truly live verse 8.

So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always.

There is much to say about this.  I will continue in the next piece to discuss the implications of these wonderworking and life-changing words.

Until then, there is a lot to think about.  Think what you are thinking.

Are you caught up in the culture of outrage and scandal?  It often feels as if this culture is a vicious monster feeding on people through the very willing media and social media.

Grace, goodness and justice are foreign concepts to this frenzy that needs constant sensation in the name of the so-called right to know and transparency.






155. Binding bonds in your brain.

The world around us is made up of contracts. Formal and informal agreements rule our daily life.  Even friendship is an informal contract.  One does not go to a lawyer to draw up the terms of friendship, but certain silent conditions apply to the relationship we call friendship. Loyalty, love, support in difficult times, general back up and a friendly ear for joyous and sad happenings are but a few of the basic assumptions of friendship.

More formal contracts are prenuptial contracts; house and motorcar contracts, insurance, bank accounts, credit cards and many more that make a modern life possible.  All these are the foundation for living although we do not think of every detail of every contract when we pull out a credit card to pay at the supermarket.  Maybe it is only when things go wrong that we realize, often in shock, what we had agreed to.

Certain conditions have to be met before a contract is established.  One of the most important is mutual agreement.  Often this agreement is tacit and can be surmised by the actions of both parties involved.  By using the credit card, the bank can infer that I have agreed to all the conditions of the fine print sent to me with the card.  By acting that way we can say that we both “willed” a contract to be  established – thus a legally binding agreement.

If we apply this principle in the spiritual world, things work exactly the same.  We have often discussed the powerful consequences of a simple, rational decision.  It is exactly how rebirth takes place.  Rebirth is the result of an act of your will to submit your life to God. The decision has a life-changing effect.  The day you buy your car brings drastic changes to your life, time management and planning. You have full control over your coming and going and are independent of public transport schedules.  Your decision to immigrate to the Kingdom of God is a contract that changes your life on every level.  Your decisions and behaviour are now governed by Kingdom principles that radically distinguish you from the world around you.

It is actually possible to make agreements with the brokenness of the world around us, even as we live as citizens of the invisible Kingdom of God.  Such agreements or contracts are often forced upon us by the cruelty of shattered dreams and relationships that leaves us wounded.  We “agree” with the heartache and hopelessness, bitterness and doubt in God’s goodness and a whole series of other heart-wrenching and mostly unintended soul activities.

Caught in the destruction of our own agreements with sorrow and despair, we become prey to our mean and vicious enemy smelling blood.  Years ago, when I learnt that the devil exploits our woundedness and grief and take the utmost advantage of our weakness, I was shocked and afraid.  He will send in his demons like a pack of wild dogs to brutally amplify our anguish and augment our misery.  My already bleeding heart will be ripped apart.

There are many ways in which people try to cope with grief and loss.  There is only one person who can truly…

bind up and heal the brokenhearted (Isaiah 61:1,AMPC)

The key to healing is agreements with God and his Word.  Your soul admits and submits to God’s character and Kingdom principles to receive the healing and deliverance that can only take place in the Kingdom of God.

The moment you seek healing in the Word of God, a contract is created.  You enter into an agreement with the Holy Spirit to heal your heart.

You align your will with heaven – how wonderful is that!

The process starts in your mind.  That is where decisions are made and thoughts take shape.  Paul directs us in this process with these powerful words in Romans 12:2:

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. (NKJV)

Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think.This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes. (TPT)

Healing by thinking – a transformation!  This pungent decision is the commencement of a miracle in our inner being that can only be accomplished by the Holy Spirit in full surrender to him. Greater effort to think differently will not have any long-term effect.  The working of a miracle is God’s domain.  He does not expect from us to do the miracle or to be a miracle.  We need to surrender, invite him in and submit to his love.  We will, however, enjoy the full and lasting benefit of this heavenly intervention.  It is the creation of a contract with God.  Just like in the case of any other contract it is good to know the elements of the contract.  God gave us his Word – it is all in there, guaranteed by the Cross of Jesus and confirmed by the working of the Holy Spirit in us.

…but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], (AMPC)

I like the reference in the Amplified to new ideals and a new attitude.   Newness is indicative of change.  God promises new like never before and nothing else.  The new will be unique!

[New could mean: neos – more of the same depicting quantity as in a new pencil but many others already exist or:  kainos – unique, has never been, depicting quality as in one of a kind.]

Surrender will enable you to live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.

God’s will is your healing, deliverance and salvation – to live a full life. He is the only source of life. His mind-set towards you is fully revealed in the work of Jesus on the cross.  Nobody can ever doubt his approach to mankind.

God is calling you today:

“O you afflicted one,
Tossed with tempest, and not comforted,

It is time to hear his voice and surrender your heart to him.  He will do the miracle

Behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems,
And lay your foundations with sapphires. (Isaiah 54:11)




154. Miracles – inside and out.

We cannot help but feeling powerless when we talk about miracles.  It is a mysterious realm outside our control.  We have no authority to command the exceptional. We are, in a sense, “prisoners” of the laws of nature and the ordinary scheme of things.  We cannot “break out” and fix things in an extraordinary and uncommon way. A miracle always makes one wonder. Whether you experience an extraordinary event or hear about it, it will make you think a bit.  A miracle demands careful consideration.

In the dictionary a miracles is described as a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.  The definition goes on to say:

…a highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment that brings very welcome consequences or an amazing product or achievement, or an outstanding example of something.

Without a doubt it is a bunch of feel-good words thrown together in one paragraph: welcome surprise, highly improbable, extraordinary, amazing, outstanding… and added to that: the work of a divine agency.

According to the above definition a miracle is always positive and welcome.  There is not even a hint of negativity in the description of a miracle. It is an extraordinary event welcomed with joy and relief.

Even the fiercest atheist and agnostic have to admit that one historical figure is unquestionably associated with miracles, whether you believe the miracles or not, namely Jesus.  How many times in debates the miracles of Jesus are mockingly attacked.  Notwithstanding, the miracles of Jesus, as they are recorded in the Bible, serve as an inexorable and proven source of hope and strength in the most dire and disastrous circumstances.

Miracles are often described in the words of the person or persons who received a miraculous intervention or those very close eyewitnesses who were part of the story.  A miracle is often observable by bystanders, but many, many times a miracle takes place in us or for us that we are the only witness to. A drastic turn of events in a bad situation or a deep change in a person is clear to the closest associates.

There are life issues that describe our lives and there are life issues that define our lives.  Bad circumstances or illness or loss can describe your life, but it will only define your life if you allow it to.  As an adult one has somewhat more control over the things that define your life.  Even within a crisis, which describes your circumstances, the principles that define your life, will be your life-logo.

This brings us to a vital spiritual principle. Our inner being is the indicator of our person.  We are made in the image of God – three in one – spirit, soul and body. Our spirit connects with the Spirit of God when we make the all-powerful decision to commit ourselves to God – the process of rebirth.  Out soul is the expression of our personality in will, mind and emotion. The degree, to which our soul is controlled by our Holy Spirit-controlled spirit, is the degree to which we grow spiritually.  To submit our soul to the Holy Spirit is a decision that will have the most significant impact on our life ever.

This brings us to another key spiritual principle – the heavenly chain of authority.  A child of God lives poles apart from the non-believer. Believers prioritize radically different.  Our decisions are submitted to the Holy Spirit to draw from the source of Godly wisdom.  We decide with our mind and execute with our body.

God’s child = Holy Spirit > spirit > soul > body.

God is the source of life.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unfathomable (inscrutable, unsearchable) are His judgments (His decisions)! And how untraceable (mysterious, undiscoverable) are His ways (His methods, His paths)!

 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. [For all things originate with Him and come from Him; all things live through Him, and all things center in and tend to consummate and to end in Him.] To Him be glory forever! Amen (so be it).  (Romans 11:33,36, AMPC)

The non-believer lives the other way around. The body dictates needs and desires that determine decisions.  Those decisions trigger the feelings and even more needs.  It is a life controlled by bodily desires and a leanness of spirit.

Non-believer = body > soul > spirit.

The brokenness of the world, the lack of morality and the sharp focus on bodily desires that are mistakenly elevated to the highest source of happiness has dreadful results in relationships. So much heartache and tragedy can be connected to sin that leads to adultery, betrayal, fear, anger, unkindness and a list of other miserable consequences.

Last time in Pebbles we discussed Isaiah 61. Hear the awe-inspiring words of the prophet:

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, (61:1,NIV)

The miracle inside!  Pebble pal, hear the miracle words of healing.

Do you need Jesus-bandages?  Do you have a broken heart that bleeds anew every now and then?  Hear it once again:

He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted (AMPC)

How does it happen?  What is a Jesus-bandage?

The answer is in Isaiah 61:3:

To grant consolation and joy to those who mourn in Zion—to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit—that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.

The keywords in these phrases are “grant” and “give”.

Strong’s defines these words as follows:

…to put, place, set, appoint, make, ordain, establish, found, appoint, constitute, determine, fix,

and further:

…transform into, constitute, fashion, work, bring to pass.

It is the miracle on the inside.  It is a transformation-mystery, a powerful work of the Holy Spirit, executed according to a heavenly command when we decide to allow God to heal us and place our broken heart in the hands of our loving Dad.

Next time we will talk about the process. The key scripture is Romans 12:2.   Meditate on it in the mean time.



153. Supernatural and extraordinary – it is for me!

“He is not the soul of Nature, nor any part of Nature. He inhabits eternity: He dwells in a high and holy place: heaven is His throne, not his vehicle, earth is his footstool, not his vesture. One day he will dismantle both and make a new heaven and earth. He is not to be identified even with the ‘divine spark’ in man. He is God and not man.”   

C.S. Lewis, Miracles

The words of the ancient prophet Isaiah are poetic.  Reading in English would not make it clear, but to the scholars who can appreciate it, the Hebrew text is quite phenomenal.  Isaiah was a singing prophet.  I can only imagine how he would sing the sharp judgments over idolatry, godlessness and sin over evil cities and hardened hearts in a deep angry voice. On the other hand I can hear him in an anguished cry to repent and a passionate joyous call declaring the loving promises of God over his people.  Isaiah feels like my dear friend, sometimes the wise and loving grandfather I never knew and most often the trusted mentor I desperately need.

I wonder how the words of Isaiah 61 would have sounded in his voice and words.  It is words of magnificence about the healing, salvation, liberation and restoration for the loved ones of a miracle-working God who has everything under control.  Can you “hear” him in you inner being?

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidingsto the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim libertyto the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beautyfor ashes,
The oil of joyfor mourning,
The garment ofpraisefor the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

Just these first verses stir up a passion in me to experience the Spirit of God and speak the words of God.

All the heartache, desperation and destruction of a broken world could find solace, comfort and salvation from these life-changing words of Scripture.  It is significant how much emphasis is on mourning and tears.  The promise of freedom from the limitations of spiritual imprisonment by the evil woes of life is a powerful promise of deliverance.  Life breeds fear, anger, sexual sin and other kinds of wickedness to enslave us to the devil. Supernatural release and restoration are promised to all who seek salvation in the grace of God.

And they shall rebuild the old ruins,
They shall raise up the former desolations,
And they shall repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations.

The brokenness of our world is a ruin of tears and depression.  Fear and bondage of any kind keep us locked up and limit our potential. The good news is that the century old remedy for all oppression still stands as the powerful solution to all desolation of life.  It is the outstanding theme of the Psalms.

Praise God!  Look up and praise your Saviour and Lord.  Know that He will deal with the ruins and misery of your life.  Grab hold of his greatness and goodness like a drowning man in a raging sea.  “See” yourself as a tree of righteousness.

In the words of this same prophet as few chapters earlier, God says to you:

O you afflicted one,
Tossed with tempest, and not comforted,
Behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems,
And lay your foundations with sapphires.
(Isaiah 54:11)

You are the jewels in his crown. (Malachi 3:16-18)

You are the afflicted one who are going to rebuild, who will surrender control to the Holy Spirit to initiate peace and restoration of the walls of your city, your family relationships and all the wreckage of life around you.  You will announce freedom to the prisoners and live in the comfort of your loving Father.

Think with me through the details of this Word from God.  The consolation of God’s presence and intervention is to be found in the reality of daily living. It is the oil of joy and the garment of praise that heal and cover.  Oil is what we take into our bodies for nourishment and medication.  A garment is what we wear on the outside.  We do not go naked.  Our world is obsessed with clothing.  Just think of the percentage clothing stores in any shopping centre.

A garment of praise is probably the most beautiful and most elegant clothing possible.  Think of a cloak embroidered with the finest gemstones and silk thread.  Your foundations in sapphires…

Years ago my mother had a dream about my husband and I.  She was in our driveway with her car, struggling to unload a heavy chest from the trunk.  We stood on the front porch and did not offer any assistance.  She knew she had to open the chest and show us what is inside.  When she opened it, it was full of the most beautiful cloaks she has ever seen.  My mother was a seamstress herself and appreciated fabrics and embroidery. She told me of the dream and announced that she will pray for an interpretation.  Early the next morning she phoned.

God said: We had to wear our testimony and Word revelation so that others would be blessed by it.  The jewels and gold were the tests that refined us as people and our Rhema-words were the jewels that we spoke when we testify of the goodness of the Lord.  We had to “look” the work of God in our lives.

What can I say?  I would be most flattered if the people say of me: Oh, here comes old Praise the Lord again!

Dress up Pebble pal!  Wear your praise.  Break loose from the bondage of depression with a constant awareness of the gemstones in your heart.  Every tear is a diamond of victory and joy, recorded by God.

You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book? 
(Psalms 56:8)

Let our words be the words of Jesus of whom is said:

For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure.  (John 3:34)



152. The arm of God.

“There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (man’s search for God) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us?” C.S. Lewis, Miracles.

It is a most miraculous moment if you want it.  The instant that time stands still and you know the God of the universe has cast his all-seeing gaze on you.  He has seen your fear, He has answered your call, He reacts to you and acts on your behalf. You see his arm moves… in your favour.

The Lord has made bare His holy arm
In the eyes of all the nations;
And all the ends of the earth shall see
The salvation of our God.
  (Isaiah 52:10)

Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand,
And His arm shall rule for Him;
Behold, His reward is with Him,
And His work before Him
. (Isaiah 40:10)

God is baring his arm for you.  It is as if I see the action of rolling up his sleeve.  It is the action of somebody who is ready to work.  All his power and goodness flow into his arm and hand that He stretches out to touch you.

Moses sang about God’s hand and arm with his powerful touch on his people.

“Your right hand, O Lord, has become glorious in power;
Your right hand, O Lord, has dashed the enemy in pieces
. (Exodus 15:6)

The Psalmist had a lot to say about God’s arm and hand.

Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!
For He has done marvelous things;
His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory. (Psalms 98:1)

Many centuries later Mary sang about God’s arm in her song of praise when the angel brought her the news of her pregnancy.

He has shown strength with His arm…  (Luke 1:51)

You might say this is all good for Biblical times.  What about today?  Can I still rely on a miracle when I live in fear of the day?  Our struggle against all the evil around us: destruction, divorce, deception, disfigurement, dishonesty and so much more can be overwhelming.  We try our best in the world given to us with what we get to equip us for a daunting task.  If we look around us we might doubt the possibility of a miracle – rightly so.

The post-modern wailing about the non-existence of God casts a dark shadow over the faith of our childhood, if indeed we were so lucky to grow up with faith.  So many children grow up in a godless and god-cursing environment.  Is there extraordinary support available?  Might there be something like a miracle?

The only way to meet the God of miracles is through Jesus, whom He sent as the incarnation of himself to reveal his heart and mind to humanity.  What is the most notorious fact about the life of Jesus before his death?  His miracles- of course.  In our world with the squeal of New Atheism the miracles are attacked in a mocking and scoffing way to ridicule anybody so naïve to believe them. Water into wine – come on! A virgin pregnant – we all know where babies come from!

Christians often draw back and think they do not have the answers, or their answers suddenly feel inadequate.  The counter argument is that of science and the superiority of all that can be explained in real terms.  There are however, so many things that science are still grappling with.  They can describe energy, but not explain it.  They can define consciousness, but not explain it or the origin of it.  They cannot deny the existence of both energy and consciousness and therefore they have to accept the existence of something they cannot explain.  Why should they demand an explanation of the claim that Jesus was both God and man at the same time?

It is very important to acknowledge and know the normal course of business, to concede a miracle.  If the dead regularly came to life, it would not be extraordinary.  If 5000 homeless men are fed from one picnic basket every week, we would soon be very familiar with it, and it would be nothing special.

A miracle is God’s supernatural – above and beyond the laws of nature that rule our world daily, action in our lives.  It is his extraordinary intervention into my specific situation.

Often the most significant miracles take place inside us when fear and anger in the deepest crevasses of our heart and thoughts are stirred and healed by the Holy Spirit.  God rolls up his sleeves and get to work to heal me.

Circumstances are a field of action for miracles.  How would we ever know what a miracle is, if we never need one?  There, in the corner of discouragement and panic, we feel God’s hand touch us from an outstretched arm to reach us, however far we might have wandered off away from him.

 And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm;therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. (Deuteronomy 5:15)

Crucial in these processes of God’s action in our life is to see, to acknowledge and to remember the miracle, in order to make it part of our testimony of praise to God.  Miracles are often judged and categorized in our mind.  We think of small and big miracles. It is important to see all of them and express your gratitude to the Lord.  The insight of the Holy Spirit alerts us to the awesome work of God in our lives.

The testimony of miracles is the gold refined by firementioned in Revelation 3:18.  The Psalmist warns against a superficial attitude when God’s intervention is to be taken seriously.

Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders;
They did not remember the multitude of Your mercies,
But rebelled by the sea—the Red Sea. 
(Psalms 106:7)

Even the disciples did not hold the miracles in high regard.

For they failed to consider or understand [the teaching and meaning of the miracle of] the loaves; [in fact] their hearts had grown callous [had become dull and had lost the power of understanding]. (Mark 6:52, AMPC)

Strong words indeed!  Let us hold the intervention of the mighty arm of God in high esteem and lift our testimony up on the altar of our pebbles of perpetuity on the banks of the Jordan (Joshua 4).  Then when people ask: why is this altar of testimony built, we can answer with the high praises of God in our mouth.  In doing so we will avoid the harsh insult of callous hearts and foolish, superficial lives.





151. Look… and see the mystery.

We live in a visual world these days. To children and adults alike, education and entertainment are visual, dramatic, dynamic and constantly improved.  In classrooms and boardrooms the new tech is used to make people understand and remember as well as stimulate creativity and initiative.  The days of dusty chalk on blackboards are long gone.

Long, long ago, the Greek philosopher, Socrates, was opposed to “the art of writing”.  He thought that writing everything down would spoil the ability to memorize facts.  People would be complacent when information is available in writing and not make the effort to engage the retaining faculties of the mind. [I include his reasoning at the end of this piece – interesting to think about it in terms of our modern day “wisdom”.]

Screens in all shapes and sizes are all around us, in the workplace and in our homes.  Just think for a moment what was available a half century ago. Going to the movies was a special night out.  The drive-in was the go-to place for the latest Hollywood productions.  Now all of those are available on the couch with the world of Holly- and Bollywood and so much more at the touch of the remote button. Students study online in virtual lecture halls at their own convenience.  Where are the days of small tape recorders in the front row of university classes?  (Not that I long for any of this – I enjoy the world of information at my fingertips.)

Time travel with me, not to the days of Socrates or even the beginnings of writing in Egypt – further back.  Take the big steps, like only our God-given imagination can, to the days of Noah – yes, so far back.  To Noah, God set up the screen of the universe and said: Look!  He displayed the heavenly splendour in a colour-arch to serve us to this day, as steady and beautiful as ever.

“Hear” the surround sound and “see” the biggest screen of the firmament to “read” God’s art of writing. He says:

“And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you,

 And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:

 I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. 

 The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” (Genesis 9:9,12,13,16)

When God says: look, it is not a casual invitation to take a quick look.  When God says: look, your life depends on it.  Take a look, pause and calmly think about it, understand and invite the insight of the Holy Spirit into your mind for the quickening of your inner being and live – truly live!

To hear and see have never been so important.  To look with your mind and heart fully involved, is to receive the instruction of the biggest screen ever – the heavenly skies of unending majesty stretching further and wider than you could ever imagine over past and future in a moment of eternity.

Look at the rainbow!  Know what it means!

It is vital to know that the rainbow is always there, always visible.  We need the right optical elements to see it.  We need a prism to see God’s light “divided” into colours.  That is what a prism does.  It divides light. The rainbow gives us a taste, so to speak, of the manifold power of the covenant promises.   Just think how lovely it is to see the rainbow when the light shines through the shower door, or the kitchen window, or the water drops on the bricks.

Just the other day I stared in wonder in the bathroom when the chandelier caught the first sun of the morning and the bathroom was bathed in colour.  I rejoiced and asked God for a chandelier in my spirit to always see the full spectrum of his covenant.

What do I need to “see” the rainbow at all times?  I need a life-prism.  The life-prism is faith.  How do I get faith when my circumstances toss me in the stormy seas and I feel I am sinking?

I need the glasses, or contact lenses of the Word of God.  I need to hear the Word – it is the faith building bricks of a godly life.

 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  (Romans 10:17)

The point is: Before you trust, you have to listen. But unless Christ’s Word is preached, there’s nothing to listen to.  (Romans 10:17, The Message)

We all experience fear very real and very physical.  We never have to fake fear.  It is there and it makes itself known in no uncertain terms.

As physical and real fear presents, as physical and real the rainbow is our sign of outcome and relief.  To see and be filled with the peace of God we need to grab hold of his Word, to know and understand what He has said.

Please read Genesis 9 to hear the beautiful words of God when He gave us the rainbow.

It the golden thread that guarantees the Covenant promises to the end of time.

And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.(Revelation 4:3)

I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire.(Revelation 10:1)







In fact, it [the art of writing] will introduce forgetfulness into the soul of those who learn it: they will not practice using their memory because they will put their trust in writing, which is external and depends on signs that belong to others, instead of trying to remember from the inside, completely on their own. You have not discovered a potion for remembering, but for reminding; you provide your students with the appearance of wisdom, not with its reality. Your invention will enable them to hear many things without being properly taught, and they will imagine that they have come to know much while for the most part they will know nothing. And they will be difficult to get along with, since they will merely appear to be wise instead of really being so.”