129. Revelation of truth.

[John 16]

It might have happened to you too. Somebody would say: don’t worry, this is the better way and you would gasp in exasperation and confusion as to how on earth this could be better. Maybe it happens to children more often, when they just cannot grasp the full extent of circumstances and adult decisions. We are God’s children and we often don’t understand. Sometimes we say things to superficially explain things with empty words. Success would come because of luck, good fortune, “things” working out, the stars lining up. Pain and failure would be ascribed to bad luck, misfortune or cruel judgments on a person’s own inability to handle life or cope with demands.

I have often made the case for revelation knowledge. It is one of the central themes of my life and the goal of all my study and writing.

My first experience of God’s word becoming the “spoken” word, “hearing” in my inner being and being aware that God is speaking into my specific moment and immediate situation, came when I was just 14 years old. For a few years of my elementary school we lived on a remote farm. I went to the local school, but when finances dwindled and my parents had to move back to the city, I was in Grade 7 back into the school I left four years previously, towards the end of the academic year. It was clear that I was academically far behind my peers. It took me all of Grade 8 to try and catch up and by the end of Grade 9 I felt a little more confident. Exams were formal and strict.

I was really stressed on the evening before I wrote Latin and Maths with just a short break in between the two papers. At the time my mother was studying the Bible with desperation to “hear” from God in our very severe financial crisis. That evening I took my Bible and thought I would open in the middle and read a Psalm, any Psalm to calm me down. I opened to the book of Isaiah, which I didn’t even know existed and read the first verse that my eye fell on. It was the following:

Fear not, for I am with you;

Be not dismayed, for I am your God,

I will strengthen you,

Yes, I will help you,

I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

Slowly the deep realization established itself in my heart that this was God speaking to me. Today I know it is the conviction of the Holy Spirit that communicates the truth of the Word to the inner man. I was overjoyed. My stress and fear were answered and I was calm to study further and sleep well. I had great success in that exam, but I cannot even remember the details. What I do remember is my experience that God spoke into my situation. My situation was not important in the greater scheme of things, not even particularly in my life, but God answered the cry of a stressed schoolgirl. On this day, 44 years later, this incident is fresh in my mind, quickened by the Holy Spirit to write as a testimony to God’s love and His provision in our lives.

It is here in John 16 that I much later learned the teaching of Jesus on my experience. He discussed the role of the Holy Spirit when His physical presence leaves earth.

In their grief-stricken bewilderment after the crucifixion, the disciples remembered that Jesus said it is good that He goes away because the Holy Spirit would come. In the body He was confined to place and time. In the Spirit there is no limitation.He is with us always, just as He promised in Matthew 28:20.

We have the gift of uninterrupted fellowship.

Jesus gives a perfect summary of the work of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit convicts. The word is elegchein in Greek and it was used in the cross-examination of a witness.

Questioning somebody until a person admits his errors or acknowledge the facts in such a way as to shed light on the case, often happens in court when human legal experts have to establish facts and truth. The testimony of a witness will convict of weakness or strength of argument.

We have the perfect litigator in the Holy Spirit who knows every detail of our hearts and lives better than we ever could. He convicts in love to show our weaknesses and failures to our own self in order to cleanse, redeem and restore.

1) The Holy Spirit will convict of sin [amartias = to miss the mark, failure in goal] in the most loving way so that our conviction will lead to restoration with God.

Sin is not always clear. The Jews were convinced they were doing the right thing to kill Jesus. Later, touched in their hearts (Acts 2:37) they confessed. Only the Holy Spirit can convince people they are sinners.

2) The Holy Spirit convinces of righteousness [dikaiosunēs = condition acceptable to God, a state approved of God, integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting].

 Just like the centurion at the Cross (Matthew 27:54) in that moment came to the supernatural conclusion that Jesus was the Son of God, the truth of who Jesus is, is ministered to our hearts. Isn’t it amazing that the trust of the church is in a Jewish criminal executed so long ago? Belief in the resurrection is a work of the Holy Spirit.

3) The Holy Spirit helps us to judge with insight and understanding [kriseos, krisis=selecting and distinguishing to make a decision].  Our circumstances and life situations are complicated and not always clear. We need true wisdom to make the right decisions.

By the Cross evil is condemned and defeated for all eternity. The discernment of evil is a work of the Holy Spirit.

All these together are our salvation and liberty in Jesus. He is our Saviour and our punishment for sin was on Him.

What is truth? The Holy Spirit is the spirit of Truth,who reveals to us who Jesus is.

Revelation is a process – it is more and deeper for those who seek it out. We start out with the basics and then move on to more life-changing revelation.

All revelation has consequences.

Faith explores revelation.

In truth we will understand the full revelation of God also in the more complex passages of the Old Testament. The wiping out of heathens and idols is for the preservation of the faith, to be interpreted spiritually as the discernment of evil and the full liberation of our lives from any bondage.

God’s revelation is dynamic. God speaks, God works, God saves and blesses continually. Jesus is alive and is therefore the living truth.

Truth is a gift from God. It is not man’s discovery. We learn it slowly, but it is there and the source of it is God.

Revelation of truth is to reveal the significance of Jesus to us. Jesus is inexhaustible. We will never fully grasp it; we will never know Him in full. The more we become like Him the more we know Him.

He is the only person on the face of the earth that ever said I am truth. All the people who claim to be God or the Messiah have never made such a bold, all-inclusive statement, to be remembered and upheld by so many over such a great span of time.

Can we be still, open our hearts and receive from the Holy Spirit the deep conviction of who Jesus is?

 

 

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126. Oh the wonder of the breath of God.

[John 14]

First this: God created the Heavens and Earth—all you see, all you don’t see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.  (Genesis 1:1,2, The Message)

He always was and always will be – this third person in the Trinity. I have to admit that the doctrine of the Trinity always was a tricky one for me to understand fully. I think to this day I feel there is something I do not really grasp. My dear Sunday school teacher explained it one way. He said it is like an apple – peel, pulp and core. Together they are an apple and one calls it an apple but separately they are called apple peel, apple pulp and apple pips. So it is with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Together they are God.

In my mind they were still three separate entities. Slowly I learnt more. I realized that the Holy Spirit is the breath of God, especially in the teaching on Ezekiel 37. Just read the lovely words with me from The Message:

God, the Master, told the dry bones, “Watch this: I’m bringing the breath of lifeto you and you’ll come to life. I’ll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you.You’ll come alive and you’ll realize that I am God!”

More pronounced in the next verses the breath of the bones came from God.

“Prophesy to the breath. Prophesy, son of man. Tell the breath, ‘God, the Master, says, Come from the four winds. Come, breath. Breathe on these slain bodies. Breathe life!’ So I prophesied, just as he commanded me. The breath entered them and they came alive!They stood up on their feet, a huge army.

 It is clear – just like Genesis 2:7 says:

God formed Man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The Man came alive—a living soul!

Then I read the beautiful Christmas story of Max Lucado: An Angel’s Story, which I could recommend as a reading for Christmas gatherings. It was only then that I realized the full impact of Jesus being born as God’s seed and is therefore God Himself on earth. We need the Hoy Spirit to teach us the meaning of Immanuel – God with us.

At this stage of my life, I believe God Himself showed us His heart and nature in the man Jesus. Jesus lived and breathed the words of God’s heart to bring life and be God amongst the people. God did not let His child die, He Himself died for us as Jesus was the manifestation, the incarnation of God Himself.  The meaning of the relationship of parent to child was an illustration of the unbreakable and irreversible relationship of a father to his son. You can never undo a child.

The Holy Spirit is God’s breath, the universal source of all life.

Here in John 14 Jesus revives a lost consciousness of the Spirit of God. He explains the role of the Holy Spirit in us. He promises a Helper.

We do not live our lives alone.  The Holy Spirit is in us. The Greek word is parakletos.  It is a word full of meaning nuances and almost impossible to describe accurately. It includes comforter, helper, favourable witness, expert advisor, encourager, always a help in time of need.

Comforter comes from the Latin fortis, which means to be brave. The Holy Spirit helps us to be brave. He enables us to cope with life and to emerge as a conqueror. In our difficult life and the very hard tasks before us, we have supernatural help.

Jesus will never leave us forlorn – without a parent for which the Greek word is the easily recognizableorphanos. One hears teaching on Christians suffering an orphan spirit and who do not know the full inheritance in Christ as privileged children of God.

When Jesus talks about His coming back, He means after His resurrection and their experience of His risen presence. Jesus makes us spiritually alive when His spirit lives in us. We have resurrection power in us.

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:11)

In the next passage Jesus touches on important principles. (14:18-24)

Love is the basis of everything.

Obedience is the proof of love.

Love and obedience keep us safe in the full revelation of who Jesus is. Jesus as the resurrected Christ was the ultimate revelation of the power of God.

Keep the commandments. No evil can ever be a recipient of Christ.

In the next passage He talks again about the Holy Spirit. (14:25-31)

The Holy Spirit teaches us all things. To the end of our days we should be learners to be taught deeper and deeper truths of God. We can never ever sit back and be complacent about our knowledge. The adventure continues…

The Holy Spirit will remind us of Jesus’ words. Jesus is truth and we need His words. His words are the Bread of Life. We need the Holy Spirit to remind and interpret towards our life’s practicalities.

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.(John 6:63)

Truth applied is wisdom.

The Holy Spirit helps us to live the truth. Our conduct is in submission to His power and direction.

The gift of Jesus is peace. Shalom is not just the absence of trouble. It means so much more. It means everything for the highest good of the person you are addressing with this fullest of good words. Jesus’ peace is peace of conquest, the victor’s peace not the victim’s unwilling submission to stay out of trouble. It is a peace that rules in our hearts independent of outward circumstances.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.(Philippians 4:6.7)

Our destination is to be released from worldly limitations and being restored to His glory. After death we have the hope of something better. We enter into the fullest blessing possible, through the power of the Holy Spirit. He breathes God’s breath in us to give us the life of truth.

Jesus knew the cross was the final battle. His death was conquest, not despair.

The cross was His vindication. Yes, it was humiliation and shame, but it would become the most powerful symbol of obedience and love in all of history. Jesus’ whole life climaxed in the cross. Everything He stood for was illustrated in His death and resurrection.

 

“Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self. Sameness is to be found most among the most ‘natural’ men, not among those who surrender to Christ. How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been: how gloriously different are the saints. . . . Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”

CS LEWIS

 

125. Legacy of love.

[John 14]

It is almost impossible to express the beauty, power and love of the words of Jesus in Chapters 14-17 of John. There is not enough time in the life of any man to fully grasp and live the legacy Jesus left us in these passages.

We know that this Gospel was not written as a report of the life of Jesus, but as an interpretation of His life, many years after His ministry on earth. John wrote these chapters as a summary of the teaching over a three year period, quickened by the Holy Spirit on the most pressing subjects for profound change and victory over any matter whatsoever that life could throw at you.

Reading it is like visiting the Master over and over again – sitting at the table enjoying a meal together; sitting at His feet, listening to His voice; eating freshly caught fish on the beach at an impromptu BBQ; lying beside the still waters on the green pastures; feasting at the table He laid out; relaxing in the grip of His goodness and mercy chasing our lives.

This is the first of the longer discourses between Jesus and His disciples recorded by John. It is the core principles of His relationship with His Father and with them. It is the amazing and gracious farewell words of a Man about to die. He knew their world was about to collapse.

There is only one thing to do when life happens: trust God above all else. There comes a time when we have to believe what we cannot prove and to accept what we cannot understand.

If, in the darkest hour, we believe that somehow there is a purpose in life and that that purpose is love, even the unbearable becomes bearable and even in the darkness there is a glimmer of light.

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13)

I’m sure now I’ll see God’s goodness
    in the exuberant earth.
Stay with God!
    Take heart. Don’t quit.
I’ll say it again:
    Stay with God. (Psalms 27:13,14, The Message)

Close your eyes. Your prophetic word for now is:

 Let not your heart be troubled.

Jesus says: Believe in God, believe in Me. Jesus is the proof that God will give us everything.

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32)

Mansions are dwelling places, monai  in Greek.

Simply and beautifully it means there is room for all. It doesn’t matter how over-crowded earth may be, heaven is vast and will never be exhausted. You will never be shut out.

Jesus is honest – “if not, I would have told you so“. These are reliable words for all circumstances at all times.There are no false pretences. Jesus would say so and all the answers we ever need are in the words He said. He told them to be uncomfortable, when He discusses the cost of discipleship (Luke 9:57-62). He told them of persecution, hatred and punishment (Matthew 10:16-22). He told them about their cross to carry (Matthew 16:24).

He told them to expect glory and pain and challenged them into greatness.

Jesus is going to prepare a place. He opens up the way. He is the forerunner (Hebrews 6:20).

He speaks of His ultimate triumph – He is coming again. History is going somewhere. It has a climax.

Heaven is where Jesus is. It is a mystery but He is there and would welcome us – no fear, no troubled hearts.

Thomas questions. He does not understand the prediction of Jesus going away. The questions of man provoke deep and wonderful answers. Never be afraid to ask God. He is the great teacher. He will open His heart to you. Ask and it shall be given– He promised.

When I lay these questions before God I get no answer. But a rather special sort of ‘No answer.’ It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though He shook His head not in refusal but waiving the question. Like, ‘Peace, child; you don’t understand.” CS LEWIS

No one who seeks will not find more than he ever expected.

As the answer to Thomas’ question, Jesus makes another (one of seven in John)  I AM – declaration. He is all we need. He explains it in the three claims He makes here:

He is the WAY. He is the fulfillment of all the precepts of old. He walks in the ways of God (Deuteronomy 5:32,33). He does not turn aside from the way of God (Deuteronomy 31:29). God promises His voice to guide and direct: This is the way, walk in it (Isaiah 30:21). There is a Highway of Holiness (Isaiah 35:8).

Our prayer is with the Psalmist: Teach me your way O Lord. (Psalm 27:11)

He is the TRUTH as is echoed in the Psalms:

Teach me Your way, O Lord;
I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name.(86:11)

For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes,
And I have walked in Your truth.(26:3)

I have chosen the way of truth;
Your judgments I have laid before me.(119:30)

A man’s character speaks more importantly than anything else. Moral truth cannot be conveyed in words only. Jesus is the perfect one. He is the embodiment of truth.

Truth is defined as: fidelity to an original or to a standard, sincerity in action, character, and utterance, the body of real things, events, and facts.There is after all only One who ever, in the history of mankind said: I am the truth. [Pebbles 114]

He is the LIFE.Love brought real life. Over centuries they were searching for the real thing. Now they have found it. He is the way to God therefore He brings true life.

For the commandment is a lamp,
And the law a light;
Reproofs of instruction are the way of life,(Proverbs 6:23)

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.(Psalms 16:11)

John 14:7-11: We see God in Jesus

“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”

Truly amazing words to say. God is invisible. No man has seen God. The difference and the distance between man and God are just too vast. Here Jesus says simply that in Him they can see the Father. He is God on earth, God amongst the people, God in our homes, God amongst the sick and hurting; God in our feasts and successes.

God came down to be a man to fully identify with every possible struggle we might have. He knows the everyday.

IMAGINE: Jesus as a man in your everyday.

He knows our strife and fight with evil. God knows our pain. Love brings pain and He bears the scars of His love.

God on the Cross. There is nothing like it in all the world. No other religion has a god of love and sacrifice. It is easy to imagine a God of judgment and punishment. No one could ever dream of a God upon a cross to give His own life for love.

Jesus is tested by His words and His deeds.He said to John’s disciples to tell of His deeds (Matthew 11:1-6) He makes bad men good. Redemption is still the greatest miracle.

 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than thesehe will do, because I go to My Father. 

Greater works are almost unthinkable. Jesus was a miracle worker. He performed miracles in everyday life. Today we know God is the source of all healing – even that of medical science. Everything becomes better and better with the calling of science and technology to make life better. Every discovery and every building block in the improvement of life are under His control for our benefit.In all that we find the devil in everything trying to spoil and manipulate and we resist on every front.

We are part of the “making better” army of everybody who strives to enhance life and improve earth.

We are to win the world for Christ by our everyday lives, through the miracles we live, expect and testify to. The Christians went out into the Roman Empire and beyond, not Jesus Himself.

Prayer in His name

And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

Every prayer will be answered. The qualification is to pray in His name. We should pray in full accordance with the Name of Jesus – that is in agreement with all that He is. His name is His life and character.

In Jesus name is not a magic wand.

It is the life source of greater works.

 

122. Seeking a saviour.

[John12]

Do we really know what darkness is? When there is no hope of intervention or outcome in any way. I wonder whether our modern western world, in which Christianity and the doctrine of an almighty God is such an integral part of our culture that it is “to be had” even if a person does not believe, begin to understand the confusion of many gods and the bewilderment of mythological beliefs. There is profound uncertainty when we think about the deeper things in life. What is life? What is love? What is morality? What is influence? The more perplex thoughts are into the mysticism. How is it supposed to be? Is there perfection out there where we don’t know? How can we attain it?

The Greeks were good at thinking. Their philosophers of centuries before Jesus’ life on earth are honoured to this day. Plato, Socrates and Aristotle are well known names in history. Plato in particular wrote about the unseen world as perfection to be attained through death.

It is in this atmosphere that John writes. As we have seen in the first chapter of the Gospel, John addresses the Plato question with his explanation of Jesus as logos. [Pebbles 83]

Here in John 12:20-26 the Greeks ask about Jesus. At this stage of his life, writing the Gospel, John lives in Ephesus and writes with the Greeks in mind. He records this incident in particular. The Greeks were ardent travelers of the time. They were all over the world. They traveled for trade and commerce, for philosophy, for new ideas – they were the ancient world’s most notable tourists.

The Greeks always sought truth. They checked out religions all over. Their seeking minds would enquire after Jesus.

Again Andrew brings them to Jesus. Maybe they spoke to Philip because he has Greek name, but Philip asks Andrew to bring them to Jesus. Andrew knew that Jesus is always open for enquiry. He led them to Him with great confidence knowing Jesus answered the enquiring mind.

Jesus says the crisis, the hour has come and speaks about death, which to the Greeks held particular significance. He calls Himself the

Son of man according to Daniel 7:13. In Daniel’s vision the world powers are described as wild animals because of their lust and cruelty. The new power was to be gentle and gracious – very unlike anything before or after. The symbol was a man not a wild beast.

The Jews expected the Son of man. So much literature were written during the 400 years of “prophetic silence” between the Old and New Testaments to keep the dream alive. He would be the undefeatable conqueror sent by God. Obviously the Greeks had no Messianic expectation.

Jesus talked to the Jews about His glorification on the Cross and they misunderstood. Jesus spoke of sacrifice and death and they were not willing to hear that. To them His words did not make sense.

He said to the Greeks: By death comes life just like the grain of wheat, buried in the ground, then follows life, growth and fruit.

By dying to self will come a life of understanding and insight.

Love of your own life will render you unfit for service. (Mark 8:35; Matthew 16:25; Luke 9:24;17:33)

Men who serve are great in the Kingdom of God. For Jesus – greatness was in the Cross.

He brings a dazzling new view on life.

John does not tell about Gethsemane. Here (12:27-36) he records the human Jesus’ agony to avoid the Cross. It is the real cost of courage. He is very afraid of the horror of death. For Jesus it is weighed against obedience.

His words become triumphant to break the power of evil.

 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour28 Father, glorify Your name.”

He brings heavenly perspective. He would be the ultimate conqueror of men. It would be a greater conquest than the crowds ever imagined.

Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”

 Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.” Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake.

Fear becomes triumph when hearing the voice of God. The Jews believed that God spoke directly just like to Samuel, Elijah and Moses. By the time of Jesus nobody believed that anymore. God’s voice came to Jesus on special occasions: at baptism (Mark 1:11), on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:7) and it now came to Him to strengthen Him for what was lying ahead.

God will speak to anyone who is willing to listen.

Daniel 7 talks about an everlasting kingdom. How could it end in a Cross? He was supposed to be the Prince forever (Ezekiel 37:25). His government will have no end (Isaiah 9:7). He will reign on thrones over all generations (Psalm 89:4).

Jesus’ death on the Cross would crown Him in the hearts of men forever. It was so different from anything they expected. The contrast of His life to the community, in which He lived, was burnt into history forever. He was not just another conqueror who fought a great war and won. He was the Conqueror of all time and all people ever.

He promises light in the darkness, relief from the shadows. The shadow of fear, doubt, confusion and sorrow does not reign supreme over life. Jesus promises light in all of this with joy that cannot be taken away.

John quotes from Isaiah 53:1-2 and 6:9-10 in the following passage (12:37-41). It is all about unbelief and intentional blindness.

[Jesus mentions it often in Matthew 13:14,15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10 then Paul in Romans 11:8; 2 Corinthians 3:14.]

There are always people who will not believe.Isaiah was bewildered and heartbroken because of the unbelief of the people.

For the prophets God was the source of everything– even unbelief. They could not explain it otherwise. God is greater than any sin – so their unbelief must have come from God.

In 12:40 is a great truth stated:When you choose to see, you will see and experience the revelation. When you choose not to see, your eyes are blinded and your heart hardened. Life then does not make sense and nothing is significant, because understanding is already lost.

 No repentance – no revelation.

In actual fact our decisions and choices are God-given and does come from our Creator. That is why our refusal of His grace is so powerful. Our choices shape our lives. God has given us full power over our choices so that we are able to express love. Anything else would not be real passion. Choice enables love. He chose the Cross – He also had the alternative not to choose the Cross.

We choose Him and His expression of love on the Cross, because we have the choice to reject it. We consciously decide to love. Love changes us.

In the next passage (12:42- 50) the terrible cowardness and self-interest of men are described. They believed but could not go public. They feared the church.

 Secret discipleship is not possible. Someone said:  “either the secrecy kills the discipleship, or the discipleship kills the secrecy.”

For the people it is always the fear of losing what they gained in life.  They would lose profit and prestige. They chose men over God. God’s judgment matters for all eternity.  We have to look through heaven’s eyes.

If you choose people over God, then the people will judge you. It is always better to be judged by God. People are cruel and unjust.

What follow are Jesus’ last words of public teaching. He addresses the people and tells them about His father. He did not speak for Himself. In Him men are confronted with God. They listened to Him and at the same time knew what God was saying.

Jesus came to save – God wants to save. Love saves. Inevitably the same love judges the rejection of it.

The truth will judge. If you know the right thing and do not do it – you will be judged by the truth.

Our own knowledge will bear witness against us.

PRAYER: Lord speak into my heart. Show me Mary, Martha, Judas, the crowd, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the church leaders, the Greeks searching for truth and the impact their examples has on my life. Help me to learn from them.

Show me my armour against You my God, my lobster-shell, my hard heart, my obsession with prestige and honour and other stumbling blocks that deafen my hearing of the voice of God. Help me to express my love for You and to realize what the true significance of that expression is.

 

Jesus show me JESUS.

 

 

 

114. True and free – only under God.

How many wars have been fought for freedom? History is full of causes and crazes. People died and people gave up normal living all for the truth they perceived to bring them their desired outcome. Many times a whole new era was introduced as we see in the French, American and Russian revolutions (there are many others) and other times the world reacted and defeated what was threatening to their own freedom (Nazi Germany in the twentieth century).

Freedom and truth are both widely debated philosophical prickly pears as both demand extended definition. They are very old concepts that have to be discussed in relation to each other. This has been happening over many centuries. Freedom can only be lived in relationship with the degree of freedom amongst the fellow free. Truth has to be measured and is therefore always relative to a standard.

Freedom is defined as: the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. It includes improper familiarity and boldness of conception or execution. The state of true freedom can impact the people around the free negatively; therefore freedom is always limited by the freedom of the next person.

Truth is defined as: fidelity to an original or to a standard, sincerity in action, character, and utterance, the body of real things, events, and facts.

There is after all only one who ever, in the history of mankind said: I am the truth. (John 14:6)

Here in the well-known words of Jesus about truth and freedom, the Jews take exception with His implication of bondage. (John 8:31 and onwards)

He says they in slavery to sin. For the Jews, freedom was most important. Now they were oppressed by the Romans exactly like they were oppressed by Egypt, Assyria and Babylon. They knew God’s promise that they would not be slaves (Leviticus 25:39-42). Their efforts to be free resulted in many and bloody revolts.

Jesus was talking about slavery to sin. The Greeks said only the wise man is free, the foolish man is a slave.

Socrates said: How can you call a man free when his pleasures rule over him? Paul thanked God for freedom from the slavery of sin (Romans 6:17-20)

When sin rules, sin decides. We have heard of people who said: I can decide what to do with my own life and then live the promiscuous life they think they want. They do not realize that in the end they do not decide, sin decides and deceives them into thinking it is their own decision. In sin you loose the power to decide. People go on with things they know are destroying their lives.

Every Jew believed he was safe because of direct decadency from Abraham. Obedience to God took second place. Jesus is blunt about this. In the modern life it is possible to live by descendants, name, reputation, wealth, history and tradition, but true life cannot come from the glory of the past.

A real descendent could only be one who acts like Abraham – not flesh and blood but spiritual fidelity. They want to kill Jesus, but when a messenger from God came to Abraham, he extended his best hospitality (Genesis 18:1-8).

He insults them by saying they are doing the works of the devil (8:44). Kinship with God must show in life and conduct.

God cannot be your Father if you do not recognize Jesus and His works. They claim pure birth, not born from adultery. The Old Testament is full of the symbolism of the unfaithful Israel in an adulterous union with pagan gods.

They cannot understand that they are spiritually deaf and blind and intellectually handicapped. They are so ruled by religion that they cannot see God.

The devil is a murderer. He murders truth, knowledge and understanding. This leads to death. The devil is a liar – every lie on earth is inspired by the devil. The maintaining of the false in religion is the work of the devil.

Jesus dares them to point at evil in His life (8:46,47). If they could find no charge, why don’t they believe?

The Spirit reveals truth and enables man to grasp it. When you shut the door to the Spirit, you will not recognize anything of value. One cannot be religious and have the Spirit. When you clung to religious beliefs, you are dead. You can serve God in a godless way and never know Him. If you shut your heart to the Spirit of God, you remain a stranger to God even though you are religious. Religion is human and human ideas about God. It is not true knowledge.

To be told they were strangers to God, was a deep insult.

The Hebrew word for Samaritan is Shomeroni (8:48). It could also mean the prince of the devils. They accused Jesus of being mad, and made mad by the devil. He answered by asking how could a devil honour God. His aim was to honour God. They had the devil not Him – and He said it in so many words.

He was not looking for worldly honour. He knew He would be insulted, rejected and crucified. His supreme faith was in God to lift Him up.

Here in the last verses of the chapter Jesus makes claim after claim, almost as if to annoy them. He appeals to Spirit-insight, which He knew they did not have. How could anyone not die? Abraham and all the prophets were dead. (Zechariah 1:5)

Jesus talks about spiritual things in a physical realm. To us He is saying: see everything spiritually. Every day of your life should be lived with an eye on eternity.

What is death? Physical death is just one more intimate experience with God.

We live in the invisible Kingdom of heaven. We talk the language of heaven where problems are possibilities and we walk in the footsteps of the Almighty God.

All true honour comes from God. Worldly honour means nothing. There is nothing like self-approval – it does not last into eternity.

Jesus claims unique knowledge of God, in contrast to what they claim to know and unique obedience to God, because He knows exactly what God wants Him to be.

Jesus makes another outrages claim (8:56). He said He was before Abraham – it is like a fire-statement.

The Jews believed Abraham was in paradise and could see earth. Jesus implied that because He was born of Abraham, Abraham would rejoice in this day. It was by the birth of the Messiah that all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Abraham was given a vision of the Messiah (Genesis 15:8-21). Abraham laughed the laugh of joy when he heard that he would have a son. The Rabbi’s believed that Abraham rejoiced in the promise of the Messiah and that is why he laughed.

To a Jew it was easy to see that Abraham saw the Messiah. But they could not understand that Jesus said He was before Abraham. Fifty was the age at which the Levites retired from service. Jesus was much too young for the wisdom of age. Jesus said that He is timeless.

By saying that, He claimed to be God. He truly knew the Fathers of Israel, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the faith heroes of old. He became a man to show us what God is like. This is the claim He makes and they want to kill Him for that. He simply walks away, since the time for killing Him was not yet.

 

 

 

 

110. Know that you know – no doubt.

Many times when I read about Jesus’ walk on earth, I try to imagine how it might have been for the ordinary folk. Caught in the political strife of the day, they struggled to make sense of the Roman government and taxes, being hassled and mistreated as an outpost of a vast empire very impatient with the insubordinate nature of the one thing that distinguishes them from all other nations – their faith. Jesus challenges their faith in a big way, arguing with the church leaders, doing spectacular miracles and preaching a whole new approach.

Maybe some of them found in Him the answer to the deep longing in their hearts for something more, something real in contrast to the rituals and angry laws of the church leaders. They longed for the relationship of Moses, talking to God as a friend and gave up on the possibility that God would intervene again as in the days of Elijah or Nehemiah.

Do you long for something more? Have you been deeply disappointed by the church, church leaders, other Christians, people who pretend to serve God, maybe some who genuinely do and not even realize how hurt and frustrated you feel?

How could they know that this travelling preacher is sent from God? Was there anything then that could convince them and show them the truth? He did not tick the traditional boxes of training in the church, adhering to the strict stipulations of the extensive law-living of the Pharisees, walking importantly in the halls of church politics like the Sanhedrin and chief priests. In fact, He shunned all this and reached out to the very people who longed for change.

How did they know the truth? How could they respond properly to His teaching or to the gossip flying around about Him? They knew any response to Him would bring a clash with the establishment.

We are not very different today. Some churches, as power grabbing organizations, have in so many instances become restrictive and prescriptive. Cults and laws make people slaves of other people while liberty and love are cast aside, by church leaders with controlling and religious spirits tormenting congregations and followers. Those wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15) cruelly use unsuspecting souls for their own sexual and prideful sins to a sickening degree.

How did they know the truth? How do we know the truth? There is only one way, then and now.

However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth (John 16:13)

God gave us a fail-safe way to know the truth. When He walked the earth, the Holy Spirit was active to draw people with a hungry heart to Him, just the same way the Holy Spirit guide us to the truth.

Here in John 7:15-36 they accuse Him for His lack of education. How could He dare quote Moses to them? What did He know about Moses in any case? They thought they could test Him with their academic requirements.

Jesus told them His authority is God. God is the source of all wisdom. (12:49; 14:10)

All great productions of the human mind and spirit are given by God. If we glory in being self-taught, if we claim that any discovery we have made is our own unaided work, we are, in the last analysis, glorifying only our own reputation and our own selves. The greatest of men think not of the power of their own mind or hand; they think always of the God who told them what they know and taught them what they can do.  [William Barclay – Daily Study Bible]

Only the man who does the will of God can understand His teachings. It is not a theological truth. It is a universal truth. We learn by choosing and doing. If we want to understand everything before we start, we would never start.

In the debate between the leaders of the Jews and Jesus, He does not answer the accusations of the crowd. He recognizes their madness and persecution mania. He also does not answer the bystander interjections.

The Law says circumcision should take place on the eighth day – what if that is the Sabbath? If the leaders can “break” the law with circumcision, then why can’t He “break” the law with healing?

Jesus uses argument. He wants them to see deeper and not judge superficially with all their old “weapons” of the law. (Matthew 21:23-27)

The crowd is surprised to see Jesus go on preaching. They knew that the hostility of the church was not something to play around with. They realized His courage and therefore thought He might be the Messiah.

Where does He come from? Everybody knew He came from Nazareth. It was a popular belief that the Messiah would burst upon the scene and no one would know from where. They accepted that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, but otherwise His growing up should be a mystery. Jesus did not fit in with their mysterious teachings and superstitions.

They sought God in the abnormal. They could not see Him in the ordinary. Christianity teaches God in the everyday. If He were only in the abnormal and mysterious we would miss Him in most of our day. He is in the detail of the day, the ordinary day – He is never absent.

 Jesus answered by saying two things: They know where He comes from, but He also comes from God. They do not know God, but He did. It was a terrible insult to tell God’s people that they didn’t know God. Jesus made the claim to stand in a very unique relationship with God.

Now Jesus’ “transgression” was even greater. He was not just a human lawbreaker; He was a blasphemer. He was talking like no human had the right to speak.

Some of the crowd believed. They believed the wonders they saw and recognized His authority. That made the leaders mad. They sent soldiers to arrest Him. He said they would not find Him. Jesus was fully in control over the timing of His ministry and death. His death was marked on the calendar of heaven and would not take place a moment before the appointed time.

They looked with earthly eyes, when He talked about higher things like the resurrection and the ascension. They thought He might go to the Greeks and be part of the Diaspora. There were dispersed Jews all over the world.

Could there be a day when you would seek and NOT find? He promised to be found. He promised it to everyone who seeks with the deep desire of the heart. (Isaiah 55:6, Matthew 7:7)

At the grave the words: He is not here, was uttered by the angel. It was the only time in the entire history that those words could make sense. It was good news, for the human God has conquered death once and for all. God is everywhere and He is waiting for the call of your heart. Never believe the doubting thought that He is ignoring you or your prayer.

When Jesus ascended into heaven, they had to wait on the Holy Spirit for the power to take the mission forward. (Acts 1) The Holy Spirit divided to fill each of them, just like today.

By His Spirit, His very breath, He is in us and around us. He will lead us to the truth. That is how we know that we know.

 

 

 

 

109. And you? What do you have to say?

Talk is cheap, says the old saying. I know it refers to promises made in words and not kept in deeds. For me, it also implies the gossipy chatter about something or someone in the public domain; the safe talk of anonymity that could never commit any person to an opinion that might be quoted or published. Simply put, gossiping about someone famous.

Shakespeare was first to call a person a gossip, describing a person who delights in idle talk; also called a newsmonger or tattler. Very soon the word came to mean the talk about others as news in a small community almost always involved other people. Going so much further back than the times of Shakespeare, one can just imagine the talk in Judea. Maybe news travelled along the tell-a-woman-network, before the telegram or telephone and long before our cable news networks and smart phones with information overload today. The tell-a-woman-network was one of my dad’s favourite jokes.

Whatever we call the chatter, the babble, the prattle of people – it was alive and well in the first century and one of the most important news sources. No wonder Jesus was literally the “talk of the town”. There was just no escaping the lengthy conversations as well as the shorter “have you heard”-versions of any move He made.

People and their opinions were even more so during the times of Festivals. The Festival of the Tabernacles, mentioned here in John 7 took place at the end of September, beginning October, one of the three Fall festivals. Every adult male within a radius of 15 miles of Jerusalem was under obligation to go and all devout Jews from all over. The festival lasted eight days. Jesus’ brothers wanted to convince Him to go, but He was not doing anything He did not see fit for the moment.

He talks about “My time”. There are other places in John where he talks about time and uses the word ōra, which means God’s designated time. (John 2:4; 7:30; 8:20; 12:27). Such a time was not moveable or avoidable. Here He uses kairos, which means the opportune time, the best time, the fullness of time. He is saying this is not the time, which will give Him the best opportunity for what needs to be done.

So much of life is measured in time. It is luxury to have time off – literally. It gives us a few hours or days for relaxation. Our lives are truly “wound up” in time like old-fashioned clocks and “winding down” is what relax really means. We decide about time. Days are marked on the calendar for holiday, for birthdays, for weddings and other special occasions. That is our chronos time, countable time.

Jesus decides about His time on a much deeper level. His calling and ministry determines when He does something. He does not mark it on an earthly calendar. He lives according to God’s calendar – the best time (ōra). When God’s timing determines the outcome, it is in the fullness of time – kairos time.

Jesus goes to Jerusalem in His own time. He diligently attended the Festivals. He knew that everyone of them would be fulfilled in His life, death, resurrection and second coming. He went privately, avoiding public scrutiny by arriving late. By choosing His time and He will not be pressurized into anything He does not feel works the best for His mission.

This is important for our dedicated and full trusting relationship with our loving Father.

  • It is impossible to force the hand of Jesus. His disciples wanted Him to show what He can do in the greater Jerusalem. Jesus does not win people’s approval, but the people themselves. Jesus works God’s way.

 

  • It is impossible to treat Jesus with indifference. His brothers were in tune with the world and did not find it uncomfortable. Jesus’ life was a condemnation of the world and His presence would make a big difference in the ordinary ways of things.

In the next verses (7:10-13) various reactions and responses to Jesus are recorded.

  1. His brothers treat Him with tolerant contempt, almost mocking Him.

 

  1. The sheer hatred of the Pharisees and priests shows. Jesus eposes the rivalry between them. They are so desperate to unite against Jesus, they suddenly stand together. They loved their own systems and hated anything that could diminish their standing in society. The Sadducees were political. All the priests were Sadducees. They did not observe the Pharisaic rules. They collaborated with the Romans and lived very luxuriously. Their interests were much more important than God.

 

  1. The deep desire to eliminate Jesus (John 7:30,32) develops within the various groups. Every person can either submit or destroy. Christ is higher than anything else. Neutrality is not possible.

 

  1. An arrogant contempt for His teaching is expressed. Jesus had no right to lay down the law. He did not know the culture, no training in the rabbinic schools. They were academic snobs. We have to remember how many of the great poets, artists, writers and evangelists had no training at all. We never look down on training and studies, neither elevates it to superiority to save and redeem. It is not always the key.

 

  1. The reaction of the crowd is mixed. Some show interest (7:11) and some initiate discussion (7:12).

To argue the good and bad of a matter can shape your thoughts. Could a person progress from discussing to knowing? Religion can often be a matter of argument. There is an important difference between gossip and discussion.

What is gossip? Is it always negative? Maybe just that change of tone in the voice could make the tale your telling a lie. Do we always convey the words of others truthfully in the same spirit it was said? Difficult!

We should stay away from idle talk says Timothy (1:6) and Titus (1:10) and categorize the idle talkers with the deceivers.

Not everything we say about other people is necessarily bad. I have often complimented someone knowing that it will be repeated to that person. It was my way of showing appreciation for someone. Words could be so wonderful and encouraging, building up instead of breaking down. Please read James 3.

One of my favourite verses in the Bible is on talking about the Lord and the magnificent consequences of “good gossip”. A wonderful action by the Scribe of Heaven when the Lord listened in to a “good gossip” – for sure not idle talk, which is defined as foolish and irrelevant talk.

Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another,
And the Lord listened and heard them;
So a book of remembrance was written before Him
For those who fear the Lord
And who meditate on His name. (Malachi 3:16, also 17,18)

Let us go back to John 7 and look at the outcome of the discussion and the verdict. Some said:

  1. He is a good man (7:12). He was so much more than that.

 

  1. He is a prophet (7:40). A prophet says: God says. Jesus says: I say. Jesus was not acting in delegated authority. He was indeed God Himself.

 

  1. He is a deluded madman (7:20). He was either the only sane person or mad. He chose a cross over power. He was a suffering servant instead of a conquering king. He turned the world’s standards upside down. He brought supreme sanity into a mad world.

 

  1. He was a seducer. He was leading people away from true religion. He was accused of every crime against the religion of the day: Sabbath-breaker, glutton and drunkard, having disreputable friends and destroying orthodoxy.

 

  1. He was a man of courage (7:26). He defied convention and was different. He had the physical courage to bear pain. He had the courage to stay the course when people abandoned Him. When He entered Jerusalem triumphantly, He knew He was entering the lion’s den. He feared God so much; he never feared the face of any man.

 

  1. He had a most dynamic personality (7:46). He went into His arrest empty-handed. Power flowed from Him. His arresting contingent was more bewildered.

 

  1. He was Christ – the anointed One. It is a fact – plain and simple.

 

There were other reactions as well:

  1. The crowds reacted in fear (7:13). The word used for talking is literally “murmuring”. It was muttering, jumbled speech just like the grumbling of Israel in the desert. We should not be afraid to speak out.

 

  1. A certain number of the crowd believed (7:31). They could not deny the evidence. They overcame the prejudice and fear.

 

  1. Nicodemus defended Jesus (7:50). He was a lone voice. If we stand up for Jesus it is for our own strength, not for Him. God does not need us as His vindication. Our own testimonies as well as those of others strengthen us. When we talk about the Lord, our own spirit and soul benefit.

 

The words of Wisdom in Proverbs 8:

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.

All the words of my mouth are with righteousness;

Nothing crooked or perverse is in them.

 

Pray with me the words of the Psalmist (19:14):

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

 

 

 

 

 

87. Actually…like never before.

We have talked about new things before. New as in new of something that existed before like a new pencil or new shoes and new as in completely unique coming into existence for the first time. God is in the business of new things. Create is the powerful verb accompanying anything new. God is creator; He makes new, also new people. He takes the most vile and evil mess and restores it to a beautiful, new creation with a unique place in this world.

I am always overawed at the thought of a new beginning. How does this world need it! How many times do we see a life going horribly wrong, when superficial ideas of pleasure and success cause fundamentally wrong decisions. In the darkness of the consequences of transgression a cry for help echoes through the universe and the God of new beginnings steps in.

This glorious Creator-God became a person to live in the dust of this earth to heal and restore His own. John says it this way:

 1:14 So the Word of God became a person, and took up his abode in our being, full of grace and truth; and we looked with our own eyes upon his glory, glory like the glory which an only son receives from a father.

This statement is the core of this whole Fourth Gospel:

“This word which created the world, this reason which controls the order of the world, has become a person and with our own eyes we saw him.”  In other words, we saw God with actual physical sight.

This is where John parted with all thought which had gone before him. This was the entirely new thing, which John brought to the Greek world for which he was writing. Augustine afterwards said that in his pre-Christian days he had read and studied the great pagan philosophers and had read many things, but he had never read that the word became flesh.

To the Greeks this was impossible – a god could never become a man. The world and the physical were so corrupted; God could not even come close.

 John states a shockingly new thing: that God could and would become a human person; that God could enter into this life that we live; that eternity could appear in time; that somehow the Creator could appear in creation in such a way that men’s eyes could actually see him. Paul uses the word FLESH again and again to describe human nature in all its weakness and in all its liability to sin. The very thought of taking this word and applying it to God, was something astonishing.

Some said Jesus was a phantom, not really a man experiencing cold and hunger. So strong was this notion that it became a sect. John deals with them in his first epistle.

In Jesus we see God living life, as he would have lived it if he had been a man. If nothing else were said about Jesus we could still say that he shows us how God would live this life that we have to live.

John states it in classic Hebrew style: the concept is repeated slightly different for impact and emphasis.

It is said that this is the greatest single verse in the New Testament. It contains the most important words of the Gospel: Grace and Truth.

GRACE:

 

  • is defined as completely undeserved, something that we could never have earned or achieved for ourselves, an act of pure love on the part of God, helpless poverty of man and the limitless kindness of God. It is in essence the unmerited favour of God to us.
  • also means beauty. In modern Greek the same word means charm. In Jesus we see the sheer loveliness of God.

Grace explains God reaching out to man. Grace does not ask reciprocation. Grace acts willingly and one-sidedly.

Just in the following verses John expands this concept of unending grace. John 1:15 talks about grace for grace or grace upon grace to indicate one wonder leading to another. There is always greater, more and lovelier available. Great music, art and poetry have no end. God is infinitely more than everything we know and the longer we live, the more we discover about Him. He is limitless wonder.

He supplies all the grace you might need in days of adversity and days of ease. Grace is dynamic and always sufficient, able to deal with everything. God is the lover of the souls of men. Maybe it was not so clearly experienced in the Law, but now, in Jesus there is no doubt.

 

TRUTH:

Lovers of wisdom (philosophers) have searched for Truth over many centuries. How can it be certain? To what could it be compared? How is it measured?

According to Wikipedia Truth is most often used to mean being in accord with fact or reality or fidelity to an original or standard. How does one determine the fact or reality and how does one establish the original or standard?

Jesus said: “I am the truth” (John 14:6). To see truth we must look at Jesus. He is accessible to every mind. Very few people can grasp abstract ideas; most people think in pictures. It is difficult to define beauty, but we can point to a beautiful person or object and say that is beauty. We can look at Jesus Christ and say: “That is what God is like.” We can look to Him and know what is true.

Jesus did not come to talk to men about God; he came to show men what God is like, so that the simplest mind might know him as intimately as the mind of the greatest philosopher.

Jesus communicates truth, because He knows the truth (John 8:31) He witnesses to the truth (John 18:37), because He is the original, the standard. Jesus shows us the right way and enables us to choose right. His Spirit is the Spirit of truth (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13). The Holy Spirit helps us to not just read the Bible and know it is true, but to let the truth live within us.

It is the Truth that sets us free (John 8:32). To tell a child what he is really like, is to liberate him and to give him confidence. The enemy lies to us about ourselves and robs us of thinking right, in order to let fear establish our thoughts and determine our lives.

Truth can be resented. Jesus was killed for it (John 8:40).

 No man ever destroyed the truth by refusing to listen.

The truth can be disbelieved (John 8:45). Many people do not believe in Jesus because it seems too good to be true; or because they are so chained to their half-truths that they will not let them go. In many instances a half-truth is the worst enemy of the truth.

Truth is not something abstract; it must be done (John 3:21). It must be known with the mind, accepted with the heart, and acted out in the life.

To live the Jesus life by His grace is true living.

It is our new beginning, even after the brokenness of this world brought us tragedy and disaster.

 

 

 

79. Overthrowing the powers of hell.

Prayer is a plea for God’s ordained order to prevail above earthly powers. We can overthrow hell-power by prayer.

When we pray the Word of God we can have on earth what heaven had already decided on. [Jack Hayford]

That is why we pray according to Jesus’ command:

Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:19) [heaven=the unseen realm]

Prayer is the golden thread throughout the Bible and the most important kingdom dynamic. In days to come, it will be your joy to study the different prayers of the prophets and kings of the Old Testament. David and his fellow psalmists probably stand out as the royalty of prayer and praise. Solomon‘s prayer at he dedication of the Temple and his request for wisdom, Isaiah’s poetry-prayers – he sang his prophecies, Jeremiah’s outbursts of praise, Daniel’s prayers, Nehemiah’s shotgun prayers – the one sentence power invocation to the highest Authority. The few godly kings of Judah prayed about warfare and threatening neighbours with miraculous intervention.

The Holy Spirit will create the hunger for God in you. Prayer is all Holy Spirit work, not your own. If you do not feel the hunger, ask for it.

I saw my mother reading the Bible for hours and hours on end. I was not like her. I was very interested in other things and could not spend hours in Bible study, but I wanted to be so fascinated with it like she was. I prayed for it. I prayed for a hunger that would drive me out of bed, grabbing my Bible. Now when I wake up in the morning, it is with excitement for something new from God.

Prayer is a life of obedience

The definition of obedience is in the original meaning of the Greek word hupakoe. It comes from hupo = under and akouo = to hear. The word signifies attentive hearing, to listen with compliant submission, assent and agreement.

Obedience is a submission to God’s way and God’s time.

Greek has two words for time – chronos and kairos.

Chronos reminds us of the word chronology and indicates calendar time, measured time, counted time, the relentless and constant passing of time in minutes, hours, days, months, years, decades, centuries and millennia.

Kairos is the liberating concept of God’s time and is defined by Strong’s concordance as: opportune time, set time, appointed time, due time, definitive time, seasonable time, proper time for action, the fullness of time.

Obedience to the Word and submission to God’s timing will open your ears to receive revelational insight.

Our biggest challenge in life is to truly see. To see deeper and understand clearer. Therefore our first prayer is the prayer of the blind man:

Lord, that I can see – into my struggle and my circumstances to see You, the Giver.

Seeing brings us to the second part of the verse – seeking. When we pray to truly see, we can seek and find. It is as if the two words follow onto each other – see and seek.

Just allow the Word of God to wash over you.

 

Seek and you shall find, says Jesus in Matthew 7. What shall we find? We shall find HIM. This the Psalmist knew well.

 

And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You. (Psalm 9:10)

 

The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. (Psalm 14:2)

 

When You said,Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” (Psalm 27:8)

 

I sought the LORD, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4)

So did the prophet Isaiah.

O people in Zion, inhabitant in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you. (Isaiah 30:19)

 

Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. (Isaiah 55:6)

 

Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways. As a nation that did righteousness, and did not forsake the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching God. (Isaiah 58:2)

 

You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)

Jesus is the Key, the Door, the Life, the Way, the One and Only. Do not let the reason and resistance of the post-modern society hinder your spiritual victory. This is not a narrow and exclusive way of coming to God, as they would like to argue. It is a wide-open invitation to the warmth and provision that you will find for every possible problem you might have.

Whatever the church may be, any denomination, God is working in there. Many people are hurt and disappointed by church people and church doctrine, but God will never abandon His church. There is always a remnant of upright, loving Christians, who walk in His love and care about you. We might think that a church is dead and irrelevant. God is patient and faithful and will always be there for people who draw near to Him in spirit and truth, far away from church or inside.

Never confuse organized religion with the church of Jesus Christ.

In seeking you will find the character of the Most High, revealed to you in the person of Jesus. In Him all the promises of God is Yes and Amen to the glory of God through us. [2 Corinthians 1:20] He is the miracle-working Messiah Who works in us exactly as He worked when He walked the earth.

This is gift from the powerful hand of the Son of God Himself. Just like the miracle in Luke 24:45:

And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.

 

MOMENT OF PRAYER: Ask Jesus to reveal His character to you. Ask Him to reveal the heart of the Father, so that you experience revelation-knowledge in prayer – deep insight into God and your circumstances.

PRINCIPLE for a life of excellence: Sing the Song of Moses.

 

“Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? Exodus 15:11

 

‘O Lord God, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand, for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do anything like Your works and Your mighty deeds? Deuteronomy 3:24

 

O Lord God of hosts, Who is mighty like You, O Lord? Your faithfulness also surrounds You. Psalm 89:8

 

Who would not fear You, O King of the nations? For this is Your rightful due. For among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms. There is none like You. Jeremiah 10:7

Seek and find Jesus and your ask-list will move into a new perspective. The list might change altogether. You will begin to ask other things that now seem more important.

Just for a moment we can swing back the armour of God, explained in Ephesians 6. We cannot pray without the armour. Prayer is the battleground. We war against invisible powers that have clearly defined levels of authority in a real, though invisible, realm of activity. The armour prepares us for battle – prayer is the means by which we engage in the battle itself, with God’s word being our chief weapon employed against satan in our struggle.

 

Dear Pebble pals – I will be away for two weeks. When I come back I will post the last pieces in this series. It is all about the words:

Knock, and it will be opened to you. In it we will talk about the events of Pentecost and how it is applicable in the church for today.

 

 

57. Underworld of the unknown

The unknown is scary, frightening, creepy, terrifying – yes all of this, and sinister, threatening and evil. All of these words and every synonym conceivable could describe the feelings of the ancient world towards the sea. It is understandable. The sea was a mystery of gigantic creatures and dark, unknown waters erupting in violent storms ripping their wooden ships apart and drowning the helpless seafarers. Yet, so much travelling had to be done over the sea. Judea was a treacherous sea journey away from the rest of the Roman Empire and Rome.

This chapter (13) starts off like a dramatic poem:

And the dragon (Satan) stood on the sandy shore of the sea. Then I saw a [vicious] beast coming up out of the sea…

The anti-Christ will rise out of the sea, here a symbol of chaotic, political events.

The fuller picture of the counterfeit trinity that emerges in this description is super important to equip the saints with the grand plan of evil, opposing God on every possible level.

Satan delegates his power to two beasts. The beast is composite of Daniel’s monster in Daniel 7: 2-7. It describes the incarnation of all evil – a lion with eagle’s wings – a symbol of Babylon, a bear – the symbol of Media, a leopard with four wings – a symbol of Persia and the fourth beast that is not named with ten horns is a symbol of the Greeks under Alexander the Great trampling all that had gone before. All of these could be seen in the Roman Empire as described by H.B. Swete:

 The empire has the vigilance, craft and cruelty of the leopard, ever ready to spring upon its prey; it has the crushing strength of the bear; it is like the lion whose roar terrifies the flock.

Paul was respectful towards the Roman authorities, using his citizenship as a tool for the advantage of his missionary calling. Here in Revelation we see a shift in the attitude towards the Romans. It is all out war between the government and the church and Rome is the representation of all evil.

The first beast represents the reality of anti-Christian government and political power. The second beast represents anti-Christian religion, philosophy and ideology. Together they produce the ultimately deceptive and seductive anti-Christian secular society, commerce and culture. The third beast is the False Prophet (13:11).

The beast of Revelation includes everything that Daniel described. Seven heads and ten horns indicate the rulers of Rome and the many consequent organizations and political powers. Many emperors and rulers took for themselves blasphemous names. They called themselves God, Saviour, Divine and so forth.

Blasphemy is all irreverent speech. To call what is human divine and to call evil good is the lie of the world we are living in today. It is a parody of the cry of the saints: “Who is like our God”. (Exodus 15:11)

It is enormously important that we know we are living in the realm of the counterfeit trinity and are informed about their ways. God does not want us to be ignorant and perish because of lack of knowledge. We are the saints, faithful and strong. It is our response to difficult times.

The head of the beast has been wounded by the Cross, but is healed to continue the deception and evil purposes. Some Roman citizens and even some in the early church believed that Nero, a particularly vile and cruel emperor, was revived after his death to inflict more torture on the church.

Revelation 13:9,10 reminds us of God’s judgment against Judah in Jeremiah 15:2,3. The persecuted are to maintain patient trust in God and not adopt the methods of the Beast and Dragon. It is repeated by Jesus in Matthew 26:52 (Amplified):

Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back in its place; for all those who habitually draw the sword will die by the sword.

The gospel of love cannot be defended by the violence of man. God will defend and revenge.

Another beast is the false prophet (13:11), the mouthpiece of the Beast. He is described as being like a lamb as a parody of the true Lamb. Caesar worship (as described in Pebbles nr 42) is symbolic of finding your salvation in politics and all idolatry. Satan can also do magic and convict with signs and wonders in the occult for the purpose of deception.

To the unbeliever, the crucified Christ is not the victor. He only perceives the “healed head” of the Beast and it looks acceptable and even attractive to him. Only the true believer knows the victory of the Cross. The unbeliever is easily deceived. He sees the fire and the image and fall down to worship. The unbeliever would never acknowledge worship, but in actual fact, the practical consequence of rejecting Christ, is worship of the Beast.

The mark (666) is the counterfeit of the “seal of the living God” of Revelation 7:2-4. Rome issued certificates for Caesar-worship.

Hebrew and Greek had no separate numerical system. All the letters of their alphabet carried numerical numbers, hence the number 666 which is the numerical value of his name.

The Jews literally wore the Word on their forehead and wrist according to the commandments in Exodus 13 and Deuteronomy 6 and 11. The slaves were branded. It was called a stigma and it denoted property, one man belonging to another. You belong to one you worship. We carry the mark of God, the seal of baptism.

The warning to be alert to this deception can be found in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12:

Let no one in any way deceive or entrap you, for that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first [that is, the great rebellion, the abandonment of the faith by professed Christians], and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction [the Antichrist, the one who is destined to be destroyed], who opposes and exalts himself [so proudly and so insolently] above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he [actually enters and] takes his seat in the temple of God, publicly proclaiming that he himself is God.

Just reading the Word of God secures us for the deceit and treachery of the world order and the agenda of the counterfeit trinity.

Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed)? This is the antichrist [the enemy and antagonist of Christ], the one who denies and consistently refuses to acknowledge the Father and the Son. (1 John 2:22)

and every spirit that does not confess Jesus [acknowledging that He has come in the flesh, but would deny any of the Son’s true nature] is not of God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming, and is now already in the world. (1 John 4:3)

The Lamb’s Book of Life is a heavenly register of those belonging to God. According to 1 Peter 1:20 our names have been written there since the beginning, since the foundation of the earth. This fact should not be interpreted as predestination. It is merely the statement of God’s foreknowledge. He wants everyone to be saved (2 Peter 3:9), but he knows who will choose rightly and who will reject him until the very end. He is above time and sees all of history and the future in a moment. As mentioned so often in Revelation, time is irrelevant for God.

Nothing that the Beast does or could ever plan, can pluck us from His hand.