Saturday, 30 November 2013

It is More Blessed to Give Than to Receive

One day I sensed in my heart, "Today you're going to have a day of prosperity".

I imagined somebody might give me something.

The afternoon wore on. Still nobody had given me anything.

Then it occurred to me that if it's truly a day of prosperity for me, then I ought to be the giver rather than the receiver.

So I gave something away to someone. It was one of the biggest gifts I've ever given anyone in my life.

It felt good!

That was years ago.

I still look back on that day as one of the most prosperous days of my life.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Paul Agrees with Jesus

For starters, Jesus didn't contradict the Law and the Prophets - He fulfilled them.

He was also in agreement with John the Baptist's public message and ministry.

The Twelve Apostles taught all things that Jesus commanded.

Paul didn't contradict the Twelve Apostles. The Council at Jerusalem officially endorsed Paul's message and ministry.

Paul didn't contradict Jesus on any point.

Paul even appealed to the Law and the Prophets to back up what he was saying.


Jesus placed the law on a high pedestal.

But He also said, "It is finished".

He said, "This is the new covenant in my blood".

He spoke about believing on Him for salvation.

He said simply being Jewish didn't cut it.

He intimated the inclusion of Gentiles.

He spoke of a day coming when there would be a new place and manner of worship (in spirit and in truth), which would replace the then current place and manner of worship under the law (not in Jerusalem nor in this mountain at the tabernacle/temple, as the Law stipulated).

He prophesied of a day to come, within that generation, when the Temple would in fact be destroyed, making it impossible thereafter to continue worshipping in the place and after the manner prescribed by the law.


Paul venerated the Law, as Jesus also did. 

Paul spoke about the righteousness of the law being fulfilled in us.

He said the law is good if a man use it lawfully.

He said all Scripture is profitable for instruction in righteousness.

He said the Scriptures are able to make you wise unto salvation.

He said all things were written for our learning.

He said the law and the Prophets gave witness to Christ.

He said that the lifestyle of walking in the Spirit which he encouraged has no point of law against it.

He was against sin. Against transgression. Against lawlessness. His message didn't teach a lifestyle that had points of law against it. His message taught people to deny ungodly lusts and to walk in love, which fulfilled the law.

He appealed to the law to back up his views.

It's just that Paul - like Jesus, like the Twelve, like John the Baptist - taught that salvation is not through the law as a comprehensive system and not through and not limited to Jewish ethnicity. It is through Jesus.

They each taught that salvation is through a new system - through Jesus - for everyone. 

They each taught that the resulting lifestyle of the believer in fact fulfils the law. 


Saturday, 23 November 2013

How to Teach

Teach in heart concepts not in words.

Teaching by extricating words might cause your teaching to fall flat if the logic of your extrication can later be contradicted.

But heart concepts stand.

That's the way a Biblically gifted teacher functions.

It's not, What words have I extricated, but, What life themes am I able to share.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

What Type of Unity Must We Have

The quality of unity that our Lord Jesus prayed for in His Church is the same quality of unity that exists with His Father and He. That's a high quality of unity in every way!

See Wesley's letter London, March 1, 1778:

To all the Preachers.

You were never in your lives in so critical a situation as you are at this time.  It is your part to be peacemakers; to be loving and tender to all; but to addict yourselves to no party.  In spite of all solicitations, of rough or smooth words, say not one word against one or the other side.  Keep yourselves pure; do all you can to help and soften all; but beware how you adopt another's jar.

See that you act in full union with each other; this is of the utmost consequence.  Not only let there be no bitterness or anger, but no shyness or coldness, between you.  Mark all those that would set one of you against the other.  Some such will never be wanting.  But give them no countenance; rather ferret them out, and drag them into open day.

The conduct of T. Rankin has been suitable to the Methodist plan; I hope all of you tread in his steps.   Let your eye be single.  Be in peace with each other, and the God of peace will be with you. - I am, my dear brethren, your affectionate brother.

And this, LONDON, October 20, 1787, to Robert Carr Brackenbury:

DEAR SIR, -- Mr. De Queteville is undoubtedly a good young man, and has a tolerably good understanding. But he thinks it better than it is, and in consequence is apt to put himself in your or my place. For these fifty years, if any one said, ‘If you do not put such an one out of Society, I will go out of it,’ I have said, ‘Pray go; I, not you, are to judge who shall stay.’ I therefore greatly approve of your purpose to give Mr. Walker [See letter of Dec. 18.] full hearing in the presence of all the preachers. I have often repented of judging too severely, but very seldom of being too merciful [underlining mine].
As the point is undoubtedly of very great importance, it deserved serious consideration; and I am glad you took the pains to consider it, and discussed it so admirably well according to Scripture and sound reason.
I enclose a few lines for Mrs. ----, for whom I feel an affectionate concern.
The God whom you serve will shortly deliver you from the heaviness you feel.--I ever am, dear sir,
Your affectionate friend and brother.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Motivated by Love

Something won't be satisfying unless it was motivated by love

Humble Greatness

If someone is better than you at something, it's better to acknowledge that and enhance their opportunities to do it, rather than to major on trying to do it yourself - and then major on doing what you do best, where no-one else is doing it.

Then you will have found what you'll truly be great at. Becoming great at something involves finding out what others are great at. Giving others the opportunity for greatness is what will make you great.

Each of us has a unique way and sphere in which we can help others become greater. Finding that and doing that will be our path to significance. 

Love - the Most Satisfying Thing

The most satisfying thing in life, work, ministry and worship is to love.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Young Earth

What I have been able to observe about languages seems to support the view that mankind is old - thousands of years old - but perhaps not as old as many have been told - not many tens of thousands of years old or older.

I've observed that it doesn't take very long for the language spoken in an entire region to completely change.

A brand new language - Tok Pisin - developed and spread all over the islands of Papua New Guinea, and is well on the way towards extinguishing hundreds of pre-existing languages. Not only did this take only about a hundred years to happen, but in that time the new language itself has also had time to undergo changes. 

The new language - Tom Pisin - borrows a word from one of the fast-disappearing indigenous Papua New Guinean languages, which shared that vocabulary from a Filipino language, which in turn got it from Spanish - and now the use of the word has become standard across Papua New Guinea. How long did it take for this influence to take place? Not thousands of years, only hundreds - beginning with Spain's influence in the Philippines only some hundreds of years ago.

Things change quickly on a large scale. One of the biggest migrations in known human history occurred not thousands but only hundreds of years ago - the migration of Europeans to Australia. English became the main language replacing many hundreds of pre-existing Aboriginal languages. This huge impact took only a couple of hundred years to happen, not thousands of years. The same could be said of the Americas.

Many south-east Asian and Pacific island languages seem related. Yet as far as we know the historical trunk of these branch nations dates back not too many thousands of years at the most. It took a relatively short time for different branch languages to form.

Many European languages have a common basis in Latin. Again, this influence happened over only not too many thousands of years.

Major changes and adaptions happen so quickly that it's easy to perceive that at a couple of thousand years BC there may have been only around say seventy languages in the world plus or minus a few. 

It's perceivable. 

I think a lot of things take place more quickly than perhaps we've been told - not only in linguistics, but also in geography and astronomy, to name a few.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us that a period of at least forty days separated Jesus's baptism from his return to Galilee. Mark (1:9-15) writes,
9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” 12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wildernessforty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. 14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
John on the other hand appears to give no room for a forty day temptation. John indicates that only a few days elapse between Jesus' baptism and the return to Galilee. John delineates the days:
  • "the next day" (1:35)
  • "spent that day with him" (1:39)
  • "the next day" (1:43)
  • "On the third day" (2:1)
On that third and final day Jesus has already returned to Cana of Galilee.
Is this a clear contradiction between John and the Synoptics?
shareimprove this question
Short Answer: There is no contradiction. John is not claiming that Jesus went into Galilee immediately after His baptism -- he is claiming that Jesus went into Galilee immediately after the day recorded in 1:29-34 -- a day in which John the Baptist testified to the Jews that he had already baptized Jesus some time prior. So, to answer the question directly, it would seem (based on what we know from Scripture) that Jesus went to Galilee at least 40 days after His baptism.

Let's examine carefully what John is saying (and why.) First, John testified via his Gospel...
. . . so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. -John 20:31
Now let's follow John's narrative flow from the opening verses in Chapter 1.
  • 1-18 provides numerous testimonies about the true identity of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God -- including John the Baptist's
  • 19-28 has John the Baptist telling the Jews that his purpose is to testify about the true identity of the Christ
  • 29-34 has John the Baptist actually testifying that Jesus is the Christ
  • 35ff has John the Baptist's disciples responding to his testimony and following Jesus, the Christ
Before we move on to reconciling accounts, it is important to recognize that the reason John included this information was to convince his readers to believe that Jesus was the Christ, and he was using John the Baptist's testimony as evidence of this. He was not including this information for the purpose of chronicling Jesus' baptism; His readers already knew about that from the Synoptic tradition. (See here for more on that.)

Now let's take a look at the day recorded in 1:29-34.
The next day [John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.”

John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
In other words, John the Baptist saw Jesus approaching, and said: "Look! There He is! That's the Christ!" ...But he then goes on to explain that he did not recognize Him as the Christ prior to His baptism, because it wasn't until he baptized Him that he saw the Spirit descending on Him, and could thereby identify Him as the Christ.
So John the Baptist must have already baptized Jesus prior to saying that. How many days prior? I don't know, but it could have easily been 40 days prior.
So, in summary, there is no reason to think that this passage is evidence that John's Gospel is historically inaccurate, or inconsistent with the historical claims of the Synoptics.
shareimprove this answer
I thought you might say that. (referring to John's absence of a baptism account.) :). –  Matthew Miller Jun 11 at 23:01 
@MatthewMiller Careful reading resolves the vast majority of alleged contradictions. –  Jas 3.1 Jun 12 at 0:14

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Intercession for the Land

One good item to pray for: is the government.

Reason: so we can peaceably spread the Gospel.

The Bible says to pray for this first of all. It's good to put first things first. Pray for the government before we pray for ourself. Try this.

We can pray for things to go well in a country. We can. And we can see results. God wouldn't ask us to pray for something that we can't expect to receive answers to. We can change things, and I'm out to do it!

Pray for rain to water the seed. The seed is the preaching of the Gospel. The rain is a move of the Holy Ghost around the world. We need to pray for that!

We need to put Christ and the Gospel first. Don't become so politically minded that you're not of much good for the Gospel. But on the other hand, don't let the devil have control of the government.

Don't be too party-minded. Get to know individual candidates.

One way the devil disrupts the spread of the Gospel is through poor government. The devil wants to stop the spread of the Gospel because after the Gospel is preached the end will come. The devil doesn't want the end to come, because he knows when the end comes his jig is up.

Someone who's praying for the government doesn't criticise the government.

Three ways to pray for the government:

1. Supplication
2. Prayers
3. Intercessions

Sometimes in intercession we stop too quickly. We see a partial answer, and we think that's it. So we stop. But if we aren't satisfied with what we're seeing, we can keep pressing in by faith. Keep the switch of faith turned on. Keep the demand up. That's why the Bible says, " in the same..." Inspect the results.

We can hold back judgement even on the unsaved.

Just because there may be more than ten righteous people in a country, doesn't automatically mean God will spare the country from judgement. Someone will have to intercede.

Yes the Bible says some bad things are going to happen. But that doesn't mean it has to happen on your watch. You can do something about it.

Just one man can stand in the gap to spare the land. Why doesn't He just do it anyway? Why doesn't He save everyone! John Wesley said something like: "It seems that God can do nothing for humanity unless somebody asks Him to do it."

Why? Because in the beginning God gave Adam dominion over the world. But he sold out to the devil and the devil became the god of this world. Until Adam's lease runs out, Satan has a right to be here. If God intervened, the devil could accuse God of injustice. But when one of us exercises our faith in Jesus, God can justly work. Through the cross Jesus gave us the means to conquer the devil, by our faith. God is waiting for someone to exercise his faith.

How do you get your people to pray? Pray yourself!

When you pray about your ministry, God may show you things to come. But they may not come to pass for many years.

Credit: Many of the above notes were written after listening to a sermon by Kenneth E. Hagin

Saturday, 16 November 2013

What Faith Is

Asserting one's natural abilities isn't faith. No matter how good. No matter how godly the cause.

Faith is trusting God to come through for you in a way which you never could yourself.

If self-assertion is like a muscle to move your arm, then faith is like a steel lever to move something far, far bigger than yourself.

Let go of the limited potential of self-assertion and experience instead the limitless possibilities of faith.

Faith means relinquishing the assertion of ego.

It means abandoning your potential and allowing your life instead to be borne up by the ocean of God Himself.

Hearing the unheard. Seeing the unseen. Stepping out and walking on the water. Trusting God alone to bear you up.

Then alone will you write a story worth repeating to the ages!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Not Under the Law

When Paul said we're not under the Law, he meant we're not under the religion of Judaism nor its prescribed punishments. He said we experience and behave with a new power - a power which has enabled us to have the true love and righteousness which the Law modelled. 

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

English Syntax Ought to Be Enough to Make a Prophecy's Meaning Clear

Someone said a prophecy can be fulfilled spiritually, in essence, in application - without having had its actually fulfilment yet. But is that really necessary?
An example given is the Day of Pentecost. Peter said the outpouring of the Spirit they were experiencing fulfilled the prophecy of Joel. Yet Joel's prophecy said this outpouring would happen in the day God delivered the Jews from their enemies; and it was to be followed by something cataclysmic like the end of the world. So it's claimed that the prophecy was fulfilled outside of the timeframe which the prophecy seemed to indicate.
But let's examine that.
How about instead of saying Acts 2 was not the fulfilment of the prophecy, could we put it this way: it was a prophecy which by its very nature wasn't something which all had to happen in a day.
When Joel prophesied that God's Spirit would be poured out on all flesh, there was no statement included in the prophecy which indicated how long God would continue doing that for.
God poured out His Spirit on the day of Pentecost and He's still doing it and no-one knows when He'll stop. But when the time comes which only the Father knows, then the rest of the prophecy could unfold too.
If so then it would have been correct to say "this is that" without it being necessary that the whole passage be fulfilled on the same day. After all, how long does it take to pour out His Spirit on all flesh? The prophecy didn't say. Therefore that part of the prophecy might still be happening.
That scenario seems to me to be consistent with the way the prophecy was worded, without needing to resort to differentiating between some spiritual application of the prophecy versus its literal fulfillment.
It's different to a prophecy such as the prophecy about the destruction of the Temple. By it's very nature that was to be a momentary event, not something that can keep happening for centuries. How many times can you utterly demolish the same building? But pouring out Your Spirit on all flesh - that's something that doesn't have to finish in a day, grammatically speaking.
The prophecy about the Temple's destruction even seems to give some indication about how soon the event was to happen. And Daniel's version of the prophecy even seemed to give the number of days by which the said event was to be accomplished (assuming Daniel was speaking about the same event).
But the text of the prophecy about the outpouring of the Spirit on all flesh didn't include any such time-parameters, and by its very nature is something that can happen over an undefined period of time.
If that's feasible then this might not really be a case of whether or not the prophecy was or wasn't fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, nor about whether it has a spiritual application as well as a literal fulfillment.
It would just mean that God is still doing something that He said He would do without ever having said when it would all stop.
I like to think it's possible to let the text, grammar, syntax and logic of a given prophecy be the thing that sets the time-frame of its fulfilment without needing to resort to hermeneutics like double fulfilment or the like, because otherwise I don't know how we could ever know for sure whether any prophecy has had its final and ultimate fulfilment or not. It would mean we can hardly know anything with much certainty - past, present or future.
I would like to think this is possible especially where a prophecy is given in straight prose. It might be different where a prophecy describes a symbol or where it occurs in a poetic book such as the Psalms. But where a prophecy is said in straight prose (such as in one of Jesus's conversations with His disciples, or in one of Paul's Epistles) then I would like to think we can.
I can't think of a Scriptural example of a double fulfilment. I seem to think it is clear by the text and by the nature of the prophesied event itself whether the prophecy was to happen in a moment or otherwise.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

The Promises of God, In Him are Yes and Amen by Us to the Glory of God

We who believe in Christ are not trying to be like Moses' Law - Moses' Law was trying to be like us!

A real flower doesn't try to be like a picture of a flower - the picture of a flower was trying to be like the flower.

But if you say you're really part of the real flower, you should look like it - and smell like it!

There's Been a Change of Law

If you don't offer animal sacrifices at the altar in Jerusalem, with a priest proven by written genealogy to be a descendant of Levi, then you're not keeping Moses' system of Law.

If any part of Moses' system of Law has been changed, then the system of Law itself has been changed.

Can We Still Keep the Law?

It seems a lot of Christians nowadays are thinking they should be keeping Moses' Law.

But Moses' Law was a package-deal. It couldn't be divided up into must-keep sections and take-it-or-leave-it sections. Someone who kept one point of the Law was obligated to keep the whole law. Someone who broke one point of the law was guilty of the whole law.

Therefore it seems to me that if even just one part of the law has been changed, then there's been a change of the law.

Even Jews agree that it's a logistical impossibility to keep the Law, as a complete whole today, because ever since the Levitical records were destroyed and the altar was no more, it's been impossible to worship in the place and manner which the Law demanded.

So the Law, being the complete system that it was, is no more.

This means that even if you attempt to keep part of the Law, you're still not keeping the Law.

No-one today can keep the system that was the Law.

Even just to attempt it would be illegitimate according to the Law.

So people who pride themselves on honouring the Law are actually not keeping it.

In fact, by attempting keeping it, they are actually breaking it. How so?

Because the Law itself spoke of a day coming when the Law would be superseded. In the Book of Genesis God promised Abraham that all nations would one day be blessed in his seed. The Law, which came later, excluded the nations - it was only for the Jews. Therefore, in order for the promise to be fulfilled, the Law would first have to cease.

The Prophets also foresaw the coming of a new covenant. The old covenant was the Law. A new covenant implies a change of law.

Paul wrote that there has been a change also of the law.

If a contract includes a sunset clause, then any attempt to keep the contract after the date of the sunset clause is not even legitimate according to the contract itself.

Therefore to attempt to keep the Law, after the law itself is no more, is not only flatly impossible but it's also to break a point of the law itself (the point which inferred its own demise as a package-system).

So what do we do?

Jesus fulfilled the Law on every point, then said, "It is finished". He gave us a new commandment - which is to say, He inaugurated a new covenant in His blood. The new commandment is that we love one another as He also loved us. He began a new law - the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

Only those who walk in this new law experience the complete righteousness of the old law, in all its points (including the point of its demise) fulfilled in them.

This scheme - and only this scheme - is so righteous, completely full, and gracious! And it's done for us in Christ.

We live in it. Now let's walk in it.

He's worked it into us. Now let's work it out through us.

Stand fast in the freedom that's in Christ Jesus. Not that that freedom is a license to the flesh. But by love we serve one another. And that behaviour results in breaking no point of the overall Old Testament Law.

Stick to the New Testament Gospel

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,
By stating that his apostleship was truly by the will of God, Paul assures the Colossians' confidence of hope in the Gospel they'd been taught.  
To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul assures them that being in Christ is sufficient to have made them saints; and that God the Father's peace is therefore extended towards them.
We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,
Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,
For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;
The message of the Gospel is truth, and it has provided a sure hope for us in heaven.
Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:
The message and experience of the grace of God are shrouded in truth and are intrinsically truth.
God's grace doesn't ignore truth - God's grace is in truth, God's truth.
As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;
Epaphras had an early role in, if not being the first in, reaching them at Colosse with the Gospel.
Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.
Filled with the knowledge of his will - of which the Gospel is the expression;
in all wisdom and spiritual understanding - as to how truly (including, how Scripturally) the Gospel is the expression of it (of his will).
10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
The desired outcome of the Gospel.
Of which knowledge the Gospel is the true expression;
11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
The present position of the saints is in light.
13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
God's kingdom is contrasted not with Gentiles but with darkness.
14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
He was before every creature.
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
That is, Jesus.
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:
Paul has a ministry to the Colossians even though it seems Epaphras had more of an early role.
25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
Paul saw God's purpose in his ministry as the fulfilment of God's word.
26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
Perfect in Him alone without any other requirement but Him.
29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.