Monday, 25 January 2016

I knelt down to pray.

Suddenly my surroundings disappeared, and I became caught up in a vision.

It's like I was taken back in time a couple of hundred years - to before a British penal colony was established at Botany Bay.

I saw an aboriginal man, wearing traditional clothing, walking through the scrub. He broke through a clearing and stepped onto the open beach - I could almost feel the breeze as he looked out over the ocean, feeling carefree, as if nothing had changed for centuries, on the east coast of the land.

Then he noticed something never seen before - bright beams of light coming over the horizon.

He knew it wasn't the sunrise, because it was already high noon. Whatever could it be?

As the light-beams became brighter and brighter, his attention became transfixed, full of anticipation. He knew that whatever the source of the light was, it was soon going to appear over the horizon.

Then it appeared - a bright, shining city arose over the horizon. His feelings of awe intensified as the city moved closer and closer until it came and stood directly above him. He gazed up, overwhelmed with peace and joy.

Then the city lowered itself and landed right on the land. The city was so large its walls occupied the entire continent from sea to sea with barely a centimetre of land to spare outside its walls.

Inside the city were buildings - some dwellings had black windows, others had white windows. I looked to see if white meant good and black meant evil - but it didn't, it just meant different.

And the vision ended.

I knew straightaway what it meant: God was up to something good!

And that is something we can all celebrate about Australia's history.

"For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (II Corinthians 4:6).

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Why Tattoo

Another consideration with regard to tattoos is other people's consciences.

Not only parents' and pastors' - and not just your own - but also other believers', and even unbelievers' consciences.

If they think tattoos are wrong, and you get one, could it cause grief, sadness, perplexity, confusion, an obstacle, separation; controversy; judgement; evil speaking; division; a lack of adornment for your testimony, message and ministry; to be held in bad reputation; temptation, compromise, condemnation or falling away?

It wouldn't be worth that, for something you don't need.

That's quite aside from even considering whether tattoos might be wrong in and of themselves.

AOG Position on Tattoos

Modesty in Physical Appearance

This document reflects commonly held beliefs based on scripture which have been endorsed by the church's Commission on Doctrinal Purity and the Executive Presbytery.
Does the Bible provide any guidelines for how we treat, clothe, or maintain our physical bodies?
Christians often use 1 Corinthians 6:19 to discourage bad habits like smoking, overeating, or drunkenness: "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own." It applies to everything we put into, on, or through any part of the body. But how do we know what God expects of us when He asks us to treat it as the abode of the Holy Spirit? The Bible is our best source for an answer.
In First Timothy, women are told to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, and not with expensive clothes (1 Tim. 2:9). There is obviously a connection between how one’s body is displayed and sexual attraction. This is true for men as well as women. Immodest dress that overly reveals one’s body often encourages sexual lust which is sin. The Bible says in Matthew, "anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matt. 5:28). This applies to women as well as men. For this reason all Christians should dress appropriately and maintain wardrobes that honor Christ and do not lead others away from His Kingdom.
Modesty, however, is not a single set of rules for every culture and time. It is a pattern of behavior that does not call attention to itself through inappropriate display of one’s body. As believers our dress should constantly reflect the truth that Christ dwells within us.
Proper care for the body includes good eating habits and protecting it as much as possible from injury, disease, or exposure to gradually destructive processes. Medical science is constantly announcing ways in which the body can be protected from potentially deadly substances and practices.
Question is sometimes raised about two practices which alter the outer appearance of the body—tattooing and body piercing. These fadish practices have not been studied sufficiently to determine if they will have eventual harmful effects on the body. But it must be acknowledged that both practices are unnatural and unnecessary acts that could someday be shown to have harmful effects. Tattooing and body mutilation were condemned in the Old Testament as having association with evil pagan practices. In setting His people apart from the ungodly tribes and nations around them, who participated in immoral and superstitious practices, God commanded through Moses, "Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD" (Lev. 19:28). Although bearing tattoos today may not be associated with a false religion, one should always be concerned about how actions might please or displease God.
Many servicemen in past wars had tattoos permanently burned into their bodies. Some carried messages that years later were embarrassments to the tattooed person. Although tattoos can now be removed surgically, the procedure is painful and expensive. For whatever reason the tattoo was originally applied, later circumstances can make one wish the tattoo had never been applied. The long-range consequences of a seemingly harmless and daring alteration of body appearance should be seriously considered. A Christian bearing a tattoo applied before conversion can probably allow it to remain if there is nothing objectionable if the tattoo is seen. If a tattoo in any way hinders a person’s testimony or Christian witness, one should be concerned. In some instances, removal of the tattoo may be wise.
In the early days of the Pentecostal movement, piercing of women’s ears for the wearing of earrings was strongly disapproved. Wearing any jewelry was considered sinful because the practice was associated with women of low morality standards. That assumption is no longer held, and some women feel their testimony is given less attention when the plainness of simple dress with no jewelry suggests to outsiders a lack of care about one’s appearance. If, however, a Christian has strong convictions against wearing jewelry, that conviction should be honored.
Of more recent appearance on the fashion scene is the growing practice, especially among young people both men and women, of body piercing and insertion of jewelry in nostrils, lips, cheeks, ears, navels, and even the tongue and private body parts. Such practice is heathenish and contrary to the biblical principle of modesty, because it is done to draw attention through ostentatious display or to identify with a peer group that for the most part is non-Christian. There is no place for heathenistic customs of the world among those who have been purchased by the blood of Christ and belong to Him.
In whatever style of dress or jewelry one chooses, the question should always be asked, "Does my choice speak positively of Christ and my witness for Him, or could it be a stumbling block keeping others from a full commitment to Jesus?"
Fashions and fads change with the seasons and with each generation. Scripture encourages Christians to be "completely humble and gentle; . . . patient, bearing with one another in love" (Eph. 4:2). In matters declared in Scripture to be sin, we must encourage changes in action and attitude. In matters that seem to have cultural applications and are not described as sinful in Scripture, we must show understanding, bearing with one another in love, influencing with love toward choices that lift up Christ to a lost and dying world.

The above statement is based upon our common understanding of scriptural teaching.


Thursday, 21 January 2016

Moses' Economic System

An economy based largely on credit and interest such as ours, is always likely to have cycles of boom and recession. In other words, instability. Many modern investment strategies directly depend on that instability in order to derive profit.

For example, we invest in property, shares or commodities - and without improving the asset at all, we expect to make a profit, simply because we hope the price will move, in a direction that favours us when we re-sell, not the next buyer.

That means we're depending on instability in order for our wealth-creation strategy to work. It means the buyer's gain is not equal to the seller's advantage - and that's what we depend on.

It means we hope to gain more for our asset than we paid for it, without having improved it, while someone else has to pay more for our asset than we did even though its intrinsic value has not changed.

Moses' Law on the other hand forbade charging interest to fellow-citizens - only to foreigners. Under that system an economy would have had almost no foreign debt or trade deficit. And prices would have stayed pretty much stable, unless there was a physical cause such as famine.

So wealth-creation strategies would have to have been different to a lot of our modern strategies. Instead of sitting and waiting for price instability and hoping its direction was in their favour, their strategy would have to have assumed prices were going to remain the same.

Since interest wasn't allowed, partnerships would have been more common than borrowing. A business partner always has more vested interest in the success of a venture than a creditor.

Assets would often have to have been improved in some way before a profit could be made upon selling. That would have kept more people in employment. It would also have kept assets improving in real terms, not just 'improving' in price.

Every transaction would have been an equal win-win for both seller and buyer - not a case of the buyer paying more than the seller originally paid for the same unimproved asset.

In other words, their economic activity didn't breach the principle of love - yet at the same time maintained private property rights, free will and the right to profit.

(But modern investing actually often hopes that instability will allow the seller's gain to be greater than the buyer's, which isn't quite as 'loving'.)

And land-inheritance was to remain perpetually in the family-tribe (except city land) - it could only be leased for a term, not permanently sold. Under that system, owning your own home wouldn't be quite the far-fetched dream it is today.

Meanwhile, interest payments would have kept flowing into the economy from overseas lending, keeping the nation's balance of payments always in the black.

The boom/bust cycle would hardly have been. You wouldn't have heard King David talking about 'the recession we had to have'.

Instead they would be 'the head and not the tail - above only and not beneath’.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

What to Do in Society

Preach the Gospel (Jesus died, was buried, rose from the dead on the third day)
Preach repentance and baptism
Pray for people to receive the Holy Ghost
Organise them to continue in fellowship, breaking of bread, prayer and the Word

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Privilged Ministry

We Christians don't easily get away from the first foundations that were laid in our early Christian life by those influential people in our lives.

Therefore to have a role where one figures prominently in new Christians' lives is such a great privilege!

Monday, 11 January 2016

Predestined to Glory

Sometimes it helps to read a whole book in one sitting, in order to gain the sense.

Remember Paul wrote to the Romans before he ever made a visit there; the congregation there had both Gentiles and Jews - and Paul's big concern everywhere he went was that the Gospel be understood properly: especially that the Gospel wouldn't become so diluted with Judaism that it loses its effectiveness.

Seeing he'd been delayed so many times from getting to Rome, he now decides to write to them instead ahead of a visit. His objective is the same: to state the Gospel, and to defend it against misunderstandings and objections - especially against objections with regard to all things Jewish.

With that background then, consider:

Chapter 1
Paul begins by introducing his theme - the Gospel
He proves all Gentiles are sinners despite not having the Law

Chapter 2
He proves all Jews also were sinners despite having the Law

Chapter 3
He then proposes that salvation is instead by grace through faith, for all

Chapter 4
He proves this proposition by going back to the Old Testament and to Abraham for support

Chapter 5
He describes the extent of our salvation

Chapter 6-8
Now he answers an objection that 'salvation through faith' implies anyone can keep on sinning - instead the Gospel actually empowers us to live righteously

He therefore concludes that no-one not even Judaisers and no circumstance not even persecution can accuse or eternally disappoint a believer, since believers were participating in a plan that was truly of God's making - the Gospel - salvation through faith in Jesus.

That's when he finally mentioned our being predestined - to glory. It meant that the Roman congregation, who were participating in God's plan of 'salvation through faith' without relying on the Law, could be assured that they would not end-up being disappointed, embarrassed or condemned as if their faith was misguided, despite not keeping the Law. Their faith would assuredly result in glory - eternal salvation (when Jesus comes).

God of course foreknew who would believe; these He called (in fact, many are called); but those who responded He also chose...and predestined, to glory - on the basis of their faith. Meanwhile unbelievers are destined for wrath.

So God has predestined believers to eternal glory - but not without faith. And whosoever will may come!

The point for the congregation at Rome was: keep your confidence in the Gospel; keep believing in Jesus; don't be swayed by the Judaisers - our faith will pay off in the end!

Chapter 9
Paul now answers some other particular objections.
Did the Gospel mean God's promise (to save Israel) had failed? No, because the Prophets foresaw a believing remnant.

Did it mean God was finished with Jews entirely? No, a Jewish person could always be grafted back in again if he believed. Paul himself was an example of that happening.

Did God give Israel a raw deal? No, it was of His mercy that He offered salvation on the basis of faith rather than through the Law or Jewish ethnicity. It is always God's sovereign prerogative to unconditionally establish, preserve and use nations for his own time and purpose (in this case, Israel). He had used Israel as the custodians of His promises, but it had always been God's plan that salvation, once the promise came, would be solely on the basis of faith. No injustice there, only mercy!

Paul summarises the 'mystery' (the previously hidden plan, now brought to light through the Gospel) like this: Israel was partially missing out, meanwhile many Gentiles were getting saved - and this is how it will be until the end. That was the manner in which God's promised salvation was seeing its outworking. Nothing had failed. There was no injustice. Only mercy.

Chapter 12 and following
Paul then says the only valid response to all this was to devote their lives in sevice to the Lord.
He then dealt with other practical church issues, like:
Functioning in various spiritual gifts
How to behave when there are varying consciences on various issues amongst believers, etc.
And adds final greetings.

Paul did eventually make it to Rome, but under house arrest. He was able to carry on a home-meeting there for a few years at least though.

So that's how I see Paul's treatment of a term like predestination. He wasn't introducing the idea that some can't be saved, as if that was also part of the Gospel. No, he was actually encouraging his readers that if they stick to the Gospel-truth that all who want to can believe and be saved, they won't be disappointed no matter what.

Book of Acts

Places Paul preached: in synagogues (usually); in a school; in a market; in a place where prayer was wont to be made; on a hill; in an assembly; from house to house; in court.

He and the other apostles expected to gain the audience of whole cities. All who believed were baptised - but not all who were baptised had the right heart.

The Holy Spirit came upon them that believed.

Paul laid hands on the sick and healed them - without saying he prayed for them. There could be a key there. Whether or not you pray, there's something which needs to be done - believing (and saying).

Acts 15:21 meant Jews everywhere who wanted to keep the Law had ample opportunity to go (to synagogues) and hear the Law, and therefore the churches needn't teach the Law - seeing the Gentiles were not expected to keep the Law. 

Saturday, 9 January 2016


Ezekiel Maxfield came home from the hospital today, on his late great-great grandfather Edwards' birthday.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Intimacy with Jesus

According to John's Gospel, Jesus was quite plain about asserting Who He is. And He didn't mind the consequences of telling anyone. Or of going back to a dangeous place.

I also noticed that John believed before he saw the resurrected Jesus.

And again, believing is portrayed as something so beautiful.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Speak It!

I read the entire Gospel of Luke today,

One thing I noticed, if I observed correctly, is that every time the Father performed a miracle of healing through Jesus, it involved Jesus speaking something. 

You Have Been Healed

Sickness was a curse of the law. Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the law.

Jesus took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses.

By His stripes you were healed. That's not a promise - it's a statement of fact.

Healing is in God's redemptive plan. It is God's will to heal you.

He promised to take sickness away from the midst of them. The New Covenant is based on better promises than the Old.

But sometimes we have to claim what is ours. How?

Know that healing is in God's redemptive plan, and that he has redeemed you from the curse of the law, and that you have been healed by His stripes. Just simply know it.

Thank Him for it. Recognise that fact. Thank Him for your perfect deliverance. It isn't even always necessary to pray. Just thank our heavenly Father.

He didn't promise to heal you. These are statements of fact. It's already happened. Stand on the facts! Declare the facts. Refuse to accept sickness. Sometimes it weakens your stand if you think of healing as promise yet to be done, rather than as a statement of fact.

Not everybody knows this, because they haven't been taught it. Some aren't on the level where they can act on it even though they hear it. They're still in the babyhood or childhood state of development. But if you'll meditate on God's Word, you'll grow and get to the place where you can act on it.

If you need help, get somebody to agree with you. If two of you on earth agree, as touching anything you ask (that would have to include healing for the physical body, or else it couldn't be anything) - it shall be done for them, if you both believe. It's just good to get somebody to help you sometimes. One shall chase a thousand - two shall put ten thousand to flight!

Another way is to call for the elders of the church to anoint you with oil. "Is there any sick among you?" wrote James. That infers that there need not be any sick among us. You don't have to call for the elders, but you can if you need to. If you don't know anyone who can do that, you can still be healed. It's the prayer of faith that saves the sick. I can believe for healing because God tells me it belongs to me.

Pray for one another that ye may be healed, the Bible says. Why doesn't it just fall on us? It doesn't work that way. If healing is not for one another, why pray for it? He's not going to tell us to pray for something that's not His will! Confess your faults to one another. Sometimes there are things that hinder us from receiving healing. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. How much does it avail? Much! It makes tremendous power available, dynamic in its action.

Believers shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. There's got to be faith though. When we get into faith, that's when it works. Speak and act as though you believe it. There's a saying, "Blessed is he that expected nothing, for he shall not be disappointed": but thank God, "these signs shall follow them that believe".

Prayer is addressed to the Father in the Name of Jesus. But we can also use the Name. That's not prayer per se.

Speaking is a great way. All of the miracles of healing Jesus performed involved Him speaking something, as far as I can recall.

God's Word works.

The Word

Throughout the Synoptic Gospels, there was this thing called the word. The word of God. 

Our Gospel is Based on Eye-Witnesses

While reading in Mark's Gospel about Jesus' final journey to Jerusalem, I wondered why Jesus took His disciples with Him. Couldn't He have spared them some fear if He left them in Galilee?

Straightaway an answer came to me, "I wanted them to be eyewitnesses".

The apostles of the Lamb had to witness every aspect of Jesus' ministry and redemptive work, beginning with John's baptism to His asencion - and inclusive of everything in between.

Yes, taking them with Him to Jerusalem subjected them to the possibility of fearing. But Jesus was able to say, "Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none". 

Jesus knew His disciples wouldn't be lost, despite taking them with Him to Jerusalem.

Even for Peter, despite Satan desiring him that he might sift him like wheat, our Lord Jesus prayed that his faith would fail not.

Supernatural Christianity

Yesterday I read Mark's Gospel in one sitting.

What stood out to me is the thoroughly supernatural nature of the Gospel from start to finish in every aspect.

Supernatural Christianity = normal Christianity.

Again, faith is valued supremely.

Monday, 4 January 2016

The Value of Faith

Today I read the whole Gospel of Matthew through in one sitting, and one thing that stood out to me is the great importance that Jesus placed on faith. 

He told His disciples that they were unable to cast out a particular demon because of unbelief. He wondered how long he would have to put up with a generation of such little faith. He commended a couple of Gentiles for having great faith. He repeated that whatever a person believes, he can have or do.

Faith that our heavenly Father will provide - food and clothes, for He knows that we need all these things. He can provide it! Faith to receive healing. Faith to cast out demons. Faith to heal. Faith to feed a multitude. Faith to walk on water. Faith to remove mountains. Jesus really values such faith!

Need. Desire. Ask. Say. Believe. Receive. Have. Do. He shall provide. He shall do it.

So just seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. 

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Evangelism Strategies

Jesus said that wherever this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached, what the woman did who spent a jar of alabaster on Him would be told for a testimony. That means we get to tell more of the story than just the bare minimum.

When Jesus commissioned His disciples to go and teach all nations, He told them to teach them to observe all things whatsoever He had commanded them. That takes a little more time than just sharing the bare minimum.

Of course a person can get saved on a minimum amount of truth. That's valid, and a valuable thing. But it's okay to have the concept of sharing the Gospel more substantially than might be shared in a minute. And it's okay to tailor your evangelism program to facilitate that.

Look for ways to set-up occasions where you can teach more of what Jesus commanded, and tell more along with the Gospel.

Any suggestions about strategies to do that?

Time and Purpose

Jacob may have been just as much a righteous man as his son Joseph, but it was Joseph who had the privilege of being married to the mother of our LORD Jesus. God sent forth His Son in the fullness of time.

We might not get to have exactly the same role in society as someone else in history - but we can still be righteous, and we can still serve our generation by the will of God.

You are positioned uniquely. You are chosen for a unique role. Be not unwise but understand what the will of the Lord is, for you. Be faithful.