Saturday, 29 April 2017

Love and Truth

Love is a litmus test for truth. 

Whenever you see two sides debating an issue, you can usually tell who has the balance of truth on their side, by which side maintains a stance of love the best. 

The side which deteriorates quickest into name-calling, or deflects onto another issue, rather than stick to the topic of the debate, usually doesn't have the balance of truth on their side. 

But the side which is able to stick to the topic, with patient logic, usually has the balance of truth on their side.

You see this dynamic all the time in the pro-life v pro-abortion issue; and the pro traditional marriage v same sex marriage. One side deals with logic, the other deteriorates quickly into accusations of bigotry, misogyny, etc. 

Ironically they accuse their opponent of lacking love, all the while it's their side which shows the least love to the opposite ideology.

God is love and God is truth. That's why when someone has experienced truth and love, they have inside them a limitless supply of compassion for others who haven't found it yet and who oppose themselves.

Whereas people who haven't found truth and love yet, more quickly reach their limit, and it becomes unloving - even if they're arguing for love. 

This applies to discussing theology too!

Friday, 28 April 2017

A Home for You

Giving God time to move, in our meetings.
If we give the Holy Spirit the chance, He will move.
Sometimes we give Him the chance - then later we go back to filling our run-sheet with other things, and He patiently waits again.
"John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it ABODE upon him.
And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and REMAINING on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost" (John 1:32,33).
A dove seeks rest for the sole of her foot. If she finds it and then the place is disturbed again, she flies away. But with Jesus, the Spirit came upon Him and remained on Him, abode on Him.
In some places, the 'dove' comes, but flutters around unable to find a steady perch for the sole of her foot, never really landing.
They feel flutters of the Holy Spirit sometimes. Little brushes with His wings. Little winds, some people coming under the touch of God, or they might just sense it in the air. That's the dove wanting to land.
Other places see the dove land properly, see a move of the Spirit - but only for a meeting, and then the place gets disturbed again, and the dove flies away.
But what we want is for the Spirit to find in our church a place to remain, to abide - in our meetings, every time.
For it to become the Spirit's home.
Then people will hear about it, and will come from far and wide, because people are thirsty for the Spirit.
The way to give the Spirit a landing-place in our services, is to allow time in the service for His touch to spread into a move and for His manifestation to end-up being the thing, the focus.
But we make Him a home in our church, by letting Him do so every time - by letting Him do what He wants everytime He wants.
Giving Him time doesn't mean just replacing the sermon with an extended time of music instead. It means let the touch of the Spirit spread throughout the room to become a move of the Spirit, and then let the move of the Spirit bring manifestations of the Spirit for all to hear and see and respond to.
To see this take-off congregation-wide, and run its full course, and reach its peak potential - we needn't let music and singing from the stage continue to be the dominant sight and sound in the room during that part of the service - because whatever comes from the stage tends to dominate the room, and therefore the touch of the Spirit only really takes second place while there's still a lot of input coming from the stage.
Believe me, this works - tone the music down a lot once the touch of the Spirit comes, stop singing - and you'll see the move of the Spirit spread like dominoes across the congregation.
And when it's spread congregation-wide, even that's not the end - we can go from a few people being touched, to a move upon the whole congregation - and then to manifestations of the Spirit coming through, for everyone to hear and see and be edified and exhorted by.
And then we can do so every time we meet - every time He wills - not just rarely.
Then we've made a home for the Holy Spirit, not just a place for Him to frequently visit.
And there'll be much fruit.
And the Lord Jesus will be glorified!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

In Sync With God's Calendar?

Leviticus 23:5
"In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD'S passover".
Deuteronomy 16:1
“Guard the month of spring, and make [then] the Passover offering.”
So, Passover had to be kept in the first month (called Nisan), which was in Spring.
In Israel it's Spring in Nisan. But here in the Southern Hemisphere it isn't Spring during Nisan, it's Autumn.
So our calendar can't be synced with the ancient Jews' Torah calendar.
Not because we're pagans. Got nothing to do with the Gregorian calendar. It's because of the way God Himself made the earth.
God's own seasonal calendar for the Southern Hemisphere can't be synced with the calendar He once gave the ancient Jews through their Torah.
That shows us the Torah's seasonal Feasts weren't intended for us.
And there are other reasons why the Northern Hemisphere can't keep the Passover any more either.
Jesus gave the Church something else - the Lord's Table:
"As oft as ye drink it".
Anywhere, anytime, any day, any season.
"This do in remembrance of me".
While it is called, Today.
II Corinthians 6:2
"...behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)"

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Christian and Loving It

"And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch" (Acts 11:26).
The text doesn't state who initiated calling them that - whether it was non-disciples at first, or whether it was initiated by the disciples themselves - it only states that the disciples were called Christians.
"Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian" (Acts 26:28).
But the term stuck, and didn't only stick but it spread - it even came to Agrippa's knowledge!
"And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds" (verse 29).
So Paul didn't deny the term 'Christian', nor deny that he was one - he even wanted Agrippa to become as he was - that is, called a Christian.
"Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf" (I Peter 4:16).
The title, and any slurs its lifestyle attracted, weren't shunned by the Apostle Peter, nor were they to be by the early Church.
Conclusion: the term 'Christian' described true disciples; the term stuck, and spread; the term was not denied; the term itself and any suffering the lifestyle incurred were embraced - by the Apostles, and by the early disciples.
So we can embrace the term too, and its lifestyle. We needn't shrug it off; needn't deny it; needn't avoid any slurs associated with its lifestyle - certainly we need not persecute the term nor those who rightly are called Christians.
The description 'Christians' belongs to disciples!

Friday, 21 April 2017

Free Indeed

Christ has made us free both from sin, and from the Law.
Not from sin only, and not from the Law only - but free from both sin and the Law.
If your doctrine has you free from sin, in theory, but not also free from the Law, that's legalism.
If your doctrine has you free from the Law, but not free from sin, that's licentiousness.
But the Gospel has us free both from sin, and from the Law.
Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. But ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God, fruit unto holiness.
Being free from both sin and the Law, we're also free from death.
The end is eternal life.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

What's Future and What Isn't

There is still an ultimate union with Christ and with God - that's why I mention waiting for the coming of Christ and His Kingdom. Hallelujah! 

But the blessing of that Day is something we already "have" in spirit, in Christ. Something Israel already got in Christ. We've been vouchsafed for it, through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

There's an already/not yet aspect to the Gospel:

We are saved - we shall be saved.

We are justified - we shall be justified in the day of wrath.

We are joined to the Lord and made one spirit with Him - He shall dwell with men and shall be their God and they shall be His people.

We are made new in Christ - all things shall be made new.

We are in the kingdom of God - the kingdom is still coming. 

Christ's first coming - His second coming. 

It's all part of the same scheme. The Gospel. Of grace. Of the Kingdom. Or our Lord Jesus Christ. And there's no other Gospel. 

To the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 

So, the thing to do - for us to do, for modern Israelis to do, for anyone to do - is to hear this good news, receive it, believe it, experience it, live it and proclaim it - and nothing else. 

Praise God!

Israel Married

The Bible teaches that God's remarriage to Israel occurred through the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Multitudes in Israel believed, including priests. 

Then Gentiles also believed and received the same message.

All who didn't believe, regardless of ethnicity - law or no law - remained in their sins.

Christ died once for all. A man is justified freely by His grace through faith without the deeds of the law.

We who believe are receiving a Kingdom which cannot be shaken.

Now we all alike only await His second coming and Kingdom. But only the born-again shall enter it.

That's the Gospel of the Kingdom of God: the Gospel of the grace of God. Foreseen in the Law; foretold by the Prophets; proclaimed by our Lord Jesus Christ; and also by His holy apostles.

Proclaimed: first (in history) to the Jew, and also to the Greek - and to every creature under the whole heaven.

Israel the Bride

If God's remarriage with Israel is only a still-future event, then how would you describe the Twelve apostles' relationship with God? They were Jews! 

The 120 on the day of Pentecost. The thousands of Jews who got saved that day. 

And multitudes more who were added daily to the church, including priests. 

So that by the time Paul returned to Jerusalem many years later, James pointed out how many thousands there were in the church - all Jews. Weren't they betrothed to Christ?

And if Jews weren't brought into relationship with God through the Gospel, then neither are we. Because Gentiles were grafted-in to the same promise as the Jews. Therefore if their promise hadn't come, then there was nothing for us to be grafted in to. 

The entire Gentile Church was connected to the all-Jewish original church in Jerusalem. 

Paul, whose ministry was to Gentiles, got the right hand of fellowship from the Jerusalem church.

When there was a dispute among the churches, the matter was resolved in Jerusalem and the verdict was issued among the churches of the Gentiles. 

Any experiences which modern Israeli citizens might or might not have in future, can only be on the basis that Israel's bride-relationship with God has already been provided, already procured and already experienced by Jews - and also by Gentiles - through the Gospel. 

There's only one Christ. One body of Christ. One Church. One bride of Christ. One Gospel. No other way but Christ. And only one lifestyle to live: the life of faith in Christ. The Christian life.

Hebrew Roots

Abraham was called "the Hebrew" before Jacob (Israel) was even born, before the Law was given.

Abraham had the promise that his Seed (Christ) would bless (justify, save) all nations of the earth (without ethnic distinction, and therefore without the deeds of the law).

He had that promise before the Law. He himself was justified before the Law. Before Israel. And he was called "the Hebrew". 

Therefore our true Hebrew roots go back before the Law. Before Israel. Predates Israel and the Law. 

Our Hebrew-root was a lifestyle of justification by faith, not works. Our Hebrew-root was an identity where Israel didn't even exist, let alone existing uniquely among the nations. 

So if you want to get back to your Hebrew-roots, it's got nothing to do with the Law and nothing to do with Israel! 

It's to do with the lifestyle of faith in Christ (the Seed) and our identity in Him alone.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Let Us Keep the Feast

Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Some claim this as a basis that Christians should celebrate the Jews' Feast of Passover. That's not how most commentators take it though. For example:

Wesley's Notes

5:8 Therefore let us keep the feast - Let us feed on him by faith. Here is a plain allusion to the Lord's supper, which was instituted in the room of the passover. Not with the old leaven - Of heathenism or Judaism. Malignity is stubbornness in evil. Sincerity and truth seem to be put here for the whole of true, inward religion.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 8.
 - Therefore let us keep the feast. Let us keep the Christian feast of Christ's resurrection in that spirit of holiness - of purging away sin from the midst of us - which was symbolized by the Jewish removal of leaven. Not with old leaven. For now ye are "in Christ," and, therefore, are a "new creation." Leaven is the type of hypocrisy (Luke 12:1) in its secret workings, but more generally it is a type of every corrupting influence. Of sincerity and truth. "All that corresponds to an unsullied, uncontaminated, and genuine Christian character." The beautiful Greek word for "sincerity" means freedom from all admixture. It is, perhaps, derived from "testing in the sunshine," and is used by St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:122 Corinthians 2:17. "Truth" means "reality."

Monday, 10 April 2017

Quote from David Carner

Someone Posted:
"Christians are great at promoting the loving Jesus of the New Testament, but very few can convincingly explain the horrific portrayal of God in the Old Testament — how do you explain it?"
David Carner commented:

"The old testament was written instructions on how to run a government. Jesus' ministry was about how to live your personal life. Paul's letters were instructions on how to run a church.

The Torah says to stone adulterers to death so that the people wo
uld be afraid to do this again. (Not that it would never happen, but if killing 2 people stops 100 affairs, preserves 50 marriages and saves 200 kids from growing up in broken homes it's worth it.)

Jesus said, 'whoever looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. It shows that the standard of true perfection is beyond human ability. He avoided talking about legal action; keeping in mind Israel was under the rule of Rome. 

Paul said that if someone is living in unrepentant adultery that you not accept him as a believer or a member of your church. 

I don't see any contradictions here; only commands that were given in different contexts. 

As for God's direct intervention; Jesus talked many times about coming judgment so I don't see any contradiction there either."

Dates for Celebrating Christ's Passion and Resurrection

People argue over the right time of year to celebrate the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord.

Some say it should always be celebrated in sync with the dates for the 'passover' on any given year.

But if we do that, very often we'd be out of sync with the fact that our Lord Jesus Christ rose again early on the first day of the week.

This year for example, the modern Jews' dates for their quasi-passover is on a Monday and Tuesday. If we were to celebrate Jesus' death and resurrection beginning on those dates, it would put us out of sync with His resurrection having been on the first day of the week.

It only goes to show that God never intended for the Passover to continue to be celebrated once it was finished and the new covenant was made.

But the New Testament doesn't demand any special annual celebrations on any other dates either. We simply show forth the Lord's death 'til He come, as oft as ye drink it - not only annually. 

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Open Thy Mouth Wide and I Will Fill It

What satisfies you?

If you're satisfied with a meeting where we sing for 40 minutes, repeatedly inviting the Spirit to come, to Have His way, maybe repeat a song rather than move straight to the announcements, pray for some prayer requests, then preach followed by a prayer line with music dominating so that the congregation doesn't get edified by any manifestations of the Spirit through those who have gone forward - then that's what you'll get.

No matter how many times you sing "Spirit Come" or say "Have your way" - that's what you'll get. He'll come and have His way - to the extent you make room for it in the meeting.

Or if you want to see the Spirit fall upon an entire congregation. Where the sights and sounds of people getting touched by the Spirit dominate. And are allowed to run their course. The waves of the Spirit. The manifestations of the Spirit. Then that's what you get.

That involves something practical. Give Him time to move. It doesn't mean continue to let music dominate necessarily.  

Make It Happen

When I was a teenager, while others were watching MTV or cartoons, I was asking questions like:

Is revival a sovereign move of God - or is it up to us to start one.

I read biographies, studying how revivals started. I also became interested in why they stopped.

I found that it's not rocket science. God always wants to pour out His Spirit: it's up to us to make it happen or prevent it from happening.

All God needs is a place and time. If we take the practical step of giving Him that, you'll see your desire.

Or we can just keep desiring it instead, praying for it, fasting about it, singing about it, inviting God to have His way, making the music louder, singing about it some more, and some more, and some more...and still not see it.

We're not waiting for God - He's waiting for us.

"Make it happen," Frank Houston used to say.

"If the Spirit doesn't move, I move the Spirit," Smith Wigglesworth said.

"I take, He undertakes," the hymnwriter wrote.

Even music and singing can get in the way of the manifestations of the Spirit becoming a move of God in our meeting.

Prayer-lines and altar calls can limit the touch of God to individuals who go to the front, rather than allowing the entire congregation to enter in or to be edified by the touch which others are receiving. Especially if music is dominating the whole time.

Spirit Come

We can sing "Spirit Come" - the MC can even feel so moved by it that he asks the congregation to sing it again instead of going straight to the announcements.

But the extent of manifestation of the Spirit we actually see will depend entirely on what we do after that.

We can either proceed with the announcements and then have the sermon. And then sing the song "Spirit Come" again - even sing it over and over again - after the sermon.

Or we can sing more songs for a while. In which case people might personally feel some inner working of the Spirit as they sing.

Or we can actually give the meeting to the manifestation of the Spirit at that point. We can actually give Him His way, instead of just repeatedly saying "Have your way".

He might begin to touch people. It might spread. The Spirit might fall upon the whole congregation.

The sights and sounds of people manifesting the Spirit will edify the congregation. If we don't carry-on playing music, singing, giving announcements, preaching or whatever else might be on the run-sheet instead.  

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Manifestations of the Spirit


The word of wisdom

The word of knowledge
The gifts of healing
The working of miracles
Discerning of spirits
Divers kinds of tongues
The interpretation of tongues 
(I Cor.12:8-10)


Young people see visions
And prophesy
Old men dream dreams
(Acts 2:17,18)

A sound from heaven like a rushing mighty wind filled the room 
(Acts 2:4)

They were all (120 people) filled with the Holy Ghost and they (including women) spoke (publicly) in tongues (not only two or three people).
(Acts 2:4).

These phenomena are to continue until the Day of the Lord 
(Acts 2:19,20). 

They received power (Acts 1:8). The demonstration of the Spirit and power of God were to be exhibits in their witness about Jesus. 

But preaching the Gospel wasn't the first result of the Apostles being filled with the Spirit - speaking in tongues was. 

The content of the tongues spoken on that occasion was not the preaching of the Gospel directly to unbelievers, but to declare the wonderful works of God (verse 11). 

The multitude were in doubt and questioned what it meant, despite having heard their own tongues (verse 12). 

Peter still had to stand and preach the Gospel (verse 14ff). It was only then that the multitude heard and understood the Gospel (verses 37,38).

They weren't drunk, but some thought they were (filled with new wine) (verse 13). There was something about the way they were seen and heard to be behaving that led some people to that conclusion even though it was wrong. 

The same experience is for every Christian in all places for all time (verses 38,39). 

The Gospel is not in word, but in power (I Cor.4:20).

Mighty signs and wonders by the Spirit of God accompany the preaching of the Gospel (Romans 15:19). 

Preaching was in demonstration of the Spirit and of power (I Cor.2:4). 

Faith should not stand in words nor in wisdom of men, but in the power (demonstrated) of God (verse 5).

Jesus said these signs shall follow them that believe:

They shall cast out devils
Speak with new tongues
Take up serpents or drink poison without harm
Lay hands on the sick and they shall recover
(Mk 16:17,18)

Jesus worked with them, confirming the word with signs following (verse 20).

Disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost (Acts 13:52). 

Laughter isn't a manifestation of the Spirit, it's one possible expression of joy. Filled with joy. 

"When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing" (Ps 126:1, 2). 

Laughter is also one expression of victory.

"He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh" (Ps 2:4). 

Isaac's name meant "laughter". 

There is such a thing as "the joy of the Lord" and we can have it (Ezra 6:22, Nehemiah 8:10; 12:43)

Weeping isn't a manifestation of the Spirit, it can accompany repentance and be mingled with joy (Ezra 3:13).

"They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them" (Jeremiah 31:9).

"When they heard this, they were pricked in their hearts" (Acts 2:37).

There is such a thing as being anointed with the Spirit to give people the oil of joy (Isaiah 61:3). A person can be anointed to minister the Spirit to people, with the result that they receive and become filled with joy. One way that joy can be expressed, could be laughter. 

It is possible to minister the Spirit to people (Gal.3:5). 

God's glory sometimes comes with weight (II Cor.4:17). The priests were unable to stand, because of the glory of God (II Chron.5:14).

Saul (Paul) fell to the ground (Acts 9:4). 

Paul didn't want us to be ignorant of things pertaining to the Spirit (I Cor.12). 

It was possible to have meetings where all prophesied, so that when an unbeliever walked in, he would fall down (on his face) (I Cor.14:24,25).

Believers could speak in tongues and interpret tongues, in public meetings (chapter 14). 

The Spirit fell on a group while Peter was still preaching (Acts 10:44) and they spoke in tongues. 

Reading the Book of Acts and the Epistles often gives a different picture of church-gatherings than our customary song-service followed by announcements followed by one sermon. 

We can therefore be deliberate about allowing the manifestation of the Spirit - as we are deliberate about singing and preaching. 

If we are not deliberate to allow it, then we are in effect being deliberate about not allowing it. 

For the glory of God, for the confirmation and glorification of His Word, for the edification of the church, and for the salvation of souls.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

He Hears the Voice of Your Supplications

"...he hath shewed me his marvellous kindness in a strong city" (Psalm 31:21).
One time after a year overseas in a certain country, I was booked to fly on to Hong Kong.
To get to the airport of departure though, I first had to ride a ferry for some 300km across the sea from another island.
I'd booked the high-speed ferry, to give me ample leeway. But as soon as it left the pier I could tell I was going to be cutting it fine to arrive in time.
Sure enough the boat-ride took some 11 or 12 hours instead of eight. I hurriedly got a taxi and asked the driver to take me straight to the international airport.
But on the way we came to a roadblock, and were diverted a long way around.
By the time we arrived at the airport, my plane was taking off down the runway!
The next flight wasn't for another few days. So I rode public transport towards the city-proper. I had nothing arranged.
About some 20 minutes or so down the road, I felt the Holy Spirit say, "Get off".
But I looked out - it didn't look like a very built-up area at all - so I hesitated at first to get off.
The feeling in my spirit persisted though - so I got off at the next stop. Locals riding the transport with me had a look on their faces like 'What's a foreigner doing getting off here!'. But I paid the fare, then walked back along the road, carrying my bag, to the spot where I first felt to get off.
During my twelve months in the country I'd met every member of a certain family who are important to our family, except one member - unfortunately I hadn't had the opportunity to meet her part of the family. But I remembered she lived in this city.
I didn't know where in the city though. Didn't even know her married-name - only her maiden-name. Had no contact details at all.
I walked straight into a small shop and asked if they had a phone. I looked up the numbers of churches, picked one at random. A receptionist answered, and I proceeded to ask whether she'd happen to know a certain person whose maiden-name was such-and-such...
And she knew her! And was able to give me a phone number.
I phoned the number - and that very family-member answered straightaway. I told her who I was, explained the circumstances.
She eagerly asked where I was. I asked the shop-keeper to help explain the location.
My family-friend laughed! Each person involved could hardly believe it.
I was right in the very area where they lived, virtually just around the corner.