Saturday 27 May 2023

Loving and Knowing the Father

Cries from the heart of the Father for the lost love of His children are scattered all over the bible.

Christian Counseling
In Matthew 22 there is an account of Jesus silencing the Sadducees (The religious leaders of the day who ran the temple and didn’t believe in the resurrection) by
answering all of their questions, and then the Pharisees decided to have a go with questions of their own:

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

I am not sure what the Pharisees expected to hear from Jesus on this occasion, but they might not have had an immediate problem with Jesus’ answer. Elliot’s commentary says:

 “… the Pharisees had grasped the truth (about the need to love God) intellectually, though they did not realise it in their lives ... Truth was truth, even though it was held by the Pharisees and coupled with hypocrisy”.

What is this love that the Father asks for and expects of His children? In the Old Testament, in various places, the prophets can be heard speaking on the Lord’s behalf “why have you turned away from loving the Lord your God”? Isaiah 29 v 13: “These people come near to Me with their mouth and honour Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship of Me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.''

In the New Testament, to the church in Ephesus (Revelation 2 v 3) Jesus says: “You have persevered and have endured hardships for My Name, and have not grown weary. 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen”!

Cries from the heart of the Father for the lost love of His children are scattered all over the bible. The lost love is not atoned for by sacrifices and other deeds done in the name of the Lord. As part of Jesus comments about His return Jesus says (Matthew 7 v 22-23): “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your Name and in Your Name drive out demons and, in Your Name, perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!’ 

Can we truly love someone without knowing them? Our Father in heaven wants us to both “know” and love Him. The Pharisees clearly knew about God, some tried to sincerely follow His commandments as we can see from Nicodemus in John chapter 3 but revelation of the Father’s love and character to the heart seemed to elude them. Many have set out to try and define precisely what “with all of your heart and soul and mind (or strength)” means. I was going to discuss some of these thoughts here but I think that it will suffice to reference Joachim Neander’s hymn:

Praise to the Lord! O let all that is in me adore Him!

All that has life and breath, come now with praises before Him.

Let the Amen sound from His people again;

gladly forever adore Him.

So, what is our response to the commandment “to love the Lord our God” and Jesus’ endorsement of it? Way back in the beginning humankind clearly had close personal conversations with the Almighty “in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3 v 8). All that changed when man disobeyed and fell. Thousands of years later Jesus finds Philip asking “Lord, show us the Father; that is all we need.” (John 14 v 8). Jesus’ reply was “For a long time I have been with you all; yet you do not know Me, Philip? Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father. Why, then, do you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe, Philip, that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words that I have spoken to you,” Jesus said to his disciples, “do not come from Me. The Father, who remains in Me, does His own work. 

So, Jesus came to show us the Father and take us to the Father: “No one can come to the Father but through Me” (John 14 v 6). Of course, although many people have testified to seeing Jesus or a vision of Him since He returned to heaven, Jesus is no longer here in a human body. Peter recognises this when he writes in his epistle: Talking about Jesus he says: “… whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory (1 Peter 1 v 8). How is it possible to know and love someone we have not seen? Well just as Jesus indicated to Philip that knowing him (Jesus) meant that he had also been seeing and knowing the Father, so the Holy Spirit was sent so that in receiving Him we would also get to know Jesus. In John 16 v 13 Jesus says:
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore, I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you”.

So, love works in that God showed His love to us by sending His Son to die for us while we were still sinners so that our debt of sin was paid. Through Jesus we can get to know and love our Father in heaven. We get to know and love Jesus through the Holy Spirit who comes to reveal Jesus to us. The Holy Spirit does this through revealing Jesus through His words and working in our lives so that “all that is in us” can adore Him.

Jesus is just longing to reveal Himself and His love to us. He has promised to draw near to us when we draw near to Him. He has petitioned the Father so that we can be where He is and He will be able to show us His glory and share His kingdom (John 17).

As with many things in the bible there is the Lord’s part and our part. We have just been talking about some of the things that He has done. What is our part? To respond when He asks us to spend time with Him – ‘when you said unto me “seek my face” I responded – “I will”’ (Psalm 27 v 8). To long to sit with Him and do as Adam and Eve did – talk with Him at good times in the day. To spend time in His presence – letting the Holy Spirit reach into our innermost being and reveal His love to us. Jan (my wife) and I had an opportunity to walk for a while and then sit in the sun this afternoon – it was a lovely time just sitting. Jesus wants this opportunity too – to sit and just spend time. The Holy Spirit has been given to us as the channel to reach the Father – we have been warned not to grieve Him but instead let’s welcome Him and give the space and time for Him to do His important work in our hearts – lets purposefully and consciously ask Him to do it and give him opportunity to do it?

At one time I thought that the time that we needed to spend seeking the Lord was the “price that we needed to pay” for Him to act and pour out His Spirit. I don’t believe this anymore. The time that we spend - isn’t it for us – to be more intimate with Him and for Him to work on stuff within us? Do we tend to think that the 10 days that the disciples spent in the upper room when Jesus told them to “wait for the power from on high” was the end of their “waiting”? Was this the only time that they would prepare in this way individually or collectively? Would they have been “in one accord” if they had waited alone? Having experienced what God would do with them when they sought His face and found unity together and felt the Holy Spirit flowing through them do we think that this was the only time that they wished this to happen? Maybe having learned the secret of what would happen when they waited on the Lord they couldn’t ‘wait’ to do this again?

Author: Chris Pearson

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Saturday 20 May 2023

Contending for the Faith

To contend for the faith, simply put, means to stand against all who seek to undermine it
‘For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myth’. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 (ESV)

‘Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints’. Jude 3 (ESV) 

To contend for the faith, simply put, means to stand against all who seek to undermine it. 

Recently I read a report that the Church of England approved the blessing of same-sex marriages in church, with the Bishops being the largest consenting group in the Synod. Along with this I also listened to the Oxford Union debate with the motion, ‘This House Supports Same-Sex Marriage in the Church’. In arguing for the motion, 2000 years of teaching and most importantly what the bible actually says about marriage that it is between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5-6; Ephesians 5:31) was laid aside on the altar of changing times, tolerance and  ‘inclusiveness’. I reflected on this, with both sadness but also admiration. Sadness for the ready acceptance and promotion of incorrect biblical doctrine by most Bishops, the supposed leaders and shepherds of the flock; but also admiration for those who have and continue to challenge and counter false, appeasing capitulation to the prevailing world view infiltrating the Church. Of course, the Church has got to welcome and love all people, but not at the expense of biblical truth. Sadly and increasingly in our churches the teaching on sin and repentance has and is being sidelined if not, in some areas, erased.

This caused me to think of the many scores and scores of bible believing Christians, who, for over 2000 years of church history have been faithful to the Christian faith and have been prepared to stand against the world and its authority and to be loyal and faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ – even, in many instances, to the point of death.

I love reading about Church History and Christian saints of yesteryear. Indeed I would even go so far as to say, after the bible it is beholden on all Christians  to have an understanding and appreciation of what has gone before us and how men and women have contended for the faith over the centuries. We can learn much and take heart from their stand, strength and sacrifices and again be in awe of the faithful, covenant keeping God that we serve.    

Challenges and distortions to the Christian faith have occurred throughout history.  We even see, within a few short years of the death of Jesus how quickly false teachers and doctrines raised their head. In the book of Galatians Paul vociferously argues against the false teaching of some men from Judea who began teaching that unless ‘you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved’ (Acts 15:1). Paul was astonished at the speed many of the Galatians were turning to ‘a different gospel’ (Galatians 1:6). Salvation itself and the atoning work of Jesus alone were being corrupted. Paul’s fierce rebuttal of such heresy can be seen throughout the whole of his letter. 

In the second and third centuries the false teaching of Gnosticism reared its head.  With its many extensive, skewed ideas it denied key Christian doctrines such as the incarnation, resurrection and the need for redemption. Gnosticism proclaimed that salvation comes from inside by finding your true identity within. This sort of thinking, although successfully challenged by early Church Fathers still permeates aspects of present day culture, not least in New Age thinking and the LGBTQ agenda.

One of the most illustrious defenders of the Christian faith, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria in 328 contended for the faith against the heretic Arius who openly propagated that Christianity should not embrace the deity of Jesus Christ because it violated historical monotheism. Arius said there was only one God, God the Father, therefore challenging the Trinity. Was He (Jesus) to be regarded, by the Church, as divine or just an exceedingly, virtuous, exalted, created human being as purported by Arius?  Athanasius, emphatically and repeatedly challenged this false teaching at great personal cost, and repeatedly needed to flee into exile for safety.  The resulting Nicene Creed incorporated many of Athanasius’ teachings and ideas and overwhelmingly refuted Arius’ views.
Martin Luther challenged the Roman Church in the 16th century with its many corruptions and scriptural distortions, the most significant being that of Salvation and its attainment. Rome held the view that it was chiefly through ministrations of the church, priesthood and particularly through the administration of the sacraments. Luther, along with others, disputed these practices resulting in the Protestant Reformation. For Luther, Salvation was by faith alone, in Christ alone, through grace alone, by scripture (the word of God) alone, to the glory of God alone. This unleashed the fury of Rome. Excommunicated, condemned as a heretic because he refused to recant his views Luther had to flee for his life. 

Interestingly a hundred or so years previously, a Czech theologian, Jan Hus had preached similar beliefs as Luther. He had published works that the Holy Scriptures alone contained the inspired word of God and could not be equalled by the edicts and teachings of the Church. Refusing to recant these views he was arrested, tried and executed by burning at the stake in 1415.

William Tyndale, English biblical scholar and translator and a leading Protestant reformer was convicted of heresy for giving the people their first English bible. He was executed by strangulation and then burning in 1536.

John Bunyan, an Anglican by birth was born in 1628. He was converted to Christ in the 1650’s. As freedom to pursue non-conformity intensified under Charles II, Bunyan was imprisoned for holding illegal religious services. His sentence was initially for three months, however, because he refused to promise not to preach the word of God his incarceration lasted 12 years!

In Oxford one can readily see the spot where Nicholas Ridley and Hugh Latimer were burned at the stake for standing by a truth that the real presence of Jesus’ body is not in the Eucharist but in heaven at the right hand of the Father.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) Lutheran pastor, theologian and martyr who worked against the ‘Nazification’ of the German churches was executed by Hitler’s state.

Richard Wurmbrand a Romanian Evangelical Lutheran priest was imprisoned for many years, three of which were in solitary confinement thirty feet underground.  Repeatedly beaten, tortured by the atheistic Communist State - all because of his Christian work and witness.  

The above is only a very small and superficial illustration of some people who have contended for the faith over the centuries. There have been hundreds and hundreds of people who have been faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ. In this world all have paid a great price for their stand. Yet as Paul said, ‘... [he] considered that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.’ (Romans 8:18 ESV)

Today, in the UK there are ministers of the gospel and laity who are publicly making a stand for Christ. It is, however, sad that this has to increasingly occur because of serious issues from within the Church – let alone the world! There are people who are speaking out, who are contending for the faith and declaring that the bible remains the inspired, inherent, infallible Word of God, preaching the truth of Jesus Christ and calling out erroneous, false teachers and practices. These people are already being pilloried and ‘cancelled’ by our 21st century world culture. Accused of narrow minded bigotry, these are men and women who are putting their head ‘above the parapet’ and taking their stand for Jesus. 

The day will come, and certainly appears to be quickening, when all bible believing Christians will have to make their stand for Christ and in doing so persecution will surely follow. In the West, in the 20-21st centuries, for most, contending for the faith has been a minor consideration. We have enjoyed amazing religious freedoms; however, this is beginning to change. In the light of this we will need to consider our own stance and when is the ‘red line’ crossed for each one of us individually? The question for us, as bible believing Christians is not when but how are we going to contend for the faith and our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ.

We have to be prepared and know how, best we can, to be ready to face the myriad of challenges, accusations and persecutions that, as bible believing Christians we will surely face.

“Remember the word that I said to you: ’A servant is not greater than his master.’  If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you...” John 15:20 (ESV)

‘We have learned that suffering is not the worst thing in the world – disobedience to God is the worst.’   A Vietnamese Christian pastor imprisoned for his faith.  (Taken from) The Voice of the Martyrs Extreme Devotion (2001). pp7

Author: Irene Cherrill

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Saturday 13 May 2023

Live out of your spirit

Trust in Him, if He is in the boat with you, you are not going down!
Have you ever wondered how Jesus slept through the storm on the Sea of Galilee? (Matthew 3: 23-27). The passage tells us that Jesus calmed the storm and that shows us His power over the elements. However, perhaps the greater lesson we can learn from this passage is that in the midst of the storm Jesus was asleep!

The disciples however were far from asleep; they were anxious and woke Jesus to do something about their predicament. I suppose it is testament to their confidence in Jesus' power that they woke him to ask him to save them. And no doubt we would have been anxious too if we had been in the boat. But, objectivity tells us that if that boat had been swamped, not only the disciples but Jesus too would have been in the water. Therefore a far greater power than the storm was at work and this power enabled Jesus to sleep through it. He knew that God’s purposes for Him did not include drowning and this confidence allowed Him to sleep through the storm.
One could say that Jesus was living out of His spirit rather than out of what his five human senses were telling him about the storm. He knew that when the time came for Him to return to the Father His followers would need help and so He said,

‘you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you’, (Acts 1:8)

This power enables us as disciples to (with faith) have victory over the world (1 John 5:4). We have a choice, do we live out of our spirits and what we know of the Lord and His purposes for us, or do we live out of our five senses and what they tell us of the world and what comes against us. If we do the latter we are in no better a situation than people who do not have the Lord with them.

Trust in Him, if He is in the boat with you, you are not going down!

Author: Russell Bowles

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Saturday 6 May 2023


We are all equally righteous through the blood of Jesus, as born-again believers
“Lord, I’ve messed up AGAIN!” “Please forgive me and I’ll try really hard not to get it wrong next time!”

How many times have I found myself, on my knees (metaphorically) before the Lord, more often than not, repenting of the same bad decisions, uncharitable or unchristian thoughts and asking for forgiveness? How many times can I expect the Lord to offer me forgiveness and restoration?

Well, scripture gives me a clue: 

In Matthew 18:21–22 it says: Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Most scholars appear to agree that ‘seventy-seven times’ does not represent a finite number but infinity.

If I forgive my brothers and sisters as Jesus instructs then I can truly claim the same, as the Lord, “forgives us our sins as we forgive those……”

This is all very reassuring and gives me confidence in God’s mercy and faithfulness.

However, when things are not going so well, the enemy, the devil, still gets at me, challenging me to justify my belief in God’s goodness:

“You’ve gone too far this time!”
“ You can’t take this back to God again. He’s not going to go on wiping the slate clean”.
“ What gives you the right to; lead a small group? Lead a payer meeting? Bring a message? Lead communion? When you’re no better and probably a lot worse than those around you”

Well, of course, Satan is a liar and I refuse to be swayed by his first two accusations, but to be fair, he’s quite right on the third point. To paraphrase a well-known pop song of the 90’s “One out of Three Ain’t Bad”

I have no right to do any of these things. It’s not a right, it’s a privilege: a privilege granted to me by the Holy Spirit living in me and no matter how much Satan tries to persuade me to compare myself with those around me, we are all equally righteous through the blood of Jesus, as born-again believers.
As it says in 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

As if this wasn’t enough I have the example in scripture of men and women who served God and fulfilled his purpose despite the fact that they were, like me, flawed human beings:

To mention but a few:

Abraham, who effectively traded his wife Sarah to powerful men, in order to preserve his own skin. It was only through God’s intervention, behind the scenes, that Sarah remained chaste. Yet he is described as the friend of God and God used him mightily in the story of redemption of mankind.

Rahab, a pagan, who believed what God was going to do in the promised land, hid the spies in Jericho and appears in the Genealogy of Jesus.

David, the man “after God’s own heart” the greatest earthly King that Israel had, who was also a murderer and adulterer.

The disciples of Jesus were all flawed individuals in their separate ways, showing jealousy, ambition, cowardice, and doubt, Peter, who became the first leader of the church, was impetuous, full of self-importance, yet abandoned Jesus on the night of his trial. Through these 12 flawed individuals, all of whom, bar 2, Judas and John, were killed for their faith, the truth of the Gospel was proclaimed throughout the world.

Last but not least, we have Paul, who writes in Romans 7:19–25

For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

I find all of these individuals a tremendous encouragement. Mainly, because, they didn’t give up, despite the lack of certainty and indeed many, if not all of them did not see the fulfilment of the promise in their lifetime.

On Saturday 6th May our new Monarch, King Charles III took an oath before the Lord, to uphold and serve the people of his realm. Seventy Yeas ago his mother, took the same oath which she honoured throughout her life, despite, setbacks, tragedies and scandals. She “kept on keeping on”.

The Lord has a purpose for me, I’m not always sure what it is, but I step out in obedience each day, sometimes more reluctantly than others. I refuse to listen to the lies of the enemy and I’ll “keep on keeping on” despite, mistakes, despite wrong choices, despite uncertainty, until the Lord says I can stop.

This blog is a very personal testimony but if any of it resonates with your spirit, I would encourage you to ignore the lies of the enemy, remember that God has a purpose for you, and to “keep on keeping on”.

Have a blessed week.

Author: Alan Cameron

May God bless and enrich your life

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