Death And Life

“Death and Life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” (Proverbs 18:21 KJV)

The power of sound is inestimable: we can realize this when we think that in Genesis God is recorded as having spoken light into darkness and order into chaos.

All the way through the process of creation recorded in Genesis 1, each creative act begins with the words, “And God said…”

Our words are puny by comparison; yet they still have enormous power to affect the things and people around us, and also ourselves – something many people do not realize, or even want to realize.

Blessing and cursing are two sides of the same coin of the currency of our speech, and in these days, these terms have become almost valueless in that people regard them as somehow wrapped up in religious protocol, and not part of ‘everyday life’.

Not so: when we speak good things, we bless, and when we speak bad things, we curse. The words we utter go out into the ethers and do their work – for good or for bad. Equally, they remain with us – an abiding influence on self and character that most people do not give a passing thought to.

Jesus, speaking to the Pharisees, put it this way:

“Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12: 34-37 NKJV)

Guard your mouth – it has immense power. Many a parent has cursed an offspring’s life by speaking negativity over them.

Speak in haste: repent at leisure.

Digital:  click on the image for more details and products.

Patricia

Be Not Afraid

This quotation comes from one of the most loved of the Bible stories about Jesus’ miracles – the healing of Jairus’ daughter.

As well as being a great story for children, it was an awesome demonstration of the Lord’s power.  Yet we don’t always read it carefully enough to get every ounce of meaning from it.

Be not afraid, only believe.’” He said. (Mark 5:36 KJV)  The events that led to this statement were very interesting.

Jairus, an official of the synagogue had come hurrying to Jesus to ask Him to save his 12 year old daughter, who was on the point of death.  Jairus was convinced that Jesus could save his daughter.

No doubt, Jesus could have performed a miracle of healing on this girl from a distance, as He did with the centurion’s servant in Matthew 8.  However, events were to occur that would bring about an even greater miracle.

They started off for Jairus’ house immediately, but a diversion cropped up along the way.  They passed by the house of a woman who had had severe bleeding for 12 years.  She too was convinced that Jesus could heal her and she struggled through the crowd with the thought that if she could only touch his cloak, she would be healed.

She did manage to touch His cloak, and she was healed immediately, but Jesus stopped, because He felt the power go out of Him.  He asked, “Who touched my clothes?”,  He knew that someone with strong faith had drawn upon His power. The response of His disciples to His question was almost comical:  “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?” – an interesting commentary on their lack of understanding.

Fearfully, the woman came forward and knelt at His feet.  Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”

This diversion along the way brought about a situation set for an even greater miracle – somewhat similar to the raising of Lazarus.  As they continued towards Jairus’ house, people came to say that Jairus’ daughter had died. “Why trouble the Master any further?” they said.

“As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he said unto the ruler of the synagogue, ‘Be not afraid, only believe.’” (Mark 5:36 KJV)

Jesus moved immediately to correct the worldly, negative thinking – natural as it was under the circumstances. His words were short, and to the point.

We could all do with remembering these words when the trials of life seem to overwhelm us.  All too often, we go through living with an underlying, almost subconscious, nagging fear and apprehension that saps our peace and makes us vulnerable to the works of the enemy.

Remember the words of Isaiah 41:10 –

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

Digital, with hand-painted capital letter, assembled in Macromedia Fireworks MX

For more details, click on the images.

Patricia

Catching Men

“When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!’

“For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.

“And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.’   So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him..”
Luke 5:8-11

The stunning miracle that Jesus performed in these verses caught the attention of all those present, and caused Simon Peter to recognize immediately who Jesus was.

This event can be interpreted as an illustration of the power of the Lord to bring prosperity to His followers. However, as Pastor John points out in a video on this scripture, the words hold a far more important message, and Jesus lost no time in delivering it.

As Pastor John says, “This story is not about how to get rich – it’s about how to get free from riches.”

It’s all about freedom – about getting free and about giving freedom to others.

How important that is! Here were four businessmen whose business had just been blessed with an enormous gift of business resources (perishable goods, incidentally, and ripe for selling at a profit). Yet such was the power of the Lord and of His presence, that having brought their boats to land, “they forsook all and followed Him.”

He had made it plain (as He would do many times during His ministry) that there are far more important priorities than riches, to be pursued in this life.

What a powerful story – and what a powerful lesson for us all.

That freedom is still available today, while most people are stressing and straining at this business of living – struggling with a changing and ever more difficult world.  While we focus our minds on the problems around us, we only magnify and increase them, and give them more power in our lives.

He holds the answer.

Digital – vector: Pierre Bézier tool in Macromedia Fireworks.

 

Patricia

Absolute Truth

“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” (John 8:31-32)

Jesus made this statement in the Temple courtyards of Jerusalem, in the middle of a discussion He was having with ‘the Jews’ (a term used by John for the religious elders of the day), who were beginning to show their hand openly in their attempts to trap and destroy Him.

This episode is especially applicable in today’s world.  We are at a point now in the history of mankind when there is a serious attack going on against the concept of Truth – not only in the ivory towers of philosophic discussion: this attack is impinging on crucial aspects of real life.

The Sadducees of the present day – the so-called ‘intellectuals’ – are bent on denying the concept of absolute truth. By their standards, the idea of absolute truth is old-fashioned and outmoded, and has already been relegated to the trash.   It appears this new thinking is impacting seriously on education, where students are now encouraged to give whatever answer to a question they think fit – and it seems that all answers will be marked ‘correct’.

Likewise generally, one man’s idea is treated as being as good as another man’s – on any subject: a trend fostered even further by the entrenched Internet rituals of ‘liking’ and ‘commenting’ on anything and everything on facebook, blogs and websites and, apparently even the education process.    The ultimate outcome of all this can only be a complete erosion of standards and values.

Frankly, I view this as an attempt by the enemy to tear down the foundations of our society – and I use that word in an all-encompassing sense of societies in general.    It is also, of course, a direct attack on God, who is Truth, and His word.

We are certainly coming close to the end times.   Jesus foresaw these events clearly:

“Many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,” (Matthew 24:11-12)

We live in a world that is governed by pretty strict rules of causality, set up by the Father to enable us to function in a predictable manner. I rather doubt those intellectual prophetic ‘brains’ have thought of the logical outcome of the course they are steering in trying to nullify absolute truth.

If they were to plant cannabis seeds and come up with a crop of marigolds, they might be somewhat put out: even more so if their own offspring turned out to be a bunch of jackal whelps.

They cannot have it both ways. Either there is an identifiable absolute truth, or else all is chaos. Jesus’ words and sayings throughout the New Testament are consistent with the importance of understanding this truth – and His behavior throughout His life was an impeccable testimony to His words.

Patricia

Digital typography.  For further details, click on the image.

Practice Of The Presence 2

Brother Lawrence’s book ‘The Practice Of The Presence Of God’ hasn’t arrived in the mail yet, so I’ll continue with some thoughts that came to me since my last posting.

One of the biggest problems we all have to deal with is a little appendage lurking in our dark corners called ‘the ego‘.

In some people, the action of the ego is very clear to see: self-importance, megalomania, ‘me, me, me’, hunger for acquisitions, fame, power, influence, and more. People laced with a heavy dose of this curse may be easy to identify, because they usually make a big showing on the world stage.

What about the rest of us? “I’m not like that,” we may think.   But whoa!   Make no mistake, deep in the salt mines of our souls this worm is at work continually, coloring and shaping our thoughts and attitudes on anything and everything.

Jesus said , “Take up your cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23)

I don’t believe He was referring to the stresses and strains of worldly life in work and relationships – that is all periphery. The issue goes deeper than that.

Paul gives us a clue in 1 Corinthians 51:33 when he says, “I die daily.” Clearly, he doesn’t mean physical death. What does he mean then?

In 2 Corinthians 10:5 we get another clue : “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  What has to die is the ego.

Now this is deep stuff. It’s all very well to have a head knowledge of these scriptures, but it’s something else to take them on board in your life and your heart. Paul is NOT talking about demolishing other people’s false beliefs (I’ve seen that argument put forward by clerics),   He is talking about our own ‘pretensions’, in other words, the thoughts and attitudes sown into our souls by the action of the enemy, through our egos.

In my last post I confessed about being dissatisfied with my effectiveness as a Christian. In truth, the dissatisfaction arose from comparing myself to others, to those who have done and are doing great things for the Lord: a comparison brought about by my ego. There’s no good in denying it. Deep down we all want to be something special, to have satisfaction and recognition for what we’ve done, not only on earth but in heaven also.

Jesus warned against seeking the approval of other men at Matthew 6:1-6. Put bluntly, if you act with the intention of gaining men’s approval here on earth, that’s it – no approval will be forthcoming from God.   You got what you wanted.

But what about comparing the Father’s rewards and the extent of His approval as between ourselves and others?

Jesus tackled this issue head on in His parable of the workers in Matthew 20:1-16.   He describes a vineyard owner hiring workers throughout the day to complete work in his vineyard. At the end of the day, the workers who had worked all day were incensed when they saw those hired later getting the same pay as they got, even though they themselves were getting their agreed wage.

In the parable the land owner answers one of them, “I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous? So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matt 30:13-16)

Here we have it – the Father does not look at man’s criteria when deciding who and how to reward.   He doesn’t have to!   Those who kick up a fuss and claim their entitlement is greater than others’ will find themselves at the end of the queue.

Patricia

PS:   A denarius was a good wage – it was the normal daily wage of a Roman soldier on active service.

Denarius coin of Augustus Caesar, emperor of Rome at the time of Jesus’ birth.  Note the word “Divus” (god) on the reverse side: the introduction of emperor worship was facilitated by the gratitude most colonies felt for Pax Romana, the ‘Roman Peace’, brought about by Augustus after centuries of warring in the Mediterranean countries.  For most colonies, this was nothing more than the addition of a further god to the array of gods they already had. For the Jews, of course, it was anathema.  Rome was wise enough not to press the issue at this stage, but no doubt the coinage was a constant irritant to the Jews.

Practice Of The Presence

This last few months I’ve had much time for thought. I’ve been less active physically due to my eye problem, though I’ve still managed to produce artwork, thank goodness.

It goes without saying that a spell of introspection does us all good. But introspection can be a painful activity, often productive of self-doubt and self-criticism: not a good state to be in.

This is how I’ve felt lately with regard to my Christian walk.

Questions flood the mind: “What are you doing that’s of use to the Lord?   Why, you’re not even in the marketplace, not even in close contact with many people.   What good is this life you’re living?”  That’s how the enemy works.  The results are the sins of doubt and unbelief.

I’ve been on the backside of the desert one way and another for more than 12 years, battling this type of mindset.  Now the war intensified….

So I cried out to Him for help – and sure enough it came, in a form something like a door being kicked open.   Praise the Lord  – a complete change of mindset?   It’s interesting how this came about.

Way back in a former life, I was a student of Classics at the University of Auckland, studying Latin and Ancient Greek with a much-loved Head of Department, Prof E M Blaiklock.

A brilliant writer, scholar and lecturer, he inspired us all. His writings and translations live on, and not only in the world of classics. For 40 years he wrote without fail a weekly column published in The New Zealand Herald and the Weekly News  under the pen name ‘Grammaticus‘.   A quick glance at his entry on Wikipedia gives some idea of the vastness of his other written work.

I’ve recently re-read his ‘The Century Of The New Testament – maybe the first time in all the years I’ve had the book that I read it right through.  It is a great exposition of the history of the Mediterranean world leading up to the century from the birth of Christ to the death of His longest-lived apostle John.  This book is written from the strict perspective of a historian, and it is fascinating.   The author’s deep knowledge of his subject-matter – the Middle East, Greece, Rome – stands out: it’s like being back in lectures again.

Searching Blaiklock’s name on Trade Me, I bought another of his books: ‘The Acts Of The Apostles‘ – more of a commentary, it demands concurrent reading of the Book of Acts, so I’m working on that.

Recently though, my standing search on Blaiklock’s name brought up something else – ‘The Practice Of The Presence Of God‘ by Brother Lawrence, translated by E M Blaiklock – no doubt from the Latin.   I’d never heard of it, but a light flashed on in my head – “You need this book!”  Okay, okay…

Quick research revealed that Brother Lawrence was a humble 17th century lay monk in a monastery near Paris.  His daily work was lowly – labor in the monastery kitchen and mending sandals for his fellow monks. Nevertheless, his teachings became sought after.  Collected after his death by Abbe de Beaufort, envoy of the Cardinal of Noailles, they have gained an enormous worldwide reputation and influence, and multiple editions and translations of the work.

I snapped the book up.   It is still in the mail.

More quick research soon revealed an enormous wealth of commentary and quotation of Brother Lawrence on the Internet.   For those who cannot get the physical book, there is probably no need, because the volume of quotes and reference to Brother Lawrence’s work on the net is so vast.

Next post, I will talk about what this monk and his writings have to offer for us all.

Patricia

Tribe Of The Lion of Judah – Part 1

In Defence of the Prophets.

But one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.’” (Revelation 5:5)

The title of this post is a deliberate misquote. We all acknowledge that one of the Lord’s titles is ‘The Lion of the Tribe of Judah‘. What I am talking about here is the new tribe that belongs to the Lion of Judah – a tribe of present-day apostles, prophets, priests, teachers, warriors and followers that are being raised up in these times to put on the Full Armor of God and follow the Lion of Judah wherever He may lead them. Note: this word ‘tribe’ is not synonymous with ‘church’ or ‘churches’ – far from it.

Many will argue that this concept is ‘unscriptural’, that apostles and prophets no longer exist. I say to you that ‘scriptural’ is a sliding scale in many people’s hands: but most certainly it is wrong to deny the latest moves of God on this ground. He is the author of scripture. In this age, He is talking directly to His flock, and in some cases using scripture to illustrate and explain what His next moves will be.

Amos 3:7 says, “Surely the Lord God does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.”

When Jesus walked this earth, His message was very simple, and He had no time for the leaders of the church of the day. His message was so discomfiting for them, so alien to their beliefs and their entrenched status, that they killed Him.

The story has not changed. Those who are entrenched in religiosity and doctrinal beliefs are still with us. They are still the biggest detractors from what The Father is doing in the present time, and unfortunately since they are largely represented in the established church, their views tend to ‘carry weight’. They are not killing Jesus, but they most definitely ARE killing His message. We have gone from ‘The Law’ of Jesus’ day to a new kind of ‘legalistic’ bondage.

We hear fairy tales like, “There are no miracles today” … “God no longer speaks through Prophets” … “While miracles may have had their value for the early Christians, they have no value for us, for our experience is different from theirs”   et cetera  ….  et cetera.

So… does God no longer speak? Has He gone silent? What are we to make of the testimonies of people who are hearing from Him today? What are we to make of the plain words Jesus spoke when He walked the earth?

Quite clearly, there are people who are happy to count themselves saved by the Lord, but all they want to do is sit in their ‘saved’ bubble, carry on with life as usual, believe what their pastor tells them to believe and wait for the Lord to call them home. “Don’t talk to me, Jesus – I don’t want to hear.”

That is not what it’s about, people – the Lord is still speaking, and He expects us to listen up, take responsibility and act accordingly. How else are we to be transformed “from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18)?

You will say, “by applying scripture to our lives”. OK – HOLD IT THERE.

If this is true, then what are we to make of the passages in scripture that clearly point beyond the immediate times of Jesus’ life? What are we to make of even the following two examples from the Word:

Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:18-20)

“For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” (Mark 11:23-24)

So – you say, “This was Jesus talking to His disciples and does not apply in the present day.”   Has it not occurred to you that most people subscribe to the application of scripture to our lives so completely that sermons in the present-day church are invariably built around the application of passages of scripture to the lives of the flock? What then are you going to make of the word ‘whoever’ in the above passage – and what are you going to make of this:

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:12-14)

And this:

Behold I am with you always, even to the end of the Age.” Matthew 28:20.

Both of these passages foretell Jesus’ continued connection with His followers, even after His passing from this earth.

Like it or not, God is still speaking. Like it or not, He is in this day raising up apostles and prophets to alert His people to the upcoming moves He is going to make.

Many people waste time taking it upon themselves to second guess Him. How much speculation have you read about when, if and how the rapture will take place (for example)?   How many reams of paper, how many cyber-pages, how many ‘comments’ and forum posts have been taken up with this one issue, when Jesus has already told us that even He does not know the answer to this? (Matthew 24:36) What an exercise in futility! What a waste of time!

It is all further confusion instigated by the enemy to take people’s attention away from the REAL ISSUES of the day.

We need to be preparing to march forth in the Lord’s name and start taking ground for Him and His Kingdom (in our own lives to start with), not wasting time haggling over doctrine.

More to come,

Patricia

I say refuse to doubt and refuse to question yourself in regard to hearing Me. Do not doubt the wisdom I have given you. I want you to go the way that I tell you to go.” (The Father Says Today 20 October 2017)

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