Seven Deadly Sins

  • Seven Deadly Sins

The Seven Deadly Sins are usually known as pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth, and this morning’s sermon made the interesting point that without the desire actuating these sins we would be in a very odd state. Consider a root element of pride; the desire to improve or better oneself.  Without that basic motivation we would never learn anything about the world we live in;we would be blind to the opportunity of education, of learning, of any form of self improvement.  Likewise with greed, we would lack any form of savings or provision for a “rainy day” without the spark of acquisitiveness generated by our fundamental desire to acquire.  Work your way through the list and you will quickly find that the root element in each of the deadly sins is a basic building block of both  our character and ultimate worth as a person.

  • Sloth As A Virtue

    Sloth
    Sloth

Given the definition of sloth as an habitual disinclination to exertion; then without the balance provided by a little sloth, we would very soon overload under the pressure of today’s work intensive environment.  Do you see the pattern emerging here?  We need to moderate the underlying need or desire that constitutes the seven deadly sins and use the basic motivation provided by each “sin” as a building block to create our lives in a balanced and sane manner. It is not the fundamental desire that is wrong, but any excess of it.

  • Moderation

Surely the key to this situation is moderation? The good book teaches us in the King James version of Philippians 4:5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Without the simple desire to eat we waste away into an anorexic condition; but taken in excess we descend to sheer gluttony; so the moderated desire of eating enough and no more shows the virtue of moderation, and avoids the deadly sin of sloth as with all the other seven deadly sins.

God is Faithful

  • God is Faithful

    First Fruit
    First Fruit

We believe God is Faithful; because He honors His promises. When we are obedient to Him, he honors His promises to us.  was amazed when I first read the passage in Malachi 3 where the prophet (God) explains about tithing – You can read it and see that God states that if we honor our obligation to give Him the first fruit of our labour, He will open the windows of heaven and send us more blessing than we can use.

  • We Are Obedient

I am here today to testify that in the three decades my wife and I  have been tithing our income, we have never been short of money for our needs, and we have been blessed beyond expectation. We have never skipped a tithe, and God has never failed in His provision.  When we are obedient, God is faithful!

  • Malachi 3: The Payment of Tithes (Good News Bible)

6 “I am the Lord, and I do not change. And so you, the descendants of Jacob, are not yet completely lost. 7 You, like your ancestors before you, have turned away from my laws and have not kept them. Turn back to me, and I will turn to you. But you ask, ‘What must we do to turn back to you?’ 8 I ask you, is it right for a person to cheat God? Of course not, yet you are cheating me. ‘How?’ you ask. In the matter of tithes and offerings. 9 A curse is on all of you because the whole nation is cheating me. 10 Bring the full amount of your tithes** to the Temple, so that there will be plenty of food there. Put me to the test and you will see that I will open the windows of heaven and pour out on you in abundance all kinds of good things. 11 I will not let insects destroy your crops, and your grapevines will be loaded with grapes. 12 Then the people of all nations will call you happy, because your land will be a good place to live.

**Tithe = 10%.

Noah’s Ark

  • Time For a New Ark?

    Noahs Ark
    Noah’s Ark

Is it time for a new Ark?  You may remember in In the story of Noah; “The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the LORD said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created!”.  And God worked on with Noah and created the Ark with its cargo and the consequent FLOOD as a means of purifying the world..

  • Escalating Horror

This ancient story underlines for me the escalating wickedness and horror of today – we live in daily expectation of suicide bombers, terror actions, school yard or other hostage atrocities, and the list just goes on and on to the point where horror is  the normal nightly news diet.  It seems rare that there is an evening where there is no report of sexual depravity, political chicanery, or simple neighborly violence to nourish the insatiable appetites of  the news machine .

  • God’s Love Outworking

We need to focus on the positives of God’s love outworking in our community and in our interactions.  It is very easy to get depressed about the negatives and react accordingly, instead of seeing the positives of love in action. We greet a “telephone scammer” with hostility instead of forbearance; we offer a rude gesture to a traffic violator instead of a blessing; and irritation, rather than friendly calm, to the overworked sales person in the shop.  It is really easy to become part of the “violence” problem instead of offering positive reactions to reinforce our God given and freely imparted LOVE.  Today’s sermon focused on the “Two Great Commandments**“; and SO should we!

** Mark 12:30-31 NIV : Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

 

The New Covenant

  • The New Covenant

    Living Under Law
    Living Under Law

Jeremiah was a gloomy prophet who lived between 600 and 500BC. We are very indebted to him for telling about the advent and work of the Holy Spirit that would take place when Jesus was raised from the dead.  He said; “This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” This New Covenant is generally understood to govern  the change that happens to a person when they take Jesus into their lives, their sins are forgiven, and they are born again.  Instead of staggering under the law of the ten commandments, plus the hundreds of other Mosaic laws that governed the Jews, they would be ruled by the Holy Spirit, working in their lives from within.

  • New Commandment

Taken in conjunction with the “New Commandment” (that we love one another ); this becomes a major change in the way we perceive God –  instead of quaking in condemnation under the weight of all those social and moral laws, we instead live in love and obedience, under the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit.  When the religious leaders questioned Jesus about the law, He replied; “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and the most important commandment. 39 The second most important commandment is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ 40 The whole Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matt 22:37-40)

  • Ten Commandments Redundant

The consequences of this change are immense.  We no longer spend our lives trying to be good and living under law; but instead live a positive life of doing good.  Note the difference, not trying to BE GOOD, but DOING GOOD!  If you really love your neighbour, you don’t need commandments to “not covet his ass”, or to “not rob” him.  The old commandments become redundant in the light of the new commandment to Love your neighbour.  It is very significant to me that this paradigm shift in how we perceive God’s Kingdom is actually  a complete change from slavish reactive obedience to the law; to the proactive life of reaching out in love to all we meet. As we take that new commandment literally, we are too busy loving and being loved to get into trouble with the ten commandments. We do not need commandments when we are inspired by the Holy Spirit of God, and the fruit of the spirit** grows within us.

** Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Meaning of Born Again

  • Meaning of Born Again

    Born Again
    Born Again

The NIV of the Bible declares because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions . We are made alive; reborn; or born again when we take Christ into our lives.  He is the spark that enables us to live a victorious life in Him. We transcend the life of sin that seems to be the “norm” for us; and instead start to live in Love, Joy, Peace, and so on.

  • Born Again Baptism.

In baptism we learn that we are to die to our old life of sin when we symbolically submerge in the water, and are born again to a new life in Christ when we emerge again. The text we are studying here states that we are “dead” (in sin), then “made alive” (with Christ).

  • Living under Law.

In his writing to the “Romans” the Apostle Paul explains that it is implicit that because we live in sin, we also live under law.  The two go together like night and day and black and white. A lot of the old testament is about sin, breaking the law, and punishment, but the “New” testament is all about living in love with Christ, under the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.  It is not about laws and punishment, but about doing good and loving one another. (Romans 6 – NIV “Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ

  • Living in Love.

If you read the new testament of the Bible you will find that love is the recurrent theme; that it is mentioned all the time and that it is the perfect motivation for all human interaction. Jesus said;  (John 13:34-35-NIV;
 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Consider these “fruits of the Spirit” that grow in us after we are “Born Again” – love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control –  these all grow as we react together in love.

  • Born Again

So we go from Living in sin (transgression) to living in love with Christ. From dead in sin to alive in Christ and living a life of love; alive in Christ. We go from being dead in transgressions to being alive with Christ.

Psalm 23

  • Psalm 23
  • Christopher Robins wrote this comment in a recent post – “To get to the Kingdom of heaven is so simple ,first you have to find the code ‘secondly you have to interpret the code. The code is said and sung most days, but have you the faith in GOD to carry on. The code is The 23rd psalm”  

    To Lie Down In Green Pastures
    He Makes Me To Lie Down In Green Pastures
  • I didn’t understand what he meant until I found this on a Facebook page –

The Lord is my Shepherd,
That’s Relationship!
I shall not be in want.
That’s Supply!
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
That’s Rest!
He leads me beside quiet waters,
That’s Refreshment!
He restores my soul.
That’s Healing!
He guides me in the paths of righteousness,
That’s Guidance!
For His name’s sake.
That’s Purpose!
Even though I walk through the valley of the
shadow of death,
The world can be like that!
I will fear no evil,
That’s Protection!
For you are with me,
That’s Faithfulness!
Your rod and your staff they comfort me.
That’s Protection!
You prepare a table before me in the presence
of my enemies.
That’s Hope!
You anoint my head with oil,
That’s Consecration!
My cup overflows.
That’s Abundance!
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
That’s blessing!
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
That’s eternity!

  • Thank you Christopher Robins for your comment, and the illumination it has brought.

 

What is a Miracle?

  • What is a Miracle?

    A Miracle
    What is a Miracle?

What is a Miracle is the question raised by a recent comment. In my terms, a miracle occurs when God intervenes in any otherwise natural circumstance. – in other words – when He does something that wouldn’t naturally happen. I like to think that a miracle is God’s response to faith in action.  I.E., We have some human need, we hold out our hand to God and He responds. Viola – a miracle happens.

  • How big is a miracle?

When I had life-saving lung surgery for cancer many years ago, I had no hesitation in calling the result a miracle.  I went into surgery with no fear, joking with the surgery staff, and came out with no pain, and a very smooth recovery.  The anesthetist came and sat on my bed after to tell me he had never had an easier intubation – I told him, “of course you didn’t doctor, there was a whole church full of people praying for this op.”  It is easy to classify such events as miraculous and to think of miracles as wonderful and momentous; but what about the little things?  When we find the empty park in a crowded street right outside the shop we need; when the rain stops just when we have to go out; when life flows so smoothly for us we feel blessed; are these blessings not miraculous in nature?

  • Little miracles.

Psalm 1 states, “blessed is the man who meditates on my word day and night”; and that “everything that he does will be blessed”.  I can testify to the truth of that.  Our lives have been wonderfully smooth and blessed since we gave God control. So it is plain to me that all these little blessed things in our lives are God-given, and therefore are a never ending stream of little miracles.

  • The Miracle of Baptism

Taivesi Duanitutu states that the baptism of Jesus is not a miracle.  I don’t understand the comment, because for me, baptism involves some divine intervention.  When the Spirit of God landed on me, and when my mind was filled with blinding light and with joyful words of wisdom and illumination; I was born again and  in no doubt that God was present. For me the size of the event was major, but for others it may be or was minor, but whatever the size, it is miraculous because God is present and involved. The element of baptism and the miracle of being born again are not necessarily synchronous, they may be separate in time, but they are one in fact.

  • Reach Out In Faith

The worldly view of a miracle is that event which can only be described by divine intervention.  My view is that it is better described as a transaction between believers and God, where the believer reaches out in faith, and God responds in love. We have some human need, and God supplies that need in some manner.  It is more impressive when the result is dramatic, but however the result is delivered it should be described as miraculous, and answering the question; “What is a Miracle?”

Scriptural Balance

  • Scriptural Balance

    Scriptural-Balance
    Scriptural-Balance

We must have scriptural balance – There are a thousand texts that can be made to mean whatever we suppose if we take them out of context. We pray about a passage and look for the central meaning, but to understand each part of the reading we must look at the whole. Example – Paul speaks about behavior and says (1 Corinthians 11:5-15) that “Women must wear hats”.  This is not to say that women must wear hats at all times, so much as to say that women and men should be careful to conform to the social norms of the day. You could extract a “cast iron” rule about hats from this passage, or you could look for the inner meaning and get a valuable insight.  Look for the whole meaning.

  • Balanced Perception

On the previous Sunday our speaker shared about the first “Beatitude”, and what it really means to be humble. Then last Sunday, the lesson was about  self esteem – How we are to take a sober look at ourselves and see ourselves as God sees us.  There is a lovely scriptural balance here in the examining of both sides of one aspect of self perception.  We were blessed that both speakers are led by the Spirit of God.

  • Confirmation

Another aspect of this scriptural balance is that we ought always to seek various forms of proof for what we believe: It is not enough to have a “Peace” about something we believe, we should also look for confirmation in scripture and in the wisdom of our brothers and sisters. All the proofs must agree and be in scriptural balance.  If it isn’t scriptural, or if your spiritual brethren do not agree, then it is unlikely to be the right will of God. God does not contradict himself, so if you believe the Spirit is telling you something, then the other “Proofs” must follow, if it is true.

Bible Anomalies

 

I want to challenge you, Dear Reader, with this statement, that there ARE NO

Bible-Anomolies
Bible-Anomolies

Bible anomalies when you read the Bible with the help of the Holy Spirit.  At the last supper Jesus promised that the “Holy Spirit would come and lead you into all truth”.   I do not remember ever meeting any spirit filled person who was bothered about Bible contradictions.  If we read His word in a prayerful and contemplative way, then the truth will be made plain to us.

  • Witness Statements

Any two people, describing the same event, will use different language, and will colour the event with their own interpretation, and this is quite evident in the various Bible records of history.  The fact that the description detail is different from witness to witness does not mean the event didn’t happen.  We need to always look at the underlying story that is being told, and look for the relevance of that story to our own life. The story of the loaves and fishes is not about how many people were fed, it is all about Jesus supplying our needs by faith.  Which He does!  That is the enduring truth that we may prayerfully perceive. We need always to seek the underlying truth in every Bible record.

  • Point Of View

If we see two different accounts of the same event, then we can meditate about it, and we will come to fuller understanding of what God is telling us.  In this way, an apparent contradiction will lead to a more rounded illustration of the story.  Think about why one writer was struck by one aspect of the event, and why another Bible author was impressed with a different  truth.  We all perceive things in a different way, according to our experiences and to our understanding. Each person hearing a sermon, will take home a different portion of the message, according to their need.

  •  Interpretation.

We perceive things differently because we always interpret what we see in the light of our own experience and knowledge.  Our understanding can only be based on our personal experience, qualified by what we believe about the world, and our pre-existing beliefs colour what we see.  For example, a person who has never experienced unqualified love, will have difficulty accepting that others are acting without  a personal agenda: They will suspect  self interest as a motive, and interpret motives accordingly.  They will need to come to an understanding of the spiritual disinterest of unqualified love to believe that the motive is NOT self interest.

  • Truth and Reality.

We need to understand that it is quite irrelevant whether Jesus fed 3000 people, or 5000 people, the point is that Jesus performed the miracle of feeding a multitude of people from a tiny quantity of bread and fish.  If we can grasp the concept that our God will provide for our needs, then it doesn’t matter in the least how many people were fed on a given occasion.  We need to open the eyes of our mind when we read God’s word, and let the Holy Spirit of God illuminate our understanding and bless our lives. There ARE NO Bible anomalies when you read the Bible with the help of the Holy Spirit of God.

Baptism – Sprinkling or Immersion

Which is the correct method, sprinkling or immersion? Do You think it is important?

Baptism
Baptism

What happens if we get it wrong? Does God care?  What is important is that you felt it was needful to be baptized.

  • Water Has Two Purposes

The role of water in baptism is dual purpose.  It signifies a washing away of sin , a metaphorical cleansing of our life as we go  forward into a new life in God’s kingdom. As we go down into the water, so too we die to our old sinful life; and as we are lifted out of the water again we are lifted up to a new life in Christ.  The phrase “born again” has a strong meaning here, as we enter into a time of new life, a time of great love and joy and peace.

  • Lack Of Water

In desert places, or in frozen country there may be no practical way to fully immerse a new convert, so the water may be a more symbolic “sprinkle”; rather than a bath.  How much water is used is quite immaterial: What matters is the decision of the person to ask forgiveness for their former sinful life, and their intention to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their saviour. They are consciously renouncing a former life, and resolving to begin a new life. It is the mental and spiritual process that is important.

  • Being Born Again

To be baptised is to begin the process of being born again as a Christian.  This may be almost instantaneous, an event where the person emerges from the water fully fledged as a new convert; perhaps even speaking in tongues or manifesting other spiritual behaviour; Or it may simply mark the start of a spiritual growth that will continue over weeks or even years, as the person lowers barriers, and lets God have access to every part of their life.

  • Properly Baptised Or Not?

If you feel that you were baptised, and if you believe your sins are forgiven, and if you claim Jesus as your Saviour, then you are baptised, regardless of the method used.  I was baptised(sprinkled) as a baby, and it didn’t feel right to me when I grew up, so I went through the water of baptism and made my vows to God in an adult baptism.