The Word Became Flesh / John the Baptist Denies being the Christ: April 29th 2021

Joshua 15:1-16:10

The captured areas of the promised land were allotted to the tribes of Israel. Some of the land had very evocative names: ‘The Salt Sea, crossed south of the Scorpion Pass’ (v.2).

Caleb drove out three Anakites (giants) from Hebron named Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai (v.14). Caleb was very assertive when he claimed Hebron as his inheritance. He had seen the area forty-five years ago and had made Moses promise to give the territory to him. He had dreamed about it ever since. We need to have a Caleb-like attitude to our faith. We have all been told about what Jesus did for us on the cross, so we need to grab from him the gift of eternal life through our faith in him. We have been told about the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit so let us grab all of them / snatching them in the name of Jesus. There are sufficient gifts for all – Jesus will multiple the gifts so there will be hampers left of them after everyone is satisfied. We won’t be depriving anyone else. When it comes to receiving the gifts of God, we need to take action, we don’t want to be meek and mild.

The tribe of Judah were allocated dozens of towns and villages as their inheritance. However, they ‘could not dislodge the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem’ (v.63). So even their future capital city could not be cleansed from people who worshipped demonic entities. The Jebusites lived there with the people of Judah. It was going to prove impossible for the Israelites not to be influenced by their new neighbours. Several important Biblical characters: Zadok the Priest, Nathan the Prophet and Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon were Jebusites. King David committed adultery with Bathsheba and conspired for her husband to be killed. Having a Canaanite tribe living with the Israelites opened them up to so many temptations that even their God-fearing King succumbed.

The same thing happened to the other tribes. The tribe of Ephraim, descendants of Joseph, was not able to dislodge the Canaanites living in Gezar (v.10). The Canaanites continued to live among them but were ‘required to do forced labour’ (v.10).

John 1:1-28

Jesus existed as God, the second person of the Trinity, from the beginning of all time. He created the earth and everything on it: ‘Through him all things were made’ (v.3). He is our life and our light that shines in the darkness. People who choose to live in darkness still do not understand him.

The world does not recognises its creator (v.10). Even famous naturalists today, like Sir David Attenborough, have totally failed to recognise or acknowledge the creator despite being blessed with an extraordinary life and privileged access to the wonders of the natural world.

If we choose to receive him, he gives us the right to become children of God (v.12).

Jesus became flesh and lived among us. He lived a life full of grace and truth (v.14). The law was given through Moses but Jesus is the new Moses, the ultimate representative of God being truly God himself, to reveal the nature of the Father to us. He revealed truth to us.

Nicky Gumbel (p.249) writes: ‘The purpose of John’s gospel is to lead you into an experience of communion with God through friendship with Jesus. John wrote that: ‘No-one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only (Jesus), who is at the Father’s side, has made him known’. Exodus states that: ‘The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend (Exod. 33:11). This means that it must have been Jesus meeting with Moses in the tent of the meeting, who made Moses’ face shine with light. Jesus wants to be our best friend, to meet with us, empower us with the gifts of the Holy Spirit to do his work and lead us into everlasting communion with our heavenly Father. It is wonderful to have a friend who is always with him. Without the constant presence of Jesus we would literally fall apart: ‘He is before all things, and in him all things hold together’ (Colossians 1:17).

If we refuse to acknowledge Jesus, we are hiding from the truth. Demons are liars and refuse to acknowledge the truth except when they are compelled to in the name of Jesus. When they are expelled by the solemn Rite of Exorcism, it’s as if the truth of the resurrection of Christ is poured down their throats (https://spiritualdirection.com/2021/04/27/exorcist-diary-we-won-he-didnt-rise).

John the Baptist issued in the new age of truth by freely confessing, ‘I am not the Christ’ (v.20). He prepared the way for Jesus by baptising people for the repentance of sins (Matthew 3:11). Repentance and confession are fabulous but many people do not ‘feel any different’ after confessing their sins. If they have made a sincere confession, they will have had God’s priceless forgiveness and received his grace. However, many people soon commit the same selection of sins again and months later find themselves confessing in exactly the same way. Jesus came to baptise us with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matthew 3:11). The Holy Spirit will build us up / edify us and strengthen us so that our old sinful habits lose their attraction. We won’t feel like turning to drink or having illicit sex. Our interior person will be stronger. Once baptized, we simply need to pray to the Holy Spirit to come powerfully into our life and activate his gifts within us. The longer we pray in the spirit / pray in tongues each day, the more we will be strengthened and led away from sin. Resisting sin by ourselves is virtually impossible. When we hand over our prayer life to God, we will receive supernatural strength.

Psalm 53:1-6

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God”. Rejecting God is the most foolish and illogical thing that anyone could ever do. Many people buy lottery tickets despite there being an infinitesimal chance of winning a substantial sum. There is no logic or sense to buying one. However, many of the same people don’t take a chance on Jesus being the universal saviour. Even if there were a one in a million chance of spending everlasting life in heaven, should Christians actually be telling the truth, rather than everlasting torture in hell then we all should take a chance and believe. In the worst case scenario, we would spend our life being generous and nice to people before degrading into compost. If the gospel is true and thousands of martyrs have died to demonstrate that it is, we would become children of God and rise to life everlasting.

Most of our society is corrupt and vile ways are acceptable to our secular society – as long at ‘they don’t hurt anybody else’. However, all sin hurts everybody else. There is no such thing as a private sin. We are all sinners and deserve death but through believing in Jesus we can become sinless in the eyes of God, because of the perfect righteousness of Jesus. We can commune with God through being friends with Jesus.

When God looks down from heaven, let us stand up and be counted as people who seek God.

Image: By Anton Raphael Mengs – 1. ngHjvgNHHmV4zA at Google Cultural Institute, zoom level maximum2. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, online collection, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=78613515

The Ascension Of Christ: April 28th 2021

Joshua 13:1-14:15

Joshua was now incredibly old. He had wandered around in the desert for forty years under Moses’ leadership before he was finally allowed to lead the Israelites into the promised land. God pointed out that there were still large areas of land to be taken over (v.1). The Israelites had not yet faced one of their toughest adversaries – the Philistines. God said that he himself would drive out another tribe, the Sidonians (v.6) on behalf of the Israelites.

The captured land was all fairly divided among the tribes of Israel. The Levites, from whom the priests came, did not receive an allocation of farmland to pass down their generations. God was their inheritance (v.32). They were given ‘towns to live in, with pasture-lands for their flocks and herds’ (14:4).

Caleb had been one of the original twelve spies forty-five years ago sent into the promised land and had set his heart on living in Hebron. Moses had sworn to Caleb that this area would be his inheritance. It is wonderful that Caleb, at the age of eighty-five, still had his middle-aged ambition to conquer Hebron and he had kept his mind and body fit to achieve his dream: ‘I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then’ (v.11). Even though it was populated by giants, the Anakites, living in large and fortified cities he was confident that with the Lord helping him: ‘I will drive them out just as he said’ (v.12). He demanded that his inheritance should be delivered to him: ‘Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day’ (v.12). This shows we should never give up chasing our Godly dreams. With God’s help, we can do anything. We can finish our lives still full of character and strength and power. We should never retire from the work of God. There is always more territory to wrestle from the enemy. With God on our side, who can stand against us?

Joshua was true to Moses’ word. He blessed Caleb and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. Caleb had been a tremendously faithful assistant to both Moses and Joshua. With a small army of Calebs, imagine what good we could do in the world. Hebron has belonged to his descendants ever since ‘because he followed the Lord, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly’ (v.14). It is no good being wishy-washy lukewarm followers of the Lord. God wants dynamic, wholehearted followers who always put his righteous ways at the top of their agenda.

Luke 24:36-53

Jesus appeared to his disciples and said, ‘Peace be with you’ (v.36). We can only find true peace when we know that Jesus is present in our heart as our Lord and guide.

The disciples were able to physically touch Jesus. He was fully alive even though he could mysteriously appear and disappear and still bore the marks of his crucifixion. He had flesh and bones and ate ‘a piece of broiled fish’ (v.42). Interestingly, Jesus said: ‘A ghost does not have flesh and bones’. He did not say, ‘There is no such thing as ghosts’. So we have Jesus himself confirming what humans have long experienced. Spirits of deceased people can occasionally haunt people and locations. Not only are there ghosts, Fortea (p.89) states that ‘the souls of the condemned can possess someone in exactly the same way as a demon’. They insist that they are deceased human beings even when commanded, in the name of Jesus, to tell the truth.

Jesus confirmed that he was written about in the Old Testament in ‘the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms’ (v.44). He opened the minds of the disciples so that ‘they could understand the scriptures’ (v.45). Every day, we should pray to God, before our Bible study, for him to open our minds and teach us the deeper meaning of the Word of God.

The disciples must preach repentance and forgiveness of sins in his name to all nations, starting in Jerusalem (v.47). They were instructed to stay in the city until they received the Holy Spirit: ‘until you have been clothed with power from on high (v.49). Once we have been baptized and have prayed for the Holy Spirit to give us a full measure of all of his gifts, pressed down, shaken and overflowing in our lives, we can demonstrate this same power from on high.

Jesus ascended into heaven near Bethany. He was taken up into heaven while he was blessing his disciples. ‘They worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy’ (v.52). The disciples obediently remained in the city, praising God continually at the temple. They had witnessed awesome sites and soon it would be time for them to be empowered to spread the gospel to the rest of the world, willingly suffering persecution and death to share the message of salvation with us all.

Psalm 52:1-9

It is not wise to boast of evil. We should guard what comes out of our mouths: ‘Is it kind, is it true, is it necessary?’ Boasting is not necessary. We should give God all the glory for the great things he has done in our life.

Our tongue is the most powerful organ in our body and can be used for good or deceitful evil, ‘Your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor’ (v.2).

Many people these days ‘love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth’ (v.3).

God will bring deceitful, wealthy boasters to ruin, particularly those who grow strong at the expense of others.

If we trust in God’s unfailing love, we will flourish like a fruitful olive tree. Instead of boasting of ‘our own’ achievements, we should praise God ‘for ever for what you have done’ (v.9). We place our hope in the very good name of Jesus; the name that is above all other names. I praise Jesus, in the presence of his saints, for his life, teaching, death and resurrection. Thanks be to God.

Image: Sharon Mollerus, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Resurrection / The Road to Emmaus: April 27th 2021

Joshua 11:1-12:24

All the Northern kings came together to fight the invading Israelites. They joined forces at Merom (v.5).

God told Joshua not to be afraid because, by the next day, they would all be handed over to Israel, slain (v.6). Joshua was instructed to burn their chariots and hamstring their horses after their defeat. This meant cutting the large tendon on the back of the horses’ knees, which made them unusable for warfare. Sounds horrible but this is a fight for survival. This may have been a test from God because horses and chariots would have been very useful when invading the promised land. Perhaps, the Israelites had no experience of chariot warfare or God still wanted them to walk into battle, completely dependent on him.

Joshua obeyed God completely and none of his enemies survived. ‘He hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots’ (v.9). God hardened the hearts of the enemies of Israel to keep waging war against Israel so that they might be eliminated completely (v.20). Only the sneaky Gibeonites had managed to make a peace treaty through their subterfuge. Joshua wiped out the enemies of God as Jesus wiped out the demons that he encountered. Both sets of enemies would have quaked at their names. Joshua means exactly the same as the name Jesus: ‘the Lord saves’. Joshua worked with God to conquer all the Israelites’ enemies during the time that he led them. Jesus conquered all of humankind’s past, present and future enemies through his death on the cross.

Joshua destroyed the race of giants from the hill country, the Anakites (v.21). The Anakites were descendants of the mysterious Nephilim. The Nephilim may have been genetically engineered as part of a demonic plan. It has long been debated as to whether demons can have sex with people. Traditionally, a ‘male’ demon, an incubus, develops an obsession with a young woman and oppresses her, visiting her in the night to rape her and jealously attacking any male human who tries to have a relationship with her (see the book of Tobit). Meanwhile, the ‘female’ equivalent, the succubus, visits men at night to have sex with them. Demons can’t create new life / eggs or sperm themselves so what is the point? Many people think this was the first attempt at IVF and that the incubus and succubus are the same creature and can morph from one to another. The ‘female’ succubus harvests sperm from men, the sperm then has it’s DNA manipulated before it is used to inseminate a human woman, by the same demon changing into an incubus. The result is a human woman becoming pregnant with demonically manipulated sperm. The resultant child has strange powers and is loyal to and controlled by the fallen angels. These progeny were of great height and strength – the Nephilim. This is why God wanted them wiped out as they were demon-worshipping abominations. They were present both before and after the flood, because the demons simply engineered more of them after the first generation were drowned.

‘Joshua took the whole land’. ‘Then the land had rest from war’ (v.23).

Luke 24:1-35

The women visited the tomb on the first day of the week (our Sunday) to anoint Jesus’ body. This is why Christians rest and worship on Sunday (and not on the Old Testament Sabbath / Saturday). The stone was rolled away from the tomb and the body had gone. Two angels ‘in clothes that gleamed like lightning’ (v.4) reminded the shocked women that Jesus had said he would rise on the third day.

‘Why do you look for the living among the dead?’ (v.5). Jesus had achieved the greatest ever victory over the devil when his death on the cross wiped out our sin, making us righteous before God and opening the gates of heaven so we may have eternal life. Now, through the power of the Holy Spirit, he had been raised from the dead and death had been defeated forever.

The apostles did not believe them. Not because they were women but ‘because their words seemed to them like nonsense’ (v.11). Here we can clearly see that James is not Jesus’s actual brother. Mary, the mother of James in verse 10 is ‘Mary of Clopas’. Mary was an extremely common name. Mary, the Mother of Jesus / God, remained a virgin for her entire life. She had been dedicated to the temple as a vocational virgin at a very young age. Being a virgin was her job.

It was wonderful that Peter, the human leader of the church, should be so excited by the women’s reports that he alone got up and ran to the tomb (v.12). He saw the strips of linen lying by themselves – which may, according to legend, be still with us today as the Turin shroud. Jesus’ image was burnt onto them by intense UV as he was resurrected by the power of the Holy Spirit. ‘The only known explanation for the formation of the image is an intense burst of vacuum ultraviolet radiation (equivalent to the output of 14,000 excimer lasers) emitted from every three-dimensional point of the body in the Shroud’ https://www.simplycatholic.com/shroud-of-turin-evidence-of-jesus-resurrection/.

Jesus joined two disciples on the road to Emmaus but ‘they were kept from recognising him’ (v.16). God can prevent people from recognising Jesus and his works and he can also harden people’s hearts so they choose not to come to him. This is a mystery. If we have not been given the gift of faith we should pray to receive it after first making a decision to ‘believe’ the gospel. Belief comes first and then we tell people about it – stepping out in faith. Then our faith will grow. ‘Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.’ The spirit of unbelief is rife at the moment. Look at how people have denied Covid. We should bind this spirit, in the name of Jesus, and pray that our ugly, hardened, unbelieving heart can transfigure into a beautiful, childlike, trusting one. ‘Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me’ (Psalm 51:10).

The two disciples were treated to the greatest scripture lesson of all time as Jesus, ‘explained to them what was said in all the scriptures concerning himself’ (v.27). It caused their hearts to burn within them as he ‘opened the scriptures to them’ (v.32). We should get just as excited at reading our Bibles on a daily basis as the word of God cuts into our life like a double-edged sword. I got so excited recently when I realised that Jesus himself frequently appeared in the Old Testament (these appearances are called Christophanies). Jesus not only created Adam and Eve in his image, giving them life by breathing into Adam’s nostrils, he loved to spend time with them and walk with them in the cool of the evening. He lovingly clothed them with garments of skin after their fall. The first animals to die in Eden had to shed their blood to cover man’s sins. Now, with his own death, Jesus restored Adam and Eve back to their right relationship with God by washing away their sin with his precious blood.

The Emmaus disciples still did not recognise Jesus until ‘he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them’ (v.30). They got up and rushed back to tell the disciples. When we celebrate the Holy Eucharist, we encounter Jesus in the breaking of bread. We should rush to tell others when we have finally recognised Jesus and our eyes have been opened.

Psalm 51:10-19

This is King David’s penitential prayer after his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah. David was truly penitent for this terrible sins. He acknowledged his iniquity and so still qualified as a man who pleased God. We too can be forgiven, no matter what sins we have committed, if we humbly renounce them and repent.

We should pray that God should purify our heart and renew our spirit (v.10). By praying in tongues on a daily basis, the Holy Spirit will edify us. He will build us up, strengthen us and make us steadfast (resolutely firm and unwavering).

It would be disastrous if God were to cast us from our presence or take his Holy Spirit from us. God can restore to us the joy of his salvation and will sustain us, through our willing spirit (v.12). When we visit a Pentecostal church we can witness to the joy of salvation. It is fitting for us to praise God joyfully ever day of our lives.

In return for all that God has done for us, we need to teach people who do not yet know him his ways. Sinners will turn back to him (v.13). Our songs will sing of his righteousness because Jesus bought our salvation, he paid for our guilt, through the sacrifice of his perfect and holy blood.

When we pray in the Spirit, we can more effectively declare our praise for God. God is close to the broken hearted. He sometimes lets our spirit become broken, humble and contrite so that we will turn to him and become stronger and more effective at being his witnesses throughout society. God works for the good for all that love him.

Image: National Library of Wales, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Parable of the Rich Fool: April 8th 2021

Deuteronomy 9:1-10:22

The Lord was going to fight for the Israelites against the formidably tall Anakites. However, this was not because of the righteousness of the Israelites; it was because their enemies were wickedly evil. Similarly, Jesus did not die for us because of any righteousness on our behalf for we are also ‘a stiff-necked, disobedient people’ (v.6). Jesus died to destroy the works of the devil. He died to conquer the wicked kingdom that had taken up residence in the world. Jesus died for us while we were still sinners and gave us righteousness by his death on the cross. He redeemed us with the sacrifice of his perfect blood.

Moses recalled how the Lord wanted to destroy the Israelites after they had made an idol to worship – the Golden Calf. He had left them for forty days and forty nights while he received the two tablets on which were written the Ten Commandments, ‘inscribed with the finger of God’ (v.10). Moses went through real physical hardships. He hadn’t eaten bread or drunk water for forty days before he was horrified by the idol worship of the Israelites. He immediately started another fast. He didn’t eat or drink anything for eighty days, forty of which were spent prostrated before the Lord. He must have been supernaturally sustained by the presence of God. Moses gives a great example of the benefit of fasting. By fasting for so long, he persuaded God not to kill his brother, Aaron, and the rest of the Israelite nation. If we want God to answer a specific prayer, fasting is a tried and tested way of bringing us closer to God. It is hugely beneficial to fast just one day a week – just drinking water. Consult with a doctor beforehand if you have any underlying medical conditions. Fasting regularly for 24-36 hours also sharpens our minds, brings us closer to suffering people in the world and delivers some real health benefits – normalising our sugar metabolism and fighting off type 2 diabetes.

It must have been heart breaking for Moses to come down from the blazing mountain, full of positivity, hope and faith to find his people had so quickly gone astray. He deliberately smashed the stone tablets that been inscribed by God. He probably didn’t think his fellow Israelites deserved them. The same shock happened to Peter, James and John when they come down the mountain after the Transfiguration. They had briefly experienced the glory of God but, as soon as they got back to society, they are exposed to failure, with the other disciples failing to exorcise a demon (Luke 9:37-40).

Moses gave an example of how to dispose of a cursed object – in this case, the Golden Calf. He crushed it, ground it to powder and threw the dust into a stream (v.21). Exorcists recommend that if we have to dispose of cursed objects, they must be burnt outside (preferably after being sprinkled with holy water) while we pray intently for protection and then the ashes must be thrown into running water.

The Israelites were repeat offenders at making God really angry with them at: Horeb, ‘Taberah, at Massah and at Kibroth Hattaavah’ (v.22). They repeatedly rebelled and didn’t trust or obey God. Moses successfully interceded for them by reminding God of the promises he had made to the patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and pointing out that God’s reputation would be damaged if he killed them all. God listened to Moses. God loves a difficult challenge. It would have been too easy to conquer the Promised Land with an obedient and trusting people. He showed his greatness by helping wicked, stubborn and sinful people to do it.

God wrote the Ten Commandments on a second set of stone tablets to keep in the ark of the covenant. I always thought the Ten Commandments were written on rather dull grey stones with rounded tops. It turns out, according to ancient Jewish tradition, that they were rectangular and written on blue sapphire. Blue is God’s favourite colour. The original sapphire tablets may have been from God’s throne and the second set that Moses chiselled out came from a convenient sapphire mine that God told Moses was under his tent. The writing was engraved through the stones, visible on both sides but miraculously legible right to left on both sides. https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1114513/jewish/What-Did-the-Tablets-Look-Like.htm

The tribe of Levi had been set apart to: ‘carry the ark of the covenant’, to ‘stand before the Lord to minister‘ and to ‘pronounce blessings in his name’ (10:8).

Moses gave us a perfect summary of the nature of God: ‘For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing’ (v.17-18).

We are called on to be hospitable and generous to migrants and refugees. We are encouraged to never neglect orphans and widows and prioritise them over empty religious practices: ‘Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world’ (James 1:27).

Notice that Moses acknowledges that there are other gods and other lords. Ancient peoples did not make up all the demonic entities that they tried to appease with blood sacrifices. There were dozens of demonic minor gods around the world with preternatural powers. However, our Lord God is ruler of all of them as he originally created all the other pretenders to his throne – before they rebelled. God loves everything he created – even the demons. However, they still face justice and have chosen eternal separation from him. God loves them so much He respects their free will to have chosen their own final destiny.

Moses acknowledged that the normal type of circumcision is not producing obedient people who love God. He called on the Israelites to ‘circumcise your hearts‘ and not to be ‘stiff-necked any longer‘. There are billions of stiff-necked unbelievers in the world today, even though God has written his rules on our hearts. We need to pray for him to soften our hearts of stone and make us realise we have a heart of flesh.

God had been good to the Israelites. There were now over two million of them about to enter the promised land ‘as numerous as the stars in the sky’ (v.22), they had prospered and exceedingly multiplied from their seventy forefathers who had gone down into Egypt.

Luke 12:1-34

Jesus was so popular that people in the massive crowd trampled on one another. He warned us against hypocrisy (v.1) and predicted today’s tabloid press that loves to dig up the dirt on celebrities, particularly those that have an ‘holier than thou’ attitude, ‘there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known (V.2).

It is always best to be careful about what we say as the devil will remember our unkind words and use them to prosecute us. The devil can’t read bad thoughts going through our minds – only God can do that – but as soon as we verbalise something, it can be used in evidence against us. Best to vocally praise God as much as we can throughout the day.

Jesus told us to fear God not men, ‘Fear him who, after the killing of the body has power to throw you into hell’ (v.5). Humans are the pride of his creation. He has tattooed our name on the palm of his hand and numbered all the hairs on our head. We are ‘worth more than many sparrows (v.7).

We must always be proud to acknowledge Jesus in front of men (v.8). Jesus gave a very worrying warning about blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. It can never be forgotten. If we count ourselves as a Christian we are in the clear, we haven’t committed this sin. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is defined as ‘final impenitence’: ”blasphemy’ does not properly consist in offending against the Holy Spirit in words; it consists rather in the refusal to accept the salvation which God offers to man through the Holy Spirit, working through the power of the the cross” https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/unforgivable-sin-1164. Demons can never be forgiven, because even though they knew God face to face, they rejected him and persisted in impenitence.

Jesus told us not to worry when facing synagogues as the Holy Spirit will teach us what to say (v.12). I had prepared some notes when I stood in front of 5,000 people at a union conference to say it would be wrong to condone abortion. However, the chair person just turned my microphone off. So much for freedom of speech.

Jesus refuted the prosperity gospel with a clear warning against greed, ‘“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist on the abundance of his possessions”’ (12:15). God will give us what we need, not always what we want. Greed is responsible for most of the mess we have made of this planet: wars, famines, pollution and destitution. There are enough resources for everybody. Economists are wrong to think only a few can prosper at the expense of the poor. The antidote to greed is generosity. We must learn to be cheerful givers. ‘Sell your possessions and give to the poor’ (v.33). I have spent some time during lockdown emptying items from the loft (‘where the moth destroys’ (v.33)). It’s amazing how dusty, dirty and shabby stored items are when they are dragged back out into the light. The items in our loft possessed my family, rather than us possessing them. They were stopping us from moving and downsizing to a smaller house, they were taking up our time and energy as we shuffled them around and they were a fire hazard. I am completely sold on minimalism. The fewer items I possess, the more time I have to spend on projects such as this one.

The parable of the rich fool (v.14-21) inspired me to give up my secular job. I worked out that I had stored exactly enough money to give me a pension, through the grace of God. No more, no less. I could have stayed in my well-paid job and built bigger financial barns but I could have died the very next week and then ‘who will get what you have prepared for yourself?(v.20). I should have left earlier and relied on God to supply my daily bread. However, I am still relying on him to prevent the stock market from crashing too badly, which would evaporate my pension. I can now spend every day building barns of knowledge within me, reading the rich word of God. Halleluiah.

It’s very difficult not to worry about our lives and how to provide for our families. Looking back, I can see that God provided everything I needed at exactly the time I needed it and so, I must assume he will continue to do this. We can’t add a single hour to our life by worrying (v.25). In fact, worry and stress is likely to take years off our lives. Praying in Tongues can help massively by building us up internally and distracting us from our issues. Hand over control of your mouth to the Holy Spirit, whenever you are in a stressful situation. You will feel the benefit.

We need to seek the kingdom of our Father first and He will then look after all our practical, daily needs. ‘Our Father, give us our daily bread’. This great prayer doesn’t say, ‘Give me a year’s worth of bread, so I can store it in the freezer’. It encourages us to come daily to the Father and ask for our needs.

As we receive our Father’s generosity from his inexhaustible supply in heaven, it encourages us to reach out in generosity to others, particularly orphans and the widows.

Jesus told us not to worry. Cue a great song to practice one’s whistling to.

Psalm 42:6b-11

King David is still having issues, ‘my soul is downcast within me’ (v.6b).

We respond to people’s testimonies when we see that God’s love and care has touched someone emotionally deep inside them themselves: ‘Deep calls to deep’, (v.7).

He acknowledges that God is still his rock (v.9) even when he feels forgotten.

David speaks to his own soul and encourages it to hope in God.

David has full confidence, ‘for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God’ (v.11).

This reminds me of ‘doubting’ Thomas’ exclamation to the risen Jesus, ‘My Lord and my God!’ (John 20:28).

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑