Living In Christ – Intimate relationship

We started a brand new series this week:

Father and ChildOne of the fundamental truths that we, as Christians, need to remember, is that it is our relationship with God as ABBA, as Daddy, rather than the distant domineering figure of a vengeful authoritarian, is one of the principle messages from Jesus’ personal earthly ministry that we must return to on a regular basis. If nothing else, this core teaching that God, the creator of the universe, desires intimate fellowship and relationship with us, should shine considerable light upon the completely skewed, if not outright
misinterpreted construct of the God of the Old Testament. God, the Father has been maligned, slandered and downright defamed by those trusted, by the faithful to bring his message to them.

Jesus was verchrist_with_children_zoomy clear that we should approach God in a child-like, not a childish manner. Our approach should bear all of the intimacy of a child who has the freedom to walk right up to Daddy, sit on his lap and snuggle in, for no other reason than to be there. Yet, at the same time, being reminded of the majesty and wonder of All that GOD truly is. It is this intimacy with God, that had him produce humanity in the first instance. It is possible to have a high level of familiarity and a high level of respect at the same time;
such is the marriage relationship, by design. That is why Paul relates the relationship between a husband and wife to the relationship between Christ and the Church in Ephesians 5:22-30. It is wonderful to have a head knowledge all about God. But, the heart knowledge, through intimate relationship, conversation and true fellowship with God is where we get to know WHO God is and it is also where he can show us who WE ARE, IN HIM.

Getting to know God intimately is the establishing of His Kingdom IN you and that is the way His Kingdom Comes to Earth. Matthew 6:33 is but one statement, out of the 3 chapter sermon on the Mount in chapters 5, 6 and 7. But, it is the crux of the message.

If we seek, pursue, actively look to discover first of all, principally, placing everything else as secondary and giving full priority to The Kingdom of God; the guiding principles, rules jesus-good-shepherd-3and methodologies by which God himself makes decisions, processes, thoughts, and ideas and decides a plan of action, AND His Righteousness, that standing that only a fully equipped and enabled person in Adult relationship, that essence of Being that carries rights and responsibilities such as an adult Son might have. That knowledge that equips one with an unwavering dignity that is not subject to behaviour; but, rather, is so integral that any move that is in opposition to that relationship has a visceral response. Jesus says that surrendering to God to this degree; to the point where we acknowledge that He is God and that he is also LORD (bread provider) and realising that he who has promised is faithful to fulfil ALL that he has promised. In that submission, we will lack no good thing; Psalm 23:1 “I shall NOT Want!”.

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Audio    Intimate relationship

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Seed Gift

Living in Prosperity

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“But you shall [earnestly] remember the Lord your God, for it is He Who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” Deuteronomy 8:18

And

For you are recognizing [more clearly] the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [His astonishing kindness, His generosity, His gracious favour], that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich (abundantly blessed).”                                                              2 Corinthians 8:9 AMP

Mention the word prosperity in your greeting to anyone, anywhere in the world, and people will lap it up. They like it when you wish them, their families and their loved ones “All the best, for the future”. But, use the word prosperity in a church setting and suddenly, the very same people who were happy to receive it outside are preparing to have a conniption; their hip-pocket nerve twitches and they rock in their seats as if you’ve just hit them with a 2 by 4. Such is the mindset that has infiltrated the church of God’s people. Use the word prosperity and people flip straight to money. You may not be anywhere near a discussion on the subject of finances. But, in their mind, you’ve just gone to digging around in their wallets and purses.

Before we proceed any further I am going to give the scriptural definition of Prosperity. I am placing it here, front and centre, so that, as we move further into this subject, you can come back to this definition and clarify exactly what is being spoken of here. Agreed?

Prosperity: is the ability to use the power and the anointing of God, to meet the needs of  humanity — regardless of what those needs may be.

One of the most controversial subjects in the church is the subject of wealth. The moment you utter this word you can sense the tension in the air. There are so many ‘opinions’ as to what a Christian should aspire to in relation to this topic; so many sincere people living on information that is contrary to basic common sense, nevermind contrary to scripture and what God actually has to say on this subject. Mention prosperity and it’s like you brought up “the evil eye”. As I have said, there a many Christians with sincerely held opinions on these topics; but they are sincerely wrong, if not outright deceived.

afrankIn more recent history one of the greatest deceptions perpetrated upon the church is the concept of honour in poverty. Using misinterpreted scriptures and creating the image of a Jesus that promoted poverty and sickness as virtues and a work that might purge the sins of a life unworthy of the Love of God. By constantly reminding themselves and meditating upon the foibles of a life dominated by the senses and thereby, the flesh, as opposed to following the promptings of the recreated human spirit, the people of God have developed confidence and thereby a perverted form of faith in Sin, Sickness and Poverty (all regarded as part of the curse of breaking the Law, as promised to Moses) as their expected way of life. This flies directly in the face of the substitutionary work of Christ, who was made a curse for us, in our place, so that we could receive the blessings as the seed of Abraham [Galations Chapter 3].

The misguided belief that if someone has wealth they must have gotten it by ill or elicit means; the concept that the only people who have it are bad people, is deceptively connived, by men, as a way to manipulate and control those who are poor, to freely accepthand-planting-seed-copy that state, for fear of, at the very least, appearing to be bad people. This has been done through by using half-truths, misappropriated portions of scripture and outright lies, perpetrated by the very people they, the poor, were supposed to trust with their eternal souls; the clergy. Ask anyone in the English speaking world if they’ve heard that: “Money is the root of All evil”.  Even if they’ve never set foot inside a church, they will have heard that one. But, this little piece of deception has robbed the church of God from the very blessings that God desires they to enjoy, in this life. The full verse that has been twisted, in the same way, that the serpent deceived Eve, actually reads:

For the love of money [that is, the greedy desire for it and the willingness to gain it unethically] is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves [through and through] with many sorrows.” 1Timothy 6:10 AMP

As you can see for yourself this is not so much about money, itself, which is neutral, as it is about the desires and the focus of the intent of the individual pursuing it. What is their motivation; their reason for following after it? In fact, the scriptures go on to say that:

A good man leaves an inheritance [of moral stability and goodness] to his children’s children, and the wealth of the sinner [finds its way eventually] into the hands of the righteous, for whom it was laid up.” Proverbs13:22 AMPC

It’s abundantly clear that the God who made the Heavens and the Earth and is the owner of the whole of creation is not a poor God; not a God that is withholding from his children. But, rather, he is a God who has laid up a sufficient inheritance for his children who only have to ask for a need to be met, in faith, believing that he who has promised is faithful to fulfil his promise, and he is happy to, not only meet the need, but to do so, in a way that meets it, in abundance, with sufficient to be able to give to someone else who doesn’t know to come to God to meet their needs. We have developed a “Tradition of men” that has made the covenant that we have, with God, as believers, of no effect; in the same way that the Pharisees and the Sadducees, in Jesus’ own time, had made the covenant promises of Abraham to his covenant people:

You disregard and give up and ask to depart from you the commandment of God and cling to the tradition of men [keeping it carefully and faithfully].
And He said to them, You have a fine way of rejecting [thus thwarting and nullifying and doing away with] the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition (your own human regulations)!
” Mark 7:8-9 AMPC

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Healing is the children’s bread Matt 15:26

A classic example of this can be found in Jesus healing the woman, bowed low 18 years, in the synagogue on the sabbath and his rebuke of the leader of that synagogue, who, Jesus pointed out, should have known that there was a promise, from God, under that Old Covenant, to provide her healing [Luke 13:10-17]. That they had been robbed of their faith, in the covenant, by their traditions was plain to see and the establishment of power structures, of authority and a self-serving hierarchy to maintain those traditions was enforced by a regiment of temple guards and temple police. They had lost their way, under a covenant that they were incapable of fulfilling, because of the nature of sinful flesh, which only served to remind them of their state and it was easy to fall into that trap, allowing the small amount of authority they had to corrupt them.

But, the church is another matter entirely. The church is made up of “Born Again” creatures that are born of the very spirit of God himself. They have the capability and capacity to overcome the desires of the flesh. They have also been made equal, no-one standing over anyone else as being greater than anyone else. Those who choose to follow Christ’s example, instead of Lording it over others, become their servants. Stark contrast to the example set by the religious hierarchy of Jesus’ day.

prosperity-webYet, over the past 2000 years the hierarchy of what has been called the church, although maintaining the language (the right lingo), using the jargon, have been calling themselves ‘servants’ yet delivering the contrary; establishing themselves and the traditions of “mother church” and “the Doctors of The Church” as the authority, rather than God and his word; catechising and indoctrinating ritual and superstitious mystique, over the application of the power and authority and the establishing of the Kingdom of God. Instead of pursuing the power of God, they have exchanged the true power; craving, instead, for the fickle power of human politics attempting to prize back the Earth bringing the name of God into disrepute as they did so and failing, dismally. The institution of the church became the kingmaker. No monarch could rule without the authority of Rome.

To do this skillfully the introduction of the concept of a purgative way; the payment of a penance and pilgrimage; the removal of access to the scriptures, by both limiting that access through language (an exclusive language Latin) and restricting education only to those regarded as the elite; combining with those methods, the action of physically hiding the scriptures away in monasteries and seminaries, creating a mystique around the physical page, or book (the object as a focus of worship, rather than what it contained) and then creating the illusion that the priest’s role was the method of protecting the ‘unconsecrated’ from that which is holy and thereby dangerous and a threat to the ‘eternal life’ of one who contravened these traditions; the stage is set to “call that which is evil, good and that which is good evil.” [Isaiah 5:20]

Even after the reformation of the church in the 16th century, the use of fear and superstition made it possible for Rome to withhold the vital food of the word of God from its faithful, by ascribing the notion that the scriptures, the word of God, were solely reserved for clerics to understand, or interpret. Or, as in the case in Ireland people who did read the bible were regarded as either mad or ‘strange’.

All this while those in the protestant churches had gained free access and even a requirement for church members to ensure they maintained a relationship with their bibles. Yet there still remained a form of established hierarchy there, as the masses were excluded from education only available to the rich. The adage of “Knowledge is Power” rings true when you consider the manipulation of the faithful. That power, in the hands of carnal, mortal men corrupts, flows on from there. It is only when the heart is changed and Holy Spirit is given access, that the human use of that power is effectively used to benefit everyone and not just the elite.

It is no wonder then, that we come to the 21st century bearing the burden of religiosity that has undermined the truth behind the Gospel of Christ, after centuries of supporting Empires and the doctrine of Colonialism preaching the virtues of poverty to the native populace, while supporting and enabling the invaders to claim and rape the resources, under the very feet of those, they have cajoled into both submission and servitude, in the name of God and His Christ. Such is the nature of the treatment of the Australian Aboriginal people and the declaration of Australia as Terra Nullius (Nobody’s Land).

I am, by no means trying to undermine the genuine Christian Faith of those who have been brought up in those traditions but have developed a real relationship with Christ, nonetheless. However, It is important to provide some insight into the reasoning behind the criticism, by the ‘religious authorities’, and those it continues to indoctrinate in its seminaries (I refer to them a cemeteries.), of those who would teach God’s people, in opposition to this accumulated tradition that has enabled plague, pestilence, and famine to be maintained, by governments, in a world producing sufficient resources to feed, clothe and house the global population multiple times over, while at the same time spend trillions on ways and means to maim, kill and destroy and then in the next breath claim they are doing it in the name of a ‘Christian” nation. To then attack churches and organisations that teach biblical prosperity as a part of the New and Better Covenant promised by Jesus himself puts them in the class of Hypocrites that Jesus called out in his own earthly ministry:

You [spiritually] blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the plate[examine and change your inner self to conform to God’s precepts], so that the outside [your public life and deeds] may be clean also. “Woe to you, [self-righteous] scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which look beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. So you, also, outwardly seem to be just and upright to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Matthew 23:26-28 AMPC

I have to come back to the biblical definition of Prosperity: “Prosperity: is the ability to use the power and the anointing of God, to meet the needs of humanity — regardless of what those needs may be.” There are those, in churches who will fight youwheat and tear you down if you mention that you are teaching on Prosperity, or that God desires that his people prosper. There are those who will stand on the belief that Jesus was a poor man, the disciples were poor men, the parents of Jesus, poor. They will misquote scripture to say Jesus said the the rich could not enter the kingdom of God. They will deride those that have wealth, with one breath, and then unfold their dreams of what they would do if they won the Lottery, or they inherited wealth. As I said before there is no honour in poverty. A wealthy man may be a major philanthropist, giving everything he can to enable the poor to rise up in social stature. While a poor man may see the ring on another’s finger and wrestle him to the ground to steal the ring and take the proceeds of his wallet to boot. Which of them is affected by the “Love of Money”? As it turns out the answer to all of the statements about Jesus, his disciples, and the teaching of Jesus are negative.

Jesus was born in a stable, but not because his parents couldn’t afford a room, there were no rooms available. The Gospels go to great lengths to also point out that Jesus parents were of royal lineage and connected with the temple (even though Joseph was his stepfather, his personal lineage is still important). Joseph, as a carpenter, of repute, was a businessman; able to pay his way. They most certainly weren’t poor when they 3 Magi had been and gone; they had sufficient resources to flee, as refugees, to Egypt and cross the Red Sea. They certainly had sufficient money to pay the mohel and afford the sacrifice required for Jesus’ circumcision.

Jesus, like Joseph, grew in stature and also learned the family trade that would have ensured both income and financial security for the family.

The disciples were either independent businessmen. Or, as in the case of Matthew, lived off of the incomes of local businessmen, as a tax collector, the rest were members of those families. But, none did without. Judas, the one from Iscariot, was the ministry treasurer and keeper of the purse, which he was able to steal from undetected; such was the kind of funds that were there for distribution to the poor and needy. Since after Jesus’ death Peter was able to go back to fishing, so easily, demonstrates that he owned his boat. But, it is highly unlikely that he left it idle and to rot, in the years he was walking, in ministry with Jesus. His business was required to maintain his wife and her family, who lived with them; someone had to keep the business going and maintain the boats Peter owned.

When Jesus declared “it is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven….” Mark 10:25-26, it says that the disciples were astonished and asked: “who can be saved then?” They were definitely thinking about themselves when making these remarks.

00010999Jesus, never once said it was good to be poor. Instead throughout the chapters of Matthew, that we refer to as the sermon on the mount, Jesus reference to poverty was to those who were poor in spirit and that they would be filled. The whole crux of his teaching in those chapters is the abandonment of our grasping need for self-reliance and selfish achievement and to replace it with an abandonment and a total trust in God’s ability to provide ALL that we need, and then some, since you cannot give to someone else,unless you have first received yourself, that’s not poverty, that’s wealth, that’s prosperity. Matthew 6:33 “Seek First of All Right Relationship with God (Righteousness/Right-Standing) and The ability to be led by the Spirit of God (have a craving for him to be IN YOU [something that would eventually be possible to be fulfilled once Jesus had died and returned to the Father]Which is the Kingdom of God) AND ALL THESE THINGS, not just a few, not a mere smear, but ALL of the things you NEED, will be yours. But, no, we plucked out a few verses and called them the Beatitudes and allowed them to become platitudes. That is why when Jesus sent out the 12 and then the 72 disciples he told them not to take anything extra with them. They were to trust completely, by faith, in God’s ability to meet their needs, and by their own testimony, he did; they lacked for NO GOOD THING.

There is so much more that is clearly Indicated throughout the Gospels alone; John 10:10 is but one example. But, the fact that Wealth, Healing, and Social prosperity were all part of the Blessings Old Covenant, made with Abraham and the Curse for breaking that covenant was threefold: Poverty Sickness and Spiritual Death, Paul goes to great lengths to demonstrate throughout the Epistles, but particularly in the letter to the Galatians and chapter 3; that Jesus became all of the curse, for us, who are Abraham’s true children, because of Faith, so that we could become the inheritors of ALL of the blessings of that Covenant, without the curse; as a part of the New and better covenant he produced for us and outlined in the Letter to the Hebrews. Yes, I’m repeating myself. But, It is important to drive the point home.

empty-cupJesus was made to be poor. At the Cross, he was stripped naked, totally (forget all the loincloths, there was no dignity in death for those crucified) his garment was so precious that the soldiers decided not to tear it, but to throw lots for it, it was such a precious garment. Yes, he was made poor. But, the same scripture says that he did so to make us rich 2 Corinthians 8:9. Now, those who are affected by that old nasty “Love of Money” will be the first to say “But, that was spiritual wealth, for the hereafter.” The problem I
have with Weasel statements, like those, is that they’ve missed the whole point of God’s desire for his children to be wealthy; in all 5 areas of their existence and that is “You can’t give something to someone you haven’t received yourself, first.” If you are a giver God is able to trust you with wealth. So much so, that Jesus said: “To whom much is given, much is expected.” and that was straight after a session of teaching about how to handle the resources of the Master. Note, that the extra was given to the most productive of the 3.

Sadly, Jealousy, Envy, and The Love of Money run rife, throughout the churched; creating division and mistrust, all in the name of religion. So much so, that if a brother or sister appear to prosper financially, there are plenty, ready and willing to tear them down, judge them and declare them heretic, or fanatic, or at the very least cast suspicion about their message. But, they neglect to think, or to even turn to the word, where they would find sufficient instruction from God, himself, about judging another man’s servant Romans 14:4; or to pray FOR that brother, or sister Galatians 6:1 before even thinking about approaching them (They spend more time criticising others, rather than spending time with God to find out what he has in store for them, and forgetting that they don’t know what God has either called that person to do with what God has given them, or what ministry that God has called that person to do; because they cannot hear God for the other person).

sword-and-bibleSome will even be audacious enough to take what I’ve said here and declare that I’m judging them. But, I haven’t named any names here, I haven’t pointed to any particular individual, and I can’t take credit for what either Jesus has said, or for what is written in the bible. Holy Spirit has stated that:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

Holy Spirit doesn’t convict those, in Christ, It is those without that are Convicted regarding Sin and their lack of Righteousness. However, He does use his word to guide and correct believers, he does reprove and he will, in love, try to get us to rethink. If while reading this you are sensing any form of judgement. It is not from me. It is not from Holy Spirit and thereby not from God. But, there needs to be a serious rethink about the cavalier approach that so many ‘christians‘ have toward Prosperity and the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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To download this important Spirit-Filled Series of 12 messages, click on the following link, and save the files to a directory of your choice, on your computer. Otherwise, your browser will open up with a player to simply listen online. All of these messages are provided free of charge.

Audio: LIVING IN PROSPERITY

New Series Available Now! – Right and Wrong Thinking

A new teaching series has been uploaded entitled Right and Wrong thinking.Helmet

Choose to get rid of confusion, worry and anxiety and allow the Peace that passes ALL understanding to guard your heart and your mind.

Jesus said: “Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and ALL these things will come to you.” Matthew 6:33

Read the whole of the sixth chapter of Matthew to find out what he was talking about when he said this.

AnointingThis and many other scriptures instruct us in how to bring our thoughts into some sense of control.

Right and Wrong thinking is not about someone telling what you are to think. Instead it is a matter of revealing the need to alter our focus, or how we think, or interrogate a subject, or issue that is before us.

Do we see God as the source of ALL the we have, or do we regard what we have as the fruit of our labours alone. Have we ever thought about where the original strength that we have came from, to start with?

Are we dominated by the way we ‘feel’ about a situation, or do we act out of obedience to the promptings of Holy Spirit when we are prompted  to give to someone, we see on the street, who is obviously in need, but we only have $5 note in our pocket? Do we give the $5, buy the person some food, or do we just walk on by, pretending we didn’t see them?

How about healing? Do you believe that God can’t heal you? Or, if you believe that he can heal, you think he wouldn’t heal you, because you don’t deserve it? Or, you believe that he can heal, he would heal you, but you haven’t received your healing?

Seriously, these are thoughts that have robbed members of the body of Christ from receiving all the things that God has provided them, through the sacrifice of Christ, on the cross. Wrong ways of thinking, that may fit in with your church, or your particular group’s doctrines, or pet theologies, that don’t actually line up with the Word of God, have robbed the Body of Christ of their valuable witness, of just what God can and will do, for those who ask him, simply because people didn’t want to be seen as fanatics, or different.

The truth is, that when God begins to bless you, in your everyday life, you are going to stand out from the crowd. Particularly if you are the one employee that never gets sick, or takes days off because of family that are sick. Or, you always appear to be happy even when you get the news that your job is folding; because your trust is not in the job, but in the one who provided the job, as a vehicle to meet your needs, in the first place.

If you want to do something about the cares of this life that bring you down, then get ahold of this teaching series and find out the plan that God has for you to accept and enjoy that Peace.

To download these important Spirit-Filled messages click on the following link and save the linked files to a directory of your choice on your computer. Otherwise your browser will open up with a player to simply listen online. All of these messages are provided free of charge.

Titles in this series include:

  • Renewing the Mind
  • Right Thinking and Faith
  • Why Take The Thought Saying
  • Change Your Thinking
  • Identification
  • Abundant Thinking

Audio  Right and Wrong Thinking 

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This series can also be purchased as a 6CD Boxed set through the online store, or at the bookstand on Sundays after church.Thumbnail

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Supporting the Work of this Ministry

“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” 1 Timothy 5:17&18 NIV

It is a privilege and a pleasure to provide these messages to you, so that you may continue to grow in spiritual things and be fed the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is important to ensure that the word goes out unencumbered and to that effect it is my intention that the messages should and will always be available to be downloaded free of charge, on this site.

However, it would be remiss of me to neglect to give you the opportunity to sow into the work that this ministry does, in bringing the Word of God faithfully to those who desire to grow and learn to rightly divided the Word of Truth.Sword Lion

If you would like to join with us in the ongoing work of the ministry you can sow your seed gift, or offering, by following this link, to give into the work of the ministry.

Follow your heart and do as Holy Spirit prompts.

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May God continue to bless you and your families and remember that:

“Jesus is Lord!”

We Stand With Orlando Pulse Victims and Their Families

ORLANDO

The tragic slaughter of 50 GLBTI folk some with their friends and family members in the Pulse nightclub in the early hours of Sunday 12 June cannot, MUST NOT, be allowed to pass unacknowledged.

In a venue that, on so may nights before, was regarded a ‘Safe Space’, a place of sanctuary, away from the threat of violence that GLBTI people face on a daily basis, in public spaces, the sound of gunfire exploded to break the sense of Joy and Celebration that had, until that moment, flooded the Pulse nightclub.

Theories and speculation are still flying around regarding the motives, or the reason, why one man would wish to unleash such horror, such terror, such devastation through an act that can only emanate from hatred blinded to reason. There is no justification that could assuage the pain that is still being experienced, not only by the families of those whose children, brothers, sisters fathers and mothers, uncles, aunts and on through the range of connections, have died. But, there are also those who have survived who are confounded with guilt for the very fact that they have survived; left with the question: WHY?

Bishop Randy Morgan and Apostle Lee Steele have attended the site of this atrocity, reporting that the silence is palpable and that as Abel’s blood called out from the earth, there is the sense of the blood of these victims crying out in an attempt to understand. They have prayed and the Agreement of the Covenant Network has sealed that prayer, for all those who have been affected, amongst the GLBTI community, their families and their supporters there in Orlando; as well as those who have experienced the effect of this action, around the globe. A prayer for comfort, solace and healing Spirit, Soul and Body; with the offer of a shoulder for those who need to seek assistance. That assistance has also includes material help, especially given the US health system and its associated costs.

Perth vigil

Perth Western Australia is 12 hours away from Orlando; ostensibly the completely opposite side of the world. From Monday, around the globe, the GLBTI community, their friends and supporters have gathered, in public places, To show a sign of solidarity and to openly grieve for those who have suffered in this attack. Even in Russia, where two young men were arrested by Moscow Police (awaiting charges) and face prosecution, by the Russian authorities, for simply placing a floral tribute to the victims at the gate of the US Embassy, in Moscow. Even here, in Perth, a world away the hundreds that gathered in the Winter night at the Northbridge Arts precinct, the grief has been reported as palpable. As Lee said in the video message: “People should not doubt that those acts have gone un-noticed, by those in Orlando.”

One young man was asked in London: “Why are you acting like you have been hurt personally?” his response sums it up quite well: “I’m hurting, we’re hurting for those who have been attacked, because we’ve always known, and still experience the hurt and the pain!” This sentiment is echoed around the globe and has caused some to remark: “this has helped me to find my tribe.”

While politicians have, for the most part, been public with their condolences in the US and abroad; the majority of comments have been both, on topic and heartfelt; sadly a few have leapt upon the opportunity to use the event as a way to further their attacks upon the GLBTI community. However, they have been howled down as both inappropriate and unseemly.
rainbow-candles-300x200Apart from those who form parts of the welcoming and affirming movement of churches, around the world, the silence from church leaders to this horrific event has been deafening. Some on the fringe have returned to type, there are those amongst the ‘churched’ who have rejoiced in the shedding of GLBTI blood. There are two ways to respond to this silence:

On one hand, how do you stoop down from a position that has raged and railed against the GLBTI community; demonising, slandering and turning a blind eye to the prolonged bullying and dehumanising of a group of people to be able to offer solace, in a tragedy like this, without exposing your hypocrisy? To do so exposes you to possible ridicule as it demonstrates, to those who have blindly followed your lead, your total lack of integrity. To those who are accustomed to receiving that bigotry and vitriol it may well be accepted, particularly if the need is obviously great. But, it will be received with suspicion; or possibly even with the fear of the very help itself causing further pain; sparking a violent reaction; the response to receiving a sugar coated cyanide pill. Leaving those with their hands extended angry at the reaction, to what they believe to be an offer of help, only to have it thrown back in their face.

On the other hand there are those who will be standing, waiting, expecting those who have enabled this attack, through their vitriol to speak up and accept their responsibility for creating an environment where someone completely oblivious to the “political” gamesmanship being played by these quasi-politicians, has sensed a tacit permission and approval to be able to conduct this kind of behaviour. They are seen to be like Pontius Pilate, washing their hands of all responsibility. These ‘leaders’ are held to be as culpable and complicit, by omitting to take the opportunity to restrain violence; instead often seen to be blaming the victim, rather than the perpetrators of the crime. Dr Martin Luther King Jr. paraphrasing Edmund Burke, said it particularly well, when talking about complacency:

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.”4 April 1967

In so many respects the silence has been far better than much of the “Straight-splaining” that has gone on, either ignoring the fact that it was the GLBTI community that was attacked, or attempting to make the GLBTI aspect conveniently disappear, in an attempt to make it about all Orlandians, or Floridians. But, this has actually backfired on those who have tried to hijack this incident for their own political purposes and properly returned attention to those who were actually attacked.

Open Arms Fellowship continues to stand with the victims and families of those attacked in Orlando, as well as with our sister church Wellspring of Central Florida, headed by Apostle Lee Steele and his partner Dan.

Additionally, for those who have been affected by this tragedy here in Perth itself and are looking for somewhere to find comfort and support Open Arms Fellowship exists, specifically for you. Please come and join us on Sundays at the Northbridge Piazza Community Centre, 1st Floor via the lift, or the stairs, through the glass doors, in behind the big screen in the piazza; cnr Lake and James St Northbridge. 6pm Sundays.

I can always be contacted by telephone on 0405 285 233. Or email: pastor@openarmsaustralia.org.

For any counselling needs please call Qlife on: 1800 184 527

or

Lifeline:13 11 14

The Love of God

The Love of God

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him. [i]

 

This passage of scripture, at least the first part, verse 16, is probably one of the most popular. Go into any Christian bookstore and you’ll find cups, ties, plaques, posters, notebooks and so much more, all with these famous words emblazoned upon them.

God so loved the World that he gave… in that simple phrase the nature of God is truly revealed. He didn’t demand. He didn’t punish. He also didn’t let the world simply languish.

There are a few concepts, this being one of the major hurdles that often escape the understanding of the average punter who sits in a church pew and hears this verse; while inside their head they’re hearing:

“Oh, no, not that again!”

“What does it mean anyway?”

“If God’s so good and so great why is my life so bad?”

“John and Mary’s baby died last month, why didn’t God stop that from happening if he’s so good and so great?”

“What about all that stuff in the Old Testament about God making people sick and suffering?”

“What am I doing here anyway?”

If you grew up being made to go to a church where there was the same routine, week in, week out. Where people started looking at their watches the moment the minister stepped into the pulpit and the countdown was on.

Where Holy communion saw the mass exodus of characters, with the bread probably still on their tongue, racing for the door making for their car to ensure that they didn’t get caught in the inevitable traffic jam after the service.

Where there was all this talk about loving one another, yet the minute Mrs. Jones turned her back and walked away from the main group the rest of the women were commenting on what she wore, or didn’t; what her little one was doing throughout the service and “Where was her husband, Joe?”

If that was your experience of church, then it is no wonder the idea of a Loving God is, if nothing else, slightly skewed.

The other experience is that everything and everyone appeared to change around Christmas and Easter, but that change was short-lived and you were lucky if it lasted more than 24 hours let alone 7 days.

Easter was always solemn. A certain hush hung over the congregation as they watched the 5th grade depiction of the crucifixion at the front of the church on Good Friday. The minister having to find the energy to fight his retching while kneeling down to wash the freshly un-socked and putrefying feet of the 12, 17-year-old, Year 12 boys, chosen for the Maundy Thursday service and the alter boy’s cassock going up in flames on Saturday night, at the vigil mass, because he dropped the lit taper and had spilt the alter wine on himself while setting up the offertory tray.

Good Friday we’d all seen Jesus nailed to the cross and by Sunday he was supposed to have risen from the dead; yet he was still hanging on every cross around the church.

Contradictions, unanswered and unaskable questions, blatant hypocrisy and meaningless, repetitious ritual are sadly the experience of many who go to church, who then hear that their country is a Christian Country, when mindless “patriots” want to undermine the existence of any marginalised group looking for basic human respect. This spiritual schizophrenia is what fuels the retreat of many with a desire to be honest with themselves and the world around them.

These images, if slightly (and I do mean very slightly) exaggerated, surrounded me as I grew up in church. In my case I wasn’t made to go to church, I wanted to go to church. But, even though all of this kind of behaviour was going on around me, this was not sufficient to stop me going.jesus-hands

For me, church was my sanctuary, my safe haven. It wasn’t an escape, inasmuch as it was more my classroom, for instruction on how to succeed, in this life. The more I was ostracised at school the more I grew to know, not just hope, or simply believe; I knew
that God was real, that Jesus is my friend and that Holy Spirit is in and with me. I learned that I had to rely on that relationship, even if only, to simply survive.

AGAPE the Love that lasts

It is understood that this word existed in the language of the Greeks. But, until the Life, death and Resurrection of Jesus, there had been no example of this love that was anything more than theory. Agape, ἀγάπη, is defined as:

“Love: the highest form of love, charity; the love of God for man and of man for God. agápē embraces a universal, unconditional love that transcends, that serves regardless of circumstances. The noun form first occurs in the Septuagint, but the verb form goes as far back as Homer, translated literally as affection, as in “greet with affection” and “show affection for the dead.

In Christianity Agape is considered to be the love originating from God or Christ for humankind. In the New Testament, it refers to the covenant love of God for humans, as well as the human reciprocal love for God; the term necessarily extends to the love of one’s fellow man. Although the word did not have a specific religious connotation, it has been used by a variety of contemporary and ancient sources, including biblical authors and Christian authors.”[ii]

Sadly, the Old English word that was used for Agape in the past was “Charity”. Which, in a modern context has become synonymous with failure and is reviled, rather than regarded. Even more distressing though, is that the word “Love” has been relegated as well. Through overuse, or for the most part, misuse, it has been maligned as a sign of weakness, a ‘soppy’, effeminate emotional expression and disparaged as meaningless by many.

Given, this etymological shift in the English language, it would serve us well to both gain an understanding of the kinds of Love that exist and get a better understanding of what is being spoken about when we see this word being used, both in the world around us, as well as when we enter the study of the language of the bible.

There are four words, in the Greek language, of the bible, that have been translated as ‘Love’ in English. These are: Storge, Philia, Eros and Agape. I’ve already given you a definition for the word Agape. But, to help it stand out even further for you it is worthwhile looking at the definitions of the other three:

Storge: στοργή (gr) in its simplest form is called Affection. It is liking someone, through the fondness of familiarity, family members or people who relate in familiar ways that have otherwise found themselves bonded by chance.

Philia: φιλία (gr), in some instances it is also spelt Phileo, is often referred to as the bond of friendship. It is the love between friends as close as siblings in strength and duration. The friendship is the strong bond existing between people who share common values, interests or activities.

Eros: ἔρως (gr), is love in the sense of ‘being in love’ or ‘loving’ someone, as opposed to raw sexuality. Eros turns the “need-pleasure” of Venus into the most appreciative of all pleasures. But, there is the modern tendency for Eros to become a god to people who fully submit themselves to it, a justification for selfishness, even a phallic religion.

Eros (or being in love) is in itself an indifferent, neutral force: however, Eros in all its splendor…may urge to evil as well as good. It can also have a spiritual nature of its own as demonstrated in numerous pagan religions.[iii]

Even reading this brief summary of the four loves in classical Greek understanding demonstrates just how far language has deteriorated, to the point where we can ‘Love’ Ice-Cream, or our car, a cat, or simply looking out at a panoramic view. Yes, there are other words we can use and are part of the repertoire that is available; like, enjoy, lust and even satisfaction can provide alternatives that will, in fact, provide a much clearer understanding of what we mean to say. However, common practice has settled upon the word ‘Love’.

7970008_f260As a result of this compromise, however, we have done ourselves a disservice; neglecting the vast array of words within our vocabulary and participating in the dumbing-down of society as a whole. At the same time, we have also served to diminish the richness and the depth of meaning, with which that wonderful word, LOVE was originally endowed. In so doing we approach texts, such as the bible, engaging the shallows and missing the wonders available, except to those who choose to purposely plumb those depths.

The current resurgence of and the clarion call to return to the study of the Word of God; not for simply a head-knowledge, but for the purpose of a practical application and demonstration of the intent and desire of a loving God, who is able to and will confirm his Love, his Word, his abundant Salvation, when it is preached and mixed with Faith.

It is also not insignificant that, in this current move of God, he is choosing to use the abased and the despised things of this world, to share the Gospel of the Love of God.

For [simply] consider your own call, brethren; not many [of you were considered to be] wise according to human estimates and standards, not many influential and powerful, not many of high and noble birth. [No] for God selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is foolish to put the wise to shame, and what the world calls weak to put the strong to shame. And God also selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is lowborn and insignificant and branded and treated with contempt, even the things that are nothing, that He might depose and bring to nothing the things that are, so that no mortal man should [have pretense for glorying and] boast in the presence of God. [iv]

In particular, the rise of the Affirming and Welcoming movement is testament to the extent of God’s desire for ALL of the world to know just how much he loved us through the sacrifice of Himself in Jesus Christ, the anointed and his anointing on Calvary.

Agápē and the New Creation

Along with the force of Faith and the force of Righteousness, as driving forces of the New Creation, Born Again, in Christ Jesus, the overarching force is most definitely Love (the ἀγάπη, agápē Love) given full expression in the life and work of Jesus, in his earthly ministry.

You might stand and say: “Brother Graham, that’s all well and good, he was God!” and to a degree I’d have to side with you there. However, if Jesus walked as God upon the Earth, then it would be both cruel and seriously remiss of him to have said:

“I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, if anyone steadfastly believes in Me, he will himself be able to do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these, because I go to the Father. And I will do [I Myself will grant] whatever you ask in My Name [as presenting all that I AM], so that the Father may be glorified and extolled in (through) the Son.[v]

Note that he wasn’t just talking to and about the small group of apostles that were gathered around him. But he was referring to “anyone [who] steadfastly believes in Me;[vi] that includes you and me. If you’ve been Born Again this is literally talkingCrystal-clear flowing water about you as well.

We need to renew our minds to understand that Jesus did not operate as God while in his 3 year Earthly ministry. The fall of humanity had been the responsibility of a man and the work of redemption had to be fulfilled by a man; otherwise it would not have been legal.  The discussion about the Legal and Vital aspects of redemption are for another day, suffice to say that Jesus had to fulfil ALL the LAW and the PROPHETS, for the act of redemption to be complete. The truth of the matter is that Jesus’ ministry was that of a man,

anointed with the Holy Ghost and with Power; who went about doing good and  destroying all the works of the devil, for God was with Him.[vii]

In the book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul, or we could say it this way, Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul reminds us that:

“Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus:[Let Him be your example in humility:] Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [ possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being. And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross![viii]

But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity][ix] on coming into this world he laid aside all of the attributes and privileges that would have been peculiar to him as God. Instead he took on the role of a man, a sinless man (there was no sin nature in his flesh because he was not born of the seed of man, but that of a virgin) who walked in righteousness and holiness. As a man anointed by God, he was able to deliver an object lesson on what a born again person could do if they stepped out in faith, on the righteousness given to them, in the New Birth.

Paul reinforces this in Romans 1:23 and it is further reinforced in Hebrews 2:18 and 4:15; in fact, the whole of the book of Hebrews discusses this substitutionary work, by Jesus, the first begotten from among the dead; raised up into Sonship once again, after enduring the very pains and punishment for ALL humanity’s sin; once and for all.

However, if you have never been taught regarding the substitutionary work of Jesus, or, if you have never been taught how to read the bible for yourself; if you believe that you are not worthy to receive anything from God that you would like, or that God is an ogre in the sky just waiting for you to make a mistake, so that he can punish you, or put Cancer on you, or your children; you can’t be held responsible for not realising the wonder and the incredible things that God wants to do in and through your life. The role he has planned for you to play in his great outpouring of Love upon the Earth.

The Role of ‘The Word’ in Your Love Walk

We have to come to the point, in our Christian walk, where we understand that we cannot afford to live like we’re playing church on Sundays (or whenever you hold Sabbath) and then just live like the world for the rest of the week.

This New Life is, in fact, a 7day a week, 24 hours a day and 365.25 days a year.  We can’t afford to. The day we got Born Again a set of big red concentric circles was painted on us and the enemy has been looking for a way to destroy you ever since. It’s because he knows that if you ever get to understand who you are and the potential you have, to destroy him and all of his works, he and his cohorts are truly done for.

That is why, for centuries, the truth of the Word of God was hidden away in monasteries, being copied and illuminated by the hand of monks, who, for the most part, were illiterate of the language they were copying, into magnificent manuscripts and volumes, some of which exist to this day. Incidentally, this period in western history, beginning in the 5th Century CE[x] is also referred to as “The Dark Ages” which begins to decline with the invention of the Gutenberg press at the head of the Renaissance, in Europe and the Reformation headed by Martin Luther’s “95 Theses” nailed to the doors of Wittenberg castle church in 1587.

The enemy has tried to keep the body of Christ reaching its full potential, while creating a religion out of the truth, replacing truth with tradition and idolatry. The level of deception seems to have known no bounds, as demonstrated by the Inquisition in Rome and the use of Auto-de-fé[xi] to exact retribution upon dissent in France; evil called good and good evil, to suit the whims of ambitious men.

The ability of people to access the Word of God in this day and age, more specifically in the western world is multitude. People carry their bible in different formats, in different translations, in their bags, on their mobile phones and similar devices. They can access The Word night and day, yet now, more than ever, there is a serious need for the discipline required to ‘remember’ to look to The Word.

I appreciate and use technology to the greatest extent that I can. I have the bible on a number of platforms in a number of translations, so that it is always at my fingertips. However, I am also aware of the limitations of batteries and encourage people to own and use a paper bible, particularly one that they can write in and underline and mark-up during study.

I will admit I am a bibliophile. I really like books. But, there is also the reality that familiarity with your paper bible, when you find yourself in the midst of a remote African village, with little or no access to electricity (Yes they still exist) and God asks you to preach a message. But, your entire bible is locked up in, what has effectively become as useful as a doorstop, your SMART phone, or tablet.  Yes, the Word should be in your heart. But, even in the midst of a ‘preach’, you may need to actually read a verse, to make a point.

Now we have the mechanics of getting The Word in front of us sorted, the question that needs to be asked is: Why is that so important?

There are a number of very good reasons, I will endeavour to deal with at least one major one here in Joshua:

This Book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall deal wisely and have good success[xii]

Then in Proverbs:

My son, attend to my words; consent and submit to my sayings. Let them not depart from your sight; keep them in the center of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, healing and health to all their flesh”[xiii]

In the original Hebrew, the word translated medicine in verse 22 can also be translated medicine. So the Word of God is Life for the heart and medicine for the soul. In the New Testament we find this reinforced by the Apostle Paul in numerous places:

“Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you”[xiv]

Then in:

“And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude], And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness”[xv]

And:

“So faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the preaching [of the message that came from the lips] of Christ (the Messiah Himself”[xvi]

To be able to develop our walk with God and in particular in the Love walk then we need to know how that to do it and we also have to change our own selfish ways to the selfless ways of Jesus. Our prayer life is essential for this to happen. But, if we do not know what the Word of God has to say, in regard to the problems that come up before us, then we will not be confident regarding the promptings, or the direction that we could receive, from Holy Spirit, while in that prayer time.

The subject of prayer is a topic for a whole other time. Suffice it to say that our traditional idea about being on our knees, begging God to do something about our circumstances falls considerably short of it what can be. In fact, the traditional idea of praying is what scares people when the subject is brought up; because for the most part it has had the impression of being alone, on our knees, hoping that our words might be deemed worthy to be heard by God and not just bounce off the ceiling and fall back in our faces.

Prayer is all about relationship, friendship. It is personal and intimate. It is one heart speaking to another. But, if you believe in a God that wants to harm you, or hurt you, or punish you, in some way, it’s highly unlikely that you might want to even consider spending time with him; let alone believe he is interested in your needs.

That is why the process of renewing the way you think about God and gaining a clear knowledge of what he has actually said and done for you and is willing to do through you, is important. I don’t mean it’s just a good idea. I mean really important; important enough to save your life and as the proverb says: provide you with life and medicine; provide you with good health and a long life.

226097_519725421404823_1184953892_nThe ability we have to individually walk in the Love of God is directly proportionate to the level of knowledge that you have about what the Love of God actually is. I’m not talking about a head knowledge, or a case of mental ascent. But, a sincere heart knowledge, a belief that is based on a sure foundation, yet commands that you walk in Faith in the ability of God to do as he has promised.

It is Faith that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6) and anything that is not of Faith is Sin (Romans 14:23). But, to be able to develop Faith you have to hear (on an ongoing and continuous basis) the Word of God regarding whatever aspect you are wanting to develop; it’s the hearing part of Romans 10:17 which literally means hearing repeatedly.

What you think dramatically affects what you believe. If you continually have thoughts that cause you to believe that you are unworthy of God’s love. Or if you have thoughts that have you believing that you are worthless, or that continually put you down. If you meditate, think them over and over again and you start to say those things to yourself, then you are already on the road to defeat; the battle has already been lost, because you will never rise above the level you will allow yourself to think and thereby believe.

When Norman Vincent Peale wrote “The Power of Positive Thinking” in 1952 it was treated with scepticism as a new idea; a concept that was faddish and was expected to die out. But since it was first published in 1952 it has sold more than 5 million copies and is still going strong.[xvii] The concepts, that Peale wrote about, have their roots firmly secured throughout the Old and New Testaments and are timeless.

“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he”[xviii]

 If we succumb to bad thoughts, negative thoughts about ourselves, we develop faith in those thoughts and that directly effects the way we will either respond, or react to any situation that rises up to challenge us.

The world we live in is tilted toward believing the negative. At times it would appear that all anyone is interested in is bad news. They only ever want to talk about the bad things happening to other people. Or, they seem intent on generating fear about the future and creating a pessimistic vision of life ahead.

On the other hand, you have people who look for the positive things in the world around them. In their optimism they don’t see everything that happens to them, or around them, as a step towards the next tragedy. These people are often called “dreamers;” those who have a negative outlook think that they are living in a world of make-believe and if they are also Christians then they are referred to as being too heavenly minded.

The disparity is referred to as those who see a glass of water filled to the halfway mark as either “glass half empty” or “glass half full” people. Clichéd perhaps, but a reasonable description nonetheless. This manner of looking at the world is a clear, if not crude example of how these biblical principles actually work in our daily lives, without even thinking. I go into a discussion of this principle of “Right and Wrong Thinking” in another series. But, I think you get the picture.

It is safe to say, these ways of thinking are never set in concrete and are subject to change. It is this principle of renewing the mind, with The Word of God that Paul spends a lot of his time teaching the church throughout the Epistles. In the same way thatbible2 dieticians say “we are what we eat” physically; our minds are the product of the information we give the most attention and our Spirit, likewise craves the food that it needs, focussing on the presence of God, through Holy Spirit.

An extremely valuable study, for any Christian and in particular for new Christians, is to go through the New Testament, particularly the Epistles, to find out what the scriptures have to say about who we are as new creatures “In Christ,” “In Him,” “In Whom,” that talk to us about what has happened to us, spiritually, at the New Birth. This exercise will start to change the way you think about yourself as you begin to understand how God actually sees you, NOW, not just what you will be.

As you do this you will find that your thoughts will change, your belief about yourself will change, the way you speak about yourself will change and as you develop your faith in how God sees you, you will see the changes occurring in your behaviour, as you step out on that Faith. A major part of that change will occur as you spend time learning about the Love, the agápē of God and that this Love resides on the inside of you, in the form of Holy Spirit himself.

Love Bears Fruit

In Galatians the Paul takes the opportunity to write to them about developing spiritual maturity. In his analogy of the vine and the branches[xix] Jesus talks about the relationship that we, as believers, have in Him. He refers to himself as the vine and we are the branches. As branches on the vine, fed by the vine and maintained and pruned by the Father, we are commanded to bear fruit. Paul develops this analogy further and talks about the fruit that the recreated human spirit will produce, in our lives, as we mature and develop our relationship and fellowship with God, through Jesus, by Holy Spirit and Faith:

“But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, Gentleness (meekness, humility), self- control (self- restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [ that can bring a charge.”[xx]

 If I compare this verse with the famous “Love Chapter” in Corinthians[xxi] where Paul proclaims his treatise on the Love of God, which lives and abides in us, and knowing that there were no punctuation marks in the original Greek, I tend to put a colon after the word Love here in the Galatians verses. We can then read it as “The Fruit of the spirit is Love:” This then assists the section to make much more sense. It actually aligns it with the other areas where this amazing unconditional Love is discussed.

CornucopiaSo let us read it in that light. When we do we discover that this fruit, LOVE, agápē, is experienced through the expression of Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness (in the form of a meek and teachable spirit) and it is managed through Self-Control. All of these are and can be a blessing to us personally. But, what we learn here, is that this fruit is for others to experience from us and to enjoy.

All of this is the product of Faith and walking in the Love of God that we have in us through the residence, the in-dwelling of Holy Spirit.[xxii] But, it is the change that His love has made in us and through our lives that is the fruit.  It takes a decision to walk in the guidance of Holy Spirit, because he will never force you to do anything; we still retain free will; he doesn’t take over. Just as with the “Gifts of the Spirit”[xxiii] we are the vehicle that Holy Spirit is able to use. But, just as the gift called “The Working of Miracles” suggests, there is some effort, or action required, we have to ‘operate’ the gift, or in the case of the fruit, the attribute of Love, following the promptings (not and never pressure) of Holy Spirit; we have to change.

One thing we need to be reminded of about fruit, is that when people are picking fruit, to see if it is ripe and tasty to eat, they will squeeze it. Effectively, we will only know if our fruit is good and mature when it is tested (squeezed). Our reaction, or our response, to that testing, trial and temptation (which is what the word usually translated test actually means) will give us an indication of just how far we need to go. But, it will also give us an indication of just how much the Love of God has worked inside of us, to change us from where we were.

Conviction versus Condemnation

If after reading this there is some sense of discomfort inside of you, first of all, don’t begin beating yourself up, or falling into the trap of worry and self-condemnation. That is not the purpose of what you have read. You should be encouraged that the very God who created the universe is so concerned about you and loves you so much, that he wants to see your life grow and his love grow in and through you, so that you may prosper in every area of your life.

The key to understanding what happens when you read, or hear a message that provides a challenge for you is to consider the source of that challenge. If you are receiving correction or direction from God, by Holy Spirit’s prompting, know that he will NEVER make you feel guilty. Especially for something that you are encountering for the first time. Or something that you are putting into practice, in your Christian walk, but have made mistakes along the way. He will make you aware, he will convict you down in your own spirit.baptised_in_fire rev

But, know, with all certainty, that if you are feeling condemned, that the pressure and discouragement that you are experiencing is not from God; it is, by no means Holy Spirit. Discouragement, doubt, fear, worry and condemnation are tools of the enemy, Satan. If he, or his cohorts can get you ‘feeling’ and relying on the feelings as indicators of what is right and wrong, be assured that they are fickle and will let you down.

Conviction is an awareness, down on the inside of you, that there is something that needs a change to be made. It is an encouragement that you can and know what needs to be done; it is never a driving `pressure, but a gentle prompting. Condemnation is pressure in the mind and feelings, of discouragement, self-doubt and second-guessing. It is a heaviness that is usually external.

Remember Holy Spirit’s conviction prompts and  encourages growth. Satan’s condemnation pressures and brings discouragement. The encouragement of Holy Spirit may be getting you to walk in territory in your life that is new and unfamiliar. But, remember he is the Good Shepherd, he is the Comforter, the Counsellor, the Advocate, the Intercessor and the Helper, who comes along-side you to assist you in all the challenges life puts before you. He is the greater one and he lives within you and he is greater than the spirit of this world system and will assist you to defeat every foe that comes against you; if you will let him.[xxiv]

The 6 part Teaching Series “The Love of God” is now available, for purchase, on CD as a 6 Disc set. For further information, go to the following link: “The Love of God’The Love of God tunes label

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[i] John 3:16-17 (AMPC)

[ii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agape

[iii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Four_Loves – Referring to the work of C.S. Lewis and his Essay entitled The Four Loves.

[iv] I Corinthians 1:27-29 (AMPC)

[v] John 14:12-13(AMPC)

[vi] John 14:12(AMPC)

[vii] Acts 10:38 (AMPC)

[viii] Philippians 2:5-8 (AMPC)

[ix] Philippians 2:7 (AMPC)

[x] CE refers to Common Era.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Era

[xi] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auto-da-fé

[xii] Joshua 1:8 (AMPC)

[xiii] Proverbs 4:20-22(AMPC)

[xiv] Romans 12:2(AMPC)

[xv] Ephesians 4:23-24 (AMPC)

[xvi] Romans 10:17 (AMPC)

[xvii] https://www.guideposts.org/free-ebook/positive-thinking-2015

[xviii] Proverbs 23:7 (AMPC)

[xix] John Chapter 15 (AMPC)

[xx] Galatians 5:22-23 (AMPC)

[xxi] I Corinthians 13:4-8a (AMPC)

[xxii] Romans 5:5 (AMPC)

[xxiii] I Corinthians 12:4-11 (AMPC)

[xxiv] John 14:26; I John 4:4; I John 5:3-5

Step One: Go Silently to The Cross

At The Cross:

the-crown-of-divine-grace1It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming! In that one short sentence Tony Campolo summarised the essential message of Easter. I heard it 34 years ago and through the years it has stuck with me. It’s one of those messages that explodes into revelation on so many levels.

Today is Friday, Good Friday in fact. All through the news feed and the television there have been images of churches stopping to memorialise the death of Jesus 2000 years ago. For some it is a ritual that they have practiced all their lives, or for new converts, mainly those into established institutional churches it is a new ritual. But, I do wonder, sometimes, what people are taking away from that ritual?

I grew up in a church where Good Friday, Holy Thursday and Easter Sunday were actually obligatory, confession on Good Friday, before the veneration of the cross, or at the very least on Holy Saturday, before the Vigil mass, the principle being that one should be in a place to receive Holy Communion and unconfessed sin was best being excised and absolution received. In this case obligatory meant that it was obligation to attend. Non-attendance was regarded as a sin which would send you to, at the very least, Purgatory.

I still believe that it is important to expel sin, through confession and the receipt of forgiveness. But, I no longer need to go confess my sins to another man; but through the Grace and the Mercy of God I can and must come boldly (not belligerently) before the throne of God to maintain the communication with God, my Father, as clearly and as intimately as I can.  (1John 1:9)new-covenant_Nails

The receipt of that forgiveness of sin is by faith; it has nothing whatsoever to do with whether I ‘feel’ forgiven, or not. If I relied on feelings then I would be absolutely useless to God living a life of false humility, or in dire fear of Hell.

I once lived like that, wracked by a sense of guilt and shame. I believed that nothing I did was any good. I was afraid that what other people said about me was true. I was useless; I wasn’t worthy of living; and on a number of occasions I took steps to end the screaming pain deep down on the inside of me through suicide; I just wanted the pain to stop.

I had been convinced that things that I had been involved in, things that I had done with others was sending me to Hell. That was how I reasoned continuing to do those things that had me feeling so bad about myself. “Hey, I’m already going to Hell! So, I may as well go all the way!”  I tried really hard to be the best I could be at going to hell. I put time and effort into it.

Each and every time that I did, deep down on the inside of me, I sensed the same yearning that had stopped me from taking the final step when I had tried to commit suicide. That yearning was and is that desire that draws me closer and closer to God. Draws me closer to my relationship with Jesus and is the work of the Holy Spirit deep down inside my spirit; the very core of who I am.

love-hearts-and-kisses-wallpaper-hdThis same desire for God, is also the desire that I have had, since I was a child, to serve him. To share my Love for the one who has helped me to see the potential in myself and eyes to be able to see that potential in others as well. It’s the knowledge that when I was at the place where I believed that I was truly unlovable, unworthy; where I was filled with loneliness. He took me to where I understand that I am Loved Unconditionally, made whole and given Rightstanding “In Him”; to a place where I know that I am loved and welcome; not an outcast; a place where I can serve.

It has taken time and the work is not complete. I still have to remind myself, through the scriptures, what Jesus has done for me. But, I’m confident in the fact that he is able to complete the job he has begun. At least I am able to have that confidence, now that I know where and how to look for what God has said about me, in His Word.

Sadly, there are many going through their life, in churches, who are living the way I used to live, without answers; without the knowledge they need. Hoping that the next ritual they attend, the next Crucifixion 1sacrament they receive, will provide them with the key to living free.

It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming! Yes, it’s Good Friday. The day to remember the death of Jesus, on the cross at Calvary. The substitutionary work of Jesus Christ, fully human, fully divine, he who was spotless, sinless, blameless, truly innocent, gave his life, of his own free will, to bring to an end the need for human beings to perform ritual sacrifices to cover their human frailties, year after year. Once and for all, the final sacrifice.

Through this selfless act Jesus fulfilled the first part, yes, the first part of the process required to satisfy the law and the prophets. When he cried: “It is finished!” that was but the beginning. By no means was it the end.

To be continued

“A Church where Heaven and Earth Come Together!”

“A Church where the Supernatural is Natural!”

“Come Expecting to receive from Jesus!”

OA TShirt Back

After our brief hiatus last Sunday (the building was booked for an annual City of Perth celebration of Chinese New Year)

******Normal Service Resumes This Sunday******

Open Arms Fellowship will be meeting at the Northbridge Piazza Community Centre on the corner of Lake and James St.

Meetings start at 6pm on Sundays, Weekly and Everyone is welcome. (Doors open at 5.45pm.)

This is an exciting time and a great opportunity to reach out to the Perth community right in the heart of the city.

Piazza EntranceThe entrance to the community centre is behind the big screen; as indicated here by the red arrow.

There is an accessible path that is level from the Lake Street side of the piazza. The meeting room is upstairs and there is both a lift and stairs.

There will be a sign at the front door so you will know that you are at the right place.

Piazza MudmapThere is Free street parking on Sundays throughout Northbridge as well as the City of Perth carpark with its entrance off of Roe St whose James St entrance opens out onto the Piazza square.

One of the great things about this venue is its location to the Perth Railway station and Bus port, making it even easier for people to get access to the meetings.

Coffee shops and restaurants nearby provide a great opportunity for fellowship after or even before meetings.

Pass the word around! Let people know! Better yet, come along and join us for praise & worship, teaching, healing, prayer and Holy Communion weekly from 6pm.cropped-OPEN-ARMS-Big-Logo-Moving-Banner.jpg

For further information contact Pastor Graham on 0405 285 233

or by email: pastor@openarmsaustralia.org

Remember: It doesn’t matter if you’re Young or Old, Gay Lesbian Bisexual Trans Intersex or Straight. Everyone is WELCOME at OPEN ARMS!

ALERT! ALERT! Exciting News!!! WE’RE MOVING!!!

Open Arms Fellowship

Perth’s only Affirming and Welcoming Pentecostal Church is moving into the city!!!

happy people group have fun  run and jump  on beach beautiful sand  beach

As of Sunday February 7 Open Arms Fellowship will be meeting at the Northbridge Piazza Community Centre on the corner of Lake and James St.

Meetings start at 6pm on Sundays, Weekly and Everyone is welcome.

This is an exciting time and a great opportunity to reach out to the Perth community right in the heart of the city.

Piazza EntranceThe entrance to the community centre is behind the big screen; as indicated here by the red arrow.

There is an accessible path that is level from the Lake Street side of the piazza. The meeting room is upstairs and there is both a lift and stairs.

There will be a sign at the front door so you will know that you are at the right place.

Piazza MudmapThere is street parking throughout Northbridge as well as the City of Perth carpark with its entrance off of Roe St.

One of the great things about this venue is its location to the Perth Railway station and Bus port, making it even easier for people to get access to the meetings.

Coffee shops and restaurants nearby provide a great opportunity for fellowship after or even before meetings.

Pass the word around! Let people know! Better yet, come along and join us for worship, teaching, healing, prayer and Holy Communion weekly from 6pm.cropped-OPEN-ARMS-Big-Logo-Moving-Banner.jpg

 

For further information contact Pastor Graham on 0405 285 233

or by email: pastor@openarmsaustralia.org

Remember: It doesn’t matter if you’re Young or Old, Gay Lesbian Bisexual Trans Intersex or Straight. Everyone is WELCOME at OPEN ARMS!