Month: October 2016

Forgiveness Puts Faith to Work


But when you pray, go into your most private room, close the door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees [what is done] in secret will reward you.
“And when you pray, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. So do not be like them [praying as they do]; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
‘Your kingdom come,
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
‘Give us this day our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors [letting go of both the wrong and the resentment].
‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]’
For if you forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others [nurturing your hurt and anger with the result that it interferes with your relationship with God], then your Father will not forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:6-15 AMP (2015)

“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke23:34 AMP (2015)

Jesus replied, “Have faith in God [constantly]. I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea!’ and does not doubt in his heart [in God’s unlimited power], but believes that what he says is going to take place, it will be done for him [in accordance with God’s will]. For this reason I am telling you, whatever things you ask for in prayer [in accordance with God’s will], believe [with confident trust] that you have received them, and they will be given to you. Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him [drop the issue, let it go], so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions and wrongdoings [against Him and others]. [“But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your transgressions.”] Mark 11:22-26 AMP (2015)

So if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and while there you remember that your brother has something [such as a grievance or legitimate complaint] against you, leave your offering there at the altar and go. First make peace with your brother, and then come and present your offering. Matthew 5:23-24 AMP (2015)

arthritisUnforgiveness is one of the most subtle, yet disabling forces that works against the believer achieving anything for God in this Earth. Bitterness and resentment are ugly feelings that are usually close companions to unforgiveness. This is because unforgiveness is the result of an action, or collection of actions, over time, committed against you, by someone else, that has caused offense, harm, or loss, of one kind or another. Even if the offense was not physical in nature, the resulting fruit of harbouring
this ungracious force can and will eventually manifest itself in a range of ways both physical and psychological. To say that someone is “Bitter and Twisted” is not just a comical turn of phrase, it has its origin in the physical manifestation of warped human bodies brought about as a consequence of unresolved unforgiveness.

If you discount the spiritual significance of the effects of relationships with other people it is always possible to find an organic cause for the conditions that manifest in this way. But, truth be told, you do so at great risk. Socially, people who bear grudges, are unforgiving, or slow to forgive, or who harbour bitter and ill feelings towards people, are more often than not, very difficult people to engage in pleasant conversation. They always have to have something to complain about. You often find old people who are in decline will provide you with a clear picture of what their practice has been in either holding onto resentment, or the practice of being quick to forgive; particularly the forgiveness of others.

I know that in my own life it has been essential to maintain this practice of quickly forgiving the offense of others. I am very thankful that God led me on a path that persuaded me early on in my life, that the gospel is both true and real. As a boy, at  school, in Australia, I was severely bullied by my peers for being different. So much so that even when the principle individuals, who had started the barrage of abuse, had moved on to the high school, at the end of that first year, those who remained with me in my final bobtailyear at primary school maintained the same level of physical and psychological abuse that I had been subjected to previously. The following year I also moved on to the high school and the original perpetrators were, in effect, waiting for me. For the following 3 years, I lived a daily torrent of abuse that seemed to come from every direction. I found it difficult to make friends and even when I did those friendships didn’t last very long because they would be treated to the same kind of abuse until such time that they backed away from me and either joined in the taunting or, at the very least, avoided me.

I can safely say that the application of the teaching of Jesus of the importance of “forgiving your enemy” and the need to “bless those who persecute you” saved my life throughout that period, that I took to be my personal trial, for the sake of the Gospel. The scant snippets of scripture that I received at Mass, on Sundays, provided me with enough strength to make through the next week; this is one of the reasons that I avoided, at all costs, missing going to church. Had I known then what I know now, about the power of the word of God to effect change in my own life and that of others, I believe that the effect that the abuse had upon me, would have been completely different. But, it is one of the reasons that I believe that children need to be exposed to the truth of the word of God at an early age and one of the reasons that I used to really enjoy teaching “Children’s Church”.I lived

I lived the walk of forgiveness and the Love of God during those years, so that when the thoughts and eventually the opportunity to actually attempt suicide, came about; there was enough spiritual development on the inside of me to hold me back, from the brink, and to stir the desire and inclination within me to push on and push through the depression and the desire to just end it all. I had learned to be quick to forgive others, no matter the offense. Forgiving myself, on the other hand, was not so easy. In fact “Self-Forgiveness” is often the hardest of all.

I still have to remind myself, at times, the words that a dear friend of mine, Father Phillip Watson sss, keeps on saying when I see him: “Be kind to yourself!” This rings so true to the teaching of Jesus that we are to: “Love your neighbour, as you Love yourself.” (Mark 12:31) Those two little words “as you” are the key to successful application of that piece of scripture; that command from Christ. “As you” like the phrasegive-receive Heart crop “Even as” from 1John 3:1, is an instruction fo us to do, what is being commanded, “In direct proportion to”. In other words, we can only effectively love somebody else in direct proportion to the way we love ourselves.

You might say to me: “But, brother Graham, isn’t that a bit selfish; a bit narcissistic?” If we were talking about self-centred human love, where we spend all of our time and money pampering our own wants and desires, using other people for our own gratification, I would agree with you. But, in this case, we’re talking about a higher kind of love; the agape Love of God. This is Love perfected. The greeks had this word long before Jesus came along. But, the selfless expression of the Love of God, in Jesus, provided a firm example of what that word really meant. So, if this is the kind of love that we’re referring to what would be the manner that we could express that love to ourselves and then on, outward to others? In the case of “Loving your neighbour” it would appear that unless we first learn to love ourselves, we will be bereft of any knowledge of how to love our neighbour. As has been said so many times before “You can’t give, to someone else, something you haven’t received yourself.”

See what an incredible quality of love the Father has shown to us, that we would [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 1John 3:1 AMP (2015)

God himself regards us as his children. In fact, given the context, the text refers to us as being awarded, given freely, by his grace, the full stature of ‘Sonship’. That means that we have been given all of the rights and privileges that the eldest son would receive as their birthright. As I said, we are reading this contextually. So the term ‘Sonship’ is relevant, in this case, for us to consider that the eldest son would be regarded as the next of Kin. The Eldest son would have access to all of the respect and cooperation, from the servants, as the father had. He would also be the primary inheritor of ALL of the belongings, all of the property, all of the clothing, jewellery and stock, herds and chattels that his father owned. This would all occour as a result of attaining ringhis legal age of majority. As the heir apparent, he would be regarded as his Father’s sole representative, acting for his Father and speaking for his Father. Additionally, he would not have to wait until his father died before all of this took place; it would be presumed, by all and sundry, to be so, unless they were told otherwise, once the son had achieved a particular age.  Perhaps that gives you some insight into what Jesus was saying when he would remark “I only say the things I hear the Father say!” or “I only do the things I see the Father do!” Jesus knew who he was, as a result of studying the scriptures and through his time spent in prayer and conversation with the Father; even at the age of 12 he was able to say to his mother: “Did you not know that I would be about my Father’s business?” when they found him in the temple expounding to the elders gathered there.

Having established what this phrase means contextually, let us now apply it to our lives. By being Born Again, by making Jesus the Lord of our lives, we have attained this same kind of standing with God the Father, because WE ARE IN CHRIST. Because we are a part of the Body of Christ, in the Earth, we have been raised up to sit with him. We have been created as brand new creatures, spiritually, as a result of this new birth. We have inherited ALL of the promises made to Abraham, with All of the Curse takenself-forgiveness care of, even if we do sin, by the redemptive work of Jesus at Calvary, his descent into Hell and his resurrection from the dead and Ascension into Heaven. ALL of this is referred to, in the scriptures, in past tense, not future tense. In other words, we need to wake up to the realisation that ALL of this has ALREADY taken place in our lives  and we need to bring our WHOLE self to a point of realisation and acceptance. We need to do this because God is not going to force it upon us. But, it is there for the taking and NONE of us is WORTHY, which is the reason it is given FREELY by his GRACE.

What has all this got to do with Loving yourself or, for that matter, Forgiveness? Good question. I’m glad you asked it. Because the answer is EVERYTHING! You see, the best way you can love yourself is to come to the realisation that, in and of yourself, there’s not much to love. UNLESS you have let God take pride of place as the centre of your life. Because all that is good about you is as a result of God’s gift in the first place. But, when you then bring to that the message of what the New Birth has done in your life and as you take the time to spend with God and his word; allowing him to change and renew the way you think about yourself, Crucifixion horrific Juan Manuel Minarrobecause of what he has done in you; THEN you are in a place to be able to live and walk in Love. Because you have  come to the realisation that you are loved, because God sees you as loveable and that then has an effect upon how you see and treat others around you. Even when they try, or even succeed in harming you. Jesus is our best example of this. From the cross he is heard saying “And Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing His clothes among themselves.” Luke 23:34 AMP (2015) even when they have taken from him everything that he had and were now taking his life, he was prepared to give forgiveness.

It is essential for us to remember just how important this command for us to forgive others is in our spiritual walk. Mark 11:22-24 is the great FAITH scripture. we know that without Faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6), But, far too often we have stopped there at the end of Mark 11:24 and have grasped ahold of “You can have what you say!” Except, it doesn’t end there because in many translations you will find the word AND is right there in front of verse 25, which means that Jesus continues to talk about this subject in the next verse. AND When you stand praying your prayer of Faith….. You also have to do this FORGIVE, ANYONE you are holding Unforgiveness towards. Then to drive it even further home….”If you don’t forgive, then your father in Heaven cannot, CANNOT, Forgive YOU. OUCH!!!

Pay close attention to this next part. This is the key to putting this scripture into action. The key to walking a life free of Unforgiveness is summed up in one word. OBEDIENCE!

Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed [is better] than the fat of rams. 1Samuel 15:22b AMP (2015)

Yes, Obedience. If it’s for no other reason than you want to please God, that’s a pretty good reason to be obedient. In fact, that’s the best reason. But, as I’ve already demonstrated here previously, unforgiveness in your life will rob you of your ability to walk in Faith, which, in turn, will please God, but additionally it will also deal with the mountains that you face in your life.

But, there is something to remember about the damage that unforgiveness does to your life. It is an insidious force that binds you up every which way. The interesting thing is that the target of your unforgiveness, someone who you believe has done something to cause you offense or harm, may be totally oblivious to what you have been offended by. Even if what they did was intentional, your unforgiveness towards them has no effect on them whatsoever. If the person you are not forgiving is someone you encounterchained-heart with any form of regularity then those feelings that you have, that you think are eating away at you, and dominating your thoughts when you are around that person, are doing exactly that; they’re eating away at you. If that person is also having a good time; laughing and joking and getting on with everyone else; you will find yourself becoming withdrawn; backing away from the social group. The unforgiveness is doing exactly what it is designed to do. It is from the pit of Hell itself and it is designed to Rob, Kill and to Destroy you and your life; YOUR LIFE. Because the only person bound up by unforgiveness, if you will not forgive, is YOU.

I’ve seen people’s lives absolutely destroyed by unforgiveness. Friends and family members who have held something that someone has done against them for years, in some cases 30 or 40 years, totally oblivious to the effect it is having on their relationships with people around them. They are crippled with pain. They have lost All sense of reason, or their bitterness comes out in ways that make people feel uncomfortable around them and drives others away causing them to lament the fact that they are lonely and no one comes to visit them. Yet, there are others who are quick to forgive, quick to repent, when they’ve done something wrong. They live life unburdened by unforgiveness and right into their latter years they are in good health mentally and socially. They have a light air about them and they are people you want to spend time with and enjoy their company.

FreeForgiveness is a function of your WILL. Like Faith and Love, Forgiveness is not dependent upon how you feel. In fact, you can FEEL like the thought of forgiving someone for something they have just done to hurt or offend you as the furthest thing from your imagination, based on what you feel like. But, if you make the decision to act on the word of God, on the basis of being obedient to Jesus’ command to forgive AND if you begin to practice Forgiveness as an act of your Will, you will become fluent at it. The Love of God TAKES no account of a suffered wrong (1Corinthians 13:4-8a) or the evil done to it. Take note of this, though; our flesh will rebel, initially, as we begin to practice forgiveness. But, it is our job to tame our flesh and bring IT under both our control and subject to what the Word of God has to say. If we want to live our life free from condemnation. then we need to practice walking after the promptings of our spirit, instructed by Holy Spirit; this takes practice and time. So, “Be Kind to Yourself!”


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Living In Christ – Zoë: The God Quality Of Life


IN THE beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. He was present originally with God. All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him was not even one thing made that has come into being. In Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men. And the Light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it [put it out or absorbed it or appropriated it, and is unreceptive to it]….

There it was—the true Light [was then] coming into the world [the genuine, perfect, steadfast Light] that illumines every person. He came into the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him [did not know Him]. He came to that which belonged to Him [to His own—His domain, creation, things, world], and they who were His own did not receive Him and did not welcome Him. But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the authority (power, privilege, right) to become the children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name — Who owe their birth neither to bloods nor to the will of the flesh [that of physical impulse] nor to the will of man [that of a natural father], but to God. [They are born of God!] And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us; and we [actually] saw His glory (His honor, His majesty), such glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth. John 1:1-5; 9-14 AMPC

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). John 10:10 AMPC

There are 4 words used in biblical greek that translate as Life, in the Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. They are:

Bios: refers to one’s life course or way of living, lifetime.

Psuche: refers to the breath of life or the natural life.

Anastrophe: refers to behaviour, conduct.

Zoë: refers to life as a principle, life in the absolute sense, life as God has it, that which the Father has in Himself, and which He gave to the Incarnate Son to have in Himself.

Zoë (ζωή) is often referred to as “The abundant Life” or “The God quality of Life” it is the word used to describe the kind of Life that Jesus said he had come to provide, in John 10:10; he had come to provide it in an abundance.

light-flareIn recent times, and down through the ages the church has had its eyes firmly focussed on the behaviour, the conduct of people as their guide to what Life can be, or what Life should be. The push is always YOU can do better. YOU should do better. Or, it has been focused on YOU are NOT doing enough. People have been celebrated, or condemned by ‘the church’ according to what they do, or have done. If their behaviour doesn’t line up to a specific set of rules, or the code of conduct, they are rejected out of hand. Instead of concentrating on the wonderful, abundant life that Jesus has provided those who would be prepared to accept his sacrifice and that free gift of eternal life that he gave his own life to provide, the church has been more interested in its rules and regulations; its laws and decrees and the carnally driven grasping of political power in the world around them. More interested in wresting power from the world, than accepting its role in bringing God’s kingdom to Earth, through Love; Empire building, rather than Kingdom building.

Now, don’t get me wrong, good conduct is a good thing. James, the brother of Jesus, said that Faith without corresponding actions is worthless:

What is the benefit, my fellow believers, if someone claims to have faith but has no [good] works [as evidence]? Can that [kind of] faith save him? [No, a mere claim of faith is not sufficient—genuine faith produces good works.] If a brother or sister is without [adequate] clothing and lacks [enough] food for each day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace [with my blessing], [keep] warm and feed yourselves,” but he does not give them the necessities for the body, what good does that do? So too, faith, if it does not have works [to back it up], is by itself dead [inoperative and ineffective]. James 2:14-18 AMP (2015)

Zoë, the abundant life promised by Jesus is not something that can be earned. It is given freely by Grace. If we could earn it then we would be able to brag about what we had achieved, through our own efforts. If we could have done it ourselves then what was the reason for Jesus’ sacrifice?look-to-the-heavens

For too long the people of God, the body of Christ, here in the Earth, have been robbed of the blessings through rituals and traditions that, not unlike the pharisaical practices that Jesus noted, were robbing the children of Israel, of what was in their covenant, have served as unfruitful works and excuses for a hierarchy devoid of the very Faith required to receive them themselves. Like the Pharisees, these men, and most notably it is a religion dominated by men, have become self-deceived; explaining away anything they don’t understand as a ‘Mystery’ that isn’t supposed to be understood. Any attempt to seek answers is met with derision or seen as an attempt to usurp those in positions of power, who perceive knowledge, or the pursuit of knowledge, as a threat to the status quo. I have personally encountered this fear, in the past, when I was attempting to enter the Roman Catholic priesthood.

DP copyBy the time I had returned to the Roman church, as I had felt led to do, by the Holy Spirit’s promptings, I had spent Six years immersed in a culture of encouraged intense bible study. in 1983 and 84 I had attended Rhema Bible Training Centre, here in Perth. I had completed a course in Missionary studies and also traveled to Kenya, on an exposure trek, immersed in the lives of some of the remote parts of Kenya itself (this journey was life-changing for me, on so many levels). So, arriving at the preparatory seminary (as it was then) in 1987 I wasn’t a naive 17-year-old, as a couple of those who were there, with me, proved to be.

A priest I had known, as a friend a number of years before, resided there and was the Archbishop’s personal secretary. He and I enjoyed discussing ‘matters theological’ over the dinner table; both of us learning from one another as we tussled with topics and interrogated beliefs and traditions; occasionally tipping over some “sacred cows”. Unfortunately, the rector of the seminary didn’t see these discussions in the light of their merit to both of us. He wasn’t about to take on the Archbishop’s secretary and instead took the opportunity to accuse me of “always arguing”. It appeared to be the case that a simple ‘acceptance’ without question was the de rigueur that he favoured. This was but one of the many reasons that I did not proceed on to undertake seminary studies for the Perth archdiocese the following year; something that was difficult to take at the time but has since proved to be an amazing blessing.

The fear of a questioning mind provides the ground for rigid fundamentalism to take root whether it be political or religious. I have said it many times before, but it proves to be all the more true as time passes, that God will not be pigeonholed, or put in a box. The moment you think you have captured all there is, to know about God, you blink and find that he’s no longer there. I don’t mean to disdain the work of St Thomasarchitecture_arches_dark_ages_1680x1050_desktop_1680x1050_hd-wallpaper-169335 Aquinas and his unfinished work, the “Summa Theologica” (Latin) (translates as: The Sum of All knowledge of, or about, God) but it is ironic that this famous piece of literature remains incomplete.

Notoriously the period in western history known as “The Dark Ages” corresponds to the period when the institution of ‘the church’ retreated behind fortified walls and remote hermitages, restricting access to the writings of the agreed canon of sacred scripture. This retreat saw the establishment of monastic libraries filled with illuminated copies of ancient texts faithfully hand copied and illustrated by the hands of monks and priests who, for the most part, could not actually read the texts they were copying or decorating. Again, it is ironic that the very word, the very light of life that Christ came to bring, that he said should not be hidden, under a bushel basket, that we should let shine before all humanity, that word was effectively entombed in a language that was privy only to the elite; bishops, cardinals, kings and princes.

Historically, the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation and the dawning of the Age of Enlightenment, over time, saw the end of this elitism and the dissemination of the sacred texts of the canon to the broader community.  The stranglehold upon knowledge was effectively broken. But, access to education remained privileged. But, in the same way as the word Light in John chapter 1 represents the notion of progress for humanity, so too, the age of enlightenment ensured that the availability of an education, to those who wanted it and in some cases those who still do not want it, progressively. This is only a notional look at the history of western humanity. I encourage those with a spark of interest, to dig deeper to understand the journey that has brought us socially, politically and historically to this point in time.

5547724“The Zoë the Light was the Life of Men…the darkness has never overpowered it [put it out or absorbed it or appropriated it, and is unreceptive to it]” Christ is The Word, The Light, The Life, The Truth and He is also The Way, in fact, he is the ONLY WAY to the Father (John 14:6). Another translation reads “the darkness could not comprehend”, or understand the light. Jesus made it very clear that those who were in the darkness could not understand the things he taught because they were “Spirit and Truth” and that without Holy Spirit it is impossible to comprehend and even properly contemplate them.

word-of-godThis is a factor that religion cannot comprehend because it is not focused on what the spirit reveals, but it is an effort to use human reason; what is meant and relies solely upon experiences and sensory knowledge, or feelings, sight and sound. Don’t get me wrong, all of these are involved in the process of the journey. But, it is only the “Born Again” human spirit, filled and indwelt by Holy Spirit himself, that can arrive at the revelation knowledge that God has in store for those who seek him.

Religion sits on “God’s ways are higher than our ways” (Isaiah 55:8-9) suggesting that we cannot know God’s will for our lives; that what comes, comes and we have to accept “Our lot in life”. This is a passive and quite frankly, a lazy approach to life. It is a ‘safe’ way of thinking and can be heard in some of  the famous songs of the last century like “Que Sera Sera!” popularised by Doris Day and even “Rock the Boat” by Hues Corporation in the 1970s. Sadly, even Pat Boone’s classic “One day at a Time” has been cast into this lackadaisical school of thought, when it was inspired by a passage of scripture that advocates quite the contrary position.

The three chapter sermon on the mount in Matthew 5, 6 and 7 the antithesis of this come what may argument is established. Jesus says in 5:6 “Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied”. Then in 6:33 “But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.” Then in 7:7 he goes on to declare: “Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives, and he who keeps on seeking finds, and to him who keeps on knocking, it will be opened”. This striving does not involve the stress that only doubt can bring. But, instead, it is a working towards a goal, an end point, confident of the outcome, based on the knowledge that it is God’s desire, his will that you succeed.

This confidence can only come about through a knowledge of who you are, your standing. In fact, it is dependent upon the knowledge that you are in right-standing, righteousness, with God. In previous weeks I’ve discussed the part that righteousness plays in how our behaviour is developed. That coming to that understanding by the process of renewing the mind, effectively retraining our way of thinking regarding our relationship with God, will bring about holiness in our lives. Then as a consequence of developing that “righteousness consciousness” we can also begin to understand our right to enjoy our eternal life in the hereMiriam Dancing, Tapestry, 32”x38”, Sold and now and that eternal life is Zoë. In fact, your eternal life began the very day that you made Jesus your Lord and Saviour and became “Born Again”. You don’t get another ‘eternal life’ after you stop breathing on this Earth; you already have ALL the eternal life you’re ever going to get, right now.  It is the quality of life that God has for us when we become a part of his family.

Take the time to Live NOW! People who are caught up in the past, regretting the things they’ve done, or not done; things they can’t do anything about are often found to be depressed; they aren’t living in the NOW! When people start living in the future, either filled with fear of what might, or might not happen their current life is affected and it can seriously have an effect on the people around them; particularly if they are seriously worried about the future, if they’re not careful they will find them surrounded only by others who share their dread and sense of powerlessness. The clinically depressed can have a combination of both of these approaches to life, a morbid sadness about the past and a dread of the possible future; they are definitely not living in the NOW!

Jesus told the people gathered on the mount that day that:

Therefore do not worry or be anxious (perpetually uneasy, distracted), saying, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ For the [pagan] Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; [but do not worry,] for your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.
So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:31-34 AMP (2015)

Your Father KNOWS what you have need of, even before you ask him. But you still need to ask him.

The Apostle Paul summed up the crux of this when he said:

for I have learned to be content [and self-sufficient through Christ, satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or uneasy] regardless of my circumstances. I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need. I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.] Philippians 4:11-13 AMP (2015)

CornucopiaPlease note that Paul did not condemn having an abundance, or being prosperous. the point is that whatever the circumstances he found himself to be in he knew satisfaction. He learned to live in the NOW! of God. When we decide to be obedient and cast our cares upon him, Christ, then we have begun the process of living NOW! The inherent message behind Zoë, is becoming completely reliant upon God and his ability to meet our needs. When we strive to do it ourselves we are effectively saying, to God, I know better than you do; if I remember my childhood Sunday school classes properly, that attitude was called PRIDE.give-receive Heart crop

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that we don’t have our part to play. But, when we come to the recognition that ALL that we have has originally come from God and that everything we will ever need will come from God, we’re on the right track. We are to get our focus off our needs and onto the work we are called to do: study to show ourselves approved, walk in the Spirit, renew our minds, walk in the light as he is in the light, make disciples of all nations, lay hands on the sick, share the Gospel. Nowhere are we told to have a care, worry or anxiety about anything.  I don’t know about you, but I’d say that would be a good way to live. That is a life of humility, as it turns out:

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God [set aside self-righteous pride], so that He may exalt you [to a place of honor in His service] at the appropriate time, casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully]. 1Peter 5:6-7

Life without a care, or anxiety about anything. that sounds like Zoë. That sounds like the God quality of life.


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Audio:   Zoë: The God Quality Of Life


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Living In Christ – Jesus Our Substitute


Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise, you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.shackles

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. From Slaves of Sin to Slaves of God What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. Romans 6:3-22 KJV

house on a rockUntil we come to a realisation that Jesus has taken our place. Until we come to a realisation that He has taken our place in the very realm of Hell itself. That He, Jesus, has, as a matter of Fact, and not just Faith, fulfilled ALL that the Law required, to pay the full price for the sin of All humanity, for All time AND that the Father has declared that his sacrifice is more than sufficient to pay that price. Until we come to the place of realisation that there is no more price to pay and to attempt to do so would be futile. Until we stop ourselves from being persuaded by Religion that we have to EARN the things that God has in store for us. Until we come to that place, we will NEVER live in the blessings that Jesus’ sacrifice and the Grace of God has made available to ALL who will believe.

Our behaviour is determined by who and what we identify with. Our associations directly affect the way we think and act. If your friends are all supporters of a specific sporting team, it is hsnaredighly unlikely that you would support the opposing team, unless you are someone who enjoys conflict, or you are a declared recruiter for the opposition teams membership squad. You will tend to associate more and interact more, with those who have similar likes and beliefs to yourself. This association will affect the way you speak and act. It will create an expected set of behaviours that you are required to conform to. This is the reason parents will often be concerned about the other people their children are associating with. They are aware that children, in particular, can be easily led astray and things can happen, by hanging around with the wrong crowd, that can have life-long consequences.

 I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20 AMP (2015)

“I have been” this statement demonstrates how we are to regard this event in our lives. Have, suggests that it is not something that might happen, or is yet to happen. In its possessive sense, it suggests that it is not something still in the ether. But, that it is already obtained. Been then modifies this statement further adding to the tense and reinforcing the notion that this event has already taken place. It is already in the past and is not yet to occour. This passage of scripture does not stand alone in Paul’s declaration of his identification with the master. In fact, throughout the book of Galatians alone, and further enhanced throughout his Epistles, Paul demonstrates not only his identification with Christ in his death and freeresurrection. But, it forms a strong pillar throughout his entire message regarding the need for all of us, every member of the church, to realise that we are unified with Christ Jesus in his Death, Resurrection and his subsequent elevation to the Throne.

The message of renewing our minds to the truth of the substitutionary work of Christ, to provide the benefits, the blessings of the New and Better covenant, promised by Jesus (Matt 26:28; Heb 9:10 & Heb 12:24) freely; by Grace, and not by works, so that we should all come to the realisation; young, old, male, female, no matter our Earthly nationality, or our social standing; rich or poor; that we should come to a place of realisation that it is God, himself, upon whom ALL of us NEED to rely. It is not by our skills, strength, talents, or lack thereof, that the right to receive these blessings is to be determined and to be received. It is with gratitude and graciousness, with true humility and completely by FAITH, that these  benefits of Eternal life, In Christ, are to be received.

Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame. 1 Corinthians 15:34 KJVkingy

This Righteousness, of which Paul speaks, is not behaviour. It is important to remember the difference between Righteousness and Holiness; where holiness involves, specifically, the way you act. No Righteousness is not behaviour. But, identification with Righteousness will produce holiness, it will produce right action. Righteousness is an old English word that refers to a person’s standing. The best point of reference is in the court of a King, where one’s social standing provides differing levels of access to the throne and thereby the ear of the King. The sceptre that the King holds is a representation of his authority. If a person is of standing with the king they may be given the right to speak simply by virtue of that standing and they will approach the throne, in order of their standing with others in the room who have higher, or lower rank. However, should the king desire to do so, he may point that sceptre at someone who has no natural standing, a commoner, should that occour, every eye and every ear, in that chamber MUST give their attention to the person to whom that authority has been awarded. This is a good image to use when reading the passages of God the Father raising Christ from among the dead, as described in the first chapters of the book of Hebrews. The thing to remember, in this analogy, is if the toddler child of the king comes running into the throne room and runs up and clambers onto Daddy’s knee there is no need for the King to point the sceptre; the child has equal standing with the Father. It might not be according to protocol; but, the application of protocol is the prerogative of the King.

whitesuitThe substitutionary work of Christ has been completed. If it were not so he would not be able to continue to sit at the right hand of the Father “Until his enemies be made his footstool.” Christ has done ALL that he needs to do. Our job, of work, is to awaken, through the renewing of our minds, to revive ourselves first by putting our Faith into action and being the image of Christ in this world, through the way we interact with the world; it is our ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18) A part of that revival is to awaken to all that Christ has provided for us, in our eternal life, to enjoy IN THIS WORLD as well as in the world to come. When we were born again we received eternal life. We received all the eternal life we are ever going to get; we’re already living in it. However, there are plenty of those who have been born again that, through religion, have been persuaded that all of the promises are solely for the life after bodily death. But, this isn’t so. Christ has made available to us All that we need, in this world, as well as in the next. In John 10:10 Jesus identifies a number of things; 1. He identifies the enemy. 2. He describes the tactics of the enemy. 3.He outlines that He is NOT the Enemy. 4. He describes the plan that He and the Father have. The Life that Jesus promised and gave to ALL who would believe is called Zoë. It is best described as “The God quality of Life” or Abundant life.


To download this important Spirit-Filled message click on the following link and save the linked file 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:   Jesus Our Substitute



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Living In Christ – Relationship vs Fellowship

This has to be one of the most life-changing messages that the believer can ever encounter. Understanding the difference between the concepts of Relationship and Fellowship is key to developing a world overcoming walk as a part of the body of Christ, in the Earth. Developing FAITH in your relationship with God will change every area of your life and your expectations for that life.

running_fatherChristians who do not grasp the difference between these two aspects of our life in Christ are prone to attack in every area of their lives. They are always trying to second guess themselves and more likely to be manipulated by the enemy who wants nothing more than to see the individual crushed and unable to wield the very weapons of our warfare provided to us at salvation.

Previously I spoke of the importance of an intimate relationship with God. The very essence of the word Abba implies that there is not just acquaintance with, but a direct relationship to God, as our Father; but not just “Father”, rather it is that child-like relationship with “Daddy”. There are those who would say that the word “Relationship” or ‘schési’, in the greek, does not appear in the New Testament and the fact is that they are correct; it doesn’t. Mind you, the bible doesn’t include words for aeroplanes or automobiles either; pedantry can be a curse that robs and in this matter, a person who believes that they don’t have a relationship with God is seriously at a loss.ephod_upright

The implication of a relationship that is closer than acquaintanceship implied through the prayers and teaching of Jesus; as well as the further writings of both the Apostle John and Paul. In all three cases, the word “Know” or “Knowledge” having its root in the greek word ‘gnosis’ describes an intimacy far from the remote, or distant role of simple friendship; it implies a deep form of unity that is only possible through relationship. Jesus explains our relationship as that of a Father and Son and even prays in John 17:21 that we should have the same relationship that he and the Father have. We are referred to as “Family”, “Dear Children”, “Beloved”, “Cherished” if these words are insufficient there is a surfeit of evidence to support the notion that we are called to have a living relationship with God, through Jesus and Holy Spirit.

Holy Spirit vs “The Holy Spirit”

By now you will have noticed the use of Holy Spirit vs the phrase “The Holy Spirit”, as you read. Up until a couple of years ago, I was a stickler for what I had been indoctrinated into as being the correct use of “The Holy Spirit” to refer to the third person of the Trinity. Books, tapes, messages, posters all referred to the paracletos (gr.) using this terminology. Yet, when singing, or in public prayer, we would refer to Him as “Holy Spirit”. You may well be asking yourself: “Well, what’s the difference?” As it turns out there is a difference and once I was made aware of it, as I believe you will become aware of it, you will also begin to make the change.

You see “Holy Spirit” isn’t just his title. It is also his name. The difference between the two is quantum, minuscule. But, the change to the level of intimacy and understanding is immense. I remember being told, a number of years ago, that: “A person’s name is the most important possession that they have. So you need to use it properly and with the respect that it deserves.” Suffice to say I have always believed that he came to dwell within me, at the new birth. But, imagine for one moment, what it would be like to have a roommate for a long time, knowing them by what was ostensibly their ‘nickname’ only to discover their real name. How do you think that would change the depth of that relationship? Now consider that the third person of the trinity has come to live deep within you and you have just learned his true name; how does that affect you and how you speak about him?

I linger on this point intentionally. Because it is the familial relationship, with God, through Jesus and Holy Spirit, that drives us to seek a deeper life in the Spirit. The concept of relationship goes much further than simple friendship and helps to greater contemplate the strength of the bond that has been created through the eternal covenant relationship that Christ’s sacrifice has provided. The fact that much of the church is ignorant of the importance of understanding the primaeval role of blood covenants in human history can be seen to play out in world affairs, such as in the middle-east conflict.

Fellowship or koinonia in the greek refers to a broader interaction than intimate fellowship. It denotes Communion with, which is where we get the concept of community from; partnership, to work alongside with; fellowship; friendship; association with; all of which we are called to have with God, through the work of Holy Spirit.

Fellowship also refers to the interaction that we have with the other members of the body of Christ and denotes the kind of “working together” towards the same goal; striving for the overall success of the mission, in opposition to the world’s struggle for individual success and glory; wealth; position and power. We are called to understand that when one part of the body hurts, we all hurt when one part of the body rejoices we all rejoice. This is the centralised concept of  the truth behind the teaching that we are all part of the same body, each having its own part to play. But, even further, it is a reminder that we are supposed to look out for one another and regard our treatment of one another, in the same manner we would like to be treated.

Getting back to the subject of our relationship with God is the essential first step to becoming effective in the work that we are called to do, personally, in the world at our fingertips. Not every person in the church is called to public office. But, all are called to do the work of the ministry.

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: Ephesians 4:11-12 KJV

healingtheblindAll of us are called to do the work of the ministry, which involves the sharing of the gospel, laying hands on the sick and giving to the poor. The greatest weapon in our arsenal against the enemy is our personal testimony, about the things that God has done for us, personally. What he has done, through us, personally and what he can, therefore do for those with whom you are sharing that testimony. You may be able to get by using someone else’s testimony, for a while. But, eventually, it is what God has done, for you and to you, that is essential for the persuasion of others; particularly those who think they know you.

The marked difference between what people know about you and what they think they know about you is, essentially, determined by the relationship you have with the Father. Jesus had to bring people back to this essential truth on many occasions. He would say things like: “Why do you call Me good? There is no-one good, but the Father in Heaven.” Or, ” the works that you see me do, I do because I see the Father do them!” and “The words that I speak, I speak because I hear the Father say them!” It was his relationship with the Father that enabled him to have the confidence in what he was called to do.Spirit Upon

You might be saying “But, Brother Graham, that was Jesus, he was God!” and on one level you could be right. But, the truth is that Jesus did NOT walk as God when he was in his earthly ministry. If he had he cold not have said that “these things you see me do, you shall do and greater things than these shall you do!” Those words would have been unjust and Jesus would have been a liar for saying them. WE are told that Jesus, the Son of God, laid aside all of the attributes, all of the privileges, that made him God and took upon himself the likeness of sinful flesh, Philippians 2:7. This is the reason why he had to be baptised, he had to go through all that was required so that he could walk as a prophet, anointed with the Holy Spirit, to destroy the works of the devil. There are both Legal and Vital aspects to understanding the mission of Jesus. Suffice to say: “He became as we were, to make us like he was and is.”

payingOur relationship gives us certain rights and privileges in the Kingdom of God. Our righteousness has been replaced with HIS Righteousness and HIS Right-standing with the Father. Through his substitutionary work at Calvary, in Hell and in Death, he has paid the price for our REDEMPTION. These are not just religious terms or biblical theology. When you enter into that relationship with the Father in a vital way that’s when you experience changes to the world around you and the theology moves off the page and into physical existence and ALL of this is by FAITH.

You cannot just fall in and out of relationship with God. However, you can fall in and out of fellowship. This essential point will save a lot of heartache, a lot of belly-aching, hopefully, some of the squabbling and most importantly the condemnation you have heaped upon yourself, because of sin. 1John 2:1 is very clear, that “If we sin, we have an advocate, with the Father…”; someone who stands up, on our behalf, to take ourtwo-hands place and take up our cause; to restore our fellowship. John has previous to this instructed us that “If we confess our sins to the Father, he is faithful and just, to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1John 1:9 This demonstrates that our relationship was intact, our rightstanding was intact; but our fellowship had some barriers, namely the sins that were blocking our line of communication.

Once we get this concept of relationship vs fellowship established in our hearts and minds we will see a completely different outcome to our interaction with the world both towards and around us. the shift in our thinking helps us to respond, rather than react and that response sets the devil running, instead of rejoicing.



To download this important Spirit-Filled message click on the following link and save the linked file 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    Relationship vs Fellowship


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