We are not subject to sacrificial rituals

I have finally completed reading the Old Testament in my 90 day Bible challenge.  I feel almost a lightness now knowing that I am back to the familiar and easier to understand New Testament.  On reflection though I will need to read the Old Testament again.  I have learnt so much from it but equally am sure that a lot has passed me by.  I suppose in summary I would say I am so grateful that God sent Jesus and through Jesus dying on the cross we have direct access to God.  I am so thankful that I know God as a loving, forgiving and caring God because to be honest at times I have struggled with the concept of the Old Testament God of wrath and anger.  It does though remind me of how immense God is and how I should revere and honour him always.  There’s a song that says “when did I forget that he’s the King of the World” and I think sometimes it’s too easy to forget quite how “Big” our God is.

1 Peter 2:9 – But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

KING OF THE WORLD

King of the World, creator of the Universe, Alpha and Omega, how immense are your ways oh God, how perfect your plans, how blessed are we to have direct access to the Lord God Almighty, how privileged that we can carry everything to you in prayer, not subject to sacrificial rituals but as individuals we approach you with our trials and tribulations, our supplications, we come to you in person as we ask in certainty for your mercy to be shown to us, we are indeed the chosen generation, God’s very own possession no messing, we have no need for priests to intercede for we are indeed a royal priesthood, a holy nation, we have been shown salvation because of God’s son, we have been given the victory because of his sacrifice, given life for all eternity because God declared that it would be.

Reading the Bible, some parts like a tribal who’s who

Knowing the Bible is so important, Jesus himself used it to rebuke Satan and if we are to cope when faced with temptation we really need to know it inside out and upside down.  Having started on this Bible reading challenge I admit that there are many parts that I find hard to understand and then a gem jumps out at me and I get why God included it.  Of course for me it’s essential that we do believe that the Bible is all of God and transcends time, to understand fully the New Covenant and how that affects how we relate to some of the Old Testament law and that’s a challenge that I am happy to take.  As our preacher in church said on Sunday the Old Testament is like a “trailer” for the New Testament and both are essential in our Christian lives.

  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – 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 competent, equipped for every good work.
  • Psalm 119:105 -Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
  • Joshua 1:8 – This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
  • Romans 15:4 – For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
  • Hebrews 12:4 – For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
  • 1 Timothy 4:13 – Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.

GOD’S WORD

Reading the Bible, some parts like a tribal who’s who, there’s the Old and then there’s the New, and who knew there were so many prophets foretelling most of the New Testament, and I lament that I left it so late in life to pick up the Bible and read of God’s love, to read of his immense power, his anger and yet his compassion, his deep understanding of human nature, where we would fall, where we would struggle, the troubles we would bring on ourselves, the times we would turn away after all we had seen him do and heard him say and then I think of today and how many have strayed from his word, who’ve heard but the truth has been blurred by Spiritual blindness, their faith going through a season of dryness as they twist and turn the words to suit their interpretation negating the foundations of our faith, God’s word, God breathed to be a lamp to our feet and a light in the darkness, effective for overcoming temptation, preventing stagnation as we are careful to follow God’s instructions, meditating and above all devoting ourselves to his Word, our double edged sword piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, you’ve got to be in it to get anything out, bind it in your heart so you can shout out at the enemy when he seeks to distract you, respond with God’s word as he tries to tempt you with sin, live in God’s word, build your life around it, be filled with God’s glory and filled with his Spirit.

I want to expose the lies that you are believing

I have been drawn again to this passage: Malachi 2: 17 – You have wearied the Lord with your words. ‘How have we wearied him?’ you ask. By saying, ‘All who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord, and he is pleased with them’ or ‘Where is the God of justice?’

I looked a bit more into this and found a commentary that said that God often postponed judgment to give us a better chance to repent and get straight with God.  Like it says in the Bible God wants us all to be saved and to him a day can be a thousand years and a thousand years can be like a day.  You may carry on sinning without immediate judgment or punishment from God but does that make it OK?  And does that therefore mean we as Christians are called to speak the truth in love to other Christians and not keep silent about the truth and if so how do we do that?

I suppose the biggest issue for me is balancing the “he who is without sin cast the first stone” with “speaking the truth in love”.  My passion is about helping gay people receive God’s forgiveness and mercy as I have.  That requires repentance and obedience to God as shown clearly in the Bible to turn away from that sinful behaviour.  But it’s not all about homosexuality, there are many more “sins” that are being openly committed by Christians without repentance, for example sex outside of marriage.  There’s also the issue of permissive teaching.  If our church leaders are not teaching Biblically then how can we support those in our churches who continue along this path but without really comprehending that it is not what God wants for their life?

I feel passionately about my role in speaking up and to see how we can help others to walk away from old lifestyles that are not pleasing to God (for more on helping people struggling with homosexuality you could take a look at my other blog https://transformedtotransform.wordpress.com/

SILENCE

SILENCE penetrating the air between us, deafening to me yet I want you to hear the silence, the words left unspoken, do you not hear them?  What is the value of my silence if it goes unnoticed?  I’m called by God to speak the truth in love, persistently trusting God to do the rest, but at best I struggle as I open my mouth the words don’t come out.  Doubt? No I don’t doubt God or his word and I want to expose the lies that you are believing, the way that you’re living is wearying God and it’s hard cos I don’t think I can cast the first stone yet I know that the further you drift from the truth the harder it will be for you, so here goes… I will speak the truth even if my voice shakes, can you handle the truth?  God calls us to be pure and holy, to turn from our way of living that to be frank is wearying him, watching as we live in sin, adultery, sexual immorality, homosexuality, pornography, speaking blasphemy, small sins, big sins, nothings out it’s all in, what are you bringing to this relationship, you can’t have your cake and eat it, call yourself Christian but fail to listen to what God tells you, fail to make changes to your lifestyle, living life freestyle, living a lie.  Are you mad at me for speaking the truth it’s just I believe we are called to live our truth out in the open, it’s not about my opinions it is God who holds dominion, and I am willing to put it out there cos the truth is I care and I want all to receive God fully, yes sin is hard to bring to an end, new leafs, well they’re hard to turn, but we don’t do it in our own strength, God will go to amazing lengths to give us the help we need to bring down the evil in our lives, when he sees sin he doesn’t see good, that’s what you might have misunderstood, just because you don’t see immediate action, a negative reaction from our God of judgement does not mean that he has relented and changed the content of the Bible.  As his disciple he wants you to break the hold that comes from indecision, from misguided opinions about relevance, lack of evidence that Jesus ever said that, he wants you to guard your heart for everything you do flows from it and he has promised to never leave you or forsake you but don’t be mistaken that’s part of a two way conversation, a covenant between you and God, he’s giving us a chance, delaying judgment so we can get our house in order, repent and prepare spiritually but you literally need to take time to decide whether the Bible’s going to be your guide, whether you’re going to believe it all or pick and choose and see how you fall, but I urge you to respond to his call to sit up and take notice of his amazing promise to all those who pick up their cross and follow

 

Confused, battered & bruised by those who water down the word of the Lord

I was thinking about John 8:32 – “then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” which is a verse I have heard quoted a few times.  That led me to look up this morning what the “then” was referring to and of course, I shouldn’t be surprised it’s all about holding on to God’s teachings.  There are so many passages that refer to the importance of knowing the Word and it really emphasises the importance we should place on God’s word in our lives.

  • John 8:31-32 – Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. ’
  • Joshua 1:8 – This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
  • Matthew 4:4 – But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
  • Romans 15:4 – For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope
  • Psalm 119:10-11 – With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
  • John 15:7 – If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

ABIDE IN GOD

Abide in God, like live in and with him, immerse yourself in his word, read and learn, understand his commands and how he demands your obedience, after all he gave his life for us and surely that demands some reaction, for us to take some action to understand God’s requirements, to recognise that his commands are as relevant now as they were then, hold on to his teaching and the truth will set you free, you’ll recognise false preaching, wolves in sheep’s clothing, no longer blowing about in the wind tossed and turned because you can’t discern right from wrong, no longer confused, battered and bruised by those who seek to water down the word of the Lord, the Bible, yes that’s your sword, be prepared to use it, to use words to deter the enemy, to counter his attempts to endlessly pick at your weaknesses, cos in your weakness God’s love is perfected, you are protected by the armour of God, his word provided for our instruction, to encourage, to nourish cos man cannot live by bread alone, seek God’s word earnestly and you’ll never be thrown.

Don’t be absurd & carry your Bible when you fail to understand the power that’s in your hand

I have been thinking today about how we need to take the Bible in its entirety and not pick and choose passages to suit our own thoughts or desires.  A W Tozer puts it quite succinctly:

“We must not select a few favourite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.” A.W. Tozer

CONTEXT

Put that verse back where it came from, stop, listen to God then read it in context, God’s text is not designed to be read in snippets, be realistic, God’s word should be bound to our hearts, not in part but in whole, nothing less than the whole Bible can make a reliable Christian, one who’s listened to the whole story, understands the glory of the Lord and the truth that’s in his word, so don’t be absurd and carry your Bible when you fail to understand the power that’s in your hand, don’t treat it like a licence agreement, scroll to the bottom and type “I agree” without ever reading the small print, make it so God’s word is imprinted on your mind, find time to read, seek God’s authority and you will  gain the victory, the Bible’s not just history it’s a living, breathing work of God, a handbook for our lives, it shows us how to live, to give ourselves freely, so absorb yourself completely in each page connect with God, switch on, engage.

For more on my thoughts check out my other Blog, Transformed to Transform

Lost in translation

I wonder where and how the Bible got so lost in translation.  I wonder how people can read the following verses (and many more in the Bible) and not realise that God’s word is to be believed, trusted and taught with accuracy.  How much are we “wearying” the Lord by accepting practices that are against his teaching, by the times we say “surely that’s OK after all our God is a God of Justice?” Yes our God is a God of justice and he has clearly defined the law, the way we should live and we should embrace his teaching wholeheartedly, stop looking to interpret them to suit our own sinful nature and start asking God to help us overcome ungodly temptations and urges and  for the boldness to teach the truth in love and grace to our friends and family.

  • Romans 15:15-16 – Yet I have written to you quite boldly on some points to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
  • Malachi 2:7 – For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth. But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble;
  • Malachi 2:17 – You have wearied the Lord with your words. ‘How have we wearied him?’ you ask. By saying, ‘All who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord, and he is pleased with them’ or ‘where is the God of justice?’
  • 2 Timothy 3:5 – Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

LOST IN TRANSLATION

We are God’s treasured possession and yet we seem to have an obsession with an interpretation of his teaching which is reaching to many with the appearance of Godliness yet denying God’s power, our leaders and preachers are there to teach us from the word of the Lord, the sword of the Spirit and yet some don’t seem to get it, a duty of proclaiming the truth and the truth only, so that we may become an offering acceptable to God, so we may hear his word, turn from our sins and receive sanctification by the Spirit, preserve knowledge, I believe that all scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training but I am straining under the force of those who interpret the laws to suit their cause and we are wearying the Lord with our words, turning again and again to claim our God is a God of Justice and therefore he won’t touch this, yet he demands obedience, if we obey his voice and keep his covenant we shall become his, walking with him in the way he commands then he pardons our sins, we are one with him, yes he is a God of Justice and he trusts us to be obedient, not to relent in the face of adversity, to purposely follow his instruction to avoid self-destruction, to have a direction, a purpose to follow Jesus, he sees our struggles, he protects us from stumbles when we are careful to apply accuracy to our translation of salvation.

The devil is not afraid of your empty words

I have found it quite surprising in my walk that there are many Christians who don’t know God’s word in any depth and who rarely pick up their Bibles to even seek God’s word.  In my particular case I suppose I have come across this most in the context of what the word has to say about homosexuality but really we need to be absorbed in God’s word to distinguish good and sound teaching and doctrine from poor and false teaching and doctrine in all areas of our lives and our walk with God.  God is a great and loving Father, he even left us “a manual”, the Bible so we should use it daily to grow in our walk, our understanding and ultimately our witness.

  • Hebrews 5:11-14 – Warning against falling away – We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

So here’s the thing we need to constantly feed on the word, reading our bibles and practice what it says in order to grow into mature Christians who are able to clearly distinguish between sound and unsound doctrine

  • Deuteronomy 11:18 – Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.

HE DOES NOT TREMBLE

The devil is not afraid of your empty words, he does not tremble when he sees you coming empty handed, empty headed, no word of God to pull upon for any situation, the enemy knows God’s word can hurt him, God’s word is a powerful weapon, our sword of the spirit so now’s the time to get with it, absorb yourself in it, fix God’s words on your heart and mind, tie his words as symbols on your hands, bind them on your foreheads, let it never be said that the enemy got the better of you in any situation because of your lack of dedication to learning from God, his word was written for you, for your instruction, for encouragement and endurance, it’s your frame of reference for your Christian walk, and if it’s not clear to you from the Bible, just ask God, he will not rebuke you for asking, his word is alive and powerful, a weapon of mass destruction that Satan wants us to ignore, don’t give him that satisfaction anymore, soak up God’s word, immerse yourself in his teachings, God is reaching out, he gives you all the tools, the armour of God and it’s not so hard for us to spend time learning from the Master, pick up your Bible, enjoy God’s word and you’ll receive all the answers you require to finally set your faith on fire.