Posted by: forfreedomalone | 28/07/2017

Why are you who you are?

Once, in a very ancient kingdom, the rulers of all the provinces got together to choose the next High King. They considered all the men who were suitable for the position and, having deliberated for weeks, chose the fellow they considered most likely to be the best leader of the people.
 
An envoy was sent to tell him that he was now High King of the land. He could not believe his ears! Me? Surely not?!
 
“Yes, Sire”, said the envoy, “You were chosen and so now you are High King. You have all the powers and rights of the High King and you are the person who is to lead and care for the people”.
 
The King went about for days muttering to himself “I am the King. I am the King”. It just didn’t seem to sink in very easily.
Gradually and tentatively he began to assume his duties, but still he muttered “I am the King, I am the King”. He would stand in front of his dressing mirror and practice “I AM the KING!”, but it took a lot longer before he was really confident of that fact.
After a few months his courtiers noticed that he was uttering his mutterings with greater confidence. “He’s beginning to believe it”, they said. “Now we will have a father for the nation”.
 
More months passed and still he told himself constantly “I am the King”, but now his tone was changing, arrogance was creeping in to his assertions. His awareness of his position was not one of benevolence, as had been hoped, but one of pride and conceit. As time passed he became more and more aware of just WHO he was!
 
“I am the King!!”, he would cry as he marched about the palace. “I am the King!!” he would declare whenever anyone questioned a decision, “I am the KING!!!” he would shout when asked at what hour he should be expected to begin the work of the day.
 
There was never any doubt, in the minds of his people, about just who he was.
 
In time he went to a neighbouring country to visit the King and Queen there. His counterpart could not have been more different to himself. The foreign King rose early and was in conference with his ministers for hours in the morning. “Where is the King?” demanded the visitor. “He is working, Sire”, replied the courtiers. “WORKING!!?”, yelled the affronted monarch, “Yes, Sire. That is how the King takes care of his people”.
 
The mornings were filled with discussions, the afternoons with hearing petitions, evenings stretched long into the night as the working King considered the country and its management, his people and their needs.
Finally, the visitor could take no more of being ignored. He marched into his host’s meeting chamber and demanded that they go riding together. “An excellent idea”, said the host, “We will go this afternoon to the village on the other edge of the forest and see the head man there. He wants to talk to me about water”.
 
So they rode together to the village and the visitor’s eyes were opened. The King spoke with the head man of the village, learned of the problem of the blocked well, consulted his accompanying ministers and arrange for a work team to come and help unblock it or dig a new one. He listened to his people, he got dirty examining the problem and he arranged a solution. When the visitor, shocked at how low his host had stooped, reminded him, “You are the KING!”, the man replied, “Yes, my friend, this is what Kings do”.
 
When he returned home he determined to change his ways. He WAS the King, there was no doubt about that, but his focus had been entirely upon himself and his position, now he resolved to turn his focus towards others and use his position for their benefit. In his early years, he was one of the most useless Kings they ever had, in his last years he was one of the best Kings they ever had.
 
Being a King is one thing; living and reigning like one is quite another.
Posted by: forfreedomalone | 20/07/2017

To work, or not to work, that is the question.

We are justified apart from “works of the law”. We are told this over and over and indeed it is good news, but what does it mean?
Most Christians would understand the term to mean, any actions required by the Mosaic law. It is understood that Jesus nullified or did away with, the Mosaic law in its totality and that to keep any part of it was it “go back under law”, as the “Old Covenant” was based upon a works-based righteousness, or salvation.
The feeling is that as Paul preached against “works of the law” there can be no doubt that such works are not part of the miscalled “New Covenant”.
So where did he preach against the “works of the law” and what was he talking about?
There are only two book in the Bible where Paul talks about “works of the law”; twice in Romans and 4 times in Galatians, a total of 6 verses in the whole Bible mention this subject.(Rom 3:27; Rom 9:32; Gal 2:16′ Gal 3:2,5 & 10)
So can we conclude that Paul was against the law (properly Torah) from these verses? It is certainly what many think, but there is a problem in the shape of 7 more verses, mainly from Romans, where Paul clearly and emphatically states that he is NOT opposed to the Torah. (Rom 7:12, 14, 22; 1Tim 1:8; Gal 2:17) In all of these verses Paul is abundantly clear that he is FOR Torah, that it is good, holy, spiritual, just and a delight.
Towards the end of Paul’s life he stated clearly that he had NEVER offended against the Torah (that is broken or taught against) (Acts 28:17) and indeed the disciples in Jerusalem themselves were fully aware that he walked “orderly and kept the law” (Acts 20:24).
So doesn’t this leave us with a dilemma?
How can he be for it and against it at the same time? Sounds just a bit schizophrenic don’t you think?
In every one of Paul’s uses of the term ‘works of the law’ he is talking about how one is saved, made righteous, justified. So what does that mean?
Justification is the process by which we are made acceptable to the Holy God. It is by grace through faith. God expends the grace, we apply faith to receive it. We cannot earn it, no matter what we do or how well we do it. It is based on righteousness, God’s righteousness, as revealed in the faith of Jesus Christ. (Rom 3:21 & 22) We have faith in his faith and God says we are now in right standing with him.
So if Paul is for the Torah and understands that we are justified by faith only, what are these ‘works of the law’?
Well, we know from what Paul writes in Rom 3:22 that one can be justified by faith and still observe Torah, because they are not two sides of a coin, they are two different coins.
The Israelites in the desert had Torah which they followed scrupulously, but they had not faith, so they could not enter the Promised Land ( a symbol of God’s eternal rest).
Works without faith bears no fruit and faith without works is dead. We need both. Our justification is purely based upon faith, keeping the Torah alone will never earn us righteousness, but once we have righteousness, through the free gift of God, to ignore his moral imperatives and say that his Torah (his teachings in righteousness) is null and void is to go from legalism to lawlessness. It is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
It is also important to note that in no instance in the Renewed Covenant (NT) does Paul actually say “works of THE law”, he says “works of law”. These are two very different statements.
If I say “works of the charity” and “works of charity’ you can see that in the first instance I am talking about a specific charity and in the second I am speaking about an indeterminate charity.
Paul is talking about ANY legal requirement one puts on one’s salvation, not Torah specifically. So one can throw away all Torah and then say “People can only be saved on a Sunday” and one is under a “work of law”.
He was never against Torah, he was against producing that ‘feel good factor’ within ourselves whereby we convince ourselves we are righteous by what we have done. We are not told we will ever FEEL righteous, we are to BELIEVE we are righteous, by the finished work of Christ. If what we need is a ‘righteous feeling’ then we will work to achieve it and ‘fall from grace’.
Torah was never in question, it’s holiness, purity or value, it was the man-made twisting of God’s teachings into a system of actions to earn our righteous feelings that he was against.
When we reduce God’s words of life to words of law we suck the life out of his teachings and reduce them to death.
If we are doing ANYTHING believing if we do it, do it well enough, do it long enough, or do with self denial and suffering we will earn a response from God, in any form, we are deceiving ourselves. God’s righteous standard is still the same today as it was at the beginning of time, but we now have a helper who has written that standard on our hearts. Although, note, that doesn’t mean WE get to define his standard because of what we feel, we are still limited to what HE says is the way of love.
David Stern, the translator of the Complete Jewish Bible, puts it rather well when he says, ” Paul’s usage of the term works of [the] law means not deeds done in virtue of following the Torah in the way God intended, but deeds done in consequence of perverting the Torah into a set of rules which, it is presumed, can be obey mechanically, automatically, legalistically, without faith, without having to trust God, without having love for God and man, and without being empowered by the Holy Spirit”.
With this in mind he translates Galatians 2:16 thus, “Even so, we have come to realise that a person is not declared righteous by God on the ground of his legalistic observance of Torah commands, but through the Messiah Yeshua’s trusting faithfulness. Therefore, we too have put our trust in Messiah Yeshua and become faithful to him, in order that we might be declared righteous on the ground of Messiah’s trusting faithfulness and not on the ground of our legalistic observance of Torah commands. For on the ground of legalistic observance of Torah commands, no one will be declared righteous”.
Works of law are varied and can be very subtle, but they will earn us nothing but condemnation and misery.
Redefining God’s morality, as laid out for us in his Torah is sin.
The middle ground, the place of safety and growth is found in living in love, as defined by God, powered by grace, obtained by faith.

Posted by: forfreedomalone | 12/07/2017

Then and now

The greatest error in teaching on ‘then’ and ‘now’, in my opinion, is the teaching that ‘then’ salvation/righteousness was based on works and ‘now’ is based on faith.
 
This error is based on focusing on the wrong place and drawing the wrong conclusions from the information.
 
It was not the keeping of the Commandments which made the ‘then’ people righteous, it was the offering of sacrifices. It was the blood which atoned for them, not their works. The blood of many, many, many animals. Not one drop of that blood was perfect and not one drop of it was good enough to atone for them for more than one year, and this was ALL God’s grace, not works.
 
In later times the Israelites broke the covenant they had with God by going after other gods. This, in turn, meant that they were no longer sacrificing to God, but to false gods, which meant that the means of God’s grace had been nullified towards them.
 
It is patently ridiculous to say that they could, in any way, achieve righteousness by working hard enough for it, but this conclusion has been reached by looking at the wrong part of the Commandments, Judgements and Ordinances. The Ordinances were where the atonement of sin lay and the Ordinances were fulfilled in the Cross.
 
Righteousness was always and still is, TOTALLY, dependent upon the blood you have to offer on the Mercy Seat. Then it was the blood of animals, now it is the blood of the Son of God. Then it was accepted by the goodness of God, now it is accepted by the goodness of God.
 
Righteous was and still is dependent on the death of another on our behalf, the big difference is that ‘now’ it is no longer an animal’s death, but the death of God’s own son, whose perfect blood has made all future atonement no longer required.
Posted by: forfreedomalone | 17/06/2017

The joyous freedom of repentance.

I received a message, yesterday, about my last post and it contains some interesting questions.
 
“How can you say that the church needs to repent? We repented when we were saved, it’s done, it’s finished. Are you saying we are not saved? Are you saying we are to go about looking for sin in our lives all the time and promising never to do that again?
 
You are just heaping burdens on people and causing them to be sin conscious.”
 
Interesting questions.
 
Repents means “to change one’s mind”. That’s it.
It does not mean to make promises. Promises have nothing to do with it at all.
I didn’t used to like olives. Now I do. I’ve changed my mind about liking olives. Changing my mind means I didn’t like them, now I do. At no point in the process of changing my mind did I make any promises about no longer not liking them, I just liked them.
 
When we planted out garden I was not at all convinced by where my husband wanted to put the fountain. Now I believe he was absolutely right. I’ve changed my mind. No promised were involved on any level.
 
When one repents it is because the heart has changed towards what one believed, thought or did before. One held to path B, now one is on path C. It is as simple as that.
However, to change from path B to path C one needs to see that one is going the wrong way, or that a slight course correction is required.
 
But there is a step involved before that change of direction and that is getting onto path B in the first place.
 
A sinner cannot go from paths B to C because he is not on path B in the first place.
No matter how much he wants to “change his mind” about his sinful ways there is nothing he can do that is not achieved by pure strength of will. If he has a very strong will he may be able to effect change to some degree or other, but if he is not strong willed, he simply cannot change. He has a sin nature and there is nothing he can do to change that.
 
In order to go from path B to path C we need to first leave path A and we do that by coming to God in repentance. God gives us a new nature, his nature, so that we now have the power and ability to live differently.
We have been moved onto path B. We cannot do this, it is a work of the grace of God, but now that it is done we have the ability to navigate our way to the end of the journey.
 
Some will say that once we have this new nature everything is different. We are totally new creations and living differently is so natural that we can’t help it.
I have a problem with that and I believe the Bible does too.
I also believe that telling people this is what is heaping burdens on their backs (although I fully accept that is not quite what Jesus meant when he used that expression).
 
Paul told Christians to “reckon” the old man dead. “Reckon” means “to consider it so”. We use this expression when we say, when asked if we will take on a task for someone, “Consider it done”. It isn’t done, it hasn’t even been started, but they are being asked to consider it done, to no longer worry about it, to let go of it. So it is with our old man. He is not dead by any means until we kill him off by total neglect.
 
Ever time he raises his head over the edge of his grave we are to remind him he is dead and turn away from him. We are to repent.
 
Paul explains this whole process in Romans 7.
In verse 17 he says that when he does things he should not do it is not him, but the sin within him which has risen up again, His old man is trying to get out of the grave.
From verse 22 on he explains that in his inner man ( his new man) he delights in the law of God, (in all that righteous purity of who God is) but his “members”, as he put it, his body, thoughts and speech, he is still a slave to the law of sin. Oh wretched man that he is!!
 
But wretched man he is not, because he has within him the Sprit of life which overcomes everything.
He can make course corrections whenever they are needed.
 
In the first verse of Chapter 8 he tells us that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The Greek word translated as ‘condemnation’ is the word katakrima, which means “worthy of the dead sentence”. If a prisoner was ‘condemned’ they were going to die.
We who are in Christ Jesus will never receive this sentence. We have been redeemed from the clutches of death and transferred to the path of life and it is because of this that we are able to see, own and change what needs correcting as we go along.
 
In the book of 1 John, John tells us that if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. Some will tell us that those words were written to the lost, but that is not so. The truth was never in them, so there is no deception, there never was any truth in them in the first place.
John was writing to believers. He was reminding them that taking the attitude that we are saved and now perfect in every way was a deceptive attitude, it was a lie.
 
If we are just honest with ourselves we can see, daily, where we fall short of the glory of God. Frequently it is in very small things. Did you cut someone off and get that last parking space? Did you put your hot coffee mug on someone’s table without a coaster? Did you let the cashier charge you less for the item than you knew, or suspected, it should be? Did you pass on a prayer request to half a dozen people without being asked to do so?
 
We are not talking about losing your salvation, nor about saying you are not saved. We are talking about using a powerful tool which only the saved have. The powerwasher of the soul, which is repentance.
 
We are not making promises to anyone. We are not saying “I will NEVER do this again”, we are saying, “I see that what I did was wrong, I am admitting that fact (owning it) and I am committing to doing things differently in future by the grace of God”.
 
When the heart is changed, from pride and arrogance to one of softness towards God, the heart will tell us, “that was wrong, you need to repent, you need to change your mind about that, change your direction of travel and change it now, before you are too far off track.”. We want our hearts soft to God, so that we can hear his every word.
We are not navel gazing, looking for things about which to repent, but we are willing to repent when things need changing.
 
The church as a whole needs to repent over many things. There are millions who have been hurt by the church, who have been rejected and abused by the attitude the church has taken to them. We have not shown love, towards our brothers and sisters in Christ, as Christ himself loved us.We have created divisions in the ‘family’ and we have done nothing to heal them.
 
We use fancy language to cover it up and we use fancy theology to say we don’t need to confess or repent over it, but the truth is we do need to confess and repent.
We need to confess and repent to God that we have fallen short of what he commanded us to do, because if we do not we will continue on the wrong path. We are most certainly saved, we are on path A, but it is time to change direction and head to path B then C then D, as we progress along His Way. We cannot walk in His Way if we are not saved, it simply isn’t possible. But now that we are, we need to check our compass and directions.
 
Repentance is a joyous thing. Not a burden.
We are ABLE to change direction by simply seeing, owning and wanting to. It is God’s grace which makes it possible, but we have to be willing to see that there is a need.
Posted by: forfreedomalone | 14/06/2017

What is this thing called love? 5

LOVE DOES NOT KEEP NOTE OF PAST WRONGSLOVE DOES NOT REJOICE IN UNRIGHTEOUSNESS, BUT IN THE TRUTH.
Finally, after a long ‘chat’ about what love does and does not do, with the Corinthians, Paul gets to, what may be regarded as, the nub of the argument.

Love does not remember the long list of offenses it has already been caused. It does not expect to be offended again by So-and-So because they ALWAYS do. It does not roll out the scroll of past trespasses when yet another is added to the list.

It does not even understand the process of mental cross-referencing, it just lets all past offenses go. It forgives.

In constantly bring to recall all that someone has done to offend we are rejoicing in unrighteousness because we are never focusing on the truth.
The whole issue of focusing on truth is a very interesting one.There are many levels of ‘truth’. Truth can, in a sense be relative.It is true that there are people who believe that the earth is flat. To those people it is true that the earth IS flat.However, if we were to convert them all to the understanding that the earth is round then it would no longer be true that there are people who believe the earth is flat.That truth is relative; it is relative to there being people who believe it.
This is not so with ultimate truth. Ultimate truth, the highest truth, the truth which stands alone and is in no way, whatsoever, dependent on anything else to be truth, is God. He alone is ‘self-existent’ which is what Jehovah means.If everything else ceased to exist he would still exist and his word would still be the word of truth.What he says on any subject is truth, in its highest and purest form.
He is love and he is kind, he is long-suffering, he does not constantly remind us of who he is and what HE can do, he is pleased for us in our tiniest achievements, he forgives ALL our iniquities and he does not bring them back to mind.

He takes no pleasure in unrighteousness but ‘thinks’ constantly on what is true.

His ways are higher than our way and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts.

He is constantly drawing us back to himself and his righteousness, but we are constantly pulling away and redefining what is ‘good and evil’ from our vast and acquired knowledge having eaten from The Tree.

We know best.

Yes, Paul finishes by telling them, throughout it all, all of the offenses, hurts, rebellion, arrogance, pride, judgment and self-aggrandisement, love is constant. It continues through all things, it believes that the subject of its love will recognise it, it hopes and it endures for the sake of the one it loves.

We are made in his image, yet we have wandered far.We are not perfect in word, thought or deed, but we are perfect in spirit. We have all that we need within ourselves, in the form of the Holy Spirit to be loving, as God defines it.
All we lack is the will.

The church today is one of the most dangerous places for the hurting to be. Even among the brethren there is no evidence of love, many times. My rights, my opinion, my way are all that count and others better tow the line.

We are in a day when the Lord is calling his people to return to His way. He loved the world so much he died for her, but the thing which will draw them to his love is how we, the church, love one another.

Jesus ‘new’ commandment was not that we should love the world, but that we are to love ONE ANOTHER, AS HE LOVED US. He laid down his life for his friends. He told the disciples “This is how they will know you ARE my disciples, by the way you love ONE ANOTHER”. (John 13:35)

It is only when his people, who are called by his name, humble themselves and pray and seek his face (listen to him) and turn from their wicked ways (they definition of good and evil) that he will hear and heal their land.

Any way we have decided to take, which is different to the way he has told us to take, is a ‘wicked way’.
Romans 4:2 tells us that “it is the goodness of God” which causes a man to repent, to turn around and change his mind. The word, translated as ‘goodness’ means “moral purity, excellence of integrity”.
When men see the moral purity and excellence of integrity of God, displayed through his people, they will turn. They will know we are his and they will want what we have, because what we have will be SO different to what they have.

Are we loving one another as he has told us to love one another?
None of us do. We all fail. But will we turn?

Will we humble ourselves and confess that we have redefined God’s morality, we have decided, just as Adam and Eve did, that we know best and we have failed to show the world what and who love is.
If we will there is a great healing waiting to be poured out on our lands.

Posted by: forfreedomalone | 08/06/2017

What is this thing called love? 4

As we have seen from the previous sections, what love is and what love is not, frequently, can be grouped together.

In the next section, still in the negative, we could do the same thing, with the following three.

LOVE DOES NOT BEHAVE BADLY.
LOVE IS NOT SELF-CENTRED.
LOVE IS NOT PROVOKED.

LOVE DOES NOT BEHAVE BADLY.
Immediately we see that love is an action, not a feeling. The behaviour exhibited by love is not bad behaviour.

Today, in the name of love, we see more and more parents refusing to discipline their children. They are allowed to be the centre of attention in every setting. They scream, yell, run about and demand constantly.
They are not taught about boundaries of behaviour or respect for others.
Parents indulge them in every way and then, when the child is throwing a fit, look on helplessly. Those who did not raise their children to be utterly undisciplined distance themselves from those families.

In marriages, we see that ‘love’ demands that one spouse puts up with outrageous behaviour from the other. Drinking to excess, neglect, spending beyond their means, and a host of other behaviours are tolerated because to challenge them is not ‘love’.

Conversely, many Christians, in an attempt to further the Kingdom, will preach AT people rather than quietly live out their faith.

Bad behaviour is not a fruit of love and it is not something we will ever see for God. This forces us to realise that God WILL challenge our behaviour if it is bad, he will not let us get away with tantrums or rudeness or self-centredness. He WILL take us to task over our behaviour, but he will do it in love; with kindness and gentleness.

Much of the permissive parenting we see today is actually very self-centred. It is not for the benefit of the child, but for the benefit of the parent. The parents want to be seen as giving their child everything they did not have, freer expression, more treats, more ‘fun’, whatever it is they feel they were deprived of in their childhood.
If they were smacked, they won’t smack their child, if they were made to do chores, they won’t make their child do them, if they were restricted in pocket money, their child won’t be. None of this is for the benefit of the child, it is all to make the parent feel like they are the best parent any child ever had.

In marriages, it is self-centredness which causes a person to spend hours per evening ignoring their spouse in one distraction or another, which they can justify as promoting their business or furthering their education. It is self-centredness which justifies working longer hours to have more money and it is self-centredness which refused to confront bad behaviour. ‘Keep the peace’ at all costs, is not a loving attitude.

Even the very godly sounding, ‘love thyself’, is a totally self-centered concept.
Nowhere are we told to love ourselves, we are told to love others in the manner in which we would love ourselves.
Self-love is an oxymoron when we consider that the Greek word, translated as ‘love’ is ‘agape’, which means, ‘self-sacrificing’.
How do we put ourselves first, when we are to put ourselves last?

Now, having said all that, we come to LOVE IS NOT PROVOKED.

Due to lack of discipline, we become a people who cannot prevent situations, we have to react to them, we cannot deal quietly and in a controlled manner with events, we have to ‘react’.

Interestingly, the word translated as ‘provoked’ doesn’t necessarily mean provoked in a bad way.
It means ‘stimulated to action’ and that could, in certain circumstances, be to good action. We may feel that feeding a beggar is a ‘good’ action and on seeing someone who is down and out we are ‘provoked’ to action. However, God says that the man who will not work should not eat, so our ‘provoked’ action is not love, but self-centred.

Often we will come across someone who his suffering in their lives and we will desire to pray for them. Being so ‘provoked’ we will pray for healing, or whatever we feel it is they need and in many cases, we will command it NOW. But while it is easy to see that this could be interpreted as love, it is not.
Love would pause, it would consult God on how he wants you to pray and it would pray according to direction no matter how disappointed the receiver may be.

Love wants the best for others and the best is not a destruction of their faith when your prayer is not answered as you had commanded.

When we see how love does not operate it is easier to see why God does not give us everything we pray for, he does not rescue us at every turn, he allows us to go through things to strengthen us, he does not respond to us, always, at the first call.
We start to see that love does not want to create people who are dependent on it to function, but who are desirous of being in such a close relationship with it that it naturally flows out of them. It does not want a family of children but wants adults who can understand the ways of love and harmonise with it.

All that Paul has to say on love is about love perfected. We grow into this love, we don’t start manifesting it, so don’t beat yourself up if you fall short. We all do.

Boost post
Posted by: forfreedomalone | 05/06/2017

What is this thing called love? 3

As we transition from what love is, to what love is not, we sort of get a run of three.
 
LOVE IS NOT JEALOUS, ARROGANT OR BOASTFUL.
 
These three often go together.
We frequently encounter people who are jealous of what someone else has. They are bitter that that thing is not theirs and so they boast about what they have, as though to make smaller the achievement of the other person. Their boasting is full of pride at their own achievements or possessions.
 
Jealousy is a response to what others have or do, arrogance and boasting are responses to what we have or do.
Neither has any place in love.
 
Some Christians are jealous of the ministry of others. They want to be in the place of the international speaker, the TV star, the leader in the church. They have lost sight of what they do have and how valuable that is, they want more and they want what someone else had.
 
Some, in those coveted positions, boast of what they have or who they are. Their ministry or church is the one where the FULL Gospel is preached, where the Spirit is to be found, where famous names come to preach.
 
We see none of this behaviour with God.
 
Jesus had more reason than anyone to boast about who he was, yet he frequently told people and even demons to be quiet.
He had plenty of reason to boast about how great his relationship was with the Father, but he never did.
He could have been arrogant with the Pharisees who were supposed to be the guardians of the faith and who were creating burdens they would not carry themselves, for the backs of others. He never was.
 
We never see in either the Father nor the Son the attitude of jealousy, arrogance or boasting. We only see humility and rejoicing in the joy of others.
 
When you succeed He rejoices, when you gain he is pleased for you, when he had something you lack, he generously and humbly provides it.
 
God is love and God is NEVER jealous, arrogant or boastful.
Posted by: forfreedomalone | 04/06/2017

What is this thing called love? 2

Yesterday we started looking at love, as defined by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Today we’ll look at the second attribute of love which Paul writes in the positive. Love IS patient, love IS kind, he says. Why are these two positive but from here on he writes in the negative, love IS NOT proud etc?
He does this because he is writing to the Corinthians who were neither patient nor kind, but were proud, self-seeking, easily angered, etc. He is drawing a contrast between what love is and how they are behaving.

Love is a fruit of the Spirit and so it is deposited in us when we accept the Spirit. However, it does not just happen to be the way we live our lives without any effort from us. We have to make choices, daily, to allow the Spirit free rein in our lives to love as he wants to love, and not as we want to.
This is a process.

Just because I understand what love is, does not mean I live in a loving way every minute of every day. We all fail and we all have to pick ourselves us and start again, but learning to love is all the other fruit, it has to come to maturity slowly and over a period of time.

When one plants a new fruit tree there will be no fruit for three or maybe more years. The tree is too young and immature to produce fruit. It needs time to get its root established and to grow strong. THEN it produces fruit.
In the first year that may be one or two small pieces, but, as the years pass the fruit gets more, larger and better quality. The best fruit does not come from a young tree, but from an old one.
The perfection of love is not something we can produce in our first year, nor even in our 20th, but it is always the perfect picture we hold before us as the example of what is within us and which we can choose to let out.

So let’s move on to the second attribute of love…..

LOVE IS KIND.

We could see that patience is passive, but kindness is active. Being kind requires action.

People who are kind set themselves to take action for the welfare of others. They are willing to ‘do’ rather than sit on the sidelines and watch. They will see needs before most and they will not hold back in meeting those needs because of perceived slights.

Kindness reaches out, even if its hand will be struck. Kindness wants to help others out of the darkness and into the light.
Kindness is an attribute of God.

Luke 6:35 tells us that “He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men”
Eph 4:32 tell us to “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also forgave you”
This is in the form of a command from Paul. He is instructing the Ephesians, and us, that we are to do this. It is not a suggestion.

According to Paul, when he wrote to the Galatians (5:22) kindness is another of the fruits of the Spirit. Once we know that an attribute of the mature Christian is a “fruit of the Spirit” we are utterly without excuse. This attribute is already deposited within us and we are expected to work it out into our lives.

Kindness does not mean that we never challenge or oppose things, in the lives of others, which will hurt them or worse, destroy them.
Kindness will not allow disputes and divisions, it will not stand by and watch as sin is accepted, it will not assist those who are sinning to continue to do so. Kindness does not support the rights of one over the other. Kindness wants the other to do well, to be honoured and to be all that they can be in Christ.

Kindness and long-suffering could be seen as two sides of the same coin. While long-suffering endures the abuses of others, kindness seeks to do good to those who are the abusers.

Kindness, like long-suffering, is not always easy. It can be hard to endure the abuses of others and, sometimes, even harder to respond to them with kindness, but if we want to understand love and be like the one who first loved us, we have to be both long-suffering and kind. We have the power we just need to make the choice.

God is love and love is kind.

Boost post
Posted by: forfreedomalone | 03/06/2017

What is this thing called love?

I am often asked, when I teach that God’s love is not like human love, to explain what it is like.
This is not too challenging because the Bible tell us exactly what it is like.
 
The book of 1 Corinthians tells us all we need to know in the 13th chapter.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
 
But what exactly does it mean?
How do we define ‘patient’, ‘kind’, ‘etc? And when we have defined them, are we defining them as God does?
 
Let’s take them one at a time.
 
LOVE IS PATIENT.
 
The word, translated as ‘patient’, is μακροθυμέω (makrothymeō) and means “to be long-spirited, to not lose heart. To persevere patiently and bravely”.
 
It is obvious, I think you will agree, that the context of this word is not patience with circumstances, but patience with people.
Some Bibles translate is as ‘long-suffering’.
 
Long-suffering is the opposite of angry. It is associated with the concepts of mercy and is often used to describe an attribute of God’s own character. This kind of patience does not give up, it does not give in, it is not overcome by circumstances or trials.
Long-suffering gives no place to despondency or loss of hope.
 
Matthew Hendry, in his famous commentary, says ” It (love) can endure evil, injury, and provocation, without being filled with resentment, indignation, or revenge. It makes the mind firm, gives it power over the angry passions, and furnishes it with a persevering patience, that shall rather wait and wish for the reformation of a brother than fly out in resentment of his conduct. It will put up with many slights and neglects from the person it loves, and wait long to see the kindly effects of such patience on him.”
 
No wonder God is described in those terms!
Ex 34:6 “The Lord, the Lord your God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness and truth”.
Rom 2:4 ” Do you think lightly of the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience…….”
Rom 9:22 “What if God, although willing to demonstrate his wrath and make his power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?”
 
There are many more.
 
We are told that if we have the Spirit and his fruit is evident in our lives, long-suffering will be seen in us. (Gal 5:22)
 
Eph 4:2 tells us that we are to be long-suffering towards one another.
 
The information that love was long-suffering was delivered to the church at Corinth. The members of the church there were anything but long-suffering. They would not wait until everyone was gathered to take communion; they fell into disputes and took one another to court. They must have blushed when they read Paul’s letter.
 
Today’s Christians are no better. We behave just like the world.
“I (you) shouldn’t have to put up with THAT!”
“What he/she did/said was unforgivable!” (Bearing with one another and forgiving one another, ………..just as the Lord forgave you. Col 3:13)
 
We do not silently endure ill treatment, we cry “abuse” at the drop of a hat and we have no ability to ‘put up with it’.
We see the violation of ‘our rights’ and we feel badly done by when we are on the receiving end of mistreatment.
We are thin skinned and self-orientated.
We lack long-suffering.
 
 
When we look at God’s love for us, we can clearly see his character of long-suffering. How long does he suffer us? How long does he persevere with us, enduring until we are conformed to the image of his son?
How many chances does he give us to ‘straighten up and fly right’?
How many times does he forgive us?
How often does he demand his rights?
 
I don’t think I actually need to answer those questions.
He is patient with us beyond our understanding, beyond anything we deserve.
 
God is love and love is patient.
Posted by: forfreedomalone | 19/05/2017

Growing Light.

It is ‘natural’ for us, as humans, to stop and assess where we are from time to time. We stop shopping and check our list, we take a coffee break and run through the jobs we have to accomplish yet in the day.
We like to know where we are in terms of a timeline and we like to know how well we are doing compared to others.

None of this is at all useful when it comes to our spiritual life.

God does not look at our daily output for him and say “You can’t go to bed yet, you haven’t done NEARLY as much as so-and-so”. His only standard for us is the PERFECT Jesus.

Imagine being in a tunnel where is it pitch dark. There is no light whatsoever.
Then someone appears at the other end of the tunnel with a torch. It is a tiny pinprick of light. This is the light of the world entering the darkness of sin in the heart of a, now, believer.
This delights God.

He sees the light as the light of his son and he is delighted.
If that light never gets any bigger, he is still delighted with the light.

However, having a bit of light in the dark causes the desire for more light, so the person with the torch moves deeper into the tunnel and the light fills more of the darkness. From where we are standing the light gets bigger.
This is our walk with the Lord, as he fills more and more of the dark recesses of our hearts.

Unlike this analogy (any of which are too limiting) his light actually does drive out the dark, rather than being replaced by it as soon as the light moves forward. In our heart’s case, the light fills the soul and is never driven out again.

Jesus has as much darkness in him, as our tunnel had light to begin with. Not one tiny spot of it.
So our guide to where we are, is how much light is there in us?
Are we yet perfect?
Of course, we will never be in this life, as there is still darkness in the world, so we just keep submitting to him, changing, going forward into the light and forget the milestones we put up in our natural lives.

As we submit more and more to his spirit filling us, we become more and more like him. As we are filled with more and more light we have less and less darkness.

It is the light on which God focuses. The fact it is there pleases him, the fact it is growing pleases him.
He does not love one more than the other. He longs to see it grow, because he knows the more light we have in us, the more love, peace and joy we will have in us, but he loves the tiny light and the fully encompassing light the same.

Reducing God’s love to the terms we use for human love is not worthy of him or us. God does not look on our efforts or our behaviour and say “Well, she tried hard and I love that”.
He is not impressed with us, as people, he is only impressed with the light of his son in us and how that shines out into the world.

As we are all individual he sees each light individually and loves each, unconditionally and individually, but his love can never be defined in human terms.

If you are flagging as you see how others are so much more spiritual than you, or have so much more knowledge of the Bible than you, stop for a moment and look at the light in you. Is it growing? Can you see you are more like him than you once were?
That’s what counts.

The light in you is the Light of the World and the Father is very pleased to see it in you.

Older Posts »

Categories

%d bloggers like this: