Carried by Christmas truth

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As we approach Christmas, I’m reminded of the many wonderful truths we have explored together over the past year. For most of us it’s been a year splattered with highs and lows, with pains and joys, with victories and defeats. In spite of the unpredictable nature of life, Jesus Christ has remained the one true constant, faithful in all circumstances.

Carried by Christmas truthOver the next few weeks many of us will be bombarded by worldly concepts masquerading as Christmas. However, commercial marketing of goods most don’t need is the least of our concerns. It’s the incognito philosophies which exclude the Lord Jesus Christ which should really concern us. These worldly ideas spread the lethal fables of a Christless Christmas.

Christmas marks the spectacular event of God stepping into human history in the form of baby Jesus. God’s Word proclaims that “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature…” (Hebrews 1:3). An angel told Joseph; “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” [which means, God with us] (Matthew 1:23).

While such an event seems impossible, remember God’s involvement. As the angel explained to Joseph; “that which is conceived in her [Mary] is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21). Jesus was no ordinary baby. Following the Holy Spirit enabled conception, God employed all the customary means of birth, childhood, family, and Jewish culture. Throughout, Jesus remained perfectly God wrapped in perfect humanity.

From conception, Jesus’ purpose and destiny were clear; He was heading directly for the cross of Calvary. Again, this defies human wisdom. But remember, the Father’s intention was not to satisfy the world’s desires. In fact, Jesus said of Himself; “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38).

I encourage you to think of Christmas the way God does. Christmas is about God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It’s about God’s purpose of salvation fulfilled through Jesus. It’s about sinner’s transformation to become worshippers. It’s about Jesus doing for humanity what humanity could not do for themselves. So, as we enjoy family togetherness, great food, and gift giving; “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David…” (2 Timothy 2:8).

I shall be laying down my pen for the Christmas holiday session and hope to return in February 2020. I pray you all have a wonderful Christ centred and family enriching Christmas.


Hold to the certainty of Jesus Christ

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As in all of life, certainty and security go hand in hand in the Christian life. When secure, we act upon those things we are certain of, while assigning the rest to a lower priority. It’s healthy as believers to identify those things in the faith which convince us of spiritual realities beyond doubt. Those biblical truths which pervade our lives to such a degree that they become non-negotiable.

Hold to the certainty of Jesus ChristDoctor Luke wrote of life’s transforming encounter with Jesus Christ so that others, such as “Theophilus, …may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:3-4). Luke was not content that people think of the Christian faith as philosophical or mystical. No, faith in Christ grows from the absolute truth as taught in God’s written Word. Christ is knowable, He’s understandable, He’s believable, and He’s dependable. All this goes to the certainty of faith found in Christ and His resulting security.

The apostle Peter confidently proclaimed; “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ…” (Acts 2:36). They knew who Jesus was, and they knew the life changing power of the resurrected Christ (1Jn 1:1-10). They presented a clear and understandable message which enabled their hearers to know who they were being called to believe in. There were no questionable or weak ideas from biblical apostles.

They boldly declared truth “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19 ). Surely, this should be the desire of every Christian. To know Christ so profoundly that His identity becomes your identity.

In Thessalonica, Paul, accompanied by Silas, cut to the chase with the local Jews, “and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures” (Acts 17:2). They engaged the Jews through exposition on their religious ground, in their synagogue, and on their Sabbath days. They engaged them both spiritually and intellectually by reasoning from God’s Word. I imagine there would have been some passionate discussion from both sides of the synagogue on those days.

In fact, Paul and Silas engaged everyone present through the Scriptures, from both Jewish and Greek cultures. Consequently; some of the Jews “were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women” (Acts 17:4).

Epaphras laboured in his prayer life, always struggling on behalf of the believers at Colossae. He didn’t waste time with fluffy duck prayers; no, he was precise in his requests to God on the believer’s behalf. You see, Epaphras knew that they, like us today, needed to “stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God” (Colossians 4:12). Precision prayer motivates precise living to assist God in working out His perfect will in the lives of wayward Christians; which is all of us.

I encourage you to recognise and surrender to God’s will for your life. Invite the Lord to carry out the work of growing and maturing you. Give the Holy Spirit free reign of your whole heart and mind. Saturate your beliefs and thoughts with the absolute truths of God’s Word. Find at least one other person to take with you on your growing walk with Christ. They, like you, will be blessed and Christ will be glorified.

Understanding desires

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Every human has desires. They motivate, they inspire dreams, they build ambitions, and they can build or destroy relationships. Desires are an important part of our decision-making process affecting all of life. Desires are rarely neutral by nature, and sometimes they even lack any distinguishing qualities.  Sometimes they are of little consequence, while other times they have catastrophic repercussions. 

Understanding desiresMore often than not our desires fall into one of two categories. Be they passive desires or raging passions, they are either good or bad. They will either benefit or damage. They frequently alter the course of life with far reaching consequences for better or for worse. 

Obviously, desires are a God given ability as a result of being made in the image of God (Gen 1:27). Unlike God, who only has pure and wise desires, we struggle and even battle with our desires (Jas 4:1). To counter the believer’s struggle with desires, God has given His Word and His Spirit. The Holy Spirit takes the Word of God and constructs a right mind and heart attitude based on knowledge. 

Although often-misunderstood, David explained this in Psalm 37:4; “delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” This is not a universal promise of God providing everything you want. Instead, for those who delight in Him, the Lord will place His desires within their believing hearts. 

As Solomon rightly explained; “desire without knowledge is not good…” (Proverbs 19:2). Therefore, God builds the internal necessities for growing in the “grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). “Now the Lord is the Spirit… And we all… are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). 

As Jesus was explaining the parable of the sower and the seed to his disciples, He described the seed that fell among thorns. “They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful” (Mark 4:18-19). Notice the enemy’s strategy; introduce significant cares. Apply layers of appetising and inviting success and wealth. Then, to top it all off; strangle the input of God’s Word. Before long, you have another isolated would-be believer who calms himself with thoughts of “well, I gave Jesus a go, and he just didn’t work out.” 

This battle strategy is possibly the easiest one for the enemy to implement in your life. At the time, it’s almost undetectable through the natural course of events, desires, and consequences. You think you’re doing the best thing at the time. Your goal is to remove the pain, to eliminate the inner struggle of waring desires and conflicting beliefs. So, you stop ready God’s Word. You stop praying. Then, you gradually reduce the number of Church gatherings you attend and Christian friends you hang out with. Before long, the enemy called isolation has won. 

All the apostles were realistic, and down to earth men. They acknowledged their struggle against sin and their need for divine resources in order to experience victory. Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (Galatians 5:16-17). Natural desires which lead you away from God are impossible to beat without the Holy Spirit’s enablement. Focus your mind and heart on Jesus Christ. Fill yourself with God’s Word and surrender to the desires of the Holy Spirit.

Give careful attention to living Jesus Christ as Lord

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Paul was careful to instruct Titus on the essentials for setting up elders in the Churches on the island of Crete. To qualify; “he must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9). Understanding biblical truth and being able to pass that truth on to others was critical. However, right living was of equal importance.

Give careful attention to living Jesus Christ as LordRight doctrine must produce right behaviour. Elders, like all believers are to “renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives” (Titus 2:11-12). Our behaviour should match our beliefs. The trouble is, constantly battling right Christian character are the distractions caused by the busyness and cares of life. It’s not always the big nasty temptations which catch us out.

Distractions can easily lure us into spiritual adultery. That’s when we give to another the love we promised to Christ. No matter how tasty or demanding the distraction, devotion to Christ should never be surrendered. Make no mistake, God’s enemy is skilled at introducing complications which challenge your loyalty to Christ.

Paul had this same concern for the Corinthian Church. He wrote to them saying; “I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). Satan is a master at twisting arguments, at misguiding loyalties, and at diluting moral values so the child of God not only becomes distracted but deceived into spiritual adultery. Once he has your thoughts focused on something or someone, other than Christ, you are putty in his hands.

The apostles understood this basic component of spiritual warfare. If you want to beat the enemy, you must master him at his own twisted strategy. Therefore, Paul said; “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Put simply; Christ must dominate Christian thoughts, beliefs, and behaviour. Jesus said; “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).

The only weapon God has equipped saints with is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). God’s enemy knows this, and he will do everything in his power to keep you away from God’s Word. Scripture is a lethal weapon in the mind of a Spirit filled child of God. When filled with the written Word of God, the believer stands secure, undistracted, prepared and ready to do the Master’s work.

Sadly, “those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger” (Romans 2:8 NIV). Satan knows this well, so he applies all his shrewd resources to keeping people away from the life-giving Word of God. Anything from a subtle distraction, to a life changing catastrophe, the enemy will happily use for keeping your mind off God, away from Scripture, and indifferent to the truth of Jesus Christ.

But the crown jewel of distractions is misguided affections. Paul said it straight for the benefit of the foolhardy Corinthian Church; “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals’” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Satan’s most used and appetizing distractions are the wrong and captivating affections of the fleshly human heart. Weak or wrong relationships grind down the pure thoughts and emotions of God’s people. 

Be encouraged; “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). Walk today giving careful attention to your love for Jesus Christ as Lord. Christ will be honoured, and you will be blessed.

Can a Christian be cursed with generational sin? Part 5

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The enemy of God makes it his business to interfere with believers’ lives. However, he is unable to touch or alter the eternal life which indwells the believer via the Holy Spirit (1Jn 5:18). Even in extreme cases where God permits the evil one to cause physical harm, the Lord maintains spiritual security in Christ.

Can A Christian Be Cursed With Generational Sin? Part 5The Holy Spirit never moves over, nor does He move out of the believer in order to make room for demon possession. God the Spirit never moves to accommodate mutual possession of the child of God by the enemy of God. What a contradiction that would be! The very heart of the gospel is that “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). God the Holy Spirit, who is light, does not share his human temple (1Co 3:16) with demons of darkness.

The New Testament never gives instruction for casting demons out of a believer (Eph 6:10-18). Rather, believers are instructed to resist the devil (Jas 4:7; 1Pe 5:8-9). The reason is both simple and clear; a believer can never be possessed by a demon; therefore, you cannot cast out what is not there in the first place.

Integral to salvation is the Holy Spirit sealing repentant sinners the moment they believe (Eph 1:13). He seals their eternal destiny and is Himself God’s guarantee of fulfilment. Holy Spirit security is certain, unchangeable, and knowable. Your predetermined destination for which the Holy Spirit sealed you, is Heaven.

Christian, set your eyes on eternity and the fulfilment of your election in Christ. This hope compels believers not to “…grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). Paul boldly proclaimed; “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

For God’s part; “those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:30). It’s a done deal beloved. Salvation has the immutable purpose of delivering God’s children to heavenly glory. Their heavenly destination is as certain as the sovereignty of God was in your election and justification. At no point does the Holy Spirit move out of the believer, leaving them unsaved and abandoned to darkness as they were before salvation.

In Christ alone, believers are secure! Neither the believer nor any power of darkness, can undo the saving work of Christ. Once born again, the powers of darkness can never take up residence within that regenerated child of God. Following salvation, the perpetual sufficiency of Christ’s justification makes it impossible for the sins of anyone else, including ancestors, to ever be laid against the believer.

No power of the devil, past, present, or future, shall be able to bring the child of God under His dominion again. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).

Praise God for such a full and secure salvation. Encourage other believers with these wonderful truths. Explain Christ’s gospel freedom to a non-believer so they too can discover the liberating life in Christ.

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