Portraying God

As Christians we want to portray God accurately to others. Misrepresentation is a serious thing. So serious that there are laws in place to protect people from misrepresentation and compensate them when it happens. This is certainly the case in the UK where I live and practice law and I am sure in other nations.

Although this week’s blog will have a bit of a legal influence (it’s my day job after all) I promise it won’t be boring…now there’s a possible misrepresentation if ever there was one!! 😊

This theme of misrepresentation caught my attention recently when I read again Job’s story. It’s certainly not the easiest book in the bible to read. As a heads up, the things that happen to Job and his family are terrible. If you’ve never read Job before then do try it and persevere as it has lots of rich nuggets in there and spoiler alert…a happy ending.

One of the things though that we can easily overlook as we get to the end of the story and the good stuff for Job is that God is not happy about some things that have happened. In fact He is angry that Job’s friends have not spoken accurately about God in their discussions with Job when they were trying to ‘help” their friend. They have misrepresented God in their talks and God is now taking them to task for it.

That’s serious stuff and really got me to thinking and it’s a big challenge. As a Christian do I accurately represent God to people or do I misrepresent Him? Do I accurately reflect God in my blog and my writings? In my family life, church life, with my Christian friends and in my workplace. When I preach in church and in our small group fellowships. This is a massive topic for thought and discussion and I’m sure will prompt lots of thoughts and comments from others as we reflect and consider this more.

Now in legal terms there are different levels or types of misrepresentation because the law realises that not every type of misrepresentation is the same. There are two though that I thought might help us think about this a bit more.

There is an “innocent” misrepresentation where the person didn’t realise that they had said or done something wrong. They hadn’t meant to mislead the other person into believing something which wasn’t true because they believed it to be true themselves.

That’s an easy thing to do and it can happen to us. We say something about God that we believe to be true, perhaps it’s something we have been told by others or taught, even brought up in faith to believe or was our mindset before but actually it’s not correct. Our source of information was wrong or we have not interpreted it incorrectly. We didn’t mean to mislead anyone but we have done it. We have believed and repeated a false teaching or doctrine. We have become the blind leaders of the blind that Jesus warns about. We may have given the wrong impression about God perhaps because we don’t want to offend someone

There are consequences for both parties though when this happens because even an innocent misrepresentation is wrong and leads us on the wrong path. Someone suffers along the way. Perhaps not immediately but at some stage it will have an impact.

When I read the story of Job I think that’s what his friends have done. They were sincerely trying to help. They thought they were giving Godly advice and they were learned, sincere, passionate and believable. There’s a responsibility on us to ensure that what we tell others about God is true especially when we think we are helping others with Godly advice. I always remember being taught in class that “ignorance of the law is no defence”. In other words if I’m caught speeding I can’t say I didn’t know that the legal speed limit was 70 and I was doing 90. I’m expected to find out what the requirements are to be a responsible citizen.

The good news is that as believers we have been given the tools to portray God properly. We have the bible, Jesus’ example to follow and the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of Truth and God himself that lives within us. Thank the Lord that we can trust in God that He will lead us and guide us into all truths. If we have doubts then we have the ability to discover the truth about God. We need to have that humble attitude of heart though and be willing to listen and be corrected. If we think we know it all then we will be heading for a fall.

We also need to take our responsibility seriously to check things out for ourselves and apply ourselves to knowledge and understanding and seeking guidance from Godly leaders and teachers. God has blessed us with the gifts of ministry especially the gift of teaching within the body of Christ for this very reason. Paul used to do this within the early church and there are examples in his writings. This is why it’s beneficial and necessary to belong to a good fellowship of believers and meet together to be discipled.

The other type of misrepresentation is a fraudulent misrepresentation. Now in this case the person knows that what they are saying or doing is wrong and they are deliberately misleading the other person for their own gain in some way..it could be for a material benefit or for more subtle benefits. This is why Jesus himself warned us about the wolves in sheep’s clothing. Those within the body of Christ who are pretending to be believers but are deliberately trying to sabotage the work of the Church and hurt believers. They will be exposed and they can and will be identified. They won’t display the fruit of the Spirit and Peter and Jude’s letters to believers also help us to look out for the signs and warn us to avoid following their behaviours.

I want to portray God accurately. I ask God to forgive me when I have not done so and pray that He will lead me and guide me in His truth. To put the record straight when I have got it wrong. Teach me your ways God so that I may and will also help others to discover you, the one true God, your son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit of Truth.

Let me know your thoughts and have a blessed day. I have a feeling that the Lord has much more to teach me on this topic. Bless you.

After the Lord had finished speaking to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “I am angry with you and your two friends, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has.”
Job 42:7

We all need a helping hand

Reading the Bible aloud

Do you remember being at school and having to read aloud? I used to break out in a cold sweat at the very thought of it. I’m a natural blusher so the minute I became the focus of attention, I used to burn bright red in the face. I could hear my class mates sniggering and I was so self conscious then that I could hardly get the words out. It was torture to me and I used to dread it. 🥵

When I was in church though it was common for the Bible to be read aloud in a Sunday service, in the prayer meetings and in the bible studies. I became used to the practice of reading God’s Word out loud and started to be able to read out loud more easily and even sometimes from the front of the church. I still blushed like mad but I didn’t seem to let it bother me so much. There was usually a sea of encouraging faces agreeing with the spoken Word of God as the bible was read.

The Lord has been impressing upon me again recently that reading aloud God’s Holy Scriptures is very powerful. We read in Genesis how God spoke creation into being. His Word is in the very fabric of creation. As we speak out the Word of God I believe that creation itself responds. A word spoke in season and in Gods timing does not return void. Isaiah 55 v 11.

You may never have read the Bible out loud before and I encourage you to try it at home, outside or wherever you find yourself at the present time. Reading the Bible with my friends over FaceTime, Zoom or WhatsApp is a real blessing at the moment especially with the Covid situation. God has been encouraging us through His Word. For some I know it can be really hard to read out loud especially in front of others but I have found it to be such a help that I hope you will too.

I believe there is an impact in the spiritual realm when the Word of God is declared out loud. As truth is declared into the airwaves. There is so much false and lies being circulated over all communication channels that speaking out truth is so important. Faith also rises in your heart as you read and hear God’s Word. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Romans 10:17.

I really enjoy being outside and I know from reading other blogs that many of you do too. If you have read some of my other posts you will know that my friends and I will go and pray and read God’s Word at different locations around where we live especially up on the hills and from our local ruined castle walls. You get such great perspective over your town or city from a high viewpoint.

During COVID restrictions it has not been possible to gather as we used to, but where it has been permitted to walk with one or two others then we have continued to do this as the Holy Spirit leads. Last week, we went out for our daily exercise and prayed and read Psalm 18 on our walk. We walked in pairs in different locations in our local area which were all high points from which you could see all over. We read Psalm 18 out loud at the agreed time of 12 noon turning to the North, South, East and West as we did so.

I find during these walks, the Lord shows us different things and brings things to our attention. I always try and look closely at what is happening around me. Last week we noticed the birds. There was a bird in the distance sat right at the top of a tree. It couldn’t have got any higher unless it was flying. It was there for ages but as we read the Psalm the bird flew off at a certain point. God reminded me of some verses in Ecclesiastes which say that a bird in the sky may carry your words and a bird on the wing may report what you say. Ecclesiastes 10:20. It made me think what if the birds themselves carry the word of God as we speak it and repeat it into creation. The Lord certainly works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform.

Here’s the little bird perched on the treetop

Below are the words from Psalm 18 if you feel encouraged to do some reading aloud today. Blessings to you in Jesus precious name. Amen 🙏

“I will love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.

The pangs of death surrounded me, And the floods of ungodliness made me afraid. The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.

Then the earth shook and trembled; The foundations of the hills also quaked and were shaken, Because He was angry. Smoke went up from His nostrils, And devouring fire from His mouth; Coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down With darkness under His feet. And He rode upon a cherub, and flew; He flew upon the wings of the wind.

He made darkness His secret place; His canopy around Him was dark waters And thick clouds of the skies. From the brightness before Him, His thick clouds passed with hailstones and coals of fire. The Lord thundered from heaven, And the Most High uttered His voice, Hailstones and coals of fire. He sent out His arrows and scattered the foe, Lightnings in abundance, and He vanquished them.

Then the channels of the sea were seen, The foundations of the world were uncovered At Your rebuke, O Lord, At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils.

He sent from above, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, From those who hated me, For they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, But the Lord was my support. He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me.

The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord, And have not wickedly departed from my God. For all His judgments were before me, And I did not put away His statutes from me. I was also blameless before Him, And I kept myself from my iniquity.

Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness, According to the cleanness of my hands in His sight. With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful; With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless; With the pure You will show Yourself pure; And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd. For You will save the humble people, But will bring down haughty looks.

For You will light my lamp; The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness. For by You I can run against a troop, By my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? It is God who arms me with strength, And makes my way perfect.

He makes my feet like the feet of deer, And sets me on my high places. He teaches my hands to make war, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand has held me up, Your gentleness has made me great. You enlarged my path under me, So my feet did not slip.

I have pursued my enemies and overtaken them; Neither did I turn back again till they were destroyed. I have wounded them, So that they could not rise; They have fallen under my feet. For You have armed me with strength for the battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me. You have also given me the necks of my enemies, So that I destroyed those who hated me. They cried out, but there was none to save; Even to the Lord, but He did not answer them. Then I beat them as fine as the dust before the wind; I cast them out like dirt in the streets.

You have delivered me from the strivings of the people; You have made me the head of the nations; A people I have not known shall serve me. As soon as they hear of me they obey me; The foreigners submit to me. The foreigners fade away, And come frightened from their hideouts. The Lord lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted.

It is God who avenges me, And subdues the peoples under me; He delivers me from my enemies. You also lift me up above those who rise against me; You have delivered me from the violent man. Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles, And sing praises to Your name. Great deliverance He gives to His king, And shows mercy to His anointed, To David and his descendants forevermore.
Psalm 18:1-50

Our God has risen up.. Victory is His

Last night (Good Friday 10th April) I had a dream in which I was in a large upper room in a church building with lots of people – some I knew and some I didn’t.   During the course of the meeting my friend and I (we were not next to each other as we usually would be when seated in church) at exactly the same time spoke out a powerful tongue in unison.

As we spoke it out the words were so powerful and strong – the declaration in them went forth like a loud cry & a roar and we marched forward as we said the tongue.      This was a completely new thing to us – my friend has the gift of tongues and I often have the gift of interpretation to her tongue and we will bring a word in church meetings but never at the same time.      I remember being overawed in the dream because this was a new thing and the power of the Holy Spirit was tangible.     The Lord was doing something new amongst us.

The interpretation of the tongue was:

“Our God is a man of war.   See He goes forth.   He has arisen!  A mighty man of war.  He rises against His enemies and they will be scattered.    He has sent forth His arrows & pierced the darkness.  He has defeated death.  He has conquered.   He has risen on our behalf and the glory is all His.  All the glory belongs to Him and to no other.  He is a man of war and He strides out on our behalf across the nations.  He has conquered and has won the victory over death & disease. He is the victor.  All honour & glory belong to Him and no other.  He is the one true God & all the praise & honour is His.  Let no-one try & take the honour for themselves.  Woe to them who will claim the victory for themselves.  God has arisen and His enemies are scattered.  The victory is His.  Amen.”

This morning I looked for these words in scripture and it says:

Exodus 15 -The Song of Moses

1Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord, saying,

“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
the horse and his ridera he has thrown into the sea.
2The Lord is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
3The Lord is a man of war;
the Lord is his name.

and

Psalm 68

1 Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him.

As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.

But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice.

black and white cemetery christ church
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

 

 

Praying in the Spirit

 Is it scriptural?

 Ephesians 6:18 “praying always with all prayers and supplications in the Spirit being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints”

Jude 7:20 “But you beloved building yourselves up on your most holy faith praying in the Holy Spirit

1.What is praying “in the Spirit”?

I believe that we pray in the Spirit when:

a) We allow our prayers to be inspired and directed by the Holy Spirit within us i.e. we are willing to submit our agenda to God and let the Holy Spirit lead us. This is not stepping aside and abdicating responsibility in our prayer lives but being willing to be obedient to how the Holy Spirit wants to lead us and direct our prayers. It is working together with the Holy Spirit – our spirit and the Holy Spirit in communion.

b) using the gifts of the Holy Spirit; i.e. speaking/singing in tongues, interpretation of tongues, words of wisdom, knowledge, discernment etc.

BUT as the apostle Paul taught us we should always seek to pray with our understanding too so that we can interpret what the Holy Spirit is directing within us. i.e. we have revelation of the will of God as we pray.

1 Corinthians 14:13 “For this reason anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind”.

c) Speaking in Tongues

Tongues is a spiritual language which is not learned but is inspired by the Holy Spirit within us – it can be a heavenly language or an earthly language previously unknown to the speaker.

Acts 2:4  “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them”.

I believe that Tongues is one of the gifts of the Spirit which can be a springboard to other gifts of the Spirit being released through us.

Paul spoke often of the gift of tongues and its proper use but he did not forbid the use of tongues.

1Corinthians  14:39 “Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way”.

Speaking in Tongues will help you by building you up spiritually, inspiring your worship & praise of God.

1 Corinthians 14:4 “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself”

Acts 2:11 “we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”

Interpretation of Tongues – When you pray in tongues ask the Holy Spirit to give you the interpretation of what you are praying. This is not a word for word literal interpretation but a sense of what the Holy Spirit is saying and directing within you. When a public tongue is given it is my experience that the Holy Spirit gives you the first couple of words of the interpretation – you then have to step out in faith believing that you have received the gift of interpretation and allow the Holy Spirit to work through you to bring the whole interpretation. I can only describe it when I have exercised the gift of interpretation as an “unction” in your belly which wells up and has to be released.

2.  Why should we pray in the Spirit

 a) The Holy Spirit directs our prayers and reveals the will of God

Romans 8:26 “Likewise the Spirit also helps us in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 “ Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is because He makes intercession for the Saints according to the will of God”

SO:

According to this Scripture -When we pray the Holy Spirit prays with us and makes our prayers effective because our prayers are then according to the will of God. This is why in prayer we should learn to:

WAIT ON GOD AND BE PATIENT TO ALLOW THE HOLY SPIRIT TO DIRECT OUR PRAYERS. WE SHOULD NEVER PRESUME THAT WE KNOW EXACTLY HOW TO PRAY ABOUT A SPECIFIC SITUATION.

Psalm 62:5 “My soul wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him”.

b) The Holy Spirit gives spiritual wisdom and revelation:

1CO 2:10. “The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. v 14 “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him nor can he know them because they are spiritually discerned”

i.e. the Holy Spirit brings revelation to our spirit man – Spirit communes with spirit. The Holy Spirit within us reveals things to our spirit man/woman.

You may have heard people ask God in prayer to give them “spiritual keys” to situations. God reveals the things which are hidden particularly, in the spiritual realm so that we can then pray directly into the situation using the keys which the Holy Spirit reveals.

c) How does the Holy Spirit bring revelation to us?

The Holy Spirit may bring revelation to you in dreams, pictures, visions, impressions on your spirit,  scripture verses which are brought to mind, the still small voice of God speaking to us, tongues & interpretations, prophetic words etc.

There are many ways in which the Holy Spirit speaks and many examples are given in scripture of dreams, visions, prophetic words.

d) The Holy Spirit also gives power to our prayers – particularly in spiritual warfare and when we fast and pray.

Jesus said:  “But you will receive power (dunamis) when the Holy Spirit comes on you” Acts 1:88

We need to pray to be continually filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus received the Holy Spirit when he was baptized by John the Baptist. The Holy Spirit came upon Him like a dove.  The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness where He fasted and prayed for 40 days then scripture says that Jesus:   “returned in the power of the Spirit and his fame went out abroad” Luke 14:4

We receive and are sealed with the Holy Spirit when we become Christians but I believe we are to seek and receive the full baptism of the Holy Spirit as the early believers did in Acts.

c)How do we start to pray in the Spirit?

i) We need to receive the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit needs to be welcomed and received. Jesus says “Ask & you will receive”. Ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit can be received “by the laying on of hands” Acts 8:17 “and when Paul had laid hands on them the Holy Spirit came upon them and they spoke with tongues and prophesied” Acts 19:6.

Or there are instances in scripture of the Holy Spirit falling upon people as they waited and sought God.  e.g.  the early church waiting for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the upper room and later in Acts 11:15 Paul witnessed to the following “And as I began to speak the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning”.

ii) Actively seek and pursue the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Ask God for the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be released through you:

 1 Corinthians 14:1 “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy”.

It is important to seek the spiritual gifts for the right reasons. They are given to build up the church.   God is more interested in you developing your character (follow the way of love) first and foremost.

 iii) Test everything:

People often ask how they know it is the Holy Spirit bringing revelation and working in themIf the word testifies of and brings glory to Christ then it is of God.

1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God

1Co 14:29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.

1Th 5:19 Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good.

In my experience praying in the Spirit will always:

 GLORIFY THE FATHER THROUGH THE SON (John 14:13)

BE ACCORDING TO GOD’S WILL (John 5 14:15)

BE BASED UPON GOD’S CHARACTER, WAYS & WORD (John 15:7)

The excitement of submitting to the Holy Spirit is that the Holy Spirit may lead you into crying, fasting, silence before God, prophetic actions, clapping, marching, shouting etc. as you express yourself in prayer.  The Holy Spirit is creative – never underestimate the work of the Holy Spirit.  Don’t quench the Spirit but allow the Holy Spirit to lead you.  Amen Prayer and The Holy Spirit