Stubborn as a mule

“Then Paul went to the synagogue and preached boldly for the next three months, arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God. But some became stubborn, rejecting his message and publicly speaking against the Way.” Acts 19:8-9

In these bible verses we discover another barrier or stumbling block to being open minded. It’s an attitude called “stubbornness”. Ouch.

Paul had travelled to Ephesus and was preaching in the synagogue about Jesus. He persevered for 3 months until the stubbornness of some in the Synagogue caused him to leave and continue his preaching elsewhere in the city.

What does it really mean to be stubborn? I’m sure that we have all encountered people who we would describe as stubborn but do we really recognise what it is and how dangerous a characteristic it is. Have you ever been called Stubborn? I know I have.

One of the dictionary definitions is:

having or showing dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.

In other words there is compelling evidence for you to change your position and it’s for your benefit, but you refuse to do so.

Other similar expressions to describe people who are stubborn are – “headstrong, obstinate, wilful”. It’s definitely not a characteristic which is mentioned as a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

My father in law tells the story of his daughter and his Dad (who were both stubborn people) getting into a deadlock over taking her medicine. She knew it would make her better but she refused to take it. Both sat either side of a table with the medicine in the middle refusing to move until one of them backed down. It lasted hours. In that situation one was determined and one was being stubborn.

If someone calls me stubborn then I have learnt to carefully consider the context in which they are saying it. Is it justified? The word “stubborn” can get bandied about as an accusation (wrongly) when someone just wants you to do what they say or want. If you refuse you are labelled stubborn.

The question to perhaps consider is this. Is there a good and valid reason and solid argument for me to change my mind? Is the evidence being presented credible and weighty. If it is and I’m not changing my position then why is that? Am I just being stubborn? If so, I need to do something about that attitude.

If on the other hand, there isn’t a good reason or argument to change and I am not convinced by the reasoning or evidence then I will stand firm, remain steadfast and not change or compromise. Being steadfast in my beliefs is not the same as being stubborn. Steadfast or stubborn…there is a difference.

Pride and stubbornness are often linked together and in my last post I considered being a A Know it all? Pride and thinking we know it all can make us stubborn. Does pride lead to stubbornness or stubbornness to pride.

So what did Paul go on to say to the Ephesians in his letter to them. He encouraged them to be humble.

“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future”. Ephesians 4:2-4

He also encouraged them to resist the enemy, his accusations and lies and to be steadfast in their faith.

“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness “ Ephesians 6:13-14

Stubborn..me?? Really??

A Know it all?

“Meanwhile, a Jew named Apollos, an eloquent speaker who knew the Scriptures well, had arrived in Ephesus from Alexandria in Egypt. He had been taught the way of the Lord, and he taught others about Jesus with an enthusiastic spirit and with accuracy. However, he knew only about John’s baptism. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him preaching boldly in the synagogue, they took him aside and explained the way of God even more accurately.” Acts 18:24-26

We have a saying at work that we use a lot as a balance and check:

“You don’t know what you don’t know”.

Think about that saying for a moment.

It’s demonstrated here in the story of Apollos. He didn’t know what he didn’t know until two fellow believers told him and gave him a more full understanding of faith and explained the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes, we are deficient in our knowledge, but until we discover that or someone points it out to us, we are blissfully unaware. We think we are fully informed but we may not be. As a lawyer it makes me consider and research carefully before giving a client advice in case there’s something I have missed.

There are some keys we can learn from these verses.

Apollos knew the Scriptures. He had been taught about Jesus and he taught others. What he taught was correct but it wasn’t the whole story, He had limited knowledge. Whoever had introduced Apollos to faith had limited knowledge too because he only knew what he had been taught up to that point.

You will only learn as much as your current teacher knows.

Aquila and Priscilla had been given a more complete teaching. They had been with Paul and learnt from him. When they heard Apollos speaking publicly they realised that he was lacking in knowledge. They didn’t just leave him in ignorance though but they acted. They didn’t leave Apollos in the dark. Instead they took him aside and explained things more fully to him.

Note that Aquila and Priscilla didn’t publicly shame Apollos. They didn’t flaunt their knowledge or act in a superior way. They took him aside these verses say and so would have explained things privately to him. This was wise and respectful. It also meant that they didn’t squash his enthusiasm and his gifting. He was already an eloquent speaker.

Let us also be careful how we correct those who may not be as mature in faith or have more limited knowledge. We don’t want to be responsible for squashing the gift within them or dampening their enthusiasm in the wrong way. We also need to understand their current level so as not to overwhelm them and make things too difficult to grasp.

As we considered in the last post about Being Open-Minded it seems that Apollos was just that. It was to his benefit and then the benefit of others that he listened, was teachable and then went on to share with others what he had learnt.

I pray that today I won’t consider myself a know it all but will be willing to be shown a more excellent way when I am deficient or lacking in knowledge and understanding of God.

Have a blessed day friends.

Adding knowledge

Jesus the Lamb of God

The shouts of heaven still continue to declare:

All Hail the Lamb; All Hail the Lamb;

He is the darling of heaven;

He is crowned with many crowns;

At His name every knee will bow;

He is all majesty and power;

His eyes are like a flaming torch;

He is TRUTH and LOVE;

On His thigh is written a name only He knows;

He is FAITHFUL and TRUE;

He is HEALER, He Is CLEANSER;

He is Deliverer;

He is the Refining Fire;

Open your eyes today to see Him;

It is time to anoint our eyes with salve so that we can truly see Him;

If you are blinded to the truth then you will not see Jesus for who He truly is;

He is more than a prophet, He is more than a man;

He is the Son of the living God;

He is God;

He is alive;

We live in times when there are many blind leaders of the blind;

Many follow those who are blind along the wrong ways;

Are you blinded to the truth;

Have we become blinded to the truth;

I pray the Holy Spirit will open eyes to the truth today so that we can see Jesus more clearly;

Without Jesus as our saviour we are in sin but He can cleanse us from all sin.

I pray today that you will see and know Jesus in all His glory. Take hold of Him today and His redeeming Love for you in faith.

Amen

Shepherds – after Gods own heart

“Then I will give you Shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding”. Jeremiah 3:15

We live in times when good shepherds are certainly needed in the body of Christ. In Hosea, we are warned that Gods people perish or are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Ignorance is certainly not bliss and especially at these times when there is so much false news and deception out there. There are false teachings and practices which try to lead us astray.

All wisdom & knowledge are hidden in Christ Jesus. Godly shepherds will lead you in the true gospel of Jesus Christ so that we are not deceived by false doctrines or as Paul said to the Colossians “fine sounding arguments”. Their teaching will be centred on Christ Jesus and the gospel so that we are rooted in Jesus and have a solid foundation of faith to build on. We need such shepherds.

If you are blessed to have a good shepherd or shepherds in your life then value them and respect them. They are a covering for you and watch over you. They will lead you in the right direction and help you make wise decisions. If you are without such a shepherd then I pray that you will find one and God will provide such a shepherd or shepherds for you. Jesus is the Good Shepherd and we need shepherds according to His heart.

Perhaps you could be such a shepherd? Is God calling you to be a shepherd and help shepherd His people.

The bible has a lot to teach us about the value of knowledge and understanding. I believe that we are living in days when God will accelerate knowledge and understanding for Christians. This will help not only us but also others, so that we can bring words of knowledge and wisdom into all sorts of situations where it is needed. Not just in Christian circles but to guide and lead in the world. To be influencers for good. To be the Daniels and Josephs for these days.

God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning to Daniel and his friends. They used this knowledge to help the King make wise decisions. God gave Joseph a strategy to prepare for a famine. He helped the Egyptians prepare for this time and saved many people in the process.

Ignorance is dangerous and wilful ignorance even more so. Burying our heads in the sand helps no one. It is our responsibility to seek out knowledge. A wise person said that foolishness is doing the same thing time and again and expecting a different result. Let’s not fall into that trap.

Confusion can lead to an inability to see clearly what needs to be done. We stagnate and can’t move forward. Fear can also result in paralysis so decisions are not made and things wither and die. If you find yourself in this position then I pray God will show you the way ahead and give you shepherds with His heart to help you along the journey.

A Daniel Anointing

In the book of Daniel we read about Daniel and 3 other young men, Hananiah, Mishael & Azariah – young Israelites who were taken from their homeland to a foreign land to be trained to serve before King Nebuchadnezzar.   These were hand picked young men who showed great promise but they were foreigners in an alien culture.

We read that these young men were bold and not prepared to compromise their faith in God and defile themselves by eating the King’s rich food and drinking his wine.   

This diet of rich food was specifically designed to ensure that the young men being trained for service grew strong & fit.   Food fit for a King indeed.    

Instead, Daniel asked for a simple diet of vegetables & water for him and his friends because he did not want to be defiled by eating such food.  Food which God had forbidden his people to eat as set out in His commandments.

This was a very bold & dangerous request.    

It would have seemed ridiculous & foolish to the chief steward to allow such a thing.  How could a diet of vegetables & water possible be better than the King’s food.    How could this request be wise – and weren’t these supposed to be clever young men – the best of the bunch.    

Daniel was in a foreign culture now so shouldn’t he just fit in and do what all the other young men were doing – life would be so much easier surely.    

Fortunately, Daniel was not prepared to compromise his faith and just do what everyone else did – following the perceived wisdom of that age.

The steward was understandably extremely worried to allow such a thing especially in disobedience to the King’s order.    His life was literally on the line and he was in danger of losing everything to allow Daniel’s request.    Daniel was certainly asking a lot of him.   

However,  God had granted Daniel favour in the steward’s eyes and the steward liked and trusted Daniel.   

Daniel also recognised this was a big ask and so he also exercised wisdom by asking the steward to give them 10 days eating just the vegetables & drinking only water to demonstrate his point.    A test for the steward’s benefit.

At the end of the 10 days the young men appeared better and fatter than the other young men who were eating the King’s food.    The steward was satisfied that the diet was working and so gave orders for it to continue.

God rewarded the faith and obedience of these young men and gave them “an unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom.  And God gave Daniel the special ability to interpret the meanings of visions and dreams”.

At the end of the period of training  all the young men were brought before the King to be interviewed.   

It says that no-one impressed the King more than these young men and  they became his advisers.  

Not only that, but it says that when the King asked for their advice he found them “ten times better than any of the other advisers” – many of whom were magicians and enchanters – in his entire kingdom.

I pray that in these times God will release a Daniel anointing on Kingdom men & women of God that they will excel in all wisdom, understanding and knowledge. 

That their sphere of influence will increase and they will stand before Kings, Governments & the key decision makers in Government & business to input Godly wisdom & direction to re-establish justice & righteousness.   

I pray that their advice will be sought out and will be valued above all other advice.    That the favour of God will be upon them.

I pray for Godly dreams and visions to be released with the gift of interpretation.

I pray for boldness to come upon us so that we no longer follow the herd but are willing to stand up for righteousness and truth and make Godly decisions which will influence nations.  

Let the pillars of righteousness and justice be re-established in the nations.  Amen.

Blessings to you this day.