I was very fortunate to be invited to the First day of the Test Match at Edgbaston on Friday to watch India play England. I confess I’m not a huge cricket fan but Test matches are special and there was a great atmosphere in the crowd. People had dressed up in all manner of outfits from minions to Disney characters.
We were seated quite high up on a balcony so had a really good view of the whole cricket pitch. When one of the Indian wickets fell the next player up for India entered the field. As he walked on, he hadn’t reached the wicket when he was suddenly surrounded by men in security vests and we realised that this man wasn’t one of the Indian team. He was an imposter.
He looked the real deal though even down to the cricket helmet, pads and bat. He had boldly strode onto the field (as bold as brass as my mum would say) as though he had ever right to be there. He really looked the part but he was an imposter.
We can all easily be fooled by appearances but I’m sure if that man had actually faced one of the English fast bowlers, he would soon have been exposed as a fraud. Bowled out or more likely knocked out by a cricket ball coming at him at over 80 mph. His team mate I’m sure would also have easily spotted he was a fake and not part of the team.
The bible warns us about people and spirits that are not what they appear…false spirits, false teachers, false apostles, false prophets….Imposters and not the real deal.
We are to test all things and check the fruit. Jesus said:
‘Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognise them. Do people pick grapes from thorn-bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognise them.” Matthew 7:15-20
“Among my people are the wicked who lie in wait like men who snare birds and like those who set traps to catch people. Like cages full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; they have become rich and powerful.” Jeremiah 5:26-27
Among My people – That is a sobering thought. I believe God is warning His people again now to beware of the wicked one’s trap of deceit. If we fall into that trap, we will be in great trouble. If our minds are deceived then our eyes become blind to the truth and our ears do not hear correctly. The communications we receive are tainted. We see through a distorted lens of deceit and hear through a filter which corrupts us.
The messages we receive become mixed and we are in danger that wrong things are heard and not discerned.
The trap of deceit sucks us further and further into it. The door of the gilded cage is shut and we cannot fly and soar in truth as free as we should be. We are ensnared and our wings are clipped by deceit. Yet we do not see it or hear it.
Let us avoid these traps by keeping to God’s Word revealed in Scripture as our plumb line of truth, stay close to Jesus, follow His paths. We encourage each other to weigh, test and discern the truth. It is Jesus, who is The Truth, who sets us free from deceit. The bible teaches us that –Who the son sets free is free indeed. Lies and deceit are a snare to God’s people and the father of lies, satan loves it so. Let us rather submit to God and resist Satan’s lies. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth and Jesus teaches us that He, the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth.
Peter in his second letter to the early churches reminds them that there were false prophets throughout history and that there would also be false prophets amongst them and the same is true for us as believers today. There are false teachers and false prophets at work still.
“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them —bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” 2 Peter 2:1-3
Peter warns us that such people will deny truthful aspects of Jesus, are greedy, exploitive and goes on to say that such people despise authority, are bold and arrogant, boastful, appeal to the flesh, entice people with promises of freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity. If we follow them the consequences are dire, and as people who once knew truth we are worse off than before we knew Christ. What a terrible thing. 2 Peter 2:10,17-20
I pray that we will pay attention to these warnings and not be like the people who Jeremiah spoke of:
“An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land. The prophets prophecy falsely and the priests rule by their own power and My people love to have it so.”
I pray that we as followers of Jesus are not be deceived by flattery or words that “tickle our ears” and appeal to our flesh. The Word of God is like a fire 🔥 which refines and purifies us to be more like Christ.
“Behold I will make your words like fire and this people like wood and it will devour them” Jeremiah 5 v14
Please Lord keep us from the trap of deceit and reveal to us if we have been entrapped in any way.
It’s my #TestimonyTuesday post and I wanted to share part of my dad’s story. His full name was William Easton Third but everyone called him Bill. Dad was a true inspiration to me. He was born into a poor but happy home in Edinburgh. He lived in a tenement building in Leith which I understand today is a bit more of a gentrified area than it was back then. Dad came from a large family. There were 9 of them. How they all lived in 2 rooms is beyond me but they did. Dad said it was happy times. He loved the freedom of his childhood days.
Dad’s experience of God’s healing power in his life was different to mine. We are all unique and no-one’s story is exactly the same. Every story has value and we all have something to share. This is why I believe in the power of testimony.
Your story with its uniqueness of relationship with God the Father, Jesus the Son and Holy Spirit will speak to someone.
I believe that God truly knows what is best for each one of us and learning to surrender to him and trusting God when things don’t go according to our plans is a valuable life lesson. Dad’s experiences helped me to understand and see that God’s grace is sufficient for us and how God gives us the grace and strength we need to hold on and persevere in times of testing and suffering.
My Dad, Bill was quite a character. He was a passionate Christian who loved to share the gospel with everyone he met. He was full of energy, never still and very engaging..a cheeky chappie as they say and loved to talk. He could have made a living by talking…He was a big supporter of many Christian ministries and particularly loved T L Osborn, Oral Roberts, Billy Graham, Luis Palau and Reinhard Bonnke.
Dad worked hard. He worked the night shift in a factory and sometimes I would hardly see him. I’d be going out to school and he’d be coming in from work. He had big plans though for when he eventually retired. He was going to take Mum travelling in one of those big Winnebagos. This prompted much laughter in our family as Dad was well known for getting lost and being quite incapable of reading a map. Mum wasn’t much better either so I had quickly learnt to become chief navigator on our family holidays from a young age.
However, sadly those plans were not meant to be. Dad retired at 60 but then almost immediately suffered a massive stroke which rendered him paralysed down one side of his body. He was confined to a wheelchair. We would have loved him to have been miraculously healed but those prayers were not answered. We were grateful though to have him still with us. Dad could still laugh and joke and he still continued to share the gospel. In hospital he had a poster by his bed of Jesus standing beside the empty tomb. I don’t know what happened to him when he was so ill in hospital and unconscious but when he recovered, he could not talk about Jesus without being moved to tears and tell people how much he loved Jesus. It was very humbling to see.
Further tragedy was to strike not long after though when Dad suffered another major stroke. This time it was on the other side of his brain and took his speech. He could no longer talk as he did. It was very hard to see him struggle to express himself. He could utter sounds which we started to learn to interpret and we could still understand some words, especially when he was saying “Jesus”.
During this time, Dad could have become embittered and angry at his lot and how his life had turned out, it wasn’t what he planned, but he didn’t. He faithfully attended church and loved watching and listening to great preachers. He was still grateful to God and he knew that there were also many people who were worse off and suffering much more than him.
He was always a big supporter of the Barnabus Fund and taught us that it was important to support fellow believers who were being persecuted and suffering greatly for their faith in other nations.
Dad had lost his independence and all ability to look after himself and was totally reliant on my Mum, my brother and his carers to do everything for him, getting him up, washing, dressing and even feeding. He had limited movement in his right arm but was very weak. He sometimes got frustrated when we couldn’t understand him but he maintained his cheerfulness and was able to cope with what had happened to him. It was only through God’s grace operating in his life that I believe enabled him to be like that. He was a testimony to me and others of God’s grace and peace in action.
Although, Dad was never fully physically healed, he did experience times of God’s healing in his body. One time, I recall was when he was taken extremely ill with pneumonia and was in the hospital. We were called to his bedside because the doctors did not think he would survive the Pneumonia. The chief registrar and doctor stood at the bottom of his bed and it was the first time that I had heard what is called the “death rattle”. It’s the most horrible sound of someone struggling to breathe and effectively taking their lasts breaths.
I had called my friends from the hospital to pray and I had asked God to take Dad if it was his time but if not, then to restore him to us. It was all I could think to ask God for at that time. We had the comfort as a Christian family to know that Dad would go to be with his Lord Jesus, but truthfully I didn’t want to let him go. He was my Dad and a big influence in my life. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye yet.
As we all waited by his bed, Dad suddenly stirred and pointed to the corner of the room. We couldn’t see anything but I believe that he could see something in the spiritual realm. They say the veil into the spiritual realm is thin at such times. I felt prompted to tell Dad that it wasn’t his time to go. He should tell whoever was there that he wasn’t ready to go with them. I can’t explain what happened next but Dad seemed to relax and continued on breathing but his breathing started to change. It became quieter and more regular. His face changed and was more relaxed.
After a while of this, the Registrar stated that he didn’t think Dad was going to die after all that day and they would come back later!! Praise God, Dad recovered and lived for many more years after that day.
Our appointed times are truly in God’s hands. God as our Heavenly Father loves us much more than we can understand. I thank God that my earthly father is now safe in Father God’s care. Dad went to be with the Lord in 2006. I’m sure Bill will have lots to tell me one day when we meet again which we surely will.
Dad always said he was looking forward to getting to heaven. One thing he wanted to do was meet the Apostle Paul. He had lots of questions for him…it makes me smile to think of my Dad chewing the ear off the Apostle Paul..one of his great bible heroes. Bless him.
Dad’s favourite scripture was Psalm 84: It was the reading at his funeral. His favourite verse was:
A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked. Psalm 84:10
Dad’s enjoying eternity in God’s courts now and I’m sure he has never been happier.
“That very night the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men.” Acts 17:10-12
In my last post I reflected on portraying God correctly –Portraying God and checking our sources to ensure that what we believe and then tell others about God is right and not a misrepresentation.
Being open-minded is one way to help us do that. The dictionary defines “open-minded” as being “willing to consider new ideas or opinions which are different to our own in an unprejudiced way.”
Paul and Silas came preaching a new message to the Jews in Berea. Paul taught weekly in their synagogue that Jesus was the Messiah that the Jews were waiting for. Jesus had come as Messiah in a way that the Jews were not expecting but Paul showed them from the Scriptures that the Messiah had to suffer and die. Paul and Silas discussed their beliefs with the people openly and the Bereans’ response to them can help us.
Firstly, the people were willing to listen to what was being said and taught by Paul and not just assume that they knew it all already. How often are we encouraged to listen and consider what others are saying or believe rather than interrupt (before they finish) and jump straight in with our own views and opinions. Hearing people out fully is respectful and can avoid misunderstanding. We can make assumptions otherwise which are not correct.
Next, they wisely didn’t just accept that what Paul taught was true. Paul was a very learned man. A Pharisee who had studied Jewish law and teachings. He would most certainly have been respected by the Bereans. How often can we be tempted to just accept what is put out there as “truth” especially if it comes from someone with a reputation or famous, it sounds good and our emotions can be subtly manipulated without us realising it. The Bereans tested what was preached and being taught against the Scriptures – the original source which they trusted as being correct.
Paul didn’t mind being tested by them or others either. He encourages it. In his letter to the Thessalonians he says “but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21. Paul was confident in whathe believed and preached and welcomed debate. It rings warning bells when someone doesn’t want an open discussion or debate or challenges about their beliefs or teachings which they want you to accept.
These people were also eager to find out the truth. These were people who wanted to know. They had enquiring minds and a desire to know the truth. I like to think of them as treasure seekers. They were seeking the pearl of greatest price.
There is a danger in just accepting what we hear or read because we don’t want to make the effort to look and search things out for ourselves..being spoon fed is dangerous. Testing requires us to be active and not passive. We need to actively seek out the truth for ourselves. Jesus said “Seek and you will find”.
Lord Jesus help us to follow the Bereans’ example and be open minded, willing to listen and eager to search out the truth by testing what we are taught and being ready to give an answer for what we believe and the hope we have in you our Saviour and Lord.