Truth..

Most people that I encounter want to know the truth. They don’t want lies, half-truths, imaginations or guesswork. However, I find more and more that people’s expectations are that they won’t be told the truth and they expect lies. If you did a poll I think the majority would now say that they do not believe what is printed in mainstream newspapers, or on social media or even what is said by our own politicians. “Fake” news and “political agendas” is big business.

A more worrying trend though is that people now apparently have their own version of the truth. It’s “their” truth rather than “the truth”. If their understanding or interpretation is wrong then it doesn’t matter because it’s “their truth”. If you challenge “their” truth because it’s different to “the” truth then you are an “ist” of some kind..labelled for having a different perspective.

As Christians today we are contenders for the truth and testifiers of the truth. That is our testimony. We can confidently declare the truth because the Truth is Jesus and truth comes from Jesus. We can be confident that Jesus told us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Not only that, but Jesus also sent the Spirit of Truth who is the Holy Spirit to be with us, live in us and to teach us and lead us in Truth. Our confidence has to be rooted in Jesus.

As we approach this Advent, let us as believers be confident of the announcement and proclamation that the Truth came into the world and revealed God to us. Let us be bold to declare that Jesus is the truth. I encourage you this Advent to read again from the gospels the words and teachings of Jesus himself. I am reading John’s gospel this December and the opening verses have been my inspiration today.

For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” John.1.17-18 NKJV

Photo by Wendy van Zyl on Pexels.com

Blind Spots

A place you cannot see; your view is obstructed; an area your understanding or knowledge is weak – sometimes because we are unwilling to try – Cambridge definitions

Jesus warns us about two examples of blind spots and these bible verses will be familiar to us.

And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” Luke 6:41-42

How often do we read that verse and put ourselves in the position of the brother with the speck in our eye rather than the one with the log? I know I have. You’d think a log would be pretty obvious but that’s the point of a “blind spot”. We just don’t see the log. We’re blinded to it. It’s dangerous. Not just for us but to those we affect because we aren’t aware of the log.

Jesus also pointed out blind spots to one of the churches in Revelation.

In our bibles, it is often noted that this is a “lukewarm” church – neither hot or cold. One of the definitions of a “blind spot’ is an area or subject that we are weak in because we can’t be bothered to apply ourselves to understanding or learning. That sounds a lot like apathy.

And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.

“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent”. Revelation 3 14-19

We can read these verses and again fail to see that we could be this lukewarm church or in fact any of the churches that Jesus rebukes.

I have my blind spots and I too need Jesus’ eye salve to anoint the eyes of my heart that I can see clearly. Holy Spirit what are you saying to me in these things. May I see and hear clearly. Remove the obstacles Lord.

As I have meditated on these things I wrote the following, it might help you too if this post has struck a chord with you.

There are blind spots in your heart. These are spots that you do not see or want to see. They are the stains of hurts, stains of pain and anguish. Buried deep in hearts. Spots of sorrow and grief, spots of anger, spots of pride, rejection and bitterness. Blinded to them, Blinded by them. They are your blind spots.

Blind spots need to be BEHIND spots. Things to put behind you; forgetting the past and straining forward towards the high prize in Christ Jesus – the hope of glory.

Blind spots become BIND spots. They bind your thoughts. They bind your behaviours. They bind your hearts. They bind your minds. They are blind spots to the TRUTH.

Uncover the blind spots. Seek the blind spots and open the eyes of your heart to the truth. Open the eyes of your heart to grace, mercy and righteousness; to love in all its fulness. Then the love spots of your heart to overflow in love.

May the grace of God, the knowledge of the Son grow in us more and more. May we be blinded by the light of His glory, blinded by the light of His grace, Blinded by the light of His mercy.

Blinded by His light..the light of the world. The bright morning star.

Blinded by the light of His glory. Amen

I have something to say…

And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.

So he said, “Teacher, say it.” Luke 7:40

I read this passage of Scripture this morning and it really got me thinking about how Jesus approached Simon with an important truth that he wanted Simon to hear and understand.

Jesus was an invited guest into Simon’s home. He had been invited in but had not been welcomed in (there’s a difference) as Simon’s behaviour had made clear. Jesus had noticed all these slights from Simon as the host such as not giving Jesus water to clean his feet or a welcoming kiss. We know from this well known bible story that a woman comes in (who Simon knows is a woman of bad reputation) and instead she cleans Jesus’ feet with her tears and wipes them with her hair and anoints him with oil.

Jesus had discerned Simon’s heart from his actions and also his thoughts about the woman washing Jesus’s feet. Jesus had something important to teach Simon about forgiveness and love but first Jesus tested whether Simon was prepared to hear what Jesus had to say.

Notice that Jesus in this situation didn’t just presume to tell Simon. He gave Simon the opportunity to hear or not what Jesus had to say. This wasn’t a general teaching to a crowd but this was going to be directed straight at Simon. It was personal. Simon could have said.. no thanks I don’t want to hear what you’ve got to say. I’m not interested. I think if he had then Jesus would have respected that decision and not said anything further. However, Simon gives Jesus the right and permission to speak to him and even acknowledges him as a “Teacher”.

When I’m wronged, treated badly or just want to get my views across then my first reaction is usually to just “tell” and get it straight out there without thinking of asking the other person whether they actually want to hear what I’ve got to say or not. Generally, they’re going to get my opinion whether they like it or not but the question is, have I asked and do I have permission to speak into the situation. Perhaps, I should first be saying “I have something to say to you”.

Deception – The Gibeonites Story

It’s #ThrowbackThursday and so I thought today I would publish one of my most regularly viewed posts which just so happens to be (to my pleasant surprise) this story from the Old Testament. If you have not heard of the Gibeonites before then please read on…

The bible story of the Gibeonites and how they tricked Joshua & the Israelites (which you can read in the book of Joshua Chapter 9) is a fascinating bible story which has a lot to teach us about deception.

What is Deception

It is a deliberate attempt to make you believe something which is not true – there is an intention to mislead – something is hidden, concealed, there is an ulterior motive.    Deception presents facts in a way that you think they are the truth.    It will usually contain a mixture of truth, half-truths & lies – it distorts the truth.    Deception is usually very close to the truth otherwise it would be easily spotted.  Craftiness, & Cunning are usually involved. 

Deception can also arise from giving or allowing a false impression to be made by manipulating information, exaggerating or leaving truth or some truth out – lying by omission.  If you let someone believe something untrue about you – the person has a wrong impression and instead of correcting them you let them believe it – that’s also deception.  That is such a subtle trap we can all fall into – allowing someone to believe an image of ourselves that we project which is not reality- even as believers.

A lie will usually lead to another lie. Eventually you are so far away from the truth you no longer recognise the truth.   That is why deception is so dangerous –it’s very subtle. We start to believe the lie is actually truth because we have a wrong reference point or foundation for what we believe.   We receive information through a distorted lens of deception and don’t realise it is not truth. We then think others are deceived!

We see elements of this in the plan of the Gibeonites.  It was very cleverly thought out – they went to great efforts to paint a picture and give the impression they had travelled from a long long way away and were not in fact neighbours of the Israelites.    Their bread was mouldy, their wine was gone, their clothes & sandals were worn out and tattered etc.   Those facts were true but the reason they gave was not true.   That was the deception.

There is always a motive for deception– sometimes it is just as important discerning the motive behind the deception.  The reason why someone wants to deceive us or why we deceive ourselves (self-deception) or others. It can be for a whole host of reasons – dishonest gain (greed), self preservation, fear etc. to name just a few.  

In this story, the Gibeonites had heard what had happened to the cities of Jericho & AI (the Israelites had wiped them out) and they feared for their lives – they didn’t want to die. It was all about self-preservation – that can be a very strong motive for deception– we lie or cover things up because we don’t want someone to know the truth about us – preserving ourselves. Fear about what people would think if they know the truth –we become trapped in this false picture we have created.

The Gibeonites wanted a peace treaty with the Israelites– that was what they told Joshua & that was true (v2/3).    It doesn’t seem like they were planning a Trojan horse – enemy infiltration– and kill the Israelites afterwards – we’re not told that.    The Gibeonites had various options to achieve their aim.  We know from verse 1 that they could have joined forces with the other neighbouring Kings in the area who planned to attack the Israelites.     That was a genuine option.  The Gibeonites were not a weak people or small in number– In Joshua 10 we find out that Gibeon was a might city – bigger than Ai & full of mighty men.  They could have fought.

However, they discounted that option – the Gibeonites were wise enough to realise that they had no chance of getting what they wanted by force because God was on the side of Israel. If someone can’t beat you at something or take something by force then beware that they don’t cheat you out of it instead.

Their other option would have been to throw themselves on the mercy of the Israelites & God – been honest from the very beginning – there was an option to do the right thing – but they resorted to obtaining what they wanted by deception.  

This is still true today of how the enemy, Satan, will use deception against us.  It is one of his greatest strategies – his motive is to “rob, steal and destroy” – he wants to ruin the fullness & joy of a life of freedom & redemption that Christ has given us & all that God has for us.  Satan wants to stop you growing and maturing and being an effective disciple of Jesus.

If Satan cannot frighten us or overcome us by a direct attack then he will seek to deceive us in some way either by what we believe about our faith in God and salvation in Jesus or what we believe about ourselves.   We need to be able to identify and discern those lies.   Otherwise there will be consequences of us believing the lie – strongholds will develop in our thinking or behaviours which are not Godly and we won’t be mature and develop in our faith with a firm foundation of truth.    

In these days with so much access to information from so many various sources we really need to be able to discern false teachings, false doctrine, false prophecies etc- That is why we need the tools which God has given us to discern deception.

The motives for deception can look “good” to us too -just as the Gibeonites thought and this is part of the trap with “self-deception” – we can do what we think is good rather than what is Godly.   We can convince ourselves that the only way out of a situation is to “bend the truth” for a good cause. What a trap. 

Where does Deception come from?

Deception originated from Satan – Jesus said satan is the “father of lies” John 8:44 – “He (satan) was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies”.  

We see satan’s nature as the liar and deceiver in the garden of Eden.  Satan deceives Eve into eating the forbidden fruit which introduced sin & death into creation. 

Deception is sin –a half truth which misleads – is sin – self-deception is sin.

Deception introduces DOUBT  –  Deception can mean you start to doubt the “truth” – you doubt your ability to know the “truth”.     You start to doubt your own faith – “Are you really a Christian”?   Satan introduced doubt when he said to Eve ”   Did God really say”?  You can start to doubt you have heard God correctly.     

Watch out for doubt in your thoughts– where is it coming from?  Doubt and Discernment are different things coming from different sources. Doubt does not come from the Holy Spirit. Discernment is the Holy Spirit working in and through us to reveal truth.

We can deceive ourselves – self- deception – it can be in our own hearts.   The bible says that “the heart is deceitful above all things” Jeremiah 17:9 – It is so important to ask God to search our hearts and ask Him to reveal if there is any sin in us.    Are we deceiving ourselves in areas of our lives, in our behaviours or attitudes.

So we see that from that very first act of deception in the Garden of Eden there are then stories of deception throughout the bible. Jacob deceives his father Isaac to steal the birth right from his brother Esau, Laban then deceives Jacob into marrying Leah, Joseph’s brothers deceive their father Jacob and pretend Joseph is dead.

The Pharisees tried to deceive Jesus, Ananias & Saphira tried to deceive Peter and Simon the Sorcerer tried to deceive Paul.

There is a pattern of deception and deception is still at work today.  Jesus warns his followers not to be deceived.

Matthew 24;24   “For False Messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

Paul warned the early churches – 2 Corinthians 11:3 – “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ”.

Acts 20:30 “Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them”.

Let us heed these warnings and be on our guard as believers against deception.

Discovering Deception

The good news is that this story of the Gibeonites tells us very clearly how to avoid deception –in two words – Ask God.

I love the fact that there is no mystery here, it’s clear -In one sentence we are told exactly why the Israelites were deceived by the Gibeonites– they didn’t ask God but relied instead on the evidence of their own eyes & ears.

Self-Reliance & not God Reliance.

Can we rely on God – The answer is Yes.  

Firstly God knows all things (He is omniscient) – nothing is hidden from his view. God cannot therefore ever be deceived.   The bible says in Hebrews that no creature is hidden from His sight but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

God forbids deception so it is not part of His character– Leviticus 19: 11 “Do not lie.  Do not deceive one another”.    Proverbs 12:22 “The Lord detests lying lips but he delights in people who are trustworthy”.

We can also trust Jesus – The bible teaches us that there was no deceit in Jesus –  Isaiah 53: 9 “nor was any deceit in his mouth”.  

Jesus is The way, The truth & The lifeJesus does not deceive us or lie to us.

Jesus has also sent us the Holy Spirit – as believers we have the Spirit of Truth– living within us.  Jesus said the Holy Spirit is our counsellor and will “lead us into truth”. John 16:13 “But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.  He will not speak on his own, he will speak only what he hears (from God) and he will tell you what is to come”.

God promises us guidance when we seek Him. There are lots of promises in scripture that when we seek God He will lead & guide us and that we can trust in Him.   In Psalm 5 – we are encouraged to take our requests to God each day in prayer and look up (wait for the answer).

God has provided us with His written word – Holy Scripture– His words of truth.   God’s Word is the plumb line.  If you want to check something is truth – first check what the bible says about it. Go to the source first.   

Hebrews 4 says  “ For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness for he is a babe but solid food belongs to those who are of full age – that is who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good or evil.”

We need to study and get into the bible ourselves and then practice and test whether the things we hear, read etc. are good (of God) or evil.   We have to know these things for ourselves and so mature in our faith.  We also need to live out our faith in doing good.   James says that we deceive ourselves if we don’t act out our faith as doers of the word and not just hearers.

Ephesians 4;14  “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.”

The symbolism of the mouldy bread and wine that has run out also speaks to me in this story.      As believers we also need fresh bread from heaven – Jesus is our daily bread. He is the living water which never runs out. Reading the bible, Prayer, worship & praise- these are all ways that we daily eat & drink and build ourselves up in Christ.

One of the gifts of the Holy Spirt is Discernment.  I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of discernment.   Through the exercise of that gift we can discern between good & evil and truth & lies. The Holy Spirit reveals hidden things and what would not be possible to know by our human understanding – it is a divine revelation from God.  

Jesus exercised discernment– Jesus discerned the hearts & motives of the Pharisees when they were trying to trick him –  “you hypocrites he said– why are you trying to trap me”.    Peter discerned through the Holy Spirit that Ananias & Saphira were lying to him and lying to the Holy Spirit.  The impure motives of Simon’s heart in seeking the gift of the Holy Spirit were also discerned.

Why did the Israelites not ask God about the Gibeonites?   We are not told why – just that they didn’t.   This is really interesting because the Israelites had a recent testimony of God revealing deceit in a miraculous way. They discovered why the battle of “Ai” was lost by God revealing deception by one of their own people who had stolen and hidden spoil from the battle which had been forbidden.  They could have easily asked God about the Gibeonites.   Was it over-confidence or mis-placed confidence in their own abilities – they asked a few questions of the Gibeonites, tested the food etc. but ultimately they relied on themselves and not God. There is a warning in this to us.

The Gibeonites were also pressurising the Israelites to make a peace treaty and to act quickly. That can be a sign of deception – being pressurised into making a quick decision. We need to make time to seek God and ask Him for guidance before making a decision especially if that decision will have big consequences. Don’t be rushed.

There were also signs of deception – – warning bells were there – The Gibeonites flattered the Israelites. Perhaps Joshua & the people were flattered to hear that their exploits in battle had reached so far and wide. Perhaps some pride crept in which made them vulnerable. So the lesson for us it to beware the flatters.

Romans 16:18 “For such people are not serving our Lord Christ but their own appetites.   By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naïve people.”

Ephesians 5 v 6 “Let no-one deceive you with empty words”.

Seeing is not always believing

We are warned not to believe everything we see especially when it comes to signs & wonders.    If people are just looking for signs & wonders as evidence of truth or God – the miraculous – then there is a great danger of being deceived.  

Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 2 9-10 “the coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works.  He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie – and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing.   They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”  

Appearances can be deceptive. The appearance of the Gibeonites deceived the Israelites. They believed what they saw with their eyes.

The good news is that Truth will eventually out. One day the truth will be revealed. The things that are hidden will be revealed by God.

In this story it was only 3 days – a very short time -before the Israelites discovered the truth.

Dealing with Deception

This is a really important part of the story. There are lessons we can learn. 

Imagine how Joshua & the Israelites felt when they realised they had been deceived – angry, upset, vengeful, stupid, shamed, guilty, disappointed, betrayed –perhaps they looked for others to blame, fearful that they had disobeyed God. 

Put yourself in their shoes for a moment and imagine – How would you have felt & how do you think you would have reacted.  

You may have even experienced deception and can identify with those feelings. – I know I have – twice that I know I have been in fellowships which have been deceived by trusted people– a huge amount of money was stolen from one church and in another there was a sexual predator pretending to be a believer.    It can cause a lot of pain & hurt –especially if you have been deceived by someone close to you – but the fallout from how we react can be even worse than the effects of the deception itself.  It can cause division, disunity, bitterness, recriminations & unforgiveness even pride – blame those who have been deceived and act as though it wouldn’t have happened to you.   “How could they have let this happen”?    Relationships are really tested and sometimes don’t survive.   We need to guard our hearts in these incredibly difficult circumstances.

In this story we read that the Israelites were not happy at all with Joshua & the leaders when they found out they had been deceived – they started to complain.  There was the potential here for there to be a rebellion against the leaders.    The people wanted revenge and to kill the Gibeonites and when that wasn’t possible then have them severely punished and to be their slaves.   That would have been a terrible life of slavery & drudgery.   Open to future abuse as well by their masters.    The Israelites had been slaves in the past and now they had the chance to be the masters – to make someone else pay.   There was the potential that the Israelites would even deceive themselves into justifying their own bad behaviour or mistreatment of the Gibeonites.   They deserved it by deceiving them and had brought this on themselves.

The Gibeonites had obtained the covenant of the peace treaty with the Israelites by deception. It might seem justifiable to us for the Israelites to have broken the covenant they had made as it had been obtained by fraud. As a lawyer, I know that the law today enables parties to terminate a contract if there has been fraud or misrepresentation.   It is seen as the fair thing to do.

However, the Israelites had made this vow & covenant in God’s name and the leaders were concerned about bringing dishonour to God’s name and also fearful about what God might do to them if they didn’t honour the covenant.

That decision was Godly Wisdom indeed because later in the bible we find out that Saul does break that covenant.   The result is that God is really displeased and there is a famine as a result which is only brought to an end when 7 of Saul’s sons are killed (crucified) as a substitution to make right the wrong that has been done to the Gibeonites.

This reminds me that through Christ’s death on the Cross and His Resurrection Power we are given the ability in Jesus to overcome our natural desires of our flesh for revenge, anger etc when deceived and to forgive the deceiver and release them to God.

What did Joshua do in this story?

Joshua doesn’t attack the Gibeonites when he discovers the truth.    He confronts their lie in the right way.    He wants to discover the truth – why did they lie.  

That is important for us – we may need, in some circumstances and however, difficult and upsetting to confront the deceiver. In the right way- in a Christ like way- just like Joshua did.     Jesus did the same with the people who tried to deceive him – He called it out.   “Why are you trying to trick me

The Gibeonites take the opportunity and tell Joshua the truth.  It’s like a confession of their sins. They confess the lie.

They are under a curse because of the lie but Joshua also shows them Mercy – v 27 – He doesn’t make them the slaves for everyone – imagine what a life of hell that would have been -but he makes them woodcutters & watercarriers for the house of God.   This would still been a hard & demanding work but not the punishment that the people wanted and perhaps arguably that the Gibeonites deserved.  

By making them the woodcutters and watercarriers for the house of God Joshua actually brings them close to God.     This reminds us that God is truly merciful to everyone and He has made a way through Christ for everyone to come into His family.

So I would say -Put those who have wronged you into the hands of God.   Let Him deal with them for you.   If we have done wrong let’s confess our sins and God will forgive us.

It doesn’t say in the story that Joshua explicitly forgave the Gibeonites but this is something which we are required to do as believers.  Forgive those who trespass against us.   Jesus tells us to forgive – it is a requirement of living out a life of faith.  It is not easy.   I didn’t realise for a long time that I even had any unforgiveness in my heart still towards the person who had hurt me through their deception.    It wasn’t obvious – I didn’t think about them or wish bad things on them.   I thought I had dealt with it but I had deceived myself by burying the hurt & fear deep inside me.  

God showed me the effect of that buried unforgiveness in my life was like those little foxes which ruin the vineyard.   It was ruining my fruitfulness in certain areas of my Christian walk.  God really opened my eyes to the things I had deceived myself about by not dealing properly with those things– lies that I had started to believe – that I couldn’t really trust God to protect me or those close to me, that there was hatred buried deep in my heart towards this person.   I learnt to forgive by God’s grace.

Defeating Deception

When we deal with deception in the right way I believe that we defeat it’s power in our lives.     In Joshua chapter 10 the Gibeonites are under attack from the other Kings and they ask Joshua for help.

This was the test.   Joshua does not refuse them help. He helps his one-time enemies who had deceived him.  Joshua is faithful to his promise and because of this and the way he acts, we read in Chapter 10 that God gives the Israelites their biggest victory in battle so far – there are miracles and God enables them to defeat all of the 5 Kings who had plotted against the Israelites at the start of chapter 9 at once.   God says “Do not fear them for I have delivered them into your hand”.

If you are obedient to God then he will give you the victory over your enemy and you will overcome.

God can do the miraculous in your circumstances – in v11 of the chapter we read how God came to their aid and cast down great hailstones from heaven – a demonstration of His great power.   

Even the sun stood still v 12 and v 14 – The Lord fought for Israel.  He didn’t just fight for the Israelites though (His people) – He also fought for the Gibeonites – it was their city that was being attacked.   God was now protecting those who were serving in His house and part of His house.   We are also under God’s protection now having been brought into His family through Jesus the Son.    We are under God’s loving care.    God surrounds us with His favour.

I don’t think that Joshua & the Israelites would have had such a victory if they had not honoured the peace covenant made with the Gibeonites. God honoured Joshua and gave him a mighty victory.

Bless you my friends.

Credibility

“Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eye witnesses and servants of the word so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”
Luke.1-4

This is the opening statement in the gospel of Luke. It’s a bold statement and sets out the confidence that the writer, Luke has in the account he is writing of Jesus because he has carefully investigated everything.

He has tested the first hand accounts of the stories of Jesus from those who were eye witnesses of what happened. Luke acknowledges that many others have sought to share and record what Jesus did because it is such a marvellous truth. People who knew Jesus wanted to share the good news with others just as Jesus commanded them to do.

Luke does not want the truth about Jesus and what Jesus has accomplished to be lost, so in order to preserve the truth for Theophilus he has decided to write a full and orderly account. I wonder if Luke had any idea that his words would be preserved, read and studied by millions of followers of Jesus today still.

As we know there is much taught, discussed and written about Jesus today. You can access so much on the Web. Just as Luke was diligent to test the source of his information so that it was credible, it is so important that we test what we hear, are being taught and read about Jesus. It must line up with the Jesus who is revealed to us in the Bible. The Son of God. Any purported new truth, teaching or revelation of Jesus which is not in the Bible is a false teaching and a false gospel.

Paul commended the Bereans for diligently searching the scriptures to test the message that he brought to them about Jesus. The Bereans wanted to know the truth. I wrote a post called Being Open-Minded which you can read on the link. Alarm bells should definitely ring if someone doesn’t want or like their teachings about Jesus to be tested and expects you to blindly accept everything they tell or teach you.

I’m inspired to read the gospel of Luke again and I hope today’s post has blessed and encouraged you.

The Valley of Decision

As we enter into Holy Week, I want to re-post this for those who don’t yet know Jesus as Lord and Saviour. I urge you – Please don’t leave it too late to choose to accept and follow Jesus.

If you are in that valley of decision, then I pray that this Easter, the reason for the Cross and the Resurrection will become alive in your heart by the power of the Holy Spirit. You will realise the truth, your eyes will be opened and you will repent and choose life in Christ Jesus.

If you have turned away from following Jesus, then I pray you will return to the Father’s House.

Are you ready for the King to return.

I heard the Lord say :

Multitudes, Multitudes in the valley of decision. 

Choose you this day who you will serve.   Who will you bow the knee to and honour as your God?  Who will you serve?  

Will you choose to serve the God of self or will you crucify the flesh and it’s wicked desires and submit yourself to the Holy One (Jesus).  

Will you choose to pick up your cross and surrender your life to the Holy One.  Will you sacrifice your life and humble yourself under His Mighty Hand.

This is the time of decision.  This is the time to choose.   Choose you this day who you will serve. 

As for me and my house we will choose to serve the Lord.   We will serve him wholeheartedly.  We will serve him joyfully.  

Though the fig tree may wither and there be no fruit on the vine yet we will praise Him. 

We will go out with joy and be led forth with peace and the mountains and hills will surrender before us.  

We will be overcomers and mighty ones in the Kingdom of our King Jesus, for He will equip us with every good thing to accomplish His purposes and plans.

For His plans are to bless us and use us to be a blessing to many nations and that through us all the nations of the earth will rejoice.  

They will see the light of goodness and grace manifested before them.  

The children of light will rise up and prepare the way for the King. 

Rise up my people and proclaim the King is coming.  

Prepare you the way of the Lord for the King of the whole earth is coming.  He is coming.  

The King of the whole world is coming to judge the world with righteousness and truth. 

He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. 

He has trodden the wine press of God’s fury alone and He has purged and cleansed His own from all sin and unrighteousness. 

He has purchased them and set them free. 

He has raised them to new life in Him.

All hail the Lamb.  All hail the Lamb.  

Choose you this day who you will serve. 

Who will you serve. 

The choice is yours. 

Choose wisely before it is too late and the choice is taken from you.  

Choose wisely and choose now before it is too late.  Amen

 

Fix your eyes on Jesus in this season – Follows His example – Endurance, Sacrifice & Humility

Plumb line

If you search for the definition of a biblical plumb-line then the reference to the book of Amos will often come up.

“Thus He showed me: Behold, the Lord stood on a wall made with a plumb line, with a plumb line in His hand. And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said: “Behold, I am setting a plumb line In the midst of My people Israel; I will not pass by them anymore.” Amos 7:7-8

Amos pleaded with God to relent his judgment and, in their place, God places a plumb line.

A plumb line is a weight suspended from a string used as a vertical reference line to ensure a structure is centered and straight.

It’s the same with our Christian faith. Jesus who is the truth must be the cornerstone of our faith so that we build on our faith correctly. It’s the Jesus revealed in the bible (not a Jesus of our own imagining), the gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus preached (not a false gospel) and His commandments which we live out.

Deception means we are no longer centred in God’s truth. As followers of Jesus Christ we are to guard against deception. Jesus himself warned us against being deceived particularly in the time before He returns.

It can be easy to get carried away as “charismatic” believers particularly when we belong to a Spirit filled church and it is so important that the Spirit and the Word are in harmony with the right emphasis on both.

The Word of God is our plumb line and any teaching, tongue and interpretation, prophecy or revelation that does not line up with the word of God is false. It may not all be false but test, weigh and discard the false.

The apostle Paul teaches us that the enemy has strategies against us and one is deception. He loves to lead us astray and cause confusion. Any moves of the Spirit need to be discerned to make sure it is the Holy Spirit and not the wrong spirit at work. It is vital to be rooted in God’s Word and filled with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth.

It’s a really good exercise to ask yourself and write down what you believe about Jesus and what the gospel is. If you had to explain to someone who didn’t know Jesus or had never heard the gospel. What you believe and wrote- Does it pass the plumb line test of God’s word. If it does then we are building on a correct foundation and we are centred but if not we have to dismantle the wrong beliefs and re build. We have to re-centre ourselves in truth.

The belt of truth and our sword is such an essential part of our armour for defence and discernment of truth. Every piece of armour would not fit together or be effective without the belt or sword but we can rush or just neglect that part of our preparation. It takes discipline to read and study the bible, to pray but I encourage you to do it daily and to ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in truth.

The Lord showed me a picture once of a plumb line and the effect of deception. At the start it only takes a tiny bit of deception to lead you away from the truth but the more you follow that wrong idea or false teaching the further and further you eventually end up away from the truth.

If you draw a straight vertical line on a piece of paper you will see what I mean. Draw the plumb-line and then draw another line from the bottom at a slight initial angle away from the line and see how far the line deviates away from the plumb line as you draw.

The thing with deception is how subtle it is. Be on your guard against it. Deception is so close to the truth that we can readily accept it as the truth because it sounds right but when you hold it up to the Word of God you will see the error. Satan knows the Word of God too. He quoted it to Jesus when he tempted him but Jesus knew that satan had twisted it’s true purpose and used the word of God in response correctly.

Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to help us. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth who will lead and guide us into all truth. That is why the Word and being filled with the Spirit are so essential to the believer and our walk of faith.

One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is discernment and I encourage you to pray and ask and seek this gift. When you operate in the gift of discernment you get that sense in your spirit that something is just not right. People refer to gut feelings and it can be like that. I have heard false tongues and just knew in my spirit that it was false and not the Holy Spirit. You hear an interpretation and again it just doesn’t sit right. That is the Holy Spirit helping you to discern the truth. When you talk to other believers they will often have discerned the same.

Have a blessed day.

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22

The Grand day out

Morning friends. Friday is here and we are nearly at the weekend. I will share a little secret with you today. My husband (the romantic soul he is) is taking me out for the day on Saturday. A whole day. Just himself and I. No dog, no daughters – just the two of us.

He has planned a trip to Stratford upon Avon, birthplace of William Shakespeare. Stratford is a beautiful place on the river and I love it. The historic buildings, the theatre, the winding streets, museums, shops, pubs, cafes, tourists, street performers. Its a great place.

As a special treat for me he has booked tickets see the play – Much Ado About Nothing. You see I love a bit of a Shakespeare. I studied Shakespeare and have read and watched lots of the plays. This is one of the comedies, but a modern interpretation so I’m really looking forward to it.

Theatre at Stratford viewed from the River

Anyway, I digress. My trip has reminded me of the inspiration for one of my previous posts called the Truth will always out which was inspired by Lady Macbeth. I hope you enjoy it again.

Matthew 5 v 8. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.

There is a very dramatic scene in Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth” when Lady Macbeth is observed at night sleep walking and “washing” her hands over and over in an attempt to clean them from the “blood” which only she can see on her hands.      She keeps repeating over and over “out damned spot out” but no matter how often she cleans her hands it has no effect.    The “blood” is still there and she knows it. 

Those watching her sleep walking think she has gone mad because they cannot see any blood on her hands. As far as they know she hasn’t murdered anyone or spilled blood– her hands are to all intents and purposes clean.

Her unconscious actions though whilst asleep however betray the truth.

Lady Macbeth was to all intents and purposes a murderer. She had persuaded her husband to murder the King and now she was suffering from guilt and revealing through her actions what had previously been hidden in her heart.      Her heart was certainly not pure as it was full of murderous thoughts, jealousy and scheming ambition.   Consequently, her apparently clean hands were not really clean at all. 

She was the ultimate hypocrite whose heart betrayed her.  

The story of Lady Macbeth is rather an extreme example but I hope it might makes us stop and think and consider our own hearts and what motivates us.   We can all put on a good show (myself included) but impurity in our thoughts and character will eventually come out no matter how much we might try to hide or pretend it’s not there.  

Jesus taught his disciples that it wasn’t enough to just observe the religious rituals of the day because it was the evil thoughts which came out of their hearts which actually defiled them and shaped their actions. 

Jesus had a lot to say about hypocrisy and wasn’t shy to challenge the religious people of the day.  

I believe Jesus issues the same challenges to us, His followers, today.

Jesus didn’t mince His words.   He called the Pharisees “whitewashed” tombs and accused them of being too concerned with appearing holy to others but actually inside they were full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.     

The religious leaders of the day were so meticulous in enforcing, and on the face of it obeying all the laws and traditions, but in practice they were not living out a pure life but were full of “extortion and self-indulgence”.   The outside of the cup may have been clean but not the inside.

Matthew 5 v 8. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. 

These words of Jesus show us that it must be possible to become pure in heart otherwise Jesus would be lying.  I believe that Jesus is truth so this statement would on that principle be true.    

The bible teaches us that we cannot be pure through our own efforts – it is impossible.  

The Old Testament points us to the need for a Saviour.    I believe that Jesus is that Saviour who makes this possible. Jesus is the only one who can make us clean from sin by His sacrifice on the Cross and His blood shed for us to cleanse us from sin. 

The apostle Paul teaches us that “Jesus loved the church and gave himself for her that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of the Word in order to present her as a glorious church without spot or wrinkle or any such thing but that she should be holy and without blemish” i.e. pure.

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross ensures that we can daily come and take hold of His blood to cleanse and purify us.   However, we must not treat his sacrifice with contempt and pay lip service when we are convicted of sin.      True repentance means turning away from sin. Changing our behavior. Replacing the old wrong behaviors and thoughts with the right and Godly ones.

I believe in the biblical promise that one day when we die in faith we will then be with and see God.    To be absent from the body as Paul put it and present with the Lord.    However, I think that Jesus’ promise that we will see God can be evidenced in our behavior in our everyday lives.  

When we are hypocritical and our actions do not mirror what we say we believe or what God requires of us in his Word then we do not “see” God at work in our lives or in the lives of others around us.  

However, when we submit ourselves to God and allow Him to work in us and to change us by the power of the Holy Spirit, then I believe we “see” God at work in the changes we experience in our character and motives.     We become more Christ like in our attitudes and so we see God’s character reflected in us and our actions to others.   

I know for myself and I am sure that others can testify to the changes that have taken place in them since becoming Christians.   Some of the immediate changes in my behavior were more obvious and noticeable (my lifestyle changed dramatically when I came back to the Lord) and I think it can be the same for a lot of people.   The lifestyle changes are usually the first to be seen. 

However, some changes in character and behavior are a deeper work of the Holy Spirit especially if we are “blind” or don’t want to acknowledge those character flaws within us. This is when the Word of God and applying the Word is so important as we can use the Word to hold ourselves to account.

1 Peter 2 says Lay aside all hypocrisy –desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby and Romans 12: “Let love be without hypocrisy”.

True Christian love in our hearts will show itself through our actions.

These are certainly the days for action.

We are in a new day of opportunity in how we live out our Christian faith daily- the old pattern & structure of church attendance is not the same any more. We are not pew fillers and were never just meant to be “Sunday believers”. I believe we are now less “building focused” and more “body of Christ” focused.

It is difficult to acknowledge that our hearts might not be right before God and to humble ourselves. 

I am not perfect by any means and some days the thoughts and motives of my heart are anything but pure. I would be lying if I said otherwise, but I love the fact that God’s grace is at work in my life. I take confidence from the fact that “He who has begun a good work in me will complete it” Phil 1:6.

There is an encouraging prayer in the Psalms – Psalm 51 –A prayer of repentance which can help us. 

David acknowledged that he needed to be cleansed from his sins and that God “desires truth in the inward parts”. David certainly knew what he was talking about – the sinful desires of his heart had also led him to contrive a murder (rather like our fictional Lady Macbeth) which he then tried to cover up but God revealed the truth through his prophet, Nathan. David was truly repentant and experienced God’s redeeming love.

Can I encourage us all that our prayer to God this week is “Create in me a clean heart O’ God”.

God’s Voice is Powerful

There are lots of voices clamouring to be heard. Trying to influence us. Lots of voices with differing opinions. Lots of voices which tell us untruths, particularly in the media, but the Bible tells us that God’s voice is powerful, full of majesty and can shake the wilderness and strip the forest bare -Psalm 29.   

The voice of the Lord is “over the waters” and when the “floods have lifted up their voice” then we need to remember that “the Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, than the mighty waves of the sea” -Psalm 93.   

Whichever voice or voices are currently raised or rising up against you or trying to come against you today- whether it is the voices of doubt, unbelief, confusion, accusation, lies, manipulation, intimidation, threats, bullying then disarm them with the truth from the Bible, declare the Word which is powerful, living and mighty into that situation.

Let it be the Voice of God that speaks to you and answers you.

When Jesus was out on the lake with his disciples and the wind and waves rose up in a fierce and violent storm, the disciples thought they would die. Jesus stood up and rebuked the wind and said to the Sea “Peace, be still“.   Immediately the wind & waves were still.  

The voice of Jesus was more powerful than the wind & the waves and was truly “over the waters“.    

You may be facing or in a storm today but let it be God’s voice that powerfully speaks to the storm and not the voice of fear or doubt.   

The Lord will bless you with His peace in the midst of the storm.

This is a reworking of one of the early posts which I wrote on this blog in 2018 when I started writing. I hope it has blessed and encouraged someone today.

Have a blessed day my friends.

Pure Whites

Pure whites

After a recent time of fellowship and ministry during which we took communion, my friend had a picture of pure white washing pegged out on a clothes line.

It’s a simple picture really but it spoke deeply to me about who I am now in Christ. I’m as clean as that white washing.

In order to be truly cleansed from sin and it’s effects it can only be through faith in what Jesus has done for me through his death and resurrection. I believe as a Christian that we receive forgiveness for our sins through confessing our sins, repenting of them and believing Jesus has paid the price for our wrongdoing. As a follower of Jesus, I believe that it is Jesus’ sacrifice and his blood alone which has cleansed me from sin.

You might not feel clean like that or might feel you still have some dirty linen but there is no stain or dirt that can’t be made clean, pure and washed as white as the washing in this picture. Just like new. No stains, no grey, no streaks, no spots no matter how filthy. How do I know this? The bible tells me and I believe it.

Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.
Isaiah 1:18

When we as followers of Jesus take Communion and we break bread together and drink the wine, we remember the Lord’s death until He comes again. We remember with thanksgiving all Jesus has done for us. We have opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit to convict us if there is anything we need to confess or put right before we take Communion.

When we were in lockdown many did not have the opportunity to take Communion together. As I joined with my brothers and sisters in Christ this week I was reminded how powerful it is when we recall and thank God for what Jesus did for us all through His being broken for us and being poured out for us. How powerful it is to confess and release sin in my life and receive cleansing.

He (Jesus) took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
Matthew 26:27-28

Jesus shed His own precious blood so that we can be cleansed from sin. A free gift of grace that is available to everyone no matter who we are. The bible tells us that all have sinned so all need to take this cup of forgiveness. Have you my dear friend? It’s freely available to you. If you want to be truly clean then I believe there is no other way.

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
Acts 2:38-39

Do you hear the Lord calling you to repentance? I pray that you will hear and respond to God’s grace and mercy today and be ever thankful to God who through His great love has reached down from heaven and rescued us from sin and death. Praise God.