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Transition.

I haven’t blogged for a number of weeks, due to a number of pressures and loss.  This time reminds me of a truth – we are always in a season, and according to His Word, there’s a key activity to undertake in the season we find ourselves in.   See Eccles 3:1   The season I am in is transition and this season can really be a troubling time emotionally and mentally and we can experience what I call soul lag.

Soul lag, like jet lag, affects our ability to function.  Our bodies which are used to a particular time zone, struggle, initially to assimilate the new zone we are in. It is just the same with our soul which houses our mind, will and emotions – our thinker, chooser & feeler!  Temporarily, these all struggle to function, as they transition to a new time, season and activities!

Transition is where all growth and development occur.  Nothing new happens when business is as usual.  Except, things compound!

Transition is a constant and seasonal dynamic in the heart and mind of the Father for all humans and especially for His sons and daughters.  The purpose of His transitional programme is summed up in Deut 8:2 – “remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep my commands.”

Transition is the time and season where the Father reveals the state and condition of our heart, both the good and the bad!  His desire is to bring out both and to develop the good and remove the bad.  This is the purpose of the pressure and the test.  See Roms 3:5 & Jas 1:2-8

As I write, from my experience of transition, my character trait that needs to be developed is a steadfast heart.  Ps 112:8 gives me the qualities of a steadfast heart.   These qualities need the pressure of their counterparts, so I can resist the and through my multiple repetitions against the resistance, I can develop a steadfast heart.  The character trait that needs to be removed is a lack of consistency, or as scripture calls it – constancy!

As I continue on this ‘going and growing’ transitional journey, a foundational theological truth and revelation as come back to me which is found in Roms 5:8 – but God demonstrated his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!

Demonstrate, translates as an introduction and so God introduces His love when we are in the worse of states and places – Christ died when we were sinners.  This core characteristic of Father’s love is an important reminder as I take on the gap between where I am and where He is leading me which is the goal of transition.

His love kicks in even when I or it, are not looking good or going well! AS well as His unmerited love being available in transition, so too the other side of grace – His unrivalled power!  And this power is made perfect in weakness which translates as lacking ability.

So, when I know I cannot, I reminded myself that His power, strength and might, are available, as a covenant right and applied by faith. See Eph 6:10

Whatever season you may be in and however it is going, or not! Remember, His unmerited love AND unrivalled power IS available, especially at those times that look or feel impossible.

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1096 P2

1096 is the Strong’s number for the Greek word – power to become which is within the foundational verse of this blog –

“to all who received him, to those who believed in His name, He gave them power to become children of God.” Jn 1:12

He gave, is the language of bestowing a gift or privilege! Everyone may be a child of God, however, sonship or daughterhood are bestowed when we are born again or from above, by the Holy Spirit.

Bestowing happens in a moment, becoming takes a lifetime and then a few seconds! See 1 Cor 15:52. Bestowing and becoming involves the Father, The Son & The Holy Spirit.   What the Father desires, His estranged sons and daughters to come home, The Son has secured and The Holy Spirit will apply.

In fact, the primary function of The Holy Spirit is to testify to our spirits that we are adopted sons and daughters, who are also heirs and co-heirs with The Father and The Son.  Roms 8:15-17.  The Spirit desires to reveal to us – who we are, whose we are and what we’ve been given.

This is the Biblical path of identity and becoming!

We are adopted sons and daughters, we belong to The Father, who views us as His prized possession, His workmanship, a good work in progress and a Persona Viator –

“a person on the way!”

We have been given full rights as sons and daughters which includes all sins forgiven and forgotten and the power, price and penalty of that sin decisively dealt with through Christ.  We have The Spirit who is a down payment and a guarantee of daily empowerment and the anointing to be, live and speak for Christ.  Below is a list of sixteen truths and present-day realities which is why they are written in the past tense, that are part of the full rights, every son and daughter has been given.

  1. Purchased
  2. Rescued
  3. Ransomed
  4. Redeemed
  5. Adopted
  6. Accepted
  7. Approved
  8. Translated
  9. Transferred
  10. Grafted in
  11. Loved
  12. Called
  13. Kept
  14. Raised
  15. Seated
  16. Blessed

Our being is in Christ, who has brought us back home to our Glorious Father. Eph 1:17 and the Father desires that the eyes of our heart be opened so we can know Him better and see and know the hope, the inheritance and the power that are ours by adoption.  Eph 1:18-20. The Spirit’s core role in all of this is to help us to –

“become in experience what we already are by grace!”

Alec Moyter commentary on Philippians

This Spirit led and achieved process, of being and becoming, needs us to understand and undertake two lost spiritual disciplines – identification and appropriation.

When the Spirit does a work of grace within us, He leads us to see that Christ’s work on the cross and through the resurrection, was for us.  He then leads us to repent of our declaration of independence, the core nature of sin and we return to the Father, deciding to make Jesus our Lord; all of this is identification.

Historically and sadly, much of recent church history has focused almost entirely on getting people to identify with the finished work of Christ.  Although correct, it is incomplete because Jesus never came to ask people to pray prayers, or even invite Him into their hearts.  He gave people the opportunity to become His disciple, to learn with and from Him and to follow His leadership for the rest of their lives.

In between the moment we identify with Christ’s work and the very moment we see Him face to face, our core concern is appropriation! This is the daily partnership with the Holy Spirit, so we become in our experience what we already are in Christ!

Moving from being in Him to becoming more and more like Him!

 

1096

 

Identity takes little time to write but can be a dynamic that takes longer to work out, and yet it is a sum that is vital to answer because identity is foundational to building a life!  All of us identify that we are human beings which is one use of identity i.e. the fact of being.  Oxford Dictionary.  Another definition is about ‘determining characteristics.’  The first usage is what we are, categorised the second who we are, characterised!

The facts are, we came into being on a given date and one day we’ll go out again and in-between, we have the small dash to work out who we are.  The difficulty of developing our identity is that life happens and it releases its momentum which we can get drawn into and before we know it the sense of self-begins to form and we begin to think and live from this ‘contextual momentum!’

Like a coffee pot, our sense of identity just percolates through and into us, from the events and process called upbringing.

I guess the time where I took hold of this massive life issue was around thirty, when I entered the Church Army College, for three years of theological, academic and practical training, to become a Church Army captain and to enter into the office of an evangelist in the Church of England.  This context, put some serious heat on my ‘coffee pot identity’ and I began to notice that I had different identities for different people and contexts.  After two terms, I was emotional and mentally spent, and so, I made a conscious decision to ‘change the brew! Literally, I woke up and smelt the coffee and I didn’t like the brand!

One of the first thoughts that empowered my ‘dash-identity journey’ was a thought that came one day in listening prayer – “all labels are essentially self-adhesive!”  With the attached peace that came with this thought, I knew it was the Holy Spirit speaking and so I asked Him to help me grasp the understanding and wisdom He was offering to my world and this key issue.

“The flavour, strength and aroma of the coffee, comes not from your contexts or experiences but from your interpretations and decisions about these times and occasions.”

In a moment which I am still applying today, I saw that my interpretations and decisions were the coffee powder!  Therefore, I knew, that wake up and smell the coffee was simultaneously the chance to change the coffee.  I did and still am!

1096 is the Strong’s reference number for the Greek word ginomai, meaning cause to be (“gen’ –erate) and is used with great latitude i.e. Literally, figuratively and intensively.  It is not coincidental that this word is associated with the word ginosko (1097) meaning ‘to know.”

Our ‘cause-to-beness,’ our 1096 is rooted and flows out of our 1097 – knowledge which is always relational in its nature.  Our identity is rooted in the internalised knowledge resulting from the effects of events and interactions in our upbringing.  Identity is bestowed but no one’s bestowing opinion can become mine/ours without our co-operation.  Not even God’s!

Listen to and think about these words from John 1:12

“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God…”

Children of God is a bestowed title, an event, granted and given because a divinely imparted process was adhered to – received, believed and so become!

In this verse is a simple but profound principle that underpins identity –

what we receive, [knowledge, information, reflections] that we subsequently believe [trust, place confidence in, are persuaded by] this we become!

To become an adopted son or daughter of God is a gift, to change our identity is graft, and this begins with revisiting the information we have received and what beliefs this has led to.  This is what the bible calls transformation and happens through the entire renewal of our minds.

If we don’t like who we’ve become then receive the new life that Father and His Son offers and then we can work with the Holy Spirit, who will lead us into truth and bring about the transformation that truth contains.

 

 

 

Lavished & Labelled! 

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God and that is what we are.  1 John 3:1

Sometimes the quickest way to understanding a text is to use the study tool called outline form.  So, –

  1. Behold
  2. What manner of love the Father
  3. Has bestowed
  4. Should be called children of God
  5. That is what we are

 

  1. The word behold carries the idea of seeing & experiencing something so amazing, it stops you in your tracks.  It denotes seeing and contemplating which ends in a sense of wonder, even awe! This is not someone taking a glance, it’s someone fixed by a tracker-beam, being drawn to something mind-blowing.

 

  1. The love being seen and experienced is otherly worldly in kind and degree and the writer is aware that it is not from this realm but from another world! It is not like anything he has seen or experienced, and he finds it fascinating to his mind and understands it will be a life-changing experience!

 

  1. What’s staggering about this otherly worldly love is that it has been bestowed. It has already been given but also waits to be received. Bestow is all about something being given to another without any reference to their merit or behaviour.  This otherly worldly love is summed up in Roms 5:8 – But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were sinners, Christ died for us.  The Word demonstrates means introduced.  I say it this way – “when I was in the worst of states and places, Father gave me His best!”  His very best, given, when we were at our worse.

 

  1. Popular culture would say we are all children of God, and in the sense of we are all created and made in the imago Dei (image of God) we are! However, the people being addressed in this context are people who have stopped, looked and responded to God’s introduction to His otherly worldly love, namely Christians.   They bear the imago Dei but in Christ, it has been fully restored, freely, by grace and through faith.  They are children by adoption, by second birth and the writer so wants this truth to be understood, he uses the phrase – this is what we are!  In today’s text world, it would be CAPITALISED, EMBOLDENED & UNDERLINED!

 

  1. The reality, as far as God is concerned, is that anyone who comes back to Him through the work of His Son, immediately becomes adopted by grace and they receive the full rights as sons and daughters. See Gal 4:4&5   Jesus gave us a great glimpse of this truth in telling the parable of the prodigal son, He pictures God the Father, lavishing His love on an undeserving, lacking in merit son –

“But the father said to his servants, Quick [immediately] Bring the best robe and put it on him.  Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.” Luke 15:22 parentheses mine.

The good news of Jesus is not believe in me and one day you’ll be in heaven.  That’s correct but woefully incomplete!  His good news, the gospel, is that we can come back to the Father and immediately be given the full rights as adopted sons and daughters.  And that, through covenant love and the blood of His Son, we have the right and the might, to draw on the resources of the Risen King and see the reality of His kingdom begin to rule and reign in the earth!

From the time, we come home to Father, His Spirit is constantly witnessing to our spirits that we are adopted children of God and the sooner we experience the loving spirit of adoption, the better our lives will be.

Adoption is our starting point.  Inheritance our focal point!

If we are children then we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order to share in His glory.  Roms 8:17

Vigilante!

This post is not about taking the law into our own hands but at the heart of the dynamic of a vigilante is a sense that something has to change and someone should do something about it.  Their frustration with the ruling authority’s inability or reluctance to act drives them to action.  These thoughts are all contained within the 23rd verse of Proverbs 4 –

“Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts!”  The Message

The ruling authority, God, is informing us that He is not going to do what only we can do –  it’s ‘our heart!’

The short three-word sentence; keep vigilant watch, translates this way –

keep with more vigilance than you would use for anything else. Barnes commentary.

The NIV puts it this way – “above all else!”

The number one priority and discipline is to guard our heart as if it were the most valuable resource, commodity or treasure.  The language of this verse seems over the top but actually, it is the language of a very concerned Father, who is seeking to help a beloved child, as they take their place in this world.   Chapter four starts with this counsel – listen and pay attention to a father’s instruction.  God as our Father, is trying to get us in the loop and see what’s vital and important, as we start out into adulthood – Guard your heart.

The last part of the verse – for that’s where life starts, carries the idea of the fountainhead or spring, i.e. the starting point of a river.  Just as the spring of a river has its starting point deep within the ground, so too does the ‘downstream of our lives!’    The state and condition of the river are directly affected by the state and condition of the source, that is the spring.  Making sure the spring was fenced off and protected from debris and dead animals would result in the downstream river quality being at its best.  So, it is with the heart!

I have learnt, the hard way, that I cannot change me or my circumstances without first making the effort to go to the source and see if I have allowed anything in into my heart, that is directly affecting what it is I am seeking to change.  This is vitally important because if I take new actions but still hold the same heart attitude, eventually my heart will win and my actions will wane and I will be discouraged.

Life, literally in the Hebrew, means boundaries and they are set within our heart and so, real transformations have to begin in the heart!

The context of verse 23 is from verse 20 to 25 and contains hints and warnings about how debris and death will try to get into the heart, so as to affect the downstream –

  • Ears – Pay attention, to what it is our ears are listening closely to v 20
  • Eyes – The words we continually focus on will get into our hearts
  • His Words are life & health to our downstream life v 22
  • Lips – put & keep far away perverse & corrupt speech v 24

 

God, as ruling authority, as our Father, is letting us into how He set up the system and informing us of our part.  How vigilant we are, is our decision because love does not insist on its own way.  However, love desires the best for us and as a father, He is not a passive observer regarding our life.  Therefore, He will try to influence us for good and for change.

His influence centres around the event that lead to the ongoing discipline called self-discipline.  The event is to show and reveal any perceptions, thoughts & attitudes that are in our heart.  The saying is often true: the way we see the problem is the problem! Biblical transformation begins and only happens by the entire renewal of the mind.  Roms 12:2.

After event number one comes to the ongoing process which will regularly lead to more of event number ones, and that is self-discipline or self-control.  This is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit and He longs to help us through this ongoing event and process of transformation.

When the spring that’s producing our downstream is cleared of debris and death, the water and flow of our lives will run clearer.

 

 

 

Cardiology P4

David was honoured for his decision to allow God to search and try his heart, even when the going got rough and David went walkabout! His son would learn, in some way, from his father’s struggles with his heart and would come to this understanding –

“above all else, guard your heart.  Prov 4:23

The state and condition of the heart cannot be separated from the state and condition of our lives, after all, the reason Solomon and the Holy Spirit were so adamant about guarding our hearts is this: that’s where the issues of life spring from. Prov 4:23.  This final blog on God as a committed and highly proficient cardiologist, concerns guarding against developing a double heart Ps 12:2 and an unbelieving heart Hebs 3:12

A Double Heart.  Ps 12:2 

The word double here literally translates as ‘a heart and a heart!’  What David has learnt from his experiences with Saul and his own son Absalom, he pens here.  His hard-learnt advice is –  watch out for deceiving and flattering words because they reveal a double heart. Saul used lies and deception in his attack against David and David’s son used flattery to influence people against his father. A heart and a heart, a double heart, speaks of a person who is saying one thing but internally they hold an entirely different sentiment or attitude.  See Prov 23:7

A prime example of this is reality TV!

Seven Psalms later David would write these words – may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. Ps 19:14

may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. Ps 19:14

Contemporary words for this double heart condition would be incongruence or lack of integrity.

An Unbelieving Heart.  Hebs 3:12

Context is king, and the context of Hebrews 3 is important to what an unbelieving heart is, and it is all about not responding in faith!

Hebrews 3 is a summary of servants who hear the Holy Spirit speaking and, act accordingly in faith and accomplish what the Father is commanding.  The servants in this chapter are Jesus vs 1-6, Moses vs 3-5, the Founding Father’s generation vs 8-11 and the present generation of covenant servants! Vs 12-19

The overarching narrative of God to all these servants has three parts to it – out of Egypt, through the wilderness and into the promised land and the umbrella word for this in the New Testament is salvation.  At the core of this epic journey is the leadership of the Holy Spirit, seen through the pillar of fire and cloud, the ark of the covenant and leaders!

In this summary chapter of their Exodus journey the Holy Spirit speaks and some of the servants are described as having an evil unbelieving heart which one commentator describes as a ‘lack of confidence in God!’   Review the Exodus generation’s journey and you’ll see that God asks some pretty big stuff of them but always He backs it up with a re-occurring promise –

“I will be with you! The classic example is the twelve spies.  See Numbers 13.

 

The journey of salvation always includes crossing boundaries or borders!  When the people of God left Egypt, it is implied that they are headed to another boundary or border.  At these border crossings, there are attended guards – fear and discouragement.  See Joshua 1:8&9.  All God asks is that we trust Him and enter in, no matter what or whom might be in the way.  Ten spies gripped by fear and having no confidence in God’s promise shrank back and spread their contagion throughout their tents. See Number 13:31-33

Only Caleb and Joshua had a believing heart, and they and their kin went and saw the provision of God in the next part of their salvation journey. David understood that he would face border and crossing-over opportunities –

“the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Ps 16:6

So, lets us continually guard our heart, so we are ready for those boundaries, crossing over moments and, to especially guard them if we successfully negotiate the crossing over point! Read Deut 8

Cardiology P3

 

A pathological and extremely efficient cardiologist, is my working definition of God my Father, as a heart expert!  His words to Samuel when Samuel was discerning which one of the seven sons who stood before him was the new king are a helpful reminder –

“Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Sam 16:7

Eliab, was the eldest of the seven and Samuel when he saw him, made a decision – surely the Lord’s anointed stands before me!

Samuel saw but God looked and Eliab was not the one.

Fast forward a few years to the encounter with Goliath, the man mountain and Eliab and David’s other brothers would stand frozen for forty days and nights before Goliath’s challenge.

The day David arrived, he went out to meet Goliath. God saw the difference and chose David.

It’s worth remembering that the challenge of Goliath was for everyone and everything, because all the people, their land, houses and goods, would be to be given to the victorious one and vice versa.

David’s answer to Saul gives us a real insight into what is the opposite of a hard or a cold heart – “your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep…1 Sam 17:34. David had a sense, to be more precise, he was sensitive to the prompts of the Spirit of Almighty God.   He knew that today, as he delivered the cheese butties, was going to be a life-changing day!

A hard heart, as described in Proverbs 28:14 and a cold heart, as described in Revelation 3:15 are about love for God and His purposes. In both of these verses, the love of the servant is under attack from outside forces, who are seeking to stop the servant from taking action, prompted by love and supported by faith, so that Father’s kingdom would come.

David’s heart was not perfect but it was maturing and central to this maturity is an attitude David adopted throughout his life which he wrote about in Ps 37:4 –

“delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

The word David and the Spirit chose for delight means to live tenderly and delicately at heart, to be sensitive at the core of our being to His love – delight yourself in the Lord.  Our being should have its being and becoming in His love, His friendship, His purposes.  The Father and His ways should be our greatest desire and from this starting point, He will give us the desires of our heart, that He has placed there!

An illustration might help us – being and remaining like putty in His hand.   Pliable and responsive is the baseline and our Father who is a master potter will push and work, at our pliable heart level to form and mould us, ready for the purposes He has already prepared ahead of time for us.  Eph 2:10

Hard and cold putty is anything but pliable and as a result, it becomes unworkable.

So, what can we do to remain pliable at heart and avoid the state of being unworkable?

  • Adopt David’s attitude & approach – “Search me O God, & know my heart
  • Know that His adoptive love already accepted & approves of in Christ.
  • The primary role of the Holy Spirit, is to testify WE ARE HIS!!!1
  • His agenda is that His perfect love would drive out fear within our hearts
  • Fear keeps us in, holds us back and stops us taking on our Goliath
  • Worship and Word, keep us pliable at heart.
  • Worship gets us of ourselves and over ourselves
  • His Word gives us the insight into the height & depth & the width & length of His love
  • His Word reveals how we can serve Him & obedience to His Word shows our love for Him

The final action is taking action, as He prompts us, towards the people and purposes He has in his heart and mind.

 

 

 

Cardiology P2

I began this mini-series on the heart by describing God the Father as a committed, efficient and expert cardiologist, knowing the structure, functions and disorders of the heart.  I highlighted King David’s heart attitude, towards the heart, summarised in the words of Ps 139 v 23 – “search me O God and know my heart.”   God answered David’s prayer many times and at different seasons throughout his life.  David is the only one the Father said these words about –

“a man after my own heart, who will do my will.”

Whatever feedback God gave to David about the state and condition of his heart, David responded accordingly and stayed after the heart of God.  The Scriptures reveal six disorders of the heart and in this blog, we’ll  look at having an unclean heart  Ps 51:10 and a proud heart Prov 21:4.

Unclean heart.  Ps 51:10 

Context is king and so it’s important to get some knowledge of what has gone on, to understanding why David is making this request of God – create in me a clean heart.

Clearly, David is describing his heart in this moment as being unclean.   Psalm 51 is David’s response to Nathan the prophet’s delivery of a story, who’s punchline convicts David of his sins with and surrounding Bathsheba – disobedience, lust, adultery, murder, pride!

The word clean primarily relates to animals being ‘clean; for sacrifice but it also describes being morally clean i.e. free from guilt!    However, although David is asking God to forgive his actions, those times when he missed the mark, he is also asking for a deeper, more profound work to take place with his heart.   David’s uses create, bara, in Hebrew which always refers to God creating, as in Gen 1:1.

David realises that the source of his sins, his actions, was his heart and if someone did not create a new clean heart within him, history would repeat itself.  He came to the truth that his heart had a disorder and only He who created Him had the power to change his heart within him.  David is asking for a re-creative work within his heart, he’s asking for God to re-incline his heart.

Not a re-set of his heart but to utterly re-calibrate it!     To create within him new desires, new focuses, new priorities.

David came to understand, and we must too, if we haven’t already that ALL of life’s issues spring from the heart.  Prov 4:23.   David was not just asking for water to cleanse him outwardly, but that the spring that flowed from his heart would be completely re-directed and re-coursed!

God loved David’s response, answered his prayer and changed the course of the reminder of his life.  He’ll will change the course of our lives too, if we have the same attitude and approach to our hearts as David did!

Proud Heart.  Prov 21:4 

 The entrances to the heart are our ears, eyes and words, Prov 4:20-25 and here in 21:4 the eyes and the heart are intrinsically linked and as one commentator puts it – “the former [haughty eyes} are a sign of the latter [proud heart].   The word proud literally means broad or wide.

I like the Targum’s paraphrase – ‘the swelling of the heart!’

I am sure we’ve heard the phrase – their eyes are bigger than their belly!’  The life in Prov 21:4 has eyes and a heart that are synched at the setting – ‘swelled up opinion of themselves’ with respect to others.  Synonyms would be conceited, arrogant, superior and vain.  In the New Testament this proud, swelled up opinionated heart is revealed in the Pharisee  and the tax-collector parable –

He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’ 13 “Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’ 14 Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” Lk 18:10-14

God has said that any life that has a proud, swelling heart, He will not endure and actively oppose! Cf Ps 101:5 & I Pet 5:5

God as cardiologist, is pathologically committed to the transformation of our hearts, by revealing to us the state and condition of our hearts, so that the change and transformation we long to see in our lives can be realised.

Years ago, an entire village in the Himalayas went down with sickness and diarrhoea, except one elder and no one could figure out the problem.  This wise elder left the village and began to climb the mountain, to the bewilderment of the villagers.  Eventually, he reached his destination – a spring, that was the source of the river than ran through the village.  There he saw that a sheep had fallen into the mouth of the spring and died and its decomposing body was releasing bacteria that were flowing into the village.  He removed the carcass and within a day, the sickness and diarrhoea disappeared from the village.

Keep vigilant watch over your hearts; that’s where life starts.  Prov 4:23 The Message

The spring that is the source of all the issues of our life, is in the heart and whatever state that spring is in, is determining the flow downstream and out into our lives and contexts.

An unclean or proud heart, like the dead sheep, will affect the downstream of our lives and contexts!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cardiology Part One.

Cardiology is the medical study of the structure, function and disorders of the heart. In this mini-series of four blogs I want to share some thoughts around the importance of the heart, as revealed in scripture.   The state of our hearts, is right up there as a subject matter to our Father, in fact it is His number one subject – above all else, guard your heart!  Prov 4:23.

God the Father is a committed and highly proficient cardiologist!

The heart has the ability to have affections, to think, to guide and set our life’s boundaries.  It also has an overflow; the mouth which in turn has the power of life and death attached to it, namely the tongue.

The heart is so strategic to all of life, we are commanded to guard it, (Prov 4:23) as if it contained the crown jewels.  The thought behind the word is to show vigilance more than over anything else we have or own.   One commentator refers to it as the master-controller!

One man in Scripture understood this and that was David.  He was after all, described as a man after God’s own heart! Acts 13:22.    This king, warrior and minstrel penned these words –

“search me O God and know my heart…Ps 139:23”

David had the confidence, prior to Christ and Calvary’s grace, to ask God to know his heart.  This is high level trust and a little risky but is the kind of prayer Father loves and will answer.  David was asking His God and creator to know his heart through observing, experiencing and reflecting.  All of these are the core dynamics of what the word know depicts.  David was also saying “let me in,” on your observations, experiences and reflections.

For David, there were two aspects of his heart that he wanted His Father’s feedback on – the thoughts and the ways within his heart and that through these reflections Father would lead him in the way everlasting.  This word everlasting means the old path and is made of two words that differ slightly.  One means the right way, the way a man should go and the other, the way a man goes by habit.   David’s son would learn this from his father and his own experiences –

“there is a way that seems right to man but its end is the way of death. “Prov 16:25

Here’s my attempt at paraphrasing David’s request from within this verse Ps 139:23

“I want you God to test through observation and experiences the thoughts and ways within my heart and reflect back to me, any habits that are not leading me in the well-established path of life which is Your desire for me!”

David’s prayer would be answered, numerous times and some of these were not good feedback but every time God spoke into David’s life about the state and condition of his heart, David responded with humility, transparency and faith!  It is for this reason I believe God defined David as a man after my own heart, who will do my will.

David was far from perfect, however, he always, apart from sixteen months of complete madness, went after and stayed after God’s heart!  Like David I have prayed his prayer and invited God to search and try my heart and give me feedback because I want what David had and I can only have that, if I do what he did!

God is a proficient cardiologist understanding the hearts structure and function like no other, he designed it but He also knows the disorders of the heart and these fall into six categories –

  1. unclean heart  Ps 51:10
  2. proud heart Prov 21:4
  3. hard heart Prov 28:14
  4. cold heart Matt 24:12
  5. double heart Ps 12:2
  6. unbelieving heart Heb 3:12

 

The beginning of the answer to that part of us described as deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it? Jer 17:9 NIV  Is to humble asks God to do in us what He did in David – search me and try me and give me feedback!

The next three blogs I’ll take two disorders from the list and share some thoughts.

Regards

Andy

HQ P2

In my last blog, I described, based on the word schemes from 2 Cor 2:11 the devil as a determined and focused traveller –

Who is heading in one direction, towards a specific destination with three things on his mind: rob, steal and destroy.

That destination is our mind and I am likening it to a military HQ.  If the HQ goes then the army is defeated and the territory that’s at stake, in this case our whole life, is handed over to the victor.  This in essence, is what the battle for Eden which was Project Cultivation, was all about.  Satan was after the delegated territory and all the authority, rule and splendour that came with it and this is what he offered Jesus in the wilderness!

Satan gain access to all of it by infiltrating Adam and Eve’s HQ, their minds and he used two major weapons which he still uses today to gain access to their & our minds, HQ – deception and lies!

The soul has a three-fold make up – mind, will and emotions. What I refer to as the thinker, chooser & feeler!   It is helpful to place the will, aka the chooser in the centre of the three because it reveals to me that Satan will try to influence my thoughts and feelings, so as to get me to choose, i.e. act.    It is through my actions that I can and will give place to the enemy and yield the authority and power I already possess. Cf Jn 14:30 & Eph 4:27.

This is his ultimate aim, to take the authority and power we have invested in us and use it against us!

In Eden, Satan presented an image and a thought which created a mood in Eve which she then acted upon and Adam joined in and the rest as they say is history.   Satan’s methods have not changed and so he presents to our imagination and our thinker, images which are really outcomes – “you’ll be like God!”   As soon as we focus on the images and thoughts, corresponding feelings are formed and attached, and as Ecclesiastes 4:12 says; a three-corded strand is not easily broken.

The accumulative effect of image, thoughts and feelings; are a difficult trio to break, so it is vital to not be ignorant of his methods, and demolish images and take captive thoughts.  I am also learning that any feeling or mood has its roots in someone’s thinking and will have attached images and is designed for me to act out or move toward the outcome(s) being presented.

God or Satan cannot just walk through the door of our HQ, they both have to use the same system and they both know that the HQ is strategic to their outcomes – “I have come that you may have life, in abundance until it over flows.  The thief comes to rob steal and destroy!” Jn 10:9&10

The Father decided from the outset to fill the earth with His Eden project and central to all this filling of the earth were Adam and Eve.  They and us were not created as passive but proactive partners, through whom God intended to fill the earth.  In Genesis 6:13 this filling the earth through men and women dynamic is clearly spell out –

“for the earth is filled with violence because of them!”

All the resources of Eden, all the authority and the power to exercise these resources were delegated to Adam and Eve, to God’s co-workers.  What was delegated was then abdicated by the surrender of the HQ’s by Adam and Eve.

The great news, of the good news, is this – that in Christ, we are back in the place of authority and power. In fact, we have more authority and power than Adam and Eve.  See Phil 2:10.  

 

Father’s creation mandate, to fill the earth with Eden is still valid and through Christ we have been given free access to the resources of the king of kings and His kingdom. These resources can and will become our realities, as we exercise faith and confront the works of the Devil, as Jesus did. Cf Jn 14:12 & 1 Jn 3:8

Satan is a determined traveller but in Christ he is a stripped, disarmed and defeated one. Col 2:15 And through the abundant provision of grace and the gift of righteousness, we have the right and the might, to rule and reign in life! See Roms 5:17.

That right to reign includes exercising authority over our imagination, thinking and emotions.  All of our HQ!

There’s a war on and in Christ we are super conquerors and nothing and  no one can separate us from His love or snatch us from His hands.  Deception and lies are the only weapons Satan as in his arsenal.  So, let’s not be ignorant of his schemes?  Let’s proactively guard our HQ because the stakes are high.  Very high indeed!