Monthly Archives: January 2016

Close Connections

CLOSE CONNECTIONS

Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant of the Lord, will tell you everything so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you.

Peace to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love (Eph. 6:21-24).

I wonder whether technology with its ease of communication would have killed real communication in Paul’s day as it has in ours. Have you noticed how much social skill we have lost since the advent of email and cell phones? How much easier it is to send an email, a Skype. Whatsapp or text message than to talk to someone face to face! A group of kids (by that I mean teenagers!) can sit together in the same room and talk to each other via cell phone messages rather than sit and chat.

Families don’t know how to resolve their conflicts any longer because each member retreats to his or her room to sit behind the computer screen or to “talk” on their cell phones without uttering a word.

How different it was for Paul and his colleagues in their lives together as believers in Jesus. In two short paragraphs, he gives us an insight how the church across the Roman Empire did life together. It was not trouble for Tychicus to travel hundreds of miles, taking many months to carry a letter from Paul to the church at Ephesus. Paul was incarcerated in a Roman prison, or perhaps still under house arrest but he needed to communicate with his beloved churches in other cities.

There was no postal service and certainly no electronic mail or wireless communication. People were his messengers. People to people carrying information, love and encouragement from one group to another, from one individual to another. Just imagine what it cost Tychicus to go for Paul since he could not go himself.

People mattered. Paul was their spiritual “father”. He has risked a great deal to take the good news of Jesus to Ephesus which was the hotbed of witchcraft and Diana worship. The silversmiths were doing a roaring trade selling their images of the goddess Diana to the superstitious citizens of Ephesus. Paul’s message turned the city upside down, bring the wrath of the business sector down on him. His life was in danger because of the response to the gospel.

Every new believer was precious to him. He loved and nurtured them like a father for three years and never forgot them when he moved on. Evangelism for Paul was much more than holding campaigns in city after city and then leaving the converts to be “followed up” by the churches in those cities. There were no churches. It was Paul’s job to care for them together with his fellow workers in the gospel. And care for them he did!

It was also important to the believers in Ephesus (and in the other cities to which the letter was sent) to get news of Paul in Rome. Did they know that he was once again a prisoner for his faith? Just as he has written to other churches to let them know what was happening to them and to encourage them to persevere in spite of persecution, so he also wanted the Ephesian believers to know what was happening to him.

The gospel message was much more than an insurance policy for heaven. It was a way of life they lived together. Paul made sure that the people of God knew and cared about each other across the miles. They needed each other because the whole world was against them. he wrote to instruct and sent Tychicus to encourage so that they would remain steadfast in their faith and not waver because of the hardships they had to endure for their faith.

Paul also reminded them that they were eternally linked to a Father who loved them and a Saviour who died for them. Through Jesus, they had access to God’s grace which He freely gave to all and which enabled them to endure the hardships and suffering of this life, and the peace which would keep them in whatever they were called to bear.

Nothing can ever take the place of these gifts which come from the Father through the Son. To be sustained by God’s grace and supported by His peace means far more than any outward so-called “peaceful” circumstances which are temporary and transient. God’s love would never fail them, no matter what. In that, they could rest as they loved Him in response.

Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3,                                                                              eBook 978-4828-0511-6

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or Kindle version, on www.takealot.com  or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), a companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, has been released in paperback and digital format on www.amazon.com.

For more details, check my website:

http://luellaannettecampbell.com/

Have you read my blogs on www.learningtobeason.wordpress.com ?

 

 

All Kinds Of Prayer

ALL KINDS OF PRAYER

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly as I should (Eph. 6:18-20).

Here’s a little gem on prayer for us today.

Prayer is a mystery, isn’t it? “Prayer” plays a part in every religion and yet, in every religious system that worships a man-made god, not the true God of revelation and of the Bible, the pray-ers’ empty words go nowhere and dissipate into the air. Who hears them? Certainly not the non-existent god they worship and certainly not the devil who masquerades as their god!

Prayer in the Bible is very different. It is based on the solid relationship between the Father and His children. God is no creation of human imagination. He is alive and real and has fully revealed Himself to us in His Son, Jesus. He has removed the barrier of sin through Jesus and invited us to be reconciled to Him and to come back into His family as His beloved sons and daughters.

The hallmark of any real relationship is communication. People who love each other talk to each other. The gods don’t talk; they cannot. However, God talks. He has reopened the lines of communication between Him and us. He talks to us in many ways and has invited us to talk to Him. He has also reassured us that He will respond in whatever way is appropriate, for our best and for His glory. Answering our prayers is one way in which He will show the world what He is like.

In this passage of Scripture, Paul indicates that there are different ways of communicating with God. One of the most important ways is by worshipping Him. Expressing to Him our adoration and appreciating Him for who He is and what He does, enables us to focus on the true God, one who is  Creator, sovereign and supreme in the universe, and yet who has come down to our level in the person of His Son to be with us. We did not make Him; He made us.

Every other so-called “god” reflects the ones who created them. They are takers, not givers, demanding, cruel and unpredictable like the ones who invented them. The God of the Bible, the Father of Jesus is a lover and a giver. He gave His only Son to save us from the predicament we created for ourselves.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness (2 Pet. 1:3).

Jesus assured His disciples, during a teaching session on prayer (Matt. 6:5-8), that the Father knows what we need before we ask Him. We have no need to worry about the everyday practical details of our lives because our Father has promised to take care of them when we do what He wants us to do – to live lovingly and generously towards everyone around us under His authority.

Prayer also includes participating in what God is doing on the earth. As God’s children, He wants us to be fully involved in re-establishing His rule on earth. The first pair elected to follow Satan’s suggestion and to throw off God’s authority and His way of doing things in favour of their own and landed the world in the mess it is now in. Jesus came with a message for His people. “God’s here to take charge again. He is putting right everything that went wrong when man rebelled.”

God chose Jesus to be His king (Psa. 2:1-6). Jesus has set up His government on earth again and invites anyone who will trust Him and entrust his life to him to live under His rule – His standards of love, justice, righteousness and truth which work where man’s selfish and greedy rule has failed.

God is a Father. He also loves to be included in our personal lives. He invites us to share the intimate details of our lives with Him. He knows it all, but He wants us to be transparent with Him. This allows Him to help us understand the tough times we go through and the hardships we endure so that we can co-operate with Him in His work in us to make us holy instead of rebelling and mistrusting Him and harming our fellowship with Him.

There are many more facets to prayer but all of them form part of this open, trusting, two-way communication between God and us as Father and children. The Holy Spirit is intimately involved in all of this. He is the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Jesus. He interprets our deepest heart’s cries to the Father, even when we don’t know how to pray (Rom. 8:26-27) and He shares the Father’s heart with us in response.

Paul was aware of his own need for the Father’s grace and power to help him in his difficult task of taking the message of Jesus to a hostile world. Both Jew and Gentile were against God, stubbornly resisting the good news that God loved them enough to intervene on their behalf to rescue them from self-destruction and bring them back to Himself.

“Please include me in your prayers,” he entreated. In some mysterious way, Paul knew that prayer made a difference. God acts powerfully when His people participate in what He is doing. Paul needed courage, boldness and strength to do what God called Him to do. God would give it to Him but in partnership with those who cried out to Him for help.

That’s how intimately He wants to be involved with us in our lives and in His work through us!

Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3,                                                                              eBook 978-4828-0511-6

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or Kindle version, on www.takealot.com  or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), a companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, has been released in paperback and digital format on www.amazon.com.

For more details, check my website:

http://luellaannettecampbell.com/

Have you read my blogs on www.learningtobeason.wordpress.com ?

 

Armed To The Teeth!

ARMED TO THE TEETH!

Therefore, put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm, then with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Eph. 6:13-17).

Three times Paul states our stance in this “struggle” against our unseen enemy – stand, stand, stand! Why should we stand and not fight, if we are to take the ground the enemy occupies? We only need to stand because Jesus has already overcome him and taken from him what he occupied illegally – our hearts and bodies.

He has redeemed us and taken ownership again of what rightly belongs to Him – the entire universe including the human race. Satan is nothing more than a squatter in territory that does not belong to him. When we return to the Lord in repentance and faith, we take up our rightful position “in Him” and He “in us” to live once more under His authority as God’s appointed and anointed king.

The battlefield is not in our circumstances but in our minds. Satan’s avowed purpose is to win us back under his control by undermining our confidence in God – His love, His goodness and His faithfulness towards us.  The devil lies to us as he did to Adam and Eve. He uses every form of deception and every lie to convince us that we have failed God and are disqualified, or that He has failed us and is no longer trustworthy.

Paul must have studied the Roman soldier’s armour and weapons as he sat in his prison cell in Rome, guarded day and night by a fully armed soldier, assuming that he wrote this letter from Rome. As he thought about his current situation, he recognised that his circumstances were not his problem but his reaction to them. Why was he in gaol and who was responsible for putting him there? Was he a victim of the devil’s schemes or was God still in charge and working in his life for his good?

If God had allowed him to be incarcerated in gaol right in the very “den of lions”, Caesar’s palace, then He had a very good reason for placing him there. However, if Paul resisted and rebelled against what God was doing, mistrusting Him, questioning His love and goodness and complaining about his suffering, of what value would this trial be to him?

Paul realised as he considered his plight, that what really mattered was his thoughts and his attitude to what was happening to him right then. How was he to handle the situation to get the best out of it? After all, hadn’t he penned the words to the believers in Rome years ago?

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers (Rom. 8:28-29).

Satan, the relentless enemy and his minions of allies would batter his mind with doubts and fears to nullify his trust in God when he was in the darkness of uncertainty and insecurity. He needed something to fortify his mind against this attack. Ah! He recognised a useful parallel between the centurion’s armour and the protection God had provided to deflect the destructive thoughts that bombarded his mind.

Jesus had used the same powerful protection against the onslaught of the devil – truth! The belt of truth. It was the soldier’s belt, fastened firmly around his waist that held all the pieces of his armour in place. In the same way, it was the truth of what God had said – His infallible and indestructible Word – that provided the anchor for his confidence in all the benefits of His salvation bought by the blood of Jesus.

Every part of Paul’s armour was anchored to and derived from the truth which came alive to him through his faith in God. He could displace every lie that assaulted his thoughts with the validity of God’s Word, protecting his mind and heart from receiving and believing what the devil insinuated. He could stand firm in both peace with God through faith in Jesus and the peace of God which guarded his heart and mind as he released all his fears and anxieties to Him. He could nullify every lie with the Word of God – driving the devil back by the power of the Word, his mind shielded by his confidence in what God had said

What an experience to share with his beloved fellow-believers! If it worked for him in his circumstances, with the threat of execution hanging over his head, it would work for them as well, no matter what their circumstances and no matter how relentless the enemy’s attack. His mind and theirs would be impenetrable fortresses as long as they were filled and fortified with God’s truth.

Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3,                                                                              eBook 978-4828-0511-6

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or Kindle version, on www.takealot.com  or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), a companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, has been released in paperback and digital format on www.amazon.com.

For more details, check my website:

http://luellaannettecampbell.com/

Have you read my blogs on www.learningtobeason.wordpress.com

 

It’s All-out War

IT’S ALL-OUT WAR

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Eph. 6:10-12).

  1. what a mess we humans have made of this Scripture! Paul has taken pains, in all his letters to ensure that his readers understand one thing. We can do absolutely nothing to save ourselves. All our religious activities including rituals and rule-keeping, even strict adherence to the laws of Moses impress God not one little bit. He swept it all aside as useless and ineffective to deal with the barrier of sin that separates Him from us.

There was only one effective solution to deal with sin – the death of a perfect human being. Since none on earth could be found, He sent His own Son, born of a woman, to take the place of sinful humanity and to die a death He did not deserve in the place of sinners.

The death of Jesus dealt not only with our sin; it also dealt with the enemy who was responsible for luring the first pair into disobedience to God’s one requirement. The devil won the first round by deceiving the woman into mistrusting the love of God. She fell for his lie and dragged her husband into disobeying God’s instruction not to go the route of independence from Him.

Jesus exposed his modus operandi and beat him at his own game by dying a sinless man in perfect obedience to His Father’s will. He cancelled the debt of sin which the human race owed Him, took back the spoils of war – His children, and gave us the power and the freedom to stand firm against the devil in the truth of what He has done.

The problem is that we (and by that I mean the church in the main, led by those who have superimposed their own ideas on God’s Word), have fouled up Paul’s understanding and instruction about conducting this on-going war. We still have the tendency to want to make a contribution to this life we are called to live as followers of Jesus in spite of the fact the He said, ‘Apart from me you can do nothing.’  We have invented our own way of conducting “war” against the enemy.

Firstly, we have misunderstood the site of the battle. We believe that we must fight the devil in our circumstances. When life throws us a curve ball, we immediately blame the devil and take up arms against him. We “resist” him by speaking into the air, as though he is omnipresent just as God is. From where does this idea come? Satan is a created being, not the evil counterpart of God. We “take authority” over him. Where do we find anyone in Scripture doing that? Did Jesus “take authority” over the devil? No! He spoke the truth of the Word.

To make our warfare more effective, so we think, we must “identify the principalities and powers”. We have to know who they are so that we can address them by name. Where are they? In the heavenly realms. We must, therefore, “pull them down” to break their power over countries and regions. We must find out what the “altars” are to which people give allegiance. What a lot of responsibility God has given us to conduct the ongoing war against the devil and his minions. If we don’t, God can’t save the people in those areas from their sin!

Another round of victory for the devil! Another huge distractor to keep us from dealing with the real issues! Since when does God give the church the responsibility to “fight” the devil in the world? Yes, we do have a ruthless enemy! Yes, we are in a constant state of war which many parts of the church has forgotten. But we are fighting the battle where the devil and his legions are not even bothered about.

Secondly, the real war is going on, not out there among the pagans but in our minds. Jesus is taking back the spoils of war. He is winning the willing allegiance of those who believe in Him. He is extending His kingdom, one person at a time, on earth by revealing the truth about God, about us and about His victory over the devil on the cross and by restoring those who believe in Him to His family.

Satan hates what Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, is doing. He works hard to win back those who have recognised the truth, by attempting to reintroduce his lies, to discredit God and deceive His children into doubting His love and goodness and defecting to the enemy once more.

We live in a world which has been thoroughly corrupted by sin. Believers are subject to the same hardships and suffering everyone else in the world goes through. Being children of God is no guarantee that we will escape the effects of sin on this planet. Unbelievers hold God responsible for not intervening. Satan loves to blame God, to undermine His character and to lure God’s children into judging Him and even, if possible, deceiving them enough to lure them back into their old independent ways of thinking and behaving.

People in the world do not have to fight the devil. He already has them in his clutches. Paul is addressing the children of God. We are the ones who need to understand Satan’s strategy and beat him at his own game. Yes, we have a powerful and ruthless unseen enemy. He is clever and subtle and he has no rules but, as Paul triumphantly declared, “We are not ignorant of his devices.” Jesus exposed him and his lies.

Our job is not to fight but to call his bluff! More tomorrow.

Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3,                                                                              eBook 978-4828-0511-6

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or Kindle version, on www.takealot.com  or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), a companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, has been released in paperback and digital format on www.amazon.com.

For more details, check my website:

http://luellaannettecampbell.com/

Have you read my blogs on www.learningtobeason.wordpress.com ?

 

Harmony In The Workplace

HARMONY IN THE WORKPLACE

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favour when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do whether they are slave or free. And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favouritism (Eph. 6:5-9).

The third pair of interactive people i=on Paul’s list is slaves and masters. Although he mentions slaves first and gives detailed instructions on the correct way to think and act as believing slaves, once again it is the master who should set the tone for honour and respect and faithful service from his slaves.

In Paul’s day, there were slaves and masters across the entire Roman Empire. Whenever an army conquered nations, they brought back many of their vanquished foes as slaves. The unfortunate victims were sold in the slave market to the highest bidder and became the property of the slave-owner. Their owners treated them as goods and could do with their as they pleased.

Many slave-owners were cruel and heartless, breaking up families and selling off children and beating their slaves mercilessly for any and every infringement of their whims. Slaves had no recourse to justice. They were forced to submit to whatever treatment was meted out to them without protest.

It was important for believing slaves to get their thinking straight. They were not only to give faithful and loyal service to masters who treated them well, but also to those who mistreated them, period. They were now citizens of another kingdom where the right thing to do was to obey, whether they were treated well or not. They were serving, not a human master, but their Master, Jesus who showed them what was right, even if they were treated unjustly.

Let’s examine this way of living a little more carefully. Why should slaves not rebel if they were treated harshly? For two reasons: firstly, if they reacted to cruelty with a bad attitude, they would be guilty of sin. As children of God, they were to maintain a good conscience before God.

Secondly, they were to remember that their real Master was Jesus, not some capricious and cruel earthly tyrant. The way they served was more important than who they served. If they kept their eye on Jesus, they would serve Him with excellence regardless of the way their masters treated them.

These instructions should also apply in any employer/employee situation because they are based on timeless principles. However, once again it is the one with greater responsibility and accountability who should set the tone for harmony in the workplace. It is far easier for an employee to give faithful and loyal service where the employer is reasonable and fair in his dealings with employees.

As always, an employer is a servant leader.  Regardless of his position and authority in the workplace, like the husband in the home, he is not to lord it over his employees but to lead by example.   Every worker deserves fair wages paid on time.  Every worker deserves to be treated with dignity and respect as a human being regardless of his station in life. This not about one person being better or better educated or qualified than another and, therefore, deserving of greater honour than another. This is about a team working together, each person making his/her contribution to the good of the team. When the team pulls together, everyone benefits.

It is not the job of the employee to be a man-pleaser, only working well when the employer’s eye is on him. He must remember that he is always in the presence of God. The Holy Spirit is in him, not to catch him out or judge him for poor performance but to enable him to be the best he can in the workplace.

Similarly, the employer also has a Master to whom he is accountable. When we remember and become aware of God in everything, our behaviour and attitudes will be tempered by the knowledge of His presence.

Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3,                                                                              eBook 978-4828-0511-6

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or Kindle version, on www.takealot.com  or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), a companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, has been released in paperback and digital format on www.amazon.com.

For more details, check my website:

http://luellaannettecampbell.com/

Have you read my blogs on www.learningtobeason.wordpress.com ?