Tag Archives: truth

26 – ENGAGING THE POWERS OF THE KINGDOM –THE POWER OF THE WORD

26 – ENGAGING THE POWERS OF THE KINGDOM –THE POWER OF THE WORD

It is fitting that we should conclude our studies on the powers of the kingdom, at least for a while, with a closer look at what the Bible has to say about itself. After all, if this book is not authentic, then everything we believe and live by is a lie, and we are all witnesses to something that is not and never has been true.

Every religion has an originator and sacred writings that claim to be the truth. What makes our faith unique? We claim to have a written record of what God has spoken that is infallible, indestructible, powerful, and eternal.

“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Hebrews 4:12 NLT

This is the witness of God’s Word about itself and the reason for people’s differing responses to this book.

The Bible is either loved and revered by those who believe it and are transformed by its truth or hated and feared by those who claim allegiance to other gods.

The story of the Bible is amazing. Despite every attempt to destroy this book, God has protected it to the extent that its words and influence have infiltrated the entire planet. Since it has been translated and disseminated across the globe in written and digital form, it would now be impossible to eradicate it from the earth.

During the most repressive of regimes, especially in China and Russia, the Word lived on and even single pages of the Bible have brought people to living faith in Jesus.

We call the Bible God’s Word. According to Hebrew scholars, the Word is a manifestation of God in another form. In other words, God has revealed Himself to us in written form, using the words that people can understand to explain what we need to know about Him in order to believe in Him.

The Bible contains words in three forms

  1. The LOGOS

In essence, the “logos” is everything God has  revealed in written form, that enables us to connect with Him.

  1. The RHEMA

Rhema is the Greek word for “word” which reflects the spoken word or utterance. The whole Bible is God’s “logos” but there are times when God speaks a specific “rhema” word to our situation or need. The Holy Spirit quickens the Word that is in us to give us light, or to provide wisdom or a weapon against the devil’s lies.

“But Jesus told him (Satan), “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word (rhema) that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” Matthew 4:4 NLT

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.  He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me.  All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.’ ” John 16:13-15 NLT

  1. JESUS, the living Word

God spoke words through His prophets in the Old Covenant, but His final word came in the form of a person, Jesus, who is the embodiment of everything God has revealed about Himself. Jesus is the living LOGOS, God’s final word.

“Long ago, God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.” Hebrews 1:1-3 NLT

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT ITSELF?

Apart from the many millions whose lives have been changed by reading the Bible, we have the witness of the Bible itself to its power to work in people’s lives, either to judge and condemn or to save and transform.

PROPHECY AUTHENTICATES THE TRUTH OF SCRIPTURE

Let’s start with prophecy because prophecy is God’s trump card that witnesses to the Bible’s authenticity.

Many so-called prophets, both in and outside the Bible, claim to speak for God. How do we know that what they say is the truth?

“I have not sent these prophets, yet they run around claiming to speak for me. I have given them no message, yet they go on prophesying. If they had stood before me and listened to me, they would have spoken my words, and they would have turned my people from their evil ways and deeds.” Jeremiah 23:21-22 NLT

False prophets tell people what they want to hear. True prophecy speaks the truth whether it is palatable to the hearer or not.

“Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.” Isaiah 46:10 NLT

“Then Jeremiah the prophet said to Hananiah, “Listen, Hananiah! The Lord has not sent you, but the people believe your lies. Therefore, this is what the Lord says: ‘You must die. Your life will end this very year because you have rebelled against the Lord .’” Two months later the prophet Hananiah died.” Jeremiah 28:15-17

Jesus is the final proof is the truth of Old Testament prophecy . Since everything that was prophesied about His first coming was fulfilled, we can safely believe that everything prophesied about His second coming will also be fulfilled.

“God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.’ 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 NIV

GOD’ S WORD IS PERFECT

“And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times.” Psalms 12:6 NIV

There is nothing we can add to or take from the Bible to make it a better revelation of God. If we do so, we only bring judgement on ourselves.

“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.” Revelation 22:18-19 NIV 

THE BIBLE IS SPIRIT-INSPIRED

“Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding,  or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.” 2 Peter 1:20-21 NLT

THE BIBLE IS FOOD FOR OUR SOULS

“And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat.  Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.” Ezekiel 3:1-3 NIV  

“The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.  The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.  The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.  They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.  By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. “Psalms 19:7-11 NIV

THE WORDS OF SCRIPTURE HAVE THE POWER TO EXPOSE THE HEART

“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.” Hebrews 4:12-13 NLT

“Let the prophet who has a dream recount the dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully. For what has straw to do with grain?” declares the Lord . “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord , “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” Jeremiah 23:28-29 NIV

FAITH COMES BY HEARING THE WORD

“So, faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.” Romans 10:17 NLT

WE ARE BORN AGAIN THROUGH THE WORD OF GOD

“For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.” 1 Peter 1:23 NLT

WE ARE WASHED BY THE WORD

3″You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” John 15:3

“…Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word…” Ephesians 5:25-26

THE BIBLE IS A MIRROR IN WHICH WE SEE OURSELVES

“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” James 1:22-25 NLT

ALL SCRIPTURE IS PROFITABLE

“You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” 2 Timothy 3:15-16 NLT 

GOD’S WORD GIVES US HOPE

Two promises that I cling to that I know God will keep

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Phil. 1:6 NLT 

“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT

The Bible has so much to say about itself that we could go on discovering the treasures of God’s Word forever.

Since we can’t do this here, I would like to conclude this series with what the Master Himself has to say about His Word.

  1. God’s Word is truth

“Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.”John 17:17 NLT

  1. God’s Word is authoritative

“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” Matthew 4:4 NIV

  1. Jesus’s words give life

“The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” John 6:63 NLT

  1. Jesus speaks God’s words

“I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it.” John 12:49 NLT

  1. Jesus’ words are the standard of judgement

“If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.  There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.” John 12:47-48 NIV

THE GLORY OF JESUS, GOD’S FINAL AND PERFECT WORD

“The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.” Hebrews 1:3 NLT

“Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God.” Revelation 19:11-13 NLT

NO OTHER BOOK CAN CONFIDENTLY PROCLAIM A MESSAGE LIKE THIS ONE

“Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:30-31

“And they sang a new song with these words: “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” Revelation 5:9 NLT

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

All Scripture quotations in this series

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

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 – ENGAGING THE POWERS OF THE KINGDOM – WHO IS IN CHARGE?

3 – ENGAGING THE POWERS OF THE KINGDOM – WHO IS IN CHARGE?

 Now that we have finally settled the issue of who is in charge, we have our first weapon against the devil’s lie that he is in charge – TRUTH.

Our immediate response to adversity should never be, “I am under attack.” Wrong focus! Our first response should be, “I am being tested.” Who is testing me? Definitely not the devil. He has no authority to do anything without Jesus’s permission.

Why am I being tested? To find out whose word I believe. Do I believe the TRUTH that Jesus is in charge, or do I believe the lie that Satan controls my life? Jesus will continue to test us in this area until our automatic response is confidence in the love, goodness and power of God, no matter what.

When we are finally secure in the conviction that Jesus is in charge, we can begin to explore the power given to us to respond positively to every test.

We have two resources at our disposal, God’s TRUTH which tells us what the real issues are in every situation, and God’s PROMISES which show us what He intends to do if we trust Him.

We also have two channels through which we access those promises, FAITH, our only connection with God in the unseen realm, and PRAYER, our direct access to God to tap into the resources He has made available.

We have already briefly commented on faith as the only thread that connects us to God. Without the confidence that God is who He says He is, loving, faithful, reliable and trustworthy, and that He will do what He says He will do, prayer would be a waste of time.

“For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” 1 John 5:4-5 NLT

Today, we take a closer look at prayer because it is only through prayer that we have direct access to and contact with God.

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:19-22 NLT

“So, let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16 NLT

From the many studies we have done on prayer, let me summarise the Bible’s perspective rather than what we have learned from others.

  1. Prayer is, firstly, changing our awareness. We deliberately turn our thoughts away from the earthly circumstances we are embroiled in to contemplate the glories of the one whose help we are seeking.
  1. We can only approach the Father on the authority of Jesus (in His name). He has given us power of attorney to use His name ONLY if our prayers meet the requirements of His character and will.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.  You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.  Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! John 14:12-14 NLT

“And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.” 1 John 5:14-15 NLT

  1. Our motive for asking for help is to protect our unity with Him and to glorify His name no matter what it costs us. Look at Jesus…

“Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came!  Father, bring glory to your name.” Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again.” John 12:27-28 NLT

“He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Mark 14:35-36 NLT

Whenever we effectively engage the power of God in any situation, the outcome reflects back on God.

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 NLT

  1. Having established that Jesus is in charge and that we have help available for every situation we face, now we turn to the Word and the Promises and ask for discernment to engage whatever resources are available in God’s realm (kingdom) to resolve the situation for our good and His glory.

The New Testament gives us many examples of the way Jesus went about dealing with seemingly impossible earthly situations by engaging the kingdom’s resources. Just one powerful example comes to mind, the feeding of the five thousand.

“Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?”  He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.” John 6:5-6 NLT

Jesus was already convinced of the Father’s character and will. He (the Father) would never send people in need away to seek help elsewhere.

Jesus showed His faith in the Father by giving thanks for the food available in His hand. He acted on that confidence without hesitation.

“Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted.” John 6:11 NLT

Please understand that I am not giving you a check list to tick off but rather showing you how to develop a mindset that responds to challenges rather than reacts in panic.

John wrote an absurd statement which is impossible to achieve UNLESS we do it by using the resources God has given us to overcome the world.

“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So, we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence BECAUSE WE LIVE LIKE JESUS HERE IN THIS WORLD.” 1 John 4:16-17 NLT

How is this possible? We’ll discover how as we go along.

What I have done so far is to lay a foundation to enable us deal with the whole variety of challenges we face in our lives in this world. I have discovered that every challenge and every test has a specific resource that God has provided for us to overcome the world (the way the world thinks and reacts) in the problems we face and turn them into opportunities to shine the light on God.

In the next few weeks, we’ll explore every resource and find out how to apply them as situations arise. I would love you to add to the list as you recognise, in the Word, what God has provided for you to overcome the world.

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

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

THE BOOK OF ACTS – JESUS, CORNERSTONE

JESUS, CORNERSTONE

“With that, Peter,  full of the Holy Spirit, let loose: ‘Rulers and leaders of the people, if we have been brought to trial today for helping a sick man, put under investigation regarding this healing, I’ll be completely frank with you — we have nothing to hide. By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the One you killed on a cross, the One God raised from the dead, by means of His name this man stands before you healthy and whole. Jesus is the ‘stone you masons threw out, which is now the cornerstone.’ Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been given or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only this one.'”  Acts 4:8-12 (The Message).

Now the fat’s in the fire!

Peter could not have stated his case more clearly or thrown down the gauntlet more emphatically than he did at that moment! His words were loaded with truth, courage, boldness, conviction and challenge. He, a Galilean fisherman with no more training than three years with Jesus, was standing before the highest and most powerful religious court in the land and indicting them!

It’s history repeating itself. Only a few months before, Jesus had stood before the same court on trial for His life; yet He was the real judge and the court the accused. Now His followers were in the same position. It was religion going head-to-head with truth all over again.

Jesus had promised His disciples: ”’These signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands, and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.'” Mark 16:17-18 (NIV).

The unseen kingdom of God had once again become visible through a miracle of God’s love and grace which had set a man free from the chains of disability. Everything imperfect is evidence that we are still living in captivity to a fallen world. Jesus brought with Him the good news that it would not remain like that forever. Little did these arrogant religious bullies realise that they had played a part in putting God’s plan into action by sentencing the innocent Son of God to death.

Wherever the apostles went, they heralded and demonstrated the power of this kingdom that would one day take over all the kingdoms of the world and restore all of creation to its original perfection. This would inevitably lead to a clash between God’s kingdom and the kingdoms of this world over which the prince of this world presides for now.

Peter insisted that the ‘stone the builders rejected, was now the cornerstone’ of this building Jesus was working on – a spiritual temple built out of living stones, every person who trusted in Him for salvation, not in the puny and futile ‘righteousness’ the religious leaders were so proud of and so confident in.

The problem in our world is that the bold confidence in asserting this truth is interpreted as ‘religious intolerance’ and ‘hate speech’. In some countries, even those who pride themselves on being ‘free’ will arrest those  who do not comply.  According to the opinion of the world, all religions are equal, and that may be true if we consider that Jesus did not come to found a new religion but to reveal the Father and to open the way for mankind to be reconciled to Him.

So we, who believe in Jesus, continue to assert that He is the cornerstone and that there is no other name by which we must be saved because He alone is the mirror image of God and the way to the Father. All over the world, governments and individuals are killing the messengers but they cannot kill the message because truth is indestructible.

WHICH WAY?

Psalm 86:11 has been my prayer since 2008. It’s a prayer and a response. Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth.

The rest of the verse is also a prayer and a response. Give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name.

What are God’s ways? He told the prophet Isaiah that His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts than our thoughts. Our ways are often patterned on the world’s ways, what works to our advantage, forgetting that what we think is the right way is often the wrong way.

God gave Adam a simple test. “Do not eat the fruit of that one tree.” We think that the fruit was the issue. There must have been something wrong with the fruit of that particular tree. However, the fruit wasn’t the issue at all – the real issue was; would Adam trust God enough to believe what He said and not try it out for himself?

Just like our children who don’t believe our warnings until they get hurt trying out what we warned them not to do, Adam followed Eve who was deceived into believing that God was not telling the truth. Satan insinuated that God was withholding something good from them.

Adam brought death on himself and the entire human race by mistrusting God’s word and deciding for himself what was good and evil.

If and when we pray David’s prayer sincerely, it means that we relinquish the right to decide what is good or bad for us, and trust that God’s ways are always the best, although we may not always understand the things He reveals and the way He works.

God’s ways are always in harmony with who He is. God is love. His ways, though sometimes mysterious and incomprehensible, are always loving towards us. When we follow our own ways, we often get into lots of trouble. When we walk in God’s ways, His love guides us towards knowing Him better and learning more of His truth.

How much better it is to abandon our own stubborn independence and ask Him to show us His ways. In the end, Jesus is the way, and when we follow Him, we will find the path of truth that leads us to the Father. Jesus’ way is the way of gentleness and humility. Caring for and living for others instead of always thinking about and living for ourselves is the beginning of learning God’s ways. It is the way of unending peace.

 

YOUR WAY

Dear Family

We live in society of choice, perhaps otherwise known as a free society, or so it seems.  We have the right to decide on so many issues every single day. This may sometimes feel like a burden, and at other times feel like a blessing.  Sometimes we may even feel like we have not been given enough choices, and at other times we may long for someone just to decide for us.  Depending on how much expendable income one has, the scope of choices can also vary.  The bottom line: in South Africa at the moment we have a wide range of choices we need to make on a daily basis and these choices do affect our quality of life, health, emotional, psychological and spiritual well being. Most often than not the choices we make today will determine what our future will look like. Where we base our choices on prevailing societal trends, we are certain to be subject to them consequentially.  But for the believer, we have the potential to base our choices upon the enduring Word of God, and, when we do so, to enjoy the benefits of full obedience.

In Psalm 86:11 we find the key to be ably to choose wisely: Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”  Here we find a prayer, deep from the heart, for God to be the Teacher of His Way, so that the psalmist can “walk in your truth”.

God delights in the person whose heart is committed to learning His way of doing things.  When we know and are dedicated to following His way, we then are empowered to make choices that will benefit ourselves and others around us for eternity. No longer will we be choosing and hoping for the best. God’s way is always best in any and in every situation.

Romans 12 teaches us: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Wow! Go for God!