We’re Kept In The Vine

So, in our little backyard there is a vine. The vine by all appearances looks dead to me. In fact, I thought it was dead and some months ago endeavoured to untangle it and pull it off the other tree and off the fence that it is all wrapped around. It looked very untidy because it was just a brown stick-like vine all coiled between the ground plants and the foliage of the tree next to it. It was very hard to pull at and undo, so typical of me, I gave up :-).

Then the other week I noticed – there’s this cluster of beautiful bright purple flowers in the middle of it! There’s bright fresh green leaves in the same cluster. When I first noticed it through the window, I had to do a double-take. I thought “what?” There’s flowers growing on that vine? And they’re so beautiful, and rich in colour! It’s quite odd though because there’s no other signs of life anywhere else on the vine.

I would have expected if there was new growth, it would start coming through all over the vine, not just in one section alone. Looking at it again today when I took this photograph, I was reminded of how it is God’s job to keep us in His Son – the reality of the picture Jesus gave us of Him being the Vine and us being the branches. Looking at this cluster of flowers where it seems there’s no other life on the vine, reminded me that God is faithful to Himself and therefore faithful to us.

Ephesians 1:4 tells us very clearly that it was God who placed us (believers) inside His Son;

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. 4For He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His presence. In love 5He predestined us for adoption as His sons through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will,…

Jude 1:24 tells us that it is God who keeps us in His Son;

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

Philippians 1:6 tells us that it is God who perfects and completes in us what He Himself started;

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

Dear saint, be assured that these promises are yes and amen because Christ is the Yes and Amen of God. You and I are in Christ. We are as in Christ as the life is in that vine to produce beautiful flowers. We share His royal blood – the colour of purple. And although there may be seasons and times where it appears there is no life at all, the Life is always there. The flowers are always there hidden inside that vine until God Himself brings them through as a beautiful display of His Son’s Life and for His very own glorious inheritance.

Wow. What a God we have. What a Christ.

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Beyond the Reef – In ‘Moana’

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In the recent children’s animation movie ‘Moana’ there are a number of very powerful scenes that if you look behind what you’re seeing on the screen, you can see something of the Spirit realm to which you and I belong. Of-course, these are only shadows & types.

One scene that really spoke to me was concerning Moana’s ancestors. Her ancestors were voyagers, you see. However, over time her people had decided to remain safe and no longer would venture out past the reef where all the best fish could be found for food. This reminded me of how the church has lost it’s way, she has lost her heart. The church was once a vibrant spiritual organism growing in her ongoing discovery into the Son of God as she lived out of His life that indwelt her. You’ve only got to read the book of Acts to see that. But she has become insular, self-protective and has lost her desire to know Him beyond what she is spoon-fed. She has shrunk back.

She has become afraid of the reef – the cross. In ignorance and spiritual immaturity, she hides from the pain and suffering of the cross that Jesus told us to take up and carry daily. She only desires comfort, knowledge, familiarity, knowledge without experience. She has settled for stories of Jesus instead of living His Resurrection Life that lies beyond the cross.

As the story goes on,Moana ventures out past the reef and things happen which is a great picture of portions of Christ’s body/church today. Yes folks, be encouraged for many saints all over the world are embracing the cross in its various and perfectly fashioned forms by the Father, venturing out past the spiritual reef and breakers, so to speak, in search of knowing a greater Christ than they’ve ever known before. Brothers and sisters in Christ are rising up in a growing desperate pursuit of Christ who is our real food, our real drink, the food that satisfies, the drink that quenches all thirst forevermore.

Coming back to Moana – Typically, once she has faced her fears and trials she eventually achieves the goal she set sail for. When this happens, the animators give the viewers a climactic explosion of life in a glorious scene of Moana sailing on the wild seas and watching with wide eyes of wonder, her ancestors on their boats riding the waves all around, passing her on their journey. The two realms of time & eternity are revealed simultaneously.

This scene spoke me to me of that great cloud of witnesses that we read about in Hebrews Chapter 12, verse 1;

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…

I was reminded of our roots – that we as believers are sojourners, voyagers in our discovery of Christ and all that He is. He is the mighty ocean. He is the reef (the cross) and all that is beyond the reef yet to be discovered. He is the resurrection and the life! Our lives are meant to be lived out as an adventure in knowing Him through our trials and tribulations for the glory that lies before us – truly knowing Him!

Those trials and tribulations can come in all shapes and sizes. Yet, in all peril, we are travelling a path well trod by those who went before us – like Moana’s ancestors who forged on past the reef and through storms and danger carrying their adventurous spirit to find richer food and a richer existence as a result. So we can do the same in our journey in knowing Christ with hearts of faith.

Those saints who have walked the ancient paths of knowing God through all their trials and tribulations, perseverance and endurance, can really be thought of as our spiritual ancestors. I’m not talking about spiritual ancestors such as some indigenous tribal communities or new agers hold to that are not of Christ. I’m talking about spiritual ancestory in light of the reality that those of us who are in Christ, are called the children of Abraham – not in the flesh but in the spirit.

For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are Abraham’s descendants are they all his children. On the contrary, “Through Isaac your offspring will be reckoned.” So it is not the children of the flesh who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as offspring.…(Romans 9:6-8)

We are the children of the promise because we have believed in the One who was sent, the Seed of Abraham, who was in the line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – that is Christ Jesus. We have now been made one with Him by His Spirit.

Let’s get one thing straight. The journey of the believer is a spiritual one. That means it is not of this realm. It is not an external journey of a type of ‘godly’ behaviour, rules and appearances. It is a life lived by another realm, the realm of the Spirit.

…It is the only place in you that comes from the other realm, the heavenly realm, the external realm…It is the place where I (Christ) live as the connection between heaven and earth….(New Day, Milt Rodriguez, 2013).

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes… (Ezekiel 36:26)

God causing us to walk in His statutes (measure, ruling, commandment, covenant, proclamation) is a spiritual act on His behalf, done by God Himself Brothers and sisters, if you are in Christ God is causing you to walk in His statutes as He has caused countless other saints to walk there before us. Thousands upon thousands of saints have lived and died before us, having carried their cross daily as they walked the same paths of knowing Christ beyond the reef.

Is the Lord calling you to venture out from the comfort and conformity of life on an ‘island’ and go beyond the ‘reef’ to travel the ancient pathways trod by thousands of saints who’ve gone before?  Do you feel in your spirit that there is much more to discover and explore of and in Christ than you’ve ever known before? Do you sense that He is worth the desperate pursuit? Do you believe there is Life awaiting you on the other side of the reef?

Then Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

 

 

The Kindness of The Good Master

Once we were slaves to sin and to this world. We were born into sin. We were enslaved, in bondage, held as captives and unable to free ourselves. But 2000 years ago a man who was both Son of Man and Son of God, came to us and set us free.

He loosed our chains, they fell off. He broke off our shackles. He washed us clean and healed our wounds. He removed the veil from our eyes. Then He said to us “It is for freedom’s sake that I set you free” and “Whom the Son sets free is free indeed”.

Captivated by Him, His beauty, His glory, His splendour, His love, His compassion, His kindness – we knew that to have freedom apart from Him would be no freedom at all. We saw the kindness and mercy of the Good Master and we willingly gave up our freedom which was no real freedom at all, to make ourselves His bond-servants. We wanted to be with Him forever. We dedicated our lives to Him.  Where else could we go? Where else would we go? For He held and still holds the words of Life.

“Thou hast set us free, Master. Now we belong to Thee”.

 

How Solid Is Your Righteousness?

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool (Isaiah 1:18, NIV).

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you unblemished in His glorious presence, with great joy–(Jude 1:24 Berean version).

Let us rejoice and celebrate and give Him the glory. For the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready. She was given clothing of fine linen,” linen bright and pure. For the linen she wears is the righteous acts of the saints(Rev 19:7-8).

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV).

…and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith (Philippians 3:9, NIV). 

The scriptures often use pictures as shadows or types to point to a heavenly reality such as “wool” or “snow” to represent the pure righteousness we have now been given through faith in Christ.

During my sleep a few nights back, a picture entered my mind of a pure white giant glacier and these words came to mind…”Solid Righteousness”.

This image of a glacier all pure white and unblemished, untainted by humanity or any being and so incredibly solid, spoke to me of these things; the completeness, permanency, the unfathomable depth, power and strength of the righteousness we now have in Christ.

Christ’s work in saving, redeeming and sanctifying us is as solid as solid can be. Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have been made ‘solidly’ righteous.

How To Use Your GPS

For some of us, our life decisions can lead us down a path we didn’t really want to go and to a destination we didn’t want. A decision to take that job, move to that area, date that person, eat that kind of food, live that kind of lifestyle, hang out with those kind of people – these decisions can take us on a path that can leave us feeling lost or confused, disappointed or frustrated or much worse. We can find ourselves traveling on a really rough road that can take us a long time to ‘get back on track’. Even years sometimes!

Chatting with a dear friend the other day, we were talking about how God seems to always lead us back onto the right path in our lives, in spite of our mistakes. You know how sometimes we make silly decisions? Or maybe that was just me 🙂

I use a GPS a fair bit these days, to find my way around the streets that are all unfamiliar to me here in Perth. However, sometimes I still take a wrong turn or think I know better and find that I’ve gone off the path the GPS was sending me on.  Sometimes I’m just not paying attention or listening properly. Selah.

When this happens with the GPS, it has a momentary brain spasm to work out where I’ve gone and then it adjusts my route to re-direct me back toward the destination.  You see, the destination doesn’t change, and just like the GPS, God too, will always steer me back toward His purpose in my life.  This beautiful verse in Romans 8:28 says it all;

And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. 

The thing is, that in God our destination never changes. Our destination is always toward God’s Purpose. Christ being known, revealed and expressed is always our destination. And God has this remarkable way through Christ who is our life, of always leading us towards that purpose, yes, even in spite of our mistakes along the way.

God is like our own spiritual GPS ( ‘God’s Perfect Shepherding’). Christ is our Google Maps! He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the way to the Father. So next time you use your GPS, perhaps you can see the Lord as your Perfect Shepherd in a new way. Using your GPS you can reflect on how in His mercy and love toward us, He is always leading us back onto the right path, toward His glorious purpose of seeing Christ formed in us.

 

Are We Hidden Figures?

…For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3)

Recently I saw the movie titled “Hidden Figures”. (Picture provided by Google Images). The synopsis as described on google reads;

Three female African-American mathematicians provide crucial calculations for NASA’s space race against the Soviets, all while dealing with the racist and sexist assumptions of their white co-workers.

It is a truly moving and inspiring account of the achievements that each of these three ladies made against incredible opposition and injustice. Although the story is essentially about Katherine and her friends’ hidden mathematical genius that is ignored by NASA for a great deal of their story, it is also the story of them being ‘hidden figures’ themselves.The three women were considered to be less than nobody’s  firstly because of racism and secondly because of gender inequality – i.e. they were black and they were women.

The main character Katherine Johnson was disregarded, shunned and undervalued yet she was the smartest person in the room. And she knew it! In fact, each of these ladies knew the value of their skill and expertise, if only the powers-that-be would put aside their prejudices and pay attention.

Eventually of-course, those powers-that-be did start to notice how smart Katherine was. And her friends equally in their different departments. It was their unequaled skill that shone through above all their colleagues and superiors that got them noticed eventually and saw NASA achieve the goals it was after. Even the life of an astronaut was saved solely because of Katherine’s God-given mathematical talents.

What really stuck out to me in this story was the balance displayed in each of these mistreated and under-appreciated ladies, of a quiet confidence in their abilities coupled with humility.

Although these ladies each had outstanding talent that placed them above their peers in respect of skill, it was only ever for the greater good that they wished to be noticed. They each had a quiet, confident assurance that if they were free to function then the whole of NASA would benefit.

This reminded me of who we are in Christ. When we are free to function in who and how God has made us the whole body of Christ benefits.

Though the world will never see it, we as members of Christ’s body, beloved of God, ought to always be confident of our reality as priests and kings in the Lord’s Kingdom.  Sure, the world may and will mock us, ridicule us, shun and reject us and even persecute us but this should not, will not and cannot take away from who we are.

We must know that we are sons of the living God, set apart to be made by Him holy and righteous in His sight. We are favoured and blessed by God to be members of His family, His royal household and to share in His inheritance. This is who we are. Herein lies our confidence.

Yet, coupled with this confidence that is ours to enter the throne room of God with all our prayers, petitions and praise and to face a world and an enemy that despises us, we have also been given the humility of Christ.

Though it is tempting sometimes, we have no need to put ourselves forward, to speak up for and defend ourselves, even when the world persecutes us. Nor do we seek promotion in the house of God, we seek only to minister unto the Lord Himself and to Him in one another. We needn’t bring attention to ourselves, our ministry, our talents or gifts. Should God ever choose to use us for anything at all, He alone will bring it about for His glory, not for ours.

So can I encourage you today dear brother or sister, to remember always who you are in Christ Jesus. You are a branch in that Vine. God the Vine-dresser, our Husbandman, cares for the branches in the very same way He cares for that Vine! Wow! You are part of His beloved Son. You will always be in that Vine because it is the Father’s work that has placed you there. You are there to bear much fruit for His pleasure and HE will see to it that this is accomplished in you by the life of that glorious Vine in you, who is Christ.

Christ in us, the hope of glory.

In the knowledge, peace and rest of our place in Christ and in the heart of God, we can with confidence and humility serve Him and wait on Him. We needn’t struggle, strive or push. Everything, even our very lives, belong to Him.

…therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time…(1 Peter 5:6)

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:10)

Why Did Jesus Die At Age 33?

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This is a question I’ve pondered many times in my life.  As I’m getting to know the Lord, I’m coming to understand that there is a reason behind every aspect of Him even if I don’t know what it is yet.  Every part of Jesus’ life on earth and every part of everything that God does, points us back to Himself in some way.  So ever so briefly this morning, I pondered again, why did Jesus die at age 33?

So first up, I’m going to talk a bit about maths. Now I’m not a mathematician ok? Definitely not! In fact, in high school I scored 23% for maths in my HSC! Epic fail! But I do know the basics thank goodness. Like 1 +1 =2 and that the complete whole = 100%. I’m also aware that numbers are significant in God’s economy as we find in scripture that they are not randomly chosen.  

For example, we see the correlation between the 40 days of rain in Noah’s ark and the 40 years in the wilderness for the Israelites and the 40 days in the desert for the temptation of Jesus (who didn’t give in by the way 🙂 ). And of-course there are too many other examples for this post and that’s not my point anyway. The thing is that numbers are used throughout scripture with significant meaning far beyond my learning .

God has created in mathematical equations, one universal measure or language for understanding,  for every tribe, language and tongue throughout all generations. In other words, in Japan the whole still equals 100% as it does in a little known tribe in the Amazon.  In Roman times 1 + 1 still equalled 2.  For brainiac scientists studying the blackhole theory of space, they draw on the same mathematical science used by Albert Einstein and that the ancient Egyptians used for building their pyramids. Maths is maths. Mathematics is universal and never, ever, ever changes – in fact, it cannot change. It is a ‘law’ of physics just like gravity.

Don’t you think that’s fascinating? With all the nations and languages and differences of culture we all have this one universal measure that we can all communicate in that never changes? Mathematics supercedes any differences or hierarchy of intelligence. 

In other words, mathematics exists for me even though I’m not aware of it or can grasp it, in the exact same way it exists for Stephen Hawking, though he is able to grasp it so much more.  Heck, even if there were aliens, mathematics would still be the same for them! If they had 1 + 1 spaceships, that means they would still have 2 spaceships! It’s just the same, no matter who or where we are.

This to me, is a shadow and type of how despite, age, era in history, race, language, nation or level of intelligence, God has given all of humanity in all of creation, the very same exact capacity of knowing God through Jesus Christ. 

Now, hold on to your hat or your seat folks, because this is blowing me away right off my keyboard as I write! It’s like ‘mathematics’ is a shadow and type of Jesus Christ Himself! Jesus is our universal language  – whether we comprehend that fact yet or not – He IS! Just as everything is held together in a mathematical equation, the scripture tells us that all things are held together in Christ! Woah!!!

He is before all things and in Him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17

So, if you’re back on your seat, I’ve got to come back to my original thought.  If numbers are so significant to God and are never randomly used in scripture, and if we see that mathematics is the universal measure that is in fact a shadow and type that points us to Christ as being our universal connection, language, explanation and equation throughout all of human history and existence – (take a breath) what’s the significance in Jesus dying at age 33?

Think about it – its an odd number. So, 100% equals the whole, right? So we can say that the mathematical equation of 100% equalling the whole is representative of the Godhead, right? God being three -in-one – the whole. The fullness of the Godhead.  Okay, stay with me…..so there’s three members of the Godhead right? So 100% divided by three equals….33.3% recurring……!The eternal number of 33.3!  Each member of the Godhead is eternal! Without end!

Jesus dying at age 33 is representative of the eternal nature of God. Wow……

And I love that the 100 percent divided by the three isn’t just 33 as the age that Jesus died in His earthly body, but that it is thirty three POINT three recurring. So we see that always there are three! There are three digits even in the third of the whole.  And whilst Jesus died at age 33, He rose on the third day! – that’s like the ‘point’ three recurring – resurrection life that is eternal! 

Maybe all of the above is something you already knew but this just came to me this morning and I needed to capture it as soon as possible.  It is simply amazing to me, one who is naturally appalling at mathematics, that God’s Eternal Nature is revealed in mathematics in such simple terms as the 33.3% to display Himself, the three eternal recurring members of the Godhead, and that Jesus dying at age 33 speaks of God’s Eternal Nature and Oneness with Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Just quickly before I go, I messaged this insight to the saints here this morning through my phone, and one of the sisters responded with “It’s the recurring theme! He is the Gift that keeps on giving! New every morning, always fresh!”.

Amen!

 

 

 

What’s Inside That Sticky Situation?

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This morning I was watching an Australian Minor bird on our back porch.  There is a pergola out back where I sit in the mornings, and he often flutters about jumping from rafter to rafter under its roof. He is always alone and he is very intriguing to observe. While the magpies mooch around on the grass looking for a meal amongst the grass and dirt, this little fella is up in the rafters looking for a meal, only he seems to go for the insects that are caught in the spider webs under the roof.

When I first started watching him I thought how on earth does he do that? How does he get his beak inside all the web and not get stuck? There are so many trees around here and that means many, many spider webs. And the roof of the pergola is a pitched roof, you know, a triangle shape. So in order to get right up to where the spiders have tucked away their meals by way of beetles, moths and other insects, he actually has to flutter in mid-air sometimes. Other times he’s getting in tight corners from rafters and getting his bright yellow beak right in the corners to extract the insects from all the sticky web.

I watched him today as he snatched a live insect from inside one of the webs. I marvelled at how clever and quick he was to do that. Then I saw him do a very clever thing. He landed on a rafter and proceeded to wipe his yellow beak across one side of the rafter, and then the other side. He did this over and over, like a chef sharpening his knife on a strap. Of-course this little guy wasn’t sharpening his beak, he was cleaning it from the web.

As I watched this, I asked “Lord, what can I see of You in this?” And the thought gradually came to me about the ‘treasures found inside of sticky situations’. Wow. How cool is that?

This little feathered friend isn’t afraid of sticky situations. He actually embraces them! He instinctively knows that within those very sticky situations are something of great worth. And he’s prepared to go in there, boots and all, and alone if he has to, to take that treasure that is on offer. But he has to go through a fair bit of yucky stuff to get it. He’s not afraid or put off by the obstacles or the threat of getting his yellow beak glued shut! He goes in, grabs the meal and proceeds to wipe his beak clear of the sticky web. Done and dusted!

So, are we like this? Do we see a hidden treasure inside a sticky situation? Do we recognise that inside some of the difficulties (if not all of them) that we face, there is something of great value to be had ? It might be a lesson learned, a blessing, a reward greater than we could have imagined, something the Lord really wants for us. And if we do recognise the opportunity inside that sticky situation do we go in boots and all, with full confidence and faith to get it or do we stand back and avoid it because of the risks?

Prior to this little guys’ visit this morning, I was meditating on Proverbs 3:5-6 which reads;

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.

I can see what the Lord was saying to me in the correlation between the minor bird and the scripture.  If I lean on my own understanding, I’ll avoid the sticky situation. But if I acknowledge Him in ALL my ways, He will make my path straight. He’ll cause my life to succeed according to His plan and purpose in my life and to His glory. I will find great joy and pleasure inside the situation. But I am to trust in Him with ALL my heart. I’m to face the sticky situations and trust that He’s got my back. I’m to ignore my own wisdom, which is no wisdom at all, and trust fully in Him. And as a result, I will find great reward in knowing Him more.

I also see this as a lesson in relation to the call of God to all His people. Paul was faithful to the heavenly vision God gave Him when Jesus revealed Himself to him on the road to Damascus and revealed His oneness with His body, the church.

“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord? Saul asked. “(I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting”… Acts 9:4-5.

When Paul met Jesus after He had ascended to the Father, Paul was blinded and forever changed. He never looked back. He went through many a sticky situation being faithful to the vision He’d been given. And we are all called to be the same, to have that one-eyed devotion to the Lord’s purpose. The Lord is our true food and is worth going in and after, regardless of the obstacles and difficulties that we might have to endure in order to be faithful to Him and His purpose.

I was never very fussed on Australian Minor birds before. They’re noisy and they dominate the bird life at times, and they’re not particularly attractive in my opinion. I suppose they’re more like me than I imagined. I’m quite fond of them after this encounter this morning. 🙂

Lord, teach us Your ways that we might walk with You and know You more. Give us courage to trust You when we face a sticky situation, to believe Your promises to us that You will make our paths straight if we acknowledge You in all our ways and trust in You with all our heart.

Is True Love Science-Fiction?

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Sometimes when I imagine what the gospel sounds like to someone who’s never heard it before, I imagine it would sound a little like a comic book, like science fiction. Accepting that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into time from outside of time, Eternity, and saved the human race sounds like a science fiction movie, doesn’t it? An awesome one, at that. But do we realise that it is the true original and authentic historical and eternal reality from which all science fiction stories (and love stories, actually) have been derived?

But the natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he is not able to understand them, because spiritually they are discerned.(1 Corinthians 2:14, Berean Literal Bible)

It seems like throughout the history of story-making, writing, film & television, that old Devil has weaved an almost perfect plan by blinding us with creative and entertaining science fiction stories to make the reality of who Jesus Christ is and what He has done, appear somewhat ‘comical’ and ridiculous to the ‘natural’ minds. To those minds, that do not have the Spirit of God in them, what we as Christians believe concerning Christ can be likened to believing in Thor, Superman, Batman and so on.

In the 80’s & 90’s there was an Aussie band called Divinyls who had a hit song called “Science Fiction”. Here are some of the lyrics;

I thought that love was science fiction
Until I saw you today
Now that love is my addiction
I’ve thrown all my books away
When I was young I was so naive
I didn’t believe no I didn’t believe
I didn’t believe
Never thought that we’d last this long…….
When I was young I was, so naive
I didn’t believe no di didn’t believe
I didn’t believe
I’ve been waiting for a man from space
To come to earth to meet the human race……….

In a way, a man from outer space did come to earth to meet the human race, didn’t He? We can look at those corny words to that corny song and see something of Christ in it can’t we? Of-course, He didn’t come from outer space, He came into time from outside of time, from Eternity.

Please bear with me now as I express a little bit of poetic license of my own, to build on my point;

In a land far, far away….. imagine a time when human beings exist but are filled with somebody else’s life instead of their own. Their own actual life died years ago.  One person had reached right into every individual and took their life out of them and killed it and replaced it with His own life. And this one person’s life is the very same life inside every human – they’re all living by the same one person’s life from then-on.

This One person let individual’s personalities and uniqueness remain because He wanted as many variants as possible to express His own life and He loved their individual personalities and uniqueness.  So each person remained an individual but living by the one life that they shared with every other human being, expressing that one shared life in many different ways. Each would think as He thought, each would do as He would do, each would express His characteristics, but differently according to their own personality and uniqueness. So in essence, all of humanity had become one man but with many expressions through the individuals, with the appearance of male and female, black and white, etc.

Why did this One person do this? Because He actually created them in the first place to live by His life, knowing that His own life was the One True Life and nothing could compare with it’s glory and power. But by their own naïve choice and independent nature, all their lives had been hijacked by a darkness from which He knew there was no return. He saw that they were all heading down a spiral of death and there was no way out for them. He actually loved them so much that He couldn’t bear to see them disintegrate and the only way He could save them was to give them His life in place of their own, as He always intended. The only way He could do this was to become one of them and die for them, giving His life to them. That way, He knew that they would have abundant Life to live by forever and ever because His Life was an Eternal Life, which overcame death.

So there’s a lot more to the story than that, I know. But in essence, did you know that the true and normal Christian life is that of Christ’s life being lived out in us? Did you realise that this is what happened when Jesus was crucified? Did you realise that’s when He took our old lives as fallen human beings and killed them, crucifying them with Him on the cross? And that when He was resurrected He became a life giving Spirit, placing His very own Life inside of us for us to live by from there-on-in?  This all took place outside of time in Eternity and inside of time at Calvary.  And it takes place on an individual level inside of time every time one of us human beings comes to believe in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and make Him Lord of our life.

It is rare indeed for anyone to die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Therefore, since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from wrath through Him!… (Romans 5:7-9)

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20)

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13)

Although I imagine an awesome science fiction movie could be made to represent this story, this amazing love of God’s which is given to us through Jesus Christ, is not science-fiction at all. It is our reality!

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)

Now, we who are in Christ, through faith in Him as the Son of God, by the grace given to us to believe, live by the life of another. What does this mean for us? It means so much that I could never cover it in all my life, let alone in one post!

However, simply in some practical terms, it means that His dream has become our dream. His purpose and vision has become our purpose and vision. His desires have become our desires. We have become one with Him, and one with His Father, and so Christ has become our All.

It means we can draw from His life on all occasions.  When we are tired, we can draw from Him as our strength and energy.  When we are afraid, we can draw from Him as our courage and comfort. When we are uncertain, we can draw from Him for His confidence and guidance. When we are hungry, we can draw from Him as our food! When we are tempted, we can draw from His well of Life as our way out. When we feel weak in faith, we can draw from His faith to believe. When we are tested, we can draw from His life to stand and persevere in hardship. When we feel we cannot go on, we can draw from Him as our endurance. In other words, Christ is All.

We are never left to our own wisdom, devices, resources. We no longer have to rely on ourselves or the world, to meet our needs in any way.  We don’t have to work hard to be a better person, to improve ourselves, or to achieve great things for Him or for anyone else. We don’t have to come up with the answers on how to live this life or how to help others. We have another life living within us which is all the resource of Heaven. In other words, Christ is All.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms(Ephesians 1:3)

Our own wisdom, devices and resources are useless.  Since we like Paul, have been crucified with Christ, there is nothing of us that can attain to anything of any value in this life. In other words, Christ is All.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

But as for me, may I never boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything. What counts is a new creation.…(Galatians 6:14)

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.(John 10:10)

Perhaps now we, just like in that silly song by the Divinyls’, can declare that once we were naïve and we didn’t believe that the gospel was true. Perhaps we thought it was only science fiction?

He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” (John 6:65)

But now, since we have been born of the Spirit, and no longer living by the capacity of our own natural man which cannot comprehend the things of the Spirit, we see that this blinding love of God through Christ Jesus, is real. We have now thrown away all our ‘books’ (to speak of our human reasoning, philosophies and human wisdom) that feed our natural mind that has no Life of Christ in it, and we are now led by the Spirit of God as the Father has enabled us.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. ……(Romans 8:14).

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that was made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not understood it. ….the True light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. ……..The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1)

And that’s a love, that is not science-fiction.

Do You Have A Nose For Discernment? 

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Song of Songs 7:4 Watchman Nee

Thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon which looketh toward Damascus…

“The nose has not been spoken of until now. The faculty of smell is found only with the mature ones. In spiritual matters, many have bright eyes and sensitive ears. But not many have a nose that can smell. This sense does not come from spoken words or visible things; it is an inward ability that reaches beyond senses and words, which enables a person to differentiate good and bad smells. This is a kind of spiritual intuition that enables a person to identify the things that are of God. It is not by reason or logic, but by a spontaneous and inwardly accurate feeling, which enables a person to discern spiritual matters. At the same time, this olfactory sense enables a person to identify bad smells as well. Many teachings cannot be considered wrong, and many people have nothing that others can find fault with, yet you sense that something is off. This sense is what the nose is all about. “Thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon which looketh toward Damascus.” This speaks of its height and sharpness. Today there are too many Christians with a flat nose.” (End Watchman Nee)

Dogs have got really good noses. They use their noses to detect whether or not something is good or not. I’m often amazed at how their sense of smell is so acute. In observing our dogs the other day I couldn’t help but notice the correlation between their sense of smell and our spiritual sense of smell in learning discernment.

Our dogs really make me laugh.  Rocky is almost 8 years old. Buddy (who belongs to my mother) is about 3. Their age difference really shows in their different behaviours.

Rocky is all about smooches, one-on-one time, even if playing with the ball he’d prefer it was just him and me playing. You might say he has two love languages – quality time and physical affection 🙂

Buddy is all about activity! If it looks like a smooch, it’s really a wrestle. If it looks like one-on-one time, it’s really just to get to play ball. Perhaps his love language is …acts of service! – or maybe quality time aswell.

Typical of the age difference, when Buddy came along he was completely ready to attach to Rocky and pal up with him. But Rocky was stand-offish and preferred to observe from a distance, lol. But now, after a few years together, they’re really good mates. Looking at their differences as a pup and an adult dog, just prompted me the other day in seeing how we  grow and mature in the Lord.

For example, I picked up a mandarin and the two dogs were looking at me with great interest. Rocky cries a lot to communicate all sorts of things and Buddy just follows and copies Rocky a lot. So, although they were standing at the door to go out, I figured they were now side tracked with the interest of the mandarin. So I lowered it in my hand to their level for them to check it out and realise that it wasn’t really a food they would be interested in since it had a tough skin all over it.

Typical of Rocky as the older dog, he gave it a little sniff and then looked away. This meant “Ok, nuh, not interested, you can have it back now”. But not Buddy! He took one look at it and wrapped his mouth around it to grab and chew it – clearly thinking it was a ball! After a few teeth squeezes and squeals from me, he backed off but then came back for another go. It took him a few tries before he realised “Ok, it’s really not a ball? Really??” Then I said “Go! Go and get your ball!” And off he went, and grabbed the real ball.

This made me think of us as God’s family. We start off as pups just like Buddy in the way that we don’t often test things. We kind of take whatever is offered us as young or immature Christians (regardless of age) and just assume it’s good for us and what we want and that it’ll be just totally awesome.  Mostly, because we trust the person who’s handing it to us. Selah. Even after a few goes, even when it doesn’t feel quite right to us, we’ll still just blindly assume that it’s just still gotta be totally awesome and we’ll put up with it or persist with it until hopefully, we finally get the message that it really isn’t as it appears.

I’ve seen this in my own life. Critical thinking was something I was afraid of once. In the culture I was brought up in, one doesn’t question, does one? So I blindly took on many things that really weren’t truth, or complete truth, without question. But get this….even if they didn’t feel quite right.  So there’s the Spirit of God residing in me, encouraging and enabling me to test all things, but the paradigm of my culture would squash Him down and ignore Him, assuming blindly in my spiritual immaturity that because someone I look up to ‘said’, or because it looks similar to something else, that it just simply has to be totally awesome. And it wasn’t always.

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 John 4:1).

So then there’s Rocky. Dear old Rocky. Wise and learned, been there, done that. He just took his time, sniffed that mandarin (mind you, it only took one sniff, not a dozen) and knew instinctively that it was not a ball and not anything he was going to have success with or be interested in. This reminded me of the more mature believer.  God’s word says to test all things, test the spirit behind them. We’re called to be wise and discerning, in Christ.  Paul says we are not ignorant to the enemy’s schemes – one of them of-course, being deception.

…in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11)

Rocky didn’t argue, he didn’t have to think about it twice. So there’s the picture of the Holy Spirit in us again. The more we mature in the Lord (and the maturing is the work of the Spirit in us, we can’t mature ourselves), the quicker we are able to discern the spirit behind a thing. Subsequently, having done so, if we find it is a deception, not what it appeared to be at first glance, we easily walk away. We don’t even have to give it a second thought.

The other thing I liked about this little example, is the fact that the same tests are put before all believers, no matter the level of spiritual maturity. A more mature believer is not exempt from testing permitted or orchestrated by our sovereign Lord for our growing up deeper into Him, nor is he or she exempt from being tempted by the devil. But a mature believer will weigh up all things.

So, that’s my lesson today from the lives of dogs. Here’s a little video clip just to share a giggle.:-)