Sunday, May 21, 2017

The God who is three in One.

The God we worship is beyond our comprehension. We defend and proclaim the doctrine of the Godhead, our God is one – yet three. Certain groups such as Jehovah Witnesses distort this mystery. The make Jesus a ‘lesser god’ which makes them polytheistic – something the Bible condemns. Islam cannot say Jesus is God the Son, and they have no concept of the Holy Spirit. However the Bible is not silent in teaching the mystery of God being one, yet three.

Genesis 1:26. Begins the mystery when it says ‘Let us make man in our image. He wasn’t talking to the angels, for they are created beings. One of the loveliest clues about God is the threefold expression used to in Numbers 6:24-26. ‘The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Is the term, ‘Lord’ referring to one or to three?  The same can be said about Isaiah 6:3 where the threefold praise of the Seraphim is recorded. “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of Hosts!

Jesus solves the mystery – a little –in Matthew 28:19-20. There, Jesus instructs His apostles to baptize in ‘the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’. This is why the Christian Faith has its own threefold benediction. 2 Corinthians 13:14 “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Now, go back to Numbers 6:24-26 and after each mention of ‘Lord’ insert Father, then Son, then Holy Spirit. And recall what Jesus said about ‘The Name!’ The Biblical teaching on ‘The Name’ is one of vital importance, often lost on the Gentile mind. Many see it as simply a name. The Bible sees it as representing the very essence of God. We cannot be baptized into the name of the Cedar tree for it cannot possess us. But when we are immersed into The Name we are placed in the very nature, the very essence, the very person of God.

There is much more to be said on this insight into the mystery of mystery, God Himself. On the tail of this article will be some references you might like to consider to grasp a deeper understanding.

In closing, let’s look at 1 Kings 18. There is the record of Elijah’s contest with the priests of Baal. This took place on Mount Carmel. The God who answered by fire was to be recognized as the true God. The priests failed. When it was Elijah’s time he rebuilt the altar of Yahweh. Slaughtered the animal then drenched it with four (4) large jars of water, three times. Four (4) is significant. It speaks of the earth, weakness and God’s power. Remember what God chooses from 1 Corinthians 1:27, the weak things of this earth to confound the mighty. The water was poured out three times over the offering. Then the fire fell. Again, the Triune God was involved, represented by the thrice applicant of the water.

Maybe this could help in the understanding of Christ’s cry from the cross “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me. For the first and last time in Eternity past and future the Godhead, the Three in One, had been sundered. This was the awful reality that confronted Jesus in Gethsemane.

Much, much more should be said, could be said on this awesome mystery. You can pursue it through a study of the Biblical verse below.

Psalm135:1. 136:1-3. Daniel 9:19. Revelation4:8. We talk about being indwelt by the Holy Spirit – He is our seal. Ephesians 1:13. We believe that Jesus abides in our Spirit Colossians 1:27. Do you understand that the Father’s presence is also within? 1 John 2:23. God isn’t divided.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

weeds which wither spirituality.

Jesus warned against weeds on a number of occasions in plain teaching and in parables. He spoke about their effect in Mark 4:18-19. In the parable of the four soils Jesus highlight the chocking qualities of unattended weeds. Weed seeds sown among those who hear the word are strangled in time by the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things. 

Weeds, the gardener’s curse, are symbolically a ‘death threat’ to the Word of God in the Christian’s life. There are books, conferences and media outlets stacked with ‘thorns and thistle’ seeds. Some are rather attractive to the undiscerning soul and are just waiting to be opened and planted. They are killers to righteousness, truth and relationships. Discerning Heaven's seeds in this World's vast array of alternatives requires the manual prepared by the Lord and Redeemer. In His parable of the four soils Jesus warned about the thorns that strangle His Word. Harbouring the ‘seeds of thorn or thistle’ because they promise much or are favoured by the community is deadly. Ultimately it renders the soul spiritually ineffective at best and strangled at worst.
Ungodly weeds grow so fast and can look so attractive. Their purpose however is to nullify the power, beauty and message of the Gospel. Our Lord listed three threats to the spiritual productiveness to the Christian's life . These thorns and thistles are designed to smother and kill the spiritual life. None are immune to them.  

Weed number one: Worry. It is the burden of existence. It is part of our nature. It becomes a menace when uncontrolled. The weed deterrent is in 1 Peter 5:7, ‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.’ Our personal responsibility is to ‘cast.’ It is the Lord’s promise to carry. Worry is sticky and hard to effectively cast. It requires prayer from  the heart and with ‘hand’ covered in faithfulness and righteousness. Life will always throw worry our way therefore, we must develop the art of casting, constantly. 

Weed number two: Wealth. Here is the driving force of society. Jesus warned about an attitude to wealth which was ideal for weed growth, covetousness and materialism  The end result of not uprooting such soul pleasing but spirit choking ‘weeds’ is unfruitfulness! Then condemnation! Money isn’t the issue when it is a tool. It is a strangling vine when it is the master of a life. To keep this weed under control is to be practise the principle 'more blessed to give than to receive.'  1Timothy 6:18–19:‘Command those who are rich…to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age.’  

Weed number three: ‘desires for other things.’ Combating this wide ranging class of weeds requires constant discernment and specific attention to their influence. We may not be overly interested in wealth. Our nature may not be too dominated by worry. This weed seed collection however can find a lodging place. As I age I'm faced with these annoying yet appealing plants. 1 John 2:16–17 puts ‘the other things’ in three bundles clearly marked: ‘For everything in the world – the craving of sinful man, the lust of the eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world.. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.’  

How can a follower of the Lord safeguard his or her heart and mind from being taken over by ‘thorns and thistles?’ The first place to start is by knowing the Heavenly Gardener's manual on plants and weeds! Scripture offers us the everyday terms for the plants that beautify a life and empower ministry. Also listed are the seeds of destruction. Read God's manual for a fruitful and challenging life.

This is followed by a self examination of what dominates our desires and enriches or steals from our relationship with the Lord, His Word, our intimate relationships and our walk of grace. To be a sluggard in this area is described in Proverbs 24:30–34. It’s an account of a sluggard who lacked judgement, was lazy and enjoyed his sleep. The outcome was visible to all. Poverty of his life and family and with his ground covered by thorns and thistles! May the Lord deliver us from being seen as such and dishonouring Him.

To be honest, I find actual gardening, pruning and mowing wearying at times. It has to be done. One thing about actual physical garden management is that when I'm too old or incapacitated to do it others will do it for me - sometimes for a price. But no-one can weed, prune or mow my spiritual garden, no matter my age. Therefore, I must be on guard against being weary in the things of my Lord. To drop my guard is to have the sower of weeds scatter and water them to my shame and the Lord's dishonour. There have been times when the Holy Spirit has drawn attention to my mind about my spiritual well-being. Eating the proverbial 'humble pie' isn't pleasant but essential. This must be followed by ruthlessly removing the offending growth which sometimes is hard spiritual, even relational work. 

Peter shares how to have the courage and strength to combat such an attack on the killer weeds. Keep applying to your inner and outer life, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. This results in a productive life. 2 Peter 1:8: ‘For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive (unfruitful in KJV) in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.’

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The U.N murders History

History is being ‘murdered’ at the U.N. UNESCO has just been quoted as saying Israel hasn’t any legitimate to Jerusalem. That’s on top of the announcements some weeks ago that the Nation had no prior claim to the land. This isn’t rewriting history, it is killing it, carving it up and trying to dispose of it to our minds.

I wonder what Nebuchadnezzar would say to those officials from the floor of UN headquarters. Did he spend years subjugating a non-existent nation holed up in a non-existent Jerusalem? Was Daniel a figment of Nebuchadnezzar’s paranoia? Of course it also means such kings as Sennacherib, Pharaoh Necho, and Antiochus Epiphany, to name a few, never existed also. Apparently the Maccabeus’ are a fairy story and Jesus birth in Bethlehem actually took place somewhere else (if they believe it happened at all). That then raises the matter of the Passover, Roman crucifixion, Christ on the cross and His resurrection.

This is the same assembly of people who have appointed Saudi Arabia to safeguard the rights of women. There must be something in the air at their Headquarters. They need to have someone check the ventilation system. Someone is contaminating the air conditioning and stealing the delegate’s brains.

I would imagine one or two representatives from Nations influenced by Christian ideals and history took a stand on this.

If ever some doubted the unseen but insidious force running rampant across the world surely, just surely, the UN must eradicate such uncertainty. In 1 John 5:19 the writer says it simply and plainly, this world is under the control of the Evil One. His intent is to deny Israel its Biblically and Historically stated existence. His aim is to eliminate it as a nation and to claim Jerusalem and Mt. Zion as His own. How sad it is for us to witness the wilful or witless collusion of the UN in this!

What is shaping up is a confrontation between Truth and the Lie. For those with any sense of Biblical information between their ears they must know the Lord won’t let this pass. The prophet Zechariah said things to his generation which we need to heed today, “he who touches Israel touches the apple of His (God’s) eye!” I am glad that the Lord has great patience towards we stupid mortals. However, there is just so many pokes in the eye even God can endure.

Though people may reject the Bible’s testimony on many issues History is lettered with accounts of its truthfulness, accuracy and judgements. That being the case (no matter how the UN tries to murder such history) learn what it says on Israel. Otherwise, it isn’t a pleasant thought to have a fight with the Everlasting Lord.

To close this blog I’ll simply quote some passages which highlight the Lord God of Host’s interest in, love of and identification with Israel – the land and the people.

The Land is ‘My Land’ says the Creator. Jeremiah 2:7  16:18   Joel 2:18.

He has allocated it to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Deuteronomy 4:40, 11:21 etc.

The Nation of Israel is His Creation for His purposes (some fulfilled, some yet to be. Psalm 33:12.  Isaiah 43:21.  Psalm 147:19-20.

Jerusalem is His city. Psalm 48. Isaiah 60:14.  Zechariah 3:2. 8:3

It is to Mount of Olives that the Lord will one day set His feet Zechariah 14:3-4. (compare Acts 1:9-12).

Forces in high places are coercing Governments and the masses to believe a lie, actually, many lies. The only counter-offensive is to know the Truth – historically and Biblically – and perhaps your stand will help someone be saved from fighting against the Lord God of Hosts.

©Ray Hawkins 7 May 2017.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Will Power must prevail over Emotion.

The Judeo-Christian Faith gives us reasons to sing. More than that, the songs sung have their origin in and direction in the Grace of the Almighty, Lord of lords and King of kings. The Psalms cover experiences from praise to pain, laughter to lament, from thanksgiving and testimony to tribulation’s testing times. There are Psalms expressing individual experiences to corporate worship. For this article I want to takes us through Psalm 116 using the Amplified Bible’s translation.

As we take a short stroll through it I have chosen to highlight an act of the will in our relationship with our Lord and Saviour. The psalmist uses ‘will’ 6 times. In itself that is of interest as six(6) is the number of ‘Man.’ Could we therefore assume that for Humanity as a whole, and a person as an individual it is the exercise of the ‘will’ rather than the emotions God seeks from us?

The psalm opens with an expression of love to the Lord Yahweh. Then comes the reason for why he, and perhaps we initially began to love the Lord. Why would we call upon the Lord? Because, His love frightened the life out of us, or at least me! For in love the Lord He made known the holiness of His character then I realised my degraded being. How could I or anyone else stand unscathed in His presence? Only by His love. For He heard my cry of despair and pointed my heart to the cross. There I found love’s grace and forgiveness.

Verse two is the motivation for why I continue to call upon Him? This goes way beyond sentimentality. It is rooted and grounded in the act of the will, the choice of commitment! There have been slip up along the way and only the Lord knows how many are yet to happen. However, His love paid the way back for me. It is paved with my tears of gratitude! Verses 3-8 are some of the psalmist’s reasons for being grateful. How close do they come to echoing yours and my reasons?

Verse nine tells how the psalmist would live out his discovery of love. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living. As with any baby, walking requires growth and encouragement, perseverance and even role models. The love of God moves us to walk and live in a manner pleasing to Him. How do we know what pleases Him? That is one of the roles of the Bible. It points out the way as well as warning of detours and dangerous ‘potholes.’ Failure to read it and hear it explained has led many to moral and spiritual injuries and a damaged witness.

Verse thirteen shares with us the writer’s delight in the love of Yahweh! The cup of salvation may be likened to one of the four Passover cups. Within that celebration of national redemption is an individual’s discovery of grace. At the cross the fulfilment of the Passover Lamb became inextricably linked to Jesus. He is the Saviour. When a person share in the Lord’s Supper it is with the celebration of Christ’s Name and achievement. Have you or I recently listed the benefits we have entered into because of responding to the Love of Christ?

Verse fourteen takes us ever deeper into the motivation which stems from taking the cup of Salvation. It moves the will to refresh its vows. What a privilege the Communion offers. Though unseen, the Lord is there inviting you to take the bread and the wine (or juice) and to remember Him. As a person does this with sincerity it is similar to exchanging vows of love and trust. Verse eighteen repeats this desire to renew the vows. It is personal but it is also done in the presence of the congregation.

Verse seventeen actually concludes the emphasis of the psalm on his will. It is also a fitting climax to our own commitment. ‘I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving. From Leviticus 7 and elsewhere this offering was personal. It also had a cost which was voluntarily made. It harkens back to verse twelve where the writer acknowledges God’s benefits personally experienced. The sacrifice had to be made without yeast. That is always a symbol of sin. So before offering the sacrifice of thanksgiving ensure any residual sin is confessed, dealt with and cleansed though the blood of Christ. Then notice the verse concludes with how the psalm began. “I …will call upon the name of the Lord!”

As another psalm puts it “let us come before His presence with thanksgiving in our hearts!”

©Ray Hawkins April 3oth 2017.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The explosive power of the Cross.

The name for the explosive ‘dynamite’ comes from the Greek word ‘dunamis.’ That’s some indication of how the writers of the New Testament viewed God’s power. The word is used to describe the works of Christ in healing people, neutralising Satan’s control of people and in rising from the dead.

Is that relevant to people in this century far removed from Christ’s day? As He is the unchanging Lord and His word is alive and active too, it has exciting implications. In writing to the Corinthian church the Apostle Paul explained how Christ’s power is inherent in the Cross. In what way? In the impact the message of the death, entombment and resurrection of Jesus has on people. Some stumble over it! Many think it stupid! However, for others it has a life transforming, destiny changing, relationship enriching explosive effect.

That and much, much more is wrapped up in the word salvation. When the Gospel is shared and believed it become the power of God within the believer’s life. Those things which pollute our memory, offend our conscience, cripple our self-esteem, make us fearful of death and facing God and a myriad of other things are exploded. God has dealt with them at the cross of Christ. When a person accepts that fact, personally, then the Lord’s power does an eternal make-over. The past is done away in His sight. He opens up a new era for you (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Does it last? Without a doubt. Countless the testimonies to that fact. From the New Testament the one I stand amazed at is found in 1 Timothy 1:11-17. He was a murderer, blasphemer, outwardly religious, violently arrogant. He called himself the chief of sinners. However, the grace of the Lord Jesus and the power of the cross changed him. He became the greatest of all missionaries. His testimony is that if the explosive power of the cross of Christ did that for him, it will change anyone. The condition which lights the ‘fuse.’ Hearing the message of Christ and the cross then believing it!

In his final letter before being martyred under Nero’s decree Paul wrote, he had finished the race, kept the faith and looked forward to meeting the Lord. One of his final instructions to Timothy was ‘Preach the Word!’ What word? The word of the cross is foolish to those who perish, but to those who believe it is the dynamite of God for salvation.

1.The power of the cross                                         3.The power of the cross,
Is the Word of Calvary!                                          The message from Calvary.
Promised through prophesy,                                Forgiveness now offered.
Fulfilled in history.                                                 Heaven now opened.
Unveiled, the mystery                                            Sin’s penalty now paid
Of His majesty                                                         Wrath now pacified,
            As                                                                                   By
Emmanuel,                                                               Taking our condemnation,
Son of God,                                                               Suffering our judgement,
Redeemer,                                                                 Purging our defilement,
Who was called, Jesus!                                           When they crucified Jesus!

2.The power of the cross                                       4.The power of the cross
The purpose of Calvary                                           Cancelled the shame of Calvary
Planned before creation                                         Transformed into glory
To secure our salvation,                                         That resurrection morning
Birthed in Bethlehem                                            When the angel declared,
Fulfilled in Jerusalem                                            “He is not here. He has risen”
                 As                                                                                    Now
The promised One,                                                  He is Saviour and Lord,
Suffering Servant,                                                   With a Name above all names,
Passover ‘Lamb,’                                                      Before whom all creation bows.
To be Messiah Jesus!                                              The Word of Calvary’s cross –

copyright Ray Hawkins April 2017.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Jesus the Weakling.

The Amplified Bible translated 1 Corinthians 1:18, 23 and 25 concerning the crucifixion of Christ with mind hammering words. The cross is viewed and described from a sceptic’s response to what happened. ‘Sheer absurdity’ – folly – a scandal, stumbling block- absurd- utterly unphilosophical nonsense - foolish and weak.’ The believer’s response, ‘the foolish thing that has its source in God is wiser than men, and the weak thing that springs from God is stronger than men.

Last week we considered ‘was Jesus a moron?’ Today’s blog asks the question ‘How weak was Jesus to allow Himself to be crucified?’ I have tried to express it in the following poem.

                                                 My God is weak, so very, very weak!
                                                  He didn’t break away from the soldiers
Who placed the cross upon His shoulders.
My God wore their spittle and their taunts.
He must be weak to let them do such things!

My God is weak, so very, very weak!
He never fought when He was whipped.
Never threatened when He was stripped!
He stumbled, fell and the crowd laughed.
He must be weak to let them do such things!

My God is weak, so very, very weak!
No miracle to stop hammer, nail and spear,
No anger to those who screamed and sneered.
Thirsty, thorn crowned, in pain He died.
He must be weak to let them do such things!

My God is weak, so very, very weak!
I’m overwhelmed by His total weakness
When He put aside His awesome greatness
To bear my shame, judgement and death!
Can He be weak to undertake such things?

My God is weak, so very, very weak!
Lifeless, entombed, salvation’s hope dim,
Could He in weakness overcome sin?
The empty tomb declares He ‘did’ win!
Can He be weak to conquer such things?

My God is weak, so very, very weak!
Yet in His weakness I find forgiveness
In His weakness I can enjoy newness.
 My God’s weakness is true love’s greatness.
Can He be weak to achieve us such things?

My God is weak, so very, very weak!
His weakness is my celebration.
His suffering is my Salvation'
His victory is my jubilation!
Can He be weak to be all those things!

My God was ‘weak,’
For me and you
And I love Him for it!
Do you?

From my devotional ‘Captured by Calvary’ ©Ray Hawkins. Available from Christian bookshops  and as an Ebook.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

IsJesus a moron?

The season of the Chocolate Bunny draws near. It is on a takeover endeavour to supplant the Christian celebration we call Easter, in reality ‘The Passover.’ Strange how the human heart thinks it is wise and yet promotes a rabbit to satisfy the heart. But the story of Passover/Easter confronts the rabbit with a story that challenges and arouses either animosity or devotion.

‘The logos of the cross is foolishness to…’ is Marshall’s translation of 1 Corinthians 1:18. Logos is the Greek for ‘word’ and Paul uses it in a two edged way. For logos is a term to describe Jesus in John 1:1. The word for foolishness stems from the Greek meaning ‘moron.’

When you link those two words together you could quite rightly say that some people see Jesus as a moron. That is, He is a fool for going to the cross. The piece of wood which lifted Him up and took His life is the reason for many a person’s estimation of Him. It is easy to admire Jesus for His teaching. There would be agreement as to His worthy actions in healing and feeding people, but the cross! Now that is an entirely different matter.

As you read further into the Corinthian chapter you get an understanding for their reasoning. To the non-Jewish mind, influenced by Greek philosophy, the highest ideal was to obtain wisdom. We still celebrate such men as Socrates, Seneca and Epicetus today. I find it interesting that in the Roman world influenced by Greek philosophy they pursued the mental and debased the moral. Their treatment of slaves, the poor and their acceptance of sexual relationships outside of marriage reveal the limits of wisdom. This is also seen in their views of the gods on Mount Olympus. Romans 1:18-32 is an interesting insight into a Jewish Christian’s view of their society.

Why do people still consider Jesus a moron for being crucified? Why is the preaching and sharing of the story of the cross so offensive? Why does it stir up so much hostility? Is it due to the fact that it offends our view of our own personal worth and right to heaven? Especially when those who are low on the social order are treated the same as those from the more noble, the more sophisticated, the more successful!

Perhaps, just perhaps, this reveals the wisdom of God. How?

God in His wisdom by-passed Humanity’s wisdom as the means of securing salvation. Imagine the philosophical arguments as to which philosophy was the most important and worthy of being the ‘gate’ to glory. How few of us would have passed the entrance exam, especially as any philosophy is subject to change, alteration and challenge. If it was by human wisdom people entered heaven, think about how loud the founders would boast before God. Such thing cannot and will not happen. When those who believe in and accept the foolishness of the cross enter His presence it will be with the gratitude of worship and praise. They know their unworthiness and the Lord Jesus’ amazing grace.

The Logos of the cross requires faith, not wisdom. Why? Because faith is possible for the wisest to the most ignorant person to exercise. Faith stems from hearing the message, assessing its truth, realising personal need for forgiveness and mercy, accepting Christ’s offer of grace and surrendering to His Lordship. Then, a most amazing reality takes hold. Christ Jesus takes you out of sin’s dominance into righteousness. The believer is removed from the kingdom of Darkness and brought into the Kingdom of Light! The person is no longer a slum of self-righteousness or depravity but the temple of the risen Lord. No amount of human wisdom can ever achieve such a transformation!

How glad I am for the Logos of the cross and our Heavenly Father’s foolishness! Are you?

Next week: The Weakness of God.

©Ray Hawkins April 9th 2017.