Howdy Neighbour


Join Our Pastor Ray in his sharing .

Howdy Neighbour

Jesus told us the two most import commandments are: “…YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’ and then He said, the second most important one is, `YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ He continued…”There is no other commandment greater than these.” . No command greater than these – said Jesus!

We shared in previous sessions the difference between God’s Love and Human Love. In essence we said that our human love is ‘self-centred’ and Gods Love is ‘selfless’. We said that the two kinds of love cannot mix, and that as humans, operating out of our old sinful natures, we are not capable of loving someone as God would love us.

The answer to this challenge is that our old sinful nature needs to die – as Paul shared in Romans – and then we need to start the process of living out of our new resurrected life, which displays Gods love. We need to remember that this renewal is a daily process, as our thinking becomes renewed by the power of God’s word, revealed to us through the power of His Spirit.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan found in Luke, the lawyer asked Jesus a question that I have heard many times in my own life: “And who is my neighbour?”

Just prior to that question, the scripture says – “But wishing to justify himself”. So the lawyer actually asked the question in an effort to justify his own actions towards others. Are we like the lawyer, asking the Lord questions wishing to justify our actions? 

How many times have we asked the Lord, “Who is my neighbour?” and how many times have we heard this question being asked in our country currently?

I had a closer look at the parable to find my answer. However, to make the parable more meaningful to present time in this country, I replaced some characters:

So starting at Luke 10:30-37

Luk 10:30  Jesus replied and said, “A European man was going down from Johannesburg to Durban, and fell among hijackers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead.

Luk 10:31  “And by chance an Ndebele pastor was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

Luk 10:32  “Likewise a Sotho person also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

Luk 10:33  “But a Zulu man, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion,

Luk 10:34  and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him into his own pickup, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.

Luk 10:35  “On the next day he took out two Rands and gave them to the innkeeper and said, `Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’

Luk 10:36  “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the hijackers’ hands?”

Luk 10:37  And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”

The key to the parable lies in verses 36 and 37. In verse 36, Jesus asked the lawyer, “…who proved to be a neighbour to the victim?” The lawyer replied, “The one who showed mercy toward him… “

In our South African version of the parable, it was the Zulu man who showed mercy – the Zulu man was being a neighbour to the victim. When we show mercy to anyone, we become a neighbour to them. – it’s not about WHO is MY neighbour – as much as it is about BEING a neighbour to others. I really pray the Lord will show us this truth.

Jesus said “love your neighbour as yourself…” We find it relatively easy to show mercy towards ourselves, but what about those around us. Do we show the same mercy to others as we show ourselves?

In the Lord’s eyes, and through HIS nature, showing mercy to others is unconditional – irrespective of who the person is. Showing mercy from the human perspective (in other words from our old sinful nature) is conditional. In other words, I will have mercy if the person is of a certain culture…or…I’ll show mercy if the person is the same religion as me….or… I’ll have mercy if I perceive them to be a ‘good person’. The character of God shows mercy irrespective…anywhere, anytime, any person.

When next it comes time for us to have mercy on others, lets first think how much mercy we would have for ourselves in that situation, and then apply that same mercy to others, irrespective of who they are.

So…. Let’s spend less time worrying and arguing about WHO our neighbour is and more time focussing on BEING a good neighbour.

Thank you for sharing this time with me – may the Master share much of His heart with you this coming week. Until next time…bless you all.

From: “…time with the Master…”

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Tears in a Bottle


I WAS LISTENING TO SOME MUSIC THE OTHER DAY AND I WAS SURPRISED AT HOW MANY SONGS ARE ABOUT TEARS AND CRYING “BLUE EYES CRYING IN THE RAIN”  I’M SO LONESOME I COULD CRY, LONELY TEARDROPS, TEARS ON MY PILLOW.” AND  MANY, MANY MORE.

WHY IS THAT? WELL I THINK ONE REASON IS THAT SHEDDING TEARS IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF OUR LIVES. LIKE THE COMEDIAN SAID, “IF BROKEN HEARTS WERE COMMERCIALS, WE’D ALL BE ON TV.”

KING DAVID WAS A MAN WHO SHED MANY TEARS. IN  PS 56 WE FIND HIM ANGRY, EXHAUSTED AND DEEPLY DISCOURAGED.  LISTEN TO HIS WORDS IN V8 AS HE  POURS OUT HIS HEART TO GOD ,

“YOU KEEP TRACK OF ALL MY SORROWS.
YOU HAVE COLLECTED ALL MY TEARS IN YOUR BOTTLE
YOU HAVE RECORDED EACH ONE IN YOUR BOOK.”
PSALM 56:8 (NLT)

I CAN PICTURE DAVID SOBBING AS HE WROTE THESE WORDS WITH  TEARS FLOWING DOWN HIS CHEEKS. DAVID WASN’T EMBARRASSED OR AFRAID TO CRY AND HERE HE IS PAINTING A BEAUTIFUL IMAGE OF A TENDER HEARTED GOD WHO IS INTIMATELY AWARE OF OUR PAIN AND SORROWS AND STRUGGLES. HE TALKS  DIRECTLY TO GOD AND SAYS “YOU – YOU KEEP TRACK OF ALL  MY SORROWS. YOU HAVE COLLECTED ALL MY TEARS…” “I CANT BELIEVE THAT YOU – MY LORD MY GOD– YOU PUT ALL MY TEARS IN YOUR BOTTLE – I DON’T PUT THEM THERE – BUT YOU DO AND THEY ARE MY TEARS. NOT EVERYONE IN GENERAL -BUT MY TEARS.”

THIS IS SO PERSONAL. DAVID COULDN’T BELIEVE GOD LOVED HIM SO INTIMATELY, SO PERSONALLY AND THAT HIS TEARS  WERE SO  IMPORTANT  TO GOD THAT GOD COLLECTS THEM LIKE SOMEONE WHO COLLECTS PRECIOUS AND FRAGRANT OIL AND BOTTLES IT FOR SAFE KEEPING.

WHEN HIS CLOSE FRIEND LAZARUS DIED WHAT DID JC DO? DID HE JUST BYPASS THE TEARS OF MARTHA AND MARY AND TELL THEM TO GET ON WITH THEIR LIVES, GET OVER IT AND JUST TRUST. I ONCE HEARD OF AN 8-YEAR-OLD GIRL WHO WAS STANDING  SOBBING AT THE GRAVE OF HER MOTHER. HER AUNT GOT SO ANGRY WITH HER THAT SHE SLAPPED HER FACE AND SHOUTED “CHRISTIANS DON’T CRY.” THAT IS NOT TRUE!

IN THE SHORTEST VERSE IN THE  BIBLE WE READ JESUS WEPT. I CAN JUST PICTURE HIM SITTING  BETWEEN MARY AND MARTHA, PUTTING AN ARM AROUND EACH ONE, AND SOBBING WITH THEM. JESUS WAS HUMAN JUST LIKE US – IN EVERY WAY. HE WAS SO HUMAN THAT HE CRIED. LATER HE WEPT OVER JERUSALM WITH GREAT HEAVING SOBS. GOD KNOWS HOW TO CRY. GOD KNOWS ABOUT GRIEF. HE KNOWS AND FEELS YOUR PAIN. AND HIS TEARS GIVE YOU PERMISSION TO SHED YOUR OWN. ITS OK TO CRY. SO GRIEVE, BUT THE ENCOURAGING TRUTH IS YOU DON’T GRIEVE ALONE.  

YOU SEE HE DIED FOR OUR SINS BUT HE ALSO DIED FOR EVERYTHING THAT SIN HAS DONE TO US. HE TOOK TO HIMSELF OUR PAIN AND  GRIEF AND MADE THEM HIS. HE INVITES US TO BRING OUR HURTS TO HIM. HE IS OUR BURDEN BEARER. HE IS OUR PAIN TAKER. HE IS THE HEALER OF BROKEN HEARTS – HE IS OUR BOTTLE.  AND HE TAKES OUR TEARS AND TURNS THEM AROUND AND IN HIS WAY AND IN HIS TIME TRANSFORMS THEM.  PETER WEPT BITTERLY BUT RETURNED TO GREATER POWER THAN EVER. I KNOW OF A GUY WHO EXPERIENCED GREAT SADNESS WHEN HIS SON WAS ILL. HE SAID HE HAD ALWAYS BEEN QUITE A HARD PERSON WITH LITTLE EMPATHY OR COMPASSION FOR OTHERS BUT DURING HIS SON’S ILLNESS HE HAD CRIED TEARS LIKE NEVER BEFORE AND AFTERWARDS HE WAS A DIFFERENT PERSON – A KINDER MORE COMPASSIONATE PERSON.  

YOU KNOW ITS INTERESTING THAT THE BOTTLE DAVID WAS REFERRING TO WAS NOT LIKE A BOTTLE WE MIGHT IMAGINE –LIKE A COKE BOTTLE – BUT MOST LIKELY A WINESKIN. WHICH WAS USED TO CARRY WINE. AND WINE IS MADE BY CRUSHING GRAPES. MAYBE WINE IS THE TEARS OF THE GRAPES! AND ITS ALSO INTERESTING THAT JESUS FIRST MIRACLE WAS TURNING, TRANSFORMING WATER INTO WINE. IS THERE A MESSAGE OF REDEMPTION IN THAT STORY. I THINK SO. HENRI J.M. NOUWEN:  “WHEN WE ARE CRUSHED LIKE GRAPES, WE CANNOT THINK OF THE WINE WE WILL BECOME.” SOMEONE ELSE SAID; “ GRAPES MUST BE CRUSHED TO MAKE WINE. WHENEVER YOU FEEL CRUSHED, YOU’RE IN A POWERFUL PLACE OF TRANSFORMATION AND TRANSMUTATION. TRUST THE PROCESS.” YOU SEE, GOD TAKES OUR FAILURES OUR SINS OUR TEARS AND WEAVES THEM TOGETHER FOR HIS GOOD.

WE CAN LEARN A LESSON ABOUT PRAYER FROM DAVID. THAT IS OPEN UP. DON’T HOLD BACK FROM GOD. TELL HIM WHAT YOU THINK. HE IS SITTING SO CLOSE TO YOU THAT HE CAN CATCH YOUR TEARS  LIKE A MOTHER SITTING BESIDE HER CHILD’S SICKBED. HE IS THERE IN THE SILENCE WHEN WE CRY LONELY TEARS. REST INTO THAT AND YOU WILL FIND THE STRENGTH YOU NEED.  

ONE DAY ALL THE PAIN AND SUFFERING IN OUR LIVES AND  AROUND US WILL END. KEEP CLOSE TO GOD IN THESE UNCERTAIN TIMES AND NEVER FORGET THAT WE ARE LOVED BY THE GOD WHO COUNTS AND KEEPS OUR TEARS, WHO TURNS THEM INTO WINE, AND WHO — ONE DAY — WILL WIPE THEM ALL AWAY.

PRAYER
FATHER, THANK YOU THAT YOU FEEL OUR SORROWS AND OUR TEARS THROUGH YOUR SON, JESUS, AND THANK YOU TOO FOR THE HOPE THAT WE HAVE NOW IN JC AND IN THE FUTURE       AMEN

SO UNTIL NEXT TIME, THIS IS GG

This article is generously submitted by GG to whom we are indebted for sharing his God-given wisdom and encouragement. 

If you feel this article has value, please send this link to others, Writings are meant for people, not for dormant files in our computers and very often when we share them, it results in positive changes in the lives of individuals and communities.

If you are so inclined visit my worldview site; www.sirpeterjames.com

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button).

 

The New Covenant.


Another thought provoking and God-inspired article by Vivi.

 Why is it important to understand what the New Covenant means? – so that we can make a free-will, quality decision to enter into covenant with Jesus

God is a covenant-keeping God and it is good to understand exactly what His New Covenant means, because the New Covenant takes us – as someone jokingly put it: “out of the death column and into the birth column!”

We are all destined for the ‘death column’ – not only do we have physical, perishable bodies which don’t go on forever but the Bible tells us that the ‘wages of sin = death’ and if we continue to live a life of sin, we are all destined to die spiritually as well physically.

Sin separates us from God.  He warned Adam that if he disobeyed, he would die.  The devil has always tried to deceive us into believing that God’s word is not true!

God’s Word is true and as He loves us, His creation, so much He made the way for us to get back what we had lost.  He made the way by ‘becoming flesh’ i.e. He came to earth by being born as a human, although without a human father, (like Adam) but unlike Adam, He did not deserve death because He did not sin! 

He was the only human who had not sinned and therefore He did not have to pay ‘the wages of sin’ – He was the only human who did not have to die!  

Remember, God told Adam not to eat the fruit from the tree of the ‘knowledge of good and evil’ – God wanted us to live forever without ‘knowing’ (often means ‘experiencing’) or tasting evil.  Jesus, in His humanity was the only human who lived the way God intended us to live, without knowing evil. 

Jesus certainly came across evil, all through His earthly life.  He came against evil all the time.  Scripture tells us: ‘He came to destroy the works of the devil’.  He came up against sickness, disease, hunger and pain, fear and death and He destroyed them each time, bringing about healing instead of sickness and disease, provision instead of hunger and deliverance instead of pain and fear – life instead of death.

He was showing us all the time He walked on this earth that He had come to reveal God – the love and power of God was in everything He did and the wisdom of God was in everything He said!  Do you remember Jesus telling us that the thief comes ’to rob, kill and destroy’ – and He, Jesus comes ‘to give LIFE – and that more abundantly’.  Jesus was God in the form of a human so that He could shed His own blood to seal the New Covenant with us to give us what He had – eternal life!

The problem is most of us don’t even understand what a covenant is all about!  We are brought up in a ‘civilized’ culture that knows nothing of blood sacrifice and even our theologians don’t like to mention blood. 

However, God teaches us from His Word that ‘without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness for sin’.  Jesus chose to go through death as part of the covenant.  His words were:   This is my blood of the new covenant which is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins’.  Even in most of our churches, when we have communion, the word ‘covenant’ is left out and some churches don’t even have the blood – symbolically of course, Jesus had lifted the cup of wine, called the cup of redemption after the Passover meal and He said: ‘As oft as you drink it, do this in remembrance of Me’.

He broke down the barrier that separated us from Him, namely sin, by taking the punishment on Himself – and made it possible for us to be redeemed, i.e. delivered out of the bondage of sin.  Some people say He ‘paid’ for us, but that is not a good explanation because it implies that we are just ‘bought merchandise’!    The Lord made us much more precious than that!  He gave us the freedom to choose whether or not we wanted to be redeemed and He does not force anyone into His Kingdom.

If we choose to confess and repent of the sin which has separated us from Him, He forgives us and we become His children.  We can receive His love and we can love Him and receive our redemption and our freedom from the bondage of sin. 

We are no longer on a one-way road to death but can believe and KNOW that there is life after death.  Jesus said so!  He said:Whoever believes on me, though He dies, yet shall he live’.

When Jesus removed the barrier that separated us from God, He also made the way for us to live in harmony with each other.  Now we can really love God and each other.  We can follow His example of always talking to God before we make any decision – and then do it God’s way.   We can live with the right attitude, i.e. not even wanting to sin.   Jesus came to earth to make the way back to God because everyone had sinned and was destined for the death column!  Now we can get into covenant with Him and be born again!

Born of the spirit, so that when we die physically, we go right on living in the spirit – not separated from God, but we will find that we will be with Him!  His New Covenant was confirmed with His blood to forgive many – ALL those who enter into covenant with Him!  The way we get into covenant with Him, is to receive what He gives us and to give Him what is ours!  What an uneven swop!  But He loves us so much, He doesn’t mind – He designed it that way!

Jesus ratified the New Covenant with His blood which means He sealed it because he really meant it and will not break it.  We have an awesome Father God who revealed Himself to us in time and space in Jesus.  The ceremonial law was the parable, or picture He painted to show us how strongly He felt about sin.  Jesus told us that He did not come to change the law – but to fulfill it and He did.  He became the sacrifice to redeem us or get us back from the evil one who robs, kills, and destroys.

Let’s get into covenant with Jesus, our covenant-keeping God, who loved us so much He shed His own blood, so that we would be able to get into covenant with Him and live with Him forever!  Instead of being lost, lonely and afraid of the unknown, let’s climb onto His lap and ‘seek His face’ (like a child tugging at his father’s beard for His attention).

He waits for us to do that, He gently draws us by His Holy Spirit and when we understand what a covenant relationship is and respond, we give Him joy!  He said even the angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner who repents.  It’s awful to think of how He suffered, but it’s wonderful to know that He thinks we are worth it!

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The A’s, B’s, and C’s (below) of understanding the New Covenant are relatively easy, but we need to also understand the danger of the D’s.  The devil is the ‘father of lies’ and the ‘master of deception’ – lies are easier to detect than deception!

The devil can make bad things look good and inviting  – remember how he deceived Eve?  First he cast doubt on what God had actually said, then he told her that the fruit would make her like God!  The deception of darkness, drunkenness and divorce have trapped very many people…and as a result many lives have been broken.  Praise God that He is our Healer and nothing is too difficult for Him!

The A’s are:  If we call Him Adonai (Lord) we must give Him our All

The B’s are:  If we believe, it should be evident in our behavior

The C’s are:  To get into Covenant means commitment

All rights reserved©vivi 2020

If you feel this article has value, please send this link to others, Writings are meant for people, not for dormant files in our computers and very often when we share them, it results in positive changes in the lives of individuals and communities.

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button).

 

 

 

 

The Divine Romance – Part One


During our walk with the Lord, it is often good to read something that causes us to stop and think about our current situation and our standing with God. Sometimes we all need a little ‘jolt’ just to put us back on a serious footing with the Lord. ‘The Divine Romance’ is such an article.

Over the years, many interpretations of the word of God have been availed to us, sometimes leading people to form groups or organisations around those particular doctrines. We need to remember that it is very possible, that we may not personally experience the end of the world as some people have believed and described. The Lord may take us home before those things manifest on the earth. Our focus should always be on God Himself, our personal relationship with Him, so that whatever unfolds, we will have first-hand information from Him….

Continue reading “The Divine Romance – Part One”