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What Happens When Christians Die?

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Ps. 116:15)

Death is the one thing we are most certain of, yet we are most ill-prepared for. Is there an afterlife? How does one prepare for it? How is one certain of resurrection? 

All cultures have shown interest in life after death. Egyptians dedicated pyramids to their dead. Chinese built huge tombs for their emperors with ceramic armies to “protect” them in the afterlife. Vikings dressed fallen warriors and released them to the wind in burning ships. Crusaders in the Middle Ages believed they gained a more favorable afterlife if they died in battle, as did the Japanese kamikaze pilots in the 2nd World War. American Indians buried weapons and tools with their dead for use in the Happy Hunting Ground.  Hence the question: What happens to Christians when they die?

Currently, 60-million people die every year, and 140-million new babies are born. As mysterious as is the origin of new life, so mysterious is our end.  Scientists cannot create new life nor give us immortality. Some people have babies without any complications; others are unable to have children. Some people want to die yet they remain alive and others who want to live unexpectedly die.  

Life is Fleeting, Therefore Hold on Loosely. 

The paradox of life is our vulnerability to death, yet we desperately fight to preserve and extend it.  We all know that all of this life’s material things are temporary, yet we spend most of our time acquiring assets, belongings and goods.  

“Our days on earth are as a shadow” (1 Chron 29:15; Job 14:2; Ps. 90:9)

As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, And its place remembers it no more. (Ps 103:15-16)

Death is CERTAIN.

“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).

“By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19). 

The Bible Describes the Death of Christians in Many Different Ways

The Psalmist wrote that when people die, they “return to the dust” (Psalm 104:29).

The KJV calls death “giving up the ghost” (Genesis 25:8; 35:29; Lamentations 1:19; Acts 5:10).

The Bible says that when Abraham died, he was “gathered to his people” (Genesis 25:8). In other words, he joined his deceased relatives in death.

The Bible often describes the death of God’s people as “sleep” (Deuteronomy 31:16; John 11:11; 1 Corinthians 15:6, 18, 51; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-15). 

The apostle Paul called death a “departure” (2 Timothy 4:6). It’s like going on a trip…from this world to another.

The apostle Peter said that death is like “taking down a tent” (1 Peter 1:13-14). Our bodies are temporary dwelling places.  

Job described death as “the king of terrors” (Job 14:14). Death is many people’s greatest fear. 

There is Nothing Evil, Sinister or Wicked About The Death of a Christian

Death is as natural as the birth of a newborn baby. It is part of the cycle of life. You will also not find any rubbish dumps in Nature. There is no waste, death has a purpose. Death often provides for life! It is a gift. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:24-25)

One will always find sufficient grace in the death of a believer. As a local pastor, I must still find the story where God did not work everything for good for those who love Him (Rom 8:29): testimonies of provision, reconciliation, repentance and return to the Lord; of God’s love and presence in the midst of the Valley of Death. (Ps 23)

The tragedy of death is dying without being reconciled with God! Oh, the great horror! To see someone struggling to die without finding peace! Death is a sobering reality and grief is a lonely path that all must take to discover what life is really about. When losing a loved one, the speeding, sometimes out-of-control-bus of life calls to an abrupt halt. One becomes aware of eternity, the soul searches for meaning, purpose, understanding. The best poems, songs and books were written during a grieving process.

Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. (Mat 5:4 Is. 61:2, 3; Luke 6:21; [John 16:20]; Acts 16:34; [2 Cor. 1:7]; Rev. 21:4)

When a Noble, Righteous Christian Dies, We Feel Something is Wrong.

When someone noble, and righteous is taken, we feel this is unfair. Something is wrong. We somehow feel that bad and sinful people deserve death! 

Stephen was one of seven men chosen to help administer food distribution to needy Christians in Jerusalem (Acts 6:1-6). He was one of the first appointed Deacons of the Early Church’s Jesus movement. He was the most prominent of the seven and is singled out as a man “full of faith and the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5). Manifesting the grace and power of God in an unusual measure, he did miraculous (Acts 6:8) and proved to be a bold and effective evangelist and defender of the faith (Acts 6:9-10). His witness was so powerful; he was soon arrested by the authorities and brought before the high council for interrogation (6:9-12).  After a lengthy interrogation, they brutally stoned him to death (Acts 7:54-60). As he died, Stephen prayed that his murderers might be forgiven (Acts 7:60). 

We are not told of his family, whether he had a wife or children. He must have had a mother and father and siblings.  How did they feel that God took their son after doing so much good? One can only imagine. 

But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”  (Acts 7:55-56)

And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:59-60)

In this story of horrible brutality, the glory of heaven shines more brightly! While Stephen was being stoned, he was filled with Holy Spirit, Saw Jesus and the Father… and fell asleep!! What vindication, victory and supernatural strength!  

Christians Do Not DIE!

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell”  (Matthew 10:28) 

READ the WHOLE Chapter – 1 Corinthians 15! 

Why Death is BETTER for Christians.

It is our REWARD, our finishing line! 

Is it not strange how, when we are facing hardship, we all long for heaven? In contrast, when losing a loved one, we hold on to their life.  We hold on to our loved ones for what they did for us, how well they loved us, the good they did… not realising that for believers, DEATH is BETTER! 

For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. (Phil 1:23) 

But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country (Heb 11:16) 

Why are you grieving? The question feels strange, insensitive. Why? You very well know why. But this question had the same tone the angels used when the disciples came to the grave of Jesus on Easter morning: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (Luke 24: 5). Jesus continues to say that the person you mourn is not dead; you know that. So now, let us talk about your loss. He begins to help us differentiate between grief and devastation, between “good-bye for now” and what felt like an utter loss.  ((Footnote All Things New: Heaven, Earth, and the Restoration of Everything You Love. John Eldredge)) 

What Exactly Happens When We Die?

A New Heaven and a New Earth 

Imagine this wonderful creation, nature, sunsets, geography, diversity, splendour without sin, rebellion, jealousy, envy, selfish ambition, anger, entitlement!  

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. (Rev 21:1Isa 65:1766:222Pet 3:13)

Incorruptibleness 

Do you not get tired of cleaning, repairing, restoring the downhill decay of this world?  “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)” 

Oneness with GOD 

that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.” (Ephesians 1:10) 

Finally Complete Like Him

when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2) 

Defying the Natural Law Restrictions 

Jesus moved through walls, instantaneously. (John 20:26)
the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away (Acts 8:39; 1 Kin. 18:12; 2 Kin. 2:16; Ezek. 3:12, 14; 2 Cor. 12:2) 
Jesus walked on Water (Matthew 14:29) 

Feasting & Big mealtimes! 
John 21:12; Jeremiah 31:13; Isaiah 25:6; Revelation 19:9 See also Matthew 8:11
Having food to eat, means someone will have to produce food, and someone has to prepare it! 

We receive Heavenly Rewards/Crowns 
  • Crown of righteousness (2 Tim 4:8)
  • Incorruptible crown (1 Cor 9:25)
  • Crown of life (James 1:12)
  • An Crown of glory (1 Pet 5:2 – 4)
  • Crown of rejoicing (1 Th 2:19) 
We Will Reign With Him 

If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. (2 Tim 2:12) 

Gen 1:28; Mt 19:28; 25:34; 1Co 6:3; 2Ti 2:12; Heb 12:28; Rev 2:26-27; 3:21; 20:6

Reunited with Our Righteous Family and Loved-ones. 

In the Old Testament, when a person died, the biblical writers said he was “gathered to his people” (cf. Gen. 25:8; 35:29; 49:29; Num. 20:24; Judg. 2:10). In 2 Samuel 12, when David’s infant child died, David confidently said, “I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me” (v. 23). David evidently expected to see his child again. 

While sharing the Passover meal with His disciples, Christ said, “Take this [cup] and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes” (Luke 22:17-18). Christ was promising that He and His disciples would drink the fruit of the vine together again–in heaven.

This is why Paul writes: “lest you sorrow as others who have no hope” to comfort some of the Thessalonians who evidently thought their dying loved ones would miss the return of Christ. He says in verse 18, “Comfort one another with these words.”The comfort comes from the prospect of reunion.  

We Will Work

When God created Adam, he “took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). Work was part of the original Eden. It was part of a perfect human life. God Himself is a worker. He didn’t create the world and then retire. Jesus said, “My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I, too, am working” (John 5:17). Jesus worked physically for the greater part of His life. We’ll also have work to do, satisfying and enriching work that we can’t wait to get back to, work that’ll never be drudgery. God is the primary worker, and as His image-bearers, we’re made to work. We create, accomplish, set goals and fulfill them—to God’s glory.

We Will be Finally HOME 

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1-3) 

Isa 65: 17–19, 21; Mat 19: 28–29; Mat 25:31-36; Joh 14:1-4

Heaven is Not an Afterlife Fantasy, for we are Already Experiencing Moments of Heaven. 

The Good News Gospel is exactly this! Jesus declared in His first sermon: “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” and then started to heal people, set them free from demonic oppression, raised the dead, fed the thousands, cleansed the lepers, and demonstrated HEAVEN here and now!! He teaches us to pray “Let your kingdom come, your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven” (Mat 6:10). He then later sent His disciples to demonstrate heaven too (Luk 10:9).  


For more reading content on this theme: https://hrco.co.za/sermons/kyk-met-nuwe-oe-na-die-hemel-3/

If you want to become a FOLLOWER of JESUS Follow this link!

Do not WASTE your LIFE any longer and become eternally prepared for LIFE after DEATH!

For more reading:

[1] Desire: The journey we must take to find the Life that God offers. John Eldredge

[2] All Things New: Heaven, Earth, and the Restoration of Everything You Love. John Eldredge 

[3]  Driven by Eternity: Make Your Life Count Today and Forever. John Bevere 

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Sermons

Generational Blessings and Curses

Generational blessings and curses and what to do about it!

https://youtu.be/6DJH3KB-LCQ

All life is generational.  Some of it is a blessing, and some of it is a curse. Most people do not take well to the statement: “You’re just like your mother or your father”. Whether you like it or not, there is more of your parents and grandparents in your DNA than you realize.  Some people feel trapped in the negative legacies of their parents’ sins, and wrongdoing.

How can you free yourself of hereditary curses?

Hereditary Influences.

Genetics DNA[1]

Physical features like eye color and blood type, hairline, hair type, laugh lines, mood, fertility, intelligence, infidelity, insomnia, poor driving skills, fear of the dentist, pain tolerance, facial expressions, athleticism, response to caffeine, popularity, procrastination, how fast we age, your sweet-tooth, preference for bitter foods, level of risk aversion, optimism, empathy, sweatiness, work ethic, musical ability and taste[3]

Epigenetics:[2] 

The environment of the parents, diet, lifestyle influences a baby’s health. New research with mice indicates a possibility that experiences of fear can be inherited from grandparents.

Spiritual inheritance:

If a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions, only one child in fifty will become a regular worshipper. If a father regularly attends church, regardless of the mother’s practice, between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become churchgoers (regular and irregular). [4]

Social Economic Standing: 

A child’s social construction of gender, class, race, and ethnicity plays a huge role in their Financial IQ.  Children’s economic and social outcomes, both during their childhood and in their adult years, largely depend on their birth and upbringing. Children’s families, schools, and neighborhoods, peers and adults with whom they spend time plays a role including media images that shape their perceptions of themselves and their place in the world. There are, of course many other factors, both internal and external contributing to the individual child, that can also greatly affect the child’s social, economic success. [5]

Find Your Family, Find Your Destiny.

Prof . Lewis Termite’s research of young geniuses: When the young geniuses entered into adulthood, Terman looked at the records of 730 of the men and divided them into three groups:

  • 150 were in the A group who were the true success stories — the lawyers and physicians and engineers and academics
  • The middle 60% were the B group — those who were doing “satisfactorily.”
  • The bottom 150 were the Cs — the ones who Terman judged to have done the least with their superior mental ability. They were the postal workers, the struggling bookkeepers and the men lying on their couches at home without any job at all. One-third of the Cs were college dropouts.

What was the difference between the As and the Cs? Terman ran through every conceivable explanation. He looked at their physical and mental health, their “masculinity-femininity scores,” and their hobbies and vocational interests. He compared the ages when they started walking and talking and their precise IQ scores in elementary and high school. In the end, only one thing mattered: family background[6]

Generational Curses:

Biblical Perspective:
Every man has a choice to determine his or her destiny. 

“I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:5–6

“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” Exodus 34:6–7

“Because of their iniquity, and also because of the iniquities of their fathers they shall rot away like them.” Leviticus 26:39

Individual Responsibility: 

“Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.” Deuteronomy 24:16

“But he [Amaziah] did not put to death the children of the murderers, according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, where the Lord commanded, ‘Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. But each one shall die for his own sin.’” 2 Kings 14:6

“The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son.” Ezekiel 18:20

We all leave a legacy

 “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” Proverbs 13:22: (NKJV)

When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant (Deuteronomy 6:10-11 (NIV)

 “One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts …” Psalm 145:4

Leaving a GODLY Legacy of blessing or curse.

The following story of two American families illustrates the power of generational curses and blessings:

  • Max Jukes was an atheist who married a godless woman. Researchers traced 560 descendants: 310 died as paupers—150 became criminals, 7 of them murderers—100 were known to be drunkards—and more than half of the women were prostitutes. The descendants of Max Jukes cost the United States government more than $1.25 million in 19th-century dollars.
  • Jonathan Edwards was a contemporary of Max Jukes. He was a committed Christian who gave God first place in his life. He married a godly young lady and traced some 1,394 descendants: 295 graduated from college, 13 became college presidents, and 65 became professors. In addition, 3 were elected as United States senators, 3 as state governors, and 3 others were sent as ministers to foreign countries. In addition, 30 became judges, 100 were lawyers, 1 was the dean of an outstanding law school. 75 became officers in the military. 100 were well-known missionaries, preachers, and prominent authors. Another 80 held some form of public office, of whom 3 were mayors of large cities, 1 was the comptroller of the United States Treasury, and another was vice president of the United States. Not one of the descendants of the Edwards family was a liability to the government!

The Three-Chair Principle 

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David served God, with all his heart. 

Solomon served God, with a divided heart. 

His son Rehoboam did not serve God at all. 

Joshua, Elders, Next generation

Me and my house will serve God. (Jos 14:15)

“Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the Lord had done for Israel” (Josh. 24:31).

“After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel” (Judg. 2:10).

Lessons of REFORM from King Josiah 

  1. While he was still young, he began to seek God” I am seriously concerned about our children. We wait too long to give them the full gospel.
  2. Of his father David” (v3) Josiah severed all ties with Amon his dad, and Manasseh his grandfather who did evil in the sight of the Lord. He took his hereditary influences from David, the last great spiritual father/king/ruler of united Israel. He thus sought to align himself with a generational line of blessing and truth.
  3. Began to purge the land of pagan practises (v3) Go against the mainstream culture, and make a stand against false religion.
  4. Restored Financial Integrity in the house of God. (v8-9) When there is chaos, ad administration. Josiah understood good administration, governance and order.
  5. Restored the house of the Lord (v10-13). The church is the only institution mandated by God, for God, to offer Christ as the only means to salvation.
  6. Rediscovered, and studied the Word of God (v15). A follower of Christ is a faithful, lifetime student of the Word.
  7. Trembled and feared to obey the Word (v19). We are not only to study the word, but we are to obey it!! It is not about how much we are in the Word, but how much of the Word is in us! For his passion and fearless humility God personally commended him. ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel: “Concerning the words which you have heard— because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and you humbled yourself before Me, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,” says the LORD. v27
  8. Made Public confession of His faith (v30-31). He was not afraid to lead with a public confession and display of his faith, not in religious false hypocrisy! I see in the generation Z, the spirit of Josiah, who are willing again to be bold and radical in their faith.
  9. Kept the “Passover” like no other King since David (35:1, 18). Keeping the Passover is about worship. How do we serve, and worship God? He surpassed all others! Worship God in spirit and in truth!
  10. The fight that you have not been called for, you will lose.  He did not believe the coming judgement of God against his people, and that God can speak and work through a pagan king. Nevertheless, Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself so that he might fight with him, and did not heed the words of Necho from the mouth of God. So he came to fight in the Valley of Megiddo. (2 Chron 35:22) 

[1] https://www.rd.com/list/traits-didnt-know-inherit-from-mom-and-dad/

[2] https://www.vox.com/2014/8/18/5927269/epigenetics-definition-cancer-diet-explained-inheritance-DNA-methylation

[3] https://bestlifeonline.com/inherited-genetic-traits/

[4] https://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=16-05-024-v

[5] https://futureofchildren.princeton.edu/sites/futureofchildren/files/foc_vol_30_no_1_combined_v6.pdf

[6] Gladwell, Malcolm., 2008. Outliers. 1st ed. New York, NY: Hachette Audio, p. 110.

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Sermons

The Creative Power of our Words

 

Jordan B Peterson relates the power of words with a story of an anti-social, lonely man who for 10 years would take up 90% of an hour psychotherapy session.  He was not accustomed to the subtleties of social interaction, so his behaviours, verbal and nonverbal, lacked the dance-like rhythm and harmony that characterize the socially fluent. Nevertheless, he eventually healed himself through meaningful conversation.
 
People depend on constant communication with others to keep their minds organized. We all need to think to keep things straight, but we mostly think by talking.
 
We need to talk about the past, so we can distinguish the trivial, overblown concerns that otherwise plague our thoughts from the experiences that are truly important. We need to talk about the nature of the present and our plans for the future, so we know where we are, where we are going, and why we are going there. We must submit the strategies and tactics we formulate to the judgments of others, to ensure their efficiency and resilience. We need to listen to ourselves as we talk, as well, so that we may organize our otherwise inchoate bodily reactions, motivations, and emotions into something articulate and organized, and dispense with those concerns that are exaggerated and irrational. We need to talk—both to remember and to forget. ((Footnote ‘Beyond order’ 12 more rules for life’ Jordan B Peterson))
  
“Life and death are in the power of the tongue“ see also v20.
 
A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; From the produce of his lips he shall be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit. It is an issue of the heart: (Prov 4:23)
 


The Creative Power of Words
 


God created Eden out of chaos with WORDS – Gen 1. Adam & Eve had to name the animals in order to subdue them, which takes words! ((Footnote Rule 10: be precise in speech – Peterson, J., n.d. Summary of 12 rules for life.))
 
God created order out of chaos through precise words.
Every healing and miracles JESUS worked, he did use Words. 
Jesus is the very expression of God’s words.
Everything that exists came about by words.
According to Genesis 1&2 we see a pattern of how God uses His Words.
 
God’s words
CREATES / BUILDS – Eph 4:29
God’s words IDENTIFY – Gen 2:19
God’s Words MULTIPLY – His word is a seed – Isa 55:11
 


Why silence is never an option.
 


There is a time to speak, and a time to be silent. (Eccl 3:7-8) We get it wrong: In that when we should speak we remain silent, in fear that we will be judged, moralized, or offend.
 
We should never be silent when:

1. We see our brother err.
Let him know, that he which convert the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. (James 5:20) Brothers, even if a person is caught in some transgression, you who are spiritual should correct that one in a gentle spirit, looking to yourself, so that you also may not be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)

2. In the face of injustice
Speak up, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and oppressed. (Prov 31:9)
 
3. When my heart is unhappy about something someone has done.
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:33-37)
 
Speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things (Eph 4:15) It is my experience that the first round of meaningful dialogue that is sincerely honest is usually negative. Because we still try to formulate our thoughts, and usually blunder out what is in our head. It takes a second and third session to clarify, what was meant, and what is understood to restore empathy. Never disengage! No silent treatment. Keep at it, until empathy arises in both parties’ hearts. 
 


How we misconstrue verbal intend

 

((Footnote In Noam Chomsky’s 1957 Ph.D. thesis, Transformational Grammar, he said there are three processes by which people create the filters of their individual Model of the World.))

  1. Deletion
  2. Gerenalizasion
  3. Distortion
     

((Footnote Rose Charvet, S., 2019. Words That Change Minds. Institute for Influence.))

 

Be precise in Speech

 
Choose your words wisely: Proverbs 12:14, 18; 21:23; Prov 13:3; 15:1; Mt 12:36-37
See also; Pr 10:19; 12:18,25; 15:1; 16:24; 25:15; Ecc 12:11; Jas 3:1-12.
 
The words advice of the young ambitions prideful men to Rehabeam swayed and cause the kingdom to split  (2Ch 10:13-14)
 
Two messengers the one properly mandated bad news report was well-received (2 Sam 18:19-32)
 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. (James 3:5,6)
 


5 Practical Steps

  1. Hear Me
  2. Even if you disagree with me, don’t make me wrong
  3. Acknowledge the greatness within me
  4. Remember to look for my loving intentions
  5. Tell me the truth with compassion
    ((Footnote: Thanks the Arthur Gillis for sharing these thoughts, from a speech he gave at the Young Presidents Association) 
Categories
Sermons

Lessons on accurate Interpretation

We live in the age of a staggering information overload: Currently, there are a total of 1.86-billion websites on the internet, over two-billion YouTube Channels, 2.85-billion active Facebook users, and two-billion people sending information to the most popular communication platform Whatsapp. In addition, the number of mobile devices operating worldwide is expected to reach 17.72-billion by 2024. So the question is: is all this information TRUE and Wholesome?

Particularly recently, deciding whether one should be vaccinated or not. Did the Corona Virus COVID 19 leak from a lab in Wuhan or naturally hop from bats? Another battle people struggle with is whether they should stay in SA or not?  With the coming elections, how to vote for the right party? Is the earth flat? Did man ever land on the moon? Most importantly, we need to be alert of the Mainstream Social Justice movement’s opposition against fundamental Christian values. Getting involved in some of these debates can become emotionally heated, a first sign that people have already swayed from a non-bias, investigative path.

The BIBLE our SOURCE for accurate interpretation.

Interpretation has quite a broad scope of use: dancers interpret music and words through movement, we interpret dreams and visions, the interpretation of the law, bookkeepers interpret financial statements, to name a few.

It is impossible to restrict and contain people’s inert interpretation of life. Yet all interpretation requires a source-code, an instruction manual, laws, an ancient holy text, a distinct worldview, a specific upbringing culture and traditions. For example, bookkeepers have to have the source document to give an accurate account of the financial status of an enterprise.  Dancers need a particular song to interpret using a certain style of choreography.

Followers of Christ interpret LIFE, TIME or relevant World FACTS primarily from our knowledge of God first, as revealed through Scripture, the Holy Spirit, and the general assembly and church of the firstborn. (Heb 12:22-24)   

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for 3instruction in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:16-17)

Despite the truth of God’s Word, it is unfortunate how man’s misinterpretation of the scriptures misconstrued and distorted it’s divine intent. The church’s shame is not Who we believe in but our misrepresentation of His will and desire.

JOIN THE MBTC Class on BIBLE Interpretation TERM 3.

The danger of wrong interpretation

Most wars are maintained by misinformation and propaganda, forming groups by outward identifiable differences, then alienating them from another by creating an evil ‘face’ that people are willing to kill. Jesus’ instruction to love our enemies stand in direct contrast, so powerful yet extremely difficult. Generally we see the enemy win the battle by creating a distance.  The alternative opposite path is to break through the walls of seperation, segregation and distance through face-to-face contact and meaningful dialogue. 

Phillip Zimbardo proved with the Stanford Prison Experiment how nine normal middle-class college boys could turn evil in just eight days. The process involves the following: Dehumanization, deindividuation, absolute obedience to authority, passivity in the face of threats, self-justification, and rationalization.

Dehumanization is like a cortical cataract that clouds one’s thinking and fosters the perception that other people are less than human. It makes some people believe that their perceived enemies deserve torment, torture, and annihilation.”[2] One of the war techniques is to paint faces so that the warriors become unrecognizable and intimidate their enemies, and thus more prone to act contrary to their conscience.

Lessons from other sources are helpful for accurate interpretation.

In addition, we can draw lessons from the above mentioned shortlist of interpretive practises to gain insight and deepen our understanding, for instance: wine tasting.

Primary things to remember:

  • Slow down
  • Pay attention 
  • Irradicate conflicting smells in the vicinity.
  • Build smell vocabulary practise labelling all fragrances 

We all need to slow down before jumping to conclusions. Learn to pay more attention and ask engaging questions. Focus and eliminate distractions. Improve our vocabulary of discerning categories and the true meaning of words through study and experience (Heb. 5:13-14).

FIRST LESSON on INTERPRETATION:
Make a point of getting direct feedback.

Equally crucial for survival is direct feedback.  Like a racing driver feeling the understeer on the steering wheel going through a corner, we need accurate feedback to make the right decisions. Unfortunately, too many options complicate matters and lead to procrastination, frustration or forced decisions.  

It is alarmingly sad how many believers have heard the right word or instruction, but the interpretation was way off! I must confess my mistakes in my own life and ministry were not because I did not hear correctly; my interpretation was limited, and I jumped to misinformed conclusions.  Assumptions exist because of distance. No communication leads to more presumptions. We often leave God’s face/presence too soon and run into making our own decisions without further consultation with God!

SECOND LESSON on INTERPRETATION:
Interpret Scripture as communication between God and man.

God’s Word is not a compilation of abstract literary words and sentences. The Bible is God’s way of communicating with us.  Like any good listener, it is harmful and disrespectful to cherry-pick parts that resonate with our point and then quote it as if this is God speaking.  Because we talk more than listen, with an increasingly shorter attention span of eight-seconds[3], we are disposed to misinterpret Scripture, God’s voice, and another.  Correct interpretation begins with becoming an exceptional listener.  

Natural science and widely read academic papers are just more than a hundred years old. For thousands of years, ancients used narratives or stories to navigate life’s complexities and find the best practices. The stories of Abraham, Moses, David and Daniel, their triumphs and their mistakes are like guiding lights in the darkness. The primary interpretive lesson to be learned is; look at a life lived! Jesus is in this aspect our ultimate example! The Word became flesh and showed us the best way to do life!

We basically stay in this mess because of too few meaningful relationships with the right people, at the right time. Theories and philosophies can become harmful because they are formulated in minds and classrooms without the appropriate, relevant relationships on the ground level.

THIRD LESSON on INTERPRETATION:
Interpretation requires a thorough investigation.

Journalists rigorously research source verification and fact-checking before they publish a story.

Bible interpreters study the context, background, ancient narratives and audience, text category, language, culture, and intention of a portion of Scripture before making a current application of use and preaching about it.[4]

Academics review existing conflicting and complementary research literature and provide research methodology (experiments, surveys, questionnaires, interviews, case studies, observational trials) to determine feasible and practical outcomes. 

Interpreting God’s Voice entails: testing whether the word is in line with the Spirit of Christ; general acceptance among a mature multitude of counsellors; the conviction of sin righteousness and judgement; the producing inner peace. It is specific, practical, is a conviction, ensures a generational blessing, is at the detriment to self, and is always missional. 

FOURTH LESSON on INTERPRETATION:
We are more wrong than right – remain in HIM.

One who is perfect in knowledge is with you. Job 36:4 

What makes us think we can hear a person speak for five-minutes, and we already make a judgement whether this person is good or bad? Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, “Talking to strangers” explains in his typically digressive exploration of the wrong assumptions we make when dealing with strangers.[5] He lists as an example how the best CIA espionage operatives find it very difficult to tell when people are lying. 

When it comes to fake news, even more, alarming is that older adults engage with and share false political information on social media than any other age group. [6]

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, (James 1:5)

FIFTH FIRST LESSON on INTERPRETATION:
Test the fruit – the outcome and the motive. 

Be aware of thinking carnally. Here is a list of bad fruit and outcomes:

  • Cognitive dissonance 
  • Blaming, resentful, reactive 
  • Creating suspicion 
  • Guessing assumptions 
  • Worry, fear, anxiety 
  • Projecting guilt, favoritism, bias.  
  • Shame, guilt, condemnation – of other parties
  • Futile – no practical confrontation and outcome
  • Cause & Effect thinking – Job 
  • Carnal, miss-out on short term benefits 

Rigorously test the outcome:

  • If I need to execute this thought?
  • What will be the implications? 
  • Is the Lord going to be glorified? (1 Cor 10:31)
  • Is it going to break down or build? (1 Cor 14:26)
  • Is that going to change anything?
  • Is it do-able? James 1:22 (Doers of the Word) 
  • What’s the end?
  • What is the fruit?
  • What is the outcome 3 – 7 generations from now? 
  • Does it release faith or fear?
  • Is it Scriptural?
  • Is it compatible with the fruit of the Holy Spirit? 
  • Overthinking, analyzing the thought is perfected in the doing, not the thinking.  

SIXTH LESSON on INTERPRETATION:
The spirit of CHRIST litmus test 

Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this, cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all. John 18:33-38 

All self-determination is founded in the works of the flesh.

I am the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6).
My life is hidden in Him. (Col 3:2).
My purpose is in Him (Rom 8:29).
My life is in Him (Mat 16:24).

A life centred on ‘self’ leads to struggle.  Either we are doing too much or too little, trying, striving, and fighting to be better, yet dreadfully failing, over and over, again and again! We never seem to get it right, seeking comfort and peace, accomplishment and meaning in all the wrong places to end up empty again at the end.

When we are the most like Him, we become the ideal spouse, parent, employer, and employee. When we live through His wisdom, life began to have meaning and purpose. He is the solution to every problem. His life will save you!

SEVENTH LESSON on INTERPRETATION:
Truth test: 

  • Truth must bring the individual to inner peace, rest, and an acceptable resolution. It must conclude and resolve the quest. 
  • The truth is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of God. Even more to the point: Truth is the self-expression of God.
  • Truth is coherent.  For coherence theories in general, truth requires a proper fit of elements within an entire system.
  • Truth is consistently sustainable and rigid throughout time and history. It’s opposite to relativism, changeable, unpredictable fluidness. 
  • Truth can’t just be theory or philosophy. It needs to be tested practically in a particular life, place, time, and proven lifestyle. 
  • Truth must be both simple but also complex. Life is bitterly complicated, so truth should answer this complexity and give it good direction to simple, doable action.  
  • Truth is a paradox. Impartial, self-sufficient, indisputable, indefensible. The strongest magnet changes the weaker magnet’s polarity. 
  • Truth should be universal, similarity and comparisons in other sciences. 

You’re welcome to study the sermon/blog on the DANGER of being led by your emotions. https://hrco.co.za/sermons/the-danger-of-being-led-by-feelings/


[1] The Amplified Bible, (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1987), 2 Ti 3:16–17.

[2] Philip G. Zimbardo. The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil

[3] Social media: the impact on spiritual formation among generation Z freshman college students.  https://firescholars.seu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1081&context=coe

[4] So opening the Bible can be likened to entering into a communicative event. Or, to put it metaphorically, Scripture begins a conversation that is interpersonal and potentially life changing, because it is God who initiates the dialogue.” Jeanine Brown,  2021. Scripture as communication. Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics. Baker Book House.

[5] Gladwell, Malcolm, 2021. Talking to strangers. Back Bay Books. Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know by Amazon.com Services LLC
Learn more: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NC11JGM/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_PZDAVAJP2DE64PRJ376C 

[6] Guess, A. M., Nyhan, B., & Reifler, J. (2020). Exposure to untrustworthy websites in the 2016 US election. Nature Human Behaviour, 4(5), 472-480. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-020-0833-x

Categories
Sermons

Redeem Your Time

Watch this sermon on Youtube.

Not enough time in your day? Feel you have become a slave of time? Redeem your time by eliminating the following 7 major time traps.

“Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.” (Col 4:5)

“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Eph 5:15)

We make dozens of time trade deals on a daily basis. Some good some bad. We sell our time for an income or salary. Some use their time more effectively than others. The quest is to determine what is urgent, important, and what is a complete waste of your time. Making the right choice may sound easy but it can really get complicated.

Redeem your time

Time is one of our most scarce resources and commodities. Significantly, people who are very productive always find time to do what is required. Some people are always late, very busy without accomplishing anything substantial. Some people going through trauma and personal loss may feel that time is standing still.

In the Special Theory of Relativity, Einstein determined that time is relative–in other words, the rate at which time passes depends on your frame of reference. As we grow older, time seems to disappear quicker; contrastingly for a teenager, time is moving too slow for them to experience the freedoms of adulthood.

Currently, the shortage of time is used as an excuse for not praying, reading & studying the Bible, doing good, ministry, fellowshipping together. But when one really wants to go hiking or enjoying a meal with friends, or watching a movie then we have more than enough time?

Time is money we say. But, in reality, time is not money. If you lose money, you can always make it some other way. Time is not a renewable resource. Whatever time we lose is gone forever, never to be returned to us again.

Get motivated to redeem your time.

Just a tiny little minute

Only sixty seconds in it.

Forced upon me. Can’t refuse it.

Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it,

I must suffer if I lose it,

Give account if I abuse it.

Just a tiny little minute,

But eternity is in it.

Dr. Benjamin E. Mays

How do you value your time?

How do we value ONE YEAR? Ask a student who failed a grade.

What is the value of ONE MONTH? Ask a Mother whose baby arrived prematurely.

How much do we value ONE WEEK? For the sailors trapped in a submarine on the ocean floor, it was the difference between life and death.

How much do we value ONE HOUR? Ask someone who missed a connecting flight because the first flight was delayed by an hour.

What is the value of HALF AN HOUR? Ask the parents of the flower girl and ring bearer who missed the wedding here yesterday because one of them thought the wedding was at 4:30, rather than 4 pm?

How much do we value ONE MINUTE? Ask someone who had a heart attack in a restaurant with a paramedic sitting at the next table.

How much do we value ONE SECOND? Ask an Olympic swimmer, who just missed qualifying by 3 one-thousandths of a second!

Alistair Begg

Learn to redeem your time by trading with Heaven.

People trade their time for various things, fitness, learning, investigation, hobbies, work, dialogue, relaxation etc! Time usually follow that what we value. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Mat 6:21) We as spiritual people and children of God, have surrendered our time, like our money, faculties, talents and abilities to be of divine use. Subsequently, our time should reflect godly pursuits as instructed by the Holy Spirit. Our lives should be fruitful, causing people heaven’s delight, and demonstrating God’s Kingdom here on Earth as it is in Heaven. This is a daunting task, and almost impossible by human effort.

This is why Jesus modelled a life that is in tune or synchronised with Heaven’s movement or initiative. He waited: “My time is not now” (John 2:4; 7:6, 8, 30; 8:20). Jesus often would stop and say: “today scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”. He was living according to heaven’s timetable. This is such a glorious biblical principle to understand! We can’t make the supernatural happen, but by reading the signs, we move ourselves into position for God to show up!

Redeem your time with prophetic intend.

The man who kept his young donkey, for Jesus to ride on is a good example. (Mat 21:1-5) This man possibly read the scriptures “Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey” (Is. 62:11; Zech. 9:9) then seeing Jesus minister the way he did, he put two and two together. He saved this very useful and necessary pack-animal, for when Jesus would have need for it.

Daniel Saw the scriptures about that Isreal will be freed after 70 years of exile (Dan 9:2). Then he prayed for this prophetic word to come into fulfilment. So Anna and Simeon faithfully prayed and waited for the promise of the arrival of the Messiah in their lifetime. (Luk 1-2)

Redeem your time from man’s time schedules.

Time is in God’s hand. He rules over it. He gives it to us as a means of His grace.

Why was Jesus born at that specific time? Why not born in the time of Jewish Political self-rule 130 years in between Greek and Roman Military Rule? Jesus was in no hurry to fulfil His divine purpose in only 2,5 years! He waited patiently obedient to earthly parents, working as an artisan, among the poor villagers of Nazareth not seeking fame or prominence. Uniquely, He eventually bought time through His Birth BC / AD literally creating a universal time marker, and the Sun darkened for 3 hours at His Crucifixion Mark 15:33 He clearly showed that he was not a slave to the time schedules created by man. His life was synchronised and determined by a higher level and dimension of time.

We find that divine acts supersede earthly time:

Joshua 10:12-14 – The Sun stands still.
2 Kings 20:8-11; Isaiah 38:7,8 – Sun moved back-wards 10 degrees.
Amos 9:13 – reaper overtake the sower.

When we obey God’s timing, He also will use us as he did with all the great leaders in the Bible to become His Divine Time Markers. Spiritual people, tunes into the heart of the father, become trendsetters, pioneers, front runners of God’s will and intend!

Discern heaven’s time schedule.

In effect, our effectiveness is synchronisation with heaven’s prophetic schedule and season (Kiaros moment) for something. (Zechariah 10:1) Pray for rain in the time for rain. Ecclesiastes 3:1–8—Fourteen pairs of opposites, offering practical wisdom for every area of life—but we must know the proper time for each.

Discern the right time for something: We are expected to recognise times and seasons (1 Thess. 5:1–6) “the signs of the times.” Therefore, we are all responsible to understand the times and seasons of God’s spoken word. (Matt. 16:1–3) Many people only think like a man, in the same way, Peter missed Jesus divine suffering, not discerning the time for spiritual interventions.

Sunday church meetings are not just another weekly activity, it is God’s family redeeming time to hear together what their Father is instructing them to do. Prophetic prayer is divine timing alignment and time-setting meetings. We can thus rest our faith in Him, that when He has purposed something, He will fulfil it! We just need to show up.

7 major time traps you need to avoid to redeem your time.

There are 7 major time traps that keep people bondage to a static state in time. Jesus can free you today, HE IS TIME and rules TIME.

These transgressions become time traps and spiritual time wasters, limiting productivity, meaningful purpose, and doing something of value to people – being His delight.

1. Unforgiveness and Offense

When you choose not to forgive people for their transgression and retain your offence, you get stuck in time, in the hurt.

2. Self-pleasure and Self-medication

People who use medicine or drugs to escape reality, lose time. They do not develop and get stuck in time. wasting their time on worthless idols (Jer 2:8)

3. Perfection and Laziness

We always need to improve what we are doing and seek to have excellence, but perfection can become an obsessive-compulsive disorder, procrastination, re-doing, over-analyses that lead to zero finished product. Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness (Eph 5:11) Message Bible And an idle person will suffer hunger. (Prov 19:15)

4. Disunity

The opposite of disunity is called the speed of trust. A group that is divided gets nothing done, everyone is accusing someone else, too many opinions, too many leaders.  Get rid of your bitterness, hot tempers, anger, loud quarrelling, cursing, and hatred. (Ephesians 4:31)

5. Deception

Being conceited, waste – many people get busy with the wrong thing at the wrong time, with the wrong people and miss the opportunity. We can all be deceived, either through ignorance or rebellion and miss the timing of God. Double-minded man is unstable in everything they do (James 1:8)

6. Lack of Identity

Lack of purpose and calling – When God does anything He starts by calling a person. Missing your calling is missing your divine time appointment. make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble (2 Pet 1:10)

7. Fear

Is a prison that keeps people in an internal time loop, not achieving anything. No one ever started a new business or venture, got married, had children compelled and motivated by fear. Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? (Mat 6:27)

Categories
Sermons

8 Rules for Life learned from Nature in the Parables

https://youtu.be/7iunSPGy6bg

Many would agree, “God works in mysterious ways”. If we could however understand how God operates, and how He does things we will understand His will for our lives. Like getting to know a person, what do they value? How do they approach things? I believe the ways of God is revealed in the works of God, and His greatest work is Creation. It is fair that we should not judge a person on what they say, or first impressions. Judge a man’s work, his or her legacy.
Job was struggling to understand the ways of God and gets directed: “Listen to this, O Job; Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.” His attention is moved to creation, it’s wonder, greatness and complexity to the point where he acknowledge: “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You.” (Job 42:5)
God often models spiritual truth in creation, which is why David the psalmist describes the whole earth reflecting his glory. (Psalm 72:19). God gave Solomon great wisdom and it is recorded that he taught about animals and birds, reptiles and fish (1 Kings 4:33) and wrote about them in his proverbs to illustrate character strengths and weaknesses.
In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life. (James 1:21 – Message)


God meant man to live in a garden; sin has sent him to the slums –

Vishal Mangalwadi


Thus it is no surprise that Jesus taught most from lessons learned from nature. Let us hence refocus our attention, and familiarise ourselves with lessons learned from nature.

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  1. SEEDS & ENCLOSURES
    The Bible begins in a garden, ends in a garden city, and the in-between is full of stories of God’s encounter with humans in vineyards, orchards, gardens, mountains, fields, and forests. Take out the gardens (Eden, Gethsemane) and the mounts (Sinai, Hermon, Ararat, Nebo, Carmel, Olives, Zion), and you’ve cut the heart out of the Scriptures.
    The word KHEN (חן) – usually translated “grace” or “favour” – means “continuous outer wall, or continuous barrier” – pretty much the word for a tent shell or covering. And more so in Ancient nomadic terms, the continuous wall formed by the greater camp made up of individual tents, that collectively symbolized protection, family, belonging. “Thus says Yahweh, The people who were left of the sword found KHEN in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.” – (Jeremiah 31:2)
    When God made man, He strategically placed an enclosed garden. H1588. גַּן gan: A common noun meaning garden, enclosure. It is used to indicate the Garden of Eden (pleasure) where the first human pair was placed (Gen. 2:8-10, 15, 16; 3:1-3, 8, 10, 23, 24; Ezek. 36:35; Joel 2:3).
    EDEN: A masculine noun referring to a luxury, a pleasure, a delight. Used in the plural, it means luxury, luxurious things (2 Sam. 1:24); figuratively, of the many splendid things and enjoyments God gives (Ps. 36:8). It depicts the many enjoyments and pleasurable delights Israel had enjoyed previously (Jer. 51:34). A feminine noun indicating sexual delight, ecstasy. It refers to the enjoyment of intimate love with one’s spouse which in context implies the ability to become pregnant (Gen. 18:12). In order to create pleasure and beauty, one need to remix elements and resources, enclose and subdue it. Like baking a cake, planting a field, framing art, composing a song, writing a book.
  2. YOU CAN CHANGE THE SPOTS, BUT NOT A MAN’s NATURE
    For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. (Luk 6:44) This is why Jesus told Nicodemus, you have to born again. (Joh 3:2-5) DNA determines the outcome. We cannot have all these projects to try to make man better, without regeneration. Dr Ado Krige, the legend and father of many successful rehab centers in SA, call his centers regeneration centers. The first miracle of Jesus where He regenerated the best wine out of water in a second, points to this. This is the core of the gospel! Him making us new creations. (2 Cor 5:17) The founding DNA of an organization determines the culture and success if that organization. Partnerships and strategic alliances only work if the values-DNA is inherently similar.
  3. THE PEOPLE YOU SPEND MOST TIME WITH DETERMINES YOU
    Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Mat 6:27-28) It is said, that you are the average of the five people you’re spending most time with. Bill Johnson says: find your church, finds your destiny. The lily flourishes, because it is in the right habitat. It will not grow in a desert. So each one of us, are made for a relational habitat, where we can grow.
  4. NATURE IS RELATIONAL (INTERRELATED)
    Everything in nature is connected and in relation to the other. Recently the Yellowstone National Park saw its ecosystem restored what is called the trophic cascade effect, as wolves were reintroduced. You will find no mono-cultures Forrest in nature.
    Although each species has its unique distinct identity and purpose, they always function within a specific ecosystem, of inter-related harmony. Commercial farming is not sustainable, because we purposefully are creating an imbalance in nature, wherein in turn we have to use more and more chemical manipulation to have the same results.
    In a real sense, all life is interrelated. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Martin Luther-King
    Jesus taught the parable of the wheat & tares, to leave the tares until the end, then it is burned and destroyed. (Mat 13:24-30) One of Christianity greatest mistakes through history, is the notion that by separating oneself from nature, one becomes more holy. This self-imposed holiness does not have the strength to suppress, evil desires. It is the holiness of the one, that changes history! Like Daniel, Nehemiah, Ester & Mordechai. A hand full of salt makes one sick, but salt released in a soup gives it a taste. We are not from the world. Like Jesus, we are aliens, called to live sinless lives in a crooked generation. Jesus unsettled the stringent religious culture of the Jews when He revealed that God’s favour, jubilee restoration was for the gentiles too. (Luke 4:16-30) You cannot write Christian music or start Christian schools, because music and schools cannot be filled with the spirit, and obey the voice of God. The composer and the headmaster are Christian, under Christ. What we create, the way we do business, what we produce causes delight (EDEN-effect) and invites people to a new lifestyle. Daniel could not label what he did in Babylon as a Hebrew, yet by asking permission to obey his dietary rules, his countenance, and overall health surpassed the other captives.
  5. SPIRITUAL POWER IS NOT IN NUMBERS BUT IN RELATIONAL INFLUENCE
    Politicians seek numbers to leverage power and influence. This leads to great folly, as no one person ought to represent a number of people, and simply cannot. People change their minds, constantly. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.” (Mat 13:33) The power of the kingdom is in the power of the one. Real influence is being trusted and respected by Kings. “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” (Matt 13:31; Luk 13:18) Does anyone dare despise this day of small beginnings? (Zech 4:10 The Message) A farmer understands that the quality of the seed determines the harvest. The parable of the sower, also reveals that the outcome of the harvest was determined by the condition of the soil (heart) not the seed, nor the sower. Everything is grounded in healthy relationships – organisations, families, nations, business thrive and survive because of strong relationships.
  6. STRATEGICALLY POSITIONED THE POWER OF ONE
    A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. (Luk 13:6-9) Since the beginning, God strategically would place His send-ones in situations to liberate His people. Moses was strategically placed in a river to be found by the princess of Egypt. Nehemiah, Daniel, Esther, the young slave girl who told Naman of a Prophet in Isreal were individuals who brought about change in human history, through their personal holiness.
  7. NATURE IS SELF-SUSTAINABLE
    The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know-how. (Mar 4:26-29) There are many videos depicting how nature would eventually take over all the constructions of man over time when a man is removed from the earth. Nature does not need our intervention, we were called to cultivate and guard it. (Gen 2:15) When God does something, it is sustainable. Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while. And he said to them: “Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed. And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God.” (Acts 5:34-40) It is thus my contention that only that what is birthed, maintained and fulfilled in Christ will be sustainable.
  8. NATURE IS SEASONAL AND CYCLICAL
    There are 7 days in a week, on the 7th month Sukkot was held; on 7th year your debt was released, on the 7 x 7th year cycle it was Jubilee. The time (Kairos) is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel! (Mark 1:15) καιρός kairós; gen. kairoú, masc. noun. Season, opportune time. It is not merely as a succession of minutes, which is chrónos (G5550), but a period of opportunity (though not a necessity).
    There is really no Eng. equivalent to the word kairós, the appropriate or opportune time, which when used in the pl. with chrónoi (times), is translated as “seasons,” times at which certain foreordained events take place. Ask the Lord for rain In the time of the latter rain (Zech 10:1) (Spring Rain) Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it you do not discern this time? (Luk 12:56) And a wise man’s heart discerns both time and judgment, because for every matter there is a time and judgment. (Eccl 8:5-6)
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Christ the sum-total of all things

Preeminence of Christ 

“Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times”. Isa 33:6 

In times of volatile uncertainty, we need real divine wisdom and knowledge to guide us towards stability. 

We would think that in the current information revolution there would be coherent consensus on the facts. But with the increase of more information, comes the danger of too many opinions and misinformation. Particularly in the current pandemic, there still is no coherent prevention, or consistent treatment of the virus. No one can with certainty predict the post-Covid economic future. The best estimates are to compare current world-happenings according to post-war, and post-pandemic outbreaks and consequent trends.  

More specifically, we as believers must ask: “How did the Church respond to the 1st and 2nd World War, and the Great disease Pandemics?” 

During these great dark events, millions died, good and bad, rich and poor, young and old. No one got excluded. No one got passed by, by good behavior. Terrible things happened to good people, and nothing one could do, could protect you from catastrophe. 

What is the ultimate anchor of stability to the church?

The Preeminence of Jesus Christ our Lord 

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” Col 1:15-18 [1]

Paul answers three questions about the person of Christ: 

Who is Jesus in relation to God – Jesus is the image of the invisible God (15a)?

“Jesus is the image of the invisible God.” (Colossians 1:15) The Bible tells us that God is spirit which means that he is invisible. 1 Timothy 6:16 says that God “lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see.” (1 Timothy 6:16) Have you ever seen God? No, you haven’t. If you did, you wouldn’t be here! You would be dead. But Jesus is the image of the invisible God. And when Jesus came, the invisible God became visible. Jesus is GOD!! 

Omnipresence: “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”” (Matt. 18:20).

Eternal: “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20).

Almighty: “All power in heaven and earth has been given to Me.” (Matt. 28:18).

Omniscient: “No one knows who the Son is but the Father, and who the Father is but the Son and everyone to whom the Son wants to make him known.” (Luke 10:22).

Who is Jesus in relation to creation? – Jesus is the firstborn over all creation (15b-17)

The firstborn was used as a title for the Messiah who would rule over and inherit God’s kingdom. “I will appoint him my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth.” (Psalm 89:27) And so the phrase the “firstborn over creation” does not mean that Christ was the first created being. Rather it means Christ’s superiority over all creation, that he is the ruler and heir over all creation. Revelation 3:14 brings out this proper sense of the word firstborn when it call Jesus “the ruler of God’s creation.” (Revelation 3:14) As the firstborn over all creation Jesus is both ruler and heir. When firstborn is followed by a plural as in Colossians 1:18 or Romans 8:29, the firstborn is part of the class that follows. When it is followed by a singular, it means rank or superiority over that class. There is a different word that Paul could have used for “first-created” (protoktistos), but he didn’t use that word. He used “firstborn” (prototokos) instead.] 

Paul tells us four things that are true of Jesus as the firstborn over creation: 1) Jesus created all things, 2) Jesus inherits all things, 3) Jesus existed before all things, 4) Jesus sustains all things. 

Jesus not only holds authority over living creation, but also the spiritual world. “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.” (Matt. 12:28)

He also gave His disciples power to cast out unclean spirits (Matt. 10:1). “Behold, I have given you the power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and to overcome the enemy with all his might, without any harm to you.” (Luke 10:19). It is also clear that the evil spirits fear a coming judgment of Jesus (Mark 5: 7). However, with His crucifixion, Jesus took away the keys of the realm of the dead. Keys indicate authority. He disarmed satan, and took back the jurisdiction he had taken from man as the perfect man. In Christ, the full rule and power that God intended man to exercise has been restored. “He disarmed every power and authority and displayed them in public by taking them captive in the triumph of Christ.” (Col. 2:15). “But thanks be to God! He always leads us in His triumphal procession because we are one with Christ. Through us He spreads the knowledge of Christ everywhere like a pleasant fragrance.” (2 Cor. 2:14). 

Who is Jesus in relation to the church? – Jesus is the head of the body, the church (18) 

The church is the body of Christ, and Jesus is the head of the body. That means that there is a living relationship between Christ and the church even as there is a living relationship between the head of any body. As the body of Christ we are united with Christ who is our head. 

   A. He is the beginning of the church

      – Matthew 16:16-18

First of all, He is the beginning (Arche – first cause) of the church. The word “head” refers to both source and authority. As the beginning of the church Jesus is both the founder and ruler of the church.

Jesus affirmed this to Peter in the gospel of Matthew. We read in Matthew 16: Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.  And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16:16-18) Jesus founded the church on the solid rock of Peter’s confession of Him as the Christ, the Son of the living God. As the head of the body, Jesus is the beginning of the church.

   B. He is the firstborn from among the dead

      – 1 Corinthians 15:20-23

“He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” (Colossians 1:18) Christ’s resurrection is the basis of our life and faith. There is no church or faith without Christ’s resurrection. That is the gospel. That is the good news we proclaim. Jesus is alive! 

 

NOW BACK TO CURRENT REALITY

What is the physical PROOF of His preeminence? 

Whether we like it or not, society is structured in sets of hierarchies of competence. 

The wealthiest 10% of the population own at least 90–95% of all wealth.  The richest eighty-five people have as much as the bottom three and a half billion. The majority of scientific papers are published by a very small group of scientists. A tiny proportion of musicians produces almost all the recorded commercial music. Just a handful of authors sell all the books. Similarly, just four classical composers (Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky) wrote almost all the music played by modern orchestras. This principle is sometimes known as Price’s law, after Derek J. de Solla Price, the researcher who discovered its application in science in 1963. It can be modelled using an approximately L-shaped graph, with number of people on the vertical axis, and productivity or resources on the horizontal. The basic principle had been discovered much earlier. Vilfredo Pareto (1848–1923), an Italian polymath, particularly in the study of income distribution and in the analysis of individuals’ choices noticed its applicability to wealth distribution.

The Matthew-effect of accumulated advantage, Matthew principle, or Matthew effect for short, is sometimes summarized by the adage “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer”. The concept is applicable to matters of fame or status, but may also be applied literally to cumulative advantage of economic capital. [2]

The Matthew effect of accumulated advantage, Matthew principle, or Matthew effect for short, is sometimes summarized by the adage “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer”

“For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”— Matthew 25:29,RSV.

“I tell you, that to every one who has will more be given; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”— Luke 19:26,RSV.

The concept concludes two of the three synoptic versions of the parable of the lamp under a bushel (absent in the version of Matthew):

“For to him who has will more be given; and from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” — Mark 4:25,RSV.

“Take heed then how you hear; for to him who has will more be given, and from him who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.” — Luke 8:18, RSV.

The concept is presented again in Matthew outside of a parable during Christ‘s explanation to his disciples of the purpose of parables:

“And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to him who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” — Matthew 13:11–12,RSV.[3]

How then do we as the church position ourselves knowing that Christ, through the church has this eternal over-all pre-eminence?  

Jesus did, ultimately, rise to the top of the order of things retrospectively. Jesus was raised as a peasant artisan Jew from a small, stigmatized farming village Nazareth, Judea a small state of a Mediterranean world ‘dominated’ by a pagan ego-centrical totalitarian imperial regime, and a state cult of worship directed towards the Caesars.  

How can it be, that in only three years, this man left such a mark on society that scarcely three hundred years later, He had transformed the entire Roman world and beyond. The pagan religions vanished, the cult of the divine emperor was abolished and Jesus – the condemned criminal, the seditious Jew – was elevated as the sole “god” of the Empire, the only Man worthy of worship. A few hundred years after that, the church founded in His name came to dominate Europe, in the vacuum left behind by the imperial collapse at the hands of the Germanic tribes and would determine the course of European history right up till the Enlightenment of the 18th century. 

So, yes, there is a fundamental paradox here: the man who condemned the dominion of one man over another and stressed the equality of people, came to dominate entire cultures and societies more thoroughly than anyone else in history up until this day.[4]

What is the riches we need to realize? 

Moral Leadership 

“But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mat. 20:25-28) 

Basically – Character Wins! 

An interesting dichotomy is that, often, the higher people rise, the more they have accomplished, the higher the humility index. Those who achieve the most brag the least, and the more secure they are in themselves, the more humble they are. “True merit, like a river, the deeper it is, the less noise it makes”. (Edward Frederick Halifax). We have all come across people like that and feel admiration for them. 

Paul understood that he has received true RICHES in the Glory of Christ, having all things!! 

(Rom 9:23; 11:33; 2 Cor 8:2; Eph 1:7; 1:18; 3:8; 3:16; Phil 4:19; Col 1:27; 2:2; 1 Tim 6:17)

Personal Responsibility and Integrity 

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) 

“…Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it…” (Matthew 7:13-14)

“…Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way as to take the prize. Everyone who competes in the games trains with strict discipline. They do it for a crown that is perishable, but we do it for a crown that is imperishable. Therefore I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight like I am beating the air. No, I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified…” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

No one can pay the price for you! We are not saved by information being spectators. It is our personal experiential first-hand conviction of Christ that becomes our truth, life and way!!  [5]

Individual, Conscientious Value Judgement

Jesus, furthermore, encouraged people to emancipate themselves from the stranglehold of blind allegiance to traditional tribal units, such as the ancient family, in favour of the moral agency of individuals and their correlative responsibilities. “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law..” (Mat 10:34-40) 

“Yes, and why, even of yourselves, do you not judge what is right?” (Luke 12:57 )

There is no identity group politics and social justice without personal responsibility. You cannot be judged or labelled as a group, we are judged by our fruit.   

Give Up Personal Rights of Ownership 

Luke 14:33 NLT: “So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.”

And the earliest Christian community, according to the New Testament, literally did do this:

“The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.” (Acts 4: 32-35)

“And all who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need.” (Acts 2.44-45; RSV) 

“When you own the earth, and all that is in it, why would you hold onto one portion or piece? as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” (2 Cor 6:10)

Throughout History when the true church has been dispossessed, alienated, persecuted, and martyred for their faith, they flourished! The Church is not threatened nor defeated – the gates of hell cannot prevail against it. We are now seeing the apostate church versus the true church… one has a spirit of timidity and fear, the other operates in the Spirit by power, love and a sound mind!! 


[1] http://www.rayfowler.org/sermons/colossians/the-supremacy-of-christ/

[2] Peterson, J., Ingendaay, M. and Müller, M., 2018. 12 rules for life. Penguin Books, pp.Pg 7-8.

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_effect

[4] https://www.reddit.com/r/JordanPeterson/comments/8gz0vw/jesus_jordan_peterson_and_the_dominance_hierarchy/

[5] http://media-thechildrensmite.org/pdf_docs/watchman_nee/Christ_The_Sum_of_All_Spiritual_Things.pdf

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The danger of being led by feelings

Learning from Professional Athletes 

Life is inevitably complex and challenging. There are many daily obstacles we need to manoeuvre ourselves around or over. Like surfers, rock-climbers and endurance athletes, we rely heavily on feedback from various indicators, reports and input from our surroundings to orientate ourselves. An experienced surfer can feel instinctively a coming set of waves that determines his decision to best position himself. The accuracy of his interpretation of the underlying currents determines his finding the best waves, an acute ability developed over years of surfing. 

Rock-climbers know the limits of their bodies to gauge the effective hold of their grip, the right anchor points, and line of climb. Their ability to rightly read and interpret the feedback from their muscles and other indicators determine their success. Misreading any of these indicators can lead to death. 

Endurance athletes use smartwatches to provide them vital information like heart rate and speed to gauge depletion levels. Miscalculation means one can deplete one’s energy before the end of the race and bonk. Bonking (“hitting the wall”) means that you haven’t taken in enough carbohydrates and have exhausted your body’s glycogen stores, leaving you with abnormally low blood glucose levels. Your body can only store enough glucose (in the form of glycogen) to last you for about 90 minutes of moderate exercise. Anything longer than this and you will need to take in some more glucose for your body to function correctly.

Filter and Scrutinise the Data 

Living this life and mitigating its obstacles entails the interpretation of various reports and social feedback. Consequently, bank statements, debt reports, health and medical reports, social media likes and stats, academic reports, Google, facial expressions, smartwatches, conversations, gossip, social media, news feeds, mainstream opinions, and theories provide a variety of input-data feedback by which we make our decisions. One can analyze each item on this mentioned list for consistent accuracy, but the unmentioned most significant indicator people use are their feelings. ‘How did something make me feel’ became the mantra of the populous, which is ironic, living in the age of information. 

Read: 2 Samuel 18:19-33: David, engaged in a war with his son Absalom. He gave his generals a direct command: “Deal gently with the young man Absalom”. Once Absalom was killed, the story unfolds the details of who should bring him the message. One messenger was directed with a specific message that bare the good news of victory but the terrible news of Absalom’s death. The second was driven by emotion and even outran the first, but did not disclose the detail of the boy’s death. “The accuracy of the message will determine the value of the messenger” We are living in a time where we are flooded with so much information, it seems messengers, bloggers and news agencies are more concerned at being first than to be accurate.

Unfortunately, feelings can be very misleading. 

Trusting your gut is undoubtedly, for most people, the most important indicator that finally determines their decisions and actions. Like surfers, mountain climbers and endurance athletes, we are supposed to train our gut feeling. They process a host of sensory and internal body signals to make split-second decisions, trained over years of experiences. Notably, rated by the amount of failed business, foreclosures, divorces, break-ups, and accidents, people are seemingly not paying attention to the right and valid indicators. Jordan B Peterson explains in his book 12 Rules For Life, from recent studies how people take better care of their pets when following direct medical instructions than themselves. People seem to be trusting their feelings more than medical professionals.  

The fact is, not all professional academic reports are accurate. Constantly new reports are tabled, disproving a previous assertion. The Bible speaks of false reports (Exo 23:1), bad reports (Num 13:32) false witnesses (Exo 5:20), and evil reports (Num 14:37) that mislead. Thus, one must learn to test, verify, and filter all these reports and, as believers, discern God’s voice above all these voices as He will lead us to rich fulfilment.  

Jacob ignored the voice of his son and trusted his carnal feelings, blessing the wrong son. Of course, God did allow this to happen because Esau sold his birth rite, not tell his father. This story provides us with a beautiful metaphor of how we can get it wrong. (Gen 27:1-29)  

The Bible does provide us with a failsafe method to help us make the right decisions:

The Knowledge of God is our template

The longest Psalm in the Bible is Ps 119. In this psalm, David praises God for His right judgments, precepts, directives, laws, and truth. 

Our safeguard in making the right decisions is knowing God’s will, law, precepts, way of doing things. Until we come to the full knowledge of God is set as the final end-goal of maturity of the saints. (Eph 1:17; 3:19; 4:13) The will of God is no longer a mystery. Jesus removed the veil of obscurity and mystery of the Godhead. He clearly states and explains the will, way and heart of the father.

The Kingdom constitution of life leads and a clear path to follow: 

  • The Weak are Full Citizens in heaven. 
  • When you want to lead, you need to serve.
  • Maturity Is To Become Like ʼn Child.
  • If You Want to Live, You Must Die
  • We Gain More By Giving More
  • We Fight Harder By Resting Harder
  • Seeking to please God, seek first His righteousness.
  • Want to be known, embrace obscurity.
  • Rise with more authority learn to obey.
  • Resist evil by doing good. 

This Kingdom way of living provides security and stability to the believer in the same way that the three-point climbing pattern provides surety to the experienced rock-climber. Practicing the basics of rock-climbing methodology eventually becomes second nature. In the same way, believers practice the kingdom methodology until it becomes a way of thinking, consciousness, and life.  

Only do what you have faith for

The primary guiding principle of Kingdom Living, is faith! What is not done by faith is sin. (Rom 14:23). Only Faith can please God (Heb 11:6). We live by faith, not by sight. (Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb. 10:38). We live by faith, not by our feelings. We live by faith and confidence in Christ alone. (Heb 10:35)

Transformed Desires and Passions

There is no Hebrew word for will. The Hebrew language says you desire to do something, instead of you decided or willed something. Our desires have to be reformed and redirected by the knowledge of God we learn first-hand from the Word and the Spirit. Knowing and experiencing God first-hand changes our passions and desires. Once our desires are reverted, our feelings and emotions naturally follow.  

Feelings are important because it fuels our activity. Without emotions and feelings, we become robots without passion. An untrained bull that is not domesticated jump fences, mates whoever he wants, competes with other bulls and operates in isolation. Likewise, people who did not have their emotions, passions and feelings trained. Following and living in close proximity to Christ entails daily correction of your will and desires. The more time we spend discovering the ways of God regarding business, law and order, wellness, learning, and relationships, the better one becomes in mitigating life’s challenges and find order in the chaos.  

Dealing with negative feelings and emotions: 

  1. Describe what you feel explicitly accurately. 
  2. What specifically needs to change. 
  3. Take Responsibility and request specific help. 
  4. Celebrate and reward particular change.  

Knowing God’s will and way of doing life is further complemented by:

  1. Prophetic Revelations illuminate, clarify and encourage us that we have heard right.  
  2. Body interactions help us confirm our inner convictions when other co-laborers exchange similar interactions and revelations from the Father.
  3. Fruits of righteous or divine break-throughs become like monuments, reminding us of the things He has already done.  

Negative Feelings List

Afraid, aggravated, agitated, alarmed, aloof, angry, anguished, annoyed, anxious, apathetic, apprehensive, aroused, ashamed, beat, bewildered, bitter, blah, blue, bored, brokenhearted, chagrined, cold, concerned, confuse, cool, cross, dejected, depressed, despairing, despondent, detached, disaffected, disenchanted, disappointed, discouraged, disgruntled, disgusted, disheartened, dismayed, displeased, disquieted, distressed, disturbed, downcast, downhearted, dull, edgy, embarrassed, embittered, exasperated, exhausted, fatigued, fearful, fidgety, forlorn, frightened, frustrated, furious, gloomy, guilty, heavy, helpless, hesitant, horrified, horrible, hostile, hot, hurt, impatient, indifferent, intense, irritated jealous, jittery, lazy, lethargic, lonely, mad, mean, miserable, mopey, mournful, nervous, numb, overwhelmed, panicky, passive, perplexed, pessimistic, puzzled, rancorous, reluctant, repelled, resentful, restless, sad, scared, sensitive, shaky, terrified, tired, troubled, uncomfortable, unconcerned, uneasy, unglued, unhappy, unnerved, unsteady, upset, uptight, vexed, weary, wistful, withdrawn, woeful, worried, wretched.

Positive Emotions Words List

Absorbed, adventurous, affectionate, alert, alive, amazed, amused, appreciative, astonished, blissful, breathless, buoyant, calm, carefree, cheerful, comfortable, content, confident, curious, dazzled, delighted, eager, ecstatic, effervescent, elated, enchanted, encouraged, energetic, enthusiastic, excited, exhilarated, expectant, fascinated, free, friendly, fulfilled, glad, gleeful, glowing, good-humored, grateful, gratified, happy, hopeful, inquisitive, inspired, interested, intrigued, invigorated, involved, joyous, joyful, jubilant, loving, mellow, merry, moved, optimistic, overjoyed, overwhelmed, peaceful, perky, pleasant, pleased, proud, quiet, radiant, rapturous, refreshed, relaxed, relieved, satisfied, secure, sensitive, serene, spellbound, splendid, stimulated, surprised, tender, thankful, thrilled, touched, tranquil, trusting, upbeat, warm, wide-awake, wonderful, zestful.

Emotional standoff before TRUTH

One cannot help to feel a host of emotions. Emotions are normal. Emotions that are based on wrong presumptions and conclusions are dangerous. Remember, Satan is called the father of lies and is a master of delusions. Folly is joy to him who is destitute of discernment, But a man of understanding walks uprightly. (Prov 15:21) We must thus learn to bring your presumptions, thoughts, and premonitions to the Court of Truth to be judged and discerned. The Truth encounter disempowers the strongholds of lies in one’s heart and gives you a sound mind. (2 Tim 1:7)

διακρισις diákrisis; gen. diakríseos, fem. noun from diakríno (G1252), to distinguish, decide, judge. A distinguishing, discerning clearly, i.e., spoken of the act or power (1Co 12:10; Heb 5:14).

By implication Rom 14:1, literally meaning not for scrutinizing of thoughts, i.e., not with searching out and pronouncing judgment on their opinions (cf. Rom 14:5, Rom 14:13). This also could be rendered as doubts, scruples.
Syn.: diágnosis (G1233), diagnosis, judgment, thorough understanding; gnome (G1106), opinion.
Ant.: apáte (G539), deceit; pláne (G4106), delusion, error; agnóema (G51), ignorance.

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The discovery of the Priestly Mandate of the Church

The Eden story is different to all the other ancient’s creation stories in many ways. The omnipotent creator seeks to dwell with man on earth in an enclosed garden, where all that God created out of chaos is good. God walks and talks with man, and gives man, who is made in the image of the Creator the authority to subdue the earth, be fruitful and multiply, in essence: Continue to do as you have witnessed the Creator do, and created good out of chaos.  From the beginning God’s purpose for man was two-fold: governmental kingship and priestly representation.  

As a king he is to name the animals and till the earth in order to subdue them, and make them serve his good purposes. 

As a priest, he must do good, representing the all good Creator. But also serves as a mediator, a spiritual broker, an exchange agent, an ambassador of the divine to ensure that what is subdued submits ultimately to the divine.  

We must understand that everything is spiritual. When work is not spiritual it becomes simply labor, slavery and mere physical activity and toil. If we work to make something beautiful, or meaningful to do good, our work becomes spiritual.  A farmer, unlike a robot, who simply follows instructions like a recipe is not putting heart into it.  A farmer who plans, thinks, tests and improves what he is planting to yield tasty abundant food will speak for itself of the goodness of God. His work is doing something spiritual.  

Teaching people and workers the skill of farming and seeing how they develop as human beings is a spiritual priestly activity.  Having a restaurant where people only get their food, need not be decorated, have music, or candles or have pleasant table placements.  Like animals, we just line up and eat. No conversations, no laughter and pleasant service.  The priestly mandate – representing God role is fundamental to sustained business success. 

Furthermore, husbands are not just to marry, and get his wife to only have children, and put food on the table. Paul taught that men should love and cherish their wives like Jesus loved the church and gave his life for her.  He should then prepare her perfect and blameless to the coming of our Lord. This is a priestly role.  Parents are to teach their children the laws of God, again a priestly role.  Teaching and demonstrating the will of God to man. 

We think that only some people are elected priests.  Yet apostle Peter calls the whole church a royal priesthood.  But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. (1 Pet 2:9). Again, the king and priest role are intrinsically part of the other.  

In our work and labor, we are either creating a hell that alienates people from God, or we are creating an Eden or heaven that draws people to God. In our daily interactions, we are either causing an offense to destroy lives or we are building a bridge to lead people to be reconciled with God.  We are either building, healing, reconciling or we are breaking down and destroying lives.

A friend told me people are like ants or they are like locusts.  Ants build colonies of safety and protection, nourishment and provision. Locusts build nothing, they can only consume what has not been planted.  

Kings and priests together build healthy societies of collective well-being.  Faith and love working together.  Faith consumes, love conceives. Kings need faith to envision new conquest and accomplishments for the good of all.  Priest seeks to love and build healthy lasting relationships.  Faith that works through love are mutually dependent on the other.  We need both faith and love to conquer life’s challenges and to accomplish good.  

Adam’s priestly role was to mediate God’s will, so when the serpent questioned: “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” Eve spoke and explained what GOD said.  ““We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’  The priestly mandate is thus not to know the letter of the law or command, but to understand the spirit of the law. She obviously only knew the former and was easily misdirected: “saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate”.

Why was being with God, and communing with Him not good for food, pleasant to the eyes, and desirable for wisdom? The word of God is real food (Mat 4:4). It is the knowledge of God, that contains life. Finding knowledge outside of God, leads to death. 

5 Duties of NT Believer’s Priesthood 

1. Spiritual Education

They are to teach God’s laws, His statutes and His ordinances. “And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith Yahweh of hosts. My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my Name… For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of Yahweh of hosts.” Malachi 2: 4-5. “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.” (Ezra 7:10).

2. Demonstrate His Righteousness 

We are mediators of the new covenant (Heb. 12:21; 1 Peter 2: 9; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20).  Jesus commanded us to disciple and teach all that He had commanded us to others. For this we have been anointed by the Holy Spirit. (John 16:13; 1 John 2:27; Matthew 28:19-20). We are also to teach and admonish one another exercising our priestly function within the Body (Colossians 3:16; Romans 12: 5-8; 1 Corinthians 12:7-8; 14:26). Some like the Aaronic priests have a specific full-time teaching ministry – the Five-fold Specialized Gifts of Ephesians 4:11.

3. Judgement

In view of the fact that the Aaronic priests knew God’s law, they were best able to officiate as judges and to specify the divinely ordained penalties for various sins and breaches of the law. “… you shall come to the priests, the Levites, and to the judge there in those days, and inquire of them; they shall pronounce upon you the sentence of judgment.” Deuteronomy 17:9-11. 

He has called His saints to not only judge according to His Word the things of this life, but also to reign with Him and execute His judgement with a “rod of iron” in the age to come, and also to judge angels. We are to judge righteous judgement according to His Word. 1 Cor. 6: 2-4; 2:15; Rev.5:9-10; 20: 6; 2:26-27.

4. Be a blessing to the people

The priests were to bless the people and put God’s Name upon them and in so doing, He would bless them (Numbers 6:27; 2 Chronicles 30:27; Leviticus 9:23-24).

In the new covenant we bless His people by waiting and hearing God from an open Bible and receiving an impartation of His Spirit for them – we receive from Him and serve the people. We direct people to God by impartation of His Spirit in the ministry of the gifts as well as by the words of our mouth (1 Corinthians 12: 7, 27-28 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Romans 14:19; Ephesians 4:29).

5. The Spiritual Reality

The service of the Old Covenant priesthood constituted a type-and-shadow of our service and sanctuary in the new covenant era. “…which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” (Colossians 2:17). As the substance is superior to a shadow, so is the present new covenant system superior to that which preceded it (i.e. the Levitical). But by looking at the Levitical order we can understand the pattern for priesthood on a natural level in those types and shadows and apply it to the spiritual.

When Moses received the pattern for the physical Tabernacle, he was told to make everything according to the spiritual reality. So we have in a natural form, the exact representation of the spiritual reality which is now functioning in the Melchizedek priesthood. Hebrews 8:5:  “The sacrifices which were natural are now spiritual, and the tabernacle/temple in which they were performed is now also a spiritual temple of living stones to be inhabited by His Spirit.” 1 Peter 2: 5[1]


[1] https://en.m.wikibooks.org/wiki/Hebrew_Roots/Holy_Priesthood/Define

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Sermons

The Power of Meekness

A man once had a vision of a gold plated king’s carriage with six pairs of horses properly decorated with plums and harnesses. Underneath the carriage, the driver was lying on his back fixing something. The person shouted, ‘be careful, if those horses take off and run you will be crushed by the wheels of the carriage!’ The man underneath the carriage confidently replied, ‘they won’t. I trained them! They only move when I tell them to!’ 

Meekness is strength under control. Picture a strong, black horse, with muscles rippling and ready to charge! But when the Master comes and saddles it, the horse stands perfectly still and is totally willing to trot, canter or gallop at the Master’s command. Although the horse can go much faster and leap over hedges, it is content to obey according to the instructions given by the rider. That is a perfect picture of meekness! There is no weakness in that.

As a result of a misrepresentation of these valuable, foundational concepts, that Jesus emphasised, but men distorted, our concept of Jesus-meek-and-mild, forgets the great authority and strength of our Lord that even drove the businessmen out of the temple with a whip of cords woven by His own hand. He was not the sad faced, long haired Hippie as Hollywood movies try to portray Him, but He was a man’s-man, a carpenter, hardworking man and meekness to Him was not a sign of weakness but of strength, divine strength under the control of His heavenly Father. He could say with great self-control, ‘I only do what My Father shows me!’ (John 5:19)

If Jesus told you to climb a mountain to be like Him, it might interest some people. If He said, “Fast and pray for a week”, others would respond. If He said, “Give a large sum of money”, it may entice a few. But He said, “Come and learn humility and meekness from Me and you will find rest for your souls”. How many of us would respond to this invitation? Notice it is no quick-fix: it is a process of learning! 

The Greek philosophers hated these ideas because it would make them weak and ineffective as wise and influential men. They promoted “self” instead. The entire world is geared to promote self: self-interest; self-advancement; self-assertiveness; self-analysis; self-talk – but the only self Jesus allows is self denial! When self is completely out of the way, then the Life of Christ can kick in, as it were. Until we really want these two qualities in our lives, not even Jesus can teach it to us! We have to ask the Holy Spirit to make them sound appetizing to our senses, naturally and spiritually. We have to develop a taste for humility and meekness, otherwise they will remain dormant for ever. 

The fact is, that once you are born again by the Spirit of God, once Christ lives inside of you, you already possess meekness and humility in your spirit. You do not have to try to strive to obtain them – chasing carrots in the religious sense of the word. But these qualities need to surface and begin to control our lifestyle.

The only two qualities that Jesus ever suggested that His disciples should learn from Him was humility and meekness. He never told them that they should learn how to preach or how to pray or even how to heal the sick! Why are these two qualities so important to life?
Well, Jesus knew that without humility and meekness the task that lay ahead for the 12 would be too great. They were unknown fishermen, tax-collectors and zealots, a motley crew, but their names would become household names for the next 2 000 years! Even today the most popular names in the world are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John! The weight of their fame and the trials of faith they had to undergo required humility and meekness in their character.

The Oxford Dictionary definitions of these two qualities are inaccurate if weighed by the meaning the Greek concepts in the bible:

Humble: (Oxford) having or showing low estimate of one’s own importance, lowly, modest, of small pretensions. To make humble, abase, (Latin humus: ground) to eat humble pie means to be humiliated.

Meek: (Oxford) submissive, tame-spirited

Vine’s Greek Expository Dictionary

Humble: tapeinos signifying low-lying. It is used always in a good sense in the New Testament to denote of low degree, brought low, literally of mountains and hills, abase. Matthew 11:29 it is used in the sense of being humble in spirit. Acts 20:19 talks about humility of mind (tapeinophrosunê).

Meek: Praos denotes gentle, mild, and meek. It consists not in a person’s outward behaviour only; nor yet in his relations to his fellow-men; as little in his mere natural disposition. Rather it is an inwrought grace of the soul; and the exercises of it are first and chiefly towards God. It is that temper of Spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good and therefore without disputing or resisting; it is closely linked with the word humility. It is only the humble heart that can be meek and does not struggle and contend with Him. Meekness in the face of vile men allows insults and injuries which they may inflict as being permitted and employed by God for the chastening and purifying of His elect. It is associated with self-control.

The English language uses the word, meekness, to express weakness and pusillanimity, which the original Greek meaning does not allow. Praos or ‘praütês‘ describes a condition of heart and mind. 

It must be clearly understood that the meekness manifested by the Lord and commended to the believer is the fruit of power. The common assumption is that when a man is meek it is because he cannot help himself. But the Lord was meek because He had the infinite resources of God at His command. Described negatively, meekness is the opposite of self-assertiveness and self-interest; it is equanimity of spirit that is neither elated nor cast down, simply because it is not occupied with self at all.

The apostle Paul appeals to the meekness of Christ in believers and charges them to show all meekness towards all men. In his dealings with the ignorant and erring he is to exhibit a spirit of meekness and towards those who oppose themselves he is to correct them in meekness (II Timothy 2:25). James the apostle, exhorts his beloved brethren to receive with meekness the implanted word (James 1:21). The apostle Peter says meekness is required to set forth the grounds of the Christian hope (I Peter 3:15)

In the present Apostolic Reformation (since 1990) our knowledge and understanding regarding spiritual concepts have been enhanced and two of the words that have taken on a new dimension in meaning are ‘humility and meekness’. I would like to add the present truth regarding these otherwise vague words:

Humility is a sane estimate of one’s self and one’s own capabilities and talents. Pride is an over estimation of one’s self and an under-estimation of other people; whereas inferiority would be just the opposite: an over-estimation of other people and an under-estimation of one’s self. 

Imagine a church full of ‘meek’ people! Imagine a family where meekness is part of their make-up! Imagine a school full of meek scholars! Imagine a business with meek employees! This is not a bunch of weaklings, but people who can take orders and do what they are told with absolute conviction and strength being displayed! This changes the picture of the traditional view of meekness altogether!

It was interesting for me to note that the German dictionary (nor the Afrikaans one!) has a word for meekness. The concept of meekness is eradicated from the psyche of the German and Afrikaans nations due to a total absence of understanding what Jesus required! Could this be why Germany committed the atrocities during the Second World War towards the Jews and the Afrikaans nation showed man’s inhumanity against to man during the Apartheid era when they were in power in South Africa and brought a separation between races? See what happens where there is no meekness in place?

It is also amazing to realize that Jesus’ demand for humility and meekness opposes all the self-motivational courses in the business and sporting world! Political power also denies the qualities Jesus preached! No wonder the world is in such a mess! There can be no peace without the Prince of Peace, no matter how they try!

Meekness is one of the fruits of the Spirit and is an outgrowth of love and concern for the welfare of other people. Jesus exhibited a spirit of love, gentleness and meekness towards all mankind, setting us an example to follow

It is also amazing to realize that Jesus’ demand for humility and meekness opposes all the self-motivational courses in the business and sporting world! Political power also denies the qualities Jesus preached! No wonder the world is in such a mess! There can be no peace without the Prince of Peace, no matter how they try!

My personal definition of the virtue of meekness is this that Jesus (the Christ, Messiah and Saviour of the World) set the perfect example of absolute meekness in that He himself, having been the human manifestation of Almighty God The Father, in the flesh, on Earth (Emmanuel) and having access to all power and might, instantly summonable at His command at any time, chose rather to keep silent and be obedient to His Father in absolute perfect servanthood, for the entire duration of His sojourn on Earth. Even under extreme duress, having full knowledge of the extent of the injustice, suffering, the extreme beating and mutilation that He would have to endure even before finally being brutally nailed to a wooden cross and left to hang there, to die the most tormenting and agonizing death ever inflicted on any human being (Son of man) and not uttering a single malicious word, but to rather to loudly implore Almighty God, His Father. He asked Him to forgive those that had condemned Him falsely and had perpetrated His imminent death from this, His crucifixion, all the while not harboring a single thought for His own personal well-being.

To be Meek is to have humility, patience, a deep understanding of the human condition, a Godly kind of love for wretched man and a total love for God. This all of can only be attained through true and intimate relationship with The Triune God of the Bible who gives so great a virtue to a heart of faith and obedience as a gift (nothing could be further from human nature than meekness and so it therefore needs to be a gift from God).

Acknowledgement: Notes from apostle dr Andre Pelser.