Coffee and Unity

I got to church on Sunday just as the service began. My spirit was too low to praise and sadness surrounded me. I was there for about two minutes when I realized I couldn’t stay. My state of mind was clear to see and people with the very best intentions would either ignore e, or surround me with love and compassion, and I wasn’t open to accepting either in a group situation. When I got to the front door, a friend walked in who was even later than me. She hugged me and asked if  I was all right. My tears started to flow and she suggested that we go and sit in her car. We spoke for a while and I felt better. I told her that I would not be going back to church and she suggested that we go for coffee. It was the best thing that could have happened to me. God’s timing in impeccable. We spoke about spiritual matters and our children and work and the weather. It was glorious. It was exactly what I needed.

Ephesians 4:1 – 6, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

How are we ever going to live in unity if we don’t get to communicate on a personal level if we don’t interact on a personal level. We will never get to know anyone’s heart if we don’t connect with them in a way that we can actually hear what the desires of their hearts are. That is not something that’s going to happen in a church service. A small group or cell group is going to take us closer, but there’s nothing like one on one conversation over a cup of coffee.

Jesus didn’t just walk around preaching and multiplying loaves and fish, He shared many meals with people. I’m sure if coffee was around at that time, Jesus would have told parables over bottomless cappuccino.

Luke 19:1 – 10 tell of how Jesus invites himself to Zacchaeus’s house for a meal. The result was miraculous. Zaccaeus repented of his devious dealings and gave half his good to the poor.

In Luke 10:38 – 42 Jesus has a meal at the house of Mary and Martha and Martha complains bitterly that she has to slave away in the kitchen while her sister sits at the feet of Jesus.

When Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law in Matthew 8:14-15, she got up and started serving them.

Matthew chapter 22 tell of the preparations for the Passover meal which became the basis of Communion as we know it today. A group of friends having a meal and discussing the imminent fate of their Master became known as the Last Supper. A simple meal shared between them was set down as one of the auspicious occasions in history. The meal where Jesus announced that He knew who would betray Him; a meal where the disciples argued about who was the greatest; a meal where Jesus predicted Peter’s denial and His own death. This happened around a table, over a meal, not in a synagogue or a church with dramatic organ music or drums rolls stirring up the atmosphere.

I am not saying you shouldn’t go to church. Not at all. Church has a place in our lives, a very important place. It is the place where we worship and celebrate Christ’s love with other believers and should not be neglected. But coffee is what fellowship is all about. This is where we get down to grassroots.

So have coffee or have tea or juice or cheesecake with a friend and fellowship and get to know each other’s hearts as well as God’s heart.

Filled up and overflowing

It rained all night and all day. It poured. Our water storage tanks are full and running over. We are fortunate to have tanks to catch up water during this time that water has become a precious commodity.

Psalm 63:1, “O God, You are my God; Early I will seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.”

Isaiah 12:3, “Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”

Revelation 21:6, “And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.”

Revelation 22:1, “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.”

Clearly in these verses water is used as a symbol for salvation. Water is used every day for washing and cleansing. When we are saved by turning to Jesus our old lives are washed away and we are new creatures. Also when we are baptized, it is in water, symbolizing that we have a new life. Water isn’t only used to symbolize salvation in the Bible, but that’s the only use I’m going to use today.

Isaiah 55:1, “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”

If I want to use my water storage tanks for rain water it will follow that I won’t be pumping water into them from any other source. Not from the municipal mains and not from a borehole or a dam. If I want the water to by uncontaminated I have to have a filter on the tank and also make sure that the gutters from which the water flows are clean of leaves and any other foreign matter. The water definitely won’t be pure if there are rotting leaves and dead rodents polluting it. Just the same I cannot be putting foreign matter into my head and my heart if I have received the water of Salvation. I cannot do things that are going to jeopardize the integrity of what Jesus has placed in my spirit by contaminating my mind and my body.

There are many movies and TV programs that are not good to watch. They do not have content that are suitable for children of God. When I say this I don’t mean that we are going to be seeing things that we’ve never seen before, or that will shock us. The problem is that the things we allow into our minds have the potential to stay in our minds. Those are going to be things which will pop up in our thoughts every so often. Do we really want unwholesome and unhealthy images in our minds? Do we want to listen to people using profanities and using the name of God when they aren’t actually addressing Him? Of course television isn’t the only media which influences us. There are magazines and newspapers. Social media and YouTube videos and also literature. People who use foul language and speak about negative and unsavory things are also best avoided.

Then there are also very innocent things that we can fill our minds with that can distract us from God. What about something like Pinterest? It’s the best place to get creative ideas and recipes etc. but it’s also really addictive. It can easily steal many hours of our time that could have been used for Bible study or prayer. I’m not saying that we can’t spend time on hobbies and creative outlets. Not at all. I love doing all kinds of crafts and I absolutely love the ideas I get from Pinterest. I’m just putting a word of caution out there. Don’t let things steal your time.

Just like a rainwater tank needs to get water directly from the rain while it is raining, we need to get input and revelations directly from God when the time is right. We can’t expect to watch television all day and then spend a quick 15 minutes in prayer and think God is going to speak to us.

Isaiah 55:6, “Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.”

1 Thessalonians 5:17, ‘Pray without ceasing.”

Psalm 119:15, “I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways,” and verse 97, “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.”

So we need to be like water tanks that are filled up to the top and overflowing with springs of living water.

 

Wait on the Lord

We’re celebrating Easter and as we all know it’s all about Jesus being crucified. And the value of Easter being in the fact that Jesus rose again on the third day. Which is really amazing. If I try to think about the resurrection in human terms, there’s no way that is could have happened.
Matthew 28:1 – 10,”Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of Him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid for I know that you seek Jesus who is crucified. He is not here, for He is risen like He said. Come see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee: there you will see him. See, I have told you.’ So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.’”
If this was a fairy tale or a work of fiction, it might be hard to think of as being plausible. It outrates the most dramatic soap opera. Superman, Batman and Spiderman don’t have a chance of coming anywhere near this story. Jesus is the ultimate super hero. There is not one single logical thing about the resurrection. When the soldiers went to tell the story, the elders bribed them to say that the disciples had stolen Jesus’s body. The whole thing didn’t make the least sense to Thomas either.
John 20:24 – 29 , “Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.’ Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” So here Jesus not only knows what Thomas said, he also walked through the wall!
If we confess to being Christians, believers, followers of Jesus, then we have to totally believe what’s written in the Bible. If the Bible says Jesus appeared, and if He walked through the wall or just appeared out of nowhere, it doesn’t matter, we have to believe it. It’s as simple as that. But is it as simple as that when our faith is tested. Is it simple when we’ve been praying and trusting God for a miracle and it hasn’t happened?
Isaiah 40:28 – 31, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
And what shall we do while we are waiting on the Lord?
Colossians 4:2, “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it, with thanksgiving.”
That’s the answer, keep on praying and praise God. Even though nothing makes sense, God hears your prayers and He loves you so much He sent His only Son to die so that you can be saved.

My husband and I took a quick walk on the beach this morning. The weather was lovely. A warm day slipped in between two cold days. Because it was a public holiday and a long weekend, there were lots of people on the beach. Families with children, young people in bathing suits, a mother playing cricket with her young son, and older people watching grandchildren. A lovely scene. I wonder if God purposely makes days like this for us to enjoy? There’s a question that if tree falls in the forest, and there’s no one to hear it fall, does it make a sound? There are so many mysteries with God. There are so many mysteries about life.

One of the questions most often asked is, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” and I think there are as many theories about that as there are people asking the question. Whenever we do something, anything, there is a consequence. So a lot of the time, when bad things happen, they are as a consequence of a bad choice we made even though we don’t always like to admit it. Other times there are things like people getting sick and dying. There are natural disasters which claims hundreds of lives and there aren’t any logical explanations to them. They happen. I haven’t found the words, ‘logic’ or ‘logical’ in the Bible. My husband always tells me to think logically and I normally just give up at that point, because it obviously isn’t my strong point.

 

Look at something like the time when God spoke to Moses out of the burning bush? That didn’t exactly make sense and there wasn’t a logical explanation. Apparently you do get bushes in the dessert that catch alight, but they don’t continue burning, they quickly burn out. And they don’t talk. Then there was the Red Sea that parted. The water that came out of the rock. The Jordan River that was in flood and also parted for the Israelites to walk through. What about the wall of Jericho that fell down? Any logic in that? In 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat and his army watched as the enemy forces annihilated each other and all they had to do was gather the spoils. What about Noah who built an enormous boat, nowhere near the ocean? Why? Because God said so. Jonah was swallowed by a fish.

King Hezekiah asked God to let the shadow on the sundial of Ahaz go back 10 degrees and it happened. In other words the earth rotated back on its axis. Logical? David did all kinds of bad things. He even committed adultery and had a man killed. Yet God called him a man after his own heart? I understand why? David loved God but he was a human being like you and me and he did all kinds of things he shouldn’t have, just like you and me. Each time he did something bad, he repented and sought forgiveness from God. Also, as far as I can see he didn’t do the same sin twice. To me it makes sense, but I’m no really known for logical thinking. Would it make sense to someone who doesn’t know God that well? God make Hosea marry a prostitute and have children with her, and go and bring her back home every time she wandered off, in order to illustrate Israel’s unfaithfulness. Logical? Would we be willing to do something like that?

Daniel was carried away in captivity and quite possibly castrated. Yet he remained ever faithful to God. In Habakkuk 3:17 – 18, “Though the fig tree may not blossom, Not fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls – Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

These are things that don’t  make any sense, and aren’t at all logical. But then, faith doesn’t make sense and isn’t at all logical. Believing in things that you can’t see, speaking things that are not as if they are, and having someone die for you are not things that our small minds can fathom. But then, if faith was logical and easy what would the point be?

 

 

Forgive her Father…

I wove the crown of thorns
That our precious Savior wore
FORGIVE HER FATHER
SHE KNOWS NOT WHAT SHE DOES!

I wielded the whip
That tore into His flesh
FORGIVE HER FATHER
SHE KNOWS NOT WHAT SHE DOES!

I drove the nails
That held Him to the cross
FORGIVE HER FATHER
SHE KNOWS NOT WHAT SHE DOES!

I lifted the spear
That pierced his side.
FORGIVE HER FATHER
SHE KNOWS NOT WHAT SHE DOES!

She is Your precious daughter
Who will take up Your sword
And fight the enemy

She is Your precious daughter
Who will go into the world
And open the eyes of the blind

She is Your precious daughter
Who will overcome evil
And receive the victor’s crown

She is Your precious daughter
And it is for her
That all this pain I bear.

FORGIVE HER FATHER
SHE KNOWS NOT WHAT SHE DOES!

 

Temptations

A young man was in a dilemma and he thought he had a solution. I put it to him that he was standing before temptation and that the devil was tempting him to make the wrong choice. I praise the Lord that he made the right choice. It wasn’t an easy choice for him because being in trouble isn’t nice or easy. Each one of us stands before temptation every day and have choices to make. There are more temptations and choices than we can even imagine.

Of course Jesus was tempted even before He began his ministry on earth. After He was baptized the spirit led Him into the wilderness where He fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. The Bible says hes as hungry. I can’t even start to imagine how hungry He was.

Matthew 4:3 – 11, “now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written , ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ Jesus said to him, ‘It is written again, You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’  Again the devil took him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.”

Here Jesus gives us the perfect example of what we are supposed to do when we are tempted. We have to remember the promises in the Word, and ideally we should know them off by heart and have them at hand and in the front of our memories when the time comes. But do we? Do we even realize before it’s too late that what came before us was temptation. Do we just see is as a situation that we had to handle and get out of the way? Do we debate whether Jesus had it easier than we do because after all He was God?

Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

Jesus went through everything He endured as 100% human. While He was on earth He did not receive any favoritism from God. He didn’t feel or experience things differently than we do.

James 1:12 – , “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, not does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

We must never get into the position where, when we make one mistake, we have to do something to cover it up. If we fall to temptation, we have to own up and fix the situation in the correct way, even if it is difficult. We have to overcome out fear of man, and remember that is it way more important to please God than to please man. Always. Don’t let one small mistake grow into a huge catastrophe. Do the right thing by doing what Jesus did.

 

 

What to eat over Easter??

The commemoration of the crucifixion of Jesus is 2 days away. Shops are full of Easter eggs and Easter bunnies and fancy chocolates. People are getting excited about having a long weekend. A lot of people won’t be working for 4 consecutive days and they’ll have the opportunity to visit friends and relatives, or go to the beach before winter starts.

The Jews have the tradition of the Seder plate on Passover. It consists of Z’roa which is a lamb shank which represents a symbolic offering to the temple. Beitzah, which is an egg and a symbol of rebirth. The third is Maror or bitter herbs such as horseradish to signify the bitterness of enslavement. Karpas is a non-bitter vegetable like parsley and it is dipped into salted water to symbolize tears. The fifth item on the plate is called Haroset. A mixture ofapple, nuts and wine that represents the mortar and bricks used by the enslaved Jews. The last is an optional addition and is another bitter herb such as romaine lettuce. Four glasses of red wine are also required at the Passover Seder, each representing one of the four promises made by God. The only grain which is allowed is the Matzo, a flat wheat bread which is watched from grinding to finished product to make sure no fermentation takes place. Any other grains which can ferment, wheat as well as oats, barley, rye and spelt are not allowed and are called hametz. During the flight from Egypt the Jews took along unleavened bread. During the Passover it is eaten as a flat cracker-like bread of used in dishes as breadcrumbs and in the traditional matzo-ball soup.

Apparently pickled fish on Good Friday is a uniquely South African tradition with a history that’s as mysterious as the sea itself. One thing everyone agrees on is that this food tradition hails from the Western Cape. Some say it came about because fishing boats didn’t go out over the Easter weekend, making the pickling of fish a necessity in the days before fridges and freezers. Having lamb as part of the meal comes from the Israelites in Egypt who had to slaughter a lamb and mark their doors with the blood to cause the Angel of Death to pass over their houses. The lamb was roasted and eaten by the family. I am not going to get into an explanation or an argument about hot cross buns. They are a little controversial, just like the celebration of Easter itself.

Ephesians 3:22-25, “But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” Sometimes we have to be reminded that for us as Christians, traditions of eating certain foods and doing certain rituals, are just that, traditions. If they bear significance to us that’s great. Maybe they remind us of an age gone  by when our grandmothers used to serve a particular dish on a certain occasion. There’s nothing wrong with keeping the tradition, but we have to remember that there is no spiritual significance to it. When I say spiritual significance, I mean that it doesn’t influence our salvation or our relationship with Jesus. 1 Corinthians 10:23 and 31, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Paul is explaining that there are certain things that may give offense to other people and in that case it is better not to do those things. Just note that he says these things give offence to people, not to God. With whatever we do we should take into consideration Ephesians 10:24, “Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.”

Whether we choose to eat pickled fish and hot cross buns on Good Friday, or if we choose to celebrate the Passover instead, really makes no difference to our salvation as long as we don’t do it as an act of trying to win God’s favor.

 

 

The cost of salvation

Our shop has been quiet. Our town has been quiet. Rumour has it that even the taverns have been quiet. If people don’t have money to drink, they really don’t have money. Just thinking something like that makes me sad, but unfortunately in the times we live, it is true. When times are tough you would expect people to reach out to God. Unfortunately many reach for temporary solutions that the world offers. In Romans Chapter 1, Paul speaks of people who are unrighteous and verse 28 – 32, “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled up with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of god, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”

 

This is such a mouthful! Then Paul goes on to say that we are not allowed to judge because everyone who judges also does the same things that he is judging. To me this means that I cannot judge sin, because I also sin. It might not be exactly the same thing that someone else does, but it is sin, nonetheless. Nobody is perfect and without sin. We are not Jesus. Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and the very next verse, “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God sent as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in his forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

 

If I think about Jesus dying for me I really struggle sometimes to believe that He really would do it for me, but because I believe every word of the Bible, I have to believe it. I have to believe that it doesn’t matter how bad my life was; it doesn’t matter what I did or said or thought, Jesus took all that on Him and said to me that because God loves me, He was willing to die for me. Whether my sin was small or big it doesn’t matter. He did it for a gossiper and a murderer alike. The whole concept of a person laying down his life for someone else is huge, but being willing to die for someone who is inherently bad, is very hard to understand. That’s how profound God’s love is. Romans 5:18-19, “Therefore, as through one man’s offence judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.”

 

We cannot make ourselves righteous. Jesus did that. Without believing that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died on a cross to save us from eternal damnation, we do not have access to God, who is a loving Father and who is longing for a living, breathing relationship with Him. Now, if Jesus was so obedient that He allowed Himself to be nailed to that cross so that you and I can be forgiven of our sins, which are ongoing, how obedient shouldn’t we be? We know that we should be obedient, and we know that we should be on fire for Jesus and we know that we should be reading our Bibles and spending daily time in prayer. We know that we should be nurturing the relationship that God wants with us, but do we do what we know we should be doing? How often don’t we become cold, especially when we become so busy in our daily activities that we tell ourselves we are way too busy to spend time with God. I resolve to spend more time communing with God and I put the challenge out there. We can do it, we can get closer to our Redeemer, particularly when we are reminded of how much our salvation cost Him.

Bluebottles

My daughter and I had a glorious morning on the beach. We swam in the ice cold water and enjoyed every minute. I say ice cold, but as we live in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, ice cold is obviously not freezing, but it was cold. We swam until a bluebottle passed my daughter’s face too close for comfort. We decided to call it a day and went for a walk on the beach. Bluebottles are really beautiful. I was surprised to learn that bluebottles are siphonophores, an odd group of colonial jellyfish. Rather than being a single organism like the jellyfish. These are actually made up of several colony members called persons. These members include feeding persons, reproductive persons and stinging persons. They have a gas filled bladder (which is another person). This bubble is what we recognise bluebottles by. Together this colony contains male and female parts so are able to reproduce asexually, meaning the bluebottle makes clones of itself. If you come into contact with one of their tentacles in the water, they reflex release nematocysts or stinging cells. The sting can be excruciatingly painful. Bluebottles are best avoided.

 

We often encounter beautiful and enticing things in everyday life that are best avoided. In the book of Proverbs, which is ascribed to Solomon, he warns over and over against the wiles of wanton women. As it turned out, his love of women were his destruction. 1 Timothy 6:10, ‘For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pieced themselves through with many arrows.” That happens. Temptations creep up and take hold of people and if they don’t recognize the schemes of the enemy in time, they get trapped. Then verses 11 and 12 say, “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold of eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

Then follow instructions to the rich that they should not be haughty and shouldn’t put their trust in their riches, but in God. To do good with what they have and rather store up a good foundation in Christ so that they can have eternal life. Verse 20 – 21, “O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoid the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge – by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith.”

 

This last admonition is very interesting and I know of people who having been professing Christians before, found some so-called intellectual teachings and decided that they were true, and in that way strayed from the faith. We have to remember that the Bible was written by normal, down-to-earth, God-fearing people. It was not written by philosophers and intellectuals. If the authors of the Bible had been super clever learned people with a string of degrees behind their names, it would be off-limits and outside the grasp of most people. As it is, everyone who can read, and who can understand spoken language can, with the help of the Holy Spirit understand the Word of God. The Holy Spirit gives us the wisdom to be able to understand scripture.

 

1 Corinthians 2 :6-12. However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not he wisdom of this age, not of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: Eye has not seen, not ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes the deep things of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”

 

In order to understand scripture, we need the Holy Spirit. Although there isn’t anything wrong with getting a degree, but avoid people and teachings that say higher learning and degrees are the only way you can understand the meaning of the Bible.

Death and the tree of life

I have found out a few things about death that really make sense to me. In the beginning there was the Garden of Eden and God had made it perfect. It is described in genesis 2:8-14, “The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there he put the man whom He had formed.” There were beautiful trees that bore fruit, rivers, gold and precious stones. Also the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil were in the garden. Verse 15, “Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” The only thing Adam was not allowed to do was eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then God made the animals and birds, and He also made Eve. Adam had a companion, he had a whole bunch of pets and there were fruit trees that supplied him with an unlimited supply of fruit. Absolute bliss. What could be better? Well, the devil got in and, found a weakness and brought sin into the world.

In Genesis 3, God bans people from the Garden for ever and He pronounces the curses that they put themselves under by disobedience. One of the things god says to Adam is in Genesis 3:19. “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground for out on it you were take.”  In verse 22 God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.” I don’t think that man was meant to live forever in his human body. Human bodies age and are fragile. I am speculating that the tree of life was a shadow of Jesus. If you ate from it you received eternal life. Because Adam and Eve were disobedient and brought curses over the earth, the tree of life was no longer an option for them or for the rest of mankind.

Death had become a curse. If people died they went to Sheol or Hades. Hades was the abode of the dead and is personified in the Old Testament as the power of Satan and his demonic forces. Revelation 1:18, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and Death”

Ehpesians 1:20- “[The power of God] which He worked in Christ when He raised His from the dead and seated Him in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named. Not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body. The fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

Hebrews 2:14-15, “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”

In verse 27 of the sermon that Peter gave in Acts 2, he quotes David (Psalm 16:10) where he says, “For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Not will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.”

Therefore, Sheol or Hades is the place where the dead went in the Old Testament. Jesus came to earth as a man, never sinned, and was crucified. Because He was sinless He could go down to Hades and take the keys of sin and death from the devil. Basically Jesus took the curse out of death by offering eternal life to those who believe in Him. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57, “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Revelation 20:13-14, “The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the Lake of fire.”

For those who harden their hearts and do not accept Him as savior, death should be feared, but for followers of Jesus death is not a bad thing at all.