I can of myself do nothing

The Netflix series “The Crown” is in season 2 now.  I have got as far as the end of episode 6 of season 1.  I like it since in general it seems to be historically true though with the usual dramatic license taken here and there to emphasize or dramatize an aspect of the truth.The Crown

One of the things that is striking about it so far is the self-denial that the Queen has to go through.  She really cannot do what she wants to do.  What is peculiar about that is that she is Queen and so, in theory, can do pretty much anything she wants to do.  In practice she is bound by tradition and duty to a higher standard.   The Queen answers to God ultimately according to that tradition which in itself is based on the bible.  So the constraints on her are those imposed by God (Romans 13).

Jesus expressed the ultimate submission, from which monarchs and disciples derive there submission to God,  in John 5:30:

“I can of Myself do nothing.  As I hear I judge and My judgement is righteous because I do not seek My own will but the will of the One who sent Me.”

To have communion with God and to do His will is to be in self denial.  Jesus says elsewhere that unless we deny ourselves and take up the Cross daily we cannot be His disciples.

Do you want to be a disciple?

If so, will you submit to Him in love and happily give up the freedom to do what you want?

If you have been born again, this is, in fact, the only way forward.

Communion with God

Communion with God is intimacy with your creator.

The wonderful privilege of everyone who has been born again is the possibility of ongoing communion with the Creator of the universe.

https://holdfasttowhatisgood.com/tag/cup-runneth-over/As creatures we were made to be vessels carrying a treasure (2 Cor. 4:7).  That treasure is the Holy Spirit.  Intimacy with God is being what we were meant to be, filled with the Holy Spirit.

There is no more intimate picture than a vessel filled with a liquid.  The vessel itself knows nothing but containment of something greater than itself, something which it feels touching every inside surface.  Every so often the Owner comes and tips out the precious substance for someone else’s benefit and then tops it up again to overflowing.  Overflowing is the better state for a vessel.  Then it is not just containment and the inside surfaces that know the joy of intimacy but every part of the vessel, even those parts that are outward facing, feel the joy.

Jesus said that the first and greatest commandment was to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  You cannot love God in this way if you don’t have intimacy with Him.  You cannot love God in this way unless you are filled with the Holy Spirit.  You must be born again, yes, but you must also yield and let Him fill you on an ongoing basis.

Dedicate some time every day to intimacy with God your creator.  Hear what He is saying to you.  Do what He says. Repeat daily.

 

Pathetic Fallacy

Back when I was doing my Leaving Cert English course Shakespeare’s King Lear was on the curriculum.  I’m not sure was it my teacher at the time or a textbook but one of the phrases used was “pathetic fallacy”.  It referred to Shakespeare’s use of the weather in the play to reflect the action on the ground.  At the height of the worst tragedies that fell on King Lear the storms raged the worst:

360px-William_Dyce_-_King_Lear_and_the_Fool_in_the_Storm

 

“Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!

 

You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drenched our teeples, drowned the cocks!
You sulphurour and thought-executing fires,

Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Strike flat the thick rotundity o’ the world!
Crack nature’s molds, all germens spill at once
That make ingrateful man!”

So the now forgotten commentator called this kind of matching of the elements to the moral events on the ground “pathetic fallacy”.

The attitude that such connections are pathetic lies is now so ingrained into our thinking that anyone who even remotely suggests in our “enlightened” western humanist society that God might have something to do with the weather is likely to face the worst of scorn.   And, indeed, caution is always advised when attributing any specific elemental actions (e.g. fires, earthquakes, floods, droughts, etc.) directly to God’s judgments especially at macro levels like nations (notwithstanding the fact that these acts are all called “Acts of God” for insurance and other purposes).

However, the bible is quite clear that God is in control of the weather whatever we might be told by English teachers or otherwise.   Here is one example taken from Zechariah chapter 10 in the Old Testament:

“Ask the Lord for rain in the springtime;
    it is the Lord who sends the thunderstorms.
He gives showers of rain to all people,
    and plants of the field to everyone.”

I have a number of reasons for drawing attention to this current drought and asking the question:  “Is God judging Ireland?”

One of the reasons is that I woke up with a vivid dream this morning (yes, this only confirms it, he is mad, I can hear you think).  In it, I was in a train travelling through the hills along the coast.  It could have been from Greystones to Bray or somewhere similar.  On hills away from the coast fires were breaking out all over.  There was a solitary fire man fighting one of them.  I didn’t see any houses go up in flames just gorse and hedges.  But there were a lot of fires and not enough firemen.

To be fair, you wouldn’t have to be much of a prophet to predict that in this weather in this country.

 

We are all enjoying the fine weather.  Ireland is known for its rain during the summer or indeed at any time of the year and so any respite from rain is usually welcomed by the majority of the people.  However when it comes to judging nations the bible does have quite a lot to say.  Usually judgement comes in the form of an invading force but in Zechariah chapter 14 there is this verse:

 “If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain.

The context in this case is (probably) the millennium rule of Christ on the earth which (probably) has yet to happen.  However the principle is the same:  When God holds back rain it is not a good thing.

 

Disciples, Saints and Overcomers

Yesterday I wrote that God’s eternal destiny for you is communion with Him and fellowship with the church.  Communion and fellowship starts from when you are born from above (John 3:8) and continues for eternity.  Evangelism, by contrast, just lasts for this life.  After God ushers in the new heaven and earth (Rev. 21) there is no more opportunity for people to transition from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of life.  This makes evangelism critically important and, as I said, if you did nothing else but tell people the gospel, you will not have wasted your time on this earth.

However, the bible includes a lot about communion with God and fellowship with His people.  As examples, Jesus tells people about the narrow way in Matthew 7, Paul quotes a number of old testament scriptures on the subject of being God’s sons and daughters at the end of 2 Corinthians chapter 6 and John records Jesus’ words on abiding in John 15.  But there are many more examples, in fact, depending on how you read it, you could say the whole New Testament is mainly about these two things:  communion with God and fellowship with His church.

In fact I believe that when God inspired the Scriptures (particularly the New Testament) he inspired them with mainly one class of people in mind.  Jesus called these people “disciples”, Paul went onto to describe them as “saints” and John wraps up the New Testament by calling them “overcomers”.   The three words are not synonyms but they are closely related and they also have a sense of progression in them.  Being a disciple/ saint/ overcomer is God’s ordained way of having communion with him and fellowship with the church.

According to the New Testament, if you want communion with God and fellowship with the church then you must be born again, be a follower of Jesus (a disciple), be made holy (a saint) and persevere to the end (an overcomer).

Evangelism, Communion & Fellowship

The church I go to and love, Open Arms, has a motto based on Jesus’ summary of the Law & Prophets: “Connecting people to people and connecting people to God.”

Jesus spelt out the way of connecting people to God when He told Nicodemus that “You must be born again”.  You can find an account of His conversation with Nicodemus if you read John’s gospel, chapter 3.

Open Arms seeks to connect people to people (people who are already connected to God) by being as culturally relevant, welcoming and interesting as possible.  Ultimately the aim is to connect as many people to God as possible since He is the only way to eternal life or heaven (see John 14).  Unless you are born again you cannot even see the kingdom of God, never mind enter it and live for ever.

So you must be born again.

There is a very good case for leaving it at that.  If we all just spent our time bringing everyone we knew to the place where they were born again – or at least presented with that possibility – we would have spent our lives very profitably.  This approach to life is called evangelistic and some people who meet God are called to it almost exclusively and everyone is called to it to at least some extent.

However the bible has a lot more to say about what it means to be a follower of Jesus after that initial, critical, connection has been made.  If you have been born again God wants you to have two things that he talks a lot about in the bible: Communion with Him and fellowship with others who have been born again (i.e. with His Church).  The Scriptures spend a lot of time dealing with this.

Communion and fellowship are eternal.  Once you are born again and transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of life, communion and fellowship is your eternal destiny.  It is where God wants you to be now and forever.

Confrontation

2038 AD 

“You did what?!!!”

Rupert tried to defend himself again but he really didn’t have a leg to stand on.  Not literally, but he was genuinely concerned that he might end up that way.  He remembered how he had taken the legs off -literally – another man some years back.  That was when he was taking the position he had now from his predecessor.  Or rather, the position he used to have.

Now there was another man sitting in the seat he used to issue his world changing orders from, extracting a nation’s taxes here, lowering an expensive stock there.  The man seemed ordinary enough.  There was a strange glow about him but other than that he could have been any of the significant, charismatic men Rupert had often made kneel before him.  Presidents, world leaders and shakers, they had all been there at one time or another.  He hadn’t a clue who this man was though and he thought he knew them all.

“I am Timothy, servant of the Living God and you need to account for your actions.” said Timothy.

What was strange about Timothy was that he should have been dead several times over.  No one could survive that many bullets and live.  But not only was Timothy living but he was also completely unscathed.  When he had come through all the security he didn’t even seem to notice the bullets and simply asked the guards to move to one side.  When one of them didn’t he just kept walking as if he wasn’t there.  Rupert also thought there was no way he could enter his fortified room either but there he was.

Rupert was a bit lost for words which wasn’t like him.  He also hated the way Timothy called him by the name his God forsaken mother had given him and put on his birth cert.  He much preferred being called by the name that arose fear in anyone that had anything to do with him over the last few years: Lucifer.  Admittedly the name had been borrowed from a well known character in an old book (and some more modern films) but he still preferred it to Rupert.  Somehow, though, Lucifer didn’t seem to carry the menace it used to.

Rupert had noticed the difference on the day the trumpet stopped blaring.  Before then he had felt energised, filled with power and able to take on the world.  Afterwards he literally felt deflated.  So somehow what was happening now didn’t seem so unexpected.

He tried again to defend his actions.  However, as he stood there looking back over his life he could only see the amount of people he had killed, destroyed and racked with pain.  The ones he had defrauded, the poor who he had been the means of ransacking, the millions who had suffered because of what he had done.  There in his nakedness nothing good seemed to come.

He remembered back to the day someone obscure had tried to tell him about the Christian gospel.  He was young then and mostly innocent enough.  But he had dismissed it for the fairy tale he and all his peers had believed it to be.  And anyway he was bright and knew how to make money and was, even then, able to win over the rich and famous.  His father, after all, was the main man ruling the Fed at the time.

Timothy broke the silence.  “OK, I’ll tell you then.”  And he went on to list a catalogue of very specific and heinous crimes.  Rupert felt strangely proud as he listened to the list.  It was quite impressive, he thought.

Seeing that he was unrepentant, Timothy let the police take him away.  He would go through the justice system and receive justice instead of mercy or grace.  Timothy felt a bit sad at the thought.

End of Millennium

3034 AD 

Martin looked up at Florence and was immediately dazzled by her beauty.  It was both exceedingly bright and deeply resonant in his soul as only an immortal’s beauty could be.  Florence had spent the last 997 years in a state of worship, seemingly doing nothing all day and night long except stand transfixed in the presence of God.  She had been singing and dancing, yes, and sometimes Martin had gone into the worship palace to watch her and the others do amazing things – like figure skaters only more so – but generally he was too busy saving the world to spend as much time there as he would have liked.

Anyway, here she was out in the field so to speak.  Martin found himself wondering what she had been doing all this time that she was only finding her way out here now for the first time?

It was a strange thought, he never had questioned her, or any immortal’s, path before.

Florence saw the puzzled look on his face and knew what was going on.

“He has been released.” she said.

This was a non-sequitur in Martin’s mind, he hadn’t a clue where she was coming from.  Again he had some strange thoughts: “All that time doing nothing has made her mad.” “You can see that she is out of touch with the real world”.

Martin couldn’t remember thinking such negative thoughts about an immortal for almost a thousand years.  Now he was really wondering what was going on.

“He has been released.” Florence reiterated. “Just as the book said he would be.”