Bible Study on Change

Bible Study based on an article from Philadelphia Church of God webpage named, I Need to Change This! (Hilliker, 2007)

God follows through with His plans but we often do not, yet we are to become perfect like Him according to the gospel of Matthew 5:48.

Isaiah 14:24 The LORD Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have 

 The LORD of hosts hath swornsayingSurely as I have thoughtso shall
it come to passand as I have purposedso shall it stand 

Hilliker cites:  Herbert W. Armstrong explained the essence of God’s righteousness this way: “Why is it impossible for God to sin? No greater power exists that will prevent Him—but God has simply by His own power—supreme and above all power—set Himself that He will not!” (The Incredible Human Potential, emphasis added throughout).

We can trust God to keep his word because of this truth.I need to change this!

God is the potter we are the clay says the bible. When God is moulding us do we stay where he puts us?

Do we determine to know what is right and do what is right no matter what the outcome?

Do we surrender to Gods’ perfect way according to His Word?

Hilliker quotes Romans 7:22-23 and translates it as, what God decides to do, He does; what He decides not to do, He doesn’t. What we decide to do, we don’t; what we decide not to do, we end up doing anyway! And the degree to which we fail to overcome that weakness of will is the degree to which we continue to suffer the curses and troubles associated with sin.

We need to set our wills as God does His will. We need to let out Yes be yes and our No be no.

37Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.g.

 

How are we to do this as we are not of course God but human vessels made of clay with a need to understand what is right and what is wrong and then to make the choice to do right and set our  wills to do it and follow it through even under pressure?

The Apostle Paul thanked God for he knew God could help him. He wrote:

1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.a 2For the law of the Spirit of life has set youb free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,c he condemned sin in the flesh, 4in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.6For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

How can this be explained?  The Spirit of life is God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit. Jesus took our punishment for sin when He was sent by God His Father to earth in human flesh to become sin for us.  He did this by choosing to be obedient to God and die a horrible death on a wooden cross, which was the practice of the Romans at the time. The religious people of His day may have hung him there but He came once for us all throughout the ages. Being fully man yet fully God as well He could have took himself off the cross or not even gone there in the first place. However the bible tells us:

16 “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

It was His choice to obey God and take all the sins of the whole world throughout time upon His own human form.  Can you imagine what it must have been like to experience every human emotion, thought, regret, feeling of guilt and pain that we ourselves suffer when we do wrong or others wrong us? Even our own individual sin can bring us to the depths of despair.

The good news is that’s not the end of the story. God caused Jesus Christ to rise from the dead, speak with His disciples, and as it tells us in the book of Mark his disciple 19so then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.

Romans 10: 9-11 tells us 9…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11For the Scripture say, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

When we recognise that we have all sinned in one way or another even when we don’t mean to at times, and realise we don’t have to go it alone through this difficult life but can receive forgiveness and strength from Him, the creator of all things seen and unseen throughout the ages, we can have a new start, a new beginning.

The bible says we become new creations. 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. bThe old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

God promises us He will send His Holy Spirit to help us. All we have to do is call on the name of Jesus and we can receive His wisdom and His strength . We can hold on to His promises in the bible because He is faithful and keeps His word.  We can believe what He says about us in His word over and above what anyone else says or even over the negative beliefs we’ve held in the past. It’s His truth that sets us free to be the people of God He created us to be and it’s through Him that we can reach out full potential.

We will always have free will as God will never take that away from us. We are made in His image and just as He has free will so do we. Once we have a true relationship with the living God through Jesus we can call on Him to help us set out will to do right and do it in His strength rather than our own human efforts and trust Him with the outcome. Why do I say this? Because it has been my experience that He loves me and wants me to live a full and blessed life but the only way I can do this is to put my trust in Him and His word. He promises to never leave me and whatever I’ve gone through He has always been there with me showing me the way.  I have learnt and continue to learn to trust Him rather than myself or circumstances. He has always brought good out of everything I go through even if I have not recognised it until after the event, even when I’ve been angry and unfaithful myself.

When you pray ask God to help you recognise temptation to sin and to help you stand in his strength to do what is right. If you don’t get it right first time don’t berate your humanness. Take it to God who forgives all our sin. He will give you another chance, trust me I know. It will come about in life again and again until you do get it right, and you will know you got it right.

I could not go back to the life I had and would never want to. I know that even when times are tough I am living the blessed life because Jesus is my firm foundation.

6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

(Hilliker, 2007)

(BibleGateway)

(Bible Hub)

Stuck in a rut? Do something brave!

I heard it said this morning on TV, ” If you find yourself stuck in a rut, do something brave for God or, stay in your rut!

This picture is of one of my grandsons who just loves taking risks. He often injures himself but, he gets back up and goes again. Are you like that? Do you take risks? Do you get back up when you’ve injured yourself?

I can’t say my grandson does it for God as he’s told me he doesn’t believe, however that’s another story. What I can say is he likes to challenge himself. I think he gets it from his mother and we’re very proud of him although our hearts are often in our mouths when he does these things.

When I was a child, I was very shy and frightened of making mistakes. My mother thought it was good for me to join things even if I didn’t want to.

At three years old I went to dance school to learn ballet. I was terrified of the teacher, I was terrified of the other children, I was terrified of doing it wrong and being in trouble. I dreaded it every week. I tried to stay at the back of the class. I often felt picked on by the teacher who seemed huge, very old and her name was Miss Gould. Whenever she corrected me I wished I could disappear.

Several years later when my younger sister took classes too the dance school put on shows. We  had to wear strange costumes often with huge oversized knickers that mum had to alter. At one particular show in front of parents I had to dance an Irish Jig solo. I knew the dance but had a bad case of stage fright. My way of calming myself was to sit quietly and not talk to anyone, it wasn’t working this time.

I told mum I had a stomach ache (total lie), I really didn’t want to go out there in front of all those people. Mum and the teacher pulled me out of the next dance. Guess what? It wasn’t my solo.

You will be pleased to know I did it and got a great round of applause. I was so pleased with myself!

I loved singing as a child. I grew up hearing mum singing to the old wireless ( radio) as it was called. She had a little notebook she had written all the words down to the latest songs in. She would sing while she pottered around in the kitchen. I joined the choir in the infants school and I loved singing coming home and singing the songs to mum and dad. I remember one horrible one about blood on the saddle and a cowboy who got his head mashed. I really enjoyed singing that one because it seemed so disgusting and almost rebellious.

My Nan too used to play the piano by ear, she couldn’t read music and she would sing old music hall songs. She had a mildly operatic voice. I played piano,  one finger nursery rhymes. I even got my own piano from mum and dad.

In the first year of secondary school mum and dad decided they would pay for me to have private singing lessons, in the lunch hour, with Mrs Freer our music teacher. She was a big, dark-haired lady with an operatic voice. A bunch of my friends came and watched through the glass doors as I sang scales along with the piano. They pulled faces and laughed mockingly. I only ever went to one lesson.

As a teenager I would write down words to the latest songs and record myself singing on an old tape recorder. I sounded terrible to me but it didn’t stop me.

I sang  once at my friend’s wedding. Someone turned off the microphone. I was a bit drunk! However, I came away believing  I couldn’t sing.

When I became a Christian much later in life the desire to sing was still with me so I joined a worship team in the church. They seemed quite happy with my singing and I gained confidence. After having been a Christian for fourteen years and a few churches later I have sung in three worship teams and each time my confidence has grown.

I don’t sing in one at the moment but I love to watch anything where people sing in competition like The Voice, Britain’s Got Talent and years ago Stars In Your Eyes I think it was called where people would impersonate famous stars. Beautiful voices make me cry especially when the judges vote someone through to the next round.

What’s next? One day I’ll book those singing lessons I keep promising myself.

So what’s the message in this story?

Stuck in a rut? Do something brave!

I need to take my own advice!

 

 

 

Bloggers block and dogs and things

This is a block week let alone day!

I don’t know what to write about and I can’t seem to focus on anything.

Last week my dog had an operation to remove a tumor from his neck. He’s an eighteen year old, blind cross-breed terrier. His name is Teddy and he looks like an old chewed up Teddy bear with a crooked scarred mouth and sandy coloured wiry fur. He’s a rescue dog we’ve had for over six years.

I was very concerned about putting him through an operation but it seemed better than letting him keep scratching himself to pieces and infecting and re-infecting what had become a wound with his claws.

We originally went to the vets for his yearly vaccination. I had found myself praying before I went about any necessary or unnecessary treatment. I asked God to give the vet wisdom. It appeared he had. The vet said he thought the dog was strong enough for the op. I went home to think about it.

The day I left him at the vet’s I thought I was emotionally ok until I watched him walk off with the vet. As I turned to walk out the door I began to crumple. We closed the door behind us and I sobbed. My twenty-three year old son hugged me. We made our way back to the car and went to our respective work places. The vet had my son’s work phone number incase they needed to contact us, I thought that best.

I held it together while working by not talking about it. In the afternoon it was harder. I wandered through my home trying to keep thoughts of what it would be like without Ted out of my mind. My son had moved out four months earlier to live with friends. I’m not even used to that yet. I cried once or twice but prayed and gained a more peaceful demeanor.

When the vet phoned to say Ted was Ok and just a bit drowsy I was so relieved. I cried!

I couldn’t face my own emotions when it came to picking him up though. I stayed in the car while my son collected him.

I thought of all the times I’d got annoyed at Ted for pulling me suddenly in another direction, for walking so slowly, for barking at other dogs and it all seemed irrelevant now. It’s just so good to have him back for a while longer. He’s recovering quickly praise God!

It looks like blogger’s block is over.

Alleluia!

Stress, Life and the Heart

The beatless heart: Texas husband lives for five weeks without a pulse after doctors invent new artificial heart

This is the headline of an article about an artificial heart that is basically a pump. I read this article with great interest. Then I wondered about the implications of such a feat. Would an artificial heart of this kind be a good or a bad thing?

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2003956/Craig-Lewiss-beatless-heart-Texas-husband-lives-5-weeks-pulse.html#ixzz47bYGEytu
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

After doing some research of my own I’m not so sure it is a good thing. Here is what I’ve found from both a scientific viewpoint and  from using a bible concordance to look up connotations for the word heart. In the bible we are told “guard you heart” Proverbs 4:23 so with that in mind lets begin with scientific discovery.

“An early editorial on the relationships between stress and the heart accepted the proposition that in about half of patients, strong emotional upsets precipitated heart failure. Unspecified negative emotional arousal, often described as stress, distress or upset, has been associated with a variety of pathological conditions, including hypertension,[26, 27] silent myocardial ischemia,[28] sudden cardiac death,[29] coronary disease,[30-32] cardiac arrhythmia,[33] sleep disorders,[34] metabolic syndrome,[35]diabetes,[36, 37] neurodegenerative diseases,[38] fatigue[39, 40] and many other disorders.[41] Stress and negative emotions have been shown to increase disease severity and worsen prognosis for individuals suffering from a number of different pathologies.[42, 43] On the other hand, positive emotions and effective emotion self-regulation skills have been shown to prolong health and significantly reduce premature mortality.[44-49] From a psychophysiological perspective, emotions are central to the experience of stress. It is the feelings of anxiety, irritation, frustration, lack of control, and hopelessness that are actually what we experience when we describe ourselves as stressed. Whether it’s a minor inconvenience or a major life change, situations are experienced as stressful to the extent that they trigger emotions such as annoyance, irritation, anxiety and overwhelm.[50] https://www.heartmath.org/research/science-of-the-heart/resilience-stress-and-emotions/

According to the book Science of the Heart from the HeartMath Institute the heart has its own  intrinsic cardiac nervous system (heart-brain), which has more influence on us than our brain does if my understanding is correct. This can be positive or negative according to our experiences. It seems to be saying our emotions come from our heart and affect our decision making process.

There is a long list of references in my bible for the word ‘heart’ so I decided to take the first three:

Genesis 43:4 tells us that Joseph’s heart yearned for his brother, Benjamin, his mother’s only other son. He wept in private.  Joseph was experiencing sorrow and longing for this brother, where?  In his heart.

Exodus 28: 30 tells us that Aaron as priest bore the names of sons of Israel in his breastplate of judgement in the Holy place before God. The amplified bible defines judgement as the rights and the judicial decisions for the people.

I thought about holding something against or for another. Where do we hold it? In our hearts. Although Aaron’s breastplate was symbolic I believe it represents where these things come from, not our heads but our hearts.

The last scripture I looked at was Exodus 35:5 which talks of having a willing and generous heart to offer God our material wealth for His purposes and our obedience to Him. Where do these things come from? This verse tells us they come from our heart.

To my mind just these three scriptures alone confirm what scientists are discovering about the heart. In conclusion it seems to be that our hearts which we often refer to as the seat of our emotions is are very literally  just that.

In Galatians 5:22 we are told that the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith. God’s promises His Spirit will fill us as believer’s in Jesus Christ and change us as we seek Him to bear this fruit in our lives. It may take time but surely this offers the hope and deliverance we need from the symptoms of stress in our lives.

In answer to my own question as to whether an artificial heart is a good or a bad thing, my thinking is that in removing a human heart and replacing it with just a pump surely we would be deprived of a vital part of our humanity. How could we be fully human with no emotional input to guide our decisions and judgement, good or bad?

 

You may like to read the whole of chapter’s 1 & 2 to see where my ideas and information came from for yourself to see if you agree or disagree with my opinion. Scriptures are taken from The Aplified Bible. I hope you enjoy the article!

Pride and Perjury

I picked up this book in a charity shop for a pound. Having read the blurb on the back I thought it might be interesting and I might learn something about politics from it!

This autobiography of Jonathan Aitken written at the end of the nineties is well worth the read. Former journalist become politician he openly shares his life, passions, and mistakes in an honest  fashion that held me captive until I reached the end of the book.

It is filled with intrigue and revelations of the consequences of his choices for good and for bad. It’s an honest, sometimes humorous, sometimes emotional account of what his hopes and dreams were for himself and his family along with filial loyalty and friendship on the one hand, and anguish from paparazzi persecution, lies, deceit and very real fears and the consequences of pride.

I personally remembered nothing from the time when this all took place other than his name., I was not interested in public affairs at that point in my life and didn’t read newspapers so I just associated his name with the government. That was it.!

What surprised me most was the unexpected open honesty about the spiritual journey that accompanied all the drama and turmoil of his life.

I’d say this was a pound very well spent and now plan to get reading his follow-up autobiography Porridge and Passion and maybe even his biography of President Nixon.

 

PEACE

What is peace? A question I am sure everyone asks at one time or another.

Jesus said in the book of John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you…”

The bible tells us peace comes from Jesus. After telling us Jesus gives His peace or bequeaths it to us which is something you would do in your last will and testament before you died, he tells us it is not peace as the world gives you. So what is this peace that is so different to what the world considers peace?

The rest of verse 27 gives us an instruction:

“….Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

The Amplified bible extends this to say “…[Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]”

Well how do we do this?

Proverbs 16:7 tells us “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

So we are told we need to please the Lord in our ways, another clue as to how we can have this peace bequeathed to us.Well what makes us afraid? Lets think about this for a minute. Do you fear:

  • being rejected by people or by God
  • not being adequate to the task ahead
  • looking stupid in front of your friends or family
  • letting people down
  • something bad happening to you
  • losing someone you love
  • making mistakes

These thoughts and many more can enter our minds daily and steal our peace so how do we deal with them when they come?

Most of us recognise quickly when irrational fears are unjustified and can disregard them very quickly, but what about fear of losing a loved one when they are doing something dangerous, fear that you won’t have enough money to pay your bills because you’ve just lost your job or fear that you can’t get away from a dangerous situation or person yourself. These and many more very real fears can take hold of any of us so how do we find peace in these circumstances?

These type of fears are normally counteracted by our built-in fight or flight mechanism. But there are times when it isn’t possible to do anything about these situations even when we’ve done everything we can to avoid them, do something to change or control them or walk away from them. If our own strength is not enough then we can get hurt at times, we do run away and we do try to control others and stop them from taking risks or try to reach some type of agreement with others or find help in another human being. But does this bring us peace?

Yes, you say I called the police when Bill hit me last time, I made my son promise not to drive when he’s drunk, I’ve paid for the best medical attention possible for my dad, I’ve borrowed some money to tide me over till I find another job. Do these solutions give you peace? Yes, you say but can you guarantee what you or others have done will really resolve the issues and give you permanent peace regardless of circumstances when or if  they change? To find our own peace is a constant battle.

Will you be able to:

“Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]” as John 14: 27 instructs us ?

How can we follow the instruction above and find this type of peace? I believe the answer is to take hold of the peace Jesus has bequeathed us, but how?

John 3: 16 and 17 tells us that” God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He gave up His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in ( trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish ( come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal ( everlasting) life. For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge ( to reject, condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him..”  

From my own personal experience of doing just this: putting my trust in Jesus I find that when I’m afraid I can go to Him in prayer, call on His name and give Him my fear and He leads me through it and out the other side victorious. Yes it’s through trusting in Him that I overcome fear and find that perfect peace. The battle becomes His rather than mine.

When we look to the cross where Jesus died to take our sin and our punishment so we could have eternal life, and recognise our own sin is part of what put Him there, we can turn from it and ask Him for a new start no matter how terrible we think our sin is. He took it all on that cross. It’s for Whoever  that he died. When God raised Him from the dead He gained the victory over sin and death and bequeathed us that PEACE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cross and the Switchblade

This is the story of how David Wilkerson, a Christian pastor in America from the suburbs felt called on a mission from God to help some young boys in New York  that he read about in a newspaper. They had committed a gruesome murder but his heart went out to them as he looked at a sketch of their forlorn faces in a court room.

The tension of this real life drama as David Wilkerson wavers between faith and disappointment keeps the reader gripped in anticipation. The leading of the Holy Spirit confirms time after time that he’s on the right path and yet doors are locked in front of him time and again.

As I followed this emotional journey I found my own faith building and a desire in me to do more for the kingdom and live by faith as I read on.

The amazing testimony of how God led David to young gang members and drug addicts in New York is truly inspirational. Filled with amazement at the bravery of those that got saved from their terrible life threatening addictions and then ministered to others, I could not put this book down.

A ministry was born out of this amazing account of miracles and transformed lives in the 1950’s called ‘Teen Challenge‘ which is carrying on the work to this day and has spread across the globe.