Tuesday, 31 December 2013


There are times in our lives when all the odds seem in the enemy's favour and in fact the enemy creates such destruction and damage that he either appears as though he will win in the future, or that he already has won in whatever he is attempting to do. In these times, the work of the enemy is seen particularly clearly and it is obvious that he is 'going for the spiritual jugular' and even appears as though he is attempting to destroy us practically and physically. In these times it seems as though the presence and power of God is small (i.e the baby Jesus), or mostly ineffective and inconsequential (2 Cor 4v8, Luke 22v53, Matt 11v12).

When Jesus was born, the enemy put forth all his anger, malice and power in his attempt to destroy Him and frustrate the plans of God in this fashion, and from an earthly viewpoint it seems as though he nearly did. An evil king Herod is in power when Jesus is born, and his strategy was a clever one; send three wise men under the cover of a welcome, to in fact find out where the Saviour was being born in order to be able to murder Him (the Saviour's rule in our lives is always a threat to the temporary rule that the enemy has been given (Matt 4v9) over the earth and the one he is attempting to gain over the lives of Christians (he even tried to gain it over Jesus Himself! Matt 4v9). Upon this strategy failing, the enemy uses Herod to destroy all the firstborn in the land, in order to destroy Jesus and the main work of God itself. It takes a few dreams, a couple of angels and a whole lot of moving around and even waiting for Joseph and Mary in order for God to keep them safe, and even then, the results of the enemy's wrath are clearly seen and are extremely destructive; many people die and incredible sorrow ensues. From a worldly standpoint it would have seemed as if the Kingdom of God, God Himself and His people were weak and their lives and calling, useless.

In this world, Jesus said, 'Ye shall have tribulation.' It is a fact that we will encounter times where the enemy seems to win in the world and in our lives, just as it must've seemed to the Mary and Joseph when it seemed as though all their lives had been reduced to was fleeing, waiting and fearing the worst (after all, how scary it must've seemed to them to be two against Herod and all the power at his command!). Similarly, how must it have been for the disciples when they thought that their Saviour, and thus their hope, had been killed and therefore taken from them forever? They must've felt forsaken, lonely and desperate; where and what now for their lives? What would guide and be guided by in their lives? What would be the point of their existence now? The enemy had killed the joy and meaning of their lives and the one they loved the most; they had been robbed it seemed, and their almighty God had seemed completely inefficient and ineffective to defend Himself and fulfil the call that they assumed He had come for (setting up the Kingdom on the earth). There are times when the plans of God seem to fail, and His sovereignty appears less powerful and less impressive than it once did, or less than the moral perfection we once thought it to be (according to our reasoning) precisely because of the work and power of the enemy. While the enemy seems to win his own victories when the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence Matt 11v…12, and when we see the effects of what He does on those in the world itself, the most important victory and the one upon which our very spiritual life hinges, will always remain intact; even if only in seed, or baby form (i.e the baby Jesus). God has deemed that in this life, His greatest strength and His mightiest power will be seen in that which appears and may be, of itself, the weakest and most unimpressive thing. We are sinners and we are clay and we, His people, often quite unimpressive to the world (and often even to ourselves), but God has made this so, so that His power and glory will be revealed in the best way, both now, and most perfectly in the time to come.

The enemy is allowed to win to a point, but only within the parameters of the sovereignty of the Lord, according to His own wisdom and character. God will not allow the single most important design of His will to be changed in any way. God planned that His Son die for the sins of the world, to provide an everlasting salvation, and it was so. Similarly, with us, God has planned for our lives to fulfil a specific purpose, and by His grace, that purpose will be fulfilled. The enemy may try all he wants, but that single purpose of God's, the most important one, the one upon which all other purposes that He has for our lives hinge, will be fulfilled: Phil 1v 6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.
-Psalm 138v8

Saturday, 28 December 2013


There are times in life when things simply do not add up. Logic and reasoning, either by ourselves or anyone else completely fails to comfort us, or to make head or tail of what we are going through. Rationalising everything also doesn't help, neither do the sometimes strange and humanistic reasonings or solutions that well-meaning Christians try to offer us. Neither for that matter does a worldly view of things which even though may sound pleasant, is either shallow, unfruitful or plain immoral. It is these times that the words of Hebrews, taken in their intended form, provide the most comfort for those that are downcast, sad and confused: 'By faith we understand...' The world will tell you that by logic, sense and experience we will rightly understand the world and our lives, but the Word says the opposite.

The Word encourages us as Christians to understand not only the history of the earth and its creation by faith, but our own lives (Heb 11). When we live our lives in this manner, we'll see the fruit of it too, which will confirm the value and strength (and existence) of the faith that has been given to us as a gift. Yes, we as humans doubt, fail and still sin in this regard, not believing as we should, as the flesh and the world still screams at us to doubt and to leave the Lord for what it offers, but ultimately the gift Jesus has given us is not based on any strength we possess, and His Holy Spirit never runs out of power that is needed to believe. He and the gift of faith remains in us even in our weakest of times, and supports us and offers support to us. It is not by anything in us that we must understand our lives and our trials other than by faith.

We have a great encouragement of lives lived in faith in the Word, the fruit of that faith and the sure hope and promise of the Kingdom and final fruit of redemption to come because of that gift of faith. It is hard to believe and it is a fight, one that is beyond all of us, but we don't need to despair, Christ was found worthy and so chose to impart to us what we couldn't to ourselves. By faith we understand everything that is going on in our lives, and every trial and every experience. Lord, we believe, help our unbelief! (Mark 9v29)


Heb: 11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them,[c] embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.

39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

There are times in our lives when we will not receive what we desire and hope for. Of course at times we will receive what we ask for, but even those gifts will not fully fulfil the perfection that our spirit desires, as we have been made eternal beings, and so the eternity in us will always cry out for more:

Ecc 3v11: 'He has also set eternity in the human heart...' and 2 Cor 5v2 'For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.'

Mortality brings with it sin and death, not in a fatal sense, due to salvation, but in the sense that we will all still face the sorrow that a measure of these things bring while in this world (Jesus: 'in this life you will have tribulation'). We all long for these things to leave us, and in desiring certain things we show that, to some degree at least, we believe that such sorrow will be lessened by the joy that we long via good desires. To some extent this is true, and yet we obviously cannot avoid life, and we cannot avoid the work that Christ wants to do in and through us in this life. For this reason, and others that are not known to us (Paul: 'perplexed, but not in despair') there are times when He will not give us what we desire. Instead, He reminds us of our eternal hope; a home with Him, and a perfection that does not depend on our definition of what we want or need, but upon the total life that is in, and will be given by, Christ when we go to heaven.

Many Churches and preachers get popular because they say that Jesus will give us everything we want. Unfortunately, in a earthly sense of looking at things, this is not true. Even a brief look at Hebrews 11, and any part of the Bible itself show that this isn't the case, whether we look at the lives of the Apostles, who lost much (even though they welcomed such loss for the sake of Christ), Israel in the Old Testament, who weren't fed with what they desired in the wilderness or any of the other countless stories in the Word. Fortunately the earthly sense is completely wrong and sinful, so we can rest assured that even in losing, we will gain in the way God intended. Hebrews 11 shows us that, one of the primary reasons God doesn't give us what we want at times is because He is concerned with us gaining a good testimony for the sake of His grace, power, wisdom, life and glory; all those things that He is and that He dispenses. God shows that, through both the triumphs and failings of His people, His will is worked out (not that sin is ok, but that God is gracious to us, seen in the example of Sarah and Abraham, and how God chose to characterise their testimony in a positive way- Heb 11v11+12- despite their not always obeying His will in the process but doing what they wanted), and a good testimony to His faithfulness, mercy, grace and power is displayed in our lives: Heb 11v2: 'For by it the elders obtained a good testimony'.

Amazingly, Hebrews 11 also reveals that even those who did attain some type of promise in fact 'did not receive the promise or the promises' (v13+v39). Read Heb 1v4-11, then note verse 13. There are times when we will receives things we didn't expect, and there are times when we won't receive anything at all that we desired, but we will obtain a good testimony. God has and will forgive our sins, just like He forgave the sin of Abraham and Sarah, and will turn our lives into a monument of His grace, and give a good report about us, soley because of the righteousness of Jesus that He imputed and does impute to us (when God looks at us, He sees us through the lense of Jesus Christ, because of the blood of Christ).

Even when you do receive a promise from God, realise that it will not bring us the ultimate perfection our sole cries out for. It is good for our sole to cry out for perfection, for it cries out for that very thing God has designed us for: 2 Cor 5v5 'Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God...' But we must realise the testimony that God is concerned with creating out of us, and also that the perfection we desire can only be found in Christ, the homeland (Heb 11v14) He has prepared for us and in the final bringing together of the family of God, in perfect union (Heb 11v40).

God wants us to hope for the future, and He wants us to be expectant, for this is how we, like Enoch, are drawn to come close to God, and are drawn to follow Him and His will, despite not knowing so much about why sometimes. God desires that we seek Him and find him, all other things being secondly, and He wants us to be able to sacrifice other things we may want. Easier said than done, but He keeps us through our weakness and our failings. Those He chose He predestined, so He knows how He'll keep us (Rom 8v29).