Sunday 13 November 2016
A Portrait of Life
Hello to you whoever you are, wherever you are, surviving in our global world. I am a New Zealander living in Australia. The privilege to connect with you is the wonder and positive side of our global internet connection. At least for the foreseeable future, for you probably know, rapid changes are afoot around the globe and some not so positive.
And so shake the world’s dust from your feet and come visit our family home and rest a while. Now fix your eyes upon a painting hanging silently on our lounge wall. Though having no audible voice this picture of true life speaks volumes to our souls. How is this you say?
Well this painting is very special for with love strokes of a brush the artist has captured the living essence of the Divine connecting to the human. And the Divine connection to the human comes through God the Father and His only begotten Son whom we know as Jesus. In a profound way, all life began and all good things stream from the Divine relationship of God the Father and His beloved Son - a spiritual relationship that entwines and disperses throughout the universe. This great reality is the life source and life force of their vast creation of which you and I belong in our humble human lives. In a wonderful way the Father’s and Son’s life spirit permeates our very lives and as the bible says in the words of the apostle Paul:
“… in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’” (Acts 17:28, NKJV)
Now focusing on the painting upon the wall we see Jesus quietly sitting, surrounded by seven children. With simplicity Jesus is robed in Jewish costume of the day. There is no display of pomp, no discrimination emits from His being. But in humility the expression on Jesus face is kindly, with a longing desire to connect heart to heart, one to one. A young boy stands close to the Master, his hands resting upon Jesus’ knee, while Jesus’ left arm curls over the boy’s shoulder and His right hand rests gently over the child’s folded hands. Yes indeed, though the portrait is still and silent yet in spirit we see God’s love in action moving gently in the life of this humble boy, even to the extent that Jesus the Son of God was willing to die in his place, in our sinful place to free us from sin and the result of everlasting death.
Yes, in silent motion this boy is drawn into the saving presence of the master. And what of the other precious children pressed around Jesus? Well, a young girl perhaps eight years of age rests her head upon Jesus’ welcoming shoulder, her eyes aglow with accepting love and admiration. A faint knowing smile speaks from her innocent soul that this man Jesus is worthy of her affection.
Throughout the eastern regions where Jesus ministered among the people, children found a special place in His heart as we see in this close encounter.
“Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”” (Luke 18:15–17, NKJV)
Admonishing His disciples, is Jesus comparing an adult’s constrained faith to that of a free childlike faith for entrance into God’s kingdom? Sometimes we adults have thoughts of superiority over others. Or we worry and complain about life as if God is a hard task master unworthy of our faith and trust. In the book of Malachi we read this sad account.
““Your words have been harsh against Me,” Says the Lord, Yet you say, ‘What have we spoken against You?’ You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God; What profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, And that we have walked as mourners Before the Lord of hosts? So now we call the proud blessed, For those who do wickedness are raised up; They even tempt God and go free.’ ”” (Malachi 3:13–15, NKJV)
How pleasing it must be to God when our faith resembles a child’s humble faith, accepting of God, trusting God with all simplicity, in all circumstances of our daily lives. There is no prejudice or self seeking in a childlike faith but eagerness to love and to please God as to a loving parent. However at this crucial time in which we live, I believe there is one other aspect of faith we need to consider. And that is the outstanding aspect of courage, to stand alone in our faith for God. To stand alone for God’s truth though the majority may stand against us, could possibly be the greatest test of faith we shall ever encounter, especially as we live out the countdown period of our worlds end and the soon return of Jesus.
This test of faith may involve a childlike faith blended with a mature adult faith. And so this question of faith looms before each of us whatever our age:
Are we willing to step out of false teachings and church traditions that contradict God’s truth, and without compromise accept and follow God’s truth revealed in the Bible?
In the end it may be necessary to depart from a false church, a false fellowship which are destined to go down into the murky abyss of error and death.
In the book of Revelation we see that Apostate Christianity, that is false churches, worldly association, the union of State and church rule enforcing their confederate agenda are called Babylon the great. Babylon’s birth name goes back to ancient times to the tower of Babel built by the wicked after the great flood of Noah’s life time. The new world order of that time was seeking to overthrow God’s authority in the world and so they endeavoured to build a high tower whose top would reach into the heavens, toppling God’s throne if they could. You can read in depth about Babel’s time span in the final chapter of Book Two - The King and His Son. The biblical Babylon in our day is full of confusion, churches comprising of false doctrine and teachings empowered by spirits of demons.
“After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.” And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.” (Revelation 18:1–5, NKJV)
Yes, the good news is simply this: Today we can heed God’s call to come out of Babylon’s spiritual corruption and be delivered from Satan’s counterfeit doctrines. By accepting God’s true word, His truth, we need not go down into the abyss with apostate Satanic Babylon.
The Bible is God’s great revelation of truth. What the Bible says is what we live in and live by regardless of any demon or human deceptions imposed upon us. Right now we live in the time zone to come out of apostate Christianity, out of every falsehood of every kind, out of Babylon.
We must not be deceived at this vital time of our world’s history for the battle between truth and false teachings shall intensify right up to Jesus’ second coming. Yes we may have received God’s salvation, yet God’s salvation from sin is not static, it leads on in truth to His heavenly kingdom. We don’t want to find ourselves in a strange kingdom where Satan reigns, void of God’s truth, and in the end outside of God’s salvation. Anything that is outside of truth is untruth, and untruths are clutches of sin upon our souls. Today souls are being weighed in the balances between truth and error. We are in the last great conflict of the end - the spiritual war between good and evil, between God and the dark forces of Satan and demon spirits. Which side are we on? Yes, a very personal question for each to consider and for each to answer on a personal level. Without question we need to get back to Biblical truth, God’s truth which will carry us out to the end, and then we shall behold God’s truth revealed in Jesus’ glorious face who said of Himself:
... “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6, NKJV)
Now again we return to the portrait and we behold another girl, a little older in years. Perhaps we shall call her Miriam, a young shepherdess for Miriam leans upon her wooden staff, head bent toward the good shepherd of the human flock. Enthralled by Jesus’ presence Miriam contemplates every sentiment emanating from the Master’s graceful words.
“Let my teaching drop as the rain, My speech distill as the dew, As raindrops on the tender herb, And as showers on the grass.” (Deuteronomy 32:2, NKJV)
““I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10:11–16, NKJV)
Shuffled behind Jesus stands yet another girl of the human flock, but with a difference, for you see this girl holds in her arms a young sibling, perhaps three years of age. It appears to me the older sibling is intrigued, eager to learn more, while peeping out from her hood the younger sibling seems mesmerised by the wonders of Jesus’ life - The Creator of our world and our very lives. Still the portrait speaks volumes for a boy perhaps twelve or thirteen years of age stands at Jesus’ shoulder , his inquisitive gaze expresses curiosity. “Who is this man called Jesus?” He who has awakened the surrounding nations from spiritual darkness. He who claims to be the Son of God performing great miracles of healing flowing from the life source of God His Father. For mirrored in Jesus’ life we see the reflection of God the Father and His love commitment to save our world from sin and death.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16–17, NKJV)
Yes in truth, the Father and Son spiritual relationship is the great event of universal history that shall never diminish in salvation’s power, ever rippling in Divine love throughout all creation, connecting to You and I.
Now the seventh child comes into focus, for just behind Jesus’ shoulder stands a dark haired girl. As though in deep thought, her right hand brushes her cheek while her eyes reflect wonderment and amazement. And so as Jesus captivates the attention of the seventh child the narrative of this life portrait is complete, or is it?
There is one hidden element in this painting and that is the artist, himself or herself. For if we look deep enough we see reflected in the portrait the life of the artist, his or her spiritual enlightenment beaming through a true spiritual relationship with God - as though God commissioned this unknown artist to show forth in simplicity His loving desire to draw all children and of course us older grown children as well, into one heavenly family. A heavenly human family that reflects all races and colour redeemed from our global world. Then God’s portrait of human life will be complete.
“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”” (Revelation 7:9–12, NKJV)