I AM: There is no one greater!

When we delight in new understanding, when we stretch our imaginations, Living God, transform us by the power of your Word.

On the sixth day of Creation came Adam. He was first. He is the biological father of everyone. God gave him stewardship over all other living things and Adam named all the animals. Before sin, he walked and talked with God in perfect unity. Jesus is greater than Adam. His righteousness is greater than Adam’s sin.

And in a world that had fallen into depravity’s evil grip, Noah remained righteous. When called to build an ark, even though the world had never known rain, he faithfully obeyed God. The world around him mocked, the animals gathered, and he carried on building. Soon the entire earth was deluged. Noah and his family survived the flood. Jesus is greater than Noah. His obedience brought salvation to all.

Abraham was called to go to a land he never knew. He left home and comfort behind to be a stranger in a foreign land. The only piece of land he ever owned was a burial ground for his wife. But before that, Abraham believed God for a son even though he was nearly one hundred years old. He became the father of nations and the spiritual father of many more. Jesus is greater than Abraham.

Moses was raised in the court of the greatest empire of its time. After fleeing into the desert, he returned by the command of God to bring the Egyptian empire to its knees and lead the Hebrew slaves (two million of them) to freedom. He turned them from a group of refugees into a nation feared the world over. He stood on the holy mountain to receive the commandments of God by which all nations should still base their laws. He wrote the first five books of the Bible. Jesus is greater than Moses.

Samuel was faithful to answer the call of God even as a child. From a young age and for the rest of his life he was a prophet, priest and judge. In fact he was the only man prior to Christ that held all three offices. Although he was a king maker and a king breaker, Jesus is greater than Samuel.

David was a man after God’s own heart. Anointed to be king at a young age, he was a shepherd boy who wrote songs to God. As a king he was humble and devout enough to continue to do the same. Many of those songs we still sing today. The psalms have become some of the most famous poetry to ever be written. David was the benchmark by which all other kings, before and after were compared. Jesus is greater than David.

These and many more, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Malachi, Matthew, Mark, Luke, Peter, Paul can be named as great men of God. Jesus is greater than all the prophets and evangelists. He is greater than all the angels. He is greater than everything!

In John’s Gospel this AM, Jesus is more than a hero of faith; more than a man of God. He is God embodied. When He arrived, the new wine flowed, a new era dawned and a new kingdom began. There is no one greater. When Jesus is speaking about Himself He says:-
1) I am the bread of life (6:35)
2) I am the light of the world (8:12)
3) I am the gate (10:9)
4) I am the Good Shepherd (10:11)
5) I am the resurrection and the life (11:25)
6) I am the way, truth, and life (14:6)
7) I am the Vine (15:5)

There are 7 “I Am” statements in this Gospel. 7 is the perfect number as it represents completion and divine perfection. However, when we look at the “I am” statements in John, there are actually 8 of them and the one that gets overlooked is definitely the greatest of them all. Let’s pick up the context again:-

The people said, “Now we know you are possessed by a demon. Even Abraham and the prophets died, but you say, ‘Anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!’ Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” Jesus answered, “If I want glory for myself, it doesn’t count. But it is my Father who will glorify me. You say, ‘He is our God,’ but you don’t even know him. I know him…Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.” The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I am!” At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple. (John 8:52-59)

“Before Abraham was, I AM” – there is no beating around the bush with this statement about Jesus’ divinity. Jesus knew He was God. When Moses was at the burning bush he asked God what His name was. God answered, “I AM”. Every time you see the word “LORD” in capitals in the OT, the Hebrew actually has “I AM”. Here, Jesus is making a direct claim to be God. This Gospel passage makes it clear that Jesus is more than an itinerant preacher and do-gooder. The stunned crowd pick up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus is supernaturally hidden from them and simply walks away.

The seven “I AM” statements all link to this one powerful statement. There’s no other choice. As C.S. Lewis put it, Jesus is either Lord, liar or lunatic. Then as now, Jesus invites us to believe He is the Son of God. How profound this is on Father’s Day. Did you notice how many times the word “father” appears in the text? Then Jesus says: “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (Jn.8:31-32). He implies His enemies don’t know the truth, and despite being children of Abraham, they are slaves as a result: “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” (Jn.8:34).

Earlier in this chapter, with the women caught in the act of adultery, Jesus challenged the one who was without sin to cast the first stone. His enemies didn’t dare pick up a stone because no one can claim to be free from sin. Their backs are well and truly against the wall at this stage. When Jesus adds they are children of the devil, and if you obey my teaching you will never die, they have heard just about all they can take! The cop-out answer is to say: “Didn’t we say all along that you were possessed by a demon?” (to add further insult a Samaritan one at that!) – “now we know you are…even Abraham and the prophets died…Who do you think you are?”

They are not prepared for the answer they receive, but they cannot miss the implication of Jesus’ words – “Before Abraham was, I AM.” Impudent blasphemy to the Pharisees and religious leaders, as they are so dull of hearing, presumptuous and slow to understand. Jesus takes the very name of God for Himself – “I AM” – it’s the end of the discussion and, hidden from their sight, He walks away. He has spoken the truth, and they have rejected it.

The important thing in all this is they thought they were saved, that being the offspring of Abraham was their guarantee of salvation. To them, religion was a matter of race rather than of faith. Likewise, any of the religious duties we pride ourselves in, and try to justify before the Good Lord, are not the basis for our salvation either. We’re saved by the grace of God. Apart from the Gospel and the Cross we have nothing to boast about.

I cannot stress enough the importance of making sure we’re not like the people we’re looking at this AM. They accepted the scriptures, but only had cultural, historical faith in God. It was faith that cannot save. Also don’t twist the facts to deny who Jesus is. Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, liberals, agnostics, secular historians are perfectly happy to have a Jesus who is merely a wise teacher, with a heart for the outcast and downtrodden. He is much more. He is the eternal God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the only One, the greatest One, who can save people from their sins. So let’s continue to worship our Saviour who is the great “I AM.”

Love in the Messiah. Blessed be the Word.

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PROSPEROUS & SUCCESSFUL

There was a time when ordinary people like you and I were not allowed to read the Bible for fear of death. In the Middle Ages the faithful multitudes couldn’t read Latin anyway, nevertheless the Church chained Bibles to lecterns fearing theft. How fortunate we are to live in the age we do. The 66 books of the Bible is the ‘daily bread’ we pray for; its precious life-changing words were breathed out by God. It has the power to change lives.

An atheist once rebuked a woman and her husband for wasting their time reading it. The Bible was a bad book in his opinion. The wife replied, “A little while ago my husband was a drunkard, he gambled away our money, he was lazy, he frightened the children. Since he began to read the Bible, he’s got himself a job, doesn’t go to the pub, no longer plays poker, gives me housekeeping money, and our life at home is peaceful and delightful. How come such a bad book produces such good fruit?”

Moreover, the Bible should not be a book you read only when you have the time. It should be the book you create time to read. So keep calm and read your Bible – you’re fortunate to have one! A well know acronym for the Bible is this: (B)asic (I)nstructions (B)efore (L)eaving (E)arth.

Paul writes in Romans ch.12: “Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think (renewing of your mind). Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (v.2). It is important to know God’s will for our lives. Jesus said that His true brothers and sisters are those who know and do His Father’s will (Mk.3:35).

1,400 years earlier another servant, Joshua, listened and obeyed. He was the reason the people would inherit the Promised Land. He was going to fulfill God’s purpose established from the time of Abraham. This was his calling and what he was born to do: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God, will be with you wherever you go.” (Jos.1:9).

This is a popular Bible verse, yet the context it’s in couldn’t be more different from our modern lives. The Book of Joshua is the continuing story of the people who had rebelled against God and their former leader Moses. They had been left to wander in the desert for forty years. When we read the opening chapter, many of the people have died, including Moses, and now Joshua is being commissioned with bringing those who remained into the Promised Land. It was time for Joshua to enable and inspire seasoned desert nomads not battle-tested soldiers. He had no special forces, no trained army, few weapons, and no battle plan. They faced at least seven known nations of fierce warriors, every one of which was bigger, stronger, and better equipped than this ragtag bunch of Jewish people.

But the Lord was guiding Joshua and so began the conquest that started with a story of spies on a reconnaissance mission and a supernatural crossing of the Jordan River (chs.2-3). Then the crumbling of the walls of a mighty city, terror, bloodshed and tragedy. The encouragement of vs.1:9 was the secret of Joshua’s unlikely success: “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God, will be with you wherever you go.”

The greatest speeches delivered by Martin Luther King or Winston Churchill (or whoever else you might like to add) do not come near to the speech God gave Joshua. It centered on the words prosperous and successful – two things everybody wants. Look in any good bookshop, you will find hundreds of titles on how to be successful. What is the secret of success? We all want to know.

The good news is that there is no secret to success. The Good Lord wants us to be successful, but only in His way. Earlier He tells Joshua: “No one will be able to defeat you as long as you live. I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will always be with you; I will never abandon you.” (1:5). A verse that encapsulates that without God, all success ends in ultimate failure. Any one of us missing the presence of God in our lives, having no connection to the Creator whatsoever and dies that way has not been successful. C.S. Lewis said, “He who has God and everything has no more than the man who has God alone.” The same God who promised He would be with Joshua has promised to be with us.

Success is obeying the principles of God. Joshua is told that if he does whatever the Word of God tells him to do, success will follow him wherever he goes: “Be careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you…that you may have good success wherever you go…but you shall meditate on it day and night…then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (1:7-8). The longest Psalm in the Bible echoes the same thing: “Blessed are people of integrity who follow the instructions of the Lord…who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts.” (Ps.119:1-2). Read, study, discuss, memorize, meditate, live and teach it!

In God’s way success has nothing to do with power, prestige or possessions. Success in God’s eyes is to do what is right. The way we respond to His Book of Instruction determines whether we are a success or failure; sheep or goats, wheat or weeds for: “The Lord Jesus will separate the sheep (the righteous) from the goats (the unrighteous). The sheep will inherit the Kingdom and Eternal Life and the goats will depart into eternal fire and eternal punishment.” (Mt.25:41,46). This is a parable of judgement. Heaven and hell are real. These verses are written, the Gospel states, so that we may believe that Jesus is the Saviour and have life in all its fullness.

How do we apply Scripture to ourselves?

First we must ingest and digest the Bible to the point that its words are always in our mouth (like honey on our lips). If our hearts are full of God’s truth, our mouths will speak His truths and say things we should and not say what we shouldn’t.

Second we must let the Word in by meditating upon it. Meditate suggests the image of a cow chewing the cud over and over. When we meditate, we run a truth around in our mind until we begin to see life from the Lord’s viewpoint. A mind filled with the Word leads to a heart full of the love of God.

Third we must apply Scripture, live it out, in our lives. We need to be obedient if we truly want success. The proof we believe the Bible is to obey it! Real success is fulfilling the purposes of God.

There are three types of people in the world:-

  1. Those with no purpose in life. They drift through life, go to school, get a job, start a career, get married, have children, divorce, remarry, move from house to house, retire, play golf and die.
  2.  Those with the wrong purpose in life. Sure they can be super achievers, climb the corporate ladder, get the golden handshake, but live their lives with little or no thought about God and die without Him. The question why would a loving God send anyone to hell? Is the wrong question to ask. It should be, why would a person choose hell over a loving God?
  3. Then there are those who have found the right purpose in life. They believe that God put them on this earth, they are foreigners here, to fulfill His purpose and they are doing what they believe His purpose is.

An estimated 500,000 tons of water go over Niagara Falls every minute. On March 29, 1948, the falls suddenly stopped. Those who lived near enough heard the overwhelming silence, and immediately they thought it was a sign – the end of the world had come! However, after thirty hours had passed the flow of water resumed. What happened? Tons of ice had jammed the Niagara River at its entrance. The ice blocked the flow of water until finally, there was a shift in the blockage and the river began flowing again. The river had stopped flowing because of ice.

If we really want the flow of God’s love, peace, joy, and anointing in our lives we cannot allow our hearts to become like ice. If we do, His life-giving current will stop and there won’t be a spring within us welling up to eternal life. We need the presence of God, we need to obey His principles and be filled with His purpose. Success will then be guaranteed! We need to discover and pursue it.

Love in the Messiah. Blessed be the Word.

PENTECOST

The Lord Jesus Christ left no great monument in His honour. He ascended into heaven without even writing a book. But before this He said to His disciples: “When the Father sends the Holy Spirit as my representative he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” (Jn.14:26). Pentecost celebrates the birth of the whole church: the day when God did just that – poured out His Holy Spirit – the rush of violent wind and tongues of fire!

William Blake wrote a poem about Pentecost. Part of it says: Unless the eye catch fire, God will not be seen.
Unless the ear catch fire, God will not be heard.
Unless the tongue catch fire, God will not be named.
Unless the heart catch fire, God will not be loved. Everywhere the Spirit is at work: bringing life and growth, telling the wonders of God’s salvation, making things happen, giving faith to people and blessing them.

However, it strikes me that for all our talk about the gift of the Spirit and how He creates, upholds, and sustains the Church as a whole, we often miss the full significance of Pentecost.  Hear those Gospel verses again: “I will not abandon you as orphans – I will come to you…I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads you into all truth.” (Jn.14:16-18).

For a start the Holy Spirit is not some mystical power, a floating fog or a ghostly apparition. The King James used the term Ghost – but He’s not a ghost; He’s a person – just as Jesus is a person, and He acts as a person:-·

He speaks (Acts 8:29)·

He teaches (Jn.14:26)·

He inspires (Mk.12:36)·

He convinces (Jn.16:8)·

He leads (Rom.8:14)·

He helps (2 Tim.1:14)

And we need to understand this in order to grow as a Christian and to experience the fullness of Christ.

Secondly, notice that the Spirit is called “the Spirit of truth” (v.17) whose ministry is to fully reveal Christ, to remind us of His presence and to supernaturally unite us with God the Father: “In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” (v.20). That’s why sin is so out of place in the believer’s life. Yet even a casual glance at the NT reveals to us that the first Christians were far from perfect. None of us will be until after death and glorification – so the Church will always be composed of sinners – saved by grace, but still with feet of clay, still fatally flawed.

Nevertheless, we’re part of the Church – it’s the institution that Jesus commissioned and through the Holy Spirit’s power it’s here for the long haul. Yet we’ve got to learn, got to allow, the Holy Spirit to flow in us and shape our ways to remain effective. If you’ve ever tried using white gloss paint in the bright light of the sun, when it’s gone in, or goes behind a cloud, you see all the bits you missed! In the same way, the Holy Spirit can shine heavenly light on any area of our life, or on our corporate life together, so we can clearly see the things we would otherwise have missed. Every now and then with churches, we spot these things and sometimes we have to take stock, access where we’re at and make changes. We have shortcomings. We either move forward or backward.

For most of the last century Switzerland dominated the world of watch making: Rolex, Omega, Cartier. The Swiss made the best watches in the world and were committed to constant refinement of their expertise. By 1968, Switzerland made 65 percent of all watches sold in the world. By 1980, however, they had laid off thousands of watch-makers and their profits eroded. Why? They had refused to consider a new development—the digital watch. It was too radical for them to embrace. But other companies accepted it and became leaders in the watch industry.

The lesson here is profound. A past that was so secure, so profitable, so dominant was destroyed by an unwillingness to consider the future. It was more than not being able to make predictions—it was an inability to re-think how they did things. Past success had blinded them to the importance of seeing the implications of the changing world and to admit that past accomplishment was no guarantee of future success

Things often only last for a season within the plan of God and right now – perhaps the time is ripe for change. I’m not talking about Biblical principles – they’re timeless, forever fixed in the heavens and unchanging. I’m talking about methodology, the way we do things – to embrace, through prayer and discernment, a new vision. Who knows what the years ahead hold for this place? Maybe, we’re on the threshold of a new chapter in our history. Have any of you ever seen the Holy Spirit? Have any of you ever seen the wind?…No – but you have seen evidence of the wind, trees blowing, hats taking off, umbrellas turning inside out. Wind farms harvest its energy. Similarly by asking the Spirit to strengthen, guide and help us to blow change through the cobwebs – we can see the role He plays in being the architect of the Church.

Also take prayer seriously. Like those first disciples who trusted this promise – and filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit saw the Church adapt and grow. We know the theory of Christian living but what we must do is to practice it. There’s a story told of a husband and wife both of who were doctors – one a doctor of theology and the other a doctor of medicine. When their doorbell was rung, the inquirer would often ask their children for “the doctor”. Their interesting reply was: “Do you want the one who preaches or the one who practices?”  More importantly the prayer life of those disciples didn’t diminish once the Church was established. They have left us the empowering Biblical principle that nothing important and lasting happens without prayer.

We live with the realisation that the Spirit has come in all His fullness, the Spirit of truth, the “one called alongside to help”, our Advocate and Encourager who guides us into all of the Lord’s revealed will. Being under the Holy Spirit’s control is like a shop hanging a sign out on its front door: Under New Management. Things will be different from now on. There’s fresh hope! And signalling a change in our lives the Spirit leads us out of that kingdom of lies, and helps us live as Jesus would have us live, and the more He controls our lives – “under new management” – the more like Christ we become and our future is assured for we are no longer staring death in the face. He makes Heaven nearer and the Word of God clearer: “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (Jn.14:27).

That’s the comfort of the Spirit. Remember that He still fills the church with power today, just as He did on the day of Pentecost. Therefore, let’s ask Him to direct our thoughts and actions and allow Him to control our thinking, outlook, assumptions, and values. Only God can turn around a church. He has in the past, and He may well do in our church today.

Love in the Messiah. Blessed be the Word.

A THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION ON THE CURRENT ISRAELI – PALESTINIAN VIOLENCE

14th May 2018

The US opens its embassy in Jerusalem on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the state of Israel’s formation. Palestinians furious about this as this move is seen as supporting Israel in its ambition to take over the whole of the city. East Jerusalem, they claim, is their future capital whereas Israel regards it as its indivisible capital. Violence erupts in the Gaza Strip with over 50 Palestinians killed and more than 2000 wounded.

15th May 2018

Palestinians call today the ‘Nakba’ – remembering the mass displacement of 750,000 of its people, 70 years ago, in the war following Israel’s formation. Israel, meanwhile, celebrates its birthday with Independence Day festivities taking place around the country. Interestingly on May 12th Netta, an orthodox Jew who raps in Hebrew won the Eurovision Song Contest for Israel. Its celebrations started early: “Thank you! I love my country!” as she patriotically took to the stage.

70 is an important number in Israel’s history. 70 years in Babylonian captivity (before the Jews were freed by the Persian King Cyrus) and 70 years from the time that Jesus was born to the time of the 2nd temple being destroyed. The nation state of Israel is 70 years old today. There is something theologically important about this and it goes under the name Zionism.

I am a Christian Zionist (CZ). I have a particular understanding and interpretation of the Bible that supports the ingathering of all Jews to Israel and their claim to the whole of Jerusalem and the land of Palestine. The seeds of CZ lie within the Reformation. Several Puritan leaders spoke out in favour of the restoration of the Jews to Palestine. The evangelicals of the 19th and 20th centuries took the Biblical prophecies concerning the Jewish people to predict their diaspora will end and they will return to the land promised Abraham in a great exodus.

The doctrine of the covenants is the key of theology. Zionism is thoroughly Biblical: “The Lord is King forever and ever! Let those who worship other gods will be swept from the land.” (Ps.10:16); “You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice.” (Is.9:3); “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river Euphrates…” (Gen.15:18-19) – prophecies that are happening now and which echo what some see as the current Israeli agenda that “We are going to drive out the Canaanites for this land belongs to us; it is given to us of the Lord, and we will subdue it.” The Jews occupy center stage in God’s plan – they always have and they always will. Yes, Abraham is father of both Jew and Arab, but the promise was given through Isaac, not Ishmael – whose descendants are not the covenant people. Biblically we cannot deny this fact.

Today, Israel is a Western culture in a Muslim world and a fundamentalist interpretation of Scripture concludes that the 2nd Coming of Christ can’t occur unless the Dome of the Rock is demolished and a 3rd temple built. Current events unfold, interpreted as signs of the end times. President Trump has the support of extreme evangelicals. The opening of the embassy in Jerusalem is the start of restoration. It is not just political but deeply theological. It’s a prophetic sign. The disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). Many voices have called Trump a type of Cyrus – “a messiah” because he has recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital.

Within God’s prophetic timetable CZ expects that many Jews will be converted to Christianity before Christ returns. Some imply that CZ promotes violence and is not concerned with Jesus’ manifesto of love, forgiveness and peace. Some even argue that it is anti-Semitic, as Jews that don’t accept Christ will be annihilated. After all, God is the God of Armageddon as well as the God of Golgotha. Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Its leaders had Him crucified. Yet it is time for the eyes of the Jewish people to be opened to their Messiah. Revival will come to Israel.

CZ is a religious ideal and naturally pro-Israeli. It also has a strong political agenda. I can’t deny that. The current violence has led many nations to condemn Israel’s actions. Israeli forces (IDF) are gearing up today for a second straight day of Palestinian protests. Israelis and Palestinians need peace and security. CZ does not prevent this. I don’t believe, for instance, that God orchestrates every act taken by Israel. I condone the blockade of the Gaza Strip. Since 2007, Israel’s restrictions continue to make life difficult for the millions of people crammed into one of the most densely populated places in the world. On the other hand Israel’s military occupation, the seizing of land on the West Bank and the settlement movement on the Golan Heights is justified for the Scriptural reasons explained above as well as for Israel’s security.

Just as in the past the world stood against Fascism and Communism, so today Israel and Western Nations must stand against radical Islam. Over the years Israel has successfully prevented victories by terrorists in Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and thankfully has also kept the nationalistic Syrian regime in check. The IDF with its air-force is dominant in the region for good reason as regrettably most Islamic nations have sworn to destroy Israel, to obliterate it off the map. Iran is militant in the Gaza Strip (and also assisting Assad in Syria). Its agenda is Jihad. It uses Hamas to promote and stir up violence. As Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said his military was acting in self-defence against Gaza’s Islamist rulers, who want to destroy Israel. Thousands of people don’t just run towards a highly protected sensitive border unless Hamas-led. What occurred yesterday was not some sort of ‘peaceful’ protest – it was a violent march on the Gaza border.

The difficult thing in all this of course is the peaceful citizens, the non-militant Arabs residing in Gaza who need to be liberated from this propaganda machine. Normative Islam is a viable religious and humanistic alternative for a just and secure peace. It could be that CZ is compatible with the proposed Two-State Solution. A theological interpretation that accommodates all people, as let us not forget there are Palestinian Christians too.

Fides quaerens intellectum (faith seeking understanding).

DisplayLink Driver Logfile Overload!!

To stop logging messages, like that, on Syslog:

14/12/14 10:38:24,521 WindowServer[235]: _CGXGLDisplayContextForDisplayDevice: No matching context for device (0x7fdf63610e10) – disabling OpenGL 
14/12/14 10:38:24,521 WindowServer[235]: _CGXGLDisplayContextForDisplayDevice: No matching context for device (0x7fdf63610e10) – disabling OpenGL 

14/12/14 10:38:24,561 WindowServer[235]: _CGXGLDisplayContextForDisplayDevice: No matching context for device (0x7fdf63610e10) – disabling OpenGL
14/12/14 10:38:24,573 WindowServer[235]: _CGXGLDisplayContextForDisplayDevice: No matching context for device (0x7fdf63610e10) – disabling OpenGL
14/12/14 10:38:25,243 WindowServer[235]: _CGXGLDisplayContextForDisplayDevice: No matching context for device (0x7fdf63610e10) – disabling OpenGL
14/12/14 10:38:25,274 WindowServer[235]: _CGXGLDisplayContextForDisplayDevice: No matching context for device (0x7fdf63610e10) – disabling OpenGL
14/12/14 10:38:25,293 WindowServer[235]: _CGXGLDisplayContextForDisplayDevice: No matching context for device (0x7fdf63610e10) – disabling OpenGL

Is needed to modify ASL configuration, adding, at the begining of /etc/asl.conf ,  the line:

? [CA= Message _CGXGLDisplayContextForDisplayDevice] ignore

and restarting the Syslogd

sudo killall -HUP syslogd

HUMBLE PRAYER, AMEN.

As I got up this morning, God hoped I would talk to Him: just a few words of adoration and thanksgiving. But I was too busy trying to work out what to wear. I ran round the house getting ready and although I sat down for a few minutes with nothing to do, I was too busy to pray. But who knows perhaps later today I might STOP and give God some time!

Do you ever have mornings like this? We take approximately twenty-three thousand breaths every day, but when was the last time we thanked God for one of them? The one area we can always improve in our Christian pilgrimage is our prayer life. Every believer who wants to grow spiritually knows the significance of adopting a healthy prayer life, a discipline of routine. But meeting with God each day in prayer is a challenge. Especially when, as our Gospel passage shows, the stress is on simplicity, confession and humility.

Jesus was brilliant at taking everyday characters and occasions and using them to make a point. The emphasis, in this case, is humble prayer and honesty before the Lord: “Have pity on me a sinner” (v.13) – words which remind us how far we have fallen short of the glory and character of God. At first, both men in this story hit the nail on the head. They “go up to the Temple to pray” (v.10) – they step out of their busy day devoting time to the Lord. This is right and proper. One, however, puts himself on a pedestal and boasts of his ardent lifestyle, the other, not even knowing where to start, not even able to look up to heaven, simply says “Sorry” to God.

A bit different from His covenant people, who at the time of Jeremiah, had turned to idols and worthless foreign gods, had said sorry, but didn’t mean it and left it too late for prayer: “Lord, have you completely rejected Judah?…We hoped for peace, but no peace came. We hoped for a time of healing, but found only terror” (Jer.14:19). There was severe drought, not caused by natural disaster, but a result of divine judgement upon wayward people. And the Lord instructs his prophet not even to pray for them, as they were not sincere in confession and dishonoured His Holy Name.

It’s a troubling OT text where we read the desperate pleading of people beating their breasts, praying, confessing and appealing to God to remain faithful to Israel: “Please, Lord, we’ve left it too late! We’re sorry. Remember your promise of grace.” Although they knew what the Covenant requirements were: “Choose this day whom you shall serve” and “if you obey you will be blessed – if you disobey you will be cursed.” It was all there in the Law; and prophets down the ages repeated the passionate plea: “Come back to the Lord and live!” (Am.5:6).

But it all fell on deaf ears really! That’s why Jesus came in the flesh to fulfill the Law and to initiate a New Covenant etched on our hearts rather than on stone. In this Gospel parable He presents us with two possible models for prayerful righteousness. One of them focuses on our own goodness and the other on human need, forgiveness and mercy.

When we hear the Scripture we find ourselves thanking God that we’re not like the Pharisee. It’s the natural response. But actually I want to suggest that we may not be all that different! He goes to the Temple: “God I thank you” (v.11) – his prayer starts out well enough, but it’s not genuine. In fact it’s not really a prayer at all! It’s boastful. He’s congratulating himself on being so faithful, he upholds the commandments, he fasts and tithes – whereas everyone else is a wretched mess!

Sometimes, I think it’s easy for us, like the Pharisee, to fall into this trap of trying to make ourselves holy, letting the neighbours see we go to church but not living out the gospel the rest of the week, looking at things that are wrong with others, but ignoring the things that are wrong with us!

I could have started my sermon this way:-

Friends, I got up this AM and didn’t run round the house. I stopped and talked to God. I thanked him that I’m a nice and ordinary person who reads the Bible. I mentioned with gratitude that I’m not like some people I know. I praised the Lord that I have no secrets to be ashamed of (yeah right). Great God I thank you that you did not make me self-righteous!

But where’s my honesty? Where’s yours? We can all be smug at times. Coming to church shows wonderful commitment, but it doesn’t remove the iniquities that testify against us: “These people honour me with their lips”, Jesus says, “But their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain” (Mt.15:8-9).

Jeremiah’s contemporaries thought that the Good Lord would rescue them because they went up to the temple and sacrificed burnt offerings. But the prophet warns them that unless they stop sinning – it’s just empty hollow worship. What hypocrites we are!! If we look in the mirror, and if we’re being honest we’ll know we and the Pharisee are, sometimes, one and the same.

That’s the clever thing about this parable. The Pharisee with his flowing robes must surely be the ‘righteous’ one? After all NT tax collectors were not good role models! They bled their own people dry by collaborating with the Romans. But the man here is shown to be, not perfect, but honest. His prayer, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” is so genuine, so heartfelt and so perfect that Jesus says, “The tax collector, and not the Pharisee, was in the right with God when he went home. For those who make themselves great will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be made great.” (Lk.18:13-14).

Humility is such an elusive virtue. Peter in his epistle describes it as being like an apron, instructing us that we should be tying it round our waists (1 Pet.5:5). It’s the opposite of pride – that wins no favours with God. It’s admitting we’re far from perfect.

A minister once asked folk in his congregation to stand up if they considered themselves perfect. One man slowly got to his feet. “I didn’t know you perfect George” said the minister. “I’m not”, George replied, “I’m standing on behalf of my wife’s first husband!”

God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble. Humilty along with repentance lets the Holy Spirit inside to see what we’re really like. The Lord God is far more concerned with our hearts than our outward appearance and behaviour. We all have secrets. Nobody is perfect and self-acknowledgement, confession, is a vital aspect of our prayer life.

Instead of praising ourselves, or presenting the obligatory shopping list to God, we need to praise Him for His goodness, grace, holiness, mercy, love, might, power and dominion. “For His love in the morning and His faithfulness in the evening” (Ps.92:2). Even when we don’t have the words, the assurance is that the Holy Spirit underwrites the genuine prayer of our heart: “For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words” (Rom.8:26).

In the KJV the last word in the Bible is “AMEN” – which means, “So be it.” Heartfelt prayer is also underwritten with the word “AMEN” which is more than just a religious full stop! This is important. We’re using the same Hebrew word that was spoken in the Bible. When we say “AMEN” it’s not the Bugs Bunny equivalent of saying – “That’s all Folks!” It’s actually an affirmation. We’re declaring that we fully depend upon God and that we believe His Word and promises.

There’s the story of a man who once bought a donkey from a preacher. He told the man that this donkey had been trained in a very unique way. The only way to make the donkey go, is to say, “Hallelujah!” The only way to make the donkey stop is to say, “Amen!” The man was pleased with his purchase and immediately got on the animal to try out the preacher’s instructions. “Hallelujah” – the donkey trotted off. “Amen” – the donkey stopped. “This is great!” said the man. And with a “Hallelujah”, he rode off very proud of his new purchase. He travelled for a long time through some mountains. Soon he was heading towards a cliff. He couldn’t remember the word to make the donkey stop. “Stop,” said the man. “Halt!” he cried. The donkey just kept going. “Oh, no… ‘Bible…Church!…Please Stop!!,” shouted the man. The donkey just began to trot faster. He was getting closer and closer to the cliff edge…Finally, in desperation, the man said a prayer…”Please, dear Lord. Please make this donkey stop before I go off the end of this mountain. AMEN.” The donkey came to an abrupt stop just one step from the edge of the cliff. “Phew”, sweated the man, “HALLELUJAH!”

Seriously though, saying “AMEN” expresses our dependence on God and stops us in our tracks. Long have we sinned and cried for forgiveness. “I know my sins they haunt me day and night. Create in me a clean heart Lord”, says the mighty, yet humble, King David in Psalm 51.

“Pride ends in destruction; humility ends in honour” (Pr.18:12). The story of the Pharisee and the tax collector points out that it is God’s compassion that flows for those who humble themselves and recognise the need for forgiveness. We want in prayer, therefore, to plead with the Lord from a full heart about all the practical issues of living and rejoice in the fact that He is able to keep us from falling, able to present us faultless, able to do more than we can even begin to think or imagine.

Approaching the throne of grace in humility will satisfy the righteousness of the Most High God. The “AMEN” will be felt in our hearts – transformed from stone into flesh through new life in Jesus Christ.

Love in the Messiah. Blessed be the Word. So be it. Amen.

MacOS Upgrade Nightmare!!

OK. So I’ve been on 10.13 High Sierra since September 2017. Notification that an update to 10.13.4 was due. I’ve never experienced upgrade issues since 10.7 Lion on my iMac. The update was fine. However upon rebooting my 2nd screen via VGA was fine, but the 3rd one attached via USB was blank. Turns out there’s an issue with the DisplayLink Driver and after a week or so Apple don’t seem to be in a hurry to fix it!!

DisplayLink have posted the issue on their website and have raised this with Apple. An updated driver can be downloaded but it only allows ‘clone’ mode (rather pointless) not ‘mirror’ or ‘extended’ modes.

So, as I need the extended desktop functionality I decided to re-install the OS from an earlier Time Machine backup (Press cmd & r when rebooting and release when Apple logo appears). Before I did this I manually backed up important files to an external HDD. This whole process took 12 hours but reverting back to an earlier version of MacOS has obviously worked.

So my iMac is now running version 10.11.5 El Capitan. I’ll hopefully upgrade to High Sierra 10.13.4 when the problem’s fixed (unless Apple are dropping support for DisplayLink devices on the sly).