Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Olive

By Angela Bhandal

We recently heard a message about the olive fruit which is pressed to extract the oil. As I have been meditating on that message I began to ask myself – what is an olive?

We know of it to come in a jar and they are either green or black, with and without pips. They have an unusual taste – salty and bitter and the green ones are really strong! Let’s take a look at how the olive gets into the jar!

An olive comes from a slow-growing, hardwood tree. In Biblical times, olive trees were common in Palestine, with many plains famous for abundant olive groves. The olive tree develops slowly and a cultivated olive tree can produce fruit for hundreds of years. In Biblical times, olives were harvested in November (autumn), growing to ripeness over the summer months. Some of the fruit was eaten fresh, but most of it was ‘pressed’ to obtain the oil and this oil was used in preparing every meal as a food ingredient and it was also used as fuel for lamps that lit the homes of the Hebrew people. In addition, it was also mixed with spices and other substances to produce ointment and perfumes. A single olive tree can produce about 20 gallons of oil (75liters) and to obtain the oil, the olives were spread under a heavy, rotating stone wheel. The first oil obtained from this crushing process was the most valuable and is spoken of in Scripture as ‘fine oil’. After the olives were crushed and the fine oil extracted, the pulp was then pressed by a stone-weighted beam – a pressure of hundreds of pounds squeezes out sediment, oil and water. The lighter oil rose to the surface and was skimmed off.

So if we use this as an analogy for our Christian lives – who is willing to be pressed so that the precious oil may be extracted?

What does the Bible say about olive oil?

·         Oil is used for anointing and is sacred
·         Oil is precious
·         In the book of Genesis-the dove returned to the Noah with a freshly plucked olive leaf indicating it was one of the first trees to grow again. Of all the trees the dove chose the olive tree
·         In the book of Romans, Paul talks about Gentiles being like a wild olive shoot being grafted into the nourishing sap from the olive tree root (ch 11)
·         In the book of Revelation, John mentions the two witnesses of Christ (modeled after Moses and Elijah) as being like two olive trees and two lamp stands that stand before the Lord of the earth – remember how strong and sturdy olive trees are (ch 11)
·         In Zechariah 14 there is a passage prophesying about Christ and how on ‘that Day’, His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives and the Mount will split in two from east to west. This is a very important day and marks the return of Christ to the earth – and there will be huge changes to the earth – topographical, cosmic and cataclysmic.
·         When Jesus was in Jerusalem, He and His disciples would spend the night in an olive grove on the same Mount, (probably in the Garden of Gethsemane where He also spent His last few hours before going to the cross to be pressed)
·         The Mount of Olives is situated directly east of Jerusalem, rising to a height of 2 700ft and also has a magnificent view of the city, especially the Temple.
·         Finally we read in Acts chapter 1 that Jesus ascended into glory from the Mount of Olives – a very significant mountain!

In conclusion, the olive tree and the olive fruit were important in Biblical times and are still important today in Mediterranean countries. There are also many spiritual truths to be gained from this fruit for our Christian lives.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Discerning of spirits

By Tyrone Garrat

1Cor 12:1-10. This passage of Scripture describes the 9 ‘gifts’ of the Spirit. This is not the ‘fruit’ of the Spirit, but gifts given to Believers in Jesus for the building up of the church.

Another version says, ‘distinguishing between spirits’ which means that when we have the gift of discerning spirits it means we have the ability to distinguish between the two spirits.  So when someone is speaking we will be able to discern whether what they are saying is coming from God or whether it is coming from satan (e.g. when Jesus said to Paul, “Get behind me satan”.

This gift works alongside the gift of knowledge.

There are four types of spirit:

1.       God’s Spirit
2.       Heavenly Spirits
3.       Human spirit
4.       Evil spirits

We all know about the Holy Spirit which is given to all Believers when they are ‘born again’. Heavenly spirits are the angels and the cherubim and seraphim. The human spirit is inside every human being.

Finally evil spirits are all the forces that oppose the will of God, such as fear, doubt, despair, distraction, tiredness, laziness etc.

I read a story about a man who received a prophecy and he was immediately able to see all kinds of demonic forms and he saw people with things like arrows in them which represented such things as hatred and bitterness, envy and jealousy and al kinds of afflictions. If you have the gift of discerning spirits you will see demonic forms.

Once I (Tyrone) was in the supermarket and I became aware of the people around me and as I looked at each one I felt an ability to see into their lives as if they were open books. Even though people had no idea this was happening they were opened to me.

(Hugh) Often sparkly eyes go hand-in-hand with someone who knows Jesus. You can just see by looking at them.

(Colleen) In the book of Exodus, there is the story of Moses who came down from the Mountain and whose face shone because he had been in the presence of God.

(Robbie) It’s like a ‘first love’, when we come to the Lord, which for me lasted the first 6 weeks and then faded. But even now you can sense when God is with you.

I (Tyrone) also read about a man called Frances of Assisi who had such a peace about him that the animals were attracted to him and he even befriended a wolf!

 There are men of God like Smith Wigglesworth (1859-1947), a British evangelist who was part of the  Pentecostal movement, who had such a power about them that when they stepped into a tram for example, they began preaching and the power of God fell on the people and they ended up falling down, weeping and repenting.

Such is the power and holiness of God that even Peter said to Jesus when he realized the truth that he was standing before God, felt shame and asked to Jesus to ‘depart from him for he (Peter) is a sinful man’

Let us be encouraged to continue to seek God and may He give us the grace and humility to stay the course until the end! Amen

Monday, October 13, 2014

Like Mary

Like Mary
by Joanne Fergusson
Luke 10:38- 42

Sitting at the feet of Jesus
sitting near to all that’s good
sitting at the feet of Jesus
no one telling me ‘I should’
He is looking down towards me
I am looking up at Him
sitting at the feet of Jesus
I feel His peace and rest within
Sitting at the feet of Jesus
there’s no pressure to perform
sitting at the feet of Jesus
feeling safe and only warm
Sitting at the feet of Jesus
I will let Him run the world
sitting at the feet of Jesus
where my heart and soul are healed.


Contributed by Trish Boud
From the SGM Magazine ‘Refresh’
Journal of Contemplative Spirituality.
Volume 11, Number 2. 2012

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Love - the Good News!

By Angela Bhandal


Love takes on a whole new meaning when it’s written about in the New Testament of the Bible. It’s really exciting because it actually takes on the form of a man – the man Christ Jesus. Jesus is the picture of what true love represents and that is self-sacrificial love, or love that is given away and is other-centered. It is not kept for yourself. And this is exactly how Jesus ‘loved’. The Greek word for this form of love is ‘agape’, and it is quite different to other forms of love such as erotic love or brotherly love. “This is love”, the Apostle John affirmed, ‘not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10). When we define ‘agape’ by Jesus’ self-less action, we realize it is completely different to the way we define ‘love’ in our human way. It keeps on caring, despite the flaws in others, it acts for the benefit of others even when they don’t deserve it and it costs the person who offers it everything.


This is how God showed His love amongst us: He sent His One and Only Son into the world, that we might live through Him. This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and demonstrated that love by sending His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.


When I think of Jesus being born into Mary and Joseph’s family, I wonder if it was hard for God to give Him up in this way?  He’s kind of lending or giving away His much loved Son to another couple, who are going to raise Him according to their culture, traditions and beliefs. If I consider this act of sacrifice from my perspective as a mother, I would find it almost impossible to do this, to give away my baby to be cared for by someone else. (In another sense God gives us children and trusts us to care for them. They don’t really belong to us, but to God). In a similar way, God was trusting Mary and Joseph with this task. God’s plan for Jesus was that He would be fully human right from birth while also being God incarnate!


But God’s love for us didn’t start at the cross, it began way before this. I wonder at what age Jesus realized what His mission on this earth was. For example our daughter Eden who is nearly 3yrs old has no concept of “the big picture of life”, she has no insight into responsibility, the need to get a good education for a secure job later in life etc. and as a little, boy, Jesus would have been no different to Eden, except He was! For example, we know from the Bible that Jesus never sinned, not once, not even a little bit. Hebrews 7:25-26 describes Him as ‘holy, blameless, pure and set apart from sinners. Imagine having a child that never sinned! What a blessing He must have been to His Mum & Dad and His brothers and sisters.


When Jesus was 8 days old, he was taken to the Temple to be circumcised as prescribed by the law and Simeon (a righteous man), prophesied to Mary that her child would have an amazing future and impact on the nation of Israel (Luke 2:33-35). I wonder if she had any insight as to what that meant or if God had shielded her from understanding? As parents, we only want what is best for our children and to shield them from all harm, we want a happy existence for them and not one of suffering and hardship. But Jesus life was to be different from the very beginning, He chose to go and redeem people from bondage to satan and sin and the subsequent separation from God through spiritual and physical death.


The Bible only gives us a small glimpse of Jesus’ childhood in Luke 2:40, ‘...and the child grew…’ It says that when Jesus was 12 years old he went to Jerusalem with his family for the Feast of Passover and amazing to think that one day this would be fulfilled in His own death on the cross. He would be the human ‘Passover Lamb’. Human flesh and blood, present at the ceremony which commemorated what had happened in Egypt, 1400 years earlier. What amazes me though is what happened next. When the family returns home, they were unaware that they had left Jesus behind. They must have been travelling in a big caravan of people for them to not notice their 12 yr old son wasn’t amongst them! Three days later, they find him still in Jerusalem and mum gives him a ticking off! They were very worried and anxious for him.  As a parent I really can understand how they would have felt.  Now Jesus reply was simply quite beautiful – but his parents did not understand what he was saying (usually it is the other way around). Nevertheless, he was obedient to them and went home with them. And his mum, treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew…


In Luke 3:23, it tells us that Jesus began his ministry at about 30 yrs of age. There seems to be a gap between the age of 12 up to now at age 30 of his life. Any ideas of how you think Jesus filled his life during this time (18yrs)?


Jesus is baptized and thus His ministry begins. He is no longer a little boy, He is a man – the Son of Man – the purpose and reason for His life starts to take shape. The genealogy that is listed that Jesus hails from is pretty impressive ending in Luke’s gospel account of his Father’s name: God (Luke 3:37).


Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit meets with someone He would have been very familiar with  - satan. Satan was never a threat to Jesus and I’m sure satan knew this, but blinded by his own greed and pride and arrogance, satan tried to make Jesus sin, but he failed! And furthermore, Jesus overcame the temptation of satan with the Scriptures that He had memorized as part of His education. He who is described as the ‘Word’ by John 1:1, overcame with the Word that became flesh! Hallelujah. Similarly, we also can overcome through the Word, by the Word when we belong to Jesus.


When Jesus returns to Galilee after His time in the desert, His fame has spread and when He spoke in the synagogue, everyone praised him. They spoke well of Him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from His lips (Luke 4:23). And when He speaks the truth to them, it does not make them happy and from here on in, Jesus’ enemies and those that hate Him begin to grow. This is also the time that the Scriptures describe His miracles and His ability to heal the sick and do amazing wondrous things for people who sought him out. People were beginning to see that this man who came from the house of Joseph and Mary was different. He spoke with authority and had power in Him that could only come from God Almighty. Even the evil spirit in a demon-possessed man recognized who Jesus was, but Jesus told it to be quiet, because it wasn’t the time for Jesus to be revealed in this way.


Luke 4:43 tells us why, ‘But He said…’  and before He lay down His life willingly for mankind, He first needed to preach about the Kingdom of God which had drawn near – the good news, His good news – He was literally ‘the good news’ of forgiveness for sins and the granting of eternal life to all who would believe that Jesus, died, was buried and on the third day rose to life and lives for evermore! Amen!