Jesus' point (Luke 18.9-14) is that Kingdom values are different than human values. I had a recent phone conversation with a couple who had been to the funeral of someone who had left the Anglican Church and not shown any outward signs of faith for many years. They were concerned that she would probably not be part of the Heavenly Kingdom. But when the husband opened his Bible for evening devotions before bed he read “..for my ways are not your ways and my thoughts are not your thoughts...” It was a teaching moment. We are judged on the attitude of our heart ‑ not on our religious accomplishments. Righteousness is all about the grace of an intimate right relationship of love with God.
1. THE PROBLEM IS THAT OUR MINDS DECEIVE US
I discovered this in a very humbling way. In my prayer time I was convinced I was having all kinds of wonderful revelations from God. I was writing these down in a diary. After some time I realized that it was all positive and all about me. It was really the voice of my ego – or possibly even Satan. In addition to the obvious ‘voice of Satan’.I did some serious academic research and discovered that our human minds have a filtering system. This filters out all the information we don't really need into our unconscious mind. We don't need to be constantly reminded that the room we are in is too hot or cold, whether we are hungry etc. This information is brought to our conscious mind when we focus on those issues. This is good because it prevents our conscious mind from becoming overwhelmed with information. It is however dangerous because we also tend to filter out information that challenges us emotionally. Terrorists are perhaps the most dramatic example of how intelligent people can filter out contrary information and become deceived in their minds. This is why we need to make a special effort such as the weekly self‑examination ‑ to protect ourselves against self‑deception.
2. THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT GUIDES US
The Joel Reading (2.23-32) prophesies that God's Spirit will be poured out on all people. Jesus also promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to all believers. The presence of the Holy Spirit is the sign that we are in a right relationship as Christians.
· The Holy Spirit speaks through our heart ‑ our Personal Spirit,
· Having a spiritual life is learning to listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to our heart or Personal Spirit.
· The Holy Spirit speaks to us very softly as we sing, pray, read Scripture and meditate.
3. PAUL CHALLENGES US TO” FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT, FINISH THE RACE AND KEEP THE FAITH”
His whole ministry was a spiritual and often physical fight to share the Good News of God’s love, forgiveness in Jesus and the Holy Spirit. He was constantly opposed and physically attacked by the political and religious leaders of his time. He was verbally opposed by local teachers and even his fellow Christians. But rather than take the easy way of compromising with others and the culture and toning down his faith message; Pau fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith. The Readings challenge us to:
· Read and discuss in Bible Study groups what the Bible actually says - so we too can safely run the race and keep the Faith
· Engage in the fight against the false teachers in our time who are changing the historic faith and robbing people of the Good News
· Examine our own lives under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to discern how we may have been deceived in our beliefs
· Invite the Holy Spirit to teach us and guide us in our daily lives
WE ALL NEED TO EXAMEN OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LORD REGULARLY TO ENSURE WE ARE IN A RIGHT RELATIONSHIP OF LOVE