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Showing posts from May, 2017

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Is this no longer true just because a lot of people have lost interest in singing the song of salvation?
No! This was Good News in Paul’s day. It’s still Good News for today.
It will always be the Good News of God’s love. It will always be the great reminder of God’s “for ever” love (Psalm 136).

Think often of what Jesus has done for you .... Thank Him for dying for you ...

"When people work, their pay is not regarded as a gift but something they have earned" (Romans 4:4).
When God is at work in us, bringing us to faith in His Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ, everything is very different. His salvation is His gift to us. It's not our reward from Him.  
Grace gives to us. We receive from grace. Grace brings us to faith. By faith, we look away from ourselves to the God of grace. We say, "Praise Him, praise Him, alleluia! Praise with us the God of grace."
"Jesus, our Lord, was handed over to death because of our failures and was brought back to life so that we could receive God’s approval" (Romans 4:25).
Think often of what Jesus had done for you. He died for you. He rose again for you. Thank him for dying for you. Thank Him for rising again for you.

Praise the Lord! ... Give Him the glory!

God's way of righteousness begins with this - He is "just" - and leads to this - He "justifies those who have faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:26).
"For our salvation Christ came down from heaven" (Nicene Creed) - This is Good News for sinners.
As we rejoice in the "for our salvation" message of the Gospel, let us never forget the "for His glory" message!
"To God be the glory, great things He has done! So loved He the world that He gave us His Son, who yielded His life an atonement for sin, and opened the life-gate that all may go in.
Praise the Lord! ... Give Him the glory!"

God shows us our sin so that we might appreciate His salvation ...

"Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:23-24).

Here, we read about our sin and God's salvation. Once we have received God's salvation, we must not forget about our sin. We have been saved by God's grace - but we are always sinners. Our sin has been forgiven - but our sin is still there, trying to get the upper hand, trying to keep us from "growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). How are we to grow in Christ? We rejoice in His gift of the forgiveness of our sins - but will we grow in Christ by forgetting that we are sinners? When we come to the Cross of Christ, two things are revealed to us - our sin and God's salvation. The revelation of our sin does not end when we receive God's gift of forgiveness. In love, the Lord keeps on showing us how far we have fallen short o…

"I’m not ashamed of the Good News ... "

"I’m not ashamed of the Good News. It is God’s power to save everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16).
Jesus wasn't ashamed of us. He went to the Cross for us. This is the Good News. Jesus is our Saviour.
May we be unashamed of Jesus. May we be glad to speak of Him who died for us. May our lives speak for Him - as well as our words. May we not bring shame on His great Name. May we bring glory to His Name - the Name of our salvation.
I was reading Romans 1:1-7. I was asking the question, "What's this about?" There's one simple answer to this question: "This is all about Jesus!"

On The Way To Rome ...

"You must tell the truth about me in Rome" (Acts 23:11). 
God is looking beyond our here and now - where we are and what we're doing. He's looking at what lies ahead of us, what he has planned for us.
"The next morning some Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul" (Acts 23:12).
We read about Paul. We remember Jesus. Paul's enemies of Christ wanted to kill him, but God had other ideas - "You must tell the truth about me in Rome" (Acts 23:11). Jesus' enemies crucified him - but God turned everything around:"wicked men put him to death by nailing him to the cross.24 But God raised him from the dead" (Acts 2:23-24).

A Man With A Purpose

In Acts 21, we read about Paul, travelling from place to place. He was not alone. The Lord was with Him.He was more than a traveller. He was a missionary - a man on a mission.He was not travelling around aimlessly. He was a man with a purpose. Wherever he went, he shared the Good News of Christ's love.
When Paul went to Jerusalem, he received a warm welcome from the believers (Acts 21:17) - but look at what happened later on - "The mob was behind them shouting, “Kill him!”" (Acts 21:36)! Does this not remind us of our Lord Jesus Christ? - How quickly the "Hosanna" became "Crucify him." Doing God's will wasn't easy for Jesus and Paul. It won't be easy for us. God was with Jesus and Paul. He will be with us.

Words of encouragement

"Paul ... spoke many words of encouragement to the people" (Acts 20:1-2).

Encouragement - What an important ministry this is! We are to encourage one another in the Lord. Our  words are to be upliftings words - words that say, 'Lift up your eyes. Look to Jesus. See how great He is. See how much He loves you.'
In his message to the elders at Ephesus, Paul describes his ministry in this way - "I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying to both Jews and to Greeks of repentance to God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:20-21). As he speaks of this Christ-centred ministry, Paul makes it clear that he does not carry out this ministry in his own strength. He speaks of the next step in his missionary journey - "now ... I am going to Jerusalem, bound in the Spirit" (Acts 20:22). We learn from Paul that the Holy Spirit is leading us on to great…

People can be changed by the love of God.

In Acts 19:23, we read about a riot in Ephesus - "a serious disturbance concerning the way of Christ broke out in the city of Ephesus."
Thank God for Ephesians 2:1-5- "You were once dead because of your failures and sins. You followed the ways of this present world and its spiritual ruler. This ruler continues to work in people who refuse to obey God. All of us once lived among these people, and followed the desires of our corrupt nature. We did what our corrupt desires and thoughts wanted us to do. So, because of our nature, we deserved God’s anger just like everyone else. But God is rich in mercy because of His great love for us. We were dead because of our failures, but He made us alive together with Christ. (It is God’s kindness that saved you.)"
People can be changed by the love of God.

There will always be a difference between the real thing and the counterfeit.

"But the evil spirit answered them, I know Jesus, and I’m acquainted with Paul, but who are you?” (Acts 19:15).
There will always be a difference between the real thing and the counterfeit. There's no doubt about that. The question is: Can we tell the difference between the two? May God give us wisdom to know what is from Him and what is not from Him. May He give us courage to keep on choosing His perfect way when many others are settling for something less than His very best.

Strengthening the faith of all the disciples

"Paul ... strengthened  the faith of all the disciples" (Acts 18:23).
Strengthening the faith of all the disciples - This is such an important ministry. We are not to be content with the faith that we have. We are to press on to a stronger faith. What do we mean when we speak about a strong faith? What we mean is this: We're learning to trust in our strong God. Our God is always stronger than our faith. It's not so much our faith that's strong. It's our God who's strong. The strengthening of our faith - This is about a growing awareness of our strong God. He is our strength. Our faith is growing stronger when we're learning to look away from ourselves - we are always weak - to our God - He is always strong.

Give careful attention to God's Word.

"The people of Berea were more open-minded than the people of Thessalonica. They were very willing to receive God’s message, and every day they carefully examined the Scriptures to see if what Paul said was true" (Acts 17:11).
Give careful attention to God's Word. This is what we learn from the Bereans. May God help us to be more like them.

Come Over And Help Us ...

"During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the Gospel to them" (Acts 16:9-10).
Paul's guidance came through " a man of Macedonia." His guidance came from "God." We look at the human situation. We ask the Lord, "What do You want me to do?"

Making Decisions ... And Making Disciples

“Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.’” (Acts 15:36). 
We begin with making decisions – but we don’t end there. We must go on from there to making disciples. Making a decision for Christ is just the beginning. Growing into a disciple of Christ – this is God’s calling for the whole of our life’s journey.

There was a problem ...

"Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls ... Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words ... Paul and Barnabas also remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord" (Acts 15:24,32,35).
There was a problem. There needed to be a response. Whenever God's people are being "troubled" and "unsettled" by those who speak their own "words" rather than the Word of the Lord, what are we to do? We must pray that God will raise up "prophets" who will preach the Gospel and teach the Word of God, strengthening the faith of God's people and leading them into a closer walk with God.

Great things can happen ...

Great things can happen when ‘earnest prayer’ is ‘made to God by the church’ - God ‘is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think’ (Acts 12:5-7; Ephesians 3:20). Give all the glory to God.
Herod ‘did not give God the glory’. He accepted the praise of the people - ‘This is the voice of a god, not of a man’. Herod’s sudden death - ‘an angel of the Lord struck him down’ - is a warning (Acts 12:22-23; Proverbs 29:1).
‘Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows that he will also reap’. ‘Walk humbly with your God’ (Galatians 6:7; Micah 6:8).

I see heaven open ...

"Look," Stephen said, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God" (Acts 7:56).
Immediately after this great  vision of his Saviour, Stephen prayed two prayers
- "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" (Acts 7:59);
- "Lord, do not hold this sin against them" (Acts 7:60).
Stephen's death wasn't a sad exit from this earthly world. It was a triumphant entry into God's eternal Kingdom.
Through faith in Christ, we can die triumphantly.

Peter preached Christ with great boldness ...

Peter preached Christ with great boldness: ‘There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved’(Acts 4:12).
This boldness came from the Holy Spirit. Peter was ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’(Acts 4:8). Don’t say, ‘I‘m no Peter’. Peter failed his Lord and had to be restored (Matthew 26:69-75; John 21:15-17). Peter drew great strength from ‘the company of those who believed’. They ‘gathered together’ for prayer. They ‘were of one heart and soul’...’(Acts 4:31-33). Why did God deal so severely with Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11)? This was the start of something great. God refused to let His work be spoiled! There is a warning for us: Don’t pretend to be more holy than you really are. God sees what you’re really like. ‘Search me, O God...’(Psalm 139:23-24). There was great blessing: ‘More than ever believers were added to the Lord’(Acts 5:14). There was persecution (Acts 5:17-18). This did not hinder the ad…

Christ brings a change of direction into our life.

This change of direction is described for us in Acts 2:42 -“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
Christ is preached. We believe the Gospel. We receive salvation. Life is no longer centred upon ourselves. It is centred upon Christ.

On The Day Of Pentecost ...

Acts 2:37-38
At the heart of the Gospel, there is the love of God. This is the story told by Peter on the Day of Pentecost – the story of God’s love for us. In love, God offers to us the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (v. 38). These blessings are undeserved – we are “far off” (v. 39). As the message of salvation was proclaimed, the Spirit of love was powerfully at work, creating faith – “they were cut to the heart and asked, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’” (v. 37). The story of salvation calls for our response. Can we hear this story of salvation without responding in faith, without earnestly seeking the blessings promised to us in Christ? – Sadly, there are people who hear the Gospel many times but are never gripped by the Gospel. We are only gripped by the Gospel when we allow the Spirit of God to do His work in us, drawing us to Jesus Christ. This emphasis on the Spirit is important. Repentance and faith come to us through the work of the Spirit in us. This is v…

“God raised Jesus Christ from the dead” (Acts 2:24).

Did this become true only because a lot of people said that it was true? Has it become false because many people refuse to believe that it’s true? No! It’s God’s great miracle. Death has been defeated. There is hope. Death will not triumph over us. Jesus Christ is Lord.

Jesus' Love For Us And Our Love For Him

John 21:15-17
Jesus loves us so much more than we love Him. In love, He comes to us to draw out from us a greater love for Him. I find great encouragement in the story of the restoration of Peter in John 21. Peter had denied the Lord three times. For each denial, Jesus came to Peter with the question, "Peter, do you love Me?" Three times, Peter reaffirmed his love for Jesus. Following on from this, there is the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) when the Lord works through Peter in a very wonderful way. Three thousand people are brought to faith in Christ - for each denial, a thousand souls brought to faith! What a wonderful restoration! May we have much cause to say of the Lord, "He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His Name's sake" (Psalm 23:3). May our ministry of His Word prosper - "those who turn many to righteousness shall shine like the stars for ever and ever" (Daniel 12:3).

Speaking To God And Listening To Him

John 17

This is such a great prayer. At the heart of it, we have these great words, "Your Word is truth" (John 17:17). True prayer is always grounded in truth. There is a conversation between ourselves and God. God initiates this conversation. From Him, there is revelation. From us, there is response. Revelation comes first. He speaks to us. Then, we speak to Him. In our world, there are many voices. There is one voice which must not be drowned out: the voice of God.
"Your Word is truth" (John 17:17).
Where does our faith come from? It comes from the Lord. He has spoken to us in His Word. He is still speaking to us. Are we listening to Him? We're not to come to the Word of God with the attitude that says, "This is true. That's not true." On what basis do we say, "This is true. That's not true"? We may come to some parts of the Bible and say, "That speaks to me." We may come to other parts of the Bible and sa…

Where does happiness come from?

"Now you're in a painful situation. But I will see you again. Then you will be happy, and no one will take that happiness away from you" (John 16:22).
Where does happiness come from? Is it something that we reach out for and grasp? or Is it something that's given to us? Our happiness comes to us from our Lord.

“The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son cleanses us all from sin.”

“Jesus answered, ‘Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.’” (John 13:10).
  * “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son cleanses us all from sin” (1 John 1:7).
When we come in faith to Jesus Christ, our Saviour, we receive complete cleansing – “The vilest offender who truly believes that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.” ”Every sin had to go ‘neath the cleansing flow.”  
 * “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, keeps on cleansing us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
Coming to Christ and receiving the forgiveness of our sins is just the beginning of our walk in God.
Through faith in our Saviour, we become God’s children. Becoming God’s children through faith in Christ is the beginning of our new life in Christ. God is calling us to grow in Christ. He is calling us to become mature believers.
How are we to grow in Christ? How are to become mature believers? Often, sin will come between…

We wish to see Jesus ...

"We wish to see Jesus ... The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified ... I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Myself ...  although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him ... they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God" (John 12:21,23,32,37-43).
When we say, "We want to see Jesus", we are led by the Holy Spirit to the Cross of Christ. In the Cross of Christ, we see love that appeals to all people, calling them to come to the Saviour and receive His salvation. Sadly, there are many who refuse to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. There are some who find themselves drawn to the Saviour. They "believe in Him" but  "they do not confess Him" because "they love the praise of men more than the praise of God." What are we to say when the love that makes its appeal to all is rejected by many? - "Not everyone has faith, but the Lord is faithful"…

Jesus Christ - The Good Shepherd, The Great Shepherd, The Chief Shepherd

* Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd who died on the cross for us – “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
* Jesus Christ is the Great Shepherd who rose from the dead for us – “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20-21).
* Jesus Christ is the Chief Shepherd who is coming again for us – “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade awa…

"You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free ... So, if the Son sets you free, you will be absolutely free" (John 8:32,36).

Don't seek freedom, the way the world defines it - free to do what you like. That's not freedom. When we live to please ourselves, we show that our lives are being controlled by Satan. The more self-centred we are, the more Satan laughs. He says, ' I've got you exactly where I want you.' Receive freedom from Christ - set free from self-centredness, set free for a Christ-centred life - "It's no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me" (Galatians 2:20).

From Eternal Love To Eternal Glory

"We wonder, "Where have we come from? Where are we going to?" Jesus says, "I know where I came from, and where I'm going" (John 8:14). Show us, Lord Jesus, Your eternal love - the love that calls out to us from the beginning, the love that calls us on to the end, the love that calls out to us from Your eternal glory, the love that calls us on to Your eternal glory.