Wednesday, 16 May 2018

The storm is raging. Jesus draws near. There is peace.

The storm is raging: ‘they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them’ (Mark 6:48). Jesus draws near, and there is peace: ‘the wind ceased’ (Mark 6:51). Another ‘storm’ continues to rage: ‘Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders...?’ (Mark 7:5). How did Jesus respond to this ‘storm’ of criticism? - He exposed the hypocrisy of those who made the tradition of men more important than the Word of God (Mark 7:7-9,13). He invited ‘the people’ to come ‘to Him’, to ‘hear’, to ‘understand’. His Word was addressed to ‘all’ of them (Mark 7:14). Jesus emphasizes this point: ‘man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart’ (1 Samuel 16:7). The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. Which will it be? - ‘Their hearts were hardened’ (Mark 7:52) or ‘Loving the Lord your God with all your heart’ (Mark 12:30).

The eternal God, His everlasting love and His gift of eternal life

Psalms 89:38-90:17

‘Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations… From everlasting to everlasting, You are God’(Psalm 90:1-2).
The Bible begins with the words, ‘In the beginning, God…’. Before the world began, there was God – ‘the eternal God’. He is ‘the high and exalted One’. He is the God ‘who inhabits eternity’. He is the God ‘who lives for ever’. He has no beginning. He has no end. He is ‘the beginning and the end’. Our life on earth has a beginning. It has an end. Trusting in ‘the eternal God’, we rejoice in His precious promises – ‘The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms’; ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’; ‘The free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord’(Genesis 1:1; Deuteronomy 33:27; Isaiah 57:15; Revelation 21:6; Jeremiah 31:3; Romans 6:23).

Three Very Important Questions

Three very important questions - questions that demand a personal answer: Who is Jesus? What can Jesus do for us? What will we do about Jesus?
(1) Who is Jesus? Is he a mere man? or Is He somebody special?
Every one of us must answer the question, "Who is Jesus?"
- Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:1).
- Jesus is the Son of God (John 1:34).
Jesus does not merely speak God's Word. He is the Word of God.
Jesus is more than a servant of God. He's the Son of God.
(2) What can Jesus do for us? Could He do something wonderful for me? Could He change my life? Could He turn boredom into satisfaction? Could he turn confusion into certainty? Could He turn aimlessness into purpose? Could He turn cynicism into testimony? Could He ... ? - Yes! He can. Jesus is able to do great things for us.
  • He can give satisfaction to the bored.
  • He can give certainty to the confused.
  • He can give purpose to the aimless.
  • He can give a testimony to the cynical.
Jesus can do all these things for us. He can give us all these blessings.
From Him, we receive "grace" (John 1:16). He gives to us His "light" and "life" (John 1:4).
Through faith in Him, we become God's children (John 1:12). Through faith in Him, we receive the forgiveness of our sins (John 1:29). through faith in Him, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 1:33).
Isn't this amazing? We can become God's children. we can have our sins forgiven. We can have the Holy Spirit living in us. John 1:12 tells us that we can become God's children - and it tells how we can become God's children - by receiving Christ as our Saviour, by believing in Him.
(3) What will we do about Jesus?
Jesus gives us something to think about. He does more than that. He calls us to make up our mind about Him. There's a time for thinking about it - and there's a time for making our decision. There can be no sitting on the fence. We must make up our mind about Jesus. We must decide to trust Him. we must decide to follow Him.
Am I for Jesus, or am I against Him? - This is the question that each of us must answer. Will I be a disciple of Jesus, or will I be an enemy of Jesus? This questions calls for answer - a personal answer, an immediate answer.
Three very important questions: (1) Who is Jesus? This question has been answered. He is the Son of God. He is the Saviour of sinners. (2) What can Jesus do for us? This question has also been answered. He can make us new people. He can make us God's children. (3) What will you do about Jesus? Has this question been answered? The question comes from Jesus. The answer must come from you.

Alive In Our Worship, Involved In Our Community

Isaiah 61:1-3; John 21:1-17; Revelation 5:11-14
When our service of worship ends, our service in the world begins. God is calling us to be alive in our worship, and he's calling us to be involved in our community.
Worshipping the Lord and serving Him - we need both, not one without the other.
We are tio be committed to the Lord in the whole of our life - not just part of it.
 * We are not to say, "I will worship the Lord for an hour on a Sunday, but I don't want to get involved in serving Him during the rest of the week."
"It's just an hour on a Sunday." Can we ever truly worship the Lord if we're thinking like this? True worship leads to active service/ If we are learning to worship the Lord, we will want also to serve Him.
 * We are not to say, "I can be a good Christian without going to Church." What does this say about our commitment to the Lord, if we do not take time to be with Him, giving thanks to Him, listening to what He has to say to us, praying for his strength, asking Him to help us to serve Him in the coming week?
There are always two parts in a real commitment to the Lord. the first is "Love the Lord your God." The second is "Love your neighbour."
God is calling us to do two things. At the beginning of each week, He is calling us to take time to be with Him. When we are gathered for worship, God is saying to us, "Go out from this place, go out into the world - and serve Me in your everyday life, in the oplaces where you are, among the people that you meet.
God is calling us to be alive in our worship and involved in our community.
How are we to maintain and strengthen this commitment to worship and service?
The first thing we must say is this:  Our commitment is a commitment to Jesus Christ. It's a commitment to following Him. It's a commitment to living the way He lived.
Let's take a look at Jesus. Let'slearn from Him. Let's look at the way He lived. Let's look at what was important to Him - and let's be challenged to love our lives for Him on Sundays and every other day of the week.
We look at two incidents in Jesus' life. The first is at the beginning of His public ministry. The second is after His resurrection. The first show us the kind of Man Jesus was. The second shows us the kind of people we are to be.
We go, first, to Luke 4:16-21. Here, Jesus quotes from Isaiah 61:1-2.
Here, we see Jesus, worshipping God - "He went to the synagogue on the sabbath deay, as was His custom" (Luke 4:16). There, in the House of the Lord, Jesus reads the words of Isaiah (Luke 4:18-19) - but He doesn't stop with the reading. He adds this remarkable statement: "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing" (Luke 4:21).
Jesus was announcing the beginning of His ministry. His ministry was all about people. He brought Good News to the poor, deliverance to the captives, sight to the blind, freedom to the oppressed. he told people that God loved them. He showed people that God loved them.
Alive in our worship, involved in our community - This is what we see in the ministry of Jesus. If we are to follow Him, we must learn to worship - and we must learn to serve.
When esus began His public ministry, one of the first things that He did was this: He called His disciples. They were to be with Him. They were to follow Him. They were to worship with Him. They were to serve with Him. They were to learn from Him.
This was the beginning of a wonderful three-year adventure. Sadly, this adventure was to come to an end. Jesus was taken away from them. He was crucified. the disciples were despondent. This was the end of their world. What were they to do? They did what they knew best. They went back to fishing - but was that really the end of their adventure with Jesus? No! It was to be a life-long adventure. The risen Lord appeared to them. He said to them, "Have you forgotten? Do you not remember? I called you to be "fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19).
Jesus was saying to them, "There's something more than fishing." Their adventure of worshipping the Lord and serving Him was just beginning. You can read baout it in the Acts of the Apostles. It shows us what God can do when His people are truly committed to Him - committed to worshipping Him, committed to serving Him.
Alive in our worship, involved in our community - This is the life into which the Lord is calling us. He's calling us to "launch out into the deep" (Luke 5:4) with Him. We don't know all that the future will hold - but there is something that we do know: our future is in the Lord's hands, and we are safe in the arms of Jesus.
Among the disciples, there was one man who was especially uncertain about his future. Peter had failed his Lord. he thought that his journey with Jesus was over - but he was wrong!
Jesus loved Peter. jesus came to peter with a question, "Peter, do you love Me?" (John 21:15-17).
What was Jesus really saying to Peter? - He was saying, "Peter, I love you - and I have a great future for you."
What a great futur it was! Peter put the past behind him - and he moved into the great future Jesus had planned for him.
In recent years, we've heard a lot about "the Church without walls." What does this mean? - It means that we do not stop with worshipping the Lord in His House. We go on from there to serve Him outside of our Church buildings, bringing the love of Christ to the many people who need Him.
Alive in our worship, involved in our community - Where will this vision, this mission statement, lead us. In Revelation 5:11-13, we get a wonderful glimpse of God's glorious future. How are we to prepare ourselves and the people of our community for this? - we begin here-and-now by being alive in our worship and involved in our community.

The Holy Spirit And The Holy Scriptures

We begin with a simple and yet profoundly helpful illustration from James Philip.
"The black plastic disc (for those who are more familiar with compact disc, he's speaking about the vinyl record - you can replace 'black plastic disc' with 'compact disc'!) that is put on the gramophone turntable has a voice within it, and when we put it on the pick-up the voice comes out; and every part of the disc contains the voice. You cannot say, "This part is the voice, but this part is only the plastic", for all the playing surface contains the voice. You cannot separate the voice from the disc once the voice has been recorded. This is how it is with the Scriptures. You cannot separate the living Word of God from the written word that contains it. Every verse contains the voice. All you need is a pick-up. Sometimes the needle gets worn and when the record is put on it is no longer clear. A good needle is needed to bring the voice out, and sometimes when faith is not very strong, it is like putting on a faulty needle and you can hardly hear what is being said. But this is not the fault of the record, but of the needle. The record is a record whether you put it on or not; it does not become a record only when you put it on and play it. In the same way, the Bible is the Word of God whether faith picks up its message or not. When faith is strong and clear, the message is strong and clear, and out it comes in the most marvellous and wonderful way" (Studies in the Westminster Confession of Faith, Part 1, p. 13).
We hold together the Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures. We hold that Scripture does not derive its authority from the fact that we use it - not even when we use it in faith. We also emphasize that Scripture can only be experienced as God's Word when we use it in accordance with its God-given purpose. We maintain that Scripture is recognized as the Word of God because it is the Word of God. We also emphasize that Scripture must be used - read and studied - if we are to experience its power as the Word of God.
We must emphasize both the Word and the Spirit - not the Word without the Spirit, and not the Spirit without the Word. If we seek to move forward with the Spirit without keeping in line with the Word, we will find ourselves drifting into confusion. It is the Word of God which the Spirit of God uses to keep us close to God. If we place high value on the Word, yet we do not experience the Spirit using the Word to lead us to Christ, we will drift into a barren and lifeless rationalism.
In Matthew 12:44, Jesus charged the Sadducees with knowing "neither the Scriptures nor the power of God." We need both the Scriptures and the power of God. It is only as the Spirit is leading us, through the Word, to Christ that we will be able, in the Spirit's power, to confess Scripture as the Word of God.

When you read God's Word ...

"When you read God's Word, you must constantly be saying to yourself, 'It is talking to me, and about me.'" (Soren Kierkegaard).

Learning from the Apostle Paul

Paul was no silent disciple, no half-hearted follower of Jesus. He was not ashamed of his Lord. He was glad to say, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith" (Romans 1:16). Why was Paul bold to say, "God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Galatians 6:14)? Why was Paul so emphatic in saying, "I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2)? The answer is very simple and straightforward. He was a man who had been grasped by the power of the Gospel. Through the power of Christ, Paul was no longer his own. He belonged to Christ. This was why he was able to write to the Corinthian Christians, "You are not your own; you have been bought with a price" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). He was a man filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. This was why he was able to challenge the Corinthian Christians: "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? ... So glorify God in your body" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). He was a man grasped by the power of the Gospel, a man filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. What kind of men and women are we? This is the challenge of Paul's life for us.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

The Word Of God - Christ, Scripture, Preaching

If I were to go around the congregation and ask you, "Why have you come to this church service?", I'm sure I would get quite a variety of different answers. Some of you, if you were being perfectly honest, might have to say, "I came because I've got into a routine of coming to church on a Sunday." If this is what you're thinking, that's very sad. How can you expect to get anything out of the service, if you have only come to church because it's part of your weekly routine?
Others may say, "I feel that I must come because it's my duty." There's a sense in which this is true, yet, if that's all that brings you to church, you're missing a great deal. Such an attitude is surely a far cry from the attitude of the Psalmist: "I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord'" (Psalm 122:1),
Others may say, "I've come to church to hear the minister speak." Yes. You will hear the minister speaking, but if you do not come to church, expecting God to speak to you through the minister, you will get very little from the church service.
We must come to hear more than the minister. We must come to hear God speaking to us. We must come for more than meeting other Christians. We must come to meet with God.
This brings us to the very heart of why we come to the church service - encounter with God.
We come to God as part of a worshipping, believing and praying fellowship of His people. We come, seeking to meet with Him. We come to worship Him, to pray to Him and to hear His Word.
Let's think together about hearing the Word of God.
What do we mean when we say "the Word of God"?
Often, our answer is given very quickly. Without much thought, we say, the Bible."
Do you know that, if you were to stop and think about the richness and the depth that there is in the phrase, "the Word of God", you would be both greatly blessed greatly challenged?
What do we use words for?
- We use words when we think.
- We use words when we speak to one another.
We use words to communicate our thoughts.
When we speak about "the Word of God", what we are saying is this; God has not kept His thoughts to Himself. He has shared His thoughts with us. He has told us about the love He has for us. He has opened His heart to us. He did not wait for us to come to Him. He has come to us. He has taken the initiative. He did not leave us groping around in the darkness, trying to make sense of our life. He has spoken to us of His love for us.
What a wonderful message He speaks to us!
- "God is love" (1 John 4:8).
- "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son" (John 3:16).
- "God showed His love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
Think of these wonderful word, and let your heart be moved by the wonder of God's love for you. He loved so much that He sent His Son to die for you,
In the Bible, we find that "the Word of God" has three meanings:
- Christ is the Word of God (John 1:114Hebrews 1:1).
- Scripture is the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16).
- The preached Word is described as the Word of God (Acts 4:31).
Let's think together about these three ways in which the Bible speaks about the Word of God.
  • First, Christ is the Word of God. This is the most fundamental meaning of the Word of God.
We do not really benefit from the Word of God in Scripture and preaching if we do not see Christ in them.
The aim of both Scripture and preaching is to point us to Christ.
It is Christ who is God's Word to us. It is Christ who is the Gospel. It is Christ who is God's way of salvation.
I remember, sitting in a meeting, listening to a godly man, reading and preaching God's Word. Before he began to preach, he prayed, "Lord, hide this preacher behind the Cross so that the only One who is seen is Jesus." Ne stated his text: It was these four words: "the Lord Jesus Christ." He spoke of how He loved to give Jesus His full title: "the Lord Jesus Christ." He emphasized that giving Jesus His full title helped us to see Him in all His fullness. He took us to some of the names that the Bible uses when it speaks to us of our Lord Jesus Christ. This was, for me, a rich experience as, together with others, we turned our eyes upon Jesus. As we looked from the preacher to Jesus, as we learned from the Scriptures about Jesus, I came to a deeper appreciation of something very important: Jesus Christ is the Word of God spoken to us by God Himself. Here, we see the great purpose of Scripture and true Gospel preaching. Both are given to us for this purpose - to lead us to the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Second, the Scriptures have been given to us by God. They have been given to us so that we might be led to Jesus, our Saviour. Jesus says to us, "It is the Scriptures that bear witness to Me" (John 5:39). Jesus taught His disciples "in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Luke 24:27). The apostles sought to point to Jesus from the Scriptures (Acts 17:2-3). If we truly hear and understand the Scriptures, we will open our hearts to Jesus Christ. The Scriptures speak to us God's Word. They say to us, "Consider Jesus."
  • Third, the Bible speaks to us of the preaching of the Word of God. To preach the Word of God is to preach Christ [Romans 10:17 - "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (KJV) / the preaching of Christ (RSV)].
Paul sought to know and make known Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:21:23). He sought to be unashamed of the Gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16). He sought to glory only in the Cross of Christ (Galatians 6:14).
This is true preaching. It is more than a minister, giving his thoughts on one thing or another. It is the proclamation of Christ.
When Christ is proclaimed, God is pleased to come, by His Spirit, and bring men and women to faith in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:21).
What is your attitude to the preaching of the Gospel? Do you come to hear a preacher? or Do you come to hear God speaking to you? If you come to hear God, this is the Word you will hear - "Consider Jesus." This is what God says to you and me.
He directs our attention to Jesus. He says, "This is My Beloved Son, hear Him" (Matthew 17:5).
Can you hear God speaking to you? This is what He's saying to you: "If today you hear God's voice, do not harden your hearts" (Hebrews 4:7).
Jesus Christ is God's Word to you. He is God's Word of salvation. He is God's Son. He is our Saviour. Will you listen to His voice? He's calling you to come to Him.Will you receive Him as your Saviour?

Monday, 7 May 2018

Questions And Answers (John 9)

John 9 is a chapter that's full of questions and answers.
  • (1) Question: " ... who sinned, this man or his parents ... ?" (John 9:2).
Answer: "Neither ,,, this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life" (John 9:3).
  • (2) Question: "Isn't this the same man who used to ... beg?" (John 9:8).
Answer: "I am the man" (John 9:9).
Whatever we may have been, the grace of God is able to lift us up. Praise the Lord!
  • (3) Question: The "How" question - "how were your eyes opened?" (John 9:10).
Answer: The "Jesus" answer - "The man called Jesus ... " (John 9:11).
May God help us to look away from ourselves and say, "This is what the Lord has done for me.
  • (4) Question: "Where is this man?" (John 9:12).
Answer: "I don't know" (John 9:12).
When, at first, you don't find Jesus, keep looking for Him. he has given us His promise: "Seek and you will find."
  • (5) Question: "How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?" (John 9:16).
Answer: Sometimes, a question needs to be answered with some more questions - Is this man a sinner? Do His miraculous signs not show Him to be something more than a sinner?"
As our questions move from beyond unbelieving questions to questions that are listening for the answer of faith, we begin to hear God's answer: This is My Son. This is your Saviour.
  • (6) Question: What have you to say ... ?" (John 9:17).
Answer: "a prophet" (John 9:17).
Here, we have a step in the right direction. By itself, the miracle does not demonstrate that Jesus is the Saviour. Saving faith comes later. It comes through Christ's self-disclosure (John 9:35-38). Without the Gospel explanation, miracles remain strange events for which we can find no explanation. When Jesus reveals Himself to us as our Saviour, we see that all the pieces of the jigsaw fit together to make a beautiful picture. No longer do we see miracles as strange events that leave us wondering what to make of it all. We see Jesus as our great Saviour.
  • (7) Question: "Is this your son ... born blind?" (John 9:19).
Answer: "We know that he is our son ... born blind" (John 9:20).
What we are, in ourselves, is no obstacle to the grace of God. We recognize that the man's blindness was not caused by sin (Go back to the first question and answer - John 9:2-3). We should, however, say two things about the man's blindness and our sin. His blindness was no problem for Jesus. Our sin is no problem for Jesus. He gave the man his sight. He gives us the forgiveness of our sins.
  • (8) Question: "How then does he now see?" (John 9:19).
Answer: "We don't know" (John 9:20).
What a non-committal answer! When people don't want to acknowledge what's staring them in the face, they say, "We don't know." That's not really an answer at all! That's evading the question. This question calls for the answer of faith - not for "We don't know"!
  • (9) Question: "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?" (John 9:26).
Answer: "Do you want to become His disciples?" (John 9: 27).
Here's a call to commitment. Let there be less "We don't know" and more "Yes, Lord. We want to be Your disciples."
  • (10) Question: "Do you believe ... ?" ( John 9:35).
Answer: "Tell me that I may believe" (John 9:36).
We hear the question, "Do you believe?" We ask the questions, "How am I to believe? What am I to believe?" Jesus is the answer to our question. everything is leading us to Him. The desire to believe, the search for faith - It all comes from Him. He is working in us. He is creating faith in our hearts. He teaches us what it means to have faith. He shows us that real faith is faith in Him.
  • (11) Question: "Are we blind?" (John 9:40),
Answer: " ... you claim to see ... your guilt remains" (John 9:41).
There is a blindness that does not come from sin (See, again, the first question and answer - John 9:2-3). There is another blindness that comes directly from our sin. It is the result of our sin. It is a blindness which Jesus can remove - but we must want Him to remove our blindness. We must want Him to forgive our sins. We must want Him to be our Saviour.

Bring Your Sin To The Saviour Of Sinners.

John 8:34-36
Sin is our greatest problem. What are we to do about it?
We ask the question, "What are we to do about sin?" We ask this question, and, then, we ask another question, "What can we do about it?"
When we realize how big a problem sin is, we became aware that we need help. We need more than self-help. We need salvation. This cannot come from ourselves. Salvation must be given to us. It must come from outside of ourselves. It must come from above. It must come to us from our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
We have a problem with the idea that salvation must come to us from outside. The problem is ourselves. Here, we come to the heart of sin. What is sin? It's self-centredness. G K Chesterton hit the nail on the head when he said, "What's wrong with the world? I am." Sin is our problem. Salvation is God's solution.
What is sin?
  • Sin is self-will: "I did it my way"
  • Sin is self-indulgence: "Looking after No. 1"
  • Sin is self-confidence: "We can work it out"
- We say, "I did it way." Where did it get us?
- We talk about "Looking after No. 1." Who is No.1?
 - We say, "We can work it out." Can we?
The more we look at self-centred thinking, the more we realize that it is very shallow thinking. It doesn't take us to the heart of our problem.
Before we can even begin to answer the question, "What can be done about sin?", each one of us must recognize that we have a big problem, a problem that's too big for us to deal with on our own.
This leads us to an important point that needs to be made if we are to face the fact of our sin honestly. We cannot run away from our sin. We dare not pretend to ourselves that we're not as bad as we really are.
We must recognize that there's a big difference between admitting and confessing. We're not to offer a half-hearted admission of guilt. We're to make a real confession of our sin. We need to acknowledge the self-centredness of our whole life. This will mean more than, looking at some particular situation and saying, "I was in the wrong. it was my fault." It will mean looking at our whole life, and saying, "I am wrong." The problem is not just one or two problems, or even a whole lot of problems, we may have. I am the problem.
There is a big difference between a shallow and superficial admission of guilt and a real confession of sin. Saying, "I'm sorry", when we really mean, "I wish I hadn't messed up", is not the same thing as a real confession of sin. Confessing our sin is more than saying, "I'm sorry things have turned out this way. I wish I had done things differently." That's more about regret than it is about saying "No" to sin and "Yes" to Jesus.
Saying "No" to sin and saying "Yes" to Jesus - the two belong together. How can we have one without the other? We may try to say "No" but if we do not turn to Jesus for His help, we will fail to live a new life and we will fall back into sin. If, on the other hand, we do say "Yes" to Jesus, we cannot expect to remain the same as we were before we came to Him.
Saying "No" to sin and saying "Yes" to Jesus - This is what it means to confess our sin and trust in the Saviour. A real confession of sin arises out an awareness of how who God is and what He has done for us. He is the holy God. When we begin to see how holy God is, we begin to see how sinful we really are. When we begin to see what a great thing the God of His love - He gave His son to be our Saviour, we find, arising in our hearts, a desire to say "No" to sin and say "Yes" to Jesus. God gave His Son to put away our sin - forgiving our sin and giving us His power to triumph over sin. As we come to appreciate the wonder of God's great salvation, we will want to say "No" to sin and "Yes" to Jesus.
Jesus has done so much for us. Let us say "No" to the sin that sent Him to the Cross for us. Let us say "Yes" which took Him to the Cross for us. Jesus can still do great things for us. He calls us to put our sinful past behind us and to walk with Him into his future - a future in which there will be more of His blessing and less of our sin.
  • Dear God, I am sorry that I have left You out of my life, and sinned against You in thought, word and deed, Thank you for sending Jesus to die on the Cross so that I could know you for myself. forgive my sin, and give me the power of Your Spirit to live for You every day, until You bring me to be with You forever, in heaven. For Jesus' sake. Amen.

Living Water (John 7:37-39)

John 7:37-38
 (1) We begin with the context of Jesus' great invitation -
   (a) the Feast of Tabernacles;
   (b) the teaching of the Old Testament Scriptures.
(a) The Feast of Tabernacles
  (i) Its historical significance
It reminded the people of Israel that they had been wanderers in the desert, dependent on the grace and mercy of God to provide for them in their need.
  (ii) Its agricultural significance
It was a Harvest Thanksgiving.
A priest took a golden pitcher, which held about two pints. He filled it with water from the Pool of Siloam. He carried it through the Water Gate, to the altar of the Temple, where it was poured out as an offering to God.
This was a vivid thanksgiving for God's good gift of rain.
It was an enacted prayer for rain.
It was a memorial of the water which sprang from the rock, while God's people were travelling through the wilderness.
It was in this context that Jesus spoke His tremendous words concerning Himself as the Giver of Living Water.
Perhaps, Jesus intervened at the very moment that the water was being poured out at the altar.
The people were thinking of the water which refreshes the body. Jesus directed their thoughts to the water that refreshes the soul. As the people were being reminded that they could not live, physically, without water, Jesus declared to them that they could not live, spiritually, without Him. This is still true today.
  (b) the teaching of the Old Testament Scriptures
The worshippers knew the teaching of the Old Testament Scriptures. They knew the promises which God had given to His people through His prophets. They awaited the fulfilment of God's promises.
   (i) "With joy, you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say on that day, 'Give thanks to the Lord, call upon His Name; make known His deeds among the nations, proclaim that His Name is exalted'" (Isaiah 12:3-4).
This promise of God was known among the people who eagerly awaited the coming of the Saviour. Now, Jesus was proclaiming that the dawn of its fulfilment had come in His coming. The fullness of blessing was to come through His death and resurrection and exaltation. It is because Jesus has died for us, been raised for us and is now exalted for us that the Holy Spirit is offered to us and given to us.
   (ii) "For I will pour water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry round, I will pour My Spirit upon their descendants and My blessing on your offspring" (Isaiah 44:3). 
Here, we have a marvellous promise of God concerning the great outpouring of His Spirit. Christ has died. Christ has been raised. Christ is now exalted. Withe work of salvation completed, God pours out His Spirit upon all who trust Christ. 
   (iii) "On that day, living waters will flow from Jerusalem" (Zechariah 14:8). 
Christ died at Jerusalem. Christ was raised again at Jerusalem. The Spirit was, first, given, in the fullness of Christ's salvation, at Jerusalem.In view of the fulfilment of this promise in Christ, we rejoice in Him, for "living waters flow from Christ", who "is not a dry and worn-out cistern, but an inexhaustible fountain, which largely and abundantly supplies all who will come to drink" (John Calvin).
After all the years of Israel's waiting, Jesus proclaimed that the time of fulfilment had come.  We note the effect of Jesus' words - "there was a division among the people over Him" (John 7:43). There was also a division among the Pharisees (John 7:50-52). Some believed, while others did not believe (John 7:40). Do you believe?
  (2) Now, we look at the challenge of Jesus' great invitation.
Jesus is still the great divider of people, Some believe in Him. others do not believe in Him. 
There is a new quality of life, a new satisfaction to be found in Christ. This life must be received by faith. This call to faith places before us a decision concerning in Christ.
as we think about Jesus' great invitation, let's think about the Christian's spiritual autobiography. 
  (a) Thirsting - the pre-conversion experience;
  (b) Coming or believing - the conversion experience;
  (c) Drinking and flowing - the post-conversion experience.
(a) Thirsting
Jesus' teaches spiritual truth in homely terms that everyone of us understand - thirst. He speaks of physical thirst. he teaches us about spiritual thirst. 
To the worshippers at the Feast of tabernacles, Jesus said, "The water of the feast cannot quench your spiritual thirst. I alone can do that for you."
To us,Jesus says, "I still quench spiritual thirst. I can do this for you."
Have we become so familiar with Jesus that we fail to embrace Him with joyful faith and receive abundant life?
The worshippers, who knew their "hymn book" (the book of Psalms), would be familiar with the Psalmist's words concerning spiritual thirst: "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God" (Psalm 42:2). "O God, Thou art my God, I seek thee, my soul thirsts for Thee, as in a dry land, my soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh faints for Thee, as in a parched land" (Psalm 143:6).
We, also, have the great hymns concerning the quenching of spiritual thirst.
"See! the streams of living waters, Springing from eternal love, well supply Thy sons and daughters, And all fear of want remove. Who can faint while such a river ever flows their thirst to assuage - Grace, which, like the Lord, the Giver, never fails from age to age."
"I heard the voice of Jesus say, 'Behold, I freely give the living water; thirsty one, stoop down and drink and live': I came to Jesus, and I drank of that life-giving stream; My thirst was quenched, my soul revived, And now I live in Him."
Some of the worshippers at the Feast of Tabernacles sang the words of the Psalms, yet they refused to come to Jesus for the quenching of their spiritual thirst. What about you? You sing the words of the great Gospel hymns. Have you come to Christ for the quenching of your spiritual thirst?
(b) Coming (or believing)
To come to Christ is to believe in Him. To come to Christ in faith is to "embrace Him as He is held out to us in the Gospel" (John Calvin).
The way in which we are brought to Christ is most wonderful. Many people do not know that they are thirsty. They do not what they are thirsty for. All the time, the Spirit is creating thirst. Then, the gracious Word of God begins to reach them and their eyes and hearts begin to focus on Jesus. They find him to be the Answer to their deep thirst and their deep longing for real life. What about you? Have you come to Christ? Have you found life in Christ? Can you say, 'Christ has found me'? If not, why not make today your day for coming to Christ and beginning a new life?
(c) Drinking and flowing
This is to be the Christian's ongoing experience - drinking in the "living water" of Christ, letting the "living water" of Christ flow through us.
The "living water" must flow to us before it can flow through us to others.
If the "living water" does not flow through us, we must ask ourselves seriously the disturbing question: Has the "living water" flowed into my life?
"No one can possess or be indwelt by the Spirit of God and keep that Spirit to himself. Where the Spirit is, He flows forth. If there is no flowing forth, He is not there" (William Temple).
"My heart overflows with a goodly theme. I will address my verses to the King. My heart overflows with praise to my God. I'll give him the love of my heart." - An overflow of praise to God.
"As we share, and as we live,as we receive, and as we give, we will build up each other till we all attain the fullness of the stature of Christ" - An overflow of blessing to others.
Drinking and flowing - Do not ask God to bless you without also asking Him to make you a blessing to others.       
  (3) The comfort of Jesus' great invitation (John 7:39)
"From His fullness, have we all received grace upon grace" (John 1:16).
Jesus described the Spirit as the Comforter. We must draw great comfort from the knowledge that Jesus gives His supreme gift, the Holy Spirit, to all who believe in Him.
   (a) We are not left alone in our weakness. The Spirit brings to us all that Christ died to provide for us. This is why Jesus emphasized that He had to be glorified. and, then, the gift of the Spirit would follow. the Spirit brings us into a living experience of the benefits of Christ's death for us.
   (b) We are not left to our own changeableness.
There is a permanence about God's gift of the Holy Spirit. We are so changeable. Our circumstances change. So do our moods. The Spirit of God does not change. Receiving the Spirit is not a "one-off." It is the beginning of an ongoing life of blessing. Water relieves thirst, and provides for the continuation of life and fruitfulness. The Spirit brings with Him more than forgiveness for the past. He also brings power to live for Christ now.
   (c) We are not left to our own insignificance.
The promise of "rivers of living waters" is given to every believer. With the promise comes responsibility. we are called to be more than believers. We are called to be servants, soldiers, prophets and apostles. 

Set Free By The Truth Of The Gospel

Much modern preaching tends, in the words of the prophet Jeremiah, to say to men and women, "Peace, peace" where there is, in fact, "no peace." The Gospel, on the other hand, to use the words of the prophet Joel, places "multitudes in the valley of decision." The Gospel places you and me crossroads between faith and unbelief. It is a crossroads at which you must make a decision - either to trust Jesus Christ as Saviour, or to trust in your own selves, your religion, your good works. Which will it be - Christ or or man-centred religion?
When Jesus Christ preached the Word of God, His preaching had one of two effects on His hearers - either they believed and were saved, or they were antagonised, and they objected to Him, threatening Him, taunting Him and persecuting Him.
When the Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached, simply and honestly, it is never comfortable to listen to. The Gospel never leaves people the way they were. Either, it thrills them, or it infuriates them. The Gospel places every one of us at the crossroads. Will it be faith in Jesus Christ and salvation, or unbelief (even religious unbelief) and condemnation?
"God sent His Son not to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through Him" (John 3:17). These great Gospel words are followed by an urgent call to faith - "He who believes in Him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God" (John 3:18).
Jesus says to each  of us: "If you continue in My Word, you are truly My disciples, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:31-32).
To all of us, Jesus asks very serious and insistent questions: What about your religion? What about your church membership and church attendance? Can it be described in terms of continuing in the Lord's Word? Can it be described as a life of true discipleship? Can it be described as knowing the truth and being set free by the truth of the Gospel?
Perhaps, you are the type of person who says to yourself, "The Gospel of Christ is all right as long as it's concerned with generalities, and doesn't get too personal in its challenge."
This type of person accepts Jesus as the great example and teacher, and even acknowledges that He is the Son of God. When, however, he hears the personal challenge of the Gospel, he starts to back away.
I wonder if this is an apt description of you. You are a religious person. You attend Church regularly, but you don't like to hear about the need to be converted, the need to be born again. 
Why?
Is it because we don't like to hear that we are lost sinners for whom there is no hope apart from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, our only Saviour?
When Jesus says, "Unless you are converted, you shall perish", we tend to say to ourselves, "I'm really quite a good person. Why all this talk about conversion?"
When Jesus says, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God", we tend to react hastily, "I've been a religious person all my life. Why all this talk about being born again?"
What we tend to forget is this: We really are sinners whose only hope of being accepted by God is based on the death of Jesus Christ. If you look at your life in the light of Christ's death for you, you can come to no other conclusion than this: If Jesus Christ needed to die on the Cross for me, I must be a great sinner with a very great need of a great Saviour. Alongside the Saviour and His death upon the cross for our sins, there is no room at all for the claim that God will accept us on the basis of our religion and good works.
Jesus said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).
The freedom which Jesus offers to you and me is grounded in a knowledge of the truth about ourselves, that we are sinners, who can do nothing to save ourselves. It is based on the truth about our Lord Jesus Christ, that He is our only Saviour.
This knowledge of the truth, and this experience of being set free by the truth, is very far removed from the religion of a great many Church members, who attend Church regularly. Many have a form of religion, which is sheer slavery - a slavery to custom and tradition. Such people are religious because they are afraid not to be religious. They speak of their childhood days in this way - "When we were young, we were made to go to Church." They are religious people, simply because they have never known anything else. That's the way they were brought up. It's their custom and tradition. It's what they were taught by their parents and grandparents. 
This is not the freedom which Christ promises. It is nothing more than a shallow and superficial belief - a second-hand faith, which is bound by custom, tradition and fear. There is no comparison between this kind of religious bondage and the knowledge of the truth, which Christ gives and which sets the believer free.
When the believer has come to know the truth of the gospel, he is able to say with real conviction: "I know this to be the truth of God. I know it to be true because it has changed my life."
What is it that the believer confesses to be the truth of God? It is the Gospel. This is what changes our lives - the knowledge of Jesus Christ, the Saviour who invites you to receive forgiveness for all of your past sins, the Saviour who says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if you open the door, I will come in" (Revelation 3:20). He says, "I will make you a new person. I will empower you with the Holy Spirit." Jesus is the Saviour, who invites us to receive His free gift - the gift of eternal life. We receive this wonderful gift through faith in Jesus, our Saviour. 
How are the blessing of God's salvation to become ours? Is it, through self-centred religion, in which you are so confident that your good works will be good enough? No! We receive God's wonderful gift of salvation through faith in Jesus, our Saviour. 
Trust in Christ. Believe that He died for you. Believe that He has taken your sins upon Himself so that all of your sins might be forgiven. Believe that Jesus is the risen Lord, the living Saviour. Believe that He gives you His great gift of eternal life. Believe that He will keep you in the way of faith, the way that leads to His heavenly and eternal glory.

Keep On Worshipping The Lord.

" And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good works, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the ...