Monday, 31 December 2018

A Message For The New Year

We stand between the past and the future. We are to give thanks for the past. Let us “give thanks to the Lord”, remembering “the wonderful works that He has done” (1 Chronicles 16:8,12). We are to commit our future to the Lord in prayer. God promises His blessing to those who call upon Him in prayer: “If My people who are called by My Name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). There is work to be done. It is God’s work. God gives His command to do His work. God gives the strength to do His work (Ezra 1:2,5). God raises up His servants to do His work. We must be committed to doing the work of the Lord (Esther 4:14,16).
Sometimes, in God’s work, we wonder what is going on. We wonder, “Where is God in all of this?” We need the encouragement of God’s Word: “He knows the way that I take” (Job 23:10). We need to be assured of the faithfulness of God (Lamentations 3:23). Whenever we don’t understand what God is doing, we must learn to look up and catch a glimpse of His eternal purpose for us: “He has put eternity into man’s mind” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Looking beyond the things of this world, we see Jesus. We see Him as “altogether lovely” – “outstanding among ten thousand” (Song of Solomon 5:16,10).
What is so special about our Lord Jesus Christ? What is so important about Him? He is our Saviour. He died for our sins. Though we had “gone astray”, He continued to love us. He saw that we had “turned every one to his own way”, yet He did not stop loving us. He showed His love for us by dying on the Cross for us: “The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). Through Christ, we have received full salvation.
God has made Himself known to us. He has forgiven our sins. He has become our God. We have become His people” (Jeremiah 31:33-34). He has given us “a new heart” and “anew spirit.” We have His Spirit living within us. We must seek to glorify His “great Name” (Ezekiel 36:26-27,23). With Christ as our Saviour, we have good cause to “rejoice in the Lord” (Joel 2:23). We look away from ourselves to Him, and we say, “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). He is “the living God” – “the God of our salvation (Daniel 6:26-27). We are to “return to the Lord”, believing His promise: “He will revive us” (Hosea 6:1-2). as those who have returned to the Lord and have been revived by Him, we must live for Him, never forgetting that privilege involves responsibility. We dare not sit back and take it easy. If we do, there will be “a famine of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 3:2; Amos 8:11). We need “vision.” Looking ahead to the Lord’s return, we must proclaim His message of salvation – “in Mount Zion there shall be those that escape” – and judgment – “there will be no survivors from the house of Esau” (Obadiah 1:17-18),
Before we can enjoy God’s blessing, we must hear the “witness” of the Lord “against” us. Before we can “do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God”, we must see how far we have fallen short of His perfect standard for our lives (Micah 1:2; Micah 6:8). We need to see ourselves as we really are – sinners who need to be saved by the grace of God. We must remember that the Lord is a God of holiness as well as a God of love. In His holiness, He shows us our need to be renewed by Him. In His love, He renews us by the power of His Spirit. When He says to us, “Fulfil your vows”, we are conscious of our own inadequacy. When we look to Him for “strength”, we become aware of something else, something very wonderful – “the Lord is restoring” us to a life which will bring glory to Him (Nahum 1:2,7,15; Nahum 2:1-2).
In our sin, we come to the Lord with this prayer: “O Lord … in wrath, remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2). In His answer, God directs us to the Cross of Christ, where we see our saviour, bearing our sin so that we might receive His forgiveness. When we pray, we must listen for God’s answer: “Be silent before the Lord God!” In His answer, God speaks to us of “the Day of the Lord.” It is “at hand.” It is “near and hastening fast.” It will be “a day of wrath” because of sin – we “have sinned against the Lord”, He leads us on the pathway which leads to true joy. Through Christ, we are able to “rejoice and exult with all our heart.” Our faith in Christ brings joy to us. It also brings joy to God: “He will rejoice over you with gladness.” He looks forward, with great anticipation, to the Great Gathering Together of His people, the Great Homecoming of the redeemed (Zechariah 1:7,14,15,17; Zechariah 3:14,17,20).
We must not allow ourselves to become bogged down in our present situation. God is calling us to “take courage, to draw strength from His promises: “I am with you … My Spirit abides among you … I will bless you” (Haggai 2:4-5,19). Sometimes, we may feel that the Lord has forgotten us. He remembers us. This gives us good reason to “rejoice greatly.” This joy is not a superficial thing. It is true and lasting joy. It is the rejoicing of those who have returned to the Lord. Never forget this: Our rejoicing in the Lord is always vitally connected to our returning to Him. To those who return to Him. To those who return to Him, He gives His precious promise: “I will return to you.” “The Lord Almighty” returns to us, and we are filled with His joy (Zechariah 9:8,13).    
God will not forget His people. As those who belong to Him through faith in Christ, we have a very special place in His heart. He loves us. we belong to Him. He calls us His “treasured possession.” We have a special place in His purpose. He says, “My Name will be great among the nations.” “In every place”, He wants His Name to be glorified. How is God to be glorified among us? He will be glorified when we honour Him with the full commitment of our hearts and lives. God is waiting to pour out His blessing. He wants “to open the windows of heaven for us and pour down on us an overflowing blessing.” He will do this for us when, in our hearts, we put Him first (Malachi 1:11; Malachi 3:10).
May  God help us to move into the future with Him – ready to be the kind of people upon whom He has promised to pour out His blessing.

Holiness - By Grace

The life of holiness is not an expression of our own moral virtue. It is an expression of the holy character of God being reproduced in us: ‘I am the Lord who sanctify you’ (Leviticus 20:8). God wants us for Himself – This is why we must not live the world’s way: ‘I the Lord am … holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine’ (Leviticus 20:26). God has a great purpose for us: ‘You shall inherit their land… I will give it to you, a land flowing with milk and honey’ (Leviticus 20:24).  ‘The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly… in Christ Jesus’ (1 Timothy 1:14). This is the pathway to holiness: ‘By grace you have been saved through faith… for good works’ (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Approaching the Lord’s Table: Forgiveness, Victory, Faith, God’s Word, God’s Love

As we approach the Lord’s Table, let’s think about two verses of Scripture.
“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
“Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler” (Psalm 91:3).
The first of these verses speaks of the forgiveness of our sins.
The second speaks of victory over Satan.
Through the precious blood of Christ, we receive the forgiveness of our sins (1 Peter 1:18-19).
Through the precious blood of Christ, we are victorious over Satan (Revelation 12:11).
Let us rejoice in God’s gift of forgiveness. Let us also rejoice in His gift of victory.
We do not earn God’s forgiveness. It is God’s gift. Victory is not earned. Like forgiveness, victory is God’s gift.
How do we receive these great gifts of God?
We come to the Cross of Christ. At the Cross, we learn that Christ to bring us forgiveness – and He died to give us victory.
We receive these gifts by faith.
Forgiveness and victory do not come to us without faith. Faith is the response by which we receive God’s gifts.
What is faith? How does faith change us? What part do the reading and preaching of God’s Word have in the strengthening of our faith? How does the celebration of the Lord’s Supper help us to grow in faith?
* Faith is centred on Jesus Christ. It is putting our trust in Him.
* Faith is not only believing with our minds. It’s being changed in our hearts. Faith does not leave us where it finds it. Faith leads us on a journey of discovery. It’s a journey in which we learn more and more of our Saviour. We are learning to love Him, follow Him and serve Him.
* Faith does not take any glory for itself. Faith gives all the glory to God. Faith does not say, ‘Glory for me.’ Faith says, ‘Glory to God.’
In this journey of discovery, what part is played by our gathering together for worship?
* We gather to hear the Word of God. It is read to us. It is preached to us. Faith is part of a conversation between ourselves and our God. He speaks to us. we are learning to speak to Him. unless God speaks to us, we will be unable to speak to Him. God’s Word is spoken to us. God’s Word creates our response. God speaks, and it is done. He says, “Let there be light, and there is light.” God’s Word is our shining light in a dark world. When His light shines upon our life, we walk in His light. It is the light of His love. This is the light that inspires our faith.
* We gather to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. This is a special time of remembering Jesus. It’s a special time of being reminded that Christ loves us. His love is the greatest love of all. There is no love like the love of Jesus. we gather at the Lord’s Table. We learn that we are loved. we are loved with an everlasting love. It’s a love that will not let us go. God loves us long before we ever thought of loving Him. When our love is weak, His love is strong. this is the message that comes to us from the Lord’s Table. This is the love which gives strength to our faith.

Atonement

Leviticus 15:1-16:34 
Each of us is unclean before God. Each of us needs Christ, who has given Himself as “a sin offering” to “make atonement” for us (Leviticus 16:16). Christ is the perfect Saviour, who “bears all our iniquities” (Leviticus 16:22). Concerning His great sacrifice for us, the Word of God says, “On this day shall atonement be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins you shall be clean before the Lord” (Leviticus 16:30).

Worship The Lord ... (Psalm 18)

Psalm 18:1-24
The first three verses set the tone: Worship. What a great start to this Psalm. Our attention is directed away from ourselves to the Lord: ‘my strength...my rock, my fortress and my deliverer...my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold’ (1-2). The great testimony of verse 3 - ‘I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies’ - did not come easily (4-5). The enemies of the Lord will be brought to judgment (13-14). ‘The cord of death encompassed me...He delivered me from my strong enemy...’ (4-5,17-19) - Rejoice in the risen Christ through whom we have the ‘victory’ over ‘the last enemy...death’ (1 Corinthians 15:20,26,54). God is leading us into ‘a broad place’ (19). Step into the future with Him. Don’t hold back! ‘Let go and let God have His wonderful way’.

Psalm 18:25-50
‘This God’ is ‘our God’. He is ‘the Rock’. He is ‘my Rock’. No one can compare with the Lord our God. He is the living God, the God of our salvation (30-31,46). In the Lord, we have salvation: ‘You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty’. In our God, we have victory: ‘You armed me with strength for battle; you made my adversaries bow at my feet’ (27,39). Do you want to enjoy God’s blessing - His salvation and His victory? God says, ‘Clothe yourselves with humility’. Together with His command, we have God’s warning - ‘God opposes the proud’ - and God’s promise - He ‘gives grace to the humble’ (1 Peter 5:5). There is a question which each of us must answer: ‘Who is on the Lord’s side? There is an answer which of us must give: ‘We are on the Lord’s side’ (Church Hymnary, 479).

Cleansing

“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 us and the holy God. When this happens, we must remember that He is our loving Father. In His great love for us, He has provided for us the way of continual cleansing in the blood of Christ, our Saviour.
When we fail the Lord, He does not leave us. He does not disown us. We are still His children, saved by His wonderful grace. He does, however, call us to come back to Him. He calls us to make progress in the way of holiness.
If we are to a life that brings glory to the Lord, we must come to Him – not once only but many times – and be cleansed in the blood of Christ. This is the continual cleansing which we require if we are to grow in Christ and become mature in Him.
The cleansing of our heart begins with conversion. God gives us a new heart. The cleansing of our life involves lifelong learning – learning to live in the power of the new nature given to us by God at the time of our conversion.
May God help us never to forget our complete cleansing. May we always give thanks to Him for this great blessing. May God help us to come to Him, again and again, for the continual cleansing we need if we are to grow in Christ and bring glory to Him.

At The Lord's Table, We Remember Him - And We Respond To Him.

John 6:1-59
In the Lord’s Supper, Jesus stands before us as the One who calls for our decision. There is no automatic guarantee that all who hear the preaching of God’s Word do, in fact, receive the blessing of which God’s Word speaks. There is no automatic guarantee that all who receive the blessing to which these symbols point. Jesus stands before us, saying to us, “What is your response to Me?”

Make Sure That You Don't Reach The Point Of No Return.

God’s judgment on Jezebel was awesome (2 Kings 9:30-37).
Why does God’s Word speak to us so strongly of judgment? He is warning us. He is calling us to repent, to return to Him before it is too late, before our opportunity for repentance has gone. Make sure that you don’t reach the point of no return. ‘Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near’ (Isaiah 55:6). For you, this may be God’s time. The Lord may never be so ‘near’ again. You are in ‘the valley of decision’: ‘Today, when you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts’ (Joel 3:14; Hebrews 4:7). There is still time – to open your heart to Christ, to trust Him as your Saviour, to become a new creation in Him. Here is a prayer you can pray: ‘Restore us, O God; let Thy face shine, that we may be saved!’ (Psalm 80:3,7,19).

Will you be saved - or lost?

Christ invites us to ‘come’ (6:1,3,5,7) - and look at things through His eyes. With Him, we look at earth. With Him, we look at heaven. Troubled world, tremendous worship - These are the things we see when we look through the eyes of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our world is deeply troubled. Heaven’s worship is absolutely tremendous. Of all our many ‘troubles’, the greatest is this: We are sinners, and none of us ‘can stand’ before ‘the face of Him who sits on the throne’. Our earthly ‘troubles’ are nothing compared with this! There is hope. There is a way of ‘salvation’. We can be saved through ‘the blood of the Lamb’. If, however, we turn from Him - ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ - there will be no hope. We will face ‘the wrath of the Lamb’ (4:16-17; 5:10,14; John 1:29). Will you be saved - or lost?

Make it personal!

Read the words of John 3:16 and Romans 10:9. Put your name into these great verses. Make it personal – Jesus is my Saviour. Jesus is my Lord.

Chapter 3, Verse 16: The Saviour, The Scriptures, The Spirit

John 3:16 – The Saviour
2 Timothy 3:16 – The Scriptures
Colossians 3:16 – The Spirit

Let us come to the Saviour. Let us read the Scriptures. Let us worship God in Spirit and in truth.

The Great Conflict Between God And Satan - Never Doubt The Final Outcome!

“Now the Lord has put a lying spirit into the mouths of all these prophets” (1 Kings 22:23).
While we believe that God is working out His good purpose – “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28), we must remember that history tells the story of our sin as well as God’s salvation. Where there is sin, there is also judgment. We see this in John 3:17-18 where the great words of salvation – “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through Christ” (verse 17) – are followed by these very serious words of warning – “Whoever believes in Christ is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s only Son ” (verse 18). “Because he has not believed …", there will be condemnation.
Scripture says that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). This is the fulfilment of God’s wonderful promise: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21). If we miss out the words, “who calls on the name of the Lord”, we would be left with the statement, “Everyone will be saved.” This might be what we would like to hear, but it’s not what God’s Word says. It says that the way of receiving God’s salvation is the way of calling on the name of the Lord we receive God’s salvation, we must call on the name of the Lord.
How does this help us to understand the words of 1 Kings 22:23 – “now the Lord has put a lying spirit into the mouths of all these prophets”? The NIV Study Bible offers this comment: “The Lord had given 400 prophets over to the power of the lie because they did not love the truth and had chosen to speak out of their own hearts.” We may say that the Lord’s action as an act of judgment. He says to those who follow the way of disobedience, “If that’s the way you have chosen to go, I will not stop you.” He doesn’t stop them in their tracks and turn them around. He allows them to continue on in the way they have chosen.
Here, we see the great conflict between God and Satan. We must remember that Satan is “the father of lies” (John 8:44). In its comment on 1 Kings 22:23, the NIV Study Bible says, “see also note on 2 Samuel 24:1). Commenting on 2 Samuel 24:1, it points out two things – (1) “God does not cause anyone to sin” – “When tempted to sin, no-one should say, 'God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed, Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin … ” (James 1:13-15). (2) “Satan’s evil acts are under God’s sovereign control” – “The Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, everything he has in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.'” (Job 1:12).
When we consider the ongoing conflict between God and Satan, we must never forget that the final outcome is certain: “the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur” (Revelation 20:10). Along with God’s judgment on “the devil”, there is also His judgment on “the false prophet” (Revelation 20:10).
It is this judgment of God that we must see in the words of Proverbs 16:1 – To man belongs the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue.” While we are still on this earth, God speaks to us His Word of warning – “See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from Him who warns us from heaven?” (Hebrews 12:25). God is calling us to stop turning away from Him and start turning to Him. If, however, we persist in turning away from Him, the word of warning will become the word of judgment: “I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:23).
There is a better way than the word of warning becoming the word of judgment. When there is “a violent earthquake” in our life – the shaking of our whole life (which makes us think about the direction in which our life is heading), we can turn to the Lord with the question, “What must I do to be saved?” When we ask this question, God will speak to us with His wonderful answer: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:26-31).

Treasures On Earth? or Treasures In Heaven?

“King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart. Year after year, everyone who came brought a gift – articles of silver and gold, robes, weapons and spices, and horses and mules.” (1 Kings 10:23-25).
” Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king to maintain justice and righteousness.” (1 Kings 10:9).
We read about King Solomon. We read about His great riches. We read about  his great wisdom. We learn that he had been greatly blessed by God. What are  we to say about Solomon?
We could focus on the spiritual side – “the wisdom God had put in his heart”, “the Lord your God … has delighted in you.”
We should also note the temptation that comes to those who have great riches. Things can become more important to us than they should be. We must pray that the Lord will always be more  important to us than the things of this world.
“I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand.”

When The Going Gets Tough ...

“There will be famines” (Matthew 24:7).
What are we to do when there’s “a famine of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11)?
Pray that God will give you the grace to keep on following Jesus, even when so many show no interest in following Him:
“He who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13).
* This is a Word for ourselves – “Be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10).
* It is also a Word for others – “Let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).

What Are You Doing With Christ's Invitation?

“Many are invited. Few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14).
How are we to know that we are chosen as well as invited? How are we to answer this question? We must ask another question – What are we doing with the invitation? Will we discard the invitation? or Will we take up the invitation? There is a way that we can have the assurance that we have been chosen by the Lord. It begins with taking up His invitation. He invites us to come to Him. We come to Him, and we are welcome. It is His welcome that gives us the assurance that we have been chosen by Him.

God's Word Brings Blessing.

"… the seed shall sprout and grow, he himself does not know how …" (Mark 4:27).
God has given us a great promise – “my word that goes out from my mouth … will not return to me empty” (Isaiah 55:11). When we feel that God’s Word is returning to us empty, we have this Word of encouragement: God’s Word will not return to Him empty. God gives us His great promise “my word … will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” We do not see all that God’s Word is doing as the Spirit of God brings Christ to the people. God sees the full impact of His Word. That is why He says that His Word will not return to Him empty. When we have preached the Word, we must say, with the hymnwriter, “I know not how the Spirit moves, convincing men of sin; revealing Jesus through the word, creating faith in Him.” We don’t understand all that God is doing as His Word is preached. We do know that He is at work. How do we know this? – We know Him – “I know whom I have believed.” We know that we can trust His promise – His Word will achieve the purpose for which He sends it. When the “seed” of God’s Word is sown in the hearts of men and women, it will “sprout and grow” – even if we are barely aware of all that is happening. The salvation of sinners – it may be beyond our understanding, but it’s not beyond God’s power: “the gospel … is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

Building On Christ

“Concerning this temple which you are building, if you walk in My statutes, execute My judgments, keep all My commandments, and walk in them, then I will perform My Word with you, which I spoke to your father David” (1 Kings 6:12).
Building a temple for God means nothing if it isn’t accompanied by building the ‘temple’ of a godly life.  We must remember that “our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19). If the place of worship looks great and our lives are a mess, we need to hear what God is saying to us here. He’s speaking to us about godly living. How are we to live a godly life? – We must build our life on Jesus Christ – “whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock … it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock” (Matthew 7:24-25). Whenever we start to attach too much importance to the place where we worship, let us remember the words of Jesus: “In three days I will raise up the temple of my body” and let us build our faith on Jesus Christ, “risen from the dead” (John 2:19-22). He is the Person whom we worship. May He always be more important to us than the place where we worship Him.

Male And Female

Genesis 2:20
“a helper suitable for him”
Man was sharing God’s creation with the animals. Now, God was about to do something very special, something that would make the world a very different place.
Genesis 2:21
“a deep sleep”
Man contributes nothing to this mighty work of God. This is a great lesson we must never forget. We dare not make too much of ourselves. Anything good in us comes from the Lord.
Genesis 2:22
“a woman”
This was a new creation. There was nothing else like her. She was the first woman. There was also continuity between the man and the woman. They belonged together. In man and woman, there is both difference and similarity. The woman is different from the man, yet she is more like him than any of the other creatures.
Genesis 2:23
“This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh”
There is a sense of fulfilment here. Until this point, there was something missing. Now,the creation is complete. There is Man and there is Woman.
Genesis 2:24
“they will be one flesh”
This is more than a physical sharing. It’a a sharing in every part of life. It’s the special sharing which we call “love”.
Genesis 2:25
“naked and unashamed”
This is the original creation. This is before sin came in and spoiled everything.

The Power, The Victory, The Thanksgiving

The Power – “the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power” (1 Samuel 16:13).
The Victory – “I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty … the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands” (1 Samuel 17:45, 47).
The Thanksgiving – “I will exalt you, O Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me” (Psalm 30:1).

The Lord Bless You And Keep You ...

Numbers 6:22-27

There’s nothing better than God’s blessing. It’s nice to have friends. People like you. It feels good. God’s blessing – That’s so much better. Friends come and go. God’s blessing remains. You can be surrounded by friends – and still feel very lonely. Sometimes, they’re great friends. Sometimes, they disappoint us. When you’re surrounded by God’s blessing, everything’s very different. God will never disappoint us. He’s our “always and forever” Friend. His blessing is an “every day” blessing. It’s not just a “now and again” thing. It’s an “all the days of our life” thing. Everywhere we look, we see God. We look to the hills. We see our Creator. We look to the cross. We see our Saviour. We are blessed by our Creator. We are blessed by our Saviour.

How do we enjoy God’s blessing?
Trust Him. Walk in His way. Wherever life’s journey takes us, He’s there. He’s our faithful Friend. He’s the Friend who’ll never let us down. In our happy times, He gives us His joy. In our hard times, He gives us His peace. Is there anything better than this? No! There isn’t. This is not about good things happening to us. It’s about the good God being with us, even when bad things are happening to us. Being blessed by the Lord doesn’t mean that we’ll never have hard times. What it does mean is this – God loves us in the hard times as well as the happy times. Put your trust in the Lord. Trust in His love. Walk in His way. Be changed by His love.

How are we to walk in the Lord’s way?
We must never imagine that walking with the Lord will be easy. It wasn’t easy for Jesus. It won’t be easy for us. Sin is always near. The devil sets many traps for us. He’s always trying to draw us away from Jesus. Sin may be very near – but the Lord comes even closer to us. Jesus is “God with us.” The devil is a powerful enemy. He’s also a defeated enemy. Christ has won the victory over Him. Christ has won the victory for us. He gives His victory to us. Why don’t we enjoy constant victory over sin? – We take our eyes off Jesus. We forget that He’s living in us. We forget that it’s from Him that we receive His peace and His joy. His peace is great. It passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). His joy is great. It’s “a great and glorious joy which words cannot express” (1 Peter 1:8). His peace and His joy give us strength for walking in His way.

How Great Is Our God!

"Who can speak about all the mighty things the Lord has done? Who can announce all the things for which He is worthy of praise?" (Psalm 106:2).

There is always more to be said about the Lord than we can ever say. When we have said all that we can say, we have not said enough. The Lord is always greater than all our words about Him. How great is our God! How great is His mighty work of salvation! Praise be to His Name - the Name of our salvation.

The Holy Spirit Leads Us In The Way Of Victory.

Jesus was ‘persecuted’. We will be ‘persecuted’ - ‘all who desire to live a godly life will be persecuted’ (John 15:20; 2 Timothy 3:12). We have no guarantee that life will be easy. In all our difficulties, ‘the Spirit of truth’ directs our attention to Jesus our Saviour (John 15:26; 16:13-15). Whatever our problems, we draw encouragement from Jesus’ words: ‘In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33). Here, we have realism and faith. The world is trying to squeeze us into its own mould (Romans 12:2). Sometimes, we feel like faith is slipping away. Sometimes, we feel like giving up. What are we to say to all this? ‘Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?’ - This is our faith’ (1 John 5:4-5).

“The glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord” (1 Kings 8:11).

“The glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord” (1 Kings 8:11).
The house of the Lord is never to be the chief focus of our attention. The Lord of the house is to be the focus of all that we do when we gather together for worship.
When we look, with admiration, at the grand cathedrals, we may wonder, “Who were they trying to impress when they built this?” When we see two hugely impressive examples of Chucrh architecture located very close to each other, we may wonder, “Is there more than a bit of the ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ thing going on here?”
We may wonder, “What goes on in these places?” Are they places of which it can be said, “The glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord”? or Have they become places that are not really much more than tourist attractions?”
When Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem, He found that life in the Jerusalem Temple was busy with activity, but it was empty – God was not there.
At the end of the book of Ezekiel, there are these simple yet very wonderful words: “The Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35).
When we hear these words, we know that this is what really matters: “The Lord is there.”
“The glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord” – What does this mean?
- We are to be “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day” (Revelation 1:10).
- We are to “worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
- We are to “pray in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18).
- We are to pray that we will “hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches” (Revelation 2:7).
- We are to pray that our preachers will speak with the authority and power of God: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel … ” (Luke 4:18).

Two Men With The Same Name

Two men with the same name – Saul, the first king of Israel, and Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor of Christ and His servants.
In both stories, we read of a new man.
* In the case of Saul, the first king of Israel, David was the new man. Saul was rejected. He was replaced.
The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king … So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed David in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power. Samuel then went to Ramah” (1 Samuel 16:1, 13).
* In the case of Saul of Tarsus, it was very different. Saul became the new man. He became Paul the apostle. He was saved by the Lord. His life was transformed by the power of Christ’s love. He became a new creation in Christ Jesus. He had this great testimony: “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20).
- We don’t need to be like Saul, the first king of Israel – castaway, laid aside as of no further use (1 Corinthians 9:27).
- Each of us can be like Paul the apostle. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, we have more than Paul’s own testimony. we have a call to each one of us. God is calling us to be transformed by the power of Christ’s love. He is calling us to become “a new creation in Christ” – “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone. The new has come!”

Sunday, 30 December 2018

The Darkness Of Sin, The Light Of Salvation

Beyond the darkness of sin, there's the light of salvation (Genesis 1-3).
This is not only about creation. It's also about sin. There's also the promise of salvation (Genesis 3:15). Even in the darkness of sin, there's a glimpse of the light that will come. God created us. He has not forgotten us. He has sent His Son for us. He has not left us in our sin. He has delivered us. We have just a hint of this here - "The seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent" (Genesis 3:15). There is enough of a hint to persuade us that there are better things still to come. We do not get bogged down in sin. God is calling us beyond that. He is calling us on to salvation. He is calling us to come to the Saviour - our Lord Jesus Christ.

What kind of person are you becoming?

Things were going from bad to worse!  The people of Israel had forgotten ‘the Lord their God’ (Judges 8:34).  ‘The enemy’ was ready to ‘come in like a flood’ (Isaiah 59:19).  Abimelech - Gideon’s son by ‘his concubine who was in Shechem’ (Judges 8:31) - was very unlike his father.  Gideon had pointed away from himself to the Lord (Judges 8:23).  Abimelech was eager to draw attention to himself.  He murdered his seventy brothers, paving the way for himself to become king (Judges 9:1-6).  Abimelech spelt trouble!  Things were only going to get worse with Abimelech.  There was ‘an evil spirit’ at work among God’s people (Judges 9:23).  Where was God in all this? - ‘Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct’ (Romans 1:28).  What kind of person are you becoming?  Each of us must choose!

Gold!

Exodus 37:1-29
Many times over, we read the word, “gold.” We look beyond the furnishings of the place of worship to the God whom we worship. In our hearts, we say, “My God, how wonderful You are.” All that we read of here is pointing us to the great God, the God of glory, the god who is worthy of all praise. Many people place great value on “gold”, but they do not worship God and give glory to Him. How sad it is that so many people place such high value on the things of this world  – and place such little value on the God who created our world. In our world, we must learn to look beyond this world. We must learn to say, “I’d rather have Jesus than riches untold.” The Lord must always be more important to us than anyone or anything else. We must not let “gold” become our “god.” We must look beyond the “gold” to our God.

“Give thanks to the Lord.”

Psalm 107 calls us to “give thanks to the Lord” (Psalm 107:1,8,15,21,31). When we hear the call to “give thanks to the Lord”, our response is to be ‘I want to give thanks to You among the people, O Lord” (Psalm 108:3). “With my mouth I will give many thanks to the Lord, I will praise Him among many people” (Psalm 109:30).

A Godly, Christlike And Spirit-Filled Life

What kind of people are we to be? What kind of life are we to live? Lord, You're calling us to live a life of "love" (Proverbs 17:9). How, Lord, do we learn what love is? - We learn from You. You show us what love is - "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son ... " (John 3:16). In Jesus, we see perfect love - "The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20). The Holy Spirit fills our lives with Your love - "The fruit of the Spirit is love" (Galatians 5:22). Help us, Lord, to live a Godly, Christlike, Spirit-filled life - a life of love.

More Than A Human Story!

Queen Vashti is removed from her position. She is replaced by Esther. There is no direct mention of God in connection with these events. That fact that the book of Esther has been included in the Word of God indicates that these events were interpreted as evidence of God’s activity among His people. It is important that we read the book of Esther as part of Scripture, and not only in terms of what is written in the book itself. Reading Esther in this way, we see it as part of God’s Story, and not only as a human story.
Although the Name of God does not appear in this book, we have here an inspiring story of the triumph of good over evil. This is a book about God and Satan. They are opposites. The victory belongs to God. He is Lord. Before the victory, there is the conflict. The people of God are in great jeopardy. Their life is in danger. The evil man, Haman, “planned to wipe out ... All the Jews in the entire kingdom of Xerxes” (Esther 3:6). Esther played a vital part in the defeat of Haman. She was willing to die for the sake of her people. She was protecting her people, even at the risk of losing her own life: “I will go to the king, even if it is against a royal decree. If I die, I die” (Esther 4:16).
Esther’s bold request - “Spare my life ... Spare the life of my people” (Esther 7:3) - was followed by an even bolder accusation of Haman - “Our vicious enemy is this wicked man, Haman!” (Esther 7:6). God honoured His servant, Esther. God’s people were spared. God’s enemy, Haman, was killed. Here, we see salvation and judgment. The Lord is the Saviour of all who put their trust in Him. He is also the Judge of those who oppose Him.
Esther showed great courage in standing up for her people - “I cannot bear to see my people suffer such evil” (Esther 8:6). The outcome of her stand for her people was wonderful - “So the Jews were cheerful, happy, joyful, and successful” (Esther 8:16). What celebration there was among God’s people - “Their grief turned to joy.” In their joy, they did not forget “the poor” (Esther 9:22).

Thank God - for the Holy Spirit.

We thank You, our Father, that You have sent Your Holy Spirit to live in our hearts. We thank You that the new life in the Spirit is just the beginning. You are preparing us for the greater ‘glory that will be revealed in us’(Romans 8:18). We thank You that the Holy Spirit is ‘the guarantee of our inheritance’ - He is the starter which whets our appetite for the main course! With Him in our hearts, we long for more. We long for Your glorious future. We’re not staggering along on a dead-end street. We’re walking tall. We’re travelling with You, Lord. You’re leading us on to Your glory. May we always be led by Your Spirit. May we keep on growing in Your Spirit.

The Mercy Of God - And The Purpose Of God

Exodus 2:23-25
The mercy of God, revealed in the Exodus, is connected with the ongoing purpose of God – “God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob” (Exodus 2:24).
From Exodus 1:13 to Exodus 2:23-25, there were 80 years (Acts 7:23,30). These 80 years are referred to as “the course of those many days” (Exodus 2:23). Egypt is “the house of bondage” (Exodus 20:2; Deuteronomy 5:6). The people of God were in bondage for many years. Year after year passed, and the people remained in bondage. Where in the world was God in all this? Was He absent? Has He left His people? Had God forgotten His promises? No! Not at all! God was there all the time. In mercy, He was waiting patiently for His people to call upon Him, to cry to Him for mercy.
Is there not here a lesson for our Church and our community? Don’t give up. God hasn’t given up on us. He is still waiting for us to call upon Him. In mercy, He is waiting for us to cry to Him for mercy.
In Exodus 2:23-25, we read about the time when the people of God are brought to an end of themselves, the time when they cry out to the Lord for mercy, the time when God’s plan of salvation is set in motion.
Notice that, if the Lord’s blessing is to come to us, we must be brought to an end of ourselves, and we must learn to cry to the Lord for mercy.
We must note the contrast between Israel’s past in “the house of bondage” and the future that was opened up for them by God’s mighty act of redemption, the Exodus. Is there not here a picture of the future could be for our congregation and community? Before start thinking about what the future may hold, we must think about the past from which we need to be delivered. Have we, like the people of Israel, lived in “the house of bondage”? Have we been in bondage to a self-centred and godless lack of spiritual priorities? Have we been in bondage to prayerlessness? Has this bondage, like the people of Israel’s bondage, continued for many years? Have we been in bondage to fear which holds us back from being faithful and loyal witnesses to Jesus Christ? Our future can be very different. We can leave “the house of bondage.” We can leave it in the past. We can follow the Lord into the future He has planned for us. We can set out on a new journey of faith, a journey that will lead us to a new, bright, Christ-centred future – a future which will be blessed by the Lord.
What will our future be? Will it be a life of continuing in “the house of bondage”? or Will it be a new life – a life that has Christ at its very centre? Will we rise to the challenge of being the people of God – people who are serious about living for the Lord, even when it would be so easy to settle for something less than God’s very best?
What will your choice be? Will you stop saying ‘No’ to God, and start saying ‘Yes’ to Him? Will you dare to start being honest with God and with yourself? If you and I dare to be honest with God and with ourselves, we will be deeply humbled before Him, we will acknowledge our need of God’s mercy, and we will make a new beginning with Him.
As we think about the future, we will be tempted to ask, “Have things gone too far?” This is the voice of the devil, speaking to us. God is saying something else to us. He’s speaking to us of His mercy. If we forget the mercy of God, we will be pessimistic about the future. If we look to the God of mercy, we will grow strong in the faith that things can be turned out – by God.
If things are turned around, we must make outr response to the God of mercy. We must receive His mercy, which brings to us the forgiveness of our sins. We must receive, from Him, the power that we need to rise up and live as His faithful servants, who learning day-by-day what it means to be set free from our self-centred way of life, set free for a life of serving the Lord and bringing glory to His Name, the Name of our salvation.
There is an alternative to being real with God. It’s the way of hypocrisy. We can ‘go through the motions’ of religion – but we must not forget what Jesus says about that way of life – “I never knew you, Away from Me, you evildoers” (Matthew 7:23).
May God help us to open our hearts and lives to Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord – and we’ll see the difference that He makes, when we give Him life-service, and not just lip-service.

Saturday, 29 December 2018

I have decided to follow Jesus ...

"It's pointless to serve God. What do we gain if we meet His standards or if we walk around feeling sorry for what we've done" (Malachi 3:14) - This what the world says.
What does the Lord say to us? - "The Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings for you people who fear My Name" (Malachi 4:2).
The Sun is shining upon us. It's not just the sun that's up in the sky. It's Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He makes everything new. It's not pointless. Life has a purpose. It's God's purpose for our life. There is gain. We don't just think in terms of financial gain. There's spiritual growth. There's moral strength. Our life is better when we see it through the eyes of the Lord. Many times, we have let our Lord  down. He will not let us down. He will lift us up - above the world's way of thinking, and into His way of living. He will lead us in His way of blessing.
"I have decided to follow Jesus ...
no turning back, no turning back.
The world behind me, the cross before me ...
no turning back, no turning back.
Though none go with me, I still will follow ...
no turning back, no turning back.
Will you decide now to follow Jesus? ...
no turning back, no turning back."

Eternal life


What does it mean to have eternal life? There are two important dimensions in eternal life. There is life after death and there is life before death. There are a great many people who never give any thought to an after-life. The question, "Is there life after death?" rarely crosses their mind. they are content to live from day to day, taking each day as it comes. These people are, however, interested in another question: Is there life before death? When they hear of Jesus Christ, they ask, "Can He change my life here and now? Can He make a difference in my life right now? The Gospel answer to that question is an emphatic "Yes". Jesus Christ does not only give us heaven. He give us new life here and now. The two sides of the life which Christ gives to us must be emphasized. There is life before death. Jesus calls this: "abundant life" (John 10:10). There is life after death. Here, Jesus speaks of "everlasting life" (John 3:16, Authorized Version).
Eternal life has a beginning, but it has no end. It begins when we come in faith to Jesus Christ to receive from Him the new life which He alone can give, the abundant life which is far better than life without Christ. Without Christ, life is empty. In Christ, there is abundant life. Apart from Christ, we have mere existence, just going on from day to day with no real sense of meaning, purpose and direction. With Christ, everything is different. This great change is well described in the words of the hymn: "What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought since Jesus came into my heart!" Jesus makes a difference here and now. He also gives us a life which has no end. This is also emphasized in this hymn: "I'm possessed of a hope that is steadfast and sure, since Jesus came into my heart!"
Eternal life is life with a new quality. It is life with an everlasting duration. When we think of the abundant quality of eternal life, we can testify with the hymnwriter: "All that thrills my soul is Jesus; He is more than life to me." When we think of the everlasting duration of eternal life, we rejoice in these words from the hymn, "Amazing grace": "When we've been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we've no less days to sing God's praise than when we first begun." When we read the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in John 10:28 - "I give them eternal life", our hearts are filled with joy - the joy of the Lord. When we read the rest of the verse, our hearts are filled with even greater joy: "they shall never perish." These are great words! The truth of Jesus' promise is presented very effectively in a Gospel song: "He didn't bring us this far to leave us. He didn't teach us to swim to let us drown. He didn't build His home in us to move away. He didn't lift us up to let us down." When we read the words, "they shall never perish", we may be painfully aware of the many temptations which we face. we are aware of the Lord's presence, but we are also aware of the activity of Satan. He is always seeking to snatch us out of the Lord's hands. What does Jesus say to us about Satan? - "No one (not even Satan himself) shall snatch you out of My hand."
Years ago, on a mission in Brodick, on the island of Arran, I heard an interesting song, the words of which have remained in my mind: "Why do Christians never turn back? They could, if they desired. Or, could it be that Christians are permanently fired with a love for a life they've found to be so real? They've found the perfect living in a God who is ideal for today." Jesus has given us abundant life. When we are tempted to turn back from following Jesus, we find, in our hearts, an echo of the words of Peter: "Lord, to whom shall we go?You have the words of eternal life" (John 6:68). Through faith in Jesus Christ, we look forward to life after death. Our sense of expectation is greatly increased by the marvellous fact that we have received life before death: "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine: O what a foretaste of glory divine!" Abundant life, here on earth, is a foretatse of life, in heavenly glory, with the Lord. We are not in heaven yet, but we have been heaven in our hearts, because we have Jesus in our hearts: "Heaven came down, and glory filled my soul, when, at the cross, the Saviour made me whole. My sins were washed away, and my night was turned to day. Heaven came down, and glory filled my soul." It is a wonderful thing to know that eternal life has begun. It is an even more wonderful thing to know that it shall never end.
Many Christians have come to faith in Christ through a little booklet entitled, "Journey into Life." This is a good description of what it means to become a Christian. Becoming a Christian means beginning a journey into life. this journey is a never-ending journey. The life, which Christ gives, is not only abundant life. It is also everlasting life. Have you begun the journey into life? If not, you can begin, today, your own personal journey into life. Let Jesus Christ lead you into this journey into life.

God''s love is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable.

We read in the Bible about God’s love. Is this just something from the ancient past? Is it for us? The Bible speaks to us from the ancient past – but it’s not to be left in the ancient past.
* “God so loved the world” (John 3:16) – This is for us today. He loved the world then. He loves the world now. His love is unchanged.
 * Sometimes, we start off well. We’re reading the Bible. We’re learning about God’s love. Then something unexpected happens – and we start wondering, “Does God still love me?” Where does that thought come from? Does it come from the Spirit of God? No, it comes from our enemy, Satan. He sows seeds of doubt in our mind. He says, “Do you really think that God loves you?” He contradicts God’s Word – and leaves us very confused (Genesis 3:1-5). When Satan comes to us with his lies, we must remember this: God never stops loving us. We may stop loving Him – but He will never stop loving us. His love is unchanging.
 * How do we know that God’s love is unchanged and unchanging? – The Bible answers this question in three short words: “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Times change. Unexpected things happen to us. We change – “I’m not the person that I used to be.” God never changes. “God is love” – His love is unchangeable.

The Holy Spirit comes from God. The Holy Spirit changes us.

(i) The Holy Spirit comes from God.

- The new birth (John 3:3, 7). 

- “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Luke 3:16).

(ii) The Holy Spirit changes us.

 - “Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-4).

 - “When the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you shall be My witnesses” (Acts 1:8).

"The Word became flesh" ...

"The Word became flesh" then so that He might be made flesh in us now (John 1:14).
The Son of God became "Emmanuel" (God with us) so that He might be "God with us" here-and-now.  
"Jesus ... has risen" (Matthew 28:5-6) - so that, as the living Christ, He might live in us. 
Our faith is grounded in the great facts of the Gospel: The Word became flesh, Jesus has risen. The Saviour was born for us. He lived for us. He died for us. He rose for us.
All that He has done for us must become a powerful reality in us. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. 
'For us' - we must never forget this. We do not jump straight to 'In us.'
To those who speak of a inner spirituality which is not grounded in the historical reality of the great events of the Gospel, the Word of God says, "Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God" (1 John 4:2-3),  "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins" (1 Corinthians 15:17).
There is no 'Christ of faith' without 'the Jesus of history." A 'Christ of faith' who is not also 'the Jesus of history' is very different from the Jesus Christ of the Bible.
'In us' - we must never forget this. We are not to rest content with a Jesus who belongs to a world that is both far away and long ago.
The Gospel does not leave us in the past. Jesus comes to us from the past. He comes as the living Saviour.  

The prodigal son and the perfect Son

* Jesus told a story of God's love - "the story of the prodigal son" (Luke 15:11-32).
* Jesus is the Story of God's love - His Story is the Story of God's perfect Son.
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In Luke 15:13, we read of the prodigal son going into the "far country". In Luke 15:20-22, we read of the joy of his homecoming -"So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet."
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In Philippians 2:8, we read of Jesus going into "the far country" (Luke 15:13) - "He humbled Himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!" - so that we might have an even greatest Homecoming of all - Christ has been "exalted ... to the highest place." He has been given "the Name that is above every name." What a day it will be when "at the Name of Jesus every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:9-11).

What are we looking for?

Luke 14:1-11

What are we looking for? Are we looking for praise from men - or from God?

The Call Of Love

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem ..." (Luke 13:34-35)
This is the call of love. In love, Christ is reaching out to us. In love, He's calling us to come to him.

Privilege and Responsibility

"From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked" (Luke 12:48). 
There is no privilege without responsibility.

Loving Jesus And Living For Him

"Be ready ... Be ready ... " (Luke 12:35,40).
When Jesus returns, we are to be ready. This doesn't mean that we need to have all the answers to all the questions that can be asked about his return. It means that we're to be waiting for him in faith. We're to be loving him and living for him.

Are we listening to the Lord - or are we listening to the world?

"Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to give me my share of the inheritance that our father left us.”
14 Jesus said to him, “Who appointed me to be your judge or to divide your inheritance?”
15 He told the people, “Be careful to guard yourselves from every kind of greed. Life is not about having a lot of material possessions.”
16 Then he used this illustration. He said, “A rich man had land that produced good crops. 17 He thought, ‘What should I do? I don’t have enough room to store my crops.’ 18 He said, ‘I know what I’ll do. I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones so that I can store all my grain and goods in them. 19 Then I’ll say to myself, “You’ve stored up a lot of good things for years to come. Take life easy, eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! I will demand your life from you tonight! Now who will get what you’ve accumulated?’ 21 That’s how it is when a person has material riches but is not rich in his relationship with God.” (Luke 12:13-21). 
Who is rich? The world has its way of answering this question. Jesus has a different way of answering it. Are we listening to the Lord - or are we listening to the world?

The power of the Holy Spirit

"At that time the Holy Spirit will teach you what you must say" (Luke 12:12).
The power of the Holy Spirit - This is something we must never forget. We meet someone who needs to hear the Good News of Christ's love. God is giving us this opportunity to speak a word for Him. What are we to say? We look to the Lord - to give us His Word, the words that we are to speak for Him - "Lead me to some soul today, O teach me, Lord, just what to say; Friends of mine are lost in sin, And cannot find their way. Few there are who seem to care, And few there are who pray; Melt my heart, and fill my life, Give me one soul today."

Strong words from Jesus!

"After Jesus spoke, a Pharisee invited Him to have lunch at his house. So Jesus accepted the invitation. The Pharisee was surprised to see that Jesus didn’t wash before the meal. The Lord said to him, “You Pharisees clean the outside of cups and dishes. But inside you are full of greed and evil.  You fools! Didn’t the One who made the outside make the inside too? Give what is inside as a gift to the poor, and then everything will be clean for you" (Luke 11:37-41).
Keeping up appearances - That was all that mattered to the Pharisees. There's a difference between the way things seem and the way they really are. Jesus saw this clearly. The Pharisees didn't. May God help us to be followers of Jesus - not followers of the Pharisees.  
Luke 11:42-54
42 “How horrible it will be for you Pharisees! You give God one-tenth of your mint, spices, and every garden herb. But you have ignored justice and the love of God. You should have done these things without ignoring the others.
43 “How horrible it will be for you Pharisees! You love to sit in the front seats in the synagogues and to be greeted in the marketplaces. 44 How horrible it will be for you! You are like unmarked graves. People walk on them without knowing what they are.”
45 One of the experts in Moses’ Teachings said to him, “Teacher, when you talk this way, you insult us too.”
46 Jesus said, “How horrible it will be for you experts in Moses’ Teachings! You burden people with loads that are hard to carry. But you won’t lift a finger to carry any of these loads.
47 “How horrible it will be for you! You build the monuments for the prophets. But it was your ancestors who murdered them. 48 So you are witnesses and approve of what your ancestors did. They murdered the prophets for whom you build monuments. 49 That’s why the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles. They will murder some of those prophets and apostles and persecute others.’ 50 So the people living now will be charged with the murder of every prophet since the world was made. 51 This includes the murders from Abel to Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the temple. Yes, I can guarantee this truth: The people living today will be held responsible for this.
52 “How horrible it will be for you experts in Moses’ Teachings! You have taken away the key that unlocks knowledge. You haven’t gained entrance into knowledge yourselves, and you’ve kept out those who wanted to enter.”
53 When Jesus left, the experts in Moses’ Teachings and the Pharisees held a terrible grudge against him. They questioned him about many things 54 and watched him closely to trap him in something he might say.

Strong words from Jesus! 
If these words were spoken to us by someone else, we might well say, 'Why don't you take a good look at yourself before you start saying all these things about us?'
Jesus spoke with power because He lived with integrity. There was no gap between what He said and how He lived. At every point, His words were backed up by His life. This is where His power came from.
What about us? Are we learning to love Jesus more?
When we need to speak such words, will we speak with the spirit of Jesus? He wasn't trying to drive people away from God. He was saying to them,'Get real with God.'
We need to hear such words. When we hear them, may we hear an echo of the words of Jesus. May we hear more than a word that condemns us and leaves us feeling that we have failed miserably. May we hear the call to come out of the illusion of our hypocrisy and into the reality of true discipleship. May we hear this call as Jesus's call of love. He says, "You weren't meant for this. You were meant for something more than this.' May we hear His voice of love, calling us to a closer walk with Him. He calls us in love. He calls us to holiness. May He give us grace to say 'Yes' to His love. May He give us grace to say 'Yes' to His holiness.

Jesus is more than a servant of God. He's the Son of God. He's our Saviour.

"Someone greater than Jonah is here" (Luke 11:32). 
Think of all the great servants of God in the Old Testament. Jesus is greater than all of them. He's more than a servant of God. He's the Son of God. He's our Saviour. What could be greater than this? Whois  could be greater than him? He's the greatest!

Friday, 28 December 2018

God has spoken to us by His Son.

“Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it” (Luke 10:23-24).
There is a progression, in Scripture, beyond the revelation given to Israel through the Old Testament prophets to the great revelation given in the coming of Jesus Christ to the world. He is greater than all the prophets. He is greater than all the kings. He is the Son of God. He is our Saviour. There is no-one else like Him. There were many prophets. There were many kings. There is only one Saviour – Jesus Christ, the Son of God: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2).

Stop walking away from Christ. Start walking with Him.

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! … it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades” (Luke 10:13-15).
What is Christ saying to us as we read His strong words of judgment? He’s calling us to change direction. Stop walking on “the broad road that leads to destruction.” Start walking on “the narrow road that leads to life” (Matthew 7:13-14). Stop walking away from Christ. Start walking with Him.

A large harvest, few workers ...

"He told them, 'The harvest is large, but the workers are few. So ask the Lord who gives this harvest to send workers to harvest his crops.'" (Luke 10:2). 
A large harvest, few workers: what do we do? - "Ask the Lord ... " "Lord, teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1).

Lord, we thank You that Your Son, Jesus, went to the Cross for us.

Lord, we thank You that Your Son, Jesus, went to the Cross for us. It was our sin that sent Him to the Cross. He took our sin upon Himself. He took our place. We were the ones who should have died – but He was the One who died for us. We look at ourselves, and we see nothing but bad news – “The wages of sin is death.” We look at Jesus, dying on the Cross for us, and we hear the Good News of Your great love for us: “The free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

More than a prophet - Jesus is my Saviour.

"A great prophet ... Are you the one who is coming?" (Luke 7:16,19-20).
"A great prophet" - This may be the beginning of our faith, but it's not the end of our faith.
"A great prophet" - This is the first stage of our faith. We sense that there's something different about Jesus. Then, we begin to ask the question, "How different is Jesus?" We start to wonder, "Is Jesus more than a prophet?"
"Are you the one who is  coming?" Where does this question come from? It comes to us, when we start thinking, "There's something different about Jesus."
We ask the question. God gives His answer. It is an answer that arises in our hearts, as we think about Jesus, as we think, "This is more than a prophet. This is my Saviour."

The blessing - it's for you!

"Jesus looked at his disciples and said,
“Blessed are those who are poor.
    God’s kingdom is theirs.
21 Blessed are those who are hungry.
    They will be satisfied.
Blessed are those who are crying.
    They will laugh.
22 Blessed are you when people hate you, avoid you,
    insult you, and slander you
        because you are committed to the Son of Man.
23             Rejoice then, and be very happy!
                You have a great reward in heaven.
                    That’s the way their ancestors treated the prophets" (Luke 6:20-23). 

"Blessed are those ..." (Luke 6:20-21). "Blessed are you ..." (Luke 6:22). The blessing is not only for those. It's for you!

When the tempter comes ...

When the tempter comes, we must stand on God’s Word: ‘every Word that comes from...God’ (Matthew 4: 4).

John - the prophet; Jesus -the Saviour


"And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
    for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation
    through the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
    by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79 to shine on those living in darkness
    and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace." (Luke 1:76-79).

These words of prophecy speak of the ministry of John the Baptist - "a prophet of the Most High." He was to "prepare the way for the Lord." "Salvation ... forgiveness ... mercy ... heaven ... peace" - John's ministry gave a taste of all that Jesus, the Saviour, would bring to us. We give thanks to God for Jesus the Saviour - and we also thank God for John the Baptist.

Jesus - “the Son of God” and “the Saviour of the world”

Some people think of Jesus as a great teacher of morality. Is that all that we can say about Him? Those who “believe” in Him say something else about Him – He’s “the Son of God” and “the Saviour of the world” (Luke 1:35; John 4:42). The critics say, “You can’t say that!” We give this answer: Jesus said it! He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). He said it then. He’s still saying it now. Thank God – He’s given us more than a great teacher. He’s given us His Son – our Saviour.
* God’s Son is unchanged – He’s still our Saviour: “He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him” (Hebrews 7:25).
We sing of God’s “amazing grace” - “How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.” Sometimes, we lose our way, and we wonder, “Where is the blessedness I knew when first I saw the Lord?” Sometimes, Jesus doesn’t seem to be so precious. Sometimes, we don’t feel so blessed. What’s the problem? We’re the problem. We’ve taken our eyes off Jesus. We’ve forgotten how great our Saviour is.
* God’s Son, our Saviour, is unchanging – When you’re going through a hard time, remember this: “He didn’t bring us this far to leave us. He didn’t teach us to swim to let us drown. He didn’t build His home in us to move away. He didn’t lift us up to let us down.”
Sometimes, we find it difficult to rejoice in the Lord. Let’s remember that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8) – and we will find it so much easier to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4).
* God’s Son is unchangeable – This is where true and lasting joy comes from: “Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me, not for the years of time alone but for eternity. Joy floods my soul for Jesus has saved me.”

From religion to revival

Standing upon divine revelation – “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4), Jesus received God-given strength for challenging the “bread alone” of human religion – the religion of “the hypocrites” (Matthew 6:2,5,16). Their religion was centred upon themselves. Jesus had this to say about their religion – “Be careful not to practise your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them” (Matthew 6:1). The “hypocrites” added their own ideas to the Word of God – and the power of God’s Word was lost. Jesus shows us the better way – looking to the Lord, listening to the Lord and learning from the Lord. He calls us to live a God-centred life: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). He calls us to put God first: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). The difference between Jesus and “the hypocrites” was clear for all to see: “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at His teaching, because He taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law” (Matthew 7:28-29).
May God raise up, more people, in this generation, whose lives will be centred on God and grounded in His Word – rebels who will protest against the shallowness of superficial religion, prophets whose lives will point beyond religion to revival.

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 ...