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Posts tagged ‘christ’

Scriptural Delight 16 – Psalm 119:105-112

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Nun

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. 106 I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws. 107 I have suffered much; preserve my life, O LORD, according to your word. 108 Accept, O LORD, the willing praise of my mouth, and teach me your laws. 109 Though I constantly take my life in my hands, I will not forget your law. 110 The wicked have set a snare for me, but I have not strayed from your precepts. 111 Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. 112 My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end.

As he walks in the darkness with a lamp to show him where to tread and which path to follow, the Psalmist here is reflecting on just how God’s word leads, guides and keeps him on the path of staying right with, and obedient to, Almighty God.  Many is the path the Psalmist would have trodden in the dark when tending sheep when he was a shepherd boy, being careful not to fall into any holes. 

Now, he says just how brightly shining God’s word is, to guide, steer and keep him on the narrow spiritual path!  The light of Scripture and God’s Law, commands and statues not only give guidance on how to live, but also direct and guide every action! God’s word, says the Psalmist, is a light and lamp through the dark time he spoke of earlier.  The tiniest light affects even the darkest night.  It would also have been after having renounced all earthly wisdom that the Psalmist David could be guided by heavenly wisdom seen in the Law!

With a lamp to direct his footsteps and a light to guide his path, the Psalmist resolved boldly before God, that he will follow the righteous laws as laid down.  The lamp and the light are to show God’s moral guidance! They are to show a way forward and not backwards! By going backwards, the Psalmist knows he will fall into darkness and ways that are disobedient to God! So he relies on the Law and God’s commandments to show him the way up the narrow path of obedience to God.  He offers himself to the service of God and is willing to fully committed to following where God leads and be obedient to Him. 

With his desire to keep God’s laws, the Psalmist is embracing what God commands wholeheartedly and single-mindedly. And how does he achieve this?  Is this achievable by using his own strength and guile?  No! its due only to God’s grace and power that the Psalmist can hope to achieve his goal and fulfil his oath.  He knows that even though he suffers for his obedience, the Lord has promised to save and rescue him, according to His promises!

Again, the Psalmists relies on God’s promises to save, secure and rescue him. In response to be rescued the Psalmist offers praises and a willingness to be taught!  With praises of a teachable person, God is asked to accept the Psalmist’ sacrifice.  Nothing was more important to the Psalmist than to know how God wanted him to behave in all situations and God’s laws, statutes, precepts and commandments enable the Psalmist to exercise Godly obedience in all situations – both private and public. He has sought to do this, despite sufferings, persecutions, having his very life threatened and being in constant danger of his enemies. 

Despite all that, God’s laws are imprinted on the Psalmist’s heart and engraved on his mind – he does not forget!  He is then able to overcome the traps, lures, snares and temptations laid out in wait for him, by his enemies.  Knowing God’s precepts on his heart and mind, allow the Psalmist to avoid such traps, shining the lamp and light of God’s word on the path ahead.  His persecuting enemies seek to destroy and kill him, but they are eluded by the Psalmist Godly guile and knowledge. 

For the Psalmist knows that God’s laws are everlasting to everlasting and they bring him true joy. The testimonies he has read in the history of his people about how they overcame in order to be obedient to God are a joy to him.  Provided the Psalmist possessed this everlasting joy, he could leave all other pleasures such as music, gold, jewels, riches, honours, wealth and family behind. God and being obedient to God through God’s laws were the Psalmists utmost joy and goal – with a lamp and light to show the way forward!

How is  your lamp showing?  How is your walk of obedience to, and service of, God going?  It is when we are struggling with temptations and sins, that we need the Holy Spirit to help us overcome.  So often, I know, we try in our own strength to overcome temptations and fail. We succumb to the tempters traps and disobey God.  Much to the pleasure of our goading enemies.  Jesus when in the last night before his arrest, trial and death, endured supreme temptations to just give up.  But He didn’t, because like the Psalmist, His supreme joy was found to be obedient to the Father!  Where is your supreme joy found? Is it found in your wealth, possessions, sexual activity, friends or family?  Or is your supreme joy, like the Psalmist and Jesus, found in obedience to God and service to Him and His people?  Remember that we have a helper who dwells inside us – God the Holy Spirit! He will help you through temptations and snares and give you the grace freely to do so.

Finally, when you do sin, having fallen for the lure or trap of the enemy, then be quick to ask forgiveness for your sin. The longer you leave it, the more it will fester, turn poisonous and gives the enemy, satan, an opportunity to accuse you.  Ask forgiveness from God, accept His grace, move on and ask the Holy Spirit to fill you anew and help you.  Read Psalm 51 and Psalm 32 if you want to know how the Psalmist did it!  Remember, that temptation itself is not a sin – even Jesus was tempted many times and yet He never sinned! Thank you.

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Jesus Last Teaching

83. Partake – Jesus Last Teaching

“But now I am going back to the Father who sent me, and none of you asks me where I am going. You are very sad from hearing all of this. But I tell you that I am going to do what is best for you. That is why I am going away. The Holy Spirit cannot come to help you until I leave. But after I am gone, I will send the Spirit to you.” (John 16v5-7)

In these last few chapters before He is crucified, Jesus is saying goodbye to His disciples and giving them some final teaching before He departs. Several times He has told them He is going away (John 13v33; John 14v3-4, 19, 28). Today we are going to go quickly through John 15-16

Disciples must bear fruit for the kingdom! (John 15v1-16)

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15v1-2)

As usual Jesus uses Old Testament language, for in the Old Testament, the nation of Israel is often seen as a vine (Jeremiah 2v21; Psalm 80). However as a vine, Israel had not produced fruit that God had expected as explained in Isaiah 5v1-2 “I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.”

With Jesus describing Himself as the true Vine, the implication is clear that the nation of Israel was but an imperfect precursor to His perfect self. With Jesus as the vine, all believers are the branches, and all believers draw spiritual nourishment from Him. As part of this nourishment, sometimes pruning is required (John 15v2). Cleansing is also required in order that fruit be borne from the Christian Disciple. This cleansing is through regular confession of sin and partaking of Holy Communion as explained in the foot-washing scene of John 13. To prove to others they are His followers and His disciples, Jesus tells them they are to continue loving Him and also to sacrificially love others joyfully (John 15v12-14). By doing these things, which is now their mission statement, they will bear much good fruit for God’s greater glory (John 15v8). The same is true of us today, if we are Christian Disciples.

Disciples will suffer for the kingdom (John 15v18-27)

John 15v18: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”

Having spoken of love and bearing fruit, Jesus now declares a warning and the context into which He is sending them. We learn from this passage that opposition to Jesus’ message is unavoidable. The first opposition is that of the old nature attacking the new nature. Christian Disciples, Jesus said, were called out from the world (John 15v19). Christian Disciples upon conversion belong to a different place and are heading for a different place . Secondly, opposition is to be expected simply because of who Jesus is (John 15v21). Christian Disciples share in the life of Jesus and the way the world treats Jesus is the way the world treats all His disciples (John 15v20-21). Thirdly, opposition comes through revealing evil. Jesus, as the Light of the World, exposed evil and sin through His words (John 15v22) and works (John 15v24). At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus commanded all those who follow Him, to also be “lights of the world” (Matthew 5v14-16). This is done by consistently ensuring that our works and words match our lifestyle and that no hypocrisy will be found. Opposition brings persecution, and regularly throughout history, Christian believers have been persecuted for their faith in Jesus. In our own time, perhaps the most persecuted century of all. Being a Christian is not an easy decision, but it is worth it. It is also endurable because of three things: God still remains Lord God despite all; .we share in Jesus’ own sufferings and therefore have fellowship with Him (Philippians 3v10) and by being persecuted, it shows we belong to Him (John 15v19).

The main reason all opposition can be endured is because the Christian Disciple is not alone. God the Holy Spirit witnesses with the Christian Disciple (John 15v26). Not as a supplementary person filling a perfunctory role, but rather as the pioneer going out to testify about Jesus ahead (John 15v26) of the Christian Disciple (John 15v27).

Disciples will have resources in the Kingdom (John 16)

The first resource that Christian Disciples have is, as we have already seen, the Holy Spirit. After all, He is the real evangelist. In conjunction with Him, the Christian Disciple has three resources to use: proclaiming, counselling and discipling.

Proclaiming (John 16v1-7): this is the proclaiming and elucidating work about Jesus that the Spirit performs. The Holy Spirit testifies about Jesus’ death on the cross and subsequent resurrection (John 16v14). If Jesus did not go back to glory, and the Holy Spirit was not sent, then the pioneering work of the Holy Spirit would be missing from evangelism and mission. Not only does the Holy Spirit direct people to Jesus, but take them to Him.

Counselling (John 16v8-11): As well as proclaiming about Jesus, the Holy Spirit speaks to people’s hearts personally – one to one. He convinces people hearing of God’s Word of three things: their own sin (John 16v8); their separation from a righteous God (John 16v10) and also in regards to the judgement of Satan and all who follow him (John 16v11). In these three things, a person is led to the Cross in order to confess their sin and need of Jesus Christ and the salvation only He can provide.

Discipling (John 16v12-16): Once bought to faith, the Holy Spirit performs several tasks for the Twelve Disciples: He will guide them into all truth and develop what is coming in the future (John 16v13). The New Testament is the product of this work and that through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For the Christian Disciple today, the Holy Spirit helps them to apply the Bible to their life in order that Jesus Christ be glorified (John 16v14).

The second resource available to the Christian Disciple is Jesus Himself! (John 16v16-33)

His presence! The twelve disciples will experience sorrow and loss when Jesus is crucified. But after the resurrection, their sorrow will turn to great joy – similar to the exceeding joy after the pains of childbirth! Christian Disciples today also have Jesus’ presence with them, particularly when engaged in doing the work of an evangelist!

His provision! Through answered prayer, joy abounds (John 16v24)! Prayer is gong to be of prime importance for the twelve disciples as it is a way to ensure unabated joy!

His position! Jesus has overcome the world (John 16v33) and nothing can prevail against Him!

For more to think about please do read John 15-16 and ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. As a Christian Disciple, what fruit am I producing?

Q2. Why do I suffer and endure persecution for being a Christian Disciple?

Q3. How does knowing that the Holy Spirit testifies about Jesus before me, help me in my evangelism?

Q4. When was the last time I showed exceeding joy for the reasons Jesus gives in John 16?

As ever, if you have any comments to make on this, please do contact me at partakes(at) googlemail.com. Thank you.

 

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Jesus’ Identity

75. The Christian Disciple and Jesus’ Identity

Mark writing in Mark 8v27-33: Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ. Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him. He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

This section of the Bible contains the verse, which divulges Jesus’ identity, when Peter calls Him the Christ or Messiah or Saviour (Mark 8v29). In the preceding few verses Jesus and the disciples were in Bethsaida and there is the incident where Jesus healed the blind man.

1. See who Jesus is – (Mark 8v22) reveals that the faith of others apart from the blind man was also involved

There are two very obvious questions that come out of this.

Why did Jesus touch the blind man twice to heal him? We don’t know for sure, but we do know that Jesus kept on until the man could see clearly. Two things to remember though. Firstly that Jesus was unable to do miracles because of people’s lack of faith and we also need to remember that God does things in His own time and for His own purposes, but also acts in order to tell us of His love for us.

Why does Jesus tell the man not to tell anybody? Jesus didn’t want to be seen as only a healer and miracle worker.

2. Confess who Jesus is

Now we come to a climactic part of the Gospels when Jesus asks His disciples: “Who do people say that I am?

John the Baptist

  • · Jesus and John had been seen together in public and they were different in personality and ministry
  • · John came ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah’ (Luke 1v17), in a ministry of judgement, whereas Jesus came in a spirit of meekness and service.
  • · John performed no miracles (John 10v41), but Jesus was a miracle worker.
  • · John even dressed like the Prophet Elijah (2 Kings 1v8; Mark 1v6)

Jeremiah (Matthew 16v14)

  • · Jeremiah was the ‘weeping prophet’, and Jesus was the ‘man of sorrows’
  • · Jeremiah called the people to true repentance from the heart, and so did Jesus.
  • · Both men were misunderstood and rejected by their own people.
  • · Both men condemned the false religious leaders and the hypocritical worship in the temple.
  • · Those in authority persecuted both men.

In both His works and words, Jesus gave evidence to the people that He was the Son of God, the Messiah, and yet they did not get the message.

a Why did Jesus tell the disciples to keep quiet about Him?

Disciples had much to learn about Him and what it meant to follow Him.

The Jews were expecting a victorious Messiah (Isaiah 11v1-5). But they had forgotten that the Messiah must suffer and die (Isaiah 53v1-12; Luke 24v26). The Jewish people thought that the Messiah would set up an earthly political kingdom, but Jesus came to set up a spiritual kingdom that would last forever (Isaiah 9v7; Daniel 7v13-14; Luke 1v33; Revelation 11v15)

b What was the purpose of the Messiah? (Mk10v45)

Jesus’ mission was to be the Servant of the Lord, and therefore, the saviour of the world as God’s Son (John 3v16). His purpose as the Messiah was neither that He be served nor that He will lead a political overthrow of the Roman government as some had hoped. Rather, His purpose as the Messiah was to be God’s servant and give a message of hope for the spiritually poor and spiritually oppressed people.

3. Follow who Jesus is

When Jesus rebuked Peter, he was also telling off the other disciples (Mark 8v33). Remember that they did not yet understand the relationship between suffering and glory. By the time Peter had written his epistle 1 Peter, he did (1 Peter1v6-8, 1 Peter 4v13-5v10).

Some Jewish leaders taught of 2 Messiahs – one to suffer and one who would reign (1Peter 1v10-12)

Price to pay for true followers

  • · We must surrender completely to Him.
  • · We must identify with Him in His suffering and death.
  • · We must follow Him obediently, wherever He leads.

What is the reward for the true disciple of Jesus?

  • · Satan promises glory now, but in the end suffering comes.
  • · God promises suffering now, but the suffering turns to glory.

Spiritually, at this time, the disciples were still blind to who Jesus was, just as the man who was physically blind.

Our confession of Jesus is a matter of life and death (John 8v21;1 John 4v1-3). Confession of Jesus as Lord is necessary for salvation (1 Corinthians 12v1-3), when that confession is from the heart (Romans 10v9-10). Christians are called to follow Jesus, to take up their cross and this could mean nothing less than being ready to suffer and die for Jesus. If we are ashamed of Him on earth, He will be ashamed of us when the end of the world has come. He will reward those deserving the reward, and deny those who deny Him.

For more to think about please do read 1 Peter 1v1-12. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. What does Jesus’ revealed identity as Saviour offer me as a Christian Disciple?

Q2. How does knowing Jesus’ identity help me as I undergo trials, suffering and bad times?

Q3. What part does each member of the Trinity play in my life as a Christian Disciple?

As ever, if you have any comments to make on this, please do contact me at partake(at)hotmail.co.uk. Thank you.

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WOW Factor of Jesus

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Jesus Christ, the most extraordinary person who ever lived, who never wrote a book but has more books written about him than any other subject! History is split into BC and AD in honor of him! Jesus Christ, the God-man, who gives a WOW factor to anybody who will bow the knee and serve Him.

Here in this short video, I introduce my own WOW factor about Jesus. I would love to come to your church or your group and talk about this Jesus and the promise of salvation through Him alone and how He still challenges and loves people today.

You can download a copy of this video by right mouse clicking here and saving…

I also have a seminar in draft form, WOWJesus, which I would also love to bring to your church or group. Contact details are below and at the end of the video. I look forward to hearing from you and how we can work together. Thank you.

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ADD – Home Life

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Christian Disciple and Home Life!

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Paul writing in Titus 2vv11-13 “For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.”

 

“The road to a friend’s house is never too long.”

Photo courtesy of Jan

 

 

 

 

I wonder what you are like on a Sunday at church. I know some Christians who like to be all holy and proper on a Sunday at church, but can’t wait to get home and start living again! Have you ever wondered just why you have to live a holy life at home, work or play 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week as a Christian disciple? Well Paul writing here, explains that doctrine is learning and duty is living. We are to learn it in the Church then put it into practise at home. Why do we do this? We do this in order that the wondrous message of Jesus Grace can be dispersed.

 

 

So what does Paul expect of the different groups of people that he lists in the verses before those I read out at the beginning?

 

 

Firstly he speaks to the older men (Titus 2:2). They are to be temperate, dignified, self-controlled, faithful, loving and persistent. All this without drinking too much wine!!

Then for the older women, (Titus 2:3) they are to live a holy life, teaching what is good. They aren’t to speak badly of others and they are not to indulge in gossip. They also are not to drink too much wine. They are to do this so that they can be good examples and teach the younger women how to behave appropriately.

 

 

Ah the younger women! They are commanded to listen to the older women (Titus 2:4-5). They also must love their family, be self-controlled and pure. They are to be hospitable at home treating others with kindness & goodness. Why? So the Word of God is not maligned or harmed.

Younger men however are to be self-controlled and follow Titus’ example (Titus 2:6). And just what is the example to be set by Titus?? Well he is to be an example by doing good works, in a serious manner with integrity. He is to be courageous and with good speech. He is commanded to rebuke others with Paul’s authority. Why do these things? So that nobody has the chance to despise him. (Titus 2:1,7-8, 15)

 

 

Finally, slaves are to obey their master and return any items that they may have stolen! (Titus 2:9-10) Why do this? So as to make the Gospel more attractive to those outside of Christianity and to be seen as being deemed worthy of being trusted.

 

 

However the overall reason to live a holy life is because it is only due to the grace of Jesus as Saviour, that we live at all! So if He is the only reason we are living at all, then as Christian disciples, we need to live a life that is worthy of Him! In the passage I read out at the beginning, there are 3 reasons as to what Jesus grace does for us, especially those who have chosen to be His followers.

...See???...

Photo Courtesy of Petra

 

Firstly, Jesus’ Grace redeems us and is available to all!! We are all slaves to sin and unable to set ourselves free (Titus 3:3). Jesus Christ gave himself as the price for all the things we have done wrong – past, present and future sins. By His death on the cross, He met the just demands of God’s holy law, so that God in His grace could forgive and free all those who believe in Him as Saviour.

Secondly, His Grace reforms us. Not only is our status before God changed to that of being His child, but He reforms our lives in order to make the Christian disciple more godly! When Paul talks about temperance, self-control, prudence and restraint, this is to accentuate the Christian disciple’s relationship with their own self, whilst dealing with people in a wise and godly manner. In so doing, God purifies us and makes us His very own possession (2:15b).

Then lastly, Jesus’ Grace rewards us as we are looking for Jesus Christ to return! This is our hope, so we are to live lives worthy of the gospel of Jesus’ Grace.

 

For more to think about, please do read for yourself Titus 2:1-15 and ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1 – What areas of my life do I need to be changed, in order that I can live a life worthy of Jesus’ Grace that is full of wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God?

Q2 – In what ways has God purified me and made me, His child and possession?

Q3 – List the things you are thankful to Jesus for due to His grace and mercy and give Him thanks for His grace.

Thank you.

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