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Jesus’ Mission

73. The Christian Disciple and Jesus’ Mission

Luke writes in Luke 4v42-44: “At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.”

Jesus’ public ministry on earth has begun! These verses at the end of Luke 4 tell us that His mission is to preach God’s Kingdom. A reluctant John the Baptist baptized him and the crowds heard God the Father speaking to Him. He underwent temptations by the arch-seducer, satan and emerged victorious from that ordeal. Now Jesus, led by the Holy Spirit, has returned home to Galilee (Luke 4v14).

1. Jesus at home (Luke 4v14-30)

Jesus is back in home territory and because of the power of His teaching, He is becoming known as a great teacher (Luke 4v15). Jesus spent some time in Galilee, become known and arousing the interest, curiosity and excitement of people.

a. Worshipping (Luke 4v14-18) – It was Jesus’ habit to attend public worship wherever he was.

A typical synagogue service
· Opened with a prayer for God’s blessing
· Traditional Hebrew confession of faith (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21)
· Prayer and readings from the Law and the Prophets
· Brief sermon given by one of the men or a visiting rabbi (Acts 13:14-16)
· Benediction or prayer

Because of His growing renown as a teacher, it is no surprise that he should be asked to read the Scripture and give a short teaching session regarding it. Here in Nazareth, Jesus declared that the day for demonstrating God’s salvation had arrived and the day the prophets looked forward to, was going to be fulfilled in Jesus Himself (Luke 4v20). He was the Servant Isaiah had talked about long ago (Isaiah 61v1-2). His ministry was divinely directed; it was a ministry of hope for all people and a ministry to free the spiritually oppressed (Luke 4v18).

Acceptable Year of the Lord (Luke 4:19)

When Jesus said in Luke 4v19 “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour”, Jesus was referring to the “Year of Jubilee” (Leviticus 25). Every fiftieth year, this special year was the balancing of the economic system.
· Slaves were set free and returned to their families
· Property that was sold back to the original owners
· All debts were cancelled
· Lands lay bare to rest and rejoice in the Lord

The local reaction was at first one of astonishment (Luke 4v22) and telling each other he was the son of Joseph! But Jesus was not the son of Joseph, but rather the Son of God, the new Adam and the founder of a new humanity as he goes on to explain.

b. Rejected (Luke 4:20-30)

They saw Him as the son of Joseph. Admiration turned to anger, because Jesus began to remind them of God’s goodness to the Gentiles.

· The prophet Elijah bypassed all the Jewish widows and helped a Gentile widow in Sidon (1 Kings 17:8-16)
· Elisha healed a Gentile leper from Syria (2 Kings 5:1-15)

Whilst those in Nazareth could only see Jesus in the local setting, He told them His mission was for all Israel! And if Israel rejected this message of Good News, then the Gentiles would be blessed by it (Luke 4v25-27). Upon hearing this, the astonished admiration turned to furious anger (Luke 4v28-30)! Salvation is no longer restricted to Israel but for every child of Adam – every human. Jesus’ mission was not to be Israel’s saviour but the world’s saviour.
When Jesus quoted the proverb “no prophet is accepted in his hometown”, he revealed his knowledge of Old Testament history. He knew that God’s messengers often were rejected, and even as God’s Son, he was rejected as well.

2. Jesus away from home (Luke 4v31-44)

Now Jesus walked through the rioting mob and went to Capernaum and here he engaged in public ministry:

a. Preaching (Luke 4v31-32) – Jesus sets up headquarters in Capernaum (Matthew 4:13-16) and started teaching in the Synagogue. People were astonished that He taught with such authority.
b. Rebuking (Luke 4v33-37, 41) – Our Lord did not want the demons to bear witness to Himself and His identity (Luke 4:34,41). Again people were astonished at Jesus power and authority.
c. Healing (Luke 4v:39-40) – People bought their sick and asked Jesus to help them.
d. Praying (Luke 4v42-44) – He was up early the next morning to pray (Mark 1:35). It was in prayer that He found his strength and power for service, and so must we.

During this period:

· No new teaching – He has God’s authority to do what He is doing – preaching healing and releasing.
· God desires humility – Jesus is looking for people to acknowledge their spiritual blindness and poverty, so that Jesus may liberate them.
· God’s Word is important – In the previous verses, Jesus counters the devil by using God’s Word, and he continues to do this throughout His ministry. He teaches and preaches in the synagogues (Luke 4v32, 44); rebukes demons (Luke 4v35, 41) and heals diseases (Luke 4v39) all with the authority of His word.

Jesus’ mission was to be the saviour of the world as God’s Son (John 3v16) and the Servant of the Lord. His mission was to give a message of hope for the spiritually poor and spiritually oppressed people. People not only in his hometown, nor only in Israel, but rather for the whole world. People have two choices when faced with this fact: accept or reject. There is no other option. That is why as Christian Disciples we are to be actively engaged in evangelism, to tell people of this news about Jesus Christ.

For more to think about please do read Luke 4v1-44. 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. How does knowing Jesus’ mission help me in my life as a Christian Disciple?
Q2. Where does the authority for my ministry come from?
Q3. What encouragement can I take from Jesus’ behaviour to those who rejected His message?

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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Jesus’ Temptations

72. Christian Disciple and Jesus’ Temptations

Luke writing in Luke 4v1-2: Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

In Luke 3, we discovered that Jesus had started his public ministry at his baptism, and that He was revealed as God’s Son. However, not only was Jesus fully God, he was also human. In the other Gospel accounts of this event, Matthew (Matthew 4v1) and Mark (Mark 1v12) both tell us that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert. Luke alone tells us that Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit, and that he was led in the Spirit into the desert. Luke’s phrasing and terminology makes it clearer that Jesus’ temptation experiences in the desert were all part of God’s plan at the start of Jesus’ public ministry, in order that the type of Messiah Jesus was, would be revealed.

This temptations event reveals Jesus’ perfect and full humanity. Knowing Jesus to be both God and man, satan starts his plan of attack against Him. After forty days of fasting, prayer and wandering in the desert, Jesus is confronted by satan. In this event we have three temptations, and it reveals the way Christian Disciples are to handle temptations when confronted with them.

First temptation (Luke 4v3-4) – Note the way satan starts by saying “So you are the Son of God.” As if to say, “If you are really who those voices speaking at your baptism say you are, then prove it to me. You must surely be hungry by now, so why don’t you turn these stones into bread and feed yourself” (Luke 4v3). Satan wanted Jesus to disobey to God the Father’s will by using His powers for selfish purposes. He also wanted Jesus to doubt God the Father’s love and care. Jesus however is the beloved Son who always does the will of the Father (John 8v29). Luke 4v4 shows us that Jesus answered satan by using Scripture “‘Man does not live on bread alone.” (Deuteronomy 8v3). This reveals that while physical food is necessary, it is more important to be sustained by the authority of Scripture. For Jesus, instead of relying on His own power to create food, it showed His trust in God the Father to take total care of Him.

Second temptation (Luke 4v5-8) – This is satan’s encouragement for Jesus to engage in false worship, challenging him as it does to break the commandment “You shall have no other gods but me” (Exodus 20v3). Satan says its all yours if you just bow the knee and worship me. Of course satan is as always telling a deceiving half-truth. Though satan has great power (John 12v31; 2 Corinthians 4v4), he has no authority to be able to offer Jesus everything he said he would give. He is also not worthy of worship as his power is always destructive and leads to wanton disobedience and unfaithfulness. This reflects satan’s self-delusion of grandeur. Jesus’ reply again is from Scripture, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only'” (Deuteronomy 6v13). Jesus here is saying that He will only serve one Master, and that is God the Father.

Third temptation (Luke 4v9-13) – Here, satan encourage Jesus to take God the Father up on His promised protection. “Throw yourself off the top of the temple. If God is faithful and true, God will catch you and protect you as you start off on this ministry of yours!” Satan also here quotes Scripture in order to make the temptation much more appealing (Psalm 91v11-12). However, this is a misquote, because he doesn’t add “in all your ways”. Jesus, however, being always wise, quotes Scripture back “Do not put the Lord your God to the test” (Deuteronomy 6v16). In quoting Scripture back, Jesus gives balance to the total expression of God’s will and not just part of it. Jesus refused to acquiesce to the lures of satan, and his demands to test God the Father’s faithfulness on his own terms.

The first temptation is echoed within us, when we try to do things in our own strength and power instead of relying on God’s power and strength to achieve much more than we can hope for or imagine.

The second temptation here echoes James 1v14-15 where desires and lusts lure the Christian Disciple into sinning against and disobeying God.

The third temptation occurs for us when we test God. Christian Disciples who actively disobey God, subsequently fall into trouble and then expect God to rescue us are testing God. An example of this is in Exodus 17v1-7.

Jesus emerged from the desert experience, the victor, and to continue his ministry. Satan skulked off for his next opportunity. As Christian Disciples we need to be aware of the schemes of satan, and learn to fend him off, just as Jesus did in the wilderness and in all subsequent encounters during his earthly ministry.

How satan tempts the Christian Disciple

Accuse them (Rev 12v10)

Devour their testimony for Jesus Christ (1 Peter 5v8)

Deceive them (2 Corinthians 11v14)

Hinder their work (1 Thessalonians 2v18)

The Christian Disciples’ response to satan should be:

To recognise his power and deception (2 Corinthians 2v11; Ephesians 6v11)

Stay with the faith (1 Peter 5v9)

Wear the armour of God (Ephesians 6v10-17)

Resist him openly by submitting to God and he will flee (James 4v7)

Not to give him opportunities (Ephesians 4v27)

Probably the best way to oppose him is to grow as a Christian Disciple and submit all to God. We must remember that our love for God must always be stronger than our love for the world. If we love somebody, we do not want to hurt that person. When we go against God and sin, we are hurting our relationship with Him. He is a holy God and cannot abide any sin! Therefore, as we grow as Christian Disciples we grow more in love with God, and therefore our desire to sin grows less. By having faith & trust in God to provide needs and protection and worshipping and serving Him alone, the Christian Disciple grows in spiritual maturity and will also not succumb to temptation to sin and disobey God.

For more to think about please do read 1 Corinthians 10v1-13. 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. How can these examples given by Paul help me not to disobey God?

Q2. In what areas do I think I am standing firm and do I always recognize the way of escaping temptation?

Q3. What does Jesus’ experiences of temptation, tell me about his humanity and how I too can stand up when tempted?

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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Lord’s Prayer

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70. The Christian Disciple

and the Lord’s Prayer

Jesus speaking in Matthew 6v9-13

“This, then, is how you should pray:

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

Amen.”

This is, in all probability, the prayer that is most frequently used, and repeated, by those professing to be Christian Disciples and also by those who are not. It is often called the “Lord’s Prayer”. This is not because Jesus, Himself would have prayed it, for as He was sinless, He would have had no need to have said to God, “forgive us our debts” (Matthew 6v12). It was given by Jesus as a model for His Disciples prayers to be like, hence Jesus saying “how you should pray” (Matthew 6v9). When it is spoken and prayed, I wonder if some people truly understand what is being prayed?

Father: By calling God, “Father”, this implies that God is in a personal relationship with the Disciple, and that be recalling Him as a loving and generous Father. God is not impersonal, but wants to be approached intimately as a child approaching its daddy. By saying “our Father”, the individual Christian disciple should realize they are not alone, but are part of a wider church family.

Holy: When we call God Holy, it is symbolic of our intimate adoration of Him and means that we are to place Him and His purposes at the top of our list – God is to be number one priority in all aspects of life and the world. His glory, His kingdom and His will are to be our supreme concern high above our own needs.

Kingdom: God is a King and He rules! This is where the Christian Disciple prays that the Gospel will spread far and wide, and God’s Kingdom will grow until the time when Jesus Christ returns in glory, to rule with majesty and honour.

Will: As God is holy and a king, His Will is already being done in heaven. The Christian Disciple is to pray that life here on earth will approximate life in heaven! The Christian Disciple wanting to place God as number one priority and to see God’s kingdom spread, will also pray that God’s Will be top priority as well! They are the three priorities for a Christian Disciple: God will be number one; His Kingdom will spread and His will, will be done on earth.

Supply: This signifies that the Christian Disciple needs to rely on and trust in God for all things that are necessary for life to continue. So often, particularly in the Western world, we rely on our own finance, our own goods, to supply our needs and forget that God has provided for our needs that way. As Christian Disciples, we are to be thankful, for all the good gifts that God our Father has supplied to us: often without our needing to ask Him!

Forgiveness: Forgiveness of course is a major part of Christianity, both in the way that God forgives us when we come to Him in penitence and repentance, but also in the way Christian Disciples forgive others and themselves! Asking for forgiveness can be one of the hardest things we need to do. In times like that, we need to stop and consider Jesus Christ and the enormity of His forgiveness. If He forgave us for all we have done wrong, then we also should forgive others, regardless of how difficult that might be to do. Forgiveness deals with our emotional response/s toward an offender. Forgiveness enables us to have the same openness toward the person after they offend us, as before. When we forgive the offender, the hurt and the wound will start to diminish. This is helped when we realise Jesus Christ understands and we can use these experiences for our eternal advantage.

Temptation: It’s an undeniable and inevitable fact of the Christian Disciple’s life! But it is good to know that temptations are common experiences for all Christian Disciples, and not just for us as individuals, no matter what we may think! An important thing to note is that temptation itself is not sin! Rather it is the giving into temptation that causes the Christian Disciple to sin. One of the keys to living a righteous life and not sinning is by dealing with temptation the very moment it confronts us. As Christian Disciples we face temptation from three different angles: the world, our old nature and satan. It is not just temptation that Jesus means but trials of life as well. The Christian Disciple is to overcome both temptations and trials, in order that their character may through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit become more like Jes-us Christ the Master.

Deliver: This is better translated as “evil one” rather than “evil”. Satan is the one who tempts the Christian Disciple. It is he who suggests to the Christian Disciple not to forgive others and to trust in themselves for their own needs. It is he who does not want God to be number one or for His will to be done on earth as in heaven. It is he who does not want God’s kingdom to be spread. Neither does he want Jesus Christ to return in glory. Therefore as Christian Disciples we are to pray for these things and that we need to rely and trust on God for delivering from satan, who wants to snatch the Christian Disciples inner joy and dependence on God.

Your power: How can God deliver us from temptation, trials and satan? He can, because He is always all-powerful and eternally almighty. Christian Disciples are to rely on God’s strength to overcome temptation, trials and satan, and not to rely on their own strength. By relying on their own strength, failure is imminent but by trusting in God and His power and strength, overcoming temptation, trials and satan is assured.

Your glory: What is the aim of a Christian Disciple? To give all glory to God regardless of what personal achievements have been gained. His glory is to be our supreme concern, so that God is number one in the life of the Christian Disciple, His will is done in the Christian Disciple and in the world and that His kingdom continues to grow until Jesus Christ returns in majesty and glory.

For more to think about please do read for yourself Matthew 6v9-13. 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. In what ways can I as a Christian Disciple adapt my prayers to follow this model given by Jesus?

Q2. How can my prayer life reflect attention on God’s name, will and kingdom?

Q3. How often do I lead myself into temptation and blame others for it?

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ADD – Develop Character

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Develops Character

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Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28v18-20

As the church, we are to obey this command of Jesus. In order to do this, all Christian Disciples we are to develop leadership, for all Christian Disciples are leaders in some form or shape. The five attributes all Christian Disciples should develop are: Character, Conviction, Creativity, Stewardship and Shepherdship.

We start with the Christian Disciple developing Character, for without developing character; the Christian Disciple can quite simply be a better rip-off artist. If the Christian Disciple is not developing character, it is because they have not determined what they want to develop. In the developmental process the first task is to determine what the Christian Disciple wants to develop, then to develop what has been determined. It is impossible to develop what has never been determined

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Essential Characteristics

These characteristics measure how much the Spirit of God has been free to develop the character of a Christian Disciple. It also shows what it is being sought in the progressive development in the Christian Disciple

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1. Persistence & EndurancePersistence & endurance is developing staying power, to hold courageously under fire. This is a key to leadership – bulldog tenacity. Things like criticism, circumstances, opposition & problems stop a leader. The Christian Disciple who hangs in through these things is the one who accomplishes their objectives. The problem in Christian leadership is that we sometimes think it is a sprint race, when in fact it is a marathon, where a second wind of the long hard grind is necessary. What is it that stops you? The size of a person is determined by what it takes to stop him or her. Winners are people who have formed the habit of doing things that failures hate to do.

2. Resistance – This is not resistance to ideas but resistance to opposition. Criticism is the occupational hazard for leaders (1 Peter 2v20-24). Leadership is the process of developing a thick skin and a thin heart. Discouragement is cancer of the Spirit.

3. ServanthoodMatthew 20v26-28 “Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.” The first shall be last and the last shall be first. Priority should be given to serve.

4. TrainingJesus often sent people home,, so kicking people out of the nest at the right time is good Disciple making.

5. Consistent Example – Modelling is the greatest unconscious form of learning what we know. As Paul writes in Philippians 3v17 – 4v9 “Follow me as I follow Christ”. Whether we say it or not, people are following us, but are we following Christ closely? Those you are leading do not do what you tell them to do, but follow what you do.

6. Self-mastery – If you only had 6 months left to live, what would you do? Keep on doing what I am already doing, if not you had better change what you are doing. We need to be unencumbered by the things that weigh us down. This is the danger of an affluent society. (Hebrews 12:1-2) “Travel light”. This is where decision-making comes to the fore, deciding what is good and evil. The real decision is between that which is good, that which is better and which is better or best. Choose the best!!

7. Virile Private Life – Two things to keep in balance are involvement & isolation. You cannot do enough for others if you are constantly in the company of others. You also need time alone but not as a complete hermit!

8. Confidence – The number one problem in our culture today, is a lack of confidence. Paul said in Philippians 4v13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. To the Christian Disciple, self-confidence is Christ-confidence. The Christian Disciple says to them selves “I can’t lose. I can only make mistakes”. Confidence is spawned by the ability to say no. The New Testament is the doctrine of moderation in all things. You don’t have to do everything you are capable of achieving.

9. Teachability – A Christian Disciple who is teachable is a person who has an unlimited ceiling of being taught. The Christian Disciple must be willing to be taught by other people, even if they themselves are in a teaching role!

10. Positive Attitude – A danger in becoming negative, is that a root of bitterness sets up. The greatest therapy is that of thanksgiving & prayer. God says you can do it. Satan says you can’t do it.

11. Your capacity to believe God – What is there in your life that you are trusting God for that He alone can do (2 Corinthians 4v7)? God selects each Christian Disciple in order that in all things Jesus would have the supremacy and glory (Colossians 1v18)!

12. Humility – Jesus is our example as Paul exhorts us in Philippians 2v1-3 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. If Jesus could be humble in that He came to earth as a member of His own creation, then as Christian Disciples and leaders, we should be clothed in humility.

For more to think about please do ask your self 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. After reading 2 Timothy 2v11-13, what motivates me to endure and persevere?

Q2. After reading Philippians 3v17, how can I follow Jesus Christ more closely?

Q3. After reading 2 Corinthians 4:7, what is there in my life that where I show trust in God for that which He alone can do?

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ADD 02-1 Who is God

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Who is God

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I have had people say to me, I believe in God’s existance but I don’t need to study the Bible to know Him! But belief in His existence is not enough! Even satan and his demons believe in God’s existence! It is only through the Bible we can study God and His relationship with the universe. All we can know about God is not contained in the Bible, but the Bible contains all we can know about God during our earthly life! That is because God is infinite and beyond our limitations of space and time! Yet the God we as Christian disciples follow and worship, is knowable through the Bible. This means that God is a personal God and not a remote being. That is a key to studying Him! He wants to be known and has given us the Bible in order for us to do so.

How can we know about God?

In the Bible, what we know of God are the fundamental qualities or powers of His being. The Bible elucidates statements about God, by God, through which we try and understand God, using our finite minds. The Bible reveals God to us! God is spirit, yet a personal and infinite being (John 4:24). He is one in substance, nature and being and incapable of division (Deuteronomy 6v4). Yet He is three coequal people, or the Trinity! It is through the Bible we discover what pleases, angers, offends, or gives joy Him!

The words revealed in the Bible describe His attributes! The fact we are able to take hold and understand this about an infinite God is evidence that God desires to be known by humans! So what are some of the attributes of God? There are two different kinds of attributes: natural and moral.

1. Natural Attributes

a. Transcendent – God’s self-existence apart from and independent of creation. This reflects God’s majesty and greatness. Romans 11:33; 1Chronicles 29:11; 1Kings 8:27

b. Immanent/Omnipresent – God is wholly present everywhere. God fills the universe in all it’s parts without division Psalm 139:7-12; Jerermiah 23:23-24

c. Omnipotent – God has power to do all things that are the object of power. With God all things are possible Luke 1:37. He is El Shaddai or God Almighty. Jerermiah 32:17-18 Nothing is too hard for you.

d. Omniscient – God has perfect knowledge of all things – actual, past, present, future and possible. 1 John 3:20 God knows all things; Psalm 47:5 Infinite understanding.

e. Infinite – God has no limits. He has an internal and a qualitative absence of limitation. Boundless activity – Romans 11:33; 1Timothy1:16; Psalm 147:5

f. Immutable – God is unchangeable. Malachi 3:6 – I AM God and I change not; Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.

g. Eternal – God is without beginning or end. He is the alpha and omega. God is outside of time – time is in God, and He is free from the succession of time. God lives in the eternal present – past, present and future, are NOW for God – He is the I AM YAHWEH Exodus 3:14. From everlasting to everlasting you are God. 1 Timothy1:17; Psalm 102:7

h. Spirit – God is a free personal Spirit

· God is not material. He is invisible and indestructible. John 4:24; 1Timothy1:17; 1Timothy6:15-16

· God is Life Jn 14:6. Energy & activity!

· God has Personality. Self-consciousness & communicative!

2. Moral Attributes

a. Goodness – absolute perfection. Seeking creations’ welfare.

· Love – God is love 1 John 4:8-10. God communicates and gives of Himself.

· Grace – God gives us what we do not deserve. God’s riches at Christ’s expense Ephesians 2:7; The unmerited goodness of God John 1:16.

· Mercy – God does not give us what we deserve. The goodness of God to those in distress – tenderness & compassion (Ephesians 2:3-5)

· Long-suffering – God is slow to anger. God longs to forgive (Exodus 34:6-7)

· TruthJohn 14:6 The revelation source and foundation of all truth is God/Jesus

b. Holiness – moral excellence and perfection of God. Separation from sin. What God is!! Heb 7:26 “Be holy, for I am Holy”.

c. Righteousness – Holiness in action. God’s actions conform to His Holiness. Justice deals with the ab­sence of righteousness. Sin must be dealt with – (Genesis 18:25 & Psalm 89:14)

Why do we study this God? There are at least 4 reasons!

a) Avoids confusion! As we study God, we come to know truths about Him and are able to discern what are true and false facts about Him! “Truth combats error” Satan distorts scripture to put people off the truth.

b) Truth develops character 2 Peter 1:3-9 – The strongest Christian disciples are those with a good growing knowledge of biblical truth. Since study increases our knowledge of God, it increases the possibilities of love, growth and service of the Christian disciple. We study it to put it into practice! What we believe about God, affects our behaviour! James 1:22 says “We must be doers of the Word not just hearers of this is to be effective.”

c) We are commanded to grow in our knowledge of God – 2 Timothy 4:2-4

d) This God is to be worshipped and part of our service and submission to this God, is that worship is given to Him alone (Deuteronomy 5v6-9). As humans we are created in His image, and as Christian disciples we were bought at a price when Jesus died on the cross and we accepted Him as our Lord and saviour. He is due our worship and reverence! It is on worship that I hope to discuss next time!

One of the best books regarding getting to know God is the appropriately titled “Knowing God” by JI Packer – it’s a thoroughly modern and readable classic! For more to think about, please do read for yourself 2 Peter 1:3-9. 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. From my knowledge of God, what do I find comforting?

Q2. From my knowledge of God, what do I find disturbing?

Q3. How has my knowledge of God grown and affected my behaviour since I became a Christian disciple?

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ADD – Maintaining a Clear Conscience

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Maintaining a Clear Conscience

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Paul writing in 1 Timothy 1vv18-19 “Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.”

There you are! You are a Disciple of Jesus, repented of your sins and all set to live your life as a Christian disciple and yet… and yet, you still have this continual nagging feeling inside you that you are still guilty! What do you do? Paul writes here that in the quest for living as an authentic Christian Disciple, faith and a clear conscience are essential for victory in our spiritual battle. Faith according to Hebrews 10:38 is belief plus trust plus action. A clear conscience is freedom from guilt (Acts 24:16). Your conscience is the spiritual faculty, which is sensitive to right and wrong and with the help of the Holy Spirit, judges our attitudes and actions. By having a clear conscience, the Christian disciple pacifies guilt and has inner peace (1 John 3:19-21); makes right decisions (Proverbs 14:30); builds right relationships (Hebrews 5:13-14; 10:19,22) and helps give effective service (2 Timothy 1:3)

However, as we know, we have this persistent battle with sin and disobedience. Persistence in disobedience and refusal to heed the conscience leads to the conscience becoming cold, hard and silent according to Paul in 1 Timothy 4v1-2. So what leads to the conscience becoming seared?

  • Escape. Attempting to overthrow God’s standards and hide from reality through substance abuse, sexual immorality and perversion etc.
  • Compensation. Seeking to balance guilt with an over concern for social or religious activity.
  • Preoccupation. There is feverish effort and activity and an inability to rest and relax the mind lest guilt causes further conviction and unrest.
  • Self-deception. Here we have a rationalising and justifying behaviour. Unable to live with guilt, the person blames others. Often gives much attention to minor detail and neglects the weightier matters of honesty, judgment and righteousness.

That’s a seared conscience. Then there is a guilty conscience, which arises from a violation of the conscience. This therefore also affects our relationships with God and with other people.

Relationship to God

  • To hide as Adam tried to do (Genesis 3:8-9)
  • Lack of concern for circumstances and insensitivity towards God and a devaluation of Him (Romans 1:21-25)

Relationship to others

  • Deceptive character or putting on masks/images (Romans 1:22-25)
  • Shame, embarrassment, Hiding from others (Genesis 3:7)
  • Defence mechanisms – Masks, Blame others (Genesis 3:10-12 ; Romans 1:21)
  • Deceptive nature (Proverb 12:15; 1 Timothy 4:2)

Both of these relationships types finish with a hardened heart and depraved mind if left unchecked (Romans 1:23-32)

Common symptoms of guilt feelings include exemplary behaviour – docile and well behaved; physical discomfort – fatigue, stress etc. ; depression – difficulty facing life; defeatist attitudes; self-condemnation – heaping blame on others; self-punishment – denial of self to atone for guilt; expectation of disapproval; undue criticism of others – ascribing ones own faults to others; hostility – antagonistic towards others; compensation – easing conscience by good deeds.

Opposed to the guilty conscience is a clear conscience. A clear conscience is the inner joy and peace of spirit, which results from having made all personal wrongs, right with those whom a person has offended. So what steps can you as a Christian disciple take in order to have a clear conscience.

The first thing is that you must confess your sin. It is a good thing to confess your sins to God the moment you realise you have sinned, coming to Him in penitence and praise. For when someone has sinned against God, the Apostle John says that the sin must be confessed (1 John 1:9). Similarly, when a person offends another, they must acknowledge the wrong to the person they offended and ask their forgiveness (Matthew 5:23-24). As a Christian disciple you must decide to clear up all offences at all costs. Satan will do everything in his power to hinder you from gaining a clear conscience. You must recognize that any rationalizations are an attempt by satan, the world or your old nature in order to keep you from a clear conscience, and therefore fracturing your relationship with your Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.

The next thing is to gain an attitude of contriteness. This requires an attitude of brokenness, fully accepting responsibility for your own thoughts, actions and attitudes. This needs to be unconditional, not demanding that others admit their guilt as a condition for us asking. It is one of the most difficult, yet rewarding, things we can do in life to genuinely say, “I was wrong, will you forgive me?” While this is a humbling experience, it is an essential step in gaining right fellowship with God and other people.

For more to think about please do read for yourself (James 4:1-11). Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so you can pray over any issues together.

  1. Are there things, which have happened in my past, which, every time I recall, I wish, had never happened?
  2. Are there people I know who dislike me, and could it be because of some offence I have committed against them?
  3. Are there those toward whom my life has failed to be an example of a Christian disciple?
  4. Are there those in authority I have failed to respond correctly to?

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My Jesus

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My Jesus

(This was written during a particularly difficult week)

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Jesus Christ the man who splits history BC & AD! The man who we claim is the messiah and saviour as spoken about by the prophets of old and written about by those who met Him…

The man who healed the sick, fought for justice, did many great deeds, filled with compassion, driven on by joy and in constant conversation with God the Father.

Jesus Christ the man who claimed to be God and was God! Jesus who emptied Himself, made Himself nothing, so as to take on human form. Jesus Christ, fully human and yet fully God.

Jesus Christ the most amazing man who ever lived, born of a woman, in a humble stable. Jesus Christ, the man born to die that he may come back alive and give all people a chance to live forever.

Jesus Christ, who died on a grubby Roman cross, pierced, battered, bruised and scarred. Jesus Christ, the God-man who died physically. Jesus Christ, buried within and sealed into a cold empty tomb.

Jesus Christ who conquered death, came back alive as witnessed by uncountable others. Jesus Christ who defeated the sting of sin, so that humanity may choose to live forever!

Jesus Christ, whose death and resurrection we celebrate at Easter, who ascended to the right hand of God the Father. Jesus Christ, who with the Father, sent the Holy Spirit to transform into the image of Jesus Christ, all who choose to follow Him.

Jesus Christ, who covers His followers in His own robe of righteousness so that they would be acceptable to the Father.

Jesus Christ, coming again soon in glory to judge humanity and claim those who follow Him.

Jesus Christ calls “Come and follow!”


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