Sunday, January 31, 2010


“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” John 3:19-20
I used to wonder when I was growing up, why more people I knew weren’t Christians. Why did they think doing bad stuff was so cool? The verse above explains. People want to do bad stuff because Satan makes it attractive to them. They get a rush, instant gratification, play now and pay later, and try not to have to pay at all. What’s more, they know it is wrong. Which is why when God’s light shines into the situation, they hate it because it only shows them the harsh reality of Who they are ultimately accountable to.
Any logical person would look at this and say, in the light of eternity, better to have 70 years in this life without experiencing the thrills of immorality and promiscuity, and then an eternity of pleasure like you never dreamed; than to spend 70 years partying and eternity in torment. And what does it take to escape that? Repentance. This is a major hurdle to a person’s pride. Pride was what saw Satan expelled from heaven, and it’s what keeps many people out of the Kingdom today.
Upon reading this verse, I thought about how cockroaches will scurry for cover when you lift up the rock they are hiding under. They don’t have a choice about being cockroaches or not. We do. Choose life; choose light.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Flesh and spirit

“Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” John 3:6
Throughout our Christian walk we will always have a struggle between the flesh and spirit natures. It’s part of being human, yet also having an eternal destiny in heaven. The flesh wants to be pleased at all costs, it wants everything ‘now’, and it has no regard for the things of God. The spirit, as you might have guessed, is the opposite. It wants to do God’s will.
It’s been said many times before, the thing that you feed is the one that will grow strong. Are we feeding the flesh, or feeding the spirit? Are we being dictated to by the flesh and its lusts, or being led by the Spirit?
The Bible tells us we are not to submit to the flesh, but to put it to death (Rom. 8:13, Col. 3:5). This isn’t a once-and-for-all thing, but it a conscious decision we must make, every hour of every day. One day we will be free of this body and its sinful desires. The person who is weak in the spirit will appear like the runt of the litter who has been rescued from some dire fate. But those who are strong in the Lord in this life will continue to be strong.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Born again

“Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’” John 3:3
The words ‘born again’ are used today almost synonymously with ‘nutcase Christian’. This is a great tragedy because Jesus says there is only one kind of Christian – the born again kind. You even hear people say things like, ‘I’m not born again, I’m Anglican.’ But if you’re really not born again, then it doesn’t matter what you are – Jesus says you won’t see the kingdom of God.
Let’s set aside the stereotypes that automatically arise when we hear the words ‘born again’, and think about what it really means. Jesus goes on in John 3 to tell Nicodemus that being ‘born again’ refers to the spiritual birth. To enter the kingdom of God we must be “born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5). That is, we must be born physically (obviously), and we must be born spiritually. When we are born physically into a family, we receive privileges and benefits of becoming part of that family. We receive care from our parents. We receive an inheritance later on. So too, when we become part of God’s family by being born spiritually into it, we receive privileges and benefits – not the least of which is salvation and an eternal inheritance in heaven.
A person is not automatically part of God’s family, even if they are born into a Christian home. Where do you stand today with regards to being a part of God’s family?

Thursday, January 28, 2010


“Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” Luke 24:45
Imagine the disciples, thinking about the events of Jesus’ crucifixion and how they hadn’t seen it coming. Then Jesus appears and suddenly everything is explained.
It’s the same for people today. “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). No matter how educated or eloquent we are, it is impossible for us to explain the Word of God to an unbeliever. If they don’t know its Author, they cannot understand it. And they may become hostile towards us. Jesus said concerning spiritual truths, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces” (Matt. 7:6).
The Holy Spirit is the power behind the Scriptures. The Word is living and active (Heb. 4:12). This is why it can be read over and over again, and even after a lifetime of reading it, you can still be shown new insights by Him. The Bible is not just a book with words on pages. It is God’s direct message to us. Ask Him to open your mind so that you can understand it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Giving our best

“You must present as the LORD’s portion the best and holiest part of everything given to you.” Numbers 18:29
Concerning the Old Testament animal sacrifices, God was very specific that He wanted the best animals to be presented to Him. They were to be without spot (any genetic flaw) and without blemish (any injury or scar). This is not because God is greedy, but as a teaching mechanism for the people to hold God in the highest honour. “When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you? says the LORD Almighty” (Mal. 1:8).
If human royalty earns respect to be presented with the best food, how much more does God.
This applies to our own lives as well. We are to give God of our best. We are to give him our best service – not leaving things to the last minute or making a half-hearted effort about it. Another aspect I challenge you to think about is this: to give God the best time of your day. Some people are morning people, others are night owls. Whichever you are, consider spending some of that time with God. Doesn’t He deserve it?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


“We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Luke 23:41
Three times in this chapter we see Jesus’ innocence declared: by Pilate (v15), the thief on the cross (v41), and the centurion (v47); also in the other gospels by Pilate’s wife (Matt. 27:19) and most notably, by Judas Iscariot (Matt. 27:4).
The sinlessness of Jesus Christ is of central importance to the gospel message. If Jesus had sinned once, in deed, word, or thought, His sacrifice would have only covered His own sin, and we would still be under the judgement of God. It is only through His innocence that His sacrifice can be put to our account.
Yet Jesus lived here as a man. He laid aside His deity for a period of time. He was subjected to the same temptations we face, “yet was without sin” (Heb. 4:15). How thankful I am, that He is my Saviour!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Denying Him

“Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know Me.’” Luke 22:34
This passage is one that has bothered me, not because I don’t understand what it means, but because of its implications. Peter, the rock among the disciples; Peter, who walked on water; Peter, who was the first to declare openly that he believed Jesus was the Christ – this Peter also denied that he ever knew the Lord. What is to stop me doing the same thing?
The difference between Peter then and us now, is that at the time he denied the Lord, he didn’t have the Holy Spirit indwelling him. That came later. We do. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God will give us the supernatural faith and the strength we need to endure persecution or even martyrdom, if that time should come (1 Pet. 4:14).
This quote from a biography on Corrie Ten Boom:
“When he was tucking her into bed that night, Corrie asked: ‘Papa, what is it like to die?’
Papa Ten Boom did not look away from her, but held his gaze into her eyes. ‘When we go to Amsterdam, when do I give you your ticket?’
Corrie considered this well before answering. ‘Just before we get on the train.’
Still holding his steady gaze, he said to her: ‘When the time comes, your Heavenly Father will give you all the strength you need.’”

Sunday, January 24, 2010

His will

“Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Luke 22:42
Some people say that to pray for something and then say “if it’s Your will” is a cop-out. On the contrary – we are told that only the prayers offered in accordance with God’s will are answered (1 John 1:15). Besides, God’s will is the best thing for us. It is far better than the things we imagine would be best for us. Our will shouldn’t even be a factor in following Him. But it takes a lifetime to learn this.
Seeking God’s will in our lives is the ultimate act of submission. In this verse we see even Jesus, God Himself, submitting as a man to the Father’s will. He knew the physical pain and the spiritual agony He would face in the hours to come. But He also saw the product of His act of sacrifice: our salvation. And He rejoiced in it (Heb. 12:2).
It is truly comforting to know that God has the best plans in mind for us. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9). Wouldn’t you rather have that than anything else? I know if God had given me what I had thought was best, today I would be in the air force, probably flying a desk, instead of getting to travel the world and explore new horizons every day. There’s no contest really. And it’s because of what He’s done in my past, that I’m seeking His will for my future.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


“Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:36
I believe the rapture of the church could happen at any moment, and that it will definitely happen before the Great Tribulation kicks off. Some people might call that escapist thinking, but that’s exactly what Jesus is saying here. The doctrine of the imminency of the rapture is not burying one’s head in the sand, far from it. Instead it spurs us on to live holy lives, knowing this could be the day that He comes to collect us. Thus it purifies us.
On the other extreme, I’ve heard of people who take these verses (e.g. Mark 13:36, “When He comes, do not let Him find you sleeping”) to the letter and are afraid to sleep too long in case the rapture happens during the night. That’s not what these verses are saying. It is a state of your heart: are you watching and waiting in anticipation of the rapture? Are you ready to go, or do you have unfinished business here on earth? Is there somebody you need to reconcile with or seek forgiveness from? Do it today – by tomorrow we might all be outta here.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Too big?

“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22
What a great verse, to know that no matter what happens to us, we can give it to God to take care of. Nothing is too big that He can’t handle. I don’t think I can really add too much more to this, except maybe some other verses from the Scriptures:
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30)
Swapping burdens with Jesus is a great idea.
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (1 Pet. 5:7)
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Cor. 10:13)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Breaking the mould

“Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’ ‘I tell you,’ He replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’” Luke 19:39-40
The Triumphal Entry was supposed to be a joyous occasion – and indeed it was, for those waving palm branches and singing ‘Hosanna!’ But there’s always some who want to spoil the party. In this case it was the Pharisees, who had so made up their minds that Jesus was not the Messiah, that they were blind to the evidence that in fact He was. They tell Him to rebuke His disciples because the song they were singing (Psalm 118) was only to be sung for Messiah – and surely He wouldn’t want them to blaspheme?!
The Pharisees missed out big time here. They had in their minds a concept of Messiah that Jesus didn’t fit. But rather than examining His life objectively, they viewed it through their own tinted glasses and didn’t like what they saw, so they rejected Him.
It’s the same today for many people. They have their own ideas about what God should be like, and when something happens that doesn’t fit their mould, they reject Him outright.
On the other hand, if we allow Jesus to break down the moulds that we have made to fit Him into, we will enjoy a much deeper relationship with Him. What are some aspects or attributes about the Lord that He needed to change in your life? Feel free to share.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


“Jesus looked at him and said, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!’” Luke 18:24
If you compare the wealth of the poorest New Zealander, they are still better off than the average person on the planet. We are all ‘rich’ in this sense. So this verse applies to us.
Why is it hard for rich people to enter the kingdom of God? Here are some suggestions. Someone who has riches, or wants them, begins to rely in them for their security. And so, riches and money becomes their god. Mammon was the god of riches in the Bible, and it is still alive and kicking today. Eccl. 5:10 tells us, “Whoever loves money never has money enough.” This was written by Solomon – the wealthiest person on the planet at the time, yet even he wasn’t satisfied.
For the last 7 years I have been sponsoring a child in Kenya. His name is Tom, he is 12 years old this year and the oldest of four brothers. His father is a pastor and his mother teaches a preschool. As such they don’t have any land to farm or animals, as most of the other members of their tribe do. They have to rely on God every day to provide food for them through the kindness of other people. I had the opportunity to visit them a couple of years ago as part of a group trip. It was a very humbling experience, to visibly see just how they have to trust in God for everything. Their faith is not just a Sunday thing as ours can be. “Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” (James 2:5).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Like a child

“I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:17
I’m so grateful that I grew up in a Christian home and have always known God in my life. I don’t know if I would have found Him had this influence not been there; I may well have gone the way of so many intellectuals I know – trusting in my own brain. So I can well appreciate verses like this one.
What does it mean to receive God ‘like a little child’? Children are uncomplicated. They don’t look for ulterior motives, they just accept what they are told. (“You mean God loves me no matter what? Cool!” – rather than, “There must be something in the fine print; it’s too good to be true.”) This means doctrines like the Trinity, predestination vs free will, etc., are not an issue for children. (God is one. Yes. God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Yes. All at the same time. Yes. But there’s one God. Yes.) They don’t have a problem with believing any of the miraculous Bible stories – Creation, the Flood, the Red Sea. And when a child receives a gift, they don’t think about how much it cost or try to repay the person who gave it to them (like some people try to do with God for their salvation). We can learn a lot from this.

Monday, January 18, 2010

God's Word is forever

“It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.” Luke 16:17
There are numerous verses in the Bible telling us about the immutability of the Word of God (Matt. 24:35, Ps. 119:89, etc.). God honours His Word above His name (Ps. 138:2). That’s a high value He places on His Word. So why do people keep wanting to change it?
In particular I’m thinking of those who try to discount Genesis 1 in favour of making macro-species evolution fit into the Bible. It can’t be done: according to evolution, the sun was first, then trees; reptiles came before birds, etc. Yet the Bible tells us trees (day 3) came before the sun (day 4), and birds (day 5) came before reptiles (day 6).
When it comes to God’s Word, we should hold it in the highest respect. God does, and in fact He even pronounces curses on those who would seek to change it (Deut 4:2, Deut. 12:32, Prov. 30:6, Rev. 22:18). The immutability of God’s Word gives us great comfort: His promises to us contained in it are set in stone. We can be sure of our eternity.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” Psalm 51:17
Psalm 51 is the prayer of David after he was confronted over his sin of adultery with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 12). David repented, and God forgave him, but he still had to live with the consequences.
This verse reminds me of the parable of the Pharisee and the tax-collector (Luke 18:10ff). Both came to the temple to worhip God; the Pharisee boasted about himself and the tax-collector simply said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner’. It was the tax-collector who was forgiven, because he had the right heart attitude.
How do we feel about our sin? Do we realise how much of a slap in the face it is to God when we deliberately sin, or conversely when we fail to do good? What do we do when we are convicted of it by the Holy Spirit?
These are rhetorical questions, but consider this from another angle: we speak of horses as being ‘broken’. A horse that is not broken has a mind of its own and cannot be ridden. But once it is broken, its power is brought under control by the rider and it becomes useful. God doesn’t leave us in a broken state. It’s then that He is able to use us for His purposes – which is the greatest fulfilment a person can find in life.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” Luke 14:34
Jesus says we are the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13). Salt is an interesting thing. When added to food, it enhances flavour and acts as a preservative. It creates thirst. The analogy is easy to see: Christians in the world act as a preservative (when the Holy Spirit, and His vessels, are removed, means the 70th week of Daniel and the Great Tribulation can start, 2 Thess. 2:6-7). We should be enhancing the flavour of the lives of people around us. And we should be creating spiritual thirst in others as they look at our lives and want what we have. But it seems we are failing, for the most part, in these latter two aspects. This could be a sign that as a whole, Christians are losing their saltiness in the world. The context of Luke 14:34 is that of not having commitment to see it through.
It’s not too late to change and identify those areas in your life where you may have lost your saltiness. Ask God to clean out all the sin and worldly stuff, and commit to living for Him. We are in the last days, when ‘the love of many will grow cold’ (Matt. 24:12). Don’t be one of them; stand firm for Christ and be salt and light in the world.

Friday, January 15, 2010

First and last

“Indeed, there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.” Luke 13:30
Examining the words ‘first’ and ‘last’ here, we find that ‘first’ refers to being first in time, place, order, or importance and ‘last’ means last in place or time. Pretty much all the commentators I read on this verse agree that it is referring to the salvation of Jews vs Gentiles, given the context (see Luke 13:29). The Jews are God’s chosen people because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Yet some of them will not enter heaven, because they rejected Jesus Christ and salvation is only found in Him. These Jews, who thought they were first in line to get into heaven and that Gentiles as scum of the earth would be last, actually won’t make it at all.
This is also a lesson for us, because we can develop the same attitude towards people. We can look at one person and say, ‘Oh, they’d be the first person I’d expect to see in heaven’ or ‘They’re the last person I’d expect to see there’. Be careful. Only God knows a person’s heart and where they stand with Him. Instead, we should pray for these people, the good and the not-so-good, knowing that it is God’s will that all should be saved (1 Tim. 2:3-4).

Thursday, January 14, 2010


“Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.” Luke 12:1-2
Hypocrisy is an ugly thing in the life of the Christian, and it’s worth doing a bit of self-examination on a regular basis to ensure we are not guilty of it. The word literally means ‘to act’ or ‘to play a part’, in order to deceive. The Pharisees were prime examples of this in Jesus’ day: they made out that they were super-spiritual, but inside they were full of arrogance and pride. Jesus likens hypocrisy to yeast. It has the effect of puffing up, and once it gets hold it permeates the entire batch.
“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13). There’s no point hiding anything from God. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And at the judgement seat of Christ, when our works are judged for their motives, the true reason behind why we did or said something will be revealed to all. Don’t be the person who loses eternal rewards because of hypocrisy (1 Cor. 3:15). Instead, make a conscious decision for your life to be transparent before God and man.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What we see

“For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” Luke 10:24
Jesus is talking to His disciples here about His own ministry. For centuries - in fact right back to Adam and Eve – people had been looking forward to the coming of Messiah. In Jesus’ day, some of the people recognised Him for who He was, but others (notably the Pharisees and Sadducees) did not. Imagine waiting all that time and then missing the boat.
It’s the same thing today. The author of the book of Hebrews tells us, “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect” (Heb. 11:39-40). The Old Testament saints could not go directly to heaven, because their sin had not been paid for by Jesus Christ. But now our sins have been paid for, and we can enjoy the assurance of salvation if we are in Him.
There’s another aspect to this too. As we look at the world around us, we can’t help but think that the ssecond coming is close. Israel has been restored as a nation. The ecumenical movement is on the rise. Nations are coming together as one. And ‘the love of many’ is growing cold. Indeed, many saints have longed to see this day, and we’re in it. Don’t miss the boat.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Being led by peace

“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you.” Luke 10:5-6
Inner peace is one of the great things God gives us to guide us through life. It’s important that we learn to be led by it, and this can be difficult when there is a lot of commotion (physically or emotionally) or we have to make big decisions quickly. It’s similar to the ‘still small voice’ that Elijah was listening for (1 Kin. 19:12-13).
This kind of peace only comes when the Holy Spirit is indwelling us. Peace is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). It works with our conscience to guide us. When you’re faced with a decision, pray about each option and be willing to go down whichever direction. God will give you peace about doing whatever it is that is His will. For only the prayers that are aligned with His will are answered (1 John 5:14).
The peace of God is of great comfort to us. It lets us know that everything is ok, despite what might be going on around us. Life is certainly easier when we desire to be led by it.
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7).

Monday, January 11, 2010


“Then Jesus said to them all, ‘If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’” Luke 9:23
Jesus said this three times during His earthly ministry: when He sent out the Twelve (Matt. 10:38), after Peter’s confession (Matt. 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23), and to the crowds (Luke 14:27).
For someone to carry a cross in those times meant they had been condemned to death by crucifixion. It was a symbol of public shame. People carrying their crosses were not pitied, as we often made to feel for Jesus in the Easter movies. They were ridiculed and derided; they were ‘dead men walking’.
We too need to count the cost before following Jesus. It’s no good only going half way. We must deny ourselves – our sin nature and our pleasures, in favour of living a life that is pleasing to Him. Carrying a cross and making a stand for the Lord may mean we are persecuted or ridiculed for it. But the eternal gains are worth it. Also, following Jesus is a daily choice we must make. Every day, not just Sundays, we will have opportunity to take another step in following Him. Jesus becomes our life, not just a part of our life.
Following Jesus isn’t a walk in the park. It’s a journey to Golgotha.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I want NZ to be blessed

“I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse” Genesis 12:3
These were the words God spoke to Abraham and his descendants. I’ve been disgusted at the people protesting outside the women’s tennis tournament in Auckland recently, kicking up a stink about the Israeli girl who’s playing. For sure, they are of an ilk that is present all over the world – those who say Israel shouldn’t fight anybody and should ‘give the Palestinians what is rightfully theirs’, which is only a short step removed from those who say Israel shouldn’t exist at all.
Reading some of the comments on the chief proponent’s blog – I couldn’t stomach them all – made it clear to me that he is not interested in raising awareness of ‘human rights abuses’, since he is only targeting the Israeli player and not the Chinese ones (interesting point). So it would seem clear that anti-Semitism is, sadly, alive and well in New Zealand.
I want New Zealand to be blessed by God. I don’t want it to be cursed. And so I pray, Lord, please forgive us as a country and these people for the wicked things they are saying against Your chosen nation, so that we are not all cursed because of their ignorance.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Lesson from the Gerasenes

In Luke 8:26-39 we have the account of Jesus healing the demon-possessed man who lived in the tombs of Gerasenes by casting out the demons into the pigs. At the end of this we read, “Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So He got into the boat and left” (Luke 8:37).
This to me is a tragic verse. We don’t read of any other time when Jesus visited this region. They asked Him to leave, and He obliged.
Why did the people ask Jesus to leave? The Scripture says, ‘because of fear’. One possible reason for this fear is that the people were farming pigs, which as we all know, were forbidden for the Jews to eat (Deut. 14:8). They may have seen Jesus casting the demons into the pigs so that they all rushed down the hillside and died, as judgement for this, and were afraid of what He would do next. They didn’t see (or chose not to see) how Jesus came to set the man free from the legions of demons that were tormenting him, and that He could set them free from their sin if they only asked Him.
Similarly for us, it is possible to resist the Holy Spirit drawing us to salvation for so long, that in the end He leaves us alone. This is a dangerous place to be. If you’re in that place today, I would urge you to reconsider. Your eternal destiny is at stake. Today is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2).

Friday, January 8, 2010

The holy and the common

“You must distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean.” Leviticus 10:10
Most people don’t get a lot out of reading Leviticus, but if there’s one verse that could sum up the book, this is a good candidate. God was very specific in how He wanted the children of Israel to worship Him. The reason was so they would separate themselves from the other nations and thus be a witness to the world of how a nation submitted to God would be blessed.
As Christians, we too have been called out of the world and its mindset, to be set apart (the meaning of the word ‘sanctified’) for God’s service. While we are still in it, just as the nation of Israel was among other nations, we are not ‘of’ it.
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world” – a more literal translation might be, “Do not let the world squeeze you into its mould.” Think about it for a minute. What does the world at large hold as being important, and things to strive for in life? Money, fame, beauty, etc. But the Bible says we are to lay up our treasures in heaven, that if we want to be great in God’s kingdom we should be the servant of all, and that true beauty is that of a heart completely submitted to God.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

What do we really deserve?

In Luke 7 we read about the centurion who sent messengers to Jesus to ask Him to heal one of his servants. When they came to Jesus, they said, ‘This man deserves to have you do this, becuase he loves our nation and has built our synagogue’ (Luke 7:4). But in Luke 7:6-8 we see the centurion’s view of himself: ‘I did not consider myself worthy to come to you’. Jesus was amazed and granted his request.
We’re told these days that having low self-esteem is bad. This centurion apparently did, yet he clearly won favour with the Lord. The Bible is full of verses about humility and putting others first (e.g. Prov. 27:2, Rom. 12:3, Phil. 2:3, 1 Pet. 5:5). We need to have a right view of ourselves in the light of God. He is supreme; we are not. He is the one who controls our lives, not us. Every knee will bow before Him – that includes our knees as well.
Yet despite God’s glory and majesty, He sees us as His treasure (Matt. 13:44). He places great worth on our lives. Not only are we “worth more than many sparrows” (Luke 12:7) to Him, He sent His only Son to die in our place, that we might spend eternity in heaven with Him. What should our attitude be towards this? We shouldn’t get a big head about it. Rather, we should be filled with gratitude, that God saw something in us that was worth saving. To Him be glory and praise forever – thank You Lord.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Digging deep

“I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, becuase it was well built.” Luke 6:47-48
Where do we turn when life gets out of control? – out of our control, that is? If our faith in God is built on sand – the temporary blessings we enjoy in life, we will not be able to withstand the hard times of tragedy and pain that will invariably come (e.g. 2 Tim. 3:12). Our faith needs to be fully grounded in God’s Word, and as the verses above show us, this is achieved by putting His words into practice, applying them to our lives. God’s Word is the rock: it is unchanging.
The time to build a foundation is not during a flood or storm. It needs to be built ahead of time. What has God shown you from His Word that you have not yet put into practice? Start doing it today, and you will be building the foundation that will keep you strong in Him, no matter what life throws at you.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Comforter

“He will give you another Comforter to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth” John 14:16-17
Lately I’ve been noticing just how present the Holy Spirit is. I’ve started doing a lot of walking so there are many hours that can be spent reflecting on all sorts of things, and invariably the Holy Spirit brings different things to mind. The blueness of the sky and the beauty of wildflowers, God created it all in such intricate design, even though they only last for a few weeks or months.
Another thing the Spirit does is remind us of the Scriptures concerning Jesus Christ (John 14:26). This is what happened for me a few days ago, when I had a bunch of dilemmas that I needed to pray about. The answers came in the form of various Scriptures, one after the other (which then inspired me to write the ‘He will never leave’ post on 1 Jan).
The Greek word ‘another’ in John 14:16 means ‘another of the same kind’ (as opposed to another of a different kind). The Holy Spirit is of the same essence as Jesus. At this point in John’s gospel, Jesus is about to die on the cross and return to heaven. But He reassures the disciples that they will not be left alone – their relationship with God will continue through the work of the Spirit.
How conscious are we of the Holy Spirit in our day-to-day lives? He is with us ‘forever’ – all we need to do is realise this and give Him the opportunity to speak to us.

Monday, January 4, 2010


How much respect do we show for God? When Jewish scribes were copying the Scriptures and came to the name of God (‘Jehovah’, or ‘Yahweh’ – translated ‘LORD’ in our English Bibles), they would take a bath, put on clean clothes, throw the pen they were using away, get a brand new one, and then write the name. Only they wouldn’t write the name – they considered the name of God to be too holy to write or to utter. So they would just write the consonants: YHWH.
Nowadays you hear people talking about God as ‘the man upstairs’, ‘the big guy’, and so on. God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and has complete control over our lives and everything that goes on in the entire universe. While it is true that Jesus calls His disciples ‘friends’ (John 15:15), this is His prerogative, and it doesn’t give us the right to call Him our ‘buddy’. The King of heaven and the universe, calling us miserable and pathetic humans His friends? How amazing is that!
The Jewish attitude towards the name of God does give us something to think about, although one can easily see how their actions could become a meaningless ritual. We should instead adopt their heart attitude towards the name of God and His Person – recognising just Who He is and giving Him the respect He deserves.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

'Master', or 'Lord'?

In Luke 5:1-11 we find the call of Peter. Jesus asks if He can borrow Peter’s boat to give a sermon to the crowds. After He’s done, He tells Peter to put the boat out into deep waters to go fishing. Peter, thinking he has more experience than Jesus at this (after all, everyone knows you don’t catch fish in the day time), says ‘Master, we worked all night and didn’t catch anything, but I’ll put out a net because You said so.’ Then of course, because Jesus knows more about fish than Peter (after all, He created them), the net was instantly full of fish and between the two boats they had difficulty pulling the nets in. At which point, Peter says, ‘Lord, depart from me, because I am a sinful man.’ At that point Jesus reassures him and invites him to follow Him.
The two words Peter uses in this incident are interesting, because they show the progression to salvation. ‘Master’ is the Greek epistata, which means an appointee over something, a commander, or teacher. Many people today will quite readily admit that Jesus is a good teacher. Jesus commanded Peter to let down the net, and Peter obeyed. But the transformation came when Peter called Jesus ‘Lord’. This word is the Greek kurie, meaning one who has supreme authority and control. Peter then demonstrated that Jesus was indeed his Lord by leaving his boat and nets behind and following Him.
The question for each of us is this: Is Jesus our ‘master’, or is He our ‘Lord’? Does He have complete authority over our life, or does He just command us to do things that we pick and choose whether or not to obey?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Being content

“I have learned the secret of being content.” Philippians 4:11-12
This is quite a liberating thing to learn, to be content in whatever situation. With contentedness, there is no place for jealousy or envy, bitterness or pride. There is only reflecting on the blessings and opportunities God has given us, and seeking to find the best ways to use them for His glory. We may not have things that other people do – finances, relationships, skills, health, etc. But it is possible to be content with what we do have, and to run with that.
Freedom comes when we realise life is not a competition. It is a race, yes; we run to win the prize (1 Cor. 9:24). But the prize is for finishing and finishing well, not finishing first or with the most toys. Don’t worry about what other people have that you don’t. That is their lot in life, and yours is different. Serve God with what He has given you.

He will never leave

One of God’s greatest promises in the Bible for the Christian is that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Even if all our friends reject and scorn us, and our circumstances go crashing out of control like Job’s, we still have the hope and assurance that all is not lost. We can cling to the One who will never let go of us: even though it’s His grip on us and not ours on Him that matters. If we belong to Him, He has promised to always be there for us. We may not see or feel Him, but we can know for sure that He is there, because His Word says so.
The phrase ‘I (or He) will never leave you nor forsake you’ occurs five times in the Bible (Deut. 31:6, Deut. 31:8, Josh. 1:5, 1 Kin. 8:57, Heb. 13:5). According to Jewish pattern, the number five in the Bible is a symbol of grace. It is by God’s grace – His unmerited favour towards us – that we have this promise. We have done nothing to deserve His attention and His protection. He loves us because He does.