Sunday, February 28, 2010

How Jesus gives

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
This verse comes during Jesus’ final teaching to the disciples before He is taken from them and crucified. He tells them how the Holy Spirit will come and be their comforter – in fact, the whole discourse is that of comfort and reassurance. The Lord’s peace is surely one of the most comforting things we can experience. While turmoil may be going on around us, if we have peace in our hearts, none of the external stuff seems to matter.
Jesus gives the disciples His peace, and says it is ‘not... as the world gives’. How does the world give? Grudgingly. Expecting to be repaid. With some ulterior motive. Thinking about taking back whatever is given, especially if things don’t work out or if the gift is unappreciated.
Jesus does none of these. He gives out of His love, which is unconditional. If Jesus gave as the world gives, He would never have gone to the cross. This is one reason why the world cannot understand the ways of God – He operates on a different plane (Isa. 55:8-9).
I am so thankful that Jesus gave. I know that I am often not as appreciative as I ought to be. Yet I’m not worried that He will take His love, peace, and saving grace from me. In reality, do any of us really understand the magnitude of what He has given us? We will spend all eternity learning afresh the depths of His love for us. Our God surely is an awesome God.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

One way

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” John 14:6
This verse ought to silence all those who say that all religions lead to God. If all religions lead to God, then Christianity does too. But Christianity teaches that there is only one way. Either this is correct, or it is not. If it is correct, then only one religion leads to God. If it is incorrect, then Christianity is a sham and does not lead to God. Either way, the notion that ‘all religions lead to God’ is false.
The next knee-jerk reaction people have to hearing this verse is to label Christianity and Christians as bigoted, narrow-minded, intolerant, and so forth. But we can take comfort: Jesus said if the world hates us, we are blessed, because the world hated Him first.
This verse teaches the absolute exclusivity of salvation – through Christ alone. Jesus is not ‘a way’; He is ‘the way’ and the only way. As if this wasn’t enough, He then elaborates by saying, ‘No-one comes to the Father except through Me.’ On the converse however, once we have found Jesus, we are on the way to coming to the Father. It’s a done deal. Praise be to God the He provided a way at all, for us to come to salvation!

Friday, February 26, 2010

What God requires

“And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?” Deut 10:12-13
This might sound like a lot of requirements from God on us – reverence, following, love, service, observation. But it can all be boiled down to a single word: commitment. This is what God requires of us.
If we are truly committed to God, then all of the other things will follow as a matter of course. If we are committed to Him, we will be showing Him reverence. We will be loving Him. We will want to walk in His ways and observe His commands. We will want to serve Him with everything we have.
“This is love for God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not burdenson, for everyone born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:3-4). If we are born of God, we have a new nature that is above the ways of the world. Commands are given for those who are disobedient by nature (1 Tim. 1:9).
Here is the question for all of us: Are we 100% committed to the Lord today?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Talk is cheap

“Peter asked, ‘Lord, why can’t I follow You now? I will lay down my life for You.’ Then Jesus answered, ‘Will you really lay down your life for Me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown Me three times!’” John 13:37-38
Little did Peter know, in less than twelve hours he would be saying over and over again, “I never knew the man!”, calling down curses on himself and swearing like a sailor just to prove he couldn’t possibly be associated with Jesus. This same Peter, who had been so strong earlier, took that strength of character for granted and failed in spectacular fashion.
It is similar for us. We usually fail in the areas we think we have covered, where we don’t rely on the Lord for help. The truth is we need His help in everything. Peter slept in the Garden of Gethsemane, instead of following Jesus’ instruction to “pray lest you fall into temptation” (Matt. 26:41).
The good news for Peter is that he repented and was restored by the Lord. He never denied the Lord again, and did indeed lay down his life for the Lord, and died a martyr’s death. But I am sure that he was reminded of an earlier time when he said he was ready to do this, but when push came to shove he took the easy road out.
The Bible tells us, “It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfil it” (Ecc. 5:5). We don’t realise how frail we are. This is why we need the empowering of God Himself inside us.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Loving each other

“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
Love is to be the hallmark of a Christian. It is the primary fruit of the Spirit working in the life of a believer (Gal. 5:22). Love is the very essence of God (1 John 4:16).
What does it mean to love other people? God’s love is not like human love. Human love (Greek phileo) is about giving and receiving. It says, ‘I love you because you do thiis for me’. But God’s love (Greek agapeo) is a conscious decision to do the best things you can for the other party, without expecting anything in return. It’s also not dependent on whether you like that person or not – because it’s an act of your will, not driven by your emotions.
Doing good things for people for no apparent reason, and with no apparent sense of reward, is a foreign concept to the people of the world. It makes them stop and think, ‘Why did that person do that? What’s different about them?’ Thus the door is opened for you to share the gospel, how God sent His own Son to die in our place and set us free from our sin even though we didn’t deserve it.
Let’s make a conscious decision to love other people today.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Praise from men

“Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in Him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue, for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.” John 12:42-43
We can think of several men who are mentioned by name in the Scriptures as being ‘undercover’ believers – Nicodemus in particular and Joseph of Arimathea also (see John 19:38). Both of these men were on the Sanhedrin, the ruling council. Neither of them openly expressed their faith until after Jesus’ death, when they buried Him together.
Failing to stand up for Jesus is the same as denying Him. When we go along with the crowd, when we laugh at the crude jokes and say nothing when people are dissing Christianity, we are hiding our light under a bushel. These people may well be hostile towards the things of God – as indeed the Pharisees were – but surely He is able to protect us if we make a stand for Him? (providing we speak the truth in love, and not in obnoxiousness.)
Nicodemus and Joseph knew that if they openly expressed their faith, they would lose their positions on the Sanhedrin. This was of more value to them than having a life of transparency. This would have stunted their spiritual growth (Matt. 13:22).
“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36)

Monday, February 22, 2010

The birth of Israel

“Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by miraculous signs and wondrs, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?” Deut. 4:34
This is clearly a rhetorical question, to be answered ‘no’. Indeed, Israel is the only nation to be brought out of another (Egypt) through miraculous signs and a display of Divine power. While this verse in Deuteronomy serves to remind the Israelites to be appreciative of their history, it also has relevance to us today.
It’s fashionable in today’s society to write Israel off as a thorn in the Middle East’s side and to view them as just another party in the conflict. But Israel was, and still is, the people God chose to reveal Himself to the world by, through their history.
No other nation has been reformed after nearly 2000 years of dispersion in the world, retaining their own culture and even their own language. It is unfortunate that the majority of Israelis don’t believe in God, but that doesn’t stop God from keeping His promises to them to protect them and give them the land – despite the ill-founded actions and intentions of the world powers to take it away.
If one was to take a completely objective view of Israel’s situation and history, they would be unable to deny there is something special about Israel – that they are in fact God’s chosen people. In fact I know of someone who came to salvation in Christ simply by considering this very thing.
No other nation is like Israel. That’s not to say they are perfect, by any means, or that everything they do is right, but God still has His eye on them and they will yet be an integral part of His plan for the world.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

One sheepfold

“I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to My voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:16
Jesus’ discourse in John 10 is an extended metaphor, with believers referred to as ‘sheep’ and Jesus Himself referred to as both the shepherd and the gate of the sheepfold. It stands to reason, then, that there is only one shepherd – Jesus Christ. (There is only one place where we can find protection from sin, from the devil, and from eternal death, John 14:6.) The ‘one flock’ resonates with Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This is not to say that when we come to Christ we lose our nationality or our gender. But rather, in Christ, these distinctions are immaterial. We are all of equal standing before God – in contrast to what became the Jewish way of thinking, that the children of Israel had a higher status in heaven because they were descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Those of us who are Gentile believers are the ones being spoken of here as the ‘other sheep’ that will be brought into the sheepfold. In Romans 11 the metaphor of the Gentiles being grafted into the vine is used to convey the same truth.
There is one body of Christ, one vine, one sheepfold; all who are in it are equal before God.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Abundant life

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
While the day of the Lord is called “as a thief in the night”, the ‘thief’ referred to here is Satan. He comes to the sheepfold only to steal, kill and destroy. He wants to attack the sheep, to frighten them, to remove them from the fold and scatter them. Jesus, on the other hand, is the good shepherd. He lays down His life to protect the sheep from the thief. He wants them to grow mature and strong, and to have a productive and full life.
We can only find true fulfilment in life if we are in Christ. However Satan presents the opposite: that Jesus will make our lives restricted and miserable, but sin is fun and pleasurable. While sin may be pleasurable for a time, its end result is death (Rom. 6:23). And while it may seem that the Christian life has rules that keep us from ‘enjoying’ a sinful lifestyle, we are far from miserable. Instead, we have great joy through the Holy Spirit, and the hope of a glorious eternity in heaven with the Lord – joy and fun that we could never experience on earth, no matter who we are or what we might do.
Abundant life is yours today, if you belong to Christ. Grab it with both hands and seek Him with all your heart, for there life finds its fulfilment.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Night is coming

“As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent Me. Night is coming, when no-one can work.” John 9:4
The contrast and conflict between light and darkness, day and night, appears throughout the Scriptures. It is a concept we are familiar with in our day-to-day lives, and it is a spiritual truth too. “But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self- controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thess. 5:4-9)
This time of darkness is referring to the Great Tribulation. Christians will not be subject to it, because we belong to the day, not the darkness. We are not ‘asleep’, or spiritually dead.
Therefore the work of the church will not continue in the Tribulation, because the church will be removed prior to it. We only have a limited time in which to preach the gospel and show the world the love of God.
In another sense, dark days of persecution are coming. While it may be mild in western countries, we should take note that it will increase as the time of the end draws closer. Let us work openly while we can.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Moving on

“The LORD our God said to us at Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain.’” Deut 1:6
Horeb was the place where God gave the Israelites the Law, through Moses. The nation camped at the foot of the mountain for two whole years, sustained by manna which God sent from heaven daily. But eventually God had to tell them to move on and journey into the place of their real inheritance – the land of Canaan.
The same is true for us. It is easy for us to want to stay in the place of a previous revelation of God. But when we do this, we are not growing. Our walk with God needs to be based on what He is doing in the present, not solely what He has done in the past. We need to take that revelation, that word we received from Him, and put it into practise in our own lives.
God gave the Israelites a number of commands, beginning “When you enter the land...”. These could not be acted upon while they were camping in the wilderness. Similarly for us – we need to move on to what God has prepared for us, and start to make His word reality in our lives.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Eleven days

“It takes eleven days to go from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea by the Mount Seir road.” Deut 1:2
Imagine being Moses, writing down the book of Deuteronomy, and writing this sentence after having spent forty long years wandering around in the wilderness. How frustrated he must have been with the people of Israel for their stubbornness and unwillingness to just believe God at His word.
The Israelites’ journey from Egypt to the Promised Land should have taken them two weeks. Instead it took them forty years. Time and time again we see their lack of belief: making the golden calf, refusing to enter the land when the ten spies brought back a bad report, attempting to collect manna on the Sabbath day, moaning and complaining time and time again that the waters were bitter and wailing that the food was better in Egypt (which might well have been true for the Pharaoh, but not for them in their slavery). Eventually Moses got so frustrated with them that he acted foolishly in striking the rock, breaking the pattern that God had been teaching them of the rock being Christ, and forfeiting his own ticket into Canaan.
We can do the same thing. Our unbelief, and our unwillingness to do that which God has told us to, will keep us in a spiritual wilderness until we make the decision to obey His word and trust in Him. The length of time you spend in that wilderness is in your own hands.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The father of lies

“When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44b
One of the reason God hates it so much when His children tell lies is because this is Satan’s hallmark. Satan is the author of deception and lying. He began right back in the Garden of Eden, whispering in Eve’s ear, “Did God really say...?”, leading to the outright denial, “You will not surely die.”
Every temptation that Satan presents us with is a lie. Temptations offer us something pleasurable immediately, but they don’t tell us about the miserable consequences that will surely follow later on. The most effective temptations, and the most effective lies, are those that have some amount of truth. Yes it would feel good to eat this, to drink that, to hang out with that person, to go to that place. But the questions we need to ask ourselves when faced with these things are firstly, “Is it sinful?” and then “Is it beneficial to me in the long term?”
We are to be “shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves” (Matt. 10:16). The snake is a symbol of Satan, and the dove a symbol of the Holy Spirit. We are not unaware of Satan’s schemes (2 Cor. 2:11). We know how he operates. But in our own lives, we are not to act that way but to be led by the Spirit.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The truth sets us free

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
How does knowing the truth make us free? When we know what is true, we can clearly see that which is false. Truth shows us sin for what it really is: destructive, debilitating, burdensome. We can be free of it. We don’t have to give in to it any longer, now that we are a new creation in Christ (Rom. 6:18). We are no longer enslaved by sin, unless we allow ourselves to be. “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (John 8:34). Whatever you give in to is what you are enslaved to. We can be slaves to sin, or slaves to righteousness (Rom. 6:20-22). The choice is ours. To the child of God it should be obvious what to choose – the result of sin is death, but the result of righteousness is holiness and abundant, eternal life.
The Pharisees here thought they were free (c.f. John 8:33). But in reality they were enslaved to the attitudes of their culture – pride, superiority, looking the part, “having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Tim. 3:5). A life lived in submission to God is a life of true freedom. For His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt. 11:30).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Light of the world

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
The mention of Jesus being light occurs frequently in John’s gospel (c.f. John 1) and his first epistle (c.f. 1John 1). Jesus is the light, and it is no wonder that light was the first thing He created (Gen. 1:3). He is also the light that is in heaven (Rev. 21:23, Rev. 22:5).
In the light everything can be clearly seen for what it is. In the light we can see where we are going. But in the darkness, every step is treacherous.
With Jesus as the light in our life, we don’t have to stumble around in the dark looking for fulfilment in life. We might still trip up (i.e. sin) occasionally, but we can see well enough to catch ourselves, and ultimately to avoid those things that would trip us. In the dark it’s easy to become disoriented. But in the light the Lord is able to lead us in straight paths.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

God's love

“Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld His love from me.” Psalm 66:20
Somehow the average person on the street has got the idea, from Christians or from portrayal of Christians, that God hates them. Nothing could be further from the truth. God loves us all – this is why He sent His own Son to die in our place (Rom. 5:8, 1 John 4:9). To be sure, He hates our sin and He must judge our sin if we don’t come to Christ to have it forgiven, but it pains Him to do so. Only when our sins are removed through our coming to faith in Christ, can God show the full extent of His love towards us.
God’s love is the most powerful force in the universe. Nothing at all – spiritual or physical – is able to separate us from God’s love (Rom. 8:38-39). His love is ‘poured out’ for us (Rom. 5:5) – or is spilling over, overflowing. Our hearts cannot contain the love God has for us. Love is the essence of God’s character (1 John 4:8, 1 John 4:16). He cannot remove His love from us, because that would be to remove Himself – and He has promised to never leave us.
Our goal as Christians should be to share this overflowing love we have received from God, with those around us. We might think, ‘They don’t deserve it.’ But we didn’t deserve God’s love either. You don’t need to like a person to love them. Love is simply doing what’s best for them, without condition and without expectation of being repaid for it. This is what God did for us.

Friday, February 12, 2010


“For You, O God, tested us; You refined us like silver.” Psalm 66:10
Silver is purified in the fire. It is heated up until it melts, at which point all the impurities come to the surface as dross. The silversmith removes the dross, and keeps the fire hot until the silver is purified. He knows when it is done, because he can see the reflection of his face in it. So too with God as He purifies us. The fire is only for a time, and although it isn’t pleasant, it is achieving a greater purpose.
1 Corinthians 3:12-15 tells us about how our works will be tested by fire. Only those done with pure motives will survive and be rewarded; the rest are burned up.
It can be difficult to face troublesome times. But if we can learn to accept it as God’s way of purifying us, of removing the dross from our lives, it becomes so much more bearable. We are able to say, like Job, “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10).

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Selling out

“‘If we have found favour in your eyes,’ they said, ‘let this land be given to your servants as our possession. Do not make us cross the Jordan.’” Numbers 32:5
Imagine this: the children of Israel had been wandering in the wilderness for forty years because the previous generation had not had the faith to enter the Promised Land. Now they are on the verge of entering in, when the tribes of Reuben and Gad come to Moses and say, “You know what, we like it on this side of the river. We don’t need to enter in. We’ll take our inheritance here.”
They sold out short. After forty years of wandering, and 450 years of waiting for God’s promise to Abraham to be fulfilled, these two tribes (and half the tribe of Manasseh also) didn’t enter the Promised Land. Why? Because of their possessions – they had much livestock.
We see a similar thing in the New Testament with the rich young man who came to Jesus. Ultimately he went away sad, because he was not willing to part with his possessions.
This calls for some self-examination. Are we guilty of the same thing? Have we truly entered in to the fullness of the blessing God desires to give us, or is the love of our possessions holding us back? God did allow the two-and-a-half tribes to inherit land on the eastern side of Jordan, but they were disadvantaged – always the first to be attacked by their enemies. He won’t force you to go further than you want to. He will let you stay in a place of limited blessing. The choice is yours.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Where else can we go?

“Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.’” John 6:68-69
This declaration by Peter follows one of the hardest teachings Jesus ever gave the people: that of eating His flesh and drinking His blood (referring to partaking in His death, appropriating it by faith). Many people stopped following Jesus because of this. They had been comfortable with Him up until this point, but now He was starting to challenge them on a very fundamental level. They were followers, but not disciples. They had not committed themselves to Him. And Jesus knew this.
Can you imagine carrying on in life without Jesus? I can’t. He means everything to me. There is no substitute for Him in my life. Wealth, possessions, family, a successful career – none of these can give me peace and eternal security. But Jesus can, and more. Only He has conquered death and opened the gate for us to follow. He is indeed the Holy One of God.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:51
Many people struggle to understand this verse. Indeed, they struggled back in Jesus’ day, saying, ‘How can this man give us His flesh to eat?’ (John 6:52). At face value, Jesus is asking us to cannibalise Him. The Roman Catholics invented the doctrine of transubstantiation (that the communion elements literally become the physical body and blood of Christ) to try and make this verse make sense. But there is a more correct interpretation of what Jesus is saying here.
Jesus says we must eat, or partake, of His body and blood. Thus, we partake in His sacrificial death on the cross. To partake is to take part. This partaking is by faith, not by physical actions (eating and drinking). When we take part in Him, He becomes part of us unto salvation. This is the extended metaphor Jesus uses from v51-58. When we eat physical food, it goes inside us and is then absorbed by our body to become part of us. So too when we believe on the Lord, He comes and indwells us. As we digest His Word, He becomes part of us, inseparable. We live with Him forever because He is part of us and we are part of Him, by faith.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Everlasting life

“I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.” John 6:47
We can have a view of eternal life as being an infinite period of time (a la the lyric in Amazing Grace: ‘When we’ve been there ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun, We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, Than when we first begun’). But in reality, eternity is much different. Infinite time has its down sides – you can’t relive the past. Eternal life, rather, is a constant state of being more alive than ever before.
What’s even more amazing about this verse is that Jesus says if we believe in Him, we already have this eternal life – not ‘will have’ it, but ‘has’ it right now. Because eternity has no time, we are in heaven right now with Him.
This may be a difficult concept to grasp, and I’m leaning very heavily on my childlike faith of just accepting this truth because Jesus said it is so. But we won’t have to wait very long, and it’ll all make sense.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

No fear

“But He said to them, ‘It is I; don’t be afraid.’” John 6:20
This verse comes from the account of Jesus walking on the water. He had sent the disciples on ahead to cross the Sea of Galilee in the boat, but they were struggling. As He walked on the water towards them, they saw Him and were terrified (Greek phobeo, from which we get ‘phobia’). But He calms them by saying, ‘Don’t be afraid’ (phobeo, again).
Jesus’ presence with us is enough to drive out any fear we have. For the disciples, it was fear of the unknown – they didn’t know who or what was walking towards them on the water. We can become afraid of the direction that circumstances are taking in our life. But we don’t have to be, because God is in control of our circumstances. He is with us, even though we might not recognise Him at first.
It is said (although I haven’t been able to confirm this) that there are 365 passages in the Bible that say ‘fear not’ or ‘don’t be afraid’, one for each day of the year. Every day we can remind ourselves that we don’t need to be afraid.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18). As we are made more perfect in God’s love, we will have less fear. Rest in the presence of God, for He is love.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


“I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept Me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him.” (John 5:43)
I find this verse really interesting. Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees and rebuking them for not accepting Him as their Messiah, because although He healed a lame man, He did it on the Sabbath. The ‘someone else’ He refers to is the man whom we commonly call the Antichrist. The Greek word here, translated ‘another’, is allos. It means one completely different (as opposed to heteros, which means another of the same kind – used for example in John 14:16 referring to the Holy Spirit as ‘another Counsellor’).
This is a tragic thing: these very religious people missed the Christ and yet will embrace the Antichrist. They traded the Son of God for a man empowered by Satan. John tells us that “the spirit of antichrist... is already in the world” (1 John 4:3). Indeed, Matt. 24:5 is seen happening all over the world: “Many will come in My name, claiming ‘I am the Christ’ [i.e. ‘I am the anointed one’] and will deceive many.” How many times have we heard someone say, particularly on TV, “Don’t touch the Lord’s anointed” – referring to themselves?
Deception is a primary characteristic of the last days. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus, and He will protect you from it.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Giving life

“For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom He is pleased to give it.” (John 5:21)
God is able to give life to dead bodies – we see numerous accounts of this in the Scripture (Adam, the widow at Zarephath’s son, the Shunammite woman’s son, Jairus’ daughter, the widow of Nain’s son, Lazarus, Eutychus). This strikes us as an amazing thing, probably because scientists haven’t figured out how to make life from non-life. However, the greater miracle is not the dead being physically raised, but the concept of being spiritually raised from the dead. We will not all experience the first, but the second is open to all.
When each person is born into this world, their spirit is dead because of Adam’s sin (Rom. 5:12). We cannot rectify the situation on our own. In fact, we make it worse, because we add our own sin to the condemnation we deserve. We need to ask for spiritual life in order to receive it. And God is pleased to give it to us, because He delights – or is pleased – to show mercy (Mic. 7:18).

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Persecution from within

“So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted Him.” (John 5:16)
We find this verse immediately after the account of Jesus healing the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda. The Pharisees saw the healed man walking around carrying his mat. When he told them that Jesus had told him to do so, they then came looking for Him. (It’s worth noting that whenever John uses the words “the Jews”, he is always referring to the religious establishment, namely the Sanhedrin.)
The point is this: Persecution can often come from within the religious establishment. Jesus was not breaking the Sabbath by healing the man, although He had broken the rules they had made about the Sabbath. Similarly we can expect backlash from the legalists when we break their man-made rules: wearing make-up in church, owning a television, and so on.
It is a great shame when Christians attack other Christians over man-made rules. Jesus had the bigger picture in view here, and I’ve experienced a few occasions where I’ve been blindsided by someone for some particular thing I’ve done when I’ve only had the bigger picture in mind. What to do in those situations? Check that what you’re doing is indeed okay with the Bible. Stay rational with the person. But if they won’t listen, it is better to move on and avoid confrontation. Jesus did this – He relocated to Galilee. Chances are, God is still teaching them, and they have a way to go on the road before they get to the place where you are now.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Worshipping in spirit

“God is spirit, and His worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)
The word ‘worship’ is one that has lost its meaning for most people in the modern-day church. It’s used synonymously with ‘slow’ when referring to ‘worship songs’, and when it comes to verses like this one we think it means some mystical thing to ‘worship God in spirit’.
What Jesus is really saying here is that worship is a spiritual act, not a physical one. You can close your eyes, lift your hands, kneel, or fall face down in a church service, but if your heart is not in a position of respect and awe of God, then you’re not worshipping Him in spirit. The word ‘truth’ here is aletheia, which means to have nothing hidden. To worship God in truth, is to worship Him in openness of heart, without pretense.
Now the verse starts to make sense. God is spirit, and He sees our hearts. The Pharisees lost the plot because they thought their worship of God was only about their outward actions – how fastidiously they washed their hands in the ceremonial manner, etc. What God really wants is for us to lay our hearts bare before Him, and acknowledge how great and awesome He is. That is the true meaning of worship.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Living water

“Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14
Jesus, in speaking with the Samaritan woman, uses a metaphor of water to represent spiritual things. He offers her grace that leads to salvation and eternal life, through the indwelling of the Spirit. The same offer is available to us. If we will take it in, we will never thirst for meaning in life again. Instead, that grace and the indwelling of the Spirit will continue to bubble up like a fountain, “new every morning” (Lam. 3:23). That initial taste of grace, becomes over time a fountain of the Spirit’s work in our lives. The fruit it produces is eternal life.
Every person has a spiritual thirst. Some try to meet it with material wealth and possessions, others through having a large network of friends. Others seek fame, others party hard. Others engross themselves in their work, or think that creating a family will bring them fulfilment. But pursuing all these things apart from the Lord will inevitably leave you dry and thirsting for something else to fill that void.
Come to Jesus. He alone has the living water that will satisfy your soul.

Monday, February 1, 2010


“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.” Psalm 62:1
A restful soul is a priceless thing. Regardless of what’s going on around us, in God we can find rest and perfect peace. After all, He is much bigger than we are, and so all the problems that we as humans may come across during our lives, are trivial to Him. But there’s more to this verse than just God being a place where we can find this rest – He is the only place we can find it. He is the only source of salvation (John 14:6).
David’s life was full of trials – hiding in the wilderness when Saul and later his own son Absalom were seeking to kill him, having enemies attacking him from outside the country and from within the circle of his closest friends. Yet despite this, he found rest in God. He was able to trust in God to take care of him. So can we. It is a conscious decision to trust: to give Him the reins of our life and allow Him to direct proceedings. Sometimes it’s hard not to try to take them back, when we think He’s taking us the wrong way. But if we would just trust Him, and enjoy the ride, we will find rest.
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28)