Thursday, March 31, 2011

Friends, not servants

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15
Being called the friend of God is a great honour. In the Old Testament, there was only one man who was called the friend of God: Abraham (Jas. 2:23, 2 Chr. 20:7).
Jesus says we are no longer called servants. Servants are expected to obey their master, unconditionally, and often without being told why they are to do a particular task. They are told, ‘Clean the house’, not ‘Clean the house, because we are having a dinner party tonight.’
Don’t get me wrong, we are still to obey God. But now God includes us in what He is doing; we have the inside scoop on His plans and the bigger picture He is working towards. This provides greater motivation than simply following orders.
We now know the master’s business. What is it? Jesus tells us here that He has made it known to us – by His own example. The Father wants people to come to Him, because this is what Jesus did. The Father wants to heal people and make them whole, because this is what Jesus did. The Father wants to teach us and reveal Himself to us, because this is what Jesus did. The Father wants to befriend us – because this is what Jesus did.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Remaining in Him

“Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.” John 15:4
John 15:1-8 is the well-known passage about the vine and the branches. We don’t need to guess at what the symbolism means, because Jesus tells us: “I am the vine; you are the branches” (John 15:5). Just as the branches of a vine are expected to produce grapes, so too believers in Christ are expected to produce fruit. This is the fruit described in Gal. 5:22-23 – the ‘fruit of the Spirit’: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. How do we produce this fruit? By remaining in the vine. Then the fruit will be produced automatically; we don’t need to strive at it.
We encounter people sometimes who claim to be ‘post-Christians’, that is, they counted themselves as regular Christians once upon a time, but now they have ‘moved beyond’ Christianity because of some higher spiritual or intellectual revelation. I don’t want to stir up the whole once-saved-always-saved debate. But whether these people have fallen away from the faith, or whether they were never saved in the first place, the fact that they say they have stepped away and cut themselves off from Jesus Christ means that they will not produce spiritual fruit. The only way to produce fruit is to remain in Christ.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Reminding us

“But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26
This is another wonderful promise given by Jesus to His disciples. He is returning to the Father, but He is not abandoning them. Instead, He says, “It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7). While Jesus was on the earth, He was only in one place at a time. But when the Holy Spirit came, He was with every believer, all the time – indwelling them.
Here Jesus tells us one of the roles of the Holy Spirit: to teach us all things, and remind us of everything He has said to us. This is referring to the Scriptures; after all, the Holy Spirit was the one who inspired the writing of the Scriptures. So when you’re reading the Bible and come across a passage that you don’t understand, you can pray and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you what it means. The answer might not be immediate, but it will come.
When it comes to reminding us of what Jesus said, here’s the kicker. You’ll be facing a hard time, and a Scripture relating to that situation will come to mind. That’s the Holy Spirit reminding you. This is why we need to be reading (and re-reading) the Bible on a regular basis. It’s very hard to remind someone of something they haven’t heard. The very word, re-mind, implies that it is a repetition of something. As we become more familiar with the Word of God, the easier it will be for the Holy Spirit to remind us of it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

He is preparing a place

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:3
This is a wonderful promise, given by Jesus to His disciples, and to us today as well. He tells His disciples that He is going away – He will be crucified, rise from the dead after three days, and then ascend to the Father. But when He departs, it won’t be for a holiday. No, He will still be working.
Jesus says He is returning to the Father to prepare a place for us. This is a dwelling place in heaven. Now I’ve heard various teachings on what this is, and most seem to agree that the common view of God’s mansion in heaven being a big house with many rooms, like a grand eternal hotel, is not what Jesus is referring to. What is He referring to, then? Well, just as our physical bodies are referred to as ‘tents’ (e.g. 2 Pet. 1:13, 2 Cor. 5:4), our resurrection body is called our ‘heavenly dwelling’ (2 Cor. 5:4).
Think about it: God spent six days creating the world. Jesus has spent the last 2000 years, almost, preparing our dwelling places in heaven. How much more glorious will they be, than what we currently experience!
And here’s another aspect to think about: Jesus doesn’t only take us to heaven for our sake. No, He looks forward to spending eternity with us, just as we look forward to spending eternity with Him. He wants to share it with us.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The depth of salvation

“My mouth will tell of Your righteousness, of Your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure.” Psalm 71:15
Sometimes it’s difficult, or even impossible, to measure the depth of something intangible like our salvation. What does it mean to us? At the very least, it means we get to spend eternity in heaven with the Lord, instead of eternity in hell separated from Him. It also means we receive an inheritance with Christ, that was set aside for us before the foundation of the world. It means we are able to find our true purpose in life, and the connection between man and God that was broken when Adam sinned, is now restored in us.
At the moment we don’t fully understand all that salvation means to us. We don’t know the extent of the wonder and glory of heaven. Nor can we imagine the depth of pain and torment that exists in hell.
On top of this, is the magnitude of the price that was paid for our salvation. We know that Jesus died on the cross for us, and this was the only acceptable price for the sin of the world – but we can’t begin to fathom how much this cost God Himself. Nevertheless, we can – and should – praise Him, thank Him, and worship Him for doing this for us.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


“The Lord says: ‘These people come near to Me with their mouth and honour Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship of Me is made up only of rules taught by men.’” Isaiah 29:13
Somewhere along your Christian walk – if you haven’t been there already – you’ll fall into the trap of thinking that worshipping God is primarily about what we say and what we sing in church. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Our words mean nothing if our life doesn’t match them. This is true of our witness to the world, and it is also true of our worship to God. We might be singing ‘I surrender all’ but there are areas of sin in our life that we refuse to hand over to God. We might say ‘Bless you’ when someone sneezes, but never go out of our way to help anybody in need. See James 2:14-17.
First, let’s talk about what worship is not. Worship is not following a set of ceremonial rules. It is not (necessarily) singing songs, closing your eyes, raising your hands, sitting, kneeling, or lying with your face on the floor. If our hearts are far from God while we are doing these things, we are not truly worshipping Him.
Christianity is not religion, in the sense of following a set of rules to receive salvation. It is relationship with God. Worship is the expression of our hearts to God for Who He is. We may express that to Him in words or song, and we are also to express it in how we speak to and treat other people. Our whole life is to be lived in an attitude of worship – bringing glory to God.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Don't procrastinate

“Then Jesus told them, ‘You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.’” John 12:35-36
Many people think that they can accept Christ as their Saviour later in life. ‘I want to live first,’ they say. ‘I want to get out and see the world, then later I’ll become a Christian when I’m ready.’ But this is foolishness to the extreme. What if tomorrow is the last day that you are walking around on this planet? Or, what if the rapture happens and you find yourself in the Tribulation? If you couldn’t live for Jesus in this age of grace, are you going to be able to live for Him in a day of judgement and the most intense persecution the world has ever seen?
The point is, if you haven’t accepted Christ yet, you need to be aware that you will not always have the option. Certainly after death, it is too late. There is also Scriptural evidence that if you keep putting off the Holy Spirit convicting you, and hardening your heart, eventually you will become so hard that it will be impossible to come to salvation. While we are living in this day of God’s grace, we have the light of Christ available to us. We need to put our trust in the light while we have it.
“For He says, ‘In the time of My favour I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Caiaphas' prophecy

“Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, ‘You know nothing at all! You do not realise that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.’
“He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.” John 11:49-52

This passage had troubled me, until very recently (yesterday, in fact). How could Caiaphas, who was in cahoots with the rest of the Sanhedrin, plotting and scheming to kill Jesus, prophesy something that was truly from God? Yet his words are true: Jesus died for the Jewish nation, and for the children of God among the Gentiles, making them one in the church body (Gal. 3:28).
Similarly in Matt. 27:42 the priests prophesied, “He saved others, but He can’t save Himself!” If Jesus had saved Himself from the pain of the cross, we could not be saved.
Despite their own agendas, God was still honouring the priesthood that He had established, as one of His ways of speaking to the people. Recall how the Holy Spirit also prophesied through Balaam, although he had ulterior motives to curse Israel and receive a reward from Balak for doing so (Num. 22-24). God is able to take what someone intends for evil, and turn it around for His purposes.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The thief

“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
This verse occurs during Jesus’ discourse on Him being the good shepherd and the gate for the sheep. He contrasts Himself with the thief – Satan – who “comes only to steal and kill and destroy”.
Satan opposes God, and all that God does. God wants to bless us, so Satan acts against this by offering us instant gratification – knowing that human nature is to take the pleasures now, without thinking about the possible consequences. As Balaam counselled Balak to send in the young Midianite women to seduce the children of Israel into sin, so that God’s hand of blessing would be removed (Rev. 2:14), so too Satan tempts us with things that are contrary to God’s Word. They may seem pleasurable, but in the end we will fall into bondage and destruction. Satan will offer us what seem to be blessings, in order that in the end he might steal and kill and destroy the work of God in our lives. This is why we hear of people being miraculously healed through occultic practices and eastern religions.
In contrast to this, Jesus has come that we may have life, and have it to the full. Satan has managed to convince the world that Christianity is boring and irrelevant, that Christians are miserable people who don’t know how to have a good time. This couldn’t be further from the truth. True Christianity is being connected to God, the Creator of the universe, the source of life. True Christianity is having a sure hope of eternity in paradise. People talk about ‘living life to the full’ – to the Christian, this doesn’t mean partying hard and spending up large. Rather, through Jesus we find the real meaning of why we are here. We are made complete in Him.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Free indeed

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36
We might think that we have freedom, but do we really? We might live in a ‘free country’ where anything goes, but we can still be enslaved to things. It might not be a tyrannical government that enslaves us, but the pressure of the rat race and the expectations of your corner of society can enslave you to the same degree.
On a personal level, we are all prone to being enslaved to sin and to the sin nature. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (John 8:34). Jesus came to set us free from this enslavement to sin. Paul cried out, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24). Only Jesus has the power to break the chains of sin on our lives.
How does He do this? He said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). The truth of the gospel is what sets us free. As we appropriate it to our lives, inviting the Holy Spirit to indwell us, confessing our sin and receiving forgiveness from God, we are no longer bound by sin. We can choose whether to give in to it, or whether to live for God in righteousness. Are you free today?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Reasons why God doesn't answer prayer

“If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.” Psalm 66:18-19
There are several reasons God doesn’t answer our prayers*; one is given here. If we cherish sin in our heart, God will not listen or answer. This is referring to deliberate, wilful sin that we keep doing. Why does God refuse to listen? Because He speaks to us through His Word. If the Word says something is a sin, and we are doing it, then we are deliberately disobeying God. Why should He answer our prayers if we refuse to obey what He has already told us in the Bible?
Another reason why our prayers might not be answered, that is closely related to this, is given in James 4:3, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” God is under no obligation to answer prayers that are offered with wrong motives, trying to get ahead of someone else, for instance. Prayer is not us presenting our wish-list to God. Rather, prayer is intended to change our will to conform with His. Then, when we are praying according to His will, He will delight in answering it.

*See other posts here and here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Satan's 'I will's

“How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’” Isaiah 14:12-14
Isaiah 14, along with Ezekiel 28, gives us some unique insights into the fall of Satan. Here, we see Satan’s attitude immediately prior to his fall. Five times, he says ‘I will’. We see what he wants: to ascend to heaven, raising his throne above the stars of God (a reference to angels, see Job 38:4-7). He wants to sit enthroned on the highest peak, the sacred mountain (presumably Mount Zion in Jerusalem). Ultimately, he wants to make himself like God, the Most High. (Note that this was how he tempted Eve to fall, Gen. 3:5.)
God had indeed set Satan over all the other angels (Ezek. 28:14). But Satan wanted more. He was not satisfied with his position in God’s plan.
We need to be very careful not to let these same attitudes develop in our own lives – and the possibility is very real; as we see here, these attitudes are as old as time itself. We must be on the lookout for attitudes of pride, of dissatisfaction with the role God has given us, for wanting to take the place of God. This is why God “opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (Jas. 4:6).

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Works vs. work

“Then they asked Him, ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’ Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent.’” John 6:28-29
Many people today ask this very same question: what must we do to do the works God requires, or, what must we do to be saved. Throughout the Bible we find that salvation is not by works, but by faith, and Jesus gives a direct answer to this question here. First of all, He points out that it is not works that are required, by saying, ‘The work of God is this’. Secondly, it is not works that God requires, but work that God does in us (‘the work of God’). Thirdly, this is the work that needs to be done – by God, not us – faith.
In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul writes, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no-one may boast.” The very faith that we have in Christ for salvation, was given to us by God. All we had to do was respond and put that gift of faith into action. God did this so that He would be the only one to receive glory for our salvation.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Millennium

“The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together, and a little child will lead them.” Isaiah 11:6
We read in Revelation 20:1-6 about the thousand year reign of Christ that follows the Great Tribulation. During this time Satan is bound, and from reading other parallel passages in Scripture, it would seem that God restores the earth to the state it was in before the Fall of man. Jesus will be reigning from Jerusalem as King over the whole earth, and we will reign with Him, enforcing His righteous standard on those people who are born during this time: the descendants of those believers who survive the Tribulation.
It will be a time when there is no more curse. Creation will once again live in harmony, “they will neither harm nor destroy on all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:9). There will be perfect knowledge of God, everyone will know Him and worship Him.
This is not the eternal state that we will enter into. There is one final judgement, where Satan is released one last time. After this is the Great White Throne judgement, then we enter into glorious eternity.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Assyrians

“Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of My anger, in whose hand is the club of My wrath! I send him against a godless nation, I dispatch him against a people who anger Me, to seize loot and snatch plunder, and to trample them down like mud in the streets. But this is not what he intends, this is not what he has in mind; his purpose is to destroy, to put an end to many nations.” Isaiah 10:5-7
God used the Assyrians to judge the northern kingdom of Israel for their sin and idolatry. Hundreds of years later, He used the Babylonians to judge the southern kingdom of Judah. So why, if the Assyrians were God’s instruments of judgement, does He pronounce woe and judgement upon them?
Here we see the reason: when God gave the all-clear for the Assyrians to attack the Israelites, He intended for them to loot and plunder the people and break their pride. But the Assyrians had other ideas. They wanted to wipe Israel off the map completely.
The Assyrians were brutal in their treatment of the nations they subdued, torturing and maiming the people they conquered. They also had a policy of relocating their captives and mixing them with the captives of other nations, to break down the national identities of the people. These were the things that God judged them for.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

They loved darkness rather than light

“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
Light is a theme throughout John’s gospel and letters. He uses as as a symbol of goodness and spiritual truth. Jesus, being the source of all that is good and all that is true, is the light of the world (John 1:9). Darkness then, is not the opposite of light, but the absence of light. When light comes into a dark place, it shows clearly what is there. Before, you might have been guessing at what something is, by touch or smell. But in the light, you can see it and easily identify it.
When it comes to spiritual things, people would rather be kept in the dark as to the depravity of their souls. When we compare ourselves with other people, we can feel like we’re ‘not that bad’. We can always find someone who is guilty of a worse, or different, sin. But when the light of Christ shines on us, we see all of our sins for what they are.
There are two responses in this situation. One, is if we submit to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and repent and turn to God. The other is to seek to continue with what we are doing, and reject the light so that we don’t feel as depraved as we are. This is the crux of it: people don’t want to be accountable to God. It isn’t that they can’t believe – they deliberately refuse to, because they don’t want to change.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Why Jesus came

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:17
This verse follows hot on the heels of John 3:16, which we discussed in the previous posting. It expands upon the reason why God loved the world and gave His only Son.
Firstly we are given a possible reason and told that it is not the case. God did not send His Son to condemn the world. Jesus’ coming was not a check up on the world to see how bad it had become so that God would know whether to destroy it or not. Nor did Jesus come to provide a light so bright that we would know that we are forever lost, because there is no possible way we could match Him in order to go to heaven. The reason Jesus came was to save the world – whoever would believe. He does indeed stand apart as a perfect light that cannot be equalled, but He offers us His hand that we might join with Him and be clothed in His righteousness, by faith.
This shows God’s heart for humanity. God does not delight in judging people. He would much rather that they repent and believe in Him, and be saved.
“‘Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?’ declares the Sovereign Lord. ‘Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and repent?’” (Ezek. 18:23).
“In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10).

Monday, March 14, 2011

Whoever believes

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
There’s a reason that John 3:16 is perhaps the best known verse in the Bible – it’s a wonderful promise to everyone. We could spend several weeks exploring the many different facets of this verse – and some people do – but for today there’s one aspect in particular that I want to pick up on.
That aspect is ‘whoever believes’. The invitation is open to all. Anyone, from anywhere and any walk of life, can believe and come to salvation through Jesus Christ. God doesn’t restrict salvation to people of a certain race or culture, or to people born into Christian families, or to what the world would call ‘good’ people. In God’s sight, we are all the same – sinners, in need of a Saviour. Yet although the provision and the invitation is there for all, we also have a responsibility to respond. There might be enough lifeboats on a ship to hold all the passengers, but if they refuse to get in the lifeboat when the ship sinks, they won’t survive. Why someone would refuse to get in a lifeboat in that situation, I don’t know; yet many people do this spiritually. The difference between perishing and having eternal life, is to accept the invitation that God offers. Yet He will never violate our free will. If salvation were dependent only on God’s will, then everyone would be saved, because “[God] wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). The fact that not all are saved, shows that we have a part to play. You have received an invitation to eternal life. Have you accepted it?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lifted up

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.” John 3:14-15
We read about the episode with Moses and the bronze snake in Num. 21:4-9. As they were prone to do, the Israelites were grumbling against Moses and against God for bringing them into the wilderness. God sent venomous snakes among the people, and some of them died. Then He instructed Moses to make a bronze snake and put it on a pole, and anyone who was bitten could look to it and live.
It is almost repulsive that Jesus could liken a snake to Himself. The serpent, empowered by Satan, was the one who introduced sin into the world. Bronze in the Scriptures is always a symbol of judgement, because it is linked with fire. So the bronze snake is a symbol of sin being judged.
Jesus became sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21). He too was lifted up on a pole, crucified. And anyone who looks to Him, will receive salvation.
Often we sing worship songs about Jesus being ‘lifted up’ in praise and glory, but here He is referring to His death by crucifixion. It’s interesting to note that this is right at the start of Jesus’ public ministry. This was His mission in coming to earth.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Being born again

“In reply Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’” John 3:3
The term ‘born again’ often carries with it negative connotations of crazy Christians who sometimes seem to have lost more than a few of their marbles. But the term was first used by Jesus – and this isn’t what He was referring to.
In John 3:5-6, He elaborates: “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” Everyone walking around on this planet has been born by the flesh, or by water. (Note that this is not referring to water baptism!) Those who have come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, have also been born in their spirit, by the Holy Spirit. Before we knew Him, our bodies were alive but our spirits were dead.
Therefore, the only kind of Christian is a born again one, whose spirit has been made alive to God. As the saying goes: if you are only born once, you will die twice (physically, and spiritually). But if you are born twice, you will only die once.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Destroy this temple

“Then the Jews demanded of Him, ‘What miraculous sign can You show us to prove Your authority to do all this?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.’” John 2:18-19
The Pharisees and teachers of the law were big on authority and qualifications. So when Jesus, who was to them just an unknown carpenter from the north, caused a big ruckus in the temple (John 2:14-16), they pounced. Many times throughout the gospels, Jesus is asked to give a miraculous sign to prove Himself (sometimes even after performing a miracle). In every instance, of course, He refuses. Instead, He points to the most miraculous sign of all, which is to come: His resurrection from the dead.
It is the same in this passage. John 2:21 leaves us in no doubt: “But the temple He had spoken of was His body.”
Jesus’ resurrection is like no-one else’s. Every other person in the Scripture who was raised from the dead, was raised by another person (Elijah, Jesus, Paul, etc.). But nobody spoke over the dead body of Jesus as He lay in the tomb. He, being God, raised Himself from the dead.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ proves that He is God. It proves that He has authority in all things.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Calling evil good and good evil

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” Isaiah 5:20
Have you noticed how the mores of society are upside down, compared to the Word of God? According to the world, sex before marriage (and indeed, not even getting married at all) is expected, homosexuality is just another alternative lifestyle, abortion is acceptable, getting drunk is seen as cool, etc. Yet the Bible says all of these are sin. According to the world, evolution is fact and those who believe it are sophisticated and educated, but those who teach creationism are guilty of brainwashing. The world sees Christians as intolerant and backwards, but those who embrace the New Age are seen as open-minded.
Let’s face it: if we hold tight to the Word of God, we are never going to agree with the world on what is right and wrong. Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matt. 7:13-14). If we believe the Bible, we are going to be in the minority. But that’s ok – the narrow road is the one that leads to life eternal.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Emmaus road

“As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognising Him.” Luke 24:15-16
What I’m about to share is not one of those essential doctrines that we must all agree on. If you think differently, that’s fine. But this is a passage of Scripture that raises questions for many people, and those questions are worth answering.
There are two explanations that are usually given as to why the disciples did not recognise Jesus. The first is that they didn’t recognise Him at first because of the facial scarring, due to His beard being ripped out (Isa. 50:6). Then, when He broke the bread, they saw the scars in His wrists from the nails, and realised it was Jesus.
The second is that it is a spiritual veiling. This is the view that I agree with, and let me give the reasons why. First and most trivially, I find it hard to believe that they didn’t notice His hands until He broke the bread. Mary recognised Jesus from His voice (John 20:15-16), and He had talked with these disciples for most of the day. But more importantly, is the wording that is used that describes the veiling and unveiling: “but they were kept from recognising Him” (Luke 24:16), “then their eyes were opened and they recognised Him” (Luke 24:31). This speaks to me of a deliberate, spiritual veiling and unveiling, recognised by the disciples themselves as they said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32). Similar examples can be found elsewhere in the Scriptures (1 Kin. 14:1-6, 2 Kin. 6:15-17, 2 Kin. 6:18-20).
As I said, this isn’t a doctrine that should divide us. But feel free to leave a comment if you want to...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Remembering His words

“He is not here; He has risen! Remember how He told you, while He was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ Then they remembered His words.” Luke 24:6-8
We can read through the Bible with a sense of wonderment at how all of the disciples failed to remember that Jesus said He would rise from the dead. However, we have the benefit of hindsight. They were right there in the thick of things, and despite being with Jesus day and night for three and a half years, their own faith was small. Jesus started telling them about how He would be crucified, after Peter made his confession of faith in Jesus as Messiah (Matt. 16:16, Mark 8:30, Luke 9:20). But every time He mentions His death, He also tells them that after three days He would be raised back to life (Matt. 16:21, Matt. 17:22-23, Matt. 20:19, Mark 8:31, Mark 9:31, Mark 10:33-34, Luke 9:22, Luke 18:31-33). Whether they didn’t understand that He was talking about a literal, bodily resurrection, or whether they were too overcome with grief at Him talking about His death that they failed to hear it, in any case they didn’t figure it out until they arrived at the tomb and found it empty (Luke 24:8, John 2:22). Even the Pharisees remembered what He had said (Matt. 27:62-64).
Sometimes we too can forget the foundational promises of God, when we are in times of pain or grief. But Jesus still loved His disciples, and He still loves us, despite our weakness and our failings.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Money can't buy me love

“Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned.” Song of Songs 8:7
The Song of Songs, or Song of Solomon, is one of the 1005 songs that Solomon wrote (1 Kin. 4:32). It describes the wedding night of Solomon and his bride, here called the Shulammite (Son. 6:13) - who was probably Abishag (1 Kin. 1:3, 2:21-22). According to Jewish custom, a man was forbidden to read the book until he was thirty years old.
So, there are many verses in this book that are quite explicit, but we must also remember that the book is included in Scripture for a reason. The reason is this: it describes to us the depth of God’s love for His people, of Christ’s love for the church. With that in mind, let’s read this verse again.
“Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away.” As Paul said in the New Testament, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39). God will never stop loving us. Fact.
“If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned.” This is true for human love as well as God’s love. It’s true: money can’t buy you love. When it comes to God’s love, He gives it to us as a free gift. You can’t earn God’s love. He loved you before time began. You can’t pay Him back, either. All you can do is accept it, and love Him in return.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Trust God

“When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” Psalm 56:3-4
No matter where we are at in our Christian walk, there’s one thing we can all grow more in: trusting God. I was listening recently to a sermon* by Alwyn Wall, pastor of Calvary Chapel Westminster (London, UK), where he pointed out that it’s difficult to trust someone you don’t know – and we come to know God by reading His Word.
As we read the Scriptures, we see example after example where God was faithful to His people, and faithful to keep His word. Why should it be any different today? God hasn’t changed.
With God on our side, we have no reason to fear. David asks here, “What can mortal man do to me?” Jesus said, “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more” (Luke 12:4). Mortal man can only affect our mortal bodies. He cannot touch your spirit, unless you let him. How much more important it is to fear God – who decides on each person’s eternal destiny, based on their acceptance or rejection of Jesus Christ as their Saviour.

* Jude 1:17-25, available from

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Be broken or be crushed

“Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.” Luke 20:18
The stone, or rock, is a symbol throughout the Scriptures of Jesus Christ. In Daniel 2:34 He is the rock that is ‘cut out, but not by human hands’ that smashes the kingdoms of men and establishes His own kingdom that fills the earth. He is the rock in the wilderness that provided water for the children of Israel (1 Cor. 10:4). Faith in Him amongst His own is the rock on which He will build His church (Matt. 16:18). He is the chief cornerstone of the foundation (Eph. 2:20).
Here we read that we have two choices when it comes to this stone – the stone that the builders (Israel) rejected, that has become the capstone (Matt. 20:17). We can fall on Him and be broken in repentance, or He will fall on us in judgement at the end of days. As we read in Phil. 2:10-11, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
One day all will bow before Jesus Christ. The question is: will you do it voluntarily or involuntarily? How much better to fall on Him and be broken – because then He will raise you up for glory in His kingdom.

Friday, March 4, 2011


“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22
We all have cares and worries that arise in life. Some are small and seem insignificant; others are large and feel overwhelming at times. But it’s important to remember, no matter how big your burden is, that it is never too big or heavy for God. And, no matter how small it is, it’s not too small for God to care about.
Think of a soft drink can. If it’s empty, and we stand on it, the can will be crushed. How can a can be stood on without being crushed? If it is full. The pressure from the outside is still the same, and the can is still made of the same material, but it’s the contents that keep the can in shape and help it resist that external pressure. Similarly with us: if we are full of the Holy Spirit, He strengthens us against any outside pressure. But we need to trust Him, that we won’t be crushed.
Here are some more verses to encourage you:
“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).
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7).

Thursday, March 3, 2011

When a friend betrays you

“If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.” Psalm 55:12-14
Have you ever had it happen where someone whom you once regarded as a close friend, turned against you? When this happens, it’s worse than ‘mere’ persecution. You’ve trusted this person, you’ve relied on them, you’ve shared time and secrets with them. Then they turn on you, and use what you’ve told them as ammunition against you. The hurt that they can cause is deeper than if it is an enemy attacking you, because in that case you are prepared for it.
Jesus knew this all too well. He was betrayed by one of His own disciples, the inner circle of the Twelve. For three and a half years He had taught them, walked with them, eaten with them, lived together with them. Yet there was still one who did not believe, and turned aside for his own personal gain. Yes, Jesus chose Judas, knowing he would betray Him. But He also befriended him and opened Himself up to him.
So if you’re facing this kind of situation today, take heart: Jesus knows what it is like. And you can always trust Him – He will never forsake you.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Loving money

“Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 5:10
As we know, Solomon was the richest man in the world at one time. His income is listed as being 666 talents of gold per annum (1 Kin. 10:14), or about 23 metric tons, which in today’s price of gold would be around 1 billion US dollars. So he is more than qualified to write about what life is like when you have a lot of money. Can you imagine what it would be like to not be satisfied with an annual income of a billion dollars? But if you love money, it doesn’t matter how much or how little you make; you will never be satisfied.
John D. Rockefeller was asked once, “How much money is enough money?” He replied, “Just a little bit more.” How much better it is, to be like the apostle Paul: “I know what it is to b ein need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Phil. 4:12).
Paul also tells us that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil (1 Tim. 6:10). The pursuit of more money, if you get drawn in to it, is neverending. As you focus more and more of your life on getting more, your relationship with God will suffer. “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matt. 6:24).
The issue is not having money. The problem comes when we love it.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


“It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfil it.” Ecclesiastes 5:5
There are a few passages in the Bible, both Old and New Testament, concerning the making of vows. To sum them all up, making vows is not wrong, but we need to be careful when we do make vows, that we keep our word. Also, we shouldn’t be people who have to make an oath every time we promise to do something – our word should be enough (Matt. 5:33-37).
If we do make a vow and fail to keep it, it is worse than if we had not made the vow in the first place. I’m reminded of the parable Jesus told of the two sons in Matt. 21:28-31. He asked both sons to go and work in his vineyard. The first said he wouldn’t, but later did. The second said he would, but did not. Both ended up not doing what they said, but it is better to be in the first situation than the second.
We might not make many oaths or vows today; those are generally reserved for solemn occasions such as giving evidence in court or getting married. But on top of these, there are many occasions every day where we make a promise to someone, saying ‘I’ll do that when...’. So make sure you do!