To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘Christ Jesus our LORD’ Category

How Effective is My Life?

As you read this, where is your soul with the Lord? What spiritual state are you in? And I want to know the force of these questions for myself. So I ask: where am I at with the Lord? To develop these thoughts I want to muse upon the interaction between doing and dwelling.

It is good to be active for the Lord. It is good to be among those who spend and be spent in arduous service for the Master. There is much to do; many have not been evangelised, many have not been instructed in the ways of the Lord. many are lonely, many are suffering. We need to be those who willingly and devotedly expend ourselves for the benefit of others in the Lord’s Name. However, the great danger is that we are ever flowing in service for the Master without ever asking the Master how and where He wants us to serve. We see a need and just respond. Should we not consult the Master first?

But there is a further danger and that is that we get serving without getting the energy to serve. The energy to serve comes to those who take time to dwell with the Lord, look upon the face of the Master and contemplate His glory. One the dangers of our age is that of activism. We must be up and doing. This is good, But doing without dwelling soon leads to drudgery. If we are not knowing the Master through dwelling with Him then we will not be fruitful. As our Lord said in John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 

Where is the tendency among us to spend time stopping and beholding the beauty of the Lord. As I mention these things I am drawn to the comparison of Martha and Mary. Martha was the activist; Mary was the contemplative one. The Lord’s summary observation about them as He spoke to Martha was “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41b-42).

The danger is that we start to think that the contemplative person tends towards inactivity and achieving nothing. But that is not the case. The one who stops to contemplate the beauty of the Lord will want to serve the Lord and on account of being more in the presence of the Master will tend to be more effective in service.

So what of me and what of you? For those of us with activist tendencies we need to make sure that our laudable desire to be up and doing for the Lord is not just a fleshly impulse. We do that through fighting to spend time with the Lord. For those of us of a more contemplative disposition we need to make sure that that tendency does not just lead us in to being sedentary mystics who are engaged in spiritual exercises, but not in gazing on the Lord.

And amidst all this we discern that the dwellers are the ones who end up being the effective doers. The Lord makes His work to continue through the dwellers who flow out from His presence in mighty power.

Our Satisfied God

There is only one being in the universe who is self-satisfied. That being is our God. That being is the God who being One exists in three persons. In the relationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit there is perfection and each finds full fulfilment in this sharing together. There is no stifling of their persons in this serene atmosphere of perfect Oneness.

As the being created of God, as head over His whole creation whether animate or inanimate, we are formed in the image of God. That image has been marred disastrously by sin. Notwithstanding this, the reality remains that we who are in the image of God have been made for fellowship with God. And it is only when we connect into the all self-satisfied God that we enter into satisfaction.

Satisfaction seeking is a phenomenon which is essential to our human existence. The idolatrous practices that we engage in are an expression of a search for meaning and satisfaction. Driving these pursuits is the mantra “And when I am satisfied I will be comfortable with who I am”.

Alas the satisfaction seeking in this world does not deliver because the place of all satisfying rest, God Himself, is eschewed. We only enter into satisfaction when we enter fellowship with the God is is essentially self-satisfied.

The Word of God says For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit (1 Pet. 3:18). The purpose of God is that we should be brought to Himself. The purpose of Christ coming to this world was that we should have a relationship with God. And this is NOT misery and it is not just something that some who are of the more religious bent might find beneficial. It is the finding of life and that in all its fullness.

Our God is Life and offers that life to us, His image bearing creatures. Oh come enter in and enjoy. Enjoy God; enjoy life.

The Bible’s Key Verse

I am thinking here about the key verse for understanding the Bible. I believe it to be Matthew 1:1. The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

This verse is the verse which sums up what has gone before in the Old Testament and declares what are the fundamental characteristics of Jesus Christ. He is the man in whom the people of God are formed and find their “place” (Son of Abraham) and He is the King who has come to rule His people (Son of David). 

The rest of the bible is about unfolding everything developing out of these terms: Son of Abraham and Son of David. 

So when you are reading the Old Testament laws, remember where you are headed for; you are headed for Matthew 1:1. With that in mind your understanding of the Old Testament will be enhanced and there will be much excitement with all the anticipation of our Lord Jesus coming into the world.

And when you read the New Testament remember where you are coming from; Matthew 1:1. And that will colour and cohere all your understanding of the declaration of the focus and maker of all history and the key individual of eternity; our Lord Jesus.

The fulfilling of the Abrahamic covenant and the Davidic covenant in Jesus Christ have the following blessed outcomes for us:

  • We are the people of God. By faith we are attached to the seed of Abraham, Jesus Christ.
  • We are in God’s place. As Abraham was promised a land for his descendants to enjoy God’s blessings, so we have a land to enjoy God’s blessings. We are “in Christ” and thereby we are in the most blessed place to enjoy God’s eternal blessings.
  • We have a Ruler. We have a ruler greater than Israel’s greatest ruler. We have our Lord and King Jesus under whose rule we delight to be.

 

 

 

Reading With An Ache

How would you answer the question why do we have the Old Testament occupying three-quarters of our Bible? What is it there for? The answer is that it is there because God knows that all that materiel is needed to provide preparation for the arrival of the Christ.

Two figures who grasped this appear at the beginning of New Testament history and they are Simeon and Anna. Simeon was waiting for the consolation of Israel (Luke 2:25b); Anna was connected with a group who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem (Luke 2:38b). There was an ache in the heart of these people. They had read their Old Testament and realised there is One to come who will sort things out. Their perspectives may have been a bit hazy, but that was what they wanted to see or rather who they wanted.

So when we go back to the Old Testament from the first promise onward we should be looking to see wherein is the fulfilment of those promises and prophecies. In such searching we soon realise that none “fits the bill” until He arrives who is the Christ, Jesus Christ our Lord. The first promise is in Genesis 3:15

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring[e] and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
    and you shall bruise his heel.” 

When Eve received her first son she said Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have produced a man with the help of the Lord.” (Gen 4:1). In this declaration was there a thought that this one could be the one to crush Satan’s head? Alas rather than crushing the head of Satan he crushed his brother’s head. And we are left convinced that this is not the One: we are left with an ache for the true One to come who brings fulfilment.

And so with Abraham we read in Genesis 17:7-8

And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojourning, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”

When we see Isaac arrive and then Jacob we realise that it cannot be either of them for they do not bring the people into this relationship with God and possession of the land. And so the ache goes on. When will the One who is the fulfiller come.

And then with David we are promised a ruler and we are promised one  I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. When we see Solomon we think this could be the king until we see that in the end he completely fails with his pursuit of women, weaponry and wealth. And so we ache for the One to come.

And when we come to Simeon and Anna we see them waiting and oh the joy of knowing that the fulfilment of all is in Christ.

The true Jew before Chris read his Old Testament with an ache. When we read the Old Testament with a grasp of that, our understanding will be enhanced. Moreover, we will be led into great joy when we remember all is fulfilled in our beloved Lord.

The Parable of The Minas

Here are some jottings on the parable of the minas from Luke 19:11-27.

  • The nobleman departing to receive a kingdom and return parallels our Lord having gone to heaven and promising to return (v12)
  • Each of the servants receives the same amount, one mina. This speaks of each one having the same opportunity to use what they had received. Each of us has the same amount of time in the day. Circumstances may vary, but we all have opportunity to service (v13)
  • The environment in which the servants served was hostile. The citizens of the nobleman hated him. The servants were serving an absent Lord who was hated by their fellow nationals. That is our situation now, We are serving the Master in a hostile environment (v14)
  • The first servant to appear for the assize by the master has laboured to earn ten further minas. It is interesting that he is first to meet the master it is as if he wanted to be there first. Here was a man who knew that his master was a good and gracious master. He had obviously laboured zealously. Dare we say he had taken risks in order to maximise the gain from trading. This reminds me of David’s mighty men and how they risked much for their master (see 2 Samuel 23:8-39). Those who know that their master is good and generous will risk much for His cause. Am and are you doing that for our Master in heaven?
  • The first servant who earned ten minas got a “well done” from the master. The second who earned five minas did not get a well done; he did get a reward though. His love for His master, whilst in evidence, did not spur him to the same extent as the first (v20).
  • The man who considered his master to be severe was not incentivized to work for the master. He rather just protected what He had. He fundamentally did not understand the master. He mistook the masters’ actions in legitimately controlling the kingdom as actions of a domineering tyrant (v21). The master said he should at least have taken the most minimal of risk and invested his money.
  • Such a man has the mina taken from him and given to another; the man with ten (v24).
  • In the teaching of vv24-26 we see how the Lord trusts those who labour zealously for Him as a generous Lord. They can be trusted to use it well. The one who did not use what he has has that taken away. The principle is that the trustworthy who love the Master get more. The ones who do not serve the Master will not be a given further opportunity to serve him.
  • The final declaration is of those consigned to destruction by the Master because they were not true servants.
  • A final question what happened to the other seven servants? I do not know.
  • The main lesson is that the Lord wants us to consider Him to be a good and generous Master. The more we appreciate that then the more we will take risks for Him and faithfully serve Him.

The True Servant

John the Baptist was a great servant of the Lord. I want to ponder upon some aspects of his service as they are conveyed in Luke 3:15-20.

He got people thinking (see v15). An anodyne ministry which provokes no-one to wonder and question and ponder is a deficient ministry. In Luke 3:15 we see the people questioning. John the Baptist got people’s minds going.

He pointed people to Christ (see v16). John knew that he was the forerunner to introduce Christ Jesus. He speaks of the majestic superiority of Christ. He thought of himself in terms of the lowliest servant, and that was too high a thought. Tying of laces was only for the most menial of servants at that time.

Judgement (see v17). John preached that was a time of judgement coming. He preached of a time when all must face their maker. He spoke in terms of the either / or of judgement. You are either blown away in unquenchable fire or rescued into the barn. Oh the magnitude of these issues. John was bold in preaching them.

He preached the gospel (seev18). We do not readily think of John the Baptist as a gospel preacher. We read through in v18 that he is preaching the good news.

He was courageous (see vv19-20), John was not afraid to confront the king and confront him about his sin. He did this even though it led him to be imprisoned.

What a faithful man. What a faithful ministry. How about you? How about me? Are we faithful servants who minister like John the Baptist?

Go For Christ

The ice-cream bean fruit grows in South America. It is so-called because of it’s similarity to vanilla ice-cream in appearance and texture. It has remarkable health benefits. These would be:

  1. Helps In treating dysentery
  2. Prevents rheumatism
  3. Eliminates free radicals
  4. Treats nerve problems
  5. Cures headaches
  6. Boosts immunity
  7. Prevents cancer
  8. Helps in weight loss
  9. Helps lower cholesterol levels
  10. Promotes better health

The comparison to normal ice-cream is stark. Live on ice-cream for a month and you will be seriously nutrient deprived. Live on Ice-cream bean fruit for a month and you will be doing nicely.

The world and it’s philosophies and religions is very much like ice-cream. they may be sweet to start with, but in the end a regular diet of them will emaciate your soul.

Whereas the ice-cream bean fruit reminds us of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the true philosophy and religion and in Him there are always healthy vitamins for our lives and souls. Here are a few of the infinite benefits of being in Christ.

  1. Forgiveness of sins
  2. A life to please God.
  3. Eternal Life
  4. Hope of heaven
  5. Family to share life with (the church)
  6. Peace with God.
  7. No condemnation.
  8. A purpose in life
  9. A Priest taking care of us
  10. Right With God

We Have A Hope

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 6:19-20).

The writer here is referring to the hope that the Christian has. This is what the believer in the Lord Jesus can confidently look ahead to. Fundamentally our hope is a person. In 1 Timothy 1:1b Christ Jesus is described as our hope. He is the One who has gone into heaven for us. Our life and our future are bound up with Him. And because He has gone in we can be sure that we are going in. The image is of a tow-boat pulling the vessel into port. Our Lord Jesus is right now pulling us home to glory.

At this time of uncertainty and turbulence in this world, we need to set our whole beings on things above. In fact we need to set ourselves on the person who is above, our Lord Jesus. Circumstances will come and go in this world, but He remains. And He is there in heaven for us. As high priest He is there in heaven ever caring for us.

One great danger, I feel we have at this present time is of being brought down by relentless exposure to the situation around us. The media has a continual output of material which largely produces fear. Continued immersion in that inevitably results in fear in our souls.

Accordingly, we need to take ourselves in hand and make sure that faith arises to the One who is our Hope. We need to be mining the Word of God for more of our Saviour. need to speaking of Him more and more together. We need to be thinking of Him more and more. We need to be steadying ourselves. Thereby we can know that we are firm in faith.

Oh Lord help us into this way at this time.

He Became Poor

(Here are some thoughts based on the study of Luke 2:21-24)

  • He who made the people of God, identified with the people of God.
  • He who shed his blood to make the people of God, shed his blood to be part of the people of God.
  • He who created the first man was named as the second man.
  • He who was from eternity came into time.
  • He who was pure was purified.
  • He who gave the law kept the law.
  • He who is the centre of all things came to Jerusalem; the centre of this world.
  • He who is the Lord was dedicated to the Lord.
  • He who was eternally holy, and the Lord of all, was declared holy to the Lord.
  • He who always served was committed to serve.
  • He who is the sacrifice for all others offered a sacrifice.
  • He who brought salvation from sins through His sacrifice had a sacrifice made for His sins, although He had none.
  • He who is rich beyond all measure lived in a poor home (see Leviticus 1; not the cattle nor the sheep / goat as the offering, but the birds of the poor).
  • He who gave the law was born under the law.

And having considered all this we marvel and worship:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich (2 Cor. 8:9)

Envy

Envy is a sin that can grip the souls of all of us, It is that sense of displeasure that arises when we here of others being successful or prospering in a certain way. Church leaders are particularly susceptible to these things.

King Saul was an envious man. We read this of him in 1 Samuel 18:6-9:

As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. And the women sang to one another as they celebrated,

“Saul has struck down his thousands,
    and David his ten thousands.”

And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?” And Saul kept an eye on David from that day on.

This is a display of envy which shows all the classic features thereof.

  1. It does not delight in the success of others. Saul did not celebrate David’s achievements.
  2. It hates to hear others being praised over and above yourself.
  3. It seeks harm for the other person. We read how Saul’s envy led to him wanting and striving to eliminate David.
  4. Envy takes a soul from love to hate. We read  And David came to Saul and entered his service. And Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armour bearer (1 Sam. 16:21). Alas this love faded and was supplanted by hatred. So we read:  And Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David ( 1 Sam. 19:2).

If you are a church leader it is easy to slip into envying other church leaders and churches. They have more numbers; they have better gifts: they receive more mention in the Christian press: they see more people being converted. The list could go on.

In many ways when we lose sight of our Saviour then envy can infect our souls. When we see our Saviour giving up all for our sins, we start to see our bankruptcy and unworthiness. This leads us into seeing how blessed we are in Christ. As a result we start to long for the progress of all of our fellows brothers and sisters and servants of the Lord. We long for them to grow in Christ. Moreover, we become driven by desires for the gospel of this grace to reach and transform many. We have no desire to “big ourselves up” and “little others down”. Our goal is for Christ our Lord to be big and made bigger still.

A sight of Jesus and His cross dispels all envy. A Christ-focused man cannot be an envious man.

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