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

Archive for the ‘Christ Jesus our LORD’ Category

Easter Is Over….

……..but dear fellow preacher of the Word, please make sure you don’t forget to continue to focus your preaching on Christ and preach Him as crucified and risen from the dead. Easter is over for another year, and there has been a focus on the death burial and resurrection of our Saviour, and that is no doubt good. But if we are persuaded thereby that we can now move on in church life and not be prioritizing those issues then we have got things seriously wrong.

Easter can have a bad knock-on effect if that is the case; I have written about that here. So if you are preaching the Word this Sunday or any other Sunday ahead don’t forget that the Christ is the big theme of the Bible. He is the One who brings all things, and that includes us, back to God for good.

The people in front of you need to hear about Him. They need the One who brings life to the dead, light to those in darkness, purpose to the directionless, hope in the hopeless, forgiveness to the guilty.

So I say to myself: “Philip go preach Christ and preach him as the crucified One who is now alive and glorified. and preach Him in His death and resurrection.”

Suffering.

Paul writes to the Philippians and speaks to them about believing and suffering. He says For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for him, (Phil 1:29)How do we respond to that scripture? We might say that believing is wonderful, but we’re not so sure about the suffering? We are so happy that the Lord grants us to believe, but are not so comfortable with being granted to suffer.

As we come to ponder upon this we note that it is not suffering because of being awkward or odd. Rather it is suffering for His sake. So when we take a stand for the gospel, and when we seek to honour Jesus Christ, then we can expect suffering.

Moreover, there is an inherent connection between exercising faith and suffering. We suffer because by faith we have entered another world. That heavenly world has different values. Accordingly this world does not like us standing in Christ (and with Christ) and so we suffer. We are in this present evil age, which is under the sway of the evil one, and this world is set against the beautiful ways of Jesus Christ. So as we affiliate with Jesus Christ by faith, we can expect the onslaughts of the evil realm. Faith brings suffering.

How is it then as regards to my situation and my experience of suffering? Our Lord says: Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets (Luke 6:26). A Christ-less life will be a comfortable life. A faithless life will be a comfortable life. But both end in death. Oh, for Christ, oh, for faith and when those are present with all the glorious things we possess thereby we will surely be happy to suffer with Him, in Him, and for Him.

The Incarnation Is……..

…..excitement. When you look at all of the events surrounding the arrival of Jesus Christ into this world, first into the womb of Mary and then in His birth as a baby, you find every account pervaded by excitement. So on this April day how excited are you that Jesus Christ has come into this world. Let us seek to catch some of the excitement:

  1.     Elizabeth:  When she has the news brought to her that Mary is with child of the Holy Spirit, she says: But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy (Luke 1:43-44). What excitement Elizabeth has; and the baby in her womb as well. It is as if all of what she hears spontaneously provokes rejoicing.
  2.      Mary:  Then we have Mary herself filled with delight.

 And Mary said:

‘My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me –
holy is his name
(Luke 1:46-47).

She is overwhelmed at the goodness of God in using her in these monumental events.

3.     The Angels: They are also euphoric. As news is brought to the shepherds by the heavenly messenger they burst into song Luke 2:13-14:

 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.’

4.     The Shepherds: When the news of Messiah’s birth comes to these hard-working men in the hills they are stirred to act and go off to Jerusalem. That visit and the encounter with the Saviour leaves them: glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (Luke 2:20)

5.      Simeon:  This, very likely aged man was soon entering into this excitement, perhaps with suitable decorum for an older man. Here he is in Luke 2:28-32:-

Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
    you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
  which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and the glory of your people Israel.’

How about you and me this April day? Are we rejoicing that our Saviour has come? We should be; because Jesus’s coming means salvation. So get some Christmas joy three months late or nine months early.

I Love You LORD!

‘If you love me, keep my commands’ (John 14v15), is what the Lord said to His disciples. If we are to live properly and experience the fullness of God in our lives then love for God and our LORD Jesus will be found to be the priority with us. The Greek word in the New Testament which reveals the highest form of love is agape. This word indicates that the lover is so captivated by the one loved that all their being is transformed as a result. The object of the love is the one the lover longs to adore and serve. Accordingly, agape love is a self-sacrificing love; it is a love that will do everything to please the one to whom the lover is devoted. And so remember our Lord said ‘If you love me, keep my commands’.

Love for the LORD shown in the life: How do you know who or what somebody loves? You see it in their general conduct. The content of their conversation and the make-up of their lives gives indication of what their affections are set upon. If my affections are set upon a certain fashion style then my conversation and lifestyle will reflect this. So if you are a Christian and you therefore, profess that you are a lover of Christ, would people know that this is a reality from your conversation and your lifestyle?

One key aspect of our lives which indicates upon whom or what we set our affections is that of how we spend our money. Some of us have lots of money, some of us have little money. Some of us are on a tight budget some of us are not so financially constrained. But whatever your position, consider this question before the Lord, does your use of your finances reflect that you love the Lord? Do you give to His cause, whether that be in the church or into missionary causes around the world? Do you give to His people so that they are provided for and blessed as they serve Him?

Love for the LORD shown in deed and truth: What we are considering here is the great principle that it is not just good enough to love in words only. As the apostle John says to those he loves Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth (1 John 3:18). Love moves into and through the realities of our lives and calls us to be active in serving and blessing others. However, in this Scripture we must note that love is to be in truth. Love is not a weak, wimpish thing that does nice things to everyone because that is what nice people do and Christians are supposed to be nice people so they must do nice things. No! Christians are called to be godly people and that means we love in truth. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matt. 22:37) is the primary call upon our lives. When I am truly loving I am wanting to honour God with all my life. My being is for Him. I will never say anything or do anything that offends Him in all of His beautiful being, I love Him too much to do that.

It is not loving then to communicate that everybody gets to choose their own way in life and it does not matter. That is fundamentally a lie and an offence to God’s character because there is only one God and He is only known through Jesus Christ the LORD. Moreover, it is an offence against the second commandment which is to “Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matt 22v39). Where is the love in allowing someone to follow a false creed that will lead to destruction. Loving in truth means that I live always for the glory of God and the benefit of others.

Keeping our love for the LORD aflame: But you say: “my heart seems cold and indifferent and my love for the Lord seems oh so shallow.” What shall be done in such a case? You must return to the cross of our LORD Jesus and take time to immerse your soul in the most profound expression of love ever. Here is the giving for the benefit of others at great personal cost, that goes beyond all others. If our lives are not being ongoingly transformed then such lives give an indication that the cross of our Lord Jesus has become an overly familiar or an ignored matter.

Showing love for the LORD in His appointed ministry for you: Peter had lost his way and the Lord was lovingly determined to restore him to His service. This interaction is recorded in John 21:15-19. The Lord challenged Peter as regards to his love for Himself and how that should be reflected in his life. In the first two questions Peter was confronted about whether he self-sacrificially loved Jesus and he responds by saying that he affectionately loves Jesus. The Lord’s word is agape, Peter’s word is phileo. The Lord then comes and says in the third statement (to paraphrase very loosely) that “even if you only love me affectionately you should still be active in doing good to my people.” The three statements of the Lord show how Peter is not just to love in word, but to love by looking after and providing for the mature and the less mature in the Lord’s fold. Love meant action.

This opens up big issues as regards to the call of all of us as disciples to follow Him. To be a disciple of Jesus is to be a lover of Jesus. And if we are lovers of Jesus we will be active in serving Jesus. It is in this order though. Action without love is of no value, as Paul showed the Corinthian Christians in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. Love without action is a contradiction because lovers show their love through their actions. Peter had a specific sphere in which to show His love, but so do each of us. So if you are a lover of Jesus you should be showing your love in the service he has determined for you.

So love flows from out of knowledge of our Saviour who gave His life for us. True love flows into a self-giving life. No self-giving reveals there being no love for Christ. No love for Christ reflects an unconverted lost life. Active love means Christ centred love. Where are we in respect of these things?

(Taken, and adapted, from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of October 2015)

Jesus; Please Go Away!

I was reading Matthew 8 this morning and read the account of the two demoniacs being delivered from their wild and crazy plight by our Lord. The account concludes in Matthew with the shocking words Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region (Matt. 8:34).

How can it be that after seeing a two man terrorist organisation disarmed and transformed into sensible, peace loving citizens, they wanted to get rid of the one who had brought about this transformation? Why did they want our Lord gone?

They wanted Him gone because of what had been reported to them by those who had been tending the pigs into whom the evil spirits had gone; the pigs that had ended up dead in the lake. The men told all in the city what had happened to the pigs and the demoniacs (see v33).

The conclusion of the people was that if this man stays around here things will have to change. This man has an impact upon lives. Moreover, as regards to the pigs they no doubt thought that this man may hurt our pocket if he stays around. All that good meat gone down into the lake with a hefty retail income disappearing as well.

This leads me to ponder how so many today do not want Jesus around because they do not want life to change. They know that when the Lord Jesus is on the scene then things have to change. And they resolve that they want to retain control of their lives.

But what they forget is the great fact that when He comes things always change for the better. The two transformed demon-possessed men displayed that to the Gadarenes. But the people were not willing to align themselves with the Lord and His  Word. In passing I note that this would have stopped their swine farming because pigs were unclean animals under the law of God. This would have meant loss of money. They were more interested in financial security than a better life with Christ around.

So the challenge for me again today is to say that Jesus must be in my life. And when He comes in it is always for good. Will you have Him in your life today?

Blessing and Curse.

In Deuteronomy 11:26-30 we see the prophesied establishing of the mountain of curses and the mountain of blessings. Mount Gerizim was to be the mountain of blessing and Mount Ebal the mountain where the curses were read. These were real places in the promised land with epic implications. These were mountains and so were big, unmistakable, indestructible. They were there for all to see and were always a reminder of a God who loves righteousness and hates sin.

So what of me? When I see Ebal how do I respond? At Ebal I see me in all my sin. I see at Ebal that in my flesh in my natural state, I am properly set for judgement and under the curse of God. I see my just desserts I see me as the cause of all my peril and I grieve and mourn and tremble and am petrified.

When I see Gerizim I see a total contrast. At Gerizim I see Christ. I see the One who, not only is the source of any blessing, but is the One who is my blessing. I see in Jesus Christ my Lord the one who takes away my sins and gifts the Holy Spirit to me. I see One who has given me eternal life and in Him I have all spiritual blessings. And when I look at Gerizim I am thankful. And I proclaim without Him I am nothing and I can do nothing.

So go and ponder upon Gerizim and Ebal today!

Encouragement

I am not fully sure why, but have felt somewhat “off” this week. Two things, though, specifically came from the Lord, I feel, to brighten me in the Lord:

  1. I was at the annual homeschoolers concert on Wednesday and there was a beautiful musical contribution of “Oh Love that will not let me go”. Here is a beautiful sung rendition. Oh such a rich hymn. There is a love that will not let me go.
  2. I listened to most of a sermon by John Piper preaching on Romans 8:1; there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Here it is. There is a great part about what are our experiences in this world of hardship, sufferings and difficulty when compared to an eternal bliss ahead. And all “in Christ”. Oh what a great Saviour.

So through these helps Lord please keep me for you Lord. Give me strength wisdom, sensitivity and bravery for today. I need you Lord. Oh may I know you Lord through all the ways of life until glory dawns: Yes, and I see my Saviour in “Immanuel’s land”

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