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

Archive for the ‘Christ Jesus our LORD’ Category

For Whom Christ Died

1 Corinthians 8 addresses the issue of how we interact with one another when we see things differently in the church. In particular it deals with the issue of when we perceive that we have freedom in Christ to act in a certain way, whilst other Christians do not feel comfortable in engaging in that same behaviour.

In such a situation we need to be careful about how we speak and act towards such a fellow Christian. Our freedom should never be a means for bringing the other brother to stumble in their faith.

Paul reaches the apogee of his argument when he speaks of how the brother you could stumble is one for whom Christ died. He writes of how by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died (1 Cor. 8:11). Christ gave up all of His freedom that he eternally and joyously enjoyed in the favour of His Father in heaven. He relinquished that in order to bring eternal blessing to your brother. And that blessing was only brought through the Christ suffering ignominy, shame and dereliction on His cross.

Won’t I and won’t you then, be very careful about indulging our freedom in Christ. We should always act circumspectly to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ. True love motivates us to do this.

It is a worthwhile thing to have always in our minds in our dealings with fellow believers that they are ones for who Christ died. This title, in a sense, rests over them and is an insignia upon them.

Woe betide me if I am selfish and careless in my treatment of another Christian.

Why Am I Here?

In Psalm 71:16-19 we read:

My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
    of your deeds of salvation all the day,
    for their number is past my knowledge.
With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come;
    I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone.
O God, from my youth you have taught me,
    and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and grey hairs,
    O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
    your power to all those to come.

The psalmist here relates how he has had a living experience of the living God. He has known of the workings of the Lord in His life. “Righteous acts”, “deeds of salvation”, “mighty deeds” and “wondrous deeds” have all come within the ambit of his life-story. These experiences are not to be stored away or even worse disposed of as refuse, rather they are to be the focus of his ongoing life-story. Specifically, he is to make these things known to others.

I was particularly struck by the aspect of him having this ministry to old age and grey hairs. The fact that, what hair I have left  is all grey makes such observations very personal. So I ask myself what am I here for now? The answer is that I am here to proclaim the mighty deeds of the Lord to another generation. I want to tell of the Lord’s power to all that are coming up after me.

Certain cultures and professions function around the passing on of accumulated wisdom and knowledge. In western cultures we seemed to have lost this. However, in the church and among the people of God this should be a vital aspect of how we live.

So as I set myself for further years, in the Lord’s will I set myself to passing on what I know of the Lord’s workings. I know of these through His words, through His own personal dealings with me and through what i have come to know in fellowshipping with others.

Undergirding this whole process is implication that I am to have a heart of delight in the Lord for all His workings. Surely when I consider all the works of the Lord in His gracious dealings  with His people and most particularly with me, how can I be anything other than a man who delights in the mighty acts of the Lord. In the person and work of my Saviour, Jesus Christ, I see this most gloriously as He, in one act of obedience (see Rom. 5:19b), has made salvation. How wonderful is this great salvation (Heb. 2:3a). 

And so all may prayings and actings and livings should be to pass on to the generation to come what I know of Him. The younger generations can never then be seen as a threat  or as a nuisance, but rather as a great opportunity. They need to know of the Lord and the Lord wants them to know of Him. And He wants me and all others of grey hairs to be excited to be involved in this passing on ministry.

Oh Lord may it be that all my energies are operating through your Spirit to that end. Amen

In His Presence

The nation of Israel were called to live in the presence of the Lord. Also, their commitment in the covenant of law was to obey His law. Enjoying the Lord’s presence was conditioned upon obedience to the law. Alas in the very act of receiving the tabernacle, which would be the means of them enjoying and participating in His presence they rebelled and defied the first two of the ten commandments which are the summary of that law (see Ex. 32:1-16). They made a golden calf to be their God and in doing so made a graven image of God. The first two commandments prohibited these actions.

The book of Exodus accordingly finishes with Moses outside the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle (Ex. 40:35). And the book of Leviticus commences with the Lord speaking from the tabernacle to Moses. The Lord called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting (Lev. 1:1); Moses could not go in where the Lord was.

The book of Leviticus then gives in full the description of the way in which a sinful people could approach a holy God. This was on the basis of the sacrificial and priestly system. It all centred upon the Day of Atonement which is portrayed in Leviticus 16. Leviticus is a book full of grace. It is a book showing how God establishes the means for a people to be with Him and in His presence.

The success of the book of Leviticus is seen in the first verse of Numbers which says. The Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt (Num. 1:1).

The sacrifices have worked! The priests are successful in doing their job! Moses can now be in the tabernacle to speak with the Lord.

Oh what beautiful revealings this has to our souls of the great sacrifice and priest of God’s supply: our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the great One to bring us to God. We no longer need be outside of the presence of the Lord, but we are brought in, in and through our Lord Jesus.

The promptings for this post come from the Bible Project here.

He is Still Serving

John 13:1-20 gives a visual illustration of Philippians 2:5-11. In the latter passage we read:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so 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.

The parallelism with John 13 is seen in two key acts of the Lord in that passage. In John 13:4 we read that He rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it round his waist. Then in 13:12 we read: When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them.

In laying aside His garments he demonstrated what He did when He left glory. He laid aside the outward manifestation of His glory. His taking the cloth around His waist  shows Him undertaking servant work. Whilst His final retaking of His garments indicates the re-taking of the outward display of His glory.

One part of this process which is often overlooked is the fact that the cloth around His waist was never removed in John 13. He retook the insignia of glory, but never disrobed himself of the garments of His service.

Accordingly, we delight in the teaching conveyed by this symbolism. The One who is now in glory continues in service; He continues His ministry on behalf of His children. In particular as our great High Priest (see Heb. 4:14-16) and as our Advocate (see 1 John 2:1), He is there in heaven for us. In heaven today as High Priest to succour us so that we do not sin. And also as Advocate to plead our cause when we do sin.

Oh praise be to His Name that the One in glory retains His servant character. And we thereby are blessed.



Strange Happenings

Associated with the account of the healing of the man who had been an invalid for thirty eight years in John 5:1-16 is some strangeness. What I refer to is the clearly implied recognition that through the stirring of the water at the pool of Bethesda, someone was actually healed when they were the first to get into the pool upon the stirring.

It is interesting that the Lord makes no comment at all upon this strange happening. And we simply have to accept it as a strange happening, with there being no explanation given. The Lord did not even rebuke the invalid for looking to get healing in the pool. Simply the account in John 5 leaves the whole happening as a mysterious event.

The important thing though, that the Lord does is to direct the man to look to Himself and Himself alone for help. He directs him away from the pool to Himself as Lord of this situation; Lord of his physical and spiritual welfare. The man must know that it is in the Lord himself that He will find transformation. So we read:  Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked (John 5:8-9a).

There are many unexplained happenings that we might come across in life and ministry. Such occurrences are not to pre-occupy us though. Sometimes strange things happen; we might not now why; the Lord gives no explanation of what happened in this instance and very likely we might not be able to explain many things. What is important though is that we should not get diverted by seeking to dwell upon and investigate these strangenesses.

Rather we should always be pointing people to the Lord Jesus. I fear that many Christians if they had been eye-witnesses of this event would be thrown into a state of ferment, not by the Lord’s miracle, but by the pool’s stirring and all that happened as a result.

There are so many things that we can’t explain whether they be natural or supernatural. What really matters though is whether someone has embraced the transforming grace that is in Christ Jesus. Let us give up our fascinations with strange events and give our full embrace and attention to the mighty saving grace of our Lord.

Red-Letter Bibles

They really should be banned should they not? That is red-letter bibles. I understand the good intentions behind them to have the words of Christ our Lord highlighted so that special attention is drawn to them. And it is beautiful to know of the words actually spoken by our Saviour.

However, the big cost is found in the fact that all other scripture is regarded as being “also-rans”. Yes it is a Word from the Lord, but is is not as good as the Word of our Lord Jesus. This is just no good. Paul tells Timothy and us. that All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

The words spoken by our Lord are not more important than other words recorded in scripture. They are all equally part of the revelation that the Lord has given to us in His Word.

This also saves us from all false notions about how Paul or Peter had a lesser view, or alternative view, of the faith. Not at all! They all stand on a level with our Lord Jesus in terms of revealing the same faith.

This has to be so because it is the same God who spoke through the apostles who also spoke in Jesus Christ.

Accordingly, we receive the Word as one whole Word from our Lord.

You Must Have Time With The Lord

This is essential for the Christian; you must have your personal time alone with Him. You put your life in peril if you do not. Church fellowship is essential and we need to be experiencing that to grow in the Lord. Worshipping in the family at home  must also be there in our schedules. But we must not neglect being in the secret place with the Lord.

You have to find out what works for you. You may be able to operate on a spontaneous basis, whereby in the natural flow of life you are having space to worship the Lord and be with Him. However, for most of us, I suggest, that this is not the case, We need to be more disciplined. we need to set aside a specific time to be alone with our Father and our Lord Jesus. Regular habits are normally good in this respect.

And if your Quiet Time or personal time with the Lord is becoming dull and lacklustre then mix it up. Try whatever works. Try reading a few passages of good Christ centred books. The Puritans are good here and Richard Sibbes is always a good place to start. Try prayer lists. In all this make sure that your prayings and worshippings are Bible framed so you must have the Word.

Living Christians are always God’s presence Christians. No time in the presence of the Lord means death to your soul and impoverishment in spiritual desires and worship.

And of course our Lord Jesus sets the pattern here. He was so keen to spend time with his Father that he would get up early to make sure it happened. Perhaps that is what you need to do (and me). You need to be thinking about getting up a bit earlier and having time in His presence.

I have written about personal devotions at further length here if you are interested.

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