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

Archive for the ‘Christ Jesus our LORD’ Category

I Am The Solution To……

—-nobody’s problems. But I know someone who is the solution to everyone’s problems. I must remember this as I deal with people. And in doing so I will realise that it is not my wisdom that will be useful to anybody, but that which is from the Lord Almighty; the eternally Wise One.

So I will always be wanting to speak biblically when i am approached for advise or counsel about a situation. Very often this might mean asking for time to consider the matter that has been raised.

Also, always I will be praying to the Lord. In doing this we follow the exhortation of James in James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. Not only will I be praying before i speak, I will be dependent on Him whilst speaking to people as well. “Oh Lord give me wisdom and the right words to speak” will be my prayer.

So don’t forget, Philip, you are the solution to nobody’s problems.

Doing Good

In Acts 10:38 we read how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

I want to particularly ponder upon the phrase “doing good”. It is an obvious point, but easily ignored point, that all the miracles of our Lord Jesus were beneficial to people. He did not make people sick, he did not give demons to people and he did not deprive people of food. Our Lord Jesus came into the world to bring blessing, He came to enhance people’s lives.

In his ministry Jesus was displaying the grace of God. He was showing how undeserving people, afflicted with various maladies, could be blessed with deliverance and restoration.

In contrast the works of the evil one are always harmful to people. He is the one who destroys our humanity. Indicative of this are these observations in Mark 5:2-5 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

Let us be clear then, that if you come to Jesus in obedient faith He will always do you good. In contrast the devil will harm you. Moreover, remember from 1 John 5:19b that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. You are either in Christ and that means blessing or under the control of the evil one and that means harm and destruction.

 

The Way Of The World.

We were considering the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand men (and women and children) with a small group aged 10 to 17 at church last week. We read this in John 6:5-7

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming towards him, he said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’ He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, ‘It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’

The response of Philip led us to ponder upon the way that this world thinks. Amongst us, and this was not from me, we noted that the way of the world is to think of “money, shops and the things you can see”. I felt that was quite a pithy, but very helpful description of the world in which we live. In fact Philips’ words would indicate that these reflect a mindset which permeates the ages.

Sadly it is not the way of thinking that helps to deal with the real issues of life and to find ultimate solutions. That way of thinking focuses on Jesus Christ as the miracle-working Lord of eternity. When He steps into a situation he brings satisfying transformation. “Money, shops and the things you can see” always lead to an ache for more. When Jesus comes and intervenes there is always satisfaction.

So in the feeding of the five thousand we read that all the people had as much as they wanted (v11b) and they had all had enough to eat (v12a)

Amidst the issues of life. Do we look to the way of the world or the way of Jesus?

Would I Wish To Be Accursed.

Paul has explained the glorious gospel of the glorious grace of our glorious God and then declares with overwhelming profundity in Romans 9:1-3a:

I speak the truth in Christ – I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit – I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. 

What a statement that is. He has such an overwhelming gospel love for his own people, the nation of Israel, that he would even wish himself to be accursed should that lead them into blessing in Christ.

Imagine that! He would even be happy to take eternal punishment through bearing the curse of God because of his sin. He would be willing to endure being cut off from Christ in order that others would enjoy eternal gospel blessing.

I must confess I stumble at that, I hesitate at that and yet I am overwhelmingly challenged by that. I feel that my heart is way away from the heart of the apostle Paul. My love for others is pitiful in comparison to his love.

But oh for some stirring in my heart to have some of this gospel love for my family, for my friends, for my colleagues, for my community, for my nations. Oh Lord stir me with gospel love.

Jesus Visited Us.

I’m sure he did. He came to Feltham Evangelical Church earlier in the year. He was a preacher, actually, who came to deliver God’s Word.

He may not have been a perfect Jesus, but he was certainly a representation of our Saviour. There was that in his demeanour which displayed grace and truth. Faithful to the Word in his preaching, speech and conduct. Yet mixed in with it was a beautiful self-effacing humility.

Of course, he was not a perfect reflection of his and our Lord, but surely it was there. There was something of Christ so patently there in his life. And it was a joy to be in his presence. Afterwards I was left with something of a warm-glow concerning the privilege of that experience. Yet there was no sense of him being intimidating. Rather the reverse, such warmth and welcoming-ness.

That must reflect something of what it was to encounter our Saviour. After all the children were happy to go up to Him. And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them (Mark 10:16) is how Mark records the children coming to Him. There must have been something so attractive about His persona.

So I am left with two thoughts:

  • How much do I reflect Jesus in my life? How much do I portray a Christ-likeness?
  • Why was it that this man reflected so much of Christ. I take it he was a man who walked with God. He was a knower of the Word and a submitter thereto. He was evidently one who submitted Himself to the mighty hand of the Lord. He was a Christ-like, grace and truth man.

Which leads me to be looking forward to meeting face-to-face the real thing Himself. Jesus, face-to-face, now that’s something for the believer to look forward to.

And I am also looking forward, to a real but lesser degree, to meeting the aforementioned brother again.

How Interested Are We In The Word?

One of the key indicators of the spiritual state of someone is how they respond to the Word of God. If someone wants to hear, know and act upon the Scriptures then it is an indication that that person is a true believer in Christ who wants to follow the Lord. As for those who are not interested, that is an indication of their lacking of spiritual life towards the Lord. I want to examine this issue in the light of two passages in the Bible:-

Matthew 13:10-17. The Lord has just addressed a large crowd with a parable about the sower, the seed and the soils. A question which is often asked about the parables is, whether they were given to help people in their understanding or to hinder people coming to know more of God. In vv11-17 the Lord gives teaching regarding this issue. This teaching is given in light of how in v10 the disciples come to the Lord and ask Him about His speaking in parables Essentially He will say, in answer to their question, that those who want to come and ask about his teaching in parables will receive an explanation and will receive the blessing of having their understanding enhanced. Whereas, those who don’t ask the questions will be prevented from grasping the teaching and will instead go backward in their understanding .

Let us consider this process in further detail:

  • When a true seeker of God hears a parable with its intriguing images they say “I want to know more about what is involved here.” As a result they go and ask questions to find out the meaning. This is exactly what the disciples do in v10.
  • When an unbeliever hears the same thing, they say “I can’t be bothered about all of that. I don’t understand it and I am not interested.” As a result they do not gain an understanding. In fact their situation is worse because they think that the things of Christ are just too difficult to understand.

This is the background to the Lord’s response to the disciples question. Accordingly, He says the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom has been given to you, but not to them? (v11). We ask: to whom are the secrets given? We go back to v10 and we get our answer: it is to those who come to Him and ask questions about what He is saying (see v12a). As for the unbeliever they simply don’t come and ask. They either ignore the teaching as being of no consequence or dismiss it as all being confusing nonsense (see vv12b-13). Our Lord then goes on to further establish this division. He speaks of the unbelievers who are not interested in the Word in vv14-15. And of the believers who want the Word in vv16-17.

These reflections upon the attitude of people to the Word are most pertinent to ourselves. When we hear the Word and it seems difficult to understand, how do we respond? When people say that they can’t be bothered to seek out its meaning and that it is all irrelevant nonsense they are showing up their own ignorance and unbelief. However, the true believer does seek out the meaning. They do want to know. So when you hear things from God’s Word that you do not understand how do you respond? Do you ask questions of others? Do you look for help in commentaries?

Isaiah 29:11-12. In the opening part of Isaiah 29:1-4 the Lord has set Himself to bring judgement upon Ariel, which is another name for Jerusalem. In vv9-14 He gives something of the reasoning as to why this is happening. There are two reasons why judgement is falling. Namely, they do not want the Word and their worship is empty. It is upon their attitude to the Word that we will focus upon here.

In vv11-12 we have a very similar scenario to that which is described in respect of parables. Here we find a people who can’t be bothered to break the seal of the scroll wherein God’s Word is found. As JA Motyer says of them: “the one will not exert himself to break the seal and read, nor does the other urge him to do so.” If the second group really wanted to hear surely they would encourage the first group to open it and read it. But no, both are equally indifferent. Moreover, we can ponder upon how if they really wanted to know the Word they would set themselves to learn to read.

How sad it is to see people who have the Word presented to them, but cannot be bothered to look into it. We live among people who are just like that. The Word of the living God is available in their language, but they will not open it. However, sadly, this attitude can be true in church. The Word of God is read and preached, but it just passes people by and they cannot be bothered to delve into its contents.

These two passages lead us to consider the whole issue of our interest in God’s Word. Many think they are clever when they reject God’s Word as being confusing and of no relevance. Sadly though, it is in fact themselves who are being judged through their attitude.

Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of April 2016

I Need You With Me, Lord!

What is the biggest question to ask of ourselves and others? I suggest this could be the one: “Is Jesus with you?” How we answer that question reveals where our lives are at and where they are going. To have Jesus with us, means blessing; to have Jesus absent, means disaster. In an eternal sense the difference is heaven and hell. Jesus came as Immanuel which means God with us (see Matt. 1:23). When we receive Jesus we receive the salvation of God because we receive His Saviour. Thereby we know God is with us and have blessings untold for evermore. Jesus gave himself for our sins so that the sins that keep us from Himself would be taken away. When our sins are taken away we truly know Immanuel; God with us.

However, having Jesus with us is not just critical for our eternal destiny it is also critical for our day-to-day lives. In Matthew 14 the disciples when faced with a crisis over the food supply for the gathered multitude said to the Lord ‘This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so that they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food’ (Matt. 14:15b). The disciples thought blessing would come for the people when they left Jesus, However the blessing actually came when everyone stayed with Jesus. So we read after the miraculous provision of food by our Lord that They all ate and were satisfied (Matt. 14:20a).

The next happening in Matthew’s gospel is interestingly introduced by the word “Immediately” (v22a). This suggests that there must be a close link with what had gone before. Remember the disciples had just had a living demonstration that being with Jesus brings blessing. It is with this background that they are sent away by the Lord to go across the lake. It seems to me that the Lord was testing them as regards to the necessity of having him with them. They should have responded: “No! Lord, we will not go unless you come with us”. Alas, they went and ended up a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it (Matt. 14:24b). They were a long way from their Master and in trouble. Being a long way from our Lord always means bad news.

The Lord in His gracious kindness then intervenes. He comes from the mountainside to the lake. And as He ventures on to the lake He walks on the water showing He is Lord of all. Two incidents then happen which are instructive to us:

  1. Peter looks at the Lord and not the storm and the waves and says “I want to be with Him”. So he gets out of the boat and heads for Jesus. He too, like Jesus, walks over the surface of the water when moving towards Jesus. Alas his progress is stopped when he sees the wind. The Lord intervenes to rescue Peter, but rebukes him for not trusting Him. It is instructive for us to note that when Peter was looking at the Lord and moving to Him all was well. When we have gone away from the Lord whether it be by neglecting our relationship with Him or determining to go our own way the consequences are always harmful, but when we turn and want to go back to Him all is well. And we will know Him intervening to care for us even when our trust in Him fades, as Peter’s did.
  2. And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God (Matt. 14:32-33) is how Matthew records the outcome of the event. Jesus is now in the boat. With Him in the boat all is transformed; everything is different. Of course the disciples should have known that this would be the case from what they had experienced with the feeding of the 5,000. When Jesus is with us all is different. This all has very big implications then. We must learn that the Lord must be with us. How easily we drift into life presuming that all will go well. The lesson from these incidents of the feeding of the five thousand and the storm on the lake is that we must have Jesus with us. So every day I must start out by seeking the Lord, that He might be with me. And in every part of my life, for our every conversation, every visit to the shops, every getting in my car I need the Lord with me. Everything in my life, home, church, work etc. must be greeted by a seeking of the Lord that He might be with me.

To reinforce the immense implications of the truth we have been pondering on, I want to look at two Old Testament texts:-

  1. In Exodus 33:15-16 we read Then Moses said to him, ‘If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?’ So Philip, be a Moses and say to the Lord, unless you are with me Lord, I am not going. Please stop me going Lord if you will not come with me.
  2. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze (Is. 43:2). When the Lord is with us; we need not fear. So is the Lord with you right now?

(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of June 2016)

 

 

Tag Cloud