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

Archive for the ‘Christian Life’ Category

John Allen Chau: Christian Sacrifice

Here is the BBC report on the death on November 17th (last week)  of the American missionary, John Allen Chau. His willingness to give up all, even life itself, so that others might know the love of God in Christ Jesus is surely the love of God in demonstration. It is must be truly Christ-like self-sacrificial love.

It is reminiscent of the desire of the five American missionaries to reach the Auca Indians back in the 1950’s (see here for basic details).

I am challenged and effected as to how much my life reflects this self-denying love. Am I constrained / compelled by the love of Christ (see 2 Cor. 5:14). I preached on that at our church back in September the audio is here. But how much am I living the message I preached? And now we have this portrayal before us in the life of Mr Chau. In all his weakness, he was willing to risk his life to teh end taht others might have life.

In his letters shortly before his death he mentions about who will step up to take his place if he is taken. Sobering words indeed.

So how seriously do we take the great commission to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19a)? How much am I longing to see people gathered around the throne of God praising God in their own language?

Ordering Our Ways

Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the LORD his God (2 Chron. 27:6). Jotham was a leader of substance. He was a man who had a good influence upon the people. He was the type of leader you want around. He was a man with a strength and capacity derived from a life set on pleasing God. What made Jotham what he was?

When we read an alternative rendering in the English Standard Version we get a flavor of his character So Jotham became mighty, because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God.  He was what he was because  ordered his ways before the LORD his God. His life counted because his life was lived in the presence of the Lord. He took time to consider his actions in the light of God’s Word. Implicit in the statement that ordered his ways before the LORD his God is the fact that he was a student of the law of God. It would be impossible for him to walk steadfastly before the Lord his God without the law being at the heart of his life. Moreover, we must reasonably infer that he took time to draw near to God; he sought the Lord in prayer. All his life was lived in fellowship with the Lord.

So how about us? There is a direct correlation between the way we are walking and our effectiveness. Those who walk steadfastly before the Lord will be effective people. those who study the Word and pray will be effective people.

Should I Go To Church?

Life is busy for so many of us. A phrase often heard is: “there just does not seems to be enough hours in the day”. So we have to be thoughtful about what we put into our lives. One thing to consider is whether we should bother going to church.

Before getting into directly answering that question we need to ponder upon which church we should consider going to. There are many fake churches which are not really churches at all. The church we should consider going to is the church which

  • believes that The Bible is the inspired, authoritative and infallible Word of God.
  • preaches the message of the Bible that focuses on how God has brought salvation through Jesus Christ.

It is the church that professes this and seeks to live it out that we should consider attending.

The issues to consider in whether or not we actually do attend church are dependent upon whether or not we are true believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.

For the true Christian church attendance should be a normal part of their life. In fact, we have to say, that if a person is not attending church, and is professing to be a believer, the genuineness of their profession must questioned. Right at the beginning when the church was established in Acts 2 the people drew together so that they could hear the apostles doctrine; enjoy fellowship in the grace of God, worship in the breaking of the bread and seek the Lord through their prayers (see Acts 2:42). These things continue to be at the heart of what a church does when they meet together.

Christianity is a “together” religion and this togetherness is displayed in the church. The church should always be together in their support for one another 24/7, but there must also be those important times when they come together. So we see as God works to bring salvation in the book of Acts that churches were being formed and those in the churches came together. If we look in Acts 20 as an example we see there reference to the believers meeting together on the first day of the week in Troas to break bread and to hear God’s Word (see Acts 20:7). Paul in Acts 20:20 indicates how the church in Ephesus was taught publicly as well as house to house.

The rest of the new testament shows how believers are to live for the Lord. At the heart of that experience is being in church. It is interesting that the book of Revelation is sent to churches. The exhortation to true believers in churches in Hebrews 10:25 is that they should not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another– and all the more as you see the Day approaching. It is important for Christians to meet together.

But what of the non-Christian? Why should someone who does not share this faith come to church? They should come:-

  • To Hear: The greatest need for the non-Christian is to be saved. Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. It is in church where you will hear this message.
  • To See: In church you see God at work. The church is God’s special place. In church you see a disparate group of people coming together as one in Christ. You should come to church and see how these people love one another and display their unity. As you observe it your wise response is to say “I want that”.
  • To Anticipate. If you are a human being you want to live. The place where you find life is in Christ. And that life in Christ is to be lived in the church. So if you are not a Christian you will yearn for that life and come to church to see the place where that life is lived. And that is all in anticipation of you one day being a part of that body.

So always and for everyone the church is the pace to be. It is God’s place. For believer and unbeliever alike, there are good reasons to be there. For the believer it is an essential place to enjoy your salvation. For the unbeliever it is the place to learn about Christ so that by faith you will obtain your salvation in Him.

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

Big Commitment.

In Matthew 13 our Lord uses parables to teach about how the kingdom of heaven operates. In vv44-46 we come to the parables of the treasure in the field and the pearl of great price. And as we come to them we have to ask: “What do these parables teach us about the kingdom of heaven?” If you look at bible commentaries regarding you will find differing perspectives. There are those who say that the parables teach us how Christ loved the church so much that He gave His all so as to obtain the church for Himself. Others say that these parables refer to how an individual should view salvation. Each person should view the salvation of God as being so important that they are willing to give up everything in order to obtain it. With these differing perspectives we can be left feeling perplexed as what really is the teaching. However, I suggest, that there is no need to choose. This is because the parables are both teaching the same essential truth. That truth is total commitment.

In looking at the passage we need to remember that the key thought concerns what the kingdom of heaven is like. Both parables are introduced by the phrase “The kingdom of heaven is like” (see v44a and v45a). Also both conclude with the same thought, namely that of selling all in order to obtain the desired possession. The man who bought the field and the man who bought the pearl both sold all in order to obtain what they yearned for. Both parables therefore teach that in the kingdom of heaven there is commitment, zeal, devotion, self-sacrifice and passion. These characteristics are displayed by the person in order to obtain what the person wants.

This teaching accordingly is applicable for both the attitude of our Lord Jesus giving Himself for His people and the individual obtaining salvation. They both involve the display of the same phenomena which can be summed up in the term passionate commitment. This is what the kingdom of heaven is like. Accordingly if someone is lacking zeal for God, passion for Jesus Christ the Lord, devotion to The Word, passionate interest in salvation and commitment to the church then that person is not a kingdom of heaven person. So each of us must ask ourselves: “Am I displaying, through my commitment to all that belongs to God, that I am a kingdom of heaven person?”

However, I do not want to hasten on too quickly in looking at out involvement in the kingdom of heaven. Rather we must stop and consider how our Lord Jesus is the ultimate demonstration of what it is to show commitment. We will never be able to fathom the depths of a statement like Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Eph. 5:25b). Here is One giving His life for the benefit of others. Here is One securing eternal life and blessing for others by giving, NOT a vast amount of money, but His own self. Here is passion, zeal and commitment like no other. But further we can ponder upon the zeal of the Lord for the glory of God and the honour of His cause. Prophetically we read of Him in Psalm 69:9a saying that zeal for your house consumes me. Oh what passion He had and still has for the cause of God and the benefit of His people.

But why do we have two parables here that teach essentially the same thing? I suggest that the two are developed in order to give two lessons about commitment.

  • Wisdom

The parable of the treasure in the field shows how wisdom operates in the midst of total commitment to God’s ways. The man here seems to stumble across the treasure. This was not unreasonable given that in those days there were no banks and people often stored their precious possessions by burying them in the ground. When he finds it he buries it again. If he had gone off with it he would have stolen it. If he had told others about it then that land would have an inflated value. So he goes and obtains the field and all that is in it (and that includes the treasure) at the best price; a price that is within the extent of his resources. He did this because he wanted that treasure. He knew the level of his resources and he gave all, but he did not give more than his resources.

Wisdom necessitates that we each are committed to the level that is appropriate for ourselves. To over-commit is to destroy ourselves in obtaining the treasure. The kingdom of heaven is a place of full commitment, but not over-commitment. To over-commit can lead to us ruining ourselves. Each of us must know ourselves in this.

  • Total Commitment.

However, in case we move towards under-commitment because of the danger of over-commitment which has emerged through understanding the parable of the treasure in the field, the parable of the pearl of great price underlines that total commitment is vital, even normal, in the kingdom of God. Here is a very wealthy man who gives all. Here is a man who has a large capacity for commitment, but he does not hold back anything. He gives the whole lot. In the kingdom of heaven under-commitment is not an option. Even for those who have a big capacity to give. They give the lot.

Let us then be thoughtful about the issue of commitment. Are we displaying in our lives the characteristics which show that we want to be with the Lord and in His ways? If we are half-hearted we are likely showing that we are not kingdom of heaven people and that is serious.

But does this commitment lead to joyless drudgery? No, not at all. We read concerning that the man found the treasure in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field (v44b). Commitment in the kingdom of heaven leads to joy. Do we miss out on so much delight in God and His ways because of our lack of commitment. And finally we remember our Saviour who for the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb 12:2b).

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

 

Be An Example.

We hear a lot of talk about there being a need for good role models in our society. So what kind of role model are you? A role model is someone who sets an example through their own life and conduct. This example influences others for good or ill. So in your sphere of influence, whether that be at school, work, home, church or wherever, what kind of influence are you providing? Do people look at you and conclude that you are living a life that is worth emulating? Paul encouraged Timothy to be such an example among Christians when he said set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity (1. Tim. 4:12b). Let us pick up that exhortation to Timothy and ponder upon what kind of example we are to others in the church.

Paul infers that everything in Timothy’s life should recommend God to others. It is not about him being popular and winning the favour of others. Rather it is about him (and us) so reflecting the Lord Jesus that we bring honour to God. We live in a world where we are encouraged to impress others through our achievements. This kind of thinking can so easily affect the church. Accordingly, if we have an effective ministry or church then people are encouraged to follow us as regards to how that ministry / church has became effective. Through these things we are considered to be a good example. Such may be the case, but Paul has a bigger priority.

Paul’s primary desire for Timothy does not focus upon his ministry, but rather upon his character. Quite simply Timothy is urged to be an example in:-

  • The content and manner of his speech. He is to be a man who heeds Proverbs 10:19 Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.
  • His displaying godliness in his conduct. Anyone observing his life (and ours) should conclude that here is someone not living according to the ways of this world. God’s Word is determining their lifestyle and not contemporary thinking.

  • The way he shows self-sacrificial love. Timothy is to live in such a way as to demonstrate that he is living for the benefit of others. Love is “the king fruit” among the fruit of the Spirit (see Gal. 5:22-23) and must be evidenced in his life. And it should be in ours.

  • Being a man who is known to have his trust is in God. He is not a self-made or a self-trusting man. He is to be God-trusting, realising that it is only in dependence upon God that he can truly live.

  • How he is to be a man who shuns evil and loves purity. Purity has a bad image nowadays because it is portrayed as drab and boring. But true purity is beautiful. It reflects the beauty of God, who is the ultimate pure, holy (and certainly not boring) being.

Feltham Evangelical Church needs great servers of God, but of even greater importance are great livers for God. We need more of those who devote themselves to fellowship with the Lord. I say that because the five characteristics mentioned are all sourced somewhere; they originate somewhere. They originate in a soul which is set upon God. It is the one who is walking in the Spirit who has these things in their lives.

So through you learning of God’s Word, praying to and worshipping the Lord, and fellowshipping with God’s people you need to keep on knowing the Spirit moving in your life. And then consistently godly conduct will emerge in your life. The church of God needs such examples. So go and be radical, go and live for God, go walk in the Spirit and be a great demonstrator of God in every sphere that you influence. Through that you will have a blessed life, you will be a great role model to others and an example that many should follow.

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

Baptism, Lord’s Supper, Church Membership.

God has established a proper order for our lives in His Word. He, in His grace, provides a structure wherein we can function for His glory.

Salvation. The first and most important thing is that we are saved. We can be involved in church and participating in all kinds of things, but if we are not saved they are all irrelevant. To be saved involves repentance and faith. We need first to realise that we are wrong before God and are going the wrong way; we are on a way that leads to death and destruction as a result of our sin. When we fully appreciate that this is our state we turn back to God. This is repentance. And when we do turn back to God we see how our Lord Jesus died on the cross to take away our sins and is now risen from the dead. Through believing in Him and in Him alone we have eternal life.

Baptism. Upon being saved the Lord calls us to be baptised. He calls us to confess our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ by being immersed in water and raised out of the water. This is baptism. The principle is established in Acts 2:41a. Those who accepted his message were baptised. Similarly when the message was received by the Gentiles we see the pattern followed. So we read in Acts 9:46b-48a: Then Peter said, ‘Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptised with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.’ So he ordered that they be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. The receiving of the Holy Spirit proved that they were saved and so they needed to be baptised. Baptism is the outward act that indicates to all, that we have been saved. It does not make our salvation, but it confirms our salvation. The act of baptism is associated with our commencing the life of grace in Christ. Every Christian should be continually remembering their baptism and how they confessed that they were finished with living for self, sin and this world and were committed to living for the new creation.

The Lord’s Supper. God also gives us an ongoing ceremony to remind us of our salvation; this is the Lord’s Supper. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the only ceremonial acts that are given to the Christian church. The Lord’s Supper confirms our ongoing life of grace in Christ. It is our weekly declaration that we are in Christ and not living for ourselves. You will gather from this that there is something wrong if someone is taking the Lord’s Supper and is is not baptised. The order is that baptism is to be at the start of the Christian life and the Lord’s Supper is to be celebrated throughout the Christian life. To be involved in the ongoing rite without submitting to the initial rite is contradictory.

So what happens when we take the Lord’s Supper? At this feast we are called to examine ourselves, confess our sins and acknowledge Christ together. It is to be done in a church setting; it is not a private individual or family thing. In the church setting all those participating in taking the bread and drinking the cup together acknowledge Christ together.

Church Membership. By taking the Lord’s Supper together with other believers we acknowledge our togetherness with them. Paul expresses it to the Corinthians like this: Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf (1 Cor. 10:16-17). When participating in the Lord’s Supper you declare that you are committed to these people who you are sharing the loaf with; you are one with them. So many people seems to think that celebrating communion is just an individual act, but surely this is only part of what is taking place. There is a significant collective element to it.

But our collective participation in the Lord’s Supper is contradictory if we are not a member of the church. When you become a member of a church you are committing yourself into the life of that church; you are formally associating yourself with that community of believers. So if you are not a member and are taking the Lord’s Supper your are giving a contradictory message. You are saying you are joined with that body of believers by taking the Lord’s Supper, but you will not commit formally in membership. Something is wrong here.

I conclude by putting before you what happened when the church in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost was originally formed. After the preaching of the Word by Peter we read this summary of what happened in Acts 2:41-42: Those who accepted his message (salvation) were baptised (baptism), and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves (church membership) to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread (the Lord’s Supper) and to prayer. Salvation, then baptism, then church membership, then the Lord’s Supper; that’s the Lord’s order.

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

Keep Your Word..

…even when it hurts; that is what a godly person should do. Psalm 15 is about the character of the person who is dwelling in the presence of the Lord. In v3 we read of such a person that he is one who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind;

Here is a person who makes a commitment; he then finds out that if he keeps his word he is going to lose out whether that be financially or emotionally or in whatever other way. So what does he do? Well if he is of the world then there is only one outcome he will backtrack and makes sure he protects his position. But what of the one who is godly? They keep their word even when it hurts! Even when the outcome is disadvantageous to them; they still keep their word.

Which raises the question: are you more interested in your bank account or your personal reputation or in keeping your word? Are you interested in being a person of integrity and, yes, a person who dwells in the presence of the Lord.

Oh Lord please work in me that I might be a man who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind;

Prayer Is…

PRAYER IS… RELATIONSHIP. Prayer is speaking to the Lord. Prayer is having a living open communication with the Lord God eternal. It is a phenomenal privilege that we, who are the creatures of dust (see Gen. 2:7) can come and have fellowship with the Lord. Prayer flows from the enjoying of a relationship. When we are drawing near to God, we are in awe of who He is and we bring proper acknowledgement of His essential majesty and holiness. Therefore, we reverence this One and always start our praying in the atmosphere of Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name (Matt. 6:9). And yet we can come boldly to him. In Hebrews, we read that we do not have a high priest who is unable to feel sympathy for our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

PRAYER IS… VITAL. Your life is now hidden with Christ in God (Col 4:3b) is Paul’s statement concerning where our true life is now as Christians. We are a people of life. That life is not centred in this world, but flows from the heavenly realm. Prayer brings this life into our lives now. If we are not praying then we are not truly living. Without experiencing this vital relationship with the Lord in prayer we are the living dead.

Prayer is vital for life. Paul tells the Phillipians that they should not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Phil. 4:6). In every situation prayer should be found. All our living should be prayer initiated and prayed saturated living. Prayer is needed to set us up for every day of our lives. Our Lord Jesus is our great example here:Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed (Mark. 1:35). A prayer-less life is a useless life.

Moreover, prayer to the Lord is needed in every crisis of life. Nehemiah when brought before the King lifted up an emergency, but very necessary prayer. We read The king said to me, ‘What is it you want?’Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king (Neh. 2:4-5). The panics of life should always be immersed in prayer to the Lord so that peace might replace panic (see Phil 4:7)

PRAYER IS… WRONG when

  • …..it is based on selfishness. James tells his Christian readers that When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures (James 1:3).
  • …..it is based on prideful display. The Lord condemns the Pharisees for praying to be seen by men ‘And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full (Matt. 6:5).
  • …..there is unconfessed sin. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened (Ps 66:18). The Lord was similarly wearied with the prophets professed engagements with him in Malachi 1. Now plead with God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?’– says the Lord Almighty (v9).
  • …..it is an excuse for doing nothing. When the lady on your street wants a lift to church and you have a car and say “I will pray about it”. Then that is an evasive approach and wrong.
  • …..it is a cover for disobedience. When you know that God has called you to a certain task and you say that you are going to pray about whether or not to do it then that is using prayer as an excuse for disobedience.
  • …..it is used as a good luck charm. We do not pray out of superstition. We pray because we want to move in God’s favour. The people in Jeremiah’s day were just talking about the temple of the Lord and the the temple of the Lord (see Jer. 7:4). They were using the temple as a lucky charm to get God on our side. We can do the same with prayer.
  • …..you know the will of God. When you are asked to lie for you to reply by saying “I will pray about the matter” is completely inappropriate. There is no need to pray; you just need to refuse to lie.

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

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)

 

 

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