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

Archive for the ‘The Word’ Category

What Are You Enjoying?

Our Lord Jesus declared to His disciples  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10b). Our Lord is in the business of granting abundant life to His followers. I feel a lot of us, as Christians, respond to that by wondering how we can enter into this abundant life. One key way is through enjoying fellowship with our God and our Saviour by the Spirit through the study of, and mediation upon, the Word.

Reading the scriptures very easily degenerates into being a duty which we undertake because we have to. There is something good and wholesome in the studying of the scriptures because it is our necessary food. However, we should be concerned if we are not experiencing something of the discovering of beautiful things in the Word of the Lord.

Here is the book which tells of my God and His way of salvation. Therein is the declaration of all of God’s purposes. In it we find the beauties of our Saviour. In fact the whole book is about Him. There is so much to enjoy.

So why am I not enjoying my God and my Saviour through His Word? Possibly it is due to sin; in which case I need to repent. May be, it is because I have never realised that the book has such riches; in which case I need to be stirred up to view the scriptures in a whole new way. Or could it be I have forgotten all about the need for the Holy Spirit to illuminate and bring alive what is in the Word. If that is the case I need to be asking the Holy Spirit to be with me whenever i read the Word.

Whatever way, it is our Father who has ordained that through the Scripture we have so much to enjoy. Real, lasting, satisfying enjoyment comes through reading and meditating on the Word. So what are you enjoying at the moment?

And perhaps it would be so strengthening to our fellowships if we were asking each other more: What are you enjoying at the moment? Then from our lips would be delivered the fresh groceries we have obtained from God’s beautiful superstore in Scripture.

Let’s get reading and studying the scriptures, brothers and sisters in Christ. And let’s get asking the Holy Spirit to reveal His Word and His ways to us.

Daily Bread

As part of the pattern prayer delivered to us by our Lord He instructed us to pray Give us this day our daily bread (Matt 6:11). There are two key principles underlying this petition and we do well to have them firmly implanted in our lives.

Necessity

We are called to ask for our daily bread. We are not called to ask for our daily chocolate biscuits or crisps or whatever. It is bread we are called to ask for. Bread was the staple of the diet at the time of our Lord’s ministry. Bread was necessary to survive physically. Accordingly, the Lord is saying that we should ask that the Lord would give us what is necessary for the maintaining of our lives.

What we are being taught is that it is not our wants or our whims that we should be praying for. It is our needs.

Physical food must be included here and so we can literally ask our Father for our daily bread. However, it also, no doubt, should also include other aspects of physical and practical necessities in our lives such as clothes and housing.

Moreover, when we think about necessities in our lives we are led to think of the words of our Lord who said quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matt. 4:4b). There is a more profound bread that we are in profound need of and that is the bread of the Word of Life. We need to be fed in our souls on the wholesome nourishing Word of the Lord. We should be praying that this should be the case everyday.

But let us never forget in our studying of that Word that the One who is the focus of that book is the Bread of Life. In John 6:35: Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.We need to ask everyday that we would be having our Lord Jesus, through the Word, nourishing our lives.

Dependence

The fact that we have to ask for “daily bread” and ask for it “this day” means that each day we have to come afresh. We are not bidden to ask for six months supply. But rather we are called to ask for a daily supply. Everyday I must come again and ask for His supply.

This applies in every realm of the necessary bread required for our lives. Even though I may have a freezer full of food. I should continually be aware that I cannot presume on tomorrow. Everyday I need to come and acknowledge the Lord as the giver.

Moreover with the spiritual food from the written Word I need to come every day for fresh supply from His store. Yesterday’s food was for yesterday. Now we need today’s food. Any food left-over from the previous day putrefied.

The experience of the nation of Israel in the provision of the manna was a clear example of this principle. To find out more read Exodus 16. Daily, except on the sabbath, they had to go and get their daily food. Any food left-over from the previous day putrefied. They had to learn to depend on God everyday.

We live in a society where we are encouraged to be self-dependent so that we might be self-made. The Lord’s prayer teaches us, in the request for daily bread petition, that we need to be God-dependant and God-made.

 

God Is Speaking.

In my recent travels around different churches consequent to my illness one thing I have picked up is the need to be aware that God is speaking. My emphasis here is on the present tense. We can sometimes offload the God who vocalises himself in the past: He did speak, or into the future: He will speak. But God is the living God who is speaking today.

I fear our conduct after services can betray the attitude that we do not believe God speaks. Generally if we have been in the presence of someone important who has spoken on an issue we will speak among ourselves about what has been said. I fear that is so very often lacking in our churches.

Perhaps we don’t hear God speak because we don’t feel the need for Him to speak. After all I have acquired a certain amount of Biblical information over the years that will be enough for me to keep going in the right direction. Accordingly, we come to church with little expectation of anything happening through the preached Word.

Now in saying what I have I am not arguing for the ongoing gift of prophecy. I believe that this gift terminated at when the Word of God was completed. We now have a more sure Word of prophecy.

However, I think we should be expecting God to come and speak when His Word is accurately declared. Even after services we should be asking about whether there was anything that has particularly affected us from the Lord into our lives.

Do We Have Faith In His Blood?

All of humanity is called to believe in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. There is, after all, salvation in no other. When we believe in Christ, we place our weight on Him totally as the deliverer from our sins. We rely on Him; we depend on Him.

In believing in Christ we are to believe in the true Christ who is revealed in Scripture and Scripture alone. We are not to believe in concocted misrepresentations of the Christ who are only false Christs. The crucial implication of this is that we believe in the One who was incarnate, born of a virgin, delivered up to death on the cross of Calvary, shedding His blood for the forgiveness of the sins of all who believe. We believe in the One who was buried and rose again on the third day; ascended into heaven and will return again. If we have faith in any other Christ, we are not believing in the true Christ for salvation.

Further, our faith, as Christians, is in a real living being. When we connect with Christ, by faith, we connect with one who is animate with life. furthermore, It is through Him we are brought to the God of life.

Which brings me to the original question do we have faith in the blood of Christ? To which I answer that Scripture teaches that we are to have faith in the Christ who shed He blood on the cross and not faith in the cross itself. To emphasize the matter I ask the question in a slightly different way: Do we have faith in Jesus’ blood or in His cross? The answer is neither. Paul puts it like this when he says in Ephesians 1:7-8a In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. Redemption is in Him who shed His blood and not in His blood itself.

Accordingly, we do not preach the crucifixion, but we preach the crucified One. Again we listen to Paul who says we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:23-24).

But what of Romans 3:25? There the KJV has the phrase “faith in his blood”. W.E Vine says this. “The rendering “faith in His blood” is incorrect. Faith is never said to be in the blood. Faith is imposed in a living person. Faith is the means of making the pardon ours; the blood is the means of its effect. The preposition of the original is instrumental. The phrase “by His blood” expresses the means of propitiation.” 

Spirit/Bible: The Order.

In Revelation 1:10 we read of the experience of John on the Isle of Patmos as follows: On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet. What I want to muse upon what happened to John. In particular I want to note how he had the right state of heart to receive the Word.

We sometimes might think that when we receive the Word we will be brought into the right spiritual state. There is much truth in such a postulation. However, the experience of John gives us a balancing perspective. His experience was that he was in the Spirit and then the Word came. When he had the right attitude of heart then he received the Word.

This makes me start to think about the parable of the sower, or to be more accurate, the parable of the soils. In explaining the parable the Lord clearly declares that the seed is the Word of God (Luke 8:11b). He then recounts three attitudes of heart which lead to fruitless reception of the Word until he finally comes to the good soil which represents the good heart. The Word only is received and fruitful in the heart which is suitably prepared.

And so it is with John. The fact that his heart is right is shown by the fact that he is “in the Spirit”. His heart has been properly prepared by the Lord to be for the Lord. All the preparatory ground work has been done and the heart is ready to receive the Word.

This leads us on to ponder about how we have an “in the Spirit” heart. If we return to the parable of the soils we can establish what the “in the Spirit” heart is not. It is not:

  • the compacted ground of the path that allows nothing of God in.
  • the infertile ground of the rocky soil which allows no Word from God to take root.
  • the chaotic ground of the thorns which snuffs out any establishing of the Word.

We generate a soft heart; a heart worked over by the Spirit when we:

  • do not allow the ways of the world just to walk over our hearts relentlessly, continually and without interruption. This compacts our hearts to make them impermeable to God.
  • allow the boulders of wrong attitudes to develop such as jealousy, bitterness, resentment, grudges, hatred etc.
  • do not allow life’s worries, riches and pleasures (Luke 8:14b), to dominate our lives.

So we return to John in his banishment to the Isle of Patmos, we find the Word comes and it comes loud and clear like a trumpet (Rev. 1:10b) we read. God is transmitting His Word and the reception in his servant is very good. There is no problem with clarity or audibility.

We learn then that the right heart leads to the receiving of the Word. John would then record it and “the rest is history”, In fact it is the book of Revelation and that tells us of eternity.

So how are you getting on preparing your heart for the Word? Are you getting ready for Sunday?

 

 

Sacrifice Then Promise.

When Noah came out of the ark the first thing he did was to make sacrifices; burnt offerings to the Lord. So we read that Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. (Gen 8:20).

Upon making the sacrifices the pleasure of God is known. This is discerned through the consequent promises.

  • To not curse the ground again: Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood (v21a)
  • To not destroy living creatures again And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. (v21b)
  • To make the earth abide fruitful ‘As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.’ (v22)
  • to make Noah and his sons fruitful Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. (9v1)

Herein is a principle established that the promises follow on from the offering. This finds its most profound fulfillment ultimately in the giving of our Lord Jesus as the propitiation for our sins. He offered Himself as the ultimate burnt offering. On the basis of that one final sacrifice blessing flows to us as God’s people. Consequent to our Lord offering Himself, our Father has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph. 1:3b). Through our Lord’s sacrifice we are promised so much and we will enjoy what has been promised. Praise Him.

Finally, I must mention that in our lives the sacrifice must come before the promised blessings. If we have not received the benefits of the Christ who sacrificed Himself then we will not receive the promised blessings. We may covet the blessings which the Lord promises. However, these only flow from Calvary’s cross and the Saviour who gave Himself for all who will believe in Him.

Books and Bible.

One of the things I have noticed during my recent afflictions is that when things have been bad all I have wanted is the Bible. Whereas when there has been an alleviation of symptoms then I have been happy to read books.

When my being has been struggling to move through life it is to the Word that I have turned. I have searched for those morsels of truth that will keep me alive and give me hope.

The danger of this, of course is that the Word of God just operates as an emergency assist. It should obviously be so much more. However, it is wonderful how the Word of the Lord is fully suitable to meet us in our need.

I am certainly not saying the that books are of no value. But we must be aware that they are not of necessary value. They must always be supplementary to the Word. They assist us in understanding the Word and the Lord’s ways revealed therein.

So I will use the books, but I will also be aware that the Word must always be paramount. As the psalmist says. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Ps 119:105) and I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread (Job 23:12b).

So may I learn to use the books, but live by and on the Word.

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