When Jesus Forgives

how much we love Jesus will be shown by our appreciation of how much we've been forgiven

Daily Spirit & Word: 733: When Jesus Forgives.

The Woman With The Alabaster Jar

Good morning my friends, you know I said yesterday that it was my day off, well in the evening I had to attend a School Governor’s Meeting at St Luke’s School. The Head of School shared about a certain class that were being challenged to make progress and try harder. On the wall in huge letters it reads, “With Jesus Help We Can”… she pointed out the words and encouraged the class to ask for the Lord to help them understand. She reported, “That class is making progress, the children’s faces light up and they actually ask Jesus for help”…  My friends, when we see Jesus at work like that in our schools and in the lives of children in London today it is an amazing encouragment. It also makes me want to turn afresh to the Lord Jesus in faith today.

Today’s passage comes from Luke’s Gospel and he shares the account of how a sinful woman finds forgiveness in Jesus, but what is it about Jesus in this story that encourages you?

Luke 7:36-50 (NIV)
36 Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.
37  When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38  and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
39  When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
40  Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41  “Two men owed money to a certain money-lender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.
42  Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he cancelled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43  Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt cancelled.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
44  Then he turned towards the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.
45  You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.
46  You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.
47  Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
48  Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49  The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50  Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
First The Pharisee’s Hospitality:

At first you think this Pharisee is being kind to Jesus, inviting him to dinner, but we soon discover that he didn’t even perform the customary greeting or extend the normal welcome. He didn’t greet Jesus with a kiss, he didn’t wash Jesus’ feet, he didn’t anoint Jesus with oil. All of these were normal practice for an honoured guest. It was just customary good manners. It’s a bit like offering someone a cup of tea and a little snack when they come to visit you in London.  What does that tell you about the Pharisee? It reveals that his motives for inviting Jesus to dinner were NOT to honour Him. So we’re left wondering why on earth the Pharisee invited Jesus in the first place.

A Rabbi would be welcomed with a customary kiss.

A Rabbi would have his feet washed, because in those days the roads were dusty and feet would get dirty. The cool water on the feet would also bring comfort.

A Rabbi would also be anointed with some kind of perfume; normally rose water.

That Pharisee didn’t honour the Lord Jesus.

 

My friends, when you follow Jesus Christ today, He comes with you wherever you go. That’s why Jesus said, “Whoever welcomes one of my Disciples, welcomes me”… He is with us, but how do we honour Jesus’ presence? Does his presence make us weep over our sinfulness? Does his presence make us want to honour him and serve him, like the sinful woman did?

 

Let’s see what she did for Jesus that day.

 

The Sinful Woman’s Actions:

  • A SINNER: She knew she was a sinner, she had “lived a sinful life”
  • COMES TO JESUS: She came where she knew Jesus was: Whenever a Rabbi entered a home of a wealthy man, many people would gather around the honoured guest, homes were much more open in those days and that explains how the woman could enter the house so easily.
  • READY TO ANOINT: The very fact that she carried an Alabaster Jar full of perfume indicates that she intended to use it to anoint Jesus. So we don’t know if she’d already met Jesus and had been forgiven by him. Perhaps she was the woman who’d been caught in the act of adultery, we just don’t know.
  • WASHES FEET WITH TEARS: What we do know is this: She wet Jesus feet with her tears: She was either full of remorse about her sinful life or so overcome with joy at being forgiven by Jesus. All we know is that In the presence of Jesus she wept. She was crying so much that her tears soaked Jesus feet.
  • DRIED FEET WITH HAIR: Next she wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair. This too shows us the extent of her remorse and sadness about her sins. Who would wipe a person’s feet with their hair? That’s not normal. A woman’s hair is her glory, but she’s just used it to do the most base act. I don’t know anyone who’d wipe a person’s feet with their hair today and our feet a cleaner than those of someone in Jesus day.
  • KISSES JESUS FEET: Then she began to kiss Jesus’ feet: Who kisses another person’s feet? It’s normal for a defeated foe to bow down and kiss the conqueror’s feet. But it’s not normal to kiss someone’s feet. She must have been so overcome with relief and joy to have been forgiven by Jesus.
  • ANOINTS WITH OIL: Next, she anointed Jesus feet with the perfumed oil from the Alabaster Jar. The smell in the Pharisees’ house would be sweet and pungent.

Though she was a sinner she did everything the host of the house should have done to honour him. It’s strange that a supposed ‘righteous’ man, the Pharisee, didn’t see the need to honour Jesus with the normal good manners, but the SINNER didn’t stop honouring him from the moment she arrived.

The Pharisee’s Attitude Towards The Sinful Woman and Jesus.

Luke 7:39  When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

In those days if a Pharisee was touched by a sinner or a sin contaminated person, then he’d be ritually unclean, so they avoided being touched. Remember the story of the Good Samaritan how the Priest and Levite avoided helping the wounded man, for fear of being made unclean. That’s not what God meant when He said we should avoid sin, whenever we can help someone, we should. Even the most sinful person can be given hope of a changed life. But according to the Pharisees, once a sinner, always a sinner. They looked down on sinful people and avoided all contact with them. Even today some strict sects of Jews will not touch anyone who is not a Jew. They view them as sinners or unclean. So the Pharisee is condemning of Jesus as well as having a stand-off attitude towards the sinful woman. He’s questioning Jesus prophetic anointing simply because Jesus is allowing himself to be touched by a supposed sinner. Simon didn’t know if Jesus had already forgiven this woman.

You can almost hear the condemnation: “She is a SINNER”… i.e. in the mind of the Pharisee, there was no hope for the woman, she was a sinner once and she’ll always be that sinful woman.

Jesus Didn’t Condemn or Criticise The Sinful Woman.

He’s a wonderful example of how we should be towards those we KNOW are sinners. We cannot be like that Pharisee, because we know how much the Lord has also forgiven us. We too are sinners and we too need to be cleansed and forgiven.

That little story of Jesus about the debts being forgiven.

I love the way that Luke has recounted this meeting in the Pharisee’s house.

He sets the scene and right in the middle includes one of the most amazing and insightful teachings of Jesus.

In just two verses we discover pure GOLD:

Luke 7:41-42.
41  “Two men owed money to a certain money-lender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.
42  Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he cancelled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Five Hundred or Fifty: That’s an amazing difference. Of course the one who’s been let off the most debt is the one who’d be most appreciative. But you’d think that the one who’d been forgiven a little would also be a little bit grateful.

The Pharisee got it right, but then Jesus points out the sinful woman: She’s been doing for me Simon what you should have done. Imagine how Simon the Pharisee must have felt at that moment in time? Confronted and shown how wrong his own attitude was towards both the sinful woman and Jesus. I’ll bet he wanted to hide under his dinner table that day.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had that feeling coming upon you? I’ve had it a few times, when the Lord brings conviction, all you want to do is hide. I had it in church once, I was looking at other people and in my heart judging them. Then the Lord spoke to me, “Who are you to condemn anyone else, I’ve forgiven them, I’ve also forgiven you”…. I’ll never forget how embarrassed I was, my face went red, I bowed my head and closed my eyes and asked Jesus to forgive me. I was reminded of just how much I’d been forgiven and that it was my own sins that put the nails in Jesus’ hands and feet, and the spear into his side. It was my sins that thrust the crown of thorns upon His head.

The the most amazing pronouncement from Jesus lips:

“Your sins are forgiven.” and “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

The woman’s actions towards Jesus demonstrated her faith. She believed that Jesus was the one good, righteous, religious, Rabbi who wouldn’t condemn her, she came to Jesus and cried at his feet and ends up being forgiven and more “go in peace”. There’s a deep peace we experience when we’ve been cleansed and forgiven by the Lord Jesus.

I’ve been a Christian since 1984, but I feel Jesus is asking me afresh this morning, “Donald, How’s your LOVE for Me?”

I think about that poor woman who was so aware of her sinful condition and probably reminded about it constantly by those who knew all about her life. No wonder she was so filled with faith when she encountered Jesus and wanted to do anything she could for him.

The story doesn’t tell us when Jesus forgave the woman. It might have been before he went to the Pharisees house to have dinner that day and she later discovered where Jesus was and wanted to do something special for Him. We don’t know if it was at the house she was forgiven, but we know she was a sinner, she acted in faith and was rewarded by being forgiven and sent away in peace.

I think how much I love Jesus will be determined by how much I know I’ve been forgiven and the cost of my forgiveness. Jesus gave His life so that I could be clean. When I experience the cleansing and washing away of my sins it produces within me an inward gratitude and inexpressible joy, it means that I want to serve the Lord Jesus and give so much, that like the woman with the expensive alabaster jar, I’ll pour out my life and what I’ve been given in His service. Oh LORD Jesus, I love You.

FAITH that expresses itself in LOVE towards Jesus.

  • When we’ve been forgiven by Him all SHAME is removed.
  • When we’ve been forgiven by Him all CONDEMNATION is washed away.
  • When we’ve been forgiven by Him new LOVE grows within us.
  • When we’ve been forgiven by Him new LIFE begins.

When we’ve been forgiven so much by Jesus, we’ll LOVE Him lots too.

Notice Jesus words again; “Your sins are forgiven.” and “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Jesus gives us FAITH to believe, then rewards us when we use the FAITH we’ve been given and gives us PEACE. That’s such Amazing Grace.

Finally, we’re left with the people questioning: “Who is this who even forgives sins?” The Jews knew that God alone can forgive sins. Jesus was God on earth, because we know too that ONLY God can forgive sin. But I’ve written enough for today 🙂

How much we love Jesus will be shown by how much we appreciate we’ve been forgiven by Him.

Hope you all have a fantastic Friday and a wonderful faith filled weekend with Jesus.

Don.

 

How to follow Jesus Daily

living sacrifices crawl off the altar, but with Jesus all things are possible

Daily Spirit & Word: 732: How To Follow Jesus Daily.

Christian, when you think you can’t, remember, in Jesus you can.

Say out loud today a few times: “In Christ I Can”…

Good morning my friends, It’s my day off today, so I thought I’d reflect upon my week so far.

What a weeks it’s been: hard, good, brilliant, tough, sad, moving, challenging, encouraging; and it’s only Thursday  😎

First, it’s a privilege and a joy to serve the Lord, but do we really get a day off?

As a Christian, we don’t want to spend any time away from Jesus, but we all need time off from our labours. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, it’s better to loose a little bit of money and have a decent amount of time with friends and family, than it is to be rich and exhausted. If we don’t take time to be WITH folks, then our relationship with them will drift apart. We’ve got to MAKE the effort.

Second, it’s a privilege and joy to serve the Lord’s people.

We are more family with them than than our blood family. Out eternal family are closer kin than blood relatives. Why? Because we’ve got the blood of Christ sacrificed for us flowing through our veins. We’re members of God’s holy household and heirs together of His Kingdom. So when we give to our Kingdom Family; time, talents, treasures and loving service, we’re building God’s Kingdom and making those bonds even stronger.

I was reminded about this by our Administrator Amanda, who said, “I’m closer to my Christian family than my earthly family”… Our Christian family will last longer than our earthly family too, because we’ll be together in Heaven.

Don’t get me wrong: I love my earthly family much more now that I’m a Christian than I ever have: How do I love them more? Because I try to demonstrate 1 Corinthian 13 love with them. It’s not always EASY: we need to be patient with ourselves as much as with them.

Third, I’m learning afresh that Sanctification is instant, but transformation takes a lifetime.

We are daily being transformed into the likeness of Christ, but that’s a whole lifetime’s work and we’ll never get there, but should always strive for it, by allowing the Holy Spirit access and inviting His presence to bring it about. We’re made Saints the instant we’re born of the Spirit. Regeneration, like Creation was instant: God spoke and the universe came into being. It was instantaneous. We said “Yes” to Jesus, “I repent of my sins and receive You as my Lord” and instantly we’re born anew of God’s Holy Spirit. However, the old nature dies hard and needs to be put to death every single day.

There is a continual discovery of how we need renewal in our mind: I need my own mind renewed daily, because I can see how my old ways of thinking are not quite put to death.  Romans 12:2 (NIV) “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

There’s STRONG PRESSURE from the world to conform to it’s ways of thinking, to it’s ways of doing, to it’s ways of being. So I need to STAY CLOSE to the LORD Jesus Christ every single day. Only then will I see HOW the world is pulling, tugging, teasing and tempting.

How to stay close to Jesus: Prayer, Word, Praise, Worship, Service, Fellowship, Ministry.

When we get ALL of these in balance in our life, DAILY, then we’ll be able to maintain a close and consistent walk with the LORD. It does take personal effort and daily sacrifice, but it also takes a willingness to allow Holy Spirit access to do the TRANSFORMATION for us, in us and through us.

A wonderful insightful phrase is doing the rounds again. “Living sacrifices crawl off the altar”… i.e. the natural man doesn’t want to die.

Romans 12:1 (NIV) “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”

Oh yes Lord, “but living sacrifices tend to crawl off the altar”… We make the excuse don’t we? We tell ourselves, “But I’m just human”, well we’re not just human, as Christians we’re both; human and divine, because we’ve been born again into God’s family, that means we’ve got the Holy Spirit living in us, so we are HOLY. We’re not the same as the rest of the people in this world any-longer, we’re transformed into members of God’s own family now and are daily being made new into the likeness of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said it like this; “Take Up your Cross Daily and follow Me”.

Luke 9:23 (ESV) “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

We have a daily choice, even on our day off, to follow Jesus or live for self. It’s a daily denial if selfishness or of living life just for Donald.

A thought, which arose at Alpha this week. “If I die to myself, won’t I be lost, won’t I just be some kind of robot?” No my friends, when we die to self and allow the Holy Spirit to rule and reign in our life today, we’ll become more of the person God created us to be.

When you think you can’t do it, when you can’t make it, then remember Jesus’ cross. He did it for YOU! Because He loves you. He’s got ALL you need and more to be a wonderful, successful and vibrant light for Him in this world today.

So dear brothers and sisters in Jesus’ Kingdom family, when you think you can’t do it, remember Jesus Cross and what He’s provided so that you’ll be able to declare boldly; “I CAN DO ALL THINGS (not in my own strength, but) THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME”…

Come afresh to Jesus every single day and you’ll KNOW this truth my friends, “In Christ, I CAN”…

I’m going to worship Him NOW! Enjoy your day my friends.

Don.

Some Verses From God’s Word:

These may be helpful for you today:

Philippians 4:13 (ESV)
13  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
9  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Ephesians 3:16 (ANIV)
16  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,

1 Timothy 1:12 (ESV)
12  I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service,

Falling In LOVE with Jesus:

Some Verses From God’s Word:

These may be helpful for you today:

Philippians 4:13 (ESV)
13  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
9  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Ephesians 3:16 (ANIV)
16  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,

1 Timothy 1:12 (ESV)
12  I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service,

 

Encouragement: Seeking The LORD: Falling in Love with Jesus.

Loving The World Leads You Away

King Ahaz appealed to the King of Assyria for help, folloed worldly ways

Daily Spirit & Word: 731: Following The Patterns Of This World.

What happens when we follow worldly ways?

Good morning my friends, what are you going to do when trouble comes knocking at the door of your life?

2 Kings 16:10 (NIV) “Then King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria. He saw an altar in Damascus and sent to Uriah the priest a sketch of the altar, with detailed plans for its construction.”

King Ahaz, was the king of Judah, he was one of Judah’s baddie kings, because instead of following after and serving the One True God he’s followed previous kings and their evil practices that God had clearly forbidden. His life was a ‘Spiritual’ ruin and wasteland.

During his reign, Syria attacked Judah. But instead of going to God for help Ahaz appealed to the king of Assyria to come to his aid and help him defeat Syria. Imagine, he took the silver and gold from the Temple of God to bribe the Assyrian king to help him. The Assyrian king did assist Ahaz and together they defeated Syria.

However, After the great victory, Ahaz went to Damascus to meet the king of Assyria. Our verse today tells us about that very visit. We can note three things that happen to Ahaz and to us when we seek the world’s help in times of trouble instead of God’s.

You’ll notice in the verse these three things; The obligation of Ahaz, the observation by Ahaz, and the orders from Ahaz.

1) The Obligation of King Ahaz:

Obligation of Ahaz. “Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria.” Ahaz was obligated to go to Damascus to express his appreciation and give honour to the king of Assyria. Ahaz had forsaken Jehovah God, He’d wandered away from the God who had defeated the mightiest armies of Egypt and sought the assistance of a Worldly King when trouble came. Instead of going to God he appealed to the King of Assyria. So now he is the servant by choice (2 Kings 16:7) of the king of Assyria.

2 Kings 16:7 (NIV) “Ahaz sent messengers to say to Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, “I am your servant and vassal. Come up and save me out of the hand of the king of Aram and of the king of Israel who are attacking me.”

My friends, when we forsake God we become obligated to the world, we become the World’s slaves and servants, and that obligation will only become a burden to us.

It reminds me of the church that went to the National Lottery for money to rebuild it’s church, now that church is full of practices and activities and groups that no normal Christian would ever entertain. When we go to the world for assistance instead of to God, then world will burden us and we’ll become obliged to serve it instead of God. Instead of being a light to the world, we become it’s servant and slave. When we go to the world for help, it’s then that our SALT looses is ability to savour.

1 John 2:15-17 (NIV)
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16  For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.
17  The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives for ever.

It was obvious from King Ahaz’s conduct that he did not LOVE God or God’s commandments. It’s important to check where our affections are leading us, are they drawing us away from God and Kingdom living? or are they drawing us closer to Him and Kingdom service?

When we love the world then we’ll become IMPRESSED with what the world has to offer instead of God. This leads us to consider what Ahaz saw when he visited the worldly King of Assyria after he helped him.

2) The Observation by King Ahaz.

“Saw an altar that was at Damascus.” Ahaz was impressed by an altar he saw in Damascus. This altar was for heathen ungodly worship, but that did not seem to bother King Ahaz. Why? because we already know from previous verses in our chapter that he was already involved in heathen worship, even killing one of his own children. (2 Kings 16:3,4). So no wonder when Ahaz observed that magnificent foreign alter he was impressed with it.

1 John 2:16 “For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.”

This world is always concerned with how things look, and that’s what impressed Ahaz. You may be tempted, when following worldly lusts to be impressed with how things look in this world. How people have fashioned their buildings, structures, clothes, vehicles and lives, etc… You might be impressed with their gadgets and gizmos, and tempted to long for them.

Having rejected Israel’s God, Ahaz was given to false religion which emphasizes ritual and outward form and appearance. All false religions aren’t concerned with the inner man or how to please or serve God. Their practice of religion is to see what they can get out of their god.

It’s never their inner character or conduct or the wishes or commands of God.

After being tempted and teased and impressed we now see where it leads King Ahaz.

3) The Orders from King Ahaz.

“He saw an altar in Damascus and sent to Uriah the priest a sketch of the altar, with detailed plans for its construction.”

King Ahaz wanted an altar just like the one in worldly Damascus to use at the Holy Temple of God.

What’s really strange is that in The Temple God there was already an holy altar. Judah didn’t need a new one. God had prescribed the pattern and form of Israel’s altar already.

Can you see what’s happening in King Ahaz’s life? He’d gone to the world for help, he’d become obliged to the world and now after being impressed with the world, Ahaz wanted to shape and pattern his whole life and worship to become more like the world. We shouldn’t be surprised by this, because our affections and desires will change once we wander away from God.

When we go to the world for help, we’ll end up far away from the Lord.

My friends, when we go to the world for help in times of trouble, then we too will become obliged to the world, we’ll become it’s servant instead of God’s, we’ll want to fulfil it’s desires and wishes and we’ll be obliged to do so. Secondly, because our hearts are already away from the Lord, our desires will begin to change and we’ll want to become more and more like the world, we’ll want to fashion and patter our whole life and our worship to become more worldly. We’ll become more concerned with what the world thinks about us rather than what God thinks.

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15.

When Ahaz was attacked his life was already in ruins, so he naturally followed his fleshly instincts and went to the world for help. He must have thought, “I’m being attacked by a big boy, I’m going to get a bigger boy to come and help me”… What should Ahaz have done? He should have gone to the BIGGEST and STRONGEST and MOST ABLE: God, the KING of the UNIVERSE… Amen! If he had followed God’s desires, he would have been able to withstand ANY Enemy Attack.

My friends, Don’t GO to the world for help in times of trouble or hardship. Instead, first, go directly to your LOVING Heavenly Father.

Last night on Alpha we discovered just how much our Father in Heaven longs to give us what we need.

INSTEAD: ASK YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER FOR HELP:

Luke 11:9-13 (NIV)
9  “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
10  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
11  “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?
12  Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?
13  If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Jesus said, “I AM the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness again”… King Ahaz was walking in the deepest darkness, look at the rest of chapter 16 to see just how far away from the LORD Ahaz took the true worship.

John 8:12 (NIV) “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Sometimes we just don’t get because we forget to ASK.

Following Jesus will not make you immune from attacks or trouble, but when you face those trouble by faith, walking closely with Jesus, you will have total PEACE and even the deepest JOY that the world cannot understand.

When we forget to ASK, we’re walking in the darkness instead of the light and we’ll be led astray to follow worldly ways instead of God’s ways.

Ahaz made his choice long before an attack ever happened, my friends, if you are experiencing the blessings of peace now, keep close to Jesus, stay close to Him every day and He will guide your affections and heart’s desires.

Don.

 

God’s All Consuming Fire

Elijah and the Prophets of Baal, the fire fell

Daily Spirit & Word: 730: The Fire of The Lord.

Our God is an ALL CONSUMING FIRE.

 

Good morning my friends, today we’ve got the funeral of a little baby boy called Alexander. He’s the son of Anja and Ledeaux. It’s such a horrific, shocking and sad thing, but I’m so glad that the LORD has revealed Himself to me and that I serve the Living God. Because without Him I’d be totally useless and powerless. Our God is rich in mercy, grace, kindness and love. God is GOOD all the time: Even when tragedy strikes.

1 Kings 18:38-39 (NIV)
38  Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
39  When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!”
God’s Prophet Elijah had a contest with the prophets of Baal, it resulted in a great victory for The One True God over the false god Baal. Today God’s Word speaks to us about the fire that ended the contest between Elijah and Baal’s prophets.

But we must remember some things about Elijah, God and False gods:

A) What Prompted The Fire?

Notice first the “Then.” at the beginning of our first verse today. You don’t want to miss this my friends. The fire came after some real devout, heartfelt, sincere and solemn praying by Elijah. Sometimes we lack the fire of God in our own walk with Jesus and in our congregations because we neglect this kind of prayer before the LORD. It seems that many of us are more interested in position, place and promoting our church and our ministry that we are in the consuming earnest and sincere close relationship with the One who gave us it all. As a result of this neglect (Puting God first in all things) we’ve lost the FIRE of God in our lives. Elijah knew how to respond to those jeering jibes of the pesky prophets of Baal. Prompted by the Holy Spirit, he called for a contest to see which God is the true God. Can you imagine a Christian follower of Jesus asking some devotees of other faiths to a prayer meeting to see who’s God is real? What prompted God’s fire to fall was His relationship with Elijah.

B) What Power There Is In The Fire:

Notice secondly how the POWER of God in the fire CONSUMED. “Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.” Oh my friends, the fire that burned like this is not an ordinary or normal fire that you get when you burn wood.

 

It’s akin to the fireball you get in a nuclear explosion, but it fell on Elijah’s little bundle of wet wood and animal sacrifice.  It was the FIRE of God and it burned-up EVERYTHING: the sacrifice, the wood under the sacrifice, the stones of the altar, the soil around the altar and even the water which Elijah had put in trenches around the altar. It reminds me today that God’s POWER is the SAME POWER that Created the whole UNIVERSE. It’s the power of God that can do amazing, awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping wonders.

 

I think that we all need this power within us today if we are going to do anything worthwhile for God. That same POWER that Jesus and Elijah had within them is AVAILABLE to us, if we just get closer to the Creator. Jesus spent all night in prayer at times, Elijah prayed and the fire fell. The Disciples were in an upper room praying when the tongues of fire fell upon them (Acts 2). I don’t know about you, but I want that FIRE to fall upon me, we don’t need a Sacrifice like Elijah did, because Jesus is our Sacrificial Lamb of God, but we do need the prayer, when we pray as Elijah did, as Jesus did and as the Disciples did, the FIRE will fall upon us too.

C) What More Proof Do We Need?

There was evidence in the fire of God “Then the fire of the Lord fell, and burned up…”

Remember this was a CONTEST: between Elijah’s God and the Prophets of Baal. Elijah said “The God that answered by fire would be the true God.” However, because Baal is not a god at all, he could not answer with fire, but  Elijah’s God could because there is NO OTHER God.

Imagine having such a contest today? So many people are looking for this kind of evidence to believe in God today. “Let me win the Lottery, then I’ll believe in you”… “Show me yourself first, then I’ll believe in you” … Why doesn’t God just show Himself? If He did, then everyone will respond in the way they did in our second verse today: “When all the people saw this (the all consuming fire), they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!”

We don’t get this PHYSICAL kind of evidence because God gives us something else: FAITH to BELIEVE. However, our FAITH is just as strong an evidence as the FIRE:

Many times God has given us such proof that Elijah’s fire and the Resurrected LORD gave:

Acts 1:3 (NIV) “After his suffering, he (Jesus) showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.”

Jesus gave convincing proofs: There’s PROOF or EVIDENCE enough for me and you today: We don’t NEED to see God to KNOW, the fire still comes when we exercise the gift of FAITH, then we’ll KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt. What more PROOF do we need? Answer: NONE, because Jesus in me is ENOUGH evidence. But when we know Jesus and stay close to Jesus (John 15), then the FIRE can fall.

D) God’s Pity Is In That FIRE:

Notice that “The fire of the Lord fell, and burned up; the sacrifice . . . wood . . . stones . . . dust . . . water.”

Did you notice that THE FIRE of the LORD did not burn up the people? It was EVERYTHING but the PEOPLE.

This reminds me today of God’s AMAZING GRACE and MERCY: How He has had pity on mankind, not to BURN US, because He, God, could justifiably burn up those people back in Elijah’s day and all of us today. However, instead of the fire burning them it BURNED up everything but the people. Equally, God could easily BURN all of us, but in His richest grace and mercy He has spared us and let the fire of His wrath and anger against sin fall upon His One and Only Son.

Jesus took our punishment for us: He died so that we don’t need to face the final fiery furnace of God’s wrath and anger. Our God is an ALL CONSUMING FIRE, but He’s waiting patiently for the right number of people to REPENT, then His final FIRE will fall. (2 Peter 3).

2 Peter 3:3-9 (NIV) God’s Patience.
3  First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.
4  They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”
5  But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.
6  By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.
7  By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
8  But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
9  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Why wait, let’s fall on our faces and declare today as they did

“The LORD, He is God… The LORD, He is God”… Amen!

Don’t let his consuming fire fall on you, but the wonderful FIRE of the Holy Spirit.

Don.

 

Renewing Our Stinking Thinking

Be transformed by the renewal of your mind

Daily Spirit & Word: 729: Renewing Our Stinking Thinking.

How to fulfill your gifting, calling and mission by following Holy Spirit promptings.

Good morning my friends, I’ve had a busy but rewarding week so far, how’s your week going? Most people look forward to Friday, to having a day off from their labours. However, this weekend for me is going to be ‘really’ busy too. You know something, if it was quiet we’d probably wonder what to do with ourselves, but there’s a time for everything God’s Word tells us.

Not a lot of people know this, but once I used to sing and play the guitar in a small group that went from church to church teaching and preaching renewal. This was in the 1980s, I was a very young Christian then (not age wise, but longevity), and to be honest I didn’t fully understand the renewal mission I was part of. All I knew is that we were filled with the Holy Spirit and others needed to know about it and get it too. It was a wonderful time and we saw God’s awesome hands at work in people’s lives, as they were filled and transformed.

One little church we visited in Devonport in Plymouth was at the foot of a mighty poverty stricken estate, it was an A. O. G. fellowship, being run at the time by four very old ladies. What a shock I was in for, because we thought we were going to encourage them, let them get more of Holy Spirit power for their ministry of outreach, but as the evening progressed the LORD was about to give me a huge lesson. These ladies were more filled, empowered and knowledgeable about the LORD than I’ll ever hope to be. Talk about being put-in-your-place. No wonder the Bible encourages us in this way;

Romans 12:1-21 (NIV)
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.
2  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
3  For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
4  Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,
5  so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
6  We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.
7  If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach;
8  if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
10  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves.
11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord.
12  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
13  Share with God’s people who are in need. Practise hospitality.
14  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
15  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
16  Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
17  Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.
18  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
19  Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
20  On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

If ever you wanted a LIST of HOW to LIVE the Spirit Filled Life: then all you’d need to do is study Romans 12. It is a GOLD MINE: Full of precious golden spiritual nuggets.

Renewal: In this passage is right up there too “The renewing of your mind” Romans 12:2… How do we get that?

Thankfully the LORD renewed my thinking that day, but I wasn’t fully aware of all the Scriptures then on ‘renewing our minds’, I’m still learning today. But here’s HOW God wants to renew our minds: Titus 3:1-8 (NIV)
1 Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good 2  to slander no-one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility towards all men. 3  At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4  But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, 5  he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6  whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, 7  so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
8  This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

Renewal of the MIND is by the RENEWAL of the HOLY SPIRIT: We are being transformed, changed, renewed by Him every single day we live the Christian life. It begins with the REBIRTH: I remember how my own thinking changed immediately; I once thought God’s Word was just a collection of stories, He changed that and I KNEW from that moment on it was God’s WORD, living and active. Awesome! I once thought as a young Christian that homosexuality was ok, just let them get on with it, who are we to judge etc… but then as I got my mind renewed by the Holy Spirit, I began to see a new level of morality in God’s Word and it challenged me to the core of my being, but I accepted it, submitted to it and began to teach / share with others what God has been teaching me.

Over The Years: When I first began to proclaim the Gospel, I did so parrot fashion, I’d learned from people like Billy Graham and other great Evangelists, but swallowed the modern thinking of ‘not being offensive’ so I left out a lot of Biblical Gospel demands; repentance, sorrow for sin, true conversion. My appeal was like most modern churches, to a better life rather than a transformed life. I re-discovered the Gospel is more about righteousness than life enhancement. So the LORD couldn’t leave me in that false message for very long. I had to repent big-time and learn afresh the full Gospel message; oh how the LORD is continually renewing our stinking thinking.

Sober Judgement of SELF:

“Don’t think too highly about yourself”, i.e. it’s not all about ME… We are part of a body with different functions and gifts, we need each other and if one part is not functioning the whole body suffers as a result. A body is JOINED TOGETHER (We belong to each other), we’re so closely related we’re the SAME BODY… You know when someone gets a transplant then they are put on a course of anti-rejection drugs for the rest of their life, in case the body rejects the new organ, but in Christ we’re so compatible in Him that we’re part of the SAME body as Jesus. No wonder we’re encouraged to be sober-minded about our own worth…

Another passage along the same lines as Romans 12 is Philippians 2. “Consider others better than yourself”

Philippians 2:2-5 (NIV)
2 … then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
3  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
4  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

In that run-down chapel on a run-down housing estate in Devonport my Lord Jesus taught me a valuable lesson and humbled me to the point of tears. I had to repent of an attitude of superiority, and of thinking of myself as ‘better’ than another member of my own Christ family. We were going to give them some ‘RENEWAL’, but in reality is was ME who was most renewed that night, in my thinking, my attitude and my presumptuous nature. It was the most uncomfortable, but at the same time, most rewarding night of renewal in my life. Praise the LORD.

The scriptures on Renewal are always choc-full of practical advice. Of how to apply to our lives what we see and hear, I began this week with that teaching on changed desires, changed attitudes, changed life, and the Lord has reminded me of just how practical His Word really is. I hope this week’s been a rich source of golden nuggets and blessings for you too.

Be full of Holy Spirit and let Him RENEW your mind, then you’re desires will be to fulfil His prompting, His calling and His gifting. Amen!

What we all need is: Mind Renewal, Mind Transformation, A New Paradigm, A Biblical Perspective on life, living, worship… Complete Renewal. Thankfully when we’re getting filled and sharing what we already know He’s going to take us deeper into Himself. Awesome!

 

The Biblical Gospel is all about LIFE TRANSFORMATION

Being TRANSFORMED in our thinking is just learning to think like God on how we should be living in this world.

Life transformation beats life enhancement hands down. “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?”…

Let’s pray the LORD will RENEW all our stinking thinking. Amen!

This weekend is going to be AWESOME with Holy Spirit signs and wonders. Let Him fill your heart right now.

Don.

WORSHIP HIM NOW:

I hear the sound of a distant thunder: Stoneleigh Worship

A Holy Ghost Revival.

 

P.S. A popular PAGE this month on Daily Spirit and Word: The Penny Black: Perhaps it’s to do with the Queen’s 90th Birthday.

Living In The Fountain of Life

Christian living in the power of the Holy Spirit

Daily Spirit & Word: 728:

Living In The Power of The Holy Spirit.

A Battle Royal: How to live a submitted life.

“When you do what pleases you, does what you do please God?

Good morning my friends, what a wonderful Alpha Experience evening we had last night. Our theme for the evening was all about The HOLY SPIRIT. We looked at the teaching, filling, empowering, seeking and yearning. We all admitted our NEED of God The Holy Spirit.

However, one of the main points of our discussion was what we’d talked about the previous week: How does God guide us? How does the Holy Spirit let us know His will? How can I live in such a way that I know I’m going to be victorious as a Christian?

We will understand and know His guidance the more we SUBMIT ourselves completely to Christ, but what we discovered afresh last night was, the more you submit yourself to God, the more you begin to realise how just un-submitted we really are. And therefore, how much we need God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness, cleansing, power and presence every single day.

THE WALK OF GENUINE FAITH:

  • The Walk of genuine faith in Jesus really is a battle of WILLS: God’s Will and Our Will. 
  • The Walk of genuine faith in Jesus really is a battle of DESIRES: God’s desires and our own sinful desires.
  • The Walk of genuine faith in Jesus really is a battle of WANTS: What God wants and what we want.
  • The Walk of genuine faith in Jesus really is a battle of PLEASURES: What pleases God and what pleases us. 

Thankfully our wills, desires, wants and pleasures change as we submit ourselves to Jesus and seek the fullness of Holy Spirit, but then as we go on in the walk of faith, they sneak back into our souls, sometimes, undetected.

Thankfully Holy Spirit reveals our condition: He’s a gentle Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ, but he’ll not leave you, those who’ve received Him as Lord, in a condition of sin for very long. His heart’s desire is that you become more and more like Him: Holy, righteous, good and faithful.

When we follow our heart’s desires, wills, wants and pleasures instead of or in-spite of God’s revealed will, we become like an Adulterer: Unfaithful to the one who’s loved us.

James 4:4-10 (NIV)
4  You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred towards God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (We become friends of the world when we do worldly things that God hates).
5  Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?
6  But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
7  Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
8  Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
9  Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.
10  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

When Holy Spirit shows you your condition, He does not do it to make you feel guilty, but to bring you back, to stop you falling, to keep you on track with God’s good plan for your life. However, just like Adam and Eve hid in the garden when they sinned against God, our NATURAL tendency is to hide too, we want to cover it up, pretend it never happened, keep it in the darkness. As God looked for and called for Adam and Eve, he’ll be doing the same with you and me by His Spirit. “Adam, where are you?” … “Eve, come out of hiding”…. Notice what happens when we respond to the pull of the Spirit, when we draw near to God, “He draws near to us”. What grace, what love, what amazing mercy.

Encouragement:

  • Submit yourself to God:
  • Resist the devil (the worldly attractions, temptations and pleasures),
  • Come Near to God: When we draw nearer to God (Nearer my God to Thee)… He comes bounding towards us in Spirit. “He will come near to you”…
  • Wash, Purify, Grieve, Mourn, Cry: i.e. feel what God feels because of your sinful wills, desires, wants and pleasures and mourn about it. Decide in your hearts that you want to be cleansed and set-free again.
  • WHEN: When you submit, resist, draw near, wash, grieve and mourn and cry: i.e. HUMBLE yourself towards God: He WILL LIFT YOU UP.
  • WHAT IF?: What if I’ve failed again? What if I keep falling? My friends, if you feel guilty then you are in a good place, because God’s not giving up on you. It’s when you stop feeling guilty and keep sinning you should really start to worry, because “God resists the proud”. However, if you feel the sorrow of a sinner’s heart, then you will receive from the Lord “MORE GRACE” James 4:6.
  • Remember Psalm 103:12. When you come in true confession and contrition (sorrow for sin), then God takes your sins away from you and FORGETS all about them, as if they never happened.

Psalm 103:11-13 (NIV)
11  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
12  as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13  As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;

The Holy Spirit’s Intense Jealousy:

James 4:5 “Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?”

The Holy Spirit, that God caused to LIVE IN US, “Envies Intensely”: i.e. He’s jealous for God’s Glory and your own goodness in the Christian life. There’s an intense feeling of JOY when we walk in step with the Spirit.

FOUNTAIN OF LIFE:

The Holy Spirit: Becomes in us (Inside Us) a SPRING or FOUNTAIN… i.e. we get filled up with the Holy Spirit from within… It’s not external, but internal filling we need. Some people erroneously, mistakenly, foolishly “Call Down” the Holy Spirit, but how can you call down someone who’s already there? He is in you if you are saved by Jesus. You are full of Holy Spirit, but we leak… All we need is a greater filling, more of His fullness, more LORD!…. “Go on being filled with the Spirit” Ephesians 5:8-18.

Awesome! Because when God lifts you up, you’re going to have one of those MOUNTAIN-TOP EXPERIENCES.

Focus on God’s desires, focus on Jesus, focus on His awesome tender compassion, kindness and love.

  • He give GRACE to the Humble.
  • He RESISTS the Proud.
  • The Spirit’s Presence is like a FOUNTAIN.
  • Go on being filled… i.e. every day. 

Amen!

Don.

Worship: Wonderful Grace.

Being Jesus Disciple Today

moving from knowledge to experience

Daily Spirit & Word: 727: The Sending.

Jesus sends out the Twelve with Authority.

Good morning my friends, today we’re back with the Gospel of Mark. It’s a wonderful journey into the Lord Jesus’ ministry and life, his teachings and miracles, but today marks a turning point, because the focus is not upon what Jesus is doing so much as what He’s asking others to do for Him.

He’d already chosen the 12, designating them Apostles (Mark 3:13-19) that they might be with Him, learn and then be sent out to proclaim the message and perform miracles as well. However, one thing I think we (the Christian Church) has missed, not seen or overlooked is that those disciples were not with Jesus for very long at all, before he sent them out on their first mission.

We imagine that people require so much Discipleship / Training before they can be useful in Kingdom Service, well my friends, thankfully, Jesus didn’t think or operate like that. No! As soon as someone had received a TOUCH of God in their lives, they were then encouraged in some way to spread the good news about God’s Kingdom.

Mark 6:7-13 (NIV) The Sending of The Twelve.
7 Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.
8  These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belt. 9  Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. 10  Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11  And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.”
12  They went out and preached that people should repent. 13  They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

Notes: Mark recalls Jesus’ instruction and calling of the Twelve in just SEVEN verses, where Matthew gives us the whole of chapter 10 and goes into much greater detail about what He (Jesus) said to them. It would be very beneficial to have a look now at Matthew 10. NOTE also check out LUKE 10 (72 sent out, they return rejoicing).

What is the overall thrust of Matthew 10? Answer: That when you (the Disciples) went out in the Name of Jesus, you (The Disciples) will have to FACE OPPOSITION / Rejection. (Their message would cause an overwhelming NEGATIVE reaction: In society and in families. The Disciples would face persecution, rejection and false accusation).

This is indicated in Mark’s account too, but his primary objective or focus is that the Disciples are being sent out UNDER Jesus’ AUTHORITY. It would seem to me that God knew Matthew had taken care to witness the negative reactions to the Gospel, but He had a different focus for Mark, who was to focus in his Gospel upon Jesus’ Authority. They’ve received head knowledge by what Jesus taught and did, now it’s time to put what they’ve seen and heard and learned about the Kingdom into action and experience for themselves.

NOTE: We NEED More than mere Head Knowledge to Develop in our Discipleship / Walk with Jesus.

Jesus way of Discipleship was EXPERIENTIAL, i.e. A Disciple is called, observes, sees and hears Jesus working miracles and teaching about God’s Kingdom, they also get a chance to ask their own questions when alone with Jesus, they are learning by observation, but then they are EXPECTED by Jesus and commanded by Jesus to go and do the same things he’s been doing and teach the same message he’d been teaching. My friends, if Jesus Disciples were expected to do that, then surely if follows logically we are as well.

IF our FAITH and what we’re LEARNING as followers of Jesus Christ is not TRANSFERRED / COMMUNICATED / SHARED by the EXPERIENCE of teaching and instructing others, it will be WASTED and LOST… We forget what we’ve learned by mere head knowledge very quickly.

Why? Because, it’s not long after you’ve been taught something for it to be forgotten, unless it is embedded in the fabric of your being. Until it becomes a part of who you are. There are so many things I’ve learned along the way in my own Christian walk, that I’ve forgotten, but the things I remember best are the ones I’ve been given by the Lord to share with others.

Jesus Disciples: Were now about to be TRAINED in a very different way, than just listening and observing. Jesus was going to thrust them all into EXPERIENCE.

NORMAL DISCIPLESHIP TRAINING:

(In Modern Evangelical / Bible Believing Churches).

A person get’s converted, is encouraged to attend Discipleship Class (Fellowship Groups / Discipleship Explored). In FELLOWSHIP: Bible Study, Home Groups, Fellowship Groups: They are INSTRUCTED (i.e. they gain HEAD knowledge) about Jesus and living the Christian life.

The sad thing about MOST PEOPLE: is that they just keep going on and on and on getting more and more HEAD KNOWLEDGE and very little of it is TRANSLATED into EXPERIENCE OR EXPERIMENTAL PRACTICE… They don’t observe what they are learning being modeled for them. Therefore it gets forgotten quite quickly along the way. So they begin to think, I must just get more training, more head knowledge, then I’ll be ready. Never quite getting to the point of being ready, because nobody involves them in the PRACTICE of Jesus ministry.

EDUCATORS: Those involved in the retention of information know: That when you tell a person to do something, they’ll remember it only for a very short time. So they’ll show them how to do it and then get them involved in the LEARNING process. They’ll remember it for much longer if they are doing the learning themselves. Then what modern Educators have discovered is that when they get their STUDENTS to TEACH what they’ve been learning to others: (EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING), THEY NEVER FORGET IT.

My friends, that’s what Jesus was doing with His own Disciples: That’s what Biblical Discipleship has always been: Conversion, Instruction, Experience of Sharing with others what you’ve just learned.

This PRINCIPLE / PRECEPT: is communicated hundreds of times throughout the Bible.

King David: As a boy learned to TRUST in the LORD: many times… Now, when just a mere youth, he faced a GIANT: Goliath. He’d learned many times that if a Bear or a Lion was threatening the flock, he, the good shepherd, would do something about it. Now he reasons something the seasoned soldiers had overlooked, “Why does this man mock Israel, the flock of the Lord, I’m going to do something about it”… Goliath to King David was nothing more or less than a big bear. King David later wrote Psalm 23 “The Lord’s My Shepherd”…

King David’s LEARNING was Transferred into EXPERIENCE.

When King David sinned and was brought back to repentance, he (Psalm 51) would then TEACH others (transgressors) the way back into holiness of life.

His LEARNING was Transferred into EXPERIENCE.

NOT HEARERS ONLY: The Apostle James teaches this principle.

James 1:22-25 (NIV) NOT JUST ABOUT HEAD KNOWLEDGE.
22  Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
23  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24  and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

NOTE: The Blessings from our LEARNING comes when we DO IT.

GOD wants to transform you into the LIKENESS of Jesus Christ.

  • Your Discipleship Class has NOT even begun to be completed until you move from LEARNING to EXPERIENCE.
  • From learning all about; Jesus, the Bible, the Apostles, church life, etc…. to DOING WHAT YOU’VE LEARNED.

NOTE: The Disciples DIDN’T KNOW IT ALL: 

Many people think that they need to know SO MUCH before they’ll even BEGIN to Share what they’ve learned.

There is a real danger in that kind of thinking. We’ll become “KNOW IT ALLs” I can tell you from many years of experience of sharing the Good News (The Gospel) that the one thing that puts people off more than anything else is A KNOW IT ALL witness.

WHY? Because a KNOW IT ALL is very scary to people. Most people are put-off from saying anything in front of a KNOW IT ALL for fear of looking a fool. So the Disciples didn’t know it all, they only learned a few basics and were then sent out to do it.

YOU DON’T NEED TO KNOW IT ALL.

The Disciples didn’t know it all, they only learned a few of the basics and were then sent out by Jesus with specific instructions.

The Disciples were sent out with AUTHORITY: That authority was confirmed by what they said and did.

The Disciples DIDN’T HAVE The Indwelling Holy Spirit. (Pentecost had not happened yet)… But because they went out in OBEDIENCE in FAITH and UNDER CHRIST’S AUTHORITY: they healed the sick and cast out demons. (As James would later teach, “they heard and did what Jesus instructed and were blessed because of it”.

So my friends, you don’t NEED to KNOW IT ALL: If you did know it all, you would become self-reliant rather than waiting, watching, listening and seeking God’s will as you go. (Prov 3:5-6)

It’s not what you know: But WHO you know that counts.

NOTE: Discipleship Learning: Is very important. Every Christian should be getting a deep knowledge of the Bible and Christian Theology: Knowing all about Jesus, the Bible, Christian living, service in Church etc… It’s all very important indeed, but let’s not do all of that thinking we’ve arrived or that we are mature Christians just by the accumulation of knowledge or theory, because we can do all of that and still not really have BEGUN our Basic Discipleship Training.

The SAD THING: The sad thing is that thousands of good Evangelical churches are like a Sardine Tim: All the fishes caught by Jesus are tightly packed together. Churches crammed full of people who are sitting in the pews week by week, acting like SPONGES sucking up the TEACHING: Then those poor Christians are drained during the week and need to keep coming back to be soaked in the Word again next Sunday. However, very FEW of those good churches are TRAINING their Disciples in the EXPERIENCE OF GOING OUT with what they’ve been learning in church or fellowship group and transferring it into the world in which they live during the rest of the week. WHY? Because it’s not being modeled for them as Jesus modeled it for the Disciples He was training. Jesus, the Master, showed them how to do it, explained it and then sent them out to do it, to gain experience for themselves.

UNIVERSITIES:

Our Churches have become like UNIVERSITIES:

Three year Degree Course / Masters / Doctorate… Head knowledge for many years…. then once they’ve gained their ‘Degrees’ they’ll go out and give others MERE HEAD KNOWLEDGE: Because they’ve NEVER moved into EXPERIENCE or putting into practice what they’ve actually learned. It’s ALL just theory and head-knowledge.

Once a wonderful, sincere Christian lady I knew had just completed a six week intensive training course in Biblical counselling, afterwards I met with her and asked her, “What are you going to do now?” I thought she’d say, “I’m going to begin some counselling sessions with people in need” Instead she said, “Oh there’s another course I want to attend, it’s called, “Bereavement Counselling””… She finished that course after SIX MONTHS. I met with her again and asked her, “What are you going to do now?” She said, “Oh, I’ve booked myself into an Evangelism course”… Yes my friends, you’re getting the gist now, she finished the evangelism course and booked herself into another course… She NEVER got to the point, as far as I know, of translating her learning into the experience of practice. Sadly she was a perfect example of HEARING but NOT DOING.

APPRENTICESHIPS:

Learning on the job. Apprentices Don’t know it all, but they are learning as they go. An Apprentice is under the instruction, care, devotion, love and skill of a SEASONED CRAFTSMAN: Someone who’s served his apprenticeship as well, knows how to do the work and how to instruct others.

The SAD THING: Too many of our contemporary churches are excelling in head knowledge rather than apprenticeships.

  • WE NEED: To get back to BIBLICAL BASICS: Do what Jesus did: Convert, train and send.
  • WE NEED: To abandon WORLDLY METHODS: University types of churches: Adopt & Adapt to Apprenticeships: Experiential Colleges: That’s what Biblical Discipleship has always been about.

Let’s Do What Jesus Did: He; Called, Converted, Trained and Sent.

Let’s Do What Jesus Commanded: Call, Convert, Discipleship Experience Training, then Send.

Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV) The GREAT CO-MISSION (i.e. Jesus is with them).
16  Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.
17  When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted.
18  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

What’s that CO-MISSION?

  • Go: The Disciples of Jesus are being sent. How? Under Authority: The Authority of Jesus. We are HIS MESSENGERS.
  • What to do?: Make Disciples (Not converts, not fill up their gatherings with people who committ their lives to Jesus, but Disciples).
  • BAPTISE: Baptism is much more than a mark of belonging: It’s DEATH to SELF: LIVE for GOD… Under the water in your old way of life, die and then rise up out of the water to live a new kind of life.
  • TEACH: Teaching them what? Obedience to EVERYTHING Jesus had commanded (instructed) them.
  • Co-Mission: Another GREAT REASON we don’t NEED to be KNOW IT ALLs is: “And surely I AM with you always”… Jesus is with us when we go out in His Name. He is the ONE who DOES KNOW IT ALL. He accompanies us as we begin to train and equip those who get converted and baptised. As we teach them and train them to do what Jesus was doing whilst He was on the earth: He is with us all the way.

 

The ONE who does KNOW IT ALL is with us: Jesus.

The person you are sharing the Gospel with: Jesus knows all about them.

The person you are leading to faith: Jesus knows how to reach them.

The person / people you are trying to win: Jesus knows just what will touch their hearts.

However: You’ll NEVER SEE IT: Until you become like Jesus Twelve Disciples: Like the 72 Disciples (Luke 10): Go out under His Authority. Not knowing it all, not feeling especially gifted or skilled, but being obedient to His instruction to GO… Be filled and go… We’ve now got the Holy Spirit Power IN us for the journey as well.

Just like the Disciples in Luke 10: You will return: Full of JOY.

When you see and experience Jesus at work through what you are doing for Him with other, then your heart will be blessed and you too will rejoice.

CONCLUSION: SO WHAT?

To START: You don’t NEED to KNOW IT ALL. (You need very little: Mark 6:8 “TAKE NOTHING WITH YOU” i.e. Don’t Depend Upon Yourself: Depend instead upon God’s Provision).

Let us become Disciples (Apprentices) of the LORD Jesus. Learning as we go from the MASTER who has promised to come with us and show us what to do (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Let’s become experts at taking ordinary people and giving them on-the-job EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE of Kingdom Service.

Let’s move our focus away from: Mere HEAD KNOWLEDGE to BOTH: knowledge and EXPERIENCE.

  • KNOWLEDGE LEAKS: It’s like water from a sponge. (Hold Up The Sponge).
  • EXPERIENCE: Solidifies: Like Cement: It creates a solid FOUNDATION upon which to build God’s Kingdom.

IT’S NOT “WHAT YOU KNOW” BUT “WHO YOU KNOW”…

You ARE:

  • Jesus called,
  • Jesus trained,
  • Jesus equipped,
  • Jesus sent,
  • Jesus provision,
  • Jesus accompanied.

Why? WHY has Jesus called you? It’s For HIS Mission we are Co-Missioned. We go with Him together.

What could possibly STOP us?

TIME: Most people are over-committed, over-stretched and over-burdened already. So why would we ever want to take on more. Answer: We wouldn’t.

TIME: Priorities: TV, Family, Reading, Work, Hobbies, Church (fellowship, worship, bible-study, discipleship, evangelism, outreach, service, ministry). How can we possibly fit Apprenticeship / Discipleship into all that?

Be honest what’s the highest priority in your life at this moment in time?

So HOW can we fulfill God’s GREAT Co-Mission?

The vast majority of Christians are not called to full-time Ministry like the Apostles, Disciples of Jesus: Leaving everything and travelling the world to share Jesus Good News.

The majority are like the man that Jesus delivered from Demons (Mark 5) “Go back home to your family and friends who know you well”…

He calls us to come and follow Him, but He sends us (most of us) back to our family, friends and neighbours. We’ve been; changed, transformed, filled and equipped to TELL of the Great things God has done for us and how He has had mercy upon us.

We’re called initially to TELL of the Great Things: Forgiveness of sins (God’s mercy). New Life: that we get when we come to Jesus; new hope, new life, new beginning, new start, etc….

Everyone has at least 8-15 people, who know you well, that you are a Christian who worships Jesus Christ. These are the ones we should FOCUS like a laser upon to bring to Jesus. OIKOS:

That’s HOW we can move from what we’re learning week by week in fellowship and worship into our daily lives, by sharing with others what we’re learning as we go. We don’t need to know it all, but we do need to begin to share what we do know and have learned. As we do, we’re going to see such awesome blessings, because we’ll become DOERS of the WORD, rather than hearers only.

Imagine the scenario: An old lady across the street has a garden she can’t maintain by herself, you know that she can’t afford a gardener, so you, because you are a Christian, go and offer her your services. You don’t know a lot about gardening, but you can help keep her weeds down. As she asks you, “Why are you helping me?” Then you have a golden opportunity to share something about the Lord Jesus with her: “It’s because God has been so good to me, that why I want to help as many people whilst I can”. LOVE is the motivation. I can guarantee that it won’t be long before you’re having deeper Spiritual conversations with that old lady.

Now it needn’t be gardening; what about baby-sitting, taking someone shopping, offering a harassed mother a cup of coffee or tea to give her a break, letting someone go in front of you in queue, it’s being and demonstrating the fruits of the HOLY SPIRIT in your life as you go: exhibiting that fruit for all to see: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control. As you DO THE WORD: You are letting your light shine in the darkness. You are being the SALT of the Earth. That’s Apprenticeship Discipleship: The Master is with you as you go.

However, don’t neglect this ONE THING: Be prepared always to give a reason for the HOPE that is in you. They will not know WHY you are being so nice unless you SHARE something of Jesus with them. They might then reject you or the message, but at least you’ve tried. That’s the most important thing. Oh and don’t TRY just once, because do you remember how many times it took you to give your life to Jesus after hearing the Good News? I’ll put my best pair of socks on it, that it took more than just once. If you are that stubborn, then don’t be surprised when people initially reject Jesus. Be PATIENT, God is calling them.

Share The A,B,C-R of the Gospel:

A: Accept you are a sinner. (Show HOW everyone has sinned by breaking God’s Commandments).

B: Believe and Trust in Jesus: His death, resurrection, ascension. Died on the Cross for your sins.

C: Confess your sins to Jesus and Repent: Turn away and let go of sin.

R: Receive Him as your Lord and Saviour: Repentance and Faith in Jesus. (Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved).

We may, in time, be called to FULL TIME service in the Kingdom.

However, until we are, let’s BE Jesus Apprentices / Disciples: Learning as we Learn: Sharing as we Learn: Being and Fulfilling His GREAT Co-Mission together: Because my friends, if you are a follower of Jesus, then you are being SENT OUT into the World to Make Disciples of All Nation.

It’s my hope and prayer that you keep being filled afresh every day with God’s Holy Spirit, drink deeply of God’s Word and share with others what Jesus is teaching you.

It’s also my hope and prayer that your gathering with other saints is full of great worship, praise and instruction, but then translated into glorious KINGDOM practice as well.

Don.

 

Don’t Give Up In Prayer

the parable of the persistent widow and the unjust judge

Daily Spirit & Word: 726: Don’t Give-Up On Seeking The Lord.

The Unjust Judge Gives IN to Persistence.

Good morning my friends, do you know how our Nation is the way it is today? It’s because minorities complain the most. It gets to the point that the one’s they are complaining to just cave-in and give them what they want. I’m sure they do it for good reasons, but one can’t help thinking they’re doing it just so the once complaining will go away and stop grumbling, nagging and hen-pecking . However, once they’ve gotten their way once, they’ll be encouraged and emboldened to come back and push for more.

“I hate to be a kicker,
I always long for peace,
But the wheel that does the squeaking,
Is the one that gets the grease.”

By Josh Billings: An American Humourist.

A ‘kicker’ in Josh’s day was someone who complained a lot.

The ‘wheel’ that does the ‘squeaking’ (i.e. the ones complaining the most) get what they’re asking for.

“The Wheel That Does The Squeaking Gets The Grease”

In the Bible there’s a story about a woman who wants justice, but the unjust judge ignores her please for help, however;

Luke 18:1-8 (NIV)
1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
2  He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men.
3  And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
4  “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men,
5  yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ “
6  And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.
7  And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?
8  I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Jesus wanted to show us Father God’s attitude towards justice, i.e. How God wants to see that those He loves will get justice, and quickly. But, do you remember how long it took for Nelson Mandela? 25 YEARS in Prison on Robin Island. In the end, his patience, persistence and fortitude won-out and South Africa is now FREE from Apartheid.

Do you remember Jacob, how he wrestled with God all night? He wouldn’t let go of the LORD until he received his blessing.

Genesis 32:22-32 (NIV)
22  That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two maidservants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok.
23  After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions.
24  So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.
25  When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.
26  Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27  The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered.
28  Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”
29  Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
30  So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
31  The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.
32  Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.

We must bear in mind what was happening with Jacob when he wrestled with God: Jacob’s name means “Deciever”, but a more literal translation of his name is “Grabber” or “Grasper”… He came out of the womb grasping his twin brother Esau’s heel. Later on he deceived his father and grabbed, grasped his brother’s birthright blessing. He was fleeing his father-in-law Leban because he’d sneaked away in the night with all his possessions. Now he was headed home to meet-up with his brother who was hell-bent on revenge and had threatened Jacob’s life. So what did Jacob do? He’d sent everything he owned, including his wife and children and all his precious possessions ahead of him to pacify his brother’s furious anger. He was left with nothing but himself. God came to him and he wrestled with the Angelic presence of the Lord. Jacob grasped, grabbed hold all night until he got his blessing. He also got a name change “One who wrestles with God”.

Has there been a time in your life when you’ve prevailed in prayer, kept going, believing, having faith, not giving up; until the Lord blessed you? There was a lady I knew who couldn’t conceive for over eight years, she’d tried everything, but one day she came forward for prayer in church. A few weeks later her mother (who I didn’t know) came running up to me in the street and shouted, “You got my daughter pregnant”… First I thought about arguing, thinking in my head she was accusing me. How foolish, she was just overjoyed, because the LORD had answered her daughter’s prayer. She didn’t just have one baby, she had twins. The Lord gave her more than she bargained for. Sometimes we don’t get our answers for a long time, because we come to God last. We try everything else, but God. My friends, when you’ve got something going on in your life that you need help with, something your striving or struggling over, come to the Lord with it first.

My friends, Jacob didn’t deserve God’s blessing.

The woman deserved the un-just judge’s justice,

We don’t deserve anything from God,

BUT: In His mercy and grace, He’ll give us what we need.

If it’s justice, as in the case of Nelson Mandela, God gives it quickly (though not our version of quickly).

If it’s seeking; God’s guidance, power, provision, protection, forgiveness, mercy or Justice, then know this my friends, God hears the prayers of those who pray in faith.

Jesus told that story of the Persistent Widow to show us how to KEEP coming to the LORD, so we wouldn’t give up on seeking God.

“The wheel that does the squeaking gets the grease.”

God’s not encouraging us to be ‘grumblers’, in fact the Bible tells us not to grumble, but He’s encouraging us to keep going, to keep coming to Him for everything we need in life.

Have and awesome weekend, keep close to the Lord Jesus, be filled afresh with His Holy Spirit and don’t give up on prayer, because your answer might just be around the corner.

God HEARS you, so keep praying in faith, believing and trusting in Him who loves you.

Don.

P.S. Remember the great old hymn: “What a Friend we have in Jesus”?

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear,
What a privilege to carry,
Everything to Him in prayer.

Preaching True Repentance

The ingredients of true repentance

Daily Spirit & Word: 725:

TRUE REPENTANCE: Not Just Saying “Sorry” to God.

True Repentance Is NOT Just Saying “Sorry”…

True Repentance Is A Requirement For: Salvation from,  Forgiveness for and Cleansing From Sin.

KNOW THE TRUTH & THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE

Mark 6:12-13 (NIV)
12  They went out and preached that people should repent.
13  They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

I was so touched last night when out sharing the Good News of Jesus in West Norwood with David and Ben. For a change we ventured just up from our church to West Norwood Train Station and began engaging those returning from a day’s work as they exited the entrance. Of course many people after a day’s toil were tired and just wanted to get home, put their feet up and watch TV or whatever else they planned to do. But we did get into some great conversations. Ben and David talked with a Muslim woman for over half and hour, and all that time I was talking to a couple of young ladies.

It was amazing, because I began by giving them one of our little tracts, The Million Pound Note: I asked them, “If it was real, what would you do with it?” One of them immediately said, “I give half of it away to the poor”… I said, “WOWzer! What a nice lady you are”. I asked her friend, “What would you do with it?” She said, “I’d go on a holiday, then buy a nice house”… then her friend said, “We could go away together”… They were really nice young ladies. I said, “flip it over and look at the Million Pound Question”. One of them did and read it out loud, “Would you sell one of your eyes for £1,000,000?” She said, “No way. My eyes are too valuable”… I said, that’s amazing. Her friend also confirmed she wouldn’t sell one of her eyes either.

Then we moved on to the value of their Eternal Soul.

What followed was a bit of to and fro about; the SOUL, Eternity, Heaven, Hell, Sin, etc…

I was able to share the whole Gospel with them and finally led to the question: “If God were to judge you tonight, according to His standards revealed in His Commandments, would you go to heaven or hell?”

Their heads hung low and they went a bit quiet, “Hell” they both answered.

I asked, “Does that concern you?” One said, “Yes” and the other said, “No, because God is a forgiving God”…

I said, “You are right, God is a forgiving God, but it’s not automatic”… “It doens’t just happen, God doesn’t say, “Oh, I know you’ve sinned, but it’s OK, you just come on in anyway”… I explained, “God can’t do that, because as well as being; full of mercy, kindness, goodness, forgiveness and gentleness, He’s also a just Judge and must punish sin. He can’t in His Justice just let sinners off with their sins”.

The Good Earthly Judge: I then gave them an example of a good earthly judge, who with a guilty criminal before him, no matter how sorry he is, must give the punishment or fine that the LAW requires. They agreed, criminals need to be punished for their crimes. I explained that God will also punish our sin. One lie will keep us out of Heaven forever, because sin contaminates the soul, and no sin contaminated soul can enter into Heaven. “Can you imagine what Heaven would be like if it was full or murderers and liars?”

So I asked them again, “Will you go to Heaven or Hell?” They had now stopped trying to justify themselves, but said instead, “Well, that means nobody can go to Heaven”BOOM! “You’ve got it ladies, that’s right, because ALL HAVE SINNED, just ONE sin will keep us out of Heaven forever.”

Then I asked, “Do you know what God has done so that no one need end up in Hell?” They said they didn’t, but I inquired further, “Christians all over the world have just celebrated Easter. Have you heard about Jesus? How He died upon a Cross? How Jesus rose again three days later on the first Easter Sunday?” It was like I just brought them out of a dark dungeon into the full light of the sun, because they both smiled, “It was because of Jesus death”. I said, “That’s right ladies, Jesus died so that we could go to Heaven and be forgiven and cleansed from sin to be made fit for heaven. His blood purifies us from all sin. He died for you and me.”

One of them said, “So does that mean everyone just ends up in heaven then?”

I said, “NO, Not quite, something is required from us, we must first Believe and TRUST in Jesus death in our place for our sin, then we need to Confess (own up and accept we are sinners) and REPENT of our sinful ways of living, then we must RECEIVE Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.” I explained what happens when we do that and how Jesus gives us a NEW HEART and NEW LIFE and NEW DESIRES… i.e. The Commandments are not prohibitions any more “Don’t Do this or Don’t do that”, but they become for those who’ve trusted in Jesus, wonderful promises; “You shall not want to steal, kill, lie, cheat, argue, hate, lust or commit adultery any more”… God changes our desires.

One of them smiled again and said jokingly “So that means no more illegal downloads of music then?”

What followed was an explanation of what life is like from now on as a believer….

  • They wanted to know how I became a follower of Jesus,
  • They wanted to know more about church,
  • They wanted to wait until they were ready,
  • They wanted an excuse to remain in sin,
  • They still had lots of questions they wanted to ask,

It was an amazing conversation, but it ended with me saying, “Look I know you’ve got lots more questions, but do you have a Bible at home?” They both had Bibles at home they had never read…   I said, “Go home and open your own Bible in Matthew, Mark, Luke or John and read about Jesus life and His message. Check out if what I’m saying to you is TRUE from what the Bible says. Then remember what I’ve said, “You must turn from your sin to trust in Jesus and receive Him as your King”

Then if you want to, come and join us (I pointed to our Church) you’d be more than welcome any Sunday at 10.30am. It was so encouraging one of the young ladies said, “I’m going to come to your church”… I also encouraged them to come on our Alpha Course to ask all their questions.

But I gave them this final warning, “We don’t know how long we’ve got left on this earth” I told them about Anja who’d come because I’d met her in the street and shared about Jesus, and how her baby had died unexpectedly. We just don’t know how long we’ve got before we can come to God for forgiveness and cleansing to make us fit for heaven. I said the Bible encourages us to think like this, “Today is the Day of Salvation: Repent and Believe the Good News”…. Ladies, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and Repent today.

I finished by thanking them, gave them another of our little cards that reads, “Thank you for listening” it’s got a picture of a cute dog with big ears and a summary of the conversation we’d just had on the back.

We shook hands warmly and they thanked me as we parted company.

What is TRUE REPENTANCE? (SEE BELOW).

I was reading all about it this morning and came across an old Puritan teaching the outlines what ‘real’ repentance is like: Read it below and then ask yourself this question: “Have I ‘truly’ repented of my sins and trusted in Jesus Christ as my Lord?” Have an AWESOME Thursday with Jesus.

Please Pray: We had many conversations last night, I’ve only shared one of them, please will you pray for everyone who was encouraged, challenged and witnessed with last night? Pray that the Lord Jesus, by His Holy Spirit, will continued to draw them to Himself and that they’ll find GRACE to repent and believe the Good News.

Challenge: Keep Witnessing: The Lord’s Followers will be strengthened and encouraged in many ways by taking the initiative to witness for Him with all their family, friends, neighbours and those they come in contact with regularly, those who know you are His followers. Be kind, generous, gentle, bold, passionate and compassionate. May the LORD fill you afresh with Holy Spirit anointing. Amen!

Don.

 

THE INGREDIENTS OF TRUE REPENTANCE:

Mark 6:12-13 (NIV)
12  They went out and preached that people should repent.
13  They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

When we make a cake it needs the right ingredients to taste great. We follow recipes for successful and tasty cakes. To discover what true repentance looks, tastes and feels like, there are Biblical recipes to follow too.

These final two verses are from Mark’s account of Jesus sending out The TWELVE (Mark 6:7-13). The two verses summarize the specifics of the 12 Apostles’ mission. It mirrors what they had seen Jesus do. With His authority and enablement, they cast out many demons. They anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them (cf. Jas 5:14-16). They went out and preached repentance, the same message preached by both John the Baptist (Mark 1:4) and Jesus ( Mark 1:15). They were to go as servants. They were not to compromise their message even if it brought rejection and persecution. They had to have the courage to tell the truth about Jesus and the gospel.

If “repentance” was the first word out of the mouth of John the Baptist, The Lord Jesus Christ, and the 12 Apostles (Acts 2:38), then it must be an important component of the true gospel message today and it marks the starting point of the true Christian life.

Thomas Watson, and Old English Puritan (ca. 1620-1686), wrote a helpful treatise on repentance. He stated, “Repentance is a grace of God’s Spirit whereby a sinner is inwardly humbled and visibly reformed” [Watson, Doctrine, 18]….

Watson identified six ingredients necessary for true repentance.

The first is sight of sin, whereby a person comes to themselves (Luke 15:17) and clearly views their lifestyle as sinful. If a disciple fails to see their sin, they are rarely motivated to repent…. (That’s why we take time to show people how they’ve sinned against God by using His Ten Commandments: How we’ve all offended a Holy and Righteous God).

The second ingredient for true repentance is sorrow for sin (Ps 38:18). We need to feel the nails of the cross in our soul as we sin. Repentance includes a godly grief, a holy agony (2 Cor 7:10) i.e. “It’s because of my sin those nails pierced the Saviour’s hands”. The fruits of repentance will be expressed in genuine, anguishing sorrow over the offense itself and not just its consequences. This sorrow for sin is more than just a “worldly grief”; it will be seen in the ongoing actions it produces (the fruit of repentance is a changed life).

The third ingredient is confession of sin. The humble sinner voluntarily passes judgment on themselves as they sincerely admit to the specific sins of their heart…. In the Scriptures, we find at least seven benefits to confession:

  • Confession of sin gives glory to God (Josh 7:19).
  • Confession of sin is a means to humble the soul (2 Chr 26:19).
  • Confession of sin gives release to a troubled heart (Ps 51:11-12).
  • Confession of sin purges out sin (Neh 3:13). Augustine called it “the expeller of vice.”
  • Confession of sin endears Christ to the soul that needs atoning (Rom 7:25).
  • Confession of sin makes way for forgiveness (2 Sam 12:13; 1 John 1:9).
  • Confession of sin makes way for mercy (Prov 28:13).

The fourth ingredient of true repentance is shame for sin: True Repentance causes a holy bashfulness or embarrassment, i.e. it is the shame you feel when your inadequacy or guilt is made public. The Prophet Ezra prayed, “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to You, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens” (Ezra 9:6). The repenting prodigal was so ashamed of his sin that he did not feel he deserved to be a son anymore (Luke 15:21). It’s like our Sin makes us feel shamefully naked and deformed in God’s eyes and puts Christ to shame, the one who took the scorn of the cross on himself. I’ve often feelt ashamed when I’ve been confronted by my sinfulness in the presence of God and when I’m will other believers who are walking closely with Jesus.

The fifth ingredient in true repentance is a sincere hatred of sin: We must hate our sin to the core. We hate sin more deeply when we love Jesus more fully.

Repentance begins with the love of God and ends with hatred of sin…. Tolerating sin is a willful leap toward committing it. True repentance loathes sin deeply.

Finally, the sixth progressive ingredient of true repentance is turning from sin and returning to the Lord “with all your heart” (Joel 2:12). This turning from sin implies a notable change in the ways we live, “performing deeds in keeping with their repentance” (Acts 26:20). Ezekiel records these words of God to the house of Israel: “Repent and turn away from your idols, and turn away your faces from all your abominations” (Ezek 14:6).

We are called to turn away from all our abominations—not just the obvious ones or the ones that create friction in others. The goal, end, destination or finish-line of true repentance is not to manufacture peace among others with perfunctory repentance, but rather to turn to God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.

Most importantly, though, this repentance is not just a turning away from sin; it is also a turning “of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21). [We should repent of our] doubt by believing in the goodness, greatness and graciousness of God, and [turning] in faith to trust in the freedom the Lord Jesus Christ offers to each one of us in the Gospel. Repentance is rooted in a hatred of sin and a joyful awareness of God’s loving-kindness, which leads to joy: “God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance” (Rom 2:4). We rejoice that Christ has done everything for us—all that we need to secure our salvation and our growth in holiness.

Christ’s Warning: Repent or Perish: “Unless you repent, you too will perish”

Luke 13:3 (NIV) “I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

  • Why do ‘modern’ churches hate to teach on repentance?
  • What’s wrong with preaching repentance?

Answer: NOTHING: Because true repentance is one of the KEYS to unlock HEAVEN. (Only Satan would hate a Christian telling people to REPENT).

The man-pleasing, modern, self-indulgent church has bent God’s KEY out of shape. Let’s straighten it and do what Christ has commanded: Preach Repentance.

PRAYER: “Lord,  I am an adopted child, not a slave to sin. I was a sinner by now, by Your Grace and Mercy, I am a Saint. I know the TRUTH and in knowing the truth I have been set free. Thank You LORD Jesus Christ, because I am accepted because of Your sacrifice upon the Cross. Please Lord, help me never to forget how much You have demonstrated Your love for me or how loved, secure, rich and free I am when I put my trust in You, my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

 

When the TV gets in the way of LIFE

seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness

Daily Word & Spirit: 724: Does God Get What He Wants?

Good morning my friends, it was such a privilege to conduct two funerals this week, one on Monday and the other yesterday. The first was for a wonderful Christian lady, the church was packed with friends and relatives from all over the world. I proclaimed the Gospel freely and called for a decision for Jesus Christ. Yesterday, an equally lovely lady, but who’s faith I knew very little about, the family said, “She was not a religious lady”… her family, as far as I knew, never attended church. What could I say to those grieving folks?

Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV)
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
26  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
27  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
28  “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin.
29  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these.
30  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
32  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
33  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

The second group of mourners were all giving wonderful stories about the woman’s life; she was full of fun, knew how to laugh at herself and loved people, she was generous to a fault, giving so much sometimes that she was in need herself, but just thinking of others. As I read the above passage,I believe the Lord guided me to say, “Just like …. we can all learn from this, she obviously didn’t WORRY about her life”.

The world we live in encourages us to WORRY: i.e. adverts about your weight, style, looks, have you got the right tools, is your home looking like a palace, have you got the right garden furniture, are you eating the right foods, etc, etc,,, You’d be excused if you walked to your bed so worried after watching TV for just one evening. I’m sure you’d dream and they’d be full of worries about life. But thankfully Jesus tells us DO NOT WORRY. Why? Because who of us by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

The Gospel of Luke covers the same teaching of Jesus, but gives us a little more details: Luke 12:25-26 (NIV) “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”

I love the Bible (God’s) logic here, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

We may or may not have a long life, but worrying about it’s duration won’t guarantee it. I’m sure we can shorten it though, through folly, but we can’t extend it longer than God intends it to be. “The LORD gives and the LORD takes away”… Sometimes, like when you mum or dad confiscated a precious toy when you were a child, that confiscation really hurts. When the LORD takes someone we love, no matter how old they are, it HURTS us, but we can’t lengthen the duration of our lives by worrying about them.

So what are we to do?

Thankfully the Bible gives us the answers:

Matthew 6:33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

1) Seek First The KINGDOM of God.

(Remember that’s same priority in the Lord’s Prayer?)…

When we seek first the Kingdom of God, we’re putting God’s priorities at the TOP of the agenda of our lives.

The woman being buried yesterday loved to play CARDS: Have you ever played Patience? Patience is a game in which you are looking to line-up all your cards on the King, once you get the whole suit; i.e. hearts, spades, clubs or diamonds, onto your King, then that row is won.

My friends, God wants us to line-up our life along the lines of His KINGDOM. i.e. He wants to be our KING. Every aspect of our lives in-line with His Kingdom priorities. How’s your KINGDOM living going?

2) Seek His Righteousness:

Many (most) people already think they are “Good Enough For Heaven” i.e. ‘Righteous’). But the Bible clearly teaches there are “NONE righteous, no not one.” Romans 3:10.

Psalm 53:2-3 (KJV)
2  God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.
3  Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

We do good things, but the GOOD the Bible is talking about here is “Seeking AFTER God” i.e. Putting His Kingdom agenda first. He looks down from Heaven and sees that there is “NONE” who do that. There are none who seek Him the way He wants to be sought.

So we NEED God’s Righteousness more than anything else in our lives, because we don’t have a righteousness of our own. It’s HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS we need. Yes we do good things for other people, sometimes we do magnificent acts of great kindness and self-sacrifice, but God’s idea of goodness and righteousness is to seek after Him. Apart from God every act of kindness is tinged with the flesh, i.e. there are fleshly reasons for acting in the ways that we do: To look good in the eyes of others, to be well thought about in society, but what really matters in Eternity is not what others think about us, but what God thinks. If we’re seeking a kind of self-righteousness, thinking that our good deeds will outweigh our bad ones, then we need to think again. The GREATEST SIN is living life without putting God first… i.e. Commandments 1 and 2. If we live without God or seeking after Him, we’re guilty of making ourselves into our own god, which is idolatry.

Imagine how God must feel when those He created and gave the gift of life worship everything else apart from Him?

The Gift Of A TV Set:

To live the life that He has given to us without ever thinking about the ONE who gave us life, that’s the greatest sin imaginable.

It’s like the loving father who bought a TV for his kids. Before he got the TV, they’d come running up to him for kisses and cuddles when he got home from work. Overjoyed just to see their daddy home. After he got the TV, he was hurt when they sat in front of it and paid him no attention at all when he got home. Even if he shouted out to them, they’d just sit there glued to the TV set. He missed the cuddles and kisses of his children. So he walked right in front of the TV and turned it off. The kids moaned and groaned, but he said, “I’m so upset that you love that TV I gave you more than me now”… My friends, have you ever thought how God feels when we love life more than the one who gave us life? When we love this beautiful Creation more than the Creator? When we’re so enamoured with the things in this world, rather than the one who gave us them all to richly enjoy?

To live the life that He has given to us without ever thinking about the ONE who gave us life, that’s the greatest sin imaginable.

A Man After God’s Own Heart:

Remember the Bible called King David, “A man after God’s own heart”… i.e. King David sought the Lord. He looked for God. He wanted God’s priorities to be first in his life. King David did many horrible things in his lifetime, but the Bible accords him “Righteous”, not because of what he did or didn’t do in life, but because he sought the LORD with all his heart, mind, will and strength.

So, do you seek His Righteousness? We become righteous in God’s sight, when we respond to the Gospel invitation to receive Jesus Christ as Lord by faith. When we see that Jesus died in our place upon the Cross for all our sins and wickedness, he died for us. When we see that Jesus rose from the dead three days later and ascended into Heaven. Jesus is calling all people in the world to REPENT and turn away from life without God. To turn in repentance, letting go of our old way of ignoring God and turning to Him in faith to be forgiven, cleansed and renewed.

God wants to GIVE US THE KINGDOM: However, for Him to do so, it was very costly indeed. Jesus gave his life.

All we need to do to receive God’s Kingdom and life is turn in repentance and faith and receive Him as our KING: Then we’ll want to live our lives seeking first the Kingdom of God and we’ll want to live a holy and righteous life with Him.

When we seek first His Kingdom and when we seek first His Righteousness, then He, our Heavenly Father, will give us His Kingdom, He will give us what we NEED in life and we needn’t worry about how long we’re going to live, because ETERNITY is in our hearts, we’re going to LIVE FOREVER WITH HIM. Your needs will be met by God once you seek His Kingdom and His righteousness in all things.

Being ‘good’ in our own eyes, is good and right, but when it comes down to it, God will be looking to see if we’ve been good from His perspective. It’s a matter of righteousness not religiousness. He won’t look to see if you’ve been attending church, reading your Bible, doing good to others and praying. His priority is righteousness, are you good enough for Him? The honest answer He’ll be looking for is “NO!” I’m not fit for the Kingdom of Heaven, because I’ve sinned and broken Your Commandments. However, Father in Heaven, I’ve put my faith and trust in Jesus, Your Son, and I know that His death upon the Cross was for my sins. I’ve asked for His forgiveness and turned in repentance and faith, I’ve received Him as my King. I know that I’m a member of His Kingdom Family.”

He’ll say, “Welcome, I’m PLEASED to give you the Kingdom”…

Praise the Lord!

Don.