Vision Blurred By Disappointment

40 Days With Jesus: Day 9

Daily Spirit & Word, 493: Vision Blurred by Disappointment.

40 Days With Jesus: Day 9: Vision Blurred by Disappointment.

Good morning my friends, in our reading this morning from Luke’s Gospel we’re going to see how a misplaced hope can lead to us loosing vision and ability to see all that God wants for us, which in turn can leave us feeling disappointed, disheartened, discouraged and demoralised.

Luke 24:17-21 17  He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast.
18  One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
19  “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20  The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21  but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place…”

Can you see it my friends? The give-away, tell-tale and revealing words: “We HAD Hoped” i.e. they’d now given up their hope of Jesus being the prophet. They’d been let-down or at least felt they’d been let-down. As Jesus approached them and came up along-side them and asked “What are you discussing?” they were just too disheartened and disappointed that they just couldn’t see that it was Jesus who was right there beside them talking to them.

Their Misplaced Hope:

They thought about Jesus, who had performed so many powerful things; “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people”, and their thinking had led them to have a misplaced hope, a hope that was never going to be realised anyway, because that’s NOT what Jesus mission on earth was about. He did not come to be an Earthly King. He didn’t come to kick out the Romans and deliver Israel from bondage to the Empire. That’s what they’d put their hope in and now that Jesus had been killed, all their hopes vanished like smoke on a windy ridge. Their hope had been snuffed out like a candle. Their light had been dimmed and now they were in darkness and couldn’t see that it was Jesus who was with them. Oh my friends, if only they’d put their hope in Jesus and His real mission. If only they’d listened to His words and teaching whilst he was on the earth. But sometime, because we’re so wrapped up in what we want, we’re not interested in what anyone else desires. They didn’t really care to understand Jesus, for if they had they’d have understood that the Messiah was appointed by God to suffer upon the cross and to die for the sins of the whole of humanity, not just Israel.

That’s what we’ll discover as we continue in our reading tomorrow, as Jesus opens up the Scriptures once again to them. He did it before he died on the cross and now, in His amazing grace, He’s going to take the time to reveal to them from all the Scriptures about the Christ, the Messiah and the Bible’s amazing prophesies about Himself.

I wonder today my friends, how many revelations from Jesus have we missed, because we’ve been hoping in and for wrong things? How our vision has been clouded or shrouded in a mist of discouragement because we’ve been hoping for something that God didn’t even want us to have in the first place? You see my friends, God’s plans for us are always better, even than our own most cherished dreams.

“God’s plans for us are always better, even than our own most cherished dreams.”

How My Disappointments Have Brought Breakthroughs:

We’ve had our share of disappointments in life: When I was selected to go on an enhancement course in the Royal Navy, the normal thing was that you’d be elevated to a higher rank at the start of the course. I was looking forward to life in the Senior Rate’s Mess, with all the privileges associated with being a Senior Rate in the Navy and the respect that goes with the rank. However, just before I started the two and a half year course, they changed the rules and said, “At the end of Artificer Training you’ll receive your new rank…” Oh my friends, I can’t tell you what a disappointment that was, because I’d put so much hope and so many dreams into it, but now it was going to take a further two and a half years before it would happen. We had a saying in the Navy that helped us cope with these kinds of let-downs: “That’s Life in a Blue Suit” or “Sometimes you dip-in, but you never dip-out”.

God’s Plans are ALWAYS BETTER:

You see my friends, I was a Christian and over those 3 1\2 years I was able to do things for the LORD that I’d never have been able to do if I’d been a Senior Rating. Shortly after I began, an Admiral joined our Christian fellowship. It was amazing, we were all sitting chatting before the Bible Study began and in walks this Admiral in uniform. When someone of such high rank walks in, you all stop what your doing and stand to attention. He said, “Relax everyone, I’m Mike, I not here as an Admiral, I’m your brother a fellow Christian, please call me Mike”. He asked everyone what their names where and it came to me, I said, “My name is Donald Sir”. He said, “No, Donald, don’t call me Sir, call me Mike”. Well after a few hours of fellowship with the Admiral we were all calling him Mike. He invited me and another rating to his Admiral’s Mansion one night, we didn’t know, but it was a very special dinner. Stewards and servants served us the most sumptuous foods. He’s invited about 25 Royal Navy Chaplains and the Admiral said, “I’m going to ask you gentlemen to sit and listen to Donald, He’s going to tell you how best to serve the RATINGS as God’s Chaplains at sea”. If I’d been a Senior Rate, I’d never have addressed those Chaplains. I related my own experience of Chaplains and how they’d try and be like the boys, drinking down the mess-decks, with coarse joking and even getting drunk with them. How they had never shared about the Lord Jesus with me or my friends. The Admiral knew this too and had observed that very few chaplains ever talk about the Lord Jesus, that’s why he wanted me to address them. I said, “I became a Christian in the local church where I lived, but if a Chaplain had talked with me about Jesus, then perhaps I could have become a Christian much sooner”. The Admiral, with the aid of the Chaplains, started to formulate a plan for a Navy-Wide Evangelism initiative. God’s plans are always better than our most dearly held wishes.

“God’s plans for us are always better, even than our own most cherished dreams.”

My friends, I know that you’ve had disappointments in life too; perhaps you didn’t get;

  • that dream job,
  • that promotion,
  • that pay-rise you were expecting,
  • that house or home you’d planed for,
  • that your husband or wife didn’t turn out to be your dream boy or girl after all,
  • that your children have let you down,
  • that your Christian brothers and sisters didn’t live up to expectations,
  • that ……………. (fill in the blanks)

When you’ve been disappointed my friends, your vision of what God is doing has been clouded as a result, that’s normal, “that’s life” as they say, but it’s how you deal with disappointments. You can either focus upon your dashed-dreams, expectations that have been un-delivered or you can get right back up on your feet and train your attention, fix your gaze towards Heaven and seek the Lord Jesus Christ.

From experience of having had many disappointments I can tell you that there have been times when I’ve done both. The times that I’ve dwelt upon my let-downs, dashed-dreams and forlorn hopes are the times that I’ve been lowest in my walk with Jesus. During those times I’ve not wanted to worship, pray or read the Bible. I didn’t long to hear sermons or serve the Lord or gather with the saints. Dwelling upon disappointments leads to blurred vision and lost hope and your faith will sink even lower.

But I’ve discovered a secret, it’s that giving thanks to God, even when you don’t really feel like it, when you’ve been most let-down are the times you’re going to see some of the biggest spiritual breakthroughs in your Spiritual life and walk with Jesus Christ. Purposefully turn towards the Lord Jesus Christ in faith. Even though you’ve been disappointed, He’s never lost control, He’s never been without a plan for good in your life, He’s always been there for you. Jesus will help you even if your feeling disappointed right now with something in your life. Turn agian to Jesus, do it right now, don’t put it off until you are feeling better, because dwelling upon disappointments leads to further misery and heartache. Jesus has got JOY waiting to burst like a fountain into your heart right now.

I’m just so thankful that Jesus took the time to get alongside those disheartened and disappointed disciples on the Road to Emmaus. For what I see is this, even though we get it wrong, when we’re wrong focused and put our hopes in the wrong things, the Lord will never leave us in error for very long. He’s got amazing plans for your life and even through disappointments we’ll see Him at work withing our situations. When you started following Jesus, He made a commitment towards you that lasts for all eternity. He’s NOT going to lose a single one of those who trusted in Him. Your hope can be reignited and your dreams will become His dreams for you.

“God’s plans for you are always better, even than your own most cherished dreams.”

Turn again to Jesus my friends and all your dashed-dreams and disheartened disappointments will vanish and you’re going to feel the POWER of Heaven in your heart again. Your vision can and will be restored by the Living Lord Jesus Christ.

Choose Today: Don’t Let Your Vision Be Blurred By Disappointments.

Praise the Lord.

Don.

Points to Ponder on Day 9:

  • What are your “I had hoped for ………” prayers or dreams? Don’t give up on these my friends. Commit your plans to the Lord and He has promised that your plans will succeed. He’ll direct your ways. Ask for His plans to unfold in your life today.
  • Don’t allow your sense of disappointment to prevent you from expecting God to work in your life. Is it possible that your desire to see God acting in a particular way has blinded you to the possibility that God might be acting in some other way?
  • Are you disappointed with anyone? anything? Are you even disappointed with yourself? Acknowledge this and then release it to the Lord Jesus today. Ask for His forgiveness for holding onto these things and ask that His Holy Spirit will fill you with grace to move forward and enable you to be filled with His hope and dreams for your life.

Prayers on Day 9 of 40 Days with Jesus.

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, I thank You that hopelessness and disappointment are not my inheritance. I will not allow my hope to be stolen because I know that You cause all things to work together for my good (Romans 8:28). I release all sense of disappointment that is clouding my vision of You and come to You Lord Jesus. Come into my life and be my Lord again today. Amen.

40 Days With Jesus Home Page:

“God’s plans for you are always better, even than your own most cherished dreams.”

 

 

 

Relating to God as Father.

God The Father

Daily Spirit & Word, 491: Relationship Redefined.

Relating to God as Father and Jesus as your Brother.

Good morning my friends, what an awesome weekend, you know that even when things go bad, God is ALWAYS GOOD. He’s not lost control as some imagine, He’s always in control, God’s always got a plan and every event or situation is known to Him even before it happens, nothing can take the LORD by surprise. It’s just one of His Divine attributes, KNOWING EVERYTHING. That revelation gives the follower of Jesus great confidence as you go about your daily routines and even when something unexpected happens in your life. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is beyond God’s sphere of influence or knowledge. Today, we discover something about God Almighty that’s crucial for every true believer in the Lord Jesus to grasp hold of and keep holding onto.

Mary Magdalene Touches The Risen Lord Jesus.

John 20:17-18 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” 18  Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

 

Mary had obviously grabbed hold of her Lord when she recognised that the person she thought was a gardener was actually Jesus. I can’t really imagine how much she would have been relieved and overjoyed to see Jesus alive again can you? But we can try and put ourselves right there in the garden, by Jesus tomb, with Angels in the background and the risen Lord in front of us. Jesus is Alive after dying in front of her eyes, He’s back, He’s risen from the dead. Oh WOWzer or WOWzers. 🙂 Jumping for JOY. She grabs hold of Jesus and is obviously clinging to Him in such a way that says, “I’m never letting go of you, ever again”… Jesus didn’t rebuke her harshly, as some Bible commentators would have you imagine. He’s gently telling her to let go, because He must ascend into Heaven to be with His Father. So if it’s not a rebuke what is Jesus doing? He’s informing Mary that what He promised before He died is about to happen; those who’ve believed and trusted in Him would now relate with Him in a very different way; not physically as they had done before, but ‘Spiritually’. From now on, as soon as Jesus ascends into Heaven, we’ll be relating to God as our FATHER and Jesus as our Brother. God becomes our Father the moment we trust in Jesus Christ. We cannot hold onto Him in a physical way, no matter how much we’d long to touch Jesus, but the new reality, the new way of Knowing God, even though it’s spiritual, is even more tangible than a mere touch or hold or any other physical sensory experience. For the spiritual experience of knowing God enables us to connect in an even more powerful way that our five senses; sight, touch, taste, smell or sound.

Because we are still physical beings, we long for these senses to be satisfied, but once we’ve been born of God’s Spirit, as was about to happen to Mary Magdalene and all the other followers, we’d know God differently: As our Father and Jesus would then become our Heavenly Brother. Of course Jesus is still our Lord, God, Saviour, Master, Friend, but He’s become our brother too. We’re going to be relating to God on a completely different level than any other human being has ever done before. That’s the message that Jesus gave Mary Magdalene to give to the Disciples. It’s also the message that we’ve been tasked to deliver to every Human Being on earth today; it’s part of the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that in Believing His message, that He came into the world to deliver sinners from God’s wrath and anger against their sins, to the glorious freedom of becoming a saint with a promise of everlasting life, we also come into a NEW relationship with God: He becomes our Father when we repent of our sins and trust in Jesus death upon the cross. Oh WOWzer of WOWzers… It’s totally awesome!

Once you KNOW this most awesome truth, you’re going to want to tell others about it. This truth and inner knowing is much, much better than anything else that can ever happen in your life.

Think about it for a moment, we all go through things in life that produce a massive YIPPIEEE inside. Things that flood our hearts with immense joy and gladness: A baby being born, falling in love for the first time, meeting that dream person, winning something we’ve longed for in life, getting promoted to a dream position in work, but THIS: KNOWING GOD AS FATHER far, far exceeds ANYTHING else in life. Even if we were to win the whole world, it’s NOTHING in comparison to a fraction of a second with the GLORY of God. Being in God’s presence for even one second is much better than a MOUNTAIN of Gold, Silver, Diamonds and Rubies. Why? Because they can’t RELATE, they’re incapable of knowing, they’re dead things, but being with Father God, the Ultimate REALITY EXPERIENCE: What a total WOWzer! I can’t really find the words to communicate what it’s like: it’s beyond the human capacity to describe what it’s like knowing God as Father: but JOY beyond our happiest wish for JOY is something like it.

Now, through simply coming in faith and trust to Jesus: God IS your Heavenly Father.

Explaining WOWzer!

What does WOWzer mean? You know that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sights has a button you can press when you really like something: In Instagram it’s a heart, in Twitter it’s a star and on Facebook it’s the famous LIKE button. Well imagine if they had a way of ranking your likes, hearts and stars? It might go like this;

  • For Facebook: Like, Like a lot, Like a whole lot, really really really like and then comes WOWzer! 🙂
  • For Twitter: one Star, two, three, four, five and then WOWzer!
  • For Instagram: One Heart, two, three, four, five and then WOWzer!

Well that’s what it’s like now knowing God as FATHER… But I would give that experience: WOWzer of WOWzers. You see?

Points to Ponder:

What is your own response to the idea that God is your Father?

When you pray or worship God, how do you see yourself approaching Him? Do you see yourself as an undeserving sinner coming to a reluctant God or, as God see you, as a much loved child, coming to a wonderful Father who loves you very much?

Prayer:

Dear Lord Jesus, I thank you so much for welcoming me into Your Heavenly Family. It’s wonderful that you’ve bridged the chasm that separated me from Father God by giving Your life upon the Cross and dealing with my sin in such a way that’s it’s power has been defeated forever. You’ve brought me freedom and joy and peace because You died in my place. Now I’m in Your family and I know that it’s going to last forever. Because of what You did Lord Jesus, I now Know God as my Father. (John 1:12). I know that I’ve now inherited Heaven with You Lord as my Brother (Romans 8:17). Father Your Word tells me You are perfect (Matthew 5:48). You are therefore, better than my beloved earthly father, You will never disappoint or let me down or let me go. I know and believe your promises that you’ll never leave me alone (Deuteronomy 31:6) You long to lavish Your love upon me as Your beloved child (1 John 3:1). So Father, as Your child I receive Your love afresh today. Thanks You so much for Your faithfulness towards me. Help me Father to be faithful in telling others the Greatest News of the Awesome Joy of Knowing You today and that everyone can come to know you as Father once they’ve trusted in Jesus. Amen!

Have an awesome day with Jesus.

Don.

40 Days With Jesus Home Page:

40 Days with Jesus: Day 6: Relationships Redefined: Knowing God as Father.

Relating To God As Father: Relationships Redefined.

 

 

 

 

A Surprising Encounter

40 Days With Jesus: Day 1

Daily Spirit & Word, 486: A Surprising Encounter.

40 Days With Jesus:

Week 1: Day 1.

John 20:1-18. A Surprising Encounter

 Good morning my friends, I had quite a frustrating day yesterday, I tried to post first thing in the morning as normal, but discovered to my horror that Virgin Media still wasn’t working. I contacted them, and got the same message but with different times for it to be fixed. Here’s the message, “There is a problem in your area with Television and Internet, we have identified the problem, an engineer is on the way, the problem should be fixed by 1.00am, …” Then after 1.00am came and went “9.00am”, then “4.09pm”, then “2.06am”, then “16.24” WOWzer, funny how they can be so specific about the times, each time, when the Engineer is still on the way 🙂 Made me laugh and a bit annoyed at the same time. However, it’s NOW up and running again after 48 hours without internet or TV, and I still don’t know why or what the problem was. 

Yesterday, I was going to introduce you to 40 Days With Jesus, a new course we’re running in church for those who, after Easter, were interested in getting to know more about the Christian faith and to help those who’ve yet to discover Fellowship Groups to be part of one for a very short time, and also to prepare those who want to be Baptised this year. It might be quite a large group 🙂 I’m hoping!. The 40 Days with Jesus is all about those people in the Bible who encountered the risen (resurrected) Lord Jesus and what impact that had for their lives and for the community of believers in the first century of the Christian faith. (I’m posting the introduction on the Website). The little booklet we’re using is very cheap and readily available for download, with great questions and also a video to watch every week. “40 Days With Jesus, by Dave Smith”. Also available on Kindle.

 Day 1: A Surprising Encounter.

Over the years I’ve had quite a few memorable and surprising encounters with people. I’ve met the Queen (Queen Elizabeth ll), I’ve met the Queen Mother, Rod Stewart (Pop Singer), Rod Stewart’s Girlfriend, Rick Warren, Billy Graham, Freddie Starr (Funny Comedian). In 1988 I met my soon to be wife, that was a meeting that has changed my life and continues to be a real blessing, but probably my most surprising and life transforming encounter I’ve ever had was when I met the Lord Jesus Christ. I didn’t expect Jesus to be real or alive or knowable or that He’s want anything to do with me. I thought people who were religious were born that way, and I most definitely wasn’t one of them (I’m still not). But when my wife wanted to get our little baby girl, Abigail, baptised we started attending a little church in Plymouth, called St Budeaux Parish Church. In those days 1984, it was packed full of people, young families and lots of teenagers, we felt at home quite quickly, but I didn’t want to keep going or to become like the people there, I just wanted the baptism done then I’d be on my way. However, the minister at the time asked us to attend for three months, he visit us at home and then after preparation he’d baptise the baby. We agreed, then over the next few weeks I discovered Jesus was real. I knew from observing the people in the church, they had something that I didn’t have, I could just tell, and though at that time I didn’t want it, I wondered what it was. Each week the message seemed to be about my life, my questions, my fears, my sins, my everything. It was as if the minister could read my mind. Slowly but surely I began to know that Jesus was real, but I didn’t want to become a Christian. The Minister asked me every week on the way out of Church, “Are you a Christian yet?” I said, “No!” every time. Then one week he asked me something different, he said, “Donald, you do know that Jesus wants you to be a Christian, don’t you?” I walked away saying, “Yea, Yea sure he does”… But it was that question and everyting else playing on my mind, “If Jesus wants me, what does He want me for?”… My friends, Jesus speaks in so many amazing and wonderful ways. I was beginning to read about Jesus in the Bible by then and it jumped out at me: God answered a question and it was amazing, embarrassing and surprising all at the same time. I know Jesus was definitely alive, but I wasn’t ready yet to become a Christian. It took a few more weeks of attending church, joining a Bible Study and the Lord Jesus speaking, challenging and opening me up, until I was ready to repent of my sins and receive Him as my Saviour. However, I knew long before I finally submitted that Jesus was most definitely ALIVE.

 Mary Magdalene.

We’ll be taking a look at Mary’s encounter with Jesus this week, but today I want us to consider that Mary, a woman, was the first follower of Jesus to actually meet the risen Lord. This is a surprising encounter in many ways. You’ll notice as you read through John 20:1-18 that the disciples; Peter and John (the closest friends of Jesus whilst he was on earth, the one’s you’d probably expect to see Him first) they ran to the tomb, but they didn’t see the risen Christ. All they saw was an empty tomb and the linen cloths that Jesus dead body had been wrapped in when it was taken down from the cross. No my friends, it was Mary Magdalene who lingered at the tomb, with tears running down her face and kept on asking the question, “What have they done with the body of my Lord?” She was looking for Jesus dead body, but Mary was the first person to discover that He was actually raised from the dead. Mary Magdalene, an prostitute who’d been delivered from seven demons was the first person to encounter the resurrected Jesus. Why?

 Dave Smith doesn’t touch on this in the booklet, but I’ve been thinking about it. Mary had been forgiven and delivered from evil. Remember what Jesus said about a person who knows how much they’ve been forgiven and how grateful they’d be? Luke 7:36-50 Jesus anointed by a sinful woman. Jesus said about her Luke 7:44-47 “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.”

“Those who recognise how much they’ve been forgiven love lots, but those who have only been forgiven a little, love little”

 Do you see it my friends, Mary Magdalene had been forgiven so much, we have too, but we don’t often realise the seriousness of our sins, that each sin we commit is enough on it’s own to keep us out of heaven forever, but Mary had been a harlot a very obviously sinful person and she had been delivered from seven demons too. My friends, when you realise just how many sins you’ve been forgiven for, you’d be as devoted to the Lord as Mary Magdalene was, you’d be at the tomb lingering, weeping and crying and determined as she was, to find the body of your Lord and do what needed to be done. She got far more than she bargained for that day, Mary’s surprising encounter was with the Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. Mary was the first to meet with the risen Lord Jesus.

Points to Ponder:

  1. Are you convinced of the resurrection of Jesus? What difference would it make to your life and to the world at large if it really were true?
  2. What is your response to the idea that the risen Jesus wants to meet with you? In what ways would you like to meet with Jesus over the next 40 Days?
  3. When have you encountered the presence of the Living Lord Jesus before? How did it impact your life?

 

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, I realise that by asking about the implications of the resurrection for my life, I must be prepared to hear the answers. I cannot be the same and I don’t want to be. I long to know You and meet with You. Take me on a journey over the next 40 days. Help me to be brave enough to respond to the things that you are whispering to me. Breathe Your life into any part of me that is currently lifeless or lacking in energy and spirit. Then move me forward by the power of Your Spirit in ways that only You can. I pray this in faith. Amen.

 

God bless and I’ll hopefully be back again tomorrow, God willing and Virgin Media keeps up and running 🙂

I’m praying for you all today that you’ll actually meet the resurrected LORD Jesus Christ in a Surprising Encounter of your own. Amen.

Don.

  John 20:1-18

1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.
2  So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
3  So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb.
4  Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.
5  He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in.
6  Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there,
7  as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.
8  Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.
9  (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)
10 Then the disciples went back to their homes,
11  but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb
12  and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
13  They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
14  At this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realise that it was Jesus.
15  “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
16  Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned towards him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).
17  Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ “
18  Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Study Booklet

Study Video For Week 1:

Resources: Scroll down for the Video.

40 Days With Jesus Week 1 Video: A Surprising Encounter.

I would really encourage you to get hold of the little study booklet for this whole course. We’ve got some in Church for anyone who comes along tonight. If there is any left we’ll make them available to the whole church. But you can get them easily here or at Amazon even cheaper. And you can get a Kindle version to read on your devices and phones. The Kindle version on Amazon is just £5.60.

A Surprising Encounter: Day 1 of 40 Days With Jesus.

40 Days With Jesus Home Page: With Course Outline and Links to Daily Readings & Weekly Video.

 

Love One Another

Love Like Jesus

Daily Spirit & Word, 484: Love One Another.

It’s our LOVE for one another that is one of the tests we can use to discover if we’ve passed from death to life. In other words, to know if we’ve been born of God’s Holy Spirit and are true followers of Jesus Christ, if we’re living in obedience to His commands to LOVE Him first and LOVE one another.

Good morning my friends. Don’t you just LOVE Sundays? I do because I can gather with brothers and sisters in my eternal family and we can worship our Lord Jesus Christ together.

Yesterday I took my grandchildren Aminata and Leila to Bockett’s Farm Park in Surrey, what a great day out it was. They had fun on the tractors, fed the little lambs and the sheep and goats and petted the rabbits and horses. There was pig racing and castles to explore. Then they enjoyed the awesome children’s play areas and we all sat down for some sandwiches that my wife had prepared for us.

When I paid for entrance to Bockett’s Farm they gave us a yellow wrist-band, this shows that we’re paid up and allowed on all the rides and can enjoy the whole of Bockett’s Farm. WOWzer! What a gift of a sermon Illustration: Imagine if God gave every single one of us an Yellow Bracelet to show that we’re Paid Up Members of His Kingdom Family? And we can have access to all the rights of the Children of God in the Kingdom? It would be easy for anyone to recognise that we belong to the LORD.

Well, we do have a kind of wrist-band and He’s revealing it today: It’s Called LOVE.

1 John 3:11-24
11  This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.
12  Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.
13  Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.
14  We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.
15  Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.
16  This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
17  If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
18  Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
19  This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20  whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21  Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22  and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. 23  And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24  Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

The Steps to Faith and Trust In Jesus:

When you come to faith in Jesus Christ: It involves definite steps: Those steps can sometimes be instant and for others a much longer journey.

The Steps to Faith and Trust in Jesus Are:

1) An awareness of our NEED of a SAVIOUR: The Holy Spirit draws us to God the Father and Faith in Jesus Christ, by first producing a hunger for Righteousness: The NEED to be right with God.

2) The Holy Spirit makes us aware that we’re NOT Righteous in ourselves, because of our Sin. He convicts the world of guilt… That’s one of His functions as God The Holy Spirit. It’s His task from Jesus and the Father. (This is the process that can either be instant or can take some time, because people confuse Religious Activity with Righteousness. They get involved with ‘church’ and begin to do the things that real believers do, thinking they are saved because of it.)

3) The Gospel Shows us God’s Solution for Righteousness: That He sent Jesus Christ to die on the Cross in our place to make us right with God: Righteousness Satisfied: We’re RIGHTEOUS when we’re in Christ.

4) We’re convicted and moved to REPENT of our sins and put our faith and trust in God’s revealed solution to our righteousness problem. We then comply with the Spirit’s call and respond to Jesus invitation to RECEIVE Him as both LORD and Saviour.

5) We’re SAVED: We begin a New Life in Jesus Christ: He gives us New Life by sending the Holy Spirit into our hearts and bringing about the New Birth: We’re born again, Regenerated, Renewed by the Holy Spirit. (The Washing of Rebirth)

6) When the Holy Spirit comes into our life: Some things happens to us:

  1. a) We no longer view the Commandmentsas a threat: i.e. “You must do this” “You must not do that”, but as promises; “You will not want to tell lies, steal or lust” “You will want to Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength; and Love your neighbour as yourself”.
  2. b) Those changes come as we’re filled with God’s LOVE by the Spirit He gives us. (Verse 24).
  3. c) The Holy Spirit Begins to Transform Us: Sanctification: Into the Likeness of Christ: Producing the Fruit of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control. That’s what Jesus was like and is like today. That’s what we’re being transformed into: The Likeness of Christ.
  4. d) The Holy Spirit Gifts: Tongues, Word’s of Knowledge, Healing, Discernment, Administration, Prophesy, Service, Hospitality, LOVE. The Greatest Gift Being LOVE.

Death To LIFE: Verse 14.

“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.”

So we can know today if we’ve passed from death to life (Verse 14) if we LOVE our brothers. i.e. Our neighbours, our fellow Christians, our workmates, our own family members. If we’ve got hatred in our hearts instead of LOVE, then we’ve NOT been born again by God’s Holy Spirit (Verse 24). Though we may want or even demand to be viewed as Christians because of everything else we’ve done; our religious devotion, our church activity, our charitable acts, etc, etc, but if we don’t LOVE others all these things are like a Clanging (Very Loud: Cymball). 1 Corinthians 13.

Cain Vs Christ.

Cain and Jesus are examples of the extremes between hating and loving.

Let’s Compare and Contrast: Cain and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Cain: 1 John 3:12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother.

Jesus: 1 John 3:16 16  This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

Cain TOOK LIFE:
Jesus GIVES LIFE.

What was their MOTIVATION?

Cain: Angry and Jealous and Bitter: Because God accepted Able’s offering.

Jesus: Love: Love motivated Jesus to offer His life. 1 John 3:16 and John 3:16.

How Can we KNOW if we are LOVING our Brothers and Sisters or NOT?

Well, our reading gives some indication: 1 John 3:16-18. (This is HOW we KNOW).
16  This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. (Are we laying down our lives for others? Self-Sacrifice: Greed = wanting the biggest slice, more money than others, better houses than others. Avarice, The need to have so much that you can dominate others. The need to win arguments???)
17  If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? (How can the LOVE of God be in us if we don’t respond to need? Some people ask us when we’re out sharing Jesus, “How can there be a God of Love when He allows so much suffering of innocent people; perhaps God allows this suffering to show his love through the Saints He’s called into His family: I.e. God has no hands but our hands, He has no feet but our feet, He has no mouth but the Christian’s mouth in this world…)
18  Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (God wants us to DEMONSTRATE that we’re actually LIVING IN OBEDIENCE to the Commandments of Jesus Christ).

Let’s look at that great chapter on LOVE:

1 Corinthians 13:1-13
1  If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
2  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
3  If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
(WOWzer! You’d think that a person who did all these things was really good, loving and kind, wouldn’t you? But the Bible tells us that even though we are doing these things, we can do them in a LOVELESS WAY.).
Now let’s continue in Corinthians 13:
4  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8  Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
9  For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
10  but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
11  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
12  Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Respond: 

My friends, what can you do this week to show that you have passed from DEATH to LIFE?

How can you love each other more?

Examples: How can you help the homeless? How can you help the widow, the single parent, the refugee, the alien and stranger, the lonely, the depressed, those who are suffering, the poor, the weak, the strong, the rich, the proud, etc… How will you help?

  • First: Don’t be overwhelmed: That’s what stops a lot of Christians from doing what they know they should do.
  • Second: Don’t be afraid: Fear can cripple our LOVE. It’s actions speak louder than words.
  • ThirdTrust: Trust again in Jesus and receive His LOVE into your own heart. Know that He really loves you and then be filled afresh with His LOVE. Ask for His Divine Help and Power to do what you know you should.

Be FULL of LOVE and Act in LOVE towards EVERYONE.

Conclusion: 

My friends, The WHOLE of God’s WORD is filled with this awesome message: God IS LOVE. John 3:16, Romans 13:8, John 13:34-35, 1 John 3.

Those who say they LOVE God will PROVE their love for Him by how they act towards others in the world.

We won’t just SAY we love others, but we’ll actually feel it, we’ll want to lay down our lives for others, that’s the fullness of LOVE, that’s why God has said it in so many different ways in His Word.

The Greatest Gift of the Holy Spirit, the Greatest Gift that God can and will give us is LOVE.

This is how we know if we’ve passed from DEATH to LIFE.

We’ll show it by our ACTIONS  and ATTITUDES towards one another.  We’ll actively LOVE One Another.

My friends, is there a want of love in your heart today? This is how we know if we’ve passed from DEATH (God’s curse upon a sinful person is Death for sin) to LIFE (New Life comes when we REPENT and TRUST God’s SAVIOUR: Jesus Christ).

Then you can know if you’re truly Born of God’s Spirit.

If you have got the Spirit of God and you are less loving than you should be; REPENT and receive and be filled with His Holy Spirit afresh today.

May the LORD bless this reading and insight into His Word Today. Amen!

I’m praying for everyone who says they really love Jesus today, and those who truly want to follow Him every single day, that we’ll know the wrist-band of LOVE. We’ll wear it with pride and we’ll get more love into our hearts when we become aware that we’re not being as loving as we should be. Let us LOVE One Another. Amen!

 

 

Sermon. A Call to Prayer, by J.C.Ryle

A Call to Prayer, by J.C.Ryle

I found this on The Christian Mind Website (Copied here because so many sites seem to disappear after a while). Ryle’s writings are all in the Public Domain now.

This is an extract from a sermon by J.C.Ryle (1816 – 1900), a nineteenth-century preacher and Anglican bishop of the city of Liverpool.

I ask again whether you pray, because a habit of prayer is one of the surest marks of a true Christian.

All the children of God on earth are alike in this respect. From the moment there is any life and reality about their religion, they pray. Just as the first sign of the life of an infant when born into the world is the act of breathing, so the first act of men and women when they are born again is praying.

This is one of the common marks of all the elect of God, “They cry unto him day and night.” Luke 18:1. The Holy Spirit who makes them new creatures, works in them a feeling of adoption, and makes them cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15. The Lord Jesus, when he quickens them, gives them a voice and a tongue, and says to them, “Be dumb no more.” God has no dumb children. It is as much a part of their new nature to pray, as it is of a child to cry. They see their need of mercy and grace. They feel their emptiness and weakness. They cannot do otherwise than they do. They must pray.

I have looked carefully over the lives of God’s saints in the Bible. I cannot find one whose history much is told us, from Genesis to Revelation, who was not a person of prayer. I find it mentioned as a characteristic of the godly, that “they call on the Father,” that “they call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” I find it recorded as a characteristic of the wicked, that “they call not upon the Lord.” 1 Peter 1:17; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Psalm 14:4.

I have read the lives of many eminent Christians who have been on earth since the Bible days. Some of them, I see, were rich, and some poor. Some were learned, and some were unlearned. Some of them were Episcopalians, and some were Christians of other names. Some were Calvinists, and some were Arminians. Some have loved to use liturgy, and some to use none. But one thing I see they all had in common. They have all been people of prayer.

I have studied reports of missionary societies in our own times. I see with joy that lost men and women are receiving the gospel in various parts of the globe. There are conversions in Africa, in New Zealand, in India, in China. The people converted are naturally unlike one another in every respect. But one striking thing I observe at all the missionary stations: the converted people always pray.

I do not deny that a person may pray without heart and without sincerity. I do not for a moment pretend to say that the mere fact of a person’s praying proves everything about their soul. As in every other part of religion, so also in this, there may be deception and hypocrisy.

But this I do say, that not praying is a clear proof that a person is not yet a true Christian. They cannot really feel their sins. They cannot love God. They cannot feel themselves a debtor to Christ. They cannot long after holiness. They cannot desire heaven. They have yet to be born again. They have yet to be made a new creature. They may boast confidently of election, grace, faith, hope and knowledge, and deceive ignorant people. But you may rest assured it is all vain talk if they do not pray.

And I say furthermore, that of all the evidences of the real work of the Spirit, a habit of hearty private prayer is one of the most satisfactory that can be named. A person may preach from false motives. A person may write books and make fine speeches and seem diligent in good works, and yet be a Judas Iscariot. But a person seldom goes into their closet and pours out their soul before God in secret, unless they are in earnest. The Lord himself has set his stamp on prayer as the best proof of conversion. When he sent Ananias to Saul in Damascus, he gave him no other evidence of his change of heart than this, “Behold he prayeth.” Acts 9:11.

I know that much may go on in a person’s mind before they are brought to pray. They may have many convictions, desires, wishes, feelings, intentions, resolutions, hopes, and fears. But all these things are very uncertain evidences. They are to be found in ungodly people, and often come to nothing. In many a case they are not more lasting than the morning cloud and dew that passes away. A real hearty prayer, moving from a broken and contrite spirit, is worth all these things put together.

I know that the Holy Spirit, who calls sinners from their evil ways, does in many instances lead them by very slow degrees to acquaintance with Christ. But the eye of man can only judge by what it sees. I can not call anyone justified until they believe. I dare not say that anyone believes until they pray. I cannot understand a dumb faith. The first act of faith will be to speak to God. Faith is to the soul what life is to the body. Prayer is to faith what breath is to the body. How a person can live and not breathe is past my comprehension, and how a person can believe and not pray is past my comprehension too.

Never be surprised if you hear ministers of the gospel dwelling much on the importance of prayer. This is the point they want to bring to you. They want to know that you pray. Your views of doctrine may be correct. Your love of Protestantism may be warm and unmistakable. But still this may be nothing more than head knowledge and party spirit. They want to know whether you are actually acquainted with the throne of grace, and whether you can speak to God as well as speak about God.

A Call To Prayer: Expanded upon by J.C. Ryle in a Pamphlet he wrote after preaching to encourage Christians into a deeper prayer life and a closer walk with Jesus.

via A Call to Prayer, by J.C.Ryle | The Christian Mind.

An Anchor For Your Soul

Daily Spirit & Word, 459: An Anchor for Your Soul.

Seven Benefits of Bible Memorisation.

Benefit #5 God’s Word in your heart is like an anchor for your soul.

You know the old Hymn: “Will Your Anchor Hold”?

We have an anchor that keeps the soul

Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,

Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,

Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.

That Question: Will your anchor hold? Will you remain steadfast following the Lord through all the storms and waves and temptations of this life?

 An good, heavy anchor can hold a mighty ship when the storms come.

Fastened to the Rock: The rock that the Hymn is talking about is Jesus Christ. The Bible reveals that He was the ‘rock in the wilderness’ that Moses struck to get water for the people of Israel in the desert, He was also the rock that Moses was placed in a crevice by the LORD as He passed Moses by. Jesus is the rock that makes men stumble, He’s the Cornerstone of the building. Is Jesus YOUR Rock today. Are you holding onto Him as a ship’s anchor does to the rocks at the bottom of the sea. A ship depended upon the anchor getting a good grip upon the rocks.

John W. Crawford wrote in Discipleship Journal;

“When I was in the Navy, one of the games played aboard ship was the anchor pool. Each participating sailor would put in his money and guess what time we would drop anchor as we came into port. The exact time was always recorded in the ship’s log, and the closest guesser would win the pool.

It seemed innocent enough at the time, and my shipmates would encourage me to join in–”Ah, Crawford, be a sport.” I realized later that they couldn’t care less about me being a sport; they wanted my money. But I decided I would not get involved, and I memorized some passages to strengthen my conviction.

One was Proverbs 13:11–”Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished; but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.”

Another was Proverbs 23:5–”Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away, as an eagle toward heaven.” Not only was it wrong to win money by gambling, but I wouldn’t be able to keep it anyway.”  “An Anchor for Your Heart.” by John W. Crawford Discipleship Journal Issue #9 May/June 1982.

THE GREAT HABIT OF EMBEDDING GOD’S WORD:

My friends, when we get into the GREAT HABIT of Embedding God’s Word in our hearts the way John Crawford did, we’ll be fast-tracking our way to Christian Spiritual Maturity.

Robert Morgan said, “The practice of memorizing and meditating on the Bible is the primary way to accelerate spiritual growth in your life. It speeds up the transformation process and leads to holier habits. After all, spiritual maturity is simply thinking more as God thinks; so as we implant His thoughts into our minds, using Scripture memory, and as we use the process of meditation to convert those verses into regular thought patterns, we’re developing the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5), yielding mature thoughts, pure habits, and holier lives. The psalmist said, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Ps. 119:11 NKJV).” From; “100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart.” by Robert J Morgan.

So we’ll become more like Jesus the more we know and think like Him. Spending precious time in His presence and in His Word will produce spiritual growth. I’ve seen this in many people over the years since I’ve been following the Lord Jesus. So many of my friends have fallen back into the world, given into sin, self and the world’s ways of living. Having talked, counselled and challenged many of them, I’ve become convinced of this; It’s because they left off personal time with Jesus, they didn’t get into God’s Word and they didn’t get God’s Word into their hearts or heads.

There have been times when I’ve stopped my daily time with Jesus, either through work of pressures in life, each time I have, I’ve felt the tendency and temptation to fall away increase. Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t leave me alone too long and by His Holy Spirit, He brings conviction and reveals what’s happened and leads me back into the narrow way.

Having served in the Royal Navy on Ships and Submarines, I love the Bible’s naval terminology, I love the old hymns that speak of anchors, storms of life, waves, billows, etc… They speak to me because I’ve experienced them and they do help to keep me on the Lord’s narrow pathway that leads to eternal life.

 Part ll of “Will Your Anchor Hold? on Monday.

Have an awesome Saturday with your family, friends, fellowship and the Lord.

Sunday is the Lord’s Day: Don’t neglect the gathering of the Saints as some are in the habit of doing and have shipwrecked their faith.

Every blessing in Jesus name,

Don.