When The Testing Is OVER

WHEN THE TESTING IS OVER.

When The TESTING is OVER: Be Strong & Very Courageous.
Before Joshua got to cross over the Jordan into the Promised Land, he had to go through many years of; Trials, Temptations and Tests in the wilderness. Finally, he’s arrived and ready to take up the mantle of Moses leading the people of Israel.
Joshua 1:1-6 (NIV)
1 After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant:
2  “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites.
3  I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.
4  Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Great Sea on the west.
5  No-one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
6  “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.
Now, my friends, you too may have had many years of similar wilderness wandering, with trials, tests and temptations along the way, but NOW is your time. God has been refining you. Moulding you into the person He wants you to be. It may have been like going through a fire of testing to get you to where you are today. However, it is NOW that God is going to use those years of experience, of character formation and of trusting in Him alone.
People will look to you as a kind of Spiritual GIANT, like Joshua, because of what you’ve been through and come out the other side a better man or woman.
  • They’ll see that instead of getting bitter, you’ve got BETTER.
  • They’ll see that instead of getting upset when trouble comes, you’ll exhibit a remarkable PEACE.
  • They’ll see that instead of moaning about stuff, you’ll be singing with a genuine JOY in your heart.
How? Because the LORD is your strength.
The LORD is the one empowering you.
You’ve learned that in every circumstance that it is possible to REJOICE.
You’ve learned that you NEED Jesus every day.
You’ve learned to FEED upon His Word.
You’ve learned He loves it when you listen to the Holy Spirit and walk in obedience and submission to His will.
Like Joshua and many other Heroes of our faith, you don’t always get it right, but you’ve discovered that when you fail, fall and stumble, you can get back up again, come to the Lord, confess your sin, weakness, fear and disobedience, and seek His forgiveness, renewal, infilling and guidance again.
When the TESTING is OVER: Be strong (in the LORD) and very courageous. Amen!
Rejoice in the LORD ALWAYS.
and again I say, REJOICE.
Peace and Presence of the LORD, be with YOU today.
Amen!
Zechariah 4:6 (NIV) “So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.””

The Great Faith of a Canaanite Woman

The Canaanite Woman Begging Jesus for her daughter's healing and deliverance from Demon possession

The Great Faith of The Canaanite Woman.

Daily Spirit & Word: 824: The Great Faith of the Canaanite Woman.

Yesterday, in St Luke’s we had the following Gospel reading about a Canaanite woman who came running after Jesus.

 

Matthew 15:21-28 (NIV)
21  Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
22  A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”
23  Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
24  He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
25  The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
26  He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”
27  “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
28  Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

Tyre & Sidon: Canaanite Territory.

When Jesus sent His disciples out, he told them not to go to the Canaanites or anyone else, but only to the LOST SHEEP of Israel (Matthew 10:5-6). What was Jesus doing in Canaanite territory? We know from Mark’s Gospel that Jesus had withdrawn to be alone with His disciples, moving away from the busy shedule of Gallilee and the surrounding towns, the hustle of the crowds and the persecution of the Sadducees and Pharisees. But was that His only reason for going?

Matthew 10:5-6 (NIV) Disciple’s Instructions.
5  These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6  Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.

What or Who are the Lost Sheep of Israel?

1) We must keep in mind Jesus’ mission: He came to redeem Israel. He was Israel’s Messiah. He was born of the house of King David, He was from the tribe of Judah, Jesus was very much a Jew with a mission to the Jews FIRST…

2) Jesus mission: To call sinners to REPENTANCE: The Jews at that time were the only ones who’d been given God’s revelation of His Holy Standards of Goodness: Through their Laws and the Ten Commandments. They still taught that law, but didn’t live according to it. They knew their lives were in breach of God’s Law… Jesus was calling God’s Chosen people, the Israelites, to come BACK to God in humility and repentance… They were the Lost Sheep of Israel.

But, Isn’t Jesus The Saviour of the World?

Of course He is, but whilst He was on the Earth, His mission was for the Jews. Only after Jesus mission had been completed, did He send the Church (Empowered by the Holy Spirit) on it’s Mission: To go into all the world and proclaim the Good News of the Gospel.

We can say one thing with certainty about our Lord Jesus: He was focused… He was fixed on His own mission from His Father… He knew why He’d come and was heaven-set on completing that mission. Jesus had a Divinely Fixed Compass, knowing His Father’s will and doing His Father’s will way Jesus highest priority in life. (Our’s is knowing and doing the Saviour’s will, after all we’re Jesus’ Disciples too).

The FAITH of the Canaanite Woman:

She kept up calling after Jesus. So much so that the Disciples complained to Jesus to send her away (Verse 23). They knew, their mission as well as that of Jesus was to the LOST SHEEP of Israel. But the Woman kept calling out to Jesus, until she got a response…

So How DID Jesus Respond to the Canaanite Woman?

1) He ignored her: Verse 23 tells us, “Jesus did not answer a word”…

My friends, the SILENCE of the SAVIOUR in this passage is DEAFENING.

It tells us so much: There are times when Jesus seems NOT to answer our prayers too. It’s as if Jesus is not speaking to us. He seems silent or unresponsive to our cries for help or assistance. But did Jesus hear the woman?

Was Jesus ignoring the woman? I don’t think so. Jesus could hear just as much as His own disciples the woman’s constant cry for help… She was desperate… And when you are desperate and the cure is right in front of you, for you or your relatives, you will NOT STOP until you get the treatment needed.

Does Jesus ignore you? NEVER! He hears our prayers, even before they come out of our mouth. He knows your thoughts (Psalm 139), but He still wants you to ask. But HOW to ask?

Why didn’t Jesus respond? 

Well, we already saw that He’d come for the Lost Sheep of Israel: And she was not a Jew. However, was that it? Was anyone who was not a Jew healed by Jesus?  Of course they were, because we’ve already seen Jesus going beyond that boundary; He healed the Centurion’s Servant: Matthew 8…

Matthew 8:5-13 (NIV) Centurion’s Humility…
5  When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help.
6  “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralysed and in terrible suffering.”
7  Jesus said to him, “I will go and heal him.”
8  The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.
9  For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
10  When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.
11  I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.
12  But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
13  Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour.

Again: We see in Jesus response to the Centurion’s Humility and Faith: brought about Jesus’ compassion. He knew he didn’t deserve it, He knew Jesus could do it, He had faith enough to ASK for it in humility. However, notice the difference; the woman was almost demanding Jesus do something, the Centurion was asking humbly. We’ll see that’s exactly what happened to the woman too.

SHE CAME AND KNELT: The Woman was Humble: She knelt before Jesus (KJV says, “She worshipped Him”… (You’d think then, that this humility was enough, surely the Lord would see her kneeling and give her what she wants)…

Jesus did respond to the Canaanite woman, but it was not a positive response.

He said to her, these most shocking words. Can you imagine someone saying something like this to someone today? Verse 26  He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”

So, even though she’s been crying, now kneeling, begging, crying and pleading, “Please Lord”… Jesus still said “NO”… 

When something’s not right, Jesus will not be MOVED… Remember how Esau begged for his birthright with tears when he sold it for a pot of stew? He didn’t get it, because what he’d done was wrong. Jesus knew why he’d come and wouldn’t be diverted, unless, unless something else was mixed with the CRIES and the PLEADING…. What was the CRITICAL INGREDIENT that got the ANSWER she needed from Jesus?: FAITH.

The Canaanite woman, like the Centurion, eventually got Jesus message, she now KNEW that she didn’t deserve it. However, that knowledge of not deserving, didn’t stop her. But now she’s pleading from the perspective of; A DOG to It’s Master.

I know so many people who are PUT OFF coming to Jesus, because they KNOW they are not right, they don’t deserve it… However, this woman, she knew she didn’t deserve it, but she still came, fell at Jesus feet and begged….

PLEADING DOG: I always remember my mum and dad’s voice when I read this part of the Bible: “Donald, don’t feed the dog at dinner”… I couldn’t look into my dog’s big, round and sad eyes and say no… He had a cold wet nose… he always managed to look so sad… he made funny noises… He stayed by me with his eyes fixed on my hands, watching, waiting, longing… He knew that I was the only one who’d give in and give him what he wanted. Even though my mum and dad had said, “NO!” I couldn’t resist those big sad eyes…

That Canaanite Woman: Was like a Dog who knew her Master’s heart.

Listen to her words, Verse 27 “27  “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

She knew about Dogs too, and about their Masters: Dogs eat the falling food… The scraps that people either toss or drop by accident… No matter what, a dog is determined to stay there until they get what they want….

Her Faith was Doggedely Determined: She knew Jesus could do it. She was going to stay around like a DOG and keep begging until she could get what she needed from Her Master… Not for herself, but for her daughter.

HER FAITH WAS DOGGEDLY DETERMINED

The CANAANITE WOMAN’S RESPONSE:

Verse 27:
27  “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
28  Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

What was it that REVEALED to Jesus the woman’s faith?

She knew that a DOG knows its MASTER’S HEART…

Nobody who owns a dog would let it go hungry.

Nobody who owns a dog would never respond… A DOG is a man’s best friend…

The secret of GREAT FAITH my friends, is KNOWING the MASTER’S HEART…

  • Knowing what God wants.
  • Knowing what God is like.
  • Knowing What God does.

Do you know the Master’s Heart? Father God loves to; heal, deliver, forgive, cleanse, refresh and renew. He’s not stopped doing that since the Creation of Mankind; He’s the SAME: Yesterday, today and forever…

MOSES PLEADS THE FATHER’S HEART;

Moses knew that too, and SAVED the Israelites from being struck down with a deadly disease… He KNEW God’s Heart: How He was, “Slow to anger, abounding in love and who forgives sins”… Moses pleaded with God’s own Heart:

The Refusal To Believe in the LORD: Meant they Forfeited The Promised Land:

Numbers 14:17-23 (NIV)
17  “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared:
18  ‘The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.’
19  In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”
20  The LORD replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked.
21  Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth,
22  not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times—
23  not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No-one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.

When you know God’s HEART my friends, and you believe it, trust it, and plead according to it, you can MOVE God with your prayers; just like Moses, the Centurion and this Canaanite woman. So Don’t you dare give up on the LORD! He’ll never give up on you.

Still, in your knowledge of the Father’s Heart: how are you going to respond to this message today?

Like the Canaanite woman, we too can;

  • Be Humble: She knelt before Jesus. Know this; “God lifts up the humble…”
  • Be Sincere: She worshipped Jesus… “True worshippers, will worship the Father in Spirit and Truth”.
  • Be Honest: She knew she didn’t deserve it… We too don’t DESERVE anything from God, in fact, it’s only by His grace we’re not destoryed”. Recognise God’s GRACE, Mercy and Kindness towards you.
  • Be Polite: She called Him her Master. Is Jesus our Master? Let’s really seek to serve Him and honour Him with our lives.
  • Be Persistent: She didn’t stop PLEADING until she got what she needed. She did so, because she knew the Master’s Heart. We too can be persistent with God, knowing the Father’s Heart. How he’s sent us, those who follow Jesus to go into all the world; preach the Gospel, Heal the Sick and Disciple those who respond to the message. Making them into followers and disciples of Jesus, who will also go on to show others the way.

What was DRIVING The Woman?

Her daughter was under the influence of the Devil.

How many of us, are crying out to Jesus as this Canaanite woman did? She kept up following, crying, begging, pleading for Jesus to do something for her daughter. This speaks to me about PERSISTENCE (Heart of Love for our children)… Keep praying to Jesus, don’t give up. How many of our own children are under Satan’s dominion? How many are living in sin, in rebellion, away from the LORD. How many of us plead to the Lord for our own children as this woman did for her’s?

It’s my hope and prayer that you’ll have an awesome week with Jesus.

Remember to meet up regularly with fellow saints in Christ Jesus for fellowship, Bible study, prayer and praise.

Arrange a coffee time with another member of your church, just to catch-up and encourage one another. Remember Hebrews 4:13. Encourage one another every day…

Be blessed and full of Holy Spirit.

Don.

 

Love Always Perseveres

Love from God's perspective.

Daily Spirit & Word: 824.

Love Always Perseveres.

Sermon Series on LOVE (Understanding LOVE from God’s Perspective 1 Corinthians 13).

Good morning, we’re back with 1 Corinthians 13: The Great Love Chapter in God’s Word. Here we’ve been discovering some of the secrets of TRUE LOVE:

TRUE LOVE: Agape: Sacrificial / Devotional / Charitable Love.

1) That love is not at first an emotion to give into, but an act of the will, with principles and precepts to live by.

2) We will want to act these ways, because we’ve first of all experienced God’s; Love, Forgiveness, Kindness and Mercy. He’s given us a New Start, New Heart, New Life, New Relationship of Love through His Son Jesus Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit.

3) When we act in God’s love, great feelings of LOVE will follow… i.e. attraction in relationships can be restored.

Some People think their marriage is over, because they don’t feel the love any-longer  It’s not over just because you don’t feel “IN LOVE” any more. Love and feelings of being in love will follow and flow afresh into your heart and your relationship once you begin LOVING God’s Ways.

LOVE ALWAYS: (Sermon Series).

We’ve been looking over the last few weeks at: Verse 7: Love Always:

1 Corinthians 13:7 (NIV) It (LOVE) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Today It Is: Love Always Perseveres.

To see how LOVE ALWAYS Perseveres: We can look though God’s Word to see if this is a principle / precept that is TRUE.

  • Then we’ll KNOW: Know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.
  • Then we’ll KNOW: That Always Persevering in LOVE… (LOVE NEVER FAILS)…

Genesis 29:20 (NIV) “So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.” (That’s Perseverance).

Part of Jacob’s reward for working for Laban was to have Rachel, Laban’s beautiful daughter, given to Jacob as his wife. Our verse for today sums up the details of this arrangement and shows the great effects of love how we’ll be persevering because of it…

  • Love Prompted Jacob’s Perseverance.
  • Love Prolonged Jacob’s Perseverance.
  • Love Produced Pleasure in Jacob’s Toil.

1) LOVE Prompted Jacob’s Perseverance:

Perseverance’s Prerequisite: Is LOVE:  “Jacob served seven years to get Rachel.” (Prerequisite = Essential Condition. Needed Requirement: LOVE).

It was love that caused Jacob to serve here. He was very much in love with Rachel and so agreed to serve Laban for her. Love is essential if we are going to persevere.

Remember what Paul said;

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (NIV)
14  For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.
15  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

Paul was motivated (compelled) to serve his Lord Jesus by his love for Christ. (First LOVE).

When Christ called Peter to feed His flock, He asked Peter, “Do you love me?” or in KJV “Lovest thou me” (John 21:15,16,17 {three times}).

If your perseverance draining, if you feel everything to do with church is a drag, maybe you are getting a bit like the church at Ephesus which was rebuked by the Lord because they had “left their first love” (Revelation 2:4).

If Jacob had just had a passing FANCY for Rachel, he would not have served or persevered to get her hand in marriage.

It wasn’t a passing fancy, but true love that enabled Jacob to persevere for those seven long years.

 

2) Prolonging of Perseverance. “Jacob served seven years to get Rachel.”

Love caused Jacob to serve for a long time.

Later when Laban deceived Jacob and gave him Leah instead of Rachel at the end of those seven years, Jacob was prepared, because of his love for Rachel, to agree to serve another seven years for her. That’s awesome! We need to understand this today 14 Years to get a wife… who today would be prepared to do that? Would you wait? That’s how much he longed for and loved Rachel.

Because of his LOVE he was prepared to persevere for Rachel’s hand.

  • Love Caused Jacob: To continually work for Rachel.
  • Love Cause Jacob: To Never Give up on Rachel.
  • Love Caused Jacob: To have longevity (No matter how long it would take, he’d get his Rachel)…
  • Love Cause Jacob: To keep Going, not quit after a few days, weeks, months or years… 14 years it took to get his Rachel as his wife.
  • LOVE MADE JACOB: Persevere until….

 

QUESTION: Why do so many Christians fall away from the faith?

Why do so many Christians grow luke-warm in their devotion to Jesus?

Why do so many not persevere and keep following Jesus?

ANSWER: NOT IN LOVE WITH JESUS.

Some have a PASSING FANCY for the CHRISTIAN FAITH. Dabble their toes in the water of Christian Experience, but when the going gets tough, the feeble, fickle, feeling based Christians = leg it. They’ve had a passing fancy for Jesus, not TRUE LOVE… If Jesus was ever their FIRST LOVE, then no matter what, they’d stick at it come what may.

The reason so many folks do not last long in persevering faith in Christ is because they do not love Christ as they need.

If you truly love Christ, you will stay at your work continually: Like Jacob (Joseph, David, Moses, Abraham). Some didn’t see their PROMISED LAND (HOPE)… However, because of their LOVE they were able to PERSEVERE.

  • Love causes us to have longevity in our persevering for Christ.
  • Love does not serve Jesus a few days then quit when it gets tough; no it KEEPS GOING (Digging In Deeper onto the foundation bedrock of Jesus).
  • Love keeps us going in serving the LORD.
  • When we LOVE Jesus, we will PERSEVERE in the FAITH…

3) PLEASURE in PERSEVERING (Perseverance’s Rewards).

Genesis 29:20 (NIV) “So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.”

When you are truly in LOVE with Jesus, then no matter what happens; good or bad, plenty or want, you’ll LONG to SERVE HIM: Persevering won’t seem like a chore or a burden, it’s a pleasure.

  • When Jacob got Rachel: He said, “It seems like I’ve only served a few days” because of his love for her.
  • When you get to Heaven: You’ll be thinking it only seemed like a few days that I served Jesus. Because of your LOVE for Him.
  • Love for Rachel made long-days seem short.
  • Love for Rachel brought much pleasure to Jacob’s service. (The sweat of looking after sheep was a JOY)…
  • Love for Rachel sweetened the difficult times and made them delightful times.

 

Question: Why do so many followers of Jesus find serving Jesus a chore or a burden or a difficulty?

Why do so many Christians get resentful in their service?

  • They’re not looking at Jesus. Taken their eyes off HIM…
  • They’ve forgotten the Prize.
  • They’ve wandered away from their first LOVE…

 

LOVE ALWAYS PERSEVERES:

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV) (Don’t Loose Heart: Run With Perseverance: Fix Eyes on Jesus)…
1  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
2  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Philippians 3:14 (NIV) PRESS ONWARDS to WIN PRIZE…
14  I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NIV) RUN (Persevere) to GET YOUR PRIZE.
24  Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
25  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last for ever.
26  Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.
27  No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

If you are not in love with Jesus, you will not persevere: Not Run, Fix Eyes, Aim, Walk or Limp towards your Prize. You will loose heart and possibly fall away from the faith…

If you are in love with Jesus, you will persevere: Run, Walk, Keep Going, PERSEVERE.

 

How to get back in LOVE? {with your first-love}

  • LOVE as the Bible tells you: be patient, be kind, be forgiving, be gentle, don’t be proud, selfish, rude… etc (1 Cor 13). PRACTISING CHRISTIAN… Practice LOVE… Try it.
  • Repent: Of your lack of love for Jesus. Ask for His forgiveness. He’ll then MOTIVATE you to PERSEVERE once you are back IN LOVE with Him.

 

NOTE: RUNNING FOR THE PRIZE: (Not Down to Self-Effort)…

Personal Testimony: I’d failed, time and time again. Self-Effort wasn’t working. I got a bit depressed, felt a failure, felt God didn’t love me, couldn’t love me, wouldn’t love me. I had almost LOST HEART… Why? Because I was trying to be GOOD in my own strength, my own determination and perseverance and my will-power was failing fast… Who would rescue me? It’s Jesus my friends, I needed to trust in Jesus alone all over again. Submit to Him and confess and let Him do the changing of my heart…. Allow HIM IN: I needed to surrender all over again.

This PERSEVERANCE: Is NOT Self-Effort: It comes from being connected and in-love with Jesus. (OR RE-CONNECTED).

He gives you the DETERMINATION YOU NEED to Keep Persevering against the odds…

People will look at you and wonder: “How on earth does He / She do it?”… It’s NOT you, It’s Jesus in YOU… It’s the Holy Spirit who’s taken up residence and become your own personal President (Lord, Master, Boss, King)… He’ll be motivating you to obedience to what you know is right.

But many do not find that joy in serving. The reason is because they lack that deep heart love for Jesus.

If your love for Christ abounds, you will find much pleasure in serving Him even though the service may be difficult, long, hard, and trying.

LOVE ALWAYS PERSEVERES: Jacob loved Rachel (A Picture of How the Saint should love His / Her Jesus).

Conclusion:

1) Perseverance’s Prerequisite: LOVE for Jesus (Jacob loved Rachel)…
2) Prolonging of Perseverance: LOVE will make you SERVE for MANY YEARS…
3) Perseverance’s Reward: Those many years of service will seem like only a few days… Because, there is PLEASURE in persevering. {LOVE ALWAYS PERSEVERES}.

You’ll delight in Serving for Jesus, if you LOVE Him… No matter how successful or not… You’re going to keep going because of your LOVE for Him.

Amen!

Hymn:

Oh, How I LOVE Jesus,
Oh, How I love Jesus,
Oh, How I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me.

New Year 2017 Getting The Father’s Heart

Lost sinners and Jesus commission to go and seek and save the lost

Daily Spirit & Word: 821

Jesus Of Nazareth.

Getting The Father’s Heart For the New Year.

Psalm 33:11 (NIV)  But the plans of the LORD stand firm for ever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

Over the Christmas season the TV is quite good, because they show all the old family favourite films. It struck me that the films that seem to stand the test of time are not the ones with fancy graphics or awesome animation, nor is it fast moving scenes, car pile-ups or big explosions, etc, but it is the ones that have really great stories and characters that are convincing.

One such film, I watched again for the umpteenth time was; Jesus of Nazareth. In an early scene Peter was complaining about having to pay taxes to the Romans even after being out fishing all night and having caught nothing, when he got into port he wasn’t convinced that Jesus was the Messiah who could set them free from Roman domination. It showed a reluctant Peter, when asked by Jesus to go out fishing after they’d been fishing all night long, so the other Disciples had to coax him into accepting Jesus into his boat. I’d never noticed before that when Jesus told the story of the prodigal son, he did so in a house full of obvious sinners, Matthew the Tax Collector and Publicans and in the film the story was targeted at a reluctant Peter who was standing outside the door of the house listening. The film portrayed Peter as a belligerent and reluctant Disciple of Jesus, who was being judgemental about Matthew who collected taxes for the Romans.

I’m not convinced that part of the film is authentic, however it did get me thinking about Jesus telling of that story. Who was he targeting? Then I thought to myself, that story applies to every single one of us, so it would also have applied to both Jesus’ Disciples and His opponents, the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

The Prodigal Son: The Lost Son / The Loving Father / The Resentful Older Brother.

Luke 15:17-32 (NIV)
17  “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!
18  I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
19  I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’
20  So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21  “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22  “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
23  Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.
24  For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
25  “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing.
26  So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on.
27  ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28  “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.
29  But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.
30  But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
31  ” ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.
32  But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ “

The Prodigal Son: Who demanded his inheritance before his father had even passed away. Who wasted his inheritance in wild, sensual and sinful living. Who was far away from home and in a desperate state. Who decided to repent and return home again, begging for mercy and forgiveness. Who among us has not been like that Prodigal Son? We’ve all gone away from God on purpose at some point in our lives, choosing to go with our desires, or our feelings instead of God’s way.

The Father’s Response: To run out and greet his wayward son, embrace him, cloth him, bring him home and throw a big party. Every time I hear that story of the Father’s loving heart it brings home to me just how much God really does LOVE everyone, and is just waiting for us all to come back home again to Him.

The Elder Brother: Who was judgemental, outside, refusing to come in, hurt and offended at the Father’s grace, kindness and mercy towards his wayward brother. Refusing to be consoled. (That’s who Peter was in the film), but who among us has not acted like that elder brother? We’ve probably all thought at one point or another, “He doesn’t deserve God’s grace and mercy after what he’s been up to”. However, when we bring it home, back to ourselves, we don’t deserve God’s forgiveness, love and kindness either, it’s all because of His GRACE that we are saved. The fact is God really does LOVE everybody and wants everyone to come to REPENTANCE.

Which one of these characters do you see yourself as being in that story? The wayward son, the merciful, kind and loving father or the elder brother standing outside refusing to join in the celebrations?

  • I’m sure none of us want to be thought of as the Elder Brother do we? Judgemental, Reluctant to celebrated when a sinner repents.
  • I’m sure we can all see a bit of the wayward son in ourselves. We’ve all sinned and fallen short of God’s Holy Standards.
  • I’m sure we’d all like to be just like the Father: Full of grace, mercy, kindness, goodness and love.

But which one are we? Which one are you today?

God is the same, the Bible tells us, yesterday, today and forever.

  • If you’ve wandered away: He’ll welcome you back. Repent and return home to your Heavenly Father.
  • If you’re being judgemental: He’ll come out to you and encourage you to be like the Father. It’s just as much a sin to be like the elder brother as it is to be the wayward son.
  • If you are like the Father today; full of Kindness, goodness, mercy, gentleness, self-control, joy, love, faithfulness, then you’ve got the fruit of the Holy Spirit in abundance. Praise the LORD! Go out and look for both, the wayward sons and daughters of God; He’s longing for you to bring them to their senses and bring them home.

However, if in reading through this little piece, you’ve been pricked in your conscience in some way, then don’t despair of yourself, just get right with your Heavenly Father, do it right now, don’t delay, confess your sins to God and He will forgive you. He will wash you clean and give you a brand new start for the New Year 2017.

I’m praying for all my friends, to be closer to the Lord Jesus in 2017 than they’ve ever been before. Amen!

Here’s hoping you have awesome success in 2017: May you be overflowing with Holy Spirit power to be:

  • More Loving.
  • More Joy Filled.
  • More Peaceful.
  • More Kind.
  • More Holy and Good.
  • More Faithful.
  • More Gentle.
  • More Self-Controlled.

Who among us doesn’t need more of this kind of fruit in our lives in 2017?

I do!
I want it!
I’m praying to Jesus for it.
Praise the LORD!
Don.

NOTES: The story that Jesus told about the Prodigal Son was part of a bigger story in Luke 15:

  • First, a lost sheep (One of a hundred)
  • Second, a lost coin (one of ten) and
  • Lastly, a lost son (one of two)…

Which is most precious to us?

Which is most precious to God?

The people the story is TARGETED at in the Bible are: The Pharisees and the religious teachers of Israel in Jesus time. They would all celebrate a lost sheep being returned to its owner. They would all value a lost coin, even though it was one of ten, but they kept themselves away from lost SINNERS and shunned those, who in their eyes, were completely lost already.

We can all imagine how hard it would be to loose a sheep, even though it’s one in a hundred.

We can all imagine how precious those coins must have been, even though there was another nine to console.

However, imagine having just two sons and loosing one of them, how devastating for any father is that? But when he returns, OH THE JOY… That’s the Father’s Heart.

The Pharisees, much like people in our own time, are MATERIALISTIC: They valued sheep and coins, but thought very little about the value of human life. Especially people who didn’t fit into their moral code of conduct.

The two sons are both Materialistic: The lost son is evidently wayward, but he repents and is restored and celebrated.

However, the materialism in the older son and his resentful attitude only become evident when the LOST son is welcomed back with open arms. He wants a PARTY with his friends. He was thinking about what his brother had wasted (part of his own inheritance)… He refused to coming in and join the celebration.

The Bible makes it clear, the Pharisees and we should have the SAME kind of heart as the Father in the story that Jesus told.

  • Many preachers focus on the Lost Son: to give hope to the parents in the congregation who may have a wayward child, who’s far away from the family and God.
  • Others; focus upon the Loving heart of the Father and His obvious welcome of a truly repentant sinner. That’s what God is like.
  • Others direct our attention to the Resentful Older Brother: How’s our attitude towards those who’ve come back to Jesus Christ after wasting their lives in wild living?

But the thing that jumps out at me afresh today is GETTING the FATHER’S HEART: Jesus wants is all to know what’s going on in HEAVEN: Their is rejoicing and celebration going on in God’s House when just one of us, truly comes to our senses and surrenders our lives to God through His Son Jesus.

Psalm 33:11 (NIV)  But the plans of the LORD stand firm for ever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

Let’s get the FATHER’S HEART today: Pray for yourself in 2017, that you’ll be filled with the same kind of compassion that Jesus has for those who are far away from God, lost.

Be obedient to the Father’s Heart: Go out and seek and save the LOST: That’s Why Jesus came: To SAVE SINNERS. He’s commissioned every single Christian to be involved in this, the greatest calling, to join Him in SAVING SINNERS. The Holy Spirit is drawing them to Jesus, all we have to do is PRAY and SHARE the Good News. Because FAITH comes by hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Now, we’d all love our churches to be filled afresh with LOST SINNERS wouldn’t we?

Let’s get busy in 2017 saving as many as we can. Hopefully we’ll see a HARVEST of Souls this coming year. Amen!

Be blessed in Jesus,

Don.

 

Being at the feet of Jesus

Worried and burdened about many things, upset, weary, come to Jesus

Daily Spirit & Word: 817: Longing to be at the FEET of Jesus.

Mary and Martha.

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things,”

Good morning my friends, last night’s Christmas Feast Carols Rehearsal was wonderful. Although I was tired, with puffy eyes, those voices and the songs lifted my spirit and encouraged me to worship the LORD again.

Look at my Puffy Eyes 🙂

I was reminded this morning of something I shared yesterday about Mary and Martha, so decided to look at these sisters in the Bible. Do you know that every time Mary is mentioned, she’s at the feet of Jesus. It’s so important that we keep our daily time with Him. Just being in the LORD’s presence for a while each day, will transform your life. Martha is the practical one.

Luke 10:38-42 (NIV)
38  As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.
39  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.
40  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41  “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,
42  but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

That little family at Bethany was very dear to our Lord Jesus, he loved Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus  (John 11:1-5).

We are given three wonderful insights into Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (Luke 10:38-42; John 11; John 12:1-11). Each time you’ll find Mary in the same place: AT JESUS FEET.

Martha, however, is the practical one, always ready to serve the Lord. But, when she complained to the Lord about her sister, she was told in no uncertain terms, that Mary had chosen what was best, to be at Jesus’ feet listening and learning. It wasn’t wrong for Martha to prepare a meal, everybody has to eat sometimes; but it was wrong for her to be so preoccupied with it, that she began to criticise someone else for not working with her, she should have just got on with the work she felt she had to do.

However, we’re given an insight into Martha too, her labour had become a “burden”, but the LORD had even more insight than that, he revealed she was “Burdened by many things”: Perhaps that Mary was not helping Martha was just the straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back, she snapped at Mary. It is annoying when we’re doing stuff and everybody else is just sitting around chatting and not bothering to help. However, we always need to be asking ourselves, “Why am I doing this?” If it’s to serve the LORD from right motives, what anyone else is doing won’t even bother us.

EXPLOSIONS DO HAPPEN:

The Straw That Broke The Camel’s Back

I’ve noticed that too, sometimes people will explode at something that seems insignificant, but that little things is just the tip of the iceberg of burdens, and they can’t take any-more. Sometimes, when someone we know and love explodes like that, we need to button-it, give them a hug and some encouragement. They are often BURDENED by many more things than the thing they’ve erupted over.

Jesus knew that Martha was “anxious and troubled by MANY things” as she tried to serve the Lord. When we’re serving Jesus, it seems that SATAN loves it when TROUBLES come and tries to cause even more division and troubles.

Had it not been for the LORD’S intervention that day, perhaps Mary and Martha could have had a big fall-out and not talked to each other for a long time. I’ve seen families like that, falling out over something so small, but PRIDE gets hurt and families get divided.

Whilst Martha was pre-occupied, Mary was focused: She was focused and fascinated by and with Jesus. I’ve no doubt that Mary longed to serve the LORD too, and she did. However, Martha was preoccupied and that clouded her vision.

What we do with Christ is far more important than what we do for Christ, because when we are in submission, at the feet of Jesus, listening and learning from the Master, this will lead us towards even greater obedience and service.

  • We can check our heart today: Am I ready to be with Jesus, to sit at His feet and worship, learn and obey Him?
  • We can check our heart today: Am I serving the LORD? really serving Him? or has my service turned into something else?
  • We can check our heart today: Am I pre-occupied and burdened by many things? Let’s before we explode at someone else, get those burdens lifted from off our shoulders by Jesus.

COME LIKE MARY: To the FEET of Jesus.

I love Jesus invitation to come into His presence:

Matthew 11:27-30 (NIV)
27  “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No-one knows the Son except the Father, and no-one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
29  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

If you are weary and burdened or upset about many things like Martha, then come like Mary and sit at the feet of Jesus for a while. You’ll discover those burdens have been lifted from off your shoulders. Praise the LORD!

  • Let’s come to Jesus afresh before the Weekend is upon us.
  • Let’s come to Jesus and unload our burdens.
  • Let’s come to Jesus and REST,
  • Let’s come to Jesus and learn from Him,
  • Let’s come to Jesus and receive His easy yoke and light burden. Amen!

Be blessed and have an awesome Weekend with Jesus,

Don.

 

Immanuel God With Us

Immanuel, Emmanuel, How to know that God is With Us.

Daily Spirit & Word: 814: The Meaning of Immanuel.

Good morning my friends, as I was just about to post my message today when I heard the tragic news about that terrible plane crash. It was carrying a Brazilian football team. (Link BBC NEWS)

I’m praying now for all those who’ve been affected by this disaster.

Immanuel:

It’s a word we hear every Christmas, but like a lot of religious words, we’ve lost its meaning somehow along the way. Or if we do know what it means, the impact of that meaning is not hitting home. Because of all the hustle and bustle and the haste to buy stuff, far too many Christians aren’t looking forward to Christmas, but we can re-capture the MAGICAL feelings we had as children, all the excitement, joy and wonder of Christmas. It happens as we experience IMMANUEL for ourselves.

What does Immanuel mean?

Immanuel means: “God with us”.

Let’s unpack IMMANUEL a bit…

Matthew 1:23 (NIV)  “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”

This is a quote from Isaiah the great Prophet of the LORD. Isaiah 7:14.

Immanuel means “God with us”…

When Jesus was born, he was a baby human being, he became one of us, but He was also still God, just wrapped in flesh.

Some people call this taking on human flesh, the INCARNATION:

Now when you dwell upon that fact, The CREATOR of the whole Universe and time itself, came to Earth. Out of all the billions of little planets, he chose EARTH to come and reveal Himself to His Creation. Awesome!

Of course He came for a reason, Jesus was coming on a rescue mission.

It’s a bit like the Government sending in the SAS to set free the prisoners held hostage by the Iranian Terrorists in the Iranian Embassy in London in the 1980’s. LINK in that BBC News coverage you’ll see them storming the burning building.

https://youtu.be/_p4DmuGyehc

Jesus, of course, didn’t come with guns blazing, smoke going off and bombs sounding, nor did He arrive with an army to win His battle, instead Jesus came and Heaven burst into song and God let the Shepherds experience Heaven for a moment. Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe gave His life upon the Cross for all mankind to be set free. However, his birth and death was even more dramatic than that SAS rescue. He was publically executed, with the crowds watching. Alongside at least two others that day Jesus public humiliation and death was a victory. Though the world at that time didn’t realise they’d just killed Immanuel: God with us.

However, we know that His death was not the end, because just three days later, Jesus, because He was always God, came back to life again. His mission was completed and His body is alive today in Heaven where He ascended over 2000 years ago. The next time anyone is going to see Jesus, apart from in visions and dreams, is when He returns in all the glory of Heaven.

YOUR IMMANUEL MOMENT

But before Jesus comes back, we’ve been given an opportunity to get to know Him. We can know Immanuel, God with us, personally right now. We can experience God and know God… Have you had your own Immanuel? Do you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God is with you?

Once you experience Immanuel for yourself, nothing will ever be able to take away that experience, it will transform you life forever. Because God becomes your Immanuel, Jesus promised this very thing for everyone who believes and trusts in Him.

John 14:23 (NIV) Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

Once Jesus comes into your life, He comes in TRINITY: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Your own body becomes the TEMPLE of God, because wherever God is, that is His Temple. When He comes as promised, that is your Immanuel moment, but it lasts forever.

HERE IS HOW TO KNOW IF YOU’VE RECEIVED YOUR IMMANUEL:

You’ll know Him, if you LOVE Him.

You’ll know if you love Jesus Christ. When you hear his name, your heart skips a beat. It’s like He’s inside you witnessing within, that He’s here. Oh yes, you’ll know if you love Jesus.

Nobody needs to tell you when you are in love with another person, your heart, mind, will and strength are for that relationship. You’ll do whatever you can to be with your lover. When you are apart, you’ll always long to be together. I knew when I was in love with my soon to be wife Julie, because I was over 200 miles away, and all I longed for was the evenings when I could get to a telephone box (no mobile phones in those days), to call her at her house. We’d spend ages chatting about nothing on that phone, until my money ran out. When you are together, its like you are in the place that you’ve always belonged. All you want to do when you are in love is hold that person as close as possible, it’s like the two have become one. That’s real LOVE! That’s how you know you love Jesus, when you are ONE with Jesus.

You’ll know if He is your LORD:

When Jesus is your LORD, then you will be prepared to do whatever He tells you. It won’t be a burden to you to be obedient to Jesus, because you’ll be in love with serving Him. He’s your beloved King and you’d willing die in His service.

You’ll know if He is your Immanuel:

You’ll know if you’ve submitted your life to Him, because your desires will be changed and you’ll want to live in obedience to Jesus commands and teachings. That’s how you know if you’ve experienced Immanuel for yourself.

So HOW do we get our own IMMANUEL?

“Come, oh come Immanuel…” (The Christmas Carol).

Invite the LORD to come into your life right now.

Believe in the LORD Jesus Christ: It’s easy to say, “Oh yes, I believe in Jesus”, but that doesn’t mean that you are BELIEVING IN Jesus; i.e. trusting that He has died upon the cross for your sins and that you’ve received Him as your Lord and Saviour. In order to do that, you’ll first need to be CONVICTED by the Holy Spirit that you are indeed a guilty sinner.

Confess any known sin in your life. Confession means to own it, to acknowledge that it was you, that you are guilty of sin. It’s like a prisoner standing before a judge and he asks the person in the dock, “How do you plead?”, when you’re ready to confess your sins you’ll respond to the Judge of the Universe, “Guilty as charged your Honour”… If you are not convinced you are a sinner, then GOOGLE the Ten Commandment; you’ll soon see your guilty heart. They are like looking into a mirror, they reflect the condition of your heart. Those commandments of God, not suggestions, are still applicable today. God has not changed, His standards of Holiness will always be the same.

In our Baptism service, the candidate is asked, “Do you turn from sin?” and “Do you repent of your sins?” and “Do you renounce sin?” These questions reflect a willingness to let go of sins hold on your life. But please note, it doesn’t mean you have the ability in your own strength not to sin again, it’s just a willingness to let go of sin. You will get the POWER to say “No” to sin once you’ve received your Immanuel, God with you, He’ll come into your life in the power of the Holy Spirit and He’ll enable you to live righteously in holiness of life. Remember what Jesus promised the Holy Spirit will do;

John 16:8 (NIV) The Promise of Holy Spirit Conviction. “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:…”

The Holy Spirit will show you your guilt, that you are a sinner, that you are not righteous enough and that one day the LORD is going to judge you.

How will you plead today?

If you died right now, and appeared before God, what would you say when He asks you, “How do you plead, have you ever sinned? Have you ever broken one of My Commandments?”

Like the rest of us, like every sinful soul on earth, you’d have to say, “Lord, You know all things, You know that I’ve sinned”… However, if you have received Jesus as Lord and Saviour, then all your sins will be washed away, you’ll be clean, your conscience will be clear and you’ll approach the Throne of Judgement with boldness, knowing that you are a forgiven sinner who’s been washed in the blood of God’s Holy Lamb. If you’ve believed, repented, renounced sin and received Jesus as Lord then you’ll already have been made into a Saint by Jesus Christ, the Bible calls that SANCTIFICATION (Being made into a saint, by trusting in Christ).

I’m writing all of this today, because I want every reader to know and experience their own Immanuel moment, that time when you purposefully turn from sin and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour.

So I’m Praying:

  • I’m praying that everyone I know and love will come to Jesus and experience Immanuel for themselves.
  • I’m praying that Holy Spirit will give them a soft heart to be open to God.
  • I’m praying that He will convict them of their sinful condition.
  • I’m praying that He will show them there is a judgement to come.
  • I’m praying that He will reveal to them, the way of Salvation.
  • I’m praying that He will show them the life of Holiness is a joy filled life.
  • I’m praying that He will give them a desire for freedom.
  • I’m praying that He will give them a hunger that this world cannot satisfy.

Father I’m praying all these prayers for those that You love and that I love in the Name of your Son, my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen!

And I am full of faith, expectancy and sure and certain HOPE that You will answer my prayer Father, because I’m believing Jesus’ promises.

John 16:24 (NIV) “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” Amen!

Have an awesome Tuesday my friends,

Join me in praying for all those who are grieving because of that plane crash in Brazil.

Stay close to Jesus and experience your own Immanuel,

Don.

18 Prayers to Pray For Unbelievers

LINK To Prayers

 

Working for Jesus? Expect Opposition.

when you work for Jesus, expect opposition from the enemy

Daily Spirit & Word: 800: Expect Opposition.

When the LORD calls you to do something for Him, expect opposition.

Good morning my friends, when you do a good work for the LORD you can expect opposition. If you are of the world, the world will accept you as one of it’s own, but if you are a Citizen of Heaven, working for another KING, then this world and it’s king (Satan) can never accept you and you are going to be opposed, persecuted and sometimes martyred. However, far from being in a position of weakness and fear, we’re going to be encouraged today to see that we can be God’s awesome power of LOVE in this world.

Opposition comes in many forms, but how can we react to opposition, no matter what form or guise it come in?

Let us take Nehemiah as one of our examples of what to do when opposition comes, and we’ll look at what God’s Word tells us about persecution and opposition for Him and for the Gospel.

First, Nehemiah:

An Example of how to proceed when your work for the LORD is opposed, ridiculed or hindered.

Nehemiah 4:1-23 (NIV)
1  When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews,
2  and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?”
3  Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!”
4  Hear us, O our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity.
5  Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders.
6  So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.
7  But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the men of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry.
8  They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it.
9  But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.
10  Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, “The strength of the labourers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.”
11  Also our enemies said, “Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.”
12  Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.”
13  Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows.
14  After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”
15  When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work.
16  From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armour. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah
17  who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other,
18  and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.
19  Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall.
20  Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!”
21  So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out.
22  At that time I also said to the people, “Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so that they can serve us as guards by night and workmen by day.”
23  Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.

INTRODUCTION:

When you get busy for God, opposition will inevitably raise its ugly head. So no matter how GOOD the thing that you are doing is; be it a service for the poor people of this world or proclaiming the Good News of Jesus or taking a moral stand. Like Nehemiah discovered, when you do something for the LORD, the world (influenced by Satan) hates it with a vengeance, and will oppose you. However, they are not really opposing you, they are coming against your God, who’s called you to that task.

But we must bear in mind what it is that’s driving any form of opposition:

Ephesians 6:10-13 (NIV) When Opposition Comes: Be strong in the LORD and STAND.
10  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
11  Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
12  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
13  Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Read the FULL ARMOUR OF GOD Eph 6:14-20).

We must not resort to worldly ways of reacting to opposition:

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NIV)
3  For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.
4  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
5  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

So how should we react to opposition?

Think and Act Like Nehemiah.

Who was Nehemiah? His name means “the comfort of Jehovah.” His purpose and calling by the LORD really was a worthy one; He was instructed by the LORD to reconstruct the walls of the city of Jerusalem and in the process to rebuild the faith of the people of Israel. Yet, as soon as he began, Nehemiah was confronted by the dreaded opposition. So don’t be surprised by opposition, instead; expect it.

1) PRAYER:

When you get busy for God and the expected opposition comes, the first ingredient that will lead to success is PRAYER. “But we prayed to our God,” the Bible says (Nehemiah 4:9). Prayer was a key ingredient in Nehemiah’s spiritual life (1:4). When OPPOSITION came, Nehemiah looked up to Heaven first taking captive those opponents of God’s word with Spiritual weapons, before he persisted in the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall.

2) PERSISTENCE:

When you get busy for God and opposition comes, the second ingredient that will lead to success is PERSISTENCE. Prayer is not a substitute for working at what you’ve been called to do. So often people will retreat and just pray, but you’ve been called to more than prayer. Instead, know that PRAYER preceeds PERSISTENCE. When opposition comes don’t just carry on regardless, get down to prayer first and then carry on regardless. PRAYER is a PRELUDE to PERSISTENCE. For the God’s Word says; “Nehemiah took their thoughts captive (He used Spiritual Weapons) Nehemiah 4:4.   “…the people worked with all their heart.” (Nehemiah 4:6).

I don’t know who said it first, but whoever it was, this thought encapsulates the KEY INGREDIENTS when opposition comes; “I pray as if everything depended on God. Then I work as if everything depended on me.” I love that saying, we’ve got to PRAY and WORK at what we’ve been called to do. (See James Faith and Works).

3) POWER:

When you get busy for God and opposition comes, the third ingredient that will lead to your spiritual success is THE POWER OF HEAVEN. When confronted by the fear of the people, the fear of man, the fear of looking like a fool, the fear of failure; then Nehemiah 4:14 says that Nehemiah arose and spoke to the people about the power of God, and about the purpose of their work. When we are reminded of the purpose to which God has called us, and the power with which to accomplish that purpose, then we will be encouraged to move on toward the completion of our task.

So simply remind yourself of God’s calling and purposes: To share the Gospel, to help the poor, to cure the sick, to make disciples, to follow the teachings of Jesus, to live by them and if need be to die for them. Remember also the POWER of HEAVEN, the Weapons are not worldly, we take our stand against opposition with the Armour of God in place: Ephesians 6:10-20. And bear in mind; Jesus is with you always. Holy Spirit has filled you and equipped you for this work for the LORD.

When you know and experience the POWER you will keep going at what He’s called you to do.

CONCLUSION:

Yes my friends, you will experience all kinds of opposition to what you’ve been called to do by the LORD: Demonic and Worldly OPPOSITION: Expect it, and react like Nehemiah the prophet and the LORD Jesus Christ.

  • Get down to PRAYER,
  • Get up to WORK by being PERSISTENT,
  • Get into the POWER of Heaven.

Through prayer and persistence with the power of Heaven, you will be able to overcome any of those troubling opponents.

As one great preacher has said,

“You’ll be able to turn those stumbling stones into stepping stones”

Also;

… Your troubles can be turned into triumphs.

Also;

“Satan trembles when he sees, the weakest Christian upon his knees.”

Have a blessed Saturday with Jesus.

For most people it’s a rest day, to be with family and friends, but remember Jesus is your BEST BFF (Best Friend Forever).

So make and appointment and keep it with Him first. Then no matter what happens today, you’ll be ready. Amen!

Don.

 

Only God Can SAVE You From The Judgement to come.

Good works or following religious rules and regulations can't save us from our sins. We can only be saved by God alone.

Daily Spirit & Word: 796: Being Saved Is Possible, but ONLY by God’s Grace and Mercy.

Only God Can SAVE You.

From the Judgement to Come.

Being SAVED Is Possible, But Only By God.

Can A Camel Go Through The Eye of a Needle?

Good morning my friends, today we’re back with the Gospel of Mark. In our gatherings in church, we’ve been going through Mark for almost a year now. The Journey has been amazing. We’re discovering what an amazing LORD Jesus really is, and how inspired Mark (the author) must have been by Holy Spirit. I don’t think it’s possible that a man could put this work together, without the help of God. For we’ve been experiencing progressive revelation and this portion of God’s Word has built for us a wonderful picture of Jesus nature and character, but in doing so He’s also opened up what true Discipleship is like, from each and every story, parable and incident He recorded.

What we’ve observed:

  • Jesus is more Godlike that we at first would imagine.
  • The Disciples are more human and unable to save themselves from the consequences of sin.
  • Jesus (God) needs less human and earthly resources to sustain His life.
  • The Disciples, followers of Jesus, need more and more Divine intervention and revelation.

What I’ve discovered afresh, as if I didn’t know, is that we all need to stay very close to Jesus, every day, just to keep going as His followers. Yes we have advantages over His own disciples; we have the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, the Word of God in full; so we know how to serve and we have Jesus’ promises to be with us always for the journey. However, we must be willing to maintain that connection with God.

Today we’re back with Mark 10:23-31. Being SAVED Is Possible, But Only By An Act Of God.

  • Can a Camel Go Through The Eye of a Needle?
  • Can a Man Be SAVED by Good Works?

 

Mark 10:23-31 (NIV)
23  Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
24  The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!
25  It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
26  The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
27  Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
28  Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you!”
29  “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no-one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel
30  will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.
31  But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
Last week Robert preached, whilst I was away in Plymouth, about the Rich Young Ruler and how he thought he’d fulfilled and lived according to the requirements of the Old Testament Law (Summarised in the Ten Commandments)… When he said to Jesus, “All these I have kept since I was a boy” Jesus didn’t react by saying what He knew, “No, my friend you have not lived according to God’s Commandments”… Instead, Jesus looked at him and, as the Bible tells us, “He loved him”…

 

I wonder if Jesus look of love was one of pity; because the Rich Young Man was BLIND (He couldn’t see his Spiritual need and didn’t understand how much he was in need of God’s forgiveness). I do not think that WEALTH was his only problem. In fact I’ll go as far a declaring I KNOW it wasn’t. Because, when we look at the Ten Commandments properly and honestly we’ll soon see we’ve all FALLEN SHORT of every single one of them: None of us can say in front of God: “I’ve kept all of these since I was a child”…

 

However, Jesus did focus upon his WEALTH.

Jesus knows what a TRAP WEALTH IS for most people in this world.

It was back then and it is today.

That’s why He said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God”.

 

The Disciples Knew It Too: “If A Camel CAN’T, Then We CAN’T either”

They knew that EVERYONE wanted to be RICH: Like the Rich Young Ruler…

 

Today, many people, all over the world, are clamouring for WEALTH, Health and Happiness:

People are risking life and limb in the Mediterranean Sea to get to Europe, the Land of PROMISE.

They know, people in the West are Prosperous, Wealthy and Healthy: So, willing to risking everything in flimsy boats, that’s what they want for themselves. They launch themselves into the Mediterranean Ocean from all over Africa in their thousands ever month. Many of those boats are without even an engine, cram-packed with people; men, women and babies. How foolish to go to sea like that, without an engine in a flimsy rubber boat. That’s how desperate people in this world are for Wealth, Health and Happiness.

 

When they arrive, they head for the most prosperous, populous areas; Germany and the UK.

 

Oh my friends, if only they could see; Health, Wealth and Happiness can’t SAVE you; Only Jesus Christ can give you lasting peace and happiness upon this earth and the life to come.

 

THE IMPOSSIBILITY:

The Disciples KNEW it’s IMPOSSIBLE then, for ANYONE to enter the Kingdom of God.

So they asked that pertinent question; “Who Then Can Be SAVED?”

 

JESUS ANSWER: It’s Impossible for man to save himself: Therefore ONLY God can save.

The Disciples asked in Mark 10:26 and Jesus answered in Mark 10:27.
26  The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
27  Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
It’s IMPOSSIBLE: For anyone to SAVE themselves by human effort, by your own goodness or by your own righteousness.

The Rich Young Man: Good in his own eyes; couldn’t.

The Rest of Humanity: Good in their own eyes; can’t either.

However, Jesus revealed the IMPOSSIBILITY:

A Camel can’t ever FIT through the eye of a needle.

A Human being can’t ever FIT in the Kingdom of God.

 

NOTICE: The DISCIPLES: Were EVEN MORE AMAZED… i.e. They were amazed the Rich Young Man couldn’t be SAVED. Now they were EVEN MORE AMAZED, because they knew “NO ONE” could be saved. Unless God did something.

 

That “MORE AMAZED”: Reveals to me something about the Disciples.

Perhaps they we secretly thinking they were good enough themselves. After all they’d been with Jesus (they’d left EVERYTHING to follow Him).

Perhaps they’re just beginning to get Jesus message, that EVERYONE needs God’s intervention; if they ever hope to enter the Kingdom of God.

“Not with God, ALL THINGS are POSSIBLE with God”.

 

It’s POSSIBLE: But ONLY with God.

A Camel Can’t go through the eye of a needle (Impossible).

A Man Can’t enter the Kingdom of God (Impossible).

 

Unless, God does something. (Mark has been revealing that Jesus is God, because only God can do the things Jesus did).

  • Only God could make a Camel fit through the eye of a needle.
  • Only God could turn water into wine.
  • Only God could walk on water.
  • Only God could calm a storm with a word.
  • Only God could command Demons.
  • Only God could open the eyes of a man born blind.
  • Only God could bring a dead girl back to life.
  • Only God could make you FIT Enough to enter into Heaven.

ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE WITH GOD.

ONLY GOD CAN SAVE YOU; YOU CAN’T SAVE YOURSELF.

Peter Reveals: (Why he was even more amazed) “We’ve left everything to follow You”… i.e. surely we’ll be saved by our human effort… “Look at the sacrifice we’ve made Jesus”… “Surely you can see how serious we are in following you”… My friends, no matter how hard you try, you’ll NEVER be good enough for Heaven. No matter what EFFORT you put into it yourself. You’ve got to STOP trying to SAVE yourself and let Jesus SAVE you. Why? Because no amount of effort to be good will wash away your sins that contaminate your soul.

Jesus answer, “No, Peter, because by leaving everything, you’ve gained much more”..

Mark 10:28-30.
28  Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you!”
29  “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no-one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30  will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.

If we let go of EVERYTHING: Then it’s possible to be SAVED: But only by God.

The great temptation is that most people think they can do enough good works to earn a place in Heaven. That’s why the Disciples asked Jesus that question, “Who then can be saved?”. Deep down inside all of us, is this desire to work for or earn Salvation for ourselves. It’s hard to let go and let God do the saving, but that’s exactly what we’ve got to do or we CAN’T be SAVED.

  • Let go of Human Effort to be GOOD enough for Heaven.
  • Let Jesus come into your life and take away all your SINS.
  • Then His blood will cleanse you and make you FIT for Heaven.
  • It’s impossible with MEN: But it’s POSSIBLE with God.

How is it POSSIBLE?

Next Week: We’re going to be looking at “Why Jesus Came To Die?” Mark 10.

He came into this world to SAVE SINNERS.

Everyone has sinned, The Disciples knew, so they asked “Who then can be saved?”

My friends, you don’t want to wait until next week:

God’s Word tells us, “Today is the DAY of SALVATION”.

i.e. Get right with God today.

A) Confess your sins to God: How, like the Rich Young Ruler, you’ve not kept the Ten Commandments. You’ve lied, you’ve stolen, you’ve not put God first in all things, all the time. You’ve dishonoured you mum and dad. You’ve lusted and been unfaithful sometimes. You’ve coveted what your neighbour has. We’ve all done it. Everyone has broken God’s Commandments: Confess how you’ve done it to God.

B) Believe Jesus died on the Cross for all your sins:

His death was in your place. He died so that you can receive Heaven, once you Repent, Believe and Receive Him as Lord and Saviour.

C) Repent: Turn away from living a life of sin a rebellion and turn around and come to Jesus Christ to be cleansed and forgiven and renewed by Holy Spirit.

D) Receive: Receive Jesus Christ by an act of faith.

Just like you would board a plane to go on holiday. You trust the Captain knows how to get you to your destination. You RECEIVE Jesus as your Captain, He’ll take you all the way to Heaven.

More than that; you’ll receive the Holy Spirit Birth. New Life and Abundant LIFE right now.

E) Live: Become a Disciple of Jesus and live according to His teaching in fellowship with other followers. (Your Christian brothers and sisters in God’s family).

In order to do that, to live this Christian life, you’ll need: To gather regularly in worship, fellowship and receive Discipleship training from God’s Word. You’ll need to sort out your TIME and make time for daily prayer to connect with Jesus every day. You’ll need TIME: to Study and begin to practice God’s Word; daily.

You’ll get God’s HEART for others, that they might know Him too. You’ll be overflowing with a burning desire to lead others to Jesus Christ.

All of these things are indicators that you’ve really and truly been SAVED by Jesus.

You’ll also notice the Fruit of the Holy Spirit begining to ripen in your life: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control.

NOTE: Passages by Way of Illustrating of these points in today’s message.

Titus 3:4-7 (NIV)
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.

Titus 3 shows us;

  • We can’t be saved by ‘the good things we have done’… i.e. no amount of human effort will suffice.
  • That God in His mercy saves us by REGENERATION (RENEWAL) NEW LIFE, NEW BIRTH by The Holy Spirit.
  • We are JUSTIFIED (Made right with God: Justified = Just as if I’d never sinned). How? By God’s Grace and Kindness.
  • What happens? We become heirs (inheritors) of Eternal Life (Through this faith and trust in Jesus, we can enter into the Kingdom of Heaven).

Romans 5:6-8 (NIV) We’re POWERLESS: i.e. we don’t possess the strength or ability to SAVE ourselves.
6  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
7  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.
8  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Jesus died on the Cross for us, so that we can be forgiven, cleansed, set free from sin’s power, so that we can be made fit for God’s Kingdom of Heaven.

Ephesians 2:1-5 (NIV) Before We Put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, we are DEAD in our Transgressions and Sins.
1  As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,
2  in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air (Satan), the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient (Those who break God’s Commandments; all people).
3  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
4  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

Conclusion:

We’ve seen today that the Disciples discovered the impossibility of anyone being able to SAVE themselves by human effort to get into God’s Kingdom of Heaven.

We can’t SAVE ourselves, it’s impossible for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle. It’s impossible for a human being to be cleansed from sin by doing good or being religious or following the Ten Commandments.

So, it is only through God’s kindness, mercy and Grace that anyone can ever be SAVED from God’s wrath and anger against sin.

If we were to die without coming to Jesus Christ, then we would carry our sins to the Judgement. If we come to Jesus, we’ll be set free from sin, forgiven and cleansed. We’ll be born of the Spirit and receive NEW LIFE in Christ Jesus. When God sees us coming, He’ll throw open the gates of Heaven and welcome us in. Why? Not because of the good we’ve done, but because of His Son; Lord Jesus, who washed our sins away.

My friends, God has demonstrated just how much He loves everyone by sending Jesus to die for us. He doesn’t want anyone to end up in Hell or be judged because of their sins. He’s giving us all this moment in time to reflect, to repent, to return to Him. Do it right now! Don’t waste another moment of time. Get right with God today: Confess, Repent, Believe, Receive and Live. Amen!

Let us PRAY:

Have and awesome week with the LORD.

Trust Him every day and come close to Him in praise, worship, adoration. Then go out and share the Good News so that many more can come to Know HIM.

He’s alive! He wants to give your family, friends, workmates, school friends, college comrades and neighbours that NEW LIFE too.

Be blessed,

Don.

 

A Time to Fast

Your Heavenly Father will reward you.

Daily Spirit & Word: 792: A Time To Fast.

“When you fast”

In the life of the Spirit there is a time to fast, but let’s do it right.

Good morning my friends, I don’t know about you but I find fasting quite difficult. Going without food is not natural or normal. We were born hungry, just observe a tiny little baby and you’ll soon see that when it gets hungry it cries out loud, sometimes very loud. So too when we get hungry, we might have gone without food for a few hours and we’ll return home and say to our family; “I’m starving” or “I’m famished”… but we’re not really, we’re just a bit hungry. So eating food regularly is natural and normal. Going without food is not, so why would we fast? Why would we go without food on purpose?

However, notice Jesus’ words, “When you fast”… It’s like Jesus expects His followers to fast regularly, because He does not say, “If you fast”..

Matthew 6:16-18 (NIV) FASTING
16 “When you fast, do not look sombre as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
17  But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,
18  so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (He will REWARD YOU: Openly or Publicly).

Like giving and prayer (See yesterday’s devotion), this open or public reward by our Heavenly Father should not be our motivation for fasting. However, accept it as a promise of the LORD that when you fast with right motives, your Heavenly Father will reward you openly.

Verse 16: In ancient times in Israel people fasted regularly. The religious Jews fasted twice a week (Luke 18:12). However, they also had a tradition that they’d dress in a certain way and put things on their faces so that everybody knew they were doing something ‘religious’. Some I’m sure were trying to get closer to God, but others, as our LORD points out, were doing it to impress other people. Jesus has harsh words for them, “Hypocrites”… They’re not really doing it to honour God or draw closer to Him, they’re just doing it for show. You can’t FAST and have sin in your heart and expect the LORD of Heaven to bless you.

Verse 17: “But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face”…

i.e. Don’t let anyone know by your appearance that you are going without food to get closer to God. In the same way don’t go getting all dressed up for a fast, if that is not your normal attire. Just be as normal as you can be when you are fasting for God.

Verse 18: Jesus gives us the reason we’re to be as normal a possible: “So that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father”… Only the unseen God of Heaven will know you are going without food.

If you are married, then your wife or husband will probably know too, that’s to be expected in any close relationship. But don’t let anyone else know.

REWARD: “When your Father in Heaven sees what is done in secret, He will reward you openly or publicly”.

Secret Devotion Yields Rewards.

When you really want to get close to God, He will always reward you.

Let’s see if that’s true:

James 4:8-10 (NIV)
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.

What’s God saying in this little passage from James? “Come near to God” what will God do? “He will come near to you”… i.e. there’s no question about it, He will come near to you. This is a wonderful promise of the LORD of Heaven to come to you when you come to Him. However, we’ve got to believe, trust and accept it by faith. Because without FAITH it is impossible to please the LORD. If we don’t come expecting then we won’t get anything.

James 1:5-8 (NIV)
5  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
6  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
7  That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;
8  he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

In FASTING when you draw near to God, by going without food, if you don’t come expecting, then you won’t get anything.

So my friends, FAST regularly, draw near to God, believe His promises that He will come to you; He’ll lift you up, bless you openly (publicly), He is the rewarder of those who seek Him out.

Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)  “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Faith is a gift from God, He gives it to EVERYONE who comes to Him (It’s a gift so that we can’t boast about our great faith ….)

WOWzer! Look at those awesome promises today:

  • He will reward you openly.
  • He will lift you up when you come to Him.
  • He will reward you when you seek Him in faith.

Finally: ASK, SEEK, KNOCK:

Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV)
7  “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
8  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Sometimes we don’t get because we don’t ask. I’ve known many wonderful Christians who’ve loved the LORD, but forgotten to ask when they are in need. I’ve done it myself. Just the other day, I was in a hurry to get out the house to go and pick up my wife, but I couldn’t find my wallet. I searched frantically but to no avail, then I stopped and prayed. “LORD, I need to find my wallet, You know where it is Lord, please show me”. Within a few seconds I got a picture of a shelf in my study, I put my hands up and there it was. I didn’t find until I asked. The LORD has amazing ways to remind us to seek Him and search for Him and when we do, we’ll find Him, always.

So today, FAST, it’s not easy, it’s not normal to go without food, but it yields rewards for your Father in Heaven.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I come to you today in faith, believing Your promises that when I seek you, and seek you with all my heart, I will find you. (Jeremiah 29:13).

I’m going to ask You Father for my needs …………………………… (Name them specifically) I believe Your promise that I will receive.

I’m going to seek your direction for my life …………………………….(What decisions do you have looming in your life?) I believe Your promise that I will find.

I’m going to knock on doors ………………………………… (take steps in the right direction and try some doors). I believe Your promise that it will be opened.

Your Heavenly Father’s Heart is to REWARD His beloved children.

Be blessed in Jesus and full of Holy Spirit today,

Don.

 

Enter Like A Little Child

The Kingdom of Heaven is God's place, to get in, you must become like a little child.

Daily Spirit & Word: 788:

Enter Like A Little Child.

The Way Into God’s Kingdom.

“No BIG People Allowed”

 

Good morning my friends, yesterday we had an awesome day. In the morning on the way to worship I bumped into two men. They initiated the conversation after I said, “Good morning”. They had so many questions about faith, God, Jesus, Christians and life. It was inconvenient, so I knew it was a God MOMENT… Instead of rushing ahead to get things ready for our gathering, I stood and took some time with them, answering as many as I could, but listening to the Holy Spirit. I ended up by saying, “If God is real, and heaven is real, will you be spending eternity with Him or with the Devil?” They both said, “Well, we’re good people, so if God is good, then He’ll let us in”… That’s what the MAJORITY of people in the world believe. It’s like this is the de-facto-faith of the whole world today. They only live next door to me, so I’ll be fixing a time when we can meet for a coffee and a chat. They enjoyed our conversation so much, they readily agreed to meed. Please pray!

Also, below is the message I proclaimed in church yesterday morning. Be blessed and please let me know how it impacts you today?

ENTER LIKE A LITTLE CHILD.

We noticed at some theme parks like Lego-Land there are little height bars; a lower one and sometimes a higher one.

  • The Lowest Bar: Determines the smallest person. (For safety reasons, people smaller than the bar can’t go on the ride).
  • The Highest Bar: Determines the tallest person. (For who knows what reasons, big people can’t go on these rides) 🙂

What they are really saying is “No BIG People Allowed”… Some of those rides looked really cool too. I was wishing I was a little kid again. Those rides that I couldn’t go on always looked the most exciting.  🙂

Today we’re going to see that’s exactly what Jesus was saying about the entry requirements for the Kingdom of Heaven.

i.e. “To get into the Kingdom of Heaven you must become like a little child”…

Remember, two weeks ago, we talked about the Disciples and how they were ARGUING about who was the greatest in their group. They were jostling for position, but Jesus turned that notion on it’s head and said, “If you want to be great in God’s Kingdom, you must become the SERVANT of all”…

So, did the Disciples LEARN their lesson from Jesus? “NO!” They didn’t get it, because they’re at it again.

Let’s read God’s Word together now:

Mark 10:13-16 (NIV)
13 People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.
14  When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
15  I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
16  And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

Let’s take a quick look at our reading from God’s Word:

1) The Disciples: Rebuking the People: What for? “They wanted Jesus to “TOUCH” their children”…

Why is it so important to get a TOUCH for these Parents (from Jesus upon their children)?

It was typical for Jewish mother’s and fathers to have their child blessed regularly by a famous Rabbi. If a Rabbi visited, they’d flock to him and ask him to bless their kids.

My friends, if we’re going to see and hear anything about this passage today, then let it be THIS: Jesus was the kind of person who LOVED to have time for the little children: It casts one of the Brightest LIGHTS upon our Lord Jesus Christ, and the kind of person He was:

  • He wasn’t gloomy (though He knew he was facing the Cross and Death).
  • He wansn’t too serious all the time; because children wanted to come to Jesus.
  • He was the kind of man who had time for children (everyone) was welcome into Jesus arms.

No wonder those mums and dads couldn’t wait for Jesus to TOUCH their kids.

In similar ways, we can draw close to Jesus and have Him touch our lives today. Not physically, but none-the-less, just as real a touch from Heaven.

BUT: THE DISCIPLES (instead of welcoming the children) REBUKED THE PARENTS.

Our passage tells us: “When Jesus saw it, He became INDIGNANT”…

See this my friends;

  • The Disciples told the Parents off:
  • The LORD told His Disciples off:

When we’re getting things wrong in this Christian life: Jesus will also tell us off. (The LORD Disciplines EVERYONE He accepts as a child).

What was it the Disciples were doing that was so wrong? So wrong that they got told off publicly by Jesus?

FUNDAMENTALS: When we get something fundamental, foundational, critical to our FAITH and Belief wrong: God’s going to bring in His rod of correction.

Samson: Got his hair cut off, His eyes poked out, His ankles chained and He had to grind the wheat for God’s enemies. (Samson didn’t LISTEN to God’s warnings). He was being led astray by his flesh (Read Proverbs 7, it could have been written for Samson). When we’re being driven by our fleshly desires, we’re headed for trouble like a fool who can’t see the danger ahead.

When we get the fundamentals wrong; we’re ready for Discipline from the LORD:

CHILDREN:

So often in Church we get it so WRONG: i.e. We wait for little George, Jenny or Mark to become an adult to accept Jesus and come into God’s Kingdom.

Jesus is turning that notion on it’s head today my friends, he’s saying to you and me; “Unless you become like a child Donald, you can’t get into My Kingdom of Heaven: You must RECEIVE the Kingdom like a child receives something awesome”

GIVE IT A TRY: I’ve been leading people to Jesus for years. I’ll never forget the time a man came to Jesus. He was so proud. He said, “I’ll give Jesus a go for a couple of hours, if it doesn’t work, I’ll go back to my old life”… Thankfully, it did work, Jesus came into that man’s life and BROKE his proud heart. He wept all night long, he was crying, asking for forgiveness, repenting. Jesus came into his proud heart and showed him what he was like. In the morning, he was like a new man; a babe in Christ. He ran up to us, to me and Ronnie Chew and said, “He’s real, it works, He came”… You know, when I walked away from that man, I didn’t think he’d ever come into Jesus Kingdom Family… I thought to myself, but didn’t say it out loud; “Give Jesus a try for a couple of hours, you’ll never follow Jesus”… How wrong I was. But Jesus came and broke his proud heart…

So often, many people approach Christianity like that today: “Oh I’ll give it a go” or “I try it and see”… “I’m exploring my options”… 

What they’re really doing is putting God to the test:

  • To see if God works for them.
  • To see if God improves their life down here on the Earth.
  • To see if God is real, before they’re ready to fully commit.

They’re not really coming to Jesus because they see their NEED to be; forgiven, cleansed or renewed: They’re coming to give the Christian RELIGION a shot, as they would any other religion.

However, Christianity is NOT a Religion: It’s FUNDAMENTALLY A RELATIONSHIP:

“Christianity is NOT a Religion: It’s FUNDAMENTALLY A RELATIONSHIP With God”

To enter that relationship, Jesus said, “We must become like children and RECEIVE the Kingdom like a child does”… i.e. You can’t try on the Kingdom of Heaven: If you do, then you’ll soon shake it off again… (Because when you come to Jesus you are then going to experience the 3Ts; Trials, Tribulations and Temptations. Yes! Jesus tests our faith / commitment / decision, to see if we’re genuine Disciples). So we must come like a child to Jesus. You’ll note that a child, when things get tough in the family, won’t cling to those hurts, they move on quickly, because they know their place in the family. So a genuine Christian, who’s trusted Jesus like a child, won’t leave God’s family when things get tough.

What is a CHILD LIKE:

We’ll see now what we must become like to enter into God’s Kingdom.

When you give a child a present: Their eyes light up, “A present? for me? Oh WOWzer”

When you observe children:

  • You’ll Notice A Child is TRUSTING: Children, normally, are too young and innocent to be suspicious of people: That’s why they’ll walk up to a complete stranger and start chatting away.  There’s no thought in a child yet, to think they’ll be rejected by anyone. They’re not cynical; they’re trusting.
  • You’ll Notice A Child is OPEN: They don’t doubt anything. I’ve told hundreds of made-up stories to my children and grand-children over the years. They believe every single one. Only one child, Leila, says, “Granny, Papa tells stories doesn’t he”… LOL. Most children are OPEN to new ideas, they don’t doubt your word, they accept, because you are an adult, that you KNOW… A Child is OPEN (A Child Believes)… Are you open, do you believe in Jesus? Are you OPEN to the idea of New Life, Abundant Life, Full Life, Eternal Life, Holy Life, Cleansed Life, Forgiveness, Gifts of Holy Spirit?.. or have you begun to DOUBT? (If there is any aspect of Jesus teaching that you don’t or will not accept, then you are not open, you are CLOSED… then my friend, become OPEN like a child.)
  • You’ll Notice A Child Feels SHAME: When a child gets caught doing something, they’re readily admit it (sometimes after coaxing), when they admit it, they feel ashamed. It’s humbling when a child gets a RED FACE (It reminds me, Don you should be RED FACED about that; Ashamed). I know some people who are into SIN in their lives so much, that they FEEL NO SHAME about it. They are Brazen (Like the immoral woman in Proverbs 7). My friends, we need to get a conviction again about SIN in our lives. And FEEL the SHAME just like a child does. I don’t think you can ever really come to a true faith in Jesus until you’ve felt the shame of all your sins. Until you know your need of His forgiveness and cleansing from sin.
  • You’ll Notice A Child Receives Presents with JOY: They don’t think they deserve it, they know they don’t need to earn it, they know it’s theirs, they just accept it as it is FREELY GIVEN. My friends, you’ll never be able to earn or deserve God’s Kingdom: you must RECEIVE it like a child does a present.
  • You’ll Notice A Child is WILLING to RISK EVERYTHING: My son Joe, when he was a toddler, jumped into my arms (he nearly gave me a heart-attack at times). My grandchildren do the same: They’ll launch themselves off things and shout “Catch me Papa”…

Catch Me Papa: My friends, are you ready to RISK your EVERYTHING to Jesus Christ today? Will you Jump as a child would into the arms of the Saviour?

My friends, you can’t get into Jesus’ Kingdom of Heaven: Until: You TRUST HIM, You are OPEN with Him, You are ashamed of your life without Him and You are READY and WILLING to RISK EVERYTHING to Jesus. (That’s what it means to be child-like).

Some people mis-interpret this teaching of Jesus: They’ll say, “A child is innocent, so we must become innocent like little children”… No my friends, we can’t EVER become innocent like children, because we’ve all sinned, we can’t make ourselves good, that’s why Jesus came, to make us good and fit for Heaven. So it must mean what I’ve just been saying;

 I’m going to tell you today; HOW to become like little Children to Enter into Heaven:

To do that my friends, you NEED to become like a little child to RECEIVE the Kingdom of Heaven.

Are you ready to come to Jesus Christ today?

  • Will you TRUST Him: He’ll welcome you. Be Trusting Jesus.
  • Will you be OPEN to Jesus: Believe Jesus’ teachings, Believe in Jesus life and death? BE OPEN to Jesus.
  • Will you come REPENTING? Be sorry and ashamed of your sinful choices in life.
  • Will you RECEIVE? Receive the KINGDOM without trying to earn it by your good works, religious devotion or something else. Salvation cannot be purchased or won by merit, because we’ll never achieve perfection. So we must receive it as it is offered to a child; FREELY.
  • Will you RISK EVERYTHING: TO the Lord Jesus Christ. Throw yourself into the arms of Jesus today.

My friends, thousands will testify, that

  • Jesus has CAUGHT them in His loving arms.
  • Jesus forgives all their SINS (They’ve experienced the cleansing of His blood).
  • He’s revealed the TRUTH: His Word is Truth: You’ll soon see that Jesus’ promises are ALL TRUE:
  • They’ve EXPERIENCED: The JOY of the Kingdom.
  • He’s TRUSTWORTHY: They’ve discovered that Jesus can be trusted with everything in their lives.

I visited Eleanor (An old church member), I took Holy Communion to her, we prayed, chatted; She’s been ill for a few weeks now; She said to me “God is so good and faithful to me, I don’t deserve it, but He’s looked after me so well”…

We sang the song; “Great is Thy Faithfulness, O God my Father, there is no shadow of turning with Thee, ALL I have needed Thy hand hath provided, Great is Thy Faithfulness, LORD unto me”…

When Eleanor and I sang that song, HEAVEN came into her house. It was such an AWESOME moment. The presence of the LORD was with us.

My friends, until you’ve become like a Child, you are NOT in the Kingdom of Heaven:

I’ll repeat the LORD Jesus’ words again;

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Childlike FAITH:

Childlike Faith: They trust, they believe, they accept, the feel shame, they are willing to risk everything to jump into the everlasting arms of Jesus.

Will you RECEIVE the Kingdom of God like a little child?

  • Repent, of ALL SIN.
  • Believe, ALL of Jesus’ teachings and what He did on the Cross for your SINS.
  • Receive, The Lord Jesus Christ as your LORD, SAVIOUR, MASTER, FRIEND, KING…

(NOTE: No BIG People Allowed: We must get low, humble, on our knees to get into God’s Kingdom). Receive it as a child would a gift freely offered.

PRAYER: O LORD, My Heavenly Father! I can see that to be able to enter into Your Kingdom, I must receive it like a little child. Please Lord Jesus, give me the faith of a little child, who trusts without questioning, who simply and gladly believes in You and runs into your arms to be blessed. Help me to come to You today Lord Jesus Christ. There are so many things in my life that I know have been wrong, I’m embarrassed about them Lord, I turn from all those things I know to be sinful. I’m filled with awe and amazement that You would choose to die in my place upon the Cross. I’m turning to You today Lord Jesus. Come into my life and be my Lord, my Saviour, my King. I want to be with You forever in Your Kingdom Family. Amen!

My friends, I want to see every single one of you in God’s Kingdom: So, become like children today.

Amen!

Don.