God’s All Consuming Fire

Elijah and the Prophets of Baal, the fire fell

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

Our God is an ALL CONSUMING FIRE.

 

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

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

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

A) What Prompted The Fire?

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

B) What Power There Is In The Fire:

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

 

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

 

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

C) What More Proof Do We Need?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

D) God’s Pity Is In That FIRE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don.

 

The Jewel In Aaron’s Turban

The Jewel in Aaron's Crown

Daily Spirit & Word: 663: Holy Things.

The Jewel in Aaron’s Turban.

Good morning my friends, it’s cold and dark outside. Thanks be to the LORD, I’ve been convicted by His Holy Spirit again. As I was reading in daily devotional, I heard His voice saying, “That’s you Donald”. Now ordinarly I’d think “that’s Satan’s voice trying to make me feel guilty, when I’m not”, but today it was the voice of the LORD. You see even in the holiest of things that we do for the LORD there is SIN lurking at the door.
Exodus 28:38 (NLT) “Aaron must wear it on his forehead so he may take on himself any guilt of the people of Israel when they consecrate their sacred offerings. He must always wear it on his forehead so the LORD will accept the people.”
When I first studied Exodus, I must have missed this; I concentrated then upon the Dress of Aaron the High Priest, but today the LORD showed me something more. It’s talking about the jewel in Aaron’s turban and the fact that even when the People of Israel were bringing offerings to the LORD, there was some sin in the offering. It was a reminder that even when the people are going about doing their most holy and devoted acts, there is a tinge of sinfulness in it; and the jewel in the turban is to take away the sins from the people, that Aaron (the High Priest) might bear their sin, even in their offerings and sacrifices so that they would become acceptable to God.
Imagine that, you’re going to; prayer, praise, Bible study, fellowship meetings etc; yet there is something, some aspect of sin in the offering?

How can that possibly be?

How is it possible to be doing HOLY activity with sinful motives?

Well think of a Garden that needs to be tended:
A gardener may look at his garden and say, “Oh I need to go and do some weeding”… He goes out and spends ages removing the weeds. That’s good right? Well it could be, but let’s look at some of the reasons why a gardener may undertake the task of weeding his garden.
Indolence: (I learned a new word today) Indolence is; inactivity resulting from a dislike of hard work.
So the garden may be covered in weeds because of the gardener’s indolence, laziness, lack of concern, not caring about the growth of weeds in the garden. This reminded me of Jesus teaching about the yeast of the Pharisees and how it can spread throughout the whole batch of dough or the church or fellowship. Jesus wants his people to be pure, so He instructs us to be aware of the yeast of the Pharisees, unbelief.
There are HOLY things we should be doing, but because of our lazy attitude or our indolence, it doesn’t get done.
PRIDE & VANITY: The gardener may work on his garden for reasons of pride or vanity.
He works hard removing every single weed he can find, so that when he looks back over his garden he pats himself on the back and says, “What a good job I’ve done, that will impress people”. That’s pride in operation. He’s thinking of the neighbours looking over the fence and saying, “That’s a fantastic garden”; that’s pride too, but it’s also vanity; looking good in the eyes of others.
Why are we going about our devotions to the LORD? Is it to impress other people, to feel good about ourselves, to impress the LORD or because we’ve been too lazy and we’ve let the garden of our faith get covered in weeds?
Thankfully, like Aaron’s jewel in the turban, which was in place because of the iniquity of the offerings, the sins of the people who were bringing holy sacrifices to the LORD, we too have a High Priest: Jesus Christ. When we’re doing our devotions; prayer, praise, worship, fellowship, Bible study, etc; the Lord God Almighty doesn’t see us or the sin in the offering: He sees only your High Priest standing in front of your offerings. Jesus Christ is your great high priest my friends; that’s GRACE.
So even if it is; indolence, pride or vanity, we’re covered by the righteousness of Jesus Christ. However, let’s check our motives; why are we tending our garden of praise?
  • If it’s to impress other’s that’s vanity.
  • If it’s to impress the LORD, that vanity too.
  • If it’s to impress ourselves, that’s Pride.
  • If it’s to cover our laziness, that’s indolence.
Oh LORD, SAVE me from my pride, vanity and indolence today. Amen.
Lord, I ask that you’ll help me, even when I’m doing the right things, to be doing them from pure motives. Amen.
Help me O LORD, even in my most HOLY activity. Amen.
Thank you Lord Jesus, that You are the Jewel in the Crown of righteousness.
Don.

Praise the LORD

Christian Harvest Celebrations

Harvest, Feasts, Jewish Israelite Feasts,

Daily Spirit & Word 602:

The Real Reasons For The Harvest Celebrations.

The Seven Jewish Feasts

Thousands of years ago God told the Jews to celebrate the harvest, today we discover the real reasons why He did so.

The Israelite / Jewish year was punctuated by different festivals – these were called “Feasts of the Lord”.

Some festivals were timed to coincide with the changing seasons of the year. They were for reminding God’s chosen people about His amazing provision for them, but they were also a way of enabling the Jews to offer something back to God as a way of thanking Him for the great generosity and grace. There were other festivals in the Jewish year that celebrated some of the great events of Israel’s history: Passover, Tabernacles, Pentecost: these festivals helped the Jews to continually remember all the ways that God Almighty had miraculously intervened to help the chosen people in times of great distress and need.

The Jewish Feasts Are:

Beginning in the spring, the seven Jewish feasts are;

Passover: Reminding the Jews about the night the Angel of Death passed over Egypt and because they had the blood of the lamb painted on the door-posts and lintel of their homes they were saved. Whilst during this last of the Ten Plagues of Egypt the firstborn of the Egyptian children died.

Passover reminds followers of Jesus (God’s One and Only Son) and about how He brought our Salvation from sin.

It was the time when Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, was offered as an atoning sacrifice for our sins to save us and give us life everlasting. It is on that basis alone that God can justify the ungodly sinner.

Just as the blood of a lamb sprinkled on the doorpost of the Jewish homes caused the Spirit of the Lord to pass over those homes during the last plague on Egypt (Exodus 12), so those who have been covered by the blood of the Lamb will escape the spiritual death and judgement of God. He will judge everyone that rejects Him by sinning: and all have sinned and fallen short of God’s Holy Standards (Rom 3:23). All will receive their due payment for sin (Rom 6:23).

So my friends, of all the Jewish festivals, Passover is the greatest and most important, and so it is with Christians, because at Passover we also remember what happened to Him: What He also taught during His last Passover meal on the earth (Matthew 26:17–27). In passing the bread and the wine Jesus was telling the disciples to eat of His body and drink His blood (not literally, but symbolically), Jesus was presenting Himself as the ultimate Passover Lamb. His blood shed upon the cross is like the blood sprinkled on the doorpost and lintel and only His shed blood can save us from sin.

Unleavened Bread: The day after Passover, the Jews got rid of all yeast from their homes. It was to remind them of their escape from Egypt and the fact that they couldn’t allow the time for the yeast to infect the whole lump of dough. Now for Christians it’s a reminder of how sin can spread in our life. Jesus gave warning about the “Yeast of the Pharisees” (Matthew 16:6). And the Apostle Paul also wrote about how sin can spread in our lives like yeast (1 Corinthians 5:6-8 and Galatians 5:9).

Feast of Firstfruits: After the feast of unleavened bread, Firstfruits was celebrated to remind God’s Chosen People of His provision of the Promised Land: A fertile land flowing with milk and honey. For us as followers of Jesus it’s a reminder of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead: How He is the firstfruits of those who’ve died and one day the promise of our resurrection from the dead to eternal life with Him forever (1 Corinthians 15).

Feast of Weeks: (Pentecost).

The Feast of Weeks was 50 days after the Firstfruits and was to be celebrated the end of the grain harvest (the Greek word Pentecost means “fiftieth”). The main focus of the festival was gratitude to God for His provision.

For followers of Jesus this feast reminds us of the fulfilment of Jesus’ promise to send “another helper” (John 14:16) who would indwell believers and empower them for ministry. Pentecost: Was the Day when this coming of the Holy Spirit 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, it was also guaranteed (Ephesians 1:13–14) that the promise of salvation and future resurrection will come to pass. The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in every born-again believer is what seals us in Jesus Christ and enables / empowers us to witness to others, He also reveals Jesus and confirms us in our walk with Him. He witnesses with our spirit that we are indeed “joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16–17). It is by the Holy Spirit that we know that God is indeed our Father and we are members of His Holy Family forever. (Romans 8:15).

Feast of Trumpets: This is an amazing Feast for the Jews and for all who follow Christ today.

The Feast of Trumpets was commanded to be held on the first day of the seventh month and was to be a “day of trumpet blast” (Numbers 29:1)

Also in Leviticus 23:23-25. 

23 The LORD said to Moses, 24  “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. 25  Do no regular work, but present an offering made to the LORD by fire.’ ” 

God loved using Trumpets at Important times: Remember how Joshua won the battle of Jericho? The walls came tumbling down; judgement had come and God’s enemies were to be defeated.

God loving heart is always to warn people before He executes His judgment. God warned the people before the Flood, and He warned Niniveh before it was ruined. He warned the Israelites long before they were sent into Exile in Babylon and Syria. The Feast of Trumpets reflects God’s desire to call out to us, to summon His chosen people to come in repentance so that He can save them all from His wrath and anger against sin on the day of His judgement. He warns people today through the proclamation / preaching of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. God’s love is made clear, that He doesn’t want anyone to perish but all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). See also Matthew 24:31

Feast of Trumpets, in September each year, was to commemorate the end of the Israelite agricultural year..

For the followers of Jesus: The Feast of Trumpets signifies the second coming of the LORD. We see trumpets associated with His second coming in verses like 1 Thessalonians 4:16, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” Of course, the sounding of the trumpet also indicates the pouring out of God’s wrath on the earth in the book of Revelation. So this feast of Trumpets points toward the coming Day of the Lord.

When God blows His Trumpet next: Those who’ve trusted in Jesus Christ will be taken away to be with their LORD. But those who’ve yet to trust in Jesus will await His coming judgement.

Matthew 24:30-31 30  “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.

31  And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

Day of Atonement: (Yom Kippur) The Day of Atonement occurs just ten days after the Feast of Trumpets. The Day of Atonement was the day the high priest went into the Holy of Holies each year to make an offering for the sins of Israel.

Leviticus 23:26-32
26 The LORD said to Moses,
27  “The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present an offering made to the LORD by fire.
28  Do no work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the LORD your God.
29  Anyone who does not deny himself on that day must be cut off from his people.
30  I will destroy from among his people anyone who does any work on that day.
31  You shall do no work at all. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.
32  It is a sabbath of rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath.”

Once a year on the Day of Atonement: The Only Day the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies (Just once a year). This shows the importance of coming into God’s presence and the seriousness of sin. Two Goats were taken: one to be killed and it’s blood sprinkled on the Ark of the Covenant. The other to be released into the wilderness with the sins of the people upon it’s head. (Leviticus 16:1-34)

The significance of the Atonement Sacrifice for the followers of Jesus Christ today:
The sufficiency and completeness of the sacrifice of Christ is also seen in the two goats.
The blood of the first goat was sprinkled on the ark, ritually appeasing the wrath of God for another year.
The second goat removed the sins of the people into the wilderness where they were forgotten and no longer clung to the people.

Sin is both propitiated (made peace with) and expiated (made amends for) God’s way—only by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Propitiation is the act of appeasing the wrath of God, while expiation is the act of atoning for sin and removing it from the sinner. Both together are achieved eternally by Christ.

When He sacrificed Himself on the cross, He appeased God’s wrath against sin, taking that wrath upon Himself: “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” (Romans 5:9).

The removal of sin by the second goat was a living parable of the promise that God would remove our transgressions from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12) and that He would remember them no more (Hebrews 8:12; 10:17).

Jews today still celebrate the annual Day of Atonement, which falls on different days each year in September-October, traditionally observing this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.

Christians don’t need to celebrate this feast, because Jesus has forever made Atonement for our Sins. Think of Atonement like this: At One With God: At-one-ment… Jesus death means we can be AT ONE with God. We are made clean by His blood and set free from sin forever.

Feast of Tabernacles: The Feast of Tabernacles takes place on the 15th of the Hebrew month Tishri. This was the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar and usually occurs in late September to mid-October. The feast begins five days after the Day of Atonement and at the time the Autumn harvest had just been completed. It was a time of joy filled celebration as the Israelites remembered God’s continued provision for them in the harvests and also His provision and protection during the 40 years wandering in the wilderness.

Leviticus 23:33-44 Tabernacles & Harvest Celebrations.

33 The LORD said to Moses,

34  “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the LORD’S Feast of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days.
35  The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work.
36  For seven days present offerings made to the LORD by fire, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present an offering made to the LORD by fire. It is the closing assembly; do no regular work.
37  (” ‘These are the LORD’S appointed feasts, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies for bringing offerings made to the LORD by fire—the burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings required for each day.
38  These offerings are in addition to those for the LORD’S Sabbaths and in addition to your gifts and whatever you have vowed and all the freewill offerings you give to the LORD.)
39  ” ‘So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the LORD for seven days; the first day is a day of rest, and the eighth day also is a day of rest.
40  On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days.
41  Celebrate this as a festival to the LORD for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month.
42  Live in booths for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in booths
43  so that your descendants will know that I made the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.’ “

44  So Moses announced to the Israelites the appointed feasts of the LORD.

ALL The Jewish / Israelite FEASTS:

God’s Chosen People: Glorify God.

The Jewish feasts are closely related to Israel’s Spring and Autumn harvests and agricultural seasons. They were to remind the Israelites each year of God’s ongoing: powerful presence, protection and provision. How God will provide a way for His chosen people to be cleansed from their sins and eventually to be Saved and spend all Eternity in His presence.

Some were occasions of joy and celebration reflecting on all the good things that God had given to and done for his people. Some were times of self examination and repentance, where the people could come close to their Creator God and ask for forgiveness and cleansing.

We know that they were never intended to be observed out of mere formality and empty ritual. The prophets warned the people against reducing all these festivals to that level. In fact there came a time when God declared that He hated their ‘religious’ observance of ritual and sacrifice and offering: Because their hearts were not in it. The real purpose was spiritual – a great and glorious meeting together with God and His people. That is all that God has ever wanted and commanded: a close relationship with those that He’s created.

It’s amazing how Jesus Christ not only fulfilled God’s will revealed through the Old Testament Prophets, but also how it was fulfilled in time: during the most important and significant FEASTS of the Jews, God’s Chosen People. It was a witness to them that Jesus Christ was indeed their Messiah. And for all followers of Jesus Christ today it signifies God’s omnipotent and complete control of times and seasons and history, how He is always working in the Seasons of our Life.

God is calling all people today to trust in His awesome provision of a way to enable us all to draw near to Him for all eternity. It can only happen through His One and Only Son: Jesus Christ, who shed His precious life-blood upon the cross, the symbolic doorpost and lintel of our hearts. All God requires of us, is that we turn from going our own sinful ways and to His Son for forgiveness, cleansing and empowerment through His Holy Spirit to live a regenerated NEW LIFE in Jesus.

 

The Gospel: People NEED Jesus.

The Whole Gospel of Jesus Christ

Daily Spirit and Word 600: The Gospel.

People NEED Jesus

Good morning my friends, this is the day we begin to study afresh the Gospel according to Mark. As you know there are four Gospel writers in the Bible: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Each gives us quite a unique view of the life, message and purpose of the Lord Jesus Christ.

  • Matthew’s Focus: Audience: for the Jews. Reveals the Messiah who fulfilled OT Prophesy.   
  • Luke’s thrust: Audience: Greeks (Gentiles: Non-Jews). Reveals Jesus as The Son of God, Empowered by Holy Spirit who came to Seek and SAVE Sinners.
  • John’s thrust: Audience: For people with a Greek and Roman World View: Jesus is the Creator, Divine Son of God, The Sacrifice who Gives His Life so that mankind may receive Eternal Life.
  • However Mark reveals Jesus as the Servant King: The thrust is on What Jesus did. Main focus of His Gospel (Half of it) The Last three weeks of Jesus life. (Mark wasn’t one of Jesus Apostles: He was a close associate of Peter and Paul.).

In the beginning he sets out to declare the Gospel (The Good News) of Jesus Christ.

Mark 1:1-8
1 The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2  It is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”—
3  “a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ “
4  And so John came, baptising in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
5  The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptised by him in the Jordan River.
6  John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt round his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.
7  And this was his message: “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.
8  I baptise you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.”

The Gospel:

“The Gospel” is a phrase that slips off our tongues easily, and we use it so frequently that we rarely stop to think about it’s meaning.

Usage of the Phrase: “The Gospel” Not used much by the other Apostles: But Paul and Mark use it regularly in their writings.

So what does “The Gospel” mean? 

It means the Good News:

  • First of all it is the Good News of the Coming Kingdom: Proclaimed by John the Baptist, getting people ready.
  • Then it is the Good News of the King of the Kingdom: The Lord Jesus Christ and His mission upon the earth.
  • Then it is the Good News of The Lord Jesus Christ: Died upon the Cross, Risen to Life and Ascended and Reigning in Heaven.

So NOW when we think of The Gospel: We always think of it as the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ: He is the subject and message. He alone is the only way a person can enter into the Kingdom of God. He is God.

Whenever I hear the phrase “The Gospel”: I immediately translate it, subconsciously, as “The Good News of Jesus Christ”: But many others don’t think of it that way.

In Common Use: In the World: 

You’ll often hear people in London saying, when they want to communicate that they are telling the truth: “Gospel truth brother” or in East End “Gospel guv, God’s honest truth guv”…

For example: When I was going to buy a computer the sales assistant in PC World said, “This is the best deal you’ll get, ‘gospel truth’ and we’ll match any other offer you get”….

The world uses “The Gospel” to associate TRUTH. They know when they hear the word Gospel it means truth. So when we’re out there trying to communicate the Gospel with people and we say I’m out sharing the Gospel, we’d better be clear, because they want to know what we’re telling the truth about. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

The Gospel Meets Your Deepest Needs:

Although the Gospel is about Jesus Christ, it’s also something that radically meets the needs of all mankind.

When we need: Only Jesus can meet those needs;

People Need Peace: People want real peace: Peace from war, Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Middle East. But peace only ever lasts a short time. There will be wars. However, Jesus gives us a “Peace that the world cannot give”: Peace even in the storms of life.

People Need Gladness: Jesus give us gladness. We search the world for gladness and look to it for refreshment; (It does satisfy for a short while, like a McDonald’s burger, a holiday, but after a while, we’re hungry again)  but we search for gladness in vain, because the world was not Created to provide it for us. Non-the-less we keep searching, trying, scratching, scraping, hoping, yearning, longing. The gladness or satisfaction we’re looking for can only be found in Jesus Christ, He Created the world, and He alone is the true (gospel) source of gladness and satisfaction in life.

People Need Understanding: The world seeks to KNOW: To know the world and the universe: The quest for knowledge is immense, people spend thousands of pounds on their education. However, if they’d but open up the Bible and turn to Mark’s Gospel, and ask God to open their heart they’d find: True (Gospel) Understanding (Enlightenment: When the Light of Christ comes into our hearts, our understanding, knowing is transformened into an experience of the Light of Christ: The Good News, the Gospel).

People Need a Clear Conscience: Most people are aware that they are NOT all they should be. God given each one of us a conscience, when we go against His Commands, the Conscience cries it’s warning, so we try to quieten our Conscience: Some do it by ignoring it: We’re pretty good at that. (It’s like ignoring the smoke alarm) Some take the batteries out of the Conscience too 🙂 They try to do some good things, thinking that’s enough to quieten the conscience. Even hardened Criminals give money or offering to the church; thinking that will remove their guilt. Only the Whole Message of the Good News of Jesus Christ, His death upon the Cross and suffering for the world, will remove the pain of a guilty Conscience. (Conscience means: Con means with and Science means knowledge, therefore when we sin we do so With-Knowledge.)

People Need A Strong Will to Live Right: Many people struggle with self-control. Many books are written on the subject. Self-help books litter the shelves of book stores and Amazon pops them up: How to eat well. How to live debt free. How to speak. How to write. How to …. ?????

A Google Search of “An Idiot’s Guide to”

Do a Google search for “an idiot’s guide to”: You’ll find a bewildering and enlightening list of the things that people are really looking for in life: from Science, Quantum Physics, Yoga, Relationships, Marriage, Politics, Debating, Dating, Friends, Management, etc… They’ve even got “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to: The Bible”… LOL.

My friends, people want to KNOW HOW to do their LIFE better: Only Jesus Christ can meet all these needs, desires, hungers and wants in life. That’s the Good NEWS of Jesus Christ.

Need for Forgiveness: (Not many books on An Idiot’s Guide to Forgiveness).

You won’t find any books (yet) on: “An Idiot’s Guide to God’s Forgiveness”… Perhaps it’s time to write it 🙂

Google search that and you won’t find it. Why? Most people don’t think they NEED forgiveness. There is NO HUNGER or Desire for it. It is not high on the list of most important things in life.

  • Most people don’t think they need to be forgiven by God.
  • They think they are ‘good enough’ deep down, just a little bit wayward.
  • So they don’t think they need the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ.
  • They think they can get along perfectly well without the hindrance of being ‘religious’.
  • Life is just to busy for ‘religion’… “Church: No thank you. I’m NOT religious”.

When we were out on Friday sharing the Gospel in Brixton: We got chatting to lots of different people about Jesus.

But four ladies that David and I were chatting with stand out for me: It ended with the ladies saying to us; “We’re just out having a good time, so please…” She didn’t say “leave us alone” but that’s what she meant and we got the message. It was a sad way to end a conversation about the LORD. However, people don’t think they NEED Jesus, they’re OK without Him, they’re having a great time without thinking about God. I ended the conversation with; “You know in your hearts you’ve broken God’s Commandments; you’ve admitted that you’ve lied and stolen and lusted, that’s only three of them, so I’m pleading with you, listen to your conscience, and think about what Jesus Christ did on the Cross so that you could be forgiven” They said they would and we left them to have a ‘good time’…. The next man we chatted to, about one minute after the ladies, thought that He was God. We sat down with him and had a very interesting time sharing the message of Jesus.

What Hit me more than anything else today: Is this my friends: People NEED the Gospel. We all NEED the Gospel: The whole Good News of Jesus Christ. We need to HEAR if: Because FAITH COMES BY HEARING THE WORD OF GOD.

We also need to RESPOND to it: Just as those who heard John the Baptist responded to his invitation to get ready for the coming Kingdom: They repented and were baptised.

After Jesus came; The Apostles (Early Church) proclaimed, preached and witnessed: The Gospel: People responded by:

  • BELIEVING (that Jesus Christ had indeed died upon the Cross for their sins)
  • REPENTING (Turning away from their sin and trusting in Jesus death)
  • RECEIVING: They responded by receiving Jesus Christ into their lives as both Saviour and Lord.
  • GETTING BAPTISED: This was to show the world that they’d been transformed by Jesus and were going to live a new life, in the power of the Holy Spirit and that they were dead to their old ways of living.
  • FOLLOWING JESUS: They then responded by living the Christian life, following the teachings of Jesus Christ, they became His disciples.

Most Christian Churches Today: The focus and thrust of good Evangelical, Baptist, Pentecostal and Charismatics is this: Believe, Repent and Receive (with a greater emphesis on the receiving end of the scale). Sadly so few, very few, focus upon the most important aspect, making Disciples (followers who’ll LIVE according to the Teachings of Jesus Christ and God’s Word). They pander to people’s hunger for experience, excitement and fun; but focus little upon the sacrificial life that Jesus has called us to: Taking up our Cross Daily and following / living with Jesus Christ. However, it’s ONLY when we begin to die to self that we can truly know that the Gospel IS the Good News we’ve been longing to hear.

Worship: I Surrender ALL to You Lord Jesus.

Conclusion:

We’re going to see over the coming weeks, as we unpack Mark’s Gospel of Good News of the Servant King: The Lord Jesus did some amazing wonderful things, he had Authority over all aspects of life and even death,  you’ll not want to miss any of that teaching I’m sure.

For NOW: Today:

Know this today my friends, this Gospel can transform your life today. The Good News of Jesus is for every hungry human soul in this world. They don’t even know they need Jesus, we’ve got to show them their; needs, hungers and desires can only truly be met in the Gospel Good News and Truth of the Person of Jesus Christ: The Son of God who died for them.

First: Have you truly responded? Do you Believe, repent, receive and follow Him daily?. Are you following and living according to the teachings of Jesus Christ right this moment? (If you know you are not, then come and receive prayer. Perhaps you need to repent and receive Jesus afresh in your life today).

Second: Will you be obedient to Jesus Command: Go into all the world and share the Gospel? Make Disciples?

Third: If you have not yet responded to the Gospel, the Good News that Jesus Christ died upon the Cross for you, will you turn and ask His forgiveness for your sins right now? Will you believe that He died upon the Cross for your sins? Will you receive Him as both Saviour and Lord? Will you seek His power and fullness of the Holy Spirit to enable you to live your life for Him?

Let us pray: “Dear Lord Jesus Christ, we can see today that we need a much clearer understanding of the whole Gospel message. It’s life and peace and joy and satisfaction can only truly be found in You Lord. Help us to respond as they first followers did, by giving our lives completely to You. Help us Lord and equip us Lord to spread this message that we know people are longing to hear, but don’t know it. Give us the desire to live like You Lord Jesus and LOVE people into Your Kingdom. Amen.

I hope you all read and re-read Mark’s Gospel.

Have an awesome Sunday and stay close to Jesus Christ.

Live in the Power of the Spirit today.

Don.

 

Dare You To Be A Disciple

Following Jesus means self-sacrifice and a cross

Daily Spirit & Word: 543: Dare You To Be A Disciple.

The Kingdom Power To Deny Self.

“Lord I need Your fullness to help me to live like Jesus. Come Holy Spirit” Amen.

Good morning my friends, I’m feeling a lot stronger today and my back is well on the way to recovery. Praise the LORD! Last night, just before we went out to share the Gospel on the streets of West Norwood in London, some brothers and sisters were praying for me and my back felt much better afterwards. Then we had the most amazing time witnessing on the streets about the Lord Jesus. It was weird last night, because we bumped into more Christians than normal, but what struck me is what they said, “We also share our faith regularly”… Praise the LORD! More and more followers of Jesus are waking up to the fact that the UK IS a Mission Field and the Gospel needs to be proclaimed afresh in every generation until the Lord comes back again.

In the reading below I’m excited about the fact that some of those who were standing in the crowd would SEE the KINGDOM of God before they died. My friends, you too can and will experience the Kingdom with Jesus.

Luke 9:23-27 (NLT)
23  Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.
24  If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.
25  And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?
26  If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels.
27  I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God.”

It’s like Jesus is daring us to be His disciples, “Go on, I dare you to be My follower, if you’re really serious then you must….”

When you do deny self and take up the cross, then you’ll see the Kingdom. If that was true for those that Jesus was talking with, He must have meant something other than His second return: He did 🙂 He meant they would see God’s Kingdom Power break into their lives after His crucifixion, death, resurrection and ascension. The Kingdom of God came when the Holy Spirit brought NEW LIFE and POWER to EVERY BELIEVER on the day of Pentecost. He came and filled everyone who had trusted in Jesus Christ’s death upon the Cross: God’s Kingdom definitely did come upon that generation, and it can come into your life too.

YBH? (Yes, But HOW?).

How can you see the KINGDOM today?

There are certain things that will accompany true faith in Jesus Christ.
The Passage in Luke 9:23-27 Above Make Those Things Crystal Clear:

Firstly: A Believer Will Deny SELF: (verse 23)
Jesus said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower (Disciple), you must turn from your selfish ways (Deny Self)…” NLT
or as the Amplified version tells us; Luke 9:23 23  And He said to all, “If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself]

What does it mean to deny self? Do you remember when Peter denied Jesus three times? Peter said, “I don’t even know the man”. Well what Jesus is telling us to do here is the same as that kind of denial to our selfishness, it’s like saying to your FLESH; “I don’t know you”… It happens when we’re tempted and tried to do or think or say something that wouldn’t be good for a follower of Jesus. It’s like me saying when I’m tempted to do something immoral, “I don’t know you Donald” … We need to deny ourselves every single day for Jesus.

Self Sacrifice: It’s like saying “NO” to your passions and desires that are contrary to your walk with Jesus. It really is a daily battle, that is why we need to come and be with the LORD Daily (Yesterday’s Teaching).

Denying Self: Is to ignore the very existence of oneself. It is to treat the self within each of us as if it did not exist. The normal human experience is to treat ourselves, to look after self interests, to think of self as if our self was far and away the most important thing in the world. The reality check is this; “It’s NOT all about you” or we need to say to ourselves, “It’s NOT all about me”.

Adverts & The Media: That’s why advertising works so well: Every advert appeals to SELF… “You need this” or “You Deserve This Product” or “You’ll LOOK great wearing this” or “Everyone will LOVE YOU when you get this” or “If you’ve got one of these everyone else will wish they were you”…. they know that appealing to the SELF sells stuff. No wonder Christianity is so unpopular these days, because Jesus is telling us to do the complete opposite of the world: YOU need to DIE to SELF. You need to say “NO” to yourself.

Now Jesus is declaring if “ANYONE wants to follow ME” If you are desiring to follow Jesus Christ today then you must forget that self exists.

Not only must we forget and deny SELF, we must KILL SELF. (Put it to DEATH).

Secondly: TAKE UP YOUR CROSS: Luke 9:23 (NIV)

Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

It is a DAILY dying to self (see yesterday’s teaching about DAILY).

But what does it mean; “take up his cross daily”?

Jesus knew all about Crucifixion long before He went to the Cross to suffer and die for the sins of the world. As a young boy growing up in Israel, when Jesus was about seven years old, there was a massive rebellion four miles away from where he lived with his mum Mary, dad Joseph and brothers and sisters. There was a man called Judas who led a rebellion against Roman rule and raided the Royal Armoury at Sepphoris. It would have left a deep impression on the young boy Jesus, because afterwards thousands of those rebels were crucified and they lined the roads with the bodies upon Crosses, everyone in Galilee would be in no doubt who was in charge, the Romans. Jesus said to people “You must deny yourself and take up your Cross and follow me” In other words, you must die to self.

St Paul carries on with this same theme of self-denial in Romans:

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

Someone has humorously said, “The problem with living-sacrifices is that they crawl off the altar”… Yes my friends, we do tend to shrink or crawl away from self-sacrifice, but that’s exactly what Jesus is talking about “Take UP your Cross” It really is a daily duty to follow Jesus and die to self.

Why would anyone in their right mind deny themselves like that? Why would you want to or be prepared to DIE for Jesus? Surely people who are prepared to die for a cause are FANATICS right? Look at the Jehadi Bombers who kill themselves, everybody thinks they are MAD.

Well, Jesus is not calling you to be a fanatical killer of others, but a killer of self’s passions and desires that lead you away from God. That’s why it is a daily battle, because the self is a living-sacrifice, it doesn’t die, it stays alive, so it must be killed and denied every single day.

Practical Application to LIFE:

Denying self: Means Saying “NO” to;

  • Bitching about others in the workplace.
  • Coveting what others have (Keeping up with the Smiths next door)
  • Greed: Having more than you need in life. Having more on your place. Having more money. Hoarding for self.
  • Rudeness: Saying not to being rude, telling rude stories, rude jokes. We all find some things funny, but it means taking no part in overt rudeness.
  • Drunkenness: We are permitted as Christians to drink, but we’re called by the LORD not to over-indulge in alcohol. You know how much is enough, so stop before you have too much. Say “No! I’ve had enough” Learn to stop.
  • Night Clubs: These are places that people flaunt themselves at one another. It’s OK to dance and sing and make merry, but we must be very careful how we conduct ourselves in the world.
  • Dress: How we dress oursleves as Christians is important too. Not to provoke anyone to sin in the way that we dress.. I’m not saying women or men should dress like Muslims, covering our whole bodies up, women even wearing a Burka to cover their faces. That’s just extreme! However, there are ways of dressing that can and will attract and arouse, making sexual overtones in the way we dress or look cannot be right for the follower of Jesus.
  • Movies, DVDs, Internet: Not watching movies that are Adult rated: They tend to have; Violence, Bad Language, Sexual Scenes. Any 18 rated movie or TV program will have these things in abundance today. Jesus doesn’t want you to use bad language and you should not be around or watch films that have it. Hollywood always has BLASPHEMY of the Lord Jesus in nearly every movie. How do you feel when you hear them saying “Jesus Christ” as a swear word? It makes me feel sick in the stomach. Notice Hollywood never says “Allah or Buddha or Ghandi etc” it’s always “Jesus Christ” that they blaspheme. Don’t give them your money my friends.
  • Money: Getting out of the habit of thinking that my money is my own for “My” life. “I’ve worked hard for it so I deserve to spend it on myself” NO! Everything you have is from God. He made the whole universe and He allows you to have a little in life. So a follower of Jesus will want to give generously to others and to God’s Kingdom work. Not keeping or hoarding what you have for yourself (Luke 9:24-25). If we try to keep our money, then we’re going to see it waste away, it’s rotting when it’s not working for the Kingdom.
  • WORK: We’re going to be working hard at our job, doing our best, but we’re not going to be climbing the ladder to success at the expense of others. A Christian will work and do their best, but they’ll be a pleasure to work with. You’ll be kind towards your colleagues and you’ll think how can I make this place a real success in the world. Christians will work to be an influence for good in the workplace.

Denying SELF is a REAL Sacrifice: But there is great reward awaiting, we’ll experience the KINGDOM today.

It’s like Jesus is daring us to be His followers; dare you to be a follower of Jesus Christ today 🙂

“DARE TO BE A DISCIPLE”

Let’s get our focus right today, Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” Trying to hang onto our independence will mean loosing out on the exciting and joyfilled experiencing His Kingdom today.

Denying SELF: Is jumping off the throne of your life and letting Jesus be the KING. It’s a decision every day to allow Jesus to rule your life as your King. Living your life every day for Jesus. To be able to DENY SELF and TAKE UP OUR CROSS every day, we’re going to need HELP. Thankfully, the Lord has been gracious and desires to enable us to LIVE like Him. He’s given you the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that raised Jesus from death, He’s IN every born-again follower of Jesus.

Respond: Cry out to the Holy Spirit now and say; “Dear Lord and Heavenly Father, I can see that if I’m going to die to self and take up my cross every single day, then I need Your fullness to help me to live like Jesus, I invite you to come Holy Spirit, I’m open to what you want to do in my life today. In the Name of Jesus Christ I pray” Amen.

Hope you all have an amazing and wonderful experience of the Lord as you LIVE for Jesus in the world today. Go on, Jesus is daring you to be a Disciple, a follower of Himself today.

Don.

Dare You To Be A Disciple.

 

The Poor Widow’s Generosity

She gave all she had to live on

Daily Spirit & Word: 537: The Poor Widow’s Generosity.

A Measure Of Your Love

Good morning my friends. Have you ever come across someone who’s got a really generous heart? Someone who just loves to give? Someone who’s biggest thrill in life is to see other people happy?

It’s been my privilege in life to have met so many wonderful people like that, both Christians and non-Christians. Sometimes it’s the non-believers who put us to shame in the way they are just so giving. I’ve met people who don’t even know the Lord Jesus, but who’s hearts seem to have been touched by Heaven.

Mark 12:41-44 “Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42  But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. 43  Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44  They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

“She Put In EVERYTHING; All She Had To Live On”

Jesus Is Watching:

My first thought from this passage is; Jesus was watching: He’s sitting down looking at the crowds of people and watching what they are doing with their money. Then the Bible tells us about the Rich and the Poor and the amount that they give and how much they give reveals the condition of their hearts. It’s like Jesus is sitting and observing, measuring the level of their love for the Lord.

Jesus is watching us too my friends, everything we do is noticed by our Lord Jesus is Heaven. Not only does Jesus notice what we do, but what it is that’s motivating us. Jesus sees the motivations of our hearts. He knows why we do what we do.

So who did Jesus take note of that day in Jerusalem at the Temple Treasury?

Jesus Noticed The Rich:

They Put In LARGE amounts of money: It’s always impressive when you hear in the News about some very wealthy person giving an enormous donation to charity or even being overly generous to an individual. It touches the heart to see how people like Bill Gates from Microsoft (One of the world’s richest people) gives so generously. I’ve heard rumours that he gives away as much as he can, most often he gives secretly. But what did Jesus notice about the rich in Jerusalem that day? He noted that they “gave out of their wealth”, i.e. they could easily afford what they were throwing in. It wasn’t a real sacrifice, it didn’t affect their life of comfort, the amount they gave had no real or lasting impact upon what they could buy for themselves.

Jesus Notices The Poor Widow:

This poor widow put in only two very small coins, a fraction of a penny. Do you remember when we had coins that were smaller than 1p (One Pence)? When I was a boy growing up in Edinburgh, we used the old currency; Pounds, Shillings and Pence. My pocket money on a Saturday was a thruppence = 3 pence. It was a thruppeny bit.

To help you understand OLD MONEY and How much the poor widow had put into the temple treasury.

  • 2 farthings = 1 halfpenny
    2 halfpence = 1 penny (1d)
    3 pence = 1 thruppence (3d)
    6 pence = 1 sixpence (a ‘tanner’) (6d)
    12 pence = 1 shilling (a bob) (1s)
    2 shillings = 1 florin ( a ‘two bob bit’) (2s)
    2 shillings and 6 pence = 1 half crown (2s 6d)
    5 shillings = 1 Crown (5s)

Jesus noticed that the widow woman put in two very small coins: probably the equivalent value of two farthings. We don’t have very small coins these days, coins below the value of 1p (One Pence). So the amount in monetary value was so small as to be insignificant, yet Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.”

WOWzer! What’s Jesus like? He sees the HEART. He knew that she had given ALL she had. Why? Why would someone put everything they had to live on into the Temple treasury? She was being generous towards the work of the Lord.

The Temple:

Was God’s Holy Place on Earth. To the Jewish people it was the beating-heart of their religion. It was the place they’d come to worship the LORD, but in those days women were not allowed into the Temple, they had to stay outside in the Court of the Women. But there were twelve offering trumpets where money could be deposited, they were called trumpets because of their shape and the noise they made when money was thrown into them. The money given was to maintain the Temple workers, the Priests: and the upkeep of the Temple. So being generous towards the on-going work of the Lord was considered something every good Jew would do.

William Barkley said about Giving in Generosity:

(i) Real giving must be sacrificial. The amount of the gift never matters so much as its cost to the giver, not the size of the gift, but the sacrifice. Real generosity gives until it hurts. For many of us it is a real question if ever our giving to God’s work is any sacrifice at all. Few people will do without their pleasures to give a little more to the work of God. It may well be a sign of the decadence of the church and the failure of our Christianity that gifts have to be coaxed out of church people, and that often they will not give at all unless they get something back in the way of entertainment or of goods. There can, be few of us who read this story without shame. Barclay’s Daily Study Bible (NT).

(ii) Real giving has a certain recklessness in it. The woman might have kept one coin. It would not have been much but it would have been something, yet she gave everything she had. There is a great symbolic truth here. It is our tragedy that there is so often some part of our lives, some part of our activities, some part of ourselves which we do not give to Christ. Somehow there is nearly always something we hold back. We rarely make the final sacrifice and the final surrender.

(iii) Heaven Regards The Small Things: It is a strange and lovely thing that the person whom the New Testament and Jesus hand down to history as a pattern of generosity was a person who gave a gift of half a farthing. We may feel that we have not much in the way of material gifts or personal gifts to give to Christ, but, if we put all that we have and are at his disposal, he can do things with it and with us that are beyond our imaginings.

Our Greatest Example of Generous Giving:

Is the Lord Jesus Christ: He didn’t hold back, He gave His ALL so that we could benefit from His death:

1 Peter 2:24 (NIV) “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Jesus is ideal and wonderful, but you Christians – you are not like him.”

Let us prove Mahatma Gandhi wrong today:

God’s WORD for us today:

Be Generous, Give to the work of the Lord through your local Church: 1) For the maintenance of the Ministers. 2) For the maintenance of the building. And 3) {most importantly} for the mission of the Church to reach out and save souls for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Give Sacrificially: It’s going to hurt you, the widow gave ALL she had to live upon. There was no welfare in those day, but she still gave all she had.

Give Willingly: Don’t leave it to the Minister of church leader to have to prize your offering out of your wallets.

How’s your heart towards the work of the Lord today?

Go on, surprise your church leaders this weekend and give so much to the work of the LORD that it will blow their socks off. That widow has gone down in history, think what the LORD will say about you in Heaven.

Generosity towards the Lord’s Work is a measure of our love for Him.

Every blessing for an AWESOME weekend my friends.

Don.

Notes:

He who sows sparingly:

Be Generous:

Generosity:

 

Behold The Lamb of God

Behold The Lamb of God.

John The Baptist's Powerful Testimony: The Water, the Lamb, the Dove and the Son of God.
John The Baptist’s Powerful Testimony: The Water, the Lamb, the Dove and the Son of God.

Daily Spirit & Word, 447: John’s Powerful Testimony.

Four Symbols

The Water, Lamb, Dove and the Son of God.

Good morning my friends, today we’re gathering on the first Sunday of March to worship the Lord with an truly amazing focus on Jesus, looking at Him through the Magnifying Glass of John the Baptist. Let’s jump right in and read God’s Word;
  • John 1:29-34
  • 29  The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
  • 30  This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’
  • 31  I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptising with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
  • 32  Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.
  • 33  I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptise with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptise with the Holy Spirit.’
  • 34  I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”
As a Magnifying Glass makes things BIGGER: So John’s Witness about Jesus makes Him much BIGGER for each and every one of us today. Here’s HOW!
You know my friends, there is nothing more powerful to lead others to Jesus Christ than by our own witness or testimony of who Jesus Christ is: both to us and to the world. That’s what John the Baptist revealed in his own life and it’s what Christians can reveal to the world today.
We’ve observed the POWER of this fact in the face of debate and doubt: Whilst out on the streets witnessing, we’ll come accross many people who’ve got strong arguments and reasons for not believing in God or Jesus, but after trying to debate them on an intellectual level for a while, we’ve seen how just one or two words brings those strong defences, (These are the Castles they built to hide from God) intellectual and moral doubts come crashing down. When we say, “I know God because I’ve met God personally through Jesus” there’s absolutely nothing they can say. Apart from thinking, either we’re mad or deluded or we’re telling the truth. There is POWER in personal testimony, that’s what John the Baptist brings us today.
John gives us FOUR vary powerful symbols;

1) The Water:

John’s message was: “Repent and Be Baptised for the forgiveness of Sins.” (Baptism means to submerse, to sink to go under, to go down underneath and into the water).
Baptism was something people always did to themselves, but this was very strange, now a man came calling people to come to him to be washed in running water, to be cleansed of their sins. But first John said that people must REPENT.
The people at the time knew what John meant, but we’ve don’t have the same understanding of God’s Word, the Old Testament. He was calling the people to come back to God’s ways, God’s will revealed in the Law and the Commandments. Repenting is simply acknowledging we’ve failed and fallen short of them, turning away from sin and desiring God’s cleansing from Sin. (Sin is the Transgression of the Law of God).
Washing in Water was always a symbol of RITUAL CLEANSING. Baptism = Repentance and Forgiveness / Cleansing from Sin.

2) The Lamb of God: “Behold the Lamb of God”

John was saying, “Behold” which means LOOK PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT I’M POINTING OUT.
Who takes away the sin of the world.
In Israel: The Jews sacrificed pure, innocent and spotless lambs, this was God’s given symbol of purification. The blood of the lamb was to show that their sins had been washed away, but that sin has a price, “The wages of sin is death”… The Lamb died in the place of the people, because sin must be paid for.
Imagine that, an innocent, pure little lamb: The people would most surely have the same feelings for little lambs that we have today. They are cute, lovely, innocent, spotless and cuddly: But they needed to die to pay the price for their sins. seems cruel and barbaric to us today, but God was showing the people something about SIN. How much it hurt him and how serious sin was to him.
Now John was saying something awesome: Just like people would wash themselves to purify themselves, so Israelite People would bring their own lambs to be slaughtered. It was their identifying with their own sin. It’s like saying to God, “It was me, I did it, now I bring this little lamb to suffer in my place”… Now John is telling the people, God is Himself providing the Lamb for Sacrifice: Jesus would be God’s Lamb who would be sacrificed to take away the sins of the whole world. His precious blood would pay the price for the sins of everyone. He was God’s pure, spotless and sinless Lamb.

Why? The Bible tells us why: John 3:14-18
14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 

3) The Dove:

For many thousands of years, since the time of Noah, the Dove has been well known as the international symbol of PEACE. Often depicted carrying a leaf in it’s mouth.
After the flood, that destroyed every sinful human being apart from Noah and his family, when the waters receeded Noah sent out some birds to find land, the dove finally returned to Noah carrying an Olive branch in it’s mouth. This meant the end of God’s wrath, the flood abated and PEACE with God was restored. He’d finished his work of cleansing / PURIFYING the earth from Sin. Water: Now the earth was appearing again and the Dove brought the symbol of God’s Peace.
My friends, when the Holy Spirit came down from Heaven and entered Jesus, He came in the form of a Dove. Notice what John said though, The Dove came down and rested on him and remained upon Him. The Holy Spirit NEVER left Jesus again.
John said about Jesus; “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptise with the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus was and is the one who sends the Holy Spirit into the hearts of everyone who comes to Him in Repentance seeking the forgiveness of their sins. He died upon the Cross as God’s Lamb to take away those sins. He now gives the Holy Spirit to each and every person who TRUSTS in His death upon the cross, that it was for their sins. His precious, spotless, innocent and holy life-blood poured out on the cross for your sins.
Jest like the Holy Spirit remained upon Jesus, so the Holy Spirit will be with the New Believer forever. He’ll fill you and give you what John said here, “FIRE”… Fire = Zeal for God. Love for God, Devotion to God, Dedication to God’s ways. That’s the FIRE it means the ability to live in such a way, that your life will be pleasing to God.
The Holy Spirit really is a symbol of PEACE between mankind and God. That God was finished with the punishment Jesus had taken all the punishment necessary for SIN and now God was sending the Holy Spirit to reveal the True PEACE between the believer and God. The PEACE in your heart is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

4) Testimony (Witness).

John the Baptist said, “I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”
WOWzer! What a powerful witness. “I’ve seen” and “I testify”…
My friends, John saw the DOVE (He’d been given a message and a method of getting people ready for Jesus coming: Repent = turn back to God away from sin. AND be baptised to be PURIFIED from those sins) NOW after years of getting people ready, he finally saw what God had told him from Heaven. “When you see the Spirit come down and remain upon him, he is the one who will baptise with the Holy Spirit and fire”…. I’ve seen Him, this is the one, this is the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ is the SON of God.
And as I said at the beginning, there is nothing more powerful than personal testimony, personal witness, personal knowledge: “I’ve seen Jesus, I know Jesus, I’ve been with Jesus” What has Jesus done for you?

A Christian’s Personal Testimony:

Witness about Jesus: What He’s done for you:
He’s forgiven my sins (How did that make you feel).
He died for me (How does it make you feel how Jesus died for your sins).
He came into my life: Now tell people what your life is now like with Jesus, in comparison to what life what like without Jesus.
He filled me with His Holy Spirit: Now tell people what it’s like being full of the Holy Spirit. How you know the PEACE of God.
Tell people: “Behold Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the SIN of the World.”
With this POWERFUL testimony, what Jesus came to do, what Jesus has done for you, you can go out and be confident that God will use it to bring others to the same faith and confidence that you have in Jesus Christ. Knowing Jesus Christ personally is all the training you need to become a powerful EVANGELIST to lead others to Him.

Today we’ve seen FOUR Powerful Symbols:

These Make for a VERY POWERFUL TESTIMONY.
  • The Water:
  • The Lamb:
  • The Dove:
  • The Son of God:
What’s the Water For? Repentance and Forgiveness (Cleansing & Pruification).
What’s the Lamb for? Paying the Price in Blood for Sins.
What’s the Dove for? Assurance of PEACE within each and every Repentant Sinner who receives Jesus as Lord.
What’s the Son of God for? He’s the Lamb, He’s the giver of the Holy Spirit, He’s the one who paid the price for sin.
Remember:

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

 Why do we need a Personal Testimony like John’s? Because God has revealed just how precious each soul is, that He doesn’t want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. So He’s given you a task of spreading this Good News of Jesus to everyone and He’s given you a personal encounter and filled you with His Spirit to accomplish the task. If you’ve not got this FIRE (Zeal) to share Jesus with others, then there’s something wrong with your faith. God’s LOVE compels us to share with others what He’s given to us: So share Jesus today.
Have an awesome Sunday my friends.
If you’ve never done so before, can I encourage you today to come to Jesus Christ; Repent and seek His forgiveness, know that He’s paid the price for all your sins upon the cross and turn to Him now. He’ll give you the gift of the Holy Spirit as a way that you can know that you’ve been forgiven, your place in Heaven is secure and you are living a PEACE with God forever. Come NOW is the Day to be SAVED from Sin. Come today is the day of Salvation from sin.
Don.

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

The Ashes of the Red Heifer.

Daily Spirit & Word: 439: The Ashes of the Red Heifer.

Burned Outside The Camp.

The Ashes of the Red Heifer.
The Ashes of the Red Heifer.

Daily Spirit & Word, 439: The Ashes of the Red Heifer.

Burned outside the camp: External Cleansing from the Rebellion of Sin.

My friends, this morning we’re looking at the seriousness of the sin of rebellion against the Lord and His anointed. How the Christian who has sinned on purpose is living in a state of being cut-off from the LORD.
Back-Slidden: The Remedy.

Numbers 19:1-8
1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron:
2 “This is a requirement of the law that the LORD has commanded: Tell the Israelites to bring you a red heifer without defect or blemish and that has never been under a yoke.
3 Give it to Eleazar the priest; it is to be taken outside the camp and slaughtered in his presence.
4 Then Eleazar the priest is to take some of its blood on his finger and sprinkle it seven times towards the front of the Tent of Meeting.
5 While he watches, the heifer is to be burned—its hide, flesh, blood and offal.
6 The priest is to take some cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet wool and throw them onto the burning heifer.
7 After that, the priest must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water. He may then come into the camp, but he will be ceremonially unclean till evening.
8 The man who burns it must also wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he too will be unclean till evening.

Notes: The Red Heifer: An Heifer is a young cow who has not been with a bull… Therefore for the Israelites the RED Heifer signifies; a pure, spotless, virgin cow. But it was to be a RED Heifer, the symbolism is POWERFUL.

It is very interesting to note that when the LORD gave this provision for cleansing, it followed the rebellion of Korah and his sons. The Tabernacle and it’s sacrificial system had already provided a means of being purified in God’s sight from TRESPASS of God’s Law, they did this through the Offerings that were made for sin. However, the Sin of REBELLION is much more serious and requires some extra-ordinary provision for cleansing.

REBELLION: Contaminates the whole community. The Contamination of Sin must be purified and the fact that the Heifer was killed outside the camp indicates to us just how seriously God takes the sin of rebellion, but that leaves us with a question, what is rebellion and why is it so serious?

Rebellion: Is the Refusal to accept some authority, code or convention: It’s deliberately rejecting God’s Authority or those that He has chosen and appointed and anointed for a particular task. Rejecting God’s Authority is deadly, in the case of Korah and his two sons and all those who rose up with them to oppose Moses and Aaron.

Rebellion: Is also organised opposition to authority; a conflict in which one faction tries to wrest control from another. Korah tried to do that and he died, here’s a snippet from the story in Numbers 16 (but please if you’ve got time, read it for yourself).

What Happened To Korah?

To his sons and those he led in REBELLION against the LORD’S Anointed: Aaron and Moses?
Numbers 16:23-35
23 Then the LORD said to Moses,
24 “Say to the assembly, ‘Move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.’ ”
25 Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him.
26 He warned the assembly, “Move back from the tents of these wicked men! Do not touch anything belonging to them, or you will be swept away because of all their sins.”
27 So they moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Dathan and Abiram had come out and were standing with their wives, children and little ones at the entrances to their tents.
28 Then Moses said, “This is how you will know that the LORD has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea:
29 If these men die a natural death and experience only what usually happens to men, then the LORD has not sent me.
30 But if the LORD brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the grave, then you will know that these men have treated the LORD with contempt.”
31 As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart
32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, with their households and all Korah’s men and all their possessions.
33 They went down alive into the grave, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community.
34 At their cries, all the Israelites around them fled, shouting, “The earth is going to swallow us too!”
35 And fire came out from the LORD and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.

Can you now see the seriousness of REBELLION?
Why something so pure and spotless was required, like the young cow, an heifer, who’d not pulled or been put under a yoke?

Application: Jesus the Sacrifice Outside the Camp.

For Christians today, this is a reminder of what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us, because He too was killed outside the camp on the hill of Calvary so that those who’d been made unclean could be forgiven and cleansed from all sin.

The Blood of Christ: compared to the Sacrifices and the Ashes of the Heifer:
Hebrews 9:11-14
11 When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation.
12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.
13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean.
14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

Hebrews 13:11-14
11 The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. (Ashes of the Heifer).
12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.
13 Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore.
14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.

If Jesus had died in Jerusalem then He’d have contaminated the Holy City. When He died, he was taking the SIN of the whole world upon Himself and do you remember how when that happened, He was cut-off from God the Father. He cried upon the Cross, “My God, My God, Why have You forsaken me?” God and SIN cannot be together. The SINS of the whole world cut Jesus off from the Father. That’s why He had to die outside the camp, just like the Red Heifer.

When a Christian defiles himself or herself with the DEAD THINGS of SIN, he must be cleansed and made pure by the blood of Jesus Christ. His suffering and death outside the camp were to be a lasting ordinance for every Christian forever. His BLOOD can make you clean. His death outside the camp, reveals just how Defilement of Sin is taken so seriously by God Almighty. Jesus couldn’t die in the Holy Place, in the Temple or the Holy City of Jerusalem, He had to be taken outside the camp.

We must come to Him in confession, repentance and to cleanse ourselves from the sin of rebellion and then do what the Lord requires; live His ways from now on. We will be made clean, we will be forgiven, but the Holy Spirit must be entreated to come and fill afresh and renew His Divine power within the believer, Renewal is more than just coming to Christ once to be forgiven and to become a member of God’s household forever, we must also continue to Walk as Jesus walked, in holiness of life.

The Ashes of the Heifer: External Cleansing so they could continue to serve the Lord.
The Blood of Jesus: Internal cleansing, so we can continue to serve the Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Question: Shall a Christian who’s been forgiven by the Lord and made a member of His family by being born again continue to sin?
Answer: Not on purpose, but if we do, we need to know that SIN still separates us from the LORD, because what fellowship has light with darkness. Until we come back to the LORD we are in a state of being cut-off from the Lord. Some people call this ‘back-slidden’. We’re not walking like Jesus and we’re not walking with Jesus. Sin separates us from the LORD! It’s serious my friends, it’s like a walking death, with no experience or inward assurance from the Holy Spirit that we are the Lord’s.
Solution: Get right with Jesus Christ again, but open Confession of Sin; say it out loud so the Devil hears you and cannot accuse you of it ever again. Repent: turn away again from sin in your life. Seek: Seek the wholeness of the Holy Spirit and you’ll be able to walk as Jesus did, in His strength and power to please Father God with your life.

Come again unto the LORD and be cleansed from ALL sin.

God bless and keep you in His way today,

Hope you all have an AWESOME HOLY SATURDAY.
Don.

Can also be read at St Luke’s Church Facebook Page