Monday, January 29, 2018

A Strong Base



And a voice from heaven said, ”This is my Son, whom I love: with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17 NIV

Before Jesus started on his public ministry, he was baptized by John. After Jesus came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit, as a dove, alighted on him and God, the Father, spoke.  First, he affirmed that Jesus was his son, a relationship which fundamentally bound the Father and Son together.  Next, he professed his love for his Son.  Love is the most important and strongest attachment that people can have. Finally, the Father said that he was pleased with his Son.  Even before Jesus called his disciples, even before he went to the cross, the Father said that he was pleased with him.

As a base for any interactions I may have with other people, I need to remember that I am God’s child, that he loves me and that he is pleased with me, not  because of my actions, but because of my willingness to be his follower. If I am ministering out of a sense of obligation or fear, I won’t be able to share the Good News of God’s love, grace and mercy in a way that resonates with others. I need to meditate on the close binding love that God has for me, and that he is pleased with me because of my faith in him.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Baptism


“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”  Matthew 3:17 NIV

Right at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he is baptized by John, the Baptist. When John is hesitant to baptize Jesus, Jesus tells him that it is necessary to fulfill all righteousness. Jesus begins his ministry in humility and affirming his connection with his human brothers and sisters.  This is possible because Jesus is secure in his Father’s love. The audible declaration of love by the Father is a public stamp of approval of Jesus for the witnesses at the baptism.


As we go out to minister in God’s name, we need to feel sure of the Father’s love for us. If I doubt his love, I need to examine why I do and need to resolve this issue. It is only on this foundation of love that we can also be channels of love. Only when we grasp the depth of God’s love can we begin to understand how He could forgive us and want to have full fellowship with us. Jesus began his ministry bound to the Father in love, and willing to humble himself to be a servant to the people he met.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Be Strong and Courageous


Be strong and courageous...The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:6, 9 NIV

Moses had died and Joshua was now tasked with leading the Hebrews. What a responsibility! In the first nine verses of Joshua 1, God exhorts Joshua three times to be strong and courageous. God knew that Joshua would be confronted with many challenges and He wanted Joshua to keep his focus. Joshua was instructed to follow the teachings of the law, and to remember that God had promised to protect  and prosper the Hebrews, but only if they walked in God’s path.


It takes strength of character to not float down the river of least resistance by giving in to our natural greed and pride.  It takes courage to stand up for God’s commandments. As a new year begins, I’m asking God to give me the strength and courage I need to walk a godly life that is worthy of his name. I will need to remember God’s promise that He is with me every step of the way. And that his way is the way of perfect love.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Full Armour


Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the devil’s schemes. Ephesians 6:10 NIV

We are admonished to put on the full armour of God:  The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, sandals of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. God is showing us how to protect ourselves from the onslaught of the devil. I need to check that I have all my pieces on. Injury is almost certain if I leave off even one of these essentials elements of the Christian walk.


As a Christian, I need to be careful that I don’t cherry-pick my way through Scripture. Maybe I’m happy with the helmet of salvation but take issue with some of the truths that God has shown me. Maybe I have plenty of faith but I struggle to be a peacemaker with difficult people. God has exhorted me to put on the full armour so that I can become a complete, mature Christian, confident against the attacks of the one who wants to destroy me.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Egypt


Egypt

“God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” Genesis 50:24 NIV

Joseph, on his deathbed, was encouraging his brothers to go back to the land of Canaan which God had promised to Abraham.  He also made them take an oath that they would go back and bury him there. He must have known  that their hearts were not inclined to leave Egypt. Perhaps they were prospering financially, maybe they had Egyptian wives, or maybe they liked the climate in Egypt better than Canaan.  We don’t know.  What we do know is that they embalmed Joseph and buried him in Egypt. They didn’t go back to Canaan; they didn’t go where God wanted them to be.


Joseph’s brothers and their descendants continued to prosper in Egypt  to the point that the Egyptians began to feel threatened by the strength of their numbers and wealth. A new king came to power and decided to get control over the Israelites.  Four hundred years of slavery lay ahead of them. What blessings they missed and how much needless suffering they endured by not following God’s guidance.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Brilliant



“whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable –if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 NIV

We are reminded of the darker side of life all the time.  We need to recognize the reality of evil, but Paul exhorts us to not be swamped by it.  He encourages us to think about the good work that people are doing, the positive actions that governments are taking, the beauty around us, the loving people who nurture us, the compassionate people who care for the unwelcome and challenged people of the world. He wants us to think about the love that God has for us, the changes God is making in us as he transforms us.  He wants us to remember our blessings and enjoy them. We need to focus on the light so that we can dispel the darkness.


Depression and discouragement are so often the means by which Christians are kept in check. We need our daily dose of “light vitamins”.  We need to remember that this world will never be heaven, but that even as the Prince of the World tries to destroy mankind, God is lighting a path for us and blessing us in innumerable ways. We need to let the joy of the Lord well up in us so that it can be our strength. As darkness seeks to overcome us, we can be assured that the ways of the Lord are brilliant.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Unevenly Yoked




And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer, and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.  For the unbelieving man has been sanctified by her. I Corinthians 7:13-14 NIV

This passage does not mean that the husband has become a child of God, which only happens through faith in the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus.  However, it suggests that there are blessings for the husband in being married to a Christian.  He will be encouraged to read the Bible, to go to church, to pray. Maybe, eventually, his heart will be open to the love of God. Perhaps feeling the love of his wife will make him realize that her care for him not only comes from natural affection, but also from the supernatural gifts of love that God gives us.

We are also reminded that a Christian is not tainted by being with an unbeliever, rather the unbeliever is influenced by the believer.  Our eternal life with Jesus is sealed and we are protected from the effects of the world on our souls. As Christians we can pray for walls of protection around any family or friends who are not believers.  They may never know what misery they have been saved from because of the prayers of their family and friends.  Sometimes unbelievers don’t want to hear the Good News but Christians can still be praying and showing godly character.  The sweet fragrance of their lives can only be a blessing.  It may be uncomfortable for the unbeliever if conviction of sin starts to happen, but that is the first step to salvation.