Saturday, 30 June 2007

Neither will they be persuaded, though one rise from the dead

“And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” - Luke 16v31

At the end of Jesus’ story of the rich man and Lazarus we find Lazarus, the poor beggar in Abraham’s bosom and the rich man in Hades. When the rich man saw the torments and sufferings there he asked Abraham to send someone back to warn his family. Surely, if someone came back from hell they would believe him.

I recently saw a discussion about someone who was saying that God had let him spend 23 minutes in hell. It was very sensational and some said that this would be the perfect tool to convince people about the reality of hell. Many people are looking for just this kind of signs and wonders to convince people of the reality of God.

What did Abraham say? There was no need in sending anyone back. If people won’t believe Moses and the prophets, or the word of God, they would not even believe it if someone came back from the dead.

God’s word is always enough. Why do so many persist in wanting more? Praise God for the absolute sufficiency of His perfect word!

Friday, 29 June 2007

You justify yourselves

“And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” - Luke 16v14-15

Self-justification is a common problem. Way back in the 70s we heard about “I’m Okay, You’re Okay,” and topics like that. It even goes back further than that – when Adam was confronted with his sin he blamed Eve and when Eve was confronted she blamed Adam. “I really can’t be that bad,” seems to be the attitude, “I am really okay.”

The Pharisees carried on that tradition. The loved their money and they justified themselves. The problem was that they could do all the self-justifying they wanted, but God knew the reality of their hearts. It really is a matter of the heart.

Now, it is easy enough for us to talk about Adam and Eve or the Pharisees, but what about us? Can’t we be just as bad? Who do we blame for our sin? Are we willing to admit that we really are that bad, or do we want to try and pass the blame off onto someone else? We had better remember, no matter what we try to tell ourselves and everyone else – God knows our hearts.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Lost and Found

“It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.” - Luke 15v32

God seems to revel in lost things. Nothing that is lost is too small or insignificant for His attention. Jesus told parables about a lost coin, and lost sheep, and a lost son. In each case a main part of the story is the diligence paid to looking for those lost things.

The story of the lost son is especially poignant. The sheep and the coin were both more or less objects, but the lost son was there because of His own choices. Many of us would have been quick to write him off as a true lost cause. After all, like the elder brother said, he was faithful while the other brother ran off and wasted everything.

While we may write them off God cares about lost things. They are all important to Him. May we gain the few of lost things that Jesus has.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

When he was a great way off

“And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” - Luke 15v20

The more time goes by the more I am grateful for the story of the prodigal son. What intrigues me more and more is the role of the father in the story. To remind ourselves of the story, on of a wealthy farmer’s two sons had asked for his share of the family’s inheritance. The father granted it, and the son went out and squandered it on a wild lifestyle. When he decided to come home he must have wondered how he would be received. Surely, after all he had done, his father’s love must have changed somehow.

What he didn’t know was that his father was still waiting for him. How do we know this? We know because the father saw him when he was still “a great way off.” What did the father do? Did he respond in anger and frustration? No, when he saw his son he ran to him and hugged him, welcoming him home. The son confessed his sin and the father through a feast to welcome him back. The wandering son was home!

What does this mean to me? While God always sorrows over my sin, and at times He lovingly chastens me, all of His actions are motivated by His perfect love. When I err and go astray I can be assured that my heavenly Father waits for me in love and He is going to act in His love.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind

“But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” - Luke 14v13-14

It is lovely to spend time with our dear friends. We go back and forth for dinner, birthday parties, cups of tea, and such. We take turns hosting dinners and such. It is always nice knowing that we are going to take care of each other.

Jesus tells us that our focus should not be on such things. He says that we need to be doing for those who can’t do anything for us when it is their turn. In fact, we should be doing for those who can’t even do for themselves.

We do a lot of spiritual work and feeding. That’s great, but I think we are missing the boat when it comes to doing what Jesus is talking about here. Are we meeting the physical needs of those who really need it?

We need to consider more about what we can do to help “the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind” who can’t do anything for us in return.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Who’s going to get your stuff?

“But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” - Luke 12v20

There was an advert on American television a few years ago for Rubbermaid© products. A family was stuck the dilemma of having too much stuff. They went out and bought some storage boxes, got the mess sorted, and then decided…to get more stuff!

For some of us life is all about stuff. We get caught up in the world’s idea that more is better and that the measure of our success is who has the most toys. I think most, if not all of us, at least struggle at times with stuff.

Jesus tells the story of a rich man who was just getting richer. He got caught up in the excitement and said, “Tear down the barns, build more, and make room for all my stuff!”

The problem is, at the end of the day, stuff just won’t do it. When it is all said and done and our focus has been on stuff we need to ask ourselves the question that Jesus asked this rich man, “What’s going to happen to all your stuff now?”

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Mary chose the good part

“But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” - Luke 10v42

The story of Mary and Martha is one of those well known stories that we might be tempted to take for granted. When Jesus went to visit his friends Martha was all in a tizzy. She bustled about cleaning, cooking, and preparing. Everything that she did was good; it all needed to be done. Everything she did was good and necessary.

While Martha was busy scurrying about her sister Mary sat quietly at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him. Martha, like most of us would, basically asked Jesus to tell Mary to get to work, but Jesus told her that Mary chose the good thing, to listen to Him.

We all have very busy lives. There is so much that needs to be done and sadly we can also busy ourselves at busy things that don’t need to be done. Far too often we forget the good part about sitting at Jesus’ feet.

May we remember that when we get “encumbered about with much serving” that we never forget the good part of sitting at Jesus feet. Even more; may we never get so encumbered about with the unnecessary part that we forget about the “good part.”

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Rejoice because your names are written in heaven

“Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” - Luke 10v20

Life surely as its ups and downs, its victories and defeats, its successes and its failures. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were something solid that we could hold on to so that we could keep on rejoicing even when things were not going the way we wanted?

Jesus had sent 70 disciples out on a short term mission trip. They had seen great victories, to the point, that in their view, even the demons were subject to them. They were rejoicing in their victories. Finally, it seemed, it was all coming together.

Jesus however go their focus back in line. He knew that serving Him would not always be a bed of roses. He knew that difficult times were coming. He knew they needed something more substantial to hold on to.

“Don’t rejoice in these things,” He said, “rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” There is one place that they, and we, can always find perfect stability. That will never, ever change.

That’s why we can say in the words of a film that we have seen; “When we win, we will praise Him. When we lose, we will praise Him.”

Enjoy the victories – but remember that is not what really counts. Rejoice that our lives are secured in heaven.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Let the dead bury their dead

“Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.” - Luke 9v60

We come to those times in our lives when service and life go head to head and there is no easy resolution. God has called us to serve Him, all of us. My family serves the Lord in land far from where we were born and raised. There are still family, friends, associations, and contacts which in some ways tie us to America, but we are nor there.

One example is that Mary has never seen one of our children graduate from high school. I have only been to one graduation. This is never easy, it fact it is very hard emotionally to accept. There are other key moments that we just miss out on. It is tragic. It is hurtful. It causes disappointment and pain. Sometimes things just don’t work out practically.

However, look at what Jesus did for us. He left His heavenly home for a dirty, sin cursed world. The whole time, for 30 some years He toiled, knowing that the end result was that He would die on a cruel cross. I wonder if Jesus ever got homesick for heaven.

As hard as it is, sometimes we have to let the dead bury their dead” in serving the Lord. We have tried to submit our bodies as a living sacrifice to Him. That means we don’t always get what we want and can’t always do what we want to do.

So it is for all who choose to follow Him. Yet, is it really such a sacrifice when we think of what He did for us?

Thursday, 21 June 2007

He that is not against us is for us

“And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.” - Luke 9v50

Pride is a terrible thing. One of the tragedies is that it can lead us to think that we are the only ones who can do it right. If someone else does it differently it must be wrong and God cannot bless it.

Here the disciples were upset because someone was casting out demons in Jesus’ name, but he was not one of them. They wanted Jesus to stop Him. Jesus said however, “Leave him alone – those who are not against us are for us.”

We can be very disciple like today. If others are serving the Lord today and are not doing it with or like us it is easy to be critical of them. Surely, they can’t be doing it right. Surely, they can’t be pleasing God.

We might do well to heed Jesus’ words. If they are trying to serve Him, even though it might not be the way we would, perhaps we should “forbid them not,” for if they are not opposing God’s work perhaps, just perhaps, they are on our side.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Hear Him

“And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.” - Luke 9v35

Sometimes the simplest instructions are best. We look at the Bible and we can find it daunting. We also live in a day when, because of our hectic lifestyles people want things short and to the point. I don’t mean this to sound sacrilegious, but what would we find if we were looking for “God’s Instructions for Dummies.”

Jesus simplified it to “Love the Lord you God with all your heart, soul, and might and love your neighbour as yourself.” Nice, short, and to the point.

Perhaps it was because God knew that the disciples, like all of us, could be a bit “thick” at times. When He spoke on the Mount of Transfiguration He put it this was – “Here is my beloved Son,” and then He gave His instructions – “Hear Him.”

How is that for short and to the point? Simple hear Jesus. Hearing of course is more than just casually listening. Hearing means we take in what we hear – it means taking it to heart and applying it.

What better instructions for today than – “Hear Jesus”?

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

She loved much

“Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little” - Luke 7v47

Over and over again in Jesus’ ministry we find Him reaching out to everyone. He spent time and ate meals with the Pharisees, He encountered Romans along the road, He ate with publicans and sinners, and He even had contact with the prostitutes.

He wanted them all to be saved, and he reached out to them all. Here we have a picture of that. While at a dinner hosted by a Pharisee and prostitute came forward out of the crowd behind him and stood behind Jesus. She had noticed that no one had taken the time to wash His feet. She knew Who He was, she knew who she was, and she was broken at the rudeness of the host. It took great courage for this woman, with her reputation, to make her way through the crowd. As she did, she wept and when she got to Jesus she used her tears and her hair or wipe His feet.

The crowd was aghast. Now they do Jesus was not a prophet, because if He was He would have known the kind of woman she was and would have not allowed her to touch Him. Scandal was sure to follow.

Jesus explained the truth to them. Out of all those present this one woman knew her need, she knew that she was a sinner and she knew that only Jesus could deal with her sin. She loved Him because she knew what He could do in forgiving her sins. The Pharisees, in their self-righteousness had not need for Jesus, the did not love Him in any regard.

How much do we love Jesus? Do we, like this woman, look back and love Him because He did want only He could do for us? Or, do we like the Pharisees, take Him for granted?

Monday, 18 June 2007

Give and it shall be given you

“Give, and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” - Luke 6v38

Giving is one of those things we don’t talk about very much. Sometimes giving can be something of a scary thing. We may ask ourselves questions like “How can I possibly give when I have so little?”

We don’t give, basically, because we don’t trust. If we can’t or won’t give it is because we don’t really believe that God can provide for us if we are striving to meet the needs of others. Have a look at what Jesus said about logic – “If you give it will be given to you. What you receive will he poured out, the bag will be shaken so it settles, then more added, the bag shaken, and then it will be filled to overflowing.

We never have to be afraid to give. It is clear that we can’t out give God. After all has given us, after all He gives us, and after all He promises to give; how can we not give?

Sunday, 17 June 2007

We have seen strange things today

“And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things today.” - Luke 5v26

Recently something very “strange” happened to me. I stopped to petrol and tried to put in €30 but, as usual, went over one cent. I did not like the idea of having a pocketful of change, but couldn’t find a one cent coin anywhere. I walked over to the ATM to get some cash, and right next to the keypad, much to my surprise was a one cent coin!

Now is that a big deal, a major event? Of course not, it was one of those strange things that we see happen. Coincidence, perhaps, but I felt like, at that moment, God placed that one cent coin there for me. A strange, little thing, which helped remind me of Who God is.

God has been doing strange things for a long time. This day people saw Jesus heal a man who had been lowered through a roof. Not only that, they saw Jesus proclaim that the man’s sins had been forgiven. Their response? The glorified God and stood in awe of Him.

My finding a one cent coin when I “needed” it and Jesus healing and forgiving sins are both strange things. One was minor, trivial, and perhaps insignificant. One was major, obvious, and significant. Do we allow the strange things we see to bring glory to God?

Saturday, 16 June 2007

At your word

“And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net” - Luke 5v5

The Bible tells us that Jesus began His earthly ministry at about 30 years old. His teaching had a great appeal and the numbers of followers and listeners grew quickly. One day the crowd was so big that Jesus borrowed a fishing boat from a fisherman named Simon in order to go out into the water a little way to sit and teach the large crowd.

Even while the crowd was there Jesus saw an opportunity to teach an individual. Because He cares as much about one as He does about many, He took that opportunity. “Let out from the shore a bit Simon and let down your nets.” Simon was still young in His faith, Jesus command didn’t make any human sense because they had been fishing all night and found nothing. His statement is a great challenge though – “Nevertheless, at your word I will let down my nets.”

Notice the faith and willingness to obey Jesus. Jesus said it and that was enough for Simon. Sometimes we can read our Bibles or hear something preached about and trying to reason if this is something that we really need to do or not.

It really is pretty simple – when Jesus says it that really ought to be enough. What are we willing to do at His word?

Friday, 15 June 2007

He was subject to them

“And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” - Luke 2v51-52

I love the little we know of Jesus’ childhood. In fact we only know of one incident, when Jesus went to Jerusalem with his mother and Joseph. On the way home Mary and Joseph realised that Jesus was missing and returned to the Temple where they found Him debating with the teachers. When admonished about worrying them Jesus told His mother that He had to be about His Father’s work.

After this reminder we find an interesting perspective. Jesus left the Temple, went home to Nazareth with Mary and Joseph, and “was subject to them.” As He did so He grew as a normal child. He learned, He grew physically, and He developed socially, and even, somehow – spiritually.

One thing sticks out to me, the fact that He was subject to Mary and Joseph. Both Mary and Joseph basically knew Who they were raising. I have a hard time imagining telling God to make His bed. What might be even harder to comprehend is God obeying.

Why do was have such a hard time submitting to authority? Our sinful pride leads us to that think we can always do it better. “Why should I submit to him – he’s an idiot,” can become our normal response to those in authority.

But here we have Jesus, the All-wise and All-knowing submitting Himself to the authority of two weak, frail, sinful humans. If He could be subject to them, can I not submit to those He has put in authority over me?

Thursday, 14 June 2007

She served God with fastings and prayers

“And she was a widow of about fourscore and and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.” - Luke 2v37

Dear old Anna. After a seven year marriage and eighty-four years of widowhood she was still a prophetess in the Temple. At least 104 and she was still faithfully serving God, and part of her service was fasting and prayer. When she saw Jesus she rejoiced and shared in proclaiming that this was the promised One Who came to redeem Israel.

After Zacharias’ prayer that we would serve God all the days of our lives we see Anna who was still serving the Lord at the age of at least 104. Do you think she ever got tried of waiting for the Messiah? Do you think she ever thought, “Okay, I really need some time for myself, its time for me to retire”? Perhaps she did, being human I would guess that those thoughts crossed her mind, but she just kept on going, day after day, night after night, serving, fasting, and praying.

Next time we get tired of serving, perhaps we should remember Anna!

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

That we might serve Him without fear

“That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.” - Luke 1v74-75

Zacharias was John the Baptist’s father. His first words after John’s birth we are prophecy of the future, particularly to Israel, but with implications for us all. He spoke as he was filled with the Holy Spirit.

My heart is challenged by Zacharias’ words about serving the Lord. He asked that we would serve the Lord:

  • Without fear
  • In holiness
  • In righteousness
  • Before Him
  • All the days of our lives

Perhaps each of these deserves a message of its own, but my heart was challenged with the words “without fear,” and, “all the days of our lives.” Serving God can be a scary and daunting task. It can be tiresome and wearying. It is only by His grace that we can serve Him without fear. When we realise the immensity of the task it is scary. There is no way that mere humans can carry out a divine task. We like Zacharias need to depend on God to deliver us from fear.

How long does our service last? Is there a retirement age? No. May we serve the Lord all the days of our lives – all of them.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

My soul rejoices in God my Saviour

Tuesday, 12th June, 2007

“And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.” - Luke 1v46-47

Mary had had time to contemplate all that happened. She went to share the news with he cousin Elisabeth, who was also pregnant. After a joyful and exciting reunion where Elisabeth recognised who Mary was carrying Mary spoke of her perspective of the event. She said nothing about herself. From the very start of her comments she was full of praise to God.

She said her soul magnified Him, that He was her Saviour. She praised His character and His holiness. In spite of what was surely pubic shame and the whispers of the townsfolk Mary chose to glorify God instead of focusing on herself. We know what people thought for years later people still referred to Jesus as “the carpenter’s son.”

I am challenged by Mary’s example of praise. Does my own soul always magnify His name? Does my very spirit rejoice in God my Saviour? What a wonderful example this young woman is for us. May we have her spirit of humility!

Monday, 11 June 2007

May it be to me according to your word

“And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.” - Luke 1v38

Young Mary must have been at peace with the world. As young teenager she was already betrothed to a successful young businessman of high character. A small town girl, everything was going along just fine.

Suddenly her world was shattered! An angel came to her and told her that she was going to bear God’s child Who would be the Messiah. She was petrified at the prospect. Confusion must have been added to the mix when the angle told her that she would do this while still a virgin.

Of all the responses she could have had, the one she chose sets a pattern for us. “I am your handmaid, do with me what You will.” What power we would have with God if that was our response to whatever God wants us to do. Simple, faith filled, trusting obedience is all God wants from us.

May we follow the example of this young Jewish girl.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Wanting to gratify the people

“And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.” - Mark 15v15

Poor old Pilate was in a fix. In his heart of hearts He knew that Jesus was innocent. He knew that the charges were baseless. Outside the crowd was screaming, “Crucify Him, crucify Him.” He knew his career was in jeopardy. He surely wanted a transfer from this dirty little assignment in Judea. What does a man do? Does He do right, or does he succumb to pressure from the crowds around Him?

We all know what Pilate did – he released Barabbas and sentenced Jesus. He did his part. The crowds probably did not love him after this, but there were content with His decision.

Although the consequences may not be as clear for history to see we all face decisions like Pilate had to make. We may be at an office party, a barbecue, a school dressing room, any number of places where the crowd around us are not saved. They are acting the way a person act and soon something happens which we know we cannot take part in. They are encouraging is to take part. We have a choice, do we do right, or do we act to please the crowd? The pressure of the crowd can seem so severe that we think we just can’t take it.

Pilate gave in. What will we do when the pressure gets severe?

Saturday, 9 June 2007

When he thought about it, he wept

“And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.” - Mark 14v72

It is a classic story of fear and betrayal. At the Last Supper Peter had assured Jesus that he would never betray him, no matter what the rest did. Jesus told him that not only would he deny Him, but he would do so three times before sunrise. And, sure enough, that’s what happened. The last time he even swore and said, “I don’t know that man!”

Now, we might be shocked at such a response. How could Peter do that? Didn’t he love the Saviour? I would never do anything like that…but wait, isn’t that exactly what Peter said.

How often do we have a chance to stand with Christ every day? How often are we in situations where we could be His spokesman or His ambassador but fear and anxiety get in the way? How many times do we deny Him, maybe not by our actual words, but by our lives, actions, and attitudes?

Do we even have the conscience to think about it and weep?

Friday, 8 June 2007

She gave all that she had

“For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.” - Mark 12v44

One day Jesus sat in the Temple watching people drop they gifts into the money box. We know from other places that the Pharisees made a big show out of their offering. To be fair, they did give a lot. They wanted everyone to know how good they were. The Jesus saw a poor widow. As she walked past she reached into her bag and drew out all that she had, two tiny copper coins. Mark tells is they were worth one quadrans. A quadrans was worth 1/64 of a day’s wages. Even if we figure a modern eight hour day at eight euro an hour she dropped in, at the very most, one euro.

This is not a lot of money to our reckoning. The Pharisees gave a fortune; this poor widow gave what wouldn’t even buy the priest a cup of coffee. Who gave more? Jesus said there was no contest – the poor widow gave more. The Pharisees gave out of their abundance; she gave out of her poverty.

The amount of our giving is not what is important in God’s sight. God cares about the heart and His sees our lives and our action in that light. We can’t give more than we have, but we can give all that we have. Is our all asking too much when He gave His all for us?

Thursday, 7 June 2007

The common people heard Him gladly

“David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.” - Mark 12v37

It is interesting to see how the different people responded to Jesus and His teaching. He was in constant conflict with the Pharisees. They rejected Him and His teaching because they flew in the face of anything and everything they had ever taught or practiced. Their pride kept them from hearing His message.

On the other hand, the common people heard Him gladly. His message was what they were looking for. The rich and powerful, as Jesus said in another place would have a hard time getting saved – their riches and power would get in the way of seeing their needs.

One of the wonderful things about Jesus’ message is that it is the message for the common man. The common man is more apt to see and be fully aware of his needs. Praise God for His message to people like me. Common people who really have nothing to offer but themselves may not be fit for much, but we are fit for God to use!

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

You are not far from the kingdom

“And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.” - Mark 12v34

I was a Catholic funeral last Saturday. As always I was impressed by the sheer size of the building. The music was beautiful, and apart from the mass itself about 90% of what was said and what happened was sound. It is that last 10% that causes the problem.

I thought as the people went through all the rituals how close they were to the truth. The same thing was true with the Pharisees Jesus encountered. They asked Him what the greatest commandment was and He told them that it was to love the Lord with all your heart and love your neighbour as yourself. They agreed with Him, and He commended them, but at the same time challenged them when He said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

Sometimes we can become complacent with family and friends who are not far. They are good people, who do so much right, and seem to have it together. Unless they take that last step of a personal relationship with Christ however they will not be in the kingdom.

We tend to look at the “wicked” as being the ones who “really need” the gospel. They do, but lets never forget the great numbers who are “not far.”

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Render to Caesar

“And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar's. And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marveled at him.” - Mark 12v16-17

Sometimes following Christ is very simple and clear cut. Sometimes it does not require a great theological truth, but simple obedience.

There is a tendency today among some Christian to portray human government, the state, as some kind of enemy that should be resisted at every turn. Unless the state supports us completely we need not obey it, or even respect it. Some go so far as to say that we need not even pay our taxes to the corrupt state.

Jesus had a different point of view and it was pretty simply. When asked about paying taxes He asked for a coin. On the coin was an image of Caesar. “Who is that?” he asked. “Well, it is Caesar,” they replied. “Then pay Caesar what is His and give God what is His.”

There was no doubt or equivocation. Pay your taxes, it is that simple. Later on we find out that God extends that to more than just taxes, but obeying the law. God established human government and He tells us to do our part in supporting it.

Pretty simple.

Monday, 4 June 2007


“But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” - Mark 11v26

I recently read a book called The Bait of Satan by John Bevere. In that book Bevere talks about one of the greatest things Satan uses to destroy Christians. He contends, and I think with reason, that lack of forgiveness, or holding offence is keeping far too many Christians from a proper walk with the Lord.

Here Jesus was talking about the power of prayer. Right after He talked about the power of prayer He mentioned that when we pray, we had better be certain that things are right between us and those who may have offended us. Jesus goes so far as to say that if we can’t forgive those who have offended us, how can we expect Him to forgive us our multitudinous offences against Him? Now our eternal security and forgiveness is secure, but our daily walk and fellowship with Him is affected by our lives.

If we can’t forgive others then we really are not acknowledging His forgiveness of our offences. It is the ultimate in cheek for us to go to Jesus in prayer, asking Him to work in our lives, taking His forgiveness for granted, when we can’t even forgive those who have offended us?

Let’s not fall pray to the bait of Satan. Before we pray again, lets be sure that offences are not keeping us from having our prayers head.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Not to be served, but to serve

“For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” - Mark 10v45

The disciples’ row over who would be important in the kingdom continued. The other ten disciples were upset because they thought James and John might be given some kind of special privileges which they would miss out on. They all seemed to want to know what was going to happen for them when the kingdom was established.

Jesus had to point out that they really had it wrong. The kingdom would be all about serving, not about being served. He pointed out that even He, the Son of Man, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe did not come to earth to be served, but to serve!

How can we be so caught up in what is good for us when Jesus Himself came to serve others. Sometimes we can make a big deal about serving, like it is something exceptional or unusual that we have to work ourselves up to do. Nothing should be farther from the truth – serving should be the norm.

As I type this a special mass has just come on the telly from Rome. Four new “saints” are about the “canonised,” but that is a subject for another time perhaps. What I noticed is the church authorities and how they are being served. It is lashing rain, and all the people in attendance are carrying their own umbrellas. The only exception is the church officials who all have umbrella holders. The incongruity of this just struck me. Should not the “leaders” in the church be the servers instead of the ones being served?

May the Lord help me to realise that my life is to serve – full stop. No big deal, no show – just simple serving.

Help me to serve by your example, Lord.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Master, please do whatever we ask

“And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.” - Mark 10v35

Sometimes the disciples are so thick and prideful that even we must wonder what was in their hearts and minds. Preceding the words above Jesus had been teaching about His coming kingdom. He talked about the difficulties of entering it, about how God was doing the impossible and other aspects of the kingdom. Then, He spoke of how He would have to suffer a brutal and vicious death.

One would think that they would have been shocked and appalled, but what did James and John do? They asked Him to do for them whatever He wanted. They ignored the crucifixion and focused on their own goals and desires. They still had not learned anything about humility. They seemed to have a way of not hearing the bad news. Their pride got in the way of learning the cost.

What lesson can we take from this? For one thing we need to keep in mind that it is not about us. It is all about Him. Even as Christians we can get the notion that this is all about us and our future. Let us not forget that there is a job to do here. It is going to involve cost and sacrifice. Lets leave the rewards up to Him.

Friday, 1 June 2007

Jesus took them up in His arms

“And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.” - Mark 10v16

Mark gives a beautiful picture of Jesus and His attitude toward children. Matthew also records this account, but I noticed something this time that is really precious.

We know the incident. Jesus was a very busy time of His ministry. Huge crowds were coming to Him to hear Him teach or to be healed. A group of parents brought their children to Jesus for a blessing. He was so busy that the disciples figured He had not time for these children. After all, they were only children.

When Jesus saw this He was “greatly displeased” at the disciples for their attitude. He taught the disciples about the importance of simple faith, but is what happens next that caught my attention. He “took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them.”

The mental image here is absolutely beautiful. Can’t you just see Jesus, in the midst of a crowd vying for His attention, tenderly holding these children on His lap? There are times when adults get frustrated and impatient with children. That is normal. Perhaps with this is mind we should try to remember this particular incident where our Saviour took the time to tenderly hold these children on His lap. His attitude toward children is one we should emulate in our lives.