Thursday, 30 April 2015

On 10 years of reflections

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. – Romans 15.4

I just want to pause to reflect on a personal milestone. It was on this day way back in 2005 when I started this devotional blog. The purpose was some what pragmatic. I wanted something ‘force’ me to not just do a cursory verse reading for my devotions. I wanted something to make me dig a little deeper. So I started a blog because I knew I would be compelled to post something more than a little thought every day.

As the years have gone by I have become more and more convinced at the importance of Christians spending daily time with God with prayer and meditation and consideration and not just a cursory reading. Anything is better than nothing – but we are only going to find patience and the comfort we need to daily living in the scriptures.

Spending quality time in mediating and reflecting on God’s word is vital to our spiritual lives. It is more than just ‘a lick and a promise.’

Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night. – Psalm 1.1-2

There is no greater blessing than spending daily time with God in reading, prayer, meditation, and reflection. It needs to be a priority in our lives. Let’s take the time to not just ‘have our devotions’ because we are supposed to do but take the time to meditate and find comfort and patience in our daily reflections on His word.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Our practice

Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. – 1 John 3.4-9

This can be a difficult passage to grasp. It seems to say on a quick reading that anyone who sins at all doesn’t know God despite the fact that earlier we read that if anyone says he does not sin he is a liar. How can these to statements match up?

I think the key phrase here is ‘he who practices righteousness is righteous.’ The passage is talking about what we practice as a way of life. Christians are still going to battle sin. It is always going to be an issue for us.

‘He who practices righteousness is righteous.’ The Christian will have righteousness as his practice and his way of life. He will not be perfect and sinless sin will not be his way or his normal practice. The child of God cannot live a life of sin because his practice will be righteous. Christ took away our sin. Sins will be the exception in our lives. They will be abhorrent. They will cause us to stop and pray and ask God for help in putting them away. We will cast them off. They won’t be our way.

The world practices sin. We practice righteousness.

There will be a difference.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Purifying hope

And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. – 1 John 3.3

Purity is one of those words that just seems kind of passé today. In a world of absolute impurity purity is always going to stand out. The value of purity seems to have gone out the window.  The church, with it is focus on liberty and in an attempt to throw of what has been perceived as ‘legalism,’ can sometimes be guilty of not emphasising Biblical purity.  Purity can come across as legalistic or restrictive.

But God still calls us to practical purity. While it is true that at salvation we received the purity of Christ there is a call and a challenge to us.

Those who have the wonderful hope of one day being like Christ ought to be preparing for that day by living purely in the present age and our purity is to a pretty high standard. We are to purify our living ‘even as He is pure.’

If I am to be living as purely as He is pure it means that Christ-like purity is the focus of my decision making process. Is purity, the kind of purity manifested by my Saviour, my goal? Is purity more important that my earthly pleasures? Does our hope of seeing Him one day drive us to practical purity?

Monday, 27 April 2015

To be like Jesus

Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. – 1 John 3.2

All true and dedicated believers have as their goal to be like Christ. It is a common goal of which we all fall too far short, but that should stop our earnest desire to be like Him. The hymn writer Thomas Chisholm captured what should be our heart felt goal.

O to be like Thee! blessed Redeemer;
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

O to be like Thee! O to be like Thee!
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

O to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wand’ring sinners to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer, others to save.

O to be like Thee! Lord, I am coming,
Now to receive th’ anointing divine;
All that I am and have I am bringing;
Lord, from this moment all shall be Thine.

O to be like Thee! While I am pleading
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love.
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit for a life which Thou wouldst approve.

As we live here and grow in Christ we should be more and more like Him. Indeed it ought to be our longing and prayer. The more we are like Him the more we draw men to Him.

Praise Him one day it will come to pass when we see Him face to face.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Children of God

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. – 1 John 3.1

That we should be called the children of God. The children of God. How is that even possible? God is holy and righteous and pure and right and everything that is good and we are everything He is not.

And yet we know from other places that God adopts us as His children. We know we can call Him ‘Abba Father.’ We know that we are part of His family. We know that we are heirs even to the point of being joint heirs with Christ. I am a child of God.

Indeed, behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us.


God loves His children with an everlasting love. He loves us with a love that lasts forever. God never stops loving His children.

I realise that George Strait is no theologian, but I like his description of a father’s love in his song ‘Love Without End, Amen.’ He talks about an earthly father and then relates it to meeting God.

And he said, "Let me tell you a secret about a father's love,
A secret that my daddy said was just between us."
He said, "Daddies don't just love their children every now and then.
It's a love without end, amen, it's a love without end, amen."

As our Daddy God doesn’t love us ‘every now and then.’ Our Daddy God indeed loves us with a ‘love without end, amen.’

All praise to my Father for making me His son.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Born of Him

If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him. – 1 John 2.29

There is none righteous, no not one. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We are all born in sin.

We can’t argue that no man does anything that is good and right. We see plenty of examples of kindness and rightness and goodness even in the world around us.

But there is a big difference between all of those things and true Biblical righteousness. True righteousness only comes to those have have been ‘born of Him’ or ‘born again’ as Jesus put it.

True righteousness is the mark of those who are born of God. None of us, even those born of God, have the ability to ‘righteousise’ ourselves. All of our righteousness is still no better that filthy rags. It is only the righteousness of Christ imputed to us that makes a difference.

Natural man can do a lot of good. Natural man can do right to an extent. But no one can practice righteousness apart from Christ’s righteousness in him.

Christ’s righteousness is our only hope of being reconciled to God. Praise God that He gave me the gift of being born again and no longer needing to depend on my righteousness.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Confident living

And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. – 1 John 2.28

We are God’s children. His promise of eternal life is secure. I have that eternal life.

So how do I live in the light of His promise? Since my eternity is secure does that mean that I am free to do whatever I want now? Does ‘once saved always saved’ mean I just live any old way?

First of all if I have to ask that question I really need to examine my heart as to whether or not I am ‘in the faith.’ No true believer would ask that or try to get away with that.

So as we live in the light of Jesus’ promise and the hope of his return how are we to live and why bother anyway?

‘Little children, abide in Him.’ Great, but what does that mean? To abide in Christ means that we live in Him as He lives in us. It means that we abide in Christ even as we have to dwell in this world. Abiding in Christ means that we really settle in and become one with Him.

If I am truly in Christ I don’t need to fear being ashamed of myself when I see. I want to live in confidence that there is ‘nothing between my soul and the Saviour.’ I can have that confidence when I abide in Him instead of in the ways of the world.

Lord, help me to be constantly abiding in You so I can await Jesus' coming with excitement and confidence.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

The promise

Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life. – 1 John 2.24-25

I try not to make promises. I really tried not to promise things to my children and I try not to promise things to my grandchildren. I advise people not to make promises.

Promises are serious. We need to be careful about making them, especially in situation like with our kids, because we don’t know what is going to happen. We may very well have to break promises. I did make a promise on 21 January 1978 when I promised to love and be faithful to my wife till we are separated by death. There are promises we can make, but we need to be careful.

God, on the other hand, is the perfect promiser. His promises will always be fulfilled. And God makes loads of promises. There is even at least one book titled ‘All the Promises of the Bible.’

This verse speaks of the most precious promise of all – ‘this is the promise he has promised us – eternal life.’

I love this verse as a verse of security. God promised that if I accepted Christ as my Saviour He would give me eternal life. Now, to my simple mind, if God promised me eternal life it is eternal life. It is not a promise that says ‘I will give you eternal life as long as you keep earning it.’

I am glad I can have confident in the Perfect Promiser. If my eternal depending on my daily worth I would never be able to keep it. But I have eternal life because the great Promise Keeper promised it to me. And my God keeps His promises.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Don't love the world

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. – 1 John 2.15-17

Do not love the world. That sounds great, but I find that it is a lot harder to apply than we may think about. I don’t know what it is so hard to not love the world. I guess it is because sin is appealing for a season. The world has a real draw. It appeals to the lust of our flesh and the lust of our eyes and the pride of our life. That’s always been a draw – its exactly the way that Satan appealed to Eve.  It is exactly the way that Satan tempted Christ.

If sin was ugly it wouldn’t appeal to us. Back in October I was at a church function with Holly and Mary and the lads. There was a puppet there called ‘Mr Sin.’ He was really scary – he even sacred me, but he terrified my grandsons. I understood the purpose was to show sin in its true nature, but the bad thing is that the sins that the world offers are not ugly and scary. The world appears to be beautiful and alluring and tempting and lovely. If sin were as ugly as Mr Sin no one would be drawn to him. We would run in fear, like my grandsons did.

The problem with loving the world is that it is not going to last. It is already passing away and will one day be gone. All of the beauty and attraction is going to disappear and all of our love of the world will have been in vain – or worse.

But those who do the will of God abide forever.

The world is temporary. Why do we waste time on the temporary stuff when we are going to live forever? Shouldn’t our love be focused on that which will abide with us forever?

Tuesday, 21 April 2015


I write to you, little children,
Because your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake.
I write to you, fathers,
Because you have known Him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
Because you have overcome the wicked one.
I write to you, little children,
Because you have known the Father.
I have written to you, fathers,
Because you have known Him who is from the beginning.
I have written to you, young men,
Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you,
And you have overcome the wicked one. – 1 John 2.12-14

I am reading at book at the moment by two Christian writers about how people grow. It is aimed at what we need to grow into the kind of person God once us to be. I am reminded as I read it about the fact that all of us are at different stages of spiritual growth. That fact is nothing new. John wrote in this section to those in different stages of growth.

John wrote here about what, is seems like, are three generation. He wrote to fathers, young men, and little children.

To the little children God says ‘your sins are forgiven, you have known the Father.’
To the young men – ‘you have overcome the wicked one, you are strong, the word of God lives in you.’
To the fathers He says ‘you have known Him who was from the beginning.’

I think we see something here. Those who are young in the Lord, little children, know they are forgiven and they know God is their Father. That’s a pretty good basis.

Young men, the next generation up, are in the battle because they are strong, God’s word lives in them, and they have overcome the wicked one. They are in their prime and are seeing God do  great things.

And there are the fathers. The older guys. Guys like me. We are supposed to ‘know Him who was from the beginning. I think that by now we are supposed to know than God just as our Father. We are supposed to know more than just that our sins our forgiven. Because we have hopefully overcome the wicked one and developed strength and have the word of God living in us we are supposed to know God in a deeper way, as the one who was from the beginning and will carry us on into eternity.

Can we see the growth in our lives as we draw closer to God? Do we know Him better and better and better?

Monday, 20 April 2015

Blind hate

He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. – 1 John 2.9-11

Is it just me? Maybe it is the anonymity of the internet? Maybe it is the prevalence of social media and living our lives before the world? Maybe it isn’t as bad as it seems.

I don’t know, but it certainly seems like there is a growing amount of ugliness and hatred and meanness and ugliness in the world. Even worse, it seems like the church is not immune to this ugliness.

I hope it is only those things and that my perception is wrong, but it seem like there is an awful lot of ugliness and hatred being shown amongst believers. Christians, who should be seeking to find ways to unite during these dark days, seem to be find more and more way to divide and more and more things to fight over. I have been especially amazed to watch political opinions elevated to the point believers are divided, and not kindly, over political views.

Anyway, more on that later. I just want to look at one key phrase today, at the very end.

We have all heard the little phrase ‘love is blind.’ I guess there is some measure or truth in that. Love can make us blind to flaws other see.

But there is a truth here that is obvious, though not quite so romantic ‘hate blinds.’ When we allow hate to have reign in our lives all we are going to do is to stumble through life.

Hatred blinds us to anything else having to do with Christ. Hatred blinds us to all of our other flaws and sins. Hatred makes us focus on the specks in our brother’s eyes instead of the beams in our own eye. Hatred will destroy the body of Christ. Hatred means we are walking in darkness, and darkness is incompatible with God.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Walking like Jesus

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. – 1 John 2.3-6

How do we know that we know Him? How do we know that we are His? What is the test to see if we belong to Him?

Obviously we are not perfect. We still have to deal with our sin. But those who are truly ‘in Christ’ this passage says  keep Christ’s commandments, if not we are liars and His truth is not really in us. We keep His word and that is the evidence that God’s love is perfected in us. If we are truly in Christ we walk as He walked.

The old classic ‘In His Steps’ was written by Charles Sheldon and published in 1896. It has a few problems, but it puts forth the question ‘What would Jesus do?’ as the guide for how Christians are supposed to live.

That is quite a test. We ought to ask ourselves ‘when people see my life do they see Christ?’ As we reflect the light of the gospel our lives out to reflect the Light Himself. Do people see Jesus in me?

If I am truly in Christ and He is in me then it would be impossible to hide Him in my life. For true believers Jesus will shine through.

Does my life reflect ‘Christ lives in me?’ Is there evidence that I walk in Him?

Saturday, 18 April 2015

We have an advocate

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. – 1 John 2.1-2

What would happen if we had to stand before God in His courtroom of perfect divine justice to act as our own counsel as we faced the charges before us? As the charges were brought forth there would be nothing we can say but ‘guilty.’ Without someone to stand for us all we could do is to accept the penalty.

But praise that God that we have an Advocate. We have one to draw alongside and stand with us. When our advocate draws alongside he doesn’t deny our guilt. We still stand as guilty as ever. We are guilty, but our advocate stands by our side to accept the penalty for our guilt. He is the propitiation. That means that He stands by us as the one who will accept and satisfy our sin debt. Instead of ‘guilty’ the answer to our sin is ‘covered.’

Yes, we are guilty, but our Advocate stands by our side, interceding for us, as the covering and satisfaction for our sin.

So God looks on Him, and pardons me.


Friday, 17 April 2015

He is faithful

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. – 1 John 1.8-10

I am so glad that this says ‘He is faithful’ and not ‘we are faithful.’ Since I am ‘a sinner saved by grace’ I would not be capable of dealing with my sin or anyone else’s sin. 

God is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from the sins we are still going to commit. The price was paid on the cross, but we need a constant application of His gift because we still sin. Our eternity is settled already, but we still need to deal with the sin that goes on in our daily lives. 

So God says if we confess our sin He will keep our relationship pure and clean and unbroken. Though the penalty is paid, we still need to keep our relationship right by confessing our sins when we commit them. ‘Confess’ means simply that we say the same thing about our sin that God does. 

And then we can trust that He will be faithful and just with divine justice. He is not going to change His mind about His sacrifice for us and say ‘sorry, I am not going to listen. You have ‘confessed’ this one too many times.’ His faithfulness and His justice are based on His righteousness. 

He saved me – that is sorted. But I can’t walk in pure fellowship with Him if I won’t agree with Him about my sin. Praise God for His faithful forgiveness. 

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Sin, the great equaliser

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. – 1 John 1.8-10

Sin – what an ugly word. And its not a very popular word or even a concept for today. Society, in its modernism and postmodern thought has basically written the whole concept of sin or right and wrong our of our culture. Not only is nothing right or wrong, but there is no right or wrong. At best society determines what is acceptable and what is not – of course that is another issue which we don’t have to go into.

So what about sin? First of all it is real. Secondly, even when we are saved we still sin. Even though we are cleansed we still sin. If we say that we don’t sin we are calling God a liar. Sin is a problem. Sin is real. Sin is a problem we all face.

We’ll look more at dealing with sin tomorrow. For today I want to try to make an application about what it means that we all sin.

I think the key element here is that since we all sin none of us has any claim to superiority. Sin is universal. Our sins may differ in number or type or seriousness in our eyes, but we all still sin. With the the monster sin plank in my eye who am I to search out the speck of dirt in my brother’s eye?

The fact that we all sin should, instead of making me judge and jury, make me more compassionate because I realise we are all in the same boat. Instead of judging we ought to be helping each other in dealing with our sins.

If we think we are somehow better than our brother we are sadly mistaken. Our coommon sin should only increase our compassion for each other.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015


This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. – 1 John 1.5-7

The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.

That’s something that every believer knows and has heard preached dozens of times. It is one of those things that, if we are not careful, can lose its impact and its vitality as time goes by.

‘Sure, I know I am cleansed by the blood of Christ.’

Every time we fellowship around the Lord’s Table we are reminded of that truth.

But do we often dwell on what that really means? It means that ‘though my sins were as scarlet now they are as white as snow.’ It means that though I was born in sin and lived in sin I am clean and able to stand before God because of what Jesus has done for me. My sins are washed away by Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice on the cross. It means that Jesus blood covers me so that God is willing to look on Jesus and pardon me.

‘Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb. Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?’

Despite the utter depravity and ugliness of my sin God has shown me His grace and washed me as white as the new-fallen snow.

Praise God for His wonder working power!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Light walkers

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. – 1 John 1.5-7

Here is a follow-up passage on the subject of fellowship. It actually lays some conditions on what is needed for proper fellowship.

When it comes to fellowship with God just saying it doesn’t make it so. In God’s light there is no darkness at all. That means that if we can’t walk in darkness and God’s light at the same time. It reminds me of the passage in one of the prophets that says ‘can two walk together unless they are agreed?’

We all need fellowship. There is no doubt about that. The scriptures are clear. Of course true fellowship can’t happen unless there is likemindedness and our likemindedness must be based on the fact that we are all walking in the light of Christ.

That means we can’t sacrifice holiness for fellowship. We are never going to agree on every fine point. That’s fine – we are all different and see things differently. Outside of the Bible essentials we need to allow each other that liberty.

But when it comes to light walking we must be in agreement. We can’t have one of us dragging the other off the path into dark corners or down dark trails. Darkness is going to be destructive.  We can’t have really fellowship with dark walkers.

But, when we obey Christ and fellowship with others walking in the light our lights shine brighter and brighter. All of our lights burning together can light up the darkness.

Some of us live in places of great darkness. Sometimes it seems like our little candles are barely flickering and having nearly no impact. That’s exactly when we need the fellowship with other light walkers. Lets be sure that we keep our lives pure and our lights bright so that together our lights shine brightly for him.

Monday, 13 April 2015

God is Light

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. – 1 John 1.5-7

There is no greater contrast than light and darkness. Light and darkness are not compatible. Where there is light, any light, there cannot be total darkness. I have been in caves a couple of times where they turn out all the lights. When they do you can’t see anything, even your hand in front of your face.

It is this kind of darkness that consumed the world because of sin. ‘The whole world was lost in the darkness of sin…’ as the song goes. The darkness of the world so is bad that those who walk in it don’t even know what causes them to stumble. Man’s feeble attempts at lighting his own way always fail. The dark is just to dark. Man’s attempts at light cannot light the way. Those attempts at best give a temporary light that only gives the dimmest of light.

But God’s light always drives out darkness. In Christ there is no darkness at all. The Light of the world in Jesus.

Sadly man loves darkness more than He loves light. So man rejects the Light and continues to stumble. The stumbling can only result in disaster..

God shines His light through His word and through His people. He is the only answer to darkness.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Full joy

And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. – 1 John 1.4

Not only did God want us to have fellowship – he wantedussto have absolute, unmitigated, unreserved, pure, and full joy. 

Real joy is something we all want. We can stir up happiness, but we can’t stir up true joy. True joy must come from inside. Happiness depends on circumstances and situations. Joy is not contingent on those things. 

True, full joy only comes from the firm assurance and abiding presence that only comes from knowing Christ. Fullness of joy means that I know, no matter what comes my way, I have Christ and my eternity is secure. Full joy means I can rejoice even when trials come because I know that my trials will make me more like Christ. Real joy allows me carry on when it seems like everything else is falling apart. Full joy keeps my eyes on what I can’t see – not on the visible, temporal things I can see. 

Jesus came to provide real joy. It is there if we are willing to trust Him and stop trying to do it ourselves.

There is a great old little known hymn by Joseph Carlson. It speaks to those who need to come to Christ. Those who are already saved to to rest in its truths. 

If you want joy, real joy, wonderful joy;
Let Jesus come into your heart;
If you want joy, real joy, wonderful joy;
Let Jesus come into your heart.
Your sins He'll wash away,
Your night He'll turn to day,
Your life He'll make it over anew;
If you want joy, real joy, wonderful joy;
Let Jesus come into your heart.

Saturday, 11 April 2015


That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. – 1 John 1.1-3

So how do we make a practical application of the deep theological truth of the hypostatic union of God and man in Jesus Christ? 

We don’t have to wait long because John describes the reason right after the fact. 

The first thing John describes is that God was made flesh for fellowship. By his taking on human form he made it possible for sinful man to have fellowship with Him and he made it possible for sinful men to have fellowship with each other. Actually the two go hand in hand. 

God never wanted us to stand alone or to be alone. He said at the very start that it was not good that man should be alone. He never intended for us to be islands on the sea of life. Fellowship and relationships were a part of God’s plan. 

I have a friend who is a bachelor. He has lived alone for many years and he has really helped make me aware of the need for relationships with each other. We need the Lord – and we need each other. We need fellowship with Him and amongst ourselves. 

Jesus came to make that fellowship possible. Let’s enjoy our fellowship with Christ, and as fellowshippers with Him let’s be sure to enjoy our fellowship with each other. 

Friday, 10 April 2015

From the beginning

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. – 1 John 1.1-3

We know John already from his gospel accounts. Where the other three gospel writers focused on the life and ministry of Christ John focuses on the ‘who’ of Jesus. Who was He and what He all about? 

In this, the first of three letter John wrote, he continues in that vein. The thing John deals with is the same thing that he started. his gospel with – Jesus was eternal. There never was a time when Jesus was not. His eternality makes Him above and beyond the limits of human experience. It sets Him apart. He is not bound because He is the eternal God. 

The second thing Jesus assures us of is that Jesus really and truly came in the flesh. I think its important that the word of God has both aspects to Jesus just in a couple of verses. He was the eternal God – but He was also a man of flesh and blood. I don’t think that any of us will ever be able to figure that out, but there it is. 

Only God could act in His righteous justice – only man’s blood could pay the price. 

So the only solution was for God to become man while remaining God. So Jesus took on human flesh and the role of servant.

I will be the first to admit that I don’t really get it. How could ‘fullness of God’ be in ‘helpless babe?’ How could ‘veiled in the flesh the Godhead be?’ How could there be ‘incarnate deity?’

Only because God is God. Only because God created man. 

I may not really understand it all – but my thoughts are not His thoughts and my ways are not His ways. But I can rejoice that God took on flesh to deliver me from my sin. 

Thank God for incarnate deity! 

Thursday, 9 April 2015


You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. – 2 Peter 3.17-18

I used to tease my children and I now tease my grandchildren about growing up too fast. I talk about tying a brick to their heads to keep them from growing. We think, well not really, but we like to think how nice it would be if our kids could just stay our kids. 

I just finished Spencer’s Mountain, on which The Waltons was loosely based. There is a section in there (I wish I had marked it so I could find it) where Olivia is talking about how much is pains her to see her children growing up and getting ready to leave home. She mentions how she wishes life could just stay the same. We love our children and grandchildren and love to just always have them close by our sides. 

But life goes on we know deep down what a tragedy it would be if our children did not grow. 

Not growing is abnormal. This is true whether we are talking about physical or emotional or spiritual growth. If our child was not developing physically we would see a doctor. If our 16 year old was acting like a 4 year old emotionally we would say it was normal. No, really, if our children did not show signs of emotional development we would be concerned. Why is it then that far too often we are happy enough when our own spiritual growth is stunted? 

Peter puts it pretty clearly. Keep at it. Don’t stumble. Don’t be drawn away be false teaching. 

Grow in grace. 
Grow in knowledge.

I take growing in grace to mean that as we age we grow in what grace living is all about. Grace living is not about a whole tick list of dos and don’ts. Growing in grace means that I enjoy life in the grace that Jesus surprise. It means I learn how to use the liberty through grace that I have to serve God and serve others. Hopefully it means that I learn to show the same grace that Jesus shows me. 

Growing in knowledge reminds that my life is a journey to know Christ better. Our ultimate goal is to come to a ‘super-knowledge’ of Christ. Our desire is to not just know about Christ, but to know him absolutely and intimately. 

The question is not so much ‘how well are we doing today’ but are we growing day to day? 

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Bible twisters

as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. – 2 Peter 3.16

The context for this verse goes back to the previous one. Peter is writing about Paul and his teachings. I love the relationship between Peter and Paul. They love each other. They support each other. But still they have their differences. Their example would suit us well in a day when we have learned to fight and battle over the pettiest of issues and divide over the tiniest things. They teach us how to disagree and still honour God and bring unity to the church.  

Here Peter writes about Paul’s writings and how sometimes they can be hard to figure out. But he says to apply ourselves to the study of the writings because there is going to be a problem. We need to be ready to defend the scriptures because there are those who are going to try and twist the scriptures to suit themselves. 

Untaught and unstable people are going to twist the scriptures to suit their own ends. 

We must beware of scripture twisters. Sadly, it is not only the heretics and Christ rejecters who twist scripture. There are plenty of times when Christians twist the scriptures to suit their own purposes or to support their own agenda. Sadly, I can think of times early in my own preaching where I decided what I wanted to preach on then found a passage of scripture that I could use to support what I wanted to say. 

I think a lot of folks do that without evil intentions. The problem is when we know better and still twist scripture to support what we want to say and to promote our own agenda. 

The answer is not to twist Scripture to support what we want to say. The answer is that we change our view to fit scripture. 

Let’s all beware of Bible twisters – but even more important let’s be sure that we never twist God’s word to suit our own agenda. 

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Be diligent

Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, - 2 Peter 3.14-15

Diligence. The longer I live and the longer I serve the more I learn that diligence is a key word in service. Very seldom is there overnight success in God’s work. The vast majority off God’s work is done through perseverance, hard work, and diligence. 

Fortunately Peter gave us not only one example of diligence, but two. 

First to remember the Lord and His long-suffering. The passage above puts it pretty simple. ‘The long-suffering of the Lord is salvation.’ It couldn’t be any clearer than that. When we get down or discouraged or defeated we need to remember all the Jesus went through for us. He was diligent, to use Peter’s words here, all he way to the point of the cross. Anyone would have thought that He has wasted His time when He went to the cross, but His diligence led Him there and beyond to His resurrection. Jesus’ diligence is our salvation.  

Secondly we have the example of Paul. It is easy sometimes to think that Paul was the great super missionary who went out and conquered the known world for Christ. And He did. But it was not without troubles and it was not without him staying diligent in those troubles. As he wrote, ‘
Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.’

Maybe my trials are not so bad. Maybe a call to diligence is not quit so absurd. 

Lord, keep me diligent. 

Monday, 6 April 2015

Where righteousness dwells

Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. – 2 Peter 3.13

One day all this mess is going to be over. In this life we face troubles and problems and suffering and opposition and betrayal and lusts and desires and the flesh and a wicked world and selfishness and sickness and pain and on and on and on. 

There is one root cause for all of these things. Our world lacks righteousness. There is no one righteous – no, not one. 

And that is why this world and all of its inhabitants is so, so broken. 

Only Christ brings hope for individual righteousness, but the world is going to continue in unrighteousness and it is going to get worse and worse until Christ comes back. 

We are not going to fix this unrighteous world. 

But we can show folks the way of righteousness in Christ alone. Nations are not made righteous, people are. And that righteousness is never going to make us popular. 

That’s why we rest in Christ’s promises and look forward with an assured hope to the new heavens and the new earth because that is where real righteousness dwells. 

Oh what a day that will be and what a motivation to introduce others to Christ so they too can look forward to the only place that righteousness dwells. 

Sunday, 5 April 2015

So send I you - Jesus' Easter message

Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you. – John 20.19-21

Today we celebrate the greatest event in the history of the world. It is a day like no other – it remembers the day that everything changed. It is the day of the greatest victory the world has even seen. 

What a wonderful time we have at Christmas to remember the incarnation of Christ when God took on human flesh and Immanuel was revealed to the world.  

Good Friday reminds us of the great sacrifice that God made for us when Jesus went to the cross to shed His blood for us. 

But left on their own we would only have another great man. 

But Easter, or Resurrection Day, is different. This day sets is apart. On this day Jesus conquered the grave. He became Victor over sin and death. He was sent from heaven to draw me to Himself. He was sent to bring is the message of salvation. 

And after the day of victory was done Jesus spoke to His disciples. ‘As the Father sent me I send you.’

So among the first things Jesus said after he defeated death was ‘so send I you.’ The last thing He said before He went back to heaven ‘go into all the world and preach the gospel.’ It seems that his post death ministry began and ended with a challenge for us to be going out and leading men to Christ means it is pretty important. 

Let’s celebrate Jesus’ victory over death. Let’s rejoice that the grave has lost its sting. 

But let’s not stop there. Let’s go as we are sent to tell the world about the good news that because of Jesus death is nothing to fear. 

Saturday, 4 April 2015

While we are waiting

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? – 2 Peter 3.10-1

So in the midst of all this mess what are we supposed to do. ‘What manner of persons’ ought we to be? 

We have seen the promise of His coming is secure. We have seen the reason  for His ‘delay.’ Now we see how we are to live while we continue to wait. 

The day of the Lord will come as a surprise. Everything is going to end. It will all be burned up. Nothing will be left. 

So what ought we to be in the meantime? What are we to do? 
We ought to walk in holy conduct
We ought to walk in godliness
We ought to walk looking for His return

We are not called to fix the world’s politics. We are not called to be allured by the world’s entertainment. We are not called to sort out the world’s morals. We are called to walk in holiness and godliness. We are called to remember that Jesus is coming back and to draw encouragement from that. We are called not to focus on the visible and temporal. We are called to focus on the invisible and the eternal. 

It reminds of the passage in Titus that says  - ‘For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.’

What is our focus while we are waiting for  the promised return of our Saviour? 

Friday, 3 April 2015

Longsuffering grace

But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. – 2 Peter 3.8-9

Here we have the why of the waiting. Time means nothing to God. He lives outside of time. There is no difference between a day and a thousand years. So in God’s eyes Jesus might as well have only been gone a couple of days. 

So, it may seem like forever for us, but what is another day or two for Him. So we just really don’t know – but it is coming. 

And even though we may be anxious to get out of here there is a reason. 

The reason is the grace and the long-suffering of God. God’s desire is that all would come to repentance. I am sure I am upsetting one side of the Calvinism debate or the other – or maybe both here, but it seems to me that God is giving as many people as possible as chance to repent and turn to Him. It seems like God’s desire is that no one would perish in their sin – but that all, everyone, should repent and turn to Him. 

So His long-suffering grace steps in and delays the return of Christ to give everyone a chance to turn to Him. 

Praise God for His amazing grace. 
Praise God for His long-suffering grace.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

The promise of His coming

Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Saviour, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. – 2 Peter 3.1-7

Jesus is coming again. 

That has been a constant them of the scriptures since Jesus said ‘I will come again to receive you to myself.’ That must have mystified the disciples since it was in the context of ‘I go to prepare a place for you.’ 

Then after he left the angels asked the disciples why they were standing around looking up into heaven, ‘what are you looking at? He is going to come back the same way He left.’ 

There are several references Jesus’ return. The last is at the end of Revelation where John wrote ‘even so come Lord Jesus.’ 

It has been a constant theme in the history of the church. Patrick wrote in the late 5th century that 
he was anxiously looking for ‘the soon advent of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.’ Martin Luther looked around at one point and because of all the current events of the time was totally convinced that Jesus was bound to come back at any moment. 

I was saved in 1974 and have seen so many people convinced that Jesus had to come back at a particular moment because of human reckoning of dates and newspaper headlines and news stories. 

I have seen a huge list of people who had to be the anti-christ. I have seen all kinds of technology that had to be the mark of the beast. 

And yet, here is it, April of 2015 and still we wait. In fact, my very first blog post was in April 2005, and my first post was on ‘even so come Lord Jesus.’ 

And still we wait. 

‘Where is the promise of His coming?’ some may ask, ‘’things are just going on as they always have.’ 

We might be shaken by that when we see all of the history of waiting. Time after time perhaps wee have felt let down or disappointed. I wake up nearly every morning and still no return. I have said more times than I can count ‘He may come back before I finish this message.’ 

And still we wait. 

And still the scoffers scoff. 

Why do we keep waiting? Because Jesus promised He will coma back and He cannot lie.  By His word Jesus spoke all things into existence and by His word He preserves the world until He comes back. 

Even so, come Lord Jesus. 

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Slaves of corruption

While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. – 2 Peter 2.19

When we read about the false teachers in the previous verses it is obvious that these are the bad guys that we need to be on the lookout for. It is clear that their sins are sins that are prevalent today and are the things that we need to avoid. 

It is sometimes easy for us to look at the world and all that they ‘get to do’ that we don’t get to do that we can get to thinking that they have ‘all the fun’ or all the freedom to do whatever they want and don’t have that same liberty. 

So the false teachers can promise us the liberty to do whatever our flesh desires. Why be encumbered by holiness and purity and righteous living and serving others and putting them first and self-sacrifice? Why not just throw all that off and ‘eat, drink, and be merry.’ 

Because the lost arenot free. They are captive to their corruption and we are free from that bondage. Sinners sin because they are captive to sin. We expect far too much out of world when we expect them to conform the word of God. The world is going to act like the world. We can’t make them perform to our standards because they are still captive to corruption. Sinners sin because sin is their master. 

The verse ends with the reminder that people are slaves to whatever overcomes us. 

But sin has no power over us, so what does it mean when we do sin? 

It means that we resubmit to our old master. We walk right back in to sin’s grip. It means that we choose to obey a master who has no power and ignore the Master who has all power. 

The world sins because they are slaves to corruption. 

What’s our excuse?