Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Bible prophecy

Jesus in prophecy

From the many, many prophecies about Jesus the Messiah in the Old Testament, I have chosen seven that are important and explained in the New Testament.

Deuteronomy 18
" The LORD your God will raise up to you a prophet, from the midst of you, of your brethren, like to me. To Him you will listen."
What do we learn about the promised Messiah from this prophecy?
1.  God is the one who sends Him (anointed by the Holy Spirit)  -connect John 1:33
2.  He would be like them ( Jesus was the carpenters son)       - connect John1.26
3.  He would be a Hebrew (in the family of Israel)                - connect Matthew 1
4.  His words would be God's words. (He spoke with authority)  -connect John 3:34

Psalm 2 Please read it right through
"You are My Son, this day have I begotten you"
The connection to Jesus is clear in verse 2 – the rejection of the Messiah by Jews and Gentiles.
In verse 6, the expected one is proclaimed  ' the King"
Then finally the LORD present the Messiah as His SON . Jesus is not a child of God. He is the SON of God and that refers to Him as the representative of God in personal fullness.
The Psalm finishes with the exhortation to ' kiss the Son' – why? Because He is worthy of worship. He is the final judge and He can save all who trust in Him.

Psalm 110
" The LORD said unto my Lord, 'Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies you footstool'"
You will notice that God and LORD are interchanged. 'God' is the title of the one who is the Almighty, the Creator over all. 'LORD' is the name of God to show His relationship between God and the people (a little bit like parent and father).
David, in this psalm predicted that his Lord (the Messiah) would be exalted to the highest place in heaven, awaiting final victory over all evil. Also in this psalm, the Messiah is presented as the priest.. The work of a priest was to gain forgiveness of sins for the people in the sight of God.

Isaiah 42.1
"Behold my servant , whom I uphold, Mine elect in whom my soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him"
It may seem unusual that the Messiah was call to be a servant. Many people want a leader who is a warrior, a statesman, or an orator . Jesus willingly took the place of a servant – serving God's will and serving other people. His service to people was powerful  because the Holy Spirit enabled Him to do many , many miracles . ( healing the sick, calming the storm, walking on water, raising the dead etc), God said from heaven "in Him I am well pleased".

Isaiah 53
Verse 5 "He was wounded for our transgressions"
Verse 10 " When you make His soul an offering for sin"
This whole chapter is a prophecy of Jesus the Messiah being rejected by the Jewish people. And so it happened.
It also explains  (700 years before it happened) that the suffering and death of Jesus Christ had a greater purpose. Somehow God made Him to suffer in our place. Our sins deserved eternal punishment, but Jesus was wounded for our transgressions and crushed for our sins..... Now God freely forgives all who trust in His Son Jesus.

Daniel 7:13
"One like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven,  and came to the ancient of days.....and there was given to Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom that all people, nations and languages should serve Him"
This profound vision of Daniel presents the Messiah Jesus as the Son of man who will rule over the whole earth. This has not happened yet, but  when Jesus was being questioned by the Jewish court, He claimed to be that 'Son of Man' who would be given world dominion. (Mark 16:42). We have the opportunity to worship Him now
Zechariah 13:7
"Smite the shepherd"
This prophecy foretells the Messiah as a shepherd – one who cares for others more than for himself. Jesus claimed to be the Good Shepherd, giving His life for the sheep.(John 10). We can become one of His sheep by receiving him, believing in him, trusting him!

There are so many more prophecies which I encourage you to study. I can give you a list if you send me an email.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Pause and ponder

In difficult times we do well to pause from the busyness of life, to stop and ponder. Life rushes on. But sometimes we are brought to a stop with a jolt we neither planned nor expected.

As we ponder, we do well to look back and learn from the past. Some things may cause us to change our ways. Some things need to be buried for the sake of mental wellbeing and family harmony. Some happy memories ought to be cherished and remembered.

 As we ponder where we stand today we look around at our relationships, our possessions, our directions, our attitudes.

Then we do well to look ahead – where am I going? Where am I leading those who follow? What am I contributing to the good of others? Where will I be 100 years from today?

I well remember an occasion in our home, when several families gathered to celebrate the goodness of God. It was my turn to lead the Bible discussion. The topic was, 'How can we be sure of heaven?' This was a popular subject with me since I had studied near death experiences for some years. I worked with a man who had left his body and returned. I listened to several scientists who were convinced that after death was a   ' greater reality'. That morning I chose to sit next a young teenager for this reason – both of us had almost touched the door of heaven. I had been electrocuted and he had a tree fall on him. It was a bit of a miracle for us both to be alive. After quite some discussion about ways to prepare for heaven, I concluded with this remark -"in the end we are totally dependent upon the promises of God. Eternal life is a gift promised to all who believe in God's Son."

I do not know what my young friend did  with those promises of God. He along with us had freedom to choose. I am not his judge. The Lord alone knows the hearts. And the Lord knows your heart!
We are all individuals, and each one is responsible for the decisions we make in life. Blaming others is a cop out that does not cut it with God.

I would like to ponder with you two of those great and precious promises.
"God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him, will not perish , but have eternal life." John 3.16

Eternal life is not just heaven. It is participating in the life of God, trusting Jesus in this life, and then in the Father's house in the life to come.

How do we get this eternal life? – by believing in God's Son. Only Jesus is that special person who came out from heaven, lived for the good of others, indeed died for the sins of others and then rose again from the dead. Believing whole heartedly in Him is the key to having eternal life.

Who gets this opportunity?  The whole world is the focus of God's love.
He reaches out to every nation, every language, everyone! Let me illustrate:
Jacob was a swindler but God still loved him!
Matthew was a social traitor, a tax collector, but Jesus still loved him.
Peter was a rough impatient fisherman, but the Lord still loved him.
Saul was a religious bigot but the Lord Jesus still loved him.

We can all say "I am a guilty sinner, but Jesus died for me"
                     "The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me"

What an amazing God we have. He sees the guilt of our sins and still loves us. He is horrified by our bad attitudes and habits, yet He still loves us. He is deeply offended by our independence and self love , yet in love He gave his Son, Jesus , to pay the debt of our sin, to set us free.

So what are we doing today with this promise of eternal life? For those who choose not to believe, there is only one word left in the verse – perish.  But for those who feel their need of Jesus Christ , the promise still holds good:
"Everyone who believes in Him, God's Son, will have eternal life"

The second promise is more personal:
Jesus said 2000 years ago, and says it to us today:
"Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  Matthew 11.28

The Lord Jesus gives rest for those who come to Him. He welcomes all.
Rest of empathy – He understands your grief for he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
Rest of Deity – He can still calm the storm and raise the dead, if He considers it appropriate.
Rest of relationship – He wants to connect with you. Simon Peter failed Jesus badly. Jesus did not say' I told you so'. He said "do you love me?"
Rest for eternity - He holds the key to eternity, He is the first and the last, He is the beginning and the end and He loves you more than you know.

Hear His voice today and respond in simple trust – Yes Lord, I believe.

A poem, a song

Hear the blessed Saviour calling the oppressed
'O you heavy laden, come to me and rest
Come, no longer tarry, I your load will bear
Bring Me every burden, bring me every care

Are you disappointed , wandering here and there
Dragging chains of doubt and loaded down with care
Do unholy feelings struggle in your breast
Bring your case to Jesus , He will give you rest

Stumbling on the mountains dark with sin and shame
Stumbling toward the pit of hell's consuming flame
By the power of sin deluded and oppressed
Hear the blessed Shepherd – come to me and rest.

Have you by temptation often conquered been
Has a sense of weakness brought distress within
Christ will sanctify you, if you'll claim his best
In the Holy Spirit He will give you rest.

Come unto Me
I will give you rest
Take My yoke upon you
Hear Me and be blest
I am meek and lowly
Come and trust my might
Come My yoke is easy and My burden light.


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The Bible - more than History

The Bible – more than history

We might well ask why is the Bible Holy or Sacred? I previously emphasized it as history, and that is important. Now I probe deeper to see why it is different to other history books.

The Bible identifies and explains a God  who is greater than ourselves, creator of all, yet communicating with humans. Through the writings of Moses 3,500 years ago, directions for good living were given. The ten commandments still hold significant moral and spiritual value today among millions of people. Was Moses great ?- not really,  but the teachings were special because Moses said : "'This is what the LORD says" . Moses was communicating God's words.

The prophets were the same – in their historical context they spoke for God. But something makes the Bible more special – it is full of prophetic words. For example, the Prophet Daniel in Babylon prophesied about the wars of Alexander the great and it happened  just as Daniel prophesied. Another example of prophecy :- Jesus prophesied that the beautiful temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed  and so it was in AD70. This goes to  show that God , who knows the future was communicating it to those who would listen.

The most important prophecies were written about the promise of a Messiah (Christ). Isaiah prophesied 700 years  before it happened that Jesus would be born of a virgin, and that is what happened. His virgin mother was Mary. Also Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be rejected by his own people the Jews – and so it happened. They said 'we will not have this man to reign over us.'

The theme of the Messiah in prophecy, and its fulfilment , joins all the different writings together. Then in the New Testament,  we read the prophecies by Jesus Christ and others as to the present time and the future.

Indeed this is a special book. Next article we will consider the most important question – who Jesus is!


Monday, June 22, 2020

The Bible

The Bible

Most religions of the world have a 'Holy book' or 'Holy writings' for the underlying basis of belief and practices. The 'Holy Bible' is indeed such, but it is different in several ways.

It has been composed over a period of 1,500 years by some 40 different authors. Much of it is a historical narrative, ( much verified by archaeology), of the Hebrew people (later called Israelites and later some as Jews). At the end of the Bible, in the New Testament, the history of Christianity is described. This includes the significant inclusion of the Gentiles (non Jews).

The Bible is not a set of rules and rituals for all people. It is a record of God interacting with individuals and groups of people over many centuries. It highlights God connecting with Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David , Isaiah, Daniel etc. These all lived in different times and different places, so often their messages were appropriate to their circumstances.  The New Testament is connected to the Old Testament, but it is different. The New Testament records the history of Jesus, the teachings of Jesus, the death of Jesus the resurrection of Jesus etc. This led to a major change of focus. Instead of the focus being on Israel, it changed to the whole world.

The Bible is a big book – actually 66 books. Reading from the beginning is good, but reading both the Old Testament and the New Testament together is better. For example Genesis 1 begins   " In the beginning God created.......", likewise John 1 (NT)  begins   "In the beginning was.......", so these two parts of the Bible should be read together- they explain each other.

Much of the New Testament is an explanation of the Old Testament – for example the celebration of the Passover each year, is explained in the NT as a picture of Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God dying for the freedom of other people.

For those who struggle with reading English, I recommend a translation of the Bible called NLT or NASB. For those who like to study, the ESV. Why are there  so many version of the Bible?     Over the years the English language  has changed.   Also many more copies of the original writings have been discovered (like 5000 including the Dead Sea scrolls). So is the English Bible trustworthy? Evidence points to at least 98% accuracy of the original writings (many scholars have tested the accuracy of the Bible).

Please note that true Christianity (not all Christian religions) is based on the Bible, but Christians do not worship the book. Rather they worship the God who is revealed in the Bible. God has sought to connect with people in various ways, especially through the Bible. This is why in some restricted countries in the world today, millions of people would love to have a Bible to read- to know God  more fully.

I encourage you to search and see. If you do not have a Bible, please send me an email.

I invite you to  receive these articles by subscribing on the margin of the main website page .

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Each Day -purpose

Purpose and grace

These two words have stood out as I meditated on 2 Timothy chapter 1. Read the chapter and follow how these two words express great truth.
Verse 9 "Called and saved , not according to our works".

We are so blessed, not as a reward for what we might do or plan to do, but rather we are saved according to God's purpose and grace.
In one sense this is humiliating to me - God hasn't recognised all my good intentions and achievements. He does not build up my self esteem. He does not encourage my pride. He does not encourage my personal agenda. What He does recognise is faith in Jesus Christ the Lord. This is just like the words of the Lord Jesus to many people "your faith (in Me) has saved you".

In the big picture of life, this truth of God's purpose and grace is liberating and stabilising. Being accepted by God is not depending on how good or bad I am. The kindness of His grace (undeserved favour), brings forgiveness for all sins. He accepts all persons who trust in Jesus Christ the Lord. Jesus came from heaven and is the Saviour who is now alive from the dead. This brings peace of mind, that by believing in HIM,  one will not go to hell but have the gift of eternal life.

But there is more.  Instead of getting up and doing the best I can to please God, rather I can get up and move forward according to the PURPOSE of God! He has planned that I should live in 'love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control'. But is this possible?  Yes, by His Holy Spirit, by waiting on Him in prayer and Bible meditation it is possible. God does care about the detail of every day and we can trust Him to guide us .

But there is more. The bigger picture described in this chapter presents God the LORD at work saving people through the Gospel. Most of all, God plans for people to have freedom through Jesus Christ the Lord. So the real purpose for us as individuals is not our self interest, but to be involved in His purpose of rescuing people from darkness into the freedom that only Jesus Christ can give. Timothy was timid, but Paul encouraged him to press forward by God's power in the purpose of the Gospel.

So each day as we rise from thanking God for His love, we  look out the window and the decisions must be made:
-       Will I live today for myself?
-      Will I take up the cross of denying self, to follow Jesus?
-      Will I give up my plans and fit into His purposes for life?
-      Will I trust Him to care for me in all things?

This can be a very happy experience because 'we know in whom we have believed' and we are sure 'that He is able to keep until that Day what He has entrusted to us"

May God bless you all as you read through this Bible chapter again.

Friday, June 12, 2020

God at work

The evidence of God in a Christian.

A person becomes a Christian by believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Jesus Christ lived a perfect life, died as a sacrifice for our sins and rose again from the dead.

One of the first evidences of the holy spirit changing a person is their desire to worship God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Worship is the adoration of the LORD God and may include singing.

The developing evidence will be the changed life. Instead of a self centred life will be the following:
"Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control."   (Galatians 5:22)

Let me explain.
To love as God the Father loves – even our enemies.

To have joy in knowing God as Father, one who cares and responds to those who seek Him.

Living in peace, trusting the Lord through the storms and necessities of life.

A kindness that conquers self interest for the benefit of others.

Goodness is the response to need- a generosity unusual.

Faithfulness is rare. To be trustworthy in word and action – no lies or deceit.

Gentleness instead of anger and violence is the evidence of God at work.

Self-control is the ability to restrain reaction to provocation by others. We are all tempted to react too harshly or too kindly.

When God by His Holy Spirit is working in our lives, this will be the fruit (evidence).

These evidences can be seen in the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ when He taught – see Matthew 5-7
Please notice these evidences are not natural – some might be seen in 'good people'. They are best seen in those who acknowledge that "in me, that is in my flesh dwells no good thing".  Again – "I am crucified with Christ ... and the life that I now live , I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me"  (Galatians 2:20)

How does this work:

The Bible is God's word
I am unworthy, a sinner
I will trust in Jesus Christ as my LORD and my GOD
I will obey Him

Then you can taste the love, joy, peace the Holy Spirit gives.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Reaction to sin


Oxford dictionary – 'Sorrowing for one's sin'

Of course in our day, contrition is out of date. Most behave as if sin does not exist. Maybe a mistake, or a bad choice.

God is offended by all sin but finds a place to connect with those who own up to their sin and are sorry for it.
The LORD is against the arrogant and the proud who insist on their own righteousness. He rightly judges such..

A quote from the LORD
" I dwell in the high and holy place, and with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit"        Isaiah 57:18

And nothing is more important than His presence with us.
There are times when God is rightly angry, but He is the great restorer, the redeemer, the rescuer, the reconciler!

The best attitude  - "God be merciful to me the sinner"
                         "Lord restore my soul"

And He will !!!

Jesus Christ the Lord said:

"Behold I stand at the door (of the heart) and knock, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with Me"     Revelation 3:20

"If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, 
and My Father will love him, 
and we will come to him and make our home with him."   John 14:23

Take the humble place and enjoy the presence of the LORD God with you each day