Sunday, 15 December 2013

The Shepherds hear the news

If Jesus had come today it would have been all over Twitter. Instead they told the shepherds. Same effect ... Why do we not have the same heart for mission?

Monday, 9 December 2013

Radio Debut

Last week I had my radio debut (unless you count a competition entry twenty-five years ago). Premier Christian Radio asked me to do a short interview on what is happening in the church here in Monnow Road. (Thanks Brian for the recommendation). In typical style I caught a cold two days before, and so had my head buried in a bowl of Vicks half an hour before going live. You can tell, but at least I wasn't sneezing my way through it.

Anyway, I have published the interview on for those who missed it last week.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Joseph, a calm man

Joseph sets the example as a man of calm reasoning. He also stands out as one who listens to God, and acts immediately on what he has heard. Does this describe you?

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Mary vs Gabriel

Why was Mary troubled by the appearance of the angel? Fear you can understand! She was troubled because this mean't change, and no-one likes change.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

John Foretold

John the Baptist was the last prophet before Christ. His ministry, like all the prophets, was to point the way to Christ, but in his case this became a physical act.

John 1:23
23)  He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.

He was also foretold, and fulfilled prophecy from the old testament, primarily in Isaiah, and Malachi, but also in the form of Elijah. In fact some believed he was Elijah, though a better way to put it would be that the Spirit of Elijah was upon him, as it was upon Elisha.

Elijah and John

When asked by the pharisees John denied being Elijah (John 1:21). However, he was also said to be Elijah, and as such we recognise Elijah’s Spirit upon him. Jesus said “This is Elias” (Matthew 11:13-14)

Here are just some of the ways Elijah and John were similar:

  • Both were hairy, and wore a similar clothing (2 Kings 1:8; Mark 1:6).
  • Both had disciples (2 Kings 2:3; Luke 11:1).
  • Both preached to the reigning king (1 Kings 17:1; Mark 6:20).
  • Both lived in the desert near the river Jordan (1 Kings 17:5-6; Matthew 3:5-6).
  • Both preached, and saw repentance from many (1 Kings 18:39; Matthew 3:6).
  • Both confronted the reigning king over sin (1 Kings 21:18-19; Matthew 14:3-4).

Prophesied by Isaiah

Isaiah directly foretold the coming of John (Isaiah 40:3-5), and this passage is directly quoted all four of the gospels (John 1:22-23).

  • He would be a voice in the wilderness.
  • He would prepare the way of the Lord.
  • He would witness the glory of the Lord revealed, with the audible voice of God (As happened at the baptism of Jesus).

Looking closely at this prophecy, and its fulfillment, it should be noticed that John was a voice; he was not a mere echo. He spoke with authority because he knew God and His Word intimately. His preaching was a vital message from the Lord. He did not depend on earthly wisdom which may or may not have been good He had a direct revelation from heaven. He voiced the precious Word of God.

Prophesied by Malachi

Malachi first reinforced the prophecy of Isaiah, then gives us more.

  • He would be sent by God with a message.
  • He would prepare the way of the Lord.
  • He would have the Spirit of Elijah.
  • He would turn the hearts of the fathers to the children.

This was then repeated direct to John’s dad before his birth (Luke 1:13-17).

All this and more he did in fulfilment of prophecy. John the herald of Christ.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Powerful Prayer, seeing answers.

When should you stop to pray? When you get an answer, when you know you have been heard and will get an answer, or when you know the answer is no. Otherwise keep on praying!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Give me Double

2 Kings 2:8-15

Elisha took over the role of Israel’s primary prophet, literally inheriting the mantle of Elijah.

Elijah - My God is Yahweh
Elisha - My God is Salvation

This whole passage is full of miracles. parting of the waters, ascension into Heaven without death! A second parting of the waters, and so on. Elisha had at this point been a disciple of Elijah, even his adopted son, for around seven years. He knew the score, so when he comes to ask a blessing he is quick to ask the right thing.

He asks for a double portion of the spirit that has been upon Elijah.

Deuteronomy 21:17 tells us that it is the right of the first born to receive a double portion in inheritance That is, while the rest of the sons get an evenly divided portion, the first son gets double what they get.

This leads us to realise that not only does Elisha desire (as he indeed got) double the spiritual power compared to Elijah, but also that he saw Elijah as his spiritual father. He wanted to inherit the spiritual things from his father in the same manner as we inherit physical things.

Paul reminds the Corinthians of a similar thing, though a lack in this case. 1 Corinthians 4:14-16 tells us that we need fathers, not just instructors. While you can learn from your dad, you can’t inherit from your teacher.

Is it selfish and power hungry to ask for a double portion? Not in the things of God. As it says in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2, in what we know of God let us abound!

Did Elisha go happily through life, ask for this blessing, and suddenly become this amazing man of God? Not at all. He was tested for obedience when he was first called, then spent seven years watching how Elijah lived and ministered. He was better prepared that most students for the work set before him, yet he could do nothing without God. In fact he could not even get home without a miracle!

He learns, he asks, he receives, and immediately puts it into practice.

We need to do the same.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Moses - A point of Crisis

God often takes us down paths we don’t understand. He has a plan. Sometime the plan is for someone else, like the plan for Egypt that came about because of the path israel took.

Where is God leading you?

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Psalm 119 - Tau (T)

Psalms 119:169-176

169)  Tears fall from my eyes as I come near before thee, O LORD: give me understanding according to thy word.
170)  Turn my life into freedom me according to thy word: Let my supplication come before thee.
171)  Teaching me thy statutes I will learn, and My lips shall utter praise.
172)  Tongues shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.
173)  Thine hand will help me; for I have chosen thy precepts.
174)  Thy law is my delight, O LORD; and I have longed for thy salvation.
175)  Train my soul to live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me.
176)  Turning from the way like a lost sheep I have gone astray; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.

Meaning of Tau or Tav

The meaning of the letter is  - a Mark, Life, and resurrection.

It is the last letter of the word Emet, which means truth.
It is also the last letter. As the saying goes we have gone from Aleph to Tau. Or Alpha to the Omega. That is Jesus!

Even the shape of the letter, from which we get the modern T, was originally the sign of the cross. How is a cross representing life and resurrection? Only through Jesus Christ!

I said that it also represents the Mark, in this case, the mark of Christ.

Ezekiel 9:4-6
4)  And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.
5)  And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:
6)  Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.

This is like the passover, in Egypt, with the mark on the door posts, but instead a mark on believers who will escape the judgement of God.

And so our theme for these final verses is the cross, and the salvation it brings.

Cry for Salvation

Psalms 119:169-170
169)  Let my cry come near before thee, O LORD: give me understanding according to thy word.
170)  Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word.

We start the stanza with a call for understanding and deliverance. The common cry, “how can I be saved”?

Romans 10:12-13
12)  For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
13)  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Somehow we often think salvation depends on the words of a prayer, but the truth is the individual must cry out to God. If we do not, then we are not calling on his name.

Saved Response

Psalms 119:171-172
171)  My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes.
172)  My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.

The response is immediate, I will praise you.

Romans 10:15
15)  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

Let’s have some examples of salvation.

Acts 2:46-47
46)  And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
47)  Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Acts 10:44-46
44)  While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
45)  And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
46)  For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,

The common theme is they went praising God. If repentance is not followed by praise, I question the salvation. We were on spiritual death row, and we have been set free!

Walk on

Psalms 119:173-175
173)  Let thine hand help me; for I have chosen thy precepts.
174)  I have longed for thy salvation, O LORD; and thy law is my delight.
175)  Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me.

While returning to the theme of salvation and the cross, the closing verses are also a prayer that God will keep us strong in him.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-2
1)  Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.
2)  For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.

Psalms 119:176
176)  I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.

Psalms 23:1-6
1)  A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2)  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3)  He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4)  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5)  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6)  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Judge yourself - Samuel Part 1

Eli let the flame burn out, is that what you are doing in your life?
Samuel on the other hand was already in place, ministering before God ready to listen and hear when God spoke to him. That is the example we are to follow.
Listen now.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Ayin (ng - as in Sing, or G)

Psalms 119:121-128

121)  Grant me this, that thou leave me not to mine oppressors, for I have done judgment and justice.
122)  Good is assured in thee for thy servant: let not the proud oppress me.
123)  Grit fils my eyes as they fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteousness.
124)  Great is thy mercy, which is deal unto thy servant, and teach me thy statutes.
125)  Give your servant understanding, that I may know thy testimonies.
126)  Gird yourself to action now LORD: for they have made void thy law.
127)  Golden are thy testimonies, indeed I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.
128)  Gravely I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.

Meaning of Ayin

The word Ayin means to see, and by extension, to know, understand, and obey.

Matthew 6:22-23
22)  The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
23)  But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

The two arms of the letter are said to represent the evil eye and the good eye feeding their input back down to the brain.

Not only is there the problem of our eyes looking to evil or good, there is also the fact that God encourages us to use our spiritual eyes.

1 Corinthians 2:14
14)  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

You may think that Google goggles enhance what you see, but how much better to see as God sees.

1 Samuel 16:7
7)  But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

Key phrase

The key phrase in this stanza has to be, “I am thy servant”. It occurs three times here. Thinking of where David would have been as he wrote this, he had by then become king. He says in verse 121 that he has been the judge and dispenser of justice, yet he is finding it tough. He knows that God is the judge of all men, and his justice is over all.

We need that same realisation that we are his servants.

The Plea

Psalms 119:121-125
121)  I have done judgment and justice: leave me not to mine oppressors.
122)  Be surety for thy servant for good: let not the proud oppress me.
123)  Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteousness.
124)  Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy, and teach me thy statutes.
125)  I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies.

He has a number of requests of the Lord.

  1. Don’t leave me to my enemies.
  2. Let me stand up against the proud.
  3. Open my eyes to your word.
  4. Show me mercy.
  5. Teach me.
  6. Give me understanding, and knowledge.

You can see that thread of Ayin, the eye. Open my eyes, Give me understanding. And obedience is part of being a servant.

Psalms 119:18
18)  Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

Daniel was one who definitely served God first. Of him it was said:

Daniel 5:14
14)  I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee.

Golden time

Psalm 119:127-128
127)  Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.
128)  Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.

The summary of David’s feelings, the response to having your eyes opened can only be amazement at the wonder of God. Esteemed more than Gold, and esteemed concerning all things.

Proverbs 8:8-11
8)  All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.
9)  They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.
10)  Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.
11)  For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.

When it comes to esteeming God, nothing comes close to realising how amazing he truly is. One day we will see that glory revealed, and nothing will compare.

Revelation 1:12-18
12)  And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;
13)  And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
14)  His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
15)  And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
16)  And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
17)  And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
18)  I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.