Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Baptism


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

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


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

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Be Strong and Courageous


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

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


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

Friday, December 1, 2017

Full Armour


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

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


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

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Egypt


Egypt

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

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


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

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Brilliant



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

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


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

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Unevenly Yoked




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

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

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

Friday, August 4, 2017

My Shepherd




I am the good shepherd: I know my sheep… John 10:14 NIV

What a comforting verse this is. Not only does Jesus recognize me as one of his flock, but he intimately knows me. He knows what makes me happy, what is challenging for me. He knows my desires and prayers. No human can ever know me as closely and fully as Jesus does. I can rest in the knowledge that he will always be watching over me, making sure that I am safe spiritually.  He may let me be pushed further than I would like,  but he won’t let me be pushed over the edge.

I had a stressful day a little while ago and as I lay in bed I could feel my chest aching. In my head, I knew that I didn’t need to be anxious but my body was still reacting in a fearful way. It was a bit of an odd experience because I was feeling pretty analytical about it. How could I get my body in line with my mind? God has such a sense of humour.  His solution was for me to have some chocolate as I read my book. No delving into Scripture or singing spiritual songs.  Nope, just a little chocolate.  It worked really quickly, and soon I was able to go to sleep without the ache in my heart. Jesus doesn’t just know my spirit, he also knows my body . Thank you, Jesus, my sweet shepherd.