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|Posted on November 29, 2011 at 5:23 AM||comments ()|
Isaiah 53:1-6. Having previously read the prophecies of the birth of Jesus, we now come to the place where we discover, prophetically, exactly why Jesus came to this earth. The words we read today help us to see Jesus as the "Suffering Servant."
It can never be said that Jesus had an easy role to play in winning salvation for us. Jesus would be ignored, rejected and despised. Yet in spite of all this, what would He still do? He would take upon Himself the afflictions and sorrows of others, and ultimately give His life as a sin offering. He who was sinless became sin for us, so we might share in His victory over sin - a victory that lasts for eternity. Each of us has wandered away like a sheep, yet the LORD laid on Jesus all of our sins. Praise God for His love in sending Jesus to save us from our sins!
Because of Jesus we can have peace with God - real peace.
"Amazing grace, O what sacrifice. The Son of God given for me. My debt He pays, and my death He dies. That I might live!"
Thanks to Graham Kendrick for these lyrics. Have a listen to "Amazing Love" some time and be inspired.
|Posted on November 28, 2011 at 5:59 AM||comments ()|
Isaiah 11:1-10. Once more we find ourselves looking at some words as found in the book of the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah describes the coming of the Son of David, who will be filled with God's Spirit. He would judge the nations in righteousness and bring peace to the world. We live in a world that longs for peace. True peace is available only through Jesus Christ, God's Son. Because of Jesus, we can have peace with God. It is only through God's love and amazing grace extended to this world through Jesus that we can enjoy peace with God. Thinking of peace, I love these words from Philippians 4:7. "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
No God, no peace. Know God, know peace. The choice is ours, but remember, there is no third option. You cannot be a fence sitter when it comes to God. Either you know Him, or you don't. This Advent, make sure you know the real peace available through Jesus.
|Posted on November 27, 2011 at 6:07 AM||comments ()|
Isaiah 9:1-7. On this first day of Advent, we go back to the Old Testament to look at these words from the prophet Isaiah. What amazes me is that Isaiah wrote these words some 700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. Isn't it wonderful to know that God has everything in control...according to His timetable? As we know, at exactly the right moment, Jesus came to this earth as a baby.
Emmanuel - God with us! Isaiah proclaimed hope in Jesus. Just look at the names he uses to describe God's Son. Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Who else but God's Son, Jesus, could live up to these titles? As we journey over the coming days through this season of Advent, which lead into Christmas, may we once again be amazed at God's incredible love for us by sending His one and only Son Jesus to this earth. Let me encourage you to pause this day and say, "Thank you, God, for Jesus."
|Posted on August 2, 2011 at 7:24 AM||comments ()|
The Bible readings for today are Psalms 58 - 60 and Romans 7. Through these Psalms, David once again speaks from the heart. His prayers are so down to earth. He calls a spade a spade, and maybe he gives us an insight to how we can communicate with God. I sense our prayers can become so routine, rather than straight from the heart. God wants to know our deepest feelings, and rather than pretend or cover these feelings up, David teaches us it is far better to be totally honest with the God who knows us intimately.
"With God we will win the victory!" David believed this, and we can know it, too. God has indeed won the victory through Jesus Christ.
In Romans 7, Paul tells of the struggle he faces, and I am sure it is one we can all relate to. No matter what we are faced with in life, we can know for certain that Jesus is with us always. God will deliver us, through Jesus Christ our Lord!
As much as we want to obey God, sometimes we do sin against Him. Satan loves it when we kick ourselves and get down and out over sin, because then he can place the pressure on us to stay down. Yet when we sin, we must remember the words John wrote in his first letter. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and to purify us from all unrighteousness."
In Christ, we have the victory. Claim it and live it out every da. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Praise God!
|Posted on August 1, 2011 at 5:30 AM||comments ()|
Today's Bible readings are Psalms 54 - 57 and Romans 6. The Psalms are wonderful reading. The thoughts expressed by David can often reflect how we sometimes feel. David cries out to God and God always hears his prayers. In his daily struggles, by turning to God, David can rise above the challenges at hand and honour God. In fact, David can even praise God. These Psalms are also very personal. God is interested in each one of us - personally. However, we need to cry out to God and not run away from Him. God knows us intimately, and He longs for us to reach out to Him. David wrote, "God is my helper." God is always there for us - we are never alone even though we may feel like it. David also wrote, "Give your burden to the LORD." What weighs heavily upon your heart today? Don't hold onto it - give it over to God. Even through David's trials, he still trusted in God. And David could cry out to God morning, noon and night! How wonderful that God is available 24/7. God's love is unfailing. His faithfulness reaches to the clouds. I am sure you can find so many other gems from Psalms 54 - 57 that you can take on board for yourself, but these are just a few that I have wanted to share with you. "Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. May your glory shine over all the earth." I hope you can join me in saying a big AMEN to that.
In looking at Romans 6, Paul talks about how we were once slaves to sin, but now we can be slaves to righteousness. How is this possible? It is all possible through Jesus Christ. Now we can be dead to sin and able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus. Sin is no longer our master for we have been set free by God's grace. Praise God for His love! The final verse from this chapter sums it up beautifully, where Paul wrote these words.
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord."
Eternity with God or eternity away from God. The choice is ours. God has done everything for us through His Son Jesus. God offers us a gift. Like any gift, we can either accept it or reject it. Acceptance of God's gift means eternal life. Rejection of His gift means eternal death. So why is it that people refuse this free gift of eternal life? Sadly, some reject the notion of a loving God. By rejecting God, they reject His free gift.
The world needs to hear the truth - God's truth. Will you make a stand for your Lord and Saviour and reach out to one other person with this offer from God? We live in a time of grace, may we not waste a moment.
|Posted on May 21, 2011 at 3:48 AM||comments ()|
Downunder, we are now approaching the end of Autumn, and about to enter Winter. In the northern hemishphere, you are getting ready for Summer. If I had a choice, I think I would prefer the warmth to the cold. However, I don't like it too hot. In Australia, it can get pretty hot. Although the two hemishperes have different seasons, thankfully it does not mean that Christians are different, for we are all one in Christ Jesus - no matter where we live.
I am amazed when I see visitors from all over the world on our website stats page. But stats don't allow me to get to know you personally. I would really appreciate it if you could send an email or leave a comment, letting me know just who you are and what brought you to this website. Tell me what God is doing in your life.
I must confess I have been slack in writing blogs over the past couple of months. I am still reading my Bible in a year, but I have not kept up with the blogging. So here I am again, letting you know God is good all the time, and that all the time God is good.
God bless, Peter
|Posted on March 10, 2011 at 6:12 AM||comments ()|
The Bible readings for March 9 are Deuteronomy 7 – 9 and Mark 12:1 – 27. In Deuteronomy, Moses continues to tell the Israelites what to do in obedience to God. God’s blessings would rest upon them should they be obedient, but if disobedience, there would be severe consequences. Throughout their wilderness journey, the Israelites have already experienced blessings and punishments. God was not going to change His ways just because the Israelites would finally cross the Jordan River into the land of Canaan. God required obedience from His chosen people, and disobedience would result in punishment. Often, they were a stubborn people, and Moses advises them to change their ways and simply obey God. God would clear away many nations ahead of the Israelites. These seven powerful nations could not stand against the might of God. God wants the Israelites to completely destroy these nations. If they chose to make treaties with them, then it would be possible for the Israelites to worship other gods. God chose the Israelites to be His own special treasure. They belong to God, and He calls them to be holy. Obedience to all God’s commands is so important. Moses longs for the Israelites to learn from the past. Obey God. Remember His goodness. Learn from your mistakes. Never take God for granted. Don’t be proud, and don’t forget God. Moses had much to say to the Israelites. He pointed them to God to encourage and remind them that He is on their side. He will fight their battles. As He has done in the past, so He will do in the future. But, it all hinged on their obedience to God. Allow God to speak to you through these words of Moses. If these words are challenging you, then let me encourage you to repent and turn back to God for He will not fail you. In Mark, Jesus challenges His the Jewish leaders with His stories. He also deals with the Pharisees, supporters of Herod and the Sadducees, who all try to bamboozle Him into making a fool of Himself. In the story of the evil farmers, Jesus pointedly refers to the Jewish leaders. Of course, He does not mention them by name, but His inference is clear and the Jewish leaders certainly picked up on it. Although they realised they were the wicked farmers, they were unable to touch Jesus because He was popular with the crowds. I imagine they were bristling with anger, and there was nothing they could do. Jesus saw through them and in their darkness, they disliked intently the light shining upon them. They longed to hide away, but it was too late. Jesus had found them out. Next comes the question about paying taxes to the Roman government. As Jesus sincerely teaches the way of God, it seemed appropriate to them to ask Jesus if it was right to pay taxes to the Roman government. They buttered Jesus up and tried to sneak under His guard. Jesus was way ahead of them, and using a coin to illustrate His point, asks whose picture and title are stamped on the coin. “Caesar’s,” they replied. Jesus then makes the wonderful statement: “Give to Caesar what belongs to him. But everything that belongs to God must be given to God.” In failing to stump Jesus, they discovered they were amazed at His answer. Jesus could still teach a valuable lesson even when being challenged in an underhand manner. The final section of today’s reading deals with the resurrection. If a woman married so many times, who would be her husband in the resurrection? Again, Jesus deals with this question by giving an answer that totally flips their benign ideas on their head. When the dead rise, they won’t be married. When a believer is married to an unbeliever, it is impossible for the unbeliever to share in eternity with the believer. So what Jesus says here makes sense. We will recognise people in the resurrection, but it will not be the same as here on earth. God is the God of the living, not of the dead. In not believing in the resurrection, the Sadducees made a serious error. The Old Testament is clear – God said to Moses, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Issac and the God of Jacob.” He is indeed the God of the living.
|Posted on March 8, 2011 at 5:41 AM||comments ()|
The Bible readings for March 8 are Deuteronomy 4 – 6 and Mark 11:20 – 33. Although Deuteronomy is a bit repetitive, it is still good for us to hear what God wanted of His people again. Humans tend to forget things, so it is good for Moses to remind the people of Israel of what God has done for them, and how He expects them to live. Although these words may sound familiar to us, I am still amazed at what I am learning because God makes it fresh for me. Rather than being bored by God’s Word, I am excited as I pick it up each day and hear Him speak to me. Thinking of the preciousness of God’s Word, I was disappointed to see a New Testament ripped to shreds and its pages blowing in the wind. The Gideons would have handed out this Bible to a secondary school student in our local area. Moses was keen for God’s Word not to fall on the ground, or upon deaf ears. God had an important message for His people, and Moses was often the messenger to bring this message. Of course, sometimes God delivered the message Himself from fire or from heaven. The Israelites had God to themselves, and unlike the gods of the other people living in the area, the Israelite’s God is real! He is the creator, and therefore the Israelites were not to make a idols out of any materials, or in the image of anything He had created. In Deuteronomy 4, Moses urges Israel to obey God. He also warns them against idolatry. Following this, he tells them there is only one God. God is God. Idols are a waste of time. They will not do anything. Only God could bring the Israelites out of Egypt and to the land of Canaan, the land He promised Abraham, Issac and Jacob. The other day we read about the cities of refuge, and now Moses sets up three similar cities on the eastern side of the Jordan River. In Chapter 5, Moses reminds them of the Ten Commandments and in chapter 6, Moses issues a call for wholehearted commitment. Wholehearted commitment is something we could all put into practise. If every Christian was 100% on fire for God, and totally devoted to Him, just imagine the difference there would be in this world. These words of Moses, echoed by Jesus in the Gospels, are relevant for us today. “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.” God’s love for us is amazing, and in response, He calls us to love Him, too. Wholehearted commitment – it sounds like a good place to start in a flourishing relationship with God. In Mark, do you remember how Jesus cursed the fig tree? The next day, as Jesus and His disciples walked towards Jerusalem, Peter noticed that the fig tree was withered from the roots. A healthy, leafy specimen of fig tree is now useless. Peter calls Jesus’ attention to it, and Jesus is able to use this as another teaching moment about faith, and how to pray in faith. Jesus is not saying that we can automatically obtain anything we want if we just think positively. In these words, Jesus means that anything is possible with faith because nothing is impossible for God. To be in a position for God to answer our prayers, we must be believers. We must not hold a grudge nor pray with selfish motives. Trust God. He is reliable. Walking through the Temple area in Jerusalem, Jesus is pounced upon by the leading priests, teachers of religious law and other leaders. Jesus cleansing the Temple did not go down well with these people, and they wondered by whose authority Jesus drove out the merchants from the Temple. Jesus would happily answer this question, if they could answer a question He has for them. “Did John’s baptism come from heaven or was it merely human? Answer me!” Put on the spot, they discussed this question among themselves. It turns out whatever answer they gave would undermine their authority in the Temple. They were caught between a rock and a hard place, so they declined to offer an answer. Instead, they said, “We don’t know.” Because they did not give an answer, neither did Jesus give an answer to their question. The Messiah is in their midst, and they are blind to His presence. Open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus today and every day.
|Posted on March 7, 2011 at 6:31 AM||comments ()|
The Bible readings for March 7 are Deuteronomy 1 – 3 and Mark 11:1 – 19. In Deuteronomy, Moses gives us a wonderful account of the journey of the Israelites from Sinai to the east of the Jordan, where they prepared to enter the land of Canaan. Some of these reports we have heard already, but Moses tells it in such a way as to grab our attention afresh. From the start, we see that a journey that would normally take eleven days actually took forty years. I sense Moses wants to reinforce how powerful God is, and remind the people that God can certainly be trusted. All the Israelites had to do was believe God’s promises. He was giving the land to them, the land He swore to give to Abraham, Issac and Jacob, and to all their descendants. God is faithful, and He was handing the land to them on a platter. It was theirs for the taking. Moses tells the people not to be afraid or discouraged. God would give them the land. From the moment they sent out scouts to check out this land is the time when doubts began to emerge. It all sounded credible, but in reality, it was an excuse to put off entering the land of Canaan. When ten of the scouts return with a biased report, the people began to fear what lay ahead. They took their eyes off God – who He is and what He can do – and trusted in man. This proved to be a fatal choice. With the exception of Joshua and Caleb, not one of that generation entered the land of Canaan. This is why for forty years the Israelites wandered about the wilderness, until the time was right. Moses recounts the victories the Israelites had over the people in these areas. These victories were won because God was on their side. If God be for us, who can be against us? Learn from the experiences of Moses and the Israelites. Learn to trust God and His Word. In Mark, Jesus reaches Jerusalem. Prior to entering the city, Jesus instructs two disciples to bring a colt to Him. Everything was in readiness for the coming of the King. The crowds celebrated the arrival of Jesus, and there was much excitement at His coming. Of course, their idea of the coming Kingdom differed to how Jesus saw it. On His arrival, Jesus entered the Temple and looked carefully at everything. What He saw must have upset Him, but as it was late in the afternoon, Jesus went out to Bethany with the twelve. The next morning, Jesus curses the fig tree. A seemingly insignificant fact, yet it is recorded here for a very good reason. Tomorrow we shall discover more about this. Returning to Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the merchants and their customers. His actions caused an uproar, and no doubt the money changers and stall keepers were not impressed. Jesus reminded them of the purpose of the Temple. “My Temple will be called a place of prayer for all nations, but you have turned it into a den of thieves. People could not find God in such a place, because in reality it was no more than a market place. The leading priests and teachers of religious law were very concerned, and began planning to kill Jesus. They did not like the attitude of Jesus, and saw Him as a troublemaker. After all, they controlled what took place in the Temple, and Jesus had upset the balance of power markedly. Yet they also were controlled by fear – fear of Jesus because of the adoring crowds who loved Jesus’ teaching. To finish off this section, come evening, Jesus and His disciples once again leave the city. Mark is very specific in regards to the events of this final week. As we journey through this week, may we take note of all that is written and once again praise God for Jesus our Saviour.
|Posted on March 6, 2011 at 7:45 AM||comments ()|
The Bible readings for March 6 are Numbers 34 – 26 and Mark 10:32 – 52. Today, we finish off our reading of the book of Numbers. It comes to an abrupt end, but right at the end we are reminded that “These are the commands and regulations that the LORD gave to the people of Israel through Moses while they camped on the plains of Moab besides the Jordan River, across from Jericho.” Although Moses was so close to the land of Canaan, he would not enter it. He had led the people of Israel this far, and Joshua would be the one to lead them into Canaan. One thing we do learn from the book of Numbers is that there was a succession plan. God had everything in control. God gave to Moses the boundaries of the land. Once more, notice the precise detail with which God organises everything. The people appointed to divide the land would be Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun and one leader from each of the tribes. God chose each of these men to fulfil His purposes. This is an important point to consider. Too often we elevate men and women to positions of leadership without waiting upon God for His guidance. God made sure the Levites were cared for. Cities of refuge were also set-up so anyone who accidentally killed a fellow human could run to for protection. Cold-blooded or intentional murder was punishable by death, but the cities of refuge were a safe haven for someone who accidentally causes another’s death. The cities of refuge represented God’s concern and provision for justice in a culture that did not always protect the innocent. God’s strict laws about murder and its consequences demonstrated His justice; murder was never taken lightly. But proof of guilt was required. In the meantime, suspects might need to stay in a city of refuge to protect themselves from the retaliation of the deceased’s family or tribe. This demonstrates the balance between God’s justice and mercy. While we are not to grow tolerant of sin and we are to seek justice, we can only be sure that justice is served when the truth about a matter is sought out. To finish the book of Numbers, we have information relating to women who inherit property. I like how the heads of the clan of Gilead saw a problem, and determined to find a solution. Rather than sit back and complain about how unfair a situation might be, why not determine to find a solution with Gods help. If things had been let go, I well imagine there might have been some bitterness amongst the tribes. However, because of the action taken by the heads of the clan of Gilead, this was averted. In Mark, Jesus is closing in on Jerusalem. Knowing His death was fast approaching, He reminds the disciples again of what to expect. Yet death is not the end – for Jesus says that after three days He will rise again. The disciples could understand talk of death, but rising again? Now that was a different kettle of fish. It must have been so hard for them to get their heads around Jesus rising from the dead three days after He died. Evidently James and John weren’t too upset by Jesus’ words. Here we find them chatting to Jesus, asking to sit in places of honour next to Him. It is interesting that the disciples become so self-centred after Jesus shares about His suffering, death and rising to life. Previously, they argued amongst themselves who was the greatest. Now, the Sons of Thunder try to have prominent positions in Jesus’ glorious Kingdom. No wonder the other ten disciples were indignant when they found out what James and John had been chatting to Jesus about. Jesus takes control of the situation, and talks about being a servant. Jesus came to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many. Our ambition should not be to attain position or power but to serve one another. Finishing off Mark 10 is the story of Jesus healing blind Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus cried out to Jesus for mercy. While others tried to silence him, Bartimaeus became even louder. Eventually, Jesus heard him and called him over. Jesus knew his need, but He still asked the question, “What do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus wanted to see. Immediately, Jesus healed him. Having been healed by Jesus, he was not going to let him go. Bartimaeus followed Jesus down the road, no doubt praising God for his sight.