Category Archives: Pastor’s Desk

REDEEMED!

Dear Family
We don’t hear too much about “redemption” these days. It’s a word used almost exclusively in churchy circles by theologians which we don’t really understand. The Apos-tle Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:7,8 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the rich-es of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and under-standing.”
So what is “redemption”? A diction-ary gives the definition as “the ac-tion of being saved from sin, error or evil and “the action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clear-ing a debt.”
The most probable reason we don’t hear about redemption is because we don’t like hearing that we have a need for it because of our sin. We are no longer comfortable with be-ing described as sinners because, in our warped understandings, that would be judgemental and in all likelihood, politically incorrect.
The whole world is systematically moving further and further away from owning up to its ultimate re-sponsibility to Almighty God, Crea-tor of all things. People who take responsibility for their actions are being becoming increasingly diffi-cult to find. It’s always somebody else’s fault when an individual transgresses. Blame the teacher, blame the government, blame soci-ety, blame the neighbour next door, blame the rusty nail, just blame something except yourself.
Well, God blames us! He holds us accountable and responsible for our own failings against the standards that He has set. His standards do not wax and wane with society’s norms. His standards are indifferent to Hollywood or any deviant pio-neering superstar. His standards are recorded in His Word for all to see and, according to Jesus, that Word will judge all mankind for all time. We need help! Thankfully, He has provided that help. I am a sin-ner. It is my fault. I have turned my back on God’s ways. I have com-promised His Word to suit my own desires. I have chosen my own path in opposition to Him. I am in-different to His Word. When I rec-ognize I do fall short of His stand-ards (called sin), I am able to ac-cess the riches of His grace, the forgiveness of my sin, through the redemption He has provided by His death.
I am redeemed! Praise the LORD!

THE NEW COVENANT

D ear Family
The night when Jesus reclined at the table with His disciples (yes, they reclined and didn’t sit neatly in a row on chairs as portrayed in that famous “Last Supper” painting of Leonardo Da Vinci in 1494—so much for those hidings to keep my elbows off the table) and told them that the cup of wine which He held represented the new covenant in His blood, I’m pretty certain they were somewhat confused. They missed much of His mission throughout His ministry and so this was probably also quite beyond their grasp. They certainly would have known the reference to Leviti-cus 17:11 which reads, “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atone-ment for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” But the full impact of that was initially lost on them. A “new” covenant for atonement? In His blood? Perhaps they had heard of or remembered Cousin John the Baptist’s words when he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.” If so, I can just imagine the vibrant excite-ment of anticipation in that little up-per room of earth shattering an-nouncement. The universe had nev-er ever heard such sweet words spoken before!
The new covenant is nothing short of glorious, divine, awesome! God’s standards for holiness and right-eousness certainly have not and cannot change, but His means for atonement have been made com-plete and fulfilled in Christ Jesus, applicable as before by faith.
This wonderful covenant commemo-rates the purchase of the covenant by the blood of Christ, and confirms the promises of the covenant. Those incomprehensible promises which are all “Yes” and “Amen” in him.
So, when we share in the Lord’s supper and pause to contemplate the new covenant, let’s remember that He shed His blood for us be-cause we needed it. We had no hope in the old covenant focused on sin and impossible obedience, but instead, because He loved us, and gave Himself for us, we now have a covenant found on better promis-es—put in our minds and written on our hearts by God Himself.
Oh that we would heed Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 7:1, “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, per-fecting holiness out of reverence for God.”

The Blood

D ear Family
There is so much quick and easy access to information today. For a start, one simply has to type some-thing into Google and within seconds the answer is there. It’s an exciting time to live in. We no longer have to spend hours pouring over a multitude of books in order to access information. Now it’s right there at our finger tips.
The downside of all of this is that when the wrong information is disseminated, then it gets out to every-one just as quickly. Our politicians, for example, are skilled in this art. A lie repeated often enough soon be-comes truth and it’s then almost impossible to recognize right from wrong.
In the church this wrong information also happens, often as a result of selfish people trying to manipulate others, and sometimes as a result of well meaning people trying to find more tangible facets to their faith. For example I’ve heard things like this said, “Brother, to get out of the mess you’re in, you need to apply the blood of Jesus.” “Sister, while your husband is asleep, cover him with the blood of the Lamb.” “Granny, don’t stop pouring the blood over your grandchildren for protection.” And so on and so forth. Soon this very warped concept of the blood becomes normal practice in the church. And, at the end of it all, this false information results in nothing more than an attempt to use the blood as a sort of spiritual voodoo. Nowhere is the Bible do we ever read of people doing this type of thing or anything close to it. Rather, we read of the effects of the New Covenant which Jesus instituted by His own life, death and resurrection. For example, 1 John 1:7 reads, “The blood of Jesus, His Son, keeps on cleansing us from all sin.” This is not a mandate for us to “splash the blood all over”. Instead, it is yet another promise of God’s incredible life-giving power to under-take for all our sin for all time.
We have a real responsibility in this day and age of mired teachings to stay with what we know is written and not to cling to what people (or the internet) may be saying. Go for God and stick to His Word!

Gift of Righteousness

D ear Family

I think most people like to receive gifts. I know I certainly do. For me, the best kinds are always the unexpected ones, those not tied to a date or an occasion. The element of surprise somehow seems to make the gift a lot more desirable. The worst kind of gifts to receive has to be those that anticipate a return. I’ve given you one so I expect you to give me one. When that happens the pressure is on to perform and match or even to outdo. This can’t really be classified as giving. This is more like bribery, flattery, or at least a stroking of one’s pride. There is a gift that we have been given as believers which we cannot earn, or reciprocate, or try to match. The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 5:17 “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.” The gift of righteousness—wow! Made holy by his blood without a single bit of effort on our behalf besides a surrendered will. Many spend their entire lives trying to balance the scales of their behaviour. They try to do a bit more good than bad and, in doing so, presume to be on the right side of God. Unfortunately this thinking has even invaded the church. We often lose sight of the fact that he has done it all by his blood and presented us with this inestimable gift which knows no boundary to the repentant sinner. The moment we accept that gift of His righteousness, we are set free from the power of sin over our lives. I knew a dear man once whose favourite question to those he met was always, “Are you washed in the blood?” If our answer to that question is in the affirmative, then we can know without any doubt that we have been (and continue to be) made holy by his blood. It has happened and its effects will continue for all eternity. Hallelujah! Let’s grow up and believe His word that He has completely done what He said he has done. We have no cause or time to believe the whispers of evil to the contrary. There are no strings attached to this gift of righteousness!

BUT…

D ear Family

I am so glad to be able to share with you again after my period of convalescence. Thankfully God remains unshaken in His faithfulness irrespective of our circumstances. There were times when the blues nailed me to the floor, but I am so thankful for His Spirit who is the perfect burden bearer, counselor and truth giver. I read something a couple of days ago that really sparked my interest. It went something along the lines of: “The devil whispers, ‘You can’t withstand the storm.’ The warrior (that’s us) replied, ‘I am the storm.’” The accuser of the breathen, the lord of the flies, the father of all lies often comes to us in whispers of doubt, trying to convince us that God is somehow withholding good from us—the same tactic he used in the Garden of Eden. When we choose to dwell on that it can easily lead us down a path of thorns and thistles, but when we remember to take heart that Jesus has overcome the world and that the One in us is greater than the one in the world, then we can confidently state, “I am the storm.” Have you noticed how many “buts” there are in the Bible—exactly 4029 in my translation. These appear in both a negative and positive context. For example, a negative: “A good man obtains favour from the Lord, but the Lord condemns a crafty man.” Proverbs 12:2. And in the very next verse an example of a positive: “A man cannot be established through wickedness, but the righteous cannot be uprooted.” I love the positive “buts” because they always emphasise the incredible goodness and kindness of Almighty God. Here’s a favourite from Ephesians 2:12–13: “…remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” Without hope and without God, BUT now in Christ brought near!

Let your negative circumstance know today that you are filled with promises to counteract every devious demon to carry you to victory in every circumstance.