Monthly Archives: February 2018

REDEMPTION THROUGH THE BLOOD

Aren’t you glad the “silly season” has come and gone? I noticed something different this year. The words of some of the most well-known and well-loved carols were changed to promote products. I also noticed that there were far fewer shops blaring out Christmas carols this year than last year. Is the world finally recognising that Christmas is not about Jesus – it’s about making money, overindulging and having a “good” time.

Religious celebrations are a good excuse for businesses to profit. No sooner is the Christmas season over than we plunge into Easter – another “religious” season that uses Jesus as an excuse for shops to wow their patrons into wasting their hard-earned money on frivolity.

I think it saddens the heart of God when His own people engage in all the trappings that are a part of what is very precious to Him and should be to us. Our theme this month is “redemption through His blood.” What does this mean to you?

Fortunately, we don’t have to wait for a special day to remember that, in His mercy, God intervened to rescue us from slavery to the devil. In fact, He planned it long before He ever set about preparing the earth for human habitation. The whole of human history, and that includes our little insignificant lives, was spread out before Him when He made a covenant with Jesus to come to earth, live a perfect human life and die as a sinner to rescue us from the consequences of our own rebellion.

Just imagine that! Long before we were born, God saved us. For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love, He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ… In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. (Eph. 1:4,7).

How powerfully do these words affect you? Or me? Do we dwell on them and the implications they have for us who claim to be children of God? The birth of Jesus and His death should never be a once-a-year excuse to indulge in all sorts of excesses. They should be a perpetual and sober reminder of what is cost the Son of God to bring us back to the Father and restore us to His family as true sons and daughters.

Jesus instructed us to remember His death – not just once a month when we celebrate communion. Remember what it cost Him to redeem us from the devil’s clutches.

Blood…His blood, willingly given for us. A solemn reminder that we owe it to Him to live for Him.

 

 

ACCESS THROUGH THE BLOOD

Have you ever wondered what it must have been like, under the Old Covenant, to have had no access to God except through the high priest and not without a sacrifice? No intimate heart fellowship with the Father! No reassurance of the Father’s love! No access to the throne of grace!

But…and I was taught never to begin a sentence with “but”…Jesus changed all that for us. Are there any more wonderful words in Scripture than the declaration of the writer to the Hebrews?

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place through the curtain, that it, His body, and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:19-22

Beloved brothers and sisters, let’s never forget that Jesus changed everything. We no longer have to try to please God, as the Jews did under the Old Covenant, by obeying His commands. We live under the New Covenant and all God requires of us is to believe in His Son Jesus and to love one another (1 John 3:23).

Jesus is both our high priest and our sacrifice. Believing in Him means entrusting ourselves to Him, body, soul and spirit, and allowing His Spirit in us to help us to live His life through us.

The blood of Jesus has changed our status and our standing before God. We are no longer guilty sinners. The blood of Jesus has forgiven our sin and cleansed us from all unrighteousness. We have been power-washed by His blood and we are now His beloved sons and daughters. Nothing can ever undo what He has done and nothing can change our status before Hm.

What if we sin? John assures us that, if we walk in the light, i.e., if we keep believing in Jesus and following Him, even if we slip and fall, the blood of Jesus keeps on cleansing us from all sin. God does not treat us according to our behaviour but according to our family relationship with Him.

There is one word that sums up our relationship with God – CONFIDENCE. We have confidence to approach our Father boldly, because of the blood of Jesus.

 

Wow! Shouldn’t that be an encouragement for us to come to Him in every circumstance, good or bad, because Jesus opened the way to the Father for us through His blood?

MOLLY AND ME – SUBMISSION

Going “walkies” is the highlight of Molly’s day. We go out in all weathers. So far, we have walked in sunshine, in rain, in howling gales… but not in thunderstorms. I would rather risk Molly’s wrath than the fury from the skies. Thankfully, Molly is terrified of thunder!

However, the weather isn’t the problem – Molly is. Although she submits reluctantly to the harness and leash, on the inside she is pure self-will. She reminds me of the story of the toddler who insisted on standing up in his feeding chair. The more his mother demanded that he sit down, the more he resisted.  When she finally threatened him with dire consequences if he did not obey, he reluctantly sat down, but he retorted, “I still standin’ up inside!”

We set off at a cracking pace, Molly taking the lead by galloping ahead or pulling this way and that. The whole journey up the hill to our turning point is punctuated with stops to investigate this smell or that pole with the brakes fully on on all four paws. It’s the signal for me to stop and wait for her to complete her investigation. Sometimes, we even have to retrace our steps to check on something she inadvertently missed!

As for the people we pass by on the way, Molly would take a bite at each of them if given half a chance. Unfortunately, she does not take well to strangers, not matter what the colour of their skin. Without the control of the reins, we would both be in jail by now!

What should be an enjoyable ramble along a familiar path becomes a stop-start, go this way, pull that way, smell this , sample that trip, with me being the vigilant dog-owner doing my best to keep her away from all the hazards of the way. I envy those I occasionally pass who form an amiable dog-master partnership with the dog trotting obediently by his master’s side with only a light touch on the leash.

Again, how like Molly we are on our journey through life! Instead of walking with God in peaceful trust and submission, we run this way and that, pulling at the leash to follow our own way and expecting Him to go where we want to go. Adam began the whole process by believing the devil’s lie that he was capable of choosing what was good for him regardless of his loving Father’s warning.

Abraham began his journey with the Lord by being a “Molly”. His half-hearted obedience brought a great deal of trouble on his head. It took him a lifetime to learn to submit to the will of God without deviating and with perfect confidence in the God who knows best.

Only on our homeward way does Molly settle down and trot beside me, making at least part of the exercise pleasurable for both of us. The trouble is that, by the next afternoon she has forgotten what she learned the day before, and the process begins all over again.

I have been on this journey with the Lord for some 52 years and, as I look at the way I have come, I realise with regret that I could have saved myself a great deal of trouble had I trusted Him and not insisted on my own way. Only now, at the age of 77, am I convinced that submission to the “harness and leash” of God’s will is the safest and best way to go.

The peace that guards my heart and mind is the guarantee that, no matter what happens and even no matter how many mistakes I make, He works in all things for my good so that I am being conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:28-29).

Molly doesn’t understand my language and, unfortunately, I don’t speak “dog” so, I guess, we will continue our battle of wills for a long time to come.

However, to us humans the Lord says,

“I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Don’t be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.” (Psalm 32:8-9 – NLT)

MOLLY AND ME – SUSPICION

Strange, isn’t it, that my little dog who loves me and who, seemingly. can’t get enough of me, should be suspicious of me, and yet she is.

I see it in her eyes when, at times she wants to sit on my lap but, when I bend down to pick her up, she moves away and won’t come near enough for me to reach her.

“Molly, what have I done to make you suspicious of me?” my heart cries out. Of  course, she’s a dog, not a human, and does not understand when I stop her from doing something that would harm her. I put on her harness when we go walking because I dare not let her run free in the street; I pull her away from old chicken bones or decaying food that she sniffs out and would love to chew because I know they will harm her.

Molly does not understand that I always have her health and well-being in mind when I put boundaries around her. If I were to let her have her own way all the time, she would surely destroy herself before sundown! Restrictions and discipline are not the evidence of enmity but of my fierce and protective love for her.

Are we no so like Molly in many ways?

God chose Jeremiah before he was born to be His prophet to the nations. However, this great privilege came with a price. God warned him that his message would stir up hatred against him. His own people would not understand God’s intentions towards them. They would hound him and persecute him despite his love for his people. Instead of gratitude for God’s warnings and response to His love, they would try to silence the voice that brought the message.

Jeremiah is known as “the weeping prophet” because his people, led by the rebellious and wicked kings of Judah, refused to hear him and did all they could to destroy him. Eventually, Jeremiah turned on God, bewailing the fate that God warned him would happen, In response to his bitter complaint, God said, “Jeremiah, why are you suspicious of me? Take back your words and I will be with you and protect you, just as I promised.”

Likewise, Jesus warned His disciples (and us) that trouble and hardships in this life are inevitable but we complain when trouble comes and turn on God for abandoning us. forgetting that Solomon said, in the book of Proverbs, that God uses these circumstances to discipline us because of His love. He cannot allow us to run amok – we will surely destroy ourselves just as Molly would without restraint.

How kind and gracious of the Father to allow trials and hardships to come our way. Without them, we would forget Him and our need for Him. Jesus must keep us on a leash to remind us that, without Him we can do nothing.

Throw off your suspicion when you don’t understand why you are suffering, Trust in the everlasting love of God because He would never do or allow anything that will harm you. When you cannot see His hand, trust His heart. Run to Him, not from Him because He assures you and me.

“I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can people do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5b-6).