Tag Archives: love

LIVE FOR OTHERS

LIVE FOR OTHERS

The end of all things is near, Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.   (1 Peter 4: 7-10)

Peter and Paul must have shared many hours together and many thoughts about their understanding of what the Christian journey was all about. Peter echoed Paul’s instructions about prayer which we have already studied in Col. 4. In fact, what he wrote is almost word-for-word Paul’s words.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (Col. 4: 2)

Prayer is a pivotal part of our lives as followers of Jesus. Prayer is the unique activity of a son. Jesus’s role on earth was to take us to the Father so that we can interact with Him as His sons and daughters. For what purpose? To get to know the Father, to listen to Him and to submit to His authority and His will. Our task is to reproduce Jesus on earth so that His will and purposes will overtake and replace the rebellious designs of mankind. We are here for Him, not Him for us. To listen to Him is our greatest privilege and responsibility and that happens, among other things, through prayer.

And for the rest, our lives are to be lived for others. Jesus came to earth both as a son and a servant. By serving people He served the Father. Strange as it may seem, a child’s primary responsibility is to learn submission and obedience and in so doing to serve his father. How else will the family unit be established? Unless God’s authority structures are followed, the unity He envisages in the family cannot happen.

The pattern for unity is the Godhead; each one serving the other for the mutual benefit of all. When unity is disturbed, the entire universe descends into chaos and disintegration. The way to establish and maintain unity is through mutual submission and loving service.

That brings me to another thought. Power in the kingdoms of men and in the kingdom of God are in direct opposition. In the world, power is exerted by one person over another. Power is about controlling other people for one’s own ends. If people do not reciprocate, the next step is force. Make them do what I want by whatever means works – intimidation, manipulation, domination. That is Satan’s way.

Power God’s way is through self-control. Part of the miracle of the new birth is the infusion of God’s nature into the believer. He has given us His nature – mirrored in Jesus so that real power begins to operate when we respond as Jesus did to sin. Jesus showed us how it is done. Submission to the Father motivated Him to take everything that was thrown at Him without retaliating. By not participating in the sin of those who crucified Him (and that includes you and me), Jesus put an end to it right there, in His body, when they nailed Him to the cross.

Our way is to react, retaliate, take revenge or allow our anger and hatred to fester inside. Sooner or later, we will take it out on someone close to us, and so the sin of others is perpetuated in us and through us. The good news is that God is the just judge. We can leave it to Him to fight for us. How much better to let it go when we have been wronged, knowing full well that we can, like Jesus, entrust ourselves to Him who judges justly (1 Peter. 2: 23)

So, Peter said, instead of spending your time fighting your own cause, let God do it for you. It is better to spend your time serving others because, in this way you’ll be spreading goodwill around you instead of fomenting hatred and bitterness. This is the way of the kingdom. By serving others, we confirm our relationship to God as His children. We resemble Jesus, our elder brother, by acting the way He did and we, in the end, earn the right to have authority in God’s kingdom.

By investing our time and abilities in the wellbeing of others, at our own expense, we will grow in the likeness of God, whose nature is in us, and we will put to death the old selfish nature that leads to death.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

THE GOSPEL OF LUKE – THE REAL TEST

THE REAL TEST

“Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. ‘Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?’ He answered, ‘What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?’

“He said, ‘That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence — and that you love your neighbour as well as you do yourself.’

‘”Good answer!’ said Jesus. ‘Do it and you’ll live.'” Luke 10:25-28.

I think Jesus got it all wrong! Aren’t we supposed to accept Him as our personal Saviour and then we’ll go to heaven when we die?

But that’s not what the man asked Him, not what to do to get to heaven but what to do to inherit eternal life. But aren’t they the same thing? Apparently not, according to Jesus.

According to the Bible, whatever we would like to believe, the moment we are conceived, we have human life and that life will never end. We live the first phase of it on earth in an imperfect world and among imperfect people. We have been given free will as part of the package of being human and that means that we have choices to make and we have to take responsibility for our choices. Our choices also have consequences which affect our lives and the lives of the people we interact with every day.

Our natural bent is t,o do our own thing, to be greedy and selfish and to hate God because we fear the consequences of our rebellion. Why? Because Satan lied to the first pair and lured them into disobedience with false promises. Now we live in the shadow of Adam’s foolish choice!

But God didn’t create us to live like that. He created the universe, the earth and everything on it to live together in peace and harmony as a reflection of His nature. In order to fulfill His dream, He wanted us to choose to love Him and to obey Him because we love Him. But the devil had other ideas…and we live with the result.

But God was not put off. In fact He used these very circumstances to reveal one of the most beautiful aspects of His nature – what the Bible calls “what is heaviest in Him – His mercy.” Because of His mercy, He sent Jesus to show us what He is really like and to pay the debt of sin we owe Him. He took the punishment for our sin on Himself by sacrificing His life for us so that He could bring us back to the Father.

Because He has done away with the reason for our antagonism, God gives us the opportunity to return to Him and to submit ourselves to His authority. Amazingly, when we do that, He reciprocates by giving us His Holy Spirit to live in us. He replaces our old alienation with a new attitude and disposition.  Rebellion gone, we are now able to love Him and to express that love by the way we treat our fellow human beings.

This is what Jesus means by “life”, not endless physical existence but an exuberant life that embraces all people as family and cares more about them than about ourselves. In the environment of God, where nothing out of character with God can exist, everything that does not reflect Him gets pruned off. This is the process we go through as we serve out our apprenticeship in this life.

Eternal life does not begin when we die. It is God’s gift to those who choose to return to His original plan to have a family living together in harmony with Him and with one another in unselfish caring and generosity. This is the evidence that we are truly His family, living life His way here and now. Death is merely the completion of our apprenticeship and the beginning of participation with Him in His forever family in His presence.

Are you someone who had “accepted Jesus” and think you have eternal life or are you really living by loving Him and His children? That’s the real test!

STORMPROOF!

How many times have you quoted or heard the verse, “Be still and know that I am God”? We even sing the words church as a worship song. It comes in the middle of Psalm 46 – a song about storm, tumult and war and the place where peace can be found in the midst of chaos.

We love the verse but it’s difficult to put it into practice when the storm hits, isn’t it? How is it possible to be still when our problems are yelling so loudly in our hearts that we can hear nothing else? Emotional, financial, physical or relational storms hit us when we least expect them. We are often so unprepared that the storm knocks us off our feet when we haven’t had the time run to the place of refuge.

If we read the psalm carefully, I think we will recognise that the psalmist isn’t telling us to run for cover when the storm hits. He is singing about a place of refuge where we can live in safety all the time, even when the storm rages around us. That’s a different scenario from looking for a place to hide when we are being battered by unexpected circumstances.

Where can we find a place of refuge where we are always safe and at peace no matter what happens? Right in the middle of the psalm, we find the answer:

The Lord Almighty is with us; The God of Jacob is our fortress (Psa. 46:7)

We don’t need the services of psychiatrists, psychologists, councillors or even pastors in times of trouble. We need only Jesus. How do we live “in Him”? Of course, it’s difficult to begin to live in Jesus when we are in the midst of stormy circumstances. During the lull between crises (and someone said that we always live in a state of slight crisis!), is the time to work on our awareness that He loves us with a passionate, furious and indescribable love so big that He gave His life for us.

John wrote that “there is no fear in love because perfect love drives out fear”. God’s dream for us is that nothing, nothing, NOTHING will be able to shake our confidence in His love, not even the wildest, most violent storm.

Why does God allow the storms to come? It’s not the devil attacking us! It’s the Father teaching us to trust Him. Where is the safest place to be when the storm hits? Like Papa said (in “The Shack”), “Slap dab in the middle of God’s love.” Why? Because nothing can separate us from His love.

 

 

Jesus Prayed For Us

JESUS PRAYED FOR US

Just imagine – as Jesus’ prayer embraced the disciples in their desperate need at that moment, so His prayer follows every disciple from then to this very moment and beyond!

  1. Unity

What was the kernel of His prayer for all those who would follow Him down the ages through the message of His disciples?

His passion for us, as it was for them, is for the unity among His followers which reflects our oneness with Him and with the Father.

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17: 20-21)

Why is unity between the Father, Jesus and His disciples so crucial to Jesus? As we have already discussed, only the life of Jesus flowing to and through His disciples can produce the fruit of His nature in them. Nothing will convince the world of the truth of who Jesus is like the love the disciples have for one another (John 13: 34-35) and the supernatural unity between them which reflects the unity between Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The amazing thing is that this unity already exists, even between strangers. Meet a true brother or sister in Christ for the first time and the connection is already there. Spirit bonds with spirit before a word is spoken. The opposite is true when the Spirit of Jesus encounters the spirit that is in the world. The clash of light and darkness is evident without saying a word.

How tragic, then, that the church of Jesus is so fragmented today that unbelievers have to ask why there are so many different denominations. The church, to a large extent has been hijacked by so-called “spiritual leaders” who draw followers after themselves instead of connecting them to Jesus.

Even the Apostle Paul recognised this as a symptom of disunity in the infant church at Corinth.

My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.’

Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptised into the name of Paul? (1 Cor. 1: 11-13)

How do we foster and maintain the unity which the Holy Spirit has created between believers? Paul urged the Ephesian church, and all who read his letter, to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Why?

There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. (Eph. 4: 4-6)

How do we keep the unity? Submission is the key; dying to self (Gal. 2: 20); humbly submitting to Jesus as Lord (Eph. 5: 24); to spiritual leaders (Heb. 13:17); to one another (Eph. 5:21); wives to husbands (1 Pet. 3: 5-6); and having the attitude of Jesus (Phil 2: 5-11).

  1. Our glory

I have given them the glory that you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. I in them and you in me. (John 17: 22)

What was the glory which Jesus gave to His disciples? Certainly not the glory which Peter, James and John witnessed on the Mount of Transfiguration and of which John spoke in John 1: 14:

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth,

Peter was an eyewitness of that same glory of which he wrote:

We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received honour and glory from God the Father when the voice came to Him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with Him on the sacred mountain. (2 Pet. 1: 16-18)

The glory of which the three disciples were eyewitnesses was but a momentary glimpse of the glory that the Son had with the Father before the world began.

But Jesus referred here to another “glory” which was associated with His suffering. This was the glory which He gave to His disciples. “What kind of glory is this?” you may ask. Jesus gave Peter an inkling of the kind of glory his death would display:

‘I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.’  Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then He said to him, ‘Follow me.’ (John 21: 18-19)

There is a hidden glory in the suffering He asks us to endure for His sake. It is both the glory of identifying with Him in His suffering and the richness of His grace which, apart from our need, we would never experience.

Something unusual happens when people are thrown together in their suffering. Both the best and the worst comes out of them. Stories from the terrible suffering at the hands of the Germans in the concentration camps during WW2 reveal both the depth of selfishness and the heights of selfless love.

This was the heart of Jesus’ prayer for His disciples in the future – that they would grasp the glory of sharing in the suffering of others so that their hearts would be bonded into one. In the midst of the darkness of a greedy and selfish world, the light of unselfish love shines brightly to reflect the glory of God.

  1. Love

May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:  23)

Deeper and deeper went Jesus into the relationship between Himself, the Father and His followers. He dared to ask the Father that the love they shared as Father and Son would be the same love shared between the Father and His human sons and daughters. At the Father’s instruction, Jesus gave them, and all those who follow after them His name. Included in the gift of that name was the power of attorney to use that name. Never before in all of history were people allowed to use the name of the Father. What did this imply?

So great is the love the Father has for His human children that He is willing to risk giving them power of attorney to use His name, to ask in His name and to receive whatever they asked for, because they ask in the authority and according to the nature of His name. This is like a father giving his son a blank cheque on the understanding that the love and trust between them would prevent his son from abusing the privilege. Because the father loves and trusts his son, the son in turn would honour that trust by spending his father’s money wisely.

This is the kind of love the Father has for His children, entrusting to us all the privileges of sonship on the understanding that we will not abuse those privileges because we love the Father. We will respond to His love by honouring Him and upholding what He values and stands for by our submission and obedience to Him.

  1. His glory

Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am and to see my glory, the glory you gave me because you loved me before the creation of the world. (John 17: 24)

Where is this all leading? Jesus renounced His right to retain His glory when He came to earth as a human being. But this was a temporary interlude. When He took on human flesh, He took it on forever, but when He laid aside His glory, it was for a season and for a purpose. The time was coming when the Father would exalt Him to the highest place, give Him a name above every name and give Him even greater glory than He had with Him from before the creation of the world.

What Jesus had before with the Father as His right would now be given back to Him in greater measure as His reward. We have a tiny inkling of that glory as Jesus revealed the Father’s mercy poured out on undeserving sinners through His life and death. It was only because mankind rebelled against God, spurned His love and disobeyed His instructions that God was able to reveal the greatness of His love and the depth of His mercy.

Why was Jesus so eager to receive back the glory He had with the Father and to reveal it to His disciples? The answer is simple. The more we gaze at His glory, the more we are being transformed into His image.

And we, who with unveiled faces, all reflect (or contemplate) the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3: 18)

Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3,                                                                              eBook 978-4828-0511-6

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A New Command

Dear Family

This edition of “Chronicles” has several articles referring to Pastor Colin and Judy and deservedly so! We shall greatly miss them and their amazing personalities. Our lives were immeasurably enriched just because we knew them and for that we are grateful to our loving Heavenly Father. We do not idolize them, but we do as the scripture calls upon in Romans 13:7 “Give everyone what you owe him: …if honour, then honour.”

I was just thinking about some of the things that I learned from Pastor Colin and one thing really stuck out for me. He would often remind me that we should be careful to tell people how much they mean to us while they are still alive. He would say that it’s pretty useless to wait for a funeral to hear how much people appreciate you. He would then proceed to tell me what I meant to him and I would then reciprocate. A little ritual we held every now and then!

But how true this is! I’m sure all of us have been to funerals where there is either so much syrup flowing from the eulogies that we do not recognize the person, or where we sit in regret that we did not say what we could have said while the person was still with us.

Of the more than 1000 commands found in the New Testament, there is only one which an author claims as “new”. The Apostle John records Jesus as saying: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34,35
The concept of loving one another has its roots in Jesus, our example giver. This was different to any other explanation, this was about the example that Jesus himself modelled for us. Totally un-deserving, totally unselfish, totally without reciprocity and very, very specific—one another. The spin off is obvious—the world will know!

How sad it is when we instead live in a world where Christian chews Christian and spits him out without a thought. A world in which the church spends a fortune in courts of law fighting against the church for their denominational or other rights. We are the laughing stock of the earth and will be until we decide to heed Christ’s new command. And it starts with appreciating one another.

Will you join me in 2016 in finding ways to value the people in our lives?