Psalms 37:3-4

Often we quote the last part of verse 4, saying, “God loves me, He only wants to do me good and He’s going I to give me the desires of my heart”. That is so true and I believe it passionately but is cannot be separated from the rest of the phrase. There are conditions, the good news is it is still by grace.

CONDITION #1 -Trust in the Lord

Trusting God in all situations is believing that God loves me and that He is bigger than the biggest obstacle I face in life.

If I can believe those two basic truths, trust becomes easy.

CONDITION #2 – Do good

Hebrews 12:28 says, “…let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”

Grace has empowered me to live right, so I should, leaning on the grace give me, I am to live worthy of the call he’s placed on my life.

CONDITION #3 – Dwell in the land

The promised Land is a type, a picture, of the Kingdom. The third condition is that I be kingdom minded, lay hold of the kingdom promises of God, described by Peter and exceeding great and precious promises.

CONDITION # 4 – Feed on His faithfulness

When we feed on anything what we are dong is drawing energy from one source to energize ourselves. The faithfulness of God, when embraced energizes our lives.

CONDITION # 5 – Delight yourself also in the Lord

Just enjoy God, believers that are not full of joy have never fully comprehended all that has been done for them. God loves me and I should live delighted!

There are 5 condition, the number of grace, none of which are onerous, I must trust God and that comes from knowing Him more, commit to knowing God more and more because those that know Him, trust Him (Psalm 9:10), secondly, let the grace of God work in me so as to do good, next, lay hold of all the great and precious promises of God, then, allow the faithfulness of God to energize me and finally simply enjoy God and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Behold the Lamb of God

Posted: May 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

One description of Jesus happens to be the declaration of His cousin, John the Baptist, who declared to all those who came to him to be baptized, “Behold! The lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

The word translated take away litterally means take up, so we can say that Jesus takes up (onto the cross) the sins of the world. The next thing I am amazed by is that the fact that the verb is present and active, he takes every sin comitted in the past, every sin being committed right now and every sin that will be committed in the future has been dealt with on the cross.

What staggered me was that it was the sin of the world that Jesus took up on the cross, it wasn’t just the sin of the Christians, it wan’t just the sin of those who pray the sinners prayer, it is every sin, committed by every person, that has been dealt with on Calvery.

The issue is not how good or bad we are, every sin has been dealt with. The worst sinners sins have been dealt with, Pol Pot, Hitler, Gadaffi, Bin Laden’s all have been dealt with on the cross.

Having said that, here is a day of judgement coming, but on that day only one issue that will be dealt with is this, what have you done with Jesus? Have you believed and accepted what He has done?

John 3:18 puts it this way:

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

John says we are either saved or condemned by our response to the goodness of God and the light of Christ.

What’s the point? Simply this, it is pointless justifying ourselves by measuring ourselves against others, all their sins, like all of mine, have been dealt with. The question is what have done with the grace of Christ extended towards me?

He also…

Posted: March 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

Romans 8:30 NKJV Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

There exist in the verse an amazing progression and in each case the predestined become the called, the called are then justified and finally the justified are glorified.

Here is what caught my attention, the verbs called, justified and glorified are all in the 3rd person, they are actions taken by someone else, in this case God. But more significant than that they are aorist verbs. An aorist verb is a verb that denotes a single action that took place in the past.

Those he predestined, that he knew would accept him as Lord and Savior, he has called them, each and everyone of have been called to action, we have been created in Christ for good works. There exists in all of us a call of God, we do not need to be called we need to discover the call in us.

Those he called, God has already justified, by the sacrifice of Christ as an act of grace accepted by faith. We can never be more justified and made right in God’s eyes than we are now. Religion says I am no good that I am a filthy sinner needing to get right with God. Christianity says I am already in right standing with God.

Those that are justified, he has glorified. This is mind numbing, God has glorified his children. That word means to honour and to render it excellent. Our small thinking makes this hard to accept, but its what the word says. It also says:

As He is (as Jesus is), so we are in the world ~ 1 John 4:17

And Jesus is the glorified son of God.

God thinks good thoughts towards us, it is time we think good thoughts about ourselves!

Don’t toss your Birthright

Posted: September 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

Hebrews 12:14-16 NKJV Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:  (15)  looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;  (16)  lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.

We are encouraged not to fall short of the Grace of God and that those who fall short of the grace of God are like Esau who sold his birthright. We need to understand that the birthright is a classic illustration of grace. The birthright means the firstborn male receives double the inheritance of all other children and this is decreed before the child is born, before he has done anything right or wrong, it is not earned in any way.

Esau had that birthright but listen to what he said:

Genesis 25:29-34 NKJV  Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary.  (30)  And Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.” Therefore his name was called Edom.  (31)  But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.”  (32)  And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?”  (33)  Then Jacob said, “Swear to me as of this day.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob.  (34)  And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

Why would Esau have reacted the way he did? Why say, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?”

The answer is found in previous verse, verse 28:

Genesis 25:28 NKJV  And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Here is legalism verses grace.

Isaac loved Esau BECAUSE, there was a condition attached to his love of Esau. Planting in the heart of Esau the idea that he needed to perform for the father’s love, this in relationship to God leads to the need to ‘keep laws’ to be accepted.

Esau had never experienced ‘grace’. So placed little value on the untimate expression of grace, the birthright.

On the other hand Rebekah loved Jacob FULL STOP!

Rebekah’s love for Jacob, despite the fact he was a thief and liar, was unconditional, she loved Jacob. In relationship to God this leads to a picture of grace and it was Jacob, not Esau that got the blessing, the birthright and the name Israel – the Prince of God.

Having never known ‘unconditional love’, Esau falls short of grace and loses his birthright and the blessing.

Jesus put it this way, the one who is forgiven much, loves much. He who experiances grace values the rewards of grace, the one who never knows graces places little or no value on it’s rewards. The context of the Hebrews passage is that having experianced grace, unmerited favour, live life as a reflection of the grace bestowed.

Just a thought

See you in church!

God created all the Heavens and the earth is six amazing days, at the end of the 6th day, after He created man in His own image, the “crown of His creation”, He looked down on all His work and said, “Wow, that is amazing!”, he then sat down and enjoyed all he had created.

Genesis 2 starts with the creation of a garden, known as Eden or Paradise.  At the center of that specific creation was a man named Adam.

I find it fascinating that man is both the crowning glory of God’s creation and the center of it.

With all of that said we read in Genesis 2:18:

Now the Lord God said, It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper meet (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him.

I have a problem with this and the problem is that Adam WAS NEVER ALONE. Adam had the most amazing relationship, unhindered by sin, with God. Yet just  God and Adam alone, in God’s own words, “is not good.”

Too many people have a mindset, “I love Jesus, but I don’t have to go to church, it’s just me and Jesus” God says, “It is not good!”
Here are some reasons why it is not good for man to be alone.

God said it

I love the old saying:

God said it, I believe it and that settles it.

No debate no reasoning it away, God said it is not good to be isolated and have a mindset ‘just me and Jesus’, that should be all we need, but here are a few more reasons.

Good as you are you have weaknesses

God in his wisdom created us to need others to compliment us. Paul uses the analogy of the human body and in 1 Cor 12:17 says, “If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?” If the whole body consisted of an eye, it is a useless body and if the wholly body were an ear it is equally useless and so is the Christian who is out of fellowship.

We are called to flourish

When God created man he said be fruitful, and in Psalms we see how we become fruitful:

Those who are planted in the house of the LORD Shall flourish in the courts of our God (Psalms 92:13 NKJV).

God is into Exponential Power

It is to be noted that God is not the god of simple addition if one can defeat 1,000 then simple addition means two can beat 2,000 but look what God says:

(Leviticus 26:8 NKJV)  Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before you.

(Deuteronomy 32:30 NKJV)  How could one chase a thousand, And two put ten thousand to flight, Unless their Rock had sold them, And the LORD had surrendered them?

That is exponential effectiveness!

So, if God says, “It’s not Good”, guess what, it’s not good!

Storms will Come

Posted: June 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

I love the old Sunday school song, “With Christ in my vessel I can smile at the storm”. The reality is as I navigate through life and storms rage I can take great comfort from the fact that I am not alone but Christ is with me in the storm.

In Mark chapter four is a story of a storm that Jesus’ disciples were caught in and there are some great lessons for us from that event for us today.

Lesson #1 Storms are a part of life.

Jesus said that storms are guaranteed in this life, in fact Jesus said, “Don’t be surprised when storms come your way.” But the strange thing is that is exactly what happens, storms take us by surprise and we begin to question what is happening.

Lesson #2 The Word causes conflict.

Jesus said in Mark 4:35, “Let us cross over to the other side.”  That is the Word of God. While doing what Jesus said a storm arose. They were in the will of God, they were obeying the word, yet a storm arose. A few hours earlier Jesus had said that tribulation and persecution will arise because of the word (see Mark 4:17)

A storm, trouble in this life, doesn’t necessarily mean we are outside the will of God, it could actually be because we are in the will of God. Luke 4:1, 2 says:

Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil.

Lesson #3 God did not send the Storm

We are not told what caused the storm, was it the Devil? We are not told, but one thing is for certain, God did not send the storm. Had God sent the storm that Jesus rebuked then He would have been operating contrary to the will of God.

Lesson #4 Focus on the right things.

The word will cause conflict, conflict that is not sent by God and in the face of the storm the disciples focus shifted from the Word of God to the storm. Jesus rebuked them for their lack of faith, but notice Jesus had never changed weather patterns and the disciples were staggered that “even wind and waves” obey him. The lack of faith was in that they lost sight of the word by focusing on the storm.
What has God said to you? Keep your focus!

Lesson #5 Jesus deals with the root of the problem.

I love how Mark describes what Jesus does, verse 39, “He arose and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace be still.’”
For the disciples the issue was the waves filling the boat, for us the issue is too often the fruit of a bigger problem. Jesus rebukes the root cause of the problem, the wind. He then says to the fruit of the problem, the heavy seas, “Be still!”

Jesus, in another story, casts a demon out of a man. That was dealing with the fruit of the problem he then said, “Be careful, you have to deal with the root problem otherwise the demon will return, with seven mates and your later condition will be worse that the initial state.

There is so many more lessons from this story, they’ll have to wait!

Just a Thought

See you in Church

Mark 3:10 NKJV For He healed many, so that as many as had afflictions pressed about Him to touch Him.

Mark tells us that every person that had afflictions pressed about and touched Him.

To understand what is happening we have to go back to when the Spirit descended on Jesus ‘as a dove’ and remained on Him.
Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit at His baptism, anointing literally means ‘smearing with oil’. The word ointment has its origins in the word anoint.

We can liken the anointing of the Holy Spirit to smearing our skin with ointment and just like when we rub ointment on our skin a film of residue remains when Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit a ‘film of the Holy Spirit’ remained all over him and just like ointment infuses our clothing so to the anointing can infuse our clothing and whatever it touches. This explains why ‘Paul’s apron’ was not simply a point of contact for faith, it was drawing on the anointing on Paul that infused his clothing.

Acts 19:12 NKJV …so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.

Jesus attracted such crowds that many people pressed around him and touched him. The issue is not accidental ‘touching’ of the anointing rather it is about a deliberate conscious demand placed on the anointing.

We see this in the story of the woman sick for twelve years and having spent everything on doctors.

Luke 8:43-44 NKJV Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any,  (44)  came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped.

The woman made such a demand and Jesus perceived ‘a flow of anointing’.

Luke 8:46 NKJV Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.”

The response of Peter and the other disciples was interesting. Jesus asked who touched me and Peter says many people are pushing in, everyone is touching you, but Jesus was not asking about ‘incidental contact’ someone made a deliberate choice to draw from the anointing He was carrying.

If we have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, we have an anointing and that anointing abides.

1 John 2:27 NKJV But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you…

But that anointing is on us for the benefit of others, the others being people who place a demand on the anointing. It is vital that we place a demand on and draw from the anointing that is on others, making receiving answers intentional not accidental.

We Live Under an Open Heaven

Posted: June 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

When Jesus was baptised by John, John testified to what happened in verse 10 of Mark 1:

Mark 1:10 NKJV And immediately, coming up from the water, He [John] saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Hosting His Presence and said that a significant departure from the Old Testament model on ministry occurred, the Spirit remained on Jesus, but something else happened. As Jesus came out of the water John saw the ‘heavens parting’ and the Spirit descend through an open heaven. The word translated parting is a Greek word that Mark only uses in one other place:

Mark 15:38 NKJV Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

The parting of the Heavens that John witnessed was a violent act initiated by God and when the heavens were opened it was never ‘sealed up’ again, they remain open to this day. It is what Isaiah prophesied when he said:

Isaiah 64:1 NKJV Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence—

Isaiah saw what we now experience, the heavens rent open, the Spirit descending and remaining on His church and the joy of dwelling in His presence in for us. Confirmation of this is found way back in Genesis and the first mention of the ‘House of God’.

Genesis 28:12 NKJV Then he [Jacob] dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

Genesis 28:17 NKJV And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”

Jacob saw an open heaven a ladder and angels ascending and descending, seeing this, his only response is an exclamation, “This is an awesome place, the very House of God!” When we position ourselves under an open heaven the best description is ‘this is an awesome place’. Again what Jacob dreamed was a prophetic picture of the New Testament ‘House of God’.

Notice Jesus’ words to Nathaniel. Nathaniel had questioned whether anything good could come from Nazareth and Jesus said he was a man integrity. He asked Jesus, “How come you know me?” Jesus said he saw him sitting under a fig tree and that changed Nathaniel’s perspective, calling Jesus Rabbi and the Son of God. Jesus then said to him:

John 1:50-51 NKJV “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.”  (51)  And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Notice Jesus said Nathaniel would see an open heaven and angels descending, he would see in reality what Jacob dreamed. We live under a much better covenant seeing the reality of what Old testament saints could only dream of!

Let us position ourselves under the open heaven by being a people of worship and praise.

Just a thought

See you in Church

It’s ok to dream BIG!

Posted: June 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

I have been reading through Matthew’s Gospel, trying hard not to bring to my reading stuff I have believed for many years. One such story is when James and John’s mother comes to Jesus with a request that in the Kingdom one of the sons sit at Jesus’ left hand and the other sit at his right hand. I have always seen this as the ‘height of arrogance’, the disciples clearly saw it that way.

Matthew 20:24 NKJV And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers.

Did Jesus see it that way? We have taken the response of the disciples as being Jesus’ response, but Jesus’ response was not a rebuke! He actually answered their request with a question.

Matthew 20:22 NKJV But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.”

When they said, “We are able.” Jesus proceeded to tell them that they certainly would suffer but those seats of honour were not His to give.

Matthew 20:23 NKJV So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.”

So Jesus is telling James and John and the other disciples it is alright to dream big, it is not arrogance or pride, in fact the person impacted by the Spirit of God cannot help but dream big because the DNA of a big God is in us. Jesus is telling them that dreaming big will have an inherent cost associated with it.

After that he tells the twelve what greatness in the Kingdom of God looks like and it is nothing like greatness in this world.

Matthew 20:25-28 NKJV But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.  (26)  Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.  (27)  And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—  (28)  just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

It is ok to dream big, that is fine but there is no point dreaming big without counting the cost, and there is a cost. I have in my office a quote I heard and was given a framed copy of it reads:

The challenges of a big vision are worth it for the thousands that will come to Christ.

The other thing Jesus is saying is we ‘descend into greatness’,  if you want to be great, you become a great servant.

Just a thought

See you in church

Hosting His Presence

Posted: June 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

I am constantly being challenged by the thought that Jesus ministered not as God but as a man empowered by God and that everything we see in the Gospels is Jesus modelling for us what our ministry should look like.

He did say, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” He also said, “These things [the works Jesus did] you will do and even greater you will do because I go to the father. I don’t see Jesus as someone who would say something knowing it is an impossibility.

I have to believe that when Jesus said I will do what He did, and even greater, that I will do what He did and even greater.

It all started at His baptism. When Jesus came out of the Jordan River we read:

(John 1:32 NKJV)   And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him.

The Holy Spirit came upon Jesus and it remained on Him. This is a significant departure from what we read in the Old Testament, in the Old Testament the Spirit would rest upon a prophet or a judge only for an assigned task. When the Spirit came upon Jesus He remained on Him.

There is a picture of this in the Old Testament which is fascinating.

Noah and his family were saved by the ark and Noah’s story is described by Peter as a picture of baptism.

1 Peter 3:20-21 NLT …those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat. Only eight people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood.  (21)  And that water is a picture of baptism, which now saves you, not by removing dirt from your body, but as a response to God from a clean conscience. It is effective because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

So what happened when the rain stopped and the flood subsided? And is there a picture for us of what happened after Jesus came out of the Jordan?

Genesis 8:6 NKJV So it came to pass, at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made.

The rain stopped and Noah opened the window in the ark. Jesus came out of the water and heaven was opened, never to be shut again! It is the same word used when the curtain in the temple was torn, heaven was torn open by God.

Out of the open window Noah released the dove.

Genesis 8:9 NKJV But the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, and she returned into the ark to him, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her, and drew her into the ark to himself.

Finding no place to rest, the dove returned to the ark. Seven days later the dove was released again.

Genesis 8:11 NKJV Then the dove came to him in the evening, and behold, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth; and Noah knew that the waters had receded from the earth.

This time the dove rested a while, found an olive leaf and returned to Noah. The olive leaf is representation of Israel, and is a great picture of how the Spirit operated in the Old Testament. Finally:

Genesis 8:12 NKJV …he waited yet another seven days and sent out the dove, which did not return again to him anymore.

This time the Dove found a place to rest and remained, exactly what we see happening at Jesus’ baptism.

Like the dove in Noah’s day looking for a place to rest and remain, the Holy Spirit is seeking believers on whom He may descend and remain. He is looking for a people desperately wanting to ‘host His presence’.

It is those on whom the Spirit descends and remains who have the anointing and authority to do what Jesus did. We have to be those people!

One last thought, if a bird sat on your shoulder and you wanted Him to stay, how would you walk around a room? I trust that every step you take is a step taken with the bird in mind. If we want to Host His Presence, every step we take in life has to be a step with Him in mind!

Just a Thought

See you in Church