Jun 132013
 

MephiboshethI am currently following a bible reading plan which takes me through the whole bible in a year, reading a few chapters each day. Just recently I came to one of my favourite stories in the Old Testament and it is a wonderful picture of the grace that we have received.

The main part of the story is in 2 Samuel 9. I will briefly outline the situation:

King Saul has failed as Israel’s king and David has been chosen to take his place. Saul is jealous of David and is determined to kill him. He pursues him for a long time and even though David has two clear opportunities to kill Saul, he refuses to do it as he doesn’t want to touch God’s anointed king. David waits for God’s timing to receive his promised position as king. Saul’s son Jonathan is best friends with David and is fully committed to him, refusing to help his father in his pursuit.

Eventually David becomes king after Saul and his son Jonathan die in battle. Even though Saul was his enemy, David wants to show kindness to a member of Saul’s family, namely Mephibosheth (Jonathan’s son, Saul’s grandson). Mephibosheth is summoned to the king’s palace.

Now Mephibosheth is crippled, being lame in both legs. He has to be carried everywhere and is totally dependant on others helping him. In an extraordinary act of grace, David gives him all of Saul’s property and states that he shall always eat at the king’s table.

Later on in the story we see that Ziba (Mephibosheth’s servant) spreads a false rumour about Mephibosheth to David, resulting in Ziba receiving a substantial part of his master’s estate. In 2 Samuel 19 we see Mephibosheth vindicated, but he never seeks revenge. He doesn’t care that half his estate has been handed over to Ziba. He is just happy that his king, David is back and he can share his meals with him again.

This is an amazing picture of what King Jesus has done for us. We were not able to help ourselves (spiritually crippled), we were in essence enemies of the king. But Jesus sought us out, determined to show kindness to us. King Jesus has now given us full access into His palace where we can enjoy food, shelter and protection for the rest of our lives (and into eternity).

Let us never lose the wonder of how far away from God we were (even further than Mephibosheth) and how now, through no effort of our own, we have been brought right into the king’s presence. Let’s be like Mephibosheth, who even though he lost material possessions, it really didn’t compare to the joy of spending time with his king.

 June 13, 2013  Posted by at 8:48 pm God's family, Grace, Salvation, The gospel 1 Response »
May 302013
 

Grace and conscienceHave you ever wondered why Christians can be so different from each other? We all use the same manual but the way we live and the way we do things can often be worlds apart. We differ in many ways but none more so than by the way we ‘do’ church. Some people insist on going to church in a 3 piece suit, while others are happy in a pair of shorts and a vest top. Some think that you should only sing along to an organ while others are happy to worship to heavy rock, rap, hip-hop etc.

So which is right? Should we all be “formal and respectful” or should we be ‘free’ and do whatever we like (as long it’s not spoken against specifically in the bible).

This is not a new dilemma; in fact Paul addresses a very similar issue in the bible. In 1 Corinthians 8 Paul talks about people who were happy to eat meat used in idol sacrifice, condemning (or at least looking down on) those whose conscience wouldn’t allow them to do so. The people who ate the meat would say “now we are under grace we can do whatever we like, our consciences are totally clear!”

The trouble was, the people who didn’t want to eat that same meat did not have the same clear conscience.

Paul didn’t say to those with a weak conscience “come on now, don’t listen to your conscience; you are free now, here, have a steak!” No, he actually tells them to be careful how they exercise their freedom.

This was obviously something that Paul felt strongly about because he also raises the same subject in Romans 14:

Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.” (Romans 14:1-6)

A key verse comes later in the chapter:  “So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.” (Romans 12:12)

What I love about God’s kingdom is its enormous diversity. Every culture does things differently and God deals with us in unique ways. The key thing is to follow your conscience. God gives us a conscience for a purpose and it is absolutely vital that we keep it intact; if we ‘sear’ our consciences we can get into real trouble.

“…..holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.” (1 Timothy 1:19)

The first question to ask yourself is, “is my conscience clear in all that I do?” If the answer is yes, then the next questions that follow close behind are “am I looking down on people because I consider myself freer than they are?”, or “am I judging someone because they live out their Christianity in a different way to me?”. If the answer to either of these two questions is ‘yes’ then you are tending towards pride.

There are of course certain fundamentals to the Christian faith that we should hold onto tightly, even confronting people (lovingly) who are obviously sinning. But there are many grey areas that Christians can disagree on and it is very dangerous to think that we have all the answers.

Let’s have an open heart to learn from all our brothers and sisters who live out their Christianity differently to us. God seems to love having lots of different flavours and colours to make up His glorious church and His plan is that whatever we do, we do it all with love.

 May 30, 2013  Posted by at 3:23 pm God's family, Grace, The Church No Responses »
Mar 072013
 

Large Group of Happy People standing together.In last week’s blog I talked about the fact that as Christians we have been adopted into God’s family. I started listing some of the benefits of being adopted into His family.

 

The benefits we looked at last week were:

(1) We are able to speak to God

(2) He takes care of our needs

(3) He gives many good gifts

If you missed it or want to read it again, click on the link here.

This week we will look at another 3 benefits:

(4) He gives compassion, care and protection

God cares and provides for us, not just physically but also emotionally. God provides in every area where a father should provide for his children. He provides completely where earthly fathers never can.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

You, Lord, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever from the wicked, (Psalm 12:7)

The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. (Lamentations 3:31-32)

(5) God disciplines His children

Hang on a minute, what’s that doing in this list? Even though discipline is painful at the time, God disciplines us because He loves us. It is for our good, so that we can grow in righteousness and holiness.

And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” (Hebrews 12:5-6)

(6) Inheritance & ‘sonship’

We have an everlasting inheritance.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you. (1 Peter 1:3-4)

Another interesting term from the bible is the word “sonship”. This is a term relevant to men and women. “Sonship” as used in the bible is a legal term referring to the full legal standing of an adopted male heir in Roman culture. This is the inheritance we gain as ‘Sons of God’.

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.  Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’  So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (Galatians 4:4-7)

Meditate on these truths and verses over the coming week and let them change your whole outlook on life. As a child of God you have an amazing position which should affect how you relate to God and others.

 March 7, 2013  Posted by at 9:37 pm Community, God's family, The Church No Responses »
Feb 282013
 

gods familyOver the last three weeks we have been looking into our Identity in Jesus. We have seen that we are now new creations, no longer sinners but saints. Last week we looked into the victory that Jesus won for us on the cross and the implications of that.

This week and next we are going to look at the fact that we are in Gods family and what that means.

Adoption

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. (1 John 3:1-3)

When we become Christians we are adopted into His family and called God’s children. We now relate to one another as family members, like brothers and sisters.

We are now able to call God ‘Abba Father’. Abba translates into English as ‘dad’, being even more informal than ‘father’.

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (Galatians 4:4-7)

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. (Romans 8:15-16)

I have listed a few of the blessings of adoption below and will add to this list next week:

(1) We are able to speak to God

The Lords prayer starts “Our Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:9). Two important points to take out of this are;

(a) we can come to Him anytime

(b) we can come to Him boldly.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19–20, 22)

(2) He takes care of our needs

As His children God will provide everything that we need. He tells us not to be anxious and to trust Him.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? …….. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:25-33)

(3) He gives many good gifts

 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11)

He gifts us good gifts, not just to bless us personally, but so that we can be a blessing to the rest of our family (the church) and then be a blessing to the rest of the world. Everything we have is a blessing and a gift from God, but there are other gifts that we can use to bless others. I explored these gifts in much more detail in a previous post here, they include such things as pastors and teachers, prophets, gifts of healing, service etc.

Most of all He gives us the gift of His wonderful Holy Spirit who draws alongside us, to help us and to fill us with His power.

If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)

(I have gone into great detail about being filled with The Holy Spirit in a previous post here.)

Next week I will look at another 3 blessings of being adopted into Gods family. Until then brothers and sisters, enjoy the wonderful truth that God has brought you into His family and if you are not in it yet, why not join the family?

 February 28, 2013  Posted by at 10:42 pm Community, God's family, Grace, Holy Spirit, The Church 2 Responses »