A snare to avoid

Selwyn now moves onto a new lesson – and it’s sometimes relevant for the ‘busy’ people serving God in their local Church. These people often take on too many tasks – with little prayer and patience in asking God for confirmation – that they have been given this work. I think that one sign is –  there is no peace or joy seen in them – while they are doing their chores; and, much of what they do, often unravels or is not productive.

He starts and finishes, today’s study: “Another important lesson we need to learn if we are to walk tall in these changing times is this: avoid the snare of over-involvement. … Frustration comes when we try to save the world (by our own efforts). That is God’s job. Watch that you don’t stumble under enormous spiritual concerns that exceed the number God would have you carry.”

In the first five verses, Chapter 17 of John’s Gospel, which Selwyn refers to, we read (NLT): ‘After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. And this is the way to have eternal life – to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.” ‘

We demonstrate our love of God by doing the work, He has given us to do. We don’t try to do every good thing which comes our way, to earn God’s love. It’s amazing how many Christians there are, who say that they are not saved by  good works [God alone saves us, we can’t do anything to save ourselves]; yet, they live their lives as if it were not true!

Put another way, we do God’s work in response to His love – it’s a visible sign of our relationship with Jesus. We do not do good works to earn ‘credits’ in God’s eyes; with a view that we may earn sufficient credits for Him to value us enough, to be saved.  Many of man’s religions, work on the basis of earning credits by doing good works; to balance out the weight of their sins and to please God.  People, who subscribe to such an idea, do not have a relationship with Almighty God – they do not know Him.

Do you agree?

The great crash

The main part of the text set for reading and meditation is, as follows, Matthew 7:24-27 (NLT): “Anyone who listens to my (Jesus)teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the flood waters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.

But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

To obey Jesus – is to exercise our ability to make choices.

I liked Selwyn’s conclusion: ” ‘If you build on My words.’ said Jesus, ‘your house will remain standing; if you don’t, it will go down with a crash.’ There are no exceptions – this will happen to everyone. Incorporate this truth into your life and, as you go your way, remind yourself constantly that the Christian way is not imposed on life but exposed by it. … “

 

Allergic to evil

The verses, set for reading and meditation, are excellent, they give us a small glimpse into God’s ‘mind’. (Paul’s letter to the Colossians 1:15-22, NLT): “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.  He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth.

He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see – such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him.

He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.

Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself.

He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News.”

As we can see from the above text, sin separates us from God – evil separates us from the ‘meaning of life’ as created, by Jesus. We cannot fully enjoy His creation if we are in conflict with Him. Evil separates us from what is wonderful and beautiful in this world – and permanently separates us from everything ‘good’ – for all of eternity.

I thought that Selwyn captured this point well, when he wrote this (from today’s study):Sin throws into disorder every situation, both physically and spiritually, for evil is against the nature of reality. One preacher says of evil: ‘It is the will to live put into reverse.’ Humanity is allergic to evil. When we take it into our systems our inner selves revolt against it.”

Any comments?

The great illusion

I think that the Psalms contain some of the most profound poetry.

Take Psalm 73 as an example (the first twenty-eight verses have been selected for today’s reading and meditation), especially these verses (Psalm 73:16-26, NLT): ” I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is! Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked. Truly, you put them on a slippery path and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction. In an instant they are destroyed, completely swept away by terrors. When you arise, O Lord, you will laugh at their silly ideas as a person laughs at dreams in the morning.

Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. I was so foolish and ignorant –  I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.

Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; ‘Jesus’ is mine forever. … “

It’s this relationship with Jesus which is described so well in this Psalm, that makes sense of all the difficulties of this world – our brief journey through a desolate desert – to reach a promised land – where all pain and tears cease.

As Selwyn says in his introduction:“The point we are emphasising is that inherently we are made for the Christian way. When we see, and see clearly, that we are working with, and not against, the nature of reality, a conviction possesses us that will enable us to remain calm and steady when faced with the difficult questions of life.”

Let me put this issue in a different way – say, you have a choice – a life full of difficulties and one lacking in material possessions  for 70 years followed by an eternity of peace and pure joy; that is, for something longer than 70 trillion years where life is perfect. Or, a great 70 years of life on this planet  – earth;  full of everything you want – all the money, possessions, sex and power – followed by 70 trillion years of pure hell – total loneliness, weeping and a sense of great, never-ending loss. What would be your choice? If, only, those who don’t follow Jesus, could see such a stark choice in front of them !

No moral holiday

I liked the following verses ( a small subsection, taken from those set for today’s reading and meditation) Acts 19:8-10 (NLT): “Then Paul went to the synagogue (in Ephesus) and preached boldly for the next three months, arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God. But some became stubborn, rejecting his message and publicly speaking against the Way. So Paul left the synagogue and took the believers with him. Then he held daily discussions at the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for the next two years, so that people throughout the province of Asia—both Jews and Greeks—heard the word of the Lord.”

There are times (but not always) when we should leave a venue, and this is one such case – a place, where there are religious people speaking out against the supremacy of Jesus – the one, true way; we should leave such a place (if guided by the Holy Spirit) and spend our time and resources, on talking to those who are willing to learn the truth.

As Selwyn re-iterates in today’s study – ‘following the Christian way we are following the way of reality‘ (the way God charted/mapped out, for each one of us to follow). He says: “I long for this truth to lodge in your spirit also. If it does, then the conviction that your life is related to the sum total of reality, and that this reality is working with you and not against you, will act as an anchor to your soul. You will not be thrown off balance when you see dishonest men and women apparently prospering, for you will realise that no one can live against the nature of reality and get away with it.” 

What are your views on today’s study?

 

‘Much ado about nothing’

I think that today’s study was very good. The first thirteen verses of John’s Gospel, contains the most amazing truth, a truth which many will fail to understand.

John 1:1-1 (NKJV): “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John (the Baptist). This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own (Israel),  and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Often, people say they believe what’s written in the Bible; but then, they try to re-interpret what is written according to the cultural values held by the reader. In some parts of the Bible, there may be a case to take that approach – but, there is no other interpretation of the above verses except the one, obvious interpretation – that Jesus created this universe.

As Selwyn writes: “The text at the top of this page brings home the truth that the universe was made by Christ, so it follows that, having been made by Him, His character is stamped into every part of it. … The Christian way, is the way the universe has been made to function. Any doubt about this fact is a fatal doubt; it will put to death all our highest hopes and possibilities.”

Life, has been designed to be lived, following Jesus. There is no other way by which a man or a woman can have a loving relationship with God. Do you agree?

Lick the honey

Selwyn continues to discuss the principles he uses to overcome worry. [He looked at the first two, in yesterday’s study.]

“Third principle, pray about everything … I found prayer to be the most powerful encouragement of all.

Fourth, learn to meet today, today. Jesus showed His penetrating insight when he said, ‘ … do not worry about tomorrow (the future) for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own’ Matthew 6:34), … Troubles will come to us, but we must not bring forward tomorrow’s troubles into today.

Firth, remind yourself that God will never let go of you. Deuteronomy 4:31, says ‘ … the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you … ‘ “

I think there is a fear in many people of being abandon, to be left – alone. This fear is amplified by the worldly expectation that we should be independent, and to be able to look after ourselves.  Consequently, there is a nagging worry constantly being fed by the fear that one day, something will happen which will result in us being placed in a position of not being able to cope, of being alone without the possibility of help.

This type of worry can only take root and grow, if we believe that God is far away and has no interest in our welfare.

The writer of Hebrews, tells us in 13:1-6 (NLT – verses set for reading and meditation): ‘Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies. Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have.

For God has said, “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 mere people do to me?” ‘

If we have a relationship with God we will trust what He says to us, through His Word in Scripture. All through the Bible, He says, in many different ways: ‘I love you – I will never abandon you.’

If you sometimes doubt God’s love for you then the necessary first step for you, is to pray to Jesus, asking Him to open your eyes, so that you can clearly see (and feel) the depth of His amazing love. It’s only after you have come into a loving relationship with God, will you have any ability (through His power) to manage your worrying heart.

What are your thoughts?