A gale warning

I’ve always like the following verses, taken from those set for reading and meditation.

Romans 11:13-24 (NIV): “I (Paul) am talking to you non-Jews. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the non-Jews, I take pride in my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 

If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches.

If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!”

We often hear about God’s love – and that is as it should be; however, we hear very little about the sternness of God in today’s churches. Another, aspect to consider while you think about these verses, is this condition, which Paul specifies: ‘provided that you continue in his kindness’, otherwise you too, may be cut off. What do you think that means?

I also liked this part of Selwyn’s conclusion: “There is only one thing that can save the hull of your heart from being battered against the rocks when the storm of doubt or devilish opposition bears down upon you. You must deliberately, purposefully and painstakingly remind yourselves of the truths that have been covered in these pages, and use then in the same way that a mariner uses an anchor.”

Selwyn finishes this study, by reminding us of the solid foundations of our faith, which are built on the truth and victory of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. These truths –  expressions of God’s love, can hold us firm through the fiercest storm.

Yet, I think, it requires us to do something – and, that means we must reach out and hold onto His love. We cannot be arrogant or presume that we will not be washed away by life’s storms – if we do ‘nothing’. Do you agree?

Don’t go on appearances

Today’s study, starts with: “The question we began with a few days ago, and to which we now return, is this: What are we to do when we feel overwhelmed by the evil that seems to be mounting in our world? … Once again, we must drop our anchor in the Easter revelation and remind ourselves that because of what happened there, all will be put right, on the ‘third’ day.”

Selwyn continues with this theme (I’ve made some minor changes to his words): “Good Friday appeared to have crushed the life out of the Son of God, but Easter Sunday saw Him demonstrate the miracle of miracles – rising from the dead.

If Easter means anything, it means that God always has the last word. Men might appear to have it today, but all we need to do is to wait for the ‘last’ day, and we will see and hear that God has the final word. …

Those who cast their anchor at the cross, and are willing to be patient with the patience of God, will find that evil is destined to break itself to break itself upon the facts,” of love and truth.

I think that all those who follow Jesus, feel a huge amount of grief as we see the world drift further away from God’s Word. For me, there is a definite sense of wanting the ‘last’ day – to come as soon as possible – so that all the evil in our world, will be justly dealt with by Jesus.

My prayer, at these times – is mirrored by these following verses from Revelation 22:12-21 (NIV): ‘ “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root  and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.

The Spirit  and the bride  say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people.  Amen.’

In Romans 8:22-25, NIV (an excerpt from the verses set for reading and meditation), we can identify the same feeling, as many may experience today: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning  as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.

For in this hope we were saved.  But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

The one aspect I need prayer for; is that I’m not a very patient person – I find it hard to wait patiently!

Your thoughts?

Half-gods are no gods

Selwyn makes the observation that we are living in a time of political and national unrest.

In his conclusion, which was first written over nineteen years ago, he states: “I suspect that behind the various revolts that we are witnessing all over the world – the revolts of youth, races, nations – men and women are seeking for the kingdom of God and don’t know it. What I think we are witnessing in our day is the shaking of earthly kingdoms in order that the unshakeable kingdom might appear.”

If, Selwyn was alive today, how much more would he be convinced that earthly kingdoms are being shaken?  At the moment, the news reports are full of the latest developments in Syria; and Syria is just one of a number of places that have experienced significant upheaval, in recent times.

I think that today’s prayer is very relevant: “Father, can it be that what I am witnessing in the earth are the birth pangs of a new order? Are you about to usher in the fullness of Your Kingdom? Please, make me prayerful, expectant, ready and spiritually alert. Even so, come Lord Jesus. Amen.”

It’s an exciting time to be living in – there is the real possibility that Jesus’ return in glory, could be very soon. Perhaps, it is soon in an eternal sense but many years away in our time-scale, however, it invites the question: Are you ready for Christ’s return? Is everything in your life ‘prepared’ for His return – there’s nothing that you should address – nothing, to be made right – before there’s no time left – to do anything?

On the other hand, we must be careful not to become paralysed with the worry of what might happen. The verses set for reading and meditation, remind us that Jesus loves us and will provide comfort in times of upheaval.

Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV): “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? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life!

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith?

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Your views?

Jesus is King – now!

I feel that this study – highlights a very important point: Jesus is now King – who reigns over all of creation.

God’s return on the last day, is not the announcement of His Kingdom’s beginning – it is when His judgement will be exercised on all the living and the dead.

Consequently, we can have faith – right now – that when we pray, our prayers are heard by our God, who is in full control of His creation. That is, our prayers are heard by Jesus, who can act – right now – according to His will; and, all the evil in this world cannot overcome the will of God.

Selwyn illustrates this point, in today’s study: “The writers of the epistles emphasise the fact that the kingship of Christ is not something to be established in the future, but something in the present they could enjoy. This truth is best brought out by the writer to the Hebrews, who says in our text for today: ‘But we see Jesus … now crowned with glory and honour.’

The early Christians were sustained and inspired in their strugggle against the evil forces and lies of their day, by the sure knowledge that Christ was on the throne – crowned, glorified and triumphant”

As Selwyn goes on to say; we too – must walk our Christian journey – with the assurance that Jesus reigns; and, at the same time He allows people and nations to pursue the full measure of their evil actions. Why – He allows such terrible things to happen is a mystery – yet we live, knowing that one day we will enjoy His eternal reign, in complete joy and peace.

Selwyn states in his conclusion: ‘God was in charge of events when His Son lay in the darkness of the grave, so He is in charge of events now. Reason may not believe it, but faith most surely does.’

At times, I can understand, that some people may think that Jesus is not in full control; and my prayer for them is that they seek the power of God’s Spirit to help them to believe that Jesus is now – King of kings, Lord of lords. So that they may live in the light of this truth, and to follow Jesus with the spiritual strength that this assurance will give them.

Your view?

[To follow Jesus – notes by Shayne McCusker, April 2012]

‘The Terrible Meek’

Selwyn starts today’s study, by stressing the point that the Easter story gives us the assurance that Jesus has won the ‘final’ victory over evil.

I especially liked Selwyn’s conclusion: “… If you feel overwhelmed by what you read in the newspapers or see on television, as evil men and women seem to get away with so much, keep in mind that they are now in the first or second day. A third day is coming when evil will be swept from the universe and the kingdom of God is ushered in. Today meekness might seem like weakness, but it will not be long now before the meek, the terrible meek, will enter into their (eternal) inheritance.”

In these last days, I sometimes feel a deep sadness for the people I see on television, movies and internet – who are celebrating their godless life-styles; in apparent ignorance that their rebellion against God will result in their eternal destruction. They have lost the battle to live a life, free of truth and love; and, it’s only a matter – of a very little time, when they will have to face the consequences of their rebellion.

Your view?

Truth prevails

Today’s study was one, which stood by itself – not much came to mind – by way of comment – when I read it.

I liked the verses for reading and meditation.

Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians 13:1-10 (NIV) – you can almost feel Paul’s emotion, as he expresses his view in these verses: “This will be my third visit to you. “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time.

I now repeat it while absent: On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others, since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him in our dealing with you.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong – not so that people will see that we have stood the test but so that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed.

For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is that you may be fully restored. This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority – the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.”

Apart from the verse (highlighted), which Selwyn uses in today’s study; I also liked this one: “Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you.”

Jesus –  is with us and He is involved in all that we do – plus, He also knows what we don’t do; yet, should have done.

Your view?

 

An unshakeable kingdom

Selwyn now looks at the issue of evil in this world.

He starts this study, with this introduction: “We come now to look at the issue: how do we remain calm and steady when around us we (appear to) see evil gaining the upper hand and the kingdoms of this world being broken up? Here again, we find a safe anchor point at the cross.”

In the Old Testament, God often allowed evil nations to reach the full measure of their rebellion, before He would bring them to a sudden end. In Genesis 15:13-16 (NIV): ” … Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”

In Genesis 18:20, we read: “Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous … “. These insights provide us with the assurance that when the evil in the world reaches a certain level – then God will bring sudden and complete judgment down upon the nations.

In a very real sense, the verses from Hebrews – below [an excerpt of today’s text for reading and meditation] – highlights the point that our God of the Old Testament – acts in exactly the same way – as He does, in these days, of the New Testament: Take note, of the highlighted part of the last verse!

Hebrews 12:22-28 (NIV): ‘ … you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.

You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.

You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”

The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken – that is, created things – so that what cannot be shaken may remain.Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” ‘

I think the world, will reach a point when the full measure of evil is reached – then our God, will return and consume all those who are evil – with fire. Do you agree?