The whole estate

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

March/April 2014 Issue – ‘The Great Legacy’

Today’s text for reading and meditation is:

1 Corinthians 3:18-23 (NIV): “Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become ‘fools’ so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’; and again, ‘The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.’

So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future – all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.”

A really nice study to finish this issue.

Selwyn writes: “What an appropriate text, ‘all things are yours’, with which to end our meditations. Jesus has inherited the whole of His Father’s estate. But He never keeps anything for Himself. He shares it with us!

The gift of life today, which enables you to read these notes is something to be wondered at and cherished and, as far as it is possible, enjoyed.

Only one thing does not belong to us – ourselves. Once we give ourselves to Jesus Christ then we belong to Him – for ever.”

In Jesus, we have everything – an amazing truth to consider as we go about our daily work.

What were the highlights, of this issue, for you?

Why Jesus never wrote a book

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

March/April 2014 Issue – ‘The Great Legacy’

Today’s text for reading and meditation is:

John 8:2-11 (NIV): “At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered round him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir,’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’”

Selwyn introduces today’s study, as follows: “As we draw our meditations on ‘The Great Legacy’ to a close it needs to be clear that we have not exhausted the subject by any means. … Throughout the ages people have raised the question: Since Jesus had so much to offer humanity why didn’t He write a book?”

As Selwyn correctly mentions, God did write an account of His relationship with humanity; in general, we have the background of the story covered in the Old Testament; and specifically, we have the unfolding of Jesus’ ministry with His people, as told in a lot of detail, in the New Testament. Selwyn states that ‘the New Testament is essentially the autobiography of Jesus‘.

I think the more we read Scripture, the less likely we are to ask the question: Why didn’t Jesus write a book? Because we know that He, in fact, wrote about His great rescue plan (through men and women), and we (those who follow Jesus) understand the truth of what He has written through the power of His Spirit.

Any comments?

God’s holy army

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

March/April 2014 Issue – ‘The Great Legacy’

Today’s text for reading and meditation is:

Ephesians 4:1-16 (NIV): “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 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.

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: ‘When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.’
(What does ‘he ascended’ mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

An impressive set of verses – you can identify the parts I liked – one important point, which can’t be emphasised enough – is, that when we, through our words and actions act as witnesses for Jesus – we should always speak the truth in love. Sometimes, you hear people quote Scripture in a cold, intellectual manner, as if they were delivering a lecture.

Selwyn makes a number of good points in his conclusion: “Each of these ministries – that of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher – represents facets of Jesus’ own ministry. He Himself was every one of these. But no one person can truly represent Jesus.

So He divides up His unique and full ministry and distributes grace to different members of His body. Together, working as one, united as a team, these different ministries are designed to bring the fullness of Christ to the Church, and the fullness of the Church to Christ.”

The other minor point, I thought was interesting, was how Paul changed (albeit in a minor way) the words of Psalm 68:18. It shows that sometimes the original words of the Bible can be modified to demonstrate a spiritual truth; but it requires someone of Paul’s spiritual maturity to undertake such a task.

Any views on this?

A curious mixture

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

March/April 2014 Issue – ‘The Great Legacy’

Today’s text for reading and meditation is:

Acts 1:12-26 (NIV): Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) and said, ‘Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.’

(With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)

‘For,’ said Peter, ‘it is written in the Book of Psalms:  “May his place be deserted, let there be no one to dwell in it.”  and, “May another take his place of leadership.”

Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of Jesus’ resurrection.

So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.’ Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.”

In today’s study, Selwyn discusses the fact that the apostles were a diverse group of men with very different personalities; yet, their faith in Jesus made them one in-mind, in regard, to their witness of Jesus’ resurrection. Once again, our attention is drawn to the importance of the resurrection as being the ultimate proof of the success of Jesus’ sacrificial death.

Most of what Selwyn has written is fairly straightforward and needs no further comment.

I liked the following point that Selwyn made: ‘This mixed bunch of men, who would never have chosen each other were together because Jesus had chosen them and continued to love them despite their flaws.’

And, so it is the same for you and me; in our church communities there is a range of people from different backgrounds and an assortment of contrasting personalities – yet – our love for God, brings us together as brothers and sisters in the one, loving family.

The challenge for many of us is to live out this truth. I know, I need to remind myself that Jesus loves me, despite my flaws; with this in mind I seek the Spirit’s help, to love those ‘difficult’ others – despite their ‘possible’ flaws.

Your view?

A night in prayer

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

March/April 2014 Issue – ‘The Great Legacy’

Today’s text for reading and meditation is:

Luke 6:12-16 (NIV):One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.”

One of the most enjoyable aspects of reading Scripture are the times when we read something that we have read before (perhaps many times), and an element comes into sharper focus. In general, I had merged the selection of the apostles and the disciples into a single process. The verses above highlight for me, that Jesus had called a number of people to be His disciples; but it was a separate, and special occasion when He selected His twelve leaders (apostles).

Selwyn discusses this issue, as follows: “Today we focus on yet another of Jesus’ legacies – the men whom He chose to found His Church. … At a national level, the choice of twelve apostles was significant and symbolic. He was reassigning His leadership of the twelve tribes of Israel to men of His choosing.

This was a socially provocative gesture, demonstrating that He had the goal and authority to rebuild the life of the people of God under His lordship. (At some point). the apostles must have been spiritually nourished  to know they had been handpicked by Jesus after prayerful consultation with His heavenly Father.

Our sense of privilege need be no less than theirs. ‘In Christ’ we too have been chosen. [Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 1:3-5a, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In lovehe predestined us for adoption … “]

Our mission, like the apostles, flows out of His love.”

It’s truly remarkable, somewhat overwhelming, to know that we have been ‘hand-picked’ by Jesus. As Selwyn says in today’s prayer: ‘You sought me, bought me, and now I am Yours forever. How wonderful.’

Yet, knowing that God has ‘picked’ us, do we completely live our lives to produce fruit for His kingdom (or, are we committed for just a short time on a Sunday)? Aware, that we have a short, and very limited time, to freely employ our will, in proclaiming to this world, the amazing love of our Lord?

After death, it will be too late – when faced with the glory of God in all His reality – to say, “I’ll shout it on the mountain tops just how magnificent You are”; everyone with you, will know. Now, is the time, to tell others about the love of Christ.

Any comments?

‘The Divine Masterpiece’

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

March/April 2014 Issue – ‘The Great Legacy’

Today’s text for reading and meditation is:

Matthew 16:13-20 (NIV): “When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’

Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’

Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’

Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.”

In this study, Selwyn discusses the great promises made by Jesus that His Church ‘is here to stay, both in time and in eternity’.

He writes: “No one can guarantee the existence of the church building in which you worship, but when it comes to the body of the redeemed gathered from all the nations on earth then the answer is quite clear: it is unassailable and indestructible.

The true Church of Jesus Christ is not a building. That’s the house in which the Church worships. The Church consists of men and women whose hearts have been washed in the blood of Christ.

Paul said in Ephesians 5:27 that one day Christ will present to Himself ‘a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish’. Jesus will then contemplate His masterpiece with joy and delight for ever.”

Today’s study is very straight forward – the Church is made up of the followers of Jesus – it is not building or an institution of ministers and bishops – it is, you and me. The body of believers exist in 2014, as it has done for nearly two thousand years, and it will continue to exist until the last day. Evil forces will never eliminate or overpower the Church; the truth of this promise contributes to our unexplainable joy.

Any comments?

Backed by the Godhead

 

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

March/April 2014 Issue – ‘The Great Legacy’

Today’s text for reading and meditation is:

Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV): ‘Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’’

I think the topic that Selwyn has written about is poorly understood by a number of people. Consequently, I’ll repeat a lot of what he has written to ensure that I maintain the context of his main message.

He writes: “Today, we return to these final words of Jesus, this time to reflect on His promise to be with us always, to the end of the age. … We have noted before the parallel to be drawn between the farewell speeches of Jesus and those of Moses. Such a comparison makes the contrasts all the more remarkable.

Moses, in his last message to the Israelites, said in effect: ‘Go into the Promised Land, teaching and observing all that God has commanded you in His law, and God’s presence will be with you always.’

By contrast, Jesus says, ‘Go into the world,’ and instead of putting them under orders to teach what God has commanded He tells them to make disciples, ‘teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you’ (v20).

Notice the phrase: ‘I have commanded you.’ Who is this person who makes such astounding claims and promises? Who but Israel’s God has the right to speak and act as He does? Who indeed! But then there is only one conclusion to be drawn that the personal authority, truth and presence of the One Creator God is uniquely and indissolubly bound with this person Jesus.

Once we make that move we can then go about our world mission not just with the memory of Jesus to spur us on but with the living presence of Jesus as ‘God with us’ to accompany us.

Jesus is God, and having Him (with us) we are backed by the entire Godhead.”

While most Christians will say, especially when they repeat the Creed, that Jesus is truly God; and, I guess they have no doubts of this truth on an intellectual level; there appears to me – to be times – when this truth is not alive in some people’s hearts.

I think this lack of heart conviction, is usually seen by their reactions to what Jesus has to say in Scripture; in that, they don’t attempt to fully live out His teaching – as they would do – say, with their adherence to the ten commandments. For example, to forgive one’s enemies, is a teaching too hard for many to routinely follow.

Perhaps, if we keep it simple – there are two great commandments – to love Jesus by obeying His teaching; and to love each other in the same way that He loves us. The first commandment enables us to satisfy the requirements of the second commandment.

Those who have a loving relationship with God constantly work towards meeting the requirements of His commandments (even though they often fail, they keep trying). Anyone, who does not try to obey God’s commands – have not been called to follow Him.

Any comments?