Waiting – yet wanting

To Follow Jesus

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

September/October 2014 Issue – ‘Property of Jesus’

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Matthew 20:20-28 (NIV-UK):Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favour of him. ‘What is it you want?’ he asked. She said, ‘Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.’

‘You don’t know what you are asking,’ Jesus said to them. ‘Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?’ ‘We can,’ they answered. Jesus said to them, ‘You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.’

When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.

Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’”

Just love that last verse!

Selwyn writes: “Yesterday we started to consider another brand mark of Jesus which needs to become part of our (spiritual) personalities – a focused determination.

The whole issue of single mindedness can be seen in a clearer light when we place it against its opposite – double mindedness. Double-mindedness, as far as the Christian life is concerned, consists of pursuing two different purposes at one and same time – God’s purpose and your purpose.

… I am sure about the tendency in my own heart to use spiritual means for selfish ends. Perhaps you have noticed a similar tendency in your heart also.

If so, then join me in this prayer: ‘Lord Jesus, You whose motives and acts were pure and whose impact upon life changed the world, give me that same singleness of motive that I, too, may change my little world – for You. Your own dear name’s sake. Amen.’

As well as the sort of double-mindedness, which Selwyn talks about there is also a related problem; the one where we assume that our will is the same as God’s will, with no evidence to support such a view, except our own selfish nature.

When we fall into this trap, we can put all our energy into following what we think is God’s will, but in reality – at the core of our actions – is a desire to satisfy our own purposes. Seeking God’s counsel, through prayer – is one way to address this particular issue.

The reference to the mother of Zebedee’s sons, as an example of double-mindedness, didn’t actually work for me. Your view?

Yet, the issue of single-mindedness of purpose in the way we live our lives for Jesus – is critical. There is no other way – to follow Jesus.

Any comments?

Christ’s supreme loyalty

To Follow Jesus

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

September/October 2014 Issue – ‘Property of Jesus’

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

John 6:25-40 (NIV-UK): “When the crowd found Jesus on the other side of the lake, they asked him, ‘Rabbi, when did you get here?’ Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.’

Then they asked him, ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’ Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’

So they asked him, ‘What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”’

Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘always give us this bread.’

Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.

All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.’”

They are an amazing set of verses, are they not? This verse just by itself – is a verse we can base our future life on: ” … my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life.”

Selwyn writes: “As we continue meditating on the thought that we are to be branded with the marks of Jesus, we turn our attention to another characteristic of Christ, which we need to have stamped into us – single mindedness, which is best described as focused determination.

Jesus often spoke of the mission which lay before Him, namely the cross. It is quite clear, that He allowed nothing to divert Him from this purpose. As He strides through the pages of the Gospels He appears to have one  thing uppermost in His mind: fulfilling His Father’s will. …

We all need this characteristic to be branded more deeply into us so that we will not be delayed or diverted from pursuing the path set out by our Father’s will.”

We, who are following Jesus, continue on the same path – to make God known by our witness to Jesus’ saving grace.

I don’t have much to say about today’s study, but I do encourage you to meditate on today’s verses – they are just so wonderful.

Any comments?

‘No Wailing Wall’

To Follow Jesus

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

September/October 2014 Issue – ‘Property of Jesus’

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Hosea 2:1-20 (NIV-UK): “Say of your brothers, “My people”, and of your sisters, “My loved one”.

(Israel punished and restored) ‘Rebuke your mother, rebuke her, for she (Israel)  is not my wife (God’s holy nation), and I am not her husband. Let her remove the adulterous look from her face and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts.

Otherwise I will strip her naked and make her as bare as on the day she was born; I will make her like a desert, turn her into a parched land, and slay her with thirst.

I will not show my love to her children, because they are the children of adultery. Their mother has been unfaithful and has conceived them in disgrace. She said, “I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my olive oil and my drink.’ Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, “I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now.”

She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold – which they used for Baal. ‘Therefore I will take away my corn when it ripens, and my new wine when it is ready. I will take back my wool and my linen, intended to cover her naked body.

So now I will expose her lewdness before the eyes of her lovers; no one will take her out of my hands. I will stop all her celebrations: her yearly festivals, her New Moons, her Sabbath days – all her appointed festivals. I will ruin her vines and her fig-trees, which she said were her pay from her lovers; I will make them a thicket, and wild animals will devour them.

I will punish her for the days she burned incense to the Baals; she decked herself with rings and jewellery, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot,’ declares the Lord. ‘Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.

There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor (a place of trouble and calamity) a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. ‘In that day,’ declares the Lord, ‘you will call me “my husband”; you will no longer call me “my master”. I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked.

In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky and the creatures that move along the ground. Bow and sword and battle I will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety.

I will betroth you to me for ever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.”

Some of the key points from today’s study, written by Selwyn, are as follows: “Long before Jesus came into the world. Hosea saw that God is the One who has the resources to turn all the bad things that happen to us to advantage: “I’ll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope” (v15, ‘The Message).

As I was about to begin this page, my eye fell upon a statement which gave me a new direction: ‘There is no “Wailing Wall” in the Christian Church.’ The writer was referring to the fact that in Jerusalem thousands of Jews visit the remains of Solomon’s Temple – the Western Wall – and there pray for their personal needs and the restoration of the Temple.

Christianity has no such place. That’s one difference between Christianity and Judaism. One stops at a Wailing Wall, the other starts at an open tomb.”

[I dearly love my older brothers and sisters – the Jews – I pray, it is soon, that their hearts will be softened. I’m of the view that it is evil to speak ill of the ‘natural’ olive branches.]

It’s interesting how Selwyn ties together the empty tomb of Jesus on that unique Sunday nearly two thousand years ago and the event concerning Lazarus’ ‘recall to earthly life’ by Jesus. Jesus words to Martha at Bethany, echoes throughout the centuries. (John 11:25-26): “Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’”

‘Do you believe this?’ Is a question we must all answer. If our answer is ‘Yes!’ And I pray that it is, then – at some future, and last point in time – our tombs will also be empty.

No tears then, only joy.

Any comments?

Impediments need not impede

To Follow Jesus

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

September/October 2014 Issue – ‘Property of Jesus’

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Galatians 4:1-14 (NIV-UK): “What I am saying is that as long as an heir is under age, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father.

So also, when we were under age, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. 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 (and daughters), 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.

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God – or rather are known by God – how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

I plead with you, brothers and sisters, become like me, for I became like you. You did me no wrong. As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself.”

The verses set for reading and meditation, provide excellent food for thought; just these few words, ‘(We are God’s children); and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.’ Are well worth your time, in contemplation. The implications of being a child of God, to be a member of a royal family  – with many brothers and sisters, who will all enjoy an eternal inheritance with Jesus – is more than amazing, it’s life changing.

Selwyn starts today’s study with: “We continue looking at the way in which the apostle Paul, one of Jesus’ most devoted followers, used all situations and circumstances for good. Our text tells us that when Paul first came to Galatia he was suffering from an illness, and this situation caused him to stay with the Galatians and preach the gospel to them. ….

We know that Paul did not allow his condition to frustrate him. Forced by the illness to spend time in Galatia, he turned those circumstances for good and started to evangelise in the province.”

The key message for me, is that whatever our situation (even illness), we can work effectively for God’s kingdom and we can faithfully follow in Jesus’ footsteps. God is using us; in our frail, fragile and fallen (although rescued) human state, through the fantastic power of His Spirit.

It’s important for us to realise that while we are alive – we can always achieve much for Jesus, if we surrender – the little we do have to Him; He then multiples our small offering, to feed multitudes with His Word. We do this, and also give glory to God, whenever we lovingly follow His teaching and example.

Any comments?

Kicked – forward!

To Follow Jesus

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

September/October 2014 Issue – ‘Property of Jesus’

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

2 Corinthians 11:30, 12:1-10 (NIV-UK): “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. … I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord.

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know – God knows.

And I know that this man – whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows – was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.

I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations.

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

The above verses, help us during those times of hardships we will face at some point in our lives. Notice that although Paul prayed for the torment to be taken away, his prayer was not answered in the way he requested. And, so it is with us; at times, for our good – prayers will not be answered in the way we would like – but God answers all our prayers, in line with His love and His desire to transform us into the likeness of His Son. In this truth, we can totally trust God.

I liked Selwyn’s introduction: “The question that inevitably arises as we meditate on the marks of Jesus is this: How deeply can we expect these characteristics of Jesus to be branded into us? The answer is: to the same degree that we are willing to give ourselves to Him.”

The other bits, I liked are: “Paul was promised, not deliverance from Satan’s torment, but power to use the infirmity.” And, “Dr E. Stanley Jones said of this passage: ‘If the messenger of Satan was to buffet Paul, then he would determine the direction in which the blows would send him.’ And which way did they send him? Forward!

So, what does this study tell us? It’s saying that in any situation that we find ourselves – even at those times when we feel weak and useless – we can and will be used by God to achieve His purposes. His love and strength, supports us, at all times – because compared to His power – we are always weak.

Therefore, we too, can say with Paul: ‘I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  For when I am weak, then I am strong, in-Christ.’ And, isn’t that a great encouragement?

Any comments?

Satan has no power

To Follow Jesus

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

September/October 2014 Issue – ‘Property of Jesus’

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

John 14:15-31 (NIV-UK): “‘If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you for ever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me any more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.’

Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, ‘But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?’

Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

You heard me say, “I am going away and I am coming back to you.” If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.

I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world (Satan) is coming. He has no hold over me, but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me. Come now; let us leave.'”

I really like the verses selected for reading and meditation. Verses,like this one, are beautiful, and provides us with the confidence to face the world with its problems: ‘I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.’

A point I would like to make at the start, is this: Satan is a real, intelligent, powerful being – created by God. The devil is not the personification of evil. He is actively working against God’s people. I’ve had a personal experience with an evil spirit – they do exist!

In today’s study, Selwyn writes: “Jesus indicates to His disciples, that what Satan intended for evil – to crush Him once and for all – would actually be the way God saved the world.

Paul, when writing to the Corinthians on the importance of forgiveness reminded them that a forgiving heart would prevent Satan from getting a foothold in their lives. (2 Corinthians 2:11)

When we take the trouble to remove all roots of bitterness, all those things which are displeasing to Jesus from our lives, then, by God’s grace (and love), we ensure that Satan cannot gain a foothold (and control our lives).”

It needs to be stressed that we don’t have the power to prevent Satan from testing us; Satan’s interaction with us, is 100% monitored and controlled, by God. What we can be sure of; is, that Satan can never break us – our Lord’s love for us – will never allow that to happen.

Any comments?

Responding in love

To Follow Jesus

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

September/October 2014 Issue – ‘Property of Jesus’

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Luke 10:25-37 (NIV-UK):On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘What is written in the Law?’ he replied. ‘How do you read it?’ He answered, ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”; and, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”’ ‘You have answered correctly,’ Jesus replied. ‘Do this and you will live.’

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’

In reply Jesus said: ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said, “and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.”

‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’ The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him, Go and do likewise.’”

Selwyn writes the following in today’s study: “Today we examine more examples of the way in which Jesus took a moment of frustration in His ministry and turned it into an occasion of fruitfulness. In today’s reading, we hear an expert of the law testing Jesus with a question. There can be little doubt that the law expert’s intentions was to discredit the Son of God, but Jesus took his question about the Law and used it to reveal something beyond Moses’ Law – the law of love.

Jesus answered him in words that have lived on through the centuries – the unforgettable story of the good Samaritan.”

The issue for many of us, reading the story of the good Samaritan, is that we know it all too well. Yet, the essence of the teaching of Jesus – is that we ‘go and do likewise’. Knowing the teaching of Jesus is one thing – following His teaching, all the time, is a very different story.

Any comments?

[I thought that Selwyn’s conclusion was good: “The moment when Jesus was nailed to the cross; life seemed to have acted with terrifying severity against Him: He was betrayed, denied, humiliated, forsaken, crucified, spat upon, afflicted.

What was His response? ‘Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing’ (Luke 23:34).” All Jesus’ reactions, as recorded in Scripture, are revelations of God’s character. Jesus’ words on the cross, could be said to represent His greatest revelation of love, to mankind.  We should all pray for a greater demonstration of this type of response, in our own lives.

Do you agree?]