Decision time

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 2015 Issue – ‘The Servant’

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Acts 8:26-40 (NIVUK): “Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Go south to the road – the desert road – that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means ‘queen of the Ethiopians’). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet.

The Spirit told Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it.’ Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ Philip asked. ‘How can I,’ he said, ‘unless someone explains it to me?’ So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading: ‘He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.’

The eunuch asked Philip, ‘Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?’ Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

As they travelled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, ‘Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptised?’ And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptised him.

When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and travelled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.”

You may remember that I used some of these verses a few days ago – it is an excellent story.

Selwyn has written a great study for the last day of this current issue. Here are some parts that I liked: “So, beginning with Isaiah 53, Philip preached the good news to the man from Africa. The Ethiopian needed the good news. Although he was rich he had the disadvantage of being an eunuch. He had gone to Jerusalem to worship to worship but had not been allowed to join with the people of the one true God because eunuchs were forbidden into the Temple by the law (Deuteronomy 23:1).”

The eunuch is a man quite literally ‘cut off from the land of the living’ with no chance of having children of his own. … Philip, inspired by the Spirit, begins to tell him the good news of Jesus who was Himself cut off from the land of the living. The Ethiopian believes in God’s suffering Servant and is baptised. His sins are washed away, and he joins the largest family in the world – the people of God.

Have you? If not, you are invited to bow your head right where you are and say the following prayer: ‘Heavenly Father, I open my life at this moment to receive Your Son Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. Forgive all my sins and make me Your child. I come now in His name to ask for Your forgiveness and freedom. Amen.'”

I repeated a lot of what Selwyn wrote because I wanted to maintain the context and I believe what he has said is very important, especially the prayer.

Another aspect of today’s study is the importance of God’s Word as found in Scripture, we should seek to read and understand the Bible so that we too, can be like Philip and explain (with the Spirit’s help) God’s truths to those who are seeking. We should be prepared to meet people like the Ethiopian eunuch, as we go about our daily activities; and, be ready to tell them the good news about Jesus.

What a joy it would be to lead someone into today’s prayer, knowing that the whole of heaven would also share in your joy. Luke 15:10, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Any comments?

It was for us!

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 2015 Issue – ‘The Servant’

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Isaiah 53:12 (NIVUK): “Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.

For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

In today’s study, Selwyn continues to examine the suffering of Jesus.

He writes: “God gives an explanation for the Servant’s suffering: it was for us. For us ‘he poured out his life unto death’ in a lavish act of self-expenditure.

The result of His suffering is salvation for us and victory for Him. We are saved from sin and its eternal consequences: He is raised to the height of honour and glory. And one day we will be with Him. Bending low at His feet we shall, in turn, be raised to the height and glory that He now occupies.”

I love the last sentence above; it’s something so wonderful, to look forward to that final great day.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:8-10, we read: “But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.”

The very words: ‘It was for us!’ Are worth our time in mediation as we go about our daily lives, and they invite a question: ‘What should our response be?’ Your views on this issue?

Hallelujah! What a Servant!

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 2015 Issue – ‘The Servant’

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Isaiah 53:12 (NIVUK):Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.

For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

I liked the following excerpts from today’s study: “Because the Servant pours Himself out in this sacrificial way He is replenished with an incomparable fullness and majesty.”

“Jesus is the Servant King of kings. Yet, unlike most conquerors, He shares the spoils of victory with us. His victory over death is made over to us as our promised resurrection. His defeat of sin as our acquittal. His exaltation as His pledge of intercession for us. Hallelujah!”

It’s good to know that with the Holy Spirit’s help, we too can be servants – and follow Jesus’ way of life – to be sacrificial and selfless in the way we love our family, friends and neighbours.

Your view?

Free for the taking

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 2015 Issue – ‘The Servant’

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Mark 10:35-45 (NIVUK):“Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘we want you to do for us whatever we ask.’ ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ he asked. They replied, ‘Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.’ ‘You don’t know what you are asking,’ Jesus said.

‘Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptised with the baptism I am baptised with?’ ‘We can,’ they answered. Jesus said to them, ‘You will drink the cup I drink and be baptised with the baptism I am baptised with, 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.’

When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that those who are regarded as 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 slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’”

The last few verses are truly remarkable, especially when we consider that the Jews at that time expected the coming Messiah to be a majestic and superior version of King David. It’s breathtaking to think that Jesus came to serve you and me.

I think Selwyn’s introduction is excellent: “Jesus’ declaration that the Son of Man did not come to be served is one of those famous statements that is seemingly so simple but staggering in its implications. It tells us that Jesus came not for His own good but for ours. It also explains why God does not take us to heaven when we give our hearts and lives to Him – He leaves us here so that we might minister to others on His behalf.”

Further on in today’s study, he writes: “Jesus knew His disciples (including us) needed to be set free by His death – set free from competitiveness, jealousy and petty rivalries, set free from the secular mindset that equates status with superiority and leadership with domination.”

Perhaps, in this age of social media, we can extend Selwyn’s last comment to include being set free from the idea that superiority equates to popularity (celebrity status), or the number of likes that someone may receive on a Facebook post.

We stand out as being different – we minister to others on Jesus’ behalf, to give Him glory – without a thought to our own status. What are your views on this?

Cut off to add on

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 2015 Issue – ‘The Servant’

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Isaiah 53:10-11 (NIVUK):“Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.

After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.”

I wont repeat what I wrote about the translational problems associated with: ‘Who can speak of His descendants?’ Except to say that these words, found in the Greek version of the Old Testament, were quoted by Luke in the Book of Acts.

In today’s study, Selwyn explains the context of the words, ‘he will see his offspring’. He writes: “The clue is in the context. Notice the first part of verse 10: ‘Yet, it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer … the Lord makes his life a guilt offering.’ It is the offering that will produce the offspring.

Jesus had no physical children yet His family is the largest family in the world. His sacrifice on the cross has produced spiritual descendants that cannot be numbered.”

One aspect that I really enjoyed, was Selwyn bringing to our attention the fact that Jesus is satisfied, by knowing that He has brought salvation to the world. “As the ‘righteous one’ He will restore many to covenant relationship with God.” And, He is satisfied.

The confidence we can have in God’s successful sacrifice is that we too, will be resurrected and share eternal life with Him. We do not need to worry about God’s grace being sufficient to save all those who turn to Him, including you and me. God is satisfied with His redeeming work on the cross, and that should be good enough for us. Do you agree?

Who did it?

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 2015 Issue – ‘The Servant’

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Isaiah 53:10 (NIVUK):Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.”

I found this a difficult study, because I find it hard to comprehend that suffering is under the authority of God, but I know that it is.

I think the quote of Octavius Winslow, is a good summary: “Who delivered up Jesus to die? Not Judas for money, not Pilate for fear, not the Jews for envy, but the Father for love!” And, we should not overlook the fact that ‘the Father felt the pain of the cross just as much as the Son’.

Consequently, the sacrifice of Jesus to save our eternal lives grows even greater in magnitude – our Creator God suffered willingly to save you and me (and we were once His enemies) – it’s an amazing  act of love. The more you focus on just what God has done for us, the more you realise that to reject Jesus and His saving grace, is – by far – the greatest crime.

What are your views?

The way home

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 2015 Issue – ‘The Servant’

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

1 Peter 2:21-25 (NIVUK):To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. ‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’ For ‘you were like sheep going astray,’ but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

I liked the following points made by Selwyn: “Here we see the apostle Peter quoting Isaiah’s words concerning the Servant’s willing suffering. Christ did not grudgingly accept the Father’s purposes but committed Himself to pursuing them wholeheartedly, even though for Him it meant the most bitter suffering.

Peter wants us to be shocked by the sheer physicality of it all; a body of flesh and blood, of muscle and sinew, skin and bone, stretched out in agony on a rough and rugged cross. … The way of the cross leads home – all the way home.”

The important aspect for us is the way and manner Jesus sacrificed Himself, is the same way that we should be prepared to sacrifice ourselves; while fully trusting in God’s justice, when being a faithful witness to the world, of His love for the lost.

Any thoughts?