Eager to go

To Follow Jesus

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

May/June 2015 Issue – Our True Home’,  ‘an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you’ (1 Peter 1:4)

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Philippians 1:12-26 (NIVUK): “Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defence of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.

But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.”

I like today’s reading, because over the past few months I’ve been in that position where I desire to depart and be with Christ.

Selwyn says: “Throughout the Church’s history God’s people have drawn comfort, when faced by life’s problems, from the promise of heaven. … The promise that one day we will be with Jesus in a perfect place has a powerful effect on our lives in the present time  and enables us to cope with difficult situations because it gives us that most precious of all ingredients – hope.”

The hope that we have in Christ is a hope we can trust in, as it is based on His word.

I have been finding it hard to add much to the studies in this issue, perhaps it’s due to the small incremental steps that Selwyn is taking in looking at heaven and how we live in the present but with our eyes on where we are heading – our true home.

Any comments?

Doing what the Father does

To Follow Jesus

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

May/June 2015 Issue – Our True Home’,  ‘an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you’ (1 Peter 1:4)

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

John 5:1-23 (NIVUK): “Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralysed.

One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’” So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?” The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.

Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.

So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. In his defence Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed.

For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father. Whoever does not honour the Son does not honour the Father, who sent him.”

In today’s reading we hear about the healing of a invalid, one important observation is that this person did not ask Jesus to be healed, in fact he did not know who Jesus was. Jesus healed this person, who had no faith in Him, on the Sabbath, because He knew it would generate a challenging discussion with the Jewish leaders, about the nature of His work.

Another interesting comment made by Jesus was: “Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” No only was the person a physical invalid – he was also spiritually ‘ill’ as well, the ‘something worse’, could be eternal death.

Selwyn starts by saying: “Life in the fallen world is a struggle and sometimes a strain.” Then he addresses the attitude of some who consider that this view is far too pessimistic.

Further on he talks about the case of a young woman who was suffering from a terminal disease. Selwyn writes: “She asked me to pray that God would heal her – and I did. … God does heal people of terminal illnesses – but the reality is that sometimes He does not. How then should we approach such situations? We ask our Father in heaven what to pray for and how to pray.”

As a person who is suffering from a terminal illness, I’ve never lost sight of the fact that God is sovereign and the bad things that happen are all under His control. Jesus can say the word, and I will be healed – if that is His will. If, He does not heal me, it’s because that’s the best spiritual outcome for me, perhaps a type of refinement. This I do know, Jesus totally loves me, and I’ve placed my life into His hands – and that’s where I want to be.

“You can’t improve Paul”

To Follow Jesus

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

May/June 2015 Issue – Our True Home’,  ‘an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you’ (1 Peter 1:4)

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

2 Corinthians 5:1-10 (NIVUK): “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.

Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”

Selwyn starts by saying: “Some may find it difficult to follow Paul’s reasoning when he speaks of a ‘groan’ being a Christian’s heritage. We much prefer the idea of feeling the Spirit’s joy, but as we have been seeing, groaning is also part of our experience.”

I don’t have anything to add to today’s study; you either understand that we live in a fallen world, where we grieve for the brokenness around us and at the same time enjoy the incomprehensible joy of knowing Jesus; or you don’t understand it. It’s the work of God’s Spirit that enables this type of spiritual understanding within our hearts.

Living with a tension

To Follow Jesus

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

May/June 2015 Issue – Our True Home’,  ‘an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you’ (1 Peter 1:4)

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Romans 8:23-39 (NIVUK): “Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits 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.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Today’s reading has some great verses (there is also an overlap with yesterday’s reading). Romans 8:28, is one of my favourite verses, that I’ve adopted as a verse of comfort  during my current illness: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Selwyn states: “Yesterday we saw that the whole creation groans. But not only does creation groan; we do also. ‘We ourselves,’ says the apostle Paul, ‘groan inwardly’ as we wait for sin and its effects to be banished from the universe. … The Holy Spirit sensitises our souls to the fact that down here there is something wrong with almost everything.

Some Christians refuse to face this aspect of the Christian life and prefer instead to focus on other aspects of the Spirit’s ministry, such as love, joy and peace. But to have peace and joy and yet groan inwardly is a tension with which Christians have to live.”

I think that all Christians who are led by Jesus’ Spirit have felt this tension; and it’s one reason why we don’t expect from this earth the things of heaven. This tension keeps our eyes focused on Jesus, it’s part of the process which God is using to transform us into the likeness of His Son.

Your view?

‘All things … beautiful’

To Follow Jesus

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

May/June 2015 Issue – ‘Our True Home’,  ‘an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you’ (1 Peter 1:4)

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Romans 8:18-27 (NIVUK): I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

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 first-fruits 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.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”

I think the first verse is well worth mediating upon, especially for people who are currently suffering; to be able to look forward to the glory that will be revealed in us is balm for a hurting spirit. In addition, the knowledge that the Spirit helps us in our weakness is a great comfort; it’s not a maybe He will help us – but that He always will.

Selwyn mentions these key points in today’s study: “We reflect still further on my suggestion that we need to keep the prospect of heaven always clearly in view. … The apostle tells us in the passage before us today that the whole creation groans. Everything that lives is subject, death and decay. … Paul, when he looked at creation, looked at it as a whole. Some of creation is ‘bright and beautiful’, but sin has made other parts of it downright ugly.”

This study was first written in 1996, and if Selwyn was alive today I’m sure he would mention the devastation that is occurring because of climate change and the destruction of fragile environments due to over-development, usually associated with human greed. The state of creation is not getting better rather it’s more threatened now than at any previous time, except perhaps when a nuclear war was a possibility during the Cold War.

However, we must always keep at the front of our mind that God is sovereign and He is in control of the affairs of nations and mankind, nothing will happen to His creation unless it is an expression of His will – in this we can trust.

Your view?

‘Struggling well’

To Follow Jesus

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

May/June 2015 Issue – ‘Our True Home’,  ‘an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you’ (1 Peter 1:4)

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

2 Corinthians 4:5-18 (NIVUK): “For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

I liked the key verse for today’s study, which can be expressed as: ‘So we fix our eyes on the eternal unseen, that is, heaven.’

Selwyn mainly reviews the studies of the past days and I liked his introduction to today’s study: “The prospect of heaven is something we can always keep before us (as Paul did). It helps us gain a right perspective on everything. Some believe we can have heaven now: ‘Health and wealth until the day we die.’ This is, I believe, quite unscriptural. Yes, God does answer prayer in the way we desire and does work miracles – but not always.

Sometimes His people suffer. And it’s no good saying the ones who suffer have no faith. That is a poor and ill-thought-through excuse. And a cruel excuse. (And, it is a sin to say or imply this, if it causes a person to stumble.) The Church needs a theology of suffering to balance its theology of miracles.”

There is another verse from today’s reading which describes well, our journey through this alien place: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” It’s a great verse because it reassures us that no matter how hard it gets, the all-surpassing power of God is always with us. As we have experienced the love of God we can trust our lives to His care.

 

‘A marred joy’

To Follow Jesus

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

May/June 2015 Issue – ‘Our True Home’,  ‘an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you’ (1 Peter 1:4)

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

2 Corinthians 7:1-16 (NIVUK): “Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one. I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. I have spoken to you with great frankness; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.

For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn – conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.

Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it – I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while – yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us.

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.

So even though I wrote to you, it was neither on account of the one who did the wrong nor on account of the injured party, but rather that before God you could see for yourselves how devoted to us you are. By all this we are encouraged.

In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you. I had boasted to him about you, and you have not embarrassed me.

But just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting about you to Titus has proved to be true as well. And his affection for you is all the greater when he remembers that you were all obedient, receiving him with fear and trembling. I am glad I can have complete confidence in you.”

An interesting set of verses, which mainly concern the Corinthians’ response to Paul’s first letter, or to a lost intermediate letter. The best bit for me, was: “Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” However, it’s not that relevant to today’s study, but I still think it’s good to be reminded that we strive for holiness – out of reverence for God – and, this generation certainly needs to be reminded of this truth.

A small point regarding this study, is that I prefer the word ‘happy’ to the word ‘joy’; to ensure that we don’t think that the inexpressible joy of knowing Christ (1 Peter 1:8) can ever be marred.

Selwyn starts by saying (with minor edits): “Two days ago we were considering how we live between two perfect gardens – the garden of God in Eden and the garden of God in the paradise to come. … We were designed for a world different from the one we are currently living. God never originally intended that we should struggle with sickness, wrestle with guilt, undergo deep bouts of depression and anxiety, or face the finality of death. …

This is why even when we are happy, the happiness we experience is a ‘marred happiness’. By that I mean that even in our happiest moments we will experience a degree of sadness that arises from the fact we are in a unnatural environment – unnatural in the sense that a departure from God’s intentions is unnatural. We need to get to grips with this fact or else we will become disillusioned and disappointed.”

I believe that if we keep our eyes on Jesus, and seek discernment from His Spirit then our journey through this alien world, will not break us. God will comfort and strengthen us during the impossible hard times. Your view?