“Don’t leave home without it”

To Follow Jesus

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

September/October 2015 Issue –  Standing Strong, ‘I pray … that you may know … his incomparably great power … the working of his mighty strength’ Ephesians 1:18-19

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Luke 9:18-27 (NIVUK): “Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say I am?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.’ ‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Peter answered, ‘God’s Messiah.’

Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. And he said, ‘The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.’

Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?

Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.’”

These words; ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me,’ are certainly a challenge for many. They remind us that each and every day is a day when we carry a cross as we follow Jesus. Consequently, we require God’s help each day to provide the strength to carry our cross, in a way that gives God glory.

In today’s study Selwyn talks about the issue where some members of the charismatic renewal (and similar movements) came to think that they do not need a daily quiet time because  they have contact with God’s Spirit – all the time.

He responds to this idea, as follows: “If Jesus needed to have times of quiet to be alone with God then we have a far greater need. He was filled with the Holy Spirit without limit (John 3:34) yet He set aside times of prayer and communication with God.”

A second issue he tackles is the risk that having a quiet time can become legalistic and can lead to feelings of guilt if a person fails to spend time with God. He says: “A daily quiet time is not a demand that God makes. It is a discipline that, when entered into fortifies and enriches life.” Our Lord is a God of love, He understands our frailties and helps us in our time of need. A daily quiet time is entered into, for our benefit, it is not something that God depends upon.

Just returning to the first issue for a moment, it is true that we follow Jesus throughout our day with the help of the Holy Spirit; in our daily quiet time we set the overall direction with God and during the day, as we face various spiritual challenges, we undertake minor corrections to our course based on the promptings of the His Spirit.  Any comments?

How do you manage this issue?

A ‘heart Lame’

To Follow Jesus

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

September/October 2015 Issue –  Standing Strong, ‘I pray … that you may know … his incomparably great power … the working of his mighty strength’ Ephesians 1:18-19

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Luke 8:40-56 (NIVUK): “Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. Then a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. ‘Who touched me?’ Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.’ But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.’

Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.

While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. ‘Your daughter is dead,’ he said. ‘Don’t bother the teacher anymore.’ Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.’

When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. ‘Stop wailing,’ Jesus said. ‘She is not dead but asleep.’

They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and said, ‘My child, get up!’ Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.”

We hear of two fantastic stories in today’s reading, the first being the bringing back to life of Jairus’ twelve year old daughter; and the second, the healing of the woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. Keeping in mind that she would have been treated as an ‘unclean’ person, for all those years. Two stories of great faith in the mercy and compassion of Jesus associated with a recognition of who He was (and is).

Selwyn continues to write about the importance of setting aside a quiet time each day to enable us to approach, with confidence, the throne of Jesus (Hebrews 4:16).

He writes: “In a regular time with God we exchange our impotence for His power, our unrest for His rest, our grief for His joy, quiet times produce a quiet heart, which becomes a quiet confidence and a quiet power. It is then that the soul becomes its best. It is then that you tune in to God’s wavelength.” It is then that you have placed yourself next to God’s throne – so close, that you can touch His cloak.

Jesus has given His life for us, therefore it’s only right that we give Him a little of our time each day; and we are the ones who will benefit from the giving of ourselves. What’s your view on this?

‘A higher level’

To Follow Jesus

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

September/October 2015 Issue –  Standing Strong, ‘I pray … that you may know … his incomparably great power … the working of his mighty strength’ Ephesians 1:18-19

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Psalm 5:1-12 (NIVUK): “Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament. Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray.

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.

For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness; with you, evil people are not welcome. The arrogant cannot stand in your presence. You hate all who do wrong; you destroy those who tell lies. The bloodthirsty and deceitful you, Lord, detest.

But I, by your great love, can come into your house; in reverence I bow down towards your holy temple. Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies – make your way straight before me.

Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with malice. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongues they tell lies. Declare them guilty, O God! Let their intrigues be their downfall. Banish them for their many sins, for they have rebelled against you.

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favour as with a shield.”

Selwyn writes a good conclusion to today’s study, which is to do with ensuring we have a quiet time with Jesus, each day.

He says: “I have found that it is best to have my quiet time with God in the first hours of the morning so that I can as someone has put it, ‘wash your thinking in the thoughts of Christ before you face the challenges of the day’. If it is not possible to set aside time in the morning then take any hour you can to draw close to Him.

But resolve that no day will go by without out you attempting to spend time with God. As you do so, patiently listen and intentionally push past any distractions that try to pull you away from Him.”

I have also found, like Selwyn that morning is the best time for spending some time with Jesus to go over my plans for the day so that I may test my plans against His perfect will. However, I know that certain people are not ‘morning people’ and their activity increases towards the end of their day. Not a problem – just set aside your quiet time, at night – in preparation for the next day.

In James 4:13-15, we read: “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’”

The title of this publication, is ‘Every Day with Jesus’ and each day has it’s own study; therefore, I would guess that many readers have already established a pattern of setting aside a quiet time for prayer and the reading of each study. And, that is half the battle, establishing a set time – and sticking to it – eventually a quiet-time habit is formed and it becomes easier to find the time. Do you agree?

As it is with every spiritual activity, Satan is always prowling around seeking to divert our attention away from God, that is why distractions will arise around the time when we want to approach God’s throne to be with Him. Consequently, we will often need His Spirit’s help, through prayer, to shield us from the devil’s diversionary schemes.

Your view?

‘Reverent listening’

To Follow Jesus

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

September/October 2015 Issue –  Standing Strong, ‘I pray … that you may know … his incomparably great power … the working of his mighty strength’ Ephesians 1:18-19

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Matthew 6:1-15 (NIVUK): “Be careful not to practise your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Selwyn starts today’s study, with: “Another spiritual principal we need to understand if we are to be men and women with inner spiritual strength is the need to cultivate a daily ‘quiet time’ – the time we set aside daily to be with God – it’s about being with God without distractions.”

The depth of all relationships can often be measured by the amount of ‘free’ time spent in each other’s company (unless separation is enforced from outside a person’s influence, e.g. jail, work requirements, etc.). [I use the term ‘free’ time, to signify that a choice has been made, there may be times when people are forced to spend time with others but it may not be of their choosing.]

As our relationship with Jesus should be the highest priority it is then, only natural, that we spend ‘quality’ time with Him. In Matthew 19:29, we read: “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” This verse, and others like it, indicate to us that our relationship with Jesus is more important than any other relationship.

Yet, we should not lose sight of the fact that when our relationship with God is our highest priority then all other relationships (parents, husband/wife, children, friends and neighbours) will greatly benefit. Spending time with Jesus will help us in the way we love and effectively serve all other people, especially those who are closest to us.

What’s your view on this topic?

A word of caution

To Follow Jesus

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

September/October 2015 Issue –  Standing Strong, ‘I pray … that you may know … his incomparably great power … the working of his mighty strength’ Ephesians 1:18-19

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

2 Timothy 3:10-17 (NIVUK): “You (Timothy), however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings – what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Before Selwyn leaves his discussion on listening to God, he repeats one of his earlier warnings.

He writes: “I would like to give you one last word of caution. The matter is one that I have already referred to, but it needs to be stressed. God will never contradict His written Word, and if we believe we have heard His voice telling us to do something that is contrary to what He says in Scripture, it is definitely not God’s voice we have heard.”

There are people who are strongly against the idea that God talks to His people, in this age; for the reason that it’s difficult for another person to verify what was claimed to be said, by God. The issue is further clouded because with some forms of mental illness people claim to hear God’s voice when clearly, to an objective person, the words are delusional. Another factor that comes into this discussion, is that some people lie (for their own benefit) about hearing God’s voice.

However, given these valid reasons why we should be careful and test the veracity of what we are told; it is important not to toss out the truth that God does communicate to people – sometimes through an inner voice that we hear in our hearts and at other (I think, exceptional) times – He will speak audibly to people.

If you have not experienced God speaking to you, please don’t shut down the possibility that He can, and one day – He just might surprise you. It could be as simple as Selwyn’s example, but if you hear the words: ‘I love you‘; spoken directly to your heart – it will change your life forever.

Any comments?

***

[My cancer is rapidly progressing and my ability to continue to write these notes could be limited in the future, but I should be okay for the next few weeks.]

 

‘Thus saith the Lord’

To Follow Jesus

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

September/October 2015 Issue –  Standing Strong, ‘I pray … that you may know … his incomparably great power … the working of his mighty strength’ Ephesians 1:18-19

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.”

Selwyn starts today’s study, as follows: “Does God talk directly to people today in the same way that the Holy Spirit spoke to Philip? Multitudes would testify that He does. (As, I do.) Maybe not always in such dramatic circumstances but certainly in a way that leaves a person in no doubt that it is the voice of the Lord that they heard.”

And his conclusion is as equally concise: “The closeness of our walk with the Divine Shepherd (which Philip no doubt enjoyed) determines the degree to which we recognise His voice when He speaks to us. And when God speaks there is a quiet sense of authority. The trained ear recognises that it is the voice of the Shepherd and says with the prophets of old: ‘Thus saith the Lord.‘”

I think the one characteristic of God’s voice that really stands out is what Selwyn mentions in his conclusion – there is a definite sense of authority felt – when you hear the voice of God. God loves us dearly, He is not going to leave us in a state of confusion when He does speak to us, He will ensure that we know it is He, who is speaking.

It has been my experience that when I’m not hearing God’s voice then it has always been a worthwhile exercise to examine myself to discern if some form of habitual sin has found its way into my life and then deal with it; it’s like cleaning the dirt out of your ears so that you can hear clearly.

If you are worried about this issue then pray about it; seek God’s confirmation that you are walking in His way. In Isaiah 6:5-8, we read: “‘Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.’ Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.’ Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’”

Thankfully, for us, our guilt is taken away through the blood of our Lord Jesus; we can be sure that our sins are forgiven when we seek His forgiveness and with His help, turn our backs, on our sinful habits.

Any comments?

 

Listening – an art

To Follow Jesus

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

September/October 2015 Issue –  Standing Strong, ‘I pray … that you may know … his incomparably great power … the working of his mighty strength’ Ephesians 1:18-19

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

John 10:1-21 (NIVUK): “’Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.

The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognise a stranger’s voice.’ Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

Therefore Jesus said again, ‘Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me– just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.

The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.’

The Jews who heard these words were again divided. Many of them said, ‘He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?’ But others said, ‘These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?’”

Today’s reading presents us with another set of inspirational verses. The imagery of these words are just beautiful and the one magnificent theme is that Jesus is the good Shepherd who has laid down His life for His sheep; His sheep know His voice and follow Him; there is only one Shepherd and there is only, one unified flock.

The sheep who follow their holy Shepherd know His voice and follow Him – in this way we are unified, one large flock following in the same direction; we have not been scattered into separate, isolated flocks. Do you agree?

In today’s study, Selwyn talks about the art of listening to God’s voice and it is centred on the practice of listening – in silence, with eager expectation. I don’t have any thing extra to say about his view on ‘cultivating this art’.

Basically, for me, listening for God’s voice is part of our relationship with Him and because of His great love for us He will find the perfect means to communicate with us. I don’t think it’s something we can practice as if it’s a type of skill. It’s more to do with seeking a deeper relationship with Jesus and believing that if He wants to speak to us – He will.

However, we can place ourselves in a position where we are receptive to hearing His voice, by this I mean, asking Him if He has something to say during our prayer time and listening in silence for His response. Or, said another way – people who don’t believe God will speak to them, don’t set aside any time to listen to His voice and their expectations are met. It depends a lot on our spiritual maturity and our preparedness to be guided by the His Spirit’s promptings.

In summary, God loves His sheep and He will break through their woolly-minded stubbornness to communicate with them if it’s important for their spiritual wellbeing.

What’s your view?