Life holds no shipwreck

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 28:1-10 (NIVUK): “Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold.

Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, ‘This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live.’ But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.

There was an estate near by that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and showed us generous hospitality for three days. His father was ill in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. When this had happened, the rest of those on the island who were ill came and were cured. They honoured us in many ways; and when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed.”

This is the last day of this issue dealing with inner strength – a strength based on God within us – a strength, which enables us to continue in the face of all kinds of troubles.

Selwyn concludes with these words: “The inner strength that Jesus displayed was shared not only by Paul but also by all Jesus’ disciples. The Early Church was filled with men and women who had ‘something inside so strong. But can we share it in this age too? Is it for some and not for others?

With all my heart I say there are divine reinforcements available for all who give their lives to God. Life holds no shipwreck that need leave us a wreck. Together with God we can stand strong in the storm.”

In 1 John 4:12, we read: “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” It is God living in us, who provides the strength to remain strong and secure on the inside. Again, in John 16:33, we hear Jesus say: “‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’” Here Jesus is telling His disciples that we will have troubles – but take heart – I can overcome anything. The same message is true for us.

Be strong – God is in control – and He loves you intensely.

The most famous colt

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 19:28-44 (NIVUK): “After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you untying it?” say, “The Lord needs it.”’

Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ They replied, ‘The Lord needs it.’

They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.

When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’ ‘I tell you,’ he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognise the time of God’s coming to you.’“

Selwyn spends one more day reflecting on the importance of love operating as generosity.

He concludes this study with: “I hope it is quite clear that when we are generous with others, we ourselves are blessed. We guard against being generous in order that we might gain a blessing – that would be putting self ahead of others. We are generous because it is the right thing to do.

Meanness ought not to characterise the children of a God whose magnanimity and large-heartedness is so wonderfully displayed both in Scripture and in creation. Be a generous person and, as night follows day, your inner strength will increase and you will be naturalised in generosity.”

We love each other because our Lord first loved us, and His love flows through us to others. (This was mentioned in yesterday’s study.) God’s love expresses itself in many forms, and one of the main ways is in being generous with what we have – after all – what we have, all comes from God.

We give – not to make ourselves feel good – but because it is the natural thing for a child of the one, true God to do – it’s part of a true follower’s nature.

I don’t have much to add to what Selwyn has written about the colt, except to say that God knew that they would open their hearts to His request – perhaps because they were also His followers. I’m guessing – because we are not told in Luke’s account.

Your views?

Generosity that generates

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 6:19-24 (NIVUK): “‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.'”

Selwyn writes in today’s study: “It is interesting that some Bible translators, substitute the word ‘generosity’ for ‘goodness’ in the list of fruits of the Spirit given in Galatians 5:22-23. I find it interesting too, that Moffatt translates our text for today in this way: ‘The eye is the lamp of the body: so if your eye is generous, the whole of your body will be illuminated.’

To think of the word ‘good’ or ‘goodness’ in terms of generosity gives us a new perspective. The eye is our outlook on life, our whole way of looking at things, and when our eye is generous then our whole personality is illumined – lit up.

… A friend, some time ago, said: ‘Jesus generous eye saw in me what I couldn’t see, and it has generated generosity in me towards others.’ Always remember that the generous eye fills the whole body with light.”

I think that we take into our hearts the love of Jesus then we see the world in a different light, as there are many things in our society which are ‘broken’, we can too easily focus on the negative. Whereas, with the eyes of Jesus we can focus on the fact that everyone is loved by Him and we should do as much as we can, to tell them of the salvation that is possible through God’s love.

In John 4:13-14, we read: “Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’” We can either be generous with the living water that wells up in us through God’s Spirit and allow it to flow to other people, or we can allow God’s love to stagnate within us. It’s our choice.

Your thoughts?

Crazy for you

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:

1 John 4:7-21(NIVUK): “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

This is how God showed his love among us: he sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: in this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”

I think what Selwyn has written is excellent, this particular study is well worth our time.

He writes: “If you think or believe no one loves you, you may well conclude that you are not worth loving. Yet just as lack of self-love lies in relationships so also does the restoration and resolution. It begins with coming to terms with the reality that no matter how deprived of love you may have felt before, Jesus has a love for you that is unconditional, perfect and will never be taken away. …

As we open our hearts to receive from God, His love flows in and turns the machinery of our souls and fans the flames of love and we, in response to His love, love Him in return. We love in response to His good and perfect unconditional love.”

The reading for today is a good choice because it contains so many verses which support what Selwyn has written, I particularly like these two verses (16b-17): “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: in this world we are like Jesus.”

The main message for everyone, not only those who may feel un-loved, is that we are loved by God – all the time.

Your thoughts?

You are what you think

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:

Romans 12:9-21 (NIVUK): “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practise hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.

On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Today, Selwyn writes: “A lack of self-love may have roots in our childhood. Often it is the case that the way others regard us, becomes the way in which we regard ourselves. If others have looked upon you as worthless, you may well have developed  the same estimate of yourself. Importantly, however, often it is not people’s actual estimation of us that has formed the building blocks for our self-concept, but what we consider to be their evaluation.

People with a strong sense of spiritual assurance have a healthy sense of self-love and are comfortable with themselves. They regard others in the same way that they regard themselves and what they desires for themselves they desire for others also; they give as much time and attention to the needs of others as they give to their own wants and desires.

If you don’t have a healthy sense of self-love then you will give out love in order to get love back. Your love will have strings attached to it.”

Selwyn finishes by saying that he will continue to discuss this issue of a balance view of self-love, in tomorrow’s study.

I’ve quoted a fair bit of what Selwyn has written to maintain the context – and I have nothing to add to his words because they come from his years of experience as a Christian counsellor.

However, I’ll go back to what I said yesterday – our worth is not based on how others measure us, but rather on what Jesus has done for us through God’s love. We are ‘priceless’ in His eyes, and nothing can change His view of us.

I think the reading for today is excellent and provides a lot of useful information regarding today’s topic. Besides the key verse, the next verse is also very good, Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.”

And we continue to love even though our love may not be reciprocated, especially by our enemies. It is the same type of love that flows into us from Jesus – it’s an unconditional love. It’s a form of love which our human nature struggles to understand.

Your view?

***

I posted this on my Facebook page:

“Health Update: Last visit to oncologist was last Friday, expecting to hear more bad news as the only medication I’m on are tablets to slow the cancer down, which – I was told – had about 10% chance of doing anything at all.
Anyway, I’m an optimist and I had been praying for a spectacular outcome so I could see another Christmas in reasonable comfort. My prayer is being answered as the cancer has slowed to 25% of it’s previous rate. The specialist said I should buy a lotto ticket as the outcome was far beyond her expectations. Praise the Lord!”

Self-love versus love of self

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:

Romans 12:1-8 (NIVUK): “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

Selwyn writes in today’s study: “Yesterday’s text. ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ (Mark 12:31) is a pivotal one, as so we spend another day exploring it. …

We should differentiate between two things: self-love and love of self. How often have you heard one person say of another: He/she loves him/herself too much’? What they are referring to are the characteristics of conceit, narcissism. arrogance or self-centeredness that they observe in that individual. That is love of self – therefore unhealthy.

Self-love is different: it regards the self as important and in need of proper attention, but not all-important – therefore healthy.

It’s all too easy for self-love to pass over into love of self. We need always to be on guard, as Scripture warns us in today’s text, so that we maintain the right balance.”

I think it comes down to one basic question: do we think we are superior or more important then other people? It’s to do with our view of ourselves as we relate to other people, in that we are all brothers and sisters of the one large family – all equal (we belong to each other, Romans 12:5).

Our worth is found in the very large ransom Jesus paid for us to free us from eternal death, and the love He constantly showers upon us; consequently we have a responsibility to look after aspects of our ‘being’ such as our health, and to be good stewards of what our Lord has given to us.

More importantly, we have the ability to allow God’s love to flow through us – to our neighbours – to ensure that everyone has equal access to what they need for life and to help them with their load when their burden is heavy. We should love others in the same way that God loves us – unconditionally.

Any comments?

Keep your balance

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:

Mark 12:28-34 (NIVUK): “One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’

‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.’

‘Well said, teacher,’ the man replied. ‘You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.’

When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.”

Selwyn starts today’s study as follows: “We come now to another feature that is evident in those whose lives have ‘something inside so strong’: a loving and generous spirit. We are to love our neighbour as ourselves.”

His conclusion, is a good summary: “Everyone desires what they think is right and good for them, and this universal trait becomes the rule by which our attitude to others is to be measured. The challenge is not to love ourselves – we do that – but to have the same regard for others that we have for ourselves. Self-interest and other-interest are to balance.”

In John 13:34-35, we hear Jesus issue this command in a new way, like a lot of His teaching, He places His (high) standard on it: “‘A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’”

We are often flawed in the way we love – especially in the way we love other people; so, we may ask the question; ‘What is the standard of love, which is required – when we are called by God  – to love our neighbour?”

Well – Jesus provides the answer – it is to be the same type of pure, sacrificial love which He pours our on us – nothing less. This is the challenge!

Your thoughts?