‘The god that failed’

To Follow Jesus

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

November/December 2015 Issue –  Bright Morning Star, ‘… for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’  Acts 4:12

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Galatians 5:1-15 (NIVUK): “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is required to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. ‘A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.’ I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view.

The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty. Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offence of the cross has been abolished. As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”

Selwyn starts today’s discussion on obedience, by saying: “In the search for freedom, what is to be the centre of our obedience? It most certainly cannot be society, for its standards change from one generation to the next. Can it be a political system? No – for that is equally fallible.

If the centre of our obedience is not to be society or a political system then what about conscience? Can that be our guide? Again sadly no, for conscience can either accuse or excuse according to the information that has been fed into it. Conscience may be a good guide but it is not an infallible guide.

All these things I have mentioned – and I could mention others – are imperfect laws of freedom. They crack under the pressure of life.. There is only one perfect law of freedom – the law that is caught up in Jesus.”

I liked today’s reading, especially this verse: “The only thing that counts is faith (in Jesus) expressing itself through love.” As we approach Christmas, we could make a special effort to love others in a way that demonstrates the freedom we have in Christ. Perhaps that could be an act of kindness to a stranger in our community,  we can love freely because – we are free – indeed!

The centre of obedience

To Follow Jesus

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

November/December 2015 Issue –  Bright Morning Star, ‘… for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’  Acts 4:12

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Psalm 19:1-14 (NIVUK): “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring for ever.

The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from wilful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

Selwyn continues his discussion on obedience.

I thought the best part of today’s study, was: “Many non-Christians would say: ‘I agree that freedom begins with obedience to some moral code, but all faiths say this. Therefore any faith is good provided you are sincere about it’

The best answer to that is the one Billy Graham uses: “Sincerely sitting in a railway carriage and believing you are on the right train won’t get you to your destination if it is actually the wrong train.”

There is only one infallible teacher and only one way to eternal life, and that way is found by following Jesus.

Where freedom begins

To Follow Jesus

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

November/December 2015 Issue –  Bright Morning Star, ‘… for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’  Acts 4:12

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Matthew 6:25-34 (NIVUK): “‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? ‘And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these.

If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.'”

Selwyn continues to look at the quest for freedom, he writes: “Even the most casual observer of life on this planet cannot help but notice that the desire for personal freedom is to be found in every human heart.

Everyone wants freedom, but so few know how to get it. The popular notion of freedom is that the fewer restrictions that are placed upon us, the freer we will be to develop our potential and to be the kind of persons we were meant to be.

But that is not the way to true freedom – often it results in a feeling of loss and emptiness. Seek freedom first and you will never find it, for freedom is a by-product of something else – obedience.”

Obedience to God’s Word is, as Selwyn says, the key to permanent freedom. However, one of the issues facing the modern church is the question of the integrity of Jesus’ teaching as recorded in Scripture. There is a tendency in some places to water down the words of Jesus to make them more acceptable to today’s western culture.

In other words, there is a push to lower the bar set by Jesus to make it ‘easier’ to follow His commandments. The misuse of individual freedom to interpret Scripture in a way that makes it easier to accept, is a widespread disease in many churches. Do you agree?

Yet, this tactic has been used by Satan from the beginning of our history, in Genesis 3:1, we read: “Now the snake was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden”?'”

It’s up to us to defend Scripture – as it has been written – otherwise, the freedom of those who follow us, will be placed under even greater challenges. What do you think?

The quest for freedom

To Follow Jesus

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

November/December 2015 Issue –  Bright Morning Star, ‘… for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’  Acts 4:12

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

John 8:21-36 (NIVUK): “Once more Jesus said to them, ‘I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.’

This made the Jews ask, ‘Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, “Where I go, you cannot come”?’

But he continued, ‘You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.’ ‘Who are you?’ they asked.

‘Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,’ Jesus replied. ‘I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.’

They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.’ Even as he spoke, many believed in him.

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’

They answered him, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?’ Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it for ever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Selwyn starts off today’s study, as follows: “A further area of life in which we discover that Jesus the Christ, is the only one who can truly help us is that of personal freedom. The freedom I am thinking of here is not so much our personal liberty – the freedom to move about as we wish. But, I’m thinking about inner freedom – the freedom to think and feel and be ourselves without constraints. Almost everyone longs for this kind of freedom.”

In the reading, selected by Selwyn, the ‘freedom’ Jesus is talking about – is the freedom enjoyed by a permanent member of a family, compared to the freedom that is out of reach to a slave. Jesus is telling the people that if they know and believe the truth about Him and the salvation He is offering, then this truth will set them free. That is – Jesus will save them from the bondage of sin and eternal death. The point I’m making is that the freedom Jesus is talking about is a very specific kind of freedom – freedom from the bondage of sin.

In 1 Peter 2:16, we read: “Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.” It’s important, that although we are now the adopted sons and daughters of God, having been reconciled to Him through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross that we submit ourselves to His authority.

Your thoughts?

 

Your place in the Body

To Follow Jesus

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

November/December 2015 Issue –  Bright Morning Star, ‘… for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’  Acts 4:12

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

1 Corinthians 12:12-27 (NIVUK): “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptised by one Spirit so as to form one body – whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. And so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.

If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honourable we treat with special honour. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment.

But God has put the body together, giving greater honour to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

Selwyn ‘spends one final day looking at the last of the three elements that form our self-identity: the sense of being able to contribute.’

The reading for today, illustrates that we are part of the one Body, and that we all contribute but often in different but equally important ways.

In his conclusion, Selwyn states: “There has never been anyone with such a clear sense of identity as Jesus, and there is simply no one to match Him when it comes to helping us form ours.”

One other point, which Selwyn raised, was that Jesus’ public ministry lasted three short years – yet He made such an impact that has never been equalled and never will. It’s amazing to me that we still record our ‘years’ – as the number of years after His birth – and as we approach Christmas 2015, it’s great to know that the Body of Christ lives on. Jesus will always be with us.

Any comments?

Impact!

To Follow Jesus

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

November/December 2015 Issue –  Bright Morning Star, ‘… for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’  Acts 4:12

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Ephesians 2:1-10 (NIVUK): “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.

All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

In this study, Selwyn talks about the third element of self-identity: the sense of being able to contribute. He writes: ” … It is not so much the scale of our contribution but the quality of it that makes for a sense of wholeness and completeness.

It is here  once again, that our need for Jesus becomes clear. If you don’t know Him then your impact on the world will be temporal and therefore marginal. If you know Him then your impact on the world will be eternal.”

I think what Selwyn is saying is that if we have a relationship with Jesus then we are able to align ourselves with His will and discern what are the good works He has prepared for us to do.

In Ephesians 6:7-8, we read: “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.” Likewise in Matthew 16:27, “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.”

We give of our ourselves because it is the way we serve our Lord and in doing so we undertake His eternal work, and our rewards will also be eternal.

Your view?

What’s your worth

To Follow Jesus

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

November/December 2015 Issue –  Bright Morning Star, ‘… for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’  Acts 4:12

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.”

Over the past few days, Selwyn has been talking about the importance of belonging to Jesus because only then can we experience a true sense of belonging.

In today’s study, he writes: “We look now at the next element of self-awareness and self-identity: a sense of being worthwhile. … This is the point: where there is a high sense of value there is a high sense of identity; where there is a low sense of value there is a low sense of identity. … The true, complete estimate of your worth comes from God alone.”

We have been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus – He has given us the priceless gift of eternal life when we believe in Jesus – and, the exceptional nature of this gift, reflects the value He has placed on each one of us. God’s love confirms our worth.

In 1 Peter 2:9-10, we read: “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

We, as God’s chosen people, are His special possession – we are just so uniquely valuable in His loving eyes, and isn’t that something to be thankful for?

Any comments?