“You’re not home yet”

To Follow Jesus

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

March/April 2016 Issue –  Straight from the Heart‘I have you in my heart … all of you share God’s grace with me’  Philippians 1:7

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Philippians 2:29-30  (NIVUK): ”So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honour people like him,  because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.”

It’s important that we keep our eyes focused on Jesus and we should always be mindful that our work for His kingdom, will be richly rewarded when we arrive ‘home’.

That is, what ever honour we may receive from our church community for the Christian work that we do, is a blessing and an encouragement; but it will pale into insignificance compared to the rewards we will receive from God.

Selwyn says this in his introduction: “Paul’s wish for Epaphroditus is that when he returns to the congregation in Philippi the Christians there will receive him in the Lord with great joy. How sad that so many of God’s servants who have given themselves in service are taken for granted rather than greeted with gratitude.”

It’s good that such people are received with great joy, but if they are not, then they should remember that their real reward is being stored for them in heaven, and that nothing can take that away from them.

In a way, we should think of ourselves as humble servants for the Lord; listen to the words of Jesus in Luke 17:9-10, “Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”

Consequently, if we have this attitude of humility, we will not be disappointed if we don’t receive praise for all the work we might do for the Lord, from our church communities. In summary, we trust that our Lord will perfectly reward us when we arrive home, and that’s where our focus should be.

Do you agree?

It matters

To Follow Jesus

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

March/April 2016 Issue –  Straight from the Heart‘I have you in my heart … all of you share God’s grace with me’  Philippians 1:7

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Philippians 2:25-28  (NIVUK): ”But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs.

For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety.”

Selwyn covers today’s reading well, and there is no need for any further comments.

Again, I liked his conclusion: “All of this is a wonderful illustration of how redemption transfigures everyday events, and the Holy Spirit inspires a practical down-to-earth spirituality.

Who you are, what you are doing and even where you are going today matters to the Lord. It really does.”

It’s worthwhile remembering that everything we do in public is being watched by those who know that we are followers of Jesus. Consequently, before we start our day it’s a good idea to bring our plans before the Lord and seek His Spirit’s guidance and help, to recognise the opportunities that may come our way to share the good news about God’s love.

There are some people who don’t go to a church, often because they have been hurt in the past by something that has happened within a church environment. We can play a role, to present the authentic love of Jesus to them, when we meet them during the day, while going about our normal activities.

Any comments?

The real thing

To Follow Jesus

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

March/April 2016 Issue –  Straight from the Heart‘I have you in my heart … all of you share God’s grace with me’  Philippians 1:7

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Philippians 2:20-24  (NIVUK): ”I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.

But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.”

I think the question asked by Selwyn is quite challenging: “Permit me to ask a personal question: Are you the kind of person who takes a genuine interest in the affairs of others? One of the reasons why God has put you in the church or group in which you now find yourself is to be genuinely concerned about others.”

As was the case yesterday, Selwyn’s conclusion is worth thinking about: “Paul was confident in the Lord he subjected his wishes and desires to divine approval. ‘In the Lord’ gives a new dimension to everything, for if we have confidence in Him then we do not bargain with Him; we will trust His goodness and His love. He will give us the thing hoped for, or something different – something closer to His purposes than our own.”

Do you live in a way that demonstrates to others, your trust In God’s love?

 

Hope … in the Lord Jesus

To Follow Jesus

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

March/April 2016 Issue –  Straight from the Heart‘I have you in my heart … all of you share God’s grace with me’  Philippians 1:7

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Philippians 2:19  (NIVUK): ”I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you.”

I liked Selwyn’s summary: “Paul’s focus on hope ‘in the Lord Jesus’ was not mere wishful thinking, but a hope that was solid and concrete. He knew, for example, that Timothy’s visit would bring joy to the Philippians and later to himself when Timothy returned with news about them.

Hoping ‘in the Lord Jesus’ meant that he knew good would come of that visit. Remind yourself this Easter season that good comes of everything when we hope in Him.”

The quote from Romans 5:3-5, which Selwyn refers to, is a good one to meditate upon: “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

Where I live in Australia, I don’t see a lot of suffering for one’s faith. But today, I’m reminded that some people live in fear of their lives – all the time. The bomb blast in Lahore, Pakistan where about 70 people have died and something like 300 were wounded – was targeted at Christians – although I understand a number of Muslims were also killed.

The hope that these followers of Jesus had in God’s love, who were killed – is now being eternally lived – to the glory of God.

Your view?

‘There is another world’

To Follow Jesus

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

March/April 2016 Issue –  Straight from the Heart‘I have you in my heart … all of you share God’s grace with me’  Philippians 1:7

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Philippians 2:17-18  (NIVUK): ”But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.”

Selwyn has this to say: “Once more we come to Easter Sunday – the most glorious day on the Christian calendar. … Our Saviour lives and is active for ever. Indeed He poured Himself out for us – both in life and death.

The imagery used here (in today’s Scripture) of being poured out like a drink offering was no doubt a reference to the outpouring of wine that accompanied the burnt offerings and grain offerings made daily in first the tabernacle and then the Temple. …

Thank Jesus today for His sacrifice, which has opened the way for us to sacrifice ourselves to His incredible purposes.”

How did you celebrate on this Easter Sunday? At my local church, the minister preached on Mark 16:1-8, “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, ‘Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?’

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”’ Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.”

We can sacrifice our time and reputation to tell others about the love of God, or we can remain quite and not share the joy we have in knowing the risen Jesus. Paul was prepared to sacrifice everything for the sake of the gospel – what are you prepared to sacrifice, so that others may hear about Jesus’ death and resurrection, so that they may turn away from the sinful world and seek eternal life?

‘Holes in the darkness’

To Follow Jesus

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

March/April 2016 Issue –  Straight from the Heart‘I have you in my heart … all of you share God’s grace with me’  Philippians 1:7

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Philippians 2:14-16  (NIVUK): ”Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’

Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labour in vain.”

We are children of God in a warped and crooked generation. As I looked at the news on TV, Internet and the newspaper; I found a lot of articles on religion, which is to be expected given that’s it the Easter weekend.

A number of the articles fell into two broad groups; one, the ‘intellectual’ persecution of Christian living in the western world, that is, there was thinly veiled criticism of the influence of ‘traditional’ bible-centric religion; the second group of articles covered physical persecution of Christians in developing countries: a strange mix.

However, there was also a number of excellent Easter messages from the heads of different churches that were broadcast. Perhaps, the image of a crucified, innocent man may still cause many hearts to pause and think about life.

In today’s study, Selwyn writes: “Paul bears down again on the need for true authentic living. It’s an issue that is so important he has to return to it again and again. And it’s the same in our day too.

How many Christian communities would be transformed if people stopped grizzling and griping and disputing among themselves? Nothing brings Christians to a dead halt more quickly than their inability to get along with one another. … As disciples and followers of Jesus we need to take care to shine in the darkness, not to add to the blackness by our unchristian attitudes. … We live in a universe made dark by sin. Let’s knock holes in the darkness.”

One area of dispute amongst Christians is on the interpretation of Scripture; it’s becoming obvious to me that not many people have a good overall view of the Bible (both Old and New Testament) – they know some verses – but they appear to lack a coherent view of the entire picture.

For example, there is a lot of confusion about such matters as ‘judgment’ – we are called not to judge a person’s spiritual status before God – but we are called to make judgments concerning actions (and there are many verses that support this view in the New Testament); this distinction is not recognised by many, ‘educated’ Christians.

Oh, and one other example – God is love (agape). Too many people get confused with a love that is sexual in nature (eros) or affection (family or friends) (philia). In the New Testament, the commandments to love God and our neighbour – the Greek word ‘agape’ is always used – it’s pure, sacrificial love – nothing less.

Finally, if someone quotes a law from Leviticus and asks why I don’t obey it – I just point them to the Letter to the Hebrews – and tell them to read it, over and over; until they understand that the Old Covenant does not apply to a Christian.

Hebrews 8:6-7, 13: “But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises. For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. … By calling this covenant ‘new’, he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.”

Any comments?

Attention: God at work

To Follow Jesus

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

March/April 2016 Issue –  Straight from the Heart‘I have you in my heart … all of you share God’s grace with me’  Philippians 1:7

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Philippians 2:12-13  (NIVUK): ”Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose.

Today, many Christians (keeping in mind that Orthodox Christians will be celebrating Easter at a different time) will be going to Good Friday services and reflecting on the passion and death of our Saviour. It’s a day for silent meditation on a sacrifice that changed history.

Selwyn takes us through some interesting verses, in particular he says this about these words, ‘work out your own salvation’: “It is not a reference to salvation by works. We are not working to be saved: we are working because we are saved. The thought here is … to live out the saved life that we possess in Jesus.

This Good Friday let us remind ourselves that passivity in the Christian life is not an option: a ‘let go and let God’ attitude will not do.

We learn to co-operate with the strength and energy of God working in us. Deep within the springs of each Christian’s personality God is at work redirecting our wills and rejuvenating our motivation to do His will!

This is the glorious reality of the new covenant life once promised by Jeremiah and made good by the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 36:26). Jesus is continuing the good work He began in you and will bring it to completion.”

We cannot be bystanders and stand back to watch Jesus at work in the lives of others; we should place a towel around our waist and lovingly wash the feet of others, following the example set by our Master.

The Holy Spirit will work in us and provide guidance on the type of work He has prepared for us to do. We play our part by our willingness to do His will and seeking (through prayer) those good tasks, which are ours to do.  Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Good Friday is a great day to reflect on what Jesus has done for you; it is also a good day to think about what you are doing for God!