The right thing to do

To Follow Jesus

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

November/December 2014 Issue – ‘Bringing down giants’

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

Colossians 3:1-17 (NIV-UK): Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.

You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

I’m always alerted to the fact that Paul consistently stresses the need to take off our old self – to cease our old sinful ways; and to put on our new self, which is being renewed by the power of God’s Spirit into the image of Jesus.

It’s these sort of verses, which should cause us to pause and reflect; and ask ourselves the question: “Can I see a change in my life-style – am I becoming more like Jesus; or am I standing still – if so, what is holding me back?” Whatever the answer, prayer for help or thanksgiving – should always flow from this type of reflection.

Selwyn, in today’s study, continues to discuss the giant of revenge and the right way of dealing with this issue, is through forgiveness. He tells us that forgiveness is different to justice. We can forgive a person, but that person still needs to be accountable to society, for the consequences of their actions. Forgiveness does not imply that we condone an evil action.

As Selwyn writes: “In the case of revenge a person insists on being the judge in their own quarrel. Where justice is concerned, the injured party hands the matter over to society for someone else to be the judge.”

The other aspect that Selwyn looks at, is the response of the forgiven person; sometimes, they may not care if they are forgiven or not – either way, their response will reflect the nature – of their relationship with God.

We are called to be a witness of Jesus’ love for this world, and part of our calling is to be like Jesus – we forgive; because it is part of the nature of our new self – to be forgiving. By following Jesus’ example, we make God known to a world that is desperate for His love, yet they often fail to recognise their need. Our actions may help them see and experience the love of our Lord.

Christmas time – is an excellent time – to reflect on our relationship with other people, and discern if there is someone we have failed to forgive during the year – and then do something about it. It’s the right thing to do. Do you agree?

Resentment – wrong responses

To Follow Jesus

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

September/October 2014 Issue – ‘Property of Jesus’

Today’s text for reading and meditation:

Ephesians 4:29 – 5:2 (NIV-UK): “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Over the next two days, Selwyn will discuss the various unhealthy ways Christians take in attempting to deal with anger and resentment.

Before we get to the negative routes people may take in dealing with their resentment. It may be beneficial to look at these verses, Ephesians 4:26-27, Paul writes: In your anger do not sin: do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” I have found this to be excellent advice, deal with your anger quickly; the longer you let if run loose in your mind, the harder it will be to effectively deal with it.

Now, to what Selwyn has written: “One way to suppress negative feelings into forgetfulness and try to act as though we no longer have them. This only drives the feelings into the subconscious mind where they work as subconscious resentments. All resentment must be brought to the surface  and honestly faced.

Another unhealthy way in which people handle resentment is to express their negative feelings by giving the perceived offender a ‘piece of their mind’. … Expression is not the remedy – it is dealing merely with the symptom, instead of the ‘disease’.

Yet another way is to run away from the circumstances which caused the resentment.” But, once you return to the ‘circumstances’, the feelings of resentment rise up once more.

You can see that if we quickly deal with the circumstances that caused the anger, and if we do not let the sun go down while we are still boiling with resentment; then our natural instincts have limited opportunities to take over and swamp our struggling desire to respond in a Christ-like manner.

It’s easier to remove weeds when they are small, if we ignore them and give them time to grow into something larger, then it will take a lot more effort to remove them completely.

Do you (with the Spirit’s help) have a method of handling anger, such that it does not provide the devil with a foothold?

The voice behind

To Follow Jesus

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

September/October 2014 Issue – ‘Property of Jesus’

Today’s text for reading and meditation:

Luke 6:20-36 (NIV-UK): “Looking at his disciples, he said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor [in spirit], for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.

But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

But to you who are listening I say: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.'”

The demonstration of forgiveness under all circumstances, is the mark of a follower of Jesus. As the above verses from Luke clearly tell us; as children of the Most High, we should exhibit family traits, and two of the important ones are the forgiveness of our enemies, and a willingness to show kindness and mercy to those who persecute us.

Selwyn writes: “We are seeing that one of the marks of Jesus is the forgiveness of injuries and offences. We are to be characterised with that same spirit, allowing it to be instilled so deeply within us that we instinctively refrain from retaliating or harbouring resentment.

Granted a consecrated heart, Jesus can infuse His spirit of forgiveness deep into anyone’s nature. … Hard as it may sound, it is amazingly possible.”

Forgiveness is such an essential part of our new-nature in-Christ, that if anyone is having difficulties in this area then it would be very beneficial for them to persistently pray to Jesus, seeking His help with this issue. It’s an area that we all need to work on – every day, of our new lives. Because of God’s great love for us, He is only too willing to transform us into the likeness of His Son. Perhaps the speed of our transformation, depends on how willing we are – to be transformed?

Your view?

Forgiveness – the first mark

To Follow Jesus

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

September/October 2014 Issue – ‘Property of Jesus’

Today’s text for reading and meditation:

Luke 23:32-43 (NIV-UK): “Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals – one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.’ The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.’ There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the Jews.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’

Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’”

The words of Jesus (verse 34) provide for us, an important and essential characteristic of a true follower; the ability to forgive from the heart and spirit. Too often, I think these words are said as a type of intellectual approval of a biblical truth – devoid of love, mercy and compassion.

In Acts, we read about Stephen, ‘a man full of God’s grace and power’ (Acts 6:8), a person who was branded with the characteristics of Jesus, and we can see this when we look at Acts 5:59-60: “While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep.”

True forgiveness requires us to be full of the Spirit of Jesus, because it is an ability that cannot be express by our sinful human nature – it needs God’s involvement for this brand mark to be etched into our hearts.

Selwyn writes: “Yesterday we spoke of the need to have the characteristics of Jesus not temporarily painted on, but branded in, so that no longer will there be any mistaking of our identity before God and our fellow human beings. …

What are the brand marks of Jesus? It is those inner qualities and characteristics that reveal the heart of Christ dwelling within us. We begin, by focusing on this: the willingness to forgive all injuries and offences.”

There can be no exceptions in regard to our willingness to forgive others. We, who have been forgiven so much by God will certainly realise the huge cost to Jesus; and we will seek to demonstrate our appreciation of His love, by following His example – one of the essential ways – is by forgiving others.

It’s only the dead and dying, who are the one who harbour resentment and nurse retaliation. On the other hand, we, who are alive in Christ – practice love, compassion and mercy – by seeking through prayer, a forgiving spirit.

A person who cannot forgive, all the time, cannot have a relationship with Jesus; unless they are changed by His Spirit.

Your view?

The first principle

Selwyn continues to look at the issue of unrealised forgiveness. He says: “If we really understood how much we have been forgiven then we would have little difficulty in forgiving others. …

There are many principles to consider in relation to forgiveness, but this is without doubt is the first principle: the more we realise how much we have been forgiven the more forgiving we will be.”

We know from Scripture that all have sinned – there are no exceptions. In our sin (even if we sin only once – we become outlaws – exactly the same as if we had broken all of the commandments), we were separated from God – it was impossible to please Him – it was totally impossible to save ourselves from an eternity of being separated from God. That means – our eternal future was a place; which is dark, lonely, constant pain and anxiety, full of hatred and misery – there are no friends there – only enemies.

Yet, through God’s love, He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Those, who follow Jesus, have the assurance of being with Him – forever. The difference between heaven and hell – measures the magnitude of Christ’s loving sacrifice – how, could it be possible not to forgive others? If, we, could even comprehend a miniscule of just how much has been given to us – and, we didn’t do a thing to deserve His grace!

in Paul’s letter to Galatians 5:13-14 (NIV), we read: ‘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.”‘

We cannot love our neighbour if we do not completely forgive them. A heart that can forgive, has Jesus as Lord and King; a heart that finds it too hard to forgive – has not been fully surrendered to God. I guess that’s an issue, which all of us must constantly examine.

From minimum to maximum

Selwyn continues his discussion on the important issue of forgiveness.

He writes: ” … Those who walk spiritually free don’t have a problem with unrealised forgiveness. They have a clear awareness that they have been forgiven a massive debt, a debt it would have been absolutely impossible for them to repay even if they had been given all eternity for them to repay it. And they are grateful for forgiveness, more grateful than words can ever convey. …

Awareness of forgiveness brings not only feelings  of freedom and gratitude to God but also a willingness to forgive those who have sinned against us.”

In 1 Peter 2:9-10 (NIV), we have these amazing words: 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.”

As members of a holy nation, called by our God who is holy, so we should also be holy in all that we do (and, it is not by our own strength that we strive for holiness but it is the work of the Spirit within us); for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” [1 Peter 1:15-16.]

Consequently, as members of God’s holy nation, we – by being (persistently)transformed into His nature – can forgive our enemies. It is an essential characteristic of a follower of Jesus.

In summary,  I think, that people who cannot forgive those who sin against them, do not have a relationship with Jesus; and, because they will not forgive (being slaves to their sinful nature), their sins are not forgiven by God. The warning is clear in the verses following the Lord’s prayer – as seen in yesterday’s study. Forgiveness is a challenge to everyone who calls themselves a Christian

What are your views?


I wrote a lot about the nature of forgiveness in yesterday’s post – the point I made then, is covered in some detail by Selwyn – in today’s study.

He writes: “Today, we continue reflecting on the story told in Matthew 18:21-35, of the servant who, having been forgiven a massive debt, goes out to demand that a man who owes him a paltry sum be cast into prison. …

We touched on one conclusion yesterday: he did not feel forgiven. … Many Christians are in the same state. They have been forgiven a massive debt – far beyond their power to repay – but the realisation of just how much they have been forgiven has never quite hit them. Their debt to God has been discharged through the payment made by Jesus on Calvary’s cross, but they seem unable to enter into the freedom such a release should bring. … “

As Selwyn says in his conclusion: “We praise God that because of His love for us He has paid the price for our sin, in the death of His only Son, and we are completely forgiven and free to live for Him. What grace!”

In Matthew 6:9-15 (NIV), we read the well-known Lord’s prayer, I’ve included some additional verses: “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 (sins), 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.”

Some commentators have expressed the view that there are three aspects to forgiveness, which at first may not make sense. Kenneth E. Bailey, in his book Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes (p 82), expresses the three aspects – in the form of questions: “Do we forgive others as God forgives us? Or do we forgive others first so that God will then forgive us? Or finally, does God forgive us and then we are able to forgive others? All three of these ideas are available in the New Testament.”

In the Beatitudes, we also hear Jesus say that the merciful are being blessed (being blessed, is a quality of spirituality that is already present) – for they shall receive mercy.

Now, one way of looking at this – a follower of Jesus who has fully surrender their ‘self’ to God, responds to God’s grace by fully believing in Jesus’ Word. The Holy Spirit, is constantly working in us, to move us in the direction of God’s holiness (justice, mercy and love). We demonstrate that we are saved by obeying God’s commandments – to love our neighbours as God loves us – means we now have the spiritual quality to forgive others.

In John 14:21, Jesus says: “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

And again, in John 15 9-12:16-17 (NIV), we see a parallel case: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. …

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last – and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other. …

Those, who do not follow Jesus would not be able to move beyond the paradox that arises from a human understanding of the above verses; it’s only through the Spirit within, that we can see glimpses of the beautiful picture of salvation and sanctification.

I guess a simple summary could be that we are chosen by God to love and to forgive – too simple?

What’s your view?


I wasn’t going to write much today – as I had another dose of chemotherapy in the morning and I’m feeling a bit tired. However, whilst I was at the Oncology Unit, I spent a couple of hours reading Kenneth E. Bailey’s book, and came across his discussion on mercy and forgiveness – too good to let pass.

His book is an excellent read on cultural studies in the Gospels: Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, InterVarsity Press, ©2008, ISBN978-0-8308-2568-4