Inexpressible joy

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’

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

1 Peter 1:1-19 (NIV-UK): “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ: To God’s elect, exiles, scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.

This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

Don’t you agree – this is another exceptional set of verses, which can only be a great encouragement – to us. We – who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood.

We can depend on the perfection of God’s choice, in regard to who He saves – it’s a most humbling thought to think that we have done nothing to deserve the salvation of our souls. And, our frail nature – by itself – cannot destroy the genuineness of our faith, because we have the assurance that our inheritance in heaven is totally and completely shielded by God’s power.

Now, just that truth should generate joy, in the hearts of all, who follow Jesus.

Selwyn says in today’s study: “Those who are branded with the joy of Christ are not only truly joyous, but sometimes hilariously joyous. … It is a sad reflection on today’s Church that exuberance and devotion are regarded as things that cannot flow together. They can.”

It’s a pity, that in some cases, excessive exuberance has been allowed to become disruptive because the behaviour has crowded out, all other forms of devotion. There is a need for balance – a balance, which allows for both inexpressible joy and reverence for our Holy God, in an atmosphere where the peace of Christ prevails.

Your view?

Joy! Joy! Joy!

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’

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

John 15:1-17 (NIV-UK): “‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

‘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. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to 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.”

Another great set of words to think about, as we go about our business on this October day. Two points stand out from the above verses – one, that it is Jesus who chooses His disciples; you and I have been chosen by God – we did not choose Him – a very humbling truth.

The second point, is one which I think is often missed – the implied consequences of this verse: “You are my friends IF you do what I command.” If a person calls themselves a Christian yet does not try to do what He commands – then what does that say about their relationship with Jesus? Or, more importantly – how does God treat them?

Selwyn starts today’s study with these words: “Now we come to the last in our list of the marks of Jesus with which we are to be branded – abundant, over flowing joy. … Leaders are often at pains to point out that joy should not be mistaken for happiness. Happiness depends on what happens,’ they declare, ‘but joy is independent of circumstances.’ …

You cannot take His joy without finding your joy complete. You and I can be branded also with this mark of Jesus. His overflowing joy is to be so infused within us that although we will experience sadness and many trials, we shall never be overcome by them.”

Let’s finish with these verses from John 14:21-24 (UKNIV): 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.’

Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, ‘But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?’

Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”

We share in the joy of Jesus when we have developed a loving and obedient relationship with Him, because it is His Spirit that  comes and resides IN us. Consequently, His characteristics – especially His love – can then be seen in us. If, we don’t demonstrate His ‘marks’ to the world – then, what does that say about us?

What’s your view on this topic?

Joy-snatchers

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 2014 Issue – ‘The Great Legacy’

Today’s text for reading and meditation is:

John 16:17-33 (NIV): “At this, some of his disciples said to one another, ‘What does he mean by saying, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,” and “Because I am going to the Father”?’  They kept asking, ‘What does he mean by “a little while”? We don’t understand what he is saying.’

Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, ‘Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me”? Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.

So with you: now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.’

Then Jesus’ disciples said, ‘Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.’

‘Do you now believe?’ Jesus replied. ‘A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

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.’ “

Another great set of verses – the ones I like are highlighted.

Selwyn writes: ‘What tremendous encouragement this verse, ‘ … no one can take away your joy.’ breathes into our souls. … When we put our faith in what Jesus says then we take the most significant step towards maintaining our spiritual joy. Trust and faith demolish the lies put in our minds by Satan and allow joy to breathe freely.’

As Selwyn implies in his introduction – the main thing that can snatch away our joy – is unrepentant sin. The foundation for our joy is our love of Jesus, and our love is demonstrated by the way we live our life – always following the guidance of His Spirit. When we follow our own desires, that is – our sinful nature – we break this bond of love. We allow our joy to be snatched away.

The only way to recover, the joy of our soul – is to repent, and to be restored by His love.

Your view?

Pleasure versus joy

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 2014 Issue – ‘The Great Legacy’

Today’s text for reading and meditation is:

Paul’s letter to the Romans 15:1-13 (NIV):We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.  Each of us should please our neighbours for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: ‘The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.’ For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.

As it is written: ‘Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing the praises of your name.’ Again, it says, ‘Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.’ And again, ‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples extol him.’ And again, Isaiah says, ‘The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope.’

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Again, there’s a lot contained in the above verses to think about – I especially like the part about the role of Scripture for teaching and the encouragement this provides, in the form of hope – regarding our eternal future. The other verse, which attracted my attention, was: ‘I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews … ‘. I believe that for too long we have ignored the spiritual welfare of Jews. We should do much more, in loving our ‘older’ brothers and sisters. Do you agree?
In today’s study, Selwyn discusses the difference between pleasure and joy. He writes: “Pleasure often depends on circumstances. … It tends to always remain superficial; also it continues to exist by ignoring the difficulties and unanswered problems of life. …

Joy, supernatural joy, is so different. It bubbles up from deep inner contentment. It may flame into rapture, burst out in song, even express itself in dance or sink into peace, but whatever form it takes it possesses the whole personality. This type of joy only comes from Jesus.”

It’s impossible to explain to someone, who does not have a relationship with Jesus; the difference between pleasure and the joy given to us as a gift, from God. How to you explain the visible world to a person who was born blind? It’s a similar sort of problem.

Any comments?