Press on…

Revelation 12 v 9 says this: “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”

Wow, some description! 

The dragon refers to Satan, who has deceived the whole world. But has the importance of that really sunk in? The doubtful resistance that is in each of us does not go away easily. It remains though we are converted. It still needs to be fought and overcome.

If we do not condition ourselves to be aware and choose the right way, it will continue to exert its influence. Much can be done to lessen its influence, particularly continuing to develop our relationship with God through study and prayer.

As we exercise God’s way, the influence of Satan the Devil begins to slip. There is a negative side to this in that, as soon as his influence starts to slip away, he tries harder to ensure that it does not leave us entirely. In other words, he picks up the intensity of his pressure on us.

But do not be disheartened! 1 Corinthians chapter 10 v 13 is still in the book. God only gives us what we can handle, and He provides a way of escape. God is always there protecting us, making sure that Satan does not increase the pressure to the point that we are unable to bear it. Unlike for Job of old, the fence remains round us. We can be sure that as we continue to grow, and Satan steps up the pressure, we will be equal to the task. Do we have faith in that? We had better have faith because the intensity of the pressure will get greater and greater, but as we fight the good fight, the blessings WILL also be greater and greater.

Press on!

Mark

Compensation

Morning all

Luke Chapter 5 verses 10 and 11 say this: …and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him. 

Jesus takes the opportunity of this miracle to call His disciples into a Teacher – student relationship with Him. He figuratively catches Peter in His net before commanding him to “catch men” for the Kingdom of God. Immediately, Peter, Andrew, James, and John leave their boats and nets behind and follow Him. They now understand that Jesus is more than capable of supplying their every need.

We are to apply this lesson in our own lives. When Christ speaks, it is always about obedience to God’s way of life. In this case, His teaching affected the disciples’ livelihoods. Worship and work form major parts of our lives, too, and in both we must consistently maintain righteousness.

Had Peter failed to obey Christ’s command, he would have failed to experience both the miracle and the resulting blessing. No one serves God without being compensated for his service. When we serve, sacrifice, testify, or stand for Him, He will suitably reward our efforts. When God asks us to invest our time, effort, talent, or anything else, we must not resent the opportunity. No one pays dividends on an investment as abundantly as God does ( Luke 6 verse 38 explains this well).

Have a great week

Mark

Thankful


Hi folks

Isaiah chapter 66 verse 2 states this: “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word.”

Humility is what impresses God. Pride gets between us and God, and without realizing it, we actually shut Him out of our lives.

The Bible clearly shows that our spiritual well-being is dependent upon acknowledging, with our lives, our reliance upon the revealed will of God—His Word. Pride results from thinking we have something that God did not give us. Who gave Satan his beauty? his intelligence? his position of power from which he operated? Pride perverted Satan’s thinking into rejecting his dependence, and he elevated himself above God.

Now what do we have that we did not receive? Did we create ourselves? Did we create the great goal in life to be born into God’s Family? Did we reveal God to ourselves? Did we die on the stake for the forgiveness of our sins? Did the gift of the Holy Spirit come to us through our own efforts? Did we lead ourselves to repentance? Who gave us the power to believe in the true God and in His Son Jesus Christ?

It is interesting to reflect on Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Satan comes along and says to them, “You will be as God.” What entered into Adam and Eve at that moment? The pride of life! The result? They rejected the revelation of God. They rejected His Word and sinned. Pride subtly elevates a man to the same level as God, which results in him rejecting the very gifts God would give him for his salvation.

So, consciously or subconsciously, the proud person —us (hopefully not as much as it used to be)—is saying that he already knows better, or has the power and ability within himself by nature, thereby subtly turning salvation into something God owes him. It becomes earned and not a gift.

My conclusion therefore is to remember to be thankful for everything I have because it is all a gift from God.

Have a good week

Mark

The right attitude

Morning

Luke chapter 18 verses 9 – 12 says “Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.”

The Pharisee’s prayer reveals his mindset. People like him trust in their own works to gain salvation and eternal life, not trusting in Jesus for them. They do not really think they need His sacrifice or help because they think they are good enough in themselves. So, they toot their own horns as it were, making sure God knows how righteous they are. While kneeling before Him, they tell Him all the good things they are always doing, and believe that He is impressed. They act as if God owes them salvation because of their good works.

This attitude shows how little they understand of the true holiness of God and the lowliness of our spiritual state. While on earth, Jesus worked more easily with tax collectors and sinners than with the Pharisees, though the latter were more dedicated to adhering strictly to the letter of the law. The Pharisees, knowing they were more righteous, made sure others knew it. In their self-delusion and self-righteousness, they could learn little from Christ.

The Pharisee, considering others as nothing, treats them accordingly. It is typical of human nature to elevate itself while putting down others, and some believe that this is the only way to elevate themselves above their peers. Isaiah writes about such people: “. . . who say, ‘Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am holier than you!’ These are smoke in [God’s] nostrils, a fire that burns all the day” (Isaiah 65v5).

The Pharisee compares his own flaws, not with God’s infinite perfections, but with the imagined greater flaws of others. His pride has made him bankrupt of genuine compassion and concern. He presumptuously errs in his prayer in that it is neither his duty nor his right as a sinner to point out another’s sins. In trusting in Christ for righteousness, our inadequacies and guilt are revealed, and we become willing to admit that others may be much better than we are.

So this leaves me trying to remember that while at work, I should not be comparing myself with others thinking I am better or worse, but just focus on my place in Christ and humbly ask for His help every day to be more like Him. Treating all as Christ would and not as a Pharisee would.

Have a good week

Take Heart

Hi

I have been reading a little book on lessons during COVID-19 and one little thought came to the fore in my mind.

Many have been battling with the feelings of loneliness and helplessness. Being stuck at home can cause one to feel alone. If you are a “do-er” then not being able to do the work of Jesus can bring a feeling of letting Jesus and others down.

Well, I would like to share some encouragement with you.

When we are introduced to Jesus in the Gospels, you will recall that He was baptised by John the Baptist.

During this short event God the Father broke cover as it where and His voice was heard. “This is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased”

So, let’s think about this. Jesus at that point had done nothing. He had just arrived and was about to embark on his time of ministry, preaching and healing. He had not gone to the cross nor risen again and had done absolutely nothing. He was simply there!

Clearly this tells me that God the Father was pleased with Jesus for who He was and for His heart of obedience not for what He had done .

The Bible is clear that you were planned and thought of even before you were conceived, and then God formed you as you grew in the womb.

Once you gave your heart to Christ and became a follower of Jesus you became part of the same family as Jesus. So, God is pleased with you, even if you are not doing anything. He is pleased with you for who you are!

On top of that Psalm 68 tells me that God puts the lonely into a family!

So, although you might feel lonely and helpless, God has placed you in a family of others like yourself AND is simply pleased in you because of who you are, not what you do.

Take heart.

Mark

In and out

Greetings

Matthew chapter 25 verses 14-30 gives an interesting read.

As you know I am still full time at work and this parable highlights that it is as important what I do as a Christian as well as being inward looking at my character, whether at work or play.

We read: “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey”… And the story goes on.

Following the Parable of the ten virgins Jesus continues without a break in His teaching to His disciples. This continuity of thought makes the parable of the talents a fitting complement to the preceding parable. Jesus is careful to balance His instruction by teaching another important requirement for His servants to fulfil prior to His return. He does not want His disciples to assume that the previous parable constituted His entire warning.

In the Parable of the Ten Virgins, Jesus reveals the necessity of developing inward character, but in the Parable of the Talents, He combines that need with the encouragement to do good works. The virgins teach us the need to watch and be ready; the talents teach us our responsibility to work until His return.

Jesus knew the human tendency to think that, because He was there in person, His disciples did not have to work, leading to laziness and freeloading as a person becomes dependent on the support of another. Thus, He urges His disciples, not only to be ready by watching for His return, but also to work diligently toward it. The first parable portrays the virgins waiting for their Lord, which requires mental and spiritual preparation and watching, while the Parable of the Talents shows the servants of the Lord working for Him, which involves “profitable activity”.

So whether at work or play I am trying to focus on my own spiritual development     (In), while at the same time being an ambassador for him by representing Jesus to those around me (Out).

Have a great week

Mark

Such a confusing picture…..

Good day to you
The Bible says this: “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.
These are strong warnings!
Mankind has an innate desire to worship God as is evidenced by the desire by billions but mankind wants to be free to do it according to the dictates of his own mind. The result is a wide variety of religions—in actuality, mass confusion as to which is the true religion—and a world in which true values are lost in an ocean of conflicting opinions about how to live. This, in turn, has helped persuade many people to reach the conclusion that all gods are equally good, or its counterpart, that everybody is worshipping the same god.

We all know God is not pleased with this situation, but He allows it to continue. However, even while allowing it to continue, He is calling people out of it. He has shown His called-out ones that they have been redeemed from the bondage to traditions, described in the Bible as “vain,” “aimless,” or “futile,” depending on the translation.

However, in the vast majority of cases, someone, presumptuously taking it upon himself to start a tradition, began practicing them, sincerely thinking he was improving his life. We have all followed these traditions, but the Christian is responsible not to allow the world to squeeze him into its mould of conduct, character, and attitude.

Statements in the book of Proverbs describe the way many presumptuous sins begin: “A man who wanders from the way of understanding will rest in the congregation of the dead.” Like this man, most people do not deliberately set out to depart from God. Nevertheless, carelessness invariably enters the picture, and a person drifts from his former sure fix on his goal. Once his focus on the goal is blurred, he is more easily deceived into foolishly assuming certain things. An especially sad part of this is that the result is the same as if he were deliberately presumptuous.

The author of Hebrews uses a metaphor in, portraying a boat slipping from its moorings and drifting away. A person “neglect[s] so great salvation” by allowing himself to be caught in the current of the world’s attitudes and conduct. Presumption frequently begins with careless drifting, but the drifting quickly advances from neglect to presumption unless one carefully checks whether he actually has God’s permission to behave as he does.

In Proverbs 8, wisdom is personified as a woman crying out to people along the way—to God’s Kingdom?—to take heed to her instruction. In verse 36, she utters a profound warning: “But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death.” None of us likes to think of himself as foolishly loving death. However, the Bible consistently shows that those who do not consciously, purposefully, and carefully direct their lives toward obedience to God do indeed love death rather than life! Such a person is in effect presuming that all is well with him in relation to God. God does not like being taken for granted—because it is bad for us!

I hope these thoughts stimulate thinking within your hearts.
Mark

Close by

Morning
An ancient book recorded for us in the Bible called Deuteronomy says this in chapter 29: “Now Moses called all Israel and said to them: “You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land—the great trials which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great wonders.”

Was God a God from afar here? The answer is “yes” and “no” because His overall plan was undoubtedly in mind, and He was recording this for the sake of future generations.

Realise that from the time the book of Exodus opens until the Israelites finally leave Egypt eighty years pass. Moses was not born at the time that Scripture says they were crying out to God because of the bondage. Moses was born and preserved right through the persecution. He was hidden in a little ark and put onto the Nile River, rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter, grew up to be a man, fled into the wilderness at age forty, and spent forty years tending sheep, learning to be humble. Finally, God had him ready, so He sent him back to Egypt.

God’s overall plan was in mind for a long time, yet all through these events, He was very near to Moses, preparing him. God was far off in the sense that He was using these people to prepare an account that His servant Moses would write for our sakes, so that we would understand these things.

God undoubtedly appeared to be far away from the Israelites who were crying out to Him for deliverance, but He was really right on the spot. He was near to them; He is a God at hand. We have to keep both of these views in mind. God is always working two things at once: His overall purpose and His specific purpose for us as individuals and for the church.

Out of this comes a principle…..”the Eternal who sees” or “the Eternal who provides.” It is shortened into this statement: He is there. He was there when Abraham stood on Mount Moriah about to sacrifice his son, Isaac—and God provided a ram. He was at hand through all the plagues of Egypt—and He divided the Israelites away from them. He watched so closely when they left Egypt that not even a dog barked. God was the One observing, watching. He was aware at the Red Sea—and He parted the waters.

He is there. He may seem far off right now for you, but He is not. He is close by.
Mark

A whole new ball game!

Hi
John was a close friend of Jesus and in his larger book wrote this. It is words of Jesus…… “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

It is clear in my line of work that staff and customers ( of which there are thousands) are looking for a better life, particularly after the last 10 months.
I guess we are all searching for a better life in one form or another.

But what does Jesus mean by “life . . . more abundantly”? A problem arises when discussing this concept due to the apparent subjectivity of the term “abundant.” What is abundant living for one person may be absolutely unsatisfying for another. A hard-charging, A-type businessman – into exotic holidays, sports cars, and rock climbing – would not consider a rocking chair by the fire, a vegetable garden and a weekly round of golf at the local course to be fulfilling, yet they would probably suit a retired senior citizen just fine. One person’s bowl of cherries is another’s bowl of cherry stones!.

The Greek word Jesus uses to describe the kind of life He came to teach His disciples is perissón, meaning “superabundant,” “superfluous,” “overflowing,” “over and above a certain quantity,” “a quantity so abundant as to be considerably more than what one would expect or anticipate.” In short, He promises us a life far better than we could ever envision, reminiscent of what the Apostle says “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” .Paul informs us that God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think”

However, before we begin to have visions of palatial homes, classic cars, around-the-world trips, and wads of pocket money, we need to step back and consider what God says comprises “life.” Once we determine His view of living, we will have a better grasp of what kind of blessings we can expect as Christ’s disciples.

All we need to do is glance around at our and our brethren’s situations to know that wealth, prestige, position, and power in this world are not high-priority items on God’s list of blessings. In terms of economic, academic, and social strata, most of us come from the lower and middle classes, and we tend to remain in a situation similar to the one in which we were called.

Perhaps the most telling biblical definition of life – particularly eternal life – is uttered by Jesus Himself “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Note that this definition makes no mention of length of days, health, prosperity, family, occupation – in fact, the only thing it does mention is knowing God!

What can we take from this?

» God is not overly concerned with the physical circumstances of our lives. It is enough that He assures us that we need not worry about what we will eat or wear

» Eternal life, the kind of life in which a Christian is truly interested, is not determined by duration but by a relationship with God. This is why, once we are converted and impregnated with the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are said to have eternal life already though not, of course, in its fullness.

» Eternal life – the life God offers us through Jesus Christ and His teaching – is thus about quality, not quantity. Put another way, the abundant life is life as God lives it for once we truly come to know God, we will desire to emulate Him.

» Physical blessings, then, may or may not be by-products of God’s way of life; neither our wealth nor our poverty is a sure indication of our standing with God. Certainly, God desires that we “prosper in all things and be in health” , but the bottom line is “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” , not that we live like royalty.

» Finally, a Christian’s life revolves around, as Peter puts it, “growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” . This suggests that the abundant life is a process of learning, practicing, and maturing, as well as failing, recovering, adjusting, enduring, and overcoming because, in our present state, “we see in a mirror, dimly”.

As humans, we are naturally oriented toward material things, but as Christians, our perspective must change. Paul admonishes, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died [in baptism), and your life is hidden with Christ in God” . To us as a Christian, life – and our perception of abundant life – is a whole new ball game!

A watchful eye

Morning folks
Exodus chapter 12 and verses 40-42 say this “Now the sojourn of the children of Israel who lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years—on that very same day—it came to pass that all the armies of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. It is a night of solemn observance to the LORD for bringing them out of the land of Egypt. This is that night of the LORD, a solemn observance for all the children of Israel throughout their generations.”

Israel was to keep the Night to be much observed in part as a night of watchful vigil to commemorate the reason they could leave Egypt so easily: God watched over them as His plan unfolded.

Reading Genesis 15 with the story in Exodus, we can see how God watched over them. Israel’s bondage in Egypt had disciplined Israel, preparing them to go through the wilderness, and afterwards, take the Promised Land. This was God’s plan for them, and He watched it brought to completion. His greater plan is not completed even now, because we are a part of it! Genesis 17 shows that it has eternal consequences and is still in operation.

The Night to be Much Observed is a significant event in God’s plan. Will anyone deny that God watched out for Israel, seeing the blood on the doorposts and lintels and passing over them? Can anyone deny that He watched over them their whole journey?

“Watch” does not mean that God passively observed them as they left. Instead, it means that He actively “guarded” them. “Watched” comes from the Hebrew shamar, used often and translated as “keep.” Whenever one desires to keep something, he guards and protects it. In like manner, God watched, kept, guarded, and protected Israel. Exodus chapter 11 verse 7 shows just how closely God watched, not allowing even a single dog to bark.

Can anyone deny that God watched as the Israelites walked out that night in the very sight of the Egyptians who were burying their dead? Most likely, the Egyptians would want to blame the Israelites for the death of their children and animals. They would be enraged. They could not see God, nor blame Him directly, as it were; but they would take it out on His people. But they stood by numbly instead of resisting or fighting.
The Night to Be Much Observed is the official marking of God’s watchful care. An entire nation of slaves just got up, and without lifting a hand to achieve their liberty, they walked away.

So as those at work I am observing are pressing on through huge challenges searching for extra resilience with our current situation, Christians need to remember that by being part of God’s family, He is watching you as he did his people long ago and always has. He will bring you through and He will give you His strength…… if you ask.
Have a great week
Mark