Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

The Gospel of Mark Ch 1:1-13

3 Mar

rotator-gospel-of-mark1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You,
Who will prepare Your way;
The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
‘Make ready the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight.’”

John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey. And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; 11 and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”

12 Immediately the Spirit *impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. 13 And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him.

The good news of the Messiah had begun. John the Baptist was sent of God to prepare a way for the Messiahs Kingdom to be ushered in. In order to prepare for this imminent Kingdom and King, John preached to Israel (the people) a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Baptism was part of Jewish culture and tradition, especially in regards to ablutions surrounding temple practices. Baptism was to signify and aform part of holy living and to prepare for the attainment of a closer communion with God. The Greek word for repentance used in Marks gospel is “metanoia” meaning a change of mode of thought and feeling, or to turn. John publicly announces that Israel must change their mind in regards to the coming Messiah and His Kingship; they must turn to God and be prepared for His coming. John not only proclaims a water baptism, but something far greater, namely the Christ who will baptise with the Holy Spirit, and in Matthews gospel is associated with fire, in Jewish thought true baptism was to be performed with fire. The Holy Spirit would enable those who receive Him to have true communion with God.

Thoughts on The Temple

15 Aug

The Temple

The temples destruction in 70AD signified the end of the old covenant. The Jews who now worship at the old temple are as people who are nursing a dead corpse. The destruction of the temple and its ruins are a sign to us that God cannot be contained in a temple made with hands. The temple in its glory once represented an old covenant life. The destroyed temple and raised Christ (living temple) now represent a new covenant of living.

 Luke 19:44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

The Romans in 70ADravaged the city of Jerusalem and the temple, just like Christ had forewarned, but the Jews didn’t recognise the true temple in front of their very eyes.

Mark13:1-8 

As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

“Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”

Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

The signs that were to follow his warning to his disciples indicated the end of era. The end of the old covenant period would be marked by the destruction of the temple where no stone of its walls would be left upon another, never to be physically built again, but access to God would now be through faith, not through geographical location but through an embodied raised temple, namely Christ.

Issues of land

 Under the old covenant in the Old Testament Israel were to return to Jerusalem from exile to Gods holy city, where he dwelt in the temple. Under the new covenant God no longer dwells in a physical temple but dwells in creation. He is not confined to land or geography. Therefore the promises given to Abraham are fulfilled in Christ in that Abrahams seed, (that is Christ) Gods people of faith (not of ethnicity) are the Israel of God (Gal 6) who were once in exile (spiritual bondage) but now have direct access to God in his temple through Christ, not in a physical location but a heavenly one. An example from the New Testament would be the patriarchs in Hebrews 11 who looked for a heavenly country, not a physical location.

Nowhere in the New Testament is a solid basis for ethnic Israel to inherit a physical land. We must view the Old Testament through a New Testament lens which means viewing the Old Covenant through a New Covenant lens. Gods purpose is one of transformation and expansion to the nations and all of creation, (Mark 16:15) not one of confinement and limitation to an ethnicity or geography.

Achievement

6 Aug

Over the past week we have seen some awe inspiring athletes compete in one of the greatest athletic events, the Olympics. As I watched Andy Murray on Sunday I was on the edge of my seat waiting in anticipation and excitement for him to beat Roger Federer to win the Olympic gold tennis tournament in Wimbledon at the London 2012 games. Andy’s last winning serve led the crowd into a roar of celebrations, after years of gruelling, long, hard, rigorous work, he had finally achieved his goal. In his own words “It’s number one for me,” he told BBC1. “The biggest win of my life. What an achievement for one man.

As he received the gold medal in splendor I couldn’t help but begin to look at my own life, “What have I ever achieved?” Have I achieved anything worthwhile?” “Why can’t I be talented or at least achieve something decent?”

Pondering further it dawned on me that I was thinking not from a Godly perspective but from a self motivated desire. My desire to achieve, to be something or someone, to be different from the average Joe is influenced by a longing to be recognized, to receive glory and if you will accept the root of which is a want to be worshiped.

When Christ chose his disciples he chose those who were the rejects of society or more to the point, ordinary. They were mere men who had not made it as educated Rabbis, they were seen as unimportant and irrelevant. Their jobs were that of what we may deem today as working class. The point is that Jesus doesn’t look for those who have made it, who have achieved great things, but he comes for the weak, the ugly, the unintelligent, those who have missed the mark.

So what am I saying? God wont chose Andy Murray to be his disciple because he has achieved great things? No, in the gospels and throughout the whole of scripture it is clear to see God is impartial, The whole message of the gospel and the issue I want to hopefully relay is that God doesn’t choose on the basis of our works, rich or poor, weak or strong. The message I believe Jesus conveys to us through his choosing of the disciples is that the requirement of being part of his Kingdom is not based on achievement or whether I have done right or wrong but on the basis of his choosing alone.

John 15:16 “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

This I believe gives us great hope. This unbiased impartial God speaks to us of his unconditional love, something that can be a rarity in today’s society. We have no need to prove ourselves or work up some kind of achievement to be accepted.

This revelation of the Kingdom also destroys our self glory/worship. The Kingdom is divine with only one King over all, namely Christ. Our achievements pale into insignificance at the sight of Jesus’ achievement on the cross. This gives me rest in my soul to know that despite me missing the mark, not being good enough and those works which are good, even those are rubbish in the light of the accomplishments of the cross.

Paul’s journey in Christ is a great example:

Philippians 3:1-14

Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reasons for such confidence.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Is achievement wrong?

For me to suggest that achieving something is all about self would be wrong. Achievements should rightly be celebrated. The Olympics has highlighted fantastic talent and hard work and has hopefully inspired many young people to continue in the athletes footsteps. However I would suggest that our longing to achieve can be influenced by wrong motives. Achievement in itself is not wrong, what leads us to achieve is that which must be questioned.  We must look into our hearts to make sense of our motives, to ask ourselves “Am I doing this out of a need for recognition or am I doing this to bring glory to God?” When the answer is for self, come to Christ who is our advocate and ask him to deal with the wrong motive. When it is to glorify God, ask him to multiply and increase the pure motive.

God is continually bringing those in Christ to the end of themselves. Why? His main purpose is that He, The King may be rightfully worshiped. When we want the “I” in us to be worshiped we deflect God’s deserved praise to our undeserved selves. When we are brought to the end of ourselves, there is no more “I” to be praised but only glory can be credited to God.

So I encourage you to look at your motives. What motivates you? Have you achieved lots? Lay it at the cross. Have you achieved little? Know that you are accepted and not rejected.

May God continue to bring us to the end of ourselves to live a life that reflects Gods true nature and brings him glory.

The Nations, Israel and Christ

1 Aug

The bigger picture

There was a much bigger picture than Israel, namely the nations. God declares in Isaiah 49:6 that it was too small a thing for His servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and restore the preserved of Israel, but He would also make Him a light of the nations so that Gods salvation would go to the end of the earth.

Israel Not forgotten

This does not mean that God had forgotten Israel as verse 14 – 17 reads, “But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, And the Lord has forgotten me.” “Can a woman forget her nursing child, And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. “Behold I have inscribed you on the palm of my hands; your walls are continually before me.”

Israels failure

God declared He would redeem Israel through His servant (Isaiah 49:5) who would bring back Jacob to God, in order that Israel might be gathered to God. However, he would not only redeem Israel but the nations. Israel had failed to be a light to the nations as God had commanded them (Genesis 18:17-18, 12:3). They had failed to fulfil their great commission to bless the nations and reveal God’s righteousness (Isaiah 48:18-19).

Christ becomes the centre

Gods servant, namely the messiah became the focal point, the one who would not only redeem Israel but the nations, so that all men whether Jew or gentile would be saved through Messiah (scripture). Not of works so that no man may boast (Ephesians).

Christ fulfills all promises (the gentiles grafted in)

God grafts the gentiles in so that “salvation may reach to the end of the earth” and Israel is therefore enlarged as a result. Christ fulfils the promises given to Abraham that in him that “all the nations of the earth shall be blessed”, his descendants become like the sand and offspring like grain. In Abrahams seed (Genesis 22:18) that is Christ (Galatians 3:16), all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.

Christ redeems Israel

Christ is sent to the house of Israel to redeem her through the cross and a new commission (or previous commission made able by Christ) is given to Israel (disciples, the Israel of God – Galatians 6:16), Abrahams descendants (Galatians 3:29), through Christ (Abrahams seed) to be witnesses to the ends of the earth (Isaiah 49:6, Matthew 28:16-20).

This was also spoken of beforehand by the prophet Isaiah in chapter 43:8-13 where he says that “all the nations have gathered together” (Pentecost). God then declares “you are My witnesses” (Acts 1:8) “and My servant whom I have chosen, in order that you know and believe me, and understand that I am he.” Christ chose the disciples (one new man, the commonwealth of Israel) similarly as God had chosen OT Israel to witness that He is the only true God.

This does not mean Israel is replaced; it is expanded in Christ by adding nations/gentiles into its commonwealth.

To make Israel or the Jews centre would be wrong. To emphasise one group or race over another is anti-Christ. Hitler’s Arian race would be one example of an attempt to glorify one race over another. Our goal and focus must be on the centrality of Christ. This does not mean Israel has no importance in history, present time or future. Without the Jews there would be no salvation for “salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22).

Christ is Israel

To emphasise Israel or to emphasise the church (with a motive to replace Israel) can often separate the God of Israel and Christ. Christ however is the God of Israel and if you will accept, Christ is Israel (Isaiah 49:3). For Christ is Abrahams seed, he is God’s promise who fills and fulfils all things.

Dr Constable’s commentary on Isaiah 49:3 describes Israel and the Messiah as follows:

Yahweh called His Servant Israel. Israel would indeed prove to be an instrument of God by which He demonstrated His glory, but in the context, the Servant appears to be an individual. Messiah was Israel, in that, He was the personal embodiment of ideal Israel, what the nation should have been but never attained. Furthermore, He was the Prince with

God that neither the nation nor its namesake ever fully became. When God referred to His Servant as Israel He was referring to the Servant’s function, not His identity. Throughout this book we have seen that the nation Israel was not able to carry out her function of being a light to the nations because she was blind, deaf, and rebellious. God would provide an individual to do what the nation had failed to do.

“Faced with Israel’s failure, God does not wipe out the nation; he simply devises another way in which Israel’s servanthood could be worked out: through the ideal Israel.”

(Dr. Constable, http://www.soniclight.com)

Hosea and Matthew provide further evidence for Christ being Israel:

Hosea 11:1 1 When Israel was a youth I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son.

Then Matthew directly quotes Hosea:

Matthew 2:13-15 13 Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord *appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.”

14 So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. 15 He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “OUT OF EGYPT I CALLED MY SON.”

Israel (the nation) is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end which is the Messiah. Israel therefore is a means to Christ. Similarly as the Law leads and points us to Christ so does Israel. Israel is not ended in Christ, Israel is fulfilled in Him for Christ is Israel. He is the fulfilment of all that Israel was called to be.

Thoughts on Humility

1 Aug

During 2010 God began to speak to me about humility, something that I though I had but soon began to realise I was and still am very far away from.

I pray as you read through God will clear out any rubble that I have written to reveal clear truth that will speak to you regarding humility

Humility

A word regarding self-denial

 Matthew 16:26-25

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

Deny your own ability in the flesh

Deny your confidence in the flesh

Deny self-righteousness and self-worth

Deny striving

Deny your own glory

Deny praise from men

Deny self-seeking

Deny your own wisdom

Deny self-indulgence

Deny unfaithfulness

Deny sensuality

Deny self-sufficiency

Deny pleasing self

Deny pleasing man

Humility

If you want to be great, deny yourself and follow Christ (Matt 18:4). The soul raised up shall be destroyed, the soul made low shall survive (Matt 16:25). Don’t think of anything as coming from yourselves (2 Cor 3:5). Deny me and I will deny you (Matt 10:33). Peace will only come when I am found in humility. Think nothing of yourselves (Gal 6:3). True identity is found in humility. The self-righteous person finds his identity in his own good deeds, he receives his reward in full (Matt 6:5). The person who trusts in my righteousness finds his true identity in me, he will live forever. The ways of man are burned up but God’s ways last forever (Isaiah 40:8).

How to view ourselves

In order to be humble we must have the right view of ourselves, we must see ourselves as God sees us. That is helpless, depraved and futile, in need of his grace eternally. All self-righteousness does is mask the truth of that human being, it masks the shy, dependant, incapable man. When seen for what he really is he is to be pitied. This man cannot even stand or walk without the grace of God.

The most horrible sin

The sin that we must be aware of, flee from and be protected from is the exultation of man, thinking of one more highly than he ought (Phil 2:3). The Lord despises this sin (Prov 8:13). We must be overprotective in our battle against pride, become nothing.

Help

You need help.

A prayer regarding giving

Lord please show me how to give. Mould my heart into a giving heart and a mind set on others. Amen.

Prayers of the saints

I pray that I will revel in and love the prayers of the saints. Amen.

How we should view adversity

Lord, if this adversity brings you pleasure then let it not stop until it ceases bringing you glory.

You are nothing (1 Cor 1:26-32).

Those who know God

Rejoice if someone knows God better than you. Don’t envy them, learn from them. You are so weak that you need others instruction and guidance.

Embrace the cross and suffer

Embrace the cross, be humiliated, be rejected, be despised, be scorned be mocked, be embarrassed, be free. Suffering is the only way to Gods kingdom (Rom 8:17).

 1 Peter 4:1-2

Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

1 Peter 4:19, Hebrews 6:8-10, Hebrews 2:9-10.

Freedom in grace

You cannot be free from anything unless you become humble, unless you embrace the cross. God gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5). We need grace to be free, therefore humble yourself and you will be free. The man who walks in pride can’t be free from the law because he is self-righteous. The man who walks in humility is free from the law because God has given him the grace to walk in the righteousness that comes through faith in Jesus Christ.

Disobedience

Disobedience is unbelief. If we are disobedient we don’t believe in Gods perfect judgment. If I don’t trust in God for provision, I don’t believe he is able to provide. (Heb 3:18-19).

A prayer for belief

Lord I pray for belief. Amen.

Nothing comes from you

Nothing comes from you, it all comes from God. How dare you claim anything to be from yourself?

A Prayer

Lord let me love your glory so much that when I see believers preach with passion and boldness I will bow down before you and thank you from the depths of my heart.

Room for less

There’s always room for me to become less.

No rest for the proud

The proud can’t rest. They are always looking at themselves trying to make sure everything is in place and perfect, they care too much about what others think, they can’t accept failure and won’t admit defeat. They love praise from man and commit their lives to temporal earthly desires. God cannot contend with mans striving, he resists the proud. The humble can rest and know they are accepted not on a basis of striving or works. Rest reveals Gods glory and mans dependency on him. Striving reveals a trust in self.

The proud are anxious. The humble are peaceful.

The proud can’t accept forgiveness, they can’t admit their wrong.

Preaching humility

Humility desires for someone else other than you to preach on humility so that God will be glorified and not you.

Praying for others

Humility is when you get great enjoyment and pleasure out of praying for others as well as receiving prayer from others.

Jealousy

The humble man is not jealous of another mans gift for he knows all gifts are from God and not man.

Jesus

Everything Jesus did was marked with humility, a denial of His will. He daily embraced the cross.

A prayer

May my requests not exceed my praises for you.

 How to approach the father

Don’t come to God in relation to what you’ve done. Come to God in relation to what he has done.

Be quiet.

God’s view on repentance

Repentance is a renewed mind that says “I can’t be saved by my works, I can’t be delivered by obeying the law, only Christ the righteous can save me”. (Isaiah 30:15)

The weak

God gives more and more grace to those who become more and more weak.

Others

Humility regards others views as more important than theirs.

Being humble is seeing God’s work in others, encouraging that person and then worshiping God for the great things he is doing in their lives.

Pride is seeing Gods work in others, comparing yourself to them and glorying in self or condemning self.

Competition

A reason for competition in the body of Christ is due to lack of thankfulness. We must be thankful and grateful for what he has done and given us. He has given us more than enough and a lot more than we deserve. It’s wrong to think you deserve anything. What you have been given is a free gift. Use what you have been given. (Luke 10:16, Matthew 25:21)

Accrediting God

The humble person credits God for the good things he has done and credits himself for all the bad things he has done.

The Pharisees denied the outward things but did not deny the inward.

False humility

Man is so foolish that he boasts in his weakness to get glory from others and look like he is doing well as a Christian. This is false humility.

A word of honesty before I start

1 Aug

Before I start a blog I hope that I can be honest…………………..

Hopefully from my heart I can be honest and say “I’m not sure why I’m creating a blog”. I hope that its through good intentions, but I’m sure inside my desire is stained with pride, a need for recognition and longing for my revelation to be heard (as if it was ever mine in the first place!). I thank God I am covered by his grace and that I am still able to share thoughts on Truth (Christ) freely despite motives being irreverent. I do firmly believe God takes us on a journey of self denial and brings us to the end of ourselves daily. Therefore my hope is that I can move away from staining life and this blog from myself and bring glory to God through that which Christ wishes to share through me.