Monday, February 27, 2006

This is a photo of some intrepid members of Jubilee church on their annual expedition. Okay, so it was a walk by a local canal. More discerning readers will notice that the handsome young man on the right in the green wellies, is none other than The Prince of Bloggers himself, Mr. Adrian Warnock.

The point of this post?

God made us for fellowship and togetherness. The Bible tells us that we must " Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Gal 6.2. Or in this case "carry ye one another's children", as they get tired of walking.

No Man is an Island

No man is an island, entire of itself
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main
if a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were,
as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were
any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind
and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls
it tolls for thee.

John Donne

"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated...As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness....No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

John Donne lived the first half of his life steeped in worldly pleasures, and the second half he gave to God. Were he alive today, he would have been a figure of national prominence. He is probably more famous for his "love" poems than he is for being a Christian; so I was wondering how many more famous people are there out there (past or present) who are known more for their reputation made before they became a Christian? Indeed we may even be surprised to learn that they are/were Christian, as I was with John Donne. BTW I just love the phrase "translated into a better language."

So if you know of any , let me know. Go on surprise me.

God bless

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Take my Mother-in- law..............

I haven't spoken to my Mother-in-law for eighteen months...............I don't like to interrupt her!

Seriously though, I do love my Mother-in-law, and yes, that's her in the photo. Her name is Evelyn. I gave her The Bible to pose for the photograph with...and she started reading it! There are so many stories I could share about her (I will from time to time). I don't think I have ever met anyone so enthused for The Gospel. When she is not reading the Bible she is usually talking about it. It is impossible to be in her company for more than a few minutes without her making reference to either God, Jesus or The Holy Spirit. She is currently helping me with my own Bible studies. I asked if it was harder to live under Grace than the law.

I was so impressed with her answer I have decided to publish it in full. I hope you are blessed by it.

1. The law must have been impossible to keep, but is living under grace any easier?

"The Law was given by Moses, grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. John 1 :17. The failure of the Jews to keep the law resulted in God’s provision of salvation through Jesus Christ, who came not to abolish the law but to fulfil it—Matt. 5:17. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the Gift of God – not by works, so that no-one can boast. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”.—Eph. 2 :9 & 10. The Greek word Poema for workmanship is poem, suggesting that each of us is a poem through whom God will speak and act for His good purpose.
Here is a good acronym for grace, to give the word some content when you think of it or use it:

G God’s
R riches
A at
C Christ’s
E expense

Note we have done nothing—all has been done for us; we are on the receiving end. Yes, amazingly so, as long as we recognize that immediately we are saved we receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and are justified. Justification is a one-off act, and now Father God looks on us and sees us in Christ. In baptism we die to the old self and rise up out of the water into the resurrection life of Christ; now we enter into the process of sanctification, whereby we start to grow up into the image of Jesus and are changed from one degree of glory into another. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in us, which only He can do, Note again we are on the receiving end, as we submit to God He works in us to will and to do according to His good purpose –Phil 2:13. Our part is surrender in obedience to His will,note again this is the work of the Holy Spirit in us. Do we begin to really see our total dependence on our Father God who loves us so?
This is grace – salvation is a gift –we can do nothing to deserve it or earn it or merit it, but receive it. To stay in that place of receiving is to keep ourselves in God’s love –Jude 21. In John 3:3 it is written: “You must be born again” –You cannot birth yourself. In Eph. 5:18 it is written: Be filled with the Spirit – you cannot fill yourself. In Romans 12:1-2 (a very key Scripture to put into practice, see James 1:22), it is written: Be transformed by the renewing of your mind – you cannot transform yourself; and so on.
The standard of grace in the New Covenant is even higher than the law in the Old. Hear Jesus’ teaching in Matt.5:21;27; 31; 33; 38; 43 –“You have heard it said ----- but I tell you -----. Not only the outward act, but the very thought is judged by God. For this reason also we are given grace upon grace
Now that the Holy Spirit lives in us, it is this life of Christ in us that has made us alive in Him which is so pleasing to our Father; and His life in us does what we could never do in our old Adamic life when we were dead in our sins and there was no good thing in us. Now we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength –Phil.4:13. Note again we are on the receiving end! We are now co-workers with the Holy Spirit; that is we are agreeing, in our submission through obedience, to our Father’s will being done for us, in us and through us. Thus God’s Kingdom comes and His rule is increasingly established in our lives to the praise of His glory.
As children of the living God, of the seed of Abraham, we are those who are to bless others. Before we can do that we must consistently come before the Lord to worship Him and to receive from Him. Psalm 33 in The Message says that worship opens up the way to all God’s goodness. In this way we are equipped and empowered by the Spirit to bless others; what we give to bless others will be of the Spirit, whether it is love, time, money, prayers or possessions.
Remember we are in the process of sanctification! Sometimes we stumble (James 3:2), sometimes we sin (1 John1: 8-10); sometimes we are disobedient and the Lord will discipline us (Hebrews l2:4-12. Recall that wonderful Scripture in Romans 5:20 –“Where sin increased grace increased all the more”. This surely proclaims that God’s goodness far surpasses the sum of all evil, and this is our Father! Hallelujah! Let us learn to respond more and more speedily to the command in Hebrews 4:16 ---Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive (note we are on the receiving end again!) mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Psalm 46 says that God is our refuge, a very present help in trouble.
Remember that the law was given not to bring about redemption, but to point up the need for it. The law made sin even more sinful by revealing what sin is, in stark contrast to God’s holiness – Romans 5:20.Paul gives a good example in Romans 7:7-8 –“For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said , do not covet. But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire”. But God gives us this promise in Christ in Romans 6:14 ---“For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace”. When we, in obedience, and surely now we are learning more of what it means to obey Jesus’ commands out of love for Him (appropo John 14) , agree with this promise (“Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” –Amos 3:3, and receive it, the Word will then be active in us, producing the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal.5:22-23. Against these things there is no law!! Hallelujah!
Jesus is our Lord and Lord means Owner. 1 Cor. 7:23 tells us that we were bought at a price. We belong to Him, and as any owner takes responsibility for that which he owns, Jesus takes responsibility for us, and one of the things He does in that capacity is to intercede for us (Hebrews 7:24) as our great High Priest who is not unable to sympathise with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:14-16.
As we seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness all the things that we need will be added to us, Luke l2:29-31. As we recognize more and more that we are saved to live, not for ourselves, but for Christ; as we love and obey Him in the Spirit and then love others in His love, our dependence on Him to meet all our needs keeps growing, and we learn to trust Him for His supernatural provision
Grace-- receiving God’s riches at Christ’s expense – is the huge difference between this wonderful relationship with the One True God that is Christianity, and all other man-made religions. It is unique, matchless, as is the agape love from which it flows. This grace is not given to cover over our weaknesses as we go through our sanctification, rather to expose them and have them exchanged for His strength, and to receive the victory that Christ won for us on the cross. Christ never needed any victory for Himself -- He was never defeated! The victory is for us, His church, to bring the Kingdom in.

See the bearing of the cross on our sanctification: as a result of Christ’s death on the cross, believers are positionally dead to sin, so that we may live new lives (His life in us), and present ourselves to God as instruments of righteousness –Romans 6:11-13
Oh yes, it is easier to live under grace – hear Phil. 3:9 “I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God’s law but I trust in Christ to save me. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.” Romans 5:17 says “…how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
You live in His grace – you are loved, David.. Read Phil.1:6 and Jude 24."

She is also a fan of Mother-in-law jokes, so post as many as you like.....just keep them clean. If I get enough, I will judge which one I think is the best.

God bless