January 13th 2019: Roger Thomas

roger thomas-jan19Mark 5:1-20

The Gadarene man possessed by demons.

This incident happened quite early on in the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. Prior to this event, Jesus was teaching on the shore of Galilee. He taught thousands through parables. There were so many people there, pressing upon Him, so He had to go on to a boat, facing the shore, to continue teaching the people. In the evening, Jesus and His disciples crossed from the western shore to the eastern shore. They arrived in the country of the Gadarenes. Gadara and nine other cities in the area formed a region known as the Decapolis (In Greek, Deka means ‘ten’ and ‘polis’ means ‘cities’). Most of this region was to the east side of the Jordan River and was a Greco-Roman region.

The Gentiles here kept pigs. To the Jews a pig was an unclean animal; Jews would never keep pigs. To the Gentiles, keeping pigs was no problem.

Jesus and His disciples came to the country of Gadarene. As soon as they arrived a man possessed by demons came out to meet them. He was in a pitiful condition. Reading of this story in Matthew and Luke, as well as Mark, we learn he was a man possessed by demons. A demon is a fallen angel. After the angels were created perfect by God some rebelled against God and were thrown out of heaven. Their chief is the devil. Ephesians 2 tells us they dwell in the air. But in this passage we can also see they live in men, animals or a region. This man was possessed by many demons, a legion. A legion was a name for a division of the Roman army made up of 6000 soldiers, therefore this man had many demons living in him. What was the effect of this possession on the man? Luke says he didn’t live in a house but in the tombs, naked. He was ferocious, a dangerous man. Matthew says that people would avoid going near where he lived because he was so dangerous. He was so strong that he was able to break his shackles and chains into pieces. He’d been like that for a long time. Imagine what he must have looked like. Satan is full of malice, full of hatred. He wants to destroy people. That’s what Revelation 11 tells us. The devil had destroyed the life of this man.

The man knew exactly who Jesus was, calling Him ‘Jesus, Son of the Most High God’ (Mark 5:7). The demons know who Jesus is, they didn’t have any doubt.

Notice the authority Jesus has over these demons. As we go through the passage, we see that when the demon-possessed man saw Jesus he ran and worshipped Him. This man, who no-one could control, bowed down and worshipped Jesus. He cried out, ‘Have you come here to torment us before the time?’ (Matthew 8:29). He is referring to the end of time, when demons will be cast into hell. The demons were worried Jesus would do this now. They begged Him not to do this now, saying, ‘Send us to the pigs; let us enter them’ (Mark 5:12). They did not want to be sent out of the country. They begged Jesus that they enter the pigs, knowing that they needed His permission for this to happen. They could not do it without Jesus’ authority. They had to leave the possessed man but did not wanted to stay in the area. The devil can only do what God allows him to do. Jesus is Lord of kings, rulers, people, angels, over demons and the devil.

Notice the change in this man. After the demons left the man and went into the pigs – 2,000 pigs, they ran violently. Again, see the character of the devil, the stamp of Satan in the pigs as they ran violently into the sea. The people, told by those looking after the pigs what had happened, ‘saw the demon-possessed man … sitting there, clothed and in his right mind’ (Mark 5:15). What a transformation! Jesus had released him from the grip of the evil one. More than that, Jesus had given him new life, He had put spiritual life into his heart. He was born-again. The Holy Spirit had come to live in his heart. He had come to know God. This is why Jesus Christ had crossed the lake – in order to save this man. He was in a Greco-Roman region. The gospel wasn’t only for Jews, the gospel would be for the whole world. The man sat at the feet of Jesus in his right mind. It shows what Jesus can do with a man, what Jesus can do with our society. Do we believe, like this man, that Jesus is the Son of God? Do we believe the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ? To be right with God, to be forgiven of our sins, we need to believe the message of the gospel. The power of Christ gives hope. Look at the change in this man. If we’re not a Christian, we can become a Christian. If we’re a Christian struggling with life, Jesus gives hope.

Look at the response of the people of Gadara, ‘they were afraid’ (Mark 5:15). When the people saw the man they were afraid. Why? There was an awareness in their hearts that something supernatural had happened. You would have thought the people would have been thankful and asked Jesus to stay. However, ‘They began to beg Jesus to depart from the region’ (Mark 5:17). What a blessing they lost! (Jesus did later return to the region, Mark 7:21).

Contrast this with the response of the healed man, who ‘begged Him that he might be with Him’ (Mark 5:18). He believes in God, he is thankful and wants to be with Jesus and serve Him. But Jesus wasn’t willing. Jesus had other plans for him. God has a plan for our lives. It wasn’t God’s plan for him to be a disciple with Jesus, He wants him to go home to his friends, who he would not have seen for a long time, and tell that what Jesus had done. And this is what he does, sharing what Jesus had done for him. What a wonderful testimony. And the people marvelled.

God expects us to share with people what He has done for us. How are we to be witnesses for Christ? ‘In your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect’ (1 Peter 3:15). Put Christ first in your heart. Always be ready to give the reason for the hope that is within you. Do this with meekness and humility. We are only who we are by God’s grace. We need to live the life of a Christian, doing good works, treating people with love (John 13:35), so that others see the light of Christ.

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January 6th 2019: Gareth Edwards

gareth edwards-jan19Exodus 20:1-2

The Ten Commandments

In Psalm 19:7-11, David underlines the importance and splendour of God’s law; it is a thing of rare perfection and beauty as it reflects the majesty and beauty of God. The law brings many benefits to those who follow them. At the very heart of the law of God stands the Ten Commandments.

The opening two verses of Exodus 20 set the context for the giving of those Ten Commandments. At the very beginning of the chapter the authority and power of the law is revealed; the Ten Commandments are given directly by God. God spoke. God Himself inscribes the Ten Commandments on two tablets of stone given to Moses. God did not speak through an intermediary. Deuteronomy 5:22. God spoke and then wrote them on two stone tablets. God directly gave the law, thus giving them the authority of God’s sovereignty. They carry the full weight of divine power. Each and every Command bears the mark of divine power. The Commands of God have been given and need full obedience.

Some suggest the commands were only meant for Moses’ day and are not applicable in our modern Western world, but they are permanent, for all mankind. God literally set them in stone. They are fundamental, even today. God did not give us ten suggestions but Ten Commandments. We must not to treat them as optional. Our Creator has enforced them. We ignore them at our peril! They demand full compliance, total obedience. Any failure is a rejection of not just the Law but of God Himself. We cannot have a relationship with God and refuse to obey His commands. We cannot pick and choose between the Commandments, accepting some and rejecting others. The Ten Commandments are a single unit, each as binding as the others. We are bound by them all.

God spoke these Commandments. Why? Did God really expect people to keep these Commandments without transgressing them? God knows, by nature, we are sinful, disobedient; it’s our natural inclination of our hearts. Exodus 20:20 causes men to think and restrain themselves from doing evil in His sight. His purpose is to reveal the holy standard of perfection which God demands from man, which he cannot reach. In Galatians 3 Paul tells us how the law was given to highlight man’s sinfulness; there is no hope of earning Salvation. Paul adds that since the promised Saviour has now come, the law continues to act as a teacher (Galatians 3:24).

God’s purpose in speaking the Ten Commandments is both to encourage men to do right, but more importantly, that they are incapable of meeting the standards and need Jesus Christ. Whenever we come before the Ten Commandments we must be convicted that we have broken every single one in thought, if not in action. For example, the seed of animosity and hatred that leads to murder is in my heart and yours. The Law looms over us as a great obstacle in reaching God. The Law convicts us of our sin. It reveals to us that in God’s sight we are rebellious and we are, therefore, cut off from God – under God’s curse of judgement. But then, at this low point, the gospel comes and points us to Christ and His death on the cross.

Christ offered Himself as the sacrifice for our sin, bearing in His body the wrath of God against us. (Galatians 3:13). His precious blood poured out as the sacrifice for our sin. For my sin He suffered so. Here is the hope of salvation. The Law exposes all of our pretentious belief that we might be good enough. The Law reveals that we are without hope, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The gospel comes. Through His perfect life and sacrificial death, the purity of His life is credited to us. He accepts the responsibility of your sin and mine. We are clothed in His righteousness. He pays the penalty of our breaking the Law. He demolishes the obstacle of the Law, separating us from God. The curtain that separated the Holy of Holies split into two, the very way into the presence of God is now open to all who trust in Christ for forgiveness of sins.

We’ve been saved, freed from the curse of the law. But we’ve not been freed from the law in our daily lives. ‘Do not think that I came to destroy the Law of the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfil’ (Matthew 5:17). Christ did not come to make the Law unnecessary but to change people’s relationship to God.

Before being a Christian, the Law is a great barrier to approaching God. But when someone becomes a Christian, by God’s grace, the same law becomes an internal standard of holiness. The believer delights in endeavouring to keep the Law. The Law becomes a thing of delight to our souls because now our desire is to please God, God who created us but God who is also our Saviour (Jeremiah 31:33). There is a change of relationship; the Law is no longer a threatening force that condemns but an external delight that we might know Him. The keeping of the Law is to our benefit.

The Jewish order of the commandments includes Exodus 20:1-2 as the first commandment, seeing it as integral. Here is the God who, in His loving mercy, brought the Jews out of slavery. He is now instructing them how they should live so that it might go well with them (Deuteronomy 6:1-3). When a person becomes a Christian, the Law becomes a delight and a source of blessing. God has changed us and so it remains important to us to obey the Ten Commandments – not as a means of gaining or strengthening salvation – rather as the duty of love that we delight to do, as the expression of our thanksgiving for His grace.

It’s to our spiritual and physical good that we endeavour to keep the Law. We are greatly blessed in knowing that the Lord is pleased when we keep His Law. He is the God who is faithful. We can no longer be condemned by the Law, it can no longer put us in that place where we are objects of God’s wrath. But the breaking of the Law brings consequences. To be disobedient to God always has consequences. There are always sorrows and sadness when people break God’s Laws. Christians are not immune to that. Our walk with the Lord will be disturbed if we break the Commands. We will not lose our salvation but we can lose the joy of our salvation. If we show a disregard for God, the sacrifice of Christ, as if it has no great value, if we persist in sinful disobedience, we will still break the commands because there is no perfection in our lives. That’s why we continue to rely on God’s atoning sacrifice. But now that we are citizens of God, it’s become our delight to keep it as we are no longer under its terrifying condemnation. The Law is given to us to keep as we desire to please Him and as we delight in knowing His good pleasure in us. The Law will also destroy all hope in men earning their own salvation. We need to rely on the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary.

God has used the Law in your life and mine to point us to the cross. In Christ alone my hope is found. He alone is my Saviour and in Him I have eternal life.

December 23rd 2018: Gaius Douglas

Gaius-December2018‘Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.’

Philippians 2:9-10

God has highly exalted Jesus and given Him a name, a name above every name. Jehovah has always been there but now He is Jehovah Saviour.

Peter says, in Acts 2, that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, Jehovah Saviour. We celebrate His birthday, but it should not just be 25th December, but all year.

We have traded the Christ of Christmas and brought Him down to nothing. Yet God has highly exalted Him. If God thinks so much of His Son, why shouldn’t we?

In the Bible names characterize a person; parents give names as a desire to be part of their character and what they should do. God has changed names. Many parents decide what they want their children to be like but God may have a different purpose.

Olivia comes from the root word ‘olive’. An olive is a very important plant used for sacrificial oil. Olivia means peace. I wonder, when we give our children names, do they live up to their name? There are lots of Johns at Penuel. John means ‘God is gracious.’ This name gives a massive responsibility. We have the name ‘Chris.’ There are no Christopher’s in the Bible but Chris is a shortened version of Christ and means a follower of Christ, a carrier of Christ. There is a desire of parents or God to display characteristics of a name. Are we displaying the responsibility of who we are as Christians in this world?

In Genesis 17 we read how God called Abram out of the land he was in. Abram was already exalted, already displaying the characteristics God saw in him. God calls us and transforms us like unto Himself. God called Abram, He told him He would make him ‘the father of many nations’ (Genesis 17:6), a father of multitudes. So God changed Abram’s name to Abraham. Abram was already an exalted father caring for his whole family but God wanted something bigger, more wonderful, to make him highly exalted. God planned for him to be ‘the father of many nations’ (Genesis 17:4). Through Abraham’s offspring, his seed Isaac, God would establish His plans. Abraham later married again after his wife died, having six sons. Today, in the Middle East, Abraham is still referred to as their father. He is the father of every child of faith. We too can look to Abraham as our father.

Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, was also known as Israel. At the end of his life (Genesis 49), he called his family together to bless them. He called his firstborn, Reuben, whose name means excellence, power and dignity. But unfortunately Reuben did not live up to his name and Jacob called him ‘unstable as water’ (Genesis 49:4). He called his next two sons, Simeon and Levi, ‘instruments of cruelty’ (Genesis 49:5). Here was a disappointed father. Then he called Judah; he was so pleased Judah had lived up to the qualities and characteristics of his name. Judah was the premier tribe who led Israel into battle. From the line of Judah came Jesus. John, in his vision, saw it was the ‘Lion of the tribe of Judah’ who can open the seven seals (Revelation 5:5).

Today we celebrate the name above all names, the one who will lead forth the armies of God. He is the one we read of in Genesis 49:10, ‘The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.’

Jacob looked forward to the day when Shiloh would come. Shiloh means peace, Jesus is the King of peace. Are we looking forward to the day when Christ will come? On December 25th how much of our thoughts will be on the Christ of Christmas? Christ is the one who is worthy.

Abram means exalted father. Abraham means highly exalted father. God has transformed him. This is what God has done with us, He has taken the Johns and the Chris’ and given us a new name, ‘But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name’ (John 1:12). We are ‘sons of God.’ It’s a position, we are no longer known by name but by our position.

God gave His Son a new name; He has given us a new name and He wants us to live up to that name. Jesus, who was so highly exalted, became so low. He came, not touched by human hand, but placed into the womb by the Holy Spirit. He was born, lived and died in my place on Calvary. What great condescension! He came down that He might raise us up. As He is exalted, so we are too. This is an everlasting covenant, this is glory. We are joint heirs with Christ. We will reign with Him forever.

Lots of people try to take Christ out of Christmas, changing it to Xmas. But we can’t take Christ out of Christmas or Xmas. Even ‘x’ the 22nd letter of the Greek alphabet (pronounced ‘chi’), means ‘Christ.’ Even though we try to take Christ out of Christmas, we can’t.

Don’t forget Christ this Christmas, don’t set Him aside. He is the greatest gift of all.

November 18th 2018: Alan Davison

Alan Davison Nov18Joshua 18: 1-10

Humans have a desire for a peaceful life. Yet as a race, humanity is fascinated with war. But there are times when we just need to get on with life. Joshua here has to manage the mundane. But there’s more going on here then first glance. We may feel our lives are mundane but we serve a great God.

Here, in this chapter, deciding on the allotment of the land seems mundane. But to the Jews this was exciting as they saw the fulfilment of the promise of God to Abraham in Genesis, generations beforehand. In the beginning of the section in 13:1 Joshua was told he’s old but there was an awful lot to do. This was followed by a list of lands to be divided as an inheritance. God will drive the people out so the Israelites can occupy it. In chapter 18 we might think this is slightly confusing, ‘The land lay subdued before them’ (Joshua 18:1). There was peace, yet 7 tribes had not received their inheritance. This parallels with Christian life. The Israelites did occupy the land but pockets of resistance existed. We have been liberated yet still have sin in our lives.

‘So Joshua said to the people of Israel, “How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given to you?”’ (Joshua 18:3). The Israelites had been slack; God had given land but 7 tribes had not occupied it. Joshua galvanises the people into action. He knew exactly what to do.

‘And Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD. And there Joshua apportioned the land to the people of Israel, to each his portion.’ (Joshua 18:10). ‘Before the Lord’ is a significant phrase. The Israelites were to worship God alone. They were in Shiloh. This was important. Why? Because until now Israel had been a nomadic people but now Shiloh is set aside for the tabernacle. It was their spiritual home (Deuteronomy 12:8-11). The prophecy was now fulfilled, the tabernacle was settled in Shiloh. It was here that God would meet with His people through His chosen mediator – now Joshua. Shiloh was geographically central and now spiritually central.

God’s will is to be obeyed. When Joshua commissioned a survey, it was simply a necessary act for him to do the will of God. Joshua is doing what God required of it. Joshua is also motivating the people to do the task, to live holy lives before God – just as pastors today lead their team. The people complained. They were looking to their own strength not looking to God. Joshua stands firm. When we obey God’s will then He will supply us with the strength to do His Will.

Surrendering to God’s Will. Joshua was not the one who as deciding who had to do what. The primary person involved in choosing the land was God. The casting of lots was revealing God’s Will. The Israelites were accepting God’s choice of land they would be given as their inheritance (Proverbs 16:33). God is sovereign. The Israelites are relying on God’s sovereignty to make the decision. This is a parallel to our inheritance in heaven. We don’t choose. ‘In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?’ (John 14:2). Where we go in heaven is Christ’s choice alone. We will have a place given to us, selected for us by the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to strive for holiness here on earth. What lies before us should sustain us in our lives in the here and now.

God alone is to be worshipped. God’s Will is to be obeyed. We are to surrender to His Will. Do we trust God enough to do His Will? If we do, we will surrender to His Will. We continue to live on this earth but our ultimate inheritance is in heaven. Look to the inheritance to encourage us in our life now.

 

 

November 11th 2018: Ian Middlemist

Ian-Nov18Hebrews 4:14-15

We have a friend in a very high place. It’s good to have a friend in high places who can speak up for us, and help us when we go through personal difficulties. Things which are impossible for us to achieve are made possible with a friend in a high place.

The Hebrews obstinately ignored God in the wilderness. Many never entered God’s rest. Yet God’s rest still stands today – rest from labour, but ultimately rest from judgement – eternal rest, to enter, through the sacrifice of our high priest, Jesus Christ.

A great high priest: we have many needs which many do not know about. We have one who helps us in our times of need (Hebrews 4:16). What’s been offered to us is the offer of help. Lots of us think we don’t need help. Far too many try to cope alone. We all need help. We fool ourselves into thinking we’re fine.

There’s a specific need addressed here – the matter of belief and unbelief. This is where we need most help. It’s important for us to focus on the need of all needs, the matter of belief. All else is a distraction. Belief changes everything. Do you believe in the creator God? If you do, it changes everything. Do you believe that you can do nothing on your own? Do you believe that God sent His Son Jesus into this world as the revelation of who God is? If you do, it changes everything. Do you believe Jesus is almighty God, sinless and pure, who died at the hands of sinners? It changes everything. If you believe you should be the happiest of all because Jesus died for sinners. He chose that path. It was planned. Our God is alive, He has risen from the grace, His name is victory. It changes everything.

What gets in the way of belief? Our circumstances, career, hurt and pains that won’t go away, being fearful of the future. All of this gets in the way. Faith puts God between us and our challenges. We have a great and victorious high priest. Focus on Him, not on your circumstances.

Why is He great?
He is the priest who passed through the heavens, not an earthly temple. He blasted into space and time and is now sat down next to God in heaven. He passed through the heavens.

He has made the perfect sacrifice, the Lamb without blemish. Who would dare say no to Jesus? Heaven’s justice, the finest court from where all other courts get their ideas from.

He is filled with the fullness of God.

He is great because He is the Son of God. He is your help in time of need. His priestly work on earth was finished. In the Old Testament, animals were slaughtered; the sins of the people were laid on animals day by day, non-stop sacrifices, the priests sacrificing daily. Animal sacrifice could never be enough. Jesus sacrificed His own life, once and for all. It was finished, then Jesus could sit down next to the Father because it was finished. Do you believe in this great High Priest? Are you trusting in Him?

He is a sympathetic high priest. Our Saviour’s coming to earth means He knows what it’s like to be fallen. He knows. As Jesus returned to heaven His humanity is not diminished at all. He has experienced our weaknesses. He knows. It is important we know He is great but also that we know He is sympathetic. He was tempted. Life is a test. Jesus was tested. In order for Jesus to qualify as our Redeemer He had to be tested. He passed the test! He trusted His heavenly Father. Our High Priest is our friend who knows how hard it is for us. We need to ask for the help of the one who can help.

Our Sanctuary: our King is the polar opposite of all earthy kings. If ever there was a king we should fear it is this holy king. His requirement for our life is perfection. How can we approach Him? As sinners we should be afraid. But Jesus made the perfect priestly sacrifice for us.

The devil and his minions are fantastic videographers, capturing our words and thoughts. They love to capture footage of our sin. The devil hounds us at times, he glories in causing heartache, he is a giant over past events. We are often living in the past. Did you know Jesus takes this video footage and erases it? Everything is bank. We are sons of God. The devil has nothing against us. We can come boldly into the throne of God and claim the crown. He has done it all. You must come boldly; your guilt will hold you back from coming into His presence.

Sometimes we need more grace when facing trials. You need to know you can find help in time of need. Your greatest need is to believe in the cross, that God loves you, that God has a place for you. We’re called to come to the throne of grace. Your friend in the highest place is there waiting for you. Some Christians are surrounded by trouble. Lift up your eyes to heaven – that’s where your help will come from. Our great high priest is in heaven interceding for us. He won’t let you down. Keep looking up.

November 4th 2018: Norman Rees

Norman Rees-May18‘The Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s.
1 Samuel 17:47

Before us we have this great battle. The giant Goliath, standing at 9 foot 4 against David, the little shepherd boy, who was probably a teenager. This physical battle has spiritual overtones. The battle we face is spiritual. When we are faced with oppositional difficulties, the Captain of our Salvation is still in control. The battle is the Lord’s. This battle rages on. It started in heaven with Lucifer who was cast out of heaven into the earth.

In this chapter we read of the battle between the Philistines camped in Israelite land, who are facing each other on either side of a valley. The giant Goliath came out for forty days to challenge the Israelites. All the men of Israel were afraid and fled.

David was a choice servant in Saul’s company; he played for Saul for the spirit of depression to move from Saul. David was also a shepherd. He had a position of looking after his father’s sheep. David’s father, Jesse, sent him to the battlefield with provisions for his brothers and the commander of the army. Whilst he was there, Goliath came out once again to challenge the Israelites. David, hearing the giant’s challenge, asked why everyone was afraid of Goliath, who was not a man of God. He told the people he was not afraid of Goliath. He wanted to show God could defeat this enemy.

This giant, this one man, held the nation to ransom. David said there was a reason for this. God had allowed it and planned it. We are all here today for a reason. Where you are placed, in your situation, God has planned.

Saul, King of Israel, sent for David. He told him he couldn’t fight because he was a youth. David argued from past experience; he had fought a lion and a bear. Perhaps we might face situations where the devil casts us down and we ask how the Lord can deliver us. We may forget the past where God had delivered us. The devil is far too strong for us, but God delivers us. If you have difficulties and the devil is mocking you, turn to God. The devil is loose to attack. He is like a roaring lion. Look back and see how the Lord has helped you. David looked back and said the Lord helped him then and the Lord will help him now. The Lord has already silence the devil on the cross, in those three long hours of darkness. We cannot tell what He suffered, the spiritual darkness He suffered because of our sins. But on the third day He rose again. Praise God!

David lived a life of a believer in God. He’d experienced hard things in his life. The gospel needs to be preached to bring light. The devil is angry with people who are saved. David is one who is standing for the Lord. The Father keeps us day by day. Some attacks we will never know that we have been saved from as the evil one has been kept at bay. We are living in dark days, it’s nothing new. We face an enemy opposing the gospel.

This giant was not only 9 foot 4, but he was armed with a coat of mail of 125 pounds. He was confident in his armour and weapons – a formidable enemy. But with God, nothing is impossible. We have the challenge, we have the combat. The devil will attack when we are low. Sometimes we quote the Word of God and the devil laughs. But remember, the battle is the Lord’s. We are foot soldiers. We do battle for the Lord.

David shows how keen he is to fight the enemy. Satan, through Goliath, rises up. God has never lost and never will lose. David ran to meet the foe. Resist the devil. How easy it is to succumb to the devil. It’s not easy to resist. The devil is strong but God is stronger.

David slung one stone at Goliath and it was guided by God’s hand. Goliath fell by one stone. We can kill the devil’s attacks with the stone of prayer. The Bible is full of experiences of men who have faced the enemy head on but, in the name of the Lord, have triumphed. We go in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Captain of our Salvation.

David makes sure the enemy knows it is God who will deliver him. We are surrounded by enemies, people who despise us because we’re Christians. Jesus said ‘don’t be surprised by this. They hated me before they hated you.’ He will guide us and protect us.

The skirmish down here on earth is nothing compared to the glory of heaven. God has won the victory. Oh that God would slay the enemy before us this day. We need to have our eyes open to see God is glorious (Elisha) Do not fear. We are surrounded by enemies but God is with us. We are more than conquerors.

God has been with us in the past and He will always be with us. The weapons of our warfare are spiritual: prayer, the Word of God, seeking the face of our God (Colossians 2). Jesus, when He died upon the cross for our sins, triumphed over the devil. God delivers sinners from satan’s grasp. The battle is the Lord’s. Praise God! It is not ours, it’s the Lord’s. He gives us the victory.

October 28th 2018: Paul David

Paul David - April 18For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son,
that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 
John 3:16

The whole gospel is encapsulated in this one sentence. Our Lord here is speaking to Nicodemus, teaching him about being born again. He has demonstrated His qualification to speak on this topic. His death will allow people to be save.

God: We believe in one God who is a Trinity of three persons; something which is way beyond our comprehension. God is all powerful, infinitely holy and just. The word God can be used to refer to one of the Trinity or the Trinity. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). The Word is our Lord Jesus Christ. The verse tells us He was with God and was God. God in John 3:16 refers to God the Father. More than that, it is God the Father who sends the Son, the Saviour of the world. God is high and lifted up, His ways are not our ways. He is set apart. He has no sin. Evil is abhorrent to God the Father. Yet, He loved the world.

Love: When we read this verse we can stand in awe and amazement. Love always seeks the good. ‘God so loved the world For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.’ The tense of the word shows God’s love stretched from eternity. It is love set upon those who did not deserve it, a sacrificial love. Here our thoughts are directed to the Father who sent His only begotten Son. ‘Believe me that I am the Father and the Father is in Me.’ (John 14:11). There is no closer relationship, yet the Father sent His Son into the world to suffer, to have His wrath poured out on Him. When our Lord was on the cross, He diverted God’s anger against us. We can’t imagine the grief of the Father.

Who or what did God love? The world. The world can have a number of different meanings in scripture. Here it refers to humans, the race who denied His existence, who rebelled (Romans 3:10-19).

Perish: The world is in danger of perishing, of suffering everlasting punishment. God demonstrated His utmost mercy to us when He sent His Son into the world. The light has come into the world yet men love darkness not light. If we reject that offer of salvation we can expect nothing but condemnation (1 Thessalonians, Matthew 13, Mark 9). Hell is to be avoided at all cost.

Eternal life: Sharing fellowship with God, knowing peace which can be received now. It’s the possession of the believer here and now, and for eternity. Heaven (John 14, Luke 23, Revelation 21, 1 Peter 1, 1 Corinthians 2, Matthew 13, Psalm 73). Heaven is paradise, better than we are capable of imagining. There is no pain, no sorrow, no insecurity. What a contrast between perishing and having eternal life. Eternal life is for those who believe in the Son of God (John 14, Acts 4). There is no other way.

World: ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.’ This demonstrates God’s love towards humanity. God offers you eternal life if you believe in the Son. (2 Peter 3). God’s special love in salvation is reserved for those who will accept the Son as their Lord. The only real division in this world is the ‘who-evers’ and the ‘not-evers.’ When the Lord Jesus Christ was sent by His Father He came willingly. He became human and was perfectly obedient to God’s law. He was and is perfect in everything. He knew joy, sadness and disappointment. He took that perfect, obedient life and gave it as a sacrifice on the cross. Those who are deserving of hell can be lifted up to heaven.

To believe I the Lord Jesus Christ is to completely put your trust in Jesus and turn away from sin, to repent. It is to turn from darkness towards the light. It is not to be undertaken lightly. It will change your life – what you do with your leisure, your relationship with family. Now is the day of salvation. Today, if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, you will be saved.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son,
that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16