Gladstone Christian Fellowship Church

Holding forth the word of life...

Blog


Blog features news items from our Church and also devotionals written by Marilyn Daniels.

Check back every week for a new posting.

Feel free to contact Marilyn directly about these devotionals or if you need prayer. 

www.marilyndaniels.net


view:  full / summary

Judeo-Christian?

Posted by kelvinbueckert on January 17, 2021 at 11:45 AM

Acts 11:26

 

Growing up I read several books about Jewish people who converted to Christianity. It became a subject of keen interest which carried over into my work as a nurse in a Jewish community. Wikipedia describes the term Judeo-Christian:

 

“Judeo-Christian is a term used since the 1950s to encompass the common ethical standards

of Christianity and Judaism, such as the Ten Commandments. It has become part of American

civil religion and is often used to promote inter-religious cooperation.“

 

Since this was a reality in the 1950’s it saddens me to read in a more recent periodical that “The Jewish Community generally views Christianity as a threat because of the long history of ‘Christian’ anti-Semitism.”

 

One Christian author coined the phrase “Christianity is Jewish.” Since it is our primary authority, what does the Bible say? The first notation we have of the word Christian is in Acts 11:26 “The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch”. By definition the word disciple means partisans, or followers – in this case of Christ. ‘Christian’ is a word which appears very few times in the New Testament. King Agrippa, after listening to Paul preach the gospel in his own defense, asked Paul if he thought he could persuade him to become a Christian. The only other time it is used is by Peter who clarifies “…if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear the name” (1 Peter 4:16). A Christian is one who bears Christ’s name.

 

We need to recognize that these first Christians, men and women who followed Jesus, were all Jews! Would becoming a Christian make them less Jewish? That question has been debated, even by the Jewish community itself, to this day. The President of ‘The Chosen People’ explains: “Jewish people like myself are raised knowing that Jesus is not for Jews….. I stepped over that line in 1970 and discovered to my great surprise, that I was still Jewish!”

 

Did becoming Christian, Christ-followers, mean they left the faith of their fathers? If the Messiah was anticipated by the Israelite nation as one sent from God to His own people, to free them from oppression, and if Jesus is that Messiah, following Him would not mean leaving the faith of their fathers.

 

Christianity must honour the roots of our faith revealed in Judaism. Gentiles have been included in prophecy as far back as Abraham (Genesis12:3), so it is not a nationalistic faith but an inclusive one. The Psalmist urges us to pray for peace in Jerusalem Why?

 

Praying for the peace of Jerusalem is most appropriate for a city whose name literally means “peaceful” and which is the residence of the God of peace. Further, Jerusalem will be the scene of Christ’s return (Acts 1:11; Zechariah 14:4), and at that time He will establish permanent peace within its walls. True Christians must be eagerly awaiting His return, and praying for the time when the Prince of Peace will reign in Jerusalem. “For unto us a Child is born….the Prince of Peace, of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end, He will reign…..forever!” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

 

There is no room in the economy of God for anti-Semitism or anti-Christianity between Jews and Christians. We need to encourage one another in our faith because when one reads the Old Testament, under the Spirit of God, Jesus the Messiah is recognizable. Together we may be united under Christ!

 

Reflection:

What does the designation Judeo-Christian mean to you? Explain.

Does becoming a Christian make one less Jewish?

What binds Jews and Christians together?

Surrender?

Posted by kelvinbueckert on January 10, 2021 at 4:40 PM

1 Corinthians 13:3

A pastor recently asked the question “What are you holding onto that you won’t surrender?” That question caused me to examine my heart. Is there anything I long for? Are there unfulfilled dreams? Do I covet more stuff? Am I discontented in relationships? Do I need to feel more in control of my life? What irks my spirit most?

 

For me I admit time, comfort and convenience are things I find hard to surrender sometimes. I am a creature of routine. Surprises are fun but many people as they age, cling to habits of a life-time. Where has that feeling of serendipity gone? As young people we sang:

“All to Jesus I surrender; All to Him I freely give.

I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live.”

 

Did our youth group really commit to that in everyday life? Looking back, God often brought the unexpected into my experience. Surrendered to Him, it was always good, even wonderfully fulfilling. Not that the experiences in themselves were necessarily positive, but I could always be positive that good would come out of them, through lessons learned.

 

The Apostle Paul talks about surrender. Hidden away in the most famous love chapter in the Bible the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write: “Though I surrender my body to the flames….” (1 Corinthians 13:3). Now under any circumstances that is not something most of us would want to do – it’s not on our list of expectations! Obviously it’s an extreme measure he is introducing to explain love….there is no sacrifice that we can make, even the death of our bodies, which is worth it, if we do not love.

 

Yet – there have been martyrs of the faith who have surrendered to the flames. We know that Paul, following his conversion, experienced death threats and attempts on his life. Daniel records the experience of his friends who ended up in a furnace so hot that those opening the door were overcome (Daniel 3:19-23). Notice Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not saved from the experience, but a visible presence stayed with them and in the end a heathen king gave glory to God for saving their lives.

 

Surrendering to the evil whims of others isn’t on our bucket list, but scripture is filled with examples of those who did. Read Hebrews Chapter 11. For the sake of bringing glory to God can we surrender to the unknowns that are bound to come in the year ahead? What is it that we are hoping for? Are we certain of things we cannot see? What is it that challenges our faith today?

 

Faith is all about surrender. “Without faith it is impossible to please God”. Anyone who comes to Him must believe that He has their best interests at heart! This amazing God has promised to reward those who earnestly seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Can you surrender your life to Him?

 

Reflection:

What will motivate our choices in the year ahead? It is the desire to be led by love?

 

“If I give all I possess to the poor, and surrender my body to the flames, by have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3)

 

Who knows what might come out of our surrender to God?

I must ask how far I will go in order to surrender to what is right?

How may the fires of our trials and afflictions bring glory to God?

 

When God Withdraws

Posted by kelvinbueckert on January 3, 2021 at 11:25 AM

Romans 1

In the Epistle to the Romans, Paul begins with some Biblical truth, in order to ground the Roman Church. He includes truths revealed in scripture about God, Himself. Now that Paul has described God’s character to us, he turns to compare it with man’s. What a disappointment humankind must be to our Creator. He gets little glory or appreciation for all that He has done for us! In fact it is quite the opposite. Man, giving in to the folly of pride, started creating his own gods. ”…their foolish hearts were darkened” (:22).

 

First of all man’s intellect became his god. What he thought, what he believed, what he chose to worship, became of primary importance. Where did that take him? God first gave man over to sinful desires. His thinking was infected with self-righteousness.

 

Second, God gave them over to shameful lusts, through which any sexual behaviour became appropriate. The heart of man became suspect, as his feelings led his head. This was not the Creator’s intention. He had revealed Himself repeatedly, through acts of mercy, through scripture, through our Lord Jesus Christ. However, Paul writes - “Although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21).

 

Third God gave them over to a depraved mind. The mind of mankind, originally created with all the potential of Godly decision-making, became filled with every kind of evil, greed and depravity resulting in a whole list of godless activities (Romans 1:29-31). Today our society, if not condoning these, will excuse murders, insolence, mistreatment of parents, hating God, in a spirit of senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless living. The final line is drawn when they decide to approve of everyone doing such things (Romans 1:32); seen in the freedom of man’s wisdom running loose.

 

Note that three times Paul says “God gave them over”. Leaving man to decide his own fate, God withdrew. His character did not change. He is always, eternally, a God of love and truth and holiness. However, sin and holiness are like oil and water – they do not mix.

 

How is the faith community to respond? We are to love our enemies – the person, not the sin. That is very hard to do. Out of fear we want to see these evils corrected. We fear for the salvation of our loved ones, for the infection of sin which is spreading throughout society, pandemically. But we are a community of faith and our faith is put into practice by doing what Jesus would do. What would Jesus do if He walked through North America today, for example?

 

Is it possible to bridge the gap between right and wrong? No! Jesus already has done that with His life, and death, yet people still reject His remedy for the sickness of sin. The best we can hope for is that His joy and peace, demonstrated in a spirit of love, will create a yearning in hearts darkened by an error that is spreading like wild-fire in our hedonistic society today. We know that God has already gone to the nth degree to correct these evils, but His love is everlasting!

 

So we pray that the Light will still provide Life, drawing men and women out of the pit they are digging for themselves. Let us all remember at the dawn of a New Year, that positive change always begins with “me”. Furthermore, I am the only person over whom I can really have any control. With God the Holy Spirit’s help I can exercise that required control which will temper my mind and heart, and my reactions to things others do to irk me.

 

Reflection:

Which is the greatest sin of our day? Is one worse than another? Do we not all continue to sin in small ways or large? How dangerous is prejudice? Is this why Jesus commanded us not to judge others?

The Psalmist prayed that God would search his heart (Psalm 139:23).

Let us pray: “Create in me a new heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit in me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, or take Your Holy Spirit from me, Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and grant a willing spirit to sustain me.” Amen (Psalm 51:10-12).

Thoughts About Tomorrow

Posted by kelvinbueckert on December 27, 2020 at 3:45 PM

Matthew 6:25-34

 

Throughout human history there have been many plans laid for tomorrow. Business, family planning, evangelistic outreach, scientific discoveries, space travel and more have each been impacted by the plans people have made.

We read in the Bible that God also has plans. “I know the plans I have for you….plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). To whom was He speaking?

 

This was part of a text sent from Jerusalem by the prophet Jeremiah. God’s people were in exile. Finally, after centuries of patient warnings, God, like any good parent, had to make true the consequences of rebellion and disobedience. How thrilling it is that God did not hold grudges. When their punishment was over He reclaimed His people with promises for the future, for a prosperous future! His intention was not to harm them; He felt it necessary to spell that out, apparently. Rather God wanted them to have hope!

 

He gives them more promises. When they come to their senses and pray sincerely, He will listen. God was not interested in lip-service, but rather judged the intentions of their hearts, much as He does today. Jesus quoted from Isaiah when He was attacked by the Pharisees and teachers of the law. “These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. They worship Me in vain; their teachings are but rules, taught by men” (Matthew 15:8-9). How many people today are as unprincipled as those in Hosea’s day “They make many promises, take false oaths and make agreements…” (Hosea 10:4). These realities make God’s plans even more generous.

 

When we make plans for tomorrow how often do we focus on what is good for others? We get up in the morning thinking about what we will wear, what we will eat, where we will go, whom we will meet. How often do we pursue goals for success, hoping to impress? Perhaps this was the lifestyle adopted by those Jews, prior to exile. Little did they suppose their lives could change in the twinkling of an eye. Why didn’t they see God’s judgment coming?

 

Jesus cares so much for those who followed Him, and would follow Him, that He too, kindly warns us not to worry about our temporal needs – things like eating and drinking and dressing – those very things which consume so many of us today. “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).

 

It may not be a happy thing to contemplate what lies ahead, with political turmoil all around us, but we do have hope. Let us take heart in the words of scripture, knowing that God’s plans are for a better future, one He has provided for us, through Jesus Christ our Lord. His advent meant that a new day was dawning; we will feast at His table in eternity, robed in garments of dazzling white. We will live in the light of God’s glory forever and ever!

Praise the Lord!

 

Reflection:

 

Are we letting Satan rob us of our glorious hope by fixing our eyes on todays’ troubles?

Let us remember that “All scripture was given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). The scripture we hold in our hands was written for everyone…primitive tribes in places yet to be discovered, for every tribe and nation, who will one day worship together around Christ’s throne.

Therefore, since we are told to “Cast all your anxiety on Him for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7) let us remember at Christmastime what lengths God went to, to give us abundant life, to free us from anxiety and fear, to enable us to forgive and love – even those who are our enemies.

How many folks have seen the Christmas story as one for the white man only? As we think about tomorrow, let us love all people in both word and deed, following in the footsteps of the babe who became the world’s most revered Son of Man! Let us thank God for the hope that He gives us through, the prophet Isaiah “For unto us a Child is born…and the government will be upon His shoulders….Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:7).

The Christmas Story Unfolds

Posted by kelvinbueckert on December 20, 2020 at 11:00 AM

Perhaps it will surprise you to know that the Christmas story begins in Genesis. We need to look at some background. The earth was not God’s first creation. Created beings lived with Him in heaven long before earth took shape. How long Lucifer, one of many angels, existed before the creation of man, we are not told.

God created Lucifer [meaning “Shining One”]. Ezekiel describes him as chief among the angels, powerful, intelligent and very beautiful (Ezekiel 28:13-17). What we learn from Ezekiel and Isaiah is that rivalry developed; Satan wanted not just to be like God, but to be in control (Isaiah 14:12-14). That is when things began to fall apart. It is important for us to understand that God did not create evil in the person of Satan [meaning “accuser”]. Privileges were taken for granted, as power was coveted. Satan’s attempt to seduce Eve and Adam, demonstrated his continuing efforts to control God’s creation.

How does this relate to Christmas? As God cursed the serpent, the creature used by Satan to tempt Eve, He predicted that Satan would bruise the heel of One who would actually extinguish any power the Devil gained in intervening years, by crushing Satan’s head.

We know of course, that this is what happened during the Easter event when Jesus was crucified (bruised seems a light term for His great suffering). But wait! Jesus rose from the dead – the Divine Conqueror of death! His resurrection crushed the determined efforts of the “accuser of the brethren”. Revelation 12 describes that final battle in heaven. As the Devil is hurled to the earth, salvation is complete; the power and the Kingdom of God, authorized by the blood of Christ overcomes him.

How was all of this possible? God sent a tiny baby, born of a virgin to bless all nations of the earth (Isaiah 7:14). This was also fulfillment of a prophecy given thousands of years before to a man named Abram. The author of Genesis writes the promise of God to this man He renamed Abraham [meaning “father of a great number”]. “I will make you a great nation….and all people on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2-3). That promise was repeated to God’s covenant people, the nation He promised Abraham’s progeny would become.

Matthew begins his gospel “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac…..” Writing specifically to the Jews, it is crucial for Matthew to begin with the one they called Father Abraham. Ryrie explains “The common teaching of that day said that the Jews participated in the merits of Abraham, which made their prayers acceptable, helped in war, expiated sins, appeased the wrath of God and ensured a share in God’s eternal kingdom” (Page 1463 Ryrie Study Bible) No wonder they were so shocked when John and Jesus preached the need for personal repentance!

The Apostle John records the dissension caused by Jesus, claiming God as His Father (John 8:33-58). His statement that He existed before Abraham was the final straw. This was blasphemy in the ears of orthodox Jews. Yet here we are celebrating Jesus! Not only do we rejoice in His birth, but His life has given us eternal life! So at Christmas it really is impossible to remember His birth, miraculous as it was, without thinking of His death on a cross. Hallelujah! That was not the end because He rose again to bring spiritual healing and glorious hope to all who would believe and receive Him! (John 1:12-13).

Do You Know?

Posted by kelvinbueckert on December 14, 2020 at 12:25 AM

Luke 2:13-20

 

How much our witnessing has changed during the course of one short life-time. Today if we want to tell people about Jesus, we cannot start from the premise that everyone knows who He is. There is now a whole generation of children who have not gone to Sunday School, for example. Subtly, distractions and responsibilities have taken over a society with more time on their hands than ever before, disabling well meant intentions to give God one hour on Sunday.

 

Christmas was once a time when most people went to church, if only to hear the carols. Now, however, Christmas has become so commercialized and carols so secular, that even that witness to the birth of Jesus has become virtually ineffective. Everyone knows Santa. Sadly the very virtues once attributed to the Saviour of our world, are now seen in a jolly fat man, garbed in red. “He knows when you are sleeping; he knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good….” Is Santa really omniscient?

 

In my childhood memories the sweetness of Christmas songs plays a big role! One song is a particular favourite, inspiring awe at the whole event:

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining,

It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth;

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,

'Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope! the weary world rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;

Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices!

O night divine! O night when Christ was born.

O night, O holy night, O night divine.

When we used to sing “Who is He in yonder stall?” people knew the miracle baby, Jesus, had been laid in a manger.

Amazingly His birth was announced by a choir of angels, a once-only event. Shepherds heard them and instantly responded with great joy! What was it about a baby in the most humble of circumstances, lying in the feeding trough of some cattle, in a smelly stable, which caused them to glorify and to praise Almighty God? (Luke 2:20). And so - the lyrics go on to tell us more. “At whose feet [the baby Jesus] the shepherds fall”.

 

Stories of angels and shepherds and wiseman were common knowledge. The thunderous response to the question “Who is He” came back, identifying this holy Babe as:

 

“The Lord! O wondrous story! ‘Tis the Lord the King of glory!”

 

In my youth, once a year at least, folks were encouraged to consider, to worship and to respond! The thrill of that proclamation warmed even the coldest hearts in December! But the question still remains: Do you know the reason behind your response?

 

Reflection:

 

Do you know what, if anything, prevents you from truly worshiping this baby who became the Lamb of God?

Does knowing Him as the Son of God, cause you to fall at His feet in worship?

What is the most beautiful aspect of the Christmas revelation that stirs your heart?

What is it about Jesus Christ that caused a hymnologist to write:

 

“At His feet we humbly fall. Crown Him! Crown Him Lord of all!”

God's Invitation

Posted by kelvinbueckert on December 6, 2020 at 10:55 AM

Isaiah 55

 

What a mighty God we serve! The Bible tells us angels bow before Him, worshiping Him for His wisdom and power (Revelation 7:11). Hundreds of years before the Apostle John had this heavenly vision, God gave Isaiah a vision of David’s continuing dynasty. After delivering denunciations against Judah and other nations God gave Isaiah a glimpse of future tribulation, along with further woes and blessings. But then this all-wise, all-powerful God revealed His program for peace, which included salvation through the Servant-Messiah, One who would be of David’s line (2 Samuel 7:16, Luke 1:32).

 

Sometimes we hear what we want to hear, and see what we want to see. The Israelites lost the vision of the promised Servant and clung only to that of the Messiah, a deliverer who would relieve them of oppression and suffering. Therefore when a baby was born, fulfilling prophecy, the nation to which the babe was sent, didn’t recognize the significance of God’s faithfulness to His promise. “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call Him Immanuel [God with us]” (Isaiah 7:14).

 

Think of this. God who is Almighty, is designer of the universe. According to His plan, God created great and small, things too small for the eye to see, as well as things too large for our human understanding to take in! With all the conceit of the twenty-first century, humans are discovering what God already knows about such contrasting things such as DNA and outer galaxies. This great God chose to speak to His people through this Man, born in obscurity.

 

And so we celebrate, at Christmas time, the birth of a little baby! God could have come with crashing cymbals and trumpets blaring, filling the sky with the brightness of His glory, to announce His plan of salvation. Why did He choose to use a baby in the humblest of circumstances, to eventually die on a cross, providing us with eternal hope? Here, in Bethlehem’s manger lay a wee scrap of a human being. Who could have imagined that He, “being in very nature God…made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a Servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:6-7)?

 

Notice He was made in human likeness. He was not just a human, but was unique in every way. Immanuel is the only God-man. You and I will be given perfect bodies one day, but we will never be God. Jesus is God. Yet He was not daunted by the prospect of taking on the form of man.

 

God told Isaiah to write it twice to keep in mind “My thoughts are not your thoughts. Neither are your ways My ways” (Isaiah 55:8-9). This amazing God invites us to “Come” (Isaiah 55:1). Jesus repeated that call “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Which of us today isn’t weary of conflict and chaos, suffering and sorrow? Isaiah went on to say God would bless those who came, with food and drink. Jesus blessed those who hungered and thirsted [sought] after righteousness (Matthew 5:6). The invitation is music to our ears. “Listen”…”Hear Me that your soul may live” (Isaiah 55:2-3). There is a promise from God that if we “Seek the Lord while He may be found…you will go out with joy and be led forth in peace” (Isaiah 55:6 & 12).

 

Reflection:

What has been your response and mine to God’s invitation?

 

One day, Isaiah tells us, the mountains and the hills will burst forth into song before God, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands! (Isaiah 55:12). This should not seem unusual. Even today we celebrate the greatness of our God through the awesome beauty and power of nature! Paul understood this when he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write “since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what was made” (Romans 1:20). God made a baby to house His only begotten Son “that whosever [all inclusive invitation!] believes on Him will have everlasting life”! (John 3:16).

Praise and Worship

Posted by kelvinbueckert on November 29, 2020 at 11:30 AM

Isaiah 66:1-2

 

Dear Lord,

There are so many people on my mind for whom I would pray this morning, people in need physically and spiritually. Yet as I bow before You, my spirit is reminded of the great privilege You have given to Your people of coming to You in the name of Jesus.

He, who is the personification of true love, is the “Way”…the way to You, our heavenly Father. He came to earth to show us how to worship as well as the way we should treat one another. Oh Father! As we celebrate His advent, I must praise You for Your perfect plan – that marvellous revelation of the heart of God, yearning sacrificially for relationship with mankind! If only Your children could follow Jesus’ perfect example, what a different place this world would be! Your great heart must be often disappointed. Father forgive me please.

Thank You for giving me the Holy Spirit, who dwells within each of Your children, offering guidance and comfort, and even rebuke, so that I may confess my sins and be freed daily of the guilt with which Satan immobilizes me. Your love is so forgiving. May I be also.

Thank You for showing me unconditional love. I know that I could never earn the approval of Omniscient, Almighty God, yet Your love has given me grace and mercy, through Jesus Christ my Lord. Oh Lord! May I be filled to overflowing, in order to pass this good news on to others.

The depth of Your love inspires me to walk in the steps of my Saviour, but it is sometimes with the fear that I might fail to live up to His example. Thank You that Your strength is made perfect in weakness!

Your love has all the hallmarks of a perfect parent; Your wisdom is wonderful! Your love disciplines me for my own good. Thank you Father!

You are so kind, and sensitive to the pitfalls on this earthly journey, and to my human frailty. I read in scripture that kindness and patience are the fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit. I need Your touch to deal kindly with those who try my patience. Thank You for Your word that assures me my prayers will be answered.

Oh Father – You are Holy. Surrounded by temptation, the Devil assaults my mind and heart with suggestions that do not glorify the values You have given to me, in Your most Holy Word. Forgive me! Holy Spirit teach my wayward heart the purity that is Your very essence!

Thank you for challenging the Church to love holiness with a passion. May we be people of truth and honour, in order to glorify Your most Holy Name.

You have promised to empower Your children to do exploits in the name of Jesus! Your love for others compels me to see them through Your eyes. However, it is not always easy. Let me see others from Your perspective when they sin against me, so that I may use what I have learned at the feet of Jesus, to bless them in return.

Thank You Father for giving me quiet moments of solitude to spend at Your feet. Thank You for restoring my soul! Thank You for the peace that comes over my spirit when it is in tune with Yours. Thank You for Jesus, the visible reflection of all that You are. Thank You for the joy of my salvation! Thank You for the eternal hope I have that one day I will stand in Your glorious presence. Thank You for opening up doors of service. Thank You for the fellowship and encouragement of brothers and sisters in the family of God. Thank You for lessons learned through sorrow and pain, through disappointment and heartache. Thank You for the privilege of sharing Jesus.

Dear God, may my worship be acceptable in Your sight. Amen

 

Reflection:

 

As we pray, let us check our beliefs. Is this the God who can move mountains, Who in fact created those mountains? Did He really raise Lazarus and Jesus from the dead? Is He raising those who are spiritually dead in this the twenty-first century? Does He have the right to place people in the environment of His choosing? Does His power and His passion for what is right, generate awe in my heart? Is God truly good and fair and loving? It is important to know the One we say we trust, and to examine the extent to which we really trust Him. Do we come to God demanding things for our comfort and pleasure, or do we want to align our hearts and minds with His good pleasure? Does the sacrifice of my contrite heart bring joy to the heart of the God I love? Does God need me in order to accomplish His purposes; does He give me the privilege of coming alongside, to join in the joy of seeing Him at work?

The Sermon on the Mount

Posted by kelvinbueckert on November 22, 2020 at 11:10 AM

Matthew 5:1-8:1

 

How long would it take you to read Matthew 5:1-8:1? How long did it take Jesus to preach that sermon, I wonder? How many people, since Matthew recorded Jesus’ words, have preached sermons on the various principles that enrich the text?

 

The beatitudes are perhaps more familiar than the rest of these chapters, but there are verses which some folks like to quote. For example: “Turn the other cheek” (5:39). That is a fine message, when pointing out someone else’s sins, but do we take it to heart when it applies to our own problems?

 

Someone has divided chapter 5 into sections labelled “the Law of…..”, highlighting topics such as murder, reconciliation, adultery, divorce, oaths, and even the law of non-resistance! Chapter 5 ends on a high note, when Jesus gives us the Law of love. Most of us are familiar with His instruction to “love your enemy” …and to “pray for those who persecute you” (5:44) It’s important to note there was no such teaching in the Old Testament. This is indeed a new law, given at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry! Ryrie calls these “The Precepts for Kingdom Life (Ryrie Study Bible, Page 1466).

 

We are now living in the Kingdom Age. When Jesus died and rose again, His Kingdom was officially ushered in. Those who follow Him are to live as examples of His character, following in His steps (1 Peter 2:21). Therefore the principles our leader laid down are of tremendous significance! The question is: ‘Do we know these principles?’ If we examine them we may find they run in contrast with the mores of society today, certainly the culture of North Americans. Just one example, that of turning the other cheek, does not align with the “me movement” which teaches my rights are of primary importance. Our Lord and Master exemplified humility, when He gave up His rights to His glory, as part of the Trinity.

 

Then there is the question of truth and honour. When we make a promise, is it conditional? Do we take vows which hold an escape clause? Can our word be trusted by our family and friends? In days gone by a person only needed to say “My word is my bond” to be trusted, but today there are documents needing signatures for so many transactions, including prenuptial agreements, which raises questions about the intentions of those involved. Do Jesus’ words apply today? “Do not swear [take an oath] at all….but let your Yes be yes and your no be no!” (5:34a, 37). After all, Jesus said: “I am the Truth” (John 14:6).

 

Reflection:

When Jesus spoke, He knew His message would be written down for generations to come. Do we treat his words as viable in our world today, or are we content to let society rule our attitudes, our intentions and our reactions? We have only brushed the surface of His instructions in Chapter 5. Before going on to study Chapter 6 we need to ask ourselves some questions about how far we are willing to go to walk in the steps of the Master. Eliza E. Hewitt wrote:

 

1. Trying to walk in the steps of the Savior,

Trying to follow our Savior and King;

Shaping our lives by His blessed example,

Happy, how happy, the songs that we bring.

Refrain:

How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior,

Stepping in the light, stepping in the light,

How beautiful to walk in the steps of the Savior,

Led in paths of light.

2. Pressing more closely to Him Who is leading,

When we are tempted to turn from the way;

Trusting the arm that is strong to defend us,

Happy, how happy, our praises each day.

3. Walking in footsteps of gentle forbearance,

Footsteps of faithfulness, mercy, and love,

Looking to Him for the grace freely promised,

Happy, how happy, our journey above.

4. Trying to walk in the steps of the Savior,

Upward, still upward, we follow our Guide;

When we shall see Him, “the King in His beauty,”

Happy, how happy, our place at His side.

 

Perfect Leadership

Posted by kelvinbueckert on November 15, 2020 at 10:50 AM

Matthew 4:1-11

 

In today’s world leadership around the world is being challenged. One might ask “What are the expectations of the populace based upon?” What might our own expectations for good governance be, and why?

 

We hear the word truth used a lot. What is truth, and who is completely truthful? Social absolutes have been fractured as pride and prejudice have taken over. How can anyone be true to a wavering ideology? There seem to be a lot more questions than there are answers.

 

God knows all about this. Having sent the Prince of Peace to this world, we should know more about truth, since He declared Himself to be the Truth (John 14:6). Knowing Him, leads us into all truth, through the power of the Holy Spirit, whom He sends to indwell the minds and hearts of God’s children (John 16:13).

 

The truth is we have forgotten or perhaps denied the truth by which Jesus Himself lived. Matthew records the way He faced temptation in the wilderness. Note that Jesus was not led into the wilderness by the devil, but rather by the Holy Spirit. Isn’t that amazing? God was willing to put this unique God-man to the test, for your benefit and mine.

 

Three times Satan enticed Jesus to demonstrate signs of His power. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus did use bread as a sign of His power when the loaves and fishes were multiplied to feed 5000 people! (Mark 6:41). He didn’t need to turn stones into bread to prove Himself (Matthew 4:3-4). In the second test, Satan, who is not all-knowing, couldn’t have foreseen, as he was tempting God’s Son against the forces of gravity (4:5-6), that one day He would walk on water (Matthew 14:25ff).

 

The third test was about worship. Satan knew that Jesus was a man who had choices, just as we do today. Would He comply with the will of God when offered the kingdoms of this world? Tempting proposition! After all Jesus knew that temporarily Satan was the “Prince of this world” (John 12:31). His world is a system diametrically opposed to the things of God, and he wants to keep it that way. Think what Satan would have accomplished, had Jesus yielded!

 

However, we have been given an example of perfect leadership, given to us by this man, Jesus. Yes – He was also God, but coming to earth He divested Himself of all the glory that goes with being God, to walk this earth as a man (Philippians 2:6-8). He faced life with all the same potential God has given to you and to me – He had feelings, intelligence, volition (ability to make choices).

 

So what might we learn from His response to temptation? Quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3, Jesus reminds us it is written….”man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”. Three times Jesus relied on the truths of scripture to defend His choices. He refused to act independently of His Father’s perfect will. Today, this same Jesus, the only God-man, requires us as His disciples to follow His lead, to lean on the spoken and written word of God.

 

Reflection:

 

Perhaps you remember times of testing and temptation. What was the source that governed your response?

 

Do you understand, by faith, that Jesus is both God and man? This is why John writes to describe Him as “God’s only begotten Son” (John 3:16). We are also sons of God, but we are adopted into the family of God. We do not have His DNA. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we are becoming more Christ-like, through the process of sanctification.

 

Jesus is “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful Word” (Hebrews 1:3). As our example, Jesus led not only in word, but in deed (John 13:15). So “let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith”(Hebrews 12:2). What a perfect leader!


Rss_feed