22 - Ecc1 1

22 Apr: Daily Readings & Thought for April 22nd. “VANITY OF VANITIES”

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css_animation="zoomIn"][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Today’s readings.. (Deuteronomy 5), (Ecclesiastes 1), (John 17,18)

Today we began reading Ecclesiastes – it says it was written by “the preacher, the son of David, king of Jerusalem [1 v.1]. We know this is Solomon and his first words are, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity”

     What does vanity mean?  The lexicon says the Hebrew word means, transitory, emptiness.   Solomon is reviewing, apparently in his old age, all that he has accomplished in his life, he is overwhelmed by the feeling that in the final analysis it was all just “vanity” – he had accomplished nothing lasting. 

He reflects, “all things are full of weariness” [v.8], observing, “my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge” [v.16] but he saw it as “a striving after wind”. [v.17]. Tomorrow we will read his words, “then I considered all that my hands had done and all the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity” [2 v.11]   

We wonder to what extent today we will (or already are) look back on a lifetime of striving to make and then spend money – and see it in the end as simply “vanity”?   Also, those who fill so much of their ‘spare’ time with tweeting and twittering and relaxation with TV and DVDs for entertainment will see the ultimate emptiness of time spent in this way?

     In contrast we saw today in John’s Gospel the intensity of thought and meaning in the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. As it reaches its climax his mind is centred on his disciples, “Holy Father keep them in your name … that they may be one, even as we are one.” [17 v.11]  Unity of mind, how wonderful! 

Jesus continues, “they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth” [v. 17-19].  

     God’s word is “truth,” it alone reveals the ultimate meaning of life and takes us – in thought – beyond “this world”.. Sanctify means to “be set apart” from the world so that  the main focus of our minds – is on God and his ways and what is really true – in an everlasting sense.  It is a truth we then take into our hearts and it becomes part of us.

Finally, how meaningful are the words of Jesus to Pilate, “You say that I am a king.  For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth.  Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” [18 v.37]. Sceptically Pilate asks, “What is truth?” [v.38]. Let us not be sceptical but read and “listen” to what we read and aim to fully possess “the wisdom from above” (James 3 v.17) so that our lives are “sanctified in truth.”

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21 - John15 13

21 Apr: Daily Readings & Thought for April 21st. “GREATER LOVE HAS NO MAN THAN THIS”

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css_animation="zoomIn"][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Today’s readings.. (Deuteronomy 4), (Proverbs 31), (John 15,16)

 Love is probably the most common word in both Christian and non-Christian literature.  It is used in a wide range of situations with many different meanings.  It is usually used in common speech today in a very casual way!  Are those who read God’s word influenced by this? 

     If we are – it will undermine our appreciation of what this word means in Scripture?  In the Greek there are two different words and the one we focus on is ‘agape’ which occurs so much in the Gospel of John; he uses it 27 times; 9 times in today’s chapters (15 &16).

Chapter 13 contains a key statement of the Master, “A new commandment I have given you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” [v.34].  So how did Jesus love them? How did he set an example?  

     What events and words show this?  He washed their feet and he used this as an example of how to serve one another; however few of us tramp dusty roads in sandals with bare feet.  to make a ritual of this would destroy the lesson as we commented yesterday.  It was one example of love and humility toward one another. Jesus said, “I have given you an example that you also should do as I have done to you.” [v.15].

Not many hours later he would tell them of the ultimate act of  “love” soon to occur – saying greater love has no man than this” [15 v.13] 

Jesus asked, “Who is the greater, one who reclines at table, or one who serves? I am among you as one who serves” [Luke 22 v.27]   So the love that Jesus showed was one of serving, he came as a servant – but will return as a King.  In serving Jesus, we must ourselves seek to show love by what we do.  

       There will be times when we need to be gentle as he was with his disciples when they faltered, and he said “O you of little faith” [Luke 12 v28]; but read v.22-31 and appreciate the context and our Master’s final point, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”.  We might think of what we want, but our heavenly Father knows what we need.

  He did not send anyone away, they went away themselves when they found his sayings “hard” [John 6 v.60,66]  When John, years later, wrote his epistles he made one particular point which echoed these words of Jesus, “let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth” [1 John 3 v.18] or as the NEB version puts it, “love must be genuine and show itself by actions.”

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20 - John13 34

20 Apr: Daily Readings and Thought for April 20th. “LOVE ONE ANOTHER JUST AS I HAVE LOVED YOU”

 

 Love is probably the most common word in both Christian and non Christian literature.  It is used in a wide range of situations with many different meanings.  It is usually used in common speech today in a very casual way!  Are those who read God’s word influenced by this? If we are – it will undermine our appreciation of what this word means in Scripture?  In the Greek there are two different words and the one we focus on is ‘agape’ which occurs so much in the Gospel of John; he uses it 27 times; 9 times in today’s chapters (13 &14).

Chapter 13 today contains a key statement of the Master, “A new commandment I have given you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” [v.34].  So how did Jesus love them? How did he set an example?  What events and words show this?  He had just washed their feet and he used this as an example of how to serve one another; however to make a ritual of this would destroy the lesson.  It is an example of love and humility toward one another. Jesus said, “I have given you an example that you also should do as I have done to you.” [v.15].  Not many hours later he would tell them of the ultimate act of  “love” soon to occur – saying “greater love has no man than this” [15 v.13] 

Jesus asked, “Who is the greater, one who reclines at table, or one who serves? I am among you as one who serves” [Luke 22 v.27]   So the love that Jesus showed was one of serving, he came as a servant – but will return as a King.  In serving Jesus, we must ourselves seek to show love by what we do.  There will be times when we need to be gentle as he was with his disciples when they faltered, and he said “O you of little faith” [Luke 12 v28]; but read v.22-31].  We might think of what we want, but our heavenly Father knows what we need.

He did not send anyone away, they went away themselves when they found his sayings “hard” [John 6 v.60,66]  When John, years later, wrote his epistles he made one particular point which echoed these words of Jesus, “let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth” [1 John 3 v.18] or as the NEB puts it, “love must be genuine and show itself by actions.”

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohnOZ7MKlwE[/embedyt]
19 - John12 35

19 Apr: Daily Readings and Thought for April 19th. “WALK WHILE YOU HAVE THE LIGHT”

 

 Those who study history know that the world has gone through horrible periods of darkness all too many times.  So it is significant that Jesus says, “I have come into the world as light” [v.46] and then adds, “so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”

Those who turned to him found that “darkness” lifted from their minds as they embraced an awareness of the real meaning of life and accepted Jesus as their “shepherd” and Lord. Jesus said, “Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you.  The one who walks in darkness does not know where he is going” [v.35].  We can read the words of “light” but our minds must be receptive if they are to be meaningful and light floods our thoughts. 

We must appreciate the point Jesus made when he said, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” [v.25].   He meant that if we find full satisfaction in what life offers us now – then he or she will lose the opportunity to exist for ever when life on earth takes on a far greater dimension when Jesus returns.   Man prefers to worship Mammon, that is money, and the “feet” of that god is now crumbling rapidly.  Those who “control” Mammon have to struggle more and more to maintain and show a degree of confidence in their god. There are some awesome prophecies about this. Have a look at Isaiah Ch. 24, the first 6 verses!  Frightening!  This punishment comes “after many days” until “the LORD of hosts reigns” (look at the last 2 verses)

Any effort to shed any degree of light today is ridiculed.  An example of this occurred last Sunday when a respected daily newspaper here published an article on The Bible  in connection with Easter and how in Church schools it is still being taught and believed. To say the reaction was negative is an understatement!  The on-line version attracted abundant vitriolic denunciation from the many who are convinced that the Bible is untrue.  But note what Jesus says at the end of today’s chapter, “The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.”

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BlNULW0_U0[/embedyt]
18 - Deut1 2

18 Apr: Daily Readings and Thought for April 18th. “ELEVEN DAYS JOURNEY FROM HOREB”  

 

Today we start reading the book of Deuteronomy. Its message is very appropriate for believers in our days because it is Moses final exhortation to the Israelites before he dies.  He starts by saying, “It is eleven days journey from Horeb (where they camped before the mountain and Moses received the Ten Commandments)…to Kadesh- Barnea.”  The latter place is at the edge of their promised inheritance, and from there they sent out the spies!  Just 11 days journey; but instead of going on into the land, strong in faith because of all the wonders they had witnessed in escaping from Egypt their faith quickly evaporated and as a result they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.

All those 20 years old and over died in that wandering. “Not one of these men of this evil generation shall see the good land that I swore to give to your fathers, except …” (the two that had brought back a good report, and their families) [v.35-36]  Also many of the Levites, who are not counted with the 12 tribes, also entered the land, such as the younger sons of Aaron; they had proved faithful.

The opening 3 chapters of Deuteronomy show Moses recounting their recent triumphs after leaving the wilderness.  They defeated all the nations west of the Jordan.  But this final leg of their journey saw the death of those caught up in the temptations in Moab, those whose  vision was on the flesh, not on the promised land. That was the final purging of the people, then God saw them as being of a ready mind to enter the promised land.  

Now, can we draw a comparison to our days?  We are travelling through a spiritual wilderness as this is such a godless world.  How many are losing their faith and falling by the wayside, caught in the passing pleasures of this world? We can take examples from Moses, as surely Jesus did!  What do we read in Hebrews? “By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible” [11 v27].  We can endure our wilderness journey if we can see, with the eye of faith, him who is invisible.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Poy39KiLVzo[/embedyt]
17 - John10 30

17 Apr: Daily Readings and Thought for April 17th. “I AND MY FATHER ARE ONE”

 

 In his Gospel John records several challenging sayings of Jesus.  How are we to understand, “I and my Father are one” in today’s chapter 10 (v.30)?  In what sense are they “one”?  We know he prayed to his father all night on at least one occasion. (Luke 6 v.12) and in his prayer in the garden of Gethsemane he said, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” [Matt.26 v.39]  So we ask, in what sense was Jesus “one” with his Father when they had separate ‘wills’?  We will soon read [Ch. 14] and his words, “I am going to the Father for the Father is greater than I” [v.28].  

The solution to this conundrum unfolds in Ch. 17 in his final prayer before his betrayal. He is praying for his disciples and says, “I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me” [v.10].  It was after his all night prayer (in Luke 6) that Jesus chose his 12 disciples (v.12-16).  Now note the verses which follow in John 17. Our Lord prays, “I am coming to you Holy Father, keep them in your name … that they may be one, even as we are one.” [v.11]    His prayer for his disciples is that they may have unity of mind, a unity of understanding creating a harmonious team in carrying on his work after he ascended to heaven. Up until this stage there had been times of jealousy, a competition “among them as to which of them was the greatest” [Luke 9 v.46]  

    Jesus, and God his Father, had a unique oneness – and this was to be the disciple’s role model. But Jesus extends his vision of oneness further, he prays, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us …” [v.20,21] 

All those who believe the original gospel as established by the disciples’ preaching should aim to be “one” in this wonderful way.  Those who have achieved and maintained this wonderful oneness will be the ones to reign with him when he returns to set up his world-wide kingdom.  Paul was very conscious of this and stressed this.  He counselled the Ephesians to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace … just as you were called in the one hope … one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all” [Ch.4 v. 3-6]

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mM3qshdSBg[/embedyt]
16 - John8 11

15 Apr: Daily Readings and Thought for April 16th. “NEITHER DO I CONDEMN YOU

 

 One of the best known and most quoted incidents in the life of Jesus is when “the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery” [John 8 v.3] and hypocritically asked him what judgement should be made. We deduce that their wily minds reasoned that if he agreed with their statement that “in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women” [v.5] they would carry this out and then put all the blame on him before the Roman authorities, for the Romans had taken away their right to put anyone to death – that is why later they had to bring Jesus to Pilate. If on the other hand Jesus said she should not be stoned, they would make a big point of this before all the people – saying he did not uphold the Law.  They expectantly asked him, “So what do you say?” [v.5]  He did not answer but “bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground” [v.6].  We are tempted to speculate what he wrote, maybe some account of her accusers sins!  

Then comes the sequel which most Christians know well, “he stood up and said, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” [v.7].  The result was that “they went away one by one beginning with the older ones” [v.9].  Alone with the woman, Jesus asks, “ ‘has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘1’ ” But then he adds, “go, and from now on sin no more.” [v.10,11]

What a wonderful testimony to the mercy and compassion of Christ toward those conscious of their sins.   But how is it possible to “sin no more”?  Was Jesus asking the impossible?  John’s First Letter provides us with some words to think about as we look at this question.   He writes, “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil” [3 v.8].  We read 2 days ago Jesus said to his 12 disciples, “one of you is a devil.” [John.6 v.70], he knew Judas Iscariot had sold his soul to sinful ways.

Those who have not done so, but struggle with sin, should note what John writes in his epistle, “”let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.  By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything” [1 John 3 v.18-20]  It is good to read the whole context of the point John is making.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxD9ptPgTqo[/embedyt]
15 - John7 17

15 Apr: Daily Readings and Thought for April 15th. “IF ANYONE’S WILL IS TO DO GOD’S WILL”

 

The Gospel of John is particularly soul stirring as we read it.  We learn much detailed information about parts of the ministry of our Lord, filling some of the ‘gaps’ in the other gospels. We learn that the centre of opposition to Jesus was in Jerusalem and this began quite early, see Ch. 5 v.1,18.  

Today’s chapter (7) begins by telling us; “after this Jesus went about in Galilee.  He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him.”  In Mark we are told how “the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul …” [3 v.22]  So, because he spent much of his time in Galilee, the growing opposition went out to try to sow seeds of opposition to him there – and anywhere else he went.

Today we learn that Jesus returned to Jerusalem in the middle of the feast “and began teaching” and they “marvelled” at his teaching saying, “How is it that this man has learning when he has never studied?” [v.15]  This means, he never did like Paul did, who was “educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law” [Acts 22 v.3] 

To this Jesus answers, “My teaching is not mine but his who sent me.  If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am teaching on my own authority.” [v.16,17] How would they know?  Through having a good knowledge of the scriptures.  

    We can make a comparison here with Christianity today where Churches have seminaries to train people for the ministry.  Yet, in all our own contact with those so trained it becomes apparent that actual Bible reading forms only a minor part of their training: they are unfamiliar with many parts of it. The end of today’s chapter shows that the Jewish leaders argued that as “no prophet arises from Galilee” [v.52] they rejected him and all that he taught and the miracles he did.   But two of what we call ‘minor’ prophets, Nahum and Jonah, had come from that area – and in any case to reason that God’s prophets had to come from particular places was human thinking.  Today, just as much as in those days, if we are really serious about knowing God and the real truth about the divine message of salvation we must read His word regularly and act upon what we read after we have digested it carefully to get a correct understanding.
[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrLfS1wJnvc[/embedyt]

 

14 -Num33 52

14 Apr: Daily Readings and Thought for April 14th. “THEN YOU SHALL DRIVE OUT ALL … “

 

 In the book of Numbers we now read of Moses giving his final instructions to the people as the LORD directed him. The people had completed their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, all the unfaithful had died and now their children under the leadership of faithful Joshua together with Caleb and the faithful Levites would cross the Jordan to enter the promised land.  It occurred to us that there is a parallel in this to what is to soon occur when Christ establishes his world-wide kingdom. Think about this.  The LORD tells Moses as they are “by the Jordan at Jericho, saying, ‘Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you pass over the Jordan …  then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you and destroy all their figured stones and destroy all their metal images and demolish all their high places.” [Ch. 33 v.50-52]

Similarly, when God sends Jesus back to this earth it will be a time of “punishing the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity” [Isaiah 13 v.11], but it will also surely be a time of removing all the things that people “worship” today!  All the things which are the equivalent of what the Canaanites had built and worshipped! Some of the things that will no longer exist are obvious; the Casinos and gaming houses for example.  If TV, DVDs etc are to continue to be available, there will be a huge purging of the godless things in them that pander to human lust. 

Jesus said, “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin” [Matt. 13 v.41]. When the people of Israel entered the promised land initially they were full of zeal and destroyed cities like Jericho, but they failed to complete the work and so the warning of Moses we read today came true.  That which they “let remain shall be as barbs and thorns in your side and they shall trouble you” [v.55].

It is obvious, with Christ in control as the King of the world, this will not happen in his kingdom.  We need to make sure we develop a mindset now that will welcome and fully appreciate a cleansed earth. Pollution will be removed from the physical earth and also from the minds of the people.  Concerning the future Jerusalem God told Jeremiah, “I will bring to it health and healing … this city shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth” [Ch.33 v.6,9]  How wonderful to be there! 

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8v19Jvqr44[/embedyt]
13 - John5 42

13 Apr: Daily Readings and Thought for April 13th. “YOU DO NOT HAVE THE LOVE OF GOD WITHIN YOU”

 

Who did Jesus say the above words to – and why?   The detail of the discussions of Jesus in the Gospel of John make marvellous reading because they provoke us to think very deeply. This is a special benefit of the Apostle’s possession of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, for John later tells us that Jesus had said that the Spirit “will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” [14 v.26] 

In today’s chapter (5) Jesus encounters the Jews in the temple. They appeared, to some extent, to be seeking while at the same time their opposition to him was starting to build up.  Jesus reminds them of their attitude and interest in John the Baptist. “You sent to John … He was a burning and a shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for awhile in his light.” [v.33,35]   They were looking for the Messiah, “the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John” [Luke 3 v.15]   These Jews went for that reason, but they did not really know what they were looking for, they had read the Scriptures with one eye closed!  And does that not happen today!  Did they really believe in God?   Today, many still believe there is a God, but if you say, ‘Do you believe IN God?’ what do they say?  Many do not really know what you mean! 

Jesus words’ to these Jews provoke our thoughts on this most vital question, he tells them, “His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you”. [v.37,38] God’s word must “abide” – must come alive in our minds. Now the climax to the Master’s words! “I know that you do not have the love of God within you.” [v.42]  Their attitude proved this, Jesus had said, “you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory (honour) from people.” [v.41,42] See the meaning of that last comment? Their minds were centred on the here and now, human relationships and the potential for prestige; this is why the love of God was not within them.  Tragic really – and tragedy was to follow.  So we ask ourselves – is the love of God really within us? 

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxA4ot8NhTQ[/embedyt]