Sunday, 29 October 2017

The Lord vs The Temple

A few thoughts regarding the temple and the Lord Jesus.

The temple was something for God on earth, and how true that was of the Lord Jesus Christ! He truly was something for God down here on earth, he was God manifest in the flesh, and he daily brought pleasure and delight to his father God as he walked down here. He walked and worked always in the current of God's will and exclusively for his glory. Unfortunately, in the Lord's day the same could not be said of the temple.

Let's look at a few verses together...

The Lord Jesus Presented in the Temple as a Baby (Luke 2)
The first time we read of the Lord Jesus in the temple we read of the encounter with Simeon, that ageing righteous and devout man; “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

What tremendous words! Of course these could only be said of the Saviour, for only he was the light of the world, and the Saviour of sinners.

The Boy Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2)
We remember that as a boy of 12 when discovered by his parents in the temple he could say; "Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?"

Truly the Saviour was ever driven by the work that he had been sent to do, and that single purpose drove his every word, thought and deed.

Jesus Cleanses the Temple (John 2)
"And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!”"

His disciples recorded the zeal he had for the things of his father God. Sadly a place for God had become a place for men. The things of God were now secondary to the convenience and greed of men. The temple had become corrupted and defiled, and needed such a cleansing.

How lovely to remember that our Lord Jesus could never be corrupted or defiled! There was never anything that needed to be removed, or purged out, for he was "all fair without, all pure within!"

"Thy stainless life, Thy lovely walk,
In every aspect true,
From the defilement all around,
No taint of evil drew."

The Woman Caught in Adultery (John 8)
We go from the Sinless One to a sinful woman, what a contrast! Here the Lord Jesus in the temple courts was presented with one who was a sinner of some repute, there could be no doubt of that, as she was caught in the very act. Here the Saviour taught those hard-hearted and hypocritical Scribes and Pharisees, that sin could be dealt with righteously AND forgiven! He taught them that grace and compassion were just as important as truth and righteousness, and he had come to provide that more excellent way, a way for sinners to be saved. Remember he could say “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

His words are lovely; "And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”"

The Widow's Mites (Mark 12)
"Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.”"

This woman was noted by the Lord, and he took the time to call his disciple to him and use her as an example to show the value of true giving, as God sees it. She had cast in all that she had, and the Saviour noted it, how lovely! I thought of another at the temple that day who 'gave all', of course our Lord Jesus Christ. The Saviour spoke of the abundance of men that day, compare this to the Saviour himself, the most abundant one! The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof... all things were made by him and for him... he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor. He humbled himself in coming down from the realms of glory into this sinful world. And he knew physical poverty whilst he was here too.

In going to Calvary however, he truly gave all - he gave himself! He 'offered himself without spot to God'... the use of sacrificial language there in Hebrews not without significance, as we think about the temple as being a place of sacrifices and offerings.

We praise God for the Lord Jesus Christ! Well might he have said in Matthew 12 "Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple."


Monday, 9 October 2017


We are often exhorted (and rightly so) to direct our hearts and minds towards the Saviour when we gather to remember him on a Lord's Day morning. To take a fresh glimpse with the eye of faith as it were and 'behold' him, in other words to survey his person and character and meditate upon him. This can only be a good thing, as it will surely draw out worship from our hearts!

I was thinking of a series of scriptures that use this word 'behold' in connection with the Lord Jesus and hope that it draws our eye towards him again. I shall list the ones I was thinking of briefly here, with little or no comment, so you can add your own thoughts and meditations.

  1. "Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth..." Isa 42:1
    1. Here is the prophet speaking the mind of God, speaking of the Lord Jesus, the perfect servant
    2. A man in whom his soul delights, how different from all other men! He was daily his delight (Pro 8)
  2. "And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child... Luke 2:34
    1. What a statement! Behold this child... the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us!
  3. "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." John 1:29
    1. The Lord Jesus at the commencement of his earthly ministry
    2. The perfect spotless Lamb of God (hinting back to the Passover Lamb)
    3. Also hinting forward to the time he would offer himself as the Lamb, without spot to God for the sins of the world
    4. As they turned to behold, they would see a normal man, no beauty that they should desire him!
  4. "and they say, 'Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'" Matthew 11:19
    1. This was the Jews perspective, their assessment!
    2. What a friend we have in Jesus!
    3. The common people heard him gladly
    4. He cam not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance
  5. "Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!" John 11:36
    1. For once their assessment was correct! Him whom thou lovest is sick...
    2. A glimpse at his humanity - he is touched by the feelings of our infirmities!
    3. A man of sorrows...
    4. How we could put this statement over the cross, in relation to ourselves, behold how he loves us!
  6. "Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!... and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!" John 19:5 & 14
    1. His suffering at the hands of men - their mocking tones
    2. They set him at nought
  7. "And the people stood beholding." Luke 23:35
    1. The scene at Calvary, what a sight would have met their eyes...
    2. His visage was marred more than any mans
    3. His pierced hands and his feet, his precious blood shed!
    4. "See from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down!"
  8. "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." Luke 24:39
    1. A risen Saviour, we believe it and rejoice!
    2. Lovely words - "that it is I myself!"
  9. "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world." John 17:24
    1. What a wonderful prospect awaits us!
    2. Faith will give place to sight, we shall see his face!
    3. "but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." 1 John 3:2

I trust these simple thoughts will be a help and blessing to us all.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

The Other Side

A few references of this little recurring phrase "the other side" from the scriptures that relate to our story as believers:

The Other Side of the Flood (Joshua 24)
This really means the other side of the great river Euphrates, not the flood as recorded in Genesis 7. Joshua is reminding the people of their origin - far away as idolaters in Ur of the Chaldees and Haran of Canaan!
This was what they used to be before the sovereign grace of God took them from thence and brought them into the purposes and blessings of God.
This is the 'bigger picture' if you will, and of course the same story is true of us! Before we were saved we were lost in darkness, and far away from God.
They are reminded in this chapter that God 'took, led, gave, multiplied' and so on - we are really seeing the sovereign overriding actions of God in the history of His people. Surely we can look back and see similar big movements in our life that we now know was God's guidance and overruling in our lives.

The Other Side of the Road (Luke 10)
Here by contrast we are reminded of the personal love, mercy and compassion of the Saviour, as he moves towards the plight of the needy and helpless sinner.
We are reminded in the parable of the good Samaritan that all others passed by on the other side of the road. But thank God He would not pass the sinner by!
We are reminded that he 'came to where he was', and so he came to where we were; "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."
The Amplified version offers a lovely rendering - "...came upon him, and when he saw him, he was deeply moved with compassion for him, and went to him..."
As a side-note it is touching to consider that when it came to his sufferings upon Calvary, there were many that 'passed by'...
I am reminded of the words in Lamentations which can be applied prophetically to him; "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow..."

The Other Side of the Lake (Mark 4)
Here we are thinking about our practical day to day relationship with Christ,as we journey with him.
He says "Let us pass over to the other side" and so it is that Christ bids us journey with him! We are not alone, but we travel with him through life by faith.
There may well be storms and the going may be tough, but Christ is with us and he will not forsake us through the storm. We must trust in him so that after passing through it we can exclaim in worship as we think of his kindness and goodness through the storm; "What manner of man is this...?"

The Other Side of Jordan (Joshua 2)
Here we are looking back on life's experience, taking stock if you will. Rahab recounts to the spies the great victories and triumphs of the people of God from the other side of Jordan.
Of course hopefully we can look back and recount the highs, the triumphs, the victories, the times when we made a stand or overcame.
The question is - are we still getting victories, or are the days of victories long gone?
But we can still get victories today, I hope we believe that! We must encourage ourselves and not give up, we can still have triumphs and highs in our Christian lives going forward, with God's help and strength.
"I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me"
"But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

We trust these simple thoughts concerning "the other side" might be a blessing and an encouragement to us.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Romans 8:38-39 - The Love of God

Let us look at these verses and draw out some observations regarding the love of God, but first some general points:

God, in manifesting His love, manifests Himself! God is love...
He is the perfect expression of love, the embodiment of it!
"Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us..." 1 Jn 3:1

THE CHANNEL OF IT : "In Christ Jesus"
He is the Mediator - the man Christ Jesus
He is the Door, the Way, the ladder reaching from earth to heaven!
"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because God sent his only Son... that we might live through Him" 1 Jn 4:9

THE OBJECT OF IT : "...separate US..."
Wonder of wonders! What is man that thou art mindful of him?!
"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." 1 Jn 4:10
"...the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Gal 2:20

THE POWER OF IT : "...neither death... etc"
Nothing can separate us from the love of God - it is too powerful!
Nothing in life (v35), and nothing after life (v38)
"Love never faileth"
"Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it"
How much more the love of God?!

THE ASSURANCE OF IT : "I am persuaded"
In other words; "I am convinced (and continue to be convinced, beyond any doubt)" AMP
"...and we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love..."

THE CHALLENGE OF IT : "That ye love one another, as I have loved you"
Such amazing love as depicted here in Romans 8 challenges us as per the words of our Lord above in John 13.
"Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another" 1 Jn 4:11
"Husbands love our wives, even as Christ loved the Church" Eph 5:25
And the Words of the Lord Jesus again; "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" John 13:35

Monday, 4 September 2017

What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour?

This was the question posed by king Ahasuerus to the evil man Haman in Esther 6:6
The question provoked some thoughts in my own mind, devotional thoughts concerning our Lord Jesus, and I trust they are beneficial to you as they were to me.
The great question was asked;

"What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour?"

Of course the word 'delighteth' would surely remind us of God the Father's tremendous love and delight for his Son, the Perfect Servant in Isaiah chapter 42; "Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth..."
Proverbs 8 tells us "Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him"
He always brought pleasure and delight to the heart of God!

The subsequent verses in Esther 6 show us Haman's response, and they provide a poignant comparison to our blessed Lord Jesus, the One who was worthy of all honour!

1. "Let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear"
Of course we remember the scene at the judgement hall, where they stripped him of his garments and mockingly arrayed him in a purple robe. "Behold the man!" Pilate proclaimed.
At Calvary we read that they "...crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots."

2. "...and the horse that the king rideth upon... bring him on horseback through the street of the city..."
The horse was to add splendour, and grandeur to the man whom the king delights to honour. The horse was to lift up that worthy one from the dust of the streets, to bear him along in ease and comfort.
We are reminded of the scene as they Saviour went out to Calvary; "And he bearing his cross went forth..."
It is touching to remind ourselves of the Saviours walk that day, far from the splendour and grandeur that was reserved for the man whom the king delights to honour.
Of course there would be a time when the Saviour would be lifted up from the dust of the street, and it would be via the cross on which they hung him, suspended between heaven and earth.
"If I be lifted up..."

3. "...and the crown royal which is set upon his head..."

"And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head... and smote him on the head."

4. "...and proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour."
What was the cry that day? "But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him"
That was their proclamation and estimation of the one in whom God delights.

Of course we are thankful, that the sufferings were followed by glory, and we are reminded of the words of Philippians 2;

"Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 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; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

God's estimation is final and will stand for all eternity!

"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing." Rev 5:12

Sunday, 27 August 2017

A Few Scriptures Concerning The Soul...

I was struck by the words of one of the hymns in our hymn book recently:

"To Him who suffered on the tree,
 Our souls at His soul's price, to gain, 
Blessing, and praise, and glory be: 
'Worthy the Lamb, for He was slain!'" 

He died the just one for the unjust ones, to bring us to God, as 1 Pet 3:18 tells us. An amazing thing, that the Son of God loved me and gave himself for me (Paul in Gal 2:20)

Let's link a few scriptures relating to the soul;

"God breathed into man the breath of life, and man became a living soul" (Gen 2:7)
We are going back to the beginning… we are created in God's own image, created for God's pleasure and to bring glory to Him.
The Fall - man brought sin into the world, and sin broke that special relationship with God.

"What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matt 16:26) 
Nothing more valuable than the soul! It's worth is incalculable, and nothing we can offer can be given in exchange for it... it took the precious blood of Christ in order to redeem/purchase the soul (Our souls at His soul's price, to gain…)

"He poured out His soul unto death" (Isa 53:12) 
To Calvary, the place of sacrifice… The great mystery of Calvary, that the one who knows neither beginning or end should 'taste death for every man'(Heb 2:9) and become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross... (Phil 2:8) Note the language used by the prophet, he poured out His soul unto death... a deliberate, voluntary and measured act. Of us it is said that we are 'as water spilt upon the ground' (2 Sam 14:14) this is accidental, involuntary, beyond our control.

"He shall see of the travail (anguish) of his soul, and shall be satisfied" (Isa 53:11)
Wonder of wonders - that He should look out upon the multitudes of sinners saved by grace and be satisfied!
The sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow (1 Pet 1:11)
Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
Now nothing but glory for Him! Praise Him!

"To Him who suffered on the tree,
 Our souls at His soul's price, to gain, 
Blessing, and praise, and glory be: 
'Worthy the Lamb, for He was slain!'" 

Monday, 1 May 2017

Luke 7 - devotional thoughts

I was thinking about Luke 7 and some of the lovely things the Spirit of God shows us there concerning the Lord Jesus.

A Beloved Servant - verses 1-10
The account of the centurion's servant. Scripture records he was 'dear unto him' the Revised Version says 'precious', I quite like that rendering. Of course our minds go to the other 'Beloved Servant', of whom Isaiah said "Behold my servant... in whom my soul delighteth"...
We remember that he did always those things that pleased the Father... we remember that he was always about his Father's business.
His was a life of faultless and perfect service. A life lived for others!
Conversely we think of the cruel yet true words of the scribes and the Pharisees at Calvary who said, "he saved others, himself he cannot save". But his service for God was perfect and complete, he could cry from the cross "it is finished!" Praise God for the finished work of Calvary!

An Only Begotten Son - verses 11-18
Here we have the widow of Nain mourning the death of her only son, what a sad and desperate scene.
We think of another beloved son, an only begotten son!
"This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased"
John 3:16 tells us that "...He gave His only begotten Son..."
We remember that he spared not his Son, but delivered him up for us all.
As we think about Christ as the Son of God, we think again of the words of the scribes and Pharisees on Calvary - "He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God."
We bless God that He could say from the cross "FATHER, into Thy hands I commend my spirit"
God raised him from the dead the third day and he ascended to God's right hand where he lives forevermore!

A Worshipping Sinner - verses 36-50
As we look at the close of the chapter and we see that sinful woman creep into the house of Simon the Pharisee and worship the Lord Jesus with that outpouring of affection and devotion, surely in this we see a picture of ourselves today?
The Lord could say to her "thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace" surely this is our situation as we worship the Saviour? Sinners saved by grace, we return to give God the thanks and the praise for the person and work of his beloved Son.
The Saviours words in response to the disgust and cynicism of Simon are lovely - "her sins, which are many are forgiven, for she loved much"
We remember that we love Him because He first loved us... whom having not seen ye love.
Again we contrast these lovely scenes with the Saviour with the cold hearted thoughts of the Pharisee, he poured scorn on the notion that this Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God, as he had dared to let such a sinful woman into his presence let alone touch him!
Not so with the Saviour - our blessed Lord used the opportunity to teach Simon a valuable lesson in love...
So it is with us - that we should ever enter into the presence of God to speak well of his Son and worship Him. What a blessing and privilege is ours!

"He brings a poor vile sinner, into His house of wine!"

God bless.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Great is thy faithfulness!

Recently I went to visit my 90 year old grandma in her old folks home, and I wanted to share some verses with her to encourage her. I thought about it and settled on the following verses which are no doubt well known to many, and have inspired hymn writers - Lamentations 3:22-26

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning, great is thy faithfulness.
The Lord is my portion says my soul, therefore will I hope in him.
The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."

I think these verses are poignant and profound! How good it would be to every day appreciate and think about the many blessings I have that evidence the great faithfulness of the Lord.

God bless.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

What a difference a day makes...

So last night was pretty intense... I posted briefly about the present difficulties we are facing with our house, the new baby and the general 'business' of life. I prayed with my children last night that we would hopefully hear something very soon about our house, and it certainly was an impassioned plea, to which the boys gladly chimed in with their own pleas to the Lord! They were so excited about the house, and all the waiting has definitely had an unsettling effect on them.

Well today we heard that the delay is over! Hopefully things will move to a speedy conclusion now and we can think about moving in within the next few weeks. What a tremendous answer to prayer that is! It felt so good to have that burden of worry and uncertainty lifted from me, I gave a prayer of thanks to the Lord!

How fitting were the words I posted last night? "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

I was thinking about the words of the Psalmist, in response to today's news: "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever." Psa 107:1

Right now, I'm feeling very thankful, and rejoicing in the Lord's goodness.

God bless.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

A word for today...

So there has been a long absence for the believers blog, and that is because I have been massively waylaid over the last year or so with family and church commitments, and with life being so full and busy it has been nigh on impossible to clear one's head and get back own to business with the site.

But, I have found myself in front of the laptop and thought it nigh time to get into a healthy habit of pouring out some of my spiritual musings into the site. This I hope will be cathartic for me, as I grapple with the difficulties and pressures of my life, and may also be encouraging to someone else who may be going through similar circumstances. That is of course if anyone is out there reading this?! Please leave a comment below!

So things have been very difficult over the last few months... as a family we had a new addition in March so we are now up to 4 children. She has not proved to be an easy baby, needing frequent feeds and a lot of personal attention and not wanting to go down on her back! This has had a greater impact on us as a couple as the last 2 children we had were so easy! So the sleep deprivation has really kicked in this time. All of this wouldn't be so bad had we been in our own house, but with a 4th child on the way, we simply had to move out of our 2 bedroom terraced house. All of this was bad timing, as trying to get a large mortgage being self-employed is extremely difficult and stressful. Nevertheless we managed to get one and sold our house with no problems, and we were thankful to God for his goodness in that regard. We agreed a deal in December on our next house which we were super excited about... but we are still waiting to move in. What should have been a short wait of a few weeks for probate to go through has turned into a 4 month extended stay at my in-laws. Whilst we have greatly appreciated their tremendous hospitality and help it has not been ideal, what with all our possessions being in storage, a new baby coming along, and daily journeys back to our old town for school and church etc. The situation has produced a lot of worry and stress and an overwhelming (sometimes) feeling of anxiety.

But I was reading the scriptures and thought these words brought me some comfort in amongst the anxiety and worry that we are currently going through, found in Matthew ch6:

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

The verses spoke to me - don't worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will look after itself, today has enough trouble of it's own! I can't explain why it helped, but the scriptures are often like that, they have a way of speaking to our souls, through the Holy Spirit, and so it was on this occasion. How often the words of the Saviour can bring comfort and encouragement in difficult times!

Have you had a similar experience? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

God bless.

1 Kings 19: Elijah and God

I was listening to a podcast the other day which was speaking about 1 Kings 19 and it reminded me of how very relevant this passage is to ou...