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

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...