A New Commandment

(John 13:31-35)

helping hand
A New Commandment Jesus gave to love one another as He loved, by serving and helping his people.

At the time of the last supper Jesus spoke to the disciples saying that He would give them a new commandment. He charged them specifically and in this new commandment brought together all of the essence of His teachings into a single sentence.

In part this new commandment He gave was restating the great commandment of the law. For the basis of both the old commandments and this new commandment is love, that is, the love of God.

And yet also in this new commandment He is giving a new basis for us as Christians to understand His love and the relationships which set us apart from the rest of the world. This new commandment is powerful for when it is being applied, we will be seen for what we are, the true followers of Jesus Christ.

Continue reading “A New Commandment”

For God So Loved The World

(John 3:16)

How many people have quoted this scripture? It is probably the most recognized scripture in the bible and has been immortalized in poetry, song and verse by many writers and musicians. And with good reason for it encapsulates in a few words the awesome purpose of God for man and the Creation. These few words written by a fisherman two thousand years ago have captured the minds, hearts and spirits of so many that I am humbled even considering adding to the liturgy that already exists. So I will be brief and speak about what see in these words.

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

Continue reading “For God So Loved The World”

Do You Know How to Set Your Moral GPS?

(Luke 12:57-59)

For years we have heard about there needing to be a moral compass in people’s lives. Well I guess in this high tech age we live in, we need to update that and set a “Moral GPS.” Most people know what a GPS is (or a compass) as it helps to guide and direct you so you don’t get lost. It is important that as human beings we too don’t get lost, and I’m not talking about being “geographically challenged,” but rather being lost in our compassrelationships with our fellow man. Here is what Jesus had to say about your moral GPS. Continue reading “Do You Know How to Set Your Moral GPS?”

The Good Samaritan

(Luke 10:29-37)

Yesterday we saw that the Lord showed there is eternal life in keeping the law. A lawyer came to Jesus asking how to inherit eternal life and Jesus told him if he kept the two great laws, to love God and to love your neighbour, you would inherit life. But there is a better way to have life and that is through Jesus Christ and the teachings of the New Covenant.

Now this lawyer, like many people, tried to justify himself. Being a lawyer he wanted a definition of who or what was meant by loving your neighbour, so he asked, “And, who is my neighbour?” (verse 29) In response Jesus told him the story of the Good Samaritan.

The Good Samaritan

Most people know this story. In it we see a man attacked and left wounded. A priest and a Levite, who was a holy man, passed by and seeing him crossed and passed him on the other side of the road. But the Samaritan on seeing him tended to his wounds, placed him on his own beast and carried him to an inn. He instructed the innkeeper to tend to him and that he would pay all expenses.

Love Thy Neighbour

This is one of the classic teachings from the bible about love and compassion. It is one of the great examples of where the law to love thy neighbour is seen in action.

The love of God is not seen in the depictions shown in Hollywood or in books and magazines. The love of God is shown in deeds and actions and how we behave with other people.

There is also another dimension to this too. It is the aspect of having the opportunity to make a difference. As Paul wrote, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10)

The Good Samaritan had the opportunity to do good and he took that opportunity to help. The priest and the Levite also had the same opportunity and yet did nothing. It is when we have the opportunity and take it that we show the love of God.

And this is important for we see that some will be rejected who do not take and use the opportunities that are presented to them. Jesus showed this when he taught in Matthew 25:32-46 saying that when we did or did not assist one of the least of those whom he loved we were serving or failing to serve Christ himself.

A Better Way

So carrying on from the section discussed in the previous post, this has taken the ability to inherit eternal life from mere law keeping to the process of perfection and walking in love.

If we are to live with Christ and the Father into eternity, it is essential that we learn how to live and behave in love towards our brethren. His kingdom is governed by love. Unlike the kingdoms of this earth that are governed by control, law and fear of punishment for breaking the law, God’s kingdom is governed by love.

This is a better way because unlike today where people will push boundaries and do what they can get away with, often only doing the right thing for fear of judgement and punishment, in God’s kingdom people will do what is right because it is right. They will do what is right because they love what is right. And love will rule in peace.

Vengeance is Mine, or is it?

(Luke 9:51-56)

Do you ever feel like taking revenge when someone does something against you? Do you ever feel angered or hateful against someone who does not believe as you do or even opposes what you believe?

Let me give you an example. Last week I attended a conference and for one session I sat next to this person and we got to chatting. I told this person that I wrote a Christian blog and this person then told me they wrote a psychic/spiritualist blog. The person then made the comment that, “It seems we are two sides of the spiritual coin.”

So let me ask you, should I hate this person because they are opposed to what I believe? Should I shun them or do what the Apostles John and James proposed to do to the town that did not receive them in the above scripture?

Flame from the sky

Jesus and his band of followers were rejected from a Samaritan town they approached on their way to Jerusalem. James and John were so indignant they said to the Lord, “Lord, do you want us to bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?” (Verse 54)

So in my situation should I have likewise condemned this person who, it could be argued, is a lot more opposed to the Lord than those Samaritans were? Should I have sought the Lord to send fire from the sky to consume this person?

I would be interested in your thoughts and opinions so please provide any comments you might have. But let me also explain my thinking on this matter and you can tell me if you agree or think I should have acted differently.

Who has the right to judge?

Jesus did not judge people and condemn them for he taught that they are judged by someone else. He said, “Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; it is Moses who accuses you, on whom you set your hope.” (John 5:45) In this he is saying that it is the law given by Moses by which people are judged and condemned. Jesus did not judge so, I ask you, why should I?

But do I have the right then to hate this person and thus condemn them for their opposite position to the truth? No I don’t. Jesus taught us that the Christian position is different to what was done under the law of Moses. Moses taught that, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But Jesus taught, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45)

To be a follower of Jesus is to raise the bar to a higher level. We are being trained to be like Him and that means we also must love our enemies.

Is revenge sweet?

So how should I behave when confronted with this person who was a spiritualist? I should hate the deeds and hate the values this person stood for, but not hate the person themself. That is not for me to judge, it is the Lord’s decision.

How am I to know what the Lord is doing with this person? There is no doubt they are seeking matters of the spirit, it’s just that they have gone down the completely wrong road. But if my behaviour towards this person is to shun and judge them with anger or revulsion, then how is that a good witness for Christ? Who knows whether my good behaviour may cause this person to re-evaluate their thoughts about Christians and Christianity?

But if they do not change their ways, that is the Lord’s work and place to judge. And any person who does oppose him will be judged. But it is not my place to take revenge and I should leave it to the Lord for he said, “If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:18-21)

I truly hope this person turns and sees they have gone down the wrong path. I hope this for all of mankind, but I know most will not come to God. In this situation I continued to speak to this person, but not about spiritual matters. I was unable to move away, and so stayed until the end of the session after which I left.

The disciples sought fire to come from heaven to consume the Samaritan town, but Jesus rebuked them saying, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man came not to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” (Verse 55 footnote)

We as Christians are of the spirit of God and our charge is to do good to all and not seek vengeance. Vengeance from God will come at the right time and in the right measure for he will repay every person according to what they have done, said and where they stand.

So tell me, what would you have done differently?

You might also like:

Teachings on the Higher Call of Christ
The Standards of Christianity

Feeding the Multitude

(Luke 9:10-17)

OK, Jesus created matter from nothing! I’m not going to get into the science of this, (because I don’t have a clue how he did it), but it is evident from this section of scripture that Jesus did exactly this. For hundreds of years alchemists have tried to transform matter such as base metals into gold, but without success. Jesus though took a few loaves of bread and some small fish and transformed them into a feast that fed five thousand people.

Feeding the Five Thousand

feeding the multitudeThere is no doubt that this was not a difficult task for Jesus. He had the power and authority as well as the understanding of how to do a miracle such as this.

The people recognised it for the miracle that it was, and in another version of this event they were going to take him by force to make him king! Amazing what people will do for a good feed sometimes!

But the reasons why Jesus fed the people were several. First they were a long way from anywhere they could get food and he was concerned for them that they might faint for lack of food on the way to a town. Second he did it because he cared for the people in all aspects of their lives, not just the spiritual dimension but the physical also. Third, he was manifesting this sign to back up the teaching that he had just given them for he was preaching the word of God and this sign confirmed it WAS the word of God.

A More Important Reason for the Sign

But there is another reason why Jesus performed this sign. In another version he said, “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal.” (John 6:27)

The people were being fed the spiritual bread and the food that would lead to eternal life, which are the teachings of Christ. Jesus tells them not to chase after the things of this world, the food and all of the things that perish in this life. Instead he told them to seek the bread of life, the teachings the will lead to eternal life with Christ. This is the food and the most valuable thing in this world that we should strive after.

Jesus Welcomed the People

There is another point in this scripture worth noting and that is the attitude of Jesus. He had gone aside with the disciples to this lonely place for rest, but when the people heard where he was they came to him.

He was constantly being followed by the people for they could not get enough of his teaching and seeing the signs he performed. It must have been difficult for there was nowhere he could escape to from this constant press of people.

But was he annoyed? Did he tell them to go away and come another time? Did he try to hide from the people or use the disciples as a personal bodyguard to keep the people away as celebrities do today? No, he did none of those things.

We see in verse 11 that when the crowds came to him he welcomed them. He did this because they needed the word of God, as do people today. They were helpless and he describes the people in this way:

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:36-38)

Sheep without a shepherd. Harassed by the religious leaders and the rulers of the day and nowhere to turn for comfort or salvation…until Jesus came along. He did not reject or seek to be separate from the people. He taught them and comforted them. He fed them physical and spiritual food. He healed their sick, cast out demons, raised their dead and most important of all…he gave them hope.

What the World Needs Today

The world today is no different. We may not be able to feed the five thousand as Jesus did, but we can still give those around us hope. When you consider the problems and issues in the world, is it any wonder people suffer. Economic woes, crash of the monetary systems, crime, wars, escalating immorality, authority undermined and governments that seem impotent to change anything.

But in Christ Jesus we have hope for a better life both here and later on. In Christ we see that the issues and problems of this world do have answers and they are occurring for a reason. Many of these issues were foretold in prophecy thousands of years ago and as a result, when armed with the knowledge of God’s plan, we have hope and do not fear as the world does. Your faith will carry you through all things so look to Jesus and you will receive salvation.

(Clipart sourced from ChristiansUnite.com http://clipart.christiansunite.com/)

You might also like:

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
Feeding the Four Thousand
Jesus Feeds the Crowd

God Is Merciful

(Luke 6:32-36)

There is a saying frequently used in the world today.

“You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours!”

It has nothing to do with having an itchy back, but is saying that if you help me out than I’ll help you. It is all about payback. Give me something so that I can give you something in return.scratch my back

But the reverse also applies as well. If you DON’T scratch my back, then don’t expect anything in return. If you want something from me then you have to give me something first. First I get then I’ll give.

This is not the way that God works.

The Love of God

In this section of scripture Jesus shows us the love of God. He says, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?” (Verse 32)

Any time you give something that is conditional, it is no credit to you at all. It doesn’t matter what it is, if there are strings attached or conditions on the giving then it is not coming from a pure and sincere heart.

But God gives to all of mankind all good things, not because man deserves it, but because God is good, kind and merciful. Does God expect anything in return from man? No. God HOPES that man will appreciate the gifts of God and seek him out and give thanks for the things he receives, but God does not expect it.

It is because God is good and the love of God is pure that he does these things for us. And there are many people who expressly and boldly state through words or actions that they do not believe God and even hate him. Yet still God does not turn them away and take away his gifts. Still he shows them mercy in the hope that they will turn around and recognise the great gifts and the opportunities that God has given them.

Learn to Be Like God

We are called as Christians to learn to be like God.

In Jesus we see the fullness of God and we can learn from his examples. The Love of God shows us that we should love our enemies and pray for those who oppose and persecute us.

Why should we do good to our enemies when every human instinct is to attack? We do it because we are being trained to behave, think and act like God. We do it in the hope that they will see our good behaviour and repent of their evil. We do it because it is the right thing to do and it is what God would do.

God has shown us great mercy in forgiving our sins and giving us the opportunity for life. We need to do the same to our fellow man. When we have been wronged, we need to forgive and show the same mercy that God has shown to us, for as Christians we too once were the enemies of God.

How to Behave like God

At the start of this post I said that the way of the world is, “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours!” The way of the world is that FIRST you give me something and then I’ll give you something. First you scratch my back and then I’ll scratch yours.

But God’s love and wisdom is the opposite to this worldly way.

God’s love says, “I will give gifts to you without cost, I will show you mercy without price for your good and benefit, expecting nothing in return.”

The wisdom of God is to be a giver first rather than a taker. And when you give, give unconditionally expecting nothing in return.

That is why Jesus said in this section of scripture to give to those who could not repay in kind, and to lend without expecting anything back. For when you do this you are showing the love of God because, like God, there is nothing in it for you but the hope that the recipient might give thanks to God for being blessed.

Do you want the blessings and favour of God rather than of man? Then be a giver and give not to receive the same again from man, but to receive the blessings and favour of God.

And you will receive the blessing of God when you do this. Show mercy and you will receive mercy. Do good and you will receive good. Bless others and you will be blessed. That is the way of the Lord and what we have been called to do.

(Photo sourced from stock.xchng http://www.sxc.hu provided by “Kimberlee Kessler Design”)

You Might Also Like:

Teachings on the Higher Call of Christ
Treasures New and Old

Love Your Enemies

(Luke 6:27-31)

What is the toughest thing you have ever been asked to do? I would have to say the lesson in todays scripture is probably the toughest that there is.

The message here is to love your enemies and to do good to those who hate you.

Why Love Your Enemies?

We have been called as Christians to be transformed into the image of Christ. Jesus came not to condemn people but to save them.love your enemies

Every person is an enemy of God initially because every person on the earth starts out as a sinner. Sin is in direct opposition to what God wants of people and it is the one thing that stands between man and God.

But in spite of sin God still provides for man. Both the good and the evil receive the blessings of life on this earth. As he says in Matthew 5:44-45, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

It is because we are to be like God that we are called to love our enemies so that we can be the children of God.

How Do You Love Your Enemies?

Jesus gave a few examples in these scriptures. Ultimately it is about your attitudes and behaviours. We do not have to be all “buddy buddy” with them, but we do need to behave in an appropriate way.

Pray for them. Don’t antagonise them. When they attack you, don’t argue or fight back with them, leave any justice to God. Who knows what the Lord is doing with these people and whether he is using you to turn them around? It may be that when these enemies see your good behaviour they will want to know more.

And if they take away your goods and property, don’t feet about it. The Lord knows what you need and will provide. Everything in this world is temporary and transitory but to seek God will provide you a greater benefit and you will be rewarded when you behave as Christ would behave.

What should You Do?

First, recognise this can be tough. It is not an easy thing to love your enemies. Even under the Law of Moses there was the opportunity for retribution where the law said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But in Christ we are seeking and have been called to a higher standard.

The last verse in this section provides the best guidance of all. “As you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.” (Verse 31)

How do you want to be treated? Then do the same to them. Do you want to have friends? Then be a friend. Do you want support and prayer? Then pray and support others, especially your enemies. Who knows, one good deed from you towards an enemy may turn them around.

Finally, exhibit the attributes of the Love of God as expressed in 1 Corinthians 13, for this is the nature of God. Be patient, kind, tolerant, unselfish and at peace. Don’t boast or be arrogant, irritable, resentful and especially don’t rejoice when your enemy falls or fails. Instead pray for their salvation and their help from God. That is the greatest thing you can do for then you will be behaving as Christ Jesus and God would behave.

(Picture sourced from stock.xchng http://www.sxc.hu/ taken by Lily Rosen)

You might also like:

Warnings and Woes
Teachings on the Higher Call of Christ

Jesus Fulfilled the Law

(Luke 6:17-19)

After appointing the twelve we see Jesus comes down from the mountain and is greeted by a great crowd of people. His fame had spread considerably and his ministry was well into stride at this time.

At this point he is about to commence what has become known as the sermon on the mount. As we often see, God confirmed the message by the miracles and the signs that were performed. Here in this section of scripture all the people sought to touch him, for power came forth from him and healed all who were ill with diseases or possessed by unclean spirits.

Once this cleansing work was done Jesus settled down to teach the people the truth of God and the message of the New Covenant. His message was a remarkable message for it was so different to that taught by the scribes and Pharisees. I was considering this earlier today and it struck me that the difference between what the Pharisees and scribes taught and what Jesus taught can be seen in the scripture in Matthew 5:17, which is part of that writer’s version of the sermon on the mount. Matthew wrote, “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them.” I had never before today recognised how profound this statement is and my mind began to reel with the understanding of this scripture, which I will attempt to explain.

Jesus said to the people that, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice.” (Matthew 23:2-3) So he is saying that the scribes and Pharisees were teaching the law, but not very good at keeping it. Why? Because they approached the law as if it were based upon works. They were KEEPERS of the law, that is, they were COMPLIANT to what the law taught by doing what is required, that is by doing the works of the law.

But in Jesus we see a man who did not come to just keep the law, but to FULFIL the law. Think about the word “fulfil” for a moment. To fulfil something is to be completely and totally immersed in it; to live it or to be filled fully in it. The Lord asked the Pharisees at another time which is the greatest of the laws and we found that it was to love God and to love your neighbour. Paul also said, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:10) So when Jesus fulfilled the law he did so by living a life of love, which is to be in the nature of God for God is love.

But the Pharisees, indeed Israel in total, failed because they did not approach the law from the perspective of faith but as if it were based upon works, as Paul wrote in Romans 9:31-32. Now this is important for Jesus certainly approached the law from the basis of faith, but how does this work? Well first you must believe that the law is the right thing to do and it is what God wants. If you don’t do that, then you are like a Pharisee and just a keeper of the law. But when you BELIEVE it is right, not just because it was written on tablets of stone but because it is the right thing to do, then you internalise the law and live “in it” and FULFIL it rather than living “by it” and UNDER it. You do what is right no longer because the law says, “Thou shalt…” but because you say to yourself, “I shalt…” because it is the nature of God. And when that transformation takes place you no longer need the law for you do by nature what the law requires. You become committed rather than compliant and so prove the truth of the love that is in the laws of God. For the law is based also upon love. God gave the law to his people because he loved them and wanted them to live the best life possible. The law gave them boundaries so that they would not hurt themselves or others and this was based on God’s love. He did not give them the law as a stick or a set of manacles to bind them, albeit there is an element of bondage under law, but instead he gave them the law to protect and free them from sin by defining sin so they could escape it and do right. Most could not see this.

But who needs to be told by a law to do right when you do by nature what is right? Does God need a law to tell him right from wrong? No, because the law was laid down for the unjust and ungodly; for sinners and not for the righteous. It was laid down so that sin would be revealed for sin and could be dealt with and also so that God’s wisdom and knowledge between right and wrong could be taught to the people for their growth and protection. But when Jesus came he released those people from law who come to him so that they can learn to “live” what is right and not just “do” what is right.

This is also why Paul wrote “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.” (Romans 3:31) Jesus set us free from the law through his death and baptism so that we could be transformed into his image by the Holy Spirit. But even though we are not under law we do not throw it away. Rather we become immersed in God’s love as we learn and grow, and through the transformation of the Spirit we find the place where we stand as Jesus stood; in fulfilment of the law. When we walk in Spirit we are applying the love of God to the weaknesses in our nature to overcome those problems in us that lead to failure and sin, so that we can be made perfect as Christ is perfect. But God has done this beforehand so that we first receive this righteousness by faith, and in time we will receive it by fact.

There is much more I am discovering about this matter and it is a great revelation. I hope you find value in this too and as the Lord unfolds this to me I will share it with you for your thoughts and comments as you see appropriate.