Tag Archives: Jesus

Great is the measure

Psalm 103:11-14

For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;

As far as east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

As a father pities his children, So the LORD pitied those who fear Him.

For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.

Freely, God blesses us with His mercy, forgiveness, and love; and freely we receive these blessings. However humbled we may be, we greatly accept these gifts.

But how willingly do we pass these blessings on to our neighbours? How often do we share the joy that comes from knowing God?

God’s blessings defies logic and mathematical sense, because when you share His gifts of love – kindness – mercy – forgiveness, they do not halve what you have received, they increase. In this sense, sharing increases the gift.

God’s love knows no bounds and is not limited by our worldly agendas and worries. His love is eternal and infinite, so don’t think that by sharing what He has gifted you, means that you will run out.

So it is then wise to freely forgive, freely love, freely show kindness, and freely display mercy, for the richness multiplies and freely it is given to us.

“For as high as the heavens above, great is the measure of our Father’s love!”

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With love

2 Timothy 2:24

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient

Arguing with people never ends well. Someone always gets hurt, and the topic in question gravitates negativity towards it, despite how positive it may be.

When Jesus wanted to show and teach others that their behaviour was wrong, He always did it with love. He never argued with them, but gently, patiently, lovingly, and humbly, He would rebuke them.

He never pointed out someone’s flaws to prove His own righteousness, nor to inflate His ego, nor even to prove a point. He always shed light on their wrong doings in order to save their souls for God, and to give them eternal life. It was always about them, and not about Himself.

I liken it to quantum physics. A topic that seems incomprehensible, complex, and way out of my league. Now would I want someone to teach me through arguing, or to inflate their own ego, or to prove a point that I wasn’t smart enough to understand it? No.

That approach would scare me off from even wanting to think about elementary science.

Instead, if someone was to teach me with gentleness, patience, and kindness, then I would anchor to quantum physics more cheerfully and more willingly.

The same goes for the topic of God. To some, He may seem like a big scary figure in the sky, that is impossible to please, and full of complexity. But if we want to win souls, then we must share God the same way that Jesus did whilst He was here.

With love. With the purpose of sharing His gift. With kindness. With gentleness. With patience.

Through the valley

Psalm 23:4

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me, Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.

What a profound and impactful verse. Many take comfort in this Psalm; they find hope and peace in this text. They come to it during their darkest of times for a comforting and reassuring reminder that God is with us no matter how dark and scary the valley may be.

God is with you always.

He leads you through the valley, not to stay and set up camp. Not to settle down and make roots, but to keep on pushing forward, to keep on pressing on, and to keep on wading through.

Peace and joy await on the other side, and the journey is more than worth it.

I know that the valley is dark, and seemingly hopeless. Steeped deep in depression and doubt. It is a bitter brew of tea that is hard to swallow. And we wonder “where is God?” Where is He when we need Him the most? Where is He to help us endure this painfully over brewed cup?

(Jesus did take of this cup though, when praying to God the Father about His soon coming sacrifice, so He knows exactly how bitter it is)

But this verse says that He is with you always. He is not afraid of the valley, He is not dismayed by the trough of murky waters that try to drown you. He is there with you, holding your hand and leading you through.

And He uses this valley to bring out the best in you, to strengthen your faith in Him, and to cause you to realise His mighty power to pull you through.

His hand is never too short to reach us, and we are never too far from Him that He does not think of us.

There is peace in the valley, if we but just accept God as our help, our leader, and our protector. So do not fear, we will get through this valley!

O Love that will not let me go

One of my favourite verses in the bible is

1Corinthians 13:1

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

This verse has stuck with me since child hood. But I have only come to understand its poignancy in the last couple of years.

Spending my early mornings before primary (elementary) school reciting all of 1Corinthians 13 with my family, my tired eyes and immature brain could hardly comprehend the magnitude of God’s love buried deep within this scripture, let alone in this single verse.

Firstly Charity means Love, but not the kind of love that we use to describe our affinity for ice cream. It’s agape love. The highest form of love possible. It’s the love that God has for us, and it’s the love that we are to have for Him.

Love is so important. Because God is love.

1 John 4:8 KJV

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

And because God is love, you can swap out the word “charity” with God in the verse (1Corinthians 13:1).

Thus, it doesn’t matter if I know every language in the world, and if I have the gift of conversing with angels. If I don’t have God in my life, and if love is not the reason behind this gift, then I may as well be making nonsensical noise that no one can understand.

God does everything in love, because He is love. There is no other possible way for Him to act.

So let love be your motivation behind everything you do. And in doing so, you give God permission to perform miracles in your life.

And the more love you give, the more that love comes flooding back in waves of godly strength that uplift you, and give you courage to love the unlovable, and to show them Christ.

Life with God, is to have life with love, and I pray that it’s a love that will not let me go.

1 Thessalonians 3:12 KJV

And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you

Follow the Leader

Psalm 18:32-33

It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect. He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places.

How great are the mountaineering skills of deer and goat alike? Their ability to climb high up into the rockiest terrains and down into the deepest valleys, leaves you in awe. They do not fall, for fear does not shake them; they remain calm and at peace with their path.

They understand that they have to take this tumultuous journey to get from A to B. But it doesn’t detract them from putting forth their hooves and soldiering on.

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and He will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.

The way they walk is key to their survival. Wherever their front hooves have stepped, their back hooves will also step, in exactly the same spot. They know if their back legs just follow their front legs, they will be able to travel safely through the dangerously steep mountain sides.

God is to be our front legs. Wherever He steps, we must follow, for we are on our rocky mountains of pain, hurt, and heartache. But if we trust in Him, and allow Him to lead, He will get us through it, and bring us peace.

We will not shake in fear, we will not look down, we just keep going forward following His steps as He weaves us through the dangerous terrain.

When we leave His path, we risk falling, we risk death. But so long as God is our leader, He is also our strength, and He will get us through the hard times.

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

So follow the Leader, it’s life saving.

Without Him

Sometimes we can become so absorbed in our own efforts and our own victories that we tend to make decisions based on our own abilities. We make them trusting our own judgement, and our own experiences.

But God is always there waiting for you to call upon Him. Waiting for you to seek His wise counsel, His instruction, and His leadership, in all areas of your life.

Without Him, our lives become worthless, and the decisions we make fulfil our carnal desires, but don’t point us towards Him. They may be fun and adventurous for now, but they don’t put us right with God.

Ask God to lead in every decision you make. He is interested in what you want to eat for lunch, and what college you want to go to. He has your best interest at heart and wants you to succeed. So let Him lead, let Him instruct, and let Him counsel you with His infinite wisdom.

For life with Him, is a million times better than life without Him.

Preservation of Faith and Law

Key texts: Heb. 11:29; Gen. 6 & 7; Ex 14:13-31; 1 Cor. 10:1-2; Ps. 23; Josh. 24:5-7; Ps. 136:10-16

A reoccurring theme, that I have found in the bible, is one of preserving faith and law. Law without faith means nothing, and faith without obedience to God’s law is pointless too. When you have faith in God and truly love Him, you’ll want to keep the ten commandments, it will become a natural desire to do so. Faith and law are so intertwined, and important to God, as it leads to salvation. Thus the preservation of it is also His priority. Hebrews 11:29 speaks of one of the most recognised faith and law preserving acts, where God used Moses. However, to fully understand Moses’ story, we must look at other people that God used to preserve  faith and law too.

Noah was used in a mightily way. Genesis 6 & 7 tells us of the evil wickedness that had consumed the world population all over, and how this caused God to regret the creation of man. But He remembered Noah, and how he stayed true to God and His law through his faith. In a world that told him “no”, Noah said “yes God, use me”. God sent a flood to cleanse the world, in a sort of baptism, and it rained for 40 days and 40 nights.

The monotony of falling rain surrounding you non-stop for 960 hours, seems crazy, but what makes it even more difficult to conceive was that it had never rained before – truly an exercise of faith for Noah. This can create a real soul searching time that causes you to seek God and His wisdom. Noah had the law in his heart, and God preserved it and his faith. Psalm 40:8.

Jesus and His life was a testament to God’s love that pierced and weaved through the law from the first commandment to the last. His era was a self idolatrous misrepresentation of God and His law, by the Pharisees and Sadducees. And yet, though He was without sin, He allowed His cousin John to baptise Him. Afterward, He was carried to the wilderness to spend time alone with God for 40 days and 40 nights. At the end of His wilderness experience, He was tempted, but because He was so in tune with God, He won. He then went to the top of the mountain to present the law to the great multitudes, (Matthew 5). He presented it to spread the truth and to preserve it with the many people.

In each of these events, God was rejected, then there came a cleansing, afterward a 40 day experience of spending time with God, and then a preservation of the law and faith.

Moses’ story historically fits in between Noah and Jesus (a vast time span), but the exodus events follow the same pattern as both of them.

Moses was called to save God’s people from the land of Egypt, where they were bound to slave labour by the oppressive Pharaoh. Pharaoh’s ideology made him a god before God, and he had hardened his heart towards the true creator and provider. Upon leaving Egypt, and hence escaping the Egyptian army, Moses and the Israelites were met with the Red Sea, and God parted it for safe travelling across. 1 Corinthians 10:2 depicts the event as a baptism for God’s people. A cleansing from the old Egyptian sinful life and into the new. As we know, the people were saved, and the following Egyptian army drowned.

Then, when they made it to the other side, Moses went up Mt Sinai where he spent 40 days and 40 nights with God. There, God wrote down on the tablets of stone the 10 commandments. From which, Moses taught the people. Thus the law and their faith were preserved.

I think a lesson to take away from their stories of faith, is the great need to spend time with God before sharing His message. We need to make sure that we are in tune with Him, and we are adapt to His voice so that when we give advice from the bible, or if we want to share scripture with others, it isn’t misconstrued or misleading.

Isaiah 50:4

The Sovereign LORD has given me His words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning He wakens me and opens my understanding to His will.

This is just a quick study on the exodus of Moses and the Israelites through the Red Sea, but I pray that you will take the time to diligently search it and let God interpret it to you.

 

As sticks and stones

Sticks and stones. Three words that are used to denote teasing as a supposedly lighter option to physical harm. But this blog post isn’t about these playground nuances. Instead, this is about God’s purpose for your life and how being called to be as “sticks and stones” gives a more powerful and spiritual meaning.

I say sticks, but the bible says branches. In John 15:5, Jesus speaks to His disciples on the night of the last supper; “I am the vine, ye are the  branches he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without Me ye can do nothing.”

Thus if Jesus is the vine, He is then the life source, from which all sustenance flows and keeps the branches (sticks) alive. And if we have Him as our life provider, then His fruits will be evident in our lives.

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against such there is no law.

These are like aspects of God’s character, and how beautiful they all are individually, but even more so – all together.

In Matthew 7, Jesus explains that you cannot receive good fruit from a bad tree, nor bad fruit from a good tree. Therefore, how important it is that we choose the right life source, for our foundations will be shown in our character (our fruits).

Isaiah 51:1,2

"Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were hewn and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain; When he was but one I called him, Then I blessed him and multiplied him."

To be a stone is to be cut from a larger rock. To be carefully hewn out of something larger and greater, inherently imparts the characteristics and features that the original piece possessed. As in Isaiah, he referred to Abraham as the rock of which all the descendants – the Israelite people – were cut from. He pleaded with the people to not forget who their ancestor was, and who he was blessed by, God.

Stones were used in biblical times to build homes, but also altars. Elijah rebuilt the Altar of the Lord using 12 stones that represented the 12 tribes of Israel. Each upholding a life of sacrifice that pointed towards Jesus. Do our lives do the same? Or have we fallen into the same trap that Peter did when he was called a stumbling stone? Placing our own agendas, and our own precepts before God’s will.

As stones cut from the Rock of Ages, we are to live as altars to God. Living a life of sacrifice that just over spills with love that flows from our Heavenly Father.

As newborns, our parents would earnestly study our facial features, seeking any resemblance of their own traits. The same eye colour, shape of ears, dimples, the same nose and eyebrows. Anything that proves their ownership of this child that they have long awaited to meet. As growing children, reflections of behaviour and attitudes start to come through.

And while parents hope that their offspring receive all of their good features and desirable habits, their main priority should be that their children’s character will reflect God’s character. That their fruits will be His, and that they are hewn from His rock.

As sticks and stones, we are called to glow. Not of our own light, but the light that God shines upon our face (Numbers 6:23-27).

 

Thus in everything we do, and with every inch of our being, we are called to reflect God's love and light to others, as sticks and stones.

Jacob’s faith

Hebrews 11:21
By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.

 Genesis 48:13-20
Before he blessed Ephraim and Manasseh, he adopted them Genesis 48:1-6. God wants to adopt us into His family and bless us as His children. We are not to be so enamoured with the offers of this world, that we lose sight of the bigger picture, and the bigger family that we are called to be a part of. 

He adopted them so they fully receive their blessing, as they had an Egyptian mother, and were born in Egypt, they may not have been considered viable options. But as adopted sons, they were eligible to receive all that he had to give through the promises of God.

“A patriarch’s final blessing was important in biblical times as a practical matter of inheritance rights. In addition, some final blessings included prophetic statements that reveal God’s supernatural power through the men of His choosing.” {Got questions}
Jacob adopted two rich princes into his lowly shepherd estate. He then blessed them with a dry desert land that he didn’t even own (Acts 7:5), except for a burial cave. There was no inkling of evidence that God would fulfil His promises, (consider Abraham who did not allow a Canaanite wife for his son, which would have provided a family connection to the land), and yet by faith Jacob gave both Ephraim and Manasseh a full and complete portion of blessings. 

How fortunate, for the two boys, that they had a grandfather that saw past the great and highly esteemed Egyptian abundance; but rather he valued Abraham’s spiritual blessing above worldly fame. That is faith, to not fall for all the world has to offer, however present it may be, and to fully believe that God will provide a way, though you cannot see it. 

Psalm 27:14 

Wait on the Lord : be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord .

Being on the cusp of death is hardly a reason to be joyful. It is notably a time of sadness and of questioning. But Jacob worshipped God. With every last beat of his weak pulsing heart, and his physically failing body, his need and desire to worship his Creator, and Merciful Forgiver, grew immeasurably. 
How often do we let our circumstances dictate our relationship with God? He is ever patient with us, waiting on us to commune with Him. In every situation, God wants us to worship and praise Him. This allows us to be free to receive the blessings and provisions He is longing to give us. 
Though we have faith our whole lives, or at least endeavour to, perhaps the most vital of times to express this faith is on our deathbed. It is how we finish, whether we die believing in God’s promises, that speaks volumes to those that catch us in our last moments. And the best way we can show this, is by singing the praises of the One who brought us through, and by blessing the generations that succeed. It takes great courage to die in faith, but when we honour Him with our patience, our hope, and our joy, God ensures that the promised blessings are sure to be fulfilled.
It was not by his own strength by which he gave his blessing, but rather God’s strength, and Jacob’s faithfulness to Him. 
Exodus 14:15-16 

 And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.

By faith Moses obeyed God and used a rod, an inanimate object made of wood, to part the red sea into two. Generations before, Jacob divided Joseph’s inheritance blessing into two, and gave it to Manasseh and Ephraim, whilst leaning on top of his staff. 

It’s not the stick that parts the seas and it’s not the stick that holds us up to give us strength. It’s our faith in God that He will make a way. Just like the serpent on the rod that cured the Israelites from their snake bites. The wood did not save them, it was their faith. It’s God asking us to be obedient, even when it seems crazy and beyond understanding. God is saying “Trust Me!”
Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith and hope are interlinked. You cannot have one without the other. 
Even though Jacob was sick and harbouring a physically failing body, he still leant all that he had onto his staff and worshipped God. And even though Moses was drowning in the inches of the Red Sea water of which he dared to dip his feet into, and although the prospect of a multitude of deaths was but a gentle wave away, he still trusted God. 

The same faith that portioned a double blessing to two Egyptian royalties, is the same faith that lead Moses on that great exodus expedition, that did eventually see the results of God’s promise to Jacob in the land of Canaan (Genesis 28:13).

Jacob’s eye sight was nearing blindness, thus Joseph was troubled when he realised the swapped positioning of his father’s hands. But Jacob let God lead, and knew what he was doing (Genesis 48:19).

The positioning wasn’t convenient, it was purposeful. Sometimes we like to make provisions for God to bless us, in the way that we see fit. But God knows better, and we must allow Him to bless us, in His way.

 
According to Jewish Sages, growing up, Ephraim was solely focused on doing God’s will. While Manasseh did go according to God’s will, he also concerned himself with the matters of the world. He balanced both, while Ephraim was solely God’s. Much like Jacob and Esau. Jacob was more interested in being a spiritual leader, and Esau was clearly not (as he sold his birthright). Jacob wanted that position as patriarchal leader and a strong pillar for God, and attained it through means of deceit. By blessing Ephraim, he showed God that he had come full circle and that he allowed the younger brother to become the spiritual leader through an honest practice. Jacob had bought his birthright, and Joseph earned it. 
Jacob had faith that the blessings would fall upon Ephraim and Manasseh, and not to Reuben. This was against tradition, but it wasn’t against God’s will. 

Jacob vs Israel
 

{why was the name Jacob used in Hebrews 11:21, and not Israel?}
Jacob represents his timid and passive self. As we can see when Jacob wanted to keep Benjamin back with him in their home, rather than save the family from starvation. But it was Israel that eventually let him go to Egypt (Genesis 42:36-43:13). 

It was Israel that allowed for the destruction of Shechem; and it was Israel that sent Joseph to find his brothers, though he knew that they hated him. Jacob would have kept him home, and hoped from afar that his sons would be ok. But Israel was determined and put it into action. 

So it was Israel that sent Joseph away, but it was Jacob that called him back. In his timidness and frailty, Jacob knew the time had come to pass on his blessings.   

In the first 17 years of Joseph’s life, his father raised him to be a God fearing man and equipped him with strong values that saw him succeed in Pharaoh’s command, which saved the people from the famine. In the last 17 years of Jacob’s life, Joseph cared for him and provided for his needs. Their last 17 years together was a testament of their faith in God that had brought them back together, it was this faith that paved the way for Joseph and his two sons to be blessed. 

He died a poor man in a foreign land, but he died in the faith of God’s promises {Dying faith}. 

An exposed heart

The meeting of Zacchaeus and Jesus is one that reminds me of the importance of not judging a person by their past, and not defining a person by what they do.

Zacchaeus was a very rich tax collector. His wealth was gained due to sinful ways of deception and stealing. He was well despised by the Jewish people, because he worked for the Romans, and it was clear to them that his wealth was begotten from their taxes.

Outwardly, he should have been the last person that Jesus would have considered a suitable host for tea. But thankfully for Zacchaeus, (and for us), He looks at the heart. The Holy Spirit had been working on him to realise his sinful ways, and how he could repay his theft. If he had not, then he wouldn’t have climbed a tree to try and catch a glimpse of someone that could potentially publicly rebuke him.

Zacchaeus was lost, and he knew it. He realised his downfall through his ways of deception. And when Jesus sought him, he openly confessed his sins and repented. His heart had been transformed and this was what Jesus could see.

Hebrews 4:13

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes, and He is the one to whom we are accountable.

1Samuel 16:7

But the LORD said to Samuel, Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.

Zacchaeus was surrounded by people who appeared to be good and wholesome, but inside their hearts were riddled with judgement. For if they were truly God fearing people, they would have rejoiced when Jesus wanted to dine with the sinful tax collector.

In Luke chapter 18, Jesus spoke a parable to people that believed themselves to be more righteous than they truly were. It too was about a tax collector, and his humble plea before God to have mercy upon him – a sinner. He also described a pharisee that also came before God, and thanked Him that he was not like other sinners, not even like that tax collector. He then proceeded to list his great virtues as a “righteous” tithe giver and a regular faster. On the outward appearance, it would seem that the pharisee would be justified, but rather it was the lowly and humble tax collector that left justified.

Luke 19:10

For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.

Zacchaeus had an exposed heart before Jesus. To make yourself so vulnerable to chastisement and rebuke is what often stops us from fully letting God dwell in our hearts. When we spend so much time trying to hide our undesirable past, we fail to recognise that all that time was wasted and could be better spent with Him. Zacchaeus realised this, and desperately sought Jesus to make that right. That’s what we are to look at, not at his past, but rather that he saw his future with Jesus.

It is my prayer that in every dealing that I have with other people, that I don’t exercise my judgement on them. Judgment should be left to God, for only He can see their hearts exposed.