Prophet

2016-12-07

“The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him”
(Deuteronomy 18:15)

Reflection:
We have seen that humanly Jesus would be a descendant of Eve and of Abraham – the fulfilment of God’s creation and of God’s covenant. Here Moses tells of one to come who would be raised up as a man from amongst His people – and to whom they must listen.

This promise through Moses could have been taken to refer to the succession of prophets through whom God would speak to His people Israel. For

“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways” (Hebrews 1:1)

However, when the voice of prophecy was no longer heard in the period between the Old and New Testaments the title ‘The Prophet’ became a recognisable reference to the Messiah who was expected to come. And after Jesus began His ministry the crowds were recorded as saying.

“Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world” (John 6:14)

In Peter’s early sermon in Acts he clearly applies this prophecy to Jesus (Acts 3:22).

On the Mount of Transfiguration God Himself used the same command in relation to Jesus that He had issued through Moses. He said to Peter, James and John, and He says to all of us today, “Listen to Him”

Born of a woman from a line that reached back to Eve the man called Jesus was recognised as the fulfillment of the long list of prophets. And like Moses He knew God “face to face.” (Deuteronomy 34: 10)

Question:
How much do I really ‘listen to Him?’

Response:
To listen to God is to do what He says.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, please help me also to live not on bread alone but on every word that comes from Your mouth. Amen. (Matthew 4:4)

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Promised

2016-12-06

“I will bless you … and you will be a blessing. …
And all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
(Genesis 12:2-3)

Reflection:
The Messiah to come would be a descendent of Eve. He would also be a descendent of Abraham.

Abraham was the first of the three great patriarchs of God’s chosen people – the people of the covenant. To him God gave these significant promises –

  • I will bless you
  • You will be a blessing
  • All people will be blessed through you.

The blessing that was to flow from Abraham to ‘all people” was not the land that God also promised. It was a seed or descendent of Abraham in and through whom God’s promises were to be fulfilled. And Paul writing to the church in Galatia makes it quite clear that this blessing was in fact to be the Messiah.

  • “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ” (Galatians 3:16)

It is through our union with Christ by faith that we become recipients too of these promises and blessings.

  • “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29)

God called Abraham out of nowhere as the start of His establishment of a covenant people with whom He would journey into the future. Very clearly He shows that His actions are built around His purpose and plan for a Saviour – as He had prophesied in Eden. The Messiah is implied  here as God continues also to lay down the human line of Jesus which would establish Him as truly the Son of Man.

Question:
Do I realise that I too am blessed – and a blessing – and a revelation of God?

Response:
God called me to be a part of His purpose

Prayer:

Lord God, please help me to acknowledge and respond to Your call – and to walk with You in trust and love as You lead me forward. Amen.

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Tomorrows News Yesterday

2016-12-05

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”
(Genesis 3:15)

Reflection:
Immediately after the sin and fall of Adam and Eve came God’s great announcement.  He would save sinners through a descendant of the very person by whom sin had entered into the world. And as sin had entered through Eve – with Adam looking on – so salvation would enter through another woman – with her husband looking on.

With this prophecy God also made it clear that He had established a reciprocal enmity between Eve’s descendants and principalities and powers of evil. There can therefore never be any question of a compromise or acceptable relationship with evil.  And although this feud would be relentless it would only last for a certain period. For the time would come when the prophesied Saviour would fully and finally crush the head of the ‘serpent’ and destroy him forever.

Now that God, through the death and resurrection and ascension of Christ has ‘placed all things under His feet’ (Ephesians 1:22) we can look forward with confidence to the final destruction of all that is evil.

 “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Romans 16:20)

All the evil that we see and sense around us and even within us will not exist forever. There will come a time when it will be extinguished and its influence disappear. This would be established through the One who was to be born of a woman who was a descendant of the first woman herself.

Question:
Have I confidence in God’s plan –because I have confidence in God?

Response:
God’s word will achieve its purpose – His Word will achieve His purpose.

Prayer:

Lord God You have promised us a full and eternal deliverance from evil. Even now Father deliver us from evil – the evil around us and the evil which attacks us individually. In Jesus Name. Amen.

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My Fruit or God’s?

2016-12-02

“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you;
I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
(Genesis 12:2-3)

Reflection:
God doesn’t need much. He created everything out of nothing – that is, nothing as we know it existed before His creation. He made man from the dust of the earth. And now He commenced His great plan of salvation by calling out one man. To this man He gave the most remarkable prophetic promise.

Abraham was not a particularly special or gifted or deserving man – nor was he at times very trusting of God. But God knew his heart and knew that Abraham would allow God to work in and through him. Abraham ‘uttered no prophecy, wrote no book, sang no song and gave no laws.’ Yet he alone is spoken of as ‘the father of the faithful’ and as ‘the friend of God.’ It has also been said that he is ‘the only type in Scripture of God the Father.’ Such was his love and faith that he was prepared to sacrifice his God-given son in what was to be a prophetic glimpse into the terrible sacrifice that God Himself would make. He had grown to love and trust God completely.

Note how in the purpose for which Abraham was called everything was focussed on what God would do for him and through him: “I will make you;” “I will bless you;” “I will bless those;” “I will curse;” and as a consequence of which “you will be a blessing” and “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” It was all about the grace of God from start to finish.

Abraham was followed by numbers of other individuals in and through whom God was able to work in wonderful ways as they put their trust in Him. There were Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Elijah, John the Baptist and Mary to name just a few. In all of their lives the focus was on what God was doing and not on their own contributions.

Much of this was picked up by Jesus in His very telling picture and explanation of the Vine. He is the Vine itself and we, His disciples, are His chosen branches. As long as we remain attached to Him His life and power will flow into us and will, in consequence, produce fruit for the benefit of others. The closer and more open our relationship the more He will be enabled to produce ‘much fruit’ both in and through us. The wonder of the grace and glory of God is that others will almost always be able to see far more fruit than we perceive in ourselves. This is how it should be for it is God’s fruit and not ours.

Question:
Who fills my life – God or me?

Response:
It is only God’s fruit that will last

Prayer:

Lord Jesus please help me to draw closer to You, be more open to You and allow You to direct and fill my life. Amen.

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King of kings

2016-12-01

“The sceptre will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he comes to whom it belongs
and the obedience of the nations is his”
(Genesis 49:10)

Reflection:
Here we begin to see God’s purpose and plan. There will come a King who will receive back the kingly authority given to the tribe of Judah and will rule instead with Divine power and authority over all the peoples of the earth. Paul put it this way,

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11)

There will be no one able to stand against Him. He has overcome the power of the devil through the Cross and Resurrection and, in the fullness of time, God ‘will make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’ (Luke 20:43) This Jesus will also be the one who will judge the people of the earth.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left” (Matthew 25:31-33)

But there is far more. For such is the love of God that He has given us this same Jesus – through whom all things were made and by whom they are sustained – to be not only our King and Supreme Lord but our Saviour as well.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)

And finally, there will come a time when God’s initial purpose has been fulfilled – and a completely new day will dawn.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:3-5)

Come Lord Jesus.

Question:
Is my main focus on the destination or the journey – on mortal man or immortal Man?

Response:
Jesus is my Saviour and King – today and forever!

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, in my darkness and my light I look to You. You are my constant and eternal One who will see me through today and tomorrow, and into the joyous liberation of the life to come. Amen.

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Vision

2016-11-30

“And while they were in the field,
Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him”
(Genesis 4:8)

Reflection:
After the Fall Scripture records how the social situation deteriorated steadily. It records anger, jealousy, arrogance, violence, resentment, revenge, fear and self-pity breaking out in the communities. The eventual consequence was God’s judgement and the horror of the Flood.

It began in what should have been the most unlikely of places – between two brothers. Cain hated and killed Abel.  But these were not the only ones who did not get on well. Ishmael tormented his half-brother Isaac, Jacob stole his brother Esau’s birth right and blessing, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. Jesus story tells of a self-righteous elder brother hating his wasteful younger brother. And then the religious leaders hated Jesus and arranged for His execution.

What was happening in families was also happening in communities and then between nations. And we see it at work all around us today. After a century of the most terrible wars and atrocities we have started another in which there is warfare, persecution, corruption, immorality, violent abuse of woman and children, homelessness, starvation and poverty, the breakdown of marriage and family relationships, greed and increasing despair, and the terrible bondage of substance abuse. More and more the focus is moving away from the common good and onto private and personal satisfaction at any cost.

God is being legislated out of the public life of nations and communities and is being ignored, or even re-created, by groups and individuals. The clarion call of Scripture, the marvel and majesty of Creation and the still, small voice that so overwhelmed and invigorated Elijah are no longer heard or taken seriously. And the Creator and Saviour are in danger of losing their relevance and significance as they are re-created from their revelation as Person into the impersonal imagination of Concept.

The temptations of Eden became the temptations of the wilderness and Gethsemane for Jesus. We face them daily as individuals and as communities and the same source of evil is behind them all. It is small wonder that Peter and Paul refer to him in such striking terms.

  • “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings”  (1 Peter 5:8-9)
  • “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:10-11)

The world is polluted with sin. We need a Saviour – and we have One!

Question:
Where do I look most – to me, to the world, or to the Lord?

Response:
When my life is all about me I lose out on God. When it is about God I find that His life is about me!

Payer:

Lord God Almighty, in human terms we are facing personal and national disasters. But in You there is life and light and love and hope. Help me to focus on You and to live for You and in You, in Jesus Name, Amen.

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Choose to Believe

2016-11-29

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it”
(Genesis 3:6)

Reflection:
Six little words that changed history – “She took some and ate it.”

Temptation was converted into action in a way that could never be reversed or undone. In the space of a few seconds God’s specific command had been broken – and sin was let loose into the world. As Shakespeare wrote about another occasion,

‘O! What a fall was there, my countrymen;
Then I, and you, and all of us fell down’

In acting as they did Adam and Eve denied God in three terrible ways.

They denied God’s truthfulness. God had said, “When you eat of it you will surely die” (2:17). However the devil had said “you will not surely die” (3:4) – and they believed the devil. The consequence of their act was that they died spiritually and began to die physically as well. And the devil is still whispering into the minds of men and women his denials of God’s judgement and the awful reality of hell for those who refuse to repent.

They also denied God’s goodness. The devil insinuated that God was keeping something good from them when he said that after eating the fruit ‘your eyes will be opened.” (3:5) The implication was that God was impoverishing them through His command instead of protecting them. Their action showed that Adam and Eve believed the devil, and moved away from the presence and protection of God.

They denied also the holiness of God – and that as their Creator they were totally dependent upon Him. The devil told them that ‘you will be like God’ (3:5).  They forgot that they were already ‘like God’ in every way that God had intended when He made them in His image. Now it was suggested that they could be independent just as God is and offered the opportunity to be totally self-reliant. It was the final rejection, saying ‘we do not need You or Your directives.’ Then they discovered their terrible nakedness and vulnerability.

The devil is still at work today whispering that ‘the commands of God can be safely ignored as there is no judgement and no condemnation;’ making the things that God finds offensive to be desirable and reasonable, and telling men and women that they do not need, and can be independent of, God.

Question:
Whom do I believe – God or ‘the world, the flesh and the devil?’

Response:
I will believe God, I will trust Him and I will worship Him in all I think and say and do.

Prayer:

Holy Spirit of God please guide me into, and keep me  in, all  that is true of God and from God – and enable me to discern what is false. Amen.

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