I serve Christ in many different ways. I love Him for who he is and what He has done for me. I would try to give other people the opportunity to find Him for themselves. Bring all things under submission to Him who fills all things and to who all things belong.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Could oppression, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Even as it is written, “For your sake we are killed all day long. We were accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” No! in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
These are the most comforting words for the Christian believer. They are certain and sure. Today, I grasp them with mind and soul and know my Saviour will bring me to heaven and home. Before then, I work for Him in whatever way He allows. He is my inspiration and motivation, and I cling to Him…
I encourage you as a Christian to lay hold on these amazing words and apply them to your own soul. Our hope and faith is in the Lord and His Word comforts us and upholds our faith in the circumstances we find ourselves in. Nothing is an accident and we do not trust in our own judgment or understanding about our lives, but rest in Him.
Our peace comes from the Lord, as we grasp His Word and rely on its precious promises to guide us and keep us. Remind yourself of His promises to you. The Scripture is full of them and try to learn some by heart, so that they come to mind when you need them.
This is how we fight doubts and fears. We wield the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God and trust in what it says.
“It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
We trust in Him today to deal with all that we face and know that He never fails…
“for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”
1 John 5:4
This world is taking to itself more and more authority and power over our individual lives. Laws can now be made very quickly and the whole country can be put into a lockdown in one command. People are having substances put into their bodies, and no one knows exactly what they are. We ask few questions and there are no answers. People are afraid…
The images, stories, programmes on the media corrupt our morals and mind processes and it is accepted as entertainment. It is everywhere and our eyes see things that should not be seen. We are assaulted on every side by the forces of evil, and we are so used to it, we don’t even notice. Our hearts are heartened…
Our education is full of fairy tales and people making up facts to suit the situation. We have no control over what our children are taught, and they have been contaminated with the deepest of worldly mindsets. They are being manipulated and maneuvered into selfish and conceited views of themselves and others, yet their precious psyche is being oppressed and confidence to live life is eroded away. Our minds and future are uncertain…
Families are being torn apart and the problems we face in our relationships are profound and destructive. The very fabric of society is in tatters, and there is no one to mend it or to comfort the hurting.
Where are we to turn for succour? Who can help us? Can we stop it?
God is always in control. He has told us this would happen at the end times. We are never in control and we cannot help ourselves either.
“Unless the Lord had shortened the days, no flesh would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect ones, whom he has chosen, he shortened the days.”
There are dreadful days coming when we will have to run to safety. If we read the whole passage in Mark 13:14-23, we see something that we know could easily happen in our days.
“…. when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go back inside to retrieve anything from his house. And let no one in the field return for his cloak.”
“How miserable those days will be for pregnant and nursing mothers! Pray that this will not occur in the winter. For those will be days of tribulation unmatched from the beginning of God’s creation until now, and never to be seen again. If the Lord had not cut short those days, nobody would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom He has chosen, He has cut them short.”
“At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There He is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders that would deceive even the elect, if that were possible. So, be on your guard; I have told you everything in advance.”
We have instances all over the world of people fleeing all kinds of physical and spiritual troubles. We are also fleeing and running from a nationwide trouble that has frightened many and scarred many. Yet we remain without the Lord. We have no help but our own wits, and they are being used to lift our defences, and take away our civil liberties, never mind our God-given rights to life, liberty and choice. You can choose the flavour in your expensive coffee, but that is all. We really have no real or profound choice about anything.
This world has definitely taken its hold on us and our lives, and we don’t see it.
Falsehood and false prophets and Christ’s are everywhere. We make religions about of brand names and organisations that seem to help us, but we clutch at straws for something to believe in, but not he true God. Our minds are so polluted and our emotions so brutalised, we know and feel no longer…
“Knowing this first, that in the last days mockers will come, walking after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For, from the day that the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”
2 Peter 3:3-4
Even people who say they are Christians, think like this – we do not think, but just accept what this world gives out and take what we can get. Our mindset has become shallow and our behaviour perfunctory. Apathy rules, even in the church seats. People perish and we continue not to care. Cynicism rules our thinking and the outworking of it is coldness. Coldness to God and towards each other, in other words, no love and no God. This is godlessness and the root and poison of atheism. It is a non-virtuous circle of hatefulness.
We live in dreadful times. The greatest crime is to be impolite. It masks a deep seated hostility to each other, so we have learned to keep it in, except we curse each other in the street for inconvenience caused. We are deeply selfish and therefore have become very insecure as a society and paranoia has taken hold. Apathy rules, except where making money is involved. We invent new religions to try to stop the rot, and stem the river of carelessness that is dragging us down into perdition.
Who can help us? Where will we turn?
There is only one answer. Only our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ can help us. His voice is still heard in the quietness of individual hearts and He is still calling people to trust in Him. This is not religion, but a personal relationship with the living God. Only when we come to the end of who we are and see the futility of all our ways, will we seek God. Only when we are horrified by the sin that infests our own hearts, will we run to the love of a Saviour. He is the beginning and end of our faith, even Christ, who came and died for us.
“But now once at the end of the ages, he has been revealed to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once, and after this, judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, without sin, to those who are eagerly waiting for him for salvation.”
Our Saviour, Jesus had come and lived among us, and has given His life for us on the cross. This sacrifice of Himself, has put away sin, once and for all, for those who believe. Only He can save us from the consequences of our sin, and rescue us from the ills that beset our world. Only He can shield us from the wrath of God that is surely coming.
As Jesus came the first time, as He promised, so He will come the second time for those who are waiting for Him. If we remain in apathy, carelessness and hardness of heart, we will be lost, lost to God and ultimately loosing our own souls.
But, we can overcome the world. We overcome through exercising our faith in the Lord Jesus and walking as He walked.
“This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commandments. One who says, “I know him,” and doesn’t keep his commandments, is a liar, and the truth isn’t in him. But whoever keeps his word, God’s love has most certainly been perfected in him. This is how we know that we are in him: he who says he remains in him ought himself also to walk just like he walked.”
1 John 2:3-6
This is how we overcome. The power of the Holy Spirit who lives in the Christian, teaches us the commandment of God and gives the power to keep them. We keep the commands because we love Him. We love Him because He loved us first…
This is how you know you are a Christian. You walk your life in purity, as Jesus walked His, and keep yourself from being contaminated by this world.
“Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
Even this short verse is the antithesis of what we observe in our society today.
“But know this, that in the last days, grievous times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, traitors, headstrong, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding a form of godliness, but having denied its power.”
2 Timothy 3:1-5
These are so-called religious or just “good” people, but their hearts are full of sin, and most don’t realise it- they have become conditioned to thinking it is all ok. Their souls are dead, so they have no sensibilities to the Spirit of God. They continue with impunity and bring many down with them.
“The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore when your eye is good, your whole body is also full of light; but when it is evil, your body also is full of darkness. Therefore see whether the light that is in you isn’t darkness. If therefore your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly full of light, as when the lamp with its bright shining gives you light.”
We need self examination now, more than ever, to see if the faith we profess is real, of if we are just used to the darkness within. Is my faith overcoming the works, or am I subject to it? Am I resisting the onslaught of evil in this world?
These are the questions for our lives. We need to be sure what kingdom we are in and what leader we are following. Only Jesus Christ is able to save us, and we must grasp that fact. Otherwise we will be duped and led astray but every foolish fear and doubt that comes along. Only Christ is able to save and He can save us to the very end and bring us safely to our home in heaven. This is the hope of the Christian, even our faith, with which we overcome the world. Jesus said…
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
Do not be caught out by this world. Do not allow you own sins to blind you.
“Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
“Come away, my beloved! Be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices!”
Song of Songs 8:14
The beloved entreats the beloved woman to come away with Him. The wedding and marriage is at hand. She must leave it all behind and go with him to his place and dwell there with him forever. It will be quick, like the leap of a young stag on the mountains, no reticence, no holding back, but the mighty jump of faith into the arms of the Beloved…
This is the final verse in this amazing book. We have watched the love story for Christ and His church unfold and now it is time for the final ceremony, the wedding supper of the Lamb.
So, one day, the Beloved Saviour and King will return for all His people, both those who have died and those who remain alive. He will shout “Come away!!” There will be no lingering in this dull world, but we will flyaway to be with Him forever, which is our souls desire. He will come in the twinkling of an eye, with the last trumpet. The dead will be raised and we will all ascend to Him and meet Him in the air. We will forever be with the Lord. The consummation will be at hand, and the salvation of body, mind and soul will be complete. The wedding supper is now ready and laid out for us, the people of God are all gathered in and we will rejoice at his coming like no other event ever.
This rejoicing will be for those who are ready and have made themselves ready for the arrival of the King and Bridegroom. We cannot meet him in the filthy clothes of sin and doubt, but have been washed and made right with God. We have repented of our past sinfulness and guilt and God has made us ready for this day. We are in the kingdom of God already and are fighting the good fight of faith and keeping ourselves away from sin and this world’s contaminating influences. Like wise bridesmaids, we are ready and waiting, lights shining brightly as we await the arrival of the bridegroom.
The call is heard, the trumpet that is the signal that the Lord is coming now. The clouds will open and Jesus will return to take those who are ready and waiting, home to heaven.
Then will begin the coming kingdom in all its fullness. Sin and sorrow will be no more for the people of God and we will receive the blessings we have been fighting for. The marriage will be completed and the bride will be ready, like a woman adorned for her husband. We shall all be like Him, for we shall see Him face to face. All sins and sorrows will finally be over, and we will reign triumphant over them and in the heavenly city. We shall leap like the young stags on the mountains, there will be no holding back now. We will be overcome with love and eternal devotion as lovers with true hearts for each other. All suffering will be forgotten, as our bodies, now glorified and our souls rendered pure, will see the Lord. We shall rejoice in the holiness of God and in that same holiness that now grows in our whole life, if we are following Christ. The Spirit will fill every part of us with praise and glory. The fragrance of the spices will be everywhere and the effects will be heady and full of the promise of eternal life that we somewhat experience, even now in this life. Our joy will be complete. The marriage day is set. The beloved loves us with joy unspeakable and full of glory. We love Him back. Surely the lines have fallen to us in pleasant places and we rejoice daily.
The call of the Saviour goes out to us again…
“Come away, my beloved!!” Come away from this world and live for me and to me. Don’t let the contamination of sin and rebellion into your heart. Rejoice in the certain hope that your deliverance is at hand. You are the bride of my dreams, and my love for you is complete. Only you will make me happy, come away then, my love….
“…then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. So we will be with the Lord forever.”
“And love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
1 John 4:10
God is love. We are not.
The only reason we love God, is because He loved us first. The soul is dead in sin, before the call of God awakens us and He shows us what His love is like. He showed us true love on the cross at Calvary, when Jesus suffered and died to pay the awful punishment for our despicable sins.
Many think they have no sin, because we all get used to our sins and accept them so readily. We fall into sin and hardly notice and talk about “little white lies” or “mistakes” we have made. In our natural state we have no realisation about the holiness of God, and the purity of His majesty. We think He will ignore our sin and accept us anyway.
God will never accept sin or sinners. It is impossible for us to stand in His presence, even holy people in the Scripture could not stand… Daniel, Ezekiel, John the Apostle.
“When I saw him, I fell at his feet like a dead man. He laid his right hand on me, saying, “Don’t be afraid. I am the first and the last, and the Living one. I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. I have the keys of Death and of Hades.”
The Words God speaks show us His majesty and power and why we cannot stand in His presence. Jesus is the risen and glorious Lord, the Living one. He has always been and forever will be. He alone decides who inhabits heaven and hell, since He holds the keys of hell and of death. We don’t revere Him or worship Him, because our view of Him is too low. We are sinful and don’t appreciate His holiness and glory… what are we to do?
“Jesus said, “I am the vine. You are the branches. He who remains in me, and I in him, the same bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
We are saved from our sin and kept right with God, through the mercy of the Lord. Salvation is of the Lord, for we will never seek Him in our own desire or strength. There is nothing we can do to contribute to our salvation and nothing we can do to endear ourselves to a holy God.
“For He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His presence…”
If God did not chose us, we would never chose Him. This is a very humbling and sober truth. It leaves us no room to manoeuvre or imagine any goodness in us at all. God is the author of our faith and only He can bring us safely to heaven. We are totally dependant on Him and who He is. He is love, and is not willing that anyone should perish, so He has provided a way of escape for us.
As helpless, sinful people, we can do nothing to save ourselves, but God has intervened in time and space, and taken upon Himself a human body, and become a man. The Lord Jesus has become like us to save us. He was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, expressed the love of God perfectly, and died on a criminals cross to pay the awful price of our sin. He did so willingly, it was His will and the Fathers will that He should do so. This is love. That the holy God should lay down His life for sinful people.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends..”
The wonder is that the Lord Jesus laid down His life for us, and the amazement that He calls us His friends. Such compassion and love should bring tears to our eyes, but it does not. We take it all for granted and somehow imagine we are worth it!
“Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring you to God; being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;”
1 Peter 3:18
The holy God was put to death to save sinners like us. How can this be?
This is the cost of sin. This is how serious it is to do, say, think wrong. We cost Jesus His life, and He gave it willingly, so that we might never have to suffer the punishment of our sin. This is true love.
We accept it and place our trust and hope in what Jesus did on the cross. It is the only way. We can never earn it, because we are sinful. He became the sacrifice because He is perfect. He is acceptable, we are not, but He can make us acceptable, when we believe. What an amazing salvation!
All we do is repent and turn away from our sin, and believe in Jesus – put our whole confidence in the work He did on the cross, and we are saved. Saved from living lives of sin and saved from eternal hell.
This is the love of God made manifest. We see it in the death of our Saviour, Jesus, and we see it in the work of salvation in our lives when we believe. It is a work of God that no one else can do for us.
The holy God was willing to do that for you and I. Why do we not love Him back?
We are so hardened in sin that we will never love or accept Him, until He softens our hearts. Our situation is that bad. We must seek Him until we find Him. We must not be put off or distracted by the things of this mortal life, but earnestly seek eternal life. God will lead us and show us the way. We find it clearly set out for us in the Holy Scripture, the Bible, where the message is most clear. The Holy Spirit will open our inner eyes to see the truth and give us the faith to believe.
When we repent and believe, we receive a new life, spiritual life and find we are loving God and trusting in Him. His love for us is real, and we can really love Him back. What started off as a one way street, is now a double lane. We have the love too and we can love other people as well.
“This commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should also love his brother.”
1 John 4:21
The whole book of 1 John is a good place to start to see the love and provision of the Lord for us and how He can change us and make us righteous people. We must have the desire to be righteous if we are to enter into the kingdom.
God loves you. Do you love Him?
To love Him brings extraordinary privileges and blessings that only the people of God can enjoy.
“And by this we know that we are of the truth, and persuade our hearts before him, because if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our hearts don’t condemn us, we have boldness toward God; and whatever we ask, we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing in his sight.”
1 John 3:19-27
We have the truth in our hands and hearts; God does not condemn us; we have confidence to come to God with all things; we can ask Him for what we need and require and He hears us; we have the ability to keep His commands. These are only a few of the blessings we receive at His hand when we come to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith…
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. The one who fears has not been perfected in love. We love because He first loved us.
1 John 4:18
When we trust in Christ He takes away our fear, fear of punishment, hell and death, and gives us a sure and certain hope of heaven. It is a deep spiritual work and not dependant on us or anything in this life. We do not have craven fear of Him either, for now we are dearly beloved children of the living God. He will perfect our love, so that it grows in Him and for Him and therefore other people, as well, especially our sisters and brothers in Christ. We have a new family and a new, fresh start. We find we do now love the Lord and want to please Him and serve Him.
“And this is that testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
“Beloved, don’t believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit who doesn’t confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God, and this is the spirit of the Antichrist, of whom you have heard that it comes. Now it is in the world already.”
1 John 4:1-4
John, the writer of these words, is such a loving Christian. He addresses us as “Beloved” His whole book is about loving each other as Christians, for love is the signature mark of the Christian and should mark them out as different from the world.
But there is more. John tells us not to believe everything we hear or read. He tells us we must have some way of judging if something is right or wrong. There must be some way to discern if someone is speaking truth, or is trying to deceive us. This is not just what people say, but there is a force behind things that happen. This force is evil and would lead us astray and cause us to believe in something or some one who is false and therefore we are deceived. John calls it the spirit of Antichrist. It is a spirit that is always and completely against the truth and person of the Lord Jesus. It is such a powerful deception, that even the people of God could be deceived.
There are many truths around the Christian doctrines that are believed and not believed and people argue about their rights and wrongs and try to change minds about what is true or false. This can be very challenging to sort out, as there are so many issues involved and we get hung up on our pet subjects and become a bit obsessive about them, or it. Baptism, church membership, communion, etc… are all traditionally the issues that Christians debate about, and make into the issues of the moment.
John tells us that there is really only one issue we need to be concerned about. That is, the truth about Jesus Christ, who He is, what He has done. The only reliable record we have of this is in the Holy Scriptures, so if we are to be kept in the right and not led astray, we must know the Scriptures and be taught the right way. Once we know the truth about Jesus we can believe and be kept right with God.
But there is more. We do not just give mental ascent to these truths, but we must know the truth. The truth is Jesus.
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me.”
Jesus Himself is the truth, and when we know Him, we know the truth. He is a person, and came in to this world, so that we might know Him personally. Our sins separate us from God, but He has come to pay the price for those sins. They cost Him His life, for sin is serious and separates us from God. To be separate from God, means to be under His condemnation, and we bear the consequences of our own sin. God is not willing that we should perish, and has provided this way of escape from certain death in our souls. As we know Jesus the Saviour, He can rescue us from our sin and its consequences and make us right with God. We repent and believe in Him and put our whole trust and faith in what He did not the cross to save us. He can make us new people and put His Spirit in us, so that we know Him and have a new nature to walk with Him the rest of our lives and into eternity. This is life and peace with God.
As you can see, it all centres around the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no one else like Him, and there is no other Saviour or way to heaven. What we believe about Him, determines the Christ we are believing in! There are many false christs, called antichrists, and they deliberately lead people away from God and to themselves. This is the mark of the false teacher. Always talking about themselves and encouraging people to follow them, and not the Lord. The Christian is a servant, not the Master! We can easily put ourselves in the place of Christ and lead people astray. Many are building their own empires on the back of God and using God to prop up their egos and make a lot of rewards in this world. This is not the way of Christ. We can easily see that in the Scripture.
“Don’t love the world, neither the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the Father’s love isn’t in him.”
1 John 2:15
That is very clear, and is a clear view of Jesus Christ. There are so many Scriptures we should look at. Jesus is the eternal God, always has been and always will be. He never stops being God. In Hebrews chapter one it is all set out for us so clearly. Reading the Word of God and meditating on it daily, is key to understanding.
“But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your Kingdom.”
We need to be clear about who Jesus is and that we are following the true Jesus. We must also have the Holy Spirit working in our mind and heart to understand and believe in Him, and the truth of His Word, the Bible. We must know God, know Jesus Christ personally and up close. It must be true, or we are not believing the truth. The spirit of the Antichrist has always been in the world, waiting to rise up and take over everything. It is insidious and persistent and so subtle it can lead us astray so easily. There are so many false voices in our world and so many platforms they can strut on and put their ideas forward. We need discernment and discretion in dealing with what they say. If we look at their lifestyles it gives us a clue to what they are about, and also how they talk about themselves. We talk about Christ. We live for Christ and become Christ-like. This is the way of humility and deliberately keeping “self” down and putting away the desires of the fleshly part of us that keeps us chained to this world and makes us susceptible to the spirit of the Antichrist.
At the bottom of it all, is lack of love for the Lord Jesus and a lack of knowledge, personal knowledge, about Him. We ignore or soft-pedal the Scriptures at our personal peril. There are many charlatans and they look and sound so credible. We will fall for them, of we do not pay attention to the basic doctrines of Jesus Christ, and His person and work.
If we love someone, it is easy to follow them and not to be taken in by foolishness and error, because we will know them so nearly and dearly. We will know quickly when there is falsehood. Knowing Christ comes through the Scripture and the daily walk of faith with Him. It is having His Spirit in our mind, heart and soul, who will lead us into all truth.
If we are taken in by the spirt of the Antichrist, we cannot belong to the truth, and cannot belong to Jesus the Saviour. We must guard our heart with great jealously and keep ourselves in the love of God.
“But you, beloved, remember the words which have been spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you that “In the last time there will be mockers, walking after their own ungodly lusts.” These are they who cause divisions, and are sensual, not having the Spirit. But you, beloved, keep building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.”
We pay attention to what God says and walk in His way, even though it is difficult and often lonely. We have His gracious presence with us and His voice of cheer to help us and keep us on the heavenly road. The Holy Spirit will minister to us and we will know we belong to Him and not to another.
“For you did not receive a spirit of slavery that returns you to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. And if we are children, then we are heirs: heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with Him, so that we may also be glorified with Him.”
“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me; and the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, behold, he comes!” says The Lord of Hosts.”
The beginning of this chapter is a beautiful relief for the hungry human soul, who seeks the Lord. Amidst all the condemnation, which is necessary, there is a sure and certain hope, that God will send His messenger to teach the people His ways, and this messenger will speak the truth and be faithful in all things.
“Behold. He comes….” John the Baptist was the messenger born into a godly family, and set apart for a specific purpose of preaching the coming of the Son of God. He was a cousin to this preacher, who was the incarnate God. John the Baptist was a man born for a particular time and for a particular role. He rejected the easy life, and all the trappings of worldly success, and called out to his fellow women and men, to repent. This was the gospel of John the Baptist. Repent and be converted. Someone was coming soon, who was so worthy, that even John, as a holy man, was not good enough to untie the shoes of this Redeemer. John was sent by God to prepare the hearts of the people for the coming Messiah. His presence was foretold by the prophet Isaiah…
“A voice of one calling: “Prepare the way for the LORD in the wilderness; make a straight highway for our God in the desert. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill made low; the uneven ground will become smooth, and the rugged land a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all humanity together will see it.”
Isaiah 40: 3-5
John the Baptist was that prophet, and his message was unique, for it called people out of sinful lifestyles, to follow and obey this coming Messiah. John gave up the right to a soft life, and became an example of the attitude of all who proclaim this Saviour Jesus. His reward was not in this life, but in the life to come. He died a violent death, at the hands of a foolish and vain king, but God’s servant was praised by the Lord Jesus as the “greatest man who ever lived.”
“For this is he, of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’
Most certainly I tell you, among those who are born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he.”
Matthew 11: 10-11
“Behold he comes….” the messenger comes to Bethlehem, as was foretold by all the prophets. He comes without trumpets and worldly acclaim, but is born silently, into a lowly situation, to a humble couple who loved the Lord their God. It was foretold, and even evil Herod, could read the signs left in the pages of the Old Testament. Jesus is seen by the few, who were ready to receive the message in obedience and faith. It is recorded for us if we should wish to read it, and the power of God is seen in the protection of the Saviour of the world from human wickedness.
“Behold He comes..” He comes for those who are seeking Him and looking for His coming. All the prophecies pointed the way, but when Jesus came, it was a sudden and unexpected event. Even though we have signposts to the way of life, and the provision of the Saviour who came to die and rise again, we are still not ready. Jesus comes to the physical temple where He was dedicated to God, and which would be thrown down in the space of a generation. Jesus has come as the holy Lamb of God who can seal the covenant of promise and keep it eternally for the sake of His chosen people. He is the Saviour and the Redeemer of all who love Him and who walk in faith with Him, even in a sinful world.
There seems to be some desire in the people for such a Messiah, and there is a cooling off in regard for the corrupt priests at this time. Sin makes us sick and it eventually becomes too much for us to bear. We seek a Saviour. The religious leaders have no such power or authority or love for the people, who were perishing, to save them, or even point them in the right direction. The people are sin-sick, and there is no remedy in the religion of the Levite priests. When we get sick enough of sin, then God can come down and offer salvation and a new life. When we run out of this world’s diversions, we will get round to seeking the Lord. When the time is right, Jesus will come and there is rescue. Even this sentence shows how far away our hearts are from any desire for Christ. Unless the Spirit of God moves in us, we can never find life. This is not a woolly- minded feeling, but events that we can look back on and remember how God brought us to Jesus through the inner working of the Holy Spirit. This is crucial for our future assurance, and we must be clear.
“Behold He comes…” what joy for the sin-sick soul and the person who is seeking relief from the oppression of this present age. With what joy we learn and turn and repent, to find a living Saviour, who is for us and not against us. Life now begins, and there is peace with God and strength to live uprightly in a perverse age. Those who love the Lord Jesus will keep their eyes fixed on Him, the author and perfected of our faith. There is someone we can trust and rely on to keep us and bring us safely through the struggles as we walk towards heaven and home.
“Behold He comes…” Jesus is coming again. We look to the skies for our Lord to break through the gloom and put an end to the wickedness for good. He will take all His people home to Himself, and all who choose sin, will have what they desire. For the Christian it will be a greatest day, and the first day of an eternity of great days that will never end. For the unforgiven, it will be the worst day, and the beginning of an eternity of unending days of anguish.
This is the day we look to. The earth will melt with fervent heat and the Universe will implode like a rolled up cloth, heaven will be filled with delight and joys and utter pleasure, as the believer sees the one they love. Hell will open to receive those who reject the Lord and all His goodness. They will be forgotten forever.
Such joy in that heavenly kingdom, as all wrongs are put right and the glory of eternal righteousness is enjoyed by all those who love it and love the One who has bought it for them. We cannot yet know or understand enough to be specific about it, but it will be unimaginable peace, joy, love, all emanating from the Saviour of the world, who bought salvation for His people.
This should be our unending cry, in this world, “repent and seek the Lord.”
“Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, so that there may come times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.”
Acts 3: 19
“Flee from the wrath to come.”
Matthew 3: 7
“He said therefore to the multitudes who went out to be baptised by him, “You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and don’t begin to say among yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father;’ for I tell you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones! Even now the axe also lies at the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that doesn’t bring forth good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire.”
Acts 3: 7-9
How can we claim love for lost people, when all we will do is give money into church funds? Where is our devotion to Christ, that propels us out into the streets to speak the news? Let us be clear, if we have no love for God or our fellow human being, we are not Christians. The levels of apathy and laziness, are astounding. We say we love God and want Him to help us, but we are not willing to learn or change, or make the sacrifice of our lives, to Jesus.
Let us remember who is speaking these words. It is the Lord of Hosts. The Lord commands and controls everything, and He is prepared to keep warning us, but at some stage, we must waken up. This prophecy of Malachi is at the end of an era, and is the punctuation for a period of silence from God. When God is silent, we should be afraid. When He stops speaking to you, you should pay attention to what He has just said to you, and consider why there is now silence. We need to listen to the Lord, and do what He asks. No one wants better for us than our loving God. However, if He is silent, and we don’t care, we are truly in a bad state. Here may be no way back from that position. Some people are lost long before they get to hell.
“Behold He comes…’ what joys that He comes for us… don’t delay…
“Now therefore be wise, you kings. Be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Give sincere homage to the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath will soon be kindled. Blessed are all those who take refuge in him.”
Psalm 2: 10-12
This is the only appropriate response to the call of God. He will not call forever. We must come on His terms, and humble ourselves before Him, and give all honour and praise to His name. We serve Him with fear, and rejoice before Him with trembling. All those who trust in Him will not be confounded…
“….that you put away, as concerning your former way of life, the old man, that grows corrupt after the lusts of deceit; and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, who in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of truth.”
The old life they had before, they were taught by the Spirit to get rid of it. This is a deliberate act of abandonment, and cast yourself on God, in repentance and faith. The old, empty, selfish, ungodly life has gone, and we deliberately walk in the way of the new life in Christ. This old life is corrupt and getting more and more corrupt because it panders to the desires of the flesh, which trick us into thinking that we are doing well. The old life must be out away and constantly out to death so that the new life can grow and develop in Christ. This putting off the “old man” is a daily duty and one that we find most difficult. It is to do with our former way of life as sinful people, and therefore is not relevant or necessary any more.
Those who teacher others the way to God, have an awesome responsibility, and we all need to be sure about the truths of God when we speak to other people. The message of God tells us to put off the old sinful person and put on the new person. It could be like a coat. We put off the old ragged sinful coat, and put on the righteous coat given by Christ.
This constant putting off the old and putting on my the new, should be a delight to us, unless we are particularly cold towards the Lord, which cannot be, in the life of the Christians. We can find ourselves wrestle it with particular besetting sins that trouble us, but we fight on to be holy, for the Lord is holy. Indeed, he commands us to be holy.
“But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:15-16
“….to be made new in the attitude of your minds;”
When the Christians at Ephesus walked away from their old lives, God made them new. He gave them new minds and new attitudes. The mind is a crucial key in believing and thinking and doing. If we carry on with our old darkened sinful minds, we will be led astray. We will think we are satisfied, but only in the things of this world.
God must make us new. Unless the work of salvation comes from Him, it is futile and not real. If we have other Christians, ministers, church leaders trying to convince us we are new in Christ, we need to be careful. Salvation is of the Lord, and the work in a soul must be His work, if it is to last for eternity. Every Christian must be clear about their life in Christ. It is wise to test out our salvation. To go around the memory and experiences and make sure we do really belong to God. Our daily experience of God should tell us that we are born again and belong to the household of faith. We should have a love for the Lord which makes it easy for us to obey. Often our love is weak and feeble, so we fan into flame the desires to follow Him, through the reading of the Word and prayer.
A Christian really does have new attitudes, outlook and ways of thinking. Our minds are renewed and made like the mind of Christ. This should exhibit itself in our daily life and people should know we are Christians and therefore very different from this world. We may not necessarily fit in either, since our mindset is so different and therefore our behaviour also.
“….and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
When a person comes to Christ, they put on the new life and way of life. The new life is eternal life, which is a quality of life fit for heaven and as we walk with God. The way of life, is the change in our behaviour and tastes, which set us apart from the people of this world. The new-self, is the person we are meant to be. We are forgiven and at peace with God. We can be bold and courageous, because God’s Holy Spirit rules within. There is a living faith that need never fail. I become a righteous person, who delights to know God and has endless love for others. This is given by the power of the Spirit, from the mighty God. There is no other way to live this life, than to deny self and follow God relentlessly. There is no other way to please the Lord, than to walk exclusively with Him, and follow His commands. This is how we know Him and is the backbone of our Christians assurance.
We may have put off the old and put on the new, but still struggle with sin. this will always be a feature fo our
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labour.”
If we work in partnership with another person, the rewards are greater. We can produce more and we have the other person to motivate and help to drive and direct what we do. Also, we can check each other and help each other on the heavenly way. We can point each other to the Scripture and encourage each other in the way of the Lord. It is very difficult to walk alone, but God is with His people, and He can sustain us whatever our circumstances.
Often we must walk alone, for others leave us and fall out of our lives and can fail us. God is faithful and will not let our work be wasted or forgotten. He will not forget us, or decide we are not suitable to be His friend! He is our constant, wise, kind friend and will teach us to walk in His ways.
Whatever our circumstances it is not good to be alone. Practically, if something should happen to us, there is no help and no one to turn to for support and encouragement. Emotionally, there is no close person to relate to and no tender touches of love and affection. Spiritually we depend on God and are responsible for our own spiritual well being. This is a difficult life, but some seem to be called to this.
If we work together, it is better for the both parties. There are good rewards for being together, and not just financial. The emotional and spiritual rewards of being close to another person are great. There is companionship to be treasured. But if we remain alone, we must not be discouraged, for God is real and knows what we need. He will provide everything at the right time and in the right way. We wait on Him only, and look to His hand and heart for provision.
It is very difficult to be stuck in a relationship, where there are none of these things. The sense of aloneness is magnified rather than reduced and the encouragement is not there. It is very important who we share our lives with, and that we choose the right person and put our faith in the right kind of person. It is better to travel alone than just be bound to someone unsuitable, who does not care, and is no kind of companion. Some people have to make and face the responsibility of very difficult decisions.
“Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens his friend’s countenance.”
Two cannot walk together unless they are agreed. You cannot know someone agrees or disagrees unless there is communication.
“Do two walk together, unless they have agreed?”
Many may seem to walk together, but they are not. Too much is taken for granted and there is no sharing. No sharing no caring. But the Lord is able, and He will bring His purposes out in all things, and His will, will be done. This is our prayer at all times and in all circumstances.
The two that walk together, are ultimately, ourselves and the Lord. This is the relationship to be treasured and the companionship that never lets us down. We rejoice to know Him, and His joy is full in us. He is able to fulfil all His promise to us and in us and will make our light shine out for His glory and for our glory too. We do not walk alone. With God we are never alone, and His love surrounds us however we night feel or think we feel. In all our difficulties He provides a way of escape and helps us to keep our way pure.
A grateful heart is a wonderful thing, and gratefulness to the Lord for each day is the key, not a covetous heart that always wants something else. Unbelief that He will fail us and doesn’t actually know what we need, is debilitating and cannot provide any comfort at all. We trust in the eternal promises and commit our way to our loving Father, and He will bring all things to pass for us, for our good.
“What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who didn’t spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how would he not also with him freely give us all things?”
The Lord will provide for all our need and will renewing faithful to us. We place all our confidence in Him and trust in that unfailing love that we have always experienced throughout our Christian lives, and know that our confidence is not misplaced.
“But those who wait for the LORD will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run, and not be weary. They will walk, and not faint.”
This is a life long promise and we grasp it and believe….
“Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring you to God; being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;”
1 Peter 3:18
We are held in a state of death until we are resurrected in our souls, by the power of the Holy Spirit. We must come to Christ through the way of the cross. There is only one remedy our our sin, and that is the sacrificial death of Christ. There is no other Saviour, and on other way of salvation. There is no discussion on this fact, because it is plain from holy Scripture. Christ Jesus, the holy and righteous Son of God, suffered and died on a cross as a sin offering, that he might bring us to God.
Jesus did this as a payment to the law of God for our unjust and ungodly deeds, that we have carried out in disobedience to the law of God. We all stand condemned before Him as rampant sinners, until we are freely forgiven through repentance and faith. The death of Christ paid the awful price of our sin and set us free from it’s slavery and cleansed us from it’s guilt. We become free people, because of what our Saviour has done for or us.
Jesus died on the cross. His body died and was buried – His flesh died. But He rose as the conqueror and eternal Saviour, when He rose from the dead, through the power to the Spirit. His body died, but His Spirit went to God and He become our Saviour. His flesh was His outward body, that died, and His Spirit is the power of God that raised Him from the dead. Death was not the end, for He raised Himself in power to a new life. So also, He can raise us!
So also we die to the flesh and are raised to life in our spirits that we might be alive to God and dead to ourselves.
“…But now once at the end of the ages, he has been revealed to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
The reason Jesus came in to the world, was for this very purpose, to put away sin. He did this through His sacrifice for sin, which He made on the cross. He sacrificed His flesh to put away the sin in our flesh and to kill the deadening effects of sin on our souls. This He can do, because of who He is, and what he has done. He has come at the end of the age to put away sin, once and for all. A once for all sacrifice to once and for all, put away the deadening effects of sin and set us free.
All the Old Testament sacrifices pointed to this one event in the history of humankind. It is the fulcrum of everything, history, time and space. God has invaded our time and space and has intervened to bring salvation to sinful people, who believe and are saved from the punishment to come.
“But Christ having come as a high priest of the coming good things, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation, nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, entered in once for all into the Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify to the cleanness of the flesh: how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
These old sacrifices were only shadows of what was to come. They could not take away the sin in the human heart, or save the soul from eternal death. Only the blood of Christ can do that. The Old Testament believer, looked forward to the coming Messiah, and believed on His name and were saved, just in the same way we look back and believe also.
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law and the deadening effect of our fallen conscience, and we can now serve the living God! We have been set free to do so, since the price for sin has been paid and we can now go free.
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us. For it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree,”
What our Lord Jesus suffered for our sake we cannot tell. He became the willing sacrifice for sin, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death and He became a curse for our sake. These are the reasons we love Him, because He loved us first. We would never come to Him, for we are dead and enslaved to sin, but Jesus can raise our souls to a new life and set us free from the power of sin over our flesh.
We therefore believe to the saving of our souls, and put on the new person who is alive to God. We put to death the things to do with the flesh, and we live to God in our souls. We sacrifice all we are on the altar of faith and love to our dear Saviour and serve Him with glad hearts and redeemed minds.
“Put to death therefore your members which are on the earth: sexual immorality, uncleanness, depraved passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry; for which things’ sake the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience. You also once walked in those, when you lived in them; but now you also put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and shameful speaking out of your mouth. Don’t lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his doings, and have put on the new man, who is being renewed in knowledge after the image of his Creator, where there can’t be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondservant, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all.”
This is the way we are to walk with the Lord. It is very straightforward. We put to death the deeds of the flesh, which is the sinful desire to do wrong against the Lord, and put on righteousness and holiness, which are from Christ. Every day we are renewed and everyday we grow in grace and goodness, for we are not yet made perfect. The pathway for every Christian is the same, and requires holiness, as God is holy. We put off the doings of the old person of unbelief, and put on the godliness of the new person, who has been redeemed from the slavery of sin, and given this new life.
“This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commandments. One who says, “I know him,” and doesn’t keep his commandments, is a liar, and the truth isn’t in him. But whoever keeps his word, God’s love has most certainly been perfected in him. This is how we know that we are in him: he who says he remains in him ought himself also to walk just like he walked.”