Thursday, 16 December 2010

Personal Object Lessons - Judgement time

“For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5 v 10

We don’t like to be judged – by anyone. Generally we tend to think that those people who pronounce their opinion on us do not understand anything about us and are therefore not in a position to stand in judgement. There is a proverb that says, “Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes.” Therefore the only person who is able to judge us in all matters is Jesus Christ because He has walked in our shoes; He became a man and experienced life just as we do. He alone is able and justified to judge anyone.

While we, as inhabitants of the earth are being judged, we are not alone. God is also being judged. He is being judged for making a plan of salvation for all those that believe in Jesus. The judgement of God is to vindicate His love for us, to ascertain if He has shown justice in His plans. God was accused of being unfair and unjust (Gen 3 v 1-5) when He set aside a tree in the Garden of Eden. God had already clearly stated to Adam “... of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Gen 2 v 17. The clear punishment for this crime was death. Both Eve and Adam knew what they were doing when they took of the fruit and ate it; they knew that a justifiable punishment would be meted out to them. And immediately they had consumed the fruit, they hid themselves from God.

It is usual practise to hide when a crime has been committed. The perpetrator wants to remain unmarked by the inevitable penalty of his deed. It is very rare that someone commits a crime and then publicises it. Whenever the deed is found out the criminal - the person who has broken some law - is brought to justice. He is usually tried before a judge and maybe a jury, and often has a defending lawyer on his side. This person acts as his advocate and begins a campaign on his behalf in front of the judge and jury. In our personal judgement we are in a very unusual and special position because our defending advocate is also our judge! (1 John 2 v 1-2)

Christ Jesus, as well as defending us, has already paid the price for our sinful lives. 1 John 2 v 2 says that He is our atoning sacrifice for our sins, “and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” When Jesus came to earth, and lived a blameless life as a man, He was without sin yet He accepted the punishment of all sins so that we could have the reward of eternal life. He walked more than a mile in our shoes, He walked a lifetime. And still He shouldered the penalty for sins that were not His.

It is at the cross that we see justification for God forgiving anyone. The same cross that is a revelation of the love of God is also a revelation of the wrath and integrity of God. Nowhere do we see the judgement of God against sin as vividly as on Calvary. The One who died on the cross to save us from our sin will one day judge us for our response to His salvation and the life we have lived. The investigative judgement, where the book of life and the book of remembrance are opened, will justify God for forgiving those who are forgiven. (1 Tim 5 v 24; 1 Peter 4 v 17) The review judgement will answer all questions the saved may have as to why others are condemned and lost. This is yet another chance to remove all doubt about God’s justice as the saved discover how earnestly and patiently God cared for those who are eternally lost (Rev 20 v 4; Rev 15 v 3 – 4).

Even the wicked, those who have chosen to reject God’s salvation plan, will see for themselves the extent of God’s justice. At the end of time everything will be judged “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgement, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Eccl 12 v 13 – 14.

As we are judged, so also will God be judged. Simultaneously His character will be vindicated and our lives will be rewarded with eternity as a result of our acceptance of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We do not need to fear this judgement as long as we accept the advice of our advocate Jesus, who has covered our sins with the blood He shed on the cross and has taken us, without sin, to the judgement seat of God where His love for us if justified before the jury of all ages.

©MHMorgan 2010

Friday, 5 November 2010

Personal Object Lessons - I AM

“... Before Abraham was, I am.” John 8 v 58

Who are you? Who do you think you are? This is a question that nearly all of us are faced with at some time or another in our lives – often from ourselves. There are numerous books and programmes that all ask the same question about identity, they ask about ancestry, they ask about personal history. People have an innate desire to know the truth about just who the other person is. People also want to know the truth about themselves: just who am I? Why am I here? What am I doing? The answers to these questions are as complicated as the questions themselves. We are complex beings always searching for a better way, a brighter path, and the right thing.

When Jesus Christ was asked the question about His identity by a group of hostile Jews He answered them by saying “I am.” (John 8 v 58) This answer enraged the group and they tried to stone Him to death. The use of the words “I am” signified divinity. It was prophesied that when Jesus was born in Bethlehem Ephratah he would “be ruler of Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5 v 6). This eternal, everlasting aspect of God is confirmed in Colossians 1 v 16 -17: “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things are created by him, and for him. And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”

In Exodus 3 v 14 a frightened Moses goes to God and asks who should he tell the children of Israel has sent him to them, God responds to Moses and says “I AM hath sent me unto you.” God repeats “I AM THAT I AM” (Ex 3 v14). The Hebrew word for “I am” is in an imperfect tense and it means I was, I am and I always will be. It signifies the eternity of God and the completeness of God. In the Greek words of the New Testament Jesus uses this same phrase and tense when He says “ego eime”: I am. Jesus states that He is the same and was the same before Abraham. The same God who led the children of Israel is the same God who died on Calvary. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day and for ever.”(Heb 13 v 8) In the final book of the Bible John the Revelator greets the churches with grace and peace “from him which is, and which was, and which is to come.” (Rev 1 v 4) It is this peace that we can all claim when we approach God because He is, He always has been, and He always will be.

When we question who we are as individuals in relation to our knowledge of who God is we know that we are loved, we are valued, we are precious. The search for identity is often a lifelong one, however, when we get an insight into who God is we are better able to see who we are.

Who am I? I am a beautiful person created by the love of God. I am because He made me.

With God we have consistency. With God we have surety. With God we have eternity. This eternity is not an existence for a limited amount of time it is the existence that God has: the timeless existence outside of time.

©MHMorgan 2010

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Personal Object Lessons - Holy Spirit

“And I pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth... I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” John 14 v 16 – 18

We have learned that there is one God. “Look unto me, and be ye saved ... for I am God, and there is none else.” (Isa 45 v 22) However, the image of a three-in-one Godhead is firmly fixed in the minds of people who learn about the Jesus Christ. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are all familiar names used to refer to the Trinity. How do these three figures relate to each other and are they equal parts of the Godhead? Who or what is this Holy Spirit, also known as the Holy Ghost? How can God be One and yet separate?

From the beginning of His ministry on earth Jesus worked with the Holy Ghost. When He was baptized “the Holy Ghost descended in bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.” (Luke 3 v22; see also Matt 3 v 16 – 17; Mark 1 v 10 – 11; John 1 v 32 - 34) In Acts 10 v 38 it is recorded that “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power... for God was with him.” Jesus was baptized with the Spirit and, in John 1 v 33 it is noted that the John the Baptist was told that when he baptized Jesus the Holy Spirit would ‘descend’ and ‘remain’ with Him.

The Holy Spirit is also referred to as another Comforter that we are told will “abide with you for ever.”(John 14 v 16; 16 v 7). This is a permanent and eternal relationship. The first Comforter is shown as being Jesus Himself who says “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (John 14 v 18) So Jesus reveals Himself as the same as the Holy Ghost. Here the equal status of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is confirmed. It is in this verse in John 14 v 18 that Christ assures us that we will not be left as orphans when He departed from the earth to ascend to heaven. Jesus promises that we were not destined to be permanently bereaved of our parent, our Father: the Holy Ghost is our Father and would be present when Jesus had ascended to heaven. We are told that God will always be with us and the presence of the Holy Ghost confirms this fact, “lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (Matt 28 v20).

Clarifying a part of the role of this different manifestation of God, Jesus said “... the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost ... shall teach you all things.” (John 14 v 26) Jesus said that while He was on earth the Holy Spirit could not be us so it was important for Him to go away. Christ Jesus said that He would send the Comforter and that when He arrived He would “guide you into all truth.” (John 16 v 13) The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, is a gift to the world from Jesus “I will send him to you.” (John 16 v 8) This beautiful offering of God Himself came to mankind with distinctive characteristics. Jesus said that when the Comforter arrived He “will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness and of judgement.” (John 16 v 8) Jesus also said that the Holy Spirit will “tesify of me.” (John 15 v 26) The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to help each one of us to obtain our place in the kingdom of God (Rom 14 v 17 – 19). We can be filled with “all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. (Rom 15 v13) With the resources of a member at of the Godhead at our individual disposal we are destined to succeed.

The book of Acts has approximately half of the entire references to the Holy Spirit that appear in the whole Bible. In Acts 1 v 1- 2 it states that the Holy Ghost is to complete the work that Jesus started to do and teach on earth until “... the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost ...” spoke to the chosen apostles (Acts 1 v 2). Therefore it becomes evident that the Holy Spirit is equal with God the Father and God the Son as He continues to act and teach on earth. The book of Acts could be viewed as the beginning of the Biblical record of the Acts of the Holy Spirit on earth.

There were baptisms (Acts 8 v 12 - 13), speaking in tongues at Pentecost (Acts 2 v 1-18) bold speaking of the Word of God (Acts 4 v 31; Acts 6 v 3, 5), as well as numerous miracles and signs (Acts 8 v 6 – 10,13). The people who had received the Holy Spirit were known as men with “the great power of God” (Acts 8 v 10). In Galilee Jesus instructed his disciples to “teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt 28 v 19). This may sound like an impossible unachievable task but the Holy Spirit never gives ‘unnecessary burdens’, (Acts 15 v 28) but He has made us responsible to God for the people of the world; in Acts 20 v 28 we are told that the “Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”

In order to obtain the promise of the kingdom of God we are charged to focus on “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.” (Rom 14 v 17 – 18) We are never left to accomplish these works alone: the Holy Spirit is ever present and all powerful because He is God.

©MHMorgan 2010

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Personal Object Lessons - God

“O taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalms 145 v 9

It would have been impossible to start this A-Z journey without some mention of God and Christ Jesus. It is my belief that no investigation of love would be complete without a glimpse into the being of God. Many people throughout the ages have said that there is no God. “A fool hath said in his heart there is no God.” (Ps 14 v 1; Ps 53 v 1) The previous studies have been a taster into my impression of God. “O taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Ps 34 v 8)

The question many people ask is ‘Who or what is God?’ “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” (1 John 4 v 8). In verse 16 of the same chapter we are reminded again that “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4 v 16) Even if a person has no concept of Christ or God it is likely that they will know about love. Just knowing about love is enough to start understanding and trusting God. This is the beginning of a new journey. It is always difficult to define love; the same can be said about defining or confining God to any limited human concept. We have to exercise faith and believe; we will not be disappointed.

Once we begin to know the one true God we are directed to love Him. “... there is one God; and there is none other but he. And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Mark 12 v 32-33). From this love to God comes love for ourselves and love for our neighbours. Christ Jesus said that this extension of love from God to ourselves and others is the basis of all the commandments. In Mark 12 v 29 – 31 Jesus confirms the true God and our instructions to firstly love God then to love our neighbours and ourselves equally well.

Many false gods have declared that they are God however God Himself has declared “Look unto me, and be ye saved all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else.” (Isa 45 v 22) The substitute gods want to gain the loyalty and following of all people but these gods can never replace the real God because they have no power to save. They have no comparable abilities to be everything to humanity. The affections of men may sway between the real God and the gods that try vainly to replace Him but our all knowing God has said “Fear not, neither be afraid; have not I told you from that time, and declared it? Ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? Yea, there is no God; I know not any.” (Isa 44 v 8) There is nothing unknown to God.

God is love. God is also light. “God is light and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1 v 5) God is everything we need. He provides an eternal family for us because He is our Father and everyone who does His will is our mother, brother and sister (Mark 3 v 33 – 35). God cares for us without any regard to our affections towards Him. “The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” (Ps 145 v 9)

A search for God reveals a caring God, a merciful God and a loving God. God can be found in all aspects of life. He is not limited to the Bible, church buildings, or especially elected religious leaders. God is available to each and every person. God values each and every person; he made us in his own image (Gen 1 v 26 ) and He has declared every creature He has created good (1 Tim 4 v 4). With God on our side we have no further fear of the future or what will happen to us because “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8 v 31)

Although God knows everything about us He still encourages us to talk to Him, in prayer, and to make all our requests known to Him while we also thank Him for all He has done for us. Nothing that we think of can be hidden from God but we are persuaded to approach God boldly. (Phil 4 v 6). God is always at hand to hear and answer our prayers because His love for us is constant and continual “The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he will also hear their cry and save them.” (Ps 145 v 18 – 19)

God is ... exactly what we need today.

©MHMorgan 2010

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Personal Object Lessons - Fear

“Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” Psalms 1 v 11

Fear is not an emotion that most people look forward to or enjoy experiencing. This verse in Psalms chapter 1 tells us to serve the Lord with fear and at the same time to rejoice with trembling. It may seem like a contradiction to talk about fear and rejoicing at the same time. Therefore we need to fully understand the type of fear that the Bible refers to when it is related to serving God.

When we are happy and rejoicing we are in a positive state of mind and it is this condition that the psalmist is referring to when he notes that we should rejoice with trembling. Usually we think that we would only tremble and shake in an involuntary manner when we are affected by great fear or anxiety. This fear of the Lord is most likely to mean an emotional, and possibly physical, reaction brought on by the excitement and the joy of knowing more about Him.

When we approach God we need not be afraid; this is not the type of fear that is being referred to in this verse. The fear that is used in relation to God is instructing us to regard God with reverence and awe.

Awe is a feeling of reverential respect mixed with wonder or fear. We often experience this feeling when faced with unusual sights of nature like vast fields, mountains, lakes, volcanoes and icebergs. These examples of nature are evidence of the creative power of God and they are primary examples of why we approach Him with fear - reverence and wonder - and why we rejoice with trembling: because we are beginning to understand the magnificence of all He has made – especially us. We, as human beings, are wonderful examples of God’s creative genius.

When we begin to understand God’s unlimited brilliance then we can do nothing else but praise Him. Knowing the complicated structure and capacity of the human being makes us marvel at the creative powers of the One who made us.

“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Ps 139 v 14.) As we learn more about God and about His love for us, and all that He provides for our care, we are drawn to serve and praise Him constantly.

The more we know, the more we want to know; we begin a deeper search for more knowledge about ourselves and about our Creator. In our search we are constantly amazed at the untapped resources that we have within each of us; catching just a glimpse of the possibilities of ourselves makes us realise the unlimited power of God. This is one reason why we fear and rejoice in unison. We then begin to grow in wisdom.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Ps 111 v 10.) This statement is repeated in Prov 9 v 10 where the second part of this verse says “and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” Therefore if we want to increase in wisdom we have to serve God and the first step in service is getting to know the One you serve. In order to have a good relationship with God, and we need to have reverence and awe when we come to Him and that respect for God needs to permeate all that we do and in all that we are in relation to all that He has done and all that He is. Prov 1 v 7 reiterates that the fear of the Lord is the source of knowledge “but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

The first chapter of Psalms warns us to remember the wise instructions and laws of our parents as we begin to serve God. Service is a personal act and each of us has a unique relationship with God. To get to this place of intimacy we have to conduct an individual search for which we are advised to look carefully and thoroughly as if we are seeking precious metals and hidden treasures (Prov 2 v 4) and we are promised that if we do this “Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.” (Prov 2 v 5.)

Monday, 5 April 2010

Personal Object Lessons - Easter

“He is risen …” Matthew 28 v 7

Easter is a time for celebration. Its history is directly related to the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. However, many people just look forward this holiday as a symbol that spring has arrived; a sign of new life.

Christ rose from the grave after His crucifixion and the grieving disciples who made their way to His tomb were greeted with the news of Christ’s victory over death with the utterance of three simple words that fulfilled a promise… “He is risen…” (Matt 28 v 7).

When Christ was on the cross at Calvary He similarly spoke three profound words… “It is finished.” (John 19 v 30). He had been raised high like a banner so that all could see and remember His selfless act of sacrifice. The crucifixion and death of Christ was the final link in the plan salvation. His death and resurrection provided a way. A way of hope and confidence that there is life beyond the grave; that there is life eternal with the Creator of all worlds. Christ Jesus led the way – from His sinless life on earth, to His return to heaven – the path to restoration with the Father was made plain (Luke 24 v 31). The earthly life, the painful death, and the return to life of Christ shows His undeniable love for humanity. The glory of God was magnified through the suffering of Christ (Luke 24 v 26). It was because humanity was under the sentence of eternal death that Christ Jesus bore the separation from the Father by taking on the sins of the world. With His life Christ paid the ransom price for everyone. His death unlocked the gates of eternity for us to enter in. Through nearly 2,000 years people throughout the world have been drawn to this act of pure love that promises life to all who believe on Him (John 3 v 16).

The actual resurrection of the Son of Man means that “it has begun”: these three words encompass the completion of the promise that results in the fulfilment of the plan of salvation. The time of new life had begun when Christ rose from the grave; the time of life eternal for all who believe had arrived. Christ died and finished the preparation work that He came to earth to complete. Then He rose from the grave to complete the last phase of humanity’s rescue plan.

Easter therefore is really a celebration of the beginning of the journey of humanity back to life eternal. A journey made possible by Christ Jesus. He made the way.

He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14 v 6)

Easter is a time to remember new life: life eternal.

©MHMorgan 2010

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