Tuesday, 25 May 2010

THE FATHER GLORIFIED:By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples

It is difficult to better some of these commentaries on Scripture from the pen of men such as C.H.Spurgeon and Andrew Murray. Their writings are almost like Scripture itself in their effect-and of course it should be, as they were men filled and inspired by the Spirit of God! Here again Murray in his little booklet 'the True Vine' which is a commentary of John 15, encourages us to abide in Christ and pray that the Father glorifies himself through the fruit that we bear for him. Let us take this encouragement as from the Lord himself and with a heart full of faith, trust that He will do it.AK

How can we glorify God? Not by adding to His glory or bringing Him any new glory that He has not. But simply by allowing His glory to shine out through us, by yielding ourselves to Him, that His glory may manifest itself in us and through us to the world. In a vineyard or a vine bearing much fruit, the owner is glorified, as it tells of his skill and care. In the disciple who bears much fruit, the Father is glorified. Before men and angels, proof is given of the glory of God's grace and power; God's glory shines out through him.

This is what Peter means when he writes: "He that ministers, let him minister as of the ability that God gives, that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ." As a man works and serves in a power which comes from God alone, God gets all the glory. When we confess that the ability came from God alone, he that does the work, and they who see it, equally glorify God. It was God who did it. Men judge by the fruit of a garden of what the gardener is. Men judge of God by the fruit that the branches of the Vine of His planting bears. Little fruit brings little glory to God. It brings no honor to either the Vine or the Husbandman. "That you bear much fruit, here is my Father glorified." We have sometimes mourned our lack of fruit, as a loss to ourselves and our fellow men, with complaints of our feebleness as the cause. Let us rather think of the sin and shame of little fruit as robbing God of the glory He ought to get from us. Let us learn the secret of bringing glory to God, serving of the ability which God giveth. The full acceptance of Christ's Word, "You can do nothing"; the simple faith in God, who works all in all; the abiding in Christ through whom the divine vinedresser does His work and gets much fruit--this is the life that will bring glory to God.

Much fruit--God asks it; see that you give it. God can be content with nothing less; be you content with nothing less. Let these words of Christ--fruit, more fruit, much fruit--abide in you, until you think as He does, and you be prepared to take from Him, the heavenly Vine, what He has for you. Much fruit: here is my Father glorified. Let the very height of the demand be your encouragement. It is so entirely beyond your power, that it throws you more entirely upon Christ, your true Vine. He can, He will, make it true in you.

Much fruit--God asks because he needs. He does not ask fruit from the branches of His Vine for show, to prove what He can do. No; He needs it for the salvation of men: it is in that He is to be glorified. Throw yourself in much prayer on your Vine and your Vinedresser. Cry to God and your Father to give you fruit to bring to men. Take the burden of the hungry and the perishing on you, as Jesus did when He was moved with compassion, and your power in prayer, and your abiding, and your bearing much fruit to the glory of the Father will have a reality and a certainty you never knew before. The Father glorified. Blessed prospect--God glorifying Himself in me, showing forth the glory of His goodness and power in what He works in me, and through me. What a motive to bear much fruit, just as much as He works in me! Father, glorify Thyself in me.

Saturday, 22 May 2010


"As the Branch Cannot Bear Fruit of Itself, Except It Abide In the Vine; No More Can You, Except You Abide in Me" --John 15:4

We know the meaning of the word except. It expresses some indispensable condition, some inevitable law. "The branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine. No more can you, except you abide in me." There is but one way for the branch to bear fruit, there is no other possibility, it must abide in unbroken communion with the vine. Not of itself, but only of the vine, does the fruit come. Christ had already said: "Abide in me"; in nature the branch teaches us the lesson so clearly; it is such a wonderful privilege to be called and allowed to abide in the heavenly Vine; one might have thought it needless to add these words of warning. But no--Christ knows so well what a renunciation of self is implied in this: "Abide in me"; how strong and universal the tendency would be to seek to bear fruit by our own efforts; how difficult it would be to get us to believe that actual, continuous abiding in Him is an absolute necessity! He insists upon the truth: Not of itself can the branch bear fruit; except it abide, it cannot bear fruit. "No more can you, except you abide in me."

But must this be taken literally? Must I, as exclusively, and manifestly, and unceasingly, and absolutely, as the branch abides in the vine, be equally given up to find my whole life in Christ alone? I must indeed. The 'except you abide' is as universal as the except it abide. The 'no more can you' admits of no exception or modification. If I am to be a true branch, if I am to bear fruit, if I am to be what Christ as Vine wants me to be, my whole existence must be as exclusively devoted to abiding in Him, as that of the natural branch is to abiding in its vine. Let me learn the lesson. Abiding is to be an act of the will and the whole heart. Just as there are degrees in seeking and serving God, "not with a perfect heart," or "with the whole heart," so there may be degrees in abiding. In regeneration the divine life enters us, but does not all at once master and fill our whole being. This comes as matter of command and obedience. There is unspeakable danger of our not giving ourselves with our whole heart to abide. There is unspeakable danger of our giving ourselves to work for God, and to bear fruit, with but little of the true abiding, the wholehearted losing of ourselves in Christ and His life. There is unspeakable danger of much work with but little fruit, for lack of this one thing needful. We must allow the words, "not of itself," "except it abide," to do their work of searching and exposing, of pruning and cleansing, all that there is of self-will and self-confidence in our life; this will deliver us from this great evil, and so prepare us for His teaching, giving the full meaning of the word in us: "Abide in me, and I in you."

Our blessed Lord desires to call us away from ourselves and our own strength, to Himself and His strength. Let us accept the warning, and turn with great fear and self-distrust to Him to do His work. "Our life is hid with Christ in God!" That life is a heavenly mystery, hid from the wise even among Christians, and revealed unto babes. The childlike spirit learns that life is given from Heaven every day and every moment to the soul that accepts the teaching: "not of itself," "except it abide," and seeks its all in the Vine. Abiding in the Vine then comes to be nothing more nor less than the restful surrender of the soul to let Christ have all and work all, as completely as in nature the branch knows and seeks nothing but the vine. Abide in Me. I have heard, my Lord, that with every command, You also give the power to obey. With Thy "rise and walk," the lame man leaped, I accept Thy word, "Abide in me," as a word of power, that gives power, and even now I say, Yea, Lord, I will, I do abide in Thee.

Thursday, 20 May 2010


"Apart From Me You Can Do Nothing" --John 15:5

In everything the life of the branch is to be the exact counterpart of that of the Vine. Of Himself Jesus had said: "The Son can do nothing of himself." As the outcome of that entire dependence, He could add: "All that the Father does, the Son also does." As Son He did not receive His life from the Father once for all, but moment by moment. His life was a continual waiting on the Father for all He was to do. And so Christ says of His disciples: "You can do nothing apart from me." He means it literally. To everyone who wants to live the true disciple life, to bring forth fruit and glorify God, the message comes: You can do nothing. What had been said: "He that abides in me, and I in him, the same bears much fruit," is here enforced by the simplest and strongest of arguments: "Abiding in Me is indispensable, for, you know it, of yourselves you can do nothing to maintain or act out the heavenly life."

A deep conviction of the truth of this word lies at the very root of a strong spiritual life. As little as I created myself, as little as I could raise a man from the dead, can I give myself the divine life. As little as I can give it myself, can I maintain or increase it: every motion is the work of God through Christ and His Spirit. It is as a man believes this, that he will take up that position of entire and continual dependence which is the very essence of the life of faith. With the spiritual eye he sees Christ every moment supplying grace for every breathing and every deepening of the spiritual life. His whole heart says Amen to the word: You can do nothing. And just because he does so, he can also say: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." The sense of helplessness, and the abiding to which it compels, leads to true fruitfulness and diligence in good works. Apart from me ye can do nothing.--What a plea and what a call every moment to abide in Christ!

We have only to go back to the vine to see how true it is. Look again at that little branch, utterly helpless and fruitless except as it receives sap from the vine, and learn that the full conviction of not being able to do anything apart from Christ is just what you need to teach you to abide in your heavenly Vine. It is this that is the great meaning of the pruning Christ spoke of--all that is self must be brought low, that our confidence may be in Christ alone. "Abide in me"--much fruit! "Apart from me"--nothing! Ought there to be any doubt as to what we shall choose?

The one lesson of the parable is--as surely, as naturally as the branch abides in the vine, You can abide in Christ. For this He is the true Vine; for this God is the Gardener; for this you are a branch. Shall we not cry to God to deliver us forever from the "apart from me," and to make the "abide in me" an unceasing reality? Let your heart go out to what Christ is, and can do, to His divine power and His tender love to each of His branches, and you will say evermore confidently: "Lord! I am abiding; I will bear much fruit. My impotence is my strength. So be it. Apart from Thee, nothing. In Thee, much fruit."

Apart from Me--you nothing. Lord, I gladly accept the arrangement: I nothing--You Lord are all. My nothingness is my highest blessing, because You are the Vine, that gives and works all. So be it, Lord! I, nothing, ever waiting on Your fullness. Lord, reveal to me the glory of this blessed life.

(Taken from the true Vine)

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Meditation from Spurgeon

"I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth."—Ecclesiastes 10:7.
Upstarts frequently usurp the highest places, while the truly great pine in obscurity. This is a riddle in providence whose solution will one day gladden the hearts of the upright; but it is so common a fact, that none of us should murmur if it should fall to our own lot.
When our Lord was upon earth, although He is the Prince of the kings of the earth, yet He walked the footpath of weariness and service as the Servant of servants: what wonder is it if His followers, who are princes of the blood, should also be looked down upon as inferior and contemptible persons? The world is upside down, and therefore, the first are last and the last first.
See how the servile sons of Satan lord it in the earth! What a high horse they ride! How they lift up their horn on high! Haman is in the court, while Mordecai sits in the gate; David wanders on the mountains, while Saul reigns in state; Elijah is complaining in the cave while Jezebel is boasting in the palace; yet who would wish to take the places of the proud rebels? and who, on the other hand, might not envy the despised saints? When the wheel turns, those who are lowest rise, and the highest sink. Patience, then, believer, eternity will right the wrongs of time.
Let us not fall into the error of letting our passions and carnal appetites ride in triumph, while our nobler powers walk in the dust. Grace must reign as a prince, and make the members of the body instruments of righteousness. The Holy Spirit loves order, and He therefore sets our powers and faculties in due rank and place, giving the highest room to those spiritual faculties which link us with the great King; let us not disturb the divine arrangement, but ask for grace that we may keep under our body and bring it into subjection.
We were not new created to allow our passions to rule over us, but that we, as kings, may reign in Christ Jesus over the triple kingdom of spirit, soul, and body, to the glory of God the Father.

Monday, 17 May 2010


I remember well the second year I had put up a nesting box. The first year it had no takers and I had assumed that the hole I had made for the box was too small(the size of a ten pence piece), even for blue tits. I then make the hole a little bigger and a Great Tit pair, after checking it out over a week or so decided to make their home in it for the next few weeks.Then for a week or so there was fevorish activity around the box as the birds gathered moss, wool and anything else suitable to make a nest. Then suddenly nothing happened at all. I had actually thought that they had been chased away by a cat or other predator.I decided to have a look and after climbing the step ladder I carefully opened the roof of the box. As I looked in I heard a sharp sound of feathers made by the mother bird as she tried to frighten off her uninvited guest. Indeed she succeeded well as I was so startled by her that I nearly fell of the ladder!But all was well with the birds and a few weeks later the chicks hatched out of their eggs and back and forth went mum and dad from the box as they searched for catapillars for the young chicks.I remember at this time many jobs were under threat by the new owners of the Bank were I worked. However when I came home from work and was changing my clothes I checked out what was happening at the bottom my garden through my binoculars. It was there that I was lost as if in another world ,a magical place like the garden of Eden, with God's creation.I was not thinking about my job or the implications if I lost it but rather what was happening with my little birds that I had a special care for.The parents put a lot of hard work into rearing them but it was only God who had designed them to fly and also given the parents the instinct to rear them! The youtube video above shows the chicks at different stages before they are ready to leave the nest.

Later I put up another box with a tiny hole a few years later and it was taken over by a tiny pair of Wrens which gave me a double blessing!

'What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows'

'Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God'.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Being and Doing-More lessons from the Master

"Don't look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.
"Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don't be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.

"Knowing the correct password—saying 'Master, Master,' for instance— isn't going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, 'Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.' And do you know what I am going to say? 'You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don't impress me one bit. You're out of here.'

"These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.

"But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don't work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards."

When Jesus concluded his address, the crowd burst into applause. They had never heard teaching like this. It was apparent that he was living everything he was saying—quite a contrast to their religion teachers! This was the best teaching they had ever heard.

Monday, 10 May 2010

A simple guide for behaviour-Lessons from The Master ( Matthew 7)

It is hard to better these instructive words taken from the Master himself on how to live our lives! In the Message version as in other translations they 'cut us to the heart'.So often,at least regarding myself, I would often buy and read lots of books ever looking for that supreme or highest truth which would bring me enlightenment, when it is there, sitting in front of me, on the table or in my bookself,in many translations-Scripture itself and the words of Christ in the gospels in particular!How profound and liberating they are. But oh, how so easy it is to read the words but so very hard to obey. Then we are only able to cry out to God for help in order to become doers of His word and not hearers only!AK

"Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.
"Don't be flip with the sacred. Banter and silliness give no honor to God. Don't reduce holy mysteries to slogans. In trying to be relevant, you're only being cute and inviting sacrilege.

"Don't bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn't a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we're in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn't think of such a thing. You're at least decent to your own children. So don't you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?

"Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God's Law and Prophets and this is what you get.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

The Story of Zac Smith from NewSpring Media on Vimeo.

Watch this moving and inspiring story of Zac Smith who shows tremendous courage and faith in God as he fights cancer.AK

Jesus' teaching on 'play acting' and prayer.

The World Is Not a Stage
"Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don't make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won't be applauding. "When you do something for someone else, don't call attention to yourself. You've seen them in action, I'm sure—'playactors' I call them— treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that's all they get. When you help someone out, don't think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.
Pray with Simplicity
"And when you come before God, don't turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?
"Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

"The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They're full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don't fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what's best— as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You're in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You're ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.

"In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can't get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God's part.

"When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don't make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won't make you a saint. If you 'go into training' inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn't require attention-getting devices. He won't overlook what you are doing; he'll reward you well.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Matthew 7:1-12. A Christian’s relationships: Our attitude to ‘dogs’ and ‘Pigs’ John Stott

I believe this article is important for the church and in particular for those who are involved in any sort of evangelism.When a church or individual is involved in sharing the gospel they can very often run out of steam and give up before they have gone very far:in other words, they give up too easily.If God has opened up a door of service for us we must go through the door and serve there until the work is done or calls He us somewhere else.Think of Paul, he could easily have given up when things got difficult.Christ also tells us,when referring to one of the churches in Revelation that he stands at the door and knocks waiting -for someone to open, but we don't know if they ever did!That was Christ and the Church who should have known better-he is even more patient with those outside the church(consider how he dealt with us before we believed) and we must also show the same patience.To quote this passage as an excuse to give up on certain people when we experience a little problem is clearly wrong as Stott's commentary makes clear!Do not be weary of well doing.AK

So then the ‘dogs’ and ‘pigs’ with whom we are forbidden to share the gospel pearl are not just unbelievers. They must rather be those who have had ample opportunity to hear and receive the good news, but have decisively - even defiantly - rejected it. ‘It ought to be understood’, Calvin wisely continued, ‘that *dogs* and *swine* are names given not to every kind of debauched men, or to those who are destitute of the fear of God and of true godliness, but to those, who by clear evidences, have manifested a hardened contempt of God, so that their disease appears to be incurable’. Chrysostom uses a similar expression, for he identifies the ‘dogs’ as people ‘living in incurable ungodliness’, and in our day Professor Jeremias has defined then as ‘those who have wholly abandoned themselves to vicious courses’.
The fact is that to persist beyond a certain point in offering the gospel to such people is to invite its rejection with contempt and even blasphemy. Jesus applied the same principle to the ministry of the twelve when he gave them his charge before sending them out on their first mission. He warned them that in every town and house they entered, although some people would be receptive or ‘worthy’, others would be unreceptive or ‘unworthy’. ‘If anyone will not receive you or listen to your words’, he went on, ‘shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town’ (Mt.10:14 = Lk.10:10, 11).
The apostle Paul also followed this principle in his mission work. On his first expedition he and Barnabas said to the Jews who ‘contradicted’ their preaching in Pisidian Antioch: ‘It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.’ And when the Jews incited the city leaders to drive them out, ‘they shook off the dust from their feet against them’ and went on to Iconium. (Acts 13:44-51). Much the same happened in Corinth on the second missionary journey. When the Jews opposed and reviled him, Paul ‘shook out his garments’ and said to them: ‘Your blood be upon your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles’ (Acts 18:5,6). For the third time Paul reacted in the same way when in Rome the Jewish leaders rejected the gospel. ‘Let it known to you then’, he said, ‘that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen. (Acts. 28:17-28).
Our Christian witness and evangelical preaching are not to be entirely indiscriminate, therefore. If people have had plenty of opportunity to hear the truth but do not respond to it, if they stubbornly turn their backs on Christ, if (in other words) they cast themselves in the role of ‘dogs’ and ‘pigs’, we are not to go on and on with them, for then we cheapen God’s gospel by letting them trample it under foot. Can anything be more depraved than to mistake God’s precious pearl for a thing of no worth and actually to tread it into the mud? At the same time to give people up is a very serious step to take. I can think of only one or two occasions in my experience when I have felt it was right. This teaching of Jesus is for exceptional situations only; our normal Christian duty is to be patient and persevere with others, as God has patiently persevered with us.