Friday, 29 October 2010

Who Am I?

Here are some powerful truths about our new identity in Christ:

I am the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13).
I am the light of the world (Matt. 5:14).
I am a child of God (John 1:12).
I am part of the true vine (John 15:1, 5).
I am Christ’s friend (John 15:15).
I am chosen and appointed by Christ to bear His fruit (John 15:16).
I am a slave of righteousness (Rom. 6:18).
I am enslaved to God (Rom. 6:22).
I am a son of God (Rom. 8:14-15; Gal.. 3:26; 4:6).
I am a joint heir with Christ sharing His inheritance (Rom. 8:17).
I am a temple, a dwelling place of God (1 Cor. 3:16, 6:19).
I am united to the Lord and one spirit with Him (1 Cor. 6:17).
I am a member of Christ’s body (1 Cor.12:27; Eph. 5:30).
I am a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).
I am reconciled to God and a minister of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-19).
I am an heir of God since I am a son of God (Gal. 4:6-7).
I am a saint (Eph. 1:1; 1 Cor. 1:2; Phil. 1:1, Col. 1:2).
I am God’s workmanship, in Christ to do His work (Eph. 2:10).
I am a fellow citizen with the rest of God’s family (Eph. 2:19).
I am a prisoner of Christ (Eph. 3:1; 4:1).
I am righteous and holy (Eph. 4:24).
I am a citizen of heaven, seated in heaven (Phil. 3:20; Eph. 2:6).
I am hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3).
I am chosen of God, wholly and dearly loved(Col. 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4).
I am a son of light and not of darkness (I Thessalonians 5:5).
I am a holy partaker of a heavenly calling(Eph. 3:1).
I am a partaker of Christ, I share in His life (Hebrews 3:14).
I am one of God’s living stones being built up in Christ as a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5).
I am a member of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession (1 Peter 2:9-10).
I am an alien and stranger to this world (1 Peter 2:11).
I am an enemy of the devil (1 Peter 5:8).
I am born of God and the evil one, can not have me (1 John 5:18).
I am not the Great “I AM,” but by the grace of God I am what I am (1 Cor. 15:10).

Friday, 22 October 2010

How do I know God exists? from A Passion for Life on Vimeo.

'Christ Holds It All Together' Paul

We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God's original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.

He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he's there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.

You yourselves are a case study of what he does. At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him, giving him trouble every chance you got. But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God's side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence. You don't walk away from a gift like that! You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted. There is no other Message—just this one. Every creature under heaven gets this same Message. I, Paul, am a messenger of this Message.

I want you to know how glad I am that it's me sitting here in this jail and not you. There's a lot of suffering to be entered into in this world—the kind of suffering Christ takes on. I welcome the chance to take my share in the church's part of that suffering. When I became a servant in this church, I experienced this suffering as a sheer gift, God's way of helping me serve you, laying out the whole truth.

This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time, but now it's out in the open. God wanted everyone, not just Jews, to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out, regardless of their background, regardless of their religious standing. The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God's glory. It's that simple. That is the substance of our Message. We preach Christ, warning people not to add to the Message. We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that we can bring each person to maturity. To be mature is to be basic. Christ! No more, no less. That's what I'm working so hard at day after day, year after year, doing my best with the energy God so generously gives me.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

'The Love of Christ compels us' 2 Corinthians 5.14

How much do you owe my Lord? Has he ever done anything for you? Has he forgiven your sins? Has he covered you with a robe of righteousness? Has he set your feet upon a rock? Has he established your goings? Has he prepared heaven for you? Has he prepared you for heaven? Has he written your name in his book of life? Has he given you countless blessings? Has he laid up for you a store of mercies, which eye has not seen nor ear heard? Then do something for Jesus worthy of his love. Give not a mere verbal offering to a dying Redeemer. How will you feel when your Master comes, if you have to confess that you did nothing for him, but kept your love shut up, like a stagnant pool, neither flowing forth to his poor or to his work. Throw out such love as that! What do men think of a love which never shows itself in action? Why, they say, “Open rebuke is better than secret love.”

Who will accept a love so weak that it does not actuate you to a single deed of self-denial, of generosity, of heroism, or zeal! Think how he has loved you, and given himself for you! Do you know the power of that love? Then let it be like a rushing mighty wind to your soul to sweep out the clouds of your worldliness, and clear away the mists of sin. “For Christ’s sake” be this the tongue of fire that shall sit upon you: “for Christ’s sake” be this the divine rapture, the heavenly afflatus to bear you aloft from earth, the divine spirit that shall make you bold as lions and swift as eagles in your Lord’s service. Love should give wings to the feet of service, and strength to the arms of labour.

Fixed on God with a constancy that is not to be shaken, resolute to honour him with a determination that is not to be turned aside, and pressing on with an ardour never to be wearied, let us manifest the compelling love of Jesus. May the divine lodestone draw us heavenward towards itself.

"Don't be backward about coming forward'.” Isaiah 43.6

Although this message was sent to the south, and referred to the seed of Israel, it may profitably be a summons to ourselves. Backward we are naturally to all good things, and it is a lesson of grace to learn to go forward in the ways of God. Reader, are you unconverted, but do you desire to trust in the Lord Jesus? Then keep not back. Love invites you, the promises secure you success, the precious blood prepares the way. Let not sins or fears hinder you, but come to Jesus just as you are. Do you long to pray? Would you pour out your heart before the Lord? Keep not back. The mercy-seat is prepared for such as need mercy; a sinner’s cries will prevail with God. You are invited, no, you are commanded to pray; come therefore with boldness to the throne of grace.

Dear friend, are you already saved? Then keep not back from union with the Lord’s people. Neglect not the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. You may be of a timid disposition, but you must strive against it, lest it lead you into disobedience. There is a sweet promise made to those who confess Christ—by no means miss it, lest you come under the condemnation of those who deny him. If you have talents keep not back from using them. Hoard not your wealth, waste not your time; let not your abilities rust or your influence be unused.

Jesus kept not back; imitate him by being foremost in self-denials and self-sacrifices. Keep not back from close communion with God, from boldly appropriating covenant blessings, from advancing in the divine life, from prying into the precious mysteries of the love of Christ. Neither, beloved friend, be guilty of keeping others back by your coldness, harshness, or suspicions. For Jesus’ sake go forward yourself, and encourage others to do the like. Hell and the leaguered bands of superstition and infidelity are forward to the fight. O soldiers of the cross, keep not back.CHS

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

He only is my Rock and my Salvation, My Fortress I shall not be shaken.

Today I've used an article by my good friend Romanos from Portland Oregon in the United States of America.He is talking about certainty in an uncertain age.In the UK there is not much certainty about except that people may well lose their jobs or that they may have to take a pay cut.

The postmodern mood that many people have caught also discourages us from being certain about anything. This is an sharp contrast to those who know or have known God- even in turbulent times.David and Job from the Bible are a case in point. David was on the run for his life from Saul who was trying to kill him, yet in the many Psalms that he wrote around this time he declared his certainty that God was his Rock, his Fortress and his Cleft in the Rock were he could find shelter in the midst of his trouble. His faith and hope were in the Almighty God.

Job who was also tried to a great degree but was able to declare when outwardly all was dark:'I know that my Redeemer lives' and again 'Though He slay me. yet will I trust Him'.Not that he necessarily believed God would slay him, but that even if God appeared to slay him for no reason, he had an inner sense that God was good, was trustworthy and could be fully relied upon, and therefore there must be some good reason that God would allow it to happen.Of course sometimes we fail in the trial but even then forgiveness may be found if we turn back to Him and resolve to put our trust again.

I remember well when I was about four years old and had broken my arm after falling off a wild donkey that I had climbed onto. As soon as I got on it it decided to go for a gallop before suddenly stopping and causing me to fly over its head.To cut a long story short, at the hospital in Donegal the doctors put the plaster of Paris cast on too tightly and it had to be removed when I returned to Belfast. However to get it off they had to use a type of circular saw which made a lot of noise, but which the doctor assured me would automatically stop as soon as it touched my skin. My father who I trusted completely concurred with the doctor that I would come to no harm.Did I trust my dad? I had always trusted him before, but when I heard the noise and saw the steel blade coming so close to my arm I was convinced that this time, either my dad was being tricked by the doctor and it would cut my arm off or that he knew that it would cut my arm off because it needed to come off for some medical reason that I didn't know of.Did I trust him? Sadly no, but instead decided to scream the house down to the annoyance of the doctor.Unfortunately I failed in this particular trial of trust but as far as I can remember I have never doubted him since because I knew he always wanted the best for me as one for his children.As a child of God we likewise must learn to put our trust in our faithful Father and loving God who always knows what is best for us. AK

People build their lives on a foundation of certainties. They couldn’t live them any other way. Certainties are things they can count on to be there day after day, dependably. They know for sure about these things because over a long period of time, they’ve found them to be true.

Some of these certainties are natural. The sun rises every morning. Their hearts can be depended on to keep beating. They are locked into relationships with family and co-workers. Their cars will probably start up in the morning so they can go to jobs that they will probably still have.

Again, what they consider certainties are based on what they have observed and experienced to be true. As it is with the details of daily life, so it is with matters that have a greater scope, a more enduring nature. These are certainties about one’s self and about others that matter.

Sometimes I say things about myself and others that might seem excessively optimistic, even to the point of boasting, and to many these seem to be beyond certainty. They think in their hearts, ‘How can he say that? Only God can know such things. How can he be so sure of that?’

The truth is, I am no soothsayer, no prophet. Neither am I a man confident of his own virtue. As I see others fall around me, I know I can fall, and sometimes I do fall, yet I say of myself or others, ‘Unbreakable’ and ‘You can trust him. He is faithful. He has never disappointed me.’

Yet to me, these things I say are true. They are words of my testimony. They are the certainties I build my life on. Knowing and depending on them make it possible for me to live day in, day out, despite every challenge that comes against me, every obstacle that tries to block me.

But make no mistake. I know that I can count on myself and on these others whom I call brothers and friends and more-than-friends, not only because I have observed their behavior over a long period of time (and sometimes not long) and can depend on them to be and act a certain way.

It is precisely because my confidence is not in myself or in these others, not in our strength or our love or our faithfulness, not in ours but in Christ’s, that I can live on a foundation of such certainty that even the threat of death, let alone lesser fears, cannot dislodge me, or us.

We are not play acting or giving lip service when we exclaim, ‘Not by us, Yahweh, not by us, by You alone is glory deserved! By Your love and Your faithfulness’ (Psalm 115). Brothers, we know whom we have believed in, and we know that it is He who gives us the power to stand, and His sure guarantee.

Ours is the Faithful and the True, the Living One. We know it is not by our own strength that we can be and do everything. It is only He, only He. Thank you, my friends for sharing this confidence with me, and for walking with me, helping me to follow along behind the flock of His companions, walking behind Jesus.

Friday, 8 October 2010

The Shield of Faith: Charles H. Spurgeon

"Above all, taking the Shield of Faith,
which is able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked..." (Ephesians 6:16)

Like the Spartans, every Christian is born a warrior. It is his destiny to be assaulted, his duty to attack. Part of his life will be occupied with defensive warfare. He will have to defend the Faith once delivered to the saints. He will have to resist the devil. He will have to Stand against all the devil's wiles, and having done all, still to stand. He will, however, be an ineffective Christian, if he acts only on the defensive. He must be one who goes against his foes, as well as [one who] stands still to receive their advance. He must be able to say with David, "I come to thee in the Name of The LORD of Hosts, The God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied." (1 Sam. 17:45)

He must wrestle not with flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers. He must have weapons for his warfare - not carnal - but "mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds." (2 Cor. 10:4) He must not be content to live in the stronghold, though he is well guarded, and munitions of stupendous strength are at his disposal; but he must go forth to attack the castles of the enemy, pull them down, and drive the Canaanites out of the land.

There are many ways in which the Christian may, to a great degree, forget his military character. And alas, there are many who know very little of that daily warfare to which the Captain of our Salvation calls His disciples! King David's truest soldiers were willing not only to be with David when he was in Saul's court, with his fingers amid the strings of the harp, going in and out before the people so that "all Israel and Judah loved David (1 Sam. 18:16); but also to go with David into the Cave of Adullam, when he was outlawed, when his character had become a stench in the nostrils of every proud hypocrite, and when Saul the King hunted David to seek his life. Those who are willing to follow Christ in the midst of an ungodly and perverse generation must be like the men of Naphtali, who hazarded their lives unto the death in the high places of the field.

You will remember that Jonathan, one of the sweetest characters in the Word of God, is one of whom, after all, there is little to be said. Jonathan's life was inglorious from the very time he forsook David, and his death was among the slain of the Philistines upon the dewless mountains of Gilboa. Alas, poor Jonathan, he could give David his bow, but he could not draw the bow for David; he could give David his garments, even his armor, but he could not put on the armor of David. The attraction of his father's court was too much for him, and there he stayed. In that Book of Chronicles, where the Holy Ghost has recorded the names of the mighty men who were with David in Adullam, we find not the name of Jonathan.

There are Christians of that kind today. They have a soft religion which shuns opposition, a reedlike religion that bows before every blast, unlike that Cedar of Godliness that stands aloft in the midst of the storm and claps its boughs in the hurricane, for the very joy of triumph. Such men, like those who shunned David in Adullam, lack the faith that shares the glory. Though saved - yet their names shall not be found written among the mighty men who, for our Great Commander's sake, are willing to suffer the loss of all things and go forth without the camp bearing His reproach [Heb._13:13].

Those Christians, too, who have separated from the world and are diligently engaged in building up the church will have to fight more than others who are rather buiilt-up than builders. You remember, in Nehemiah's day, how the Jews accomplished their work when they built the walls of Jerusalem. With one hand they held the trowel, and in the other they held a weapon. "The builders every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded (Neh. 4:18).

Moreover, there were master masons along the wall, and the laborers all actually engaged, yet here and there you might see a sentinel ready to sound the trumpet so that the workmen might prove warrriors, rush to the battle, and drive away their foes. If you are diligent in your service to the church of Christ, you shall soon have reason to defend your cause. The Lord's blessing will entail Satan's curse; the smile of God will necessarily incur the frown of man. According to your nonconformity to the world, your daring to be singular -- when to be singular is to be right -- according to your diligence in building up the walls of Jerusalem, you shall be compelled to recognize your soldierly character. To you the text shall come with great emphasis,

"Above all,
take the shield of faith
which is abble
to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked."

Sunday, 3 October 2010

'This is Sparta.'Lessons in spiritual warfare from the 300.

What a film 300 is. It appeals to all that is good and noble in a man: touching to the very depths of his soul. A true macho film indeed, exalting bravery, love,war,heroism. In 300 the heroes fight against incredible odds in order to defeat tyranny. I suspect that those who regard this film as sick because of the gore don't really understand it. There is romance it it, as well as honour to woman. There is also love of a father for his son, the love between a man and his friends and the love of a commander for his men.Greater love has no man than this that he lays down his life for his friends. In 300 they are all prepared to die for one another.In one scene Xerxessays says : It isn't wise to stand against me, Leonidas. Imagine what horrible fate awaits my enemies when I would gladly kill any of my own men for victory to which King Leonidas replies: And I would die for any one of mine.

When King Leonidas declares to the Persian messenger:'THIS IS SPARTA', it makes me think that when Satan or his minions come to the Church or to an individual Christian in order to seduce, to cause them to surrender we should be no less uncompromising and declare: 'THIS IS THE NEW ISRAEL' or 'THIS IS THE LORD'S'-then send them packing! But we live in an age of compromise, we don't like to fight even though the Bible tells us again and again that we are in a battle. True enough we wrestle not against flesh and blood but we do or at least should wrestle against principalities and powers, against a spiritual host of wickedness.We need to watch each others backs, stand up and be strong allowing no room for petty jealousies or rivalries.We have a common enemy and we must live and fight for our Commander in Chief who laid down his life for us. We need to pray the way Wesley exhorts us:

From strength to strength go on, wrestle and fight and pray,
Tread all the powers of darkness down and win the well fought day.
Still let the Spirit cry in all His soldiers, 'Come!'
Till Christ the Lord descends from high and takes the conquerors home

The danger for Christians even though they may have discovered the reality of spiritual warfare is to resist and fight Satan in their own strength. As another great hymn puts it:

'Stand up, stand up for Jesus, stand in his strength alone.
The arm of flesh will fail you, you dare not trust your own,
put on the gospel armour each piece put on with prayer,
when duty calls or danger be never wanting there'.

We must continually be filled with the Spirit and rely on his power as well as the finished work of Christ.Another thing,there may be a time when the Christian must retreat for strategic reasons. This is when we feel overwelmed by the force of evil though attacks of depression or temptation. However we don't run back to the world or find refuge in the world,instead we must run into Christ. As David, himself a great warrior declared so often-'the Lord is my rock and salvation I will not fear' and again in a prayer:'have mercy on me, have mercy me for in Thee my soul takes refuge, in the shadow of Thy wing my soul takes refuge, till the storm of destruction passes by.'Yet again we find exhortation in Proverbs when the writer declares : The name of the Lord is a strong tower,the righteous run into it and are safe(Prov. 18.10) We of course have our spiritual armour as decribed by Paul in Ephesians 6 included the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. He has provided our weapons and armour it is therefore up to us to use it in battle.In the midst of battle we should have our eyes on our Captain and have confidence that in Him the victory is secure.

Interestingly the first time I heard about the Spartans was when I was a boy of eleven at the Scripture Union Inter Schools Camp at Carrickfin in Co. Donegal. The leaders of the Camps taught us there that Christians had to be tough if we were going to make it in the Christian life-there was a cost involved in following Jesus.Those boys who were designated Spartans by the leaders at the end of the week were those who got up every day (rain ,hail or snow)15 minutes before the rest in order to run down to the beach for a swim, making sure they got our heads under the water (Muscular Christianity!). Happy days they were and the leaders formed many a young boy into a faithful soldier of Christ. One of my heroes at that time was a school teacher called Billy Burnison, who now in his 70's is still serving his Commader-in-Chief.Thanks Billy for being such a good example.

Xerxes: But I am a generous god. I can make you rich beyond all measure. I will make you warlord of all Greece. You will carry my battle standard to the heart of Europa. Your Athenian rivals will kneel at your feet if you will but kneel at mine.
King Leonidas: You are generous as you are divine, O king of kings. Such an offer only a madman would refuse. But the, uh, the idea of kneeling, it's- You see, slaughtering all those men of yours has, uh, well it's left a nasty cramp in my leg, so kneeling will be hard for me.

Xerxes: It isn't wise to stand against me, Leonidas. Imagine what horrible fate awaits my enemies when I would gladly kill any of my own men for victory.
King Leonidas: And I would die for any one of mine.

Queen Gorgo: There's only one woman's words that should affect the mood of my husband. Those are mine.


Soldiers of Christ, arise, and put your armor on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies through His eternal Son
Strong in the Lord of hosts, and in His mighty power,
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts is more than conqueror.
Stand then in His great might, with all His strength endued,
But take, to arm you for the fight, the panoply of God;
That, having all things done, and all your conflicts passed,
Ye may o'ercome through Christ alone and stand entire at last.

Stand then against your foes, in close and firm array;
Legions of wily fiends oppose throughout the evil day;
But meet the sons of night, and mock their vain design,
Armed in the arms of heavenly light, of righteousness divine.
Leave no unguarded place, no weakness of the soul,
Take every virtue, every grace, and fortify the whole;
Indissolubly joined, to battle all proceed;
But arm yourselves with all the mind that was in Christ, your Head.

But, above all, lay hold on faith's victorious shield;
Armed with that adamant and gold, be sure to win the field:
If faith surround your heart, Satan shall be subdued,
Repelled his every fiery dart, and quenched with Jesu's blood.
Jesus hath died for you! What can His love withstand?
Believe, hold fast your shield, and who shall pluck you from His hand?
Believe that Jesus reigns; all power to Him is giv'n:
Believe, till freed from sin's remains; believe yourselves to Heav'n.

To keep your armor bright, attend with constant care,
Still walking in your Captain's sight, and watching unto prayer.
Ready for all alarms, steadfastly set your face,
And always exercise your arms, and use your every grace.
Pray without ceasing, pray, your Captain gives the word;
His summons cheerfully obey and call upon the Lord;
To God your every want in instant prayer display,
Pray always; pray and never faint; pray, without ceasing, pray!

In fellowship alone, to God with faith draw near;
Approach His courts, besiege His throne with all the powers of prayer:
Go to His temple, go, nor from His altar move;
Let every house His worship know, and every heart His love.
To God your spirits dart, your souls in words declare,
Or groan, to Him Who reads the heart, the unutterable prayer:
His mercy now implore, and now show forth His praise,
In shouts, or silent awe, adore His miracles of grace.

Pour out your souls to God, and bow them with your knees,
And spread your hearts and hands abroad, and pray for Zion's peace;
Your guides and brethren bear for ever on your mind;
Extend the arms of mighty prayer, ingrasping all mankind.
From strength to strength go on, wrestle and fight and pray,
Tread all the powers of darkness down and win the well fought day.
Still let the Spirit cry in all His soldiers, 'Come!'
'Til Christ the Lord descends from high and takes the conquerors home