Friday 31 January 2014

Bible Prophecy being Fulfilled NOW! Milestones update Jan 2014 Don Pearce

TFTD - 31 January 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

31 January 2014

Exodus 3; 4
Psalms 56; 57
Romans 9


We have now moved on to read about the dramatic life of Moses. Exodus 3 is about his first real encounter with God at the burning bush. For 40 years he had been living as a shepherd in Midian after fleeing from Pharaoh when the fact he had killed an Egyptian became known. Now suddenly 'the angel of God appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush" [Exodus 3:2] We notice this is "the" specific angel that represents the Almighty; the rest of the chapter is written as if God himself is speaking. "Then the LORD (Yahweh) said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt … Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel out of Egypt." [Exodus 3:7,10]

One of the intriguing things in this remarkable conversation is the question Moses puts to God. "If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you and they ask me 'What is his name?' what shall I say to them?" Think about this question, why would Moses expect the people to ask the name of the God of their fathers? Well the word 'name' in certain contexts means reputation - such as when David 'made himself a name' [2 Samuel 8:13] and in some contexts in modern versions is translated it as 'became famous' and similar.

We think that Moses anticipates that the present generation of Israelites, having to some extent forgotten about the God of their forefathers would want to know about his reputation. After all, they were surrounded by the religious thought of the Egyptians and the legends about their gods, Osiris, Mont, etc and their reputations.

God answers Moses by saying, "I AM who I AM". How is that an answer? We note the footnote in the ESV and RSV versions give the alternative of "I will be what I will be" This is better, it directly relates to YAHWEH, which as the ESV footnote, states 'is here connected with the verb hayah "to be".' So God is saying, he is a God who becomes, he will establish his reputation by what he is going to do, not by legends of the past. We will see, as we read the Old Testament that this point is made quite frequently, for example, Isaiah 63:14 "so you led your people (through Moses) to make for yourself a glorious name" Those who follow the God of the Bible are expected to make for themselves a name, that is, a reputation that is pleasing to God - and at the end, that is at the climax of the ages, God will give them a "new name" [Revelation 3:12]
- DC

Thought for the Day

31 January 2014

"From the Lord Jesus we know we can receive ... understanding. He has, however, given us of his love that we may share it, first with those who long to share it also, and second with those, our brethren and sisters, who need our help along the way. For, whilst wisdom may be the principal thing, it is nothing without understanding."

- John Mitchell
Understanding (1968)

Thursday 30 January 2014

TFTD - 30 January 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

30 January 2014

Exodus 1; 2
Psalms 53; 54; 55
Romans 7; 8


What does Paul mean? We are all made of flesh! Yes, but he is writing in a spiritual sense, he says "those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit set their minds on the things of the spirit" [Romans 8:5]. The word "spirit" in this context is not difficult to understand, it is the opposite to "flesh." We live in a world where more people than ever set their minds, their desires, mainly or entirely in living for the pleasures of fleshly enjoyments.

The opposite, is to see ourselves as being adopted by God, through Christ. We use the word 'adopted' because Paul writes, "you have received the spirit of adoption as sons, by which we cry 'Abba, Father" [Romans 8:15]. Abba, is the Aramaic word for 'father.' Jesus taught us to pray, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name" [Matthew 7:9] By saying this we acknowledge we have been adopted out of the world and now have a heavenly father and are now "children of God." How many speak these words ignorant of the this meaning! Paul then says that God's Spirit "bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God." [Romans 8:16]. Note also verse 17 and 21. We pray to our Father having no doubt he hears our prayers because of this relationship.

This spiritual relationship is a special source of strength; Paul says, "For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live." [Romans 8:13]. That must mean, live eternally. We recall that Jesus said to his disciples, "The words that I have spoken unto you are spirit and life" [John 6:63]. This gives us a foundation for our spiritual relationship with the Father and our Saviour and each other.

So, seeing we, in a sense, receive the spirit as we read God's word we must ask, how do we read it? This is a key question because the religious leaders surrounding Jesus read God's word; but Jesus said to some of them, as we read a few days ago, "You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God." [Matthew 22:29] It is obvious they read the Scriptures with closed minds. Let us follow Paul's advice to Timothy, "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth" [2 Timothy 2:15].
- DC

Thought for the Day

30 January 2014

"Knowledge is not wisdom. A man may have knowledge and be unwise. He may be thoroughly orthodox and have no heresy, yet lack wisdom. In a sense wisdom is acting wisely. Viewed from one direction wisdom is always prudent - the opposite of wisdom is folly. In the context of discipleship the definition is simple - it means letting the truth pass into action."

- Dennis Gillett
The Genius of Discipleship

Wednesday 29 January 2014

TFTD - 29 January 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible ReadingsTFTD - 29 January 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

29 January 2014

Genesis 48; 49; 50
Psalms 51; 52
Romans 5; 6


The readings today all challenge us to think and meditate on their application to ourselves. Much personal meditation is called for. Genesis 48 contains Jacob's reflections at the end of his life, his relationship with "the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day" [Genesis 48:15]. Psalm 51 contains David's outpourings of remorse over his failures, pleading, "according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions" [Psalm 51:1] saying to God, "Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart" [Psalm 51:6] The secret heart is the hidden heart he had not been conscious of, which was in desperate need of repair. The Hebrew implies this.

Today we would probably talk about inner integrity. The central point is that we fail to truly sense how God sees how we think, as well as hearing what we say.

This is the point Paul has been making in writing to the Romans "if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness … you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? [Romans 2:19,21] The Jews lacked wisdom in their inward being, their knowledge of God was in the head, but not in the heart.

"The Jews", writes Paul, "were entrusted with the oracles of God" [Romans 3:2] Many, especially their leaders were proud of this. But Paul asks, "Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all", he answers, "all … are under sin, as it is written, 'None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God … there is no fear (awe) of God before their eyes" [Romans 3:9,10,18] Paul is quoting this from David's Psalms [Psalms 14; 36], how appropriate! It is essential that we train our hearts into ways of thinking in which our God delights - and we can only do that if we are totally conscious of his all seeing eye. This is pivot on which living by faith revolves.
- DC

Thought for the Day

29 January 2014

"The apostle Peter exhorts us all with the example of Abraham: "Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation honest amongst the Gentiles" (1 Peter 2:11, 12). Here the key to separation of followers of Christ is described. Not a physical separation necessarily, since we have to be "in the world" in the same way that Abraham was in contact with the inhabitants of Canaan, but a separation from the ways of "Sodom" and the politics of those who are themselves "strangers from the covenants of promise" (Ephesians 2)."

- Stephen Palmer
Great and Precious Promises (1993)

Tuesday 28 January 2014

TFTD - 28 January 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

28 January 2014

Genesis 46; 47
Psalms 50
Romans 3; 4


Yesterday, we started reading Paul's letter to the Romans. It contains so much that is relevant to life today. Paul writes of how humans, "claiming to be wise, they became fools" [Romans 1:22] He says, "what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them" [Romans 1:19] He says, "his invisible attributes … have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made" [Romans 1:20] In other words, although God himself cannot be seen by human eyes, the evidence of his existence should be plain to humans through all the remarkable things which he has created. Paul continues, "they became futile in their thinking and their foolish heart was darkened." [Romans 1:21] The foolishness of those days, which still continues among some nations, is to believe God is represented in animals, such as elephants, and to worship them.

But today, throughout what we call the Western world, "claiming to be wise" many believe there is no God of any kind, that everything that exists kind of created itself. This came about, they reason, given enough millions and billions of years, through an endless series of "accidents."

Yet the more man discovers the wonders of the world in which he lives, the more incredible he finds it to be, all the wonders of DNA being one of the latest examples. As a result, the more foolish their claims to be wise appear to be! Marvellous designs - but no designer!

The tragedy is that, having convinced themselves there is no God, the words of Paul which follow are more true today than ever before. He wrote "and since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice … haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless …" [Romans 1:28-31]

It is becoming clearer that there is no middle road, we either believe or we do not - and if we believe, we must not be half hearted about it.
- DC

Thought for the Day

28 January 2014

"I believed, and therefore have I spoken; I was greatly afflicted." It was true of Christ, and true afterwards of the apostles, who quoted it of their own labours: "We also believe, and therefore speak," says Paul. And now it has come down to us, not with the power of inspiration, but through the power of the writings of inspiration, we also believe, and therefore speak."

- C.C. Walker
Exhortation (1921)

Monday 27 January 2014

TFTD - 27 January 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

27 January 2014

Genesis 44; 45
Psalms 49
Romans 1; 2


The opening verse of Psalm 49 says, "Give ear, all inhabitants of the world" Well, those who believe that they have an immortal soul or spirit that will always exist should take note as to how it bluntly contradicts that belief.

From verse 5 to verse 20 [Psalm 49:5-20] it provides one of the most appropriate messages in the Bible to every individual in the world. Take note "those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches" [Psalm 49:6] "their graves are their homes forever" [Psalm 49:11] "Man … is like the beasts that perish. This is the path of those who have foolish confidence …" [Psalm 49:12,13] It seems to us that the world lives on foolish confidence as it serves the God of money.

The Psalmist continues, "Be not afraid when a man becomes rich … when he dies … his glory will not go down after him. For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed … his soul will go to the generation of his fathers, who will never again see light. Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish" [Psalm 49:16-20]

But this is NOT the future for everybody, which is what the atheist would have you believe is wrong. The Psalmist says, "the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning … God will redeem (resurrect) my soul from the power of the grave, for he will receive me"

Note the words early in the Psalm, "My mouth shall speak wisdom ; the meditation of my heart shall be understanding" [Psalm 49:3] This is the kind of mind the "upright" possess - the only real source for such wisdom and understanding is the Bible.
- DC

Thought for the Day

27 January 2014

"If God is the Saviour there cannot be failure: He has given His only begotten Son and with the greatest gift will also freely give all other things necessary. We are assured of God’s faithfulness in the redeeming love revealed in the sacrifice of a beloved son. When doubt assails or trials seem near to overwhelming us, we can remember the “wondrous act” of God. The abstract quality of faithfulness may seem too remote to assure our hearts, but the revelation of that faithfulness in one of ourselves, in one who partook of our nature, can give us faith and courage."

- John Carter
The Faithful God (1950)

Sunday 26 January 2014

The Bible Answer to a World in Crisis: A lasting Solution not a Quick Fix

TFTD - 26 January 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

26 January 2014

Genesis 42; 43
Psalms 46; 47; 48
Matthew 28


‘Fear’ and ‘Joy’ do not usually mix together, but they did for that group of women who came to the tomb in which they had laid Jesus “after the Sabbath” was over ­ as we read in today’s final chapter of Matthew’s Gospel. It is desirable to put together the testimonies of all four gospels to get a full picture of events on that incredible morning of the resurrection.

Matthew tells us “toward dawn … Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb” [Matthew 28:1]. Mark’s Gospel tells us the same thing, adding that Salome was with them [Mark 16:1], which is indicated inMatthew 27:56 as “the mother of the sons of Zebedee” - but it seems only the two Mary’s witnessed the burial [Matthew 27:61]. Mark says they “bought spices so that they might go and anoint him” and “it was very early” [Mark 16:1,2].

Luke’s record is similar, that it was “early dawn” and that previously “the women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how the body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.” [Luke 23:55,56; 24:1] John only mentions Mary Magdalene in his Gospel coming “early while it is still dark” [John 20:1] and she then runs to tell Peter and himself that the stone has been taken away from the tomb. These slight variations help to convince us that these are independent testimonies.

This is the greatest event in their lives and they give considerable detail, which is very understandable.

Imagine being there yourself. Sense the emotion of “fear and great joy” that unfolded. We usually understand the Bible use of the word fear in this context as a sense of overwhelming awe - rather than being terrified.

Matthew told us in yesterday’s reading that “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting opposite the tomb” [Matthew 27:61] as Joseph of Arimathea “took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb” [Matthew 27:59,60] John adds the information that Nicodemus helped him [John 19:39,40] The women waited with no doubt great impatience until the Sabbath(s?) were over so they could embalm his precious body, touching it, so they thought, for one last time. The events that followed the next morning (and did they sleep at all that night?) makes us think that the words “with fear and great joy” after the angel told them “he has risen as he said” [Matthew 28:6-8] and they saw the tomb empty - are inadequate to describe their emotions! And what is adequate to describe our emotion when he returns?
- DC

Thought for the Day

26 January 2014

"It was the apostle’s strong sense of being redeemed himself by the mercy of God which was the basis of his attitude. God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you, he writes to the Ephesians, so "be you therefore followers of God" (Ephesians 5:1). "The love of Christ constraineth us" (2 Corinthians 5:14); that is, we are under an obligation, not to live for ourselves, but for him who died for us. In that reflection we, too, may find the strength not to seek our own but our neighbour’s good so that he is edified."

- F.T. Pearce
The Brother for Whom Christ Died (1968)

TFTD - 25 January 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

25 January 2014

Genesis 41
Psalms 45
Matthew 27


In tomorrow's Psalm [Psalm 46] there is a remarkable saying, “there is a river whose streams make glad the city of God” [Psalm 46:4].There is only one other passage of Scripture anything like this. The final chapter of the last message of Jesus starts with the words, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life” It then goes on to say that on either bank of the river is “the tree of life” Now this is the tree in the Garden of Eden! Adam was put out of the Garden, “lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and live forever.” [Genesis 3:22]. So the Psalmist is blessed with a wonderful distant visit, and he adds [Psalm 46:5] those who are inhabitants of this city “will not be moved”.

The Psalmist also has a vision of the future for those who are not inhabitants of the city of God”, this is not joyous at all, in fact it is terrible. We read, “The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.” [Psalm 46:6]. There is then the invitation, “Come” it seems to be said to the inhabitants of the city of God. What do they see? “Behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth.”

The Psalmist has a vision of God’s judgements on the earth “when he makes wars cease to the end of the earth…” Psalm 46:9 Now note how the Psalm ends, “Be still and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations …” [Psalm 46:10]

Finally, go back to the beginning and realize that this Psalm is a marvellous message to us here and now as to the spirit we should have in our hearts when these things are about to happen ­ and start to happen, it is a Psalm for us.

“And God is our refuge and strength, a proven help in time of trouble, therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains tremble … “ [Psalm 46:1-3]

Surely we are among the ones God had in mind when he caused the Psalmist to pen these words. Let us believe them and be strong in faith.
- DC

Thought for the Day

25 January 2014

"The peace which Christ knew was undoubtedly derived from the Father, but he made it his own. Accordingly Paul could write to the Philippians: "Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:2). This, with some variations, was the apostle’s customary salutation. It was a reminder to the believers that the Gospel has its roots in the grace of God. The experience of that grace should bring peace to the believer. Peace is a term with more than one implication. It can, for example, describe the new relationship to God unto which a man is brought as the result of the sacrifice of Christ (see Ephesians 2:13-17); it can, too, represent tranquillity of mind and serenity of outlook which are the products of true fellowship with God."

- T.J. Barling
Letter to the Philippians

Friday 24 January 2014

TFTD - 24 January 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

24 January 2014

Genesis 39; 40
Psalms 44
Matthew 26


Entwined within the momentous story of the arrest and trial of our Lord is the tragic story of Judas Iscariot. "What will you give me if I hand him over to you?" [Matthew 26:15] What made him do this? He had witnessed the remarkable miracles of his Master. When a large number of those following Jesus had turned away from him grumbling about his hard sayings, "Jesus said to the twelve, 'Will you also go away as well?' [John 6:67] They, with Peter as their spokesman, said, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed and come to know that you are the holy one of God" [John 6:68-69] Jesus then commented that one of them was a devil! Did Judas realize what he meant? We doubt it! On another occasion we are told that "he was a thief and having charge of the moneybag used to help himself to what was put into it" [John 12:6]

We wonder why Jesus did nothing to stop this, he must have known. Yet, we read in Matthew 27, that when he "saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver … saying, 'I have sinned by betraying innocent blood'" [Matthew 27:4] Why did it take him so long to realize it was a sin?

The explanation that occurs to us is that, having witnessed several occasions when Jesus eluded attempts to arrest him, he was sure he would do so again! He therefore saw a clever opportunity to get a large among of money out of the religious leaders and received a huge shock when Jesus was arrested.

The lesson for us is to see how blind apparently committed followers of Christ can be as to what is wrong behaviour. They can listen, and feel that they believe in the words of eternal life and follow Jesus - blind to the fact that following Jesus means they must become more and more like him. Jesus does not act to prevent our bad behaviour; followers of Jesus are allowed to experience tests to see whether they are really converted or not - because conversion also means changing our ways.
- DC

Thought for the Day

24 January 2014

"Do we ever give sufficient thought to the fact, taught so early in Scripture, "Cursed is the ground for your sake: Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to you"? (Genesis 3:17-18) Not only did man have to bear the results of his rebellion, but Nature had to suffer as well. "Cursed is the ground for your sake." Yet how much beauty remains. All this could have been taken away from us, and justly too, but it wasn’t. As God "sends His rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45), so He has not left Himself without witness in Nature. The beauty is there in abundance, as a testimony to God’s goodness and as a little foretaste of the time when the curse will be removed."

- Howard Walker
Evening Meditations (1973)

Thursday 23 January 2014

TFTD - 23 January 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

23 January 2014

Genesis 38
Psalms 41; 42; 43
Matthew 25


Today’s Psalm 42 has this particularly challenging verse, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” [Psalm 42:2] We linked this verse in with the two parables we read today inMatthew 25. There is first a parable of 10 virgins waiting for the bridegroom to arrive, but half of them are foolish and do not bring enough oil (of faith?) and the door is shut on them and they are left outside [Matthew 25:1-10].

The second somewhat parallel parable is of servants who are entrusted with portions of their Master’s property while he is away. When he returns they are called to appear before him. Those who have been conscientious are naturally ready when their Master re-appears, they have been thirsting for him to come. These receive commendation and are told “Enter into the joy of your Master [Matthew 25:23]. Their thirsty soul was satisfied.

However, there is a servant who is described as “slothful” [Matthew 25:26] who is barred from entry and the point is made by Jesus, “To everyone who has will more be given and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” [Matthew 25:29]

We now look again at Psalm 42 where we read another important question - and the answer to it! “Why are you cast down, O my soul, why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him …” [Psalm 42:5]. This thought leads to the Psalmist’s recognition that “by day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.” [Psalm 42:8]

The Psalmist learnt that the Lord will quench our thirst now if we truly drink from his word every day. We will have ample oil in our lamps and will be ready to appear before him with joy. This world is “a dry and weary land where there is no water” [Psalm 63:1] except for “the water of life” [Revelation 21:6] that is only to be found, here and now, in God’s word.
- DC

Thought for the Day

23 January 2014

"It has been said that the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) is "the most searching and powerful utterance we possess on what concerns the moral life". All recognize its nobility, but only the Christian can appreciate its significance in relation to the Gospel message. It depicts the outlook and attitude of mind of Christ and it is impossible fully to appreciate and aspire to its ideals without him. To those prepared to accept the invitation of Jesus to forsake all and follow him, there is no greater guide."

- John J. Fryer
Design for Life (1971)

Wednesday 22 January 2014

TFTD - 22 January 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

22 January 2014

Genesis 37
Psalms 39; 40
Matthew 24


In both our Genesis and Matthew readings today we have reference to the sun, moon and stars - and in neither case are they to be understood in a literal sense. The context makes this evident. In Genesis Joseph has a dream and tells his parents and brothers about it. “Behold I have dreamed a dream. Behold the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me” [Genesis 37:9] His father has no doubt as to what the dream symbolises and says, “ ‘Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?’ And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind” [Genesis 37:10-11]. Our minds moved forward to the time of Mary and how she kept the sayings about Jesus in mind in her heart. [Luke 2:19, 51]

The jealousy of the brothers is the trigger that creates a sequence of events that leads to the fulfilment of this dream ­ another example of how God weaves in the actions prompted by human nature, to bring about his purpose. It is also the way he oversees the character building of those he is calling to serve him.

In Matthew 24 Jesus says the sun, moon and stars will be a sign of his coming. The time of great tribulation comes to an end when “the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken” [Matthew 24:29]

While we do not exclude a possible application in some physical sense, the saying has an application to a total crisis and collapse of earth’s ruling powers; the “earth (i.e. the people on earth) will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect …” [Matthew 24:30-31]

Let us remember these words and build up our faith in these words, because we cannot have faith in human beings, we must not be like the foolish virgins we will read about tomorrow.

Thought for the Day

22 January 2014

"The joy we experience now is real enough, but is transient and passing. We have our moments of sorrow and depression as well as joy, but the joy to come is different. "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." And when that day comes there will be an end of sorrow and trial. Weeping will give place to joy, a joy which will know no end:

"And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:10)"

- Philip Hinde
Joy (1977)

Tuesday 21 January 2014

TFTD - 21 January 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

21 January 2014

Genesis 36
Psalms 38
Matthew 23


Our Lord Jesus really set about 'calling a spade a spade' as the saying is, as he confronted the religious leaders in Jerusalem. In today's reading [Matthew 23] he calls them "hypocrites" "blind guides" and children of hell (Gehenna). He says they concentrate on outward appearance "but inside they are full of greed and self indulgence" [Matthew 23:25] He is stirring up as much as possible their hatred of him, which goes hand in hand with their jealousy and envy of the adulation he received as he entered Jerusalem.

As a result their state of mind is such that they are determined to destroy him whatever it costs. Seven times in this chapter Jesus says "Woe to you" [Matthew 23:13,15,16,23,25,27,29] The hidden sevens in the Bible are interesting, as we noted in Revelation. Then, it seems to us, it is especially significant when he says, "Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape … all these things shall come on this generation." [Matthew 23:32,33,36]

The same Gk word is used in Matthew 13:47-50 when Jesus told the parable of the net being "thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the close of the age … "

Jesus is using a way of speaking that God used through the prophet Joel; speaking in this case of gathering in a grape harvest, as a parable of the overflow of his anger on the nations " … the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread for the winepress is full. The vats overflow, for their evil is great … for the day of the LORD is near … and the heavens and the earth quake … so you shall know that I am the LORD your God." [Joel 3:13,14,16,17]

Sadly, for many, as with the religious leaders and a million Jews in the First Century, it will be too late, they were among the bad that we cast away when the full net was brought ashore.

But Joel's prophecy is about our days - and how true it is today those words of Jesus to the hypocrites that surrounded him that concentrate on the outward appearance "but inside they are full of greed and self indulgence"

Is not this the spirit in the world today? How close to being "full" is this world? A fearful repetition of the Jewish world of 1950 years ago! We call to mind the final message of Jesus, "Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth … they (the angels) were told not to harm … only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads." [Revelation 8:13; 9:4] How can those who do not read the Bible have any hope of having the seal of God on them … God's word tells you how to have it!
- DC

Thought for the Day

21 January 2014

"In this blessed provision for the forgiving of our sins we recognize the wonderful compassion of God, manifested to those who seek to know Him and to serve Him. In, and through, His beloved Son "we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace" (Ephesians 1:7). Reconciliation to God and continued fellowship with Him and His Son are only possible on the basis of His forgiveness of our sins. Little wonder, therefore, that this aspect of the Divine mercy is constantly stressed in the Scriptures as an outstanding feature of the character of God, and gratefully recognized and appreciated by those who have been the recipients of it."

- F.W. Turner
Meditations (1949

Monday 20 January 2014

TFTD - 20 January 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

20 January 2014

Genesis 34; 35
Psalms 37
Matthew 22


The above saying of Jesus in today's reading of Matthew 22:14 provoked our thoughts - seeing that Peter wrote that God "is not wishing that any should perish" [2 Peter 3:9]. Why call so many, but choose so few? We should remember well the parable of the sower sowing the seed and how many examples of unproductive ground were given compared to "the good soil." Today there is more unreceptive and unproductive ground than ever.

It is helpful to look at the context of Peter's words, for we often hear it said that God is not willing that any should perish. Peter writes, "The Lord …. Is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief … the earth and the works that are done in it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness …" [Matthew 22:9-11] It seems to us Peter is saying that God does not wish that any of you (to whom he is writing) should perish who "after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord … are again entangled in them and overcome" [2 Peter 2:20]

Returning to Christ's parable we see it is about those who, although invited to the "wedding feast" given for the son, Jesus [Matthew 22:2] are too preoccupied with their business interests [Matthew 22:5] while others invited, treated those bringing the invitations "shamefully" [Matthew 22:6] Eventually the wedding feast goes ahead after, according to Luke's account of the parable, "the servants … bring in the poor and crippled …" [Luke 14:21] and "so the wedding hall was filled with guests" [Matthew 22:10]

But then a problem occurs. The guests need to have a "wedding garment"! What is this? In Revelation last month we read about the "marriage supper of the Lamb" and it is stated of the Bride "it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen … for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints" [Revelation 19:8]

The deeds of the saints are those done as acts of faith, for they cannot "earn" their invitation to the wedding. Sadly, those without a wedding garment are cast out. We noted the wonderful words in today's Psalm 37 which are so appropriate here, "Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and … He will bring forth your righteousness as the light" [Psalm 37:5,6]
- DC

Thought for the Day

20 January 2014

"When we obeyed the Truth we looked with eagerness for the Lord’s coming which we expected almost immediately. But the years pass, our eager expectation fades, and we become accustomed to the Lord’s long continuing absence. Our eager anticipation of his immediate return has not been realized, but we must not allow a feeling of disappointment to interfere with our preparation. The only sure way to be ready on the unexpected day of the Lord is to be ready every day."

- Leonard Bedwell
The Bridegroom Cometh (1960)

TFTD - 19 January 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

19 January 2014

Genesis 32; 33
Psalms 36
Matthew 21


Today's chapter in Matthew [Matthew 21] is full of exciting incidents. The opposition to Jesus caused by his popularity had reached fever pitch. The religious leaders were afraid to do anything because his popularity had become so intense. We read of his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, "the crowds that went before him and that followed after were shouting 'Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!'" [Matthew 21:9,10]

Then we are told, he enters the temple (where the religious leaders normally reign supreme) "and drives out all who bought and sold in the temple … you make it a den of robbers." [Matthew 21:12-13] Jesus tells them.

Next, "the blind and the lame came to him in the temple and he healed them." Drama upon drama, "but when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did they were indignant" [Matthew 21:15] Their spiritual blindness was absolute, they were so sure of themselves that they knew all the answers, their mindset had created total spiritual darkness.

Two particular thoughts occurred to us from this incident. One, there are mindsets today: there is the total conviction that there is no God, that everything that exists sort of created itself. Ever more remarkable things have been uncovered in research by the men of science, making it impossible, it seems to us, for the rational thinking mind to even start to think there was no creative Master Mind - yet when we affirm there must be because of the vast array of evidence of most marvellous design - the atheist is indignant just as the High Priests were.

The second thought is, as we shall read in the next day or two; how fickle human attitudes are that have no depth to their understanding or belief. Many of those who joined in the shouts of 'Hosanna' were soon to be persuaded to cry 'Crucify Him'!

So we must most earnestly ask ourselves, how deep is our own conviction? Do we have, or are we earnest - in creating within ourselves the full assurance of hope and faith? Read Hebrews 6:11; 10:22.
- DC

Thought for the Day

19 January 2014

"Jesus lifted his eyes not just to see the world, but to look beyond it. We should seek to look at the world with his eyes, but also to look further. God has given us life not to be lived with lowered eyes, but to search for Him through all that is in this world, through things, events, people. All should reveal God to us. If we do this properly then our eyes will be blessed like those of the disciples (Luke 10:23-24), for they will then see what "prophets and kings have desired to see". Our eyes will then carry God to others, for then will our eye be single and our whole body full of light."

- Derek Hayward
Present Your Bodies (1990)

TFTD - 18 January 2014 - Thoughts from Today's Bible Readings

18 January 2014

Genesis 31
Psalms 35
Matthew 20


One characteristic of human nature that God does not like, which was evident in our readings today in Genesis is the effect of favouritism resulting in unfairness and prejudice. We see God's reaction to Jacob's favouritism toward Rachel and dislike of Leah. Rachel was party to this as is evident from Leah's comment to her, "You have taken away my husband" [Genesis 30:15] and Leah's approach to Jacob, "I have hired you with my son's mandrakes" [Genesis 30:16]

We must be thankful that from the time of Christ, the principle of one man one wife was restored. Prejudice is again evident among the sons of Laban, while they acknowledged the blessings that came during the first 14 years that Jacob was with them, they resent Jacob providing for his own household [Genesis 31:1] and even Rachel and Leah came to be regarded by him as "foreigners" [Genesis 31:15] We will soon read of the prejudice that occurs between the sons of Jacob because of his favouritism toward Joseph.

Yet the remarkable thing in several of these situations is that God makes use of human prejudices and jealousies, weaving them into his pattern of events toward a Divinely ordained end. "For those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" [Romans 8:28] But, let us realize that this is for the good of his purpose, it might not necessarily seem to be for ours at the time, such as when Joseph was put into the pit by his brothers! Paul's words to the Philippians are words to hold in our minds where, he says that people do things (in this case preaching) from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love … [Philippians 1:15-16] "Let love motivate us in all that we do - did not Jesus even say, 'love your enemies'."
- DC

Thought for the Day

18 January 2014

"Fellowship should be the loving companionship of those who believe the same divinely-revealed things in all essential particulars, and follow them in the conduct of their lives. Paul calls this the "fellowship of the gospel," "the fellowship of Jesus Christ our Lord,” the “fellowship of Christ’s sufferings." While John says, "You also may have fellowship with us," and that we may know what is the nature of that fellowship he adds, "our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." (1 John 1:3)"

- C.C. Walker
Brotherhood and Fellowship (1923)