I had some lovely times with God as I studied and meditated on His word during those weeks, especially the time I spent looking at the well known verses at end of Matt 11 phrase by phrase and thought I’d share a few thoughts with you on it this week.
Jesus has just finished rebuking the cities where most of His wonderful works were done and yet so many remained unrepentant.
He then prays thanking God for hiding these things ‘from the wise and prudent,’ but rather revealing ‘them unto babes.’
Jesus then goes on to say that ‘no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.’ then immediately gives this well known invitation…
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Come! This isn’t just any Come Friends in the Greek this word ‘deute’ is an imperative form of another word that means to go and it means come hither, come here, come now and come follow.
This invitation is imperative, it’s of vital importance, it’s crucial, it’s urgent and essential, it’s an authoritative command!…
Friend, have you?
Has the Lord softened your heart and opened your eyes to your need?
Are you following this Jesus moment by moment, day by day?
Will you come and find rest in Christ?
And if you have come and you know this Jesus as your Saviour and Friend are you still coming to him daily, hourly and finding rest in Him or do you struggle on alone in your own strength and wisdom?
‘Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.’
This is where true rest and peace are found Friends, in Christ. Are we seeking Him, coming to Him and abiding in Him day by day?
‘He must increase, but I must decrease.’ This is the only place where peace is found, in Christ!
I love the account of the armour of God (Eph 6) and all that God gives us to protect us and to help us defend ourselves against spiritual attack but right at the end we have two offensive weapons, two weapons that we can use not only to defend ourselves but to attack the enemy of our souls.
First we have ‘the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:’ which is such a powerful weapon Friends, Jesus used it when He was tempted by the devil and it’s something we need to be picking up every day so that we have those truths fresh in our minds to fight with.
So often God has brought back to my mind what I was meditating on earlier in the day for me to use in the day to fight off sin and Satan!
But what I really wanted to focus on today is what follows…
‘Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;’
Praying always! Or as Paul puts it elsewhere, ‘pray without ceasing’!
This is how we stay strong friends, prayer gives us the strength we need to fight, through prayer we receive the faith we need to trust in our armour and fight that ‘good fight of faith’!
We can attack and counter attack the enemy with prayer, we can fight our old sinful nature with prayer, we can build each other up with prayer, fight for souls in prayer and we can move those mountains with prayer!
Friends, ‘we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’
Are were fighting?
Are we praying always?
How easily my own thoughts can be here, there and everywhere but up to God but the more we desire and seek this communion with God the more He’ll bless us with it.
Often it’ll be through the hard things because sadly that’s often the only way God can keep us dependent upon Him but Friend, if God uses your trials to make you more dependent upon Him, to make you a better soldier of the cross, fighting both for yourself and for others, you’ll bless Him for it!
So let’s be Christians that fight, Christians that don’t only defend themselves but that actively go out to battle and fight for their own and others souls through the Spirit with His sword and with prayer!
The first few chapters of Zechariah’s prophesy talk about his visions but before that he has a message from God, from ‘the Lord of hosts’.
This phrase must be important as it’s repeated and repetition was the way they emphasised a point in those days!…
‘Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.’
Let’s dig a little deeper. ‘Of hosts’ is translated from the Hebrew word – tsaba’- and means – a mass of people (or things) especially organized for war. Sent, battle, company, soldiers, waiting upon, warfare.
So we see that this word was generally used to refer to a group that’s organised for war, such as soldiers ready to fight!
Does the battle seen too hard Friend? Can you stir yourself from that lethargic place or it easier to just drift along leaning on what the Lord has done in the past in bringing you to know Him and not fight to walk with Him each and every day?
Dear Believer, our God is the Lord of hosts, the Lord of the battle. The captain of each soldier of the cross. He will fight with you and through you and for you if you will first turn to Him in faith and repentance, turn to Him, and He will turn to you in mercy and power.
‘Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.’
How? Through His word and in prayer, even when you don’t ‘feel it’. Prayer and studying the Bible aren’t always easy and often we don’t feel like it but if you want anything else hard enough you’ll push for it or make time for it so push through this Friend, ask God to help you seek Him and then keep coming, keep turning to your God who is LORD, The LORD of hosts, the One who rallies His soldiers to fight against the unseen enemies and give all the skill and strength to fight and the armour we need and He will turn unto you!
And not only that Friends He’s already given us the victory through Christ Jesus!!!
‘Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.’
Believer, NOTHING can separate you from God’s love…
‘Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.’
This blog is a combination of four days Instagram posts…
It’s easy to become so familiar with well known scriptures that we don’t really pause to take them in.
I wanted to share with you today something that I do when I really want to take a verse in and that’s to read it putting the emphasis on a different word each time.
So let’s look at what God says to believers in Isaiah 41:10 …
‘Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.’
FEAR thou not. Are you fearful Friend?
What are those things in our lives that make us doubt God’s mercy and power and give way to fear?
Fear THOU not… this is a personal word, it’s spoken to you believer, YOU are not to fear.
Fear thou NOT! It’s a command, we are NOT to fear, why not? Because we don’t need to for ‘I’ am with thee, the God who spoke the world into existence, the God who keeps the sun at a perfect distance so we don’t freeze or burn, the God who ‘hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span,’ the One who ‘telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.’ The God who says that ‘the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye NOT therefore,’
Because He is WITH you, not just near or with you sometimes but WITH you ‘lo, I am with you ALWAY, even unto the end of the world. Amen.’
And child of God, God is not just WITH you but IN you and says to you fear thou not for I am WITH thee. Not possibly with you if you’re good enough Friend but God IS with you.
‘I am with THEE,’ yes YOU fearful believer, you who doubt His love because the battle against sin is so fierce, you who doubt His love because you feel so unworthy and such a failure, God is with YOU!
We’ll continue looking at this tomorrow God willing but if you have time then maybe try it with a favourite verse of yours.
Is 40:10,12, Ps 147:4, Matt 10:30,31, Matt 28:20,
Carrying on from yesterday’s post with Is 41:10…
‘Be not dismayed; for I am thy God…’
God has already told us not to fear because He is with us, now He says BE NOT dismayed. Not try not to but simply don’t be, be NOT dismayed! Another command, one that may seem impossible in your current circumstances but let’s dig a little deeper.
‘Be not dismayed’ is translated from the Hebrew word ‘sha`ah’ and literally means to gaze about for help, also to be bewildered or look away.
Friends, we’re back to fixing our eyes upon Jesus!!
Don’t start to gaze about searching for help in the world around you or even from friends, first take your burden to the Lord and ask for His help to leave it there, trusting Him to work it all ‘together for good.’ Because ‘I’ am thy God. I, the creator of everything around you, I, the great I AM, the ‘Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.’
He says to YOU child of God, ‘I AM thy God!’ Not was or will be or may be if you’re good enough, simply I AM!!
‘I am THY God. This is personal, it’s not for someone else, it’s for you troubled soul, it’s for you who doesn’t know how to continue, it’s for you who is looking at your day ahead in dismay, it’s for you who’s heart is heavy with responsibilities and burdens that feel too heavy to bear, I am THY God.
‘I am thy GOD’ the supreme, Almighty, everlasting Father. The One who knows all things and holds all things, I am thy GOD!!
Friend, is your case really too hard for the one who knows each and every one of the estimated 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (that’s 1 billion trillion) stars in the observable universe by name!!
Reach up and pull out one of your hairs from your head…
God knows the new number, how many are left there now!!
THIS God, our loving Heavenly Father is the One who says to you today…
‘‘Be not dismayed; for I am thy God…’
Is 41:10, Rom 8:28, Rev 4:8,
Day 3 looking at Is 41:10…
‘I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; ‘
‘I’, again we are reminded that this is our Almighty God speaking, HE will strengthen us.
I WILL strengthen thee… there’s no need for doubt here Friends, there’s nothing more certain than the promises of God to His children because ‘he is faithful that promised.’
He will STRENGTHEN us…
We don’t feel the strength of the anchor until we’ve tested it in a storm and it’s when we perceive our weakness in those storms of life that, when we test the Anchor, we find the strength of Christ made perfect in our weakness!
‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.’
He will strengthen US Friends, that’s me and that’s you if we’ll just look away from self, the world and others and seek Christ for that strength we lack.
’yea, I will help thee; ‘ yes, in spite of the lies of the enemy, yes, in spite of all our failings, when we humbly look to God for that help, He will surely help us.
Yea, ‘I’ will help thee;
Again we see where help is to be found, in our loving Heavenly Father’s goodness and mercy…
‘Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.’
“No help in self I find,
And yet have sought it well;
The native treasure of my mind
Is sin, and death, and hell.
To Christ for help I fly,
The Friend of sinners lost,
A refuge sweet, and sure, and nigh,
And there is all my trust.”
Yea, I WILL help thee;
He surely will Friend…
‘For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.’
Yea, I will HELP thee;
The word help here is translated from the Hebrew word -`azar – and means to surround, protect or aid.
We are never alone, God is everywhere, He surrounds us and Believer He not only surrounds you but through Christ He is IN you!!
Yea, I will help THEE;…
Again it’s personal, it’s you that this is spoken to!!
So fear not Friend, look to God and He WILL strengthen and help you.
Is 41:10, Heb 10:23, 2 Cor 12:9-10, Ps 23:6, 2 Cor 1:20,
Day 4 looking at Is 41:10…
‘…yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.’
YEA, I will uphold thee… yes, He will believer, God, your God, WILL uphold thee. This promise stands as firm as every other promise in His word!
‘…yea, I will UPHOLD thee…
Uphold – tamak – to sustain, keep fast; to help, hold (up), maintain.
Yea, I will uphold THEE Friend! Again it’s is so personal, God will uphold you if you just look to Him with even a teeny tiny grain of faith! He will hold you fast, maintain you in the way and hold you up in the storms.
How? ‘With the right hand of my righteousness.’
Friends, we would be offended if our friends didn’t trust us and yet we are sinners and sometimes we do fail, how much more then can we trust what our righteous and faithful, pure and perfect God promises?
God WILL uphold His own with the right hand of HIS perfect righteousness!!
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
We all have a little sphere of influence, our lives either spreading a little of God’s love or not.
There’s those at school or college and your life influences your friends and even your teachers. Then those at work you influence your colleagues, the teacher in a classroom has thirty souls, her attitude and responses influence, the stay at Home Mum has little ears listening and eyes watching to see how she reacts. The way we interact with others when we’re shopping or driving, it all either reflects the world or Christ.
‘The children of Israel were often influenced by their king or those around them, sometimes for good, sometimes for evil.
We read how ‘they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them.’
How our old nature still goes after the world but if we’re helped to turn our eyes upon Jesus we will find that although He’s is not so alluring to our flesh the eyes of our souls…. ‘shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off’ and our heart will rejoice…
‘For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.’
How we need grace to walk out this truth…
‘I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.’
Friends let’s be those that seek for grace that we might always be looking to Jesus and reflecting a little of the glory of God to those around us.
Have you ever really paused to think what it means to be created in God’s image? Because in…
‘the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;’
We were created to be image bearers.
So why do our lives, our thoughts, our words, our actions, so often reflect everything but God?
Because sin has defiled us and sin results in us so often bearing the image of the created rather than the Creator.
Did your parents ever say to you that they didn’t like your attitude or ask where are getting that behaviour from or say that’s not the way I brought you up to speak or behave?
They could see the reflection of the world and those we mixed with in us and it’s the same spiritually Friends.
We become like who we behold!
The children of Israel… ‘rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them.’
Friends, who or what is influencing our lives? Who or what do our lives reflect?
What happens when we turn our eyes away from world and fix them on Jesus?…
‘We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.’
Friends, the Holy Spirit is always ready to opens our hearts and the eyes of our understanding to see the precious truths of the gospel, to see Jesus, The Word in the word of God, to help us behold Him and make us reflect a little of His image and His glory to those around us.
‘For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.’
Friends, let’s not read our bibles just for knowledge but to behold Jesus, to see a glimpse of the glory our great God so that we might reflect a little of that glory in our day to day lives.
And let’s not just be gazing on Jesus in those moments in His word but be fixing our eyes on Him ‘looking unto Jesus’ throughout our days, praying that those little moments may become moments that reflect His glory to those around us.
Gen 5:1, 2 kings 17:15, 2 Cor 3:17-18, 1 Thess 1:5, Heb 12:2.
Just days before Jesus gave up His life on the cross He was in Simon the leper’s house having a meal with His disciples when a woman came in. She had with her ‘an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head.’
You probably know the story well, Judas and the disciples are critical, see it as a waste but Jesus defends the woman saying ‘she hath wrought a good work upon me… For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.’
She gave in what the disciples considered a reckless way, what was likely her most expensive position and poured it all out upon Jesus head.
They saw oil poured out, wasted! Jesus saw love poured out, a heart consecrated!
Friends, nothing we pour out, love, time, possessions, money, talents, none of it is wasted if it’s poured out for Jesus, the waste is when we don’t pour them out for Him!
Friends, how much of ourselves do we pour out for Jesus and how much for ourselves?
1 Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee. Take my moments and my days; let them flow in endless praise,
2 Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of thy love. Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for thee,
3 Take my voice and let me sing always, only, for my King. Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from thee,
4 Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold. Take my intellect and use every power as thou shalt choose.
5 Take my will and make it thine; it shall be no longer mine. Take my heart it is thine own; it shall be thy royal throne.
6 Take my love; my Lord, I pour at thy feet its treasure store. Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for thee.
In psalm 54, David has just been betrayed and he pours out his troubles to God, pleading with Him to save him.
Then you get to the end of verse 3 and you find the word Selah!
David pauses, imagine him, once again his life is in danger, he’s poured it all out to the Lord and then he pauses, what happens in that pause?
His thoughts must have rested on the greatness and goodness of His God because he continues in faith saying
‘Behold, God is mine helper’!
David had confidence that the Lord would fight for him and defeat his enemies and believer, if we’re seeking to walk in God’s ways, we too can have this confidence. The enemy of our souls is far stronger than us but he’s not and never will be stronger than Christ who is IN us!!
Then in v6 we read this…
‘I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O LORD; for it is good.’
Let’s dig a little deeper.
I will freely – nĕdabah – spontaneously, an abundant gift, a freewill offering, plentifully, willingly!
sacrifice – zabach – kill, offer, slay.
Sacrifice is the act of giving up something valued for the sake of something regarded as more important or worthy.
unto thee: I will praise – yadah – literally, to use (i.e. hold out) the hand; physically, to throw (a stone, an arrow) at or away; especially to revere or worship (with extended hands), praise, shoot, thanksgiving.
Friends, God is always worthy of our praise, even in the hardest places, praise brings perspective!
So Friends, whatever our circumstances today, let’s pause as David did and think on the goodness and greatness of our God until our hearts are also filled with praise!
We’re totally unworthy of God’s favour Friends and yet His word is full of rich promises to His people because He’s a loving Heavenly Father and in Christ we are worthy!
One that I particularly love is this…
‘And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:’
This is in one of Paul’s letters to the Corinthian’s where he praises their generosity and tells us that God loves a cheerful giver.
The language in this verse always makes my heart swell with amazement at the generosity and thoroughness of God’s grace.
All grace, abound, always, all sufficiency, all things, abound, every!!
Let’s dig a little deeper.
Is able – dynatos – powerful, mighty, strong!
The next bit is really interesting, to make all grace abound is four Greek words perisseuo pas charis perisseuo
As you can see this phrase has the same word at the beginning and end, repeated words were their way of emphasising a point. So we have…
perisseuo – to superabound, in excess, superfluous, enough and to spare, overflow!
‘ “Abounding” is used of a flower going from a bud to full bloom.’
pas – all, any, every, the whole, whatsoever, whosoever, the whole, daily.
charis – grace, graciousness, especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; benefit, favour, gift, joy, liberality, pleasure.
(Interestingly this Greek word charis comes from the word chairo which means ‘joy, cheerful, calmly having ppy, to rejoice exceedingly’ and this is it what God’s grace does Friends, it enables us to live our lives for His glory and to do His will joyfully.)
Then we have perisseuo again – superabound, in excess, superfluous, enough and to spare, overflow.
Friends, God is powerfully and mightily able to give us the grace we need.
He has abundant, excessive, overflowing stores of grace.
God has ALL the grace we need, every day, for whatsoever we need it for, so that we can abound in doing His will joyfully!
And this grace is towards you believer!
‘that ye always having ALL sufficiency in ALL things,’
Ye always – pantote – at all times, ever.
Having – echo – to hold, posses, ability
all – pas – all, any, every, the whole, whatsoever, whosoever, the whole, daily.
sufficiency – autarkeia – self-satisfaction, i.e. contentedness, or a competence, contentment, sufficiency.
things may abound – here we have perisseuo again, to superabound, in excess, superfluous, enough and to spare, overflow!
Friends, God’s grace is always flowing, at ALL times, for whatsoever situation we’re, towards whosoever we need that grace and it’s available daily!
It’s free, it’s something we can have and hold.
Then there’s the sufficiency of God’s grace that He makes available to us. Interestingly this word also means contendedness and competence,
God makes His grace abound toward us so that we’ll always have enough and so that we can always have contentment and competence in doing His will, doing the good works He has called us to and living for His glory if we’ll just look to Him for it!
And that may not be great things Friends, so often it’s cheerful, loving faithfulness in the day to day tasks we need the most grace for.
So God’s grace overflows towards us that our lives might overflow with His love towards others in the things we do and say.
Whatever God asks us to do He has overflowing supplies of grace that He freely gives us so we can joyfully, contentedly do His will.
Will you draw from this ever flowing stream today Friend?
As I was reading in Corinthians this morning I began to wonder how many of us had set goals this year? Things we wanted to focus on, areas we wanted to grow in etc.
We’re now a third of the way through the year and life is looking very different to what any of us could have anticipated.
So has our goal, our focus had to shift?
Friends, Paul had a goal but it was a goal that didn’t need to change as his circumstances changed. His goal was a goal that he could aim for, not only in his day to day missionary life but even when he was shipwrecked on an island or when he was shut up in prison!
Paul knew well his imperfections but he still pushed forward day after day towards his goal…
‘Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.’
Friends, today and over the coming weeks and months, as life gradually settles down to a new normal, where will our focus be?
Will our eyes be fixed on Jesus? Will we daily be… ‘Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith?’
Ah Friends, is this how you long to go forward? Looking unto Jesus?
‘But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.’
This word translated keep is the Greek word – tēreō – to guard by keeping the eye upon, maintain, hold fast, keep, preserve.
Friends may this be our goal going forward, to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, running, focused on the prize of eternal life, holding Jesus tight by faith, praying that God in His grace and mercy will keep and preserve us both in this way and focused on eternity rather than the here and now.