One of the many wonders of God’s grace is that we are His workmanship (see Eph.2:10). The Greek word for ‘workmanship’ is poema, meaning ‘to make’. We get the word ‘poem’ from this word. We are God’s work of art, His masterpiece. Just as no two blades of grass or two snowflakes are the same, so in the new creation we have been individually and skilfully planned and crafted. And it takes every individual member of the body of Christ to display the full glory of His handiwork.
Any attempt to clone God’s people will hinder the revelation of this glory. Cloning seeks to produce multiple identical copies from an original model. It’s purpose is to ensure that every part of the DNA of the original is passed on, resulting in exact reproductions. (read more….)
The purpose of both creation and redemption is that we might have an intimate relationship with Jesus. It is not surprising, therefore, that there would be one book in the Bible which depicts this. That book is the Song of Solomon. It is probably based on a true story. A young Shulamite woman worked in the vineyards of Solomon, and then one day they set eyes upon each other. It was love at first sight. From that moment on it was no longer the work but the King Himself who was her passion and focus in life.
This beautiful book describes the deep, intimate feelings of love they had for the other. It uses words and expressions which we can use when we think of our relationship with Jesus, just like we sometimes use language from the Psalms when we pray. (read more….)
Turning the water into wine was the first sign performed by Jesus. He and His disciples were invited to a wedding in Cana. Unlike John the Baptist, Jesus was not an ascetic; He came ‘eating and drinking’. He was no party-pooper. He didn’t stand alone in a corner drinking cordial, judging those who were making merry. He celebrated with them. And for good reason, as we shall see.
Weddings were big social occasions. All eyes would have been on the host to see whether he would excel or disappoint. Would he put on a lavish banquet; or would the reception be remembered for its scantiness? This wedding was in full swing when the servants suddenly realized they were out of wine. What a disaster! This would have meant public shame for the wedding couple. (read more…)
During the Q&A time at a recent grace conference I was speaking at, someone asked the question: ‘What about Jesus’ call to take up our cross? We have to take up our cross, don’t we?’
Before I share my reply it’s good to look at what is meant by that question. In fact, when you ask those who insist that we need to take up our cross what this means, many actually do not know how to answer. They are sure we have to take up our cross, and tell us to do so, but don’t know what it means!
Some take it to mean having to carry some unpleasant burden in life – maybe coping with a difficult relationship or working in an unpleasant environment. Often the world uses the term in this way. But this has nothing to do with what Jesus was saying.
Others believe it means to ‘die to self’, i.e. suppressing our own desires for the sake of the kingdom. This leads to a whole lot of self-imposed rules of self-denial. For example, saying ‘no’ to anything that gives pleasure such as chocolate, TV, me-time, etc. The idea behind this thinking is that anything I like or want is intrinsically wrong and must be denied.
But this is not what Jesus meant either. (read more….)
‘For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age’ (Titus 2:11-12). In these verses Paul says that the same grace which appeared to us at salvation also teaches us how to live. The word translated as ‘teach’ is paideuo, from which we get the word pedagogue, meaning a teacher.
This is most interesting, because elsewhere Paul likens the law to a pedagogue (see Gal.3:24-25). And he says that when a person comes to faith in Christ they are taken out from being under the law; they no longer need this pedagogue. We are free from the law and from people telling us what to do.
Here we see why. We have another pedagogue, the Holy Spirit. (read more….)
“Who was very upset when the prodigal son came home?” the children’s church worker asked her class. A little boy put his hand up and replied, “The fatted calf!”
I can understand that. But, as we know, the answer the teacher was looking for was, ‘the elder brother’. His younger brother went off in rebellion into the far country. He wasted his inheritance and lived immorally with prostitutes. He insulted his father and brought shame on the family name. Yet at the end of the parable he is the one inside the party as the centre of attention and his dutiful, elder brother is outside, grumpy and all alone. (read more…)
In Paul’s amazing prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21 he prays that we would ‘be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man’ (Eph.3:16). We have an inner man as well as an outer man. The inner man is the spiritual part of us and the outer man the material part. The world concentrates on building up the outer man through such things as diet and exercise. The healthier we are the more likely our immune system will be to resist viruses and diseases. So it is with our inner man. The stronger it is the more we can withstand spiritual sicknesses. (read more….)
Often, people believe that sin is the pathway to pleasure; otherwise they wouldn’t do it. People become addicted to anything that gives temporary pleasure as a means of distraction from the emotional pain they are going through.
The brain works in such a way that when we do something we enjoy it releases endorphins as a reward. This encourages us to repeat the behaviour each time we need relief from emotional pain. It serves as a coping mechanism. (read more….)
Jesus told many parables. The word ‘parable’ is made up of two words – para = alongside, and ballein = to cast or throw. A parable, then, is a story cast alongside a truth to illustrate it. It’s always important to ask why Jesus told a parable before attempting to interpret it. (read more….)
I was taking a group of people through my This Is The Life workbook when someone said, “It’s all very well to say that faith in Christ is the only requirement for salvation; but what about repentance? The Bible teaches that unless we repent we cannot be saved.”
I responded by asking: “But what is repentance?” The answer came, “It means we need to stop sinning and clean up those areas of our lives which are displeasing to God.” I said, “If we could do that we wouldn’t need a Saviour!” (read more….)
1 John 3:9 reads, “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God”. This verse troubled me for some time. If John had said those who are born of God should not sin, that would have been challenging enough. But he states emphatically that a born again person does not sin, and in fact cannot sin.
How do you respond to that? If preachers were aiming for a large number of re-dedications in a meeting this would be a great verse to use! It’s just one small step to conclude, “Real Christians don’t sin. Therefore, if you do, you’re probably not a real Christian. So come and re-commit your life to the Lord.” (read more…)