Overcoming Jezebel.

The readings today are Isaiah Chapters 48-49 and Revelation 2:18-29. I will leave you to read and comment on the Isaiah Chapters. I will focus on the Revelation passage – one of the letters to the Seven Churches.

The letter is addressed to the church at Thyatira. This city was a commercial centre when John wrote. What do you think of Christ’s description of Himself? – the burning eyes and the feet of burnished bronze, it really creates a setting of aura for this letter.

Though the church was active and faithful in many respects, it had accepted the leadership of a woman characterised as “Jezebel”. Do you remember the first “Jezebel”? She introduced idolatry and gross immorality into ancient Israel. We must assume the name signified that the Thyatiran woman did the same.

Thus what was known as “the church” was divided into faithful and corrupted parts.

The faithful and the corrupt (or the apostate and the genuine) still exist within Christendom. How do you cope with that?

The continued existence of the apostate (corrupt) reflects the existence of our God of grace (as does God’s patience with us). God has “given her time to repent of her immorality”. But the time of grace is drawing to an end.

At a time of God’s choosing He will bring judgment on Jezebel and her followers.

The spirit of Jezebel still moves through churches, and settles wherever she can find a home. Do not expect that you will be a able to purge our church of her influence. Have you met any who try?

Jesus says to the genuine of us – to those of us who do not accept her teaching, “Hold on to what you have until I come.”

We who hold fast to Christ and His authentic Gospel are to concentrate on good deeds, love, faith, service and perseverance (v.19).

In doing Christ’s will, we will find the spiritual authority we need to overcome (vs. 26-29)

Remember to be a good finisher.

Have a great day,

Peter Clark.

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Defeated By God’s Gospel.

The passages set down for today’s readings are: Isaiah Chapters 21,22 and Acts 19:23-41. I am looking at the Acts passage today. May God bless you as you read His Word.

There was great trouble underway – a riot in Ephesus and it was all “because of the Lord’s Way”. The Gospel of God was putting the silversmith (Demetrius) out of business – he made little idols which people were not buying.

Demetrius gathered together all his fellow idol makers to stir them up against Paul,(they were not being idol).

“The temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited” shouted Demetrius (v.27).

She deserved no more than that. Artemis was a multi breasted earth mother goddess of the East (not the Diana of Greek mythology) Her moral and spiritual qualities were reflected in the practice of magic that flourished in Ephesus.

In Ephesus the coming of the Gospel reversed the situation where these cults thrived. Books on magic were being burned and there was a serious threat to the worship at the temple of Artemis. People were turning to Jesus and worshipping Him.

It is encouraging to remember that it is the Gospel and only the Gospel that is able to discredit evil and reverse the trends we see in our society today.

The account goes on. A city official silenced the rioters and sent them home. His review of the situation is interesting – it gives us an insight into evangelism. The Christians did not speak against Artemis, but they spoke for Jesus.

We have a positive message in the Gospel to share AND a positive testimony to pass on to others……..now all we have to do is share it.

Have a great day,

Peter Clark.

A Lesson In Commitment.

The readings set down for today are Joshua 24 and Acts 2:1-41. They are both terrific passages and capable of being a great blessing to us.

Joshua tells the people to listen to this message from the Lord (v.2). He then speaks to all the people and in essence makes a case for commitment. He reviews all that God has done and in one of the most famous of Old Testament affirmations of faith, Joshua expresses his own commitment: “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (v.15).

Joshua could make this commitment for himself. He could not make it for others. What he could do was to encourage and make sure that each family in Israel realised that commitment was necessary.

We see recorded that the people recognised the validity of the case Joshua had made. The Lord had “brought us ….up out of slavery.” And God had driven out the enemy. “We too will serve the Lord,” the people said, “because He is our God.

Joshua has made a case for commitment. Are you challenged by that call to commitment?

In verses 19-27 Joshua makes clear the cost of that commitment. If we are going to make a commitment to the Lord, it must be a total commitment. There is no half way covenant with the Lord. No watered down version for the weaker person or the half hearted.

The people were with Joshua. When confronted with the cost of commitment they insisted that they would serve the Lord.

In verse 23 we see two ways that the people would show their commitment. First, they were to “Throw away the foreign gods that are among you.” This is as pertinent to us….we are to keep nothing in our lives that might compete with God for our loyalty.

Is there anything in your life competing with God?

Secondly, they were to “Yield (their) hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.”

Are you really willing to surrender to the Lord everything we have and are?

Well, how do you go with all this? Not too good? That is where our other reading today comes into play….it is the recording of the giving of God’s Spirit (Acts 2)

Just as well we have Him living in our lives – helping us – leading us into all truth – making us aware of our sinfulness – pleading on our behalf to the Father.

We are called to commitment….there is a cost….but we are also equipped.

Have a great day,

Peter Clark.

Victory In Life

The readings set down for today are Joshua 11 and Luke 23:44-49

In both these readings we witness great victory at the hands of God.

In Joshua 11 the enemy in the north of Canaan is united to resist Israel’s advance, and their forces were formidable. There was too much opposition for the Israelites to meet it alone. But God assured Joshua that he would win the battle, and he did.

God assures us before the battle (v.6). He fights for us during the battle (v.8) and commands us after the battle (vs.9 & 15). How we follow orders after the battle is as important as what we do before the battle begins.

(We might ask why Joshua had to treat the horses as he did. We are not told, but perhaps it was so that the Israelites would continue to rely on God and not on their own military might.)

We see that Joshua conquered the whole land and did it to provide each Israelite with his inheritance from the Lord (v.23). God helped him defeat thirty-one kings and claim their land and their wealth for the Lord and His people.

In the New Testament we see Jesus, the Son of God as being “our Joshua”. Jesus has defeated every spiritual enemy, by His death on the cross (Luke 23:44-49) and now He reigns in heaven (See Ephesians 1:15-23 and Colossians 2:9-15).

Now, because of everything that Christ has done, we can “live and rule like kings” (Romans 5:17)

There is the victory.

Have a great day,

Peter Clark.

For Those “Confident In Their Own …..”

The readings set down for today are Nahum 2 and Luke 18:9-17. Sit down, relax, remove all the distractions and let these passages soak into your soul.

In this Nahum passage we see one of the descriptions of the fall of Nineveh. The river gates are opened and the city is flooded and then burned. Nineveh was situated on three rivers, with a canal system that fed the different districts. Once the suburbs were captured, the canal gates could be thrown open and the cities defences flooded. The walls of the palace collapsed, enemy soldiers swarmed into the city and plundered it.

We can only imagine how confident those in Nineveh felt living inside their fortress city. They would have thought they were perfectly safe with no-one able to get any where near them. But that self confidence was misplaced.

Our second passage (Luke 18:9-17) is one of Jesus’ parables and it is specifically directed to “some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others (presumably because these “others” were not as righteous as they were)”-v.9. The Pharisee who represented this group thought that all he did was a ticket directly into God’s Kingdom (“Do not pass go”). In contrast, the tax collector, a representative “sinner”, simply cried out to God for mercy.

Confidence in ourself, or what we do, or what we own, is a fantasy. Those who think and/or pray as the Pharisee have their eyes fixed on themselves and not on God. This can be a huge problem for us – almost without us knowing it.

Only by us taking our place beside the despised first-century tax collector, admitting to God (and others) that we are sinful, and relying ONLY on God’s mercy, can we be justified before God.

Have a great day,

Peter Clark.

Our Lord, The Encourager.

There is one passage set down for our faithful FDR readers, just five days after Christmas – Luke 2:21-40.

Luke relates two incidents that serve to demonstrate Jesus’ identity. On the 40th day after His birth Jesus’ mother came to the temple to offer the sacrifice required of the poor for purification after childbirth (v.24 and see Lev. 12:8).

There the Holy Spirit caused two aged saints to identify Jesus as the promised Messiah.

These incidents serve as historical markers or evidence, but they surely would have had special meaning to Joseph and Mary. Very shortly after this, Matthew tells us, the couple was forced to take the Baby Jesus and flee the country. I would imagine that the memory of every unusual word about their child would serve to encourage Joseph and Mary then and into the future.

Many of God’s most unusual works are performed more for the comfort of His own people than for some great theological purpose. Here God comforted four: Simeon and Anna near the end of their lives; Joseph and Mary at the beginning of a difficult period in theirs.

The very personal purposes seen here encourage us to expect the Lord to meet our needs as well. Can you recognise times in your life when God has greatly encouraged you?

 

Have a great day,

Peter Clark.

Is The Cost Too Much?

The readings for this beautiful Saturday are Amos 4 and Luke 14:25-35. I take up the challenge included in the Luke passage.

Jesus challenges His followers, “If anyone comes to me…” (14:26). There is a cost in following Jesus. We might ignore it, or water it down to something that is worthless and insipid, but Jesus spoke of the nature and necessity of discipleship. The discipleship that He spoke of was far from being either worthless or insipid.

Jesus was on the road (v.25). He was with the crowds and Jesus was warning (is that the right word?) them of what was involved in them “coming with me”.

Their issue was our issue.

One of the most urgent things we must decide is whether we will follow Christ wholly.

What is involved in us doing that?

A commitment to Jesus that places Him even above family (vs.26-27).

A conscious commitment, that looks ahead and counts the cost, and determines to carry discipleship through to completion (vs.28-33).

A continuing commitment, that once begun maintains its fervour, even as salt to be useful must maintain its savour (vs.34-35).

How hard can it be to do that, really? Extremely difficult and we cannot do it without divine help and help from our brothers and sisters in Christ. That is one of the reasons we are the part of a fellowship.

But how wise it is for us to make that conscious, continuing commitment to Jesus Christ.

Is the cost too much for you?

Have a great day,

Peter Clark.