Friday, 30 December 2016

Preaching The Word Of The Lord: New Testament

This is an updated post. I've just added notes on Luke 12:13-21 and Titus 2:11-3:8.


Matthew 1:18-25
Before Jesus is born, there is a revelation from God.
God tells us who Jesus is. He is Emmanuel: God with us (Matthew 1:23).
God tells us why Jesus has come to earth. He has come to be our Saviour (Matthew 1:21).
In this divine revelation concerning Jesus, our Saviour / Emmanuel, God with us, we have the message of the Gospel. Jesus is more than a man. He is God with us. Jesus is more than a prophet. He is the Saviour.
When we consider the remarkable beginning to Jesus' life on earth, it should not surprise us that Jesus' whole life is so very special.

Matthew 3:13-17
The Saviour; The Scriptures; The Spirit
* The Saviour has come for us. He takes the sinner’s place – in His baptism, in His death.
* The Scriptures – God has spoken to us. He still speaks to us – here and now.
* The Spirit has been given to us – for holiness and witness.

Matthew 4:1-11
Jesus was led by the Spirit, but the temptation came from the devil (Matthew 4:1).
The wilderness was the place of danger. It was the place of promise.
We can lose ourselves. We can find ourselves. We can lose God.We can find God.
Satan says, “If…” (Matthew 4:3,6). Jesus says, “It is written” (Matthew 4:4,7).
Satan offered Jesus the world (Matthew 4:8-9). Jesus said, ‘The Lord is all that matters to Me.’
People speak to us about living in the real world. They talk about looking after No. 1.
‘”Go away, Satan! Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him” (Matthew 4:10).

Matthew 4:12-25
“John had been arrested.” Jesus knew what lay ahead of Him!
His message was similar to John’s – but different: Jesus had come.
The Kingdom of God had come (Matthew 4:17). This was the shining of “a great light” (Matthew 4:16; John 8:12). This was the dawn – a new beginning.
Repentance is a new beginning, turning towards the light, turning away from everything that stops the light shining.
The first four disciples turned towards the light (Matthew 4:18-22). They will never be the same again. The fishermen became fishers of men. They became disciples of Jesus. Later, they became apostles for Him.
Preaching, teaching, healing (Matthew 4:23). Healing of the body is always a mystery, until the Lord returns. Healing of the whole life – This always happens when the preaching and teaching are received with obedient faith.

An overview of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)
* We do not begin with our love for God or  our love for another. We begin with God’s love (John 3:16).
* Jesus speaks about “the Kingdom of heaven” – it “is theirs” (Matthew 5:3,10). “Heaven came down and glory filled my soul when, at the Cross, the Saviour made me whole” – Before we go up to heaven, heaven comes down to us.
* The Be-Attitudes – What kind of people are we to be? We’re to be like Jesus (Galatians 2:20; John 3:30).
* We are to live for the glory of God (Matthew 5:16). We are not all called to preach God’s Word. We’re all called to praise His Name.
Love (Matthew 5); Prayer (Matthew 6); Wisdom (Matthew 7)
* Love (Matthew 5:43-44) – There is nothing more important than this (1 Corinthians 13:13). It’s not something that comes from within ourselves. Love is given to us. It’s God’s love – reaching us, changing us.
* Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) – The Lord creates in us a desire to pray: “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).”Teach us”, “Our Father” – This is more than private prayer. This is praying together. We see more of this in Acts.
* Wisdom (Matthew 7:24-27) – This is more than knowledge (1 Corinthians 8:1). This is life-changing. It changes us – and others: “it builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). We are “your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5).

Matthew 9:9-13
The conversion of Levi, the call to become Matthew (Mark 2:13-14)
* The opening of our eyes – to see ourselves as we really are, to see Jesus as He really is. We are sinners. He is our Saviour.
* The stirring of our hearts – This could be for me, the possibility of a new beginning: “Love lifted me. When no-one but Christ could help, love lifted me.”
* The opening of our ears – the power of Jesus’ words, “Follow Me.” He’s looking for an immediate response from us.
* The changing of our lives – new direction: “No longer I but Christ” (Galatians 2:20)
* The loosening of our tongues – Speaking for Jesus: Matthew became a Gospel writer. He became a witness for Christ.

Matthew 12:1-21
The controversy over the Sabbath comes immediately after “Come to Me…” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Our true rest is in the Lord. He is “Lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:8).
Let us not emphasize the sacrifice that we make for Him. Let us emphasize the mercy that He shows to us (Mathew 12:7).
What is so special about Jesus? – This is the question that the four Gospels answer for us.
Jesus is God’s Servant. Jesus is God’s Son. Jesus is our Saviour.
We rejoice in Jesus – God’s Servant and God’s Son. Above all, we rejoice in this: Jesus is our Saviour.
There is nothing more wonderful than this. This is Good News.
Here, we read about Jesus – God’s Servant – chosen by God; beloved of God; God delights in Him.
This is a wonderful description of our salvation.
* Chosen – “This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23).
* Beloved – “O man, greatly beloved” (Daniel 10:11)
* God delights in us – there is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:7,10,32).

Matthew 13:1-23
Jesus tells stories. Jesus is the Story.
We are to make up our minds about Jesus. This is the message of the parable of the sower.
“The Word about the Kingdom” (Matthew 13:19) – This is about more than words. This is about Jesus. Our response to Jesus is more than words. It is the response of our whole life. It’s about bearing fruit for Him (Matthew 13:23).
This message may be compared to the message of the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) – Use it or lose it.
We’re all different. We’re all called to serve the Lord – in different ways.
We don’t have the same gifts. We don’t have the same potential.
The contrast is not between the hundred, the sixty and the thirty. It’s between those who bear fruit and those who don’t bear fruit.
In the parable of the talents, the contrast is not between the two becoming four and the five becoming ten. The contrast is between those who use the gifts that have been given to them and those who don’t use their gifts.
* How will we serve the Lord? – That is for the Lord to say (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:7,11-12).
* Will we serve the Lord?- This is a different question. This is the first question. This is the question that each of us must answer.
If our answer is ‘Yes’, we move on to the next question. It’s a question we ask the Lord: What do You want me to do?
If our answer is ‘No’, the Lord will not force Himself upon us. Use it or lose it.

Matthew 16:13-17:13
Who is Jesus? – “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16); God’s beloved Son (Matthew 17:5)
Where does this faith come from? – It has been revealed to us by our Father in heaven (Matthew 16:17)
How are we to grow in faith? The first question concerns God’s revelation.the second question concerns our response to God’s revelation: “Listen to Him!” (Matthew 17:5).
How are we to listen to Him? – “When they looked up, they saw no one except Him – Jesus alone” (Matthew 17:8).
When we listen to Jesus – forgetting about ourselves and concentrating on Him, what does He say to us? – He speaks to us of His revelation to us and our response to Him. He speaks of His death anon (Matthew 16:21; Matthew 17:9,12). He speaks of our dying to self and living for Him.
His revelation and our response – The two are very closely connected.
Jesus is our Saviour. He is to be our Lord. We are not only to believe what God says to us. We are to live the life of a believer. Our life is to be shaped by our faith in Jesus, who died for us and rose again for us – Jesus, our Saviour and Lord.

Matthew 21:1-27
A welcome party – How do we welcome Jesus? He’s riding into Jerusalem? Is He riding into our hearts – as King of kings?
‘Come into my heart, Lord Jesus. Come in today. Come in to stay. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.’
What happens next. After celebration, there is crucifixion. After crucifixion, there is resurrection.
Jesus is praised – Hosanna! Hallelujah! Between the Hosanna (the triumphal entry) and the Hallelujah (the resurrection), there is the Cross – “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). Joyful praise, then everything went quiet for a while, then the praise started again. There was hope, then everything seemed to be hopeless, then there was even more hope than there had been before.
Our life has its ups and downs, its high-points and its low-points. God is there in the high-points. He is there in the low-points.
* There are times when we need to hear His Word of rebuke and correction – What are you doing? “My House will be called a House of prayer” (Matthew 21:13).
* There are times when we need to be called out of our barrenness and into the Lord’s fruitfulness (Matthew 21:18-21).
How are we to receive this Word of rebuke and correction? – This is from the Lord. It’s His Word to us.

Matthew 21:28-46
Jesus speaks to us about the servants of God – and He speaks about Himself: the Son of God. Jesus is telling us that He will be crucified for us – and He will be raised from the dead for us. The coming of Jesus, the death of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus – This is the Gospel story. This is the Good News of God’s love. How are we to respond to God’s love? For each of us, there is a choice we must make. Will we enter into God’s blessing and continue in the way of His blessing? Will we miss out on God’s blessing because we draw back from following the Lord? Here, we read about two men. One started badly, and ended well. The other started well, and ended badly.
(1) The first began with sin – “I don’t want to” (Matthew 21:29), but he recognized his sin, he confessed it, and he was forgiven.
(2) The second said he would follow the Lord, but he didn’t keep going – “I will, sir, but he didn’t go” (Matthew 21:30).
Are you travelling towards the Lord – or away from Him? Is it faith leading to good works or “faith without works is dead”?

Matthew 25:31-46
This is not all that God’s Word says to us about our eternal salvation, but it is part of what is said. We need to hear what Jesus is saying to us here. We hear his voice, along with the voices of Paul and James. We need to hear all that God’s Word says to us about faith and works. We are to help people in simple, practical ways. We’re not to look for a reward. We’re not to think, “What will I get out of this?” We’re to think, “How can I help this person?”

Matthew 26:1-16
We begin with the Passover and the crucifixion (Matthew 26:2). This is the context within which we worship God. We look back. We remember. We give thanks.
The woman poured very expensive fragrant oil on Jesus’ head (Matthew 26:7). The disciples asked, “Why this waste?” (Matthew 26:8). They weren’t just asking the way of the Cross means, “It’s no longer I who live, but Christ who,long a question. They were stating a point of view. When Jesus answered their question, He countered their point of view. He said, Worship is never a waste of time. He said this in the most emphatic way (Matthew 26:13).
What was so important about this woman’s action? She worshipped the Lord. That’s what this is all about. It’s telling us that worshipping the Lord is important. How can we serve Him if we’re not learning to worship Him?
What about us? Are we, like this woman, true worshippers of the Lord? or Are we like Judas Iscariot – “looking for a good opportunity to betray Him?” (Matthew 26:14-16).

Matthew 26:17-35
All was not well with the disciples. Judas had too low an opinion of Jesus. All of them had too high an opinion of themselves (Matthew 26:35). Could things be turned around? Yes! – but there can be no resurrection (Matthew 26:32) without crucifixion (Matthew 26:28).

Matthew 26:26-56
“I did it my way.” When we’re comparing ourselves to other people, we can say, “I did it my way – not your way, not your way, not their way.” When we’re looking at our life in the light of God, we must never say, “I did it my way.” It must always be, “I did it God’s way.” Going God’s way is always better than getting our own way. For Jesus, going God’s way meant going the way  of the Cross.
What is the way of the Cross? It’s putting a line through the letter I. Going the way of the Cross means, “It’s no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Going the way of the Cross is to be our daily choice. We are to deny ourselves. We are to take up our cross daily. This is what it means to follow Christ. We are to say “No” to the way of Judas. We’re to say “Yes” to the way of Jesus.

Matthew 26:57-75
“But I tell you … ” (Matthew 26:64). The future – We’re to be people who are pressing on towards God’s future – Jesus Christ and God’s everlasting Kingdom. These words are a fulfilment of Daniel 7:13-14.
Jesus is not the King who has come. He’s the King who will come. He’s not only the King of Israel. He’s the King of “every people, nation and language” (Daniel 7:14). His Kingdom does not rise and fall. His Kingdom is forever. “And our eyes shall see Him … Not in that poor lowly stable…”
Peter – following Jesus at a distance (Matthew 26:58), denying Jesus and weeping bitterly” (Matthew 26:75). Our Saviour is great, but we are not great. Was there a future for Peter? Yes. This was not because of Peter’s great love for Jesus. It was because of Jesus’ great love for Peter. We often fail Jesus. He never fails us. He keeps on calling us on to His future – glorious, heavenly and eternal.

Matthew 27:1-31
This is not only the story of Jesus. It’s also the story of two other men – Judas and Barabbas.
The two men were very different. Judas started off so well – and ended very badly. Barabbas made a mess of his life – and was given the opportunity of making a new beginning.
Judas had been a disciple of Jesus for three years. After all of this, he betrayed Jesus, and took his own life. Judas was lost.
Barabbas was “a notorious prisoner” (Matthew 27:16). “Barabbas was in prison with rebels who had committed murder during the rebellion” (Mark 15:7). “He had been thrown into a prison for a rebellion that had taken place in the city, and for murder” (Luke 23:19). “Barabbas was a revolutionary” (John 18:40). Barabbas was saved from crucifixion. What became of Barabbas? We don’t know. What we do know is this: Barabbas lived because Jesus died.
In the story of Barabbas, there is the Good News of what Christ has done for us and can do for us. In the story of  Judas, there is the bad news of what sin has done to us and can do to us. In the story of Barabbas, there is grace received. In the story of Judas, there is grace rejected.
What about us? What will our story be? Will it be grace which gives us a new beginning? or Will it be sin which leads to a tragic ending? At the Cross of Christ, each of us must make our choice.

Matthew 27:32-66
“This is Jesus, the King of the Jews” (Matthew 27:37).
Let’s go back to Matthew 2- “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east and have come to worship Him … Herod is about to search for the Child to destroy Him” (Matthew 2:2,13).
From the very beginning, Jesus lived under the threat of death. For Jesus, there would be a violent death – but it would happen in God’s time, not man’s time. In God’s time, it was made clear that Jesus’ death was a special death. He took our place. He died for us. This is the meaning of His words, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). Jesus took our sin upon Himself. When God looked upon Jesus, He saw our sin, and He turned away. When “Jesus shouted again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit” (Matthew 27:50), something amazing happened – “the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:51), “the tombs also were opened and many bodies of the saints who had gone to their rest were raised” (Matthew 27:52), “And they came out of the tombs after His resurrection, entered the holy city and appeared to many” (Matthew 27:53).
Jesus’ death was not a tragedy. It was a triumph – over sin, death and hell. It was a triumph for forgiveness and cleansing, for new life and eternal life.

Matthew 28:1-20
Who moved the stone? There is no human explanation – “an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and approached the tomb. he rolled back the stone” (Matthew 28:2). The resurrection was more than a great change for Jesus. It was a great change for His disciples – first, the women (Matthew 28:5) and, then, the men (Matthew 28:8).
What was it that changed them? – “He is not here! He has risen” (Matthew 28:6). “Jesus met them and said, Good morning” (Matthew 28:9). “Jesus came near and said to them, All authority…” (Matthew 28:18-20).
Our response – “fear and great joy” (Matthew 28:8), worship (Matthew 28:9, obedience (Matthew 28:19-20).
God’s promise – “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).


Mark 1:1-20
This was a new beginning (Mark 1:1), but it was based on what had gone before (Mark 1:2-3).
Those who speak of Jesus Christ, their Saviour, are "voices crying in the wilderness", but their ministry is blessed by the Lord (Mark 1:3,5).  
We must  never forget this, and we must pray that we will be like John - pointing away from ourselves to Jesus (Mark 1:7-8).
Whatever the world may say, we need more of Jesus, not less of Him. If we're going to have more of Jesus, we need more of the Word of God.
How can we get to know, love and serve Jesus better, if we're content with keeping everything shallow? 
The Spirit of the Lord descends whenever our chief focus of attention is on God's "beloved Son" (Mark 1:9-11).
It will not be easy to keep our attention on Jesus.
It wasn't easy for Jesus. It won't be easy for us (Mark 1:12-13).
John had been "arrested" (Mark 1:14). Would it be any easier for Jesus? Will it be any easier for us?
Will the call to "repent" be heard as "good news" (Mark 1:14-15)?
Many will say "No", but some will say "Yes" (Mark 1:16-20).
May God help us to follow Jesus, and call upon others to follow Him.

Mark 2:1-17
"He was speaking the message to them" (Mark 2:3) - and there were "signs following" (Mark 16:17). Preaching and miracles: - we see this pattern in Mark 1 - preaching (Mark 1:14-20), miracles (Mark 1:21-34,40-45). In Mark 1:39, we see both - preaching and miracles. Along with preaching and miracles, there is prayer (Mark 1:35). In Mark 2, there is forgiveness of sins (Mark 2:5) and healing for the paralyzed man (Mark 2:11-12). Notice which comes first - forgiveness. Jesus is saying, 'This is about more than the legs.' What is He saying to us? We need more than physical health. "So long as you have your health" - This isn't the full story. We need to have our sins forgiven. Only Jesus can do this for us.
When we read about the call of Matthew, known before his conversion as Levi (Mark 2:13-14), we learn about how life can be turned around by Jesus.
Levi, Evil, Live
The story of Levi is to become our story. Like Levi, we are evil. Like Levi, we have begun to live. Through faith in Christ, we have stepped out of our old life and into His new life.
Jesus came to call sinners (Mark 2:17). Sinners - That's what we are. We must not pretend that we are "righteous" (Mark 2:17). We're not. We must not say, "I have not sinned. I don't need to be saved." We must confess our sins, and receive God's forgiveness.

Mark 3:1-19
Jesus' ministry of preaching, teaching and healing was a remarkable ministry - but He did not go it alone. He called disciples to be with Him and learn from Him. How much do we know about these men? We know quite a lot about some of them. There are others about whom we know nothing at all. Do we need to know a lot about all of the apostles? No! We need to know about Jesus. The Saviour is more important than the servants. The message is more important than the messengers. This is a very important lesson. This is a lesson that we all need to learn. This is a lesson that we must never forget. Before we can work for the Lord, we are to "be with Him." We are to speak for Him (Mark 3:14). We are to pray that people will be changed (Mark 3:15).

Mark 4:33-5:20
Parables and miracles: In Jesus' miracles, there's a message for us. We must ask, 'What does this mean for us?' In the miracles - calming the storm (Mark 4:35-41) and driving out demons (Mark 5:1-20), there is the message: "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46;10).
We look beyond the storm of wind and waves. We see the storms of life - and we hear Jesus, saying to us, "Be still" (Mark 4:39). He challenges our fears, and He calls us to have faith in Him (Mark 4:40).
Where do the storms come from? - Satan. He's a determined enemy: "No one was strong enough to subdue him" (Mark 5:4). We need more than positive thinking. We need Jesus - the Saviour. He is strong enough to subdue Satan. Satan is a defeated enemy. We don't put ourselves together again. Jesus does this for us.
Don't keep the Good News to yourself. Tell people "what the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you" (Mark 5:19). Your testimony will be blessed: "They were all amazed" (Mark 5:20). 

Mark 6:30-44
"He saw a huge crowd and had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.Then He began to teach them many things" (Mark 6:34). Salvation comes from the love of God. We are sinners without a Saviour.  He teaches and He shows us the Good News of His salvation. "This place is a wilderness, and it is already late" (Mark 6:35). "Can God spread a table in the wilderness?" (Psalm 78:19). Yes! God can! He can, He has, He will. It's never too late.

Mark 7:24-37
The Gospel is for both Jews and Gentiles (Romans 1:16). The Gospel isn't just for long ago. It's for today and tomorrow - as well as yesterday. What about our response to the Gospel? - "They were extremely astonished and said, He has done everything well!": We worship the Lord, and we are unashamed to say that He is our Saviour.
How does the Saviour change us? - "He even makes deaf people hear, and people unable to speak talk!" (Mark 7:37). Hearing the Gospel and speaking the Gospel - We must hear with faith before we can speak with faith. Hearing and speaking are important parts of our total response to Christ - living the faith.

Mark 8:1-26
"compassion" (Mark 8:2): This is where everything comes from - the feeding of the crowds (Mark 8:1-10), the healing of the blind man (Mark 8:22-26). Jesus opens our eyes to see how great His love is. He feeds us with spiritual food - the Gospel of His love.
Sadly, there is, between these two miracles, the Pharisees who argued with Jesus (Mark 8:11). They did this because their hearts were "hardened" (Mark 8:17). They had not allowed his compassion to reach them and change them. How sad! - but it doesn't have to be like this.

Mark 9:14-41
If we are to walk with the Lord in His way of holiness and wholeness,
(a) our life must be based on Jesus Christ - His death for us and His resurrection for us (Mark 9:31);
(b) our life is to be a life of faith (Mark 9:23); (c) our life is to be a life of service (Mark 9:35);
(d) our  life is to be a life of love (Mark 9:40).
Where do we learn of faith, service and love? We learn from Christ, our Saviour and Lord. He shows us how to live. He shapes our life. How does Jesus show us how to live? How does He shape our life? We begin with listening to Him. How can we learn from Him if we don't listen to Him?
Listen to Jesus. Learn from Jesus. Live for Jesus.
Listen to Him because you love Him.  Learn from Him because you love Him. Live for Him because you love Him.
How are we to love Jesus? Begin with His love. If we are to love Jesus, we must listen to the voice of His love, and we must learn how much He loves us.

Mark 10:17-34 
In Exodus 20, following the Ten commandments, there is distance and darkness (Exodus 20:18-21). The law shows us how far we are from God. It shows us how much we have failed God.
Is this what we see in this man? No! It's not. We see pride - "Teacher, I have kept all these from my youth" (Mark 10:20). He thought that he was closer to God than he really was, more pleasing to God than he really was. Where is the confession  and the prayer for forgiveness? It's not there. There is no confession of sin, no prayer for forgiveness. When we read and hear the Law of God, we should not say, "How good I am." We should pray, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner" (Luke 18:13).
We should not call Jesus, "Teacher." We should call Him, "Saviour."
The problem with this man began with the way he asked the question of eternal life - "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" (Mark 10:17). Salvation is not about what we do for God. It's about what He has done for us. What we cannot do, God does (Mk 10:27) - through Jesus' death and resurrection (Mark 10:33-34). Jesus is the way to eternal life.

Mark 11:1-11
More than a journey into Jerusalem - a journey to suffering, crucifixion and death. No shortcut to resurrection - Jesus must go by way of the Cross. At the Cross, we see Jesus, the King of love.
Why did He not defend Himself? - Because He loves us. He shows His love by taking our place.
Jesus and Barabbas - a God-given illustration of the true and real meaning of Jesus' death: the Saviour takes the sinner's place.

Mark 12:1-12
When the prophets had said and done all that they had to say and do, there was still more to be said and done. When the prophets had come and gone, there was still someone else to come - God's Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ (Mark 12:6). Jesus speaks to us about His death (Mark 12:7-8) and His resurrection (Mark 12:10-11). Man did what he could - "Let's kill him." God did something that man didn't expect - God raised His Son from the dead. This is more than "Man made his move, then God responded." God gave His Son - and God raised Him.

Mark 12:28-37
What is love for God? How do we learn to love the Lord? We begin with listening to Him. He speaks to us. We listen to Him. He speaks to us of His love for us His love for us is so much greater than our love for Him. The love of God for us - This is where our love for God comes from. We learn of His love for us. His love for us creates and inspires our love for Him. When we hear of God's love, we are to "listen to Him with delight" (Mark 12:37). Let us receive His love with joy. Let us love Him with joy. 

Mark 13:1-13
In today's world, there's plenty of bad news - but there's also Good News (Mark 13:10). The end and the beginning (Mark 13:7-8) - The end of sin and the beginning of salvation. The final outcome is certain, but there is still "the great tribulation" (Mark 13:19). Beyond that, there is the coming of our Saviour (Mark 13:24-27). Jesus speaks about our enduring to the end (Mark 13:143) and our being "God's elect" (Mark 13:20,27).
"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord ... Glory, glory, hallelujah!" Where does such faith come from?  Does it come from ourselves? No! It comes from the Lord. It is given to us by the Lord. What are we to do with the faith that He gives to us? - We are to keep on believing. We are to keep on walking with the Lord in the way of faith. We do not do this in our own strength. We are kept by the power of God.
"You must watch" (Mark 13:23) - This is the call to continue in the way of faith. "I have told you everything in advance" - This is the Word of truth that keeps us walking with the Lord on the pathway to His heavenly and eternal glory.
Good News - "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15); "God showed His love for us in this - While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

Mark 14:1-16
"Wherever the Good News is spoken in the world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her” (Mark 14:9). 
 * "Good News" - Christ's love for us: This is the Gospel. Our love for Him: This is our response to the Gospel. He died for us. We are to live for Him. He is to be the chief focus of our attention.
 * "this woman" - Her name is not given: "Not I, but Christ" (Galatians 2:20).
 * "remembered" - Take time to learn from her: love for Jesus.
The spiritual and the practical - the way we think and the way we live: "Do you love Me?" - Can we say 'Yes' and remain the same? We cannot repeat her action, but we can embrace here spirit - love for Jesus. Touched by Jesus' love for her, she showed here love for Him. The Gospel includes a call for our response. It's not "for your information only." It's not "you don't have to do anything about this." It's  not "leave things as they are." The Gospel calls for change - first, a change of heart; then, a change of life. 
 * "the whole world" - The Gospel isn't to be kept to ourselves. It's for everyone. Share the Good News - Christ, crucified for us and risen for us. As we share His love for us, love for Him will grow.

Mark 15:1-39
"the King of the Jews" (Mark 15:2,9,12,26), "the King of Israel" (Mark 15:32)
Jesus is more than this - He's "the Son of God" (Mark 15:39).  He's "King of kings and Lord of lords" (Revelation 19:16). 
"At the Name of Jesus everyone in heaven, on earth, and in the world below will kneel and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2;10-11). 
When we remember Jesus' death, we remember more than the fact of His death. We remember the purpose of His death. Jesus suffered death, Jesus defeated death (Hebrews 2:14-15): "Here I am and the children whom God has given Me"  - "Bringing many sons to glory" (Hebrews 2:13,10). 
In Revelation 19:7, we read about salvation and celebration. The salvation comes from God. The celebration comes from us. It's our response to His salvation. 
Jesus is described as "the Lamb." This is a reminder that He is "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Here, we see the connection between the Cross and the glory. We will be received into His glory because Jesus has gone to the Cross for us. we will not be in heaven because we deserve to be there. We will be in heaven because Jesus died for us. As we look at Jesus, crucified for us, may we join, with the centurion, in saying, "This man really was God's Son" (Mark 15:39) - "the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).

Mark 16:1-20
"Who will roll away the stone ... ?" (Mark 16:3) - They were looking for men to do this. God had already done it!
"Jesus was crucified. Jesus is risen" (Mark 16:6).  
"Go, tell His disciples and Peter" (Mark 16:7).
"He is going ahead of you" (Mark 16:7) - Jesus is already ahead of us. He's leading us into the future He's already prepared for us.
"just as He told you" (Mark 16:7) - The Lord is leading us on to His eternal glory. This is the fulfilment of His promise (John 14:1-3).
This leading on into the future is seen in the life of Peter. His sin is left in the past. He's led on to Christ's future. He's no longer remembered as Peter, who denied the Lord. He's Peter, the evangelist. In Peter, we see preaching and power (Mark 16:20).

Luke 1:26-38
This was a special time in Mary's life. It begins with God. He takes the initiative. He comes to Mary. He tells her what He is about to do. This is just the beginning. Before the Saviour's birth, there's the time of waiting. Before the coming of the Saviour, there's the waiting for Him.
For Mary, what was to be important in this time of waiting?
 * She was to remember this - "The Lord is with you" (Luke 1:28).
 * There was no need for her to be afraid (Luke 1:30) - the outcome was certain: "You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His Name Jesus" (Luke 1:31).
 * She was not to think, "How can this be...? (Luke 1:34. She was to trust in the power of "the Holy Spirit" (Luke 1:35). We're not to say, "This is impossible." We're to hear and believe what God says to us, "Nothing will be impossible with God" (Luke 1:37).
 * Mary was to give herself to God. She was to keep on saying, "Your will be done" (Luke 1:38).

Luke 1:39-55 
Mary was "blessed" (Luke 1:42,48). God's blessing came to her through her son, God's Son, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. God did "great things" for her - and us (Luke 1:49). Christ was given to Mary. He has been given for us. In Christ, we see God's holiness and love (Luke 1:49-50). In Him, love reaches us and changes us. It makes us holy. It makes us loving.

Luke 2:25-37
Here, we read about two people, who were well on in years - Simeon and Anna.
 * Simeon had been waiting on the Lord - to fulfil His promise. He was standing on the Word of God (Luke 2:25-26). Don't give up hope, God will do a new thing. We must make sure that we don't miss out on it. Don't stop believing.
 * Anna was very old (Luke 2:36-37). She kept on "serving God" and speaking for Him (Luke 2:37-38).
Note Simeon and Anna's response to Christ - praise (Luke 2:28), thanksgiving (Luke 2:38 and passing on Go's blessing to others (Luke 2:34,38).

Luke 8:40-56
There are two stories here - the story of a woman and the story of a girl. Both stories have a happy ending - but before the happy ending, there were hard times. When you and I decide to follow Jesus, we look forward to a happy ending, but we must never forget that there will be hard times along the way. For the woman and the girl - Where did the happy endings come from? They came from Jesus. It was Jesus who changed everything. He can do this for you and me. He can things around.

Luke 12:13-21 
"Watch out and be on guard against all greed because one's life is not in the abundance of his possessions" (Luke 12:15).
Jesus challenges us to look at the way we live - and to change the way we live. He calls us to be "rich toward God" (Luke 12:21). What does this mean? - Love for God and love for other people (Luke 10:27).  


John 8:30-47
In Genesis, we read about "the father of lies." Here, we read about Jesus Christ, the living Truth.
To understand why we need to be set free, we need to go back to Genesis 3. Sin brings us into bondage. We become slaves of Satan (John 8:34). He controls our life. This is the bad news concerning every one of us. There is Good News - see 1 John 3:8. Jesus has taken on Satan. Jesus has defeated Satan. Jesus is stronger than Satan. Jesus is the Son (John 8:36). He's the Truth (John 8:32). This is more than the truth about Him. He is the Truth. It's more than the Truth who came into the world a long time ago. He's the Truth who comes to us today. He comes to us. He changes us. He comes to us through the Scriptures. He comes to us by the Spirit. Come to Him. Be changed by Him.

John 12:2-36
Jesus "lifted up" - His death for us (John 12:32-33).
On a hill far away", "a green hill far away" - Is God far away? "From a distance, God is watching us." He is also near to us. Through the Cross, we are drawn to Him.
 * We look at Christ on the Cross, and we say, "Forbid it , Lord, that I should boast save in the death of Christ, my God."
 * We look at the Cross, and we see the bright shining light of God's love: "Inscribed upon the Cross, we see, in shining letters, God is love."
 * We look at the Cross, and we see the outstretched arms of love, a loving invitation, a loving welcome: "I hear They welcome voice that calls me, Lord, to Thee, for cleansing in Thy precious blood that flowed on Calvary. I am coming, Lord, coming now to Thee; wash me, cleanse me in the blood that flowed on Calvary."

John 14:6 - Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Jesus said, "The truth will set you fee" (John 8:32). To Israel, at the time of the Exodus, God said, "You were not made for this." To us, "You were not made for this." There is more. There is eternal life. We must travel through the wilderness, but our journey does not end in the wilderness. There is something else beyond the wilderness. We will be welcomed into the promised land. We look back to the story of the Exodus, and we learn of God's love and power - first, His love; then, His power. From there, we look forward to the first coming of Christ,our Saviour, What He does for us is more than what He did for Israel in the Exodus. He's not just taking us to a new land. He's leading us on to the glory of His eternal presence.

John 15:9-17
Our joy comes from God's love. His love never grows old or weak. His love for us comes before our love for Him. Christ gave Himself for us. Through His love, we receive "joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:8). The love of Jesus is the best love, the greatest love of all. This is where our joy comes from. It's God's gift to us.  

John 20:1-31
"He saw and believed" (John 20:8), "They still did not understand the Scripture that He must rise from the dead" (John 20:9). Don't wait until you understand everything - before you  believe. Believe - and ask God to increase your understanding, as you learn to trust Him.
 * John 20:16-18 - "Mary", "Rabboni (Teacher), "I have seen the Lord." This was more than seeing the empty tomb. This was seeing the Lord. As well as seeing the Lord, there is hearing what He says to us and sharing it with others.
 * "The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord" (John 20:20). This joy was to be shared - in the power of the Holy Spirit (John 20:21-23).
 * John 20:24-29  - Thomas
"We have seen the Lord!" (John 20:25). Thomas needed a personal faith. What a faith - "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28).
John 20:29 - More than 'seeing is believing.'
John 20:31- This is for us. It's for now. The written Word speaks to us of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It calls us to put our faith in him. It guides us towards God's glorious future - eternal 'life."


Acts 1:1-3
The four Gospels tell us what "Jesus did" (Acts 1:1). That was just the beginning. Acts tells us that there is more.
Acts is at the heart of the New Testament. It's between the Gospel as and the Letters. It was written to Theophilus (lover of God).
Do you and I love God? Let us learn from Him. Let us live for Him.
The story continues. We are part of it. It will never end. It's for today. It's for tomorrow.
Jesus said, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me" (Luke 4:18). This was for doing as well as teaching.
We continue this work in the power of the Holy Spirit. This is Jesus, the risen Lord, working in us and through us.
The resurrection really happened. This is the central theme of the apostles' preaching.
The Kingdom of God: Past - Old Testament, Jesus, Acts; Present - now; Future - eternal life

Acts 1:4-8
The promise (Acts 1:4-5,8) led to the prayer (Acts 1:12-14) and the power (Acts 2).
Prayer is standing on the promise. Power is the fulfilment of the promise.
Waiting on the Lord comes before and leads to witnessing for Him.
On Acts 1:8, see Ezekiel 47:3-5.

Acts 1:9-11
"cloud" (Acts 1:9) - "the glory of the Lord" (Exodus 40:34)
"Listen to Jesus" (Mark 9:7).
Jesus has not left us. He is Lord, love, life and light. Get ready for His Return.

Acts 1:12-14
Gathered together
 * Communion (Matthew 26:26-30)
 * Great Commission - Preach the Gospel (Mark 16:15), make disciples, teach them (Matthew 28:18-20).
 * Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37-38)
 * Commitment - We see this here.

Acts 1:15-20
The Gospels tell us about Peter and Judas. Peter denied the Lord. Judas betrayed the Lord.
On the Day of Pentecost, Judas could, would and should have been there - but he wasn't. Life is full of what ifs - what might have been.
On the Day of Pentecost, Peter was there. He preached.
This is grace. It reached Peter - and the other disciples who fled for cover. It could have reached Judas.
Sadly, Judas made his choice. Betrayal set the direction. Suicide confirmed that, for Judas, there was no reversal, no repentance.
There could have been - but there wasn't.

Acts 1:21-26
We never hear any more about Matthias. We do hear a great deal more about Peter. From chapter 1 to chapter 2, from Matthias to Peter, from the background to the foreground - on to Pentecost. It's for all of us.

Acts 2:1-13
When the Spirit comes - not just when He came
Being "filled with the Spirit" (Acts 2:4) means more than preaching the Christian message. It also means living the Christian life. It means being filled with Christ - in our message and our  life.
Acts - from Jerusalem to Rome, just the beginning of Christ being taken to the whole world.
Here, we're at the start of a new age - not a new age of anything goes, a Biblical new age.
We see this in the preaching of Peter. We also see it in the preaching of Paul (Acts 17).

Acts 2:14-36
Powerful and effective preaching
We could move straight on to the effect of the preaching - good preaching is preaching that does its hearers good. Are you being blessed as you hear the Word of God?
We need, first, to go back to the preacher and the message.
There needs to be humility - This is not from me. There needs to be confidence - This is from the Lord.
The message is centred on the Saviour. It is grounded in the Scriptures.
When we read the Scriptures, we learn of Christ.
There are lessons for today's Church and world. This is not "We're open to every idea wherever it comes from." It's not "We make things up as we go along."
The work of the Spirit - opening up the Scriptures and pointing to the Saviour

Acts 2:37-47
"pierced to the heart" (Acts 2:37): the work of the Holy Spirit
"Repent" (Acts 2:38)- We don't earn God's blessing. We respond to His promise of blessing.
"baptized in the Name of Jesus" (Acts 2:38) - not what we do, what Jesus has done for us.

Acts 3:1-4:4
Contrast the Peter we see at the time of Christ's death and the Peter we see here.
There was failure, frustration and fear. Now, there is peace, power and purpose.
(a) Failure - Peter denied his Lord.
(b) Frustration - Things could have been so different, if only I had confessed my Lord.
(c) Fear - what can the future possibly hold for me, now that I have failed my Lord?
(i) Peace - His sins have been forgiven.
(ii) Power - God's power has come upon him.
(iii) Purpose - He's winning people for Christ.
What about us?
Left to ourselves, our life-story is failure, frustration and fear.
when Christ comes to us, He comes with His peace, power and purpose.
What peace, power and purpose there is in Acts 4:12!
 * Salvation brings peace - peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
 * Along with peace, there is power. We begin with the power to live a new life.
 * Christ's power does not only change us. It gives us the strength that we need to win others for Christ.

Acts 8:26-40
We are in a "desert", but the God of love is reaching out to us (Acts 8:26).
Even when we are in a desert, we can prepare ourselves for God's blessing.
We can keep on reading God's Word (Acts 8:28).
God sends someone to guide us (Acts 8:30-31).
What does Philip do? He tells the Ethiopian the Good News about Jesus (Acts 8:35).
The true servant of the Lord does not draw attention to himself. He points away from himself to the Saviour.
This is the God of love reaching out to us. He sends His servants. They point us to the Saviour.

Acts 9:1-22
This was the great turning-point - for both Saul's salvation and the Gospel mission.
Saul's life was transformed by Christ's love. The persecutor became the preacher. "It is no longer I that live, but Christ who lives in me" (Galatians 2:20).
This was a personal call - "Saul, Saul" (Acts 9:4). It was a call to faith in Jesus (Acts 9:5), It was a call to work for Jesus - it was not only what he was to do then, it was what he was to do for the rest of his life (Acts 9:6,15): preaching Christ (Acts 9:20,22).
What a new beginning this was - so much more than the conversion of Saul. This is about more than Saul becoming Paul. It's about Jesus, God's Son, our Saviour.
Wherever Paul went, he spoke of Jesus and won people for Jesus.
Paul's story is a wonderful  story, but it isn't the greatest story,
It's not Paul who is our Saviour. It's Jesus.


Romans 1:1-17
The Gospel according to Paul  - more than that: "the Gospel of God" (Romans 1:1)
Good News, promised in the Old Testament, centred on the risen Christ (Romans 1:3-4)
Paul speaks as "a slave of Christ, called as an apostle, singled out for God's Good News" (Romans 1:1).
In love, God has given us Jesus, the Gospel, the Scriptures.
He shows us our sin. He shows us our Saviour. He leads us into a new life of salvation, holiness, service and eternal life. At the heart of all this, there is faith in Christ.
How do we come to faith in Christ? How do we find this new life in Him? We read the Scriptures, beginning with the Old Testament and reading on into the New Testament. In the Scriptures, we find the Gospel. It's Good News - not good advice. Christ is the Good News. "We have heard a joyful sound - Jesus saves." 
This is for today. It's for us. The Saviour came for us. He died for us. He rose for us. He lives in us - He's more than our example. He will come again for us. This Gospel has power - to save us, now and for eternity. This is for everyone - everyone who believes. Each of us must make our personal response - faith in Christ.

Romans 5:1-11
We live in the present. We are shaped by the past. We plan for the future. The Gospel speaks to us in the whole of our life - past, present and future. It speaks of peace, grace and glory (Romans 5:1-2).
Each of these blessings are given to us through our Saviour.
 * Peace comes with forgiveness.
 * Standing in grace - Jesus' words about the wise man (Matthew 7:24); standing against Satan, with the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:10-11,17).
 * Glory - eternal life (in Romans 6:23 - note the contrast between "wages" and "gift." It's not so mush 'glory for me.' It's sharing in the glory of God. It's giving glory to God.
At the heart of this Gospel of peace, grace and glory, there is God's love and Christ's death (Romans 5:8). This is Good News!

Romans 8:31-39
The Gospel tells us about the triumph of Christ for us. Here, we must not go straight to His resurrection. we must also speak of His crucifixion. Without his crucifixion, His resurrection has no meaning.
The Gospel also tells us about His triumph in us. This is the ongoing work of the Lord in our hearts and lives. This work continues throughout our life.
What will it mean to be "more than conquerors through him who loved us" (Romans 8:37)?
 * First, it means that the victory is Christ's, and He gives it to us.
 * Second, His victory is complete, but we need to grow into His victory.
 * Third, we need to learn to stand upon the fact of His victory, and not our changeable feelings.
In Romans 8:38-39, we read about many enemies. They will always be with us, they will not go away -  but there is something else that will always be with us: "the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." We must never forget this.

Romans 10:1-21
God's way of salvation is so different from man's attempt to put himself right with God (Romans 10:3). 
Christ is our Saviour (Romans 10:4). What is "the message" (Romans 10:8)? - Christ. Everything is centred on Him. Without him, there is no Gospel.
 * Confess Him as Lord - He is Lord, He's my Lord.
 * Believe in your heart - The resurrection: the heart of our faith. Without the resurrection, we may have admiration for Jesus - the man, the example, the teacher, but we'll never have anything more than that. Jesus is more than our example and our teacher. He's our Saviour and Lord.
"How welcome..." (Romans 10:15) - We should give thanks to God for those who have preached the Gospel to us. When God's Word is preached, God is at work (Romans 10:17). There is power in God's Word. It's the power of the Holy Spirit. 
God's Word and God's Spirit - This is what creates our response, our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 12:1-21
Jesus died for us. We must live for Him - "this is your spiritual worship" (Romans 12:1).
The changing of our way of  living begins with the changing of our way of thinking (Romans 12:2). this changing of our way of living isn't something that we do by ourselves. It's the "mercy" and "grace" of God that changes us (Romans 12:1,3). 
How does He change us?
 * He brings us into fellowship with other believers - "one body in Christ" (Romans 12:4-5).
 * He gives us opportunities to serve Him (Romans 12:6-8).
How are we to serve the Lord?
We don't begin with the things that we do. We begin with the people that we are (Romans 12:9). 
We're reminded of the Sermon on the Mount. This is more than Jesus' teaching. It's a description of Jesus. we are to become more like Jesus. It's Jesus living in us and through us. We look beyond Jesus' life - to His death and resurrection.
 * Romans 12:19-20 - Jesus didn't defend Himself. He stood in the place of sinners.  
 * Romans 12:21 - Evil did not triumph over good. Jesus rose from the dead.


1 Corinthians 2:1-16 
Paul's ministry was simple, sincere and spiritual.It was preaching in the power of the Spirit. What Paul is saying is this: Less about me, more about Jesus.
 * His message was simple. He wasn't trying to impress people with great learning. He was bringing Jesus to them. He was bringing them to Jesus.
 * His preaching was sincere. He said what he meant, and he meant what he said. He spoke the truth, and he lived the truth.
 * His outlook was spiritual. The power did not come from himself. It came from the Spirit - the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love.

1 Corinthians 15:1-11
An introduction to this great chapter on the Resurrection - the fact and its meaning
The resurrection is more than a fact from the past. It's a fact for the future. "We shall all be changed ... " (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). This is more than social change. It's more than personal change.
Politics isn't everything. The heart needs to be changed.
This is more than personal change in the here-and-now. It's more than "for this life only" (1 Corinthians 15:19).
"We will all be changed" - This is eternal change.
The world may say that we can do without this kind of message. The Word of God says that we can't. We need this eternal perspective. Whatever changes we may achieve in our society and in ourselves, we must learn to look beyond these things to this; "We will all be changed ... "


2 Corinthians 4:1-18
Note 2 Corinthians 4:6 - The light of God shows us that we are in darkness, and it calls us out of the darkness, and into the light.
Where do we see the light of God? - In Christ.
His light is the light of love and the light of life. Love reaches us. It leads us to the light. The light guides us, and changes our way of living. The light says, 'There's something better than the life you're living.' The new life is eternal life (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
In the Old Testament - Beyond the wilderness, there's the promised land.
God has a great purpose for us. He changes us here-and-now, and He's preparing us for His eternal glory - (a) I saw the light; (b) I'm walking in the light; (c) I'm looking forward to the light (Revelation 22:5).

2 Corinthians 10:1-6
"the gentleness and graciousness of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:1);  "the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5).
What's the connection between the two? - We learn to obey Christ, as we learn to love Him. We learn to love Him, as we learn how much He loves us.
"What a Friend we have in Jesus" - He's not a far away God who doesn't care about us. He's our best Friend. When we learn to see Jesus as our best Friend, we will not find it a burden to live in obedience to Him. Beyond the obligation of obedience, there is the privilege of obedience.  


Galatians 1:1-12 
"The Gospel" came to Paul "by a revelation of Jesus Christ" (Galatians 1:11-12). This was important for Paul - and it's important for us. Our faith has come to us from above, from God. It doesn't come from ourselves. It is given to us by God. At the heart of our faith is Jesus Christ - "our Lord and our God" (John 20:28), "the Way, the Truth and the Life" (John 14:6); "Look! He is coming with the clouds" (Revelation 1:7). 

Galatians 6:11-18
"God forbid that I should glory ... " (Galatians 6:14).
This is more than "I will never boast ... " Who says, "I will never boast"? Remember Peter. he said this, and, then, he denied the Lord three times.
"God forbid ... " is a prayer for God's help. It's not an assertion about what "I will never" do.
How do we glory ... ? - This is more than singing hymns about the Cross of Christ. It's more than celebrating the Lord's Supper. It's being "crucified to the world" (Galatians 6:14). It's living as "a new creation" (Galatians 6:15).
This is what Paul speaks about in Galatians 5:22-25. We have received new life from the Spirit. We are to live the new life of the Spirit - the life of "love."


Ephesians 2:1-10 
What we were without Christ (Ephesians 2:1-3); What God has done for us in Christ (Ephesians 2:4-10)
Ephesians 2:8-10 - saved by grace, saved through faith, saved for good works
By grace - but not without faith and good works
Faith and good works - the fruit of grace
Faith and good works - Grace has done this.
The grace has come from God. The glory goes to God.  

Ephesians 6:10-20
In the strength of the Lord: We need His strength because the devil is stronger than we are - but he's not stronger than the Lord.
The armour provided by the Lord (Ephesians 6:13-17): All of it is defensive except "the sword of the Spirit" (God's Word).
In Ephesians 6:18, there's a call to prayer. It's general - "every prayer ... at all times with all perseverance for all the saints."
In Ephesians 6:19-20, there's a call for specific prayer for those who are called to preach the Gospel. Paul is asking for prayer for himself. The Holy Spirit brings to us these words from the past. He brings them to us with power - so that we may know that God has given us everything that we need for living to his praise and glory.   


Philippians 2:5-11
When God's Word speaks to us about Jesus, it does not only tell us to keep on looking back to the past. It tells us to do something else - Keep on looking forward to the future, God's future, the future He's preparing for us. When Christ came to earth for the first time, many people refused to believe in Him. When He comes for the second time, "every knee shall bow ... and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord" (Philippians 2:11). When our faith is under attack, we must never lose sight of God's future: "Jesus Christ is Lord."

Philippians 4:1-9
Joy (Philippians 4:4) and peace (Philippians 4:7) are grounded in God's love for us, not our love for Him. Perfect joy and perfect peace (1 Peter 1:8; Philippians 4:7) - but this is not our experience. Here, we must note the difference between God's love for us and our love for Him. His love for us is perfect. Our love for Him is not perfect. If our love in the Lord, our joy in the Lord and our peace in the Lord are to grow strong, we must feed on God's love. His love is faithful. His love endures forever. This is where our love, joy and peace come from.  


Colossians 3:1-17
"Put to death ... " (Colossians 3:5); "Put on the new man" (Colossians 3:9-10); "renewed in knowledge ... " (Colossians 3:10).
This is not something that we can do in our own strength - "Christ is all and in all" (Colossians 3:11).
"Put on ... " (Colossians 3:12) - Note that the Lord's forgiveness comes first (Colossians 3:13).
"Above all, put on love" (Colossians 3:14). His love for us - It brings "peace" to us and fills our hearts with thanksgiving (Colossians 3:15).
Colossians 3:16 - What a great verse this is! - but note also Colossians 3:17. Worship is to change our way of living. At the heart of all that we do, there is to be thanksgiving.


1 Thessalonians 2:13-20
Note especially 1 Thessalonians 2:13 - more than the words of men, the Word of God. It works effectively in those who believe. Our faith doesn't create God's Word. It's God's Word that creates our faith.
Man's word is a shaky foundation. It's building on sand. It's foolishness.
God's Word is a solid foundation. It's building on the rock. We are wise when we build on God's Word.
When we receive the Gospel as God's Word, our lives are changed. We say, "The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy" (Psalm 126:3).


2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5
God's love, God's call, God's glory (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)
"the traditions" (2 Thessalonians 2:15): Who is behind the tradition? If it's the Lord, we have something that's more than a tradition. Who does the message come from?  - It comes from the Lord. That's why we must "stand firm."
Eternal encouragement for here-and-now (2 Thessalonians 3:16-17).
Contrast "not all have faith" (2 Thessalonians 3:2) and "the Lord is faithful" (2 Thessalonians 3:3).
"He will strengthen and guard you from the evil one" (2 Thessalonians 3:4) - "The Lord bless you and keep you" (Numbers 6:24).
"May the Lord direct your hearts to God's love and Christ's endurance" (2 Thessalonians 3:3). When the Lord is at work, He becomes the chief focus of our attention. It's His love and endurance that inspire us to keep on loving Him and serving Him. 


1 Timothy 1:12-17
The Lord saved Saul of Tarsus. The Lord changed him. Saul - "blasphemer, persecutor, arrogant man" (1 Timothy 1:13) - became Paul, a humble man, who worshipped and served the Lord.
  *  humble - "worst of sinners" (1 Timothy 1:16)
  * worshipper - "Unto the King ... " (1 Timothy 1:17)
  * servant - "the ministry ... an example to those who would believe in Him for eternal life" (1 Timothy 1:12,16).


2 Timothy 3:10-17
God comes to us in our holy Saviour, through the Holy Scriptures and by the Holy Spirit.
When God comes to us, in love, we are changed by His love. His love creates in us love for Jesus, God's Word and holy living. These changes in us come from the God of love. In love, He shows us how we are to live. He calls us back from ways that dishonour Him. He leads us into ways that will bring glory to Him.


Titus 2:11-3:8
"The grace of God has appeared" (Titus 2:11) - Jesus (Luke 2:10-11).
With Jesus, we travel towards "the blessed hope" - "the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ " (Titus 2:13).
Titus 2:14 describes what Jesus came to do for us. This is more fully described for us in Titus 3:4-7. The emphasis is placed on the work of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5-6). Beyond the work of the Lord for us (at the Cross) and in us (through the Holy Spirit), there is "eternal life" (Titus 3:7). We look forward to "eternal life", but we do not lose ourselves in thoughts of eternal life. We live the life of good works, here-and-now.


Hebrews 10:11-25
We remember the "one offering" (Hebrews10:14). We come to God "through the blood of Jesus" (Hebrews 10:19). We look back to what happened in the past - the death of Jesus for our sins. We do not remain in the past. We learn from the past. We build on the past. We receive from the Lord, blessing in the present. We are preparing ourselves for the future, God's future. How do we prepare for the future? How does God prepare us for His future? We have the Gospel promise and the Gospel warning. The promise calls us to "enter" into God's blessing (Hebrews 10:14). The warning calls us to make sure that we don't miss out on God's blessing (Hebrews 10:25). When we remember Jesus, our lives will be richer. When we forget Him, they will be poorer.



James 1:1-27
God's "complete work" in us (James 1:4) - "faith" that keeps on going when the going gets tough, "faith" which becomes "mature" (James 1:3-4).
We've heard it said that "all you need is love" (The Beatles). What about "all you need is faith"? Faith is more than a feeling. Faith leads to a changed life.
How are we to move towards a changed life? - We must ask God for "wisdom" (James 1:5) - to know the will of God - and strength - to do the will of God (James 1:8).
How does God change us?
 * He gives us "new birth by the message of truth" (James 1:18).
 * He gives us victory over temptation - again, this is "by the message of truth." He gives us the strength  to say "No" to the temptations that come to us from Satan (James 1:13-14).
 * He leads us in the way of obedience - hearing and doing God's Word (James 1:22). He gives us the strength to say "Yes" to Him, His Word and His will.
What kind of life does the Lord lead us into? Is it a 'holier- than- thou" way of living - looking down on other people? No! There are to be high standards of love as well as holiness (James 1:27). It's not to be love without holiness. It's to be both - love and holiness.


1 Peter 1:1-12
This is Peter speaking to us. This is the man who denied the Lord. What a transformation! In the life-story of Peter, we see God's love and power - restoring Peter, making him a new man. We see God's holiness and faithfulness. The Lord didn't give up on Peter. he kept on working in Peter's life. The Peter we see here is very different from the Peter at the time of Jesus' crucifixion. We read the story of Peter, and we say, "To God be the glory! Great things He has done" - "praise, glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:7).


1 John 1:1-2:2
God shows us the way to "eternal life" (1 John 1:2). It is not in ourselves. It is "in Christ" (1 John 1:3). The way to eternal life begins when God shows us that we are sinners and Jesus Christ is our Saviour. Without Christ, we "walk in darkness" (1 John 1:6). Through Him, we receive cleansing. This cleansing comes to us through the shedding of the precious blood of Christ (1 John 1:7). This cleansing is more than the forgiveness of our sins. This is where we begin - "The vilest (every) offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives." We move on from there. "The blood of Jesus keeps on cleansing us from all sin."

1 John 5:1-21
Our contemporary world has made a hero out of the scientist, Richard Dawkins. He's the author of the book, The God Delusion. He tells people what they want to hear - There is no God. They can live whatever way they like. What a strange world we live in! It's a world that's been turned upside down - by unbelief and disobedience. Is there a better way? Is there a way back to God, a way back to faith, a way back to holiness, a way to eternal life? Let's listen to what God's Word says to us.
1 John 5:4-5 - the victory of faith. It's not faith in ourselves. It's faith in Christ - God's beloved Son. This faith comes to us from God's revelation, breaking out of heaven (Matthew 3:17). It's faith that comes to us from God's Son, breaking out from the grave (Romans 1:3-4).
1 John 5:11-13 - eternal life. This is better than earthbound thinking that comes from the earth and never rises above it. Christ came from heaven, and takes us to heaven. This is more than making the most of a meaningless world. This is catching a glimpse of why we were put on this earth and where we are  headed for beyond this earth.


"The punishment of eternal fire" (Jude 7) - There aren't words that we like to hear. They're words that we need to hear. God is calling us back from "the blackness of darkness forever" (Jude 13). He's calling us to come, in faith, to His Son, Jesus, our Saviour. Once we have come to the Saviour, we are to win others for Him - "save others by snatching them from the fire" (Jude 23).
How are we to be saved from the fire? How are we to save others from the fire?
 * First, we must remember "the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude 21). Without His mercy, none of us can be saved.
 * Second - "build yourselves up in your most holy faith" (Jude 20) - "the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all" (Jude 3). It's not only our faith. It's the faith.
 * Third,  "Pray in the Holy Spirit" (Jude 20). Begin with the prayer, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner" (Luke 18:13) - and never forget this prayer.
 * Fourth - "Keep yourselves is the love of God" (Jude 21) - and never forget this: it is the God of love who keeps us in His love, and remember to give all the glory to Him (Jude 24-25).
 * Fifth - Commit yourself to God's rescue mission, leading sinners out of unbelief and into faith, out of disobedience and into godliness (Jude 22-23).
remember that the grace comes from the Lord and the glory goes to Him. Never think too highly of yourself. What are we? - "those who are the called, loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ" (Jude 1).


Revelation 1:1-20
Genesis tells us about the beginning. revelation tells us about the end. Why? - Are we to speculate about what happened at the beginning? Are we to speculate about what will happen at the end? No! We are to see who was there at the beginning. We are to see that He will be there at the end (Revelation 1:4,8,17-18). Can we say anything at all about the beginning? Can we say anything at all about the end? Are we stuck in the middle, with no understanding of what happened at the beginning and what will happen at the end? There is an answer to such questions: God has revealed Himself to us. He is the eternal God. he was there at the beginning. He will be there at the end. God has revealed Himself to us. This doesn't mean that we can answer every question. It does mean that we can trust the Lord. He has all the answers. What we don't understand, He does understand. This is something that we must never forget. When we're going through hard times, we must remember this - We don't need to be able to understand all that's happening to us. What we do need to understand is this - When bad things are happening to us, there's one thing that never changes : the love of God. At the beginning, He loved us. At the end, He will love us. His love is an everlasting love. His love endures forever.

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