God’s Plans for Our Future.

God's Plan For Us
Futurologists are people who make predictions about the future. One prediction is that some babies born now are likely to live to the ripe old age of 150. Wired magazine recently predicted that meal replacement patches (taking nicotine replacement patches a step further) will be in existence by 2018, and that by 2020 there will be a new financial currency introduced for purchases in space.
Some look to futurologists to know what is coming. Others go further. Many people read their horoscopes because they want to know what the future holds. Jeremiah warns in the passage for today, ‘Don’t for a minute listen to … spiritualists and fortune-tellers, who claim to know the future’ (Jeremiah 27:9, MSG).
As the one who holds the past, present and future in his hands, only God truly knows the future. Much of it is hidden from us. However, there are certain things about your future that God tells you.

Psalm 119:25-32
1. Your future with God begins with an honest look at your past

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The study of history helps us to predict the future. As Winston Churchill once said, ‘To understand the future we need to understand the past.’
I love the psalms. There is an honesty, reality and authenticity about the way in which they are written. The psalmist does not disguise his feelings. He speaks openly and vulnerably about them: ‘I am feeling terrible – I couldn’t feel worse!’ (v.25a, MSG).
We all face temptation, sin, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes and desires. The psalmist says, ‘I recounted my ways and you answered me’ (v.26a). He spreads his case before the Lord, opening his heart with sincerity to him. There are times of deep sorrow: ‘My soul is weary with sorrow’ (v.28a).
How does the psalmist respond to all these difficulties? He prays, ‘Preserve my life according to your word’ (v.25b). He meditates on God’s word (v.27b) and prays: ‘Strengthen me according to your word. Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through your law’ (vv.28b–29).
Resolve to follow God’s ways in everything, but not out of a sense of obligation or guilt. Choose to run in the path of God’s commands, for he has set your heart free (v.32).
May The Lord help us to run in the path of His commands IJN.Amen!

2 Thessalonians 1:1-12
2. Your long term future is totally secure

Future Security
Jesus is coming back. The second coming is the most important thing to know and believe about the future. It changes everything about how we live our lives now, and infuses every moment of the present with hope. No one knows exactly when it will happen, but we are to live every day as if he were returning today – doing what he would want us to be doing.
Paul begins this letter with the assertion that ‘our God gives you everything you need, makes you everything you’re to be’ (v.2, MSG). He thanks God for their growth: ‘Your faith is growing phenomenally; your love for each other is developing wonderfully …We’re so proud of you’ (vv.3–4, MSG).
There is a great deal of emphasis in the New Testament on spiritual growth. We are not meant to stand still. Our faith and love should grow. God is trying to increase the muscles of our faith. Is our faith getting stronger? Is our love increasing? Do we react differently from two or three years ago?
So often, it is our struggles rather than our ‘successes’ that make us stronger. The Thessalonians’ faith and love was growing in spite of – maybe even because of – the persecution and trials that they were enduring (v.4).
Paul tells them that in the future God will put things right (vv.6–7). ‘Justice is on the way’ (v.6, MSG). When Jesus returns he will execute a perfectly just judgment: ‘This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels’ (v.7).
God desires that all people repent and come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). But he warns those who consistently reject the knowledge of God throughout their life, and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:8) – as was the case with those who were persecuting the Thessalonians – that there is a judgment to come. They will miss out on the possibility of eternal life.
The opposite of eternal life is ‘destruction’ and being ‘shut out from the presence of the Lord’ (v.9). Those who know God and obey the gospel will experience his presence and his majesty into eternity, ‘on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed’ (v.10a). Paul says this includes the Thessalonians ‘because you believed our testimony to you’ (v.10b). Their long-term future is totally secure.
Their response to the gospel determined their future. The gospel message is urgent. As Carl Henry put it, ‘The gospel is only good news if it gets there in time.’
As far as their short-term future is concerned, Paul writes, ‘We constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfil every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith’ (v.11).
We are not simply sitting around waiting for Jesus to return as some of the Thessalonians seemed to have been doing. God has a ‘good purpose’ for our life. He has called us. He puts ideas into our heart. He works in us both to will and to act according to his good purpose (Philippians 2:13).
In all this, Paul prays that the name of Jesus will be glorified: ‘If your life honours the name of Jesus, he will honour you’ (2 Thessalonians 1:12, MSG).

Jeremiah 27:1-29:23
3. Your future is one of hope, not harm
This passage contains one of the most wonderful and often quoted promises of God about his future plans for our lives. Jeremiah was a true prophet. He heard the word of the Lord.
But there were false prophets around, like Hananiah. Jeremiah says, ‘The prophet who prophesies peace will be recognised as one truly sent by the Lord only if his prediction comes true’ (28:9). Hananiah’s predictions did not come true because the Lord had not sent him (v.15).
Jeremiah’s prophecies did come true. The people of God did go into exile as he had warned.
Now, Jeremiah speaks the message from the Lord to his people in exile. He tells them, ‘Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper’ (29:7).
There is an important principle here. Generally we should seek the peace and prosperity of the place in which God has put us and pray for it. This includes places where we may work, our local church, our city and our nation.
There is an expression: ‘Bloom where we’re planted.’ This passage encourages us to make roots even where we feel uncomfortable or isolated (like in exile). Sometimes the place where we find ourself is not where we want to be but, if God has led us there, then that place must be fertile ground for God’s work in us to thrive.
God promises his people that the exile will come to an end: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfil my gracious promise to bring you back to this place’ (v.10).
This is the context of the wonderful promises:  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you’ (vv.11–14a). Hallelujah!
God has good plans for you and i. They are not plans for us failure or defeat. They are plans to ‘prosper us’. They are not average or mediocre plans. They are good, pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2).
But God will not force his plans on us. All God’s plans require our cooperation. If we want his plans to be fulfilled in our life, we need to seek him. He promises that, if we do so, we will be found by him (Jeremiah 29:13–14b). As we spend time with him, we will become like him and he will lead us into the good plans he has for our life.
May He help us to walk in His paths and fulfil the purpose He have for us. IJN AMEN.

God Bless.

YERIOS.

What Difference Does Jesus Make?


Here is a story about a man.

‘My life has completely changed. I now look at the world through different eyes … I feel love for everyone and an inner peace that I never imagined could exist.’

‘I had been living my life in a dark hole, I was carrying a great weight on my shoulders … that burden has gone … and I am filled with great hope, joy, excitement and love, and all I want to do is to serve Christ in whatever form he chooses.’

‘I feel like I have found love and conquered death in one day.’

The difference Jesus makes is massive, eternal, and impossible to comprehend fully.

Psalm 110:1-7

forgiveness
1. Permanent forgiveness
Jesus made forgiveness possible through his one perfect sacrifice for our sins. He was uniquely qualified to do so as the ‘King of Kings’ and ‘Great High Priest’.
Jesus clearly saw this royal psalm of David as referring to himself (v.1, see Matthew 22:42–45, Luke 20:42–44). It is one of the most frequently quoted in the New Testament. Two lines of Old Testament prophecy come together in this psalm.
King of Kings

Although it is about a human king, it points forward to a divine King who will be King over all kings (Psalm 110:5).

  • Great High Priest

The writer of Hebrews quotes this psalm as referring to Jesus (see Hebrews 7:17–22) as the one who is the priest forever in the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4). Neither Melchizedek nor Jesus were Levites. However, they were both priests – not on the basis of their ancestry, but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life (Hebrews 7:16).

Whereas the Old Testament priests were temporary, Jesus’ priesthood is permanent: ‘He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself (Hebrews 7:27). ‘You’re the permanent priest’ (Psalm 110:4, MSG).

Ephesians 2:1-22
peace 2. Peace and reconciliation
‘Peace’ is a word that sums up all the blessings Jesus brings to our lives. Christ came and preached the possibility of ‘peace’ to everyone (v.17).
Jesus is seated, after his resurrection, at the right hand of God, as prophesied in the psalm for today (Psalm 110:1). Being seated implies rest and peace. Paul expounds how we died with him, were buried with him and have been raised with him and are now seated with him in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6). You can enjoy his peace and rest as you go about your daily life.
Paul describes life without Christ in these terms:

  • ‘you were dead in your transgressions and sins’ (v.1)
  • ‘you followed the ways of the world’ (v.2)
  • ‘gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts’ (v.3a)
  • ‘objects of wrath’ (v.3b)
  • ‘separate from Christ’ (v.12a)
  • ‘outsiders to God’s ways’ (v.11, MSG)
  • ‘foreigners to the covenants of the promise’ (v.12b)
  • ‘without hope’ (v.12c)
  • ‘without God in the world’ (v.12c)
  • ‘far away’ (v.13)
  • ‘separated by the ‘dividing wall of hostility’ (v.14b)
  • ‘strangers or outsiders’ (v.19, MSG).

Paul describes the difference that Jesus makes in these contrasting terms:

  • ‘raised up with Christ’ (v.6)
  • ‘seated with him in the heavenly realms’ (v.6)
  • ‘God’s handiwork’ (v.10)
  • ‘created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do’ (v.10)
  • ‘brought near through the blood of Christ’ (v.13)
  • ‘reconciled to God through the cross’ (v.16)
  • ‘access to the Father by one Spirit’ (v.18)
  • ‘fellow-citizens with God’s people’ (v.19)
  • ‘members of God’s household’ (v.19)
  • ‘a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit’ (v.22).

The contrast between the prior alienation – from ourselves and from God – and the peace and reconciliation that Jesus brings, could not be greater. It is Jesus who makes the difference. We are made alive with Christ (v.5). We are raised up with Christ (v.6). We are saved through faith in Christ (v.8). It is in Christ Jesus that we are brought near (v.13). It is through Jesus that we have access to the Father by one Spirit (v.18). Jesus Christ himself is the chief cornerstone of the new temple, the church.
The only command that Paul gives us in this passage is simply to ‘remember’ this amazing transformation that Jesus brings to our lives (vv.12–13). So often we can forget that being a Christian is all about what Jesus has done for us, and get caught up in what we are doing. This passage helps us to stop, remember, and give thanks to our amazing saviour for all he has done for us. Hallelujah!!!

Isaiah 55:1-57:13
3. Purpose and meaning
The Bible is one long invitation to come to God. In the opening chapters of Genesis, after Adam’s rejection of God’s perfect plan, God calls to Adam with an anguished cry, full of both love and anger, ‘Where are you?’ The book of Revelation ends with the invitation from the Spirit and the Bride who say, ‘Come!’
Jesus often invited people: ‘Come to me’ (Matthew 11:28), ‘Come to the wedding banquet (22:4), ‘Come to me and drink’ (John 7:37). In this chapter, God once again issues an invitation to come.
‘Hey there! All who are thirsty,

come to the water!

Are you penniless?

Come anyway – buy and eat!

Come, buy your drinks, buy wine and milk.

Buy without money – everything’s free!’ (Isaiah 55:1, MSG).
The invitation is urgent and universal. It is addressed to those who are unsatisfied. The New Testament sees it as Jesus’ invitation to us (see Acts 13:34–35). In this chapter Isaiah gives four reasons why we should come to him:
Jesus alone can satisfy the hunger in our heart

Without Jesus we are thirsty (Isaiah 55:1). We labour for what does not satisfy (v.2). The opening verses echo the cries of those selling their wares in Babylon, the centre of commerce in the ancient world. The message is this: material things do not satisfy. Without God we are always partly empty, experiencing a lack of fulfilment and a feeling of dissatisfaction.

The offer of Jesus is free. It is to ‘you who have no money’ (v.1). It is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). The promise is that as we come to Jesus ‘your soul will delight in the richest of fare … your soul will live’ (Isaiah 55:2,3). Those who come to him are deeply satisfied. God does not offer us junk food, but a feast. His words are ‘life-giving’ and ‘life nourishing’ (v.2, MSG).
Jesus has a purpose for our life 

God’s blessings were never intended to be enjoyed selfishly (vv.3b–5). They were to overflow to others. You can’t offer to others what you have not received yourself. But when you have enjoyed a blessing, pass it on.

As Paul puts it in today’s New Testament passage, ‘For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do’ (Ephesians 2:10). God has good plans for your life.
Jesus’ love and mercy is great

Repentance is necessary in order to enjoy God’s presence fully (Isaiah 55:6–9). It involves turning away from sin: ‘Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts’ (v.7a). I like the child’s definition of repentance: ‘being sorry enough to stop’.

Repentance involves turning to God: ‘Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon’ (v.7b). No matter how far we have fallen, God will forgive us. He is ‘lavish with forgiveness’ (v.7, MSG).
Jesus is the life transformer

‘You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thorn bush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow’ (vv.12–13).

The immediate application of this passage was to the departure of the Jews from Babylon. Israel was to ‘go out’ from Babylon and go back to Jerusalem in ‘joy’ and ‘peace’.
However, the prophecy will not reach complete fulfilment until the return of Jesus Christ. Then, nature itself will be renewed and restored. We have a foretaste of this now, in this life, but the ultimate fulfilment of these verses will come when Jesus returns, in the new heaven and new earth.
The Bible is not only the story of the human race, but is the story of the whole of creation in which the human race plays a central and crucial role.

His Love is always available, all we need is to trust and focus on His word.
Thank you for the massive difference you make to my life, both now and into eternity. Amen!!

YERIOS.

GOD BLESS.

Finding Purpose In Life

 Many have given up a successful career, a high salary and – in the eyes of the world – all their prospects, in order to serve God in ‘full-time ministry’ with little or no pay. They know that there is a high calling and purpose that far exceeds what the world can promise them.

Of course, those called to serve God in their secular places of work have an equally high purpose and calling, if they are doing what they are doing in order to please God and for the sake of his kingdom. The key thing is not the job or career – but the goal we pursue.

So many people waste their lives. They have no purpose, meaning or goal. Other people do have a goal, but it is the wrong one. They end up chasing something that is ultimately meaningless. Many reach the top of the ladder of success only to find that it is leaning against the wrong wall. Purpose in life is far more important than property or possessions. Having more to live with is no substitute for having more to live for.

How do you avoid wasting your life? How do you find the purpose for which you were made? 

Proverbs 21:17-26

1. Pursue righteousness and love

Many people today lead hedonistic lives. ‘Hedonism’ is the pursuit of pleasure as the ultimate goal. Hedonists become addicted to the things that give them pleasure.

‘You’re addicted to thrills? What an empty life! The pursuit of pleasure is never satisfied’ (v.17, MSG).

The writer is not saying that there is anything wrong with pleasure: ‘In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil’ (v.20). But relationships are far more important than riches: ‘Better to live in a tent in the wild than with a cross and petulant spouse’ (v.19, MSG).

The purpose and goal of our lives must never revolve around material things. Rather, ‘Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honour’ (v.21). This should be the aim of our life – to pursue a right relationship with God and a right relationship with others.

Love should be our aim. ‘Sinners are always wanting what they don’t have; the God-loyal are always giving what they do have’.

The irony is that those who pursue righteousness and love find what the hedonist is seeking: ‘life, prosperity and honour’ (v.21b). But these are a by-product. They should not be our aim or purpose. Rather it should be God’s kingdom and his righteousness. Jesus promises ‘all these things will be given to you as well’ (Matthew 6:33).🙌🙇🏽
  

2 Corinthians 5:1-10 

2. Aim to please God

Paul’s main aim and purpose in life was to please God: ‘Pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions’ (v.9, MSG).

We may face physical challenges. Our physical bodies will not always be able to do what we used to do. One day ‘these bodies of ours’ will be ‘taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven’ (vv.1–2, MSG).

When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we are promised all the blessings of the kingdom of God. Yet we still feel weak and sinful, still experience hardship and frustration, and still live in a broken world. How much of the blessing of the kingdom must we wait for in the future, or on the last day, and how much do we experience here and now in the present?

In this passage we see that there is a balance between what we will experience in the future and what we experience now. Now, we are ‘away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight’ (vv.6–7). In the future, we will be ‘at home with the Lord’ (v.8). What is mortal will be ‘swallowed up by life’ (v.4). We will not experience the full blessing of the kingdom yet.

Nevertheless now, in the present, we experience a foretaste of the future. God ‘has made us for this very purpose’ and has given us his Spirit as a ‘deposit, guaranteeing what is to come’ (v.5). ‘He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less’ (v.5b, MSG). That deposit is not just an assurance – it is a piece of the not yet of God’s blessing, reign and rule in the now. That is what the Holy Spirit brings.

‘That’s why we live with such good cheer … Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead’ (v.6, MSG).

In the meantime, ‘We make it our goal to please him’ (v.9). ‘Sooner or later … We will appear before Christ and take what’s coming to us as a result of our actions, either good or bad’ (v.10, MSG).

(Prayer) 👉🏾 Lord, help me to make this goal the focus of my life. Lord, I want to please you in everything I do, say and think. Amen🙏💒.
  
Micah 5:1-7:20

3. Rise to Micah’s challenge

It is possible to have a wasted soul. God warns, through Micah, against:

‘Obscene wealth …

   piled up by cheating and fraud …

shady deals and shifty scheming …

No matter how much you get, it will never be enough –

   hollow stomachs, empty hearts.

No matter how hard you work, you’ll have nothing to show for it –

   bankrupt lives, wasted souls’ (6:10–14, MSG).

At times, the prophet Micah looks forward (for example, see 7:7–20). At one point he looks further ahead than he probably realises. He sees a ruler coming from Bethlehem, ‘Whose origins are from of old, from ancient times … And he will be their peace’ (5:2,5a). He will be known as ‘Peacemaker of the world!’ (v.4b, MSG). Unknowingly he was prophesying about Jesus (Matthew 2:5–12).

At other times, the prophet Micah looks back. He looks at all that God has done for his people (see Micah 6:3 onwards). He redeemed them. He led them (v.4). He urged them to ‘remember’ (v.5).

God is a God of astonishing love and mercy❤️: ‘Mercy is your specialty. That’s what you love most. And compassion is on its way to us. You’ll stamp out our wrongdoing. You’ll sink our sins to the bottom of the ocean’ (7:18–19, MSG).

Thank the Lord for his amazing love made possible through the death of Jesus for us. Thank God that he has ‘hurled all our iniquities into the depths of the sea’ where there is ‘no fishing allowed’ as Corrie ten Boom used to say.

What will our response be to this amazing grace? How can we please God? How can we avoid wasting our lives? What does the Lord require of us? Micah presents this challenge: ‘To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God’ (6:8c). This threefold challenge gives us the purpose and goal of our lives.

First, to ‘act justly’ (v.8c). Justice is very high up on God’s agenda. Injustice causes so much of the world’s suffering today. I have to make this a higher priority in my own life and in our community. We must do more to see that the poor, the marginalised and the voiceless receive justice.

Second, we must ‘love mercy’ (v.8c). God has shown us such mercy. Our response should be to show mercy to others. As Joyce Meyer puts it, ‘People do not need to be pressured to perform perfectly; they need to be loved and accepted.’ We need to bring the message of the gospel of God’s love and mercy to as many as possible, including the prisoners, the homeless, the elderly and the poor.

Third, we need to ‘walk humbly with [our] God’ (v.8c). We should never see ourselves as better, above, or more important than other people. A proud person overestimates their own importance. They cannot laugh at themselves. ‘Don’t take yourself too seriously – take God seriously’ (v.8c, MSG). We cannot do any of this unless we are walking in a relationship with the Lord.

These three go together. True faith is evidenced by how we live. This is why Paul writes that ‘the things done while in the body’ (2 Corinthians 5:10) really matter🔥🙌. We will be judged by them. They are the evidence of our faith.

God Bless..🙌🙏

YERIOS.

Maximizing Your Influence 💪

  

Leadership is about influence. Everyone influences someone. Therefore, in a sense, everyone is a leader. Sociologists tell us that even the most introverted individual will influence 10,000 other people during his or her lifetime.

 African proverb puts it, ‘If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent the night with a mosquito.’ The mosquito makes a difference in an annoying way, but the principle is the same. One person can stop a great injustice. One person can be a voice for truth. One person’s kindness can save a life. Each person matters.

History is in many ways a story of influence. In reality we all influence one another in all sorts of ways – from what to have for lunch and what films to watch, to more important matters of truth and ethics.

What we do as individuals, as a community or a nation affects others. How do you use that influence for good? How do you maximise your influence?

Psalm 96:1-13

1. Use your influence for the good of everyone

God chose Israel. He blessed the people of Israel in a special way. His purpose was not that they should feel proud and superior to others. Rather, it was that they should be a blessing to the whole world (Genesis 12:3). They were blessed to be a blessing. They were called to use their influence for the good of all nations. This psalm has a multi-national focus. It proclaims the wonders and blessings of God to everyone. It does so through:

  • Worship

It is interesting to note in passing that their worship was creative and included innovation. They sang ‘a brand-new song’ (Psalm 96:1, MSG).

  • Witness

After worship comes witness:

‘Shout the news of his victory from sea to sea,

Take the news of his glory to the lost,

News of his wonders to one and all! …

Get out the message – God Rules! (vv.2–3,10a, MSG).

Help us, Lord, never to become inward looking or self-indulgent. May everything we do as individuals and as a community be outward focused in order to bring blessing to the world – proclaiming your salvation day after day. Amen🙏

  
1 Corinthians 9:1-18

2. Use your influence to spread the good news

Paul is deeply conscious of his influence as a Christian and, in particular, as an apostle. He is absolutely determined to maximise his influence for good and to ‘put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ’ (v.12b).

It appears that he sees his calling to singleness as one of the ways he can maximise his influence. He is not suggesting that there is anything wrong with marriage. It appears that the other apostles, including ‘the Lord’s brothers and Cephas [Peter]’ were all married (v.5).

Another way he seeks to maximise his influence is by having a second job; working for a living. He is very keen to point out that he does not need to do this: ‘The Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel’ (v.14). Or as Eugene Peterson translates, ‘Those who spread the Message be supported by those who believe the Message’ (v.14, MSG). In other words, as Christians we should support financially those who spread the gospel full-time.

Paul’s point is that although he had this right, he did not make use of it. ‘Our decision all along has been to put up with anything rather than to get in the way or detract from the Message of Christ’ (v.12b, MSG).

Paul is absolutely passionate about the preaching of the gospel. He does not want anything to hinder its maximum impact. Hence, he does not make use of any of his rights – his mission is paramount (v.15a). He is ‘compelled to preach’ (v.16a). He writes, ‘Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!’ (v.16b). He is simply discharging an obligation that he feels.

What he wants more than anything is that people should be able to hear the gospel ‘free of charge’ (v.18). He would rather die than be deprived of the opportunity to preach the gospel free of charge: ‘I’d rather die than give anyone ammunition to discredit me or impugn my motives’ (v.15, MSG).

Let our focus be on the word🔥

Ecclesiastes 9:13-12:14

3. Use your influence to plant good seeds

Solomon is very aware of the power of influence. This influence can be for good or evil.

One wise person can save a city (9:13–18a). On the other hand, ‘one sinner destroys much good’ (9:18b). One human being can use their influence for evil and cause great harm. Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot are glaring examples of this principle.

But, the influence does not have to be as great as these tyrants in order to have a bad effect. ‘Dead flies in perfume make it stink, and a little foolishness decomposes much wisdom’ (10:1, MSG). If even a dead fly can have a bad influence, the least influential human being can have an influence for evil or good. We can all be the fly in the ointment!

The writer has much to say about how to be a good influence, rather than a bad one:

  • Watch your words

Solomon reminds us that ‘words from the mouth of the wise are gracious’ (v.12a). Respond to hot-tempered words with calmness (v.4), and avoid gossiping and bad-mouthing your leaders (v.20).

  • Take risks

To maximise your influence for good you need to take risks. ‘Be generous: Invest in acts of charity. Charity yields high returns. Don’t hoard your goods; spread them around. Be a blessing to others’ (11:1–2, MSG). In other words, he says ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’. As William Ward wrote, ‘To love is to risk not being loved in return. To try is to risk failure. But risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.’

If we are too cautious we will never achieve anything. ‘Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap’ (v.4). We could apply this principle to church planting. It will require risk and determination. We must not be daunted by seemingly insuperable obstacles. We must not be put off due to ‘wind’ and ‘clouds’.

  • Spread your efforts

In order to maximise influence, you might have to juggle different opportunities in your life: ‘Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed’ (v.6).

  • Take your opportunities

Life is short. Your opportunities are limited: ‘Even if you live a long time, don’t take a single day for granted. Take delight in each light-filled hour … You who are young, make the most of your youth’ (vv.8a,9, MSG). 🙇🏽💯

The book finishes with a conclusion to all its searching and questioning. The meaning of life ultimately rests in your relationship with God: ‘Fear God [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is] and keep His commandments, for this is the whole of man [the full, original purpose of his creation, the object of God’s providence, the root of character, the foundation of all happiness, the adjustment to all inharmonious circumstances and conditions under the sun] and the whole [duty] for every man’ (12:13b, AMP)🙏🔥

Lord, help me and help our community to make the most of every opportunity that you have given us. Help us to fear you and keep your commandments. Help us to use our influence for good and not for evil. Help us to make the most of every opportunity that you have put before us. Amen!!!!🙏🙌🙇🏽

God Bless.

YERIOS.☝️🙏

The God of Hope 🙌☝️

  
Hope is one of the three great theological virtues – the others being love and faith. As Raniero Cantalamessa writes, ‘They are like three sisters. Two of them are grown and the other is a small child. They go forward together hand in hand with the child hope in the middle. Looking at them it would seem that the bigger ones are pulling the child, but it is the other way around; it is the little girl who is pulling the two bigger ones. It is hope that pulls faith and love. Without hope everything would stop.’💯

Psalm 89:46-52

1. Know the hope of eternal life through Jesus

‘To live without hope is to cease to live,’ wrote Fyodor Dostoevsky. ‘What oxygen is to the lungs, such is hope to the meaning of life,’ wrote Emil Brunner.

This psalm ends on a note of hope, ‘Praise be to the Lord forever! Amen and Amen’ (v.52). The psalmist clings on to hope in spite of the fact that he is wrestling with his own situation.

  • Hope in the midst of suffering and despair

‘How long, O Lord?’ (v.46a) is a rhetorical question. It is a cry of despair. Will this suffering go on forever?

Hope in spite of the brevity of life and the inevitability of death

Life is so short: ‘Remember how fleeting is my life’ (v.47a). If death is the end then there is no ultimate meaning or purpose, ‘For what futility you have created all humanity!’ (v.47b). No one can raise themselves from the dead. ‘Who can live and not see death, or who can escape from the power of the grave?’ (v.48). 😶👏

But the psalmist does not rule out the hope of the resurrection. He knows human beings cannot save themselves. He looks to the Lord, ‘O Lord, where is your former great love, which in your faithfulness you swore to David … your anointed one’ (vv.49–51). What the psalmist saw only in blurry outlines is made crystal clear in the New Testament.   (1 Peter 1:3–4). 🙏
  
Romans 14:19-15:13

2. Brim over with hope through the Holy Spirit

Faith releases hope, joy and peace in our lives. Doubt steals our joy and peace. Faith means trusting in ‘the God of hope’. Paul prays, ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow [“bubbling over”, AMP] with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit’ (15:13).

The origin of hope is ‘the God of hope’. The reason for hope is Jesus. The source of hope in you is the Holy Spirit. This hope is not wishful thinking. It is rooted in what God has done for us and is doing in us.

This hope is the driving force for our day-to-day living. As Erwin McManus comments, hope ‘lifts us out of the rubble of our failures, our pain and our fear to rise above what at one point seemed insurmountable. Our ability to endure, to persevere, to overcome is fuelled by this one seemingly innocuous ingredient called hope.’ Uhhh💯

The hope for the whole world is in Jesus. He is the hope for Israel. He is also the hope for the rest of us. Paul quotes a number of passages in the Old Testament to prove this, culminating with the words of Isaiah prophesying that Jesus would be: ‘Tall enough for everyone everywhere to see and take hope!’ (v.12, MSG). Hallelujah 🙏🙌

Paul helps us to see different aspects of the hope that Jesus brings to the world today including:

  • Hope for unity

Paul continues to plead that every effort is made for unity, ‘Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification’ (14:19). Guard this unity by being sensitive to your brothers and sisters in Christ and not offending them unnecessarily (14:20–15:1). Each of us should ‘please our neighbours for their good, to build them up’ (15:2).

Follow the example of Jesus: ‘For even Christ did not please himself’ (v.3). Like Jesus, be a God-pleaser, not a self-pleasers or a people-pleaser. People-pleasers are those who try to please people even if they have to compromise their own conscience to do so. Paul tried to please people as long as pleasing them did not cause him to displease the Lord (Galatians 1:10, 1 Corinthians 10:33).

As Joyce Meyer points out, ‘God-pleasers are grace-based individuals who do not seek approval out of insecurity or fear. They strive to follow God with all their hearts, they also seek to please and minister to others without compromise or fear of rejection.’ 👀

  • Hope from the Scriptures

The purpose of the Bible is to give us hope. ‘For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope’ (Romans 15:4). It is through the Scriptures that you know about Jesus and the hope that is in him. The way to keep your hopes up is to study the Scriptures regularly.

This hope leads to, ‘All joy and peace as you trust in him’ (v.13). I love the way that Corrie Ten Boon puts it: ‘Joy and peace mean going around with a smile on our faces and an empty suitcase.’ 
1 Chronicles 11:1-12:22

3. Put your hope in the coming of the King

Our hope is in Jesus, the King, who will one day return and establish his kingdom forever. As we read of the kings of the Old Testament, it is important to remember that they, even at their very best, only faintly foreshadowed the ultimate king, Jesus.

In the chronicler’s eyes, David was the ideal king: ‘You were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the Lord your God said to you, “You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler” ’ (11:2). They ‘anointed David king over Israel, as the Lord had promised through Samuel’ (v.3). ‘David became more and more powerful, because the Lord Almighty was with him’ (v.9).

David did not do it all on his own. He needed a team around him. He had a group of thirty Mighty Men, which included the Big Three.

Amasai, chief of the thirty, ‘moved by God’s Spirit’ said to David, ‘We’re on your side … We’re committed … all’s well with whoever helps you’ (12:18–22, MSG). This must have been a huge encouragement to David.

In these scriptures we see a direct equation of the Kingdom of Israel with the Kingdom of God (see 1 Chronicles 28:5; 1 Chronicles 29:23; 2 Chronicles 13:8). There was no question about the continuity of kingship because it was guarded by God.

Yet, when the chronicler was writing this (hundreds of years later) there was no king. He wrote about the past in the hope that in the future a king like David would arise. This was the hope of Israel – a coming king. Jesus was that king. He was ‘the anointed one’, the ‘Messiah’ (Psalm 89:51).

Now our hope is in the return of Jesus. As Bishop Lesslie Newbigin put it, ‘The horizon for the Christian is “He shall come again” and “we look for the coming of the Lord.” It can be tomorrow or any time, but that’s the horizon. That horizon is for me fundamental, and that’s what makes it possible to be hopeful and therefore to find life meaningful.’ Amen🙏

Father, thank you that all the hopes of Israel were fulfilled when Jesus, the anointed king, came. Thank you that we can now look forward to his coming again. Amen🙌🙏🙇🏽
  

God Bless.

YRO.

Plans✨📝

  
Almost everyone makes plans. If you have a diary, or make lists, you are a planner. We make plans about how to spend our evenings, our weekends or our holidays. Some people plan how many children they are going to have; they make plans for their education. We need to plan our finances and our giving. Individuals have plans. Businesses have plans. Churches should have plans.

Proverbs 15:31-16:7  

 1. Our plans

We do not always get it right (certainly I do not). But it is not wrong to make plans. Indeed, it is good to plan ahead. As has been pointed out, it wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark! The writer of Proverbs says, ‘To human beings belong the plans of the heart … Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed’ (16:1,3).🙏

Here, we see the key to success. Your plans should never be made independently of the Lord. You are called into relationship with him. Your plans need to be aligned with his plans. Your vision and your plans need to be led by the Spirit. As you sense God’s leading, commit your plans to the Lord. Bring them to him. Lay them before him. Then God promises ‘your plans will succeed’ .What does it mean to commit to the Lord whatever you do?

Cooperate

One translation of the Hebrew word for commit is to ‘roll towards’. There are two ways to go through life. One is to decide that we are perfectly capable of running our own lives – without God. We make plans independently of God to please ourselves. This is the way of pride (v.5) and independence. The proud cannot be told anything because they think they already know.

The other is to be willing to lay aside your own desires. This is the way of faith and humility: ‘Humility comes before honour’ (15:33). 

God has good plans for your life (Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 12:2; Ephesians 2:10). Cooperate humbly with him, being willing to give up everything that clashes with his purpose for you.

Confide
To commit your plans to the Lord means to speak to him about his plans – to make plans together with him. At the start of each day you can commit your plans to him. 

I remember hearing the actor David Suchet, when he had recently become a Christian, being asked on the radio whether there were certain roles he would turn down. He replied, ‘That is a very difficult question. All I can say is now when I am offered a part I go away and pray about it and if I feel it is wrong I turn it down, whereas before it would have been, “How much?” ’

Consult

The Lord says, ‘Woe … to those who carry out plans that are not mine … Who go down to Egypt without consulting me (Isaiah 30:1–2a). To commit to the Lord means to consult him and discuss your plans with him and seek his wisdom and advice (Proverbs 15:33a). With major decisions a wise person will consult others to check that you have accurately heard from the Lord.

Having committed your plans to the Lord you can trust his promise of success. God is sovereign over your plans. ‘Mortals make elaborate plans, but God has the last word’ (16:1, MSG). Later in chapter 16, there is a similar message: ‘In your heart you may plan your course, but the Lord determines your steps’ (v.9).

God gives you the freedom and responsibility to make plans. It is positively right for you to do this. And yet, God relates your decisions to your future. This is not a reason to be passive or fatalistic, but rather it is an encouragement that you can rest assured that God is in ultimate control of your life. You need not be frozen in a state of indecision.

You can trust that God will work out everything for good for those who love him (Romans 8:28).🙌
1 Kings 22:1-53

  

2. God’s plans

It is not a good idea to try and outwit God! This was Ahab’s problem. He tried to manipulate people and events in order to defeat God’s plans.

Jehoshaphat wisely told him that before going to war with Aram he should seek the Lord’s counsel: ‘Before you do anything, ask God for guidance’ (v.5, MSG).

The 400 ‘puppet’ prophets may have been state-employed parrots who simply did what they were paid to do – that is, say whatever the king wanted them to say.

However, Jehoshaphat knows that this is not genuine prophecy and asks, ‘Is there not a prophet of the Lord here whom we can enquire of?’ (v.7). The king replies, ‘There is still one through whom we can enquire of the Lord, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah’ (v.8).

Micaiah, who is a genuine prophet, speaks the word of the Lord to them. Whereas the 400 prophets put forward the popular view, Micaiah was the only one who in fact knew the mind of the Lord. We must not be swayed by popular opinion if it does not come from the Lord. The fact that we may be outnumbered is irrelevant.

Micaiah is courageous enough to speak the truth: ‘As surely as God lives, what God says, I’ll say’ (v.14, MSG). He warns them of the danger of going against God’s plans. For his troubles he is put in prison on nothing but bread and water (v.27).

Ahab is determined not to listen to the voice of God. He continues his manipulation. He thinks he can outwit God by disguising himself (v.30). But, as we have read, ‘The Lord works out everything for his own ends’ (Proverbs 16:4).

We see this principle at work as ‘someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between the sections of his armour … The king died … and dogs licked up his blood, as the word of the Lord had declared’ (1 Kings 22:34,37–38).

   

Finally our prayer should be Lord, thank you that you are the sovereign Lord and that you control the events of history. Thank you that you want me to be involved in your plans. You want me to make my plans in the right way.
Forgive me, Lord, for the times when I have perhaps known I am on the wrong path but have tried to manipulate events. Help me always to stay in line with your plans. May my plans be your plans, and may these plans succeed. Amen🙏🙌

‘People think all their ways are innocent, but motives are weighed by the Lord.’

God bless.

Jesus and the Victory of God 🙏🙌👑

  

We always enjoy a victory. The feelings of pleasure and satisfaction that accompany victory are quite natural. This is, of course, a trivial example. The victory that is at the centre of today’s passages is of a totally different order and significance. But even the tiniest and most insignificant victory gives us a taste of its meaning and joy.

Jesus and the Victory of God is the title of a book by Professor Tom Wright, former Bishop of Durham. This title sums up the themes in today’s passages. The great victory of God that we read about in the New Testament is foreshadowed in the Old Testament. The ultimate victory of God came with the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus and the outpouring of his Spirit.

The kingdom that this victory ushered in has a present and a future aspect. In the future, when Jesus returns, his kingdom will be finally and completely established forever. At the present time we continue to see the fallen world around us, but we hope and pray for the kingdom to break in.

Proverbs 14:5-14

1. Victory of goodness☝️

The ‘fool’ in the book of Proverbs does not mean someone lacking intelligence. Rather it means the rebel (especially against God and the laws of decency and justice): ‘the mocker … the foolish … the wicked … the faithless’ come to a sticky end (vv.11–14). Their path ends in death.

On the other hand, as we see in this passage, the book of Proverbs is full of teaching about the importance of righteousness and holiness. We read here about ‘a truthful witness … the upright … the good’ (vv.5,9,11,14).

The implication is that the righteous will in some way outlast death and ‘will flourish’ and be ‘rewarded’ (vv.11–14). In other words, they will ultimately be victorious: ‘a moral life is a favoured life’ (v.9b, MSG).   

Lord, help me always to be a truthful witness. IJN amen🙏

  
Acts 2:22-47

2. Victory of Jesus👑

The church should be a place of ‘celebration, exuberant and joyful’ (v.46, MSG). We should be the most positive people in the world. We are constantly celebrating Jesus and the victory of God.

On the day of Pentecost, Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, explains the great victory of Jesus. He speaks about his life, ministry, death and, in particular, his resurrection. He gives four reasons why you can be sure that Jesus has been raised from the dead and therefore you can be sure that you will be raised to life with him:

  • Logical

Satan’s power of death could not possibly be stronger than the power of life in God’s Messiah. Peter explains that, ‘God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him’ (v.24). Hallelujah 💪

  • Biblical

He points out that the resurrection was prophesied in Psalm 16:8–11 (Acts 2:25–28). Peter says, ‘[David] was a prophet and knew that God had promised on oath that he would place one of his descendents on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ’ (vv.30–31).

  • Personal

The third argument that Peter gives for the resurrection of Jesus is his own testimony. ‘God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact’ (v.32). Peter says in effect, ‘We have seen him’.

  • Experiential

The experience of the Holy Spirit is in itself evidence of the resurrection. After the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, came the final act in his saving ministry: ‘Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear’ (v.33).

This experience was not confined to those who were present on the day of Pentecost. It is for every Christian. It is for you. ‘The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call’ (v.39). Every time someone experiences the Holy Spirit it is further evidence of the resurrection. Every time you see someone being filled with the Holy Spirit or hear their testimony of how the Holy Spirit has changed their life it is further evidence of the resurrection.

The way you receive the promise is by repentance, faith in Jesus, baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit (vv.37–38). The evidence that you have received the Holy Spirit will be seen in a changed life and a transformed community (vv.42–47). The church is not only a place of celebration, exuberance and joy; it should also be supremely a place of love.

  • Love for God

The church is a place full of love for God. They had a new love for the Bible: ‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching’ (v.42). Much of this teaching is now enshrined in the New Testament.

They had a new love for the sacraments: ‘They devoted themselves to … the breaking of bread’ (v.42). ‘They broke bread in their homes’ (v.46).

They had a new love for prayer (v.42). The Spirit-filled church will be a praying church.

  • Love for one another

The church should be marked by love for one another. They had a new desire to meet together: ‘They devoted themselves … to the fellowship’ (v.42). They continued to meet together and ate together with ‘glad and sincere hearts’ (v.46). There was a new release of finances and generosity in giving (vv.44–45). The Spirit-filled church will be a united church.

  • Love for the world

The church should be filled with a love for the world. They were an outward focused community performing signs and wonders (v.43). ‘The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved’ (v.47). The Spirit-filled church will be an outward-looking church.   

2 Samuel 7&8

3. Victory anywhere you go💪😉

The victory of Jesus was foreshadowed in the life of David. There are over a thousand references to David in the Bible. He was an anointed (messiah) king. The Lord gave him ‘rest from all his enemies around him’ (7:1). Nathan the prophet said to David, ‘Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you’ (v.3). ‘The Lord gave David victory wherever he went’ (8:6,14).

We see in David’s prayer an example to follow:

  • Praise for God’s greatness

David has both a sense of his own unworthiness in the presence of God (7:18) and at the same time, a realisation of the greatness of God: ‘How great you are, O Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you’ (v.22). He praises God for his redemption of his people (v.23).

  • Passion for God’s name

David is passionate to see God’s name honoured: ‘Do as you promised, so that your name will be great forever’ (vv.25–26).

  • Promise for God’s family

David trusts in God’s word: ‘Your words are trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant’ (v.28). He goes on to ask for one more thing: ‘Bless my family; keep your eye on them always. You’ve already as much as said that you would, Master God! Oh, may your blessing be on my family permanently!’ (v.29, MSG).

God made a covenant with David. Whereas God had been dwelling in a tent (7:2), he promises to establish a house for David (vv.7,10–11). He promises, ‘I will raise up your offspring to succeed you … I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever … Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever’ (vv.12–13,16).

Only in Jesus were the promises of the Davidic covenant fulfilled. The human kings failed, but there remained the hope of a future king who would fulfil the kingship ideal. Jesus was the son of David (see, for example, Matthew 1:1). As he entered Jerusalem, the people cried out, ‘Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!’ (Mark 11:10).

However, the victory of Jesus and the kingdom of Jesus were far greater than anyone had anticipated. They were achieved not by a conquering king winning physical battles, but by a dying Saviour winning the great spiritual victory over sin, guilt, addiction, fear and even death itself.

We see from the example of Jesus that victory is not always glamorous or even obvious. But God promises you, as he promises David, that he will be with you wherever you go and that, in Christ, ultimately you will be victorious. Amen amen!!!💪🙌

I am a victor, say that to yourself 😃👌

God bless.

Uniqueness of Jesus ☝🏽🙌

  

The person, work, and life of Jesus Christ stands as irrefutable evidence against the secular world view and all the religions of the world regardless of their makeup. No one else is qualified or capable to meet the needs of fallen humanity or restore that which was lost by Adam in the fall of man. A striking illustration of this is seen in Revelation 5:1-11. A careful study of the context and content of Revelation 6-19 suggests that the seven-sealed book, which only Christ can open, contains the story of mankind losing his lordship over the earth to Satan, the usurper, and its recovery through the God-man Savior, the Lion who is also the Lamb. He alone is able to accomplish what no one else in the universe can, and, based on His death as the Lamb and His resurrection as the Redeemer/Savior, He recovers what was lost through the judgments of the sealed book. 

Thus, as we consider the uniqueness of Christ, we also need to recognize this uniqueness demands our allegiance and commitment as believers. It demands that we rearrange our priorities and stand as luminaries in a dark and dismal world holding forth the message of the unique Christ, the God-man Savior of the World. Jesus Himself sought to impress this mindset on His disciples when He stated, “You are the salt of the earth, … You are the light of the world …” (Matt. 5:13-16). Hallelujah 🙏🙌

In the person of Jesus Christ, we have one so unique that His life cannot be explained by natural processes. His person and life defy the natural. The uniqueness of Jesus Christ presents evidence, as Josh McDowell has so well written “demands a verdict,” that this Man is not only unique, but the Savior of the world.👏👑

Psalm 53:1-6

1. There is no one like Jesus

Napoleon Bonaparte said, ‘I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison.’ Jesus is different from every other human being who has ever lived.

David says, ‘There is no one who does good’ (v.1). As God looks down from heaven on the human race, he sees that ‘there is no one who does good, not even one’ (v.3).

David looks in hope for a saviour, ‘Is there anyone around to save Israel?’ (v.6a, MSG). His longing was, of course, fulfilled in Jesus. Jesus was unique in his complete goodness. The apostle Paul quotes from this psalm to show the need of every human being for a saviour 

(Romans 3:10–12). “As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” 

As Paul examines different people in this world – Jew and Gentile, moral and immoral – he comes to the conclusion that there is no one whom God can classify as good and righteous. He writes, ‘Therefore no one will be declared righteous in [God’s] sight …’ (v.20).

The wonder of the gospel is that we, who are not righteous, can be declared righteous through Jesus’ perfect righteousness. ‘This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe’ (v.22).

Lord, thank you for the uniqueness of Jesus. Amen🙏


John 1:1-28  

2. Jesus is the one and only

Jesus Christ is the one and only. He ‘remains, to say the least of it, unique. If God is like Jesus, God is worth believing in,’ wrote the journalist Anthony Burgess reviewing a book with the simple title Jesus.

The whole of John’s Gospel from start to finish is an answer to the question: ‘Who is Jesus?’  John’s answer is that God is like Jesus and he is worth believing in. Jesus is totally unique. He is the ‘One and Only’ (vv.14,18). He is the ‘one-of-a-kind God-expression’ (v.18, MSG).

In this passage we see some of the highest claims in the New Testament about the person of Jesus:

  • Unique Word of God
    John’s gospel opens with a brilliant description of Jesus as ‘the Word’. To us this seems like a strange concept, but to John’s original readers it would have been much more familiar. The idea of the ‘word of God’ would have been important to Jewish readers. They would have remembered the words of God in creation (Genesis 1), and all that the prophets had to say about the ‘word of the Lord’ (for instance Isaiah 40:6–8 and Jeremiah 23:29).

For Greek readers the idea of ‘the Word’ would have been associated with the search for the meaning of life. Philosophers often used ‘the Word’ as a shorthand way of referring to the unknowable meaning and purpose behind the universe.

John’s opening words would have been electrifying to both groups. He was in effect saying, ‘I am going to tell you about what you’ve been searching for all this time.’ 

It is absolutely clear that ‘the Word’ that John is writing about is Jesus: ‘The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood’ (v.14a, MSG). Jesus was not only with God at the very beginning: ‘The Word was God’ (v.1, MSG). Jesus was and is God.

  • Unique Creator of all
    ‘Everything was created through him; nothing – not one thing! – came into being without him’ (v.3, MSG).

It is through Jesus that the entire universe came into being. ‘For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him’ (Colossians 1:16).

  • Unique light of the world
    ‘In him was life, and that life was the light of all the people. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it’ (John 1:4).

Light is a synonym of goodness and truth. Darkness is a synonym of evil and falsehood. Light and darkness are opposite, but not equal. A little candle can light a whole room full of darkness and will not be dimmed by it. Light is stronger than darkness; darkness cannot prevail against light.

  • Unique transformer of lives
    ‘Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God’ (vv.12–13).

Belief in Jesus brings about the biggest and most significant transformation possible in an individual’s life. As you receive Jesus into your own life, so God receives you into his own family.

  • Unique revelation of God
    ‘No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known’ (v.18).

Everything in the Old Testament was leading up to God’s supreme revelation in Jesus. ‘We got the basics from Moses, and then this exuberant giving and receiving, this endless knowing and understanding – all this came through Jesus the Messiah’ (vv.16–17, MSG). This is why everything we read about in the Old Testament needs to be understood in light of Jesus.

Jesus is contrasted with John the Baptist. The emphasis is on what John the Baptist is not. He is not ‘the light’ (v.8). He is not eternal (v.15). He is not the Christ (v.20). He is not Elijah (v.21). He is not the Prophet (v.21).

Although Jesus says of John, ‘There has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist’ (Matthew 11:11), John the Baptist says of Jesus, ‘He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie’ (John 1:27). John the Baptist’s task, like us all, is to point away from ourselves and to the one and only Jesus, the unique Word of God, creator of all, light of the world, transformer of lives and revealer of God.

Joshua 15 , 16 : 1-10.

3. Jesus is the unique saviour

Joshua and Caleb were the only two of the original group to enter the promised land because they were the only ones who obeyed God and followed him wholeheartedly. (Joshua’s name means ‘Yah Saves’, or ‘The Lord Saves’. ‘Joshua’ is the Hebrew form of ‘Jesus’.) Joshua foreshadows Jesus. Joshua and Caleb were exceptional but, unlike Jesus, they were not unique.

Hebron, a portion of land in Judah, was given to Caleb by Joshua (15:13) but he still had to go in and take it (v.14). Similarly, salvation, the greatest blessing of all, comes to us by grace as a gift, yet we still have to receive it and take hold of it for ourselves by faith. ‘Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ’ (John 1:17) – it is a gift given to us.

All the way through the Bible, God is looking for your response. He is looking for you to ‘seek God’ (Psalm 53:2) and ‘call on God’ (v.4). You have to take hold of the gift given to you and believe in Jesus. When you do, you are given the right to become a child of God (John 1:12).

Jesus is the unique saviour. There is nothing more wonderful than taking hold of salvation through faith in him. 

Hallelujah hallelujah to The Him 🙌🙏👑

God Bless.

  

Wisdom.

  

Oprah Winfrey says, ‘Follow your instincts. That’s where true wisdom manifests itself.’ In other words, like so many, she believes that wisdom comes from within and that it is a kind of intuition. Since we are all created in the image of God, there is some truth in this. However, as we see in today’s passages, the biblical view is that true wisdom comes ultimately from God and it is supremely acquired through our relationship with him. Knowledge is horizontal. But wisdom is vertical. It comes down from above. We gain and grow in wisdom as we learn, reflect and live in relationship with God.🙌☝️

We all desperately need wisdom. In the Old Testament there are several books of ‘Wisdom’: Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs. In addition, sprinkled throughout the Bible are various writings which might loosely be described as ‘Wisdom Literature’, dealing with such diverse areas as the power of the tongue, the dangers of adultery, the hazards of strong drink, the inequalities of life, the sufferings of the righteous, the skill of leadership and the art of parenting, even though am not yet.

‘Wisdom’ has been defined as ‘sanctified common sense’, ‘the ability to cope’, ‘the art of steering’, ‘practical knowledge of the laws of life and of the world, based on experience’, ‘a parent’s legacy to children’ and ‘the quest for self-understanding and the mastery of the world’. We have seen already that wisdom is ultimately found in Jesus Christ, who is the ‘wisdom of God’ (1 Corinthians 1:24).

Proverbs 8:12-21

1. Seek wisdom from God

Wisdom is immensely valuable. ‘My benefits are worth more than a big salary, even a very big salary; the returns on me exceed any imaginable bonus’ (vv.18–19, MSG). This wisdom is worth more than all the material wealth in the world. Apart from anything else, unlike material wealth, it lasts forever (v.18).

In this passage, we see why wisdom is so valuable and how we should seek God for such wisdom:

  • Wisdom comes from God
    Wisdom begins with a relationship with God. It starts with the ‘fear of the Lord’ (v.13). ‘Fear’ means ‘respect’ and a deep awareness of God that is the foundation of all wisdom.
  • Wisdom is pure and beautiful
    The writer of Proverbs says, ‘To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behaviour and perverse speech … I walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice’ (vv.13,20). As the apostle James puts it, ‘Wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere’ (James 3:17).
  • Wisdom helps you lead well
    Wisdom is of particular importance for leaders. If you want to be a good leader you need wisdom and common sense. ‘With my help, leaders rule, and lawmakers legislate fairly; With my help, governors govern, along with all in legitimate authority’ (Proverbs 8:15–16, MSG).
  • Wisdom is available to you
    God promises wisdom to all who seek after it. ‘I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me’ (v.17). As the apostle James puts it, ‘If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you’ (James 1:5).
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Luke 7:36-50

2. See people with wise eyes 

Have you ever made a judgment about somebody based on outward appearances? 

Here we see a woman with a past, who sold her love by the hour as the town prostitute, washing Jesus’ feet with her hair, kissing them and pouring perfume on them. The Pharisee’s reaction was the natural one: ‘If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is – that she is a sinner’ (Luke 7:39).

But Jesus, ‘filled with wisdom’ (2:40) right from his earliest days, could see beneath the surface. He saw the fact that the woman was expressing her immense love for him because she knew how much she had been forgiven. She may have had a negative past but she had a positive and blessed future.

We see the wisdom of Jesus both in his insight into people and in the way he chose to teach. He tells a parable about an eccentric bank manager. He has two customers. One owes £5,000, another £50,000. He lets both of them off completely. No human bank manager is likely to act like that. But that is exactly what Jesus’ love is like. All your sins are wiped out. You receive total forgiveness. The greater the debt, the more grateful you should be and the greater your love for Jesus.🏃👌

This parable enabled Simon the Pharisee, unwittingly, to answer his own concern (7:43). Jesus wisely and gently points out that Simon had not given him a very warm welcome, nor shown a great deal of love. Simon’s problem was that he didn’t realise how much he needed forgiveness.

On the other hand, the woman loved Jesus much because she knew she had been forgiven much (v.47). She was willing to risk rejection and give of herself practically, emotionally and financially.

She wept so much she ‘wet his feet with her tears’ (v.38). In order to wipe his feet, she let her hair down in public (something regarded as shameful). She is in the grip of her emotions and oblivious to what others thought. She did not stop kissing his feet out of deep reverence.

Then she poured rare and expensive perfume (normally reserved for the head) on his feet. She loved Jesus with all of her heart. Jesus saw her heart, rather than her past. He says to her, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace’ (v.50). Her love was a result of her faith. As the apostle Paul puts it, ‘The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love’ (Galatians 5:6).👏

You may not have had a good beginning in life but this does not mean you cannot have a great finish. Whatever your past life, with Jesus, you can make a completely new start and have a great future. You do not need to go around burdened by guilt – from previous relationships or from incidents in your past. The moment you repent and put your faith in Jesus, all your sins are wiped out. It is important that what you know in your head drops to your heart.⛪️👏🙏

Jesus wants you to acknowledge that you are a sinner. You can’t pay off your debts. But Jesus forgives you. You do not need to go around burdened by guilt. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you today with an overflowing love for God and love for others.🙌🙏

  

Numbers 26:12-27:11

3. Show wisdom in practical decisions

Moses shows very practical wisdom in chapter 26, allotting the size of land according to the size of the group (v.54).

Sadly, not everyone was as wise as Moses. When they were in the desert they rebelled and grumbled against God. As a result, God said that they would not enter the promised land. This is exactly what happened. Of those counted in the desert of Sinai ‘not one of them was left except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun’ (vv.64–65).

As the ditty goes:

Joshua, the son of Nun

And Caleb

The son of Jephunneh

Were the only two

Who ever got through

To the land of milk and honey

Zelophehad’s daughters also showed great wisdom in being courageous and speaking out. They stood up for women’s rights (27:1–11). Had these women not done so, the results might have been very different. They were right to have the courage to speak out.

Moses dealt with the situation with great wisdom. He did not simply follow the customs of his day. He was remarkably open-minded. He had the wisdom not to make a hasty decision in his own strength, or automatically equate God’s will with ancient custom.

Yet the heart of Moses’ wisdom lay in his recognition that true wisdom comes from God. Again and again we have seen how Moses brought the problems and challenges of the people to God. He sought God’s help and guidance, and it was this that made him wise. 👏💪

Never think you can do things on your own or by the wisdom of this world, that means failure 100%🙈. All you need is God’s wisdom that surpasses every other once☝️. His wisdom will grant  success,protecting , blessings and life.

God Bless.🙏🙌.