Remembering 11.11

Today is the eleventh of November, Remembrance Day.

Perhaps this day has a different name where you are from, but essentially today is the day we pause to remember the sacrifice of those who gave their lives in World War One, and in other armed conflicts since.

World War One finished one hundred and one years ago today, at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month – 11a.m, November 11th, 1918.

“The first two-minute silence in Britain was held on 11 November 1919, when King George V asked the public to observe a silence at 11am. This was one year after the end of World War One. He made the request so “the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead”.” (BBC).

We look back and remember the ultimate price paid by those brave men and women of the armed services, and those who were not in the military but part of the effort, with thanks.

As they willingly gave their lives to defend their countries, and others, from tyranny, oppression, terrorism, injustice, and all manner of evils so we as believers in the Lord Jesus have a Saviour who willingly gave His life to deliver us from evil.

Greater love has no one than this,

that someone lay down his life for his friends.

John 15.13

Let us pause and pray at 11am today to remember those who gave their lives so we can enjoy so many of the freedoms we do, and, let us pause and pray in the name of the Lord Jesus, the Prince of peace, that this horrible and seemingly endless cycle of people needing to take up arms in order to wage war against each other will be broken, either miraculously before His coming or as a direct result of it.

20141112MEMORIALS-hp-slide-N3DB-master1050

Eggs; the inner egg and the outer shell

In Romans 8.2 we read that the law of the Spirit of life has set us free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. We are no longer bound by meticulous religious rules covering everything from our dietary intake to our haircut (good news for some…).

This freedom is liberating, we are now bound only to live the life of the Spirit, in the Spirit, for Christ. If we want to mix milk and meat in a meal, that’s fine. If we want to cut our hair short on the sides and round off the corners of our beards, that’s fine. If you want a tattoo, or to pierce your ears, fine too. If the ladies don’t want to wear a head covering in church, that’s fine too. We are no longer under the law as a heavy yoke, which invariably we would break, which leads to sin, which leads to death. Bad. Now we are living under the Spirit of life. Good.

This means, in a strange sort of way, we are like an egg.

We are free to associate with whoever we want, go wherever we want, eat and drink whatever we want, watch anything we want on the tellybox, be friends with anyone we want. Jesus was not concerned with His outer shell or its appearance, was He? He hung out with some pretty down and dirty people during His incarnational ministry (His time on earth living as fully God and fully man, incarnation literally means ‘in the flesh’).

Like a toddler at meal times, Jesus’ outer egg shell was covered with all sorts of things that people thought it should not be; don’t talk to her, don’t touch them, don’t stay at his house…

Jesus trashed His outer shell, ultimately breaking it for us, but never compromised His inner self.

Therein lies the lesson for us; we are free from the law as a heavy yoke and now have a wonderful liberty as Christians. But, as Jesus ultimately broke His body for our benefit, we need to use our liberty for love, for the benefit of others, not to simply have a good time. 

So yes, we are free to eat, drink, watch whatever we want, but the bigger Christian principles still apply; who is being glorified through what you are doing? Things too, like Philippians 4.8,

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

So, yes, we can dirty up our outer shell, but we must never compromise our inner egg. And, if we are dirtying up our outer shell, let us make sure that it is for the benefit of others, using our liberty for love, not lusts.

In Memory of Jarrid Wilson

This morning I woke up to the terribly sad news that a Pastor in the U.S. took his own life and went to be with the Lord. He was not old in any sense of the word, barely 30. You can read the story here


Pastor and Mental Health Advocate Jarrid Wilson Dies by Suicide

 

 

 

 

 

Photo from Harvest Christian Fellowship.


Jarrid Wilson served at Harvest Christian Fellowship and started a ministry aimed at helping those with mental health issues called ‘Anthem of Hope’. He spoke out many times about depression and was open and honest about his ongoing struggles. 

When things like this happen we have so many questions;

Why did this happen?

What went wrong in this person’s life?

If we knew the person we think could I have in any way prevented this?

Society can often be quick to call suicide a sin, mental health issues a sin, depression a sin. But think, would you convict a cancer patient of being in sin because their body does not work according to its intended design? Yet somehow mental health issues are quick to be cast aside as iniquity, depression as something you can just think away, and suicide as the ultimate and unforgivable sin. The Bible does speak of an unforgivable sin, but friends, suicide is not it.

Dealing with grief and loss brings many emotions to the surface. We feel deep, all-encompassing sadness, we feel anger, we feel anxiety, we feel guilt, we feel lost, and we feel confused. Why did this happen Lord?

At times when we do not understand, we must fall back on things we do understand. 

We know that God loves us.

We know that He sent Jesus to redeem us from this fallen world we live in.

We know that He proved His love for us by offering Himself as a ransom for many, for all, whilst we were still sinners. 

We know that nothing can separate us from the love of God, not now, not ever. 

Larry Taylor, whose son tragically took his own life in 1986 wrote this,

I know the sorrow of loss, but I also know the comfort of the Holy Spirit. I know God’s forgiveness, and I know first hand that God can take a broken and ruined life and transform it into a thing of beauty and grace.

He goes on to say

Our society is plagued with the scourge of sin, not least of which is the horror of suicide which appears to be on the increase…The answer is a personal relationship with the living Jesus who loves you and can forgive you, restore you, comfort you, and heal you. When He returns, may He find us bringing His healing love to others. 

The Wilson family, and every other family who have dealt with this unique type of loss need the healing love of Jesus today, and every day from now until He returns or calls us home.

Join me today in praying for Jarrid’s wife, children, and family. 

How Am I Saved?

In James 1 we read about the testing of our faith (vv.2-4), how God tempts nobody (vv.12-15), and how the ultimate gift of salvation and eternal life comes from God (vv.16-18).

Then, we read this,

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

So, knowing all of this, we should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. This is because our anger does not produce in us the righteousness of God that should be present in those saved unto eternal life.

James continues and says that we should distance ourselves from filthiness and rampant wickedness, and having already told us that good comes from God and that He tempts nobody, James is saying, simply, put away things from your life that are not Godly.

Then we see what saves us from all this filthiness and wickedness, what saves us both in the here and now and in the ultimate sense, the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

James is very clear that the word is what saves us. The Word of God carries the power of God, and the power of God in the Word of God saves our souls.

Maybe you have heard people talk about other Christian things as necessary for salvation; perhaps baptism, or communion, or worship, or a whole manner of weird and extra-Biblical things, but, at the core, it is possible to do those things and not have a saved soul, isn’t it. For example, we can eat bread and drink juice and not believe what it represents (although Paul has some strong words about that in 1 Corinthians 11). 

On the other hand think – is it possible to have the Word of God be implanted in your soul and not be saved?

It is the Word of God that saves us, because it all points to the singular and sufficient source of salvation. 

In 2 Timothy 3 Paul is writing to Timothy to encourage the young pastor, specifically regarding Scripture, and we read,

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Very clear, that the sacred writings (Scripture, the Bible, the Word of God) make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

So, as James says, we are to receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save our souls.

The Word of God saves us because it all points to the singular and sufficient source of salvation, Jesus.

The Word of God saves us because reading it, having it implanted within us, strengthens our faith in Jesus, the Word become flesh.

The Word of God produces in us faith in Christ Jesus, which saves us (Ephesians 2.8-9, Acts 16.31, John 3.16).

How are we saved? Faith in Jesus, the living Word of God. Every time we read His written Word we are inescapably drawn to the Living Word.

How are we saved? The Word of God.


Point to ponder – Is the Word of God implanted within me?


Prayer – Father we thank you again for your Word. Help us to be people who value it, spend time in it, people who try our best to live it, and people who want to share it. Amen. 

29.07.19 – Refreshing – Philemon 1.20

Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the
Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.

At first glance, there is nothing different about what Paul says here, is there. He has been writing to Philemon and begins his closure with this confident exhortation, refresh my heart in Christ.

The funny thing is though, where we read heart, Paul actually used the word σπλάγχνον, which, most commonly, means bowels or intestines. So, is Paul writing to Philemon to schedule a colonoscopy?

Literally, σπλάγχνον does mean bowels or intestines, but figuratively it carries the meaning of the place of deepest emotion in your body. So, for us in 2019, we would say something like ‘He has a broken heart’, or, ‘My heart is just so full of love for her’, or something to that effect. Simply, when we describe the deepest emotion we could feel, we would connect it to the heart. Back in Paul’s day, the deepest emotions were thought to come from the deepest place inside you, in the same way you may hear something like ‘I feel it in the pit of my stomach’.

All this to say, Paul is talking about serious, deep rooted, from-the- inside-out refreshment, and this certainly doesn’t come from temporal or temporary sources.

In context, Paul is talking about receiving a runaway slave back as a brother, and he knows that just as Philemon came to a saving faith in Christ through Paul (v.19b), it appears that Onesimus did too (v.8-16). Paul knows we all share in one Lord, we all have one Saviour, and in Him there is no distinction.

So, the deep refreshment in Christ that Paul is looking for?

Seeing others live out the business of the Gospel.

Someone Paul has pointed to Christ is now doing the work of Christ; forgiving, restoring, fellowshipping, and encouraging. What deep refreshment this would bring to Paul.

Think on this today – Who can I refresh in the Lord by doing the work of the Gospel?

Marks Of A True Christian

This originally appeared on the Saar Fellowship app as three daily devotionals in May/June 2019.


After being exhorted to serve their local assembly of believers – something we all need regular reminding of – Paul then starts a section detailing the character and actions of believers (vv.9-21), almost like instructing them how to live as a disciple of Jesus. It’s broken into three parts; relating to those in the family, relating to those outside the family, and relating to those in the church, bigger picture. Today, then, in the family. 

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

In the family, love should be genuine, and we should have the strongest dislike for what is evil. We hold fast to what is good by honouring God in all we do, both in our individual families and in the church family. One way to do this is by holding His Word in the highest regard. His Word is His revealed will to us whilst we are here on His earth, His Word became flesh and dwelt among us, His Word is what changes us, His Word is what saves our souls (James 1.21b). 

V.11 is great, isn’t it, simply – don’t be lazy! Get off the sofa and do some stuff! Get involved and serve, serve the Lord by serving His people, serve the Lord by serving His bride, the church, serve the Lord and do not be slothful, don’t be lazy! Yesterday we talked about gifts, we are all uniquely but in a unified manner gifted to serve each other, it takes dozens of people to make a church service happen, dozens of different people! Don’t be slothful, get involved and join them! Contribute to the needs to the saints by serving the Lord.

These few short verses could not be clearer; a believer in Jesus is one who serves. As James writes, I will show you my faith by my works (2.18b). 

So, mark of a true Christian in the family – one who serves the rest.


After exhorting the Roman believers, and us by extension, to contribute to the overall health of the assembly (vv.9-13), Paul now turns attention in one verse to how we interact with those outside the church family.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 

Is this not the hardest thing in the world sometimes? To bless those who persecute you seems to unnatural, doesn’t it. We are not talking about minor disruptions here, either. Paul is talking about serious persecution, perhaps even to death. Written around 57 A.D., believers in Rome were just a few years away from the first wave of organised persecution against them by the Roman Empire, so even now, in 57A.D., the climate must not have been too receptive to Christians.

Rather than trying to claim persecution for something like poor driving on the highway, rather than trying to claim persecution when we are passed over for a promotion at work which had nothing to do with your faith, rather than trying to claim persecution when things in our lives are just not going too well on that particular day, we should remember the generations that went before us, and for that matter, those who still face trials and tribulations like this in different parts of the world. There are believers who are targeted for their Christian faith, there are believers, heartbreakingly, who are killed for their Christian faith. 

What does the Word of God exhort us to do? Bless and do not curse. In such a radical call to love, we are told to model the love of Christ Himself when He was killed for His mission. In the midst of His most painful experience on earth – both physically and spiritually – Jesus said “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” 

We too are called to love this radically, this counter-culturally, and this fervently. Bless, do not curse those who mock you for your faith, pray for those who persecute you, bless them by raising their name in prayer to the Lord.

It is what He did, and it is what we are called to do.


Finally in this mini-series right in Romans 12, Paul exhorts us to certain behaviours in relation to the church, bigger picture.

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

What a list of character traits to display, we could talk for days about this! 

How do we do v.15? By doing v.16! Living in harmony with each other, genuinely caring about each other will result in us rejoicing when our family rejoices, and weeping with those who are weeping. Being in unity results in this kind of relationship with each other. 

There are a couple of key words in v.18, so far as it depends on you…Here we see that we are to do our best to live peaceably with all, but that sometimes, the world, the flesh, and the devil will put people in our paths that it is just not possible to live peaceably with. Now, how we handle this will be a mark of our true Christianity. We do not curse those who oppose us, we do not fight with those who antagonise us, we do not slander those we do not agree with, simply, we bless them and move on.

When we relate to those in our church family, those outside of it, and really anyone we cross paths with in this way, there will be something noticeably different about us.

You can take this to the bank – what we read in Romans 12.9-21 is not the standard pattern of human interaction, so when you conduct yourselves like this, you are witnessing for the Lord, you are representing your faith, you are mirroring Jesus to them. 

This will, through the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit and His ability to convict people of their sins and turn them to Jesus, overcome evil with good. Our job is to simply live like this, reflect His love, mercy, and grace, and watch Him change lives for the better.

Should I Serve At Church?

Romans 12.9-13 – Marks Of A True Christian – In The Family


After being exhorted to serve their local assembly of believers – something we all need regular reminding of – Paul then starts a section detailing the character and actions of believers (vv.9-21), almost like instructing them how to live as a disciple of Jesus. It’s broken into three parts; relating to those in the family, relating to those outside the family, and relating to those in the church, bigger picture. Today, then, in the family. 

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

In the family, love should be genuine, and we should have the strongest dislike for what is evil. We hold fast to what is good by honouring God in all we do, both in our individual families and in the church family. One way to do this is by holding His Word in the highest regard. His Word is His revealed will to us whilst we are here on His earth, His Word became flesh and dwelt among us, His Word is what changes us, His Word is what saves our souls (James 1.21b). 

V.11 is great, isn’t it, simply – don’t be lazy! Get off the sofa and do some stuff! Get involved and serve, serve the Lord by serving His people, serve the Lord by serving His bride, the church, serve the Lord and do not be slothful, don’t be lazy! In the previous few verses, Paul talks about gifts, we are all uniquely but in a unified manner gifted to serve each other, it takes dozens of people to make a church service happen, dozens of different people! Don’t be slothful, get involved and join them! Contribute to the needs to the saints by serving the Lord.

These few short verses could not be clearer; a believer in Jesus is one who serves. As James writes, I will show you my faith by my works (2.18b). 

So, mark of a true Christian in the family – one who serves the rest.


Point to ponder – How am I serving the family, and if I am not, why not?


Prayer – Father, we thank you again for the diversity in our gifting but the unified way in which they come together for your glory and for your people. Help us to see the opportunities to serve you and your people in your church here at Saar Fellowship, and any other church families we become a part of in the future. Amen.