COMMUNION WITH GOD – D.L. Moody
Do not shrink from the thought of living in full communion with God. Be decided to let God draw nearer and nearer and put His holy finger on every detail of your daily life, on every detail of your daily work, on every detail of your daily habits, of your conversation, your reading, your writing.
Very small things can hinder full communion with God. Let us be united that our Lord and Master shall have the first place in our hearts.
The believer should ever remember that Christ is his life, and that Christianity is nothing less than the living exhibition of Christ in his daily walk.
Among the forms of insect life, there is a little creature known to naturalists which can gather around itself, a sufficiency of atmospheric air, and so clothed with it, descends into the bottom of the pool; and you may see the little diver, moving along dry, and at its ease, protected by his crystal vesture, though the water all around be stagnant and bitter.
Communion with God, and prayer is such a protector. A transparent vesture, the world sees it not, a real defense, it keeps out the world.
By means of it, the believer can gather so much of heavenly atmosphere around him, and with it descend into the putrid depths of this contaminating world, that for a reason. No evil will touch him, and he knows when to ascend for a new supply.
Communion with God kept Daniel pure in Babylon.
JESUS SE VOETSPORE IN MY – Albert Theron
Om te probeer volg in Jesus se voetspore met my eie krag en wysheid of natuurlike ywer en vermoëns is die mees absurde idee en poging denkbaar! Dit is regtig soos die Engelsman sê “a fool’s errand”. Hoe kan ‘n mens ooit soos God wees of eers probeer om soos Hy te wees? Ek kan net volg in Jesus se voetspore deur te let op Sy lewende “voetspore” in my. Paulus laat géén ruimte vir enige ander siening oor die lewe van ‘n dissipel van Jesus nie:
“Ek is met Christus gekruisig, en ék leef nie meer nie, maar Christus leef in my. En wat ek nou in die vlees lewe, leef ek deur die geloof in die Seun van God wat my liefgehad het en Homself vir my oorgegee het.” Galasiërs 2:20
As hierdie vers in Galasiërs en soortgelykes in die Nuwe Testament vir jou obskuur, vaag en onverstaanbaar is, is jy ongetwyfeld nog aangewese op jou eie pogings om te “volg in Jesus se voetspore”. Dit is ongelukkig nodig om dit so kategories te stel, want sonder hierdie waarheid leef ‘n mens op jou heel beste net ‘n godsdienstige self-lewe en nie ‘n bonatuurlike Christus-lewe nie. Jesus leef in my en jou deur die wedergeboorte en dit is net in verhouding met Hom wat ons die ritme van Sy lewe in geloof begin optel en sodoende kan volg in Sy voetspore. Die lewe van ‘n dissipel is nie die Heilige Gees wat my help om soos Jesus te wees nie, maar eerder die Heilige Gees wat Christus in en deur my openbaar.
WHEN PUFF IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN SUBSTANCE – D.A. Carson
We increasingly inhabit a time and place in Western history when humility is perceived to be a sign of weakness; when meekness is taken for a vice, not a virtue; when puff is more important than substance; when leadership, even in the church, frequently has more to do with politics, pizzazz and showmanship, or with structure and hierarchy, than with spiritual maturity and conformity to Jesus Christ; when the budget is thought to be a more important indicator of ecclesiastical success than prayerfulness and when loose talk of spiritual experience wins an instant following, even when that talk is mingled with a scarcely concealed haughtiness that has learned neither humility nor tears. To Christians hungry to understand and repent of these evils, 2 Corinthians 10 to 13 speaks with rare power and passion.
CHRIST’S MESSAGE WAS FOR THE POOR, THE SINFUL, THE LOST – Philip Mauro
Here we have indeed a striking feature of the public utterances of Jesus Christ, and one which is sufficient in itself to distinguish them from all others. For although He came expressly to announce and to set up a kingdom, yet He did not seek to attract to Himself the influential, the rich, the leaders and teachers, the men of rank and station. His kingdom was for “the poor in spirit,” and His message and ministry were for the sinful, the afflicted, the outcast. From the very beginning He declared He had come “to preach glad tidings to the poor” (Luke 4:18). Very distinctly and with emphasis He said, “I am not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Matthew 9:13); and again, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). With the utmost assurance we can say that never man so spake, and that no one could have conceived of a man so speaking, or coming upon such a mission.
This remarkable characteristic of the message of Christ was made the main ground of the famous attack upon Christianity by the infidel philosopher Celsus, early in the third century. His strong objection was that the appeal of the Gospel of Christ is to the sinful and the lost, which was proof to his mind that the gospel was spurious. This attack by Celsus tends further to show how impossible it is that the message attributed to Jesus Christ could have originated in the mind of a mere man.
“In our mysteries,” said Celsus, “those are invited to come nigh who are of clean hands and pure speech, who are unstained by crime, who have a good conscience toward God, who have done justly and lived uprightly. But the Christians say, ‘Come to us, ye who are sinners, ye who are fools or children, ye who are miserable, and ye shall enter into the Kingdom of heaven.’ Christ, say they, was sent to save sinners. Was he not sent to help those who have kept themselves from sin? They pretend that God will save the unrighteous man if he repents and humbles himself,” and so on.
Such is indeed the thought of the natural heart, and is the corner stone of all systems of religion; for the word of the Cross, with its message of salvation to the worst of sinners, is to the wise of this world utter foolishness.
SPIRITUAL STRENGTH – Chip Brogden
“When I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10
The way of the world says that in order to be stronger, we must build ourselves up and seek strength and dominance over others. Christians everywhere are keenly interested in how to be increased, how to be stronger, how to take authority, how to rise up, how to get more. They look for methods, formulas, and techniques for becoming bigger and better. The results have been disappointing. Many mistakes have been made and many people have been hurt and disillusioned.
The Lord has a different approach for us to take. He invites us to accept weakness in order to be strengthened. We do not become strong by embracing strength, but by embracing weakness! This is the secret of all spiritual power. When Paul learned this secret he was able to say, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” This makes no sense to the natural man.
“KENTUCKY FRIED CHURCH” – Albert Theron
“Ons hoender is uniek. Niemand sal ooit beter hoender kan maak as ons Kolonel Sanders nie. Nando’s sal nooit regtig met ons kan vergelyk nie.”
Mensekinders is tog so lief vir ‘franchising’ en ‘branding’. Ons wil ons eie unieke merk op iets plaas om dit, en ons, te onderskei van ander. Om “in Christus” te wees en op sy Woord te staan is klaarblyklik nie genoeg nie. Ons wil deel wees van iets groot, iets anders. En as die denominasie ‘franchise’ nie meer vir ons werk nie dan soek ons, ons eie Protestantse Pous om ons te lei en vir ons ‘n wonderlike netwerk van multilokale gemeentes (multisite churches) op die been te bring. Die Gemeente van Jesus Christus is nie ‘n kettingwinkel nie! Gemeenteleiers is ook nie Hoof Uitvoerende Beamptes nie.
“Ons apostel sal ons deur die drif trek.” “Ons profeet of senior pastoor sal ons regdeur neem tot in Kanaän.” Heeltemal reg, Hy sal. Mits sy naam Jesus is. Paulus het dit verstaan:
“Hom verkondig ons….” Kolossense 1:28
“Want ons verkondig nie onsself nie, maar Christus Jesus as Here…” 2 Kor. 4:5
As jy “in Christus” is, ís jy deel van iets groot. Daar is niks groter nie. Al lyk dit op aarde klein en obskuur. Is jy bereid om Jesus alleen te volg saam met ander dissipels wat net in Sý naam roem?
“Laat niemand dan op mense roem nie, want alles behoort aan julle.” 1 Kor. 3:21
Of dring jy aan daarop om geassosieer te word met ‘n bekende ‘brand’ (handelsmerk…ironies)? Sommige gaan eendag tot hulle skok ontdek dat hulle die ‘franchise’ en ‘Kolonel Sanders’ gevolg het en nie vir Jesus nie.
Terloops, daar is niks verkeerd daarmee om begaafde predikers en leraars in ‘n gemeente te hê nie. Maak net seker dat jou fokus op Jesus is en dat jy kan onderskei wanneer die predikers en leraars begin om te “brand” en te “franchise”.
PLAN FOR PRAYER – John Piper
Unless I’m badly mistaken, one of the main reasons so many of God’s children don’t have a significant life of prayer is not so much that we don’t want to, but that we don’t plan to. If you want to take a four-week vacation, you don’t just get up one summer morning and say, “Hey, let’s go today!” You won’t have anything ready. You won’t know where to go. Nothing has been planned. But that is how many of us treat prayer. We get up day after day and realize that significant times of prayer should be a part of our life, but nothing’s ever ready. We don’t know where to go. Nothing has been planned. No time. No place. No procedure. And you know as well as I that the opposite of planning is not a contagious flow of deep, spontaneous experiences in prayer. The opposite of planning is the rut. If you don’t plan a vacation, you will probably stay home and watch TV. The natural, unplanned flow of spiritual life sinks to the lowest ebb of vitality. There is a race to be run and a fight to be fought. If you want renewal in your life of prayer, you must plan to see it.
Therefore, my simple exhortation is this: I urge you to take ten minutes this afternoon to rethink your priorities and how prayer fits in. Make some new resolve. Try some new venture with God. Set a time. Set a place. Choose a portion of Scripture to guide you. I’ve had to do this myself because I got caught off guard by the stress of these busy days. We all need mid-course corrections. Make this a great day of turning to prayer—for the glory of God and for the fullness of your joy.
NET GENADE – Albert Theron
Hoekom sê God in die Ou Testament dat Hy ‘n “ewige verbond” wil sluit met mense en dat hierdie verbond alles te doen het met ‘n verhouding van genade (Jes. 55:3)? Hoekom begin en eindig Paulus al dertien sy briewe met betekenisvolle verwysings na die genade van God in Christus? Hoekom word beide Jesus en die apostels se bedieninge beskryf as bedieninge van genade (Joh. 1:14; Hand. 4:33)? Hoekom word die evangelie beskryf as ‘n getuienis van die “genade van God”? Hoekom eindig die Bybel met ‘n vers wat genade in Christus voorhou as die enigste heil van dissipels van Jesus (Openb. 22:21)?
Want net genade kan ‘n verlore mens tot redding bring. Net genade kan ‘n mens se lewe verander en toenemend transformasie bewerkstellig. Net genade kan ‘n dissipel van Jesus wat die pad byster geraak het, herstel en weer oprig. Net genade gee ons oorwinning oor sonde. Net genade maak van ons mense wat gee en nie net heeltyd wil neem nie. Net genade kan ‘n gemeente verander en maak wat God wil hê dit moet wees. Net genade kan twee harte wat in konflik is weer versoen. Net genade kan ‘n stukkende huwelik herstel. Net genade lei ons stap vir stap in die weë van die Here. En net genade sal ons lei tot by ons ewige tuiste waar ons vir altyd die bestendige genadebewyse van God in sy Seun sal besing.
Genade is daardie misterieuse kwaliteit in die hart van God wat sy Seun stuur om te sterf vir sondaars en rebelle. Genade se appél is eenvoudig. Hoor en reageer in bekering en geloof.
GOD HAS SPOKEN DECISIVELY AND FINALLY IN HIS SON – Kevin DeYoung
As a king, Christ is already seated on the throne and already reigns from heaven, but the inauguration of his kingdom is not the same as the consummation of it. There are still enemies to subdue under his feet (Heb. 2:8). As a priest, Christ has fully paid for all our sins with his precious blood, once for all, never to be repeated again. And yet, this great salvation must still be freely offered, and Christ must keep us in it (Heb. 2:3). Finally, as a prophet, God has decisively spoken in his Son. He has shown us all we need to know, believe, and do. There is nothing more to say. And yet, God keeps speaking through what he has already said. “The word of God is living and active” (Heb. 4:12); and when the Scriptures are read, the Holy Spirit still speaks (3:7). So, yes, God still speaks. He is not silent. He communicates with us personally and directly. But this ongoing speech is not ongoing revelation. “The Holy Spirit no longer reveals any new doctrines but takes everything from Christ (John 16:14),” Bavinck writes. “In Christ God’s revelation has been completed.” In these last days, God speaks to us not by many and various ways, but in one way, through his Son. And he speaks through his Son by the revelation of the Son’s redeeming work that we find first predicted and prefigured in the Old Testament, then recorded in the Gospels, and finally unpacked by the Spirit through the apostles in the rest of the New Testament. Scripture is enough because the work of Christ is enough. They stand or fall together. The Son’s redemption and the Son’s revelation must both be sufficient. And as such, there is nothing more to be done and nothing more to be known for our salvation and for our Christian walk than what we see and know about Christ and through Christ in his Spirit’s book.
IN THE WINEPRESS VALLEY OF FELLOWSHIP WITH HIS SUFFERINGS – Jessie Penn-Lewis
It is of the deepest importance that we co-operate with the Spirit of God in the stage of the divine life which He has brought us into. It is possible to be turned back in our spiritual progress by seeking an experience which may look more advanced than the path indicated by the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 4: 10-12. The highest purpose of God in the believer is not to make him so much a powerfully-used instrument, as to bring forth in him the fullest manifestation of Christ in every aspect of His character, and this can only be done in the winepress valley of fellowship with His sufferings. He was “crucified through weakness “, and there were no mighty signs and wonders wrought by Him to thrill the multitude at Calvary; but in His weakness and Lamb-silence in suffering and His poured-out life, He did more for the world than when He healed the sick and cast out demons in Galilee.
Oh that this pure and lovely pattern may be unveiled to the eager children of God at this time who are seeking intensely what they term “God’s best”, ” the pattern of the Christ in His Lamb-likeness conquering the hosts of darkness, not by fighting but by death. And this beautiful Lamb-likeness of the Lord Christ will not be wrought in us by “visions” of Calvary, nor by sudden and mystical experiences of entering into the sufferings of His Cross, but by the daily and hourly choosing of the will of God in the discipline of life. The “answering not again” when accused of many things; the hidden and silent path of sacrifice unknown to men; the doing good and suffering for it as evil-doers worthy of death. . . .
VEILIGHEID EN VERVULLING IN CHRISTUS – Albert Theron
Ons spandeer die meeste van ons tyd op aarde om sekuriteit en vervulling vir ons en ons geliefdes te verkry. Ons wil almal veilig voel en binne ‘n veilige omgewing vervulling beleef. Die werklikheid is egter dat ons leef in ‘n gevalle en stukkende wereld met stukkende en sondige mense. In hierdie wêreld vertrou ons al hoe meer op tegnologie om vir ons veiligheid en vervulling te gee wat “permanent” is. Wat sal gebeur met ons as die tegnologie skielik sou faal en ons nie meer die dosyne krukke het wat ons so swaar op leun nie?
Die voordele van tegnologie is ongetwyfeld gawes van God, maar dit was nooit bedoel om ons vertroue in God self te vervang nie. Daar is net een permanente voorsiening vir sekuriteit en vervulling en dit is nie materiēle dinge nie, maar ‘n Persoon. God het sy Seun gegee om beide ons sekuriteit en vervulling te wees nou en vir ewig. Wanneer ons geskape wesens of vervaardigde kommoditeite in Jesus se plek stel is ons besig met afgodery. Ondersoek jou hart en vra jouself waar jy werklik jou sekuriteit en vervulling vind. Is dit in Christus of in die gevalle skepping? Daar is so ‘n verstommende vrede en blydskap beskikbaar vir die wat hulle oë van die skepping afhaal en op Jesus plaas.
“Die Naam van die Here is ’n sterk toring; die regverdige hardloop daarin en word beskut. Die goed van die ryke is sy sterk stad en soos ’n steil muur in sy verbeelding.” Spreuke 18:10-11
FULFILLMENT IN THE WHOLE MAN – Francis Schaeffer
Why did the Jews in Jeremiah’s day seek comfort and not find it, seek satisfaction and not find it? Because they had forgotten the end of man, the purpose of man. I want to commend something to you very strongly. Often when we in the evangelical and orthodox circles talk about the purpose of man, we quote from the first answer of the Westminster Catechism: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God.” And often the sentence is ended there. This completely changes our Reformation forefathers’ understanding of the Scriptures. If you are going to give the complete biblical answer, you must finish their sentence: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” That changes the whole view of life.
Our calling is to enjoy God as well as glorify Him. Real fulfillment relates to the purpose for which we were made — to be in reference to God, to be in personal relationship with Him, to be fulfilled by Him, and thus to have an affirmation of life. Christianity should never give any onlooker the right to conclude that Christianity believes in the negation of life. Christianity is able to make a real affirmation, because we affirm that it is possible to be in personal relationship to the personal God who is there and who is the final environment of all He created. All else but God is dependent; but being in the image of God, man can be in personal relationship to that which is ultimate and has always been. We can be fulfilled in the present and the future in the highest level of our personality and in all parts and portions of life.
There is nothing Platonic in Christianity. It is not the soul alone that is to be fulfilled and the body and the intellect to be minimized. There does exist an intellectualism which is destructive to Christianity, but that is not true Christian intellectual comprehension. The whole man is to be fulfilled; there is to be an affirmation of life that is filled with joy. I must say that when we look at many Christians, we do not find the excitement that Christianity should bring in their lives. We do not find them being fulfilled in the whole man in relationship to the God who is there.
HOEKOM WERK DIE WET NIE? – Albert Theron
“Vir die wat sonder die wet is, soos een sonder wet — al is ek nie sonder die wet van God nie, maar onder die wet van Christus…” 1 Korinthiërs 9:21
Daar is niks fout met die wet van God nie. Die wet is “heilig en regverdig en goed” (Rom. 7:12). Die probleem lê by ons (Rom. 8:3). Mense is gemaak om te leef vanuit Christus. God se plan was van die begin af om Christus in ons te plaas (Gal. 2:20) en Hom vir ons te gee as ons lewe, wysheid, geregtigheid, krag en hoop.
Wetteloosheid lei altyd tot ‘n losbandige en self-gerigte lewe. Dit is nie moeilik om raak te sien en te verstaan nie. So ‘n lewe lyk na vryheid, maar is in werklikheid sieldodende slawerny aan sonde en self.
Die vraag is of ‘n lewe onder die wet meer vryheid bied. Die antwoord is in hierdie geval nie so ooglopend nie. As ek wegdraai van ‘n wettelose en losbandige lewe is die alternatief sekerlik tog ‘n lewe onder die veilige beskerming van wette en reëls wat my selfsug en eiesinnigheid aan bande lê, of hoe? In teorie klink dit goed, maar in die praktyk is dit ‘n totale flop. Die sondeval het ons “eie ek” onweerstaanbaar sentraal kom stel in ons binnewêreld. Wat dus gebeur met ‘n lewe onder die wet is dat dit áltyd lei tot ‘n self-verbetering oefening wat my net weer terugneem presies na die plek waar ek begin het, die self! Wetteloosheid lei tot ‘n losbandige self-bevrediging en uiteindelike self-vernietiging. ‘n Lewe onder die wet tot ‘n fatale self-verbetering oefening wat my weereens los by die verwoestende self-lewe met al sy doodloopstrate en ironies genoeg ook losbandigheid. In hierdie geval net losbandigheid onder die dekmantel van vormgodsdiens en skynheiligheid. Hoe nou gemaak?
God se antwoord is Christus in ons! Om “onder die wet van Christus” te wees is waarlik vryheid, want dit is die enigste omgewing en sfeer waarbinne my oë einde ten laaste wegdraai van myself en op Jesus rus. Hy in my en ek in Hom. Dit is die enigste lewe van vryheid vir mense. Die enigste verlossing van die self is deur die dood! In Christus het ons reeds gesterf vir daardie self-gerigte lewe en die enigste lewe wat nou sin maak,is die een wat Hy binne-in ons leef (Gal. 2:20). ‘n Lewe van vryheid en vreugdevolle gehoorsaamheid aan die Woord is net moontlik “in Christus”.
“In dié dag sal julle weet dat Ek in my Vader is, en julle in My, en Ek in julle.” Johannes 14:20
GOD MADE NO MISTAKE – Austin Sparks
It is not easy to believe that the experiences of this life, the ways by which the Lord leads us, all that which from time to time makes our very foundations rock — the suffering, the affliction, the disappointment, the sorrow, the perplexity, the bewilderment, yes, and everything else which comes into these lives which have been given to God — it is not easy to believe that the day is coming when we shall say positively and definitely, “God made no mistake, He knew what He was doing, and He did the right thing!” In face of all you are passing through, the whole state of your life just now, it is difficult perhaps to believe that all that is right, precisely right. The end is going to justify the way, to vindicate God’s dealing with us. At the end we shall say positively: “God made no mistakes!” In little ways in our lives, when we have passed through trying ordeals, deep and dark experiences, and have come out at the other end into the meaning of it, we have been able to say, “I would not have been without it for anything; I am glad I had the experience.” And yet while we were going through it, the very last thing we would have said would have been that. The afterwards strangely transforms the whole thing. In the issue we say, “After all, it was not so wrong as I thought it was: it was right!”
DAILY SUSTENANCE IN JESUS ALONE – George Mylne
“The fool folds his hands and ruins himself!” Ecclesiastes 4:5
Simply on worldly principles, idleness is bad. In spiritual things it’s worse by far. In earthly goods a man may have a store, and live upon it, while it lasts. Not so in grace. There we can have no store — no stock to go to, laid up within the soul for many days. The Christian’s glory is to live from day to day — to know that in himself is emptiness — that all his “fresh springs” are in Jesus. The Christian must daily to take his pitcher to the well of living waters; daily to gather heavenly manna for his daily needs; nay, every moment to receive out of Christ’s fullness, grace upon grace,” (John 1:16.)
Living upon Jesus! The food is to be found, not in us — but in Jesus alone. If it were in us, what need, then, to obtain more? Why does the laborer toil from day to day? Because he cannot live upon himself. Food must be obtained; and for it he must work. * “No work — no food; no food — no life” is his daily rule.
So is it with the soul. Its only food is Jesus; and this from hour to hour, from day to day, is always the same. Of itself, the soul is ever lean — ever in need of food. It knows no plenty, but in Jesus; and every morsel of its sustenance is drawn from Him! Oh! it is a miserable time when Christians live, or try to live, upon their own resources; to treasure up the days gone by, and feed upon their past experience.
The man may be perfect in doctrine, rich in experience, versed in the knowledge of the ways of God. But what is this? Neither doctrine,knowledge, nor experience feeds the soul. They are but finger-posts pointing to Jesus — to tell the pilgrim where to have a meal. The man who feeds on Christ, can feed on nothing else but His sin-atoning work; His person; His love; His presence; His words; His visits to the soul. He says, “Jesus is with me. With Him I am happy — without Him I am undone. Health, strength, and peace, and comfort, I have none, except in Jesus!”
It is thus, and only thus, that the soul is fed. Oh, then, my soul, fold not your hands in indolence; feed not upon yourself. Seek daily strength for daily needs in Christ, and Christ alone.
* Spiritually speaking this “work” refers to the discipline of daily beholding Christ in the Word (2 Cor. 3:18) and responding in faith to what we “see”, even as the Israelites needed to gather fresh manna every day in the wilderness. A.T.
REDDING NOU, KONINKRYK LATER? – Albert Theron
“En nadat Johannes oorgelewer was, het Jesus in Galiléa gekom en die evangelie van die koninkryk van God verkondig en gesê: Die tyd is vervul en die koninkryk van God het naby gekom; bekeer julle en glo die evangelie.” Markus 1:14-15
Is dit moontlik om die Nuwe Testament deur te lees en tot die gevolgtrekking te kom dat die koninkryk van God nie nou-al ‘n eis op my lewe het nie en dat God eerder in die hier en nou gefokus is op my persoonlike redding? Dít is onmoontlik en so ‘n gevolgtrekking sou fataal wees. Maar is dit nie presies die soort evangelie wat ons al vir dekades lank preek nie? “Jesus het my lief net soos ek is, Hy skenk my vergifnis vir my sondes en dan is Hy heel tevrede daarmee as ek aanhou leef asof Sy koninkryk geen eis op my lewe het nie”.
Jy kan die Nuwe Testament ‘n honderd keer deurlees en jy sal nie so ‘n evangelie daar vind nie! Wat jy wel sal vind is ‘n evangelie wat ‘n absolute appél op alle mense maak om hulle oë te vestig op Koning Jesus en om ernstig ag te slaan op Sy oproep tot totale oorgawe aan Sy heerskappy hier en nou! Jesus en die apostels het dit baie duidelik gemaak dat ons in alles die koninkryk van God eerste moet stel (Matt. 6:33; Hand. 20:25), nie eendag in die hemel nie (dan is dit te laat), nou, vandag. Staan ons werklik onder die absolute heerskappy van Christus in ons persoonlike lewens, met ons finansies, in al ons besluite, in ons gesinne en in ons gemeentes? Mag die Heilige Gees ons lei na ‘n eerlike antwoord.
CHRIST ALONE IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH – Watchman Nee
The Bible emphatically tells us that Christ is the Head. One day God will head up everything in the universe under Christ. Today the universe has not come under the headship of Christ yet, and everything is in a state of confusion. But one day God will head up everything under the headship of Christ. God ordained that Christ should exercise headship over all things, but today that headship must first be exercised in the church, and then through the church the headship will be exercised over all things. Today Christ is the Head of the church. Eventually, He will be the Head over all things. The church is God’s means of enlarging Christ, and this enlargement will go on until He fills the entire universe. The church is “the fullness of the One who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:23). If the headship of Christ is not established in the church, it cannot be established in the universe.
What do Christ being the Head of the church and the church being the Body of Christ mean? They mean that all authority is in Him. All authority is in Him because all life is in Him. The whole Body is consummated in Him; He is the fountainhead of the life of the Body. The Body has no life of its own. “God gave to us eternal life and this life is in His Son” (1 John 5:11). Even after eternal life is given to us, it still rests in His Son. The Son does not part with it; He retains it in Himself. “He who has the Son has the life” (v. 12). This verse does not say, “He who has the life has the life.” We do not possess life as life; only by possessing the Son do we have life. A Christian receives his life from the Lord. Yet this life can never be separated from the Lord. A believer is related not just to life. By being related to this life, a believer is related to the Son of God. This life makes us members of the Body of Christ. This life relationship rules out the possibility of being separated from the Head, because our life is derived from the Head. The flow of life in us continually depends upon our relationship to the Son. As soon as there is any obstruction in our fellowship with Him, the life in us is immediately blocked. He is the Head of the Body, and life can flow freely to us only when He is in full control.
HOE DEFINIEËR JY OORVLOEDIGE LEWE? – Albert Theron
Die oorvloedige lewe waarvan Jesus praat in Johannes 10 vers 10 is Sy eie lewe wat Hy gekom het om in almal te plaas wat in Hom sou glo. Ons het gedurig nodig dat die Heilige Gees ons perspektief op “oorvloedige lewe” aanpas en wysig. Ons is so geneig om ons lewens te meet aan die natuurlike en materiële in plaas van die bonatuurlike werklikheid van ons eenheid met Christus.
Ons kan die beste moontlike omstandighede beleef, maar as die opstandingslewe van Christus nie in en deur ons vloei nie is dit níé oorvloedige lewe nie. Die teendeel is ook waar. Ons kan die swakste en treurigste omstandighede beleef (soos Paulus in die tronk), maar as die opstandingslewe van Christus in en deur ons werk, is ons as’t ware omsingel deur “oorvloedige lewe”.
As daar vrede, blydskap, liefde, hoop en lankmoedigheid in ons binnewêreld heers is ons oorwinnaars selfs in die swakste omstandighede denkbaar. God verander ons omstandighede met tye en ander kere nie. Die belangrike vraag is egter hoe definieër ek en jy “oorvloedige lewe”. Wat is jóú definisie van oorvloedige lewe?
“Ek wil hê julle moet weet, broers, dat wat my oorgekom het, juis die verkondiging van die evangelie bevorder het.” Filippense 1:12
“Daarom het ek behae in swakhede, in mishandelinge, in node, in vervolginge, in benoudhede, om Christus wil. Want as ek swak is, dan is ek sterk.” 2 Korinthiërs 12:10
OUR FATHER – Warren W. Wiersbe
The Lord’s Prayer doesn’t advocate selfish individualism. It doesn’t begin with the words “My Father”; it begins with “Our Father.” Our relationship to the Lord is our most important relationship in life. Because we’re in fellowship with the Father, we can enjoy fellowship with his children. “If we say we love God yet hate a brother or sister, we are liars. For if we do not love a fellow believer, whom we have seen, we cannot love God, whom we have not seen” (1 John 4:20).
Certainly it’s a high privilege for us to belong to the family of God and know the heavenly Father, the glorified Son, and the indwelling Holy Spirit. But with this privilege comes the unavoidable responsibility of calling other believers our brothers and sisters in Christ. That’s why we say our and we and us when we pray the Lord’s Prayer. To ignore these plural pronouns is to rob ourselves of blessing and to weaken the church.
If we follow our Lord’s directions and go into our room and shut the door to pray, there will probably be fewer distractions (Matt. 6:6); but physical separation must not become spiritual and emotional isolation from other people. Jesus prayed in solitude and so should we (Mark 1:35), but praying in solitude is not the same as praying alone. We can never be alone. Wherever I go, the Lord is with me, and I carry in my mind and heart many people who often find their way into my prayers. For some of them, I give thanks and joyfully pray for them (Phil. 1:1–6); for others, I feel pain and ask God to help them and to give me the opportunity to help them.
Excerpted from his book, “On Earth as It Is in Heaven: How the Lord’s Prayer Teaches Us to Pray More Effectively”.
DIE WARE DOEL VAN DISSIPELSKAP – Albert Theron
Die hele Nuwe Testament is gemik daarop om dissipels van Jesus by geestelike volwassenheid te bring (Efes. 4:13). Die doel is nie net redding of wedergeboorte nie, net soos wat ons nie die geboorte van ‘n baba beskou as die doel nie, maar as die begin van die pad na volwassenheid.
Ons Bybelstudies en baie van ons preke en leringe is dikwels gefokus op kennis in plaas van op die volwassenheid van die dissipel van Jesus. Dissipelskap se hele doel is geestelike volwassenheid, nie net die oordrag van kennis en informasie van een persoon na ‘n ander nie. Kennis en insig speel vir seker ‘n baie belangrike rol in die proses, maar dit is nie die doel nie. Volwasse dissipels reflekteer die heerlikheid van God in ‘n toenemende mate en niks is belangriker as dit nie. Die Vader het ons nie net gered om hemel toe te gaan of om godsdienstig te lyk op ‘n Sondag nie, maar om volwasse te word in Christus sodat ons Sy heerlikheid op hierdie aarde kan bekend maak elke dag van die week.
“En Hy het gegee sommige as apostels, ander as profete, ander as evangeliste, ander as herders en leraars, om die heiliges toe te rus vir hulle dienswerk, tot opbouing van die liggaam van Christus, totdat ons almal kom tot die eenheid van die geloof en van die kennis van die Seun van God, tot ‘n volwasse man, tot die mate van die volle grootte van Christus.” Efesiërs 4:11-13
PURSUE THE BEAUTY OF BIBLICAL BALANCE – D.A. Carson
Part of loving God is hatred of evil (Ps. 97:10; Prov. 8:13; Amos 5:14,15). Nor is that distinction entirely biblical that advises us to hate a man’s wickedness while still loving the man. The shortest lexical study of all “hate” and “loathe” words in Scripture provides a more nuanced pattern in God himself. God hates sin-and he hates sinners. But whereas his hatred of sin is implacable, unwavering, and undiluted by pity, his hatred of sinners is melded with profound love for them. In holy Scripture, hatred and love are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
God’s hatred is not malicious, but rather a generous hatred of all that is evil. It is expressed in his wrath, and grounded in his holiness. God’s love does not in any way mitigate his hatred, because it does not first weaken his holiness. Rather, his holy hatred and his pitying love conspire to forgive his people their sins by sending his own son to die on their behalf. The cross is the ultimate measure of God’s love. Our problem comes when we pursue one of these attributes at the expense of the other, or in a manner not consonant with divine example. We claim to be upright, and learn to hate our enemies, especially if we persuade ourselves that they are the enemies of God. Soon we cannot tell the difference. And even where we can, we forget that God both hates and loves sinners. If we hate his enemies and do not also love them we are soon rebuked and told that we must love our enemies, because God sends his sun and rain upon both the just and the unjust. Vengeance, after all, is the Lord’s: he will repay.
Conversely, in the name of love we call every man a brother in the Lord, or perhaps a separated brother in the Lord, thinking we are fulfilling the two greatest commandments. We even call the Nicolaitans our brothers. The Ephesian church may provide an example [Rev. 2:6]. These Christians are commended for hating the practices of the Nicolaitans, and the church of Jesus Christ today needs this example as much as it needs the biblical exhortations to love our enemies and pray for them. We need to pursue the beauty of biblical balance which, in some matter finds the truth not in some awkward tension or rough compromise, but in the converging of parallel lines in the infinity of God’s character.
GEVAARLIKE PLAASVERVANGERS – Albert Theron
Die doel van die evangelie is die vorming van Christus in ons (Gal. 4:19) sodat die karakter van God kenmerkend kan word van ons lewe op aarde (Joh. 13:35). Goddelike, bonatuurlike “liefde uit ‘n rein hart” (1 Tim. 1:5) is bedoel om die eindpunt te wees van alle geestelike lering en instruksie. Dít is die transformasie (2 Kor. 3:2-3) van individue en gemeenskappe wat die Nuwe Testament oor en oor op soveel verskillende maniere vir ons probeer tuisbring. In hierdie proses is genade die hartklop en geregtigheid in Christus die kragtige brandstof wat volwassenheid bevorder en God se karakter in ons sigbaar begin maak. Op die pad na volwassenheid is daar egter twee baie gevaarlike plaasvervangers wat ons so maklik bedrieg en die idee gee dat ons volwassenheid bereik het.
“En al sou ek die gawe van profesie hê en al die geheimenisse weet en al die kennis, en al sou ek al die geloof hê, sodat ek berge kon versit, en ek het nie die liefde nie, dan sou ek niks wees nie.” 1 Korinthiërs 13:2
Paulus draai nie doekies om nie. Hy sê reguit dat gawes van profesie en kragtige geloof leeg en betekenisloos is as dit nie uit ‘n hart van liefde kom nie. Hy sê selfs dat ‘n volledige kennis en insig in alle geheimenisse nie ‘n doel op sigself is nie! Verstommend. In kontras met dinamiese gawes en ‘n ensiklopediese kennis klink liefde so ordinêr en amper flou, as ons moet eerlik wees. Maar moenie ‘n fout maak nie, hierdie baie spesifieke evangelie-liefde is die gevolg van die bonatuurlike werk van die Heilige Gees in ons harte en is die mees dinamiese ding in die heelal. Om kennis te versamel en begaafd te wees sê baie min van my karakter. Die ware toets vir my greep op die evangelie is of dit my transformeer van ‘n self-gerigte nemer na ‘n God-gefokuste gewer wat ander mense dien met bonatuurlike liefde. Hierdie liefde lyk ook dikwels baie anders as die liefde van die wêreld. Daarom is dit krities belangrik vir dissipels van Jesus om ‘n baie duidelike prentjie te hê van wat die Bybel beskou as geestelike volwassenheid. Maak dít jou doel, want dit is God s’n met alles wat Hy in jou lewe probeer doen.
IN HIS PRESENCE IS FULNESS OF JOY – Robert Murray M’Cheyne
An awakened soul feels that his chief happiness is in coming before God. This was unfallen Adam’s happiness. He felt like a child under a loving Father’s eye. It was his chief joy to come before God – to be loved by Him – to be like a mote in the sunbeam – to be continually basked in the sunshine of His love – no cloud or veil coming between.
This is the joy of holy angels, to come before the Lord, and bow before the High God. In His presence is fulness of joy. “The angels do always behold the face of My Father.” On whatever errand of love they fly, they still feel that His eye of love is on them – this is their daily, hourly joy. This is the true happiness of a believer. Hear David (Psalm 42), “As the deer pants after the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God: my soul thirsts for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?”
He pants not after the gifts of God – not His favours or comforts – but after Himself. A believer longs after God – to come into His presence – to feel His love – to feel near to Him in secret – to feel in the crowd that he is nearer than all the creatures. Ah! dear brethren, have you ever tasted this blessedness? There is greater rest and solace to be found in the presence of God for one hour, than in an eternity of the presence of man. To be in His presence – under His love – under His eye – is heaven, wherever it be. God can make you happy in any circumstances. Without Him, nothing can.
DELIBERATE ARRANGEMENT OF LIFE – Austin Sparks
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33
‘Seek ye first the sovereign rule, the government, of God, and His righteousness.’ It is the positive principle of viewing everything in the light of how it serves God’s rule. If you will only do that, you come into the good that is here. Our own interests come second or last. His interests come first, and when life is arranged on that basis – ARRANGED on that basis – and kept on that basis, then the other follows; God looks after the other things. I said, when life is ARRANGED on that basis. The fact is that it takes some of us a long time to get life on to that basis. It is only after having lived a long time that we begin to re-arrange life in this way. Well, better late than never!
But here is a word for young people and for young Christians – especially to young people who are in a position to arrange their lives in any way. Perhaps you have just started married life together, or are contemplating doing so. Now is the time to arrange it on this principle of the sovereign rule. Now is your opportunity to make it quite unnecessary in after years either to undo much or to regret much. All these laws of the sovereign rule are very practical, as you see, and this is a very practical one. Where shall we live? What kind of a home shall we have? These are practical questions. You must arrange everything on this principle. The thing that matters and governs, and in relation to which everything now has to be arranged, is: How does this serve the interests of the sovereign rule of God? Put that first, and you will escape many a tragedy, such as we see in many places. Oh, a nice house and a nice home, maybe, but altogether out of relation to the interests of the Lord, both in distance and in other ways. It is going to be an incubus, a hindrance and a limitation; the things of the Lord are going to be made to suffer. And there are many, many spiritual tragedies – lives that have lost out with the Lord, both in spiritual measure and in usefulness to Him, both in service and in a related way in His Church; and so we could spread it out. The whole matter of getting on in the world, of success or ambition – what a range this covers!
Now the law and principle of this rule of Heaven is that life must be arranged in the first place in relation to God’s interests and God’s rule. This must come first, and if it is, you may rest assured that God will look after your interests. You will certainly not suffer in the long run. God will be true to His side of the undertaking. And then there is the maintaining of the arrangement, the remaining on that basis. It is so easy to be drawn out by a thousand and one things. In fine points, all the way along, the enemy is trying somehow or other to divert, to draw away, to put something in that takes the place of the interests of the Lord. This is a serious and earnest business, calling for all diligence and watchfulness and stedfastness.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FAITH AND MATERIAL BLESSING – David Platt
From the beginning of the nation of Israel, God had promised to bless them materially. God poured out material blessings on Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. God promised his people that as they obeyed him, they would receive abundant material prosperity.
Why the promise of material possessions? God was forming a nation for himself that would be a demonstration of his greatness to all other nations. In so doing, God established a place for his people and his glory to dwell. David and Solomon amassed great amounts of wealth as they established a kingdom, and one important part of that kingdom was the temple that Solomon would build. As seen in 1 Kings 8, Solomon dedicated the temple and asked God to make his glory known through his people in that place. Material blessing aimed toward the establishment of the people of God in a physical place with a physical temple is a fundamental part of the history of Israel.
So when a rich Jewish man came up to Jesus, and Jesus told him, “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor,” the disciples were naturally confused. Why would obedience to Christ lead to this man losing his possessions?
The disciples would soon realize that a radical shift was taking place. It was not that God had changed or that the God of the Old Testament was somehow different from the God of the New Testament. Instead, the eternal plan of God was unfolding, and Jesus was ushering in a new phase in redemptive history, one that would affect the relationship between faith and material blessing.
In the dawn of this new phase in redemptive history, no teachers (including Jesus) in the New Testament ever promise material wealth as a reward for obedience. As if this were not startling enough to first-century Jews (and twenty-first-century American Christians), we also see no verse in the New Testament where God’s people are ever again commanded to build a majestic place of worship. Instead God’s people are told to be the temple—the place of worship. And their possessions are to be spent on building, not a place where people can come to see God’s glory, but a people who are taking God’s glory to the world.
All this begs the question, have we taken this shift in redemptive history into account in the way we approach our possessions today?
Isn’t the hidden assumption among many Christians in our culture that if we follow God, things will go well for us materially? Such thinking is explicit in “health and wealth” teaching, and it is implicit in the lives of Christians whose use of possessions looks virtually the same as that of our non-Christian neighbors.
‘N PERSOONLIKE WANDEL MET JESUS – Albert Theron
Selfs die mees geestelike persoon op aarde kan nie Jesus vir jou wees nie. Die beste leier op aarde kan jou net lei ná Jesus, hy kan nooit Jesus se plek inneem of Jesus in enige sin vervang nie. Jong gelowiges moet uit die staanspoor bemoedig word om in geloof te bou aan hulle eie verhouding met Jesus, totdat hulle volwasse word en sterk kan staan in lojaliteit aan Jesus alleen. Gemeentes, leiers en bedieninge wat nalaat om dit te doen, is direk verantwoordelik vir die geestelike stagnering en onvolwassenheid van die mense wat deur hulle bedien word.
Die goeie nuus van die evangelie is baie minder goed as ek nie persoonlik en sonder middelaars met Jesus kan wandel nie. Ons moet ons dringend beywer daarvoor om ‘n gemeentekultuur van leier-afhanklikheid te laat vaar en dit te vervang met die Nuwe Testamentiese kultuur van persoonlike omgang met die lewende Jesus.
“Daarom, my geliefdes, soos julle altyd gehoorsaam gewees het, nie in my teenwoordigheid alleen nie, maar baie meer nou in my afwesigheid, werk julle eie heil uit met vrees en bewing.” Filippense 2:12
GOD GIVES THE GROWTH – Marshall Segal
Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (Galatians 3:3)
How do you account for your personal growth? If you are a more patient person, where did that patience come from? If you have more self-control, where did you find the strength to wait or say no? If you have more joy in Christ today, what has made you happier? Anyone with enough self-awareness knows that we participate in the progress, “but God [gives] the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6).
God gives the growth through the same grace and the same Spirit — the same gospel — through which he saved us. Tim Keller writes, “The Spirit does not work (never works) apart from the gospel. . . . It is the channel and form of the Spirit’s power. . . . (Paul) says that the way the Spirit entered your life should be the very same way the Spirit advances in your life” (Galatians for You, 60).
We’re tempted to begin relying on ourselves again because we think that accepting us is God’s responsibility in the project of our redemption, and obedience is ours. We try and pick up where God left off, but God never leaves off. Anything truly good or pleasing about us is evidence he has done something. “It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
EXPERIENCING GOD DESPITE THE DISTRACTIONS – A.W. Tozer
In the normal course of things a certain number of distractions are bound to come to each one of us; but if we learn to be inwardly still these can be rendered relatively harmless. It would not be hard to compile a long list of names of Christians who carried upon their shoulders the burden of state or the responsibilities of business and yet managed to live in great inward peace with the face of the Lord in full view. They have left us a precious legacy in the form of letters, journals, hymns and devotional books that witness to the ability of Christ to calm the troubled waters of the soul as He once calmed the waves on the Sea of Galilee. And today as always those who listen can hear His still, small voice above the earthquake and the whirlwind.
While the grace of God will enable us to overcome inevitable distractions, we dare not presume upon God’s aid and throw ourselves open to unnecessary ones. The roving imagination, an inquisitive interest in other people’s business, preoccupation with external affairs beyond what is absolutely necessary: these are certain to lead us into serious trouble sooner or later. The heart is like a garden and must be kept free from weeds and insects. To expect the fruits and flowers of Paradise to grow in an untended heart is to misunderstand completely the processes of grace and the ways of God with men. Only grief and disappointment can result from continued violation of the divine principles that underlie the spiritual life.
DIE OPSTANDINGSLEWE VAN DISSIPELS – Albert Theron
Die groot skeidingslyn in elke gelowige se lewe kom die dag wanneer hy die finaliteit van die kruis sien. Die hele Christelike lewe kan vanuit twee perspektiewe bekyk word. Van die buitekant mag twee gelowiges byvoorbeeld presies dieselfde dinge doen, maar as ons na hulle innerlike motivering sou kyk, mag daar ‘n reuse verskil wees. Die een verstaan die finaliteit van die kruis en derhalwe lewe hy op opstandingsgrond en in opstandingskrag. Die ander een ken slegs die vergifnis van die kruis en dus lewe hy primêr in die krag van sy eie besluite. Sekerlik word ons op baie plekke in die Nuwe Testament sterk vermaan om ywerig te wees en die regte besluite te maak, maar al hierdie vermanings is gebaseer op ons posisie as gekruisigde mense.
Ons totale lewe en bestaan as dissipels van Jesus is gebaseer op ‘n baie spesifieke gebeurtenis, naamlik die kruisiging van Jesus. Toe Jesus aan daardie kruis gesterf het, het Hy nie slegs vir ons gesterf nie, maar ons het saam met Hom gesterf. Jy het gesterf vir die ou, onafhanklike Adamiese lewe en is daarom onder verpligting om nou in die krag en wysheid van Christus te leef, nie jou eie nie. Dit is nie ‘n wens of ‘n belofte nie, maar ‘n feit. Jy hoef dit nie te maak werk nie. Jy moet net in geloof daaruit begin leef.
THE AWESOME RESPONSIBILITY OF EDIFICATION – J.R. Miller
Let us therefore follow after the things… wherewith one may edify another. Romans 14:19
Paul has a great deal to say in his epistles about edifying.
We are to follow after things whereby we may edify one another. “Edify” is an architectural word. To edify is to build up. We are builders. Human lives everywhere are unfinished buildings, and every one who passes by lays a block on the wall or adds an ornament to the structure.
A hundred people touch you each day, in business contracts, in social fellowships, in friendships, in letters, in transient meetings, and every one of them builds something on the wall of your life, either something that will add to the adornment of your character or something that will mar and disfigure it.
Every one who comes into our presence even for a moment, who speaks a word to us, even every one who reaches us most remotely with his influence, leaves some line of beauty or some mark of marring on our character.
We are exhorted to be careful that in all we do to others we really edify them.
WANNEER JESUS PRAAT MET SY GEMEENTES – Albert Theron
“Want jy sê: Ek is ryk en het verryk geword en het aan niks gebrek nie; en jy weet nie dat dit jy is wat ellendig en beklaenswaardig en arm en blind en naak is nie. Ek raai jou aan om van My te koop goud wat deur vuur gelouter is, sodat jy kan ryk word; en wit klere, dat jy jou kan aantrek en die skande van jou naaktheid nie openbaar word nie; en salf om jou oë te salf, sodat jy kan sien. Almal wat Ek liefhet, bestraf en tugtig Ek. Wees dan ywerig en bekeer jou.” Openbaring 3:17-19
In Openbaring 2 en 3 sien ons dat Jesus ‘n baie spesifieke boodskap vir elk van sewe van Sy gemeentes van die tyd gee. Dit is nie net vir ons opgeskryf om kennis op te doen van Jesus se lering oor verskillende aspekte van gemeentes se bestaan op aarde nie. Dit is ook vir ons neergepen sodat ons akuut bewus kan wees van die feit dat Jesus vandag nog intiem betrokke is by elkeen van Sy gemeentes en dat Hy deur sy Woord en Gees lewende inspraak wil gee. Hy weet wat ons ware geestelike kondisie is en Hy het ‘n bepaalde boodskap vir ons as ons net wil luister! Is ons oop en ontvanklik vir die stem van Jesus of is ons vasgevang in menslike tradisies, vormgodsdiens en ‘n bloot akademiese omgang met die Skrifte?