NOT PERFECT YET!

Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on [e]so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own (Philippians 3:12)

I am sure you have seen the phrase: “Be patient with me, God is not finished with me yet”.   Very true indeed.

In my quiet time with the Lord this morning, I read that well-known passage in Philippians 3 (Paul writing to Timothy) which says:

“12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,[d] but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Apart from the overall message of this passage, which illustrates the importance of finishing the race rather than necessarily winning the race, never entertaining the possibility of slacking off because of infirmity or old age and committing oneself to finishing strong with whatever strength and abilities one has – until our final breath or when we are caught up to meet the Lord in the air and we get our first sight of the Lord Jesus …,  there were some other very encouraging and helpful thoughts I gleaned from this passage.  Let me share them with you now.

Is it possible for anyone to be perfect in this imperfect world we live in?

The thought of being “perfect” can be troubling and challenging when we think of all our imperfections as Christians.   We are still a work in progress, after all…

The word “perfected” or “perfect” as used in the Bible to describe various people, does NOT mean “sinless perfection”.  Only Jesus is perfect and sinless!   In the Old Testament, we read about various Bible characters that were described as “perfect”, “blameless” or “loyal” – they were by no means sinless. For example – Noah, Asa, Hezekiah, Job and David (see footnote below for Bible references to these people).   It is important to be aware that several Greek and Hebrew words are translated as “perfect”, but the thought behind them is either “completeness in all details” or “to reach a goal or achieve a purpose”

I discovered that there are three stages of perfection (as set out in the Scofield Reference Bible):

  1. Positional Perfection
    This is something we have as soon as we put our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour. Take a quick look at this verse in Hebrews 10:14:
    For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.”  (NLT)
    For by the one offering He has perfected forever and completely cleansed those who are being sanctified [bringing each believer to spiritual completion and maturity].” (Amplified Bible)
  2. Relative Perfection
    This refers to spiritual maturity I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should embrace this point of view. And if you think differently about some issue, God will reveal this to you as well. Nevertheless, we must live up to what we have already attained.… (Philippians 3:15)
    Spiritual maturity is particularly important in relation to
    The will of God Epaphras … prays earnestly for you, asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God (Colossians 4:12)
    Love And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect…. (1 John 4:17)
    Holiness Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.(2 Corinthians 7:1)
    PatienceAnd let endurance [patience/perseverance/endurance] have itsperfect work, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:4)
    Every good work Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with every good thing to do His will. And may He accomplish in us what is pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20-21)Maturity does not come overnight, but is progressive as we saw in 2 Corinthians 7:1 above.   Ephesians 4:12 summarizes this process so beautifully … And it was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for works of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, as we mature to the full measure of the stature of Christ.…”.  Hence one can see the importance of regular Bible study and Bible reading as well as attending a Bible-believing and Bible-preaching church (regrettably many, many churches are no longer Bible believers and are following and teaching a post-modern, emergent church, liberal Gospel … that is, preaching another Jesus, not the Jesus in the Bible).
  3. Ultimate Perfection
    In other words, perfection of soul, spirit, and body. This will only be realized at the time of resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3) or if the Rapture of the Church occurs prior to our dying” (1 Thessalonians 4:17) “… For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!” “we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.”

As the footnote in the Schofield Bible states: “For the Christian nothing short of the moral perfection of God is always the absolute standard of conduct, BUT … Scripture recognizes that Christians do not attain to sinless perfection in this life.

So be encouraged as you meditate on these verses.   We are a work in progressLet us strive to draw ever closer to our Saviour and reflect His beauty in all we do, say and think!

Footnotes
Genesis 6:9, 1 Kings 15:14, 2 Kings 20:3, 1 Chronicles 12:38, Job1:1&8, Psalm 37:37)

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Share His Word while you still can …

Speaking just a word for Jesus is so important in these days as we see the day of Christ’s return getting very close!

Sometimes one thinks that what one says is not effective or weak.  BUT …. if you share a word or two or three from HIS Word, the Bible, the Lord will assuredly use it to His glory!

As Dr David Jeremiah shared in his devotional reading a few days ago, “Whenever we read the Bible, quote it, teach it, preach it, publish it, or spread it abroad, it speaks loud and clear.  God’s Word NEVER returns void but accomplishes what He pleases (Isaiah 55:11).   Any old mouthpiece will do – even ours!  You can be confident of HIS POWER whenever you share HIS precepts”  (Turning Point September 2017)

Isaiah 55 verses 10 & 11 state …
10 
“The rain and snow come down from the heavens

    and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
    producing seed for the farmer
    and bread for the hungry.
11 It is the same with my word.
    I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
    and it will prosper everywhere I send it.

Be faithful in sharing His Word:  “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthinans 15:58 KJV) “Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord [always doing your best and doing more than is needed], being continually aware that your labor [even to the point of exhaustion] in the Lord is not futile nor wasted [it is never without purpose] (1 Cor. 15:58 Amplified Bible)

 

The Waiting Game

I don’t know about you but I know that waiting for something can be SO difficult.   We live in a world that expects instant gratification and when one has to wait for any length of time, it can be very frustrating and oft’ times generates a lot of anxiety.

Well, sometime ago I was reading a portion in the well-known book, “Streams in the Desert” and I now share a few thoughts from that reading with the prayer that it will help and encourage you.

If we are praying about something and possibly not seeing an answer yet, the writer suggested 3 ways of “waiting”:

Wait in Prayer
Call on the Lord and, like Hezekiah in 2 Kings 19:14-19, spread the matter before the Lord.  Tell Him all about your problem.   Tell Him about your situation, your concerns, your longings and “plead His promise of aid”.

Wait in Faith
Express your unwavering confidence in Him.  Believe that His timing is perfect and the answer will come one or other way … and not a moment too soon or too late.

Wait in quiet patience
It is so easy to become impatient, but we need to learn not to murmur.   Just continue to put the case before the Lord, exactly as it is and remember, “… In quietness and confidence (trust) shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15). Put the matter in His hands, in the hands “of your covenant God, saying ‘Now, Lord, not my will, but Thine be done.  I know not what to do; I am brought to extremities;  but I will wait until Thou shalt cleave the floods, or drive back my foes.  I will wait, if Thou keep me many a day, for my heart is fixed on Thee alone …my spirit waiteth for Thee in full conviction that Thou wilt yet be my joy and my salvation, my refuge and my strong tower” (Morning by Morning)

Wait, patiently wait,
God never is late;
Thy budding plans are in Thy Father’s holding,
And only wait His grand divine unfolding
Then wait, wait,
Patiently wait.

Trust, hopefully trust,
That God will adjust
Thy tangled life; and from its dark concealings,
Will bring His will, in all its bright revealings,
Then trust, trust,
Hopefully trust.

(Mercy A. Gladwin)

What do you know about “casting”?

What sort of question is that?   Casting?   What are you on about?

In my time with the Lord this morning – reading His Word, the Bible – I was struck by the many times it is used in Scripture.   I trust it will be as much of a blessing to you as it was for me.

Briefly then, what does the word mean?    To “cast” something, within the context of the study today, it means to:

  • throw (something) forcefully in a specified direction
  • discard, abandon, throw out
  • shed, get rid of

Now read through these verses prayerfully and with thanksgiving

Cast your burden on the Lord[release it] and He will sustain and uphold you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken (slip, fall, fail) (Psalm 55:22 -Amplified Bible)

Cast out the scoffer, and contention will leave; Yes, strife and reproach will cease.(Proverbs 22:10 – NKJV)
Throw out the mocker, and fighting goes, too.    Quarrels and insults will disappear. (Prov 22:10 – NLT)

Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, [be diligently active, make thoughtful decisions], for you will find it after many days [be richly rewarded].(Ecclesiastes 11:1 – Amplified)  As the great commentator, Matthew Henry said:  “we may well trust God to provide for us, without our anxious, disquieting cares”.  (This verse is a message on its own and maybe I will expound on it sometime soon!)   

This is what the Lord said to His disciples after a whole night of fishing without success.   “And He (Jesus) said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some. So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish. (John 21:6 – NKJV)

The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:12 – NKJV)   “The night [this present evil age] is almost gone and the day [of Christ’s return] is almost here. So let us fling away the works of darkness and put on the [full] armor of light.(Rom. 13:12 – Amplified)

Casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].(1 Peter 5:7 – Amplified)

And now a prayer:

Precious Lord and Saviour, open my eyes that I may see wonderful truths in Your Word.  Help me to walk in ways that please you and bring glory to Your Name.

I close with extracts from that beautiful hymn by Clara H Scott, 1895

  1. Open my eyes, that I may see
    Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
    Place in my hands the wonderful key
    That shall unclasp and set me free.
  2. Open my ears, that I may hear
    Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
    And while the wave notes fall on my ear,
    Everything false will disappear.
  3. Open my mind, that I may read
    More of Thy love in word and deed;
    What shall I fear while yet Thou dost lead?
    Only for light from Thee I pleadThe 4th verse modified by me:

    Open my mouth, and let me bear,
    Gladly the warm Truth everywhere;
    Open my heart and let me prepare
    To share Your Living Word, everywhere!

No Tears in Heaven

 

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will no more death, or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev 21:4 NIV)

 Eternal Joy

How many people can you think of of who, just in the last year, have:

  • been bereaved
  • been seriously ill
  • been involved in an accident
  • been made redundant from work
  • suffered from serious stress and anxiety
  • suffered from depression
  • had serious family problems
  • been divorced or separated
  • been victims of crime

The list goes on and on ….

How amazing it is then to think that a day is coming (for all those who have trusted the Lord Jesus as their Saviour) when all these horrific things will be forever past and gone!   Can we even begin to imagine what that will be like?

Another Scripture tells us that no eye has ever seen and no ear has ever heard, neither has it even entered into the mind of any human being, what God has prepared for those who love Him.

In the light of what the Bible tells us (and we know that not a single one of God’s promises has ever failed or ever will fail), let us as His children take courage anew today.  When life throws its worst at us, let us remember that it will be worth it all when we see Jesus!

And if you have never opened the door of your life to Jesus, why wait any longer?  Do it now – before your heart is left eternally cold and silent because His pleading has finally ceased and will never be heard again.

(This is an extract from the Daily Devotional book, “Amber’s Story – Walking Back into the Light” by Lorraine Lorenz.  Highly recommended.  Obtainable from Amazon – paperback & Kindle format)

The End Times (Daniel 12)

THE END TIMES (Daniel 12)

We are living in very troubled and dangerous times and according to the Bible, what we are seeing happening all around us, globally, is indicative of the last days prior to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ (and yes, He IS coming back again).

I feel led to share this beautiful poem penned by Lorraine Lorenz in her daily devotional book, “Amber’s Story – Walking Back into the Light”

The angel is speaking to Daniel
Revealing the things still to come
In far distant future he sees them
In God’s time these things will be done.

The Antichrist ruling the nations
Unparalleled cruelty to man
Distress so severe, it’s unequalled
To any, since nations began

At that time the Archangel Michael
Protecting God’s people of old,
Will rise up with power from Heaven
And take on his God-given role

Behold now the great resurrection
Of all those asleep in the dust
The saved ones will rise to perfection
Perdition, the fate of the lost.

To shine as the brightness of Heaven
Be wise and your wisdom impart
For those who lead many to [Jesus]
Eternally shine as the stars

Then someone enquired of the angel,
“How long will these things take to be?”
“For a time and times and a half time”,
[Or “3 and one half years”] said he.

The angel continued his message
“The words are now rolled up and sealed
Till the time of the end, when so surely
[These secrets will all be revealed]”

No matter what anyone might think to the contrary, these things will happen.

One thing is sure, we cannot tell the day or the hour, but the Bible tells us we can discern the season … that season is here and we need to be sure we are ready to meet the Lord Jesus as our Saviour and not as our Judge.

If you have any questions, fill in the contact form and we will get back to you

God bless

Day Ashton

STILL PREACHING AS THE PLANE WENT DOWN!

STILL PREACHING AS THE PLANE WENT DOWN

I recently read an amazing post by Evangelist and missionary, Franklin Graham, which I simply have to share with others!  It was a great blessing and an incredible challenge as well.

I couldn’t help thinking what I would have done in a situation like that?

Read it and share your thoughts in the comments below

Franklin Graham writes:

“Travelling in Ethiopia brought to mind a man I met there and got to know in the 1980s. Andy Meakins was a gentle giant of the faith, an Englishman who loved Jesus Christ and served Him in Africa for many years. In 1996 an Ethiopian Airlines flight was hijacked and crashed into the ocean just off the Comoros Islands after running out of fuel-you may have heard the story. The dramatic moment of impact was caught on home video and broadcast around the world. Only later did we learn of something even more dramatic happening in the cabin as the plane headed for disaster.

Andy Meakins and his wife were on that plane, seated together. The hijackers demanded to be flown to Australia even though there wasn’t nearly enough fuel for that distance. As they neared the Comoros Islands in the Indian Ocean, one engine flamed out, and the pilot told passengers that the remaining engine would soon run out of fuel as well. Immediately, Andy’s wife heard the snap of a seatbelt being unbuckled and turned to see her husband stand up.

“Many of us might die in this crash,” he called out, “so there’s something you need to know.” Andy then began explaining the Gospel simply and urgently, moving to each part of the cabin so that everyone would hear. He invited people 2551862to place their trust in Jesus Christ in repentance and faith. A flight attendant heard Andy’s words, bowed her head, and asked Jesus to forgive her sins and come into her heart. She watched many more respond and, along with another survivor, later told the story. Of the 175 people on board, 125 died, including Andy, who was still on his feet preaching the Gospel as the plane hit the water.

Read morehttp://www.crossmap.com/news/franklin-graham-still-preaching-the-gospel-as-the-plane-went-down-17644#ixzz3Wr4HsdKz

If you don’t know the Lord Jesus Christ as your own personal Saviour, my I urge you to get to know Him without delay.   We are living in an uncertain and dangerous world.  Make sure you are secure for eternity!

Please get in touch if we can be of spiritual help to you.

Day Ashton
Freelance Writer & Internet Marketer

GOD NEVER SPEAKS TO ME!

God never speaks to me!

Some years ago I heard about a woman who told her friend: “God never speaks to me!”  As the conversation progressed, the friend discovered that this lady seldom read the Bible and seldom prayed …

This lady indeed professed to be a Christian but had never learnt to speak to God in regular prayer, nor had she realized the joy and encouragement of communion with the Saviour through the reading of His precious Word.  How sad is that?

God’s Word is alive.   God speaks to us through His Word if we will only but listen!

Paul, in his second letter to Timothy, tells us that “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.  God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work” (3:16-17)

The writer to the Hebrews tells us that “… the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow.  It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires” (Hebrews 4:12)

The psalmist also reminds us that God’s Word is “… is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path” (Ps 119:105).  In verse 130 of the same Psalm, it is encouraging to note that the teaching in God’s Word is so plain, it is possible for everyone to understand: “The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand”.

We need to read God’s Word for in so-doing we can hear Him speak to us.  We need to read His Word prayerfully.  His Word guides our steps, helps us become more like Jesus and helps us overcome evil.  His Word helps us pray according to God’s will.

If you have never heard God speak to you through His Word, make sure you get to know Him as your Saviour in the first instance.

Whether a new Christian or someone who has known the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour for many years, take time daily to read His Word – God’s blueprint and map for our lives.

Read the Bible, God’s infallible Word, prayerfully.  Read it expectantly. 
You will not be disappointed.  

The world is changing … rapidly!

The world is changing … rapidly

The changes initially took place at a more gradual pace, but now … the intensity and speed of change is phenomenal!   It is affecting all walks of life … the way we shop, the way we do our banking, moral attitudes, intolerance of Christian values, increase in violence and terrorism, changes in the political arenas and globalization.

Not just that, the climatic changes.   How many times have you and I heard in recent years and months:  “This is the worst storm … earthquake … drought … floods … since records began”.

When everything around us is so unstable… so uncertain, is there anything that does not change?

The good news is yes there is!

It is a Person … the very Person the world around us is trying to squeeze out of everything – governments, schools, healthcare, business, Christmas and even Easter … the Lord Jesus Christ Himself!

God says in His Word (The Bible)“I am the Lord, and I do not change …” (Malachi 3:6)

When all around us things and people are changing, it is just so reassuring to know we have a God, the One True God, who NEVER changes and who has promised NEVER to leave us nor forsake us.   A God in whom we can put our trust utterly and completely.

If you are longing for stability and reassurance in this fragile and changing world, then I invite you to “turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in is wonderful face.  And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.”   As that beautiful old hymn says: “Change and decay in all around I see, Oh Thou who changest not, abide with me.”   The problems and troubles won’t just vanish, but Jesus promises peace and strength  midst the change and storms of life!

I close with the words of this wonderful hymn by Helen H Lemmel:

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Saviour,
And life more abundant and free!

Refrain:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conqu’rors we are!

His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

If you have never given your heart, your life, to the Lord Jesus, may I invite you to do so today.   If you need help or prayer, please contact us.   All matters are treated with utmost confidentiality. 

Day Ashton