Relating to your Parents

Family

It is always sad to hear of those who are orphans. You hear of those who have been abandoned or because of a pressure the parents cannot handle, the child becomes an orphan. It is sad hearing of those children who became orphans because they lost their parents due to death or some form of separation that the parents could not prevent. Our hearts go out for those who do not have parents. Continue reading Relating to your Parents

The Search for Satisfaction

Searching for Satisfaction

It is a natural desire for people to seek and search for satisfaction. A baby cries for milk because he or she wants to be satisfied. What do people pursue in order to be satisfied? Here are just a few things that many strive to obtain so as to be satisfied – money, sex, health, beauty, fitness, friends, promotion and security. Of course this list could go on and on, but you get the point. For the sake of brevity, we could summarise all these things (and the many others) into three categories: possessions, pleasure and popularity. Continue reading The Search for Satisfaction

The Character of the Kingdom’s Citizens

blessed

In Jesus gave eight beatitudes that describe the true character of those who are citizens of His kingdom. The word “beatitude” is from the Latin meaning “blessing”. We could simply call these “the blessings”. The beatitudes are not given in a random order, but overflow into each other providing a complete picture of a kingdom citizen. Interestingly, the first and the last contain the same promise (“for theirs is the kingdom of heaven“). These bookends show that this is a description of a kingdom citizen. All eight beatitudes state a condition and then provide a promise. When does the believer experience these blessings? In eternity they will be experienced in their fullness, however there is a true sense in which they can be experienced now.

1. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (5:3)
This is a reference to those who see themselves as spiritually empty before God. This condition is the opposite of pride and self-sufficiency. To be “poor in spirit” means to recognise one’s spiritual poverty and look to the Lord for mercy (cf. ).  Their reward is “the kingdom of heaven” which means they are a believer.

2. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (5:4)
The second beatitude describes the believer’s grief over his or her own sinful condition. This is the natural response of the recognition of spiritual poverty. The outcome of this kind of mourning is comfort, which is provided by the gospel (cf. Is. 61:1-3).

3. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (5:5)
The word “meek” is not to be connected with the word “weak”. Biblical meekness is not weakness. It refers to those who are able to harness their command and conviction. The meek believer demonstrates power under complete control. The promise is that they will “inherit the earth”. In the future they will reign with Christ as He will have dominion over all things, but in the meantime they allow this hope to drive their efforts in the world today.

4.”Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (5:6)
This is a description of a believer’s internal longing for righteousness. Because this can only be found in the Lord, it is the believer’s desire to conform to this. The promise of such a longing is a true and lasting satisfaction.

5. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (5:7)
As a believer longs for the righteousness of God, it is only natural that they be merciful like the Lord. The promise is the provision of matched mercy.

6. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (5:8)
To be “pure in heart” is to have our minds and emotions set upon the Lord. It is an unwavering commitment in worshipping Him from deep within. The great promise of this condition is to “see God”. The ultimate fulfillment will occur when we are with the Lord in heaven (). However, this is experienced now I the intimacy of unbroken fellowship.

7. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (5:9)
The believer is not at enmity with God because Jesus Christ made peace possible (; :; :). Now the God’s people enjoy this peace, they are to be “peacemakers”. This occurs though the sharing of the gospel and the application of the gospel within the body. The promise “for they shall be called sons of God” means that the believer will reflect the character of the Father.

8. “Blessed are the those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (5:10)
The final beatitude may be a bit surprising at first and appear to be an anticlimax. We have just seen a great progression, then suddenly persecution. But this ought not to be a surprise (). To live as Jesus lived will inevitably lead to persecution and hardship in varying levels.

Jesus expands on this final beatitude by reminding His people of the reality and expectation of persecution. Though hardship may be experienced now, this has been an ongoing assault against God’s people in past ages. For this reason they are to hold onto the hope of the final reward in heaven (5:11-12).

5:1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.

5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

A Word to those who are Single IV: Satisfied Singles

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What does God require of those who are single? Whether you are a satisfied or struggling single it is God’s will that you be the person He desires you to be for His glory. This means that you submit your life and desires to the Lordship of Christ and walk according to the will of God.

When it comes to those who are single, it was said in the first post in this series “being single means different things for different people. For some, the condition of being single is satisfying whereas for others it is a struggle“. In this post, I will be considering the state of the satisfied single.

I call them satisfied not because they experience spiritual satisfaction and other singles don’t or can’t. I use this designation because they are satisfied with being single and don’t desire to marry. Granted, some who will one day marry may for a time be a satisfied single, but their singleness clearly is not a permanent state. Those who are single and desire to remain single are the satisfied singles. They are individuals that the Lord has granted the gift of singleness. What is the gift of singleness? The Lord Jesus Christ spoke of individuals with this gift as those “who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” (). This here describes an individual who voluntarily remains single and abstains from sexual activity by virtue of their gifting from the Lord. The purpose of this is “for the sake of the kingdom“. The apostle Paul stated,

“I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am” ().

Satisfied singles, you have a gift from the Lord. It is essential that you know how to use it and not waste it. Don’t allow your satisfied state to lead you down a path that wastes and destroys your productivity for the glory of God. Being gifted in singleness is not an excuse to be unproductive for the kingdom of God. Here are three things to keep in mind if you are a satisfied single:

Firstly, don’t let your singleness lead to a life of being a hermit or a recluse. You will naturally be alone a lot of your time, but don’t avoid Christian fellowship, godly friendships and relationships with others. Make it your determined plan to be a faithful contributor to the life of the local church. Faithfully be a part of Sunday worship, make use of the ability to stay longer and chat with the saints after Sunday services. Long to be a part of fellowship during the week in Bible studies or prayer meetings. Don’t remain alone but seek genuine fellowship.

Second, don’t allow your singleness to allow you to behave like a child. In other words, be mature and behave like a responsible adult. Yes you can have fun, but be productive to the glory of God. Being single is not a license to behave with immaturity; rather it is a providential opportunity for extended service.

Thirdly, don’t allow your singleness to lead you in becoming completely independent of others. The temptation of someone who is single is they learn to get through life by themselves. Yes, you are responsible for your own life, but don’t forget that as a Christian you belong to the body of Christ (). You need others to build you up. Single ladies, learn from godly older women and single men learn from godly older men. Don’t function separate from the body, but be a part of it. Remember, your ability to be a satisfied single is a gift from the Lord (). Your gift is given so as to contribute and benefit the body () and who need that to be reciprocated.

12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.

To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.

I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Two Ways: The Righteous and the Wicked (Psalm 1)

Two Ways

As stated on an earlier occasion,

 

The Bible speaks of those who are “blessed” or “happy”. What is it that makes someone able to receive such a designation? It is because they have taken hold of that which brings eternal satisfaction. What is it?  David declared, “Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!” ().

By means of God’s sovereign grace, true satisfaction can only be found in Him. Only in Him can we find forgiveness for all our sins (), only in Him can we possess lasting blessings () and only in Him can we experience eternal pleasure (). Real happiness is found exclusively in the Lord God Almighty.  “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!().

 

This leads us to .The kind of happiness described in this Psalm is not derived from human nature or accomplishment. What is the happiness in this psalm? “Blessed is the man” is a condition granted by God. They are in a state and position of Divine favour (cf. ). In this Psalm we are shown two different ways of life with two different outcomes (1:6). We will see the way of the righteous (1:1-3) and the way of the wicked (1:4-6).

 

THE WAY OF THE RIGHTEOUS 1:1-3
In these verses we learn three things about the way of the righteous, (1) their rejection, (2) their responsibility and (3) their result.

 

Their Rejection (1:1). Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful” (). John Calvin summarizes this by saying, “the servant of God must endeavour utterly to abhor the life of ungodly men”.[1] How is this done? By avoiding three things. First, the godly do not walk “in the counsel of the ungodly“. That is to say, they do not conduct their life according to the ideas and wisdom of the world. The godly heed the instruction, “Do not enter the path of the wicked, 
and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; 
turn away from it and pass on” (). The word ungodly refers to those that are not devoted to the Lord and have no regard for Him. Secondly, the godly does not stand in “the path of sinners“. That is, they do not partake of the activities of those who sin against the Lord. Finally, the godly does not sit in “the seat of the scornful“. To sit refers to being settled and comfortable with the “scornful“. These are those who opening speaking evil against the Lord.

 

Their Responsibility (1:2). In addition to rejecting that which is ungodly, the blessed man makes the Word of God his chief responsibility. The Psalm continues, “his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2). Here we see two aspect of his responsibility, (1) attitude and (2) action. The word “delight” refers to taking pleasure in. To delight in the law of the Lord means to long for it and to treasure it. How do you gain such a desire? Know that it is food for the soul () and light for our path (), then pray to the Lord to renew such a delight in us. He continues, “and in His law he meditates day and night“. This refers to going over and over what we read or remembered. Literally the word means to “muse” or “mutter”.

 

Their Result (1:3). Such actions provide the following result, “He shall be like a tree
 planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper” (Psalm 1:3). The prosperity here needs to be understood as a soul prospering with eternal benefits (cf. ).

 

THE WAY OF THE WICKED 1:4-6
In contrast to the way of the righteous, the final verses talk about the way of the wicked. begins by saying, “The ungodly are not so“. This provides a strong contrast to the way of the righteous. Instead of being firmly planted, they are liked to “the chaff which the wind drives away“. They are likened to the husk – the dry outer coating of grain. Once it is separated from the grain and thrown into the air it is blown away by the wind. It is for this reason that despite the apparent success and prospering of the wicked, their way will come to ruin. The Psalm continues, “Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous” (Psalm 1:5). The Psalm ends by saying, “For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish” (Psalm 1:6). The Lord is intimately acquainted with all that goes on in the life of His people, and the way of the wicked will one day end.

 


[1] Calvin, John. Calvin’s Commentaries, Volume IV, 3

Blessed is the one you choose and bring near,
to dwell in your courts!
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
the holiness of your temple!

32:1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

1:1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

Blessed is the one you choose and bring near,
to dwell in your courts!
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
the holiness of your temple!

1:1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

14 Do not enter the path of the wicked,
and do not walk in the way of the evil.
15 Avoid it; do not go on it;
turn away from it and pass on.

10 More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.

17 until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end.

For they have no pangs until death;
their bodies are fat and sleek.

Real Happiness

Real Happiness

Throughout the ages mankind has made happiness their pursuit. Puritan, Ralph Venning (1621-1673) said,

“Though there is nothing more natural to man, than to seek after happiness, yet there is nothing t Continue reading Real Happiness

What is the point of life?

What is the point of life?

One thing that sets different worldviews apart from one another is their conception of what is good, or what is the primary goal (or end) of life. Each worldview answers this question differently, even if some answers seem similar.

Aristotle, in his Nicomachean Ethics, says that happiness is the “supreme good.” Indeed he says the following:

“Happiness, then, is found to be something perfect and self-sufficient, being the end to which our actions are directed.” (Ethics, 1097b, 20)

For Aristotle, happiness is the point of life. What about the Christian? What should we say is the point of life? The famous phrase from the Westminster Shorter Catechism sums the answer up well (and those of you familiar with the teaching of John Piper will be familiar with this): Continue reading What is the point of life?

‘The Happiness Equation’ and Buddhism

I have just finished reading Nick Powdthavee’s book The Happiness Equation. It is an economics/psychology book. (Powdthavee is a behavioural economist.) In it, he explains the research about happiness in the world of economics.

For example. in his discussion about the happiness related to having children, he concludes “for an average person in the UK, the first year of having a child is exactly the same as winning a serendipitous sum of money of around $3,750 for that year.”(p. 90) In other words, he works out how much money can buy a certain amount of happiness, then applies that to real life situations. It’s disturbing, interesting, and ultimately a bit of a stretch. One large weakness of the book is that it lacks substantial conclusions. He has very little to say about what we can and should do with his findings. That isn’t such a bad thing, but Continue reading ‘The Happiness Equation’ and Buddhism

We Are Called to be Holy, Not Happy

“It is God who saved us and chose us to live a holy life.” 

“For God did not call us to be impure, but to lead a holy life.” 

 “If you are suffering according to God’s will, keep on doing what is right, and trust yourself to God who made you, for he will never fail you.”  

Is happiness our goal in the Christian life?

We often hear the comment, ‘I just want to be happy’.

We place a lot of value on being happy… and why not? To experience happiness is a God-given emotion that reflects that we are enjoying life. However is happiness something we should focus on attaining? In my experience, happiness is an emotion that comes and goes, but it should not be a barometer to measure how blessed our lives are or whether or not we’re necessarily on the ‘right path’. One of the more blessed times in my life came during a period where happiness seemed a very distant emotion. Continue reading We Are Called to be Holy, Not Happy

who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,

For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.

19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.