Saturday, 24 March 2018

It is I

But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.  – Matthew 14.27

The disciples in the boast were in a panic. Not only were they in the midst of a vicious and violent storm, but now they saw a ghost walking in the water toward them.

Now they were really terrified and Jesus knew it. It called out them with amazing reassuring words – ‘be of good cheer, it is I, don’t be afraid.

The great truth for is that even though we may not see Him walking on the water we have the same assurance that we can be of good cheer, so that we can trust that He is there, and we can have confidence that we need not be afraid.’

Jesus could have ignored them. He had taught them about faith and they just would not cop on.

But no, His first words were words of comfort. Cheer up. It’s Me. Don’t be afraid.

In the midst of our storms we can have that same comfort. We have Bible which reminds over and over again that Jesus promises to be with us no matter where we are and no matter what we face. ‘I am with you always’ He said at the end of His earthly ministry. Fear is never of God – it is always from our weak flesh or from the devil.

We need not fear, but be of good cheer, in the storms.

Friday, 23 March 2018


And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. – Matthew 14.22-25

Jesus was sad about John’s death. He was exhausted. When He first tried to get away a vast multitude followed Him and He performed the amazing miracle of the bread and the fishes. When He is done He sends the disciples away and He tries to get alone and pray, but…

Shortly into His prayer time, when Jesus is all alone, we read ‘but the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves in the strong winds.’ Jesus knew about their danger so at once picks up and goes down to the sea, walking on the water. 

More on that amazing walk later, but what caught my eye is how Jesus puts the needs of others before His own needs and desires. All He wanted to do was to get alone and pray, but others kept distracting Him. Who would have blamed Him for saying ‘I really need to go pray, somebody will feed those people and those disciples can handle that storm?’ After all, He had spiritual things that needed to be done!

But that’s not what He did. He stopped and fed the 5000. He went to care for the disciples. He put others first.

Sure, it is vital that we spend time in prayer and study and meeting with other believers. That is clear from the word of God. We neglect those disciplines at our own peril.

But let us also be aware and deal with real valid needs of others when the needs arise.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

On John's death

And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger. And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.
When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities. – Matthew 14.8-13

Of course Jesus was Deity on earth. He was fully God, but at the same time He was fully man. I don’t fully understand it but we can be confident that He was like us. He got hungry and tired and angry and sad.

It doesn’t actually say it here so I won’t press the issue, but I think we do see something of Jesus’ human heart in this story.

John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin. Their disciples were in contact with each other. John had already baptised Jesus and he continued his repentance and baptism ministry.

Now though John had been executed for his preaching. I think Jesus’ response it telling. ‘When He heard about it’ we are told, ‘He departed by ship into a desert place.’ It looks like with that news he wanted to be alone.

I appreciate that because I think we all get that way when bad news hits.  Some would say ‘suck it up and get on with it.’ But even Jesus sought time alone with God when He sorrowed.

We don’t have a high priest untouched by our infirmities – He understand. Therefore we can talk to Him with confidence.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Isn't that the carpenter's boy?

When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, "Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?" So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honour except in his own country and in his own house." Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.  – Matthew 13.54-58

Jesus was back home ministering among all the familiar things. His family lived here. His childhood friends were all around. He walked familiar streets. He would have seen his childhood home and Joseph’s carpenter shop. He would have seen all the old shops and places he used to frequent. I don’t know how His human side worked, but I have to think there was that blessed feeling of comfort and nostalgia.

He did what Jewish teacher always did and was called to teach in His old synagogue.

When He spoke his old friends and neighbours and family were stunned. ‘Who is this guy? Where did He get His wisdom and His power to do all these amazing things? Isn’t He the carpenter’s son? His mother is Mary and His brothers and sisters are all here. You can almost sense a ‘who does He thing He is’ as they were ‘offended by Him.’

Jesus’s response was, or course, classic – ‘a prophet is only without order in His own country.’

Then we read an amazing statement, ‘He did not do many mighty works because of their unbelief.’

Think about. Here is Jesus in His own home town and with all the great work He has done elsewhere here, because of the unbelief, He does not do many great works. That’s an encouragement to me. It lets me know that it is not about me. All I have to do is to be faithful. Eventually it is up to the hearers to decide what to do about it. If Jesus Himself has a place where ‘not many mighty works’ are done how can we expect to always do great things?

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

A mustard seed and the kingdom of God

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.  – Matthew 13.31-32

There are a couple of time when Jesus uses a mustard seed as a picture as an illustration of something that is small and insignificant that has great potential. A little later He will talk about how the tiny bit of faith can do great things.

But here He talks about how the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed that when it is planted seems small and insignificant and like nothing can come of it. Then, one day it will be the greatest plant among herbs big enough for the birds to come and live in the bush.

It may seem to us sometimes in some of our ministries that we have not grown much beyond the size of that mustard seed. But the day is coming when the kingdom of will be the kingdom of all kingdoms when Christ will reign supreme and all earthly powers will fall by the wayside.

God does great things with little thing and He makes great things out of little.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Wheat and tares

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. – Matthew 13.24-30

The next illustration Jesus gives is that of a wheat field infested with weeds. The workers want to get rid of the weeds, but the master says ‘no, leave them so we don’t chance hurting the wheat. At harvest time we can separate the wheat and the weeds. Then we can bring the wheat into the barns and we can burn the weeds.

Later in the chapter Jesus explains the story. The field is the kingdom of God. The wheat are true believers and the weeds are false professors. God is not going to pour out His wrath in the false professors to prevent undue harm to the believers.

That explains why we see some of the activity that we see in the church today. It is why the church does not always act Christian. Among the wheat of the true harvest and some who are tares of chaff or weeds. They go through the motions, but there has never been a heart change. The wheat and the tares are going to survive by side so the church is never going to be perfect.

Until Jesus returns. Then comes the tragedy of the tares. All those false professors are going to be cut off. All those who rested in their works or hoped for the best who even we deceived will be separated from the wheat and face an eternity away from them and away from God.

We can’t assume that all Christians around us are the wheat. Folks need to be sure that each of us are truly wheat who have be delivered from our sins through faith in Jesus Christ.

Wheat or tare? Are willing to do a double check on our own hearts to see which we are?

Sunday, 18 March 2018

The sower and his seed

But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. – Matthew 13.23

Jesus begins a whole series of parables about the kingdom of God. He teaches great lessons about the reality of how is kingdom on earth is going to play out.

The first lesson deals with seeds and the soil they land on. He tells about a sowing who is throwing out seeds for the harvest. Some of these landed on rich soil where they took root and plants grew up. Some He threw on the hard stony soil and those seeds were eaten by the birds. Some of the ground was a thin layer of earth over stones. The seeds that landed there sprouted, but had no strength so withered away. Some though landed on good rich soil where they rooted, grew up and bore fruit.

Jesus then makes an application. The seed is the word of God. The soil is the hearts of men. Sometimes the word of God falls on hard soil and it is snatched away by the birds. Sometimes it falls on shallow soil which takes root but never stays long to bear fruit. But sometimes it takes root in receptive soil, grows up, and bears fruit.

We never know what kind of soil the seed will land on. All we can do is sow the seed and trust God to produce results in the receptive soil. We can’t get discouraged when it falls on hard soil of shallow soil. We trust God to allow it to settle on rich soil and bear fruit.