Friday, 25 November 2011

Surprised By Jesus

Follow Jesus and if your serious about staying close, you'll soon be constantly surprised! Just when we thought God was created in our image, He does something, says something, deals with something - in ways completely other.
The problem with following Jesus closely is that it gets uncomfortable! He wants me to respond to people in surprising ways. Just when I want to hit someone - He leads me to follow Him into blessingthem with a surprise gift! Just when I want to be alone and rest - He leads me to follow Him to a lonely, weary, faith-battler and surprise them with encouragement and time. Surprisingly I feel invigorated every time I follow this Surprising Saviour. It's when I follow from a distance that I experience distance with my Saviour (just like the Apostle Peter did).
Matt. 26:58 And Peter was following him at a distance...
Just when I thought following Jesus was a walk along a tropical beach (I learned this from the famous "Footprints In The Sands" photo) - I'm surprised to discover that I must follow Him at times over jagged rocks. I can tell I'm following Him because I have to place my feet in the blood-stained footprints of my Surprising Saviour as we walk along the path of trial. Then I'm surprised when He wanders up the slopes of self-discipline and I have to choose each step I make - even though I usually don't want to. It seems like every second step up the slopes of self-discipline is lands me on a temptation. These steps flood my mind with very appealing invitations. "You're tired, skip your devotional reading can read it tomorrow." "You haven't got time to pray now, there's people waiting to see you...just pray when you get an uninterrupted minute." "Don't force your faith or beliefs on this'll be offensive." And so on.

To my shame, I have to confess, I often slip on the slopes of self-discipline. I'm surprised that my Saviour still reaches out to me at these times and admonishes me to stay close. Unlike the admonishing of others, I'm surprised that the Saviour's sharp rebuke doesn't injure me. Rather it heals me. His disciplining of me somehow surprisingly empowers me to keep climbing up the slopes of self-discipline. Then as we ascend, the Saviour begins to lead my up steps that very very personal! He challenges my diet! He challenges my hobbies! He challenges my commitment to His Cause! It seems like He makes me aware of the struggles of my brothers and sisters who are also venturing up the slopes of self-discipline. Just as I revel in my smug spiritual arrogance by feeling justified in sharing my newfound insights of the failures of others, I am surprised by my Saviour who locks eyes with me and says gently with a strength that doesn't need volume: "Love covers a brother's failings." (Prov. 10:12; 17:9; Genesis 9:23)

As I struggle up these slopes of self-discipline I am frustrated by those who seem to outpace me. But then I surprised to realise that it's not those who have been following the Saviour longest who travel up with the most ease - it's those who follow closest.
Where You go, I'll go
Where You stay, I'll stay
When You move, I'll move
I will follow...
All Your ways are good
All Your ways are sure
I will trust in You alone
Higher than my side
High above my life
I will trust in You alone
[Written by Jason Ingram, Reuben Morgan and Chris Tomlin]
Have you been surprised by the Saviour? His original disciples were. Herod was. Pilate was. James was. He is a surprising Saviour who can lead us in surprising ways, bring surprising people into our lives, and call us to surprise people with acts of undeserved kindness.
Father, we want to follow Your Saviour-Son. We want to be surprising to a world used to giving as good as it gets. Help us to follow this Surprising Saviour closer, in Jesus' Name, Amen.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ps. Andrew

Friday, 18 November 2011

Turning a Complaint Into A Positive Opportunity

Ever done something and heard someone pipe up- "I didn't think Christians behaved that way!" If you haven't had it said about yourself, you have had said it about other Christians. Here's a great way that just might turn this negative moment into a positive opportunity...

I recently heard of this type of complaint from a pre-Christian about a group of Christians. For the moment, I don't want to mention what this group of believers had done, but it is certainly a common complaint. Of course, the complaint can sometimes be justified: Christians do sometimes behave badly and the world knows it! When Christians behave badly they bring shame to the Cause and Body of Christ. To have this highlighted by the world is a negative moment. But even this moment can be turned around into a positive opportunity.

The next time you hear this type of complaint (either about yourself or someone else) here's a very simple and elegant question to respond with: "When you say 'Christian', what do you mean? That is, what is a Christian?". Listen closely to their answer. It will probably be answer that spells Christianity - D O. That is, instead of defining a Christian they'll probably describe Christian behaviour instead.

Thus, this presents an ideal opportunity to winsomely correct this misapprehension about what a Christian is. Using a paper-napkin you could write the word "D O" on the serviette to sum up what they said to define a Christian. You could then ask them if it would be OK to give them the definition that the Bible used? If they consented, you could then add " N E " to form the word: " D O N E ".

Marvellous, infinite, matchless grace,
freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see his face,
will you this moment his grace receive?
Grace, grace, God's grace,
grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
grace, grace, God's grace,
grace that is greater than all our sin! 
[365. Grace Greater than Our Sin, Julia H. Johnston]
This week I had a troubled soul come and see me. We conversed then I asked the question I've just championed:What is a Christian? In summary their answer was a " D O " answer. After sharing with them about the grace of God through Jesus, and explaining that the only One invited into God's Presence is Jesus and that unless you are "in Christ" you can not go to Heaven or be reconciled to God for eternity, I asked them if they would like to become a Christian. They said, with tears flowing, "Yes I would." We prayed together and the work of the Spirit in this person's life starts a fresh new chapter.

fig tree figsBut what was the cause of the original complaint about inappropriate Christian behaviour? A group of Christians had told someone that sexual immorality was a sin. For this "intolerance" they were accused of acting "unchristianly". It would have been very easy to argue the point that Christians are not meant to be tolerate of everything. But this would have been a distraction from turning this negative moment into a positive opportunity.
First Peter 3:15 "but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,"
Of course, there will be times when the world highlights actual bad behaviour by Christians. If that Christian is you, then perhaps the best response is to apologise to the complainer for misrepresenting Christ, and then apologise to your Lord. But this too can be turned into a positive opportunity for promoting Christ's gracious offer of reconciliation with God the Father.
Father, give us Your heart for people. Help us to walk blamelessly before You and the World. May we have soft, compassionate, hearts toward others and feel the responsibility we have to be good ambassadors for You, in Jesus' Name, Amen.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ps. Andrew


You can now order some of UNDERSTANDING THE BOOK OF REVELATION Resources online.

Complete these transactions securely with Paypal. After confirmation of your secure payment an email will be sent to you with download instructions for your eBook. These eBooks are great value. Once downloaded they can be printed or transferred to an eBook reader or PDA for portable reading.


How to purchase and download an eBook...
1. Select your eBook from the list below2. Select the preview to read the first chapter. If it looks interesting, perhaps check out the feedback supplied by other readers.3. Click on the "Add to cart" button. This will take you to a secure Paypal site where you can pay for the eBook with a credit card, or if you already have a Paypal account with credit in it you can draw down on that account to pay for it.4. Once payment is confirmed you will receive a Thank You message, then you will automatically receive an email with your download instructions. Copy and paste these login details into the download page where you will be directed.5. After entering your download registration information, the download of your "zipped" eBook will commence automatically.
6. Once the zipped file is downloaded to your computer, you will need to "extract" it to your computer using a program like "Winzip" which is generally built into Windows. Apple Mac users will use "Stuffit" to unzip or extract the eBook.7. After the eBook is extracted / unzipped you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the contents. This software is available for free from the Adobe website.8. Once the eBook is open you might like to print it off and place it in a ringed binder or similar. Or, you could transfer it to your PDA to carry with you.9. You should then email the author with positive or contructive comments about the eBook so that it can be refined even further or your comments incorporated into the promotion of the eBook.10. Finally, email everyone in your address book who you think would be blessed by your recommending that they too read this eBook by downloading their own copy.

Available eBooks...

The entire book of Revelation explained!
Many people have accepted the recent idea that most of Revelation is yet to be fulfilled!
They have been encouraged to think that "soon", "near", "at hand", "this hour" means
exactly the opposite to what it was plainly intended to mean!This eBook shows how
 most of the Book of Revelation was fulfilled within the lifetime of the original disciples-
and according to Matthew 24:34- had to be!
Set yourself free from the fear of tommorrow and read this ground-breaking commentary!

This eBook discusses what CS Lewis described as "the most embarrassing verse in the Bible" 
(Matthew 24:34).
This verse has been used by atheists to support their arguments that Jesus Christ was just a mere 

man who was simply (and incorrectly) guessing about the future.
This eBook discusses why we can be absolutely assured that Jesus Christ was correct. Historical 

citations are given throughout this commentary on what is generally called "The Olivet Discourse".


Did Jesus really delude His Disciples? This is 
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Bart Eerdman, but staggeringly also great 
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The Book of Revelation is the most mysterious book of the Bible. It claims to predict the future. But because its language is highly symbolic many readers have failed to understand what it is really saying. This has led some preachers to make wild guesses and speculate about what it really means. Often this guess work and speculation has been horribly wrong and this has led people to dismiss the Book of Revelation as too difficult - perhaps even impossible - to understand. But this is not the claim of the Book itself in the opening paragraph! In these two DVDs, Dr Andrew Corbett, author of popular - The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible - looks at why people have got the interpretation of the Book or Revelation so wrong, and how we can better understand what it is trying to show us.
"These DVDs are excellent!" 
- Ps. Trevor Chandler, Emeritus Chairman of Christian Life Churches International
In the first DVD, Dr Corbett sketches some of the more recent history of speculation about the interpretation of the Book of Revelation. This contains video clips of various "Bible Prophecy Teachers" who have speculated about how the Book of Revelation has foretold events in our day and predicts our immediate future. The viewer will soon realise that this type of speculation, despite its popularity, is most unhelpful when it comes to really understanding what the Bible is all about.
On the second DVD you will see the entire session, part 4, of a seminar Dr Corbett holds regarding the Book of Revelation. This DVD gives an overview of why so many people have misunderstood and then misapplied the message of the Book of Revelation. It will show you that the sound principles for interpreting any Book of the Bible also, if not especially, apply to the Book of Revelation. By applying the rules of hermeneutics (Bible Interpretation), we can better understand what The Book of Revelation meant to its original audience and therefore better understand how it applies to us today.
This material is presented in an easy to understand manner, with a good dose of light-hearted humor-
From these DVDs, you will better understand-
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* When the Book of Revelation must have been written
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* What the Book of Revelation really says about our future
However you choose to use to use this DVD, whether it is to build a DVD teaching series, or to enjoy it for personal enrichment, or to give it as an encouragement to someone, or watch it in your Bible Study group, this DVD will help you to ponder the wonders of God's Word and have a deeper appreciation for the Christ.
Dr Andrew Corbett is the President of Finding Truth Matters, ICI College Australia, and pastor of Legana Christian Church. He is the author of The Most Embarrassing Verse In The Bible.
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We accept: Mastercard, Visa or Paypal. Postage anyway in Australia is $AU4.50 ($AU7.50 worldwide).
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Regarded as one of the leading exponents of the Book of Revelation, Dr Andrew Corbett in this 4 Part series on the Book of Revelation (presented as a seminar) is now available as a 4 Audio CD set.
Order this 4 Disc Audio CD for just $20 plus $9.95 shipping anywhere in the world).
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Thursday, 10 November 2011

Initialised, Activated And Empowered

"Be filled with the Spirit" the great apostle wrote. "Wait until you receive the Holy Spirit" said Christ. An apostle and the Messiah. Both great exponents of truth taught that the Christian life is empowered by mere knowledge. Neither is it empowered by religious effort. No, it is initiated, activated, and empowered by the Holy Spirit.


Becoming a Christian is not like joining a religious club. It is an utter transformation of the heart. This radical transformation is not achieved by wishful thinking, New Year resolutions, or religious devotion. It is initialised when the Holy Spirit opens a person's spiritual eyes and ears. When this happens, a person sees their true spiritual condition before God and realises their dire situation due to their bankruptcy of soul. They will then find that their previously deaf spiritual ears begin to hear the soft, gentle, voice of God calling them to come and follow. Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit initialises, He would convict of sin, reveal the righteousness of God, and convince of the Judgment to come (John 16:8).
John 3:8 "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."


When a person responds to God's invitation to have their sins forgiven, their guilt expelled, their past redeemed, their future secured, and their destiny glory-bound, the Holy Spirit activates a new birth of their dead spirit. Without the Holy Spirit taking the benefits of the finished work of Christ and activating this salvation in a person's soul, mankind would be left to mere futile guess-work (generally called: religion).

After the Holy Spirit has activated new spiritual life within a new worshiper, He leads His new host to the river of empowerment and invites them to bathe. This Baptism in the Holy Spirit empowers the new worshiper to confidently share their newfound life. One of the surest signs that a person has been baptised with the Holy Spirit is their desire to share the Good News with others. The Holy Spirit within them compels them to reach out to those crippled by their burden of guilt and sin.
Shackled By a Heavy burden,
'Neath a load of guilt and shame,
Then the hand of Jesus touched me,
And now I am no longer the same.
He touched me, O he touched me,
And O the joy that floods my soul!
Something happened, and now I know,
He touched me and made me whole.
Other evidences of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, known as the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, is the activation of spiritual gifts beyond the activation gift of salvation. In Mark 16, Jesus announced that these gifts included speaking in tongues, casting out demons, and healing the sick. Mere religion or positive thinking can not compete with this offer.

fig tree figsIf you sense your soul being initialised, then receive the grace of God to have your soul activated by the Holy Spirit. If you have had your soul activated, then begin to seek the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. This is most commonly done within the community of the Redeemed as they worship together. In an atmosphere of praise, an activated soul can seek the Baptism with the Spirit, pray and receive prayer, and have their tongue wonderfully redeemed with newness.
Acts 10:44-46 ¶ While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God."
Pray that more people will be initialised by the Holy Spirit. Pray that more people will be activated by the Holy Spirit. Pray that those who are activated by the Holy Spirit will be empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Ps. Andrew

Thursday, 3 November 2011

When Jesus Cursed A Fruit Tree, Spiritual Lessons

fig tree figsIn one of the most of the seemingly bewildering stories found within the Gospels, we meet the Christ cursing a fig tree on His way with His disciples into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:22). Christ was hungry. A fig would do. Alas! No figs! Just leaves! By the next morning the fig was dead to the roots.

Is this just a bizarre story about the Christ's power over nature? Not quite. It's actually one of the more profound stories about the Kingdom of God and what is means to be in it. The fig tree is often used as a picture of God's Chosen People, Old Covenant Israel (Luke 13:6-7). Israel was chosen by God to bear fruit for God by being a light to the nations. But they hadn't. After God had redeemed them from Egypt, He renewed the Covenant with them that He had established with Abraham. Unlike the establishment of this Covenant, Abraham's descendents were now a nation not merely a clan. To this Covenant Nation God them Laws and Ceremonies designed to help them be "a light to the nations".
Isaiah 42:6 "I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness;
I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
a light for the nations,"
Instead of these glorious laws being the basis for Israel's witness to the nations, Israel lost sight of its mission and regarded the laws as the reason why God had chosen them (forgetting that He gave them these Lawsafter He had redeemed them). The point of the laws - to show the nations that God is "good" and "faithful" God, became lost. The point of the ceremonies became lost on Israel - they were all anticipatory displays of the Christ and His coming work - and instead, Israel incorrectly felt that these ceremonies (involving animal sacrifices) were about purifying them from blame. All of this took place despite the prophets warning Israel that it was happening-
Is. 1:11 "What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
says the LORD;
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
and the fat of well-fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
or of lambs, or of goats.
Israel was called to bear 'fruit' - just like a fig tree. Thisfruit was meant to show the nations who their 'Gardener' was. This fruit was meant to draw the nations to God. Israel was supposed to have been a light to the nations, teaching them how to know and love God and each other.
Isaiah 49:6 he says:
"It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to bring back the preserved of Israel;
I will make you as a light for the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth."
When Jesus came to that fig tree it was a picture of God Incarnate coming to Israel to inspect their fruit. What the Christ found was what the prophets also found.
Jeremiah 8:13 When I would gather them, declares the LORD,
there are no grapes on the vine,
nor figs on the fig tree;
even the leaves are withered,
and what I gave them has passed away from them."
God calls His people His "planting" (Isa. 5:7). He expects His plantings to bear fruit - that is, to be a witness to the nations of God, His wonders, His ways, His will and His Word. The goal of this witness is that people may come to know the Lord and join in His program of redeeming the world through Christ.

What does God do for His spiritual fig trees? He waters them. He nourishes them. He shines on them. He shields them. He sprays them. He prunes off their dead wood. And He harvests them. But when Christ came to Israel He found no fruit. They were living without love for God. They were treating people without love or respect. They were misrepresenting God to the nations. In short, they had not broken God's heart as well as His laws.

The cursing of the fig tree by Christ was typological (symbollic) of God ending His Old Covenant with unfruitful, unfaithful Israel. Instead of Israel being God's fig tree to the nations, Christ would be model Israel- the truly fruitful and faithful Servant of the Lord. He would shine His Father's light to the nations - through His New Covenant people, the New Israel of God: the Church(Gal. 6:16).

That's why we must be a spiritual fig tree always bearing the fruit of Christ for the nations (Matt. 28:18-19). To do this, we take steps of Gospel faith and bathe our efforts in prayer.
Matt. 21:21 And Jesus answered them, "Truly, I say to you, if you have faithand do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' it will happen.
Matt. 21:22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith."
Thus, a heart to shine the love of God through sharing the Gospel with all people is the kind of fruit that honour God and shows a visiting Christ that you are truly the planting of the Lord.
Father, no fig tree bears fruit from just one branch. Lord help us to be connected to You and to each other. Help us to bear Gospel fruit for You. Help us to shine Your love to all the people in our community and beyond. Give us more fruit and help us as a church community to bear the fruit of love for each other, and for You and for our community, in Jesus' Name, Amen.
Eph. 3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ps. Andrew