The Cross – the Greatest Sign of God’s Love.

The word “rationalize” keeps coming into my mind as I wait on the Lord. I’m not even sure I know exactly what it means.

“I am interested, not only in your mind or your body or your heart or your soul, I am drawing you to me, to love me, with all those things combined – the whole you – I want you to fall head over heels in love with Me again and again and again. I want you to take Me as your entire Source – so don’t be too analytical and try and figure this all out, just come to Me and give Me yourself and I will do the rest.”

That was a major part of my message yesterday, today was linked. “Now remember what I said yesterday, I want you to fall in love with Me with your whole being – not separate parts, again. Now be sure as you speak on Sunday that My love comes through in the message clearly – because I want each one sitting there to fall in love with me again – to be sure”.

Luke 18:40 – 49. It is indeed a challenge to read a passage like this, which is so central to our faith and so well-known and yet wait upon the Lord to speak to you afresh, even as you read it. It is so natural to rehash what you know as the words rise out of the paper. So as I read, a few things struck me (again).

The darkness: I tried to imagine the scene. The wailing women, the rest of the bedraggled crowd, mingled with the armed centurions, the dust and the smell of unwashed bodies and of fear and the waves of intense agony emanating from those on the cross. And suddenly pitch darkness! Wow, they must have been dumbstruck! Easy to speak it away – “sign of God’s judgement”. But what an intense sign of the absolute comprehensiveness and seriousness of His judgement on every person in the world. That is what was on Jesus, that is what we have escaped because of His death because He took the full effect of God’s judgement on Himself, on our behalf!

Curtain torn – who came to bring that astounding news? A curtain 4 inches thick, laced with metal, torn from top to bottom. Stop and think. That curtain represented the absolute separation from God that man had experienced since Eden. A high priest and sacrifices, mere symbols of reaching past the curtain for His presence. But now. Access! Wait, do I realize the immense privilege we have in being able to meet with the absolutely holy Creator of the whole universe through Jesus and this sacrifice? It is so easy to become “used to” just talking to our Father, without being reminded of what it took Him and His Son to win that back for us.

“Into your hands I commit my Spirit”. The Triune God, once again reconciled. Way beyond my understanding. “Don’t rationalize and try and work it out”.

For me, as I soak all this in: A profound reminder of the significance of Jesus death by crucifixion. Everything of importance – yes everything of importance in the whole world revolves around and flows out from this happening. That is the basis for the deepest and most total change and affects every moment , thought and action.

PRAISE YOU LORD JESUS – MESSIAH, KING OF KINGS, LORD OF LORDS, LION OF JUDAH. I invite you to join in that and to ask God to open your heart and let you fall completely in love with Him again today, and tomorrow and….

All Evidence Points to King Jesus.

Thank you to everyone for your prayers and words of encouragement. It has often been my experience in the past that when I have felt the strongest attack from Satan it, precedes an event in which the Spirit is going to do something great. On Sunday, as I preached, I was so aware of the powerful working of God’s Spirit, as the congregation sat, almost mesmerised, staring at me, waiting for my next word, not a pin dropped, no coughs or sneezes, everyone in the hands of Jesus. Extremely humbling and indeed dangerous to me, as I may take the merit for what was happening.

This morning, listening to the song “Turn your eyes upon Jesus – look full in his wonderful face” – I see a face, with a crown of thorns – with the brightest light shining behind – lighting it up brighter and brighter – even as I watch the broken bleeding and wounded face, it starts to change into that of a lion “The Lion of Judah”.

The word I hear: “Ian, seek first My kingdom and My righteousness and all these things will be added unto you – I want to give to you, but first your attitude must be right – as you preached yesterday – an attitude of no merit – just being receptive to what I want to give you. You can relax and let the whole week slide onto me and I will let it flow – I will feed you every day with my Daily Bread – just allow your mind, heart, body and soul to adore and love Me – don’t hold back.

“I will cleanse your thoughts and lack of forgiveness and your indignation when and as you confess. I am righteous and just and I promise that – even as I have given Jesus as your Advocate, who speaks on your behalf. TRUST ME, TRUST ME IAN – that’s the purpose of all this – to grow your faith, when the lesson is learned the problem will be solved”.

My reading today is Luke 22:62 – 23:25.There is much of importance but here are three things that spoke to me. Firstly: in vs 70 the priests ask Jesus “Are you the Son of God”? He replied “You are right in saying I am.” In Luke 23:3, Pilot asks “Are you the King of the Jews?” And Jesus answers “yes it as you say”. Now remember what the main theme of Luke is “Who is this man?” There has been much evidence up to now and even in all that is happening at this climactic time. But these are a written, absolute confirmation of His identity. Startling, mind-blowing, let everyone sit up and take notice!

Secondly: Pilot in 23:4, “I find no basis for this charge”! again in 23:14, “I find no basis for your charge against Him”. 23:9 Herod plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. The solemn verdict of the trial: in great big capital letters “INNOCENT”.

Lastly from 23:23 Pilot wants to release Him, but the crowd prevails by shouting louder and louder, Luke sums it up “and he surrendered Jesus to their will”. Immediately my mind flashes back to another scene, one in a garden with a Man bowed and sweating great drops of blood saying “…..yet not my will, but yours be done”. God’s will, being carried out by an unruly rioting crowd. The Lord’s prayer comes to mind: Let thy will be done! Can we so surrender to God’s will that we are maybe even able to detect His will in the midst of hardship and opposition? Can I do that?

Innocent! Yet He displayed no indignation. Philippians 2:6, “Jesus being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped”. Innocent! He had to be innocent to take our sins upon Himself and suffer the punishment, unrighteously for them on our behalf. Innocent! Have you ever felt like calling that out when you are faced with hardship, a difficult situation, or any suffering? The really Good news is that having experienced this unfair treatment, He is able to understand when we experience anything like that He is the perfect High Priest, who can minister to us in all such situations.

The title for my sermon next week: “The Eye of the Needle”. Please keep praying for the pure Word from God’s Spirit for me, as I prepare.

Satan seeks to sift us.

In Luke 22:31 Jesus utters these chilling words: “Simon, Simon, Satan seeks to sift you like wheat”. Chilling? Yes because it brings home the reality we face in this world that, although Jesus has overcome Satan on the cross, the battle still rages as the wounded foe seeks to derail the great plan of salvation. The interesting and encouraging thing to note is that Satan, just as he did in Job, has to come to Jesus for permission.

This has come home to me on two levels in the last few days. The bizarre attack from my neighbour has escalated. A completely unreasonable, unprovoked attack, launched for a second time trying to hide behind my daughter Leslie while I have been out playing golf. Having been exposed to bullying at school I recognize that this is exactly what she is trying to do to me. I spent a sleepless night with my mind swinging between feelings of indignation, retaliation etc with wild conversations running through my head. The clear light of day brought me feelings of some calm and a decision not to fight and raise the heat of the conflict, but rather to ignore as one does with a typical bully.

Of course in the forefront of my mind is the knowledge and expectation that I have experienced before, when I have been actively preparing for and preaching or otherwise involved on the Christian frontier, that Satan tries to throw me off balance through various avenues of attack, direct or indirect. The passage from Luke however did prepare me, especially with the thought of, 1. the identity of the real foe and 2. that he would only be allowed to operate as far as Jesus allows.

This morning God seemed to say to me: “Ian I have shown you in so many ways that I am with you – Psalm 23, Romans 8:32 and many others – I have invited you to come to Me with your burdens and promised you My peace – peace in Me – not as the world gives. Now the onus is on you to believe – actively throw your burdens onto me 1 Peter 5:7. Toss them off yourself onto Me – I have given you the task of ministering to the church at Kilberry and will protect you and give you wisdom – you just need to fix your thoughts on things above”.

In addition to this He gave me several scriptures which I will not type out completely but which were totally relevant: 1 Peter 5:10, II Chronicles 20:15, and II Corinthians 10:4.5.

Now to today’s reading; Luke 22:47-62.

The verse 53b gives the backdrop to the events. “But this is your hour – when darkness reigns”. Addressed to the chief priests and the elders, but actually addressed to Satan.

Here we have two types of betrayal: firstly there is Judas. One of the inner circle, where Luke describes who is behind him in 22:3:- “Satan entered Judas” and at the last supper “but the hand of the one who is going to betray me is with mine on the table” (so close, part of the inner fellowship). This was the ultimate betrayal, nevertheless part of God’s plan as we see in Acts 2:23, so therefore allowed by Him as being the way to the ultimate victory on the cross for all mankind.

Secondly there is the betrayal by all the other disciples. Peter’s betrayal is well-known and predicted by Jesus, yet Jesus completely restores him and he even starts his prediction of that betrayal with the words in vs 32 “and when you have turned, strengthen your brothers”. Of course Jesus warned them of the fact that they would be tempted, in the garden, tempted to leave Him, so they needed to be alert and pray. Despite the many sermons preached against Peter he, at least, still hung around, the rest all run away back to Galilee.

This betrayal and desertion must have been one of the most painful things for Jesus to bear, yet Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the perfect high priest: “Because He himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted”. Some of the most hurtful times in my life have been when I have been betrayed or deserted by someone close to me and I am sure most of you can relate to that as well. The comforting knowledge is that Jesus knows, experientially what that is like and can therefore comfort us at such times.

For me today as I listen to Jesus: I realize I am involved in this kingdom battle – but the battle is the Lord’s (2 Chron) – My part? I must believe and trust and in His power to be obedient – casting all my burdens on Him and taking every thought captive – How? in His strength and wisdom. And show my dependence by actively continuing to pray for deliverance from temptation.


“Speak to me Lord please”. I see in my mind’s eye a jug. A jug? I try and put it out of my mind, this can’t be from the Lord. But nothing else comes except the jug. So I listen to Jesus “Yes – look at this jug – I fill it with pure water at the beginning of the week to wash you – wash you with water and the Word – then I fill it with wine – the wine of the Holy Spirit which signifies the power I am giving you to go through this week, to do all the things you perceive are stacked up ahead of you – It may seem like there is a rocky crag there ahead of you (in my mind’s eye I had seen a steep and difficult rocky cliff in my way), but there is a path and I am going to take you by the hand and lead you along the narrow path which may seem at times to lead nowhere.”

Luke 22:1-23 I notice this section is bracketed by Judas’ betrayal, vv,3,4;21 (complementing the antagonism of the religious establishment). Central in the story is also Jesus’ repeated statement of fulfilment vv 16,18. As usual Luke is using stark contrast to highlight his teaching. So the plans of the chief priests and teachers of the law and Judas, including the entering into Judas by Satan are all part of God’s fulfilment in establishment of His kingdom. Mmmm – so often we look at catastrophes which seem to be derailing all the carefully laid plans of the Christian establishment and even our own path. We look at Covid and maybe feel God is running around trying to mop up the damage. Yet everything, yes everything is in His control and part of His plan.

I have been reminded in an earlier reading, for instance, concerning Covid that this pandemic and likewise other huge pestilences during history are a pointer to the reality of the return of Jesus, (cf Luke 21:11.)

The other reminder I found was in the words of Jesus in vs 19b: Do this in remembrance of me. You see as we look at the whole passage we see how carefully God has planned this event from the time of the Exodus. There, after the escape from Egypt a strong emphasis is laid on reminder, lasting ordinance, commemorating etc (Exod 12-14), so that the Israelites would keep this festival annually as a reminder of their release from captivity in Egypt. But it was also a preparation then already looking forward over time, to the great Exodus which was to come through the Lamb of God which would be slain. The communion meal is still to this day a sign of how easily we forget this central point of our Christian faith. Not mentally forget, but somehow lose the intense reality of what happened at that time. That reality which changed everything for all time.

For me? The renewed assurance of being part of God’s plan and the promise of His guidance on the way. It was a small confirmation of God’s promise of guidance to me when I read of the disciples having to find a man carrying a jar (jug) of water who would lead them to the upper room. (vs10), and it just gave me a warm smile.

Then, forgetting really lies at the basis of our uncertainties and fears. We “know” but we don’t allow the knowledge to be part of our DNA. But God knows this so He instituted the communion meal.

Pleasant remembering then.


The song “Christ The Sure and Steady Anchor”, has enabled me to lift my thoughts and eyes and heart to Jesus as I wait on Him.

“Ian, look up to the night sky – how many stars do you see? – go to the sea-shore and count the grains of sand – that is how much higher My thoughts are than your thoughts – yet within that, I desire a relationship with you – I cherish that relationship – it is important to Me. Yet, know this – of all the billions of My followers – I cherish My relationship with each one equally.”

But Lord what about those who don’t really care, who don’t really show their desire to be with you?

“Once you are in a relationship with Me, my attitude towards you always remains the same – complete love – your sin may prevent you from the full appreciation and joy in the relationship – but I will always give you all of Me. That is also why I give you storms in your life – to turn you back to your Anchor and prepare you for the ultimate and perfect experience of relationship with Me when you enter the New Heavens and the New Earth and become part of My bride.”

I have been reading Luke 20:27-44. Now clearly the main point of the stories is twofold: it is affirming the reality of the resurrection, which has always been in the background in the scripture, but now takes on a new significance with Jesus’ own death and bodily resurrection in the near future, and which also goes to consolidate the identity of Jesus as Messiah. However in the background there is a secondary glimpse of interest. When Jesus gives His reply He gives some “insight” into the relationship experience we will have after we die.(Luke 20:35,36). He says 1. People will not marry, 2. People will not die because they are like the angels 3. They are God’s children, since they have experienced the resurrection.

Now just a few brief thoughts on relationships and their importance in the world to-day. When God created the world, He created Adam to be “in His own image”. We see the description of God walking in the garden in the cool of the evening Gen 3:8, so I take it that the main point of creation was to have someone who could think independently from God so that He could have a relationship with him. However we also see that that was not adequate for Adam’s needs. So God created a “companion” (Message bible) or “helper” for him (Gen 2:20b). Adam was delighted to have someone like him to relate to. From that we can deduce that she would give him friendship, would help him in the tasks he was to do, be the joint means through which they would multiply and fill the world and finally the physical act of communion, becoming one flesh with each other, which would reflect the closeness that would mirror the ultimate relationship we will have with Jesus.

We all know what happened after the fall as this close marriage relationship and the family that arose from it started to disintegrate. So, as time passed, on the one hand the plan of God for a healthy society was built on strong families and in the center a strong marriage relationship. However, sin and Satan has conspired over the years to attack that basic structure and the disintegration of marriages and families all over the world today, show the effects of that attack and its effects on all aspects of society.

But the question comes to me; why are relationships and especially marriage and family relationships so important? Well the answer seems to me to lie in that fact of the very hostility of the fallen world, which is antagonistic to each individual where we desperately need a sense of care and belonging and security. The place we find that is within our relationships. Primarily between husband and wife and flowing from that parents and children, together they form the bastion to give each other protection and companionship. The church is an extension of that family relationship circle, within which we should get the same companionship and mutual protection and care, especially for those who don’t have close family relationships.

Now within all this, Christ and our relationship with Him is central to the successful functioning of the marriage, family and church relationship. That is why marriages and families are such an important place which witness to the reality of Christ and His love, which is unseen and therefore can only be enjoyed through faith. It is also the place where Satan attacks the Christian community most aggressively, to break that witness down.

Finally the one big drawback, if I can call it that, is exactly the fact that our relationship with God is on an unseen level. We can experience some of the effect of God’s grace through interaction with other Christians, but ultimately there is no physical intimacy here in this world with God Himself.

The question, after all that I have written by way of explaining my thoughts, is how do relationships change when we get to heaven? I don’t want to dream up and fantasize so sticking to what is said just in this passage and keeping in mind the background thoughts I have given on relationships. Firstly, people will not marry or be given in marriage. This will not be necessary as the world will have totally lost its hostility. Everyone will presumably live lives of love towards each other. There will also be no procreation. Secondly our main relationship will be with God (since we will be God’s children). I like the translation of Luke 20:35,36 in the Message bible: “Marriage is a major preoccupation here, but not there. Those included in the resurrection of the dead will no longer be concerned with marriage, nor of course with death. They will have better things to think about, if you can believe it. All ecstasies and intimacies will be with God.’ And in he absence of all antagonism we will be able to enjoy that to the full.

There are many questions which can arise, but which are not answered in this passage, so I am sticking, simply to musings on what we can learn from this passage.

So what does Jesus say to me from all this? I believe the strong message is about the importance of every relationship we have with others, especially those who we are close to. The starting point should always be our relationship with he Lord Himself, then the love and care which flows from that will permeate every part of our lives. The picture of the great Bridal feast is in the future, but it is a huge motivation to make the most use of the here and now, by building every relationship we have to the best ability God gives us.