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.

By Whose Authority?

The song “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty” is ringing in my ears and in my heart – against the background of Monday morning and the feeling of being a little bit overwhelmed by all the opportunities God is giving me (3 preaching turns from next week added) and with that the responsibility of carrying them through in a manner which gives Him glory. So many gaps?

So He speaks: “Yes I am holy – totally other; completely ‘other’; completely pure – huge and awesome and pure – but the good news is that through the death of Jesus the gap has been bridged and you can now relate and speak to me and hear from Me. In Him (Jesus) you are made instantly and completely holy and yet you still have to grow into My holiness – this is a mystery to you, but very real.

“Now remember my invitation to you to come to me when you feel heavy laden and I will give you rest? You first have to release your striving and your agenda and turn to me and accept My agenda, My program, from that acceptance will come the power and the ability and the gifting to do – that is why I follow this invitation with the instruction to take my yoke upon you – it is only in the light of the above that my yoke is ‘easy’ – fits perfectly and you are not pulling alone, I am right there pulling with you. So come to Me continually for my rest and peace which will keep ‘recharging’ you to be responsive in the yoke I have given you – which is planned and perfect for you”.

My reading over the last two days is Luke 20:1-19. Two separate stories with lots of teaching, but I am going to focus on just one aspect which I think is the main point of the two stories. Why don’t you read through the two stories and see how they are connected and what you feel is the main point Luke wants the reader to assimilate. Actually the second is a commentary on the first.

In the first the religious establishment (20:1) come to challenge Jesus, in the light of what He had been doing in the temple. So their challenge was, “By what authority do you do these things?” This is not really a question, rather an open challenge to Jesus’ authority. Because they actually know what He is claiming and simply want to trap Him into saying it. Jesus then neatly sidesteps the question. However Luke shows in the next story what Jesus’ answer actually is. By telling the allegory/parable first then summarizing it in vs 17, Jesus is claiming to be none less than the Messiah Himself. The quote comes from Psalm 118, which is a messianic Psalm and we have already seen how Luke has used this Psalm to identify Jesus in the quote in 19:38 with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The allegory in vv 9 -16, has historical significance in describing the whole attitude of the religious establishment towards carrying out God’s intended wishes.

But the focus is vs 17. Don’t underestimate the importance of that quote. The capstone or rather cornerstone was going to be the key stone on which the whole of God’s future kingdom was going to be built. This was the Man, rejected as of now, (cf vs 19) due to die at the hands of the very people who were questioning Him, but in that death the full power of God released to break into the world with the life-giving, awesome kingdom, of which we are the blessed citizens.

But then I ask what are you saying to me today from this passage, dear Jesus? Firstly, He has all the authority in heaven and on earth and everything I do, I do under His authority. So I need to think this through. Am I consciously submitting to His authority in all the spheres of my life? If I am then I have His authority to act, in my speaking, in my heart’s thoughts which lead to action, in all my teaching. The second thing that arises from this passage is how diligently am I in tending God’s vineyard which is in my reach? How effectively am I tending each vine so that they may be able to produce the very fruit which God intends for him/her? And an oh so welcome and timely a reminder that Jesus is God and deserves all my worship.

What do you hear Him saying to you today? Lets hear that in the blog response.

Cleansing the Temple.

The background of today’s blog is that the neighbour who I have been witnessing to, appeared at the door while I was playing golf on Tuesday and spent some time berating my daughter Leslie, for all sorts of things which I am supposed to have done wrong. My first reaction, on hearing this was indignation, then I decided to lay it at the Lord’s feet.

Horizon – the word came to me and I saw in my mind’s eye the western horizon with the sun setting and multitudes of little lights twinkling on, in the darkening city below. “Look up at the horizon – see the bigger picture – there is a huge unseen war going on at the spiritual level – the disagreement and attack from Geraldine is a mere skirmish in the larger battle, look up and see the multitude of skirmishes happening all over the country (at this I was reminded of all the little lights which seemed to represent just that). These are all part of the bigger war – the mass weapons of the devil are: Covid, corruption, violence, murder, dishonesty, greed, lust etc – but these are all played out in different ways in the lives of individual people. Ian – put on the breastplate of righteousness – behave honestly, kindly and purely – so that Satan cannot accuse you to other people. Take up the shield of faith – trust in Me for everything on all levels, so that the devil cannot shoot his fiery darts of doubt into your mind, filling it with ‘what if’s’ and remind yourself continually that you are in Me (Jesus) – I am your shield – remain close to me and My power and face the battle in My strength – the victory is assured”.

My reading to-day is Luke 19:45-48, just those 3 verses. Now it would have been easy to glance at them and remember the familiar picture and move on to something with more meat, but I stopped and meditated on these vv and asked Jesus to speak to me from them.

So firstly to the original meaning and teaching principle: The temple was the center point of the Israeli culture because it represented the very presence of their covenant God Yahweh. It was there and only there that the covenant people could meet with their covenant God. It was there where sacrifices were made for the people’s sins to clear the way for them to approach Yahweh and this alone through the appointed High Priest and it was there that the people could bring their prayers to Yahweh, only mediated through a priest, however. It was also there that the people were to reach out to foreigners (read Isaiah 56:1-8 where the quote; “My house will be a house of prayer”, comes from, in I 56:7). It was the most important place in the whole of Israel, in fact in the whole world. Yet the people had desecrated it, lost their awe at its meaning and function, because they had lost their awe of God. This represented far more than just action, it represented the very attitude the people had developed towards God. Rejecting Him at the deepest level.

So what had happened over time, was that the people had adulterated the temple’s chief function, turning this holy structure into a commercial venture, as it were, where any sins were sort of OK. Luke presents that moment graphically. (You can allow yourself to picture it in your mind). Luke is showing us that Jesus’ immediate and long term program was that a large part of His mission was to judge the misuse of the temple and to replace it with Himself and His own body would be the ultimate sacrifice. This judgement represented the judgement of Israel for turning away from God and would be graphically completed in 70 AD when the temple was destroyed, physically, completely. It is also through that sacrifice of Jesus that the lines of communication with God would be opened and we, ordinary people like you and me, could henceforth meet with our Father through Jesus, our new High Priest’s mediation.

So what is Jesus saying through this to me? This passage opens up a huge array of joy and appreciation for what He has done and the fact that we don’t need to go to a temple to worship anymore today. It also means I should examine myself deeply, with His help, as to how pure my relationship with him is, as expressed in my thought-life and my activities in serving Him. Does He remain the center of my whole life, my reference point, as it were? How much am I being motivated by the wrong desires? Hmmm – plenty to think about. It is so easy to pat oneself on the back and like the Pharisee in the temple, to say thank God I am not like all these other sinners around me. Notice also the much underplayed task of the Israeli’s was to represent God to the foreigners, which they failed hopelessly to do. So how am I doing on that front?

So my friends, sometimes the artist paints with a big brush and sometimes a tiny detailed brush called a rigger. In all this Jesus can still speak to you from His word, if you just use the correct tools and especially if you ask Him to open your mind and heart so that you really “hear” Him.

Entry into the Kingdom.

Last week about an hour after my golf game on Tuesday, I developed a sudden acute upset tummy. It improved by Thursday morning but relapsed severely by the evening. By late evening I was facing the prospect of a weekend, without medication and the possibility of finding any or even any access to a doctor. Then it dawned on me: the Lord had led me to the edge of the Red Sea so that I would be “forced” to stop trying to find all sorts of ways out and turn to Him as the only real deliverer. It came to me that in Psalm 146:2 it says “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men who cannot save.” So I sank to my knees and asked forgiveness for my “self reliance” and desperately looking for a “prince or doctor” to save me and turned the whole problem over to Him. I wasn’t instantly cured but there was a change in how I felt and slowly over the weekend I have recovered, except for feeling a bit shaky. On reflection I had spoken to the Lord about the matter, but without real conviction that He should have been my first place to flee to. This is not the first time this has happened to me, to remind me of the need to trust Him first and then take the route He shows me.

So this morning in my worship time, I see in my mind’s eye a calm sea – “Calm”, the word comes to me – as I watch, the sea is lit by a light, reflecting beautiful colours – “I give you calmness – I give you peace. After the reminder of the world-changing events, remembered this weekend through the Easter celebrations and the storm that affected you these last days – I give you the sort of calm I gave the disciples after I calmed the storm they were in. The battle is over – the victory is won! But the ongoing expedition to conquer the world for the ‘kingdom’ still lies ahead – gird yourself for action, but the victory is assured”.

So to God’s Word: After the announcement in Luke 16:16 that the kingdom of God is breaking into the world and the question in 17:20 “when will this happen”? Luke puts together 6 stories from 18:9 to 19:10 which give us different facets of how entry into the kingdom would happen. Why don’t you read these stories, think them through, and determine what point Jesus was making in each, which would help the reader to know how to enter the kingdom. This may take a bit of time but will reward you when you have done it.

Here is what I found: “The Pharisee and the tax collector” contrast two attitudes that people have as they approach God and His kingdom. On the one hand self-assured, confident that by keeping all the religious laws and regulations he had already gained entry, while the other only aware of his total lostness, nothing to offer as merit for his acceptance. The comment in vs 14 explains how the latter attitude is the one acceptable to God. The story of the “little children” underlines this and explains and illustrates the same point. Little children have no merit to call on and are totally dependent. Then the rich ruler is presented as a lay copy of the religious Pharisee. He also thinks he has managed to “earn” his way into the kingdom. He is shocked by Jesus’ requirement of repentance and slinks away. Clearly Luke wants us to perceive the contrast in attitudes and what is necessary to approach God for salvation.

Jesus then makes the astounding statement about the camel and the needle, which has had people over the centuries trying to explain it, but the point is it is obviously impossible. The disciples are distraught “who then can be saved?” they call out V 26. This cry gives the central point of all these stories, with Jesus’ answer: “What is impossible with men is possible with God”. That’s the ultimate point isn’t it? Only God can save and it is always miraculous. Salvation is far more difficult and miraculous and impossible than just passing a camel through a needle!

But the vss 31-33 are key, it is necessary for Jesus to die and be raised again, for salvation to be won for mankind. There is no other way that you can be saved, but through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Is that not what we have just spent the whole weekend celebrating?

To underline the fact that it all comes from God, Luke adds the story of the blind man being given sight. For any man to be saved Jesus must miraculously open their eyes.

So what is our response to be in all this? How do we share in this miraculous, supernatural action? Well you guessed it – by faith of course. 18:42.

And how does one who has been saved look like? 18:43, He recognizes God and His part in this whole process and just wants to praise Him for what He has done for him. Just like Zacchaeus in the next story, his life totally transformed, from a mean, crooked official to: repentance for his past sins, recompense to those who he had stolen from and a joyful generosity to all, ending with a happy fellowship with Jesus Himself, 19:5 By their fruit you will know them!

Wow what a story! There are several subthemes and points to ponder, but this seems to me to be the main thrust of all these stories strung together like this.

And what did Jesus say to me? As the mists cleared and I could see this thread more clearly, like the blind man, I was filled with joy and just wanted to praise God and share the “good news of the kingdom of God” Luke 16:16.

May this fill you too with joy and awe and motivate you to share this wonderful news.

Do not Weep.

Thank you bloggers who use the blog site in Wattsapp for all your encouraging and worshipful input this morning as we launch into this most important day of remembrance on the Christian calendar. May I join in with my most sincere wishes that this will indeed be a time of refreshing and renewal for us all. By the way if you are not on the Wattsapp list that receives notifications of new blogs, please let me know, with your cell no. Wattsapp me on 0825794149.

Over the years there has been a tendency in some Christian Churches, notably in my experience, in the time of Ken Terhoven at St Paul’s, we are encouraged to have a rather solemn demeanour on Good Friday. The idea was to sort of prepare our hearts for this painful and “tragic” death of the Lord. This would be contrasted by the joy on Sunday.

This morning after worship with playing the song Majesty, which Elise shared on Wattsapp, I became quiet asking the Lord again to sweep my mind clear of all the conversations I have been having with myself. “Be still, and know, the God of Abraham and Isaac is here”. I looked up in my mind’s eye at the figure of Jesus on the cross. As I am looking there is a light behind Him and its getting brighter and brighter. “To-day does not stop at the cross – today is about the purpose of the cross and what was accomplished on it – on that day there was a light lit which grew to enlighten the whole of creation . Every groan, every shaft of pain was tinder for that light – so much was accomplished that day: forgiveness from sin, restoration, liberation from the control of Satan and sin – a new order was established and My very purpose for the new creation was put into motion – which will only be brought to conclusion when the Bride is complete. Every shaft of pain I felt has also made it possible to walk the path of pain and suffering each one of you may have in this world – but at the end of the path is the great Light”.

So I decided to interrupt my regular Luke readings and look at the description of the crucifixion in Luke 23. I was intrigued by the significance of this scripture from Luke 23:27 “A large number of people followed Him (on the way to the cross), including women who mourned and wailed for Him. Jesus turned and said to them “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, weep for yourselves and your children”. The context after that suggests that what Jesus was saying, (my paraphrase), ” Showing a lot of emotion does not mean that you have accepted and believe who I am. There is a time of judgement coming for all who resist My love”.

So this day is not a day for mourning. A strong emotional response when you realize how you are separated from Jesus by your sin and you come to repentance is totally in order, but today is really a day for celebration. This is what I read in Revelation 5:5 “Then one of the elders said to me “Do not weep! See the lion of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed……v 5 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne.””

So lets celebrate as we remember this great, world turning moment in history, together and leave the sadness to those who are separated from God’s love.