Who is Jesus Christ?

Wow, now there’s a way to start a lively discussion!  Who is Jesus Christ, to the world, to you?
READ 1 John 5:1-13 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/…
John states emphatically that Jesus is the Christ. What does that mean to us? Almost every major religion teaches that Jesus was a prophet or a good teacher or a godly man BUT…the Bible informs and insists that Jesus was infinitely more than a prophet, a good teacher, or a godly man.
“Christ” is a transliteration of the Greek christos, and it means anointed one. Its counterpart in Hebrew is mashiach, or the more familiar anglicized messiah.
Acts 10:38 “… God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power… he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
Why is this important? God requires us to believe that Jesus is the Christ in order to be “born of God”. Jesus told a religious leader named Nicodemus that he had to be born again. Man’s religions are of no value when it comes to being “born of God”.
John goes on to say that there are some clear evidences of someone who is born of God. They love other children of God and obey his commands, which are not burdensome. Actually it’s a joy to serve God!
We live in a troubled world at every level – individually, in families, in communities, in local churches, in nations…everywhere. God assures us that our faith is the victory that has overcome the world because…our faith is in Jesus Christ who has already overcome the world. He lived a sinless, blameless life, he suffered and died on a cruel Roman cross, was buried and….he rose again! Jesus Christ, our victorious Saviour!
In verse 6 of 1 John 5 we read that Jesus Christ came by water and blood. Matthew 3:16-17 says As soon as Jesus was baptized (by John the Baptist), he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
We know also that Jesus shed his precious blood for us. John 19:33-34 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.
Jesus Christ fulfilled the words of the prophet Isaiah 53:5
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
1 John 5:11 declares God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
This is the greatest gift we can ever receive, and receive it by faith we must, in order to have eternal life.
Verse 13 tells us something precious and unchangeable.
I write these things…to you…who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know…that you… have…eternal life.
There is no guesswork. We can know in our own heart and mind and in our spirit that we are born of God, we belong to God we are his for time and eternity, because of what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us.
How do you feel about all this? Do you have a sense of peace in your own soul or does this make you feel restless? Jesus invites you to lay all your burdens down and come to him for rest.


Real or fake?

Determining what is true is more challenging than it used to be because we are exposed to more information than at any previous time in history.  We are confronted by news outlets, advertising, social media, phone calls, emails, texts and people knocking on our doors.  Some tools are available to determine what is true or false but much is left to individual discernment.
In our passage today we consider what is true and right. READ 1 John 4:1-6 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+John+4%3A1-6&version=NIVUK
The writer highlights two directly opposing influences, the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. The main concern is given in verses 2 and 3 “every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.”  This statement directly addressed an erroneous view by false  teachers regarding who Jesus Christ is.
We do well to ask the same question that Jesus asked his disciples
“Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say I am?’
“They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.’
“‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’
“Peter answered, ‘God’s Messiah’” (Luke 9:18–20). Parallel accounts are found in Matthew 16 and Mark 8.
Matthew relates that Peter did more than just identify Jesus as the Christ; he also proclaimed Jesus’ divine nature: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).
This is the most critical question to ask of anyone who claims to know the truth.  Who is Jesus Christ? Is he fully man and fully God…or something else?
John explains that every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God is the spirit of the antichrist which is already in the world.  The antichrist is against Christ and everything he stands for.  We are not to fear this opposing person because there is a great promise and assurance in this short passage of Scripture found in verse 4 “… the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
Reading the whole Word of God, our Bible reveals who Jesus Christ is, the Holy Spirit of God who indwells us teaches us about him and leads us into a deepening relationship with Jesus.
God will give you his peace, his power, his wisdom and his courage to stand up for Jesus Christ as you trust in Him.


We should love as God loves.

Our world has been rocked by the senseless killing of a man in Minneapolis.  Accused of a very minor crime which may not even have been true, he was handcuffed on the ground and died needlessly as the result of someone placing their knee on his neck until he died.  No love was shown, just a brutal form of human injustice.
Many times in our study of 1 John we see the importance of loving the people in our world.  God so loves the whole world, not just one people, not just one nation, not just individuals but the whole world.  Not everyone responds to this great big love but that is not our responsibility. 
Read 1 John 3:11-24 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+john+3%3A11-24&version=NIVUK
 
What stands out to us is the bold statement “We should love one another“.  The writer tells us not to be like Cain the firstborn son of Adam and Eve who killed his brother Abel because his actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Evil had already entered the world when Adam and Eve disobeyed the Lord God in the garden. 
Ever since that time the story of Cain and Abel has been repeated in many different ways but for similar reasons.
Loving others who love God is a sign that we have passed from death to life and we are born of God. Family loves family. 
We might say, well I would never kill anyone, how awful!  But God says if we only hate someone, a brother or sister in God’s family, we are a murderer and we do not have the eternal life offered freely by God.
In verse 16 we see that God showed what love is : Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  Why?  He was there on the cruel cross at Golgotha because of love.  He laid down his life in your place and my place to bear the awful burden of all mankind’s sin. What a gift! What a love!
Now God turns to us and effectively says “you do this, you lay down your lives for others”, with deeds such as giving to those who need something you can provide.  God requires praise but he doesn’t want empty words from our lips, but heartfelt and sincere actions.
The Lord God sets our hearts at rest, we have confidence in his presence, as we rest in him and do what pleases him, loving his family members by our actions. 
God relates to us by meaningful words, promises, warnings and commands.  The most important command for us is given in verse 23 ‘believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ’  Without obeying that command all our nice speeches and works are of zero value to God.  When we do believe, God’s peace overcomes our soul and we enter into his rest, a peace that passes all understanding.
Have you believed in the name of God’s Son, Jesus Christ?  If not, will you choose right now, to take not just one knee but both knees to humble yourself before God Almighty who made you and confess that Jesus is Lord?
If you are already a follower of Jesus Christ, in what ways are you showing love to others in a way that pleases God?
May God bless you immeasurably as you seek him, experience his great love and pay it forward.


See what great love!

At the outset of our mid-week study of the letter of John to a group of churches we noted that the purpose of this letter is to bring you into a relationship with God and to deepen your relationship with God. In our next passage we see just how personal God is. READ 1 John 3:1-10 NIVUK https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/…
We are invited to see, to behold, to appreciate the quality and the quantity of God’s love for us. See what great love the Father has lavished on us! One dictionary describes the word lavished in this way – bestow something in generous or extravagant quantities on. God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Nobody loves us like our God! We sometimes tell someone we love them but we are not always able to express it well. God’s love is so big that he acts upon it by bringing believers into his family. Sometimes when I am out walking in the evening I see the glow from within someone’s home and I wonder what it would be like to live in that home, to be a part of that family.  God invites us into relationship but we must respond to his invitation!
Jesus says “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Revelation 3:20
John says to the believers now we are children of God. This is a fact, we who believe and receive are now part of God’s family. We have no idea what we will be in the future…but we know…when Christ appears we shall be like him! Doesn’t that just thrill you?
We are told that there is no sin in Jesus Christ the righteous one, unlike ourselves. For this reason we have come to Jesus at his cross to bear all our sins in his own body, past, present and future, and make us absolutely spotless and pure in his image.
John also reminds us that now that we are saved…we should not be involved in continual sins which we know are wrong. We are still imperfect and sometimes we fail but he is our advocate who defends us before the mighty throne of God.
In verse 10 John points to a definite sign whether or not we belong to God. He says “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are” It is shown in what we choose and love to do. Just as importantly we know we are the children of God because we love our brother and sister in the Lord. We seek to lift them up, encourage them to draw close to God and support them in prayer and in practical ways.
Will you take time right now to thank God for his lavish love and for being a part of his royal family for now and eternity? How will you show your Lord that you are his, by your actions and your love for other believers?


The object of your love and affections

Continuing in our study of the apostle John’s letter which was circulated to the early church, we see that there is a great contrast between the temporary concerns and culture of this world and what matters for eternity and pleases God.
READ 1 John 2:15-17 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+John2%3A15-17&version=NIVUK
The world we live in has many attractions. As someone jested, “Lead me not into temptation, I can do it just fine by myself”. It is likely we all understand what John describes as the lust of the flesh and of the eyes and the pride of life.
Our culture also demands us to live by its values and follow its ways or suffer consequences created by man. This world has many attractions, things that make us feel good for the moment. Our bodies, our eyes and all our senses are sensitive to whatever surrounds us. In addition, much money and resources of the world are devoted to specifically capturing our attention through our eyes and ears, our sense of smell and our thoughts, to make us crave something that they are selling. We need to recognize when we are being targeted. God promises our personal temptations will never exceed his power to resist them and live victoriously his way.
The Lord God has created a beautiful world and we are to fully enjoy his great creation and the community of those who seek him. However we are not to love the temporary and sensual things in the world that are directly opposed to the will of God. We are reminded that the world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives for ever.
What is more important to you, things of this world that are temporary and pass away or what is eternal and matters to God? In what ways will you seek God to help you with your personal priorities and life direction? God will bless you abundantly as you seek his will.


How we know we have come to know God

The apostle John assured the readers of his letter what he knew for sure so they could rest in these same truths and promises of God.
Please read 1 John 2:3-14 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/…
John says we know that we have come to know God if we keep his commands. In 1 John 5:3 we are told that his commands are not burdensome. Jesus encourages us to lay our burdens at his feet and he will set us free.
When we come to God through Jesus Christ, our great friend, sin-bearer and Saviour, he begins to transform us. As we repent, as we change our mind about the activities and interests we used to spend our time with, Jesus gives us wonderful new ways of living, new interests, even a new family. We have this incredible peace and joy in our whole being that was not there before. So now we joyfully, in response, want to walk with him, talk with him, be like him. He is our perfect example of how to really live.
John explains this in verse 5 “this is how we know we are in him: whoever claims to live in him must live like Jesus did.”
When we live like Jesus people should see a big difference in us. They should see us putting the needs of others first, focusing our eyes on and acting upon what truly matters to God. How do we know what truly matters to God? By reading about Jesus, his heart of compassion, his personal holiness, his selfless dedication to serve his Father. We love to live like Jesus. We will never live exactly as Jesus did because he lived a sinless life but we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God to help us live powerful and meaninful life. We make it our goal to please him in our daily life and to direct our attitude towards situations and in our personal trials and triumphs.
Ever had a hard time with certain people in your life? I think we all do, and sometimes we even see in ourselves that we need to change to make ourselves more likeable, displaying the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
In what ways are you growing in those areas of your life?
John says in verse 10 “Anyone who loves their brother or sister (other Christians) lives in the light.
Then John summarizes his reasons for writing his letter.
-your sins have been forgiven on account of his name
-you know him who is from the beginning
-you have overcome the evil one
-you know the Father
-you are strong
-the word of God lives in you
Which of these items are most precious to you? These are the things of this life that we know for sure. Why? They are promises of God and God never lies. If you know Jesus as your Lord and Saviour you have so much to be thankful for and rejoice over. If you dont know Jesus why not just turn to him today in prayer, ask him to forgive you of all your sins, and thank him for dying on the cross to secure your salvation. You’ll be so glad you did!


A relationship with God and other Christians

We are enjoying our online study together of John’s letter which was circulated to the early church during a great struggle against false teaching and paganism. Please read 1 John 1:5-2:2 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/…
God is light. When we are truly connected to God we walk in his light and we have fellowship with him and with other believers.
John went on to highlight that there is only one way to be free of sin and that is through the blood of Jesus Christ the Righteous One who is the atoning sacrifice for all our sins. That is why we love to sing “What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
John reminds us that we are all sinners and if we pretend otherwise we make God out to be a liar.
Have you accepted that fact that you also are a sinner in need of a Saviour? Jesus Christ the Righteous One invites you to confess your sins to him and receive his total forgiveness, no matter how awful or how little your sins are. When we do so, we receive his peace and we walk in newness of eternal life. If you have received Christ as your Saviour, how is your relationship with him? Is there some corner of your life that you keep to yourself? Why not open up and let him renew your life and your hope.
This is what brings us into a close relationship with God our heavenly Father. The side benefit is that we are related to his amazing family because of his love and provision for us.


WHAT WE KNOW!

What do we know with absolute assurance? Currently we are in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic that is sweeping across our world. We are thankful for scientists and healthcare professionals, for caregivers, cleaners, emergency responders, food service providers, our government officials and for all those who willingly work hard and volunteer during this extraordinary time. BUT, most of all, we are thankful to the Lord God Almighty who is our help in ages past and our hope for time and eternity.
The Word of God, the Bible, stands like a rock, undaunted, and is completely reliable.
At Ladner Gospel Assembly we have commenced a new study (by invitation only) online. A disciple named John, an apostle and the author of the Gospel of John and Revelation, also wrote a letter which was likely circulated to Christians who gathered together in western Asia Minor.
In his letter, John states what we can know with absolute assurance based on his close living relationship and observations while walking, talking and living with Jesus Christ while he was on the earth and after his glorious resurrection. In his letter John uses the bold phrase many times “we know”. This is a great comfort and encouragement to anyone today who is living in the midst of so many “we don’t knows” such as when can we go back to “normal” living.
Each week we will briefly summarize our study for anyone who is interested.
We encourage you to read along with us. If not, you can click on the following link https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+john+1&version=NIVUK&fbclid=IwAR0DO7vga2CnbKtgszTPoQa8_0FvJ8fkr7iDv4aSqQ9gMkz32-BjbJQN29o


Have you not heard?

These are uncertain days.  It is likely that you have already heard, along with the whole world,that we are experiencing the spread of COVID-19, a virus which can provide serious problems, even loss of life, for seniors and people with health challenges. We have been instructed by governments at all levels to stay home as much as possible and maintain a “social distance” of at least 6 feet.  We hear of businesses closing, of irrational stocking up on the bare necessities, even of purchasing guns as if the end of the world is near.

Around the world people are informed on a daily or minute by minute basis regarding where, and how many people this virus is affecting.  Among the reliable and helpful information is a host of misinformation, bad advice, quack cures, scams and conspiracy theories.
However, there are still some people who have not heard the message because they are not “plugged in”. Others choose not to hear or to heed the warnings.
We first heard of this virus as if it was distant thunder in a far away land.  Today we are hearing from people we actually know who have family members affected by this virus.  We can listen to the voice of fear…or have the assurance of faith through the voice of God.
The prophet Isaiah wrote 
“Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”
Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV
 
 
 


Harvest time again

Corn harvest in Delta

Harvest time brings mixed feelings.  On the one hand, we look forward to enjoying the wonderful variety of fruits and vegetables which are ready to eat. On the other hand, we see the fields returning to their barren state, flowers fall,and  leaves change into glorious colours before they drop from our trees to the ground where they decay and put nutrients back into the soil.
Here in Delta, many crops have already been harvested yet some fields are still filled with corn stalks and pumpkins.  The air is now a bit cooler. It is a time not only of harvest, but of new beginnings, especially for young people and children who have returned to their studies.
This has been a challenging year as we have had little rain for July and August.  At times our sky has been filled with smoke from forest fires in various areas of our province and from our good neighbours to the South.
At this time it is good to remember all the steps it took to get to this critical time of harvest.  Preparing and enriching the soil, planting seeds, pruning, weeding, and all those things that only a farmer understands. But there is one other thing we should remember, the many earnest prayers of those who planted, that the harvest might be sure, abundant and strong.
The Word of God says that “While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and night shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22 NIV
What a blessing it is that all these factors are consistent for all time! Without them we would not have the wonderful food we enjoy and require to survive.  Have you personally thanked God who formed the earth, who set our sun and moon in just the right location, who created the starry host, who set the planets in motion and created all life, including you, for your daily food and health and strength?  There is no time like the present to do so.  May the Lord God Almighty, our Heavenly Father continue to bless you with all the good food and things you need, including his great love for you.