Paul’s Prayer – Week 7 / February 13th

2012Devotional

In chapter one of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he sets out firstly the work of the triune God in the redemptive initiative and then from verses fifteen to twenty-three expresses the content of his prayers for the believers at Ephesus. In this regard he prays for three things to happen in their lives:

1. That they would have a spirit of Revelation.(v15-17)
2. That they would have an understanding of God’s inheritance in them. (v18)…..and
3. That would have an appreciation of what it means to be identified with Jesus.(v19-23)

Spiritual revelation means understanding the heart of God and His purpose in us. This seems regular and general in nature but my experience has been that most Christians are in need of a spirit of revelation. Our spiritual lives are weak and impoverished because so much of our Christianity is consumed with what we get from God because we are saved. It is an “I” centered Christianity that is very often nothing short of “self improvement schemes.”

On the contrary Paul states that we should understand that Christianity is all about what God gets from us! He is looking for His inheritance in us and this means that He is looking for the emerging of His image in our personalities. This is what should concern all of us as a priority. Sanctification and Christ likeness is “the name of the game.” This means that we need to understand that what Jesus did on the cross was godward in nature with manward results. That is; Jesus didn’t die to get man out of hell into heaven but He died to get God out of heaven into man! As a consequence of this reconciliation we are saved from a lost eternity. His death is thus termed a propitiation in scripture. (See Romans3:25) This was also signified in a dramatic fashion because the veil in the Temple was split from the top to the bottom and not from the bottom to the top when He died.

Christians also need to understand the nature of the power of God that works in them. We need to see that we have been raised up in Christ and are seated, already, in heavenly places. We are set apart far above all principalities and powers. Why would Paul ask us to take this position? Because Jesus dies as us and when we understand this we also recognize that no flaw in our characters or sin can resist His power in us by His indwelling life! Sin’s grip and dominion over our lives has been destroyed and we are truly free. Positionally we are in heaven and we just have to work this out on earth! Hence in this same letter he commands us to put off the old man and embrace the new. We don’t need anything more than Jesus and we have no excuse for our sinful habits and addictions. In his letter to the Romans he says, “Sin shall not have dominion over you.” We can truly walk away from our problems if we believe this but how many do?
There is no doubt that Paul’s remarkable prayer for all of us needs to be answered in our lives. Will you, together with me, ask God to make it so?

Malcolm Hedding.

Sanctification – Week 8 / February 20th

2012Devotional

“By that (the New Covenant) will we have been sancti-
fied through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ
once for all.”

Hebrews 10:10

Definition:
Sanctification is that holy progressive work of the Spirit of God, whereby, because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross, the Christ follower is transformed into the image of Christ. As scripture puts it; we change from glory to glory.
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2Corinthians 3:18.)

A work that is complete
The atoning work of Jesus is once for all, all sufficient and all powerful. From God’s perspective we are already justified, sanctified and glorified.
“But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God- and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption-that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”
(1Corinthians1:30-31)
“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” (Romans8:29-30) The call of God over the believer is to walk these truths out. This “walking” is called sanctification or discipleship! Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up the cross daily and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)

A work in process
We are to see or consider ourselves as fully delivered from sin and imperfection seated now in Heaven with Christ. This is the exhortation that Paul gives us in the book of Ephesians. “But God….even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-6) We therefore see ourselves free from the power of any besetting sin or addiction! “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”(Romans 6:11) And, “For sin shall not have dominion over you.” (Romans 6:14) In other words we are to press forward, by the grace of God, to make our heavenly position an earthly reality! Or, to put it another way; by an unfolding process, we close the gap daily between what God says about us and what indeed we are. “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14) In this “pressing toward” I avoid legalism and license! I am a slave of Jesus and I love it! (Romans 6:18)

A work of perfection
Are you perfect? You should be! Christian perfection constitutes living at the place of sanctification or transformation to which God’s Holy Spirit has brought you. It’s all about going forward spiritually and not looking back! We call this progressive perfection. John Wesley preached this doctrine very powerfully and was often misunderstood. He was not teaching instant perfection but progressive perfection! In other words do not backslide! Reflect the character of Jesus that the Holy Spirit has revealed to you.
“Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.” (Philippians 3:16)
If you keep looking at Jesus you will keep changing. One day we shall see Him and be like Him! (I John 3:1-3)

A work of active appropriation
Christ’s character does not “rub off on us!” No, it is put on or appropriated by a decision of the will! In scripture this is not a suggestion but a command.
“…..that you put off…….the old man (woman) which grows corrupt according to deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind (adjust your thinking or will) and that you put on the new man which was created according to God…” (Ephesians 4:22-24) Your mind is crucial to this process as it triggers your emotions which in turn drive your actions. When you agree with God, by obedience to His Word, His Holy Spirit guides your emotions bringing transformation to your actions. So Peter encourages us to “gird up the loins” of our minds (1 Peter 1:13) and Paul, in Romans, calls upon us to be transformed “by the renewing of our minds.” (Romans 12:1-2) As you look by faith upon Jesus, reflected in the pages of scripture, and allow the Holy Spirit to shine upon your sinful imperfections, you must obey and change by an act of your mind! Remember, very often it is not that we cannot change but that we will not! The power that lives in you is greater than anything on earth or in your heart.(1 John 4:4) You can change and must; for if you do not you will not ever see the Lord.

A work that honors God
As we have noted the Bible says that without holiness we shall not see the Lord.
“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)
Sanctification is truly the will of God for our lives (1Thessalonians 4:3) and it gives full expression to our verbal claims to love Jesus and be transformed into His likeness. It is something we embrace with joy since being in Christ we are taught to hate sin and loathe even the garment stained by it. (Jude 23) It is our longing desire and earnest expectation that we shall increasingly walk as Jesus walked!
‘He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” (1John2:6)

A prayer for the week:
Dear Lord Jesus, by dying on the cross for me You demonstrated a love for me that is truly amazing and beyond comprehension. You have transformed my life and, by this act of redemption, given me a longing to be like you and thus to be changed every day into your likeness. Help me to wait upon you so that, as I see you with the eye of faith, in the power of the Holy Spirit, I may be changed and bring honor and glory to your wonderful name.

Amen.

Malcolm Hedding.

The Son Who Lives part 1/5 – Week 9 / February 27th

2012Devotional

Revelation 13:8; John 17:5

Jesus existed before the world, and indeed the universe, was created. Way back, before time began, He gave a promise to His Father that He would be prepared to die for humankind if God created them! (2Timothy1:9) He was therefore not created but begotten and thus He entered the world by way of a virgin. (John1:14)(Luke1:30-35)

That Jesus existed before time with God, as God proves that He is God! (John1:1)

A. His pre-existence
Scripture not only claims that Jesus pre-existed (John 1:1) (Genesis1:26) but Jesus Himself made this claim. (John 17:5; 18. 6:38)
Also, during the Old Testament period there were pre-incarnate appearances of Jesus as the Angel of the Lord. This Angel accepts worship and speaks as God Himself! He is a theophany couched in an anthropomorphism. (Genesis18; Joshua5:13-15; Exodus3:1-6; Judges13:1-22)

B. His direct claims to divinity
Jesus claimed to be God. (John8:19, 58. 10:30. 14:8-11)
It is important to note that it was on the basis of this claim that He was convicted and condemned to death. (Mark 14:61-65) If it were not true He would have been a liar and therefore a sinner like all of us and thus incapable of dying for our sins!

C. His biblical credentials
Passages only attributed to God in the Old Testament are attributed to Jesus in the New. In this regard note:
John 12:37-41 and Isaiah 6:8-10
Hebrews1:8-12 and Psalm102:25-27
Philippians2:9-11 and Isaiah 45:23
Revelation1:17; 22:13 and Isaiah41:4; 44:6
Matthew 1:21 and Isaiah 43:11; Isaiah 45:21

This disproves forever the bogus claims by movements and cults, like the Jehovah Witnesses, that Jesus is not God.

D. His New Testament credentials
The passages of the New Testament clearly attach attributes to Jesus that are only reserved for
God Himself. Jesus is described as: Creator, the One who upholds all things by the word of His
power, pre-existing in the form of God and being the express image of God. (Philippians1:15-
17; Hebrews 1:1-4)
Moreover, to accept Jesus into one’s life is to accept God into one’s life and all this is made
real by the Holy Spirit! (Colossians 1:27; 2Corinthians 6:16-18; Ephesians2:19-22; John 14:15-
20)

Jesus lived before time, was incarnated in time, died and rose again and lives forever more. (Hebrews 7:25) He is both perfect man and perfect God. He is a Godman and has been and is one with God from all eternity. God is thus triune in nature. That is, He is one but has three persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The word Trinity is not in the Bible but the facts that demand the use of the word are. If one comes to you, in the name of the Christian religion, and does not believe the above then this one should not be received! (2John 7-11)

Malcolm Hedding.

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

The Son Who Dreams part 2/5 – Week 10 / March 5th

2012Devotional

“…….Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith
Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross,
Despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of
The throne of God.”

Hebrews 12:2

Jesus, a life to be emulated
While we have earthly spiritual fathers and we should follow them (2Thessalonians 3:7-9) we are supremely called upon to pattern our behavior after that of Jesus. Our “view” of Him will by His Spirit transform us and bring us to a triumphant end! He is the “author and finisher” of our faith!

Jesus, a dream to learn from
Jesus, though perfect God and perfect man grew into His God assignment. This was a journey that began in His young years. The Bible says that He grew in stature and in the wisdom of God and so more and more the assignment that God had for His life became evident to Him.
“And the child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and
the grace of God was upon Him.” (Luke 2:40)

This was no easy assignment but we are told; it filled Him with joy, in His entire earthly ministry and beyond. (John 15:11) A God given assignment though challenging will always impart joy to you. What God leads you into He will fully provide for! We should all “lean forward” to the call of God over our lives knowing that His grace will be sufficient. Jesus can do for you more than you can ever think or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20-21) We just have to want it!

Jesus, a dream realized
Jesus lived to die! He thus knew that this was His Father’s business. (Luke 2:49) He thus grew into His magnificence. He knew that He was God in the flesh. The very outshining of all that God is! (Hebrews 1: 1-4) In a similar way we must know that we are indwelt by the living God; not as He was, but certainly as His redeemed children. Our potential is great and beyond our capacity to appreciate. “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

Jesus lived to love! He tasted death for every man. (Hebrews 2:8-9) Those who embrace a heavenly assignment must know that it will call upon them to love and to do so sacrificially. Only God can do this in our lives but no heavenly assignment will avoid this key ingredient. (Galatians 5:6)

Jesus lived to befriend! In a certain sense He stands with us in the congregation and worships with us. As Man He walks with us as an equal. (Hebrews 2:10-11) A heavenly assignment will cause us to “rub shoulders” with nobodies! This is not as easy as it sounds.

Jesus lived to reconcile! A heavenly assignment may take on different forms and lead us into different places but it will always bring reconciliation between God and man. (Hebrews 2:14-18) Jesus made it possible for God to come into man in that He became a propitiatory sacrifice! God has given to us all the ministry of reconciliation based, on what He did. (2Corinthians 5:12-20)

Jesus, a dream caught and confirmed
We all have a unique assignment and calling in life. God has a plan for you. How will you find it and walk it out? By doing what Jesus did; there is no short cut. God is serious when we become serious. Jesus prayed His way into His dream and He did so with “vehement cries and tears.” (Hebrews 5: 7-8) This is an amazing verse for it demonstrates that Jesus did not take it for granted that He would be raised from the dead. Even the Son of God learned obedience! He grew into His assignment with very urgent and importunate prayer. God has something special for all of us and He is waiting for us to get desperate about it. Those who do will find the reason for which they were put on this earth. Will your life be a life well lived?

Malcolm Hedding.

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

The Son Who Speaks part 3/5 – Week 11 / March 12th

2012Devotional

“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past
To the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us
By His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom
Also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and
The express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word
Of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at
The right hand of the Majesty on High, having become so much better
Than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent
Name than they.”

“Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have
Heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through Angels
Proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received
A just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?
Which at first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us
By those who heard Him…”
Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:1-3

The writer reminds us that God has spoken to us “in these last days” by His Son. We must take heed and listen because this Son speaks:

1. By His dignity.
That is, He is greater than all who have gone before Him whether it be Angels, Moses, Elijah, David, Abraham and all the rest. He has no equal!

2. By His destiny.
He made the worlds and He is the heir of all things. (Colossians 1:15-17) Everything is summed up in Him and all of history is moving toward Him. No one will escape Him and so they will come to Him now in love but later in judgment! Every knee will bow and confess that Jesus is Lord! (Philippians 2:9-11)

3. By His divinity.
He is the outshining of all that God is; the express visible image of an unseen God. Just like the Sun; no one has ever really seen it. We have only seen its rays. Jesus has declared and demonstrated the unseen God. (John 14:7-9) In Jesus’ days a Roman coin was more than mechanism of commerce and payment. It was sacred because it had the image of the Emperor on it. How you treated the currency was how you respected the Emperor god! Jesus is God’s express image and He is God!

4. By His degradation
He assumed a human body and entered into this world of sorrows and death because it is alienated from God. All alone and forsaken He died on the cross in our place and removed the barrier of our sin and rebellion that existed between us and God. We can be redeemed, restored, reconciled and renewed because of His utter humiliation and triumph. He thus obtained an excellent name and we love Him. (Rev3:12)

The people who hear:
These must give earnest heed to these things because our salvation is great and unique. We shall not escape if we do not heed the voice of the Son. Make no mistake the fiery furnace of hell awaits every human being that rejects the voice of the love of God in Jesus. (Revelation 14:9-12; 20:15) The two biggest dangers to spiritual life are not rebellion and sin but drifting and neglect! We become sloppy and irregular in our Bible reading, church attendance and prayer. We all have to guard against these and therefore we must continue, day by day to give earnest heed to the great things pertaining to Jesus and His finished work on the cross.

Malcolm Hedding.

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

The Son Who Duplicates Himself part 4/5 – Week 12 / March 18th

2012Devotional

“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father,
And He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you
Forever-the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because
It neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells
With you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come To you.”
John 14:15-18

holy_spiritA testimony to Jesus’ identity

This is truly a remarkable passage of scripture as it demonstrates the unique relationship between the three persons of the Godhead. (John 14:20) They are one entity or essence and the reality of the Godhead is brought to the Christ follower by the Holy Spirit. In fact Jesus tells us that He will duplicate Himself throughout the world because the Holy Spirit, who is His very essence, will bring His life and presence to them! He is the Son who duplicates Himself. Thus He was right when He said, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.”(John 16:7) Actually, the Holy Spirit will bring the life and fellowship of the Father and the Son to the life of the believer! (John 14:23) One cannot get a clearer statement of the nature of the Trinity.

This Helper must therefore be a Person! He is not an “it” or a “force.” He duplicates the very life of Jesus in millions of believers and reminds them of His ways. In short to invite Jesus into your life is to invite the Holy Spirit into your life and He will duplicate Jesus in the following ways:

1.    He will be with you forever. (John 14:16)
2.    He will teach you godly things. (John 14:26)
3.    He will remind you of the ways of Jesus. (John 14:26)
4.    He will testify to the reality of Jesus in your heart. (John 15:26)
5.    He will glorify Jesus and make Him great. (John 16:14)
6.    He will impart Jesus’ character to your life. (John 16:15)
7.    He will warn you of future events. (John 16:13)

Again it must be emphasized that only a person can do these things. This means that we all need to cultivate a relationship with Jesus by the Holy Spirit. The book of Acts demonstrates that the early Church leaders did just this in that:

1.    The Holy Spirit spoke to them. ( Acts 8:29; 13:2)
2.    The Holy Spirit can be lied to. (Acts 5:3)
3.    The Holy Spirit can forbid certain activities. ( Acts 16:7)
4.    The Holy Spirit gives comfort to God’s people. ( Acts 9:31)

The twofold work of the Holy Spirit
One is saved when one repents of sins and invites Jesus into one’s life as Lord. Jesus comes into our lives by the Holy Spirit. That is, He forgives our sins and changes our hearts by His presence. We call this being born again or being regenerated. The Holy Spirit does this work! Note Titus 3:4-6:

“But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man
Appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but
According to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of
Regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out
On us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior …”

This work of the Holy Spirit is the very life of Jesus taking up residence in your life; and, if you have Him, you are eternally saved! No wonder Paul wrote the following referring to the duplicated Christ; “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” (Romans 8:9)  This is the saving work of the Holy Spirit but, secondly, we are in need of the empowering work of the Holy Spirit so that we can do the works of Jesus in the world. We call this the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5) and this anointing of Jesus’ ministry is only given to dedicated Christians. The world cannot receive this gift for ministry. (John 14:17)

Jesus told His saved disciples to stay in Jerusalem and not to go out preaching until they were empowered or baptized or clothed with the Holy Spirit.

“And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not
To depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father,
“which,” He said, “You have heard of from Me; for John truly baptized
With water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days
From now…”  (Acts 1:4-5)

See also Luke 24:46-49. This Empowering by the Holy Spirit is promised to every believer (Acts 2:38-39) but it is only given:
1.    By the laying of hands (Acts 19:6) or a definite act of reception. (Acts 2:1-4; 15:7-8)
2.    To those who really obey God. ( Acts 5:32)
3.    To those who really thirst after God and want to serve Him. ( John 7:37-39)

When Jesus comes in power by His Spirit upon the believer’s life he or she has a sense of being enveloped by Him and they have thereby the heavenly acknowledgement that they are ready for service. (Acts 15:8) Usually, this unique and holy Baptism is accompanied by the evidence of a supernatural prayer phenomenon called speaking in tongues. (Acts 2:1-4; 10:44-45; 19:6) Paul encouraged believers to use this gifted prayer language as much as possible. (1Corinthians 14:1-5)

The duplicated Jesus
Jesus comes to our lives by His Spirit to save us and those who surrender to Him are given the assurance of salvation. (Romans 8:6) Jesus also comes to our lives to empower us by His Spirit and those who receive Him in power are equipped with the spiritual tools to serve Him and live as Him, albeit imperfectly, in the world. Millions of Christians demonstrate the life of Jesus all over the world every day; are you one of them? It is noteworthy that after the Disciples were baptized or filled with the Spirit they were no longer timid and fearful, locked away behind closed doors! They had a boldness that was in every way supernatural and those who saw them took note that they “had been with Jesus”. (Acts 4:13)

Malcolm Hedding.

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

The Son Who Celebrates part 5/5 – Week 13 / March 25th

2012Devotional

bible_resizedNaturally there is a dynamic connection between Passover and Pentecost in the Bible. These two great pilgrim festivals essentially remind us that the pathway or door to the Kingdom of God is via the spilt blood of a Lamb. Paul writes that Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed and thus we are delivered from sin and reconciled to God. (1Corinthians 5:7) On the other hand Pentecost reminds us of the power of the kingdom of God. This is found in God’s word and in the infilling of His Spirit. We are to feed on the Word of God and be clothed with the Spirit of God. (Matthew 4:4; Luke24: 49; Acts1:4-5)

Al this means four things:

1.    A demanded eschatology
That is, there must be a second appearing of the Messiah to respond to humankind’s response to His death burial and resurrection. This is what Paul stated as he preached in Athens in that, as he put it…”God will judge the world by the man Christ Jesus” who has been raised from the dead. (Acts17: 30-31; Hebrews 9:28) In short the world is now without excuse and will have to “square up” to the claims of Jesus of Nazareth.  These claims will be verified by His second coming. The world will be humbled!

2.     A demanded soteriology
That God in Christ died for His world means that sin in us can and should be overcome by the power of God that works within us. (2Peter1:  2-3) This power is greater than anything in the world and can overcome our unrighteousness. (1John 4:4) Paul wrote that sin of any kind should not have dominion over you! (Romans 6:14) However the life of Jesus has to be appropriated! This means that we do not wait for God in Christ to work within us but rather count on the Holy Spirit to do the work as we obey God’s word. Obedience is the doorway to unleashing the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. (Romans 6:16) For this reason Paul says that we should put off the old man and put on Christ. (Ephesians4: 20-24) Victory over sin is not “rubbed off” by praying etc but by acting on God’s word. (James 1:21)

3.    A demanded ecclesiology
Christians must and should belong to a local church. It is in this context that the fullness of Christ’s life and presence is experienced. The Bible clearly teaches that to follow Christ begins with a personal decision but is followed through with a commitment to associate with God’s people. Paul affirms that “by one Spirit we have all been baptized into one body…..and made to drink one Spirit.” (1Corinthians 12:13) The early church enjoyed “a together life” that included prayer, Bible study, fellowship and breaking of bread. (Acts 2:42) Christians that isolate themselves from the local expression of Jesus’ people place themselves in serious spiritual danger! We should not and must not neglect the gathering together of the saints. (Hebrews 10:25)

4.    A demanded Responsibility
The great pilgrim Feasts of the Bible are given to Israel in their original context. They belong to Israel or, as Paul states in Romans 15:27, we share in Israel’s spiritual things! God has shown us mercy (Romans15:9) and brought us into His banqueting house of love through the nation of Israel and her glorious Messiah.  (Romans 9:1-5) Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles, all rich in describing God’s redemptive acts, have become ours as well. We rejoice in God’s saving love and also recognize that we are indebted to Israel. (Romans15:27) Indebtedness means that you have an obligation to the one that has blessed and enriched your life. We should be careful to discharge this obligation for God will bless those who bless Israel.

Malcolm Hedding.

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

What Did They See – Week 14 / April 2nd

2012Devotional

“These all died in faith, not having received the
promises, but having seen them afar off were
assured of them, embraced them and confessed
that they were strangers and pilgrims on the
earth.”
Hebrews 11:13 (NKJV)

Adam Saw:
The ageless struggle between the serpent and humankind:

“And I will put enmity between you and the women, and between
your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall
bruise His heel.” (Genesis 3:15 NKJV)

Our misguided choices beginning with our first two parents have ignited this age-old conflict. That is, we give way, just as Adam did, to the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the boastful pride of life. (1John 2:16) Christians must learn to overcome their cravings, desire for things and longing for importance! These are the three things that Jesus overcame in the wilderness temptations. He used the Word of God as His shield and defense against them! (Matthew 4:1-11) Though we have the “seed of Jesus’ (1John 3:9) living in us we are still subject to a residue of wickedness that can trap us. This trap is always in one of the areas mentioned above. As someone once put it; Christians still get caught by gold, glory and girls!

Abraham Saw:
Substitutionary sacrifice or One dying in the place of another!

“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it
and was glad.”  (John 8:56 NKJV)

It dawned on him 4000 years before Christ that Humankind needed One who could buy it back from the place of death and destruction. This truth filled his heart with great joy. The cross was thus transformed from an instrument of terrible crucifixion to a “thing” of great wonder and joy!

Moses Saw: 
A pure, spotless Lamb, giving up its life to free us from death. This would give our lives a new beginning! Notice the wording of Exodus 12:3-5; at first they take “a Lamb”, then it becomes “the Lamb” and finally “your Lamb!” How wonderful it is to make Jesus your own.

“Speak to all the congregation of Israel saying; “On the tenth of
this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according
to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. And if the
household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor
next to his house take it according to the number of the persons;
according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the
lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish………..”

A tree hurled into the bitterness of life!

“So, he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When
He cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet………..”

(Exodus 15: 25 NKJV)

If one really embraces the cross with complete surrender it will transform the bitterness of life into something very sweet and blessed.
A serpent nailed to bronze staff.
The cross disarms the devil and breaks him free from our lives. (Hebrews 2:14) The serpent can no longer destroy your life and defeat you. To be free from his venom you must gaze upon the cross!

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so
must the Son of Man be lifted up.”
 (John 3:14 NKJV)

David Saw:
The darkness of death and hell closing in on the Son of God as He died on the cross:

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
“Many bulls have surrounded Me; Strong bulls of
Basham have encircled Me.”
“My strength is dried up like a potsherd and my tongue
clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of
death. For dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation
of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands
and My feet.”

(Psalm 22:1; 12; 15-16 NKJV)

It is worth noting that hell is a real place where those who end up there are forever separated from God, tormented in flames and left forever in utter darkness and loneliness. They are also preyed upon by worms that never leave them. (Mark 9:42-44)  No one should go there because it was not made for humankind and Jesus conquered death on the cross. (Revelation 14:10; Revelation 20:15; Matthew 22:13-14; Matthew 25:41)

Isaiah Saw:
A report about Messiah that was to be mostly rejected because Israel could not believe that from death and apparent defeat would emerge great victory. Jesus’ death saves us from the wrath of God!
“Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of
the Lord been revealed.”

“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet
we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
but He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised
for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon
Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have
gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and
the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
 (Isaiah53:1; 4-6)

Our sins not only separate us from God but they also bring down upon us the wrath of God. Jesus endured our wrath and freed us completely from the Divine retribution that sin deserves! We are free; yes free indeed and reconciled to God. Those who do not believe will abide under the wrath of God! (John 3:36)

Jesus Saw:
The joy that would be His when, by His death, He gains a family with whom He can live for all eternity!

“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith
Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the
cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right
hand of the throne of God.”

(Hebrews 12:2 NKJV)

The truth is: You are Jesus’ chief Joy! His greatest delight will be to take you to a mansion that He is building for you and where you can dwell with Him for all eternity! (John 14:1-3 NKJV)

Malcolm Hedding.

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

Easter / Passover – Week 15 / April 9th

2012Devotional

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
being justified freely by His grace through the redem-
ption that is in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 23-24

mt_olives_resizedThe Book of Romans defends the thesis that humankind is put right with God, not by works of the Law or good works but by exercising faith in what Jesus did on the cross. Those who do this are declared righteous and, being reconciled to God, they are made righteous by the power of His life in them. So faith in Jesus and His finished work on the cross imputes righteousness to us and, over time, imparts righteousness to us! This is what it means to be a Christian or Christ follower.

In Romans five the Apostle Paul sets out what we enjoy because of our living faith in Jesus. We should note the following and ensure that we are walking in these realities.

1.    We have peace with God
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God….” (V1)
A sinner is not simply one who does not believe in God. No, a sinner is a rebel and an enemy of God deserving God’s eternal wrath and expulsion from His presence. Those who do not know God do not have His peace and this fact is stamped upon their consciences every day. This is called guilt! Only Jesus can free us from this and give us peace with God. The cross was the price that God paid to bring us into harmony with Himself. Do you have peace with God?

2.    We have access to God’s throne
“…..through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand..” (V2)
The wonderful truth about Easter or Passover is that God has passed over our sins and has declared us absolutely righteous. We can thus continually stand in His very presence because our sins are completely covered from His sight. This means we do not fear condemnation and we can actually come boldly before Him because He wants us to and He loves us! What a joy and what a privilege. Prayer is the mechanism by which we “camp” at God’s throne! Is this true of you?

3.    We have much joy
“…. And rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” (V2)
A true Christian is a joyful person because the great question of life has been solved and he or she has a personal knowledge and relationship with the God of the universe. Our lives take on purpose and we live in the expectation of one day being fully transformed into the image of Jesus. This we call the glory of God. What a future we have and indeed in the present we know and walk with Jesus our friend. Joy is the only response that wells up within us, or does it? This joy undergirds us in our trials and struggles because by these we are conformed to the likeness of Jesus. Paul writes that “we glory in tribulations” because they produce perseverance, character and hope. (V3-4)

4.    We have the Holy Spirit
“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (V5)
The true believer in Jesus is not affected by tribulations and trials because he or she has received something real. In fact the believer in Jesus has received, by the infilling of the Spirit, a deposit or down-payment of the future. The Bible calls this anointing of the Holy Spirit the “powers of the age to come.” (Hebrews 6:5) We are enveloped with a little bit of Heaven and therefore because the “little bit” is so good we are undeterred by trials and troubles and have a hope that is sure. The truth is; we just can’t wait for the fullness! We are a blessed people indeed! Are you filled with the Holy Spirit and therefore with a little bit of the future?

May you have great joy as you meditate on these truths and as you call to mind afresh, at this time of the year, the great things that God has done for you.

In His love,
Malcolm Hedding.

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

Days of Celebration – Week 16 / April 15th

2012Devotional

We have just finished celebrating Jesus’ death and resurrection or Passover. As is the case every year, many Christians write in and ask why we refer to this celebration as Passover and not Easter! So, we need to ask ourselves, yet again, why we celebrate these biblical festivals? The answer is simple because they reflect more completely the life, ministry and death of Jesus! Jesus Himself celebrated Passover but put the significance of His death and resurrection into it. The same is true for all the other biblical Feasts. It is important to note that we enjoy these as celebrations and not obligations. Surely, after years of celebration, we know the meaning and important truths lying behind each of these biblical Feasts and memorials? The real answer is; we forget so easily and therefore we drift from God, lose sight of His love and grace, and disconnect ourselves from His purpose in the world. We live for ourselves, serve mammon and no longer know how to love those around us. The cycles of Biblical celebration, that God gives us, are for our renewal. This can be understood in the following ways:

Renewal of the Biblical truth that they so powerfully convey

Passover, Pentecost, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and the Feast of Tabernacles are rich in instruction. They remind us that we are accountable to God, that we depend upon His atoning grace and that we are to rejoice in the knowledge that we are part of His kingdom. As Christians we remember that Paul stated in Romans that when we no longer give God thanks, in all these things, we stray from Him and turn aside to foolishness. Our world abundantly demonstrates this. We need to be constantly renewed and therefore reminded of who God is and what He has done for us. Such is the state of our hearts that failure to remember is the highway to forgetfulness!

Renewal of the Young amongst us
The Bible repeatedly teaches us to take special care of the children. Jesus echoed the same truth when He placed a child on His lap and blessed him. In fact He attributed greatness to children because their faith was so innocent and trusting. To harm them is to attract the extreme displeasure of their Father in Heaven. In addition the last book of Moses, Deuteronomy, exhorts parents to instruct their children in their homes concerning the great themes of; who God is and what He has done and requires from us. A child, according to the book of Proverbs, is like a tender “creeping plant” that can be trained in the way in which he or she should go. This requires love, affection, correction and discipline. Most of all it requires from Parents example! People are not called sheep by the Word of God for nothing. Sheep follow easily and parents who do not “walk the life that they talk” to their children about will not have success.

Renewal of Community life
All the Biblical festivals are community celebrations. We celebrate them with the people of God. Too much of Christianity today is self centered and contradicts Paul’s frequent exhortations to relate in different ways to one another. Interacting with the family of God teaches us a lot about patience, faithfulness, submission and love. All of these are imparted to our lives when we have do things that others want to do and we don’t really want to!

Passover, Pentecost, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and the Feast of Tabernacles teach us to fear God, walk in His grace and power and be joyful. Paul said that the, “Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”  Passover reminds us of the “door” to the Kingdom of God which is Jesus’ death alone. Pentecost reminds us that the power of the Kingdom of God is the Word of God and the Spirit of God and Rosh Hashanah reminds us of God’s holy command to be like Him. Yom Kippur of the only way to have peace with God and that is through His atoning love and grace and the Feast of Tabernacles of the fact that God wants His people to have life and joy in abundance. God’s people have a lot of fun!

The community of God is to experience these things together. Again I want to affirm that the great Feasts of the Bible are a celebration and not an obligation! We explore their meaning and significance together and thereby learn how to better love God, one another and the world. We are the poorer spiritually for neglecting them.

Renewal of appreciation for Israel and the Jewish people
The great Feasts of the Bible enable Christians to understand more fully the Jewish roots of their faith and thus they learn to appreciate the people of Israel and understand that “salvation is of the Jews.” This in turn keeps anti-Semitism from “knocking at their door!”

Malcolm Hedding.

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries