In the Fullness of Time – Week 17 / April 23rd

2012Devotional

Ephesians1: 3-14

The Book of Ephesians was written by Paul from prison in Rome. It is a book of great theological grandeur and reflects Paul’s inner meditations upon the mystical union between Jesus and His Church. Imprisoned by four walls Paul’s inner soul soared to height s of great blessing and truth.

The portion under consideration has three natural sections all punctuated by the phrase, “To the praise of His glory.” Note verses six, twelve and fourteen. This natural division of the passage also lays stress upon the Trinity and the peculiar work of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the redemptive process.

The Father (V3-6)
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the
heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him
before the foundation of the world, that we should be
holy and without blame before Him in love, having
predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to
Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to
the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made
us accepted in the Beloved.”

Here we are told that the Father chose us in Christ before the world began. God lives outside of time, Space and matter. He is transcendent from His creation although He has not abandoned it to the forces of chaos. He is the Alpha and the Omega or the First and the Last. Before time began, and with it creation, He saw us and chose us! Paul says the same thing in 2Timothy1:9. This is amazing and gives us a sense of dignity and specialness that is unique. We are not just “anybodies” lost in the crowd. No, not at all, God chose us in eternity to be with Him. This introduces the biblical idea of election that is noble and mysterious. It cannot be fully fathomed by human intellect and it is balanced by the idea that God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2Peter 3:9)

This also tells us something about salvation and that is; that it is not a rescue plan but a predetermined plan. It began in eternity and thus time, space and matter became, and are, God’s opportunity to create us in His image. We could not become what He wanted apart from the fall. Our gift of self determination ensured this! Through the redemptive process in Christ we have chosen to serve God!

The Son (V7-12)
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the
forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace
which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom
and prudence, having made known to us the mystery
of His will, according to His good pleasure which He
purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the
fullness of the times He might gather together in one
all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which
are on earth-in Him. In Him we have obtained an inheri-
tance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him
Who works all things according to the counsel of His will,
that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise
of His glory.”

God’s great tool that He employs to present us, one day blameless before Him, is Jesus and His cross. Our sins offended God’s character and separated us from Him. Jesus purchased our forgiveness by His spilt blood. By His death He dealt with our sins but by His life living in us (resurrection) He deals with our sin. (Romans 5:10) Truly the power of sin, the desire to go the wrong way, has been broken in our lives and God, by Jesus, will one day out of time and in eternity, have the family He longed for before time began! Indeed we can say to the “praise of the glory of His grace.” We appropriate all this by faith. That is, we trust fully and only in Jesus. Just like sitting in a plane; we trust, and fully so, in a jet engine called General Electric! There is nothing that we can do to propel ourselves through the skies. In like manner Jesus is our support system and He will not fail us. Blessed be His name!

The Holy Spirit
 (V13-14)
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of
truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also,
having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit
of promise, Who is the guarantee of our inheritance
until the redemption of the purchased possession, to
the praise of His glory.”

Those destined for Heaven get a down payment or deposit of it before they get there. That is, by the power of the Holy Spirit we taste the power of the age to come. (Hebrews 6:5) This deposit of the future should impact those around us in the present. We must be different in all that we do and say so that when those who do not believe are around us they will “smell the fragrance of Heaven” upon our lives. (2Corinthians 2:12-16) This is the real challenge facing Christians who claim a Spirit filled testimony! In short, our lives should be to the praise of His glory!

Malcolm Hedding.

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

Walking in the Spirit – Week 18 / April 29th

2012Devotional

worshipping_resizedThe year has become with awesome reminders of the sovereignty of God. Natural upheavals and disasters of the strangest type are abounding across the globe and sadly the Islamic jihad has now been broadened out to include Christians across the Middle East, South East Asia and Africa. It will not stop and the world will generally continue to live in denial as to the extent of this assault against Israel, the West and the Church of the living God. This is a very somber time and as Christians we should be thinking about our relationship with Jesus and commitment to the God of the Bible.

Israel enters her 64th year besieged on every corner and the possibility of war in the Middle East is looming greater with every passing day. This is no exaggeration. Jerusalem has become center stage in this on-going conflict that not only involves the Palestinians and the Arab world but also the international community. The world is determined to disinvest the Jews of Jerusalem. Naturally, they have ignored the warnings of scripture in this regard and, as Zechariah states in chapter twelve of his book, the nations are going to rupture themselves and fall under the wrath of God over this matter. In the process, I fear, days of great difficulty are coming to Israel. She is alone and faces a missile threat that is huge and alarming. We must be a people of prayer!

Jesus spoke of these days in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. We should not be surprised at their arrival because we have been forewarned. The God of the Bible is going forth to “shake all things” (Hebrews 12:25-29) and this shaking is only going to become more evident as time goes by. We must then be unswerving in our commitment to Jesus, to living holy lives and to standing with Israel. Even the Church is being shaken to its very foundations. Liberal theology, liberation theology and various forms of replacement theology are infiltrating it. Christian leaders of repute are failing and embracing what Paul called “doctrines of devils!” Oops, one shouldn’t mention the devil because he doesn’t exist!  So, we must not simply live “in the Spirit” but we must “walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)

This means:
•    Being Spirit filled all the time (Ephesians 5:18)
•    Being obedient to the word of God (Acts 5:32)
•    Being transformed by the power of God (2Corinthians 3:18)
•    Being sure of the purpose of God for our lives (Matthew 7:21)
•    Being steadfast in suffering (1Peter 4:1)………and;
•    Being faithful to the local church (Hebrews 10:23-25)

Walking in the Spirit means being influenced by the Spirit and we can only be influenced by Him if we place ourselves in the place where he speaks to us. This “place” is the one of prayer, the one of reading and hearing the word of God and the one fellowship. (Acts 2:42) The Spirit of God is not a “force” or an “it” but in fact a person. We must learn to hear His voice and follow Him because this is the “trademark” of a true Christian!

Note John 16 and verse 13:

“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come
He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak
on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will
speak; and He will tell you things to come.”

So, there is no substitute for walking in the Spirit because if we do not we shall indulge the flesh with all its harmful consequences. Sadly, many have! Paul writes these words, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Romans 8:16) True Christians, walking in the Spirit, are a “product of the cross” that has stamped on it, “Made in Heaven!” (Ephesians 1:13-14)

Malcolm Hedding.

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

The Reason for Our Time on Earth – Week 19 / May 6th

2012Devotional

While life has many pursuits and interests and Jesus wants us live abundantly (John 10:10) it is true that our focus must remain on the essential reasons for why He placed us here. The Book of Philippians is quite amazing because Paul writes from a Roman jail and yet he is full of joy and gets to the “bottom line” all the time. One would have thought that being in jail would have tempered his focus; but it didn’t! It only sharpened it.

So, gleaning from his book we learn that we are here:

1.    To share the Gospel with the lost.
“But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which
Happened to me have actually turned out for the
Furtherance of the gospel….”

Philippians1:12

Paul recognized that we have a message of life and must share it. Indeed he saw himself as
debtor to the world (Romans 1:14-15) and thus he wanted to share with the world what he owed
them. I dare say that much of the Church needs this attitude today! This is why we are here!

2.    To help others make progress in their faith.
“And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and
Continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith,”

Philippians 1:25

Paul recognizes that he will remain on earth to further their growth in Christ. What then is progress? It is being conformed to the likeness of Jesus; being able to live out the purpose of God for our lives and being empowered to defeat the powers of darkness. This is why we are here!

3.    To help Christians experience the “joy of faith”.
“….continue with you all for your….joy of faith.”
Philippians 1:25

The grace of God that works in our lives requires that we have the discipline of a winning athlete; the courage and skill of a soldier and the hard work of a farmer. (2Timothy 2:3-7) This same grace deposits joy in our lives that make Jesus’ “yoke” easy. This is why we are here!

4.    To sacrifice for the spiritual well being of the body of Christ.
“Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering
On the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and
Rejoice with you all.”

Philippians 2:17

Paul viewed the Body of Christ as the only hope of the world. He would do anything to help it and sustain its presence in the world. He saw himself as a catalyst that would inspire the people of God to better follow Jesus and love Him. Indeed, in this way, Paul saw himself filling up “what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ.” (Colossians 1:24) That is, he provoked the Body of Christ to be what it should be because of Jesus’ death. This is why we are here!

5.    To model a “spiritual pattern” for others to follow.
“The things which you learned and received and heard and
saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”

Philippians 4:9

The salvation that Jesus gives us “works” and all can embrace it, thus we should all model it for
others to embrace and follow. In other words do not invite people to be what you are not.
Show them the real thing and invite them to follow you as you follow Christ. This is why you are
here!

Malcolm Hedding

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

The Baptism in the Holy Spirit – Week 20 / May 13th

2012Devotional

“Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon
you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you
are endued with power from on high.”
Luke 24:49

baptism_resizedJesus promised His disciples a Baptism (infilling) of the Spirit that would equip them for effective service. This was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost as they were gathered in prayer in an upper room. The Spirit of God came down upon the waiting and praying Disciples in the form of tongues of fire that settled upon each of them. (Acts 2:1-4)There was immediately a supernatural consequence in that they began to speak in languages that they had never learned before and they had a boldness that was unusual. (Acts 4:31) The effect was immediate and incredible! Thousands of people came to faith in Jesus and in the days that followed remarkable miracles took place at the hands of the Disciples. (Acts 2:4-41) Jesus had come again into the world and was now powerfully working through His children. This promise of a unique Baptism of the Spirit is made to every believer throughout time until the consummation of the age. (Acts 2:39) That is, it is our inheritance as well as it was purchased for us on the cross! (Acts 2:33) Moreover, since God’s work in the world should not be done without it we would do well to find out more about it and, more important still, experience it!

The Work of the Spirit
The Baptism of the Spirit should not be confused with the work of the Spirit called Regeneration. Regeneration is that work of the Spirit whereby the individual, by repentance and faith in Jesus’ finished work, is transformed from within and is Born Again. That is, the recipient receives life by the Spirit and is saved. By the Baptism of the Spirit the saved individual is “clothed” or anointed by the Spirit and is consequently empowered to serve.  (Acts 1:8) This is a second experience since its depth and potency is dependent upon the individual’s willingness to sacrifice and serve. The Baptism of the Spirit is all about serving or a willingness to “go”. Those who will not go and will not serve, will not get!

The Old and New Testaments

We need to ask ourselves this question: “What is the difference between the Spirit’s work in the Old and New testaments?” In other words, “What changed with the arrival of the New Testament?” In the Old Testament period people were “born again” (regenerated) but not baptized with the Spirit. In other words God changed their hearts but could not entrust the fullness of His empowered life to them. In fact only a few people, mainly leaders in Israel, were baptized with the Spirit for a specific purpose and only for a limited time. Moses longed for the day when all God’s people would be baptized by the Spirit! (Numbers 11:25-29) However, it is clear that God did indwell His people by His Spirit and thereby changed their hearts. Without this changing work no one can follow God and indeed has no desire to! (Romans 8:7) Fallen nature was the same in the Old Testament period as that of the New. (1Samuel 10:9 Isaiah 63:11; Psalm 51:10-11)

Moreover, how could Jesus upbraid Nicodemus for not being “born again” if he couldn’t be until at least three years in the future? (John 3:1-3) In fact Jesus tells Nicodemus that, as a spiritual leader in Israel, he should have been aware of this reality and then He goes on to say that He and His disciples have known this all along. (John 3:9-12) The point is clear; Nicodemus should have been born again and as a theologian he of all people should have known this and it is important to take note that this was still in the Old Testament period. Jesus had not yet died!! Yes, people in the Old Testament period were regenerated or born again but not baptized with the Spirit except for a few leaders for a short time. Also, many preachers assert that the disciples were born again when Jesus breathed on them after His resurrection from the dead. (John 20:22) If this were true then it would contradict scripture and Jesus’ words to Nicodemus would make no sense. In actual fact Jesus was playing out a prophetic picture here in that He was preparing them for what would happen on the Day of Pentecost. That is; they would hear the noise of a mighty rushing wind, (Acts 2:1-2) the sound of His breath from Heaven, and would receive the Holy Spirit! He was thus showing them what to expect as He poured out the Holy Spirit upon them on the Day of Pentecost. (Acts 2:33) Jesus did many “strange things” like this! (John 9:6)

The Nature of the Baptism in the Spirit
It is clear from scripture that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is given to believers. (John 7:37-39) Paul also made this clear in the first chapter of his epistle to the Ephesians. (Ephesians 1:13) In fact the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is only the beginning of a walk with Jesus typified by many infillings of the Spirit. The disciples were baptized with the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost but they were constantly “re-filled” by the Spirit in the days that followed. (Acts 4:31; Acts 13:9)) That is, there is one baptism of the Spirit but many fillings! Why? Because believers change in their commitment to Jesus and He only gives a powerful anointing to those who remain true to His calling over their lives. Many great preachers, like Samson of old, have lost their anointing even though they had great gifts in God!  I have seen and felt this sad reality and this why Paul writes that believers must guard their spiritual lives and so ensure that they are filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18) God’s Spirit can be grieved because He is a person and then, if this is not corrected by repentance, He withdraws His power and blessing on a ministry. (Ephesians 4:30) To really know and enjoy the blessing of God’s Spirit the community of God have to raise their awareness and respect for Him. Ananias and Sapphira told a lie to the disciples but actually the lied to the person of the Holy Spirit and subsequently, to protect the great anointing on the Church, they were struck down and killed! (Acts 5:1-11)

Also the Baptism of the Spirit is more than just the reception of power to accomplish great things for God in a dark and dying world. Jesus made this plain in His teaching about the Spirit in John’s Gospel. The Baptism of the Spirit is indeed being “clothed with God” in a way that you come to know His voice, fellowship, promptings and warnings in a new way. (John 16:5-15; Acts 16:6; Acts 18:5) We cannot do ministry without Him and thus we all need to cultivate a close relationship with Him.

It is also important to note that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a definite experience that is and should be evidenced by the speaking of a devotional tongue or heavenly prayer language! (Acts 10:44-46; Acts 19:6)Every believer needs this amazing language (1Corinthians 14:5, 18) to enrich their lives and help them to pray effectively.  (1Corinthians 14:2, 4)This has nothing to do with the gift of tongues that is always given to the gathered church with the gift of interpretation. (1Corinthians 14:27) Thus you will know if you have been baptized by the Holy Spirit!

The Conditions that have to be met

A powerful Baptism of the Spirit is given to those Christians who:
1.    Are prayerful. The early church was endued with power from on high because they were a praying people. They knew how to wait upon God. (Acts 1:14; Acts 4:23-31)
2.    Are thirsting for more of God. (John 7:37-39)
3.    Are obedient to God. (Acts 5:32)………and;
4.    Are prepared to serve and go into the world with God’s light in Christ. (Luke 24:46-49)

Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed? (Acts19:2)

Malcolm Hedding

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

The Unexpected Bride – Week 21 / May 20th

2012Devotional

A number of Bible passages picture the unique phenomenon that we witness today of Christians from all over the world standing with and praying for Israel. This love for the people of Israel is “fuelled” by God’s Word and in this Word there are beautiful and humorous pictures of this reality. All of them constitute a surprise for Israel in that she never really expected to “win’ a family from the nations. This is an unexpected bride especially since this bride is committed to the God of Israel through one of Israel’s sons who has become the most famous Jew of all time. Jesus of Nazareth!

1.    Jacob’s unexpected bride. (Genesis29:21-30)
Jacob after cheating his brother Esau goes into exile and works for his uncle Laban who has one beautiful daughter Rachel and one not so beautiful daughter Leah. He serves seven years for the former, asks for her hand in marriage, and supposedly marries her but finds out in the morning, after the marriage ceremony, that he has been married off to Leah! A wake up call of some note for any young bridegroom! In his eyes she is something of an “ugly duckling” but she does bear him many children. No doubt for Israel the gentile church has been something of an ugly duckling given the troubles it has caused her through the centuries, but today, from all over the world, this “bride” has arrived in the “tents of Jacob” declaring a genuine and sincere love for him.

2.    Joseph’s unexpected bride. (Genesis45:1-8)
The story of Joseph is well known. He is betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused of a crime that he didn’t commit, sent to jail and then elevated to Pharaoh’s right hand of power. In the end, because of a famine in the land of Canaan, his Jewish brothers come seeking food and do not recognize him because he looks like an Egyptian. Joseph has saved Egypt from disaster and is revered throughout the land. He has “won” a family by His suffering. Today in every corner of the world, because of Jesus’ suffering, there is a family from every tribe and tongue that worships Him and loves His people. This too is a picture of Israel’s unexpected bride. In fact, this unexpected bride has worshipped a Jewish Messiah who was first rejected by His own people; just as Joseph was!!

3.    Naomi’s unexpected bride.
 (Ruth1:15-18)
The story of Ruth, the Moabitess, is a romantic and beautiful one. Having gone to Moab, Naomi’s two sons marry Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. As time goes by their husbands die and Naomi desires to return to her people in Bethlehem of Judea. Orpah, meaning “happy go lucky”, stays in Moab but Ruth, meaning friendship, returns with Naomi to Israel and stands beside her embittered mother-in-law. Her love and commitment to Naomi and her people brings them new joy and hope and she ends up marrying into the royal family. Today there are two streams of the church. The one like Orpah is unconcerned about Israel and happily goes on her way never responding to the great things that God is doing in Israel and even resisting them. The other is an “unexpected bride” as she, like Ruth, is determined to go with Israel and be her friend. This amazes Naomi who urges Ruth, initially, to return to Moab. Today too Christian love and concern for Israel is considered strange and abnormal by some Jews but many have come to see that these Christians are true friends and they will “stick” by Israel through “thick and thin”. In the end we will all gain something in that Christians will understand their faith better and Israel will be made joyful by her new friends from “Moab!”

These three ,and unique pictures of gentile love for Israel are special because they remind us that our engagement with Israel ,while doctrinal and vouched for in the pages of scripture, is also loving ,kind, genuine, forged in distrust and drama and permeated with emotion and joy. After all, our knowledge of God is based on a living relationship with Him and not merely on dogma; a relationship that teaches us that we are also Israel’s unexpected bride.

Paul the Apostle writes of this unexpected gentile bride in Romans eleven where he describes her as a “wild olive tree.” This wild olive tree has been in grafted to a cultivated and well cared for olive tree; Israel. This is totally unexpected!! She is unique because she makes unbelieving Israel jealous since she has what really belongs to her. In the end the family is united, all Israel is saved (Romans 11:25-26) and God alone will get the glory. How wonderful are the ways of God! We will all, Jew and Gentile, be His bride! This too is unexpected given that all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God!

Malcolm Hedding.

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

This Present Truth – Week 22 / May 27th

2012Devotional

The Apostle Peter is addressing believers and calling upon them to remain steadfast and faithful to the “present truth.”(2Peter1:12) that is, there is a “truth” that is always with us and comes with the seal and blessing of Heaven. This truth is unchangeable and it is totally reliable and has the power to determine our eternal destiny. This is the truth about Jesus’ transforming power. In the verses before Peter has told us that salvation has to do with a personal, that is real, knowledge of Jesus. This knowledge of Jesus is based upon and made entirely possible by His death on the cross for us. This death was all sufficient and brought us into fellowship with God. Thereby we are:

1. Given everything we need to live a godly life. (2Peter 1:3) The follower of Jesus is not short of ability and grace to become what God wants him or her to be. We have everything we need! This is present truth and we must embrace it and quit make excuses for our failures. It is truly time for the people of God to grow up and appropriate all that God in Christ has for them.

2. Given wonderful promises from God’s word by which to know the boundaries of His will and the nature of His purpose. Christians should be reliable and faithful dividers of God’s word. Living in God’s present truth means living in God’s word. Read it, read it and the read it again! Your life depends upon it and James writes that we must receive the word implanted that is able to save our souls. (James1:21)

3. Given the divine character. (2Peter1:4) Our world is filled with corruption. This downward plunge of the human condition is escalating as people embrace dirty life styles that are condemned by the word of God. The fact that most people do these things doesn’t make it right. Hitler came to power by a democratic process in Germany. This did not make his rise to power right. We all know the consequences! This present truth consists of becoming like Jesus from within and thus embracing His character by the power of the Holy Spirit. If we do not change we are simply not His. Truly we must make our election and calling sure as not everyone who exclaims, ” Lord, Lord” will be saved. Are you saved?

Embracing the “present truth” is therefore an urgent business and Peter was deeply concerned that his readers would do just that.In fact he states that as long as he is in his earthly body he would remind believers of their obligations to the present truth. (2Peter1:13-15) Don’t neglect the above, give it careful attention and thought and the God of peace will be with you and an abundant welcome will await you in Heaven.

Malcolm Hedding.

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

The Days In Which We Live – Week 23 / June 3rd

2012Devotional

“Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed
up and sealed till the time of the end.”
Daniel 12:1-9

There is no doubt about the fact that the biblical idea about positive and good endings and hope is always in the context of very challenging times. (Habakkuk 3:17-19) This is because God is in control of our world and not the Devil and its plunge toward chaos and evil is all part of God’s plan of achieving His redemptive goals. Generally then, the Bible warns against heeding prophets who declare that good, wonderful and peaceful days are ahead. They are for the child of God but in the context of challenge, conflict and even chaos! (Ezekiel 13:10)

Daniel’s Eleventh and twelfth chapters are the “bedrock’ upon which Jesus builds His Olivet Discourse and upon which much of John’s Revelation is built. We would do well to heed it.  It teaches us that Israel’s restoration is a ‘trigger” or catalyst for great upheaval. So, we are living in a time:

1.    Of intense spiritual conflict (V1)
This conflict is initiated partly by the prayers of God’s people. (Daniel 10:12-14) We have weapons for the “right and left hand” but too often they lie unused and abandoned. (2Corinthians 6:7; 10:4)) At some point we have to get free from ourselves to more fully serve the interests of God’s Kingdom. (2Corinthians 5:15)

2.    Of great upheaval on the earth (V1)
Jesus quoted this passage and applied it to the days just prior to His coming. (Matthew 24:21; Mark 13:19-20) Paul warned that “fierce times’ were coming (1Timothy 3:1) and yet he was always joyful! (Philippians 4:4)

3.    Of intense trouble for Israel (V1)
Israel’s journey of restoration requires difficulty and conflict. The purpose of God is to save or redeem Israel. The difficulties through which she will pass in the days to come will bring her to this place of redemption. God is determined to break her resistance to Him by the deep valley of troubles that she will go through. (Daniel 12:7)(Hosea 5:15-6:1-3) Sadly the wickedness of the Christian Church has contributed to her unbelief and blindness. What judgment awaits the visible Church?

4.    Of deliverance and salvation (V1)
Israel will be delivered and saved! She will come out of “Jacob’s trouble” but God will make a full end of the nations. (Jeremiah 30:7; 10-11) The Church will live and rejoice by her faith!

5.    Of resurrection and reward. (V2-3)
The Church is the ‘offspring’ of Israel (Revelation 12:17) and is the “Israel of God’ (Galatians 6:16) not in a replacement sense but in an enlargement sense. The spiritual Olive Tree of Israel is now bigger because believing gentiles have been grafted into it. (Romans 11:17-23) A day is soon coming when Israel will be grafted back into her own spiritual tree and we all will be resurrected and rewarded. (Romans 11:15) We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ! (Romans 14:10-12) This should make us all think more carefully about the way in which we are living our lives. (1Corinthians3:10-17)

6.    Of the end (V4)
We know that it is the time of the end because Israel has been regathered to Jerusalem (Luke 21:24) and there has been an explosion of knowledge and travel. This is unprecedented and means that we must be consecrated, as pertaining to our hearts, dedicated, as pertaining to our work and focused, as pertaining to our love and worship of Jesus and joy in Him. Our best and most fruitful days are ahead!

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
and to present you faultless before the presence of
His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior Who
alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and
power now and forever. Amen.”
Jude 24-25

Malcolm Hedding

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

Meditations from the Book of Philippians part 1 – Week 24 / June 11th

2012Devotional

The work and evidence of the life of Christ in us – Philippians 1:1-11

worshipbaptism_resizedPaul’s Greeting V1-2
Paul’s greeting is of course familiar and consistent with that of all his letters. However, he does in this greeting give us a small glimpse of the structure of the local church. This in itself teaches us that God has order and offices of authority in the local church. (Hebrews 13:17) This is for the good of His people who require and indeed need structure in order to be exposed to various ministries that will care for them and help them grow. Christians who routinely abandon this order of things will remain underdeveloped spiritually and are usually very critical of God’s people!

So, according to Paul, the local Church has the blessing of “trans-local ministry” in that Paul and Timothy exercised an itinerant ministry that included the Church at Philippi. It was blessed locally by Bishops or Elders who cared for, ruled over and protected the flock of God and it had Deacons, who did the same but not with the authority of an Elder.  Quite frankly they were in “a good place” and Paul calls the believers “Saints” or “Holy Ones”. We are all saints and our lives should reflect this!

Paul’s Eulogy V3-6
Paul is mindful of the fact that prayer for God’s people is crucial since the God we serve answers prayer and works through it. Paul held prayer in high regard and made it a vital part of his life. He was filled with much joy as he remembered and prayed for the Church at Philippi. There comes a time when Christians need to get passed their own problems and be free to focus on what matters to God. There are very few Christians like this in the world today! Too much of Christianity is filled with me, mine and ease! When will we really begin to prayer for others?

Moreover, Paul recognizes that we all share in the “fellowship of the gospel” which denotes a community, saved by the finished work of Jesus on the cross, which is blessed with a new way of living! This is all the more precious because the work that God began in us He is well able to complete and thereby bring us safely to the “day of Jesus Christ.” That is, the day of His glorious coming and our resurrection!

Paul’s Thinking V7-11
Paul has good thoughts about God’s people because he recognizes that the people of God are triumphant because they constantly draw on the grace of God. This grace sustains him in prison and it sustains them in life and witness. It is a never ending powerful resource that can enable the believer to face anything that is thrown at him or her on earth! We need to partake of it and this we do by waiting on God in fellowship, in the word and in prayer. (Acts 2:42) Don’t fail because you didn’t “tank up” on the grace of God! (2Corinthians 6:1) This grace of God is evidenced in a number of ways:

1. We grow in love. Jesus’ love is unique because it is based on true knowledge and discernment; meaning that we are given an insight into what people really need in order for us to help them.

2. We grow in appreciation for good and excellent things. The grace of God teaches us to love wholesome things and to shun the sight of wickedness and perversion. (Philippians 4:8-9) To be sure this means knowing when to say, “As for me and my family this television knob goes off!” …and……,

3. We grow in character. That is, our lives are filled with the “fruits of righteousness.” Knowing Jesus’ grace means changing all the time so that we reflect more and more what He looks like. (2Corinthians 3:18)

This is a process that we call sanctification and it will and should continue all the day of our lives! Those who walk in this way will most certainly live for the praise and glory of God.

Think on these things and do them and the God of peace will be with you.

Malcolm Hedding

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

Meditations from the Book of Philippians part 2 – Week 25 / June 17th

2012Devotional

The Blessedness of Difficult Circumstances – Philippians 1:12-26

Paul’s Circumstances 1:12
Paul’s preaching of the Gospel landed him in deep trouble in that he found himself ultimately taken to Rome where he was placed in prison. Humanly speaking this was not a blessing as a Roman prison was no picnic in that its conditions were harsh, primitive and cruel. One survived on the good will of those “outside” who would bring one food, clothing and other necessities. (Philippians 4:10-19) This most certainly serves to remind us that the Gospel challenges the carnal heart of people and can produce a response that is filled with anger and hatred. Today, especially in the Islamic world, many Christians are dying for their faith in Christ. Paul was prepared to serve God in difficult circumstances. Why was this so? Because He knew that God was nevertheless watching over Him and He knew that God would weave these trials into His perfect will for his life. Paul was convinced of this and recognized it.  He wrote about this belief in his letter to the Church at Rome. That is, he knew that God would work all things together for his good! (Romans 8:28) Christians need to hear this time and time again because today we hear a false gospel that assures God’s people of no difficulties because of their faith in Christ.

Paul’s testimony 1:12-20
Paul discovered that his difficult circumstances were all part of the amazing plan of God in that through them:

1. People were reached with the love of Christ who otherwise would never have been reached.  (V12-13)

That is the “Palace Guard” were so impacted by his joyful and positive disposition that they became followers of Christ! Usually prisoners were embittered, filled with anger and hurled constant abuse at their captors; but here was a prisoner who loved his captors and took an interest in them! He was moreover joyful and positive. How could this be unless He had something supernatural and life changing, the Gospel of Jesus? Please remember that someone, who would not be reached with Jesus’ love normally, is watching your behavior as you encounter difficult circumstances.

This being so; what message are you sending them?

2. The Church was encouraged to preach the Gospel more courageously. (V14-18) 

When the believers in Rome saw how God had blessed, emboldened and anointed Paul in prison they were encouraged themselves to preach more boldly. They had a living example of God’s grace and deliverance in difficult circumstances and were thus enabled to trust God for their own lives. Some people were preaching the Gospel because they were competitive and, without Paul being around, they were positioning themselves for places of authority and influence. Paul was unconcerned because he knew, and rejoiced in the fact, that Christ was being preached.

Do you preach Christ and are your motives pure?

3. Paul’s life was being conformed to that of the image of Christ. (V19-20) 

When we encounter trials we tend to seek God more fervently and we sort out our priorities. Paul recognized that his difficulties had pushed him back on the grace of God and that only Jesus could hold him up and enable him not to fail Him. He wanted Jesus to be glorified in His body so that people could see the truth about the Gospel. Trouble will change you and purify your life but you must have patience and lots of it. (James 1:2-4) To be sure don’t look for times of difficulty but when they come embrace the season with faith and patience in God.

He will transform you by them.

Paul’s Desire (V21-26)
Paul was so fully conquered by the love of Christ that he wanted to be with Him forever and as soon as possible. To hang around on earth was a distraction because He knew what awaited him in Heaven. How many of us have this attitude and desire? If Paul did stay around on earth it would be for one reason only and that was to encourage and help Jesus’ people. (V24-25) 

Here is a man who was deeply assured of his salvation and who knew that Heaven was more real than the world that he saw and lived in. What dedication and commitment! I can’t help but wonder how we measure up to this? Most of all; may we too be filled with so wonderful a love as to proclaim, as Paul did, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Malcolm Hedding

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

Meditations from the Book of Philippians part 3 – Week 26 / June 25th

2012Devotional

The Glory of the Gospel – Philippians 1:27-30

Paul’s Passion
As we meditate on the first chapter of the Book of Philippians we get a sense of Paul’s dedication and commitment to the preaching of the Good News of Jesus. It is his passion and everything else in life takes second place. We see this reflected in all of his epistles and it was this passion that drove him to go to the “end of the world” in his day. (Romans 1:14-15) His zeal for the Gentile Mission, as we call it, most certainly gave the Gospel of Jesus a foothold in the world that has, since then, seen it spread to all the continents of the earth. Paul was right when he stated that his passion to preach the Gospel was greater than that of any of the other disciples. (2Corinthians 11:22-23) Paul considered himself a debtor to the world and he needed to pay his debt by preaching the Gospel to them. This Gospel is the power of God unto salvation and the only hope for a lost world. (Romans 1:16-17)

So for Paul Christians need to:

Live the Gospel
 V27
Someone once said, “Preach the Gospel at all times and sometimes use words.” Nothing gives power to our words like living out the truth that we proclaim. Our conduct needs to be “worthy of the Gospel of Christ.” Where the Holy Spirit can find a life that lives out and demonstrates the truth of the Gospel He will empower it mightily. In this verse Paul calls upon believers to stand together in this great endeavor. We cannot do it alone since by being together we stand fast, encourage one another and maintain unity of mind. Active Christians have little time to squabble and disagree! The devil most certainly does find work for idle hands and nowhere in the Bible are we encouraged to just be Church attendees; though this is what most Christians are today. Be like Paul and live the Gospel!

Defend the Gospel V28
Preaching the Gospel makes enemies; natural and supernatural. We should not be intimidated by them, says Paul, as this is a clear sign that you have the truth and are saved and that they are going to destruction. Only one thing stands between the sinner and hell; the Gospel. (John 3:16) Should the sinner not embrace the Gospel he or she will end up in Hell or perdition. (Revelation 20:15) Hell is a real place that is characterized by torment, fire and outer darkness. Jesus spoke of it, believed in it and warned about going there. We need to take this seriously!! Sadly, one hardly hears preaching about Hell today because such preaching might offend the delicate and sensitive ears of the sinner! May God help us to defend the Gospel!

Suffer for the Gospel V29-30
To suffer for the cause of Christ is a privilege. In fact, according to Paul, God gives us this privilege of bearing the reproach of Christ. (1Peter 3:13-17) Obviously, we should not suffer as wrong doers for herein is no glory, but, if we suffer because we are preachers of the Gospel of Jesus then the glory of God is upon us. (1Peter 4:14) Let us therefore be strong and go into all the world with the Good News of Jesus for so He has commanded us. (Matthew 28:18-20)

What a wonderful message we have then and even though Paul is no longer with us his life and passion for the Gospel still speaks to us and inspires us to walk in his footsteps for in so doing we will follow Christ.

Malcolm Hedding.

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries