Let Us – Week 14 / April 3rd

2013Devotional

Hebrews 10:19-25

The writer of the Book of Hebrews lays down before us some marvelous truths aboutJesus and then in the light of these urges us to respond in three ways. He begins each of these three reasonable responses by declaring, “Let us….” The truths that provoke this threefold “let us” response are that; since Jesus has gone into the real Holy of Holies, that is, God’s very presence, on our behalf and by the all sufficient merit of His spilt blood and since this makes a “living way’ for us all to travel on and, finally, since He is a great High Priest interceding for us at the right hand of glory;

people_praying1.    Let us draw near to God

“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance
of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil
conscience and our bodies washed with pure water”

Hebrews 10:22

Jesus spilt blood on our behalf removes the consequences of our sins, past, present and future, from our lives and thus delivers us from the wrath of God and, more important still, reconciles us to Him. He is our loving Father and wants us to “draw near.” Our understanding of God our Father must come from what we see in Jesus. Jesus, though distinct from His Father, is of the same essence! There is “no light” or difference between their characters. This is precisely why, in response to a question from the Disciples that they should be shown the Father, Jesus said, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me?” (John 14:8-9) John declares at the very beginning of his Gospel that Jesus has shown us the nature of His Father. (John 1:18)

We are then to trust these things fully by faith, have the assurance of the Spirit of God in our hearts and we are to live lives that are not only clean and holy but seen to be so! Have your body washed!

2.    Let us hold fast our confession

“Let us hold fast our confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” Hebrews 10:23

Church history has certainly taught us that apostasy is an ever present enemy. Time and time again the wider Church has looked more like the world than the Temple of the Living God. It has done anything but hold fast its confession because preachers, ministers, pastors and priests have strayed from their first love and have sought power, influence and acceptance in the world. Today we are facing what Paul called “a great falling away.” (2Thessalonians 2:3) Deviant sexual lifestyles are given the stamp of biblical approval even though the Bible clearly condemns them and same sex marriage is also embraced as something that God blesses. He does not, will not and neither should we. It takes courage to hold fast our confession as we will be branded unloving bigots filled with prejudice.

Coupled with all of this is the attack leveled at the Bible so that today, in the name of academics, it is considered to be full of myths and legends that have no historical veracity. They are wrong and we must stand up to these assaults against God’s word. Paul tells us that the Devil masquerades as an “Angel of Light” (2Corinthians 11:12-14) meaning that his greatest and most powerful strategy is to destroy the Church from within. We must be watchful, first of all, over our own lives and then over the Church of Jesus that He purchased with His own blood. (Acts 20:28-30)

3.    Let us consider one another

“And let us consider one another in order to
stir up love and good works, not forsaking the
assembling of ourselves together, as is the
manner of some, but exhorting one another, and
so much the more as you see the Day approaching”

Hebrews 10:24-25

Christianity is a “one another” religion because it recognizes that alienation and independence are hallmarks of the fall and of sinful lives. (Ephesians 4:25-32) Our faith in Jesus not only reconciles us to God our Father but it also reconciles us to one another.  So, the “me and Jesus syndrome” that has afflicted many Christians is just camouflage that hides the truth that they are not yet fully appropriating the life of Christ. This manifests in many ways in that people don’t attend church regularly or claim that they attend an electronic church at home in the comfort of their lounge. All of this is just nonsense and sinful and really says more about these people’s carnality than anything else! We must avoid this and so the writer here firmly states that we should not forsake “the assembling of ourselves together.” In this regard we are to stir one another up and thereby encourage ourselves to play a meaningful part in the local Church.

Let us do this, after all Paul likens us to a body that has many parts and can only really function and grow properly when each part works as it should. (Ephesians 4:15-16) So, let’s be done with all the excuses as to why we cannot attend and serve in a local church and let’s get on with it! Even more so because Jesus is shortly coming and we shall have to give an account of ourselves to Him; the Day is approaching!

Malcolm Hedding

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

God’s Promise to David – Week 15 / April 9th

2013Devotional

“Thus says the Lord: “If you can break My covenant
with the day and My covenant with the night, so
that there will not be day and night in their season
then My covenant may also be broken with David…”

Jeremiah 33:20-21

God’s engagement with the world is by means of covenant; the greatest of these being the Abrahamic Covenant since it constitutes the Covenant of Decision. That is, God’s decision in Christ to save the world. Out of this great covenant flow all the other great covenants of the Bible. They give this covenant executive authority and therefore empower it. (Luke 1:46-55; 72-74. Romans 15:8) The Mosaic Covenant teaches us that we are sinners and under the wrath of God (Galatians 3:24) and thus drives us to Christ Who by the New Covenant saves us. (Galatians 3:13-14)

However, the Davidic Covenant also flows out of the Abrahamic Covenant in that it elevates the saved children of God to a position of royalty! Thus if we repent of our sins and embrace Jesus as the Lord of our lives we are destined to be joint heirs with Him and therefore in the age to come we shall mount His throne and rule with Him over the nations from Jerusalem. I know that it’s hard to believe but it is true. Paul for instance writes in Romans 8:17-17:

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that
we are children of God, and if children, then heirs-
heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we
suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”

Jesus Himself promised us such a destiny when He said to the believers at Laodicea that, if they remained true to Him and overcame then they would:

“………..sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and
sat with My Father on His throne.” Revelation 3:21

Our destiny is therefore a glorious one and we should do everything possible to make sure that we reach it! It is not “a given” that we will ascend Jesus’ throne and rule with Him. So, we must note the following:

1. Jesus is the great Son of David
He said as much time and time again (Mark 12:35-37) and when He comes again to this world He will do so as the “root and offspring of David.” (Revelation 22:16) Indeed when His mother Mary encountered the Angel Gabriel he told her that her supernatural begotten child would inherit the throne of His father David and thereafter and forever reign over the house of Jacob. (Luke 1:30-33) This reign of Christ will reach to the extremities of the earth and so we are told, again and again in scripture, that He will rule the nations with a “rod of iron.” (Isaiah 11:4; Psalm 2:9; Revelation 2:27; 12:5; 19:15)
The promise then that David would reign forever and that his throne would last forever is fulfilled in Jesus.

2. Jesus the prize of His people
According to scripture only those followers of Christ who suffer with Him will reign with Him! Jesus is the “Pearl of Great Price” (Matthew 13:45-46) and those who truly see His worth will give everything to gain Him. This means to so identify with Him that one becomes hated by the world. His kingdom has nothing to do with this world system (John 18:36) and therefore the “system” will despise and resist those who embrace His eternal kingdom. This is why He was hated, betrayed and ultimately crucified. Real Christianity costs something! Paul recognized this when he wrote “all that would live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2Timothy 3:12) The world is full of Christians who do not recognize the glory of their calling and so they do not seek Jesus with all their hearts and He is consequently not everything to them. What is He to you?

3. Jesus the judge of His people
Those ascending David’s throne will do so because of their works which flow out of His grace in their lives. (Ephesians 2:8-10; Revelation 19:8) These “works” will either be like precious stones in the sight of God or like useless straw. If the latter, we will not reach our ultimate destiny even though we are saved and will live forever in the New Jerusalem. To put it bluntly; we will have no reward. But if we faithfully follow Christ and pursue His perfect will for our lives we will rule and reign with Him. (1Corinthians 3:11-15) What a magnificent promise.

Jesus, after giving His Olivet discourse about His second coming, told a parable about the Ten Virgins. (Matthew 25:1-13) This parable warns us about growing weary and sleepy; spiritually speaking, so that we lose our vibrant relationship with Him and fall into a spiritual slumber. The startling truth of this teaching is that 50% of God’s children fall prey to this disease. The King or Son of David comes and they are caught wanting. This should make us all think.

4. Jesus the guarantee of Israel’s national existence
Jeremiah 33 tells us that as long as day and night are around just so long will Israel exist, not merely as a disinherited people, but as a nation! (Jeremiah 33:24-26) In fact this national preservation of Israel is required because of the promises that God made to David. The same promise was given to Mary by the Angel Gabriel and therefore since Jesus ever lives as the rightful King of Israel He underwrites Israel’s existence! This is precisely why David in Psalm Two tells us that no matter what the Church says or the world says, or the United Nations says, God will install the Son of David on His throne in Jerusalem. That is, old east Jerusalem.(Psalm 2:1-9) There is nothing that anybody can do to change this and those who resist it will, in the end, find themselves on the wrong side of history. The conflict raging in the Middle East today is merely bringing all the enemies of the King out into the open so that He can, in due course, rightfully judge them. (Mark 12:35-37)

When Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey two thousand years ago the people shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Shortly after this the same crowd called for His crucifixion but a day is now coming shortly when the same chorus will ring out and this time He will be welcomed, loved, worshipped and crowned forever as King. David will take His rightful throne and for the first time in human history there will be peace in the world. Even so Lord Jesus come!

Malcolm Hedding.

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

Signs in the Sky – Week 16 / April 15th

2013Devotional
Signs in the sky, blood and fire on earth, columns of smoke and salvation“I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the
earth beneath: blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The
sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into
blood before the coming of the great and awesome day
of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Acts 2:19-21

signs_in_the_sky_resized

Something strange is happening on planet earth in that unusual events and phenomenon are taking place all over the world and in the heavens. Are these natural events or is the One True God sending us a message of warning? The God we serve is a God of love who seeks to reach His world with the message of the cross of Jesus. He will stop at nothing to do this and therefore has promised to send us harbingers of judgment to come. Repentance is His goal but global rebellion and wickedness in contradiction of His revealed word and character must be judged. He therefore has promised to show us signs of warning before it is too late. These signs are now with us! Consider the following:

Signs in the heavens
Just in the last month an asteroid careered across our skies and struck an unknown little town in Russia. The spectacle was impressive to say the least and just a few days later “showering meteorites” crossed our heavens leaving a trail of light like sparkling water. Then another asteroid almost side-swiped our planet as it just missed us and sped on into the darkness of outer space. Now astronomers are telling us that in 2014/5 the phenomenon known as a Tetrad will occur over Israel. This means that four blood red moons will appear at Passover and Tabernacles over the next two years. This is not a usual occurrence and has only happened a few times over the centuries and always when some great, tragic or special event is about to take place in Jerusalem or in the history of the Jewish people. David Dolan, a middle east commentator and journalist of repute, writes, “If we closely examine the last three Tetrads that began on the full moon of Passover and ended a year later on the first night of the annual Feast of Tabernacles, we can clearly see that they have three things in common and all involved the shedding of Jewish blood…” This is sobering indeed and should cause us to seek God more earnestly about what the meaning of all this could be. At the very least He is warning us of things to come. The question is; “Are we listening?’

Signs in the sky
Just a year and a half ago a volcano in Iceland erupted spewing out vast columns of smoke into the sky. At first it was generally ignored until in gained strength and put out such a huge volume of smoke that air travel throughout all of Europe was brought to a halt. We all watched with amazement as this column of smoke rose to the sky and thereby disrupted travel schedules all over the world. At the same time vast quantities of birds began to fall from the skies all over the earth with no apparent reason for doing so. Scientists are completely baffled by this phenomenon and even lately it has continued unabated. Moreover, who can forget the images of the Nuclear Facility meltdown in Japan? A massive tsunami, triggered by an earthquake of vast proportions, sent huge amounts of water into the facility and crippled it. The scenes were astonishing as we saw vapor of smoke rising into the clouds and destruction everywhere. The question again is; “Are we listening?”

Signs in the earth beneath
On the earth we have disrupted weather patterns that are producing winter in summer and summer in autumn and who knows what else. Storms and hurricanes, like never before, are battering our shore lines and even those who subscribe to global warming are baffled because it too often appears as if we are suffering from global cooling. The truth is; all of this has very little to do with global warming but a lot to do with global warning! We attribute all of this to natural phenomena when indeed it has to do with supernatural phenomena. It will increase as humankind continues to ignore God and happily travel down its chosen road of perversion.

Then there are the Tornados that are ripping whole communities apart in the USA chiefly and of course elsewhere. I could go on and on but the point is made. God is doing exactly what He said He would! He is giving signs on the earth beneath. Does anyone get it?

Blood and fire
Conflicts are raging all over the world and millions of people have died in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere. Christians are now the most persecuted group on the earth and the blood of Christian Martyrs is running on many continents. Chiefly this killing of Christians is being done by Muslims and in particular the Muslim Brotherhood who now controls Egypt and is seizing control of much of the Middle East. In Sudan the Muslim North murdered two million Christians from the South while the world did very little to stop it. The blood of 100,000 people now runs in Syria and fire rages everywhere as the scourge of war ravages city after city. The conflict is spilling over into Lebanon, Turkey and may even embroil Israel.

Who can forget the awful images of 9/11 when the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York exploded in fire and caused the blood of many to run in the streets! These are terrifying things and I have a sense that there is more to follow if we do not repent, seek God and rectify our ways.

All of the above most certainly appears to fulfill Joel’s prophetic oracle. Who can deny it? Nevertheless, though the picture is bleak and foreboding it is in fact one of the patience and love of God since He is trying to get His world’s attention. The death of Jesus, that splits human history down the middle, is the only hope for all of humankind and therefore these signs from the God of heaven are designed to make us call out to Him in repentance.(2Peter 3:9;Revelation 16:11) Those who do will be saved! What a wonderful promise and what a glorious deliverance the world can have from a lost eternity. Peter also assured his listeners that, in a day of considerable upheaval and danger, God would pour out His Spirit upon all flesh and thereby empower His Church to do exploits for Him. This is our day to rise and shine for soon our redemption will draw nigh.

Malcolm Hedding.

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

The Christ – Week 17 / April 22nd

2013Devotional

Hebrews 13:8-15

1. The Glory of Christ
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”
He is altogether perfect, righteous, loving, compassionate, caring and saving and never changes. All these qualities of His character are brought into focus by His death on the cross. This finished work, when accepted, puts us into a place where He forgives our sins, is always with us, on our side and trustworthy. He does not change meaning that when we repent of our wickedness and demonstrate through holy living, by His grace, that we are on His side; all of Heaven’s power invested in Him is ours! There is no event, circumstance or trial that is outside of His control and there is no ritual, standard of behavior or food restriction that can replace Him. Blessed are the people who know this.

This is the glory of Christ!

2. The Reproach of Christ
“Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.”
The city rejected Him because His righteousness tormented it and thus collided with its unrighteousness. His light exposed its darkness and, loving this darkness, it could not live with or receive His light. It therefore scorned Him, mocked Him, hated Him and crucified Him; outside the city. Little did they know that by doing this they were creating more light!

We who embrace His light will suffer the same fate. If our message is hated and rejected it is because we have become extensions of His message and will therefore likewise share in His reproach. We cannot and will not avoid this. John Wesley wrote a word of encouragement to a prominent medical doctor, that got saved in one of his meetings, and penned these words, “I hope that by this time next week your name stinketh!”

However, we are all looking for a city wherein His light and righteousness is everything and, like the air, everywhere. Our affliction is only momentary; so let us embrace it recognizing that we cannot serve Jesus in this world and be popular.

3. The Exaltation of Christ
“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”
We were so fashioned by God that when we embrace His salvation restoration plan we begin to function as He designed us to. This means that we begin to worship God. Worship is the atmosphere of the city of God. Christians have a natural desire to praise God and so we begin to give Him the “fruit of our lips.” Christians who cannot or will not praise God verbally need a “spiritual spark plug.” Something needs to be put right in their hearts. What’s going on in your heart?

Malcolm Hedding

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

Christian Transformation – Week 18 / April 29th

2013Devotional

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as 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. The Need for transformation
The rebellion of humankind against God brought awful consequences to the human race. (Romans 3:23) We became “fallen beings” with evil and darkened imaginations (Ephesians 4:17-19) and hearts that are desperately sick and wicked above all things. (Jeremiah 17:9) There is therefore no such thing, in God’s sight, as the goodness of men and women. (Romans 3:10-18)

B. The grounds of transformation
Is the cross of Jesus only for by it, and it alone, we have:
1. The removal of the curse of God from over our lives. (Galatians 3:10-14)
2. The removal of our sins. (1John 2:2)
3. The removal of our sin. ( Romans 5:10)….and,
4. The removal of our alienation from God. (2corinthians 5:18)

C. The nature of transformation
A Christian is one who picks up his or her cross daily and follows Jesus. (Matthew 16:24-27)This cross is the crucifixion of our wicked ways. We must therefore allow the powerful life of Jesus to fully invade our hearts and lives and we declare that this is so when we take communion. (1Corinthians 11:27-31) Paul here reminds us that, to claim a Christian experience and testimony without living out its reality is an affront to God and an insult to the cross and for this reason some Christians are weak in body, sick and have even passed away prematurely!!

D. The mechanics of transformation
Transformation takes place in our lives when we repent or change our minds. (Romans 12:1-2) Our minds control our emotions and our emotions control our actions. So, whatever or whoever gets control of your mind will control you. (2Peter 2:19) This is why scripture exhorts us to not let the sun go down on our anger. (Ephesians 4:26) If you prolong a sense of wrong done to you, you will feed your emotions in a way that your response may be sinful. Scripture commands us to change all the time and this by the renewing of our minds. (Ephesians 4:20-24) It is vitally important that you train your mind to shun evil and focus upon those things that are good and holy. (Colossians 3:1-3; 1Peter 1:13) In other words, do what you cannot do and God will do it for you!

Transformation is foundational to the Christian experience because it enables us to share in the holiness of Jesus. Without this holiness we shall not see God! (Hebrews12:14)

Malcolm Hedding

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

Life in the Word and Spirit – Week 19 / May 6th

2013Devotional

“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

In just a short time we will celebrate Shavuot or Pentecost which is one of the three great pilgrim festivals of the Bible, the others being Passover and Tabernacles. The Feast of Pentecost is a harvest festival plus it was on this Feast that the Torah (five books of Moses) or Word of the living God was given to Israel at Sinai, that is, fifty days after leaving Egypt, and it was on this same day that the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the waiting Disciples in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. (Acts 2:1-4)

Pentecost is in every way a joyous celebration as it focuses on God’s “marriage” to Israel at Sinai for it is here at this holy mountain that the Lord God of Israel gives His people a Law that is rich in revelation and instruction and thereby galvanizes them into statehood. The journey of Israel in the wilderness to this climatic place and beyond is most interesting as, apart from the ritual pertaining to the priestly consecration, the focus falls upon; the pillar of cloud and of fire that hung over the camp in the wilderness; the ordination of the seventy elders; the provision of quail and the grace and power that brings forth the Temple of God or Wilderness Tabernacle.

The first of these, the pillar of cloud and of fire, reminds us of the heavenly call to be obedient. When the pillar was lifted, by day or by night, camp was struck and the Israelites went out to follow the cloud or fire and thereby they followed God Himself. Samuel reminds us that “obedience is better than sacrifice” (1Samuel 15:22-23) and the book of Acts tells us that God gives His Holy Spirit to those who obey Him. (Acts5:32)

The ordination of the seventy elders (Numbers 11:16-17) places the biblical emphasis upon delegation and ability. The “seventy” could not function until the power of God’s Spirit was upon them. The message is clear; to obey without the means to obey is obedience “still born”. For this reason Jesus told His disciples not to leave Jerusalem until they were endued “with power from on high.” (Luke24:49)(Acts 1:8) Once again the message is clear; if we have the Word of God without the Power of God we shall dry up; if we have the Power of God without the Word of God we shall blow up. But, if we have the Word of God and the Power of God we shall grow up and serve the interests of God’s kingdom on earth! Without the power of the Holy Spirit we cannot go into the world and truly build Jesus’ Church.

The Quail episode recorded in Numbers11:31-35 is also interesting because God’s supernatural provision leads to an outburst of His anger. Anger because the Israelites gorged themselves and thus behaved as if God would not be in their future. A reminder of Who we serve and that we are stewards of His blessings. Having forgotten this they died and were buried at a place called “Hattaavah” meaning, “graves of the craving.” When we abuse God’s provision and abundance we die spiritually and lose our way. Many a Christian has died at Hattaavah because they have been too busy receiving and getting than serving and doing! The Church of Jesus is not a grandstand and should not be filled with spectators but with participators! This too is the abiding message of the Day of Pentecost recorded in Acts chapter two. The Disciples of Jesus were filled with the Spirit so as to go into all the world and serve.

Lastly, Zechariah, the restoration Prophet, reminds us that all of God’s work is pursued through God’ ability. “Not by might, nor by power but by my Spirit says the Lord.” This power of God’s Spirit builds a Temple that is completed with shouts of grace. (Zechariah4:6-7) All this also reminds us that spiritual life is sustained by corporate life. That is, we should worship together and we fail God when we forsake our assembling together. (Hebrews 10:24-25) Certainly the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the first Christians in the upper room was a “together experience.” (Acts1:1) Only the Holy Spirit can give us loving unity and order and so when we claim to have His anointing but cannot live together with other believers in unity and love we deny our claim. Pentecost birthed the Church and formed a people into a community of love no matter what their national, racial, status or gender differences were. When the Spirit came the confusion of tongues that began at Babel was reversed and the multitude heard them speaking as one in the tongues of men. (Acts 2:5-12) The multitudes are ever waiting for truth and they will respond as they did on the Day of Pentecost when the Church embraces and demonstrates the truth of the Word and Spirit of God.

Given all of the above it is clear that we have much to learn from the Festival of Pentecost.

Malcolm Hedding.

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

The Race Set before Us – Week 21/22 / May 27th

2013Devotional

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded
by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay
aside every weight, and the sin which so
easily ensnares us, and let us run with
endurance the race that is set before us
looking unto Jesus…….”
Hebrews 12:1-2

The Book of Hebrews has many exhortations to wavering believers and most of these are punctuated by the words “let us”. For instance the writer states in chapter ten, “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” and again, in the same chapter he writes “let us hold fast the confession of our hope” and “let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” There are many more of these “let us passages” and we would do well to find them and meditate upon them. It is worth noting from the outset that the writer states “let us” and not “let me!” Christianity is a community experience of Jesus’ life, power and presence. It begins with a personal commitment to Jesus as Lord and Savior but the full reality of Christ’s life is brought to us in the assembled body of Jesus’ people. This is why the same writer also states “let us not forsake our assembling together as is the habit of some.” Sadly this bad habit of lone ranger Christianity has been appropriated by many Christians. They remain carnal and immature because of it!

So, the first few verses of chapter twelve remind us of the following:
1. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses
This means that millions of believers have gone before us in triumph and are now seated in a heavenly grandstand observing us as we now run the race of being Christ followers. I wonder what they think of us? The Author writes “we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses’; meaning that a vast company of saints are closely monitoring our progress. This is an awesome thought and it should spur us on to the finish line.

2. We are to run unencumbered
The purpose of this “race” is that we should all appropriate the likeness of Jesus. We can all finish this race together and thus we all become winners but we have to lay aside “every weight” and “the sin which so easily ensnares us.” A weight is a pursuit or hobby that gets in the way of our appropriate commitments to Jesus. There is nothing wrong with a “weight” but if it absorbs our time and energy to a degree that we neglect the kingdom of God in us and around us then it is a hindrance and we should discard it. Sin of course is that which offends God and we should never play around with it. Sadly, many Christians run with these hindrances in their lives and thereby disappoint God and often bring the fair name of Jesus into disrepute. We should take this exhortation very seriously!

3. We are to have endurance
Christianity is not for sissies! When we decide to follow Jesus we decide in essence to go against the prevailing culture and thinking around us. We become misfits and suffer ridicule and opposition and then we also have an internal enemy in the form of our fallen nature and we have to battle this daily. Moreover, we have a greater enemy in the form of the unseen powers of darkness and so we find ourselves grappling with evil unseen principalities as well. The believers addressed in this epistle were embroiled in this conflict and were in danger of turning back in defeat. They therefore required backbone or endurance. It strikes me that nothing has changed and we need to stir ourselves into action as we have at our disposal the great and mighty power of Jesus in us and around us. Endurance imparts spiritual muscle to us, it imparts faith and by it we appropriate the character of Jesus. Every Christ follower needs endurance!

4. We are to look unto Jesus
Jesus is the pattern, power and prize of our calling. As we focus upon Him our trials and difficulties subside in the revelation of Who He is. He is greater than all and so our “giants” become grasshoppers as nothing in this seen or unseen universe is greater, more powerful and more loving than Him. It is when we focus upon our problems, obstacles and difficulties that we so easily give way to discouragement and faithlessness. Look unto Jesus all the time and you will be an overcomer. John the Apostle had a revelation of Jesus that transformed, overwhelmed and amazed Him and so he was told by Jesus to send this revelation to the Seven Churches of Asia. Note; the revelation was not sent to individual believers but to the churches. We should therefore renew our corporate commitment to Christ, cherish His Body on earth and rejoice in His soon coming.
Dear friends, the hour is late and we must arise, shake off our spiritual snares and follow Jesus as never before. Don’t leave this as a mere thought or interesting perspective on scripture; do it and you will be blessed and filled with joy.

Malcolm Hedding

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

The Great Danger Facing Christians – Week 23 / June 3rd

2013Devotional

“therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard lest we drift away.”
Hebrews 2:1

The Book of Hebrews is a letter written to believers in Jesus who were falling away from or in danger of falling away from their faith in Jesus. The first few chapters open with a description of the excellence of Jesus in that He is greater than Angels and Moses and is in fact the very visible expression of all that God is. Jesus is the image of the unseen God and the Creator of all the universe. He constitutes God’s last word to humankind and therefore, given His amazing credentials, He should be listened to. God has nothing more to say to this world as He has said it all in the death of this all glorious Son of God. We would do well to listen!

However, the great danger facing Christians is drifting away! We can become discouraged, lazy and disinterested to the degree that we slowly grow immune to spiritual things and just slowly but surely drift away. Drifting is not a conscious action; it is very often something that sets in when we neglect the “anchors of our lives” and get preoccupied with other less important things. So many Christians have just drifted away over the years having allowed their moorings to come loose. Very often this dangerous phenomenon starts in the Church, not outside of it! The signs are all too clear to see in that the drifter no longer serves, rejoices or stays long after a meeting to fellowship. He or she attends as few weekly meetings as possible and definitely the prayer meeting will be missed. Spiritual drifters do the minimum though hoping one day to receive the maximum! They may well be very surprised as the writer goes on to warn us that we shall not escape if we neglect so great a salvation.

The hallmark of the Book of Hebrews is the “Let us” passages and thus the writer, also in the first few chapters, exhorts us to avoid the trap of drifting by diligently pressing into the “rest” of salvation that Jesus has purchased for us; by coming boldly into the presence of God, by keeping our confession of faith and by giving space in our lives for the Word of God, which is sharper than any two-edged sword, to work in our lives. We must remember that our Christian walk demands commitment, patience and faith. Jesus, we are told, learned obedience through the things that He suffered and, during His days on earth, prayed with great cryings and tears to His Father in heaven who heard and answered Him because He was no drifter and held tightly to the moorings of His spiritual life. We must follow Him!

We live in a world that in so many ways constantly cries for our attention. We must learn to discern which “cries” are really important. The writer of this book tells us that spiritual maturity has to do with discerning those things that will enhance our relationship with God and then embracing them. Too often Christians go the other way and thereby demonstrate that they are immature and in need, once again, of learning the first principles of their faith. Drifters are people who have no appreciation of that which Jesus has done for them and this is why they live dangerously.

Malcolm Hedding.

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

The Narrow Road – Week 24/25 / June 13th

2013Devotional

Phillipians 3:17-21; 4:1

The scriptures are clear about the fact that Christianity is not a road of “easy believism”. That is the way we walk is a narrow one requiring dedication, commitment and the payment of a cost. Many western Christians know nothing of these things and perceive Christianity as nothing more than a hobby by which once a week one listens to a religious sermon delivered by a competent religious expert! Paul reminds us in the passage above of the values that we are to embrace as God’s people. We note the following:

1. The Call to Model V17
Christians are to model the life of Christ for others to follow! Paul clearly invites believers to follow his example since his life is a pattern for them to duplicate. Paul knew that the power of this salvation in Jesus is effective in transforming lives and those who embrace it should reflect it and call others to model it.

2. The Call to be Careful V18-19
So many Christians claim to follow Jesus but in reality are pursuing other interests that do not have Jesus’ kingdom as a priority. These “interests” are very often legitimate, like a career, but they become illegitimate because they supplant the first place that Jesus should occupy in our lives. The writer of the book of Hebrews called this embracing a “hindrance.” Paul is brutal about this situation as he states that this condition makes us an “enemy of the cross of Christ” because it means that we have followed our carnal appetites and we thereby set ourselves up for destruction. Strong words indeed and worth of taking very seriously.

3. The Call to be Properly Focused V 20-21
The truth is we are only passing through this wicked and dying world and our true and real citizenship is not here but in Heaven. Our hope is not in a broken world but in the future glory that is awaiting us in Heaven. This hope includes the transformation of our bodies into the glory of Jesus body by His glorious coming. This and nothing else is our focus. We are not trying to transform this sinful world in any shape or manner but we are aggressively, by the Gospel of Jesus, calling people out of it. Those who hear our message are to live separate lives not isolated ones. We are not to be a “holy huddle” but a holy people focused completely on the hope of the resurrection by Jesus second coming.

Closing Thoughts- The Call to Stand Firm 4:1
The first verse of chapter four of Paul’s epistle to the Church at Colossae constitutes his final exhortation. That is, we are to embrace all that he has written, believe it and stand firm. Meaning that we recognize what we are called to and do not change or waver. The Christian world today is filled with false teaching and error and many, sadly, are falling prey to these traps. In writing to Timothy Paul, by the Spirit warns that in the end time many in the visible church will give heed to and embrace “doctrines of demons.” These doctrines abound today and it will take real courage and determination to stand firm and be faithful to Christ. May it be so of our lives.

Malcolm Hedding.

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries

The Second Coming of Jesus – Week 26 / June 23rd

2013Devotional

“Behold, I am coming as a thief, blessed is he
who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he
walk naked and they see his shame.”

Revelation 16:15

How amazing it is that as we near the Second Coming of Jesus Christian leaders are scoffing at the idea and even mocking their fellow Christians for believing in Jesus’ soon coming. This of course was predicted by the Apostle Peter who wrote that scoffers would come in the last days mocking the idea of Jesus’ soon coming. (2Peter 3:3-4) The Book of Revelation is totally ignored by these people and here again they imply that those who do examine its passages are a little crazy etc. As for Jesus’ Olivet discourse (Matthew 24 and Mark 13); they mishandle its context in an attempt to sell us the idea that it has all been fulfilled by the events of AD 70 and a little beyond. In the end all this means that we are left with no indicators as to Jesus’ coming and thus we should give our attention to more urgent matters. The question we have to ask ourselves is; is this true? I think not for the following reasons:

1. The early Church leaders lived in the light of Jesus’ second coming.
They understood that this is the blessed hope of the Church (Titus 2:11-15) as it will complete our redemptive experience by bringing our bodies to perfection through the resurrection (Philippians3:2021). Indeed it is the Holy Spirit Who births an expectancy in us about the soon return of Jesus as this helps to keep us focused and to walk lightly through this world (1John3:1-3). When the Church abandons this expectation it drifts into spiritual lethargy and error. Every great revival brought with it an expectation of Jesus’ soon coming. Indeed the first century believers greeted one another with the words, “Maranatha.” (1Corinthians 16:22) Meaning; the Lord is coming soon!

2. The early Church saw in type the end-time scenario.
Jesus’ teaching on His second coming included what we theologically call progressive prophetic fulfillment. That is, similar events take place more than once. We have many examples of this in scripture. For instance the first manifestation of the Abomination of Desolation is that of Antiochus Epiphanes who in 168 BC desecrated the temple (Daniel 9:27). This happened again in AD 70 when Titus desecrated the Temple (Matthew 24:15-21) and scripture affirms that it will happen again just before Jesus returns (2Thessalonians 2:1-8). So, in Paul’s day there was a global government in place in the form of the Roman Empire, Caesar worship was demanded of all those who lived in the realm and Jerusalem became the flash point of history. It was besieged and attacked by the Romans. This picture Jesus painted for them in His Olivet Discourse and most certainly linked it to His second coming. In fact the Church was saved from the carnage that followed in AD70 precisely because they viewed this “impending distress” (1Corinthians 7:26, 29, 31) as a precursor to the Savior’s coming. They were thus right and wrong but their heightened expectation of the soon return of Jesus preserved them.

This end-time picture, just as Jesus said it would, is building up again! The Jews are back in Jerusalem (Luke 21:24), a global new world government and financial order is fast materializing and Jerusalem is the flash-point of global conflict. Jesus is coming! It is time to trim our lamps with fresh oil because the “midnight cry” is about to shake the earth (Matthew 25:1-13). Do not be deceived by those who scoff at these things and call us to get involved with more important spiritual things.

3. The early Church heard a message from Jesus that called them to get ready for His coming.
The first few chapters of the Book of Revelation convey an urgent message to the Seven Churches of Asia. That message is clear; Jesus is coming soon! (Revelation 1:7-8; 2:25; 3:3; 3:11) Indeed the closing chapters of this book also addressed to these churches, state that He is coming quickly and they must get ready and keep their garments clean ( Revelation 19:7-9; 22:7,12). Since Jesus did not come in their lifetime was He mocking them and leading them astray? The answer is no. He was speaking to them and all generations of Christians to follow because He knew that the expectation of His return will keep them out of the world and close to Himself. Those who abandon this message get entangled in the world and false notions of the kingdom of God. There is nothing more glorious than focusing on Jesus’ soon return and the transformation of our mortal bodies into the state of immortality and perfection (1Corinthians 15:50-58). This is the glorious hope that is set before us and it will happen.

Conclusion
The events in Israel, the Church and the world today are setting the stage, just as they did in AD 70, for Jesus’ return. Jerusalem is back in Jewish hands and is the great bone of contention world-wide. It is time to look up because our redemption, the transformation of our bodies, is nigh (Luke 21:28). Be sure then to live a holy life, be filled with the Spirit, pray for Israel and do not use the world!

Maranatha!

Malcolm Hedding

©Malcolm Hedding Ministries