2 Corinthians 13:14

The Father of Faith

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“If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”—Galatians 3:29

God created a perfect universe. Then things went terribly wrong as Adam and Eve rebelled against God and brought sin and death into the world. But this was not the end of the story. God had a plan. You see, with the coming of death, our marvelous and merciful God also gave the promise of life. 

In Genesis 3, God explained how it would all go down: women would experience pain and labour in order to bring new life into the world . . . but new life would come. And that new life would one day produce a Seed who would crush the head of the wicked serpent (Genesis 3:15). Regarding this reveal, John Gill wrote, “The Messiah, the eminent seed of the woman, (would) bruise the head of the old serpent the devil, that is, destroy him . . . break and confound all his schemes, and ruin all his works, crush his whole empire, strip him of his authority and sovereignty, and particularly of his power over death, and his tyranny over the bodies and souls of men; all which was done by Christ, when he became incarnate.”

Let’s explore the imperfect man of faith through whom God chose to enact His perfect plan of salvation and bring about the promised Seed and Saviour. His name was Abraham. Right about now, you may be asking yourself, “Why did God choose Abraham?” “What was so special about him?”

We’re first introduced to Abraham, a descendent of Shem, in Genesis 12. Here, God instructs him to pack up and leave his home and all his comforts behind, to uproot his family and travel to a foreign land. Interestingly, Abraham wasn’t even told which land. God told him to “go to the land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). But along with this call came a promise: “I will make you into a great nation . . . . All the families on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2–3). And it’s in this moment where we see the reason God chose him. 

It wasn’t because Abraham was special, talented, or righteous. He was flawed, he made mistakes, and he was far from perfect. But God chose him anyway. Why? Because He knew Abraham would obey. One Bible commentator wrote, “As soon as he understood what God was saying, he started packing. It was instant obedience. It may have taken several days, or even weeks or months, to make final preparation for the trip, but in his mind he was already on the way. From then on, everything he did revolved around obeying God’s call.” 

James 2:23 tells us, ‘Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.’ He was even called the friend of God.” At 75 years old, Abraham answered God’s call and headed out with his family. The interesting thing about God’s promise of making him a great nation and blessing the whole world through Abraham’s offspring was that Abraham and his wife Sarah had no offspring. How would God make a great nation out of a childless old man and his wife? Well, Abraham wondered the same thing! So, God revealed His plan and told Abraham that he would have a child, and that eventually his descendants would outnumber the stars! And guess what? Despite the odds, despite the logic and circumstances, Abraham believed God! 

The story of Abraham teaches us our role in God’s plan of salvation. It’s not work, but faith and worship. In Genesis 12, Abraham received the promise by faith, and immediately after that he built an altar, a place of worship. Why? Because he understood very clearly that neither his right standing with God nor the promises God made to him were dependent on who he was or what he did, but on God’s faithfulness. 

As you go through your day today, remember there is power in worshiping God for all He is and the strength He gives you. As we see with Abraham, it’s not about what we can do, but what He has done. So, believe in His promises and worship Him, because “you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ . . . And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26–27, 29).

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Posted by Stephen Baragwanath in Christmas, Devotional, 0 comments

The perfect gift at Christmas

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Why Christmas Is for Everyone

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.”—Romans 3:22–24

Every year we celebrate Christmas. It’s a beautiful time of joy and good tidings. We decorate a tree, string up lights, sing beautiful carols, and give wonderful gifts.
And every year we Christians like to remind everyone that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” But how often do we truly sit and reflect on why He is the reason for the season. Why is there a season at all? Why did Jesus leave heaven to come to Earth? 

The short answer? Our sin. That’s right, the story of God’s perfect gift to us was set into motion by the very first act of imperfection. You see, the Lord loves us so much. He made us in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:27). We were the crowning jewel of God’s creation, made to glorify Him and enjoy a perfect relationship in His presence forever as His beloved children. This was our destiny, what we were made to experience. It’s what Adam and Eve experienced. They walked with God, talked with God, and enjoyed His presence. They got to live their calling and enjoy the fruits of the Garden (Genesis 2:15–16). But then it all went wrong . . . when the fall happened.  

Adam and Eve allowed their pride and selfish impulses—their desire to be “like God”—to cloud their judgment. And because they allowed themselves to be deceived by the serpent, they, and all of us, fell from grace. In that moment, the apostle Paul tells us, “sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12 NIV). The worst part is that the very thing they were seeking, to be like God, they already had. They bore His image and likeness and His imprint was on their hearts and souls. 

“Sin, produces alienation and enmity towards God, or, in other words, a moral separation between the sinner and God, which is spiritual death; and the contrary to this is to be quickened, or given life – to be reconciled to God.” The sin of Adam and Eve infected all of their children, every single person in human history. It caused a rift, a separation between us and a holy and perfect God. Every child born since then has been born spiritually dead, separated from God—except for One. Thus, if we are born spiritually dead, once physical death has occurred, it becomes a permanent death with no chance for reconciliation. 

In Romans 6:23 (NIV), Paul says, “For the wages of sin is death.” The sin in the Garden of Eden brought immediate spiritual death upon all humanity, and the final debt for one’s sin is the complete death that occurs upon physical death. Thus, in order to cover the debt of sin (which is death), something (or someone) else needed to die in place of the sinner. For this reason, the act of sacrifice became necessary in order to pay for the debt of sin. Why? Because the cost of our sin is death “and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22 NIV). 

The first instance of this is seen directly after the fall. In Genesis 3:21, it says, “And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.” You see, in order for God to clothe Adam and Eve and take away their shame, He had to kill an animal, to shed its blood. But here’s the thing, “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). It simply wasn’t enough. Only a perfect sacrifice from a perfect, eternal God would do. And this is what makes the Christmas story so powerful!

It’s the moment God’s glorious plan became reality. How? “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). He paid the wages of our sins, once and for all, in order to give us the gift of God, which is “eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Because of Jesus, we can glorify and enjoy God even more intimately than Adam and Eve ever could. We not only get to walk with God, but also we have the Spirit of God within us!

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Posted by Stephen Baragwanath in Christmas, Devotional, The Gospel of John, 0 comments

Is it the end of world as we known it?

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Stay Alert to the Signs  

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
Revelation 22:20

In the pages of the Bible, God has given us “signs of the times,” we just have to look for them. And these signs are telling us that Jesus Christ is coming again – soon.

What are some of these signs of the times?

The re-gathering of the nation Israel to its ancient homeland is a gigantic and unmistakable sign of His soon-coming. Linked closely to that important divine indicator is the Bible’s warning that after the Jewish people have re-gathered in their homeland, their enemies will threaten to destroy them.

Anyone who follows the news, of course, will immediately think of Iran’s ongoing threats to “wipe Israel off the map.”

We can look around the world on any given day and watch as events unfold just as the Bible predicted they would in “the last days.” What kinds of events? Things like global turmoil, an increase in earthquakes, tsunamis, the crash of the stock market, rapid changes in the global economy, the fading of the United States of America as the economic superpower, the rise of a united Europe, the move toward a one-world currency and now a global pandemic. These could all be signs of the end – but when, no one knows.

Signs of the times. Jesus told us that we are to be aware of the times and the seasons. In other words, to stay alert and keep our eyes open.

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Believe With Your Heart

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.  Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.
1 John 3:2‭-‬5

It’s one thing for people to be interested in or even study Bible prophecy in an intellectual way, trying to decipher names and places and events like some complex puzzle. However, I think we need to approach this very significant subject with not only our minds, but also with our hearts.

By that I mean we don’t want to merely consider these things in an abstract academic way, but rather that we must allow God to move our hearts and change our behaviour because of what we read. Someone has said that the Bible wasn’t only written for our information or even our inspiration, but for our transformation.

When we read about the workings of God and the great events just over the horison, it ought to stir us, creating a sense of awe in our hearts. If we really understand what the Bible is saying about the imminent return of Jesus, it should cause us to want to live a more godly life.

God wants us to know and understand that He keeps His Word. Just as surely as He kept His Word with prophesies that foretold the arrival of the Messiah in Bethlehem, He wants us to know He will keep His Word about the prophesies pertaining to the return of the Messiah.

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Be Ready to Go  

It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.  It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak.  But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.  You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
Luke 12:37‭-‬40

When I go on a holiday, I always pack my bag the night before so I can be ready. That’s the idea, here. That we, in a sense, should have our bags packed, and sitting close to the door in easy reach. Why? Because we could leave this world at any moment.

So here is a question we ought to ask ourselves periodically. When we are about to go to a certain place or do a certain thing, would we be embarrassed if Jesus came back when we are right in the middle of what we doing? If the answer to that question is yes, then it would be best for us to refrain from doing that activity or going to that place. The truth is, we can study Bible prophesy all day long and can get excited about it, but if it isn’t impacting us in the way that we live, then we’re simply missing the point.

Stay ready. Stay steady. That doesn’t mean that we are standing around on street corners staring up into the sky like a bunch of idiots. But what it does mean is that we hold onto the awareness that Christ could return at any time. And living in the light of Christ’s imminent return should make a difference in our behaviour.

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Posted by Stephen Baragwanath in Devotional, The Gospel of John, 0 comments