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Women, God’s Indispensable Gift

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A mother’s heart

A mother’s heart, a women’s, is best defined by her unselfish love, her generosity in everything she does and gives and being there to raise you with a Christian foundation. Thank you, Mom, for letting me feel God’s love radiate through you.

In a short space of time, my Mom and Mom-in-law have passed away. Losing your Mom is the most significant pain you will ever come to know. My wife and I know this all to well.

Celebrate Women

But today is not about that pain or that we’ve lost our mothers; today is about celebrating not only Mom’s, but all women, “God created women, because He couldn’t be everywhere”. Okay, that last sentence is completely inaccurate, God is everywhere, but it does describe the role a Mom, a woman, has in our lives.

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When God asked a young King Solomon whatever he wants God will give it to him, Solomon asked for wisdom:

5At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”, and “12I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.” (1 Kings 3:5,12).

Wisdom Infinite

There is no doubt King Solomon was the wisest man ever to live, there it written in the Bible, no more evidence is needed. Solomon wrote the book Proverbs, so we can undoubtedly know that the wisdom he dispenses is crucial and needed for Godly living. Proverbs has helped billions of people through out the world and millennia to live better lives. Further proof of Solomon’s wisdom is this: he ends Proverbs, the final chapter and verses, with a great testimonial tribute to women. That’s right; the last words of the book of Proverbs don’t extend praise to God or exalt manhood. They speak of the beautiful, indispensable role that women play in God’s creation. “31 Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” (Proverbs 31:31)

A real woman is described in this passage:

Proverbs 31:10-31

Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character

10 A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.

13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.

16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household

    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

God fearing women

A real woman is a God-fearing, dedicated, and independent woman. She bravely dives into leadership roles and takes on challenging positions with courage and confidence. Granted, it’s impossible for any woman to live up to the full description of the Proverbs 31 woman, but I believe, this passage is meant to inspire women to be the unique, persistent, fearless women God created you to be. Therefore, push past the boundaries our society sets, and those you set for yourselves, and embrace your God-given potential with God’s ever-present help (Psalm 46:1).

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Thank you Mrs B, Thanks Mom’s

Thank you to my wife, Lou-Hette for all you are, all you do, and mostly for being the confident, God-fearing, God loving, faithful woman and wife that you are.

My wife, Lou-Hette

I hope, I pray, you take the time to say thanks to your mother and the special women in your life, whether it’s your wife, your daughter, your grandmother in a special way. No she isn’t perfect, and no she doesn’t do everything right, but she is God’s gift to us men, so be thankful and grateful. She sacrifices for you and does what she can to prepare you, support you, love you, to be a loving, caring, strong person. Our world cannot make it without women. Thank you for all you do.

Thank you Mom M and Mom R for being all you could be.

Mom Rose and Mom Marinda
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Posted by Stephen Baragwanath in Devotional, 0 comments

The Gospel of John – Make Way

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Last posts in this series 

Welcome back to the series on the The Gospel of John. Sharing the Gospel with others is a direct commandment from Jesus. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” Matthew 28:19. What does it mean to make disciples of all men? We will get into that later in this series. I have been sharing the Gospel on my YouTube channel for a while now, and also sharing with people directly.

There is just something that I find really special about sharing the Gospel one small part at a time. Not only does it make it easier for you, the reader, to follow and understand, but it gives me such a sense of enjoyment and peace being able to do this.

In peace I will lie down and sleep,

for you alone, Lord,

make me dwell in safety

Psalm 4:8

John the Baptist Denies Being the Messiah

19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”

21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”

He said, “I am not.”

“Are you the Prophet?”

He answered, “No.”

22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”

24 Now the Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

26 “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”

28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Conversation

Here we have a conversation between John the Baptist and the local religious leaders. Specifically, these in verse 19 are the legalistic Pharisees (John 1:24). Some Pharisees were extremely devout, but had a tendency to be cold and arrogant. It was completely fair for the Pharisees to question the Baptist. John’s ministry must have been quite popular or challenging to attract official investigation. Investigating a strange message was a good step, but their search doesn’t seem to be very sincere. Baptising converts to Judaism was common, but the Baptist was calling on Jews to repent and be baptised. The Baptist makes it clear that he is not the “Promised One,” but equally clear that his mission is to prepare the way for that One.

John Testifies About Jesus

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

Lamb of God

John immediately describes Jesus as “The Lamb of God.” when He sees Him coming. Lambs were required as a yearly sacrifice for all Jewish families for their sins, this was the Passover celebration. The connection to the Passover is the primary reason Jesus is referred to as “The Lamb of God” and Jesus’ crucifixion would save us from our sins permanently.

John’s mission was to make the path clear for Jesus. Because the Baptist was not the Messiah, he pointed all attention and honour towards Jesus, rather than himself. He had gone so far as to say he wasn’t worthy to untie the Promised One’s sandals (John 1:27). John also repeats that Jesus “was before me,” a reference to Jesus’ divinity. Remember, John was born several months before Jesus, and yet, he knows that Christ existed before he did, as God (John 1:1). John can now finally say “He’s here!”

Baptism

John’s purpose in calling people to repentance, demonstrated by baptism, was to open the path of understanding for Jesus. Once Christ appeared, it was time for John to step aside.

John saw a vision of a dove, representative of the Holy Spirit, descend and remain on Jesus. In other Gospel accounts, it is recorded that John baptised Jesus and a dove descended on Him. This confirmed for John that Jesus was the Messiah.

Jesus has come

John makes the point of mentioning that Jesus has come to baptise with the Holy Spirit, in contrast to his own ministry of water baptism. This spiritual baptism would not be complete until the day of Pentecost, after Jesus’ resurrection.

John has already told the people what he saw. Finally, he testifies to something he has seen with his own eyes. This personal testimony is important as Jesus refers to it later, when explaining why people ought to believe Him, one piece of evidence Jesus mentions is the testimony John the Baptist (John 5:32–33).

Make way for King Jesus
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Posted by Stephen Baragwanath in The Gospel of John, 1 comment

The Gospel of John – Light of the world

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Last posts in this series 

Welcome back to this series on the The Gospel of John. We left off last time recognising that Jesus Christ was present at Creation, Creation could not have happened without Him as it took place through Him, and that Jesus came into the world, as human as what you and I are, to be the light of the world – He came to shine light into the darkness.

Today we pick up from John 1 verse 6 and we will cover up to verse 18.

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The Word Became Flesh – John 1:6-18

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

This is the introduction of John the Baptist. (Careful not to confuse him with John, one of the Jesus’ apostles, this is a different John commonly known as John the Baptist). John the Baptist is Jesus’ cousin, the son of Elizabeth (Luke 1:41-44). John was a spiritual powerhouse, sent by God ahead of Jesus, to call Israel to repentance. Some thought he was the Messiah, but his role was to prepare the way for the true Messiah, Jesus.

John the Baptist’s role is central to the Gospel accounts. He was never interested in fame or fortune. He is the witness who came to testify about the light of Jesus, not just that they would learn to see, but that they would believe. John was converting and preparing others, by witnessing of Jesus coming, baptising Jews, softening their hearts, in preparation for Christ. This is a fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 40:3:

“A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare

    the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
    a highway for our God.”

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Light is symbolic of life, knowledge, goodness and used to give us the ability to see. But in the context of this Scripture, the light is not to enable us to see the physical world, but to open our eyes to the fact that Jesus is the true light. Christ is the one and only, true and perfect, light – the only way to see heaven. The best part is that unlike the law of Moses which was intended for the Jews, the light that Jesus is, opens the path, the highway, for all people, Jews and Gentiles, to heaven.

The sad part is that people reject Him. They reject the knowledge brought by Jesus. This is the worldly mindset which rejects God, His Power and His Word. This is why repentance is the core message of the Gospel – to turn away from the darkness and move into the light. There is more than enough evidence in the Bible to make the right decision but there are still so many who reject Him out of pride and arrogance or to push their own personal agendas.

The one group of people, the Jews, who knew God’s Word and the prophecies it contains, who should have welcomed Him, were the ones who called for His death! This is part of the Gospel message: that even when we claim to be seeking God’s will, we tend to turn away from it in order to go our own way.

The good news, however, is that all those who receive Christ, through faith, become children of God. How awesome is that. Regardless of your background, ethnicity or gender, the moment you receive Christ, you are a Child of God! You receive Spiritual honours just by being part of the family. Faith in Christ doesn’t give us magical powers, what it does mean is that you trust in His person, His sacrifice and the salvation He gives, a gift for all those who receive Him.

Being born of God implies a similar physical pain a woman endures during child birth. God and His Son endured much pain at the cross, so we could be born of God. Although there is so much pain spoken of and felt, it is the child who experiences the most change – salvation. God’s pain results in our benefit. Our salvation is not dependent on our works but entirely on the work of God, which is a good thing, because if it was up to us, we’d be lost forever!

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An important part of the Gospel is that Jesus was truly, fully, physically man. Verse 14 makes this explicitly clear by using the name of “The Word,” while saying very directly that He became flesh, living among us. He was a real, living, breathing person, He experienced everything we do as mortal people (Hebrews 4:15). He is the One and Only, and it means that Jesus is of the exact same stuff as God, so fully man but also fully God. John the Baptist makes a very clear point referring to Jesus’ eternal existence; even though he was physically born before Jesus, Jesus existed before John the Baptist did.

How does God ultimately express His love for us? Through the grace He so freely gives to His children. Grace, what is grace? It’s something that’s given that you do not deserve, nor can it be earned, it is given freely. Grace is what God does because He is gracious. Every action of God toward us involves His grace. His creation, His providence, His conviction of the sinner, His gift of salvation, His equipping of the saints, and the future He has prepared for us. All of this is due to God’s grace. It is impossible to adequately describe God’s grace without mentioning His love and mercy. Because of His love, God, who is rich in mercy, saved us by His grace. It is common to see these terms used together.

16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. Grace upon grace. A constant, overflowing gift.  As children of God, we are not only rescued, we’re honored and changed. No matter how much we need, God keeps making us more and more like Him.

Moses’ law shows us how sinful and broken we are (Romans 3:20). Jesus brought us the truth and grace. he didn’t just say we are broken, He gave us a way to fix our broken and sinful selves. We will always fall short, we are all corrupt with sin. Thankfully, we do not have to face this alone, Jesus provided a way for us to experience forgiveness.

Jesus is the definition of God. The fact that God came in human form is critical. Jesus was a human being who experienced our struggles, one to whom we can relate.

Jesus is a message from God, a language we all understand: relationship. Jesus explains God to us in a way we could never understand otherwise.

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Posted by Stephen Baragwanath in The Gospel of John, 1 comment