|Posted by Asa on September 25, 2016 at 5:35 PM||comments (0)|
Many times in the Old Testament, God promised to be "with" His People at all times. He famously proclaimed, "Fear not, for I am with you" (Isaiah 41:10). Yet this comes to life in a completely new and amazing way through our Saviour, Jesus Christ ! Isaiah made a prophecy (7:14) saying, "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel." - This was given 700 years before Jesus would come.
What a promise ! In Matthew 1 this prophecy was fulfilled. WOW ! His Name was called Jesus, meaning Saviour. Yet the Title given in the prophecy (Immanuel) reveals a little more of who He is and what He would be to us. You may wonder why "Immanuel" wasn't His actual Name, given at birth. Well, it's a little like Michael Jackson. That's His Name, yet they "called" him the 'King of Pop'. In the prophecy, Jesus was "called" (given the title of...) Immanuel, though His Name would really be Jesus. To understand that even further, you could consider the purpose of Hebrew Names. They were like titles conveying deeper meanings. So Jesus being "called" Immanuel doesn't mean it would become His literal Name, but stood to reveal that He is "God with us".
Isn't that AMAZING to consider that in Jesus, God is near. God. The One who created and designed all we see. The One who led Israel out of slavery in Egypt through 10 plagues and the parting of the red sea, leading them via smoke and flame. The One who shut the mouths of Lions for Daniel. This Awesome LORD... "with us"... in and through the Lord Jesus. WOW. "us"? We who sinned and ran away from God in our hearts. We who went astray like sheep. We who loved darkness and fall short of His Glory... Forgiven ! Free to walk in the Light, run the race set before us and mount up with wings as Eagles in The Lord, our Strength !! He is "with us". We pray "Thy Kingdom Come" because we can't reach it by our own efforts. Jesus has come. His Light has entered this world and still illuminates hearts and lives to this very day !!!
No matter what we face, in Jesus (Immanuel), God is "with" us ! He surrounds us with His mercies and wraps us in the embrace of His Grace. Now we have no reason for fear. We can rise up in Him as conquerors. More than conquerors. Say it out loud... "The LORD is with me" !!!
|Posted by Asa on March 16, 2015 at 4:40 PM||comments (0)|
I've just been reading Amos 1-5 about God's judgements & all that He has done (ch. 4) including giving them a lack of bread, withholding rain from them so that they lack water, sending locusts to devour their vineyards & trees, killing the young men, taking their horses captive, overthrowing them as in 'Sodom and Gomorrah' & warning of how He will send fire on them. It even begins in chapter 1 by saying this was said '2 years before the earthquake', so why would I title this 'God's Great Grace'? How could I have been overwhelmed by God's mercy reading these 5 chapters about His judgement?
Well, firstly, each judgement is sent for at least 4 great transgressions on each city including worshipping false idols, men & their dads sleeping with the same girl, murdering each other without compassion & selling their poor for pairs of sandals etc. So God has a reason for His judgements. But His mercy is more clearly seen in what he says...
In chapter 5, starting in verse 4, He starts by saying to these people, "Seek Me and live"! He says it many times. 'Seek Me' basically is the action but the purpose for it is powerful...'and live'! He is basically crying out to them with the primary aim and hope that they would live! This shows that God doesn't punish for the purpose of satisfying His desire to, but for the purpose of being righteous. He says "let Justice run down like water, and righteousness like a might stream"! He wants them, despite their rejection of Him, to live! In God's righteousness are found both justice & mercy. So what proves that He leans towards being merciful is found in His 4 words, "Seek Me & live". He is holding out & offering life over judgement, because He calls out for them to live.
This is also seen in what God reveals as the reason for His judgements. He says, "I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all your places; yet you have not returned to Me". He begins with a mercy, then mentions a judgement & then the shows the righteousness of that judgement. He desired for them to 'return' to Him. I mentioned earlier that He chooses between Justice & Mercy, yet even His justice is full of mercy as He shows that through His judgements, He desires for them to 'return' to Him. In other words, to 'live'.
Many times in Isaiah 9 & 10, the sins of the people of Israel are mentioned followed by the words, 'for all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still'. WOW!! The sad thing is, they did the religious acts out of obligation like offering sacrifices but 'also carried Sikkuth' their 'King' (pagan god), & their other 'gods' & 'idols' which they made for themselves as seen in verse 26! They don't deserve life. Yet His hand is stretched out. Still. So if at the beginning you questioned and wondered 'why should they die for their sins?', remember these words from Ezekiel 33:11...
"As I live," says the Lord God, "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?"
See 'Is Hell Fair?' for more on this topic.
|Posted by Asa on February 11, 2015 at 10:30 AM||comments (0)|
I wrote this poem also quite a while back describing how this world can't offer anything that compares to Jesus:
This world cannot offer the level of Love,
or the Joy found in Jesus alone,
From the oceans below to the mountains above,
I no longer consider this 'Home'.
Shallow pleasures of Sin, for which I were a slave,
Began many wars of the past,
They Remain beside footprints approaching the grave,
The Door to the Joy which will last.
|Posted by Asa on February 11, 2015 at 10:30 AM||comments (0)|
I wrote this poem a while back, and decided to call it 'Unlocked', describing the way Jesus has Unlocked the chains of sin:
I was lost but couldn't find the way.
The Way found me.
I believed lies but couldn't change the truth.
The Truth changed me.
My works could never purchase life.
The Life purchased me.
The chains He broke, it was the proof that Jesus is the Key.
Too blind to see the bars of sin, 'til Jesus let me see,
Now Fear is gone & Death has lost it's sting, since Jesus set me free.
|Posted by Asa on February 8, 2015 at 5:10 PM||comments (0)|
The other day I was listening to an instrumental when 2 words came to me as it played, 'Dear Dorset'. Dorset is a place in England that I've visited many times since birth & I've gone to a beach there called Durdle Door around 3 times each year (which is my favourite place on Earth). So a few days later I decided to start writing lyrics to the instrumental making it into a song. I wrote the deepest lyrics I've ever written and recorded the track all within only a few days because God was really giving me the lyrics in the same way He gave the song title. I recently haven't felt upto making music because getting good quality in my room without any reflection screen or soundproofing can be challenging. But this song is straight from the heart and really shows how I feel. There are so many things we can lean on like location, health, bank balance e.t.c but God is everywhere, He is our strength and Light and all we need. So the main message is that when the Lord is your Shepherd, you lack nothing!
Listen to 'Dear Dorset' here: https://soundcloud.com/aceofficial/ace-dear-dorset
|Posted by Asa on January 17, 2015 at 6:35 PM||comments (0)|
In Judges 7:2, God doesn't let Gideon fight the Midianites because the people of Gideon were too great in number & would glory in themselves if they won saying "my own hand has saved me". In other words, it would be easy for good rappers to collaboratively make a chart-topping song so they would be more likely to boast than if I did because I would see it as the work of God, being less talented & popular.
This connects to Ephesians 2:8,9 which says we are saved by Grace, 'not of works, lest anyone should boast'. You see the Midianites kinda represent the law. It's like God says, 'I won't make the law achievable (by giving you the Midianites to fight) because then you'll boast in your achievement, I'll make it impossible to reach so that when you win the fight you'll see it's My battle, not yours'!!
God does this by filtering out the people. This is like Him replacing the 'good rappers' I mentioned before with me so that the song (representing the battle) would bring God glory rather than us. He does this by sending the ones who drank water by getting on their knees back home along with those who were scared to fight & to those who drank like dogs He says, "I will save you & deliver the Midianites into your hand". Because of this, in verses 14 & 18, they acknowledge God as the One who rescued them. In the same way, now that God has saved us & won our battle against by defeating sin & death on the cross for us, we now praise Him & see it's not our own works.
Religion is like believing God would have let them fight the battle themselves to see if they win. Many die but God doesn't intervene - it's all down to us, when in this story they were chosen, but why? because they drank like 'dogs'? Our righteousness is as 'filthy rags' to the Lord. You see, Religion is the belief that we can win by our own strength, & the problem with it is we end by saying in our hearts, "my own hand has saved me"(v.2). Salvation is the belief that we have failed God & can only win through Him making us say in our hearts, "God has delivered"(v.14)!!
|Posted by Asa on January 12, 2015 at 1:50 PM||comments (0)|
Galatians 5 says 'if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing'. That's really powerful because it shows that if we think we've reached our destination, then there's no use of having the car - Jesus! The fact is, we have a Long Way 2 Go!! It's funny that I read this actually because I was wondering on the bus today why I felt a little less freedom than usual. I'm free in Christ but I didn't feel that way. Feelings aren't everything - I know - but they do suggest & imply.
So I thought to myself, let me look up something about freedom in Christ. So I jumped 2 Galatians & came across chapter 5. God showed me that the answer was, I'm too content with the place I'm at right now. I was walking round the block yesterday evening, praising God that I'm free from sin. There's currently no sin that I feel I'm battling with so I was praising God 4 that freedom. Then God spoke into my heart & said, "you do know the Bible also says, if you don't do what you know is right - that's a sin too - not just avoiding the things you're tempted to do". But with that thought, I felt myself quickly try & change the topic because I knew that would make me feel less joyful, thinking of the ways I fail. Then lyrics from songs I wrote popped into my head, "Think I've won the fight 'til I'm reminded of the one I'm in" (No Place Like Prayer) & "Feeling like the fight is over though it's only just begun" (Time, Space & things that Matter).
I can't count the number of wasted opportunities in Philosophy, where God has opened a door & I've been too scared to walk through it. I'm fighting a battle every day. I need to wake up to that. I'm starting to see now the dangers of being content. We need to always be looking for ways to grow. 'Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.' (Philippians 3:12)
Galatians 5 tells us that Christ profits us nothing when we fix our eyes on keeping the law. Because if we do then we become debtors to keep the whole law & have fallen from Grace. But God also reminds us here that if we're led by the Spirit we're no longer under the law. 'For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith'. Righteousness...you don't have it. You might be covered in Christ's, but beneath that robe of righteousness you're not where you need to be. So until death, keep climbing. If you're not moving forward, you're moving backwards.
Watch This short video clip if you have time: https://www.ignitermedia.com/products/4202-moving-backward
|Posted by Asa on January 3, 2015 at 2:15 PM||comments (0)|
I see a nice person - is it fair that if that person doesn't trust in Jesus, he or she is punished for their sins? Jeremiah 29:10-14 is all about God's love & mercy in salvation from captivity. But after this, it goes into God's judgement for those who reject Him and His offer of forgiveness. At first, reading this, it didn't seem like it was the same God. But this shows His justice, which raises a question: is justice good? Deuteronmy 32:4 says that all God's works are right but the word describing God as righteous literally means 'just'. What this reveals is that His justice is an aspect of His righteousness. ‘God is love’ - we only have a measurement of love & His ways are so much higher than ours (Psalm 103:11), so how can we expect to fully understand His justice anyway? Our perspective is limited – I mean, try telling the judge that ‘Justice is a crime’.
To answer the question fully though, let's look at Jesus. Jesus paid the price, dying on a cross for our sins according to God's word. If God Himself would pay the price for sin when He doesn't even deserve to, this shows His justice is perfect and flawless. Otherwise, He would have just saved us by His mercy without coming in our image to pay the price for us, the ones who owe Him. THAT'S LOVE!! So even though God's justice doesn't benefit those who will pay - it's necessary and good in the same way court systems are, even though the convicted prisoners wouldn't agree. We who know what's coming should therefore be making it our main mission to let people know of what's ahead. Therefore, the fact that He paid the price shows He is just in His Goodness & Love as a part of His perfect character & flawless nature.
There is a Scottish phrase on the side of some pound coins, 'Nemo Me Impune Lacessit', which means 'no one can harm me unpunished'. It got me to ask myself, why do we have this justice in us? – Why do we have judges? Why do we have police? Why do electric chairs and prison cells exist? It’s for good – we need justice. God has built justice into us so that we can make conscious decisions to punish according to a magnitute of the wrong or immoral action. Ezekiel 33:12-20 talks of God’s justice which says that if a righteous man commits a sin, his righteousness is forgotten and his sin, remembered (like with Rolf Harris). But you see the second side of the coin in verse 15, which says that if a wicked man does right, his iniquity is forgotten and righteousness remembered, showing God is perfectly just. But what really opens our eyes to the mercy and compassion in His justice is seen in what He offers us. He is offering to give us Righteousness, Salvation & Life.
It says in Romans 13:14 that He offers to clothe us in Christ’s righteousness. In Colossians 2:14 it shows He is willing to throw away the requirements, as Jesus has ticked each box & fulfilled each one in His perfection. The ‘Robe of Righteousness’ (in Isaiah 61:10) is what God is holding out for each sinner. We accept to pay the price through our sin, failure to trust in God & even trust in our own righteousness (verse 13). The end of verse 13 says that the one who trusts in His own righteousness will ‘die’ but the one who ‘restores the pledge’ and repents will ‘surely live’! So God is fair in His judgement. But it is clear from verse 11 that God doesn't want us to face justice without mercy. God says "turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die…?", showing Death is a requirement that God wants us to be free from, through Christ. So when you or I ask, 'why should we die for sins?', remember God asks the same question here in this verse as He too wants us to live but does what is good and right even when against His desire to save, like with Jesus when He wanted the cup to pass from Him in the garden of Eden. God's will was for Christ to die for our sins and it is clear that He wants the cup to pass from us too which is why there is a Heaven & a Way out in Christ. What really should amaze us more than His judgement is the fact that it was the Father's will for Christ to die, but isn't His will for us to.
Joel 2 starts by talking of the darkness of the Day of Judgement saying, “the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; who can endure it?” But then it goes on to reveal something else immediately after in the next verse (12) as God says this:
“Now, therefore,” says the LORD, “turn to Me with all your heart…Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.”
This also clearly shows that God doesn't desire for us to receive judgement. The fact that He does judge, however, reveals that He is not driven by the wind. His ways are so much higher than ours. He doesn't get dragged along by His desires like we do. He does only what is good & right. Would the world be any better if we knew there wouldn't be any judgement after this life where we have free will to kill, steal & destroy? So although He is merciful & has made a way out, He is also just. Sin cannot be stolen, it must be paid for. Imagine you steal something from the shop & the shopkeeper takes his money out of his pocket & offers the choice that either he pays for you or you pay. That's fair if you end up paying at the end of the day whether you're smiling at the thought of it or not. God is fair and so is His judgement.
R.C. Sproul said, “The question is not, ‘why is there only one way to God?’ but ‘why is there even one way?’". God in His love is offering to forgive you and me, yet we judge the Judge and question whether He is doing right. We have to look at ourselves & see that we punish criminals, even with death sentences in some cases. Justice is almost a natural law which needs to be in place for there to be order. So if you’re really worried about God’s just judgement and if you’re really worried about Hell, make sure you don’t go there!
|Posted by Asa on January 1, 2015 at 4:50 PM||comments (0)|
It's now 1am on 1/1/2015. In other words it's New Year's Day!! What a blessing to see how God has kept me through another year & how I've grown in so many ways. There have been battles & storms along the way but God has been with me through them all. 2 Peter 1:5-8 is my NY resolution - it's what I want to be true of me!!
Years mean nothing - they're just measurements of time. Time continues to move even now. Each moment I want to grow & have the resolution afresh to bring glory to my Lord & Saviour & Strength & Redeemer & Father & Friend & Rock & Shelter & Strong Tower & Deliverer & Shepherd & Almighty God...the King of Kings & Lord of Lords...the Alpha & Omega...who is God from Everlasting to Everlasting to Whom no one or thing compares! But how cheap words are in the face of God's splendour & the Riches in Christ. Can they even come close to expressing the incomprehensible reality of God's nature? 'His works are Truth & His ways are Justice'. But the nature of His works & His ways are unknown to us, even when we think we understand the fullness of God.
The point is that God's fullness is beyond measure. God's fullness isn't 100% but without dimension. Infinity itself is eternally less than the dimensions of God's fullness. That might not make sense but, can God make sense to us? Can our brains with such limited capacity begin to even download 1kb of God or comprehend the slightest aspect of His character? We can't rely on the thoughts which spark within our minds. But we can trust in God & see that this understanding is not a spark we have somehow managed to create, but light we have received through the lamp to our feet...God's Word. If no God exists who we can rely upon, how can we spend a moment drawing our attention away from the beat of our hearts which each moment sustains us? How can we trust that order remains within each atom in the universe if nothing is held in place? How can we trust a thing? We can rest in God so freely as we realise that He alone never makes mistakes as His plan is perfect & without blemish. Praise God that through 2015, I have Him to trust in & can lean on His everlasting arms in all things, knowing that He (who is Love) is in complete control!!
"Every heartbeat is another opportunity to praise & every breath is another chance to make a change." (from No Place Like Prayer)
|Posted by Asa on December 19, 2014 at 6:10 PM||comments (0)|
For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2)
Sometimes we can be so caught up in debating the Bible that we forget the One who should be the focus...Jesus!
The Bible is so clear:
We've messed up BIG TIME!!
God fixes up thru Christ.
- It's our own love of money that's brought about the prosperity gospel.
- It's our own focus on ourselves that has brought about religions centred around how "good" we can be.
- It's our own doubt that has brought about atheism.
If only we could all just stop trusting in the 'electro-chemical reactions' in our brains creating thoughts & put our trust in God. The Creator of all things who knows all things.
We lean on 'our own conclusions' - sandcastles - they'll collapse & we'll fall.
We lean on Christ - the Solid Rock - He'll hold us up & we can stand firm knowing He's in full control!!