308. Jesus Heals “Untouchables!” The Implications Of The Story. Luke 5:12-16. [Part 1 of 2].

In this first article we look at the simple story of a leper being healed by Jesus and the implications arising from the story. In Part 2 we will look at some of the healing God is continuing to do in His world today to help bring us a sense of His ongoing love and power.

 1].    A MAN WITH A PROBLEM. He was a leper!

Luke 5:12 While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” 

The difficulties the leper faced

There was the danger the disease presented. Leprosy could lead to a growing numbness in the body and the risk of severely injuring limbs because they could not feel pain.

There was the isolation the disease brought. Leprosy was seen to be contagious. It meant that lepers lived isolated lives on the extremity of towns. They had to cry out “Unclean” when any one ventured near them.

There was the rejection that came from members of the general society and even from members of their own family.

On top of all this was the stigma they bore daily as unclean people. In much of the thinking of that time there was a simple equation, sickness = sin. In other words the cause of someone’s sickness was the sin they [or their parents] had committed. So for this man to be covered with an obvious disease mean that some would have seen him as a particularly evil person.

It was as though the leper was among the ‘living dead’ with little hope for any sort of future.

His reaction to Jesus

It seems that he wasted no time in approaching Jesus as He entered the town.

His attitude to Jesus was significant. He humbly fell at Jesus’ feet. Few people would have been willing to humble themselves before Jesus in this way.

His form of address to Jesus was also significant. He called Him, “Lord” [kurios].  It was a mark of respect for an important person. However it was also used for God in the Old Testament. Did he have a very high regard for Jesus? It would seem so from his statement to Jesus, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” He believed that Jesus had the power to heal him of his leprosy. His problem was his attitude to himself. Would Jesus be willing to heal an untouchable like himself?

It’s a question many have in today’s world when they feel dirty or unclean because of the things that happened in their past.

2].  JESUS WITH A SOLUTION TO HUMAN PROBLEMS!

13 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”  

His Words answered the man’s unspoken question. “I AM WILLING!“

His Attitude. Jesus reached out and touched the untouchable.  What a great shock that would have been to people when they saw what happened.

It is encouraging and humbling to know that Jesus has the willingness and the ability to bring healing to those who need it, even to the untouchables!

3]. THE RESULT

Immediate healing. “And immediately the leprosy left him.”           

The leper had been right. Jesus did have the power to heal him. Now he also knew that Jesus was willing to heal unclean people such as himself.

This was none other than a demonstration of the love, mercy and power of God.

But did Jesus always heal in this manner? It helps us to understand the true nature of healing as we see how even Jesus healed in other ways.

4]. HOW GOD HEALED THROUGH JESUS IN HIS EARTHLY MINISTRY

I.     Instantly

We see it here in this story of the leper.

But Jesus’ healings were not always immediate.

II.     Gradually or in stages.

We see this in the story of the blind man at Bethsaida. Mk 8:22, “They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” 24, He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” 25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.” He was healed! By Jesus! In 2 stages!

If God healed through Jesus as His perfect instrument in more than one stage then He obviously may heal in different stages today.

III.        Delayed healings

Sometimes Jesus healed at a distance. In Luke 10:13 we read that 10 lepers called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” He told them “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” We read what happened next. “And as they went, they were cleansed. “ They were healed as they moved away from Jesus [in time and space] in obedience to His words.

IV.      When healing seems to be impossible

Jesus spoke to Lazarus and said, “Lazarus, come out!” It was a bit difficult to say the least for someone who had been in a tomb for 4 days and whose body was in a state of decay, to ‘come out’. But ‘come out’ he did, John 11: 44 “The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”  Humanly impossible! But possible when Jesus spoke the word of healing!

SUMMING UP.  

It seems that God used Jesus to heal in many different ways. But wasn’t it Jesus who did the healings? Yes it was! But He explained His ministry like this, “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” John 14:10.  Jesus taught and healed  many people. But He said that the origin of His whole ministry was the Father who gave Him the words to say, and who worked through Him to accomplish His miracles. They were one and ministered as one.

Some have seen a great significance in Jesus’ words. What they have suggested is that God worked through His perfect instrument Jesus as PERFECT MAN rather than Jesus doing His own thing apart from God as the eternal perfect Son of God. As my New Testament teacher Dr Leon Morris wrote in one of his books, “There was no resource open to Jesus [as Perfect Man] that is not open to us.”

Does that mean that God is able to do things in today’s world that resemble what He did in the time of Jesus’ ministry? None of us could ever claim to be perfect like Jesus, the sinless one! But could God work through His [less than perfect] people today to bring such healings and blessings to needy people? He certainly worked through Paul and Peter and Stephen and others to accomplish miracles but how about lesser folk today? Perhaps He could if they were in communion with Him and open to be used by Him in His purposes.

I thought recently about the implications of these verses, Php 2:12 “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13  for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Paul is saying that we need to work out in practice what God is inwardly working in us. He gives us the willingness and the ability to do His will, to do the things that are part of His plan and purpose for His world. Things that give Him pleasure! Might that include using imperfect but available instruments to bring His healing to needy people whom He loves?

That will be the topic in Part 2 of this 2 Part series!

Blog No 308. posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on Tuesday 22nd January 2019. [53rd Wedding Anniversary for Carole and me!]

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307. People Really Can Change! New Creatures For A New Year! 2 Corinthians 5:17

He had a lot to think about as a young 23 year old. A previous Christmas he had spent at Coolangatta with a fellow National Serviceman who had served with him in the Navy. His friend had then returned home to continue his teaching career at a small Queensland seaside town. Then came the sad news from his parents that he had been swimming, felt unwell and soon after had collapsed and died. One friend was suddenly lost. Soon after another of his friends in his football club had been decapitated as his motorbike slid under the tray of a truck on Currumbin Hill on the Gold Coast in wet weather. The loss of another friend.

He had managed to play out another A grade rugby league football season with a dislocating shoulder and even made the representative side which defeated an International New Zealand Maori touring team. However it was either retirement from the game or a costly operation and time off work. The latter was not financially possible. Another loss of close friends as he was no longer part of the team he had played with for several years.

Studies had gone well except for the first of his final Industrial Chemistry exams. A friend who worked in a hospital pharmacy had suggested some tablets which would help concentration. However they had the opposite effect and he felt he had almost failed his pet subject Inorganic Chemistry because he ‘couldn’t think straight’ as he described it. It was then he called upon God for help [if he did exist that is] to get through the other final subjects to pass the year. He promised God [if he did exist] that he would think seriously about Him.

He passed the year well. A bargain with God needed to be kept. So now it was time on New Year’s Eve to act on all the material he had been given by his Christian [whatever that meant] sisters who had tried to convert him. The material had been convincing. He realised that Christ had lived, died and had risen from the dead. He was offering to be the Saviour from sin and to come and take control of any life that was open to him.

As he sat there reading “Peace With God” by Billy Graham, he knew he had to make a choice about the future of his life. He had just returned from walking among the thousands of New Year’s Eve revellers in Tweed Heads and Coolangatta. As he did so, he felt that the eyes of God were on him for every step. He realised that he could no longer hide in a crowd from God. In that small room in a flat in Boundary Street on the Queensland- New South Wales border at 11.45pm he made a decision that was to be the most important decision he would ever make.

He knelt by the side of his bed and prayed a prayer he had read in one of the booklets he had been given. It had been written by a Chaplain to the Queen, the Rev John Stott. It was a prayer based on the simple formula A.B.C.D.
A meant that one had to Admit that one was a sinner in the sight of God.
B meant that one had to Believe that Christ died on the cross to take away one’s sin.
C meant that one had to Consider the cost of becoming a Christian. It was to be a “boots and all” commitment to God! For ever!
D meant that one had to Do something about the situation and that was through prayer to ask Jesus into one’s life.

He prayed the prayer. The very moment the prayer finished, the horns of the cars honked, bells tolled and cries of delight from thousands of people filled the air – because the New Year had come in. Only later did he realise that there was rejoicing in heaven that night among the angels over one sinner who repented and came home!

It is a true story. I know because I was there for every part of the story above. I ended 1958 as someone who had no time for God but I entered 1959 as a brand new person. As the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

I discovered on that New Year’s Eve the truth of the promise of Jesus, that to open one’s life to Him, is to begin a life of never-ending fellowship with Him, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20.

You can know more of what it means to become a new creature in Christ, and what the passage from 2 Corinthians 5:17 involves, by reading a wonderful encouraging story of a man who changed incredibly as he opened his life to Jesus. Just click here on Blog No 106 which I wrote on New Year’s Day 2013. Romantics will love the ending!
Posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on New Year’s Eve 31st December 2018

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306. The Mystery Is Revealed! Ephesians 3:1-12. Epistle for Epiphany. 6th January 2019

The mystery is revealed! The mystery of God’s ways in the world and what that means for you and me and for our families. It is revealed in Ephesians chapter 3. So important for everyone to know and to act on! And what a blessing it is to bask and to walk in the abundance of the truths there revealed!

It may seem strange but it appears there is only one reading from the letter to the Ephesians in the Revised Common Lectionary Sunday Readings for the whole church year in 2019. So no-one using the church year readings will be preparing a series of messages on Ephesians. So here is a one-off help for a one-off reading!

Coming straight after the Christmas New Year period when preachers and their families [and everyone else] are pretty exhausted, I decided to make my own contribution to family stability and happiness by posting some notes on that passage for busy folk to access as part of their preparation [and hopefully allow more family time].

These articles were written at different times and in different settings but are compiled here in chronological order in this present article for convenience. Just click on the number on any article and truth on the passage will appear.

Happy reading! And for preachers, may there be a wonderful response to the truth you share from Ephesians chapter 3 on Sunday 6thJanuary 2019.

Blog number 037. OUTLINE OF EPHESIANS 3:1-6. The Purpose Of Paul’s Ministry To The Ephesians. “YOU Belong To God”

Blog number 038. Outline of Ephesians 3:7-13. The Purpose Of Paul’s Ministry To The World-Wide Gentiles.

Blog number 054. “What’s Happening?” A Search for Meaning In Life. Ephesians 3:1-12.

Blog number 300. An Outline Of Ephesians Chapter 3. The “Mystery” of the Gospel

Blog number 301. “Halleluia, I belong!” Praying through Ephesians. Ephesians 3:1-6. Epistle for Epiphany Jany 6th 2019

Blog number 302. “Taking Hold Of Our Unsearchable Riches in Christ!” Praying Through Ephesians. Ephesians 3:7-10. Epistle for Epiphany Jany 6th 2019

Posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on Sunday 30th  December 2018

 

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305. The Jesus of Christmas. Just Who is He? Why should He matter to me?

There is no human alive for whom Jesus is not relevant! 

His birth was humanly impossible but became possible by the Spirit of God.

His ways are inscrutable but become understandable by the Spirit of God.

His love is indescribable but becomes experiential as the Spirit of God sheds God’s love into our hearts. Romans 5:5. 

His presence is inescapable but becomes indescribable as believers experience His presence through faith-union with Him. 

St Paul put it so simply in one verse. “For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” Rom 11:36.
Everything that exists has its origin in Him. It originates FROM Him.

All the promises of God to His people are made available THROUGH and in Him.

Everything that exists, exists FOR Him.

He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.
He was there at the beginning and He will be there at the end.
He is our Creator and ultimately, He will be our Judge.
All will stand before Him at the last Day. No exceptions! No proxies! No escape!

However if we understand the truths in the following talks on YouTube and act on them, we will have no cause to fear. Ignoring the Christ of Christmas or rejecting Him will not end well. We may ignore or reject our fellow humans [and seem to get away with it, though we don’t] but it is a far different thing for creatures to reject their Creator who has done so much for them and offers those blessings to them in Himself. 

Just clicking on the following links will take you to the talks. But mind you, they are talks given at a teaching seminar and will help those who are really serious about thinking of the place Jesus should have in their lives. They are based on what God says about Jesus in His word and each is about 30 minutes in length. But what is 30 minutes in a lifetime? Well, for some people it may be the best investment they will ever make! God’s word is powerful and life changing as it is read or heard AND acted on!

1] Jesus the Creator of all things

2] Jesus then Saviour of the world

3] Jesus The Lord of everything

4] Jesus is the Judge of all

OR for those who find it easier to read than to listen, the same topics are covered in written form in previous blogs, namely the following which can be clicked on to access.

1]. Jesus the Creator.   
2]. Jesus the Saviour.
3}. Jesus the Lord. 
4]. Jesus the Judge. 

May you all have a VERY BLESSED CHRISTMAS and a wondrous NEW YEAR in Him!

Blog No.305 posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Friday 21st December 2018

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304. Are We Living In God’s Real World Or In A False Make-Believe World Opposed To God? Thoughts from Hebrews 10

Recently I was preparing a sermon on Hebrews 10. What struck me particularly as I did so was that it is possible to live in a false make—believe world whilst ignoring the real world of God’s making.

These were the words that grabbed my attention. Hebrews 10:11 “And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.” And later, “then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” 18 “Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.” Hebrews 10:17-18.

When the writer penned these words there was a reality as seen by God and a “reality” as seen by some humans. The reality seen by humans was the picture of priests offering sacrifices for sin in the temple. Every day! Yet as they did so it showed that sin was not being dealt with or forgiven.  That’s why they had to keep offering sacrifices! That was the norm for so many humans at that time. Reality to them was the priests continuing to offer sacrifices for sin. However, what the priests were doing was achieving nothing in the real world, God’s world. He told us so!

The reality of God’s world

The reality of God’s world was different. It focussed on Jesus the Son of God, the Creator of the universe who had come into the world as the long-promised Jewish Messiah. He had come to do the will of God, “Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; 6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. 7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’” Hebrews 10:5-7. The will of God for Him involved offering Himself as a sacrifice for sins that would make forgiveness of all sin possible.

The writer describes the reality about the true sacrifice that would take away sin, “And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” Hebrews 10:11-14.

Note those significant words, “a single sacrifice” and “he sat down at the right hand of God.”  God had accepted His one sacrifice as the sacrifice that would take away all sin forever. There would be no other sacrifice needed. The job had been done. The true priest had offered the perfect sacrifice for sin [Himself] and forgiveness was now available for anyone in Him. The mention of His sitting down was to emphasise that His priestly work was done. No more sacrifices needed to be offered. His single sacrifice of Himself was sufficient to cover all sin of all people throughout all ages!

The absurdity of the false reality

Jesus had done it all and returned to His Father in glory, sitting at His right hand in the place of honour. Why then were these priests still offering sacrifices which never had any power to take away sin? All the sacrificial system did was to prepare people for the one perfect and complete sacrifice that was to be offered by the one true High Priest, Jesus. Those sacrifices had been symbols of a coming reality. But now the reality had come and the symbols were no longer necessary. In fact the continuation of the sacrificial system was an ignorant or deliberate rejection of reality as God saw it and had planned from eternity. It was an absurdity!

Fancy playing around with symbols when the reality had come! THE sacrifice had been offered and been accepted by God as sufficient to cover all sins forever! The writer to the Hebrews expressed it like this, “For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near” Heb 10:1. All humans had to do was to receive forgiveness of their sins was to receive it where God had placed it, in Jesus. As Paul wrote of Jesus’ death, “In him [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” Eph 1:7. As we believe in and receive Jesus as Saviour [of our sins] and Lord of our lives we receive the benefits of His sacrificial death, namely forgiveness of sins [and eternal life as John indicated in 1 John 5:11-13.].

This was indeed the message that the Lord gave to Paul at his conversion to Christ, as Paul recalled in Acts 26 “And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ Acts 26:15-18.

Are There False “Realities” In Today’s World?

Are there different ways to God? Isn’t that a reality in today’s ways of thinking? It would be “nice” to think so but the reality is different. There may be many ways to come to Jesus but He is the only way to God. As He said of Himself, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6. Peter declared that truth in his preaching when he said, “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:11-12.

To say there are other ways to God except through Jesus is to live by a false reality. In God’s real world, Jesus is the only Saviour and the only way to God. That’s what that passage from Hebrews 10 also showed in describing Jesus’ death as providing access into the presence of God, “by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh” Heb 10:20. Only through Him can people “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Heb 10:22. In God’s world, the real world, only Jesus provides that new and living way into His presence.

As long as you are sincere, you will be ok! That’s what some people think or hope to be a true reality. But are they living in a real or a false world? If we were asked the question, “Why should God accept you into His kingdom?” What answer could we give? It sounds a bit hollow to say, “Oh, I’m trusting in my sincerity!” After the laughter had died down, we might repeat, “But I’m being sincere in answering that question!” Sincerity doesn’t open the door to God’s acceptance and presence. Only Jesus does, for He alone opened the way to God and is the living way into His presence.

The reality is that the eternal and only God has sent His Son into the world to be the only Saviour from sin. To reject the Son and all He did for humankind through His death and resurrection is to reject God and His purpose for the world. It is living in a state of unreality to reject reality.

We’ll all be OK in the end for God will accept everyone! True or false? Reality or unreality?

I also noticed the following words in reading Hebrews 10. They are uncomfortable words. They are warning words. They are words talking about real things, about a real God with real plans and real purposes for His world. The writer had written, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” The reality is that there is a day, a day of reckoning. The reality is that it is drawing near. The reality is that the time to act is diminishing.” Those who have acted on the gospel message and trusted in Jesus for salvation and for the forgiveness of their sins can come boldly to the throne of Grace, entering through the access Jesus provided in that new and living way, in Himself. That is the reality as God sees and declares it.

Is there a reality for those who have no desire to submit to or to receive Jesus? Can they set their own reality or is a reality set for them? Yes, they can change their present reality in that they can use their freewill to receive Jesus and become open to all the blessings that are to be found in Him, such as forgiveness of their sins, answers to prayer and eternal life.

But there is also a reality if they choose to ignore Him, reject Him and to reject the offer of His love to them. It is a reality declared by God to those who do not act on the truth of His revelation to humankind. The revelation in form of a warning is this, Heb 10:26 “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” Grim words, but real words about a real danger.

The real danger is in ignoring or failing to appreciate the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for humankind. The writer refers back to the Deuteronomy 17:6-7 to highlight the danger of rejecting the law of Moses and contrasts that with the more serious charge of  rejecting Jesus and His sacrificial death, ‘Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.” 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God’. The blood that was shed on the cross wasn’t any old blood! It wasn’t the blood of simply a nice kind human! It was the blood of the Creator of the universe! It was the blood of the eternal Son of God who had come to earth especially to die for the sins of humankind. It was the blood of the long-promised Jewish Messiah!

So there are two realities that are both true. One is for believers who have accepted God’s grace in Jesus and the other is for those who have failed to do so. The latter have the warning, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,’ Heb 10:31. The former who trust in Jesus have a different promise, the promise of entry into the presence of God at all times through the sacrificial blood of Jesus. For them it could be said, “It is a wonderful thing to fall into the hands of the loving God.”

The reality we will experience is dependent on what we do with Jesus. Accepting Him means the reality of acceptance with God. Rejecting Him means the reality of rejection by God. The “Day” is drawing near but has not fully arrived as yet. There is still time to change not only our perception of reality by seeing Jesus as the ULTIMATE REALITY but to become a new reality, a “new creature” in Christ by accepting Him into our lives as Saviour and Lord. As Paul wrote, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Cor 5:17.

Getting in touch with reality [with Jesus as the Living Truth]

Jesus wanted us to get in touch with Him as the living reality in this world. When He said He was “The way and the truth and the life,” [John 14:6] He meant it! He is the truth about creation -He created it! He is the truth about humankind – He became the perfect human. He is the truth about the way to God -He is the only way to the Father. He is the life in the sense that He was the source of all life but came to bring eternal life, God’s life, to humans who opened up their lives to Him!  This is His invitation to all who want to enter into reality in Him. He indicated that He stands at the door of each human heart, knocking and waiting to be invited in, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” Rev 3:20.  Beginning a never-ending life of fellowship with Him.

How does it start? With a prayer of openness to Jesus such as this one, “Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for knocking on the door of my life and asking to come in.  I choose now to open the door of my life to you. Please come into my life and be my Saviour from sin. Establish your throne in  my life as I submit to You as Lord of every part of my life. Fill me with Your presence so that I might live for You from this moment on! I ask these things in Your precious name of Jesus. AMEN!”  

Blog No.304 posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Thursday 22nd November 2018.

 

 

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303. Thank you! A big “Thank you” for reading the articles on my blog-site!

There is a famous story, told in many versions, of a foreigner travelling in Ireland who asked a local for directions. The local obliged with a tortuous description of the complicated route. Then he added these extremely helpful words, “But if I were you, I wouldn’t start from here!” What wise words!  It’s always much easier to start from a more advantageous situation!

I thought of that when I hoped to reach a goal of 100,00 hits on my blogsite. Starting at 76 years of age after being retired for 5 years and living in virtual anonymity was not a good background for achieving a such a goal. But at last the numbers are in!

So I would like to thank all those who looked at some of the 300 plus articles and especially those who recommended the blogsite to others. WordPress have a summary of each blogsite and they tell me that that at the moment I have had 100,022 ‘hits’ from 56,258 people from 190 countries or regions.  The first 25 countries in the order of the number of ‘hits’ on the blogsite were the United States, Australia, Philippines, United Kingdom, Canada, India, South Africa, Singapore, Nigeria, European Union, New Zealand. Malaysia, Kenya, Ghana, Germany, United Arab Emirate, Hong Kong, China, Jamaica, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Norway, Indonesia, Italy, Ireland, Trinidad & Tobago. Surprisingly within the first 50 were also [in order[ Oman, Qatar, Burma, Russia, Kuwait, Pakistan, Brunei and Romania.

I have always thought that if only one person in one of these countries was helped, then the effort put into producing the articles would have been worthwhile. I pray the good Lord may use these articles [and hopefully some new ones] to bring blessing to needy individuals in different parts of His world.

Expressing my gratitude to you for your interest and support.

Blog No 303 posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on Tuesday 13th November 2018

 

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Forgiveness, Healing, Salvation | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

302. “Taking Hold Of Our Unsearchable Riches in Christ!” Praying Through Ephesians. Ephesians 3:7-10. Epistle for Epiphany Jany 6th 2019

It would be sad to read of an old man who lived his whole life in poverty not knowing that in his youth he had been left billions of dollars in an inheritance. What a difference it would have made to him if he had realised the ‘unsearchable’ riches that were really his.

Paul in this letter is at pains to share with the Ephesian believers, all the unsearchable riches they possessed in Christ.

The Passage From Ephesians 3:7-10. Eph 3:7 “Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”

A Suggested Prayer Based on Eph 3:7-10

“Heavenly Father, we thank You that through the gospel You invite us to receive Your love in Jesus Christ. We thank You that You work within us to enable us to respond to You and to Your plan and purpose for us. Enable us to more fully understand and to take hold of the unsearchable riches which are ours in Christ. We want to live in the fulness of Your grace so that we can play our part in Your church in making Christ known throughout the world. We ask these things so that Your name may be glorified throughout the earth. AMEN!”

Some Notes On The Passage From Eph 3:7-10

“According to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me”. It’s so easy to just glance at this phrase and miss its richness. The word for “gift” is [dōreá, δωρεά] which is used to denote a gift stemming from the grace of God. Not just any old gift! Grace is [charis] meaning God’s unmerited favour. Paul didn’t earn or deserve the gift. But “grace” can also mean God’s enabling. Paul’s ministry was a gift from God for the benefit of His people.

There is a juxtaposition in this verse in his use of the terms “gift”, “grace” and “given” used in conjunction with the more dynamic terms “working” and “power.“ Paul’s ministry was a gift from God’s grace given to him and to the church but the preparation of Paul for that ministry involved God being at work in him by His power. He knew that was necessary as he indicated in Philippians where he wrote that believers have to work out in practice what God is working inwardly within them, 2:12-13 “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” The working out of his ministry was dependent on God’s work in him motivating and enabling him for his ministry.

Why was that work necessary? Because Paul saw himself as being the “very least of the saints”. The word he uses is a superlative, meaning the least of the least. So God’s powerful enabling grace was given to Paul to enable him to preach the gospel message to the Gentiles and to help them to recognise two things in particular. Namely, the unsearchable riches they possessed In Christ, and also the purpose of God is using the church to make known God’s wisdom in establishing Christ’s victory throughout the seen and the unseen world.

 “Unsearchable riches.” ‘Unsearchable’ is [anexichniastos , ἀνεξιχνίαστος] in the Greek New Testament . The only other occurrence is in Rom 11:33 where the word is translated as “inscrutable.” 11:33, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”  Humans, of themselves, are unable to grasp the depths of God’s wisdom or the vastness of God’s ways. Understanding could only come by revelation from God. That’s where Paul came into the picture as one of God’s agents He used to enlighten the people [especially the Gentiles] who sat in darkness.

“Riches”. The word is used more frequently here than in any other book in the New Testament. For example in 1:7 redemption and forgiveness are seen as coming from the riches of His grace.  In 1:18 Paul prays that his readers in Ephesus might be enlightened to know what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. Then in 2:7 he mentions the “immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Finally in 3:16 it is “according to the riches of His glory.” Riches so vast and so deep they could only be understood by revelation from God through His agents and through His church as it shared the gospel message.

This passage raises the question for us. Why live as spiritual paupers when in Christ we can become open, by His grace, to His unsearchable riches? And then live, appropriating from those unsearchable riches, for His glory, not ours!

Blog No.302 posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Friday 9th November 2018.

 

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Lectionary Readings Year C 2019, Prayer, Praying our way through Paul's letter to the Ephesians, Salvation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment