I normally just share a scripture and give a brief thought, but such was today’s devotional that I thought I’d share it in full. Enjoy.
Following Jesus as a Disciple
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations . . . Follow Me . . . If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. (Mat_28:19; Joh_1:43; and Luk_9:23)
Living daily by God's grace depends upon getting to know Him and then walking in the humility and grace that are consequences of growing in fellowship with Him. We have reflected upon four ways to relate rightly to the Lord in humility and faith: living by the Spirit, living by resurrection power, living by the sufficiency of God, and living by the promises of God. Another example is following Jesus as a disciple.
When our Lord was about to leave His disciples, He gave them the marching orders that were to guide the lives of His people until He would return. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations." Jesus had been calling out people to follow Him as disciples. Now, they were to continue doing the same. A disciple is a follower of a master, who guides and shapes the lives of his followers. Jesus is the ultimate Master, who gives us a new life in him — life eternal. Jesus' invitation to discipleship was "Follow Me." Along with this invitation, Jesus often explained the terms of discipleship: "If anyone desires to come after Me." This would inform the willing and interested about how to respond. These terms dramatically depict the necessity of relating to the Lord in humility and faith.
The first aspect of being a disciple of Jesus is renouncing the self-life. "Let him deny himself." This amounts to a refusal to attempt to develop a life that can be produced by natural human resources (which everyone inherits from Adam through physical birth). This is a repudiation of self-righteousness, self-sufficiency, self-help, self-exaltation, and the like. Our willingness to embrace this term of discipleship will be seen by a humble agreement with similar biblical pronouncements. "Make no provision for the flesh" (Rom_13:14). Those denying self are not wanting the flesh to have opportunities to indulge itself. "The flesh profits nothing" (Joh_6:63). Those who renounce self confess its total spiritual bankruptcy. We "have no confidence in the flesh" (Phi_3:3). Those who repudiate the self-life do not want to place any hope in the spiritual resources of the flesh. "That no flesh should glory in His presence" (1Co_1:29). Those denying the self-life agree that nothing of the flesh can ever boast in itself before the Lord God almighty.
Dear Lord Jesus, I want to relate rightly to You by following You as a disciple. I do not want my flesh to have any opportunity to indulge itself. I confess total spiritual bankruptcy in my flesh. I want to place no hope in my flesh. I agree that my flesh can never boast before You. I humbly renounce the self-life!
Day-by-Day by Grace by Bob Hoekstra
Here’s a shocking prediction that will stun the world of football as we know it. I know that football pundits and fans all over the country of England will be astonished at what I am about to exclusively reveal to you today in this blog. Chelsea Football Club will win the Premiership. I’ll leave you for the next few moments to digest a statement of such enormity. I know it’s amazing. It’s controversial; it will arouse suspicion among man. What do you mean that’s old news? What do you mean some bookies have stopped the betting since October? I thought I was being original! Ho hum, how about this one – Christmas Day will be celebrated on 25 December?
Anyhow, the wife and I watched Chelsea beat Arsenal yesterday. I enjoyed it. Although I’m a Liverpool supporter, I take great pleasure in also being a bit of a football realist. Knowing the game as I do, I’d like to thing I can make a good estimation as to the state of football climate is and how it will change. I actually hoped and believed that Chelsea would retain this year as soon as they won it last year. I’m a huge Mourinho fan and I was realistic enough to believe that Liverpool would not have the resources to challenge for the Premiership until next season. Indeed my only objective for the Mighty Reds was to finish above Manchester United. Indeed despite being notorious for not wagering or betting, I even laid a bet with a United fan that this would be the outcome of the season. I am greatly impressed with how Benitez is forming the club in his own image; it’s beautiful for the intellectual part of me, even if it’s not the atypical fantasy football that people enjoyed from Brazil, Manchester United and Arsenal. (And I don’t mean that the last two teams played anywhere near the fantasy football of the boys from Rio, but I’d be the first to admit that they’ve played some attractive football in the last 10 years.)
Anyway, the issue isn’t where teams end up; it’s the sad lives of the media who look to make mountains out of molehills. It’s nothing new to state that Mourinho and Wenger are not the best of friends. Hey, at one point earlier on this season Jose accused Arsene of being a voyeur and in response Arsene almost sued the guy. So at the end of a game where Arsenal were put in their place, Jose decides to quickly make his way to the dressing room. He does not shake the loser’s hand. So what? But no, football pundits and writers and former pros are shocked at such behaviour! How can he break such an intrinsic part of the English game? How can he desecrate one of the bastions of the sport that we all love? Apparently it took away from the result that his team had produced. Once more, so I read, his antics has taken the spotlight away from the team.
Do me a favour. That is the most ridiculous excuse for a news story ever. However, it is typical of the media here in England. Why do tabloids sell, because we are suckers for any titbit of controversy that’s lying around? Nobody had to make anything of the gesture, or the lack of a gesture. It could have all just been put it down to the usual feud that goes on between the two.
Why do that, though, when you can have a story from a non-incident? Sad really, but I say to Jose, whatever my friend, whatever. Don’t get me wrong, I revere the time-honoured tradition of the handshake. I’m a big fan of the handshake. It was the way I was brought up. It’s a sign of character when you can approach any situation and remain polite. I endeavour to do so at any situation. The reality is, I don’t. There are times when it gets so hot that I’d just prefer to get out of the way and avoid contact. That’s the best way to handle a situation. I don’t condone Mourinho’s behaviour, but the greater evil is the high-minded hypocrisy of most of the media to jump on the bandwagon over the issue.
The real shock for me was that the most balanced viewing of the game seen in report by Christopher Davies (another man CD would you believe) in the Daily Telegraph. Still what would you expect from the man with those kind of initials and what a great first name! My surprise is obviously based on my predisposition towards the Daily Telegraph as a newspaper that supports a conservative agenda. I don’t mean Conservative, I mean conservative. I mean intellectual, slightly right wing (as in slight like Liverpool is slightly against Manchester United), capitalist, etc. As a result I don’t really link them with balance naturally. Hey I’m wrong … that doesn’t happen often. (Don’t believe everything the wife says, either on this score!)
So on Sunday morning, the wife and I were indisposed for three quarters of the match where Liverpool played Sao Paulo for the World Club Championship. I managed to see the final quarter where the Reds were camped in the opposite half. Apparently they had three ‘goals’ ruled offside. We lost 1-0. A lot of people said the best side lost. I just have to say this here and now – I know the feeling of being gutted when you dominate and the result doesn’t reflect, but the nature of the game is that if you score more goals than your opponents you are the better team. Indeed so superior are you that you are declared the winner. If you’re good enough to score more goals than the opposition you’ll be good enough to win the match. To me, regardless of all the emotion, that’s the bottom line. And in this match, the bottom line is that they scored and we didn’t. I wasn’t too disappointed, I would have loved to have won it, but now we just get back to the business of continuing our good run in the league and amass points to finish second behind Chelsea. This falls in line with the Dryden Family motto – Get Over It. Remind me to share the history of this motto.
First Gay Marriage:
As I got online today I read this report from Yahoo.
I am going to say something about it. The great challenge for Christians is how to address these policies and not be homophobic. This is not straightforward at all. Some of the more radical believers will suggest in fairly vehement tones that people who engage in homosexuality are doomed to hell and do much to actually reinforce a homosexual’s disposition. On the other side some of the more liberal believers will tend to view the Bible as a message of ‘love’ that would in no way seek to stop people who ‘love’ each other from being to express that ‘love’. Even if that ‘love’ goes against God’s guidelines.
As I mentioned in a previous entry, it’s easy for Christians to target this issue – it’s easy to bang on about it. Even in this area though, it’s as though we fall into the same trap as those who brought the woman who had committed adultery to Jesus. We’re quick to highlight this sin, but if we were to actually look at some of our own issues it’s unlikely we’d necessarily be that quick to condemn homosexuals.
No worries, I’m not going to go that much further into an elaborate explanation as to what the standard Christian position on the homosexual issue is. What I will say is that just because we’ve gone too far in judging does not mean we still cannot make a contribution to these liberal policies. The policies at its heart promotes godless lifestyles, because at its centre is the ethos of letting people do whatever they want to do as long as it doesn’t ‘harm’ anyone else. The challenge is to address this issue and promote the only viable way for societies to make progress – God’s way.
Taking Christ out of Christmas
Well I was on a roll, so after I read that, I read this report from BBC website
Oki-doke. At heart it’s a great campaign. It raises the profile of Jesus Christ and in a festival that at least nominally is supposed to be about Him that must be all good. Right?
Two years ago my friend and I researched and put together a document on Christmas and presented it to a large group of people in Birmingham. What is at stake is not just truth, but the truth expressed in love. The truth is Christmas is a convenient compromise between pagan festivals and the influx of a new Christian order back in the day. The truth is Jesus Christ was not born in December. The truth is the festival was never celebrated by the early church and you would have thought if it was that important that they would have celebrated it. The truth is the background to the festival and many of its trappings actually celebrate things that Jesus Christ would not endorse. Indeed the truth is that the aspects of the modern festival as celebrated today would also not bring joy to the LORD.
Yet the truth in love is that this season can still be used to bring out the truth of who Jesus Christ was. The truth in love is that as people gather together as a family for what in some cases is the only time they’ll see each other in the year, the message of Christ can be brought across to solidify the core of the family. The truth in love is that no greater gift was ever given to man than the gift of the life of Jesus Christ and the forgiveness it brings. So now we can be inheritors of this gift, we can freely receive it and acknowledge Him as LORD and in return receive the most precious gift of all – abundant life.
It’s Only A Game So …
Congratulations to Ding Junhui – the first non-British or Irish winner of UK Championship in snooker – hey it ain’t a huge interest of mine, but I like to watch the occasional game of snooker now and then. I remember having seen it and then finally having the chance to play it. I was at university and I’d already played pool and also wrecked my own really miniature snooker table which was part of a Game of Games set. When I actually realised how hard the snooker balls were and how huge the table was, especially compared to pool, I quickly gained a better appreciation for the players … and decided not to bother playing again.