“You must not have any other god but me. (Deuteronomy 5:7 NLT)
In last two generations, we have seen many of our major pop icons self-destruct. Why? Could it be that man is designed to worship and not be worshiped?
Three of our most popular cultural symbols, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, and Prince have perished through self-inflicted means in less than fifty years. All three had immense talent and charisma that invoked adulation that was almost unprecedented. These men developed almost cult followings due to their entertainment genius even though it may have never been their intent. Idolatry happens when legitimate things become ultimate things. There is nothing wrong with recognizing and enjoying great talent, but when those gifts become the driving force in our life, they, in essence, become our god.
When we start to deify a person we never do him or her a favor. We put them in role in which they can never succeed. It is very difficult to meet the job qualifications of God, all-seeing, all- knowing, and all-loving, etc. God is the only one who is worthy of our veneration. God wants our reverence but he does not actually need it. He is self-sufficient. He desires it from us because he knows it’s best for us. Man, unlike God is self-centered, and therefore needy. The more adoration he receives the more he desires it to make him feel complete. It is unsustainable. History records that our brightest stars have started to self-medicate to dull the pain of their existence.
I am not trying to condemn these men. Actually, all of us bear a little responsibility for their fate. We are a part of a culture that increasing worships the creature rather than the creator.
Devotional by Ken Barnes
“Be kind and compassionate to one another…” (Ephesians 4 : 32)
Jesus was kind and considerate to the fullest extent. His acts of kindness are too numerous to mention in a short meditation.
Let us consider only the first recorded instance of His kindness. The first recorded Words of Jesus were kind words.
Every year His parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. It was a journey of several days from Nazareth to Jerusalem. On this occasion Jesus was engaged in earnest consultation with the teachers in the temple. “Everyone who heard Him was amazed at His understanding and His answers.” (Luke 2 : 47).
It was unfortunate that He was separated from his parents. They, having started their journey home, had to return to Jerusalem to find Him when they discovered He was missing.
For twelve years Joseph and Mary had kept, as a sacred and closely guarded secret, their knowledge of who Jesus really was.
Joseph and Mary had the trauma of having to retrace their homeward journey and then search for Jesus in Jerusalem. It would have been surprising if there was no trace of reproach in Mary’s tone when she spoke to Jesus, Your father and l have been anxiously searching for You. “(Luke 2: 48).
In the anxiety of the moment Jesus spoke very gently and kindly. He didn’t correct His mother in a brusque manner. He said, “Didn’t you know I had to be in My Father’s house?” (Luke 2 : 49). Mary “treasured all these things in her heart.” (Luke 2 : 51). For twelve years she had been pondering. Now she knew that He knew who He was. The first twelve years of Jesus’ life are covered by “the Child grew and became strong.
He was filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon Him” (Luke 2 :40). Then came His kind, revealing words in the temple.
Then the next eighteen years of His life are covered by “and Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men.” (Luke 2 : 52).
Jesus with teachers in the temple sat,
And they discoursed for long in earnest chat.
The list’ners were amazed at what they heard,
From Boy who knew so well the sacred Word.
His anxious mother then burst on the scene
A-wondering wherever He had been.
At least relieved at last her Boy to find
And Jesus gently spoke some words so kind.
He spoke to give His mother peace of mind,
After the stir when Him they could not find.
With gentle words He said to Joseph’s spouse,
“I had to be within My Father’s house”.
“We are buried with Him by baptism into death” (Rom. 6.4).
Our Lord prophesied three things by His baptism in Rom. 6, baptism speaks of death, burial and resurrection; a three-fold inward change which is expressed outwardly in baptism. ln many cases it is only a ritual or ceremony. That is why there is so much barrenness in many who are called Christians; Baptism is a testimony and not a ceremony. Unless we are taught this we live very poor Christian lives. Unless our sins are buried and forgotten we cannot have real peace. Otherwise we are going to be haunted by the memory of sins committed. Today you can be freed from every memory of sin. He died to take away our condemnation. He died that we may die to our sinful nature.
Just as cancer has to be removed with all the surrounding tissues and muscles, so also by faith we have to take into us the power of death to die to our desires and thoughts. We do not die by saying so. I may say in the morning, ‘I will not do it; l will not do it.’ But the brain starts working: it says, ‘It does not matter; it does not matter!’ We go ahead and fall again. We cannot gain victory in our own power. As we receive into us the power of death so also we receive into us a new life called the power of His resurrection, which gives us a hunger and thirst for the things of eternity. In due course we are given ears to hear the voice of God.
Meditation by Bakht Singh
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” John 9:1
The disciples ask Jesus who’s to blame for a man being born blind. It is an interesting phenomenon that when things go wrong we look for someone to blame. If you are familiar with Winnie the Pooh you may remember the time Pooh Bear visited Owl. While he was there the wind blew Owl’s house out of the tree. Initially Owl thought it must be Pooh’s fault but when he realized it wasn’t he said, “No blame can be attached”.
Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where no blame can be attached. We live in a broken world and things go wrong for no apparent reason. Yet this is an uncomfortable reality because it makes us realize that we can’t control all our circumstances.
Therefore when there is no one else to blame we will sometimes blame ourselves. We tell ourselves if we’d tried harder, prayed more, study the Bible regularly, things would have worked out the way we wanted. This is simply not true. We cannot manipulate God or our circumstances in this way.
Instead let’s remember God is in control and he can be trusted to have our best interests at heart. We can live with uncertainty when our faith is in a good God. We don’t do ourselves or God any favours by assuming unnecessary blame.
Meditation by Susan Barnes
“l have loved thee with an everlasting love” (Jer 31.3)
Only God’s love is perfect and unchanging. His love is everlasting (Jer. 31.3). Even though God may rebuke and chasten us because of our folly, His love will never change. God does not love us a little, He loves us in all His fulness. That is why He gives us all He has. He left all His glory for us, He gave to the very last ounce of His blood for our sakes. Only such a love is perfect love, and only such a love can take away our fears. Sometimes we go through peculiar trials and sufferings, and at such times, no mother, however sincere and loving she might be, is able to share it with us. But the love of Christ is perfect, and He is able to share all our burdens, difficulties, sorrows and sufferings.
Those who do not know the Lord Jesus as their Saviour will be subject to many fears. In spite of all their knowledge, wealth and power, you can frequently see the marks of fear upon the faces of great men. The Lord Jesus said that in the last days there will be many fearful signs, such as stars falling from heaven, earthquakes, and pestilences and wars. Then men’s hearts will fail because of fear (Luke 21 :26). At that time even God’s people will have to go through testing. But the Lord will keep them above fear.
Meditation by Bakht Singh
“After fasting for forty days and forty nights, He was hungry.” (Matthew 4: 2)
He was naturally hungry. When led of the Holy Spirit to the wilderness to be tempted, Christ chose to go hungry because He fasted.
On another occasion, after a long journey, He sat down tired and hungry, by a well, “and Jesus, tired as He was from the journey, sat down by a well.” (John 4 : 6).
Spiritual hunger ; From the commencement of His ministry He spoke of the deeper hunger. He said “Is not life more important than food… ” (Matthew 6 : 25). He said “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5 : 6). Before returning to heaven Jesus again spoke of the spiritual hunger, charging His disciples to “Feed My lambs.” (John 21 : 15).
Not only did Jesus desire to see spiritual hunger in others satisfied, He Himself had the spiritual hunger. “Meanwhile His disciples urged Him ‘Rabbi, eat something ‘. But He said to them ‘I have food to eat that you know nothing about. My food ‘,. said Jesus, “is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work”‘ (John 4 : 31-32 & 34).
The spiritual food. Jesus said “I am the Bread of life.” (John 6 : 35). “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” (John 6:41). “I am the Living Bread that came down from heaven. ” (John 6 : 51)
For forty days and forty nights.
In wilderness of dreary sights.
He hungered there and did not eat
As He the Devil did defeat.
‘I’ve food to eat. you know not of.’
He said to fend disciples off
As they suggested He should eat
Before returning to the street.
To have the hunger of desire
As we for righteousness aspire,
And more like Him we aim to be
Is what our Lord would like to see.
“Then John’s disciples came and asked Him, ‘How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?’ ” (Matthew 9 : 14)
John the Baptist’s disciples made comparisons of their way of life with that of Christ’s disciples and found a difference.
Natural Differences. It would be monotonous if everyone were exactly the same. Even with identical twins, their parents can usually identify subtle differences and nuances. A world populated with clones of the same eye, hair and skin colour; the same tone of voice, the same height, weight and everything else the same, would be somewhat monotonous. It is true that all men might be equal, but that might be the only thing of merit. God put variety in nature.
Behavioral Differences. The difference that John the Baptist’s disciples were complaining about was a behavioral difference. Jesus explained the difference. “Jesus answered, ‘How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while He is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast’” (Matthew 9:15).
The Christian is expected to be different in behavior. Jesus said “You are the salt of the earth “, and “You are the light of the world ” “…let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13,14 and 16).
Just as there are some people whose behavior is disapprovingly different in that they behave obnoxiously, so the Christian is expected to be the very opposite approvingly different.
If Christians we purport to be,
Exposed for all the world to see,
Good works to be conspicuous,
The world will then expect from us.
They want to see some diff ’rent men,
The law-abiding citizen
Of moral stance, and kindly heart,
In troubled world to play a pan.
Christ said that we are just like salt,
Good to preserve, the bad to halt.
He also said that we are light
To give a darkened world some sight
“And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last” (Rev. 1.17)
As we see the end time approaching we should read the book Revelation again and again. The message of this book is mentally written to those who want to overcome. Divide this book into seven parts. You will see the Lord Jesus Christ giving a seven-fold glimpse of His glory: Chapter 1 gives a glimpse of the glory of His Person. Chapters 2-3 show His glory revealed in His Church upon the earth. In chapters 4-5, we have a glimpse of the glory of the Heavenly Church. Chapters 6-9 reveal a glimpse of the glory of His throne. Chapters 10-19 show the glory of His judgments. Chapter 20; the last part of this chapter shows the glory of His great white throne. Chapters 21-22: in these we have a seven-fold glimpse of the glory of the new creation.
This book is the book of Glory – the Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Prince of Peace and also the God of glory. The first thing we see is, that the Lord gave John a vision of Himself. Are you feeling downcast? Are you discouraged? Are you facing problems? Ask the Lord to give you a new glimpse of His Glory.
When you see the Lord face to face, He will answer every question of yours. It does not matter how complicated you problems may be, they will disappear when you get a net glimpse of Him and His glory. Then you too like John will fall down at His feet.
Meditation by Bakht Singh