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Saturday, October 21, 2006

Inspired by Blood

There's a curious statement in Hebrews ch.12 v.24 - we are told that Jesus is the mediator of a New Covenant - that we are familiar enough with. An agreement that God's dwelling place would be within mankind through the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit transforming and empowering each of us.

But the verse talks of sprinkling - a reference to the temple pratices - for now we are all inducted into a royal priesthood through new birth, and set apart - made holy - consecrated by the covering of blood.

Yes, it's brutal. Yes, it's awful to imagine - that was the point. Sin was not nice and neat and tidy and civilised. Stark imagery like this was used to wrestle our minds into true reality, and not into a sanitizedd series of excuses and situational ethics. Sacrifice is not pleasant because sin is not an abstract concept, divorced from reality. It is a rebellious cancer that needs to be excised from our consciousness.

When we undergo surgery or even a visit to the dentist there is pain, blood, loss - but it is necessary for life and freedom from further hurt. The choice is ours.

The blood of animals acted as a temporary remedy - but more importantly as a bold reminder that there was one who would come and deal once for all with the hurt, the sickness, the rebellion, the slaughter.

It would not be nice. It would not be civil and pleasant. It would be stark, brutal and messy. But it would then be over!

That was why the prophets of old looked forward to Jesus' coming. They culd see the victory over mankind's flailing brutality. They could see the defeat of sin, sickness and death. They could see an end to all the ugliness that haunts the human psyche through that one death.

For while Abel's blood, shed by his own brother in murderous jealousy, clled out for vengeance and judgement. The blood of Jesus, spilled by us all as the culmination of our rejection of Him, the only solution to our ills; that bood calls out for mercy, forgiveness, a new beginning.

That is why we accept that spiritual sprinkling of blood, saturating our hearts. That we too would exibit the new start promised in all areas of our lives.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Your verse to live by?

The Bible is an amazing book - actually a whole library of 66 amazing books, written by about 40 different authors over several centuries, yet encompassing a central truth that runs seamlessly through them all.

It touches all of us at different levels at different times - but most of all, it commnicates a sense that the Almighty Creator of the Universe is speaking directly to you,and no-one else. This is the Holy Spirit at work. The same person who inspired the authorship of each book will tailor your perception of it to bring to your attention the truth that you need to apply at the most appropriate opportunity.

At times, He speaks with such clarity on an issue foundational to our identity as a Christian and we gain a glimpse of our destiny. We see beyond th mere words on the page to see a lifestyle shaped by a principle - and we know that this is the Father's will for us. Not only that, but we become certain that all we require to fulfil that destiny is wrapped up in that short passage. That the One who inspired the author to write of a situation where He would intervene in person; who captured our imagination and caused us to dare to believe that He could deliver on such a bold promise; this Lord of Creation will persevere with us to see His will manifest in our lives.

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Inspirational verses about Inspiration

2 Peter ch.1 v.20-21 puts it extremely well. "no prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation. For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke, being moved by the Holy Spirit."

The writers of the books of the Bible didn't go into a trance or receive a pre-written missive from on hih that they had to recite. The God we have come to know and worship does not work in such a way. No all-powerful deity would ever need to resort to conjuring tricks or phony seances to get His message across to humanity.

Instead, the same means that He uses to speak through people today was at the heart what Peter explains to us. The Holy Spirit motivated, moved and inspired these people. It is as if we clothe our personalities with His Spirit, that His attitudes and desires communicate themselves through our own thoughts and expressions.

When He speaks, we can test our revelation against the Gold Standard of his revealed Word. We don't need to perform exegetical gymnastics. We can test and approve whatever conforms to God's will and highlights His present concerns for us in growing the Kingdom.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Inspirational Bible Verses About Life

It has to be said. There are some verses in the bible that are not meant to be taken literally. When Jesus declares, "I am the door," in John ch.10 v.7, He is not declaring that He is a large flat piece of wood. His language is figurative. It is obvious that this is so, and there are clear spiritual principles that can be learned from His words - but that is another story for another time.

In essence, this is true of all of the times where the Bible uses narrative forms that involve imagery. We interpret the images in the light of what the Bible has revealed elsewhere, rather than use a fanciful eisegesis of a metaphor to reinterpret what is crystal clear from the outset.

So, when Jesus continues in verse 10 to say " The thief only comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly," it is not merely a divine command to purchase a burglar alarm. It has a clear meaning within the content of the passage.

We could spend time identifying the characteristics of these 'thieves' and what they are after when applied to our culture and our time - but I want to quickly focus on Jesus' statement about Himself.

He has come to give us life - not an idle boast from a self-important glory-seeker, but a concise statement from the One who is uniquely qualified to claim this as truth. Not mere 'existence', not just a lengthening of the number of days we spend on earth, but a qualitative shift in the centre of our source for fulfillment.

A full, abundant life is one where our spiritual needs are met in such a way that we are free to be precisely who we were destined to become. A life where we may not find that all our problems disappear, but we become aware of the One who will support us and lead us victoriously through all circumstances that would threaten our relationship with Him and with those He has placed us with.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Inspirational Bible Verses About Joy

Nehemiah ch.8 v.10 tells us "Don't be grieved; for the joy of Yahweh is your strength." The power of joy as a spiritual force in the Christian's armoury cannot be underestimated. When faced with issues that appear intractable, that is the time to allow your spirit to be strengthened by a joy that transcends understanding.

The Good Lord has a sene of humour. A principle reinforced in scripture - not just in Psalm 2 - but in the beatitudes where He displays a set of values that turn the established order upside down.

We are told that this is his plan. For the least important to be the most significant - to trasform situations so that all we can do is lagh, for there will be no other explanation for how circumstances are miraculously changed, outside of acknowledging Divine intervention.

It is this essential paradox that is at the root of James ch.1 v.2 "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into various temptations," because what our enemies see as an opportunity to see us stumble is in reality a springboard to experiencing spiritual growth.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Inspirational Bible Verses About Peace

There's an interesting statement in Isaiah ch.26 v.3: "You will keep whoever's mind is steadfast in perfect peace, because he trusts in you." - it reveals an essential truth to bear in mind about peace of mind. We cannot force ourselves, think ourselves or even positively confess ourselves to a state of inner peace. On the contrary, our responsibility is not focused on achieving inner-peace for ourselves.

Instead, our responsibility is to place our trust in the One who will keep us from fruitless introspecton. He will direct our hearts and, as a consequence - neither the end result, nor a by-product - lead us into a state of peace to guarantee His presence and approval.

Colossians ch.3 v.15 puts it this way: "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful." We have a purpose, a calling - and as we fulfill it through His direction - in unity, with thanksgiving - so also we learn to allow His peace to govern our decision-making.

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Inspirational Bible Verses about Hope

Colossians ch.1 v.27 speaks of "Christ in you, the hope of glory" - this is the great mystery, the one that the Almighty has revealed in the last days. We have a hope! Not just any hope - but a certain conviction that the same Jesus who conquered death, who rose again, empowered us to turn our lives around and transform our communities; this same Jesus will return in glory to take his rightful place.

We can be certain of this for a number of reasons.

  1. God's word guarantees it. The same Lord who inspired the Bible, through which the birth, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus was foretold in minute detail; where over 300 prophecies concerning the Messiah were explicitly fulfilled - has also clearly spoken on the subject of Jesus' return.
  2. Jesus' character - while on earth He demonstrated that He was completely faithful to His own promises, we therefore have no grounds to doubt that he has the will or the ability to fulfill all that He has promised.
  3. Most importantly. This same Christ dwells in us through His Holy Spirit, transforming us daily to become more like Him, reflecting Him in all that we think, say and do. The Holy Spirit in us confirms to our hearts directly that our hope is not in vain.

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Inspirational Verses About Faith

Hebrews ch.11 v.6 puts it best: "Without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing to him, for he who comes to God must believe that he exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him." - this is faith's starting point. If you don't believe that He exists, and that he has something in store for those who earnestly desire to develop a relationship with Him, then this is going to be alien territory for you, unless you enjoy an exercise in futility. But to those who are prepared to take a risk - not merely on the question of God's existence, but also on the nature of His character - by calling out to the One who called to them first; there is a universe of a deeper reality waiting for them to explore.

We are given a definition of faith in Hebrews ch.11 v.1: "Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, proof of things not seen." - true faith provides its own evidence beyond the bounds of our material universe. It is a reality more genuine than the shadowy, deceptive realms of an unredeemed imagination. It satisfies us when we see no other evidence to support our conviction. But we know. We have a promise burned into our consciousness that will not let us go. We have seen with eyes that perceive more than the limitations of flesh and blood - and we cannot help but confirm what we have seen through our speech and our actions. For us to do otherwise would be to betray what we have already experienced as reality.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Experiencing a New Life

A recurring theme in the New Testament (for example: Romans ch.6 v.4 or Colossians Ch.3 v.1) reminds us that just as Jesus Christ experienced death for all of us, we all now have a responsibility to view ourselves in a position where we have effectively died to our old life. A life characterised by an inward attitude of rebellion against the Father's will.

To help us with this, it is essential for us to come to a clear understanding that we cannot do this as an exercise of our own will. If that were possible, then Jesus' sacrifice would have been a futile, empty gesture.

Instead, we come to see that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us now, today; in order to raise us up into a new life of power over every thought that would drag us down.

This is the simplicity of faith and a new life. We put off the old, and put on the new. We reckon ourselves dead to the old life - it no longer has any power over us; and open our eyes to the new - a life where we experience power, authority, peace of mind.

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