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Archive for the 'Think Spot' Category

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Think Spot 7 September 2020

 
What we say, as well as what we don’t say, as Christians is very important. The Bible is very clear on that.
 

1 Peter 2:1 “Therefore rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind.”

James 4:11-12 “Brothers do not slander one another...who are you to judge your neighbour?” The definition of slander is words falsely spoken that damage the reputation of another or an abusive attack on a person's character or good name or to attack the good name and reputation of someone.So next time you go to say anything negative about someone or to criticise their actions, think again, you might be disobeying God and breaking a command.

The Apostle James powerfully shows how a small thing such as the tongue is able to cause much damage. He says that the tongue is a world of evil that corrupts the whole person ...and is itself set on fire by hell (James 3:3-8).

Christians are very good at gossiping but disguising it as prayerful concern. We pass on a juicy bit of information about someone and then ask the person to pray about the situation. As Christians we should not pass on any information about anyone else unless the person concerned has asked us to. It is not our place to do so even if it is for prayer.

However, sometimes it is also what we don’t say that causes problems. We stay silent when in fact we do need to give that word of love, encouragement, rebuke or kindness. Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook can be fabulous sites if used properly. How often to we stay silent when we should say something kind? We get a message from a friend and we don't reply to it.  How often do we say something when we should stay silent instead of slandering, complaining, gossiping or bickering?

Prayer

Now, a prayer to help you into this new week. Father, we thank you for words. We thank you that we can communicate words of life to other people. Help us to use words wisely as we interact, communicate and deal with other people, especially our loved ones and work colleagues. May the Holy Spirit, guide, rebuke and counsel, as we use the amazing gift of words to us, as we seeks to live a life worthy of Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

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Think Spot – 31st August 2020


God has made us able ministers of the new Covenant; not of the letter, but of the Spirit: for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:6.

The "letter" is the whole law of Moses, or the doctrine of the ten commandments, which teach how we should obey God, honour parents, love our neighbours, and the like— the very best doctrine to be found in all books, sermons and schools. There is another message, which Paul terms the "ministration of a new covenant or of the Spirit." This doctrine does not teach what works are required of man; but it makes known to him what God would do for him and bestow upon him, indeed what he has already done ; he has given his Son Christ for us ; because, for our disobedience to the law, which no man fulfils, we were under God's wrath and condemnation. Christ made satisfaction for our sins, effected a reconciliation with God and gave to us his own righteousness. This doctrine is revealed through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit works in the hearts of them who hear and accept the doctrine. Therefore this ministration is termed the ministration "of the Spirit."

It is of design that the apostle does not term the two dispensations "law" and "gospel," but names them according to the respective effects produced. For it is impossible to keep the law without Christ, though man may, for the sake of honour or property, or from fear of punishment, feign outward holiness. The heart which does not discern God's grace in Christ cannot turn to God, nor trust in him ; it cannot love his commandments and delight in them, but rather resists them.

Therefore, God would have his gospel message unceasingly urged as the means of awakening man's heart to discern his state and recall the grace and lovingkindness of God, with the result that the power of the Holy Spirit is increased constantly. No influence of the law, no work of man is present here. The force is a new and heavenly one — the power of the Holy Spirit. He impresses upon the heart Christ and his works, making it a true book which does not consist in tracing mere letters and words, but in true life and action.

(An excerpt taken from "Devotional Readings From Luther's Works For Every Day Of The Year" By Rev. John Sander, L.H.D.) in the Public Domain.

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Think Spot – 24th August 2020

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Romans 8:14.

Like ourselves, Paul had to deal with two classes of people, the true and the false Christians. There is not so much danger from the adversaries of the doctrine; their opposition is so open that we can readily beware of them. But since the devil sows his seed among us who are called Christians and boast of the gospel, it behoves us to take heed of those who claim to be Christians. It is easy enough to boast of God and of Christ and of the Spirit. But whether such boasting has any foundation depends on whether or not the Spirit so works and rules in us as to subdue and mortify sin. For where the Spirit is, there assuredly he is not idle, nor powerless. He proves his presence by ruling and directing man and prevailing on him to obey and follow his promptings.

To be "led by the Spirit of God" means to be given a heart which gladly hears God's Word and believes that in Christ it has grace and the forgiveness of sins ; a heart which confesses and proves its faith before the world ; a heart which seeks, above all things, the glory of God, and endeavours to live without giving offense, to serve others and to be obedient, patient, pure and chaste, mild and gentle; a heart which, though at times overtaken in a fault, and may stumble, soon rises again by repentance and ceases to sin. All these things the Holy Spirit teaches one if he hears and receives the Word, and does not wilfully resist the Spirit.

The devil, who is also a spirit, persuades the hearts of the worldlings ; but it soon becomes evident that his work is not that of a good or divine spirit. For he leads men to do the reverse of that which the Spirit of God leads them to do ; they find no pleasure in hearing and obeying God's Word, but despise God, and become proud and haughty, avaricious, unmerciful. Let every one therefore take heed that he deceive not himself. For there are many who claim to be Christians and are not. We perceive this from the fact that not all are led by the Spirit of God.

(An excerpt taken from "Devotional Readings From Luther's Works For Every Day Of The Year" By Rev. John Sander, L.H.D.) in the Public Domain.

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Think Spot – 17th August 2020

If you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live. Romans 8:13.

Here the apostle confesses that even in the Christian there is a remnant of the flesh, that must be put to death — all manner of temptation and lusts in opposition to God's commandments. These are active in the flesh and prompt to sin. They are here called the "deeds of the body." Of this nature are thoughts of unbelief and distrust, coldness and indolence with respect to God's Word and prayer, carnal security and presumption instead of the fear of God, impatience and murmurings under suffering, anger and vindictiveness, or envy and hatred against our neighbour, avarice, unchastity and the like. Such inclinations as these dwell in flesh and blood and cease not to move and tempt man.

Because of human infirmity they at times overtake him when he is not careful enough about transgression. They will surely overpower him unless he resolutely opposes them, and puts to death these "deeds of the body." To do this means a severe struggle, a battle, which never abates, nor ceases as long as we live. The Christian dare never become slothful or negligent in this matter. He must constantly put to death the flesh lest he himself be put to death by it.

This constitutes the difference between those who are Christians and sanctified and those who are without faith and the Holy Spirit, or who grieve and lose the Spirit. For although believers, as well as unbelievers, are not wholly free from the sinful lusts of the flesh, they yet remain in repentance and the fear of God ; they hold fast to the belief that their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake, because they do not yield to them, but resist them. Therefore they continue under forgiveness, and their remaining infirmity is not fatal, nor damning to them as it is to those who, without repentance and faith, go on in carnal security and purposely follow their evil lusts against their own conscience, casting away from themselves both faith and the Holy Spirit. Having received the Holy Spirit, Christians are to comfort themselves with the fact that they have help and strength to resist and mortify sin.

(An excerpt taken from "Devotional Readings From Luther's Works For Every Day Of The Year" By Rev. John Sander, L.H.D.) in the Public Domain.

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Think Spot – 10th August 2020


Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counsellor? Romans 11:34.

The reason and wisdom of man go so far as to reach the conclusion, although feebly, that there must be one eternal being, who has created and who preserves and governs all things. Man sees such a beautiful and wonderful creation in the heavens and on the earth, one so wonderfully, regularly and securely preserved and ordered, that he must say: It is impossible that this came into existence by mere chance, or that it originated and controls itself; there must have been a Creator and Lord from whom all these things proceed and by whom they are governed. But, even knowing this, we have not yet searched out or fathomed the exalted, eternal, divine essence of the Godhead.

For even though I have learned that there is an only divine majesty, who governs all things, I do not thereby know the inner workings of this divine essence himself ; this no one can tell me, except in so far as God himself reveals it in his Word. Now we Christians have the Scriptures which we know to be the Word of God. From these, and from no other source, we have obtained all that is known of God and divine works from the beginning of the world. And our knowledge is confirmed and proven by great miracles, even to the present day. These Scriptures declare that there is no God nor divine being save this one alone. They not only manifest him to us from without, but they lead us into his inner essence, and show us that in him there are three persons; not three Gods or three kinds of divinity, but the same undivided, divine essence.

Such a revelation is radiantly shed forth from the declaration of his divine counsel and will. In that counsel and will it was decreed from eternity and was proclaimed in his promises, that his Son should become man and die to reconcile man to God. This no angel nor any other creature could do ; it must be done by God himself. It could not be done by the person of the Father, who was to be reconciled, but it must be done by a second person with whom this counsel was determined and through whom and for whose sake the reconciliation was to be brought about.

(An excerpt taken from "Devotional Readings From Luther's Works For Every Day Of The Year" By Rev. John Sander, L.H.D.) in the Public Domain.

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Think Spot – 3rd August 2020


Know you not, that to whom you offer yourselves as servants to obey somebody, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin which leads to death, or of obedience which leads to righteousness? Romans 6:16.

Necessarily your life must be obedient to some master. Either you obey sin, to continue in the service of which brings death and God's wrath, or you obey God in grace to a new manner of life. Reason teaches, through the law, good works and forbids evil, but it is unable to comprehend why its teachings are not fulfilled. It perceives, from the results which follow disrespect for the law, that it is best to honour it, that it is right and praiseworthy not to steal and commit crime. But it fails to understand why, after its teachings are given, they are not naturally fulfilled. With sword, rack and gallows the judge may restrain public crime, but he cannot punish more than what is known and witnessed to before court. Whatever is done secretly and does not come before him, he cannot punish or restrain.

The Word of God, however, teaches how to crush the head of the serpent and to slay the evil, so that judge and executioner are no longer necessary. It tells us that a Christian has certain knowledge that through the grace of Christ his sins are forgiven, blotted out and deprived of condemning power. Because he has obtained and believes in such grace, he receives a heart abhorrent of sin. Although feeling within himself the presence of evil thoughts and lusts, yet his faith and the Holy Spirit are with him to remind him of his baptism. He says : Although time and opportunity permit me to do evil and I run no risk of being detected and punished, I will not do it, but will obey God and honour Christ my Lord, for I am baptized into Christ and as a Christian am dead unto sin, nor will I come again under its power.

So acted godly Joseph, who, when tempted by his master's wife, "left his garment in her hand, fled and got him out." He was but flesh and blood and naturally not insensible to her inducement, to the time and opportunity, to the friendship of the woman. But he restrained himself, not yielding even in thought to the temptation. Such obedience to God destroys, indeed, the source of sin and evil.

(An excerpt taken from "Devotional Readings From Luther's Works For Every Day Of The Year" By Rev. John Sander, L.H.D.) in the Public Domain.

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Think Spot 27 July 2020

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Think Spot – 27th July 2020


As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. John 3: 14-15

Here Christ uses the Scriptures to point to himself. He means to say, that just as the Jews in the desert, who were bitten by fiery serpents, were saved by looking upon the serpent of brass, which Moses set upon a standard, so it is also with regard to me. No one who looks upon me will perish ; all those who have an evil conscience, are tormented by sin and death, should believe that I have come down from heaven for their sakes and have ascended again. Then neither sin, nor death shall harm them. Whoever would enter heaven and be saved, must be saved by this serpent, which is Christ. Thus this gospel condemns free will and every human accomplishment, and points only to this serpent.

The spiritual significance of the narrative in Numbers is this. The serpent, which bit and poisoned is sin, death and an evil conscience. I know that I must die and that I am under the power of death; I cannot free myself and must remain in this state until a dead serpent is set up for me, one which can harm no one, but rather benefit, as did the serpent of Moses. Now, this is Christ. I see him hanging on the cross, not beautiful, nor greatly honoured ; but I see him hanging in disgrace, like a murderer and malefactor; thus, reason must say that he is cursed before God. The Jews believed this to be true and they could only consider him the most cursed of all men before God and the world.

Moses had to set up a serpent of brass, which looked like the fiery serpents, but did not bite, nor harm anyone; it rather saved the people. Thus, Christ also has the form and the appearance of a sinner, but has become my salvation; his death is my life; he atones for my sins and takes away from me the wrath of the Father. If man believes that the death of Christ has taken away his sin, he becomes a new man. The carnal, natural man cannot believe that God will gratuitously take away and forgive us all our sins. Reason argues: You have sinned, you must also atone for your sin. The gospel of Christ says : You have sinned, another must atone for you. Our works are nothing; but faith in Christ does it all.

(An excerpt taken from "Devotional Readings From Luther's Works For Every Day Of The Year" By Rev. John Sander, L.H.D.) in the Public Domain.

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Think Spot 20 July 2020

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Think Spot – 20th July 2020


There must be also heresies and factions among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. 1 Corinthians 11:19.

Discord is a deplorable offense among Christians, putting them in the worst possible light, and making it impossible for them to steer clear of factions. Divisions are an offense to the world's wisest and best, who cry out, "If the Christians' doctrine were true, they would preserve unity among themselves, but as it is, they envy and slander and devour one another." But we cannot altogether prevent discord in the Church. For wherever the Word of God has a foothold, there the devil will be. By the agency of his factions he will always build his taverns and kitchens by the side of God's house.

So he did at first in Paradise. He entrenched himself in the family of Adam, establishing there his church. Such has been his practice ever since, and doubtless ever will be. He who takes offense at differences in the Church, who when he sees any discord at once concludes there is no Church there, will in the end miss both Church and Christ. You will never find any congregation of such purity that all its members are unanimous on every point of belief and teaching and all live in perfect harmony.

Paul had experience in this matter in the case of the beautiful and famed Church of Corinth, which he himself had planted and taught two years. Soon after his departure they began to disagree about their preachers and to attach themselves to certain ones— some to Paul, some to Peter, some to Apollos. Though they had been unanimous in their doctrine, yet men would cleave to a certain one because he was more gifted than the others, could speak better, or was more attractive in personal appearance. And among the ministers of the Church, if one had a special gift or office, he thought he ought to be a little better and a little greater than the others. Necessarily, from such division and inharmony grew hatred, strife and jealousy, resulting in great injury and disorder to the Church. We must, as far as possible, guard against this fatal evil, though we cannot altogether keep it out of the Church.

(An excerpt taken from "Devotional Readings From Luther's Works For Every Day Of The Year" By Rev. John Sander, L.H.D.) in the Public Domain.

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Think Spot 13 July 2020

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Think Spot – 13th July 2020


No man has ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. John 3:13.

It is therefore that Christ pictures his own person. He is the promised Saviour come from heaven ; he is the true Son of God from eternity. If he is come from heaven he must have been with God from eternity. He descended from heaven again, but he has taken upon himself the nature of man and has dwelt among us on earth. For this reason he here calls himself the Son of man, that is, actual man, having flesh and blood like we have. He divested himself of the form of God, and went about in the form of a servant, enduring suffering and death, until such time as he was delivered from this state and was exalted again and seated at the right hand of God, having now been made Lord over death and hell and all elements of his human nature. All this he has manifested by his visible ascension when he was taken up in the clouds before the eyes of his disciples.

Of these things the Pharisees were in utter ignorance. They could not at all conceive that their Messiah had to be sent from heaven that he might redeem and reconcile all the world and particularly his own Jewish people. Much less did they understand that he had to die on the cross, that he must be crucified and become a sacrifice for their sins and the sins of the world. The reason was because they failed to recognize that the whole nature of man in the sight of God merited only damnation and perdition, and were so bold as to imagine that they could atone for their own sins by their good works and consequently would need no Messiah.

All ability of men, no matter how wise, learned and holy they are, is of no avail. No man can enter heaven as he descended from Adam. There never was a saint who in his own merit could go to heaven, whether Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, John, or any other. Before man can enter the kingdom of heaven and receive eternal life, there must first come One who has eternal righteousness and life, who appeases God's anger and abolishes sin and death.

(An excerpt taken from "Devotional Readings From Luther's Works For Every Day Of The Year" By Rev. John Sander, L.H.D.) in the Public Domain.

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Think Spot 6 July 2020

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Think Spot – 6th July 2020


And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and killed him. Genesis 4:8

Cain is the image and picture of all hypocrites and murderers, who kill under the show of godliness. Cain, possessed by Satan, hides his wrath, waiting the opportunity to slay his brother Abel; meanwhile he converses with him, as a brother beloved, that he might the sooner lay his hands on him unawares. Let us learn to know a Cain and to beware when he speaks kindly as a brother to brother. It is in this way that our adversaries talk with us in our day, while they pretend a desire for concord, and seek to bring about doctrinal harmony.

Our ministry at the present day deserves no blame. We teach, we exhort, we entreat, we rebuke, we turn ourselves every way, that we may recall the multitude from their self-security to the fear of God. But the world, like an untamed beast, goes on and follows not the Word, but its own lusts, which it tries to smooth over with a show of righteousness & respectability. The prophets and apostles are before us as examples, and our own experience is also instructive.

Learn then what a hypocrite is, namely, one who lays claim to the worship of God and to charity, and at the same time destroys the worship of God and kills his brother. All this semblance of good will is only intended to bring about better opportunities of doing harm. Light is cast here upon the bondage of Satan by which our nature, entangled in sins, is oppressed. Hence Paul speaks of the "children of wrath" and declares that such are taken captive by Satan. For nature, destitute of the Holy Spirit, is impelled by the same evil spirit which impelled wicked Cain.

If, however, there were in any one those ample powers, or that free will, by which a person might defend themself against the assaults of Satan, these gifts would most assuredly have existed in Cain, to whom belonged the birth right and the promise of the blessed seed. All people are in that very same condition; unless our nature be helped by the Spirit of God, it cannot maintain itself.

(An excerpt taken from "Devotional Readings From Luther's Works For Every Day Of The Year" By Rev. John Sander, L.H.D.) in the Public Domain.

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