Do you know who Jesus really is? I had no idea, living on lighthouses where Sunday schools didn’t exist and parents who rarely opened a Bible. My mother at least taught me to pray to a gentle Jesus meek and mild. Now a City lad, I saw a large picture of a man on a cross in some classroom. I imagined it was Jesus, so I asked a lady, “when did this happen?” “Two thousand years ago” she said. I immediately responded in ignorance, “Why don’t they forget about him then?” I think the poor lady was too shocked to reply. Years later I accepted a six-week Bible study. On lesson one, my teacher nearly fell off his chair when I asked, “Why six weeks of study? I just want to know what to do to become a Christian” he recovered and said, “read Acts 2:38”. My simplistic approach was born from having no previous religion to un-learn or cloud my thinking. It was simply an open Bible about Jesus who died to save me making me ashamed of once saying why don’t they forget Him, to become amazed why more people don’t remember Jesus and follow Him. Most people only see what they want to see, a meek and mild Jesus while closing their ears to His lessons on righteousness justice and judgement. They never get a full 360-degree summary of the Savior. I discovered that Jesus Christ changes what you think about everything else – how you view God, the world, yourself, every decision you make, how you prioritize values, know right from wrong, determine your unique place in the universe, and how you act. Jesus turned my world right
side up because I wanted to walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6). The gospel of John gives us plenty of glimpses of the Master at work, for example John 5:1-9 is a story about a man who had been disabled for 38 years, a classic case of neglect or self-pity. Plenty of time to dream up excuses and see the world as enemy number one. John said in verse 3 “a great number of disabled people used to lie there”. It must have been some sight, a scrap heap of broken
people beside the Pool of Bethesda. But look who was there, Jesus of Nazareth right there where people were hurting and He was available even to a practicing pity party parasite. Who wants to go to such a one and receive an ear full of his problems, especially with a history like his, and risk another draining dependent? – We usually don’t, but Jesus does – that’s who! Jesus didn’t avoid the down and out but then he didn’t encourage undue dependence on others either. He said, “Do you want to get well?” (v 6) implying, you have a good thing going here, enough food a day and plenty of attention, if I heal you, it’s the employment office you know. Jesus healed him. Jesus’ challenge is intended for us all, play with self-pity and you will dig your own pit, each shovel full further away from God. For believers the first step is to bury the old self in baptism. Paul said in Romans 6:6 “For we know that the old self was crucified with Jesus so the body of sin might be done away with.” We cannot feel sorry for ourselves if there is no “self” to feel sorry for. Who else teaches and heals like Jesus and conquered death to offer believers eternal life? There is so much more to Jesus than we often hear from those who don’t know Him. See for yourself the Master at work and follow Him, you will be a new person – just like Jesus.
Author: John Shepherd
The Southern Alps in New Zealand’s South Island are a magnificent mountain range especially when covered in snow. They gave ideal training for Sir Edmund Hillary to conquer Everest in 1953. But it was summer in central Otago when Ian and I challenged each other to climb what we thought was an easy mountain. We took with us a thermos flask with the idea of returning with snow to prove we had reached the top. Well, mountains are deceptive especially for inexperienced climbers, the climb was much harder than we imagined but We eventually reached the top and gathered a handful of snow for the thermos. As weary as we were – there was still the hours of decent to face. We were taught a good lesson never to take a mountain for granted. Jesus climbed many mountains with His disciples, especially the high mountain in Mark 9:2 what we call the Mount of Transfiguration and the high mountain where the devil tried to tempt Jesus alone (Matt 4:8). Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things He says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore, I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you have received them and you will have them’” (Mark 11:23-24). Now, Jesus didn’t relocate any physical mountains during His ministry but Isaiah 40:3-5 had prophesied of one to come who will make the high places low and the low places high representing the proud and arrogant among men, all
unevenness and roughness of their character must be made smooth. Men were warned again by John the Baptist who spoke like the prophets of old preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3-4). We are facing mountains today like never before in our lifetime. Shutdowns provide a real challenge to our own faith doing our part to make a smooth highway for others to travel, and to have the courage and determination to make our stand on God’s Word because David said in 2 Samuel 22:31, As for God His way is perfect and the Word of the Lord is flawless” And notice something
important in Mark 11. He talks only once about our need for faith, and three times about our need to speak His Word. Why? Because if you don’t have enough faith to move your lips and speak God’s Word you won’t have enough faith to move your mountain whatever it may be. Something wonderful happens when you speak God’s Word. Your
ears hear it, your mind is renewed, your focus is off self and the thing God responds to –faith – rises up in your heart. And when you hold that position of faith, refuse to budge and keep speaking God’s Word and that mountain in your life begins to crumble, even the likes of that world-wide virus. As long as you keep dwelling on the things you think and feel in your natural mind the mountain will keep standing like an immovable colossus. As inexperienced climbers tend to underestimate the size of mountains to climb never ever underestimate the power of righteous prayer to remove those mountains in your life. Trust God implicitly in your prayers and He will do it.
Author: John Shepherd
“When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.” – Ezekiel 33:8-9
We must tell everyone just as Paul said…”but now (God) commandeth all men everywhere to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained (Jesus); whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” – Acts 17:30-31
We are all appointed a time to die, let’s make sure we are ready to meet God! If you are in Jesus Christ you are ready, if you are not in Jesus Christ you are lost.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:7
It’s so important that Christians be a light and to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ, the son of God every day in every way!
At the risk of boring you who have heard lighthouse stories so often from me. I guess we have to be careful not to get on our hobby horse too often because people can turn off the lesson. So, to you who may not have heard this before this is your first installment!!
My father was a lighthouse principal keeper from when I was four years old until I was thirteen and there was only one occasion I can remember when Dad failed for some reason to light the lighthouse mantle until after dark leaving a busy shipping lane in danger of losing their way on the rocky coastline. Fortunately, there were no ships about at the time. On another occasion when I was eight years old at Cape Brett, I was given a flashlight for my birthday so I could take Dad’s supper up the steep zig-zag track to the tower. I was about halfway up the track one evening when I noticed the lights from a ship passing by out at sea. A little boy’s curiosity overcame him to see if his flashlight would reach the ship with a number of attempts, and to his amazement signals were coming back from the ship consequently this little boy had ten minutes of fun especially when the ship turned around. An angry Dad spotted what I was doing from the tower.
Dad told me he was going to radio the Marine Department later and tell them what I had done because Dad was getting repeat messages from the ship, “Are you in trouble”? If I had known Morse code, I would have known before I reached Dad, I was the one in trouble. The moral of the story is this: be careful how you apply the light you have because Jesus said in Matthew 5:14-16, “You are the light of the world, a city (or lighthouse) on a hill cannot be hidden” (unless you forget to light it). Jesus continues, “Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on a stand and it gives light to everyone in the house”. In the same way, let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven”. Light can be used wrongly by missing opportunities to shine it and to use it for the wrong motives (Phil 1:15). You are the light of the world just as salt makes a difference to people’s food, so light makes a difference to those around you. Jesus would later explain, “I am the light of the world if you follow me you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Paul said in Philippians 2:5 “Your attitude should be the same as Christ” followed by vs 14-16, the importance of unity among Christians, “Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life”. What a privilege for believers to be referred to by Jesus as the light of the world when He also spoke of Himself as the light of the world. The difference between the two is that Jesus is the source of light, Christians are the reflection of His light. The emphases rests on the ministry of Christian character showing the world a counter-culture. The evidence of Christlikeness speaks louder than words.
Author: John Shepherd
We call Matt 28:17-20 the “Great Commission”. Perhaps a term not known back then but the mammoth task certainly was. The eleven disciples met the risen Christ on a mountain in Galilee, as verse 17 informs us, “They worshipped Him but – some doubted” perhaps an indication of their young age. Jesus was aged 30 at the beginning of His ministry (Lk 3:23) and judging by His trips to Jerusalem for the Passover He would have been 33 at the time. We also know that Jesus was a Rabbi (John 1:49) and students were usually younger than a Rabbi. Jesus didn’t rebuke them as in Mark 16:14 for their stubbornness and lack of faith, rather He chose to draw near to them to reassure them over whatever caused some to doubt, but proceeded with His all-inclusive statement that “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me” (v 18). Jesus again reassured the eleven, “And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age”. We all struggle at times with those pesky doubts which creep into our minds especially those of us who think we have all the answers. Therefore, to literally take Jesus at His word can be a challenge to the educated and the proud especially when Jesus’ speaks so plainly. We look to read between the lines, imagining things that aren’t there. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” applies to all of us (Luke 18:17). Well there it is: “Go and make disciples of all nations baptizing and teaching them…” could hardly be any simpler. Intellectual show offs like the rich young man who wanted to debate with Jesus; “Who is my neighbor?” miss the whole point of what Jesus is saying. “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Matt 9:37). Could it be that we have confined to four walls once a week, what is designed to be a 24/7 people movement out in the market place transforming our cities and nations? and have we restricted ministry to professionally trained specialists, rather than ministry being the work of all the saints? I believe so! The market place is “out there” in our workplace, the office, the hospitable home, the sports field, and especially the poor!! The church was never meant to remain in lockdown. Jesus put the great commission into the hands of some who doubt, but giving reassurance for such folk of any age that perfection is not a requirement for reaching out in some practical way. Jesus was present on that mountain in Galilee that day to encourage the timid, the same way as He does today through our dedication to His Word and prayer. “And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age”. Our Lord knows we are capable just as we are, – doubts will be solved by perseverance. We have a partnership with God to complete the task He gave to His disciples. “The Lord has assigned to each his task, I planted the seed, Apollos watered it but God made it grow so neither he who plants or He who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow” (1 Corinthians 3:5-7). Therefore; there should be no envy or rivalry between God’s workers. Someone said, “WITHOUT GOD WE CAN’T, BUT WITHOUT US HE WON’T”. Who else will tell the good news of Jesus in word and deed but the church, in all its frailty?
Author: John Shepherd