Home » Series (Page 2)

Category Archives: Series

Beginnings – Abraham, My Friend – 02

Chapter One: Beginnings

In the beginning…

Every Christian biography should begin with the words “In the beginning God..” Our Bible begins with these words and, on reflection, it could begin with no others. How else would anything ‘begin’? The gospel according to John mirrors Genesis and expands it;

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. [John 1:1-3] …

It is the only explanation for everything; without Him there is nothing. It is the only explanation for anything; without him was not anything. That’s a question that atheistic cosmologists refuse to ask; ‘why is there anything?’ It was said of such cosmologists, by a fellow cosmologist, that they are “often in error but never in doubt”. Ask them ‘how?’ and you will hear the most extraordinary explanations of quantum theory and oscillating super-strings expressed with absolute certainty. Ask them ‘why?’ and there is no answer. Their calculations take us to the first micro-seconds of the cosmos but only revelation can take us back to the beginning where God already was.
(more…)

Abraham, My Friend 01

Abraham, My Friend
The Making of a Praying Man

Preface:
Every story has a purpose and my re-telling of this story has its purpose revealed in our sub-title. Abraham’s life is rich in illustration of the purposes of God and the daily incidents of a pilgrim but our ultimate goal will be to identify elements in the life of Abraham which made possible this amazing testimony from God Himself; Abraham, My Friend. [Isaiah 41:8]

There are many wonderful ways in which God describes His relationship with men and woman but this must be one of the most extraordinary; Abraham, My Friend. If Abraham had referred to God as ‘my friend’ we might have thought that he was guilty of ‘name-dropping’; the way in which some folk try to derive significance by association. If I were to refer to ‘Abraham, my friend’ I might lay myself open to that same accusation, but why should God refer to this man as ‘My Friend’?

Perhaps there is an indication in the New Testament. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. [John 15:15] Friends become the carriers of unique, intimate, knowledge because they can be trusted. It almost takes the breath away to say it but it is a regular testimony of scripture that God trusted Abraham. Abraham himself is the archetype of the man who trusts God but Abraham, My Friend, is an indication of God’s reliance upon Abraham. It brings to mind many another scripture; I sought for a man… …to stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. [Ezek 22:30] Oh, what would He do if He could only find the right man? EM Bounds famous book, Power through Prayer, begins with the statement that the “Men are God’s method. The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men.” In turn, that brings to mind the comment of Paul Billheimer “Who knows what God would do for His servants if He dared?”

In Abraham, God found the kind of man He had looked for, a man who would become My Friend. He became God’s trusted agent, ‘our man on earth’ through whom God would further His purpose. Not in ignorance, as some kind of automaton blindly following an instruction, but as My Friend. What God accomplishes on earth He will accomplish through His Friends. Christians love to say that God accomplishes wonderful things ‘in spite of’ His servants. There is a truth in this statement but it ought not to blind us to the opposite and equally true statement that He accomplishes even more ‘because of His servants’. He will accomplish more through one trusted Friend than through a billion super-efficient tools. “Men are God’s method.”

Prayer, of course, functions at many levels; it usually begins with a sense of dependence and need. The man or woman who does not pray is an ‘atheist’ no matter what theology he subscribes to. He is also a ‘fool’; a word reserved, biblically, for those who leave God out of their reckoning. But prayer that remains at the level of personal need is still-born. The unique glory of the pray-er is that he has more than one friend; he has two. And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? [Luke 11:5,6] That’s not one friend, but two. The pray-er is the living link between the Resource and the Need. If this chain is broken at either end the Resource and the Need remain separated; he must maintain living contact with both. There is valuable insight here. The pray-er is conscious of his own lack and inadequacy. He has nothing to set before him but the wonder is that he has access to another friend who has all necessary resources. Only by maintaining our links with both friends can be the channel of the blessing.

It took the Quakers to remind us that ‘Friends’ is a New Testament description of believers gathered in a local church. But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name. [3 John 1:14] As we regard the settings where God has placed us, how well are we functioning as Friends? The Church comes under a lot a legitimate criticism but we would be using our unique role to better purpose if we prayed for our Friends. If we know that they lack resources, we know where we can go to find an answer. It would doubtless have many spin-off blessings; double portions even. It is recorded that the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. [Job 42:10] Perhaps if we are seeking release and blessing our best route is to pray for our friends.

The Greek word for ‘friend’ (gk: philos) is a word of tenderness and companionship. It is a word which speaks of fellowship. The original Hebrew word for ‘friend’ has another mood, (hb: ahab) it is the word for ‘Lover’. The Septuagint translators translated it not by ‘philos’ but ‘agapE’ giving something like ‘Abraham, My Lover’. It shocks us to read it. God’s love is not marked by faithful duty and companionship only, but by passion and exclusive personal commitment.

We begin to sense the personal relationship that blossomed between God and man. If Abraham is a man characterised by his faith, his faith is characterised by his love; this is authentic faith, faith that worketh by love [Gal 5:6]. It was not from isolated experiences that Abraham was designated as Abraham, My Friend but from a continuing relationship that grew throughout a lifetime. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. It came not primarily from enormous crisis experiences characterised by giant leaps into the dark, but through the single ‘steps of that faith of our father Abraham’. [Rom 4:12]

So it is with Abraham’s children, we grow not by big bangs and heroic set-piece triumphs, but by daily obediences of love. Not by stage-managed performances in the public arena but in the secret places where only God is witness. For those who measure success by visible effects it is often a weary plodding existence, but for those who genuinely seek only to be approved unto God it holds the prospect that in some secret place, one day, God will say this is ‘Abraham, My Friend’

Abraham, My Friend – the making of a man of God – 01

Preface:

Every story has a purpose and my re-telling of this story has its purpose revealed in our sub-title. Abraham’s life is rich in illustration of the purposes of God and the daily incidents of a pilgrim but our ultimate goal will be to identify elements in the life of Abraham which made possible this amazing testimony from God Himself; Abraham, My Friend. [Isaiah 41:8]

Abraham, My Friend

There are many wonderful ways in which God describes His relationship with men and woman but this must be one of the most extraordinary; Abraham, My Friend. If Abraham had referred to God as ‘my friend’ we might have thought that he was guilty of ‘name-dropping’; the way in which some folk try to derive significance by association. If I were to refer to ‘Abraham, my friend’ I might lay myself open to that same accusation, but why should God refer to this man as ‘My Friend’? (more…)

If we say we have no sin… Part 2

If we move through John Wycliffe’s version of Inductive Bible Study one of our next questions will have to be ‘to whom’ was this said. With some of the epistles this is an easy question to answer as the epistles frequently start with the name of the sender and the name of the intended recipient. It is not quite so obvious with 1 John but there are sufficient clues to give us a working hypothesis.

Us and Them

We have an unusual verse in the second chapter.

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. 1 John 2:19 NKJV.

This verses, in this English version has 12 pronouns. Seven times we read of ‘they’ and 5 times we read of ‘us’. Biblical Greek works somewhat differently from English but this translation is justified. The verse is making a stark distinction between two groups of people. It will help in our understanding of 1 John if we can identify the two groups. (more…)

If we say that we have no sin… Part 1

For those who passionately believe that the ‘blood of Jesus Christ’ can cleanse the acknowledged perpetrator from ‘all sin’ there is a question that is often asked.

In 1 John we read…

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8 NKJV.

Surely, say the questioners, this verse shows the continual universality of sin. It is a comprehensive statement relating to the whole human race, and as it is in the present tense, it declares that ‘sin’ lurks in every breast, no matter how holy a man or woman might be and no matter what ‘higher’ (or deeper) experience he claims. (more…)

biblebase Romans Project

During the winter months of 2013-2014 we began a Bible Study project as part of our biblebase online bible school; we called the series the ‘Romans Project’. The project was designed to cover at least three winter sessions. The sessions included a public presentation followed by questions and we published the sessions on YouTube. The sessions were held in my own home and we planned to make provision for our discussions to be continued online for any who wished to take part.

We concluded the first term at the end of March in 2014.

We plan to recommence in November but with a change of venue and timing. The sessions will be held at ‘New Covenant Church’ Bracknell and will take place on the 2nd  and 4th Thursdays of each month, ending in March 2015. More details will follow but if you would like to join us for the public sessions please make a note in your diaries. You will be warmly welcome.

Romans Project – 2nd term

Venue: New Covenant Church, Bracknell, Berkshire

Dates: 2nd and 4th Thursdays from November 2014 through to March 2015. 

Time: 7:30 start for a 1 hour session

If you would like a glimpse of the format of the study please check out this introduction…

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Categories