Advocate – 3 lawyers walk into a bar

Law Courts

3 lawyers walk into a bar, the first says “today I was advocate for a burglar, he refused to plead guilty but because of my skillful argument he only got 6 months”.

The second replied, “today I was advocate for a mugger, he pleaded guilty, apologised and returned the wallet, but because the offense was violent I was only able to get the sentence down to 18 months”

When pushed the third lawyer replied, “today I was advocate for a selfish traitor.  A wretch who betrayed the High Kings trust.  A man with lies on his lips and murder in his heart, a dangerous man to whom nothing can be trusted, repeat offender no less.  His  crime was treason and to make it worse the High King Himself sat in judgement.

“What happened?” his friends exclaimed.

Well the King welcomed him into his family, offence forgotten, debts all paid in full, dressed in royal robes of finest silk.  He promised never to leave him nor forsake him. He spoke warmly of this man, like the apple of His eye.  He prepared a mansion, a position of responsibility and authority.  Righteousness, peace and joy in the presence of the King was the sentence swiftly executed. Turns out he was actually created for adoption into the royal family.  Last I heard he was sitting down, a feast spread before him to eat with princes at the Kings table.

“How is this possible?” protested the lawyers.

“Well, tonight I am executed” answered our Advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous – 1 John 2:1

I pray

Thank you, Christ our Advocate

The headline post “Names of God” provides an overview of all posts with this tag.

For the most recent Names of God posts click here

Image by Matt H Wade used under license

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What did you expect?

What did you expect?

“The closer our expectations are confined to God, the higher our expectations may be raised”

Matthew Henry: from The Treasury of David, notes on Psalm 125

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him (Psalm 62:5)

  • What are my expectations for the day, week, month, year ahead?
  • How much do I rely on the love of God?
  • How many of my hopes for the future are based on what I can do or what others can do for me?
  • If faith is of more worth than gold how rich am I in faith?
  • Where is my hope?
  • Am I filled with vain daydreams or are my expectations confined to the all-powerful, all loving, all-knowing, ever-present God?
  • Am I prepared to wait in silence for God to reveal Himself?

Image by Cretog8 used under license

Book Review – Living the Message – Eugene Peterson

Living the Message: Daily Reflections with Eugene PetersonLiving the Message: Daily Reflections with Eugene Peterson by Eugene H. Peterson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A brilliant compilation of excerpts from the writings of Eugene Peterson, both challenging and encouraging.

I have found this book to be an invaluable devotional guide over the past 12 months, consistently inspiring me to explore the Bible with renewed enthusiasm. This is a great introduction to the writing of Eugene Peterson however I have found it to be most beneficial as a reinforcement and reminder of the teachings found in detail in the original books.

The excerpts are from his earlier books as this was published prior to the Spiritual Theology series and were selected by his wife Janice during the period in which The Message was being written.

Also you should note that this is not a compilation of daily devotions taken from the ‘Message’, the title ‘Living the Message’ reflects a lifetime of writing about scripture and living it out.

View all my reviews

Abraham’s Seed – Promises

“and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed”     Gen 22:18

Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one,”And to your offspring,” who is Christ.  Gal 3:16

64091_10151186834796987_2091898201_nOn Jan 1, 2013 a rainbow stood proud over Belfast.  As we were pointing it out to the boys a friend (that’d be Calvin) posted this photo with the caption ‘Promises!’ on Facebook.

Jesus is the sole fulfillment of the promises of God.  In Jesus all the nations (even Northern Ireland) of the earth are blessed.

I pray

Father, thank you for not backing out, thank you for promises made and promises fulfilled.  Thank you that there is hope today and tomorrow.  Thank you that your promise is true in Abraham’s Seed, Jesus Christ.

The headline post “Names of God” provides an overview of all posts with this tag.

For the most recent Names of God posts click here

Visit here for other posts about Abraham

 

A Magic Hour

Magic HourI am going to give you an hour.  A magic hour, an hour when the world stops just for you.  An hour that you can just get stuff done. It’s going to happen next Tuesday so start planning what you are going to do with this magical extra hour.  If you use it wisely I will give you another magic hour the following week.

Here’s a few things that I think we would all like (add as many more as you like):

  • To make our wife/husband/partner happy
  • To help our friends and families enjoy life and be fulfilled
  • To be less stressed
  • To help people in our communities that don’t have anyone to help them.
  • To learn a new skill

I am sure you can think of loads more things in your life that you would like to see.  Here is a challenge for you.  Write down one thing that you could achieve in the magic hour next Tuesday that would help towards just one of those goals……

Now forget the magic hour, your real challenge is to just do that one thing this week.  Find an hour, one way or another find that hour and get it done.

You didn’t know you were magic did you?

Supermarket Immanuel

Lost in SupermarketA couple of weeks back I found myself telling a small group of 3-6 year old kids the Christmas story.  They all knew the story of course and weren’t exactly waiting with bated breath to find out how it ends, so I promised them that if they listened carefully I would teach them a really big word so they could impress their parents.

So after all the shepherds and wise men had arrived as expected the kids pleaded for their new parent impressing (sweet generating?) big word. (a little creative license in my storytelling here)

“Immanuel”

I was really keen to find a way to get past the comings and goings of the Nativity scene to the reality of Immanuel, God with us, so i asked the question. “Has anyone ever been in the supermarket and lost their mummy or daddy?”  Clearly from the wide-eyed nods every one of the kids had this in common.  Being a tactful kind of guy I asked another question. “How did you feel when you were on your own?”   OK so you get the idea.  So did the kids.

“Do you remember what is felt like when they found you?”

Smiles again.

“Before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the world was lost.  No-one knew what would happen.  No-one really knew who they belonged to….. then one day, in a stable, the shepherds, the wise men and the whole world found their way back to who they belonged to.  This Christmas Story is the story of Immanuel, the story of God with us.”

So if your kids want to know what Christmas is all about just leave them at the supermarket for 20 minutes…. (please don’t)

Image by Courosa used under license

Headwind: Unseen opposition

Cycling into windCycling to work takes me 25 minutes most mornings.  One morning this week however my time was almost 35 minutes.  The reason?  A strong head wind.  A wind blowing directly into my face pushing me backwards. Cycling on level ground felt like a long difficult hill climb.

For the duration of my cycle I found myself thinking about the phrase ‘an unseen opposition’  Here are my thoughts:

  • There are times in life when things are more difficult than they should be.  Should we be asking why that is?
  • Have I stopped believing in the spiritual reality of angels and demons?
  • The Bible uses an unseen wind to describe the Holy Spirit, do I sometimes (often) strive in opposition to the Holy Spirit?

It did make me remember a phase used by R Arthur Matthews

“To the believer, the heavenlies are more real than the temporal things of earth”

What difference does that make? Is our faith a moral code? lifestyle choice? reality?

Big Habits

“…. habits are not guaranteed for life. They can be neglected until they wither away. Every time my schedule changes (which is several times a year) I have to reassert my good habits into the new timetable.” (from outWORD, a blog that you really should visit)

Having just been through a change in schedules this thought is very real to me.  Some habits have been easy to port across into a new schedule others not so.

  1. Basic fitness – I was playing football 2 or 3 times a week, now cycling 12 miles 4 times a week
  2. Writing – I was writing 2 or 3 hours during lunchtime each week – Now not so much (this is first post in 2 months )
  3. Reading, prayer and contemplation – Was spending 2-3 hours a week early mornings + walk & bus time each way to work – now struggling to find any real amount of time.

What are the habits that you consider important to you?

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thess 5:17

Here are 3 important ones.

  1. express joy
  2. pray and don’t stop
  3. be thankful and show it

Why work?

A post on the Desiring God blog caught (and held) my attention last week.  It communicates what a Godly attitude to work looks like.  The three points and associated scriptures are listed here but check out the full post here.

  1. We labour not to be a burden to others (2 Thessalonians 3:81 Timothy 5:8)
  2. We labour to be able to share with others (Ephesians 4:28)
  3. In Jesus our labour is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58)
To be honest I really just posted this so that I can re-read it from time to time when my attitude needs a spring clean.
I have questions when I read these verses:
  1. Am I a burden to others?
  2. Am I able to share with others?

Often I feel the Yes/No answers to these questions are the wrong way round in my life.

The full article is written by David Mathis

A darkness better than light

Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant?
Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.
Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who equip yourselves with burning torches!
Walk by the light of your fire, and by the torches that you have kindled!
This you have from my hand: you shall lie down in torment.    Isaiah 50:10-11

A Darkness better than Light

There are times when I feel like I just don’t know what is going on. Times when it seems that God has lost control over the world and my little corner of it.

When we don’t know what way to go it is very tempting to start lighting fires. To explore every possible pathway. To use every resource at our command to find a good way forward.  It is tempting to construct a way out of the darkness, tempted by the comfort and security of knowing the path ahead.

Isaiah’s prophecy urges us to have faith, to wait, to trust. To be those who fear God and are ready and willing to receive and obey the words of God’s servant.

Beware of your own wisdom. Beware your own counsel. The end result of self sufficiency in this world is torment. In this I don’t refer to eternal torment but to the torment of failing to understand. The torment that is the natural result of trying and failing. And fail we will.

Walk. Walk with intent. Walk either in the dark trusting God for protection, guidance and ultimately salvation or walk in your own understanding and wisdom. Either way you must walk forward. This prophecy offers no third way. No opt out. No neutrality. Either walk with faith in God or in yourself.

For some challenging questions about waiting on God you may like to read ‘What did you expect?