Bible Reading: John 11:39-44
Jesus deeply loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus, and found a home in their home. So the raising of Lazarus was an act of compassion towards this family that Jesus loved. There was, however, a far deeper purpose to it than that. Jesus said that it was for the glory of God and that the Son of God may be glorified through it [John 11:4]. It was a sign that was intended to help people believe, including Jesus’ own disciples [John 11:15].
He deliberately raised Lazarus from the dead rather than heal him, because He wanted people to see something even greater than healing, and that in doing so it would help them to believe. He wanted them to see the glory of God, but what exactly does the phrase, ‘the glory of God’ really mean? A dear friend of ours once said that he finds it difficult to understand what the glory of God is.
In one of his sermons John Piper said, “The glory of God is the infinite beauty and greatness of God’s manifold perfections. The infinite beauty—and I am focusing on the manifestation of his character and his worth and his attributes, all of his perfections and greatness are beautiful as they are seen and there are many of them. That is why I use the word manifold.” [John Piper’s sermon, “To Him Be Glory Forevermore” preached on December 17, 2006]. It is so difficult to describe the glory of God, except to say that it is who He is! It is the manifestation of His presence, His beauty, character, and attributes!
Isaiah said that everyone who is called by the Name of the Lord was created for God’s glory [Isaiah 43:7]. Our attitude towards everything in life will change when we catch a glimpse of the glory of God. Our whole reason for living will be different. The apostle John saw the resurrected Christ, but his vision of the glorified Christ in all His majesty and splendour must have been even more special [see Revelation 1:9-17]. John could never have been the same again after that experience.
So often it is our own human desires that get in the way of God’s glory. Many years ago a dear friend of ours died following childbirth. Her husband was devastated, and asked us and other friends to meet with him at the mortuary and believed that his wife would be raised from the dead. Nothing happened! Today, the husband is happily married for a second time, with a lovely family, and he recognises the remarkable things that God has done in his life as a result of the pain of his first wife’s death. God has been glorified as a result of the death of this lady, just as He was glorified in the raising of Lazarus. Truly, the ways of God are beyond human understanding. May we never lose the sense of the mystery of godliness!
- How would you answer someone who asked you why Lazarus was raised from the dead, when someone they loved was not raised from the dead?
- In what way would you say that your life glorifies God?
- Would you pray the prayer of Moses, “Lord show me your glory” [Exodus 33:18] and believe for a new experience of God in your life?
Taken from Pastor Michael Ross-Watson’s online devotional, michaelrosswatson.com.
This week, Pastor Michael Ross-Watson delves into God’s word to remind us of our right to be called children of God.
Bible Reading: Romans 8:12-17
“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” [John 1:10-13].
I have been so blessed in recent weeks as we have sung the song, “I am no longer afraid, I am a child of God.” As we have sung this song in our church I have wondered, without being judgmental, if everyone singing the song really is a child of God. These verses in John’s Gospel make it clear that only certain people have the right to call themselves children of God.
More than thirty years ago my wife and I adopted a baby. It was a remarkable adoption. We took Timothy when he was one day old but for six months we could not call him our child. After the required six month due process we went to court and Timothy became our legally adopted child, and that gave him the right to call himself our child.
Not everybody is a child of God, and sadly some who might think that they are, are not! There is a legal process in becoming a child of God. Paul likens it in Romans to adoption, where God has adopted us into His family and calls us his children. Only then do we have the right to call ourselves God’s children.
John makes it clear what the process is that gives us the right to be called the children of God. This process is really one but has three parts to it – receiving Jesus, believing in His name and being born of God.
We must receive Jesus personally. His own people rejected Him [John 1:10] but to become His children we must receive Him. Have you personally asked Jesus to come into your heart? Have you welcomed Him into your life?
We must believe on His name. The word, believe needs to be explained. It is not a passive belief in Jesus and it is far more than a mental persuasion. The Bible says that even the devil believes [James 2:19]. The word, “believe” means to adhere to, to trust in, and rely upon! Are you relying upon Him for salvation? Do you trust Him for everything? Are you adhering to Him?
We must be born again of God. We will look much more closely at this when we look at John chapter three, but what John tells us in chapter one is that this birth is not by human descent – not of blood, nor by human effort – not of the will of the flesh, nor by the will of any other person – the will of man, but of God [John 1:13]. This new birth is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life when they turn from sin, receive Jesus, and trust Him as their Lord and Saviour.
As you have read today’s reading do you have in your heart the assurance that you are a child of God? If not why not surrender your life to him today? If you are His child, then why not thank Him today.
Taken from Pastor Michael Ross-Watson’s online daily devotional, michaelrosswatson.com.
Revisit a 2013 devotional by Pastor Michael Ross-Watson and glean from his wisdom, the STRENGTH to weather tough times.
This morning I was impacted by the words of Jesus to Peter, “And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren” [Luke 22:31-32]
Going through a tough time is not easy but there are some wonderful fruit that develop in these times.
God is with us in these times and is working for our good. Literally, “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those and are called according to His purpose” [Romans 8:28]. He makes no mistakes and is working in us a deeper work of His grace. Nothing can happen to me that God does not know about or will be to my harm. When we are walking in intimacy with God even Satan cannot touch us without God’s permission. Right now God is good and will not allow anything to harm me.
God is with us in these times to transform our character. To a great extent, despite God’s call on Peter’s life and the revelations that God had given him, he was still very self-confident and proud. From such an attitude he could say, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and death” [Luke 22:33], “I will never stumble” [Matthew 26:33], and “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” [Matthew 26:35]. Through the sifting that would take place Peter would be transformed.
Look at every character in the Bible whom God used and you will see God shaping them through pain, rejection and deep trials.
Job’s testimony was, “When He has tried me I shall come forth as gold” [Job 23:10]. Right now God is purifying me and making me more like His Son.
God is with us in these times and Jesus is praying for us. Jesus said to Peter, “I have prayed for you.” Similarly Jesus, as the Great High Priest, “always lives to make intercession” for us [Hebrews 7:25]. Elsewhere is called our Advocate [1 John 2:1] who stands before the Father on our behalf. Even the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us when we don’t know how to pray for ourselves. He is praying that our faith will not fail and that we might be strengthened. Right now all of heaven is on my side and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are interceding for me.
God is with us in these times to prepare us to be a blessing to others. Jesus knew that Peter would come through this trial and when he did so it would be a different Peter who had been commissioned to strengthen his brethren [Luke 22:32]. Whatever the end of the trial may be it will result in others being blessed and strengthened, as well as us being purified and transformed more into the likeness of Jesus.
Before his ordeal Job heard of God, knew the truth, sought to live righteously and honour God’s laws, but after the trial he said, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You.” [Job 42:5]
We may not understand why these times come, but God calls us to trust Him in tough times and to believe that He is at work. Let us not allow our enemy to pervert our perception of God’s character our question His loving care. He will never do anything to harm or destroy us, and whatever He does or does not do is in our best interest.
Bible Reading: 2 Timothy 2:1-13
“So you, my son, be strong [constantly strengthened] and empowered in the grace that is [to be found only] in Christ Jesus” [2 Timothy 2:1 Amp. Bible]
Timothy is struggling with fear and feelings of being ashamed of the gospel. Paul is desperate that Timothy should overcome these feelings and commends him to be strong in the grace found in Christ Jesus.
What exactly does Paul mean when he speaks about being strong in the grace found in the Lord Jesus? The Greek Word for “strong” is ‘endunamoo’ meaning “to be empowered,” “to be enabled,” or “to be strengthened inwardly.” This word is in the passive voice and the present tense! Literally, it means to allow God to strengthen you and to do so moment by moment. This kind of strengthening is supernatural and does not depend on your own effort.
Reliance on our own natural strength to achieve spiritual results is doomed to failure.
It is grace that will empower Timothy. Many people trust God for His grace to save them, but sadly then rely upon their own strength and efforts to serve God. We often understand the meaning of amazing grace for salvation but fail to recognise that this same grace is the key to being strengthened and to serve God effectively. Paul writes, “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak” [2 Corinthians 12:9 TEV]. In this verse grace and power are linked together. They are similarly linked together in the Book of Acts. “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them” [Acts 4:33].
Again, Stephen was a man who humbly served at tables, but experienced God’s empowering grace. The Bible says, “Stephen, a man full of God’s grace… performed amazing miracles and signs among the people” [Acts 6:8 NLT].
Grace is God’s divine power. John writes that, “Of Jesus’ fullness we have all received, and grace for grace” [John 1:16]. The phrase, “grace for grace” literally means “the richest abundance of grace.” Grace gives us the fullness of Jesus Christ! What is it that we need when we are struggling? It is grace and God has given us an invitation to come to Him and receive it, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” [Hebrews 4:16]. Are you struggling with weakness and temptation? Come to God’s throne and receive the empowerment of grace. The writer of Hebrews actually said that we need grace in order to serve God acceptably [Hebrews 12:28]!
Why is it so easy to trust God to save us by His grace, and yet so much more difficult to trust Him for grace for strength and grace to serve Him?
Will you accept Paul’s advice to Timothy? Come to God and ask Him to give you the strength that only grace can give you, and thus enable you to stand in the battle.
Taken from Pastor Michael Ross-Watson’s online daily devotional, michaelrosswatson.com.
Bible Reading: Hebrews 12:3-11; Genesis 32:22-32
God as refiner purifies us and as the gardener prunes us, but there is still another picture of God who works in our lives to make us more holy. It is the picture of a father who chastens and disciplines his children.
God is a good Father. He corrects us, and sometimes has to punish us [Hebrews 12:6 NLT]. God’s discipline is always right and good for us because it means that we will share in His holiness.
As a father I realize how important discipline was for my children. It was not easy because I knew it was hurting them and it was painful for me to administer discipline, but without it they would have grown up without boundaries and understanding of right and wrong. No discipline is easy – it is painful. God, as our loving Father, disciplines us so that there will be a harvest of right living for us who have been trained by Him.
Jacob had an experience of God but somehow not much had changed in his life. He was still a selfish man who deceived and cheated others. God waited for nearly twenty-five years to deal with Jacob. We read the account of God dealing with him in Genesis 32:22-32.
On the morning of that day Jacob met with angels. God was preparing him. In the afternoon he had news that his brother Esau was coming to meet him with four hundred men. Jacob was afraid because he had cheated his brother. He decided to try and protect his family and possessions by sending them over to the other side of the river.
Then God came and met Jacob. It was in a place where Jacob was alone. All the props that he had leaned were gone. It was a place of brokenness as he wrestled all night with God, and finally the Lord touched Jacob’s thigh and put it out of its socket. No more running now, and weakness in place of strength! It was a place of desperation as Jacob is now clinging and crying out, “I will not let you go unless you bless me!” Finally, it was a place of honesty. “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he replied. Jacob means cheat. God loved Jacob enough to hurt him and discipline, but a new Jacob had emerged. A new name – Israel! A new vision – he had seen God face to face and He could never be the same!!
1. Some people think of God is a big softy, but He is a loving Father, who disciplines us to make us holy! How do you think God disciplines us today as His children?
2. What principles can you see in the way in which the Lord dealt with Jacob and corrected him?
Taken from Michael Ross-Watson’s PURE: Holiness and Purity in Your Daily Life, available on Amazon.com.