Author Archive
Michael Ross-Watson

Devotional: Called to be Holy as God is Holy

Bible Reading: 1 Peter 1:13-25

“But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written ‘Be you holy, because I am holy’” [1 Peter 1:15-16]

We begin a series of devotionals on holiness and purity with God’s command that we are to be holy as he is holy. The best place to begin with the subject of holiness is with the Holy One – God Himself. The heavenly creatures around His throne cry “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is full of His glory” [Isaiah 6:3]. The Psalmist declares, “The Lord our God is holy!” [Psalm 99:3,6]. He is our standard and not the much lower standard of comparing ourselves with other people.

God’s holiness is to be totally separated from sin. His holiness is such that He hates sin. He so hates sin that when Jesus became sin for us the Father turned His face away, and Jesus cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” [Matthew 27:46].  The Father could not look on sin. Such is His holiness, and He demands that we too be holy, deal with sin and have that same holy hatred of sin.

Wherever God Spirit has moved powerfully in revival, one of the first evidences of His presence is that people are convicted of sin. If we are going to be holy, then we need to have the same attitude to sin that God has. In the early church one of the key questions asked of the baptismal candidates was whether or not they had turned from sin, renounced the works of darkness and received Christ.

Questions:

  1. We are to be holy as God is holy. What do you understand to be the meaning of God being Holy?
  2. Would you say that in your life there is freedom from sin and a desire to constantly be pleasing to God?

These devotionals have been shared here with the permission of Esther Ross-Watson, in loving memory of our Pastor, mentor and friend, Michael Ross-Watson (1946-2017).

Devotional: The Knife

Bible Reading:  John 15:1-8

Christ is the refiner who is purifying His children. Another picture of His work of making us holy is Christ pruning of the branches of a tree, so that the tree produces more fruit. Each of God’s children is a branch that has been engrafted into Jesus who is the vine and His desire for us is that we bear much spiritual fruit.

There are areas in all our lives where we are not bearing the beautiful fruit of the Spirit in the way that God intends. These areas are not necessarily bad things that we do but are a hindrance to fruit bearing. Sometimes the good is the enemy of the best! Notice in the passage for today that there is fruit [v2], more fruit [v2] and much fruit [v8].

Jesus is the one who prunes but we allow Him the right to do so by yielding to His pruning knife. He wants to cut away from our lives anything that does not glorify Him.

This pruning process is evident in nature. I saw a gardener pruning a rose bush so harshly that I questioned whether it was the right thing to do. He cut the bush right down to almost ground level. All the greenery was gone and only a stem protruded above the ground. He told me that in order for this rose bush to have the most beautiful and abundant flowers it needed to be pruned, and the following year there were so many beautiful flowers.

We are already clean through God’s Word [v3]. Righteousness is ours but the knife is still necessary. Every part of my life must come under His scrutiny. Lord, make me willing to let go of anything that is a hindrance to the fruit you want in my life – that beautiful fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Questions:

  1. Is it your desire to bear more fruit for Jesus? If so allow Him the right to search every part of your life and take away whatever is a hindrance,  however good it might be, so that you are increasingly fruitful.   
  2. Dr. A.W.Tozer said, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man until He has hurt him deeply.” What do you think about this statement?

These devotionals have been shared here with the permission of Esther Ross-Watson, in loving memory of our Pastor, mentor and friend, Michael Ross-Watson (1946-2017).

Devotional: To the Pure All Things are Pure

Bible Reading: Titus 1:10-16; Philippians 4:8

One of the evidences of purity of heart is the way that we look at things and perceive them. Writing to Titus, Paul said, “Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure.” He is writing this after making one of the most remarkable statements in God’s Word. Paul has just commanded Titus to sternly rebuke the Cretan believers who often tell lies, and have a tendency to be cruel and lazy. Even more than this there are people who rebel against the truth and with useless talk deceive others. People have been turned away from the gospel by their false teaching, and as is so often the case, the desire for money is at the root of much of this evil. Paul is emphasizing that to people who are corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure! They have even lost the ability to discern what is pure. Their conscience has been defiled.

Paul is saying that some people see good all around them, while others see nothing but evil. Our souls become filters through which we see good and evil. People whose hearts are pure, because Jesus controls their lives, learn to see goodness and purity even in this evil world. To these people God gives the ability to discern what is right and wrong

Whatever you choose to fill your mind with will affect the way you think and act. As we meditate upon God and His Word, we will discover more and more goodness, even in this world that is so filled with violence and sin. Someone has said, “A mind filled with good has little room for what is evil.”

Writing to the Philippians, Paul says that they should focus their minds on things that are pure. We are to literally fill our minds with things that are lovely, pure, praiseworthy, true, admirable and honorable.

A Question:

In this media age there is much that can become the wrong focus for our minds and our eyes. Is there an area of your mind that needs to set free from impurity? If this is the case, bring this issue to the Lord for cleansing. If it is something that is hard to break free from, then seek a Christian you trust and share your struggle with them so that you can pray together.

A Prayer:

Lord, renew my mind so that I focus on things that are pure and pleasing to you and so that I will know what you want and find how pleasing and perfect your will really is. In Jesus Name. Amen.

These devotionals have been shared here with the permission of Esther Ross-Watson, in loving memory of our Pastor, mentor and friend, Michael Ross-Watson (1946-2017).

Saints Not Sinners

Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

When we turn from sin and come to Christ we become a new creation. The Bible says that each person who has experienced this new birth is a saint. Thus Paul writes to the saints in Corinth [1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:2]; Ephesus [Ephesians 1:1]; Philippi [Philippians 1:1]; and Colossae [Colossians 1:2]. The word “saints” is translated in the NIV as “holy people.”

Many years ago I was preaching in a large church. During the sermon I asked the congregation to raise their hands up if they were sinners and like good sheep they all raised their hands. That was with the exception of one person, Robert, who was sitting behind me on the platform.

At the end of the meeting Robert challenged. ”Never call me a sinner again,” he said. I thought that this was rather proud and retorted with a verse of Scripture – “If we say we have no sin, then we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” [1 John 1:8]. Robert responded by saying that he used to be a sinner but was now a saint who sometimes sins. I was shocked, but he explained that when he was born again God gave him a totally new nature. He was no longer a sinner but now a saint. God made him holy when he turned from sin and put his faith in Christ and was born again.

God’s Word teaches us that when we are born again we receive a new nature. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here” [2 Corinthians 5:17]

Questions:

  • If you have always considered that a saint is someone who is much holier than yourself, would you now begin to rethink on the basis of God’s Word that says in Christ you are a saint?
  • What God says we are is an important step in becoming the person that God wants you to be. Would you thank Him today for whom He has made you to be in Christ?

These devotionals have been shared here with the permission of Esther Ross-Watson, in loving memory of our Pastor, mentor and friend, Michael Ross-Watson (1946-2017).

Finish What You Started

As we prepare to usher in the Chinese New Year, we revisit a devotional by the late Michael Ross-Watson who ‘practiced what he preached’ and led, by example,  a life that truly finished well.

Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 8:10-11

“So here’s what I think: The best thing you can do right now is to finish what you started last year and not let those good intentions grow stale. Your heart’s been in the right place all along. You’ve got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it” [2 Corinthians 8:10-11 The Message].

A year before Paul wrote this epistle to the Corinthians he had challenged them to take up a collection for the saints living in poverty in Judea. They had enthusiastically embraced Paul’s request and begun to do what they had promised but had not finished what they had begun. Paul challenged them to finish what they had begun and not let their earlier good intentions grow stale.

Making a promise to do something is easy, but finishing what you started is often more difficult. Have you ever noticed the half way crisis! When you decorate a room it is easy to lose your enthusiasm when it is half done. It is often most discouraging when you set out on a long drive and have driven for hours, and then realise that you are still only half way to your destination!

When Nehemiah and the Israelites rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem they became discouraged when the wall was built to half its height. The workers complained to Nehemiah and said, “The strength of the labourers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall” [Nehemiah 4:6,10 NKJV].

Paul writes, “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” [Philippians 1:6]. It is God’s nature to complete that which He has begun. It is a godly characteristic to complete what we start and not to give up until it is finished.

A student in our church Bible School who knew that God had called her to study in the school decided to give up at the beginning of the second of the three terms and go somewhere else that seemed more attractive. I warned her of the danger of starting things and not completing them and how that could become a negative life habit. The student went on to complete her Bible School studies before moving on to the next step in her spiritual journey. She shared with us how grateful she was that she had completed what she had started, and we could see in her a real growth in stability and maturity.

Questions:

  • Why is it important to keep the promises that we make to God and complete the things that we have begun to do?
  • What have you begun to do and never completed? How do you feel about this, and what could you do to correct it?
  • Not completing something we have begun can be as seemingly insignificant as beginning to read a book but not completing it. When did you last read a book from cover to cover and really felt good about it?

These devotionals have been shared here with the permission of Esther Ross-Watson, in loving memory of our Pastor, mentor and friend, Michael Ross-Watson (1946-2017).