Are you impressed?

Mark 12:41-13:2

41 And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. 43 And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. 44 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

1 And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

What have you been impressed with in recent times? In these few verses, we see Jesus and the disciples impressed – but not with the same thing. The disciples were impressed by something impressive but humanly possible. Jesus was impressed by what was humanly impossible. The poor widow was a classic example of someone who would be unnoticed, unimportant and unimpressive in that day, yet as she dropped two coins of the least value they made a spiritual noise so loud that it’s still being heard 2000 years later. Jesus calls his disciples together to bring it to their attention – but it seems like their attention is still focussed on temple architecture…

An impressive building

For political reasons King Herod launched an ambitious temple rebuilding project sometime before Jesus’ birth. The temple that was originally rebuilt approx. 500 years previously has been in a state of disrepair and was fully refurbished before Jesus’ birth, but the project didn’t end there. The rebuilding involved many courts and expanding the temple site to approx. 35 acres! As the site was on a hill an enormous retaining wall had to be built with some stones used that were up to 40 feet long and weighing up to 100 tonnes. The work would have been ongoing throughout Jesus’ lifetime and was probably one of the most impressive buildings in the world at that time. You can understand the disciples interest in such a reconstruction project.

An impressive widow

Yet Jesus sees something more impressive through the widow’s gift. Clearly it wasn’t the actual monetary amount that was impressive but that she put in all she had. The rich contributed out of disposable income – so even if she’d have given one of her coins she’d have given far more than anyone else. Yet she gave everything and held nothing back – whole hearted. Willing heart: If she was whole hearted she must have also given everything willingly and joyfully. You can be willing and not whole hearted but not wholehearted without being willing. Treasure: She genuinely valued the Lord more than money. She was only able to give willingly because she knew that in the Lord she was rich.

Outwardly unimpressive yet inwardly astounding. Her heart was wholeheartedly for God, her heart wanted to please God, she really did value God more than money. He was her treasure and her portion.

Divine reconstruction

The divine work that had happened in the widow is called ‘Regeneration’ – what Jesus called being ‘born-again’ in John 3:1-8. We can describe it as the complete reconstruction of the inner spiritual person according to the design specifications of the great commandment (see Mk 12:30). This life doesn’t come through faith – rather it’s the God adoring life that the Holy Spirit births in us that leads us to put our faith in Jesus. It isn’t ‘sanctification’, that’s the working out and application of regeneration in how we live our lives. It is something that only God can do. This widow was alive. The divine regenerating- renovating-recreating hand of God had been at work in this widow (see Ezekiel 36:26-27), and the Lord Jesus saw it.

Are you impressed?

The temple complex completed by around AD65 was destroyed by AD70, but the record of what this widow did is still being seen 2000 years later and what was inside her is eternal. The temple, though outwardly impressive, was filled with hypocrisy that brought Jesus deep heartache, but this outwardly unimpressive widow was filled with life – and who knows what encouragement that brought Jesus at this stage of his ministry? Therefore be impressed and stirred by what the Lord has done in you. Be impressed and stirred by what the Lord has done in your brothers and sisters. Be impressed and hungry for the Lord to do this in those He hasn’t yet. Be impressed by Jesus!

Questions
  • Why do you have to be willing to be wholehearted, and is willingness evidence of regeneration?
  • Is it true that rich people value money more than those who ‘struggle to make ends meet’?
  • What difference does the doctrine of regeneration make to your life, your relationships in the church, and mission?
Martin Walker
August 2021

 

 

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.

Why Jesus?

How can I know Jesus?

Jesus Christ wants to have a personal relationship with you. He wants to revolutionize your life and give you hope. He wants to give you a fresh start. As God’s creation, you were built for relationship with Him. He loves you and invites you to come to Him today.

▪ God’s Love

‘God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life’ (John 3:16 NIV).

▪ God’s Plan

[Christ speaking] ‘I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly’ [that it might be full and meaningful] (John 10:10).

Why is it that most people are not experiencing the abundant life? Because man is sinful and separated from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God’s love and plan for his life. 
▪ Man Is Sinful

‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23).

Man was created to have fellowship with God; but, because of his stubborn self-will, he chose to go his own independent way, and fellowship with God was broken. This self-will, characterized by an attitude of active rebellion or passive indifference, is an evidence of what the Bible calls sin.
▪ Man Is Separated

‘The wages of sin is death…’ [spiritual separation from God] (Romans 6:23).

 God is holy and man is sinful. A great gulf separates the two. Man is continually trying to reach God and the abundant life through his own efforts, such as a good life, philosophy, or religion – but he inevitably fails. 

But, there is hope… 

The only provision for man’s sin is Jesus Christ. Through Him, you can know and experience God’s love and plan for your life.
 ▪ He Died in Our Place

‘God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8).

▪ He Rose From the Dead

‘Christ died for our sins…He was buried…He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures…He appeared to Peter, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred…’(1 Corinthians 15:3-6). 

▪ He Is the Only Way to God

‘Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me”’ (John 14:6).

God has bridged the gulf which separates us from Him by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in our place to pay the penalty for our sins.

WHAT MUST I DO?

We Must Repent

Jesus said, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is near” (Matthew 3:3)

To repent is to be honest with God about your sin and to want – with His help – to turn from it.
▪ We Must Receive Christ

‘To those who received Him, to those who believed on his name, He gave the right to become children of God’ (John 1:12)

We must individually RECEIVE Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives.
 ▪ We Receive Christ through Faith

‘By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast’ (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

▪ When We Receive Christ, We Experience a New Birth

(Read John 3:1-8.) 

▪ We Receive Christ by Personal Invitation

[Christ speaking] “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him” (Revelation 3:20).

Receiving Christ involves turning to God from self (repentance) and trusting Christ to come into our lives to forgive our sins and to make us what He wants us to be. Just to agree intellectually that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died on the cross for our sins is not enough. Nor is it enough to have an emotional experience. We receive Jesus Christ by faith, as an act of the will.
You can receive Christ right now by faith, through a simple prayer. (Prayer is talking to God.)
God knows your heart and is not as concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Here are some thoughts to guide you:

“Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I am truly sorry for my sin.

 I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.”

Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? If it does, I invite you to pray this prayer right now and Christ will come into your life, as He promised. 

Yes, I prayed to receive Jesus! 

PLEASE CONTACT US AND WE WOULD BE DELIGHTED TO SEND YOU A BIBLE PLUS SOME LITERATURE TO HELP YOU ON THE JOURNEY OF FOLLOWING CHRIST.

Mike Mellor

 

Going through difficult times?

Casting all your anxiety upon Him, for He cares for you.

1 Peter 5:7.

During the second world war, two sisters were put in the notorious Ravensbruck concentration camp. There names were Corrie and Betsie Ten Boom. They both loved the Lord Jesus. Betsie was to die in the prison, but Corrie was to survive and to go on to become an author and international Christian speaker. The film “The Hiding Place” tells the story of these two sisters. Before she died, Betsie made a very profound statement to Corrie, which still speaks to us today, especially when life causes us to pass through deep trials.

“We must tell them what we have learned here. We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still. They will listen to us, Corrie, because we have been here.”
Betsie Ten Boom

In the book of Lamentations in the Bible we read this:

I called on your name, Lord,
    from the depths of the pit.
You heard my plea: “Do not close your ears
    to my cry for relief.”
You came near when I called you,
    and you said, “Do not fear.”
Lamentations 3:55-57 (NIV)

 

Richard Dobson

Excuses, excuses…

The good news of Jesus Christ is a royal invitation sent from the King of Kings to every human being, bad or good, to share His joy in heaven. If they respond, they will have a glorious future of joy, celebration and total absence of sorrow – for ever more.

Incredibly, there is a low take-up on the offer. The Lord Jesus speaks of this with a parable (Luke 14:15-24) where a King is giving a lavish banquet,sends out the invitations, then says “Come, for everything is now ready.” But those invited snub and insult their gracious host with lame excuses for not attending.

Here’s a few 21st Century excuses people give for choosing hell over heaven.

“There is no God!”

Some would rather cheerfully hide behind a Stephen Hawking theory which expects us to believe that everything came from a speck-sized particle. Many  scientists who are not Christians find this too much to swallow. Gerhard Kraus says: “The idea that a speck of matter smaller than a dust particle on my table could have accommodated the condensed mass of the entire universe stretches credibility beyond its limits… the Big Bang theory must be seriously questioned”1

The Bible states unapologetically, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”2

Stephen Hawking says, “In the beginning was a cosmic egg, the size of a speck of dust”3

Why the readiness to accept an unreasonable theory rather than that there is a ‘beautiful Mind’ behind it all? The apostle Paul speaks of those “who suppress the truth by their wickedness,since what may be known about God is plain to them…For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”4

“When you’re dead, you’re dead, there’s no afterlife!”

God has placed within each of us an instinctive desire for justice. We watch the TV news and exclaim, “That’s not right! That’s not fair!” We make judgments using our inbuilt ‘moral monitor’ and are glad when the perpetrators of crimes are brought to justice. All this points to the day of perfect justice set by God – which all of us must face.

The Bible states: “Man is destined to die once, and after that is the judgement”5

“Life is too short, live it for yourself!”

The thinking of today which is preached at us wherever we turn is; “Your happiness is all that matters”. Lose your mind in drink or drugs, leave your spouse and kids, pursue your dream, live recklessly: <insert your own excuse here>! Others may get hurt…but as long as YOU are happy, that’s all that matters.

The Bible tells of a man who, having worn himself out in the selfish pursuit of his own happiness, came to the right conclusion that the purpose of life (and the way to discover TRUE happiness) was to:

‘Fear God and keep his commandments,for this is the duty of all mankind.’6

“I am spiritual, but I’m ‘sitting on the fence’ with the Jesus thing!”

The Bible speaks of only two groups of people – those who have repented of their sin and trusted in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for forgiveness, and those who have not. We are in the kingdom or out, in light or in darkness, born again or not born again, on the road to heaven or on the road to hell. There is no fence.

The Bible states: ‘Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.’7

“Come!”

No more excuses. “Come, everything is now ready’ says Lord Jesus. “Come!” All are invited to share in God’s everlasting joy. Young or old, respectable or vile. Come with all your doubts and all your fears.

Come now, you don’t know if you have tomorrow.

The Bible says:

‘NOW is the time of God’s favour

NOW is the day of salvation’8

Mike Mellor

Listen to Mike’s message on this subject here


References:

1 Gerhard Kraus: Has Hawking Erred?

2 Genesis 1:1

3 Stephen Hawking: A Brief History of Time

4 Romans 1: 18-20

5 Hebrews 9:27

6 Ecclesiastes 12:13

7 John 3:36

8 2 Corinthians 6:2

Who’s got your ear?

Who’s got your ear? Who are you listening to? What is the dominant voice in your life?

For the Israelites in 1 Samuel 17, Goliath was this dominant voice. For forty days all 9ft plus of this armour clad warrior trod down from the Philistine battle lines to his valley of defiance. There, he bellowed his abusive mockery at God and his people.

The Israelite army heard this thunderous voice, echoing across the valley each day. They were understandably dismayed and terrified about their certain defeat. They were destined to be enslaved by the Philistines.

We need to question the source of the voices we hear, especially when they become a dominant voice in our lives like Goliath. What is going on behind the scenes? The source of Goliath’s voice is clearly Satan booming out death, defeat and dismay for the LORD’s people and full of disdain for the LORD.

Living in this world, Satan’s voice is behind a great number of the things we hear regularly. Who will silence this hate-filled mockery?

Step forward the rugged Bethlehem boy, David, who enters Goliath’s satanic stronghold alone. No armour, sword or speech; just a sling and the name of the LORD as his battle cry. He stepped forward representing all of Israel, their fate on his shoulders. Yet David was confident: “The LORD will deliver me,” was his heart’s cry.

This battle reminds us of another bloody battle that took place. Jesus, the man of sorrows, also went alone as man’s representative into Satan’s stronghold. He became a public spectacle of weakness, lifted up on a cross. Satan disgraced and seemingly defeated the son of God. Yet Jesus knew when he was lifted up, Satan would be driven out. Like David finished off Goliath using the giant’s own sword, Jesus silenced Satan with his own weapon. The very thing Satan sought to destroy Jesus with, the cross, was the means by which Jesus defeated the accuser’s power.  “Jesus came to turn men from the power of Satan to God so that they might receive forgiveness of sins.”

 

Has Satan been in your ear? Telling you “You are not good enough, you are a disgrace, give up following God, enjoy a little sin, live for today.”

David’s smooth stone skimmed through the air and sunk into Goliath’s forehead, he fell to the floor with a thud, the voice of Satan silenced. David silenced Satan for a time in his generation. Jesus has silenced Satan for all of time for those who have Christ as their representative.

One of Satan’s chief weapons, the accusation of unforgiven sin, is silenced by the victory of Christ at the cross. Today, the voice of Satan is in this world, but you do not need to listen to him. He is a sergeant major barking his orders, but if you are in Christ you are no longer in his army and no longer need to heed his voice. Rather listen to the voice of the saviour who tells us “In me you may have peace.”

Giles Woodcraft

Listen to Giles’ message from 1 Samuel 17 here.