For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him (Psalm 103:11-13)
It seems as though it is really important to God that his people know that he loves them. In this, most beautiful of Psalms, God asks us to get out the measuring tape and try and measure his love for us. He says the greatness of God’s love is as high as the heavens are above the earth. He invites us to look up in awe- our tape won’t cut it. God’s love is too great.
He then calls us to meditate on the distance between us and our own transgressions, now that we are his. And again the picture is an infinite one- God has torn our sins away from us and thrown them away such that our sins are as far from us, as east is from the west, vastness without measure is again portrayed. God’s compassion is best embodied by that of a father for their child. This Psalm goes on of course- relentlessly riffing on the theme of God’s love and kindness for his people.
So if you ever feel insignificant and unimportant meditate on Psalm 103 and remember the Lord loves you- he does so infinitely so be blessed and be encouraged and have your hearts enlarged by the love of God.
Grace and peace from Marcus
Read Ephesians 3:14-19
“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.” – John Wesley
What does God want us to achieve in his name? Good works. What God wants done is good works. We see this in Matthew 5:16, where Jesus sums up for us the entire purpose of our lives- “let your light shine before others, so that they might see your good works and give glory to your father in heaven.” This is the entire purpose of your life summed up in a sentence. We see this over and over again in scripture.
So for example in Eph. 2:8-10, Paul says- “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Titus 2:14 also reveals the important place of going good when it says- “who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”
And again in Jn. 15:16 we see- “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.”
It would seem that right at the heart of the reason that God saved us in Christ, is in order that we might do good.
So let’s do that!
Grace and Peace from Marcus
(Largely taken from What’s best Next- by Matt Perman)
“Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous deeds among all peoples. For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens”. Psalm 96:1-5
John Piper opens his book, “Let the Nations be glad,” with the memorable words-
“Missions exist because worship doesn’t.”
The most basic doctrine in scripture is the oneness of God- philosophically this is called monotheism. Monotheism and missions are of course intimately related. That is, the existence of just one God makes our mission to the many essential. Promoting the gospel to the world is more than a rescue mission. It is God’s call to people of the world to realise that they are his sole and beloved possession. This is why the central confession of the first Christians recorded throughout the gospels was not Jesus is healer, or Jesus is friend or even “Jesus is Saviour;” It was instead Jesus is Lord. These words declared Jesus to be the embodiment of the Lordship of the one true God, the one to who all people- Jews and Gentiles alike- owe their loyalty. The gospel message itself is that Jesus the Lord is the embodiment of God’s universal reign over all nations. Put another way, the gospel of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is the sharp end of the Bible’s call to the nations to worship the one true God.
So why promote Christ to your atheist friend with a nice car and self-confidence to match? Not simply because he would be happier or more fulfilled with Jesus, but because in reality your friend belongs to the one true Lord fulfilled in the gospel.
Grace and Peace from Marcus
(Portions from John Dickson awesome book- “Promoting the gospel,” are included above)
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church. Matthew. 16:16
At one level we might be tempted to answer the above question- “how does one build a church,” by giving a list of “to do’s?” We need to be good at welcoming people, we need to have good Bible teaching, we need to have an excellent worship team, and we need to have wise and discerning leadership.” I imagine that list could get pretty long and perhaps it is fair to say that all of those things have something commending them- but there is a deeper more core matter that is the basis and foundation for us being a church that grows and builds. It’s based on Jesus’ words to Peter. So let’s look here and see what it Jesus says to Peter and how that might apply to us.
In context, Jesus was asking his disciples who it was “the people,” thought he was, and who it was that they had come to believe he was? The whole gospel has been heading here. Given what you have seen, given what you have experienced- who do you say that I am? And in a moment of God given revelation- Peter gets it- the lights go on, “you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” That is when Jesus blesses Peter- and says this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood but by the Father and on this rock I will build my church. So what do we make of this- well I would say that Peter was significant and foundational for the church- but I also think that “the foundation,” the rock upon which the church was to be built was the revelation of God concerning the Lordship of Jesus. This is how the church is built. By God opening the eyes of the blind to see who Jesus is- revelation concerning Christ by the Father. So let’s pray and work toward being a church that the Spirit uses to open blind eyes to see Jesus clearly.
Grace and peace from Marcus
Do you not know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Romans 6:3-4
We believe that baptism is the immersion in water of a believer, into the name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit; a sign and beautiful emblem showing our faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Saviour, with its effect in our death to sin and resurrection to a new life. (Baptist Convention 1925)
Baptism is the declaration of the believer of their living union with Christ. The wonder of baptism is that through the Holy Spirit there is a spiritual relationship between the sign and that which it signifies:
- Calling into the grace of a new covenant (1 Peter 3:21)
- Forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38) through Christ's death and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4)
- Regeneration of new life in Christ (Romans 4:12)
- Repentance, faith and obedience to Christ ((Matthew 28:19); and
- Adoption in the body of Chirst, the church (1 Corinthians 12:13).
And that water is a picture of baptism, which now saves you, not by removing dirt from your body, but as a response to God from a clean conscience. It is effective because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 3:21