Teaching In the Upper Room: Love and Hate

Why are Christians hated in the world? Christians are to be loving, gracious, kind, true and so on. It is true that there can be a mark of hypocrisy on some, others may not be very Christian-like in certain realms of life, and even there are some who say they are Christ’s but live nothing like it. But to sit back with a wide lens and view how Christians in general are treated in the world may cause us to conclude that it’s not fair. So how is the Christian to live while in the world? Are we to fight this animosity with political activism? Are we to pronounce our rights and set up demonstrations? Let us examine the purpose of the Christian toward the world, and how the Christian should expect the world to react.

The Profile of the Perfect Servant

What would you say marks an ideal servant? For those in employment, there are directives given by Paul in the New Testament: 'be submissive...in everything...be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith' (Tt 2:9–10, ESV). Paul outlines features such as submission, integrity and trustworthiness as marks of the servant.

Principles for Service

Although this section applies to a specific period in Israel's history when the Kingdom was being offered to them (v9,11) there are underlying principles that are cross-dispensational and apply to us today.

10 Minutes Before the Meeting Starts

I wonder what sort of atmosphere characterises your meeting before it begins? In some places it is light chatter that can build up into a cacophony of noise. Often there are cordial smiles and greetings as people take their seats. Every meeting has a few ‘meerkats’ whose necks crane and look around to investigate every new sight or sound that enters the meeting room. Perhaps there are some who struggle to get to the meeting 10 minutes before it begins and thus enter the building flustered and in a jangling of noise. These are often common sights that we’ve all experienced.

The Spiritual Health Inspection

During the middle of last year I received a letter from my doctor inviting me to present myself at the local surgery for what was described as a ‘Health MOT.’ (For those reading outside of the UK an MOT is an inspection of a vehicle’s roadworthiness performed by an authorised mechanic on behalf of the government). The letter detailed some of the tests to be performed–height, weight, BMI, blood pressure, resting heart rate; in addition to some blood tests. Having reached a milestone birthday in the year, and ignoring the obvious issue–inviting the over 40s for a health exam is exactly the wrong group to invite if you really want to improve the long-term health outcomes of the general population–I presented myself at the doctor for my ‘Health inspection.’ 

Back to Our Knees

I was conversing with some older saints across a buffet table recently, discussing some of the challenges of 21st century Christianity. They had experienced some disappointments of late and commented on certain difficulties that Christian testimony faced in coming days. Being young and impetuous I had a to-do list of solutions that I was waiting to share - until an older gentleman counselled: ”it’s time we get back to our knees”. My solution in light of current difficulties was self-centred, his was God-centred. I thought of activity, he thought of prayer.

The Thesaurus of the Heart

The Lord Jesus told many parables and used multiple illustrations that had a secondary audience. In Luke 6 he is addressing his disciples–‘And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said...’ (v20)–but you get the feeling that His perennial enemies, the scribes and the Pharisees, were not far away (v7).

Mine Own Familiar Friend

There are few people who can claim to have been betrayed as often and as treacherously as King David. He first experienced betrayal at the hands of King Saul. Fresh back from his victory over Goliath in the Valley of Elah, he might have expected some form of preferential treatment in the King’s palace. Instead he heard the whistle of the King’s spear as it flew past his head and thudded into the wall behind.

The Secret of a Prosperous Spiritual Life

As a young man with a young family, I have grappled with the problem of how to prioritize my responsibilities to myself, my family, and the assembly. I am quite sure I’m not alone in this difficulty. Although he was writing about three thousand years ago in a different cultural setting, the psalmist offers some relevant guidance. The individual is brought to the forefront with the phrase, “every one” (v 1), for what is about to be said must influence each of us.

Leviticus 14

The ceremonial cleansing of the leper found in Leviticus 14 is a wonderful picture of what Christ has done for us through His incarnation, death, and resurrection. A deeper look of this ceremony will warm our cold hearts, and fill us with joy at who Christ truly is.

Teaching in the Upper Room: Living in His Love

Have you ever been in love? Living in love is far greater than not living in love. Every believer, by the grace of God, is able to live in the love of Christ. What’s wrong if we aren’t enjoying it? How do I live in this love, know it and enjoy the love of Christ? This article examines what it means to abide in the love of Christ; living in the enjoyment of the relationship the Son has made with us.

Led by the Spirit...Tempted of the Devil

What greater contrast could Doctor Luke present to affirm the stately humanity of the Lord Jesus? ‘Led by the Spirit’–even the Son of God, the perfect man, deemed it necessary to be led by the Spirit. We understand why Scripture would tell us that we should be led by the Spirit (Rom 8:14, KJV), but why Him? Surely as God, He did not require the work of the Spirit in this way? We note that He was also 'full of the Holy Ghost' (4:1) and so while we might not understand it, we are told that it was so. Thus, we read He was 'led by the Spirit' to go into the wilderness.

Teaching In the Upper Room: How to Glorify the Father

Do you want to know how to bring glory to the Father? A salesman or advertisement may tell you that your goal can be accomplished in three simple steps, or in a few easy payments. But as the Lord Jesus tells His disciples how to bring glory to the Father, He doesn’t claim it will be easy, but He does break it down in simple terms. We will examine an illustration the Lord Jesus gives while walking in the world with His disciples from the Upper Room to Gethsemane. It is a parable which includes a farmer, grapevine, branches and fruit. It is a simple illustration with profound eternal implications for your life while we are in the world.

Take Up Your Cross

The change from the dispensation of law to grace brought about significant change for the disciples. With the benefit of hindsight we sometimes wonder at their slowness inunderstanding, but alas, we are often like them. Peter had just acknowledged the Lord as “the Christ of God” (Lk. 9:20) and though the 12 knew his true identity they did not know how thisaffected them. They expected a role in the kingdom with a reigning Messiah, instead the Lord was about to show them their role on earth with a rejected Saviour. This is the principle of suffering before glory.