DIG for Friday the 31st of January…..God’s forgiveness is not dependent upon your performance…..John 8 v 11

Jesus was know as a man of compassion (Matthew 9 v 36, 14 v 14, 15 v 32 etc).

My favourite account of his compassion is from the Gospel of John where Jesus has a woman taken in the act of adultery thrown in front of Him by the religious establishment of the day (John 8 v 1 to 11).

The woman had clearly broken the law and had clearly been involved in a sinful act, and the scribes and Pharisees wanted her punished (as well as wanting to trap and embarrass Jesus).

As the men leave, after being challenged about their own sin, Jesus says “neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more” (John 8 v 11).

The order of what Jesus said here is very important and is a picture of how acceptance and forgiveness operates in the Kingdom.

Jesus does not say “sin no more and then I will not condemn you”; no, he gives the woman compassion, acceptance and forgiveness first, and then gives her good advice about not sinning.

Sin is not good for us or those around us and sin is something we should not get involved in, however sin is not (as religion and legalism will teach you) a barrier to forgiveness or a barrier between you and the Lord.

Sin is not a barrier any more as Jesus has paid for all our sin (1 John 2 v 2).

Forgiveness is not dependent upon your performance, in the same way as it was not dependent upon the woman’s performance.

She had just sinned yet Jesus showed her compassion and acceptance and would not condemn her, and this did not depend on how she performed in the future; she received His compassion, acceptance and forgiveness right there and then.

Yes, she was given great advice to “sin no more”, and Jesus is saying that to us today; sin has consequences in this life but has no consequences on our forgiveness from God.

Our forgiveness was purchased through Jesus’ performance, through His blood being shed at His finished work on the cross (Ephesians 1 v 7 and Colossians 1 v 14).

This is amazing news, however it is not a licence for you to go out and sin; if you think that you really do not understand grace or the love and mercy of God.

The good news is that we have acceptance and forgiveness not through our performance but through His; thank you Jesus.

Speak this out today…..”Thank you Lord that I have been forgiven through the blood of Jesus and it has nothing to do with my performance”.

John 8 v 11…..She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more

DIG for Thursday the 30th of January…..wanting to change is an essential prerequisite for actual change…..John 5 v 6

I’m sitting here in my study pondering the message for Sunday and also thinking about what I’ve been going through this last month or so.

I knew I would be preaching on this passage of scripture for a while now and it has come along right at the time when I needed real change in my own life.

The opening words of Jesus in this encounter, with a man who needed real change (healing in this case), has taken on new power for me.

I had thought that the question Jesus asked was a little bit silly; here we have a man who had been ill for a long, long time, who was sitting in a place where healing took place and He asked him if he wanted to be healed (John 5 v 4 to 6).

But Jesus revealed to me a few years ago that some people do not want to be healed or do not want to change.

He showed me that a person has to want to change before change can take place; this now seems so obvious to me now but it did not back then.

This was especially hard for me as a “young” pastor wanting to heal and change everyone!

Change has to take place in a man’s head before it can take place in his body.

Friends, I can testify that this is the truth; you have to want change to come before you can see it in your life.

It can be very easy to sit and think “I cannot change”, even “I don’t want to change” or “I don’t want to talk about change”.

The first stage of any change process is recognising personally that you need to change, thinking “I want to change” and saying “I will change”; that is why Jesus asked the man that question.

Friends, sometimes this is not easy, but it can be done; you can make the choice to change.

Is Jesus speaking to you today; is He asking “do you want to be made whole?”

Only you can decide if you want change, and only you can say yes.

Speak this out today…..”Thank you Lord that you want me to be whole, and you have provided for this through the finished work of Jesus Christ as a gift for ME TO TAKE”.

John 5 v 6…..When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?

DIG for Wednesday the 29th of January…..encourage yourself in the Lord or wallow in self pity; it is your choice…..1 Samuel 30 v 6

I wrote in the DIG yesterday that it was a promise from the Word of God that if we took our focus away from ourselves and our circumstances and put them onto the Lord instead we would be able to rejoice; we would be able to change our feelings and emotions.

This is something that we see David doing during one of the most difficult periods of his life.

At the start of 1 Samuel 30 we see David returning to base with his men, only to find that the base had been attacked and destroyed and all their women and children taken into captivity by the enemy.

This was obviously a horrendous situation, and David and his men were in great distress.

David was in serious danger of losing control of his men and also in real danger of losing his life (1 Samuel 30 v 6).

So David was in horrendous situation and his circumstances could not have been much worse; so do we see David moaning and complaining and losing control with his emotions running riot?

No, we do see him crying but then we see him being positive and taking control of his emotions.

David made a conscious decision to encourage himself in the Lord; the Hebrew word comes from a root meaning to fasten upon or to seize and talks of being strong.

David encouraged himself in the Lord, he fastened upon Him and His goodness and mercy, he seized upon His love and kindness, he was strong in the Lord.

I imagine David singing and dancing in worship to the Lord, he was known to do this from time to time; I imagine David was rejoicing!

I see Him focussing on the Lord instead of His circumstances and this allowed David to keep control of his emotions, leading to David coming up with and implementing a plan that resulted getting the women and children back.

If David had not taken the conscious decision (which we can do also) the outcome would not have been so positive.

We can move into more positive results in our lives also by encouraging ourselves in the Lord and keeping control of our emotions, resulting in us being able to make the decision to rejoice.

Speak this out today…..”Thank you Lord that I can make the conscious decision to encourage myself in you”.

1 Samuel 30 v 6…..And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning his, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God

DIG for Tuesday the 28th of January…..rejoice, rejoice, rejoice; this should be our choice…..Philippians 4 v 4

Paul wrote many wonderful epistles, such as the one to the church at Philippi.

This letter was written to the believers while Paul was in prison, yet it is the epistle with what I think is the most references to joy and rejoicing in any of his letters.

The willingness and decision to rejoice should not be dependent upon our circumstances, just look at the example of Paul.

He could rejoice and write about this joy while languishing in prison.

As born again believers we are the same as Paul, so we can rejoice as a conscious decision as well, irrespective of our personal circumstances.

Now I know this is not easy, however it can be done.

Paul knew this would not be easy and understood that we may not believe this truth, so he repeated himself in this verse to make sure we got the message (Philippians 4 v 4).

He also repeated a similar message to the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 5 v 16).

No matter what is going on in our lives we all have something to be thankful for and to rejoice over; how about our salvation for a start, or the knowledge that after this life we will spend eternity in the presence of the Living and Almighty God?

Paul gives us a clue what we can rejoice over in this verse; he says rejoice in the Lord; rejoice over what He has done for us and what He has made us as a gift of grace through our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

We can rejoice in the things of the Lord no matter what is going on in our lives; and yes I know this can be hard at times my friends, but I tell you that it can be done.

But this needs to be a choice and decision that only we can make individually.

If we take the focus and attention of ourselves and our circumstances and look to Him instead we can rejoice; that is a promise from the Word of God.

Speak this out today…..”Thank you Lord that through You and because of You I can rejoice in all circumstances”.

Philippians 4 v 4…..Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice

DIG for Monday the 27th of January…..we should be controlling our emotions, not letting our emotions control us…..John 14 v 1

One of the biggest problems that we have in life is losing control of our emotions, or letting our emotions rule over us. We feel sorrow or we feel unhappy depending upon our circumstances and we let it affect our actions and our life.

We feel that due to some circumstances we do not have control over how we feel; there are certain circumstances where we cannot do anything about our emotions people will tell us.

Jesus did not talk like this though, He talked as if His disciples could control their feelings and emotions.

Just before Jesus was arrested and crucified He spoke to His disciples at length giving them some of the most important teaching of His ministry (John 14 through 17).

At the start of this discourse Jesus gave them a direction or an instruction, and I don’t think He would have done this if the disciples were not able to carry it out.

He told them not to let their heart be troubled, He told them not to be anxious or worry or have fear; and He told them this before what would be the most difficult period of their lives.

This tells me that the disciples could choose not to be troubled, choose not to be anxious; It tells me that Jesus believed that His disciples had control of their emotions and were able to make a choice of how to feel.

And we are just the same as the disciples.

We choose how to feel, we choose how and what to think, therefore we choose what emotions we have.

You may not feel that this is true, however it is.

Remember, that as a man thinketh so is he (Proverbs 23 v 7).

Remember, that we are transformed (or changed) by the renewing (or changing for the better) of our mind (or what and how we think) (Romans 12 v 2).

Our thoughts are very important and what and how we think control our emotions, not the other way round.

Keep your thoughts positive today and help yourself towards more positive emotions.

Speak this out today…..”Thank you Lord that I am responsible for my emotions, help me keep thoughts positive to help move me towards positive emotions”.

John 14 v 1…..Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me

DIG for Sunday the 26th of January…..there can only be a shadow if there is light…..Psalm 23 v 4

I love getting feedback from the DIGs that I write (I do prefer positive to negative though); and I have received a few comments around my recent writing based on Psalm 23.

Most of the feedback, and builds, has been around verse 4.

One brother emailed me to remind me that it was a shadow of death that the Psalmist walked through in the valley, and a shadow is not a real thing.

For the believer death is not the big end that many people believe it to be; for us death is the door into the never ending presence of the Living God in eternity.

Another sister spoke to me about shadows saying that for there to be a shadow there must first be some light; for us this light is of course Jesus.

Jesus said He was the light of the world (John 8 v 12 and John 9 v 5).

In the light of Jesus the shadow from any tribulation, trial or persecution will be minimal; look to the light and focus on Jesus and the shadow will seem smaller every time.

And my wife gave me some great feedback saying that the Psalmist himself walked into the valley and he would have walked out himself.

In any trial, tribulation or persecution we have to push on and push through; we walk out of the valley in His strength but through our decisions and choices.

These are all great builds on my original DIG, and they came about through communication and community; two essential requirements for the born again believer.

It is good to meet together, be it at church, in house group, in a cafe or even on a Facebook page on the Internet (Hebrews 10 v 23 and 24).

Thank you and bless you all for the feedback and encouragement; I pray that you will be given many opportunities to bless and encourage others in the coming days and weeks.

Speak this out today…..”Thank you Lord for your church, the body of believers, my brothers and sisters, and thank you for the encouragement they bring”.

Psalm 23 v 4…..Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and staff they comfort me

DIG for Saturday the 25th of January…..the best promises kept until the end; security now and forever…..Psalm 23 v 6

I think the Psalmist thought that he would save the best for last in this psalm; this verse is just full of encouragement, hope and certainty (Psalm 23 v 6).

Goodness and mercy are what the Psalmist knows will flow from God, and he knows it will always flow him.

By saying surely he is saying this is a certainty, of course it is going to happen; the goodness and mercy of the Lord will follow him.

Yes, it will follow him, he does not have to go pleading, begging, working or searching for this goodness and mercy; it will come to him.

The same is true for you today, remember God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10 v 34).

As we have seen all the way through this psalm the Lord wants his goodness and mercy to fall upon us; He wants us to live an abundant life full of health, peace, joy and prosperity (John 10 v 10 and 3 John v 2).

The Hebrew word for follow is wonderful; it is quite a strong word and literally means to run after; it talks of chasing and pursuing, following and hunting.

Goodness and mercy is running after us and chasing us in order to bless us!

What a wonderful encouragement that should be to every single on of us. especially if we are going through tough times at the moment.

Then of course after this life (of goodness and mercy) we will dwell in the house of the Lord for all of eternity.

So this verse ends the psalm with a promise of sure and certain security, in this life and into the next.

What a wonderful little psalm; encouraging and edifying, full of promises and hope.

Read this psalm again tonight and soak in the sure and certain hope that He wants His goodness and mercy to follow you, crash onto you and soak you in His blessings.

Speak this out today…..”Thank you Lord that Your goodness and mercy do indeed follow me and bless me”.

Psalm 23 v 6…..Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever