Category Archives: Uncategorized

my new book on Ecclesiastes!

I have just finished a new book. It is a new translation of the Old Testament book Ecclesiastes, and a reader’s guide to its content. I am offering the book as a .pdf download.  If you are interested, send me $5 through my PayPal account:

paypal.me/jeffersonvann

Then, send me an email at jeffersonvann@yahoo.com and I will send you the document.

Of course, it is also available as a Kindle e-book:

Thanks for supporting my writing habit!

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2018 articles published in New Zealand

Afterlife

2018 articles published in New Zealand

Here is a list of articles I have written which were published online in New Zealand in 2018. You may click on the hyperlink for an individual article to find it on the Afterlife website.

the conversation continues

jp

I have been having an interesting discussion with Pastor Corey McLaughlin on the subject of whether angels and demons are immortal. My view is that God alone is immortal (based on 1 Timothy 6:16).

But Pastor Corey argues that Revelation 20:10 implies that at least some angelic/demonic beings are immortal.

Catch up with the discussion by going to my latest post on the Afterlife website:

https://www.afterlife.co.nz/2018/05/demon-mortality-and-revelation-2010/

A prayer for the persecuted church

 

Lord Jesus,

You warned us that your church would be a persecuted church.  You promised your ultimate blessing upon those of us who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and promised us a coming sky kingdom where justice remains.

You reminded us that the prophets who came before us were also persecuted because they took a stand for the God of the Bible in the face of political and cultural opposition.

Like the prophets of old, you are sending your church out today into nations and communities which arrest, deport, wrongfully punish, and even murder them. Indeed, you warned your disciples that they would be hated by all nations because they accept you, and seek to serve you.

But you told them not to return violence for violence, hatred for hatred. Instead, you told them to pray for their persecutors. We are to follow your example, because you prayed even on the cross “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.”

If possible, Lord, we ask you to grant your church and your gospel favor among the nations in this generation. But if not, we ask for courage for our brothers and sisters who face persecution because of their loyalty to your name.

Amen.

Jefferson Vann

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

 

thoughts at a baptism

 

36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know beyond a doubt that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.” 37 Now when they heard this, they were acutely distressed and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “What should we do, brothers?”38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.39 For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far away, as many as the Lord our God will call to himself.”40 With many other words he testified and exhorted them saying, “Save yourselves from this perverse generation!”41 So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand people were added.42 They were devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts 2:36-42 NET).

 

Today we have some candidates who have come forward in this special service to be baptized.  I want to share a few thoughts with you based on this passage in Acts chapter 2, which records the fact that after Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, some three thousand people decided to be baptized and were added to the church fellowship.  My thoughts are addressed directly to the candidates.

 

  1. You are not being baptized because of who you are. You are being baptised because of who Jesus is. This baptism is not a reward for being good or faithful or obedient. People who are clean do not need to be washed. The three thousand people on the day of Pentecost learned that Jesus was God’s Christ and their Lord but that they had been responsible for putting him to death on the cross.  It is a horrible thing to think that you are responsible for someone else’s death. Every culture on the planet condemns its murderers – particularly if they kill someone who is innocent or important. Here at these waters we all come to the realisation that we are responsible for killing the most innocent and most important person who ever lived.
  2. You are not being baptized because someone else needs it. Peter told the three thousand “Repent, and each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” This baptism is not a family ritual that you participate in as a rite of passage, or to show your appreciation for your parents’ or grandparents’ faith. No, on that Pentecost Sunday, there were three thousand individual decisions to testify of their personal need for forgiveness.  They were being added to the church, but the church was not the reason they were being baptized.  Each of them had made a choice to die to their old life, and live a new life for Jesus. When they were buried in that water, they chose to bury their old lives in it. When they were raised from that water, it was to live new lives for Jesus.
  3. You are not being baptized because you are promising to give yourself to God. The promise for today is coming from someone else. On the day of Pentecost, Peter told the people gathered about what had happened to Jesus. He died, was raised to eternal life, ascended to heaven, and was “exalted to the right hand of God, … having received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father” (Acts 2:33).” They had just experienced a miracle in which large crowds from many different areas had heard the gospel being proclaimed in their own languages. This miracle was the result of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Peter told the three thousand that day that God promised them the same Holy Spirit. I am telling you the same thing. Don’t expect to be the same after today. You are not just giving your life to God. He is giving his life to you.

 

LORD, thank you for these who have decided to testify of their faith in you today by being baptized in water.  Thank you for your decision to cleanse them from their sins, raise them to new life, and empower them with your Holy Spirit. Amen.

celebrating new things- marriage

BH55H0 Rings

Then the man said, “This one at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one will be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”  That is why a man leaves his father and mother and unites with his wife, and they become a new family (Genesis 2:23-24 NET).

who asked for that?

who asked for that

Who Asked for that?

Isaiah 1:7-15a

7 Your country is deserted, your cities have been burned up with fire; your land: aliens are devouring it in your presence, and it is desolate, as if devastated by foreigners.
8 And the daughter of Zion is left like a hut in a vineyard, like a shelter in a cucumber field, like a city that is besieged.
9 If Yahveh of armies had not left us survivor, we would have been as few as Sodom, we would have become like Gomorrah.
10 Hear the word of Yahveh, rulers of Sodom! Listen, the teaching of our God, people of Gomorrah!
11 What is that heap of your sacrifices to me? says Yahveh. I have had enough burnt offerings of rams and fat, fattened animals and I do not enjoy blood of bulls and ram-lambs and goats.
12 When you come to appear before me, who asked for this from your hand: you trampling my courts?
13 You must not keep bringing useless offerings, incense—which stinks to me; each new moon and Sabbath, each calling of a convocation– I cannot endure iniquity when you assemble.
14 Your new moons and your appointed festivals my soul hates; they have become to me like a burden I am not able to bear.
15 And when you stretch out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many a prayer, I am not listening. (Isa. 1:7-15a JDV)

Isaiah had just revealed to Judah that they were not as healthy as they thought they were. In the next few verses ISAIAH DESCRIBES THE CONDITION OF JUDAH in his time (7-10).

Slide3

a deserted country
burned cities
land devoured and desolate
left like a guard hut after harvest
like a besieged city
almost like Sodom & Gomorrah

This is a challenge from God for us to evaluate our true condition. We must stop deceiving ourselves by claiming normalcy. We need to see beyond the veneer, past the facade.

Secondly, ISAIAH CONDEMNS THE ORGANISED RELIGION OF JUDAH in his time (11-14)

Slide5He calls this religious people rulers of Sodom and people of Gomorrah, and indicates that their religious practices are negatives, rather than positives.

He has had enough offerings
He does not enjoy the blood
He calls it trampling his courts
He calls the offering useless
He says the incense stinks
He says the assemblies are for iniquity
He hates the festivals because they burden him

This is a challenge from God for us to evaluate what wev are doing and why we are doing it. We must stop pretending that if we just do the right thing, that our condition will somehow get better. We need to see beyond what we do.

I once visited a city and did a seminar there. I heard someone describe that city a being full of SEMINARians. In other words, all the church people did was go to seminars. They believed that the key to their success was doing the right thing more often than others. That is not how success is measured in the kingdom.

Thirdly, ISAIAH REVEALS WHAT GOD IS DOING as a result of Judah’s current approach to him through their organised religion (15a).
Slide7

  • He is hiding his eyes
  • He is not listening to their prayersThis is a challenge from God for us to stop doing business as usual. If we think God only responds to our prayers and worship, what happens when we discover that God is no longer listening to our prayers and watching our worship?

    There is nothing wrong with prayer and nothing wrong with worship. But both of these can become worse than useless when coming from the heart of the rebellious and unrepentant. So, Isaiah goes on to reveal the way for Judah to get back on God’s good side. We will explore this next section more in the next sermon in this series. But let me summarise verses 15b-17 here.

    15b Your hands are full of blood.
    16 Wash up! Make yourselves clean! Remove the evil of your actions from before my eyes! Stop doing evil!

    = REPENT

    To repent is to seek God’s cleansing by grace and resolve to stop rebelling against God’s moral law.

    17 Learn to do good! Seek justice! Rescue an oppressed one! Defend an orphan! Plead for a widow!

    = REFORM

    To reform is not to add more rituals to your worship, but to focus on meeting the needs of those around you, and so begin to act like your Father in heaven.

    Without true repentance and reformation, all the religion and prayers and worship in the world is worse than useless.