Godly Fear.

It cannot be avoided but some “Authorized version” phraseology get lost in modern translation. Perhaps one such term is “Godly fear”.

To the modern christian to whom God is all love, fearing Him is incomprehensible. Maybe if we substite “reverence” instead it may go some way to explain it. It carries with it a sense of awe of the divine majesty.

However we cannot dispense with the word “fear” as much as some would like to.

The unrepentant sinner has every cause to fear  and be afraid of God. He remains under judgement for sin and the eternal consequences of rebellion. It is when he  responds to the gospel call and repents that he sees God  in all His’ beauty.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Prov 9:10

Has the christian no cause to fear? In the scriptures “the fear of the Lord” is ever the mark of the believer.

“Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.” Acts 9:31

” Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. “1Peter2:17

Do we fear displeasing God? if so it is because of our love for our Heavenly Father. Does God’s fatherly love means sometimes He chastises his’ children, then let us fear disobeying Him.

It came direct from the mouth of our gentle Saviour

Luke 12:4-5 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

If we run to Him we are not likely to need to run away from Him.

2 Cor.5:11 “Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.”

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The actor James Stewart valued his’ privacy greatly. A family hoping to see him but having no luck set up  a picnic on his’ front lawn. Stewart quietly turned the lawn sprinkler system on.

God ,while being invisible, holy and exalted, still has an open door for all who come to Him.

Up and doing

Joseph Alleine was a puritan minister and among other works wrote the well known at the time “Alarm to the unconverted”. He was a stickler for getting to his’ duties early.

“Alleine would often rise early in the morning, lamenting that others were already at work before he prayed to his Master. His wife commented that he “would be much troubled if he heard smiths or other craftsmen at work at their trades, before he was at communion with God: saying to me often, ‘How this noise shames me! Doth not my Master deserve more than theirs?’” Alleine would customarily have private devotions and meditation upon God from 4 to 8 A.M.”

We can all take a leaf from his’ book and be early about our master’s business. This is not to be limited to “spiritual” things but our every day work and interactions can be done as “unto the Lord”.

 

 

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Godly Fear.

A two edged Sword

A few hundred years ago it was the practice to place an hourglass next to the pulpit to keep track of the time.
One minister knowing that some in the congregation were over imbibers at the local tavern and having more to say , said ” Come now lets have another glass.” Then turned the hour glass over.

Feeding on the Word

A.W. Pink advises two people in writing to them “That they should feed on God’s Word , rather than study it.”

Packaging

The burning question for the Church today is how to get the people in. The usual answer in some of them is this.

Redesign the church and repackage the gospel or is it repackage the church and redesign the gospel, I’m not sure which half the time.

 

Faced with the Flames

It was a noble saying of the three young men faced with almost certain death.

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”Dan.3:16 -18 E.S.V.

In other word Our God is able to save us, but even if He chooses not to, we would rather perish than worship anyone or anything else.

Lord give us courage to do the same.

chapter and verse

Alexander Cruden spent some part of his’ life in insane asylums. However most of his life was spent in what someone called a ” harmless lunacy”. At one time he took it upon himself to become the ” Corrector of the people”. To put them back on the straight and narrow. To curb vice and disorder. He actually applied to the king for a Knighthood, not from personal vanity, but to help him in his’ work. He was also greatly concerned for those in need and in the prisons.

His’ great work was compiling his’ Bible concordance. A work for which countless ministers and Bible students are in his’ debt.

For anyone else it might have been tedious and painstaking. For him it was balm to a wounded spirit.

God uses the most unlikely instruments so He can certainly use you and me.

To Him be the glory

 

  Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. Heb 1:1-2

Are we listening?

 

 

 


A two edged Sword

Enchanted Ground

Erin Murphy who play Tabitha in “Bewitched”, remembers Agnes Moorehead ” Endora”, as a lovely christian lady who told her Bible Stories when she was a child.

I grew up watching ” Bewitched”, but when I read this I wondered whether she as a christian had scruples playing a witch in a show popularizing witchcraft.

I am one who believes that christian should avoid things and places which compromise there faith and example. Frequenting places where God is dishonoured and blasphemed is something to be wary of . Sometimes this is unavoidable but each of us must use our discretion.  Erring on the safe side is the wisest course. We must be on our guard.

The Apostle John In his’ first letter tells us, ” the whole world lies in the power of the evil one”. 1 John 5:19 It is full of snares and traps to distract and divert the christian. Like the ” Enchanted ground” in “Pilgrims Progress ” it seeks us to lull us to sleep. Stops us from doing our christian duty and engrosses us with worldly things.

We of ourselves are not sufficient for these things, We must seek the power of God’s Spirit to keep us in the “narrow way”.

Before ” Arnie”

In the early years of the twentieth century a “pre-cursor” of Arnold Schwarzenegger was a man called Eugene Sandow. He was all strength and muscle building. He would stand in a glass case wearing nothing but a fig leaf being admired. He was a physical trainer to several famous people.

 

 

He bought a new fangled motor car but drove it into a ditch. He attempted, probably foolishly, to lift it out and ruptured himself somewhere and died.

Human beings have physical limitations. The best of us are only so strong and we can run only so fast. We have mental limitations. We ca’nt think of everything. The older we grow the greater our limitations we become. This does not mean we cannot improve ourselves but our resources go only so far.

We have our limitations, God does not have any limits at all. It is when we live in obedience to Him and His’ word that our horizon is widened and our life is open to the “abundant’ life Christ gives.

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More than just the commonplace

I made the statement in an earlier article that Christianity is founded on commonplaces. I mean this. It is “commonplace” to say that Christians are to read the Bible, they are to believe in Jesus Christ. They are to be praying people. They go to church and so on. These things are we are told again and again so that we take them for granted. This does not mean they are always easy, but they go with the territory.

On the other hand Christianity itself is beyond the commonplace and mundane. It takes sinful man and places him into fellowship with the Blessed Trinity. In Christ they are lifted up to the Heavenly places and only the New Heaven and New Earth will reveal what God has prepared for them.

 

 

 

 

Enchanted Ground

Deceived by appearances

When the first   F-4 Phantom was delivered to an airbase, one of the airmen thought it was so ugly it must have been delivered upside down. The aircraft’s appearance belied its future effectiveness, utility and longevity.

In this world where appearance is everything. The gospel and indeed the authentic Church do not show up well in the earthly scheme of things. Yet this belies the mighty work of God at work in and through it. We are tricked into looking at things through worldly eyes. We need the faith to believe that while, we may not see it, God who sees the end from the beginning, judges truly.

Head Winds

Staying with aircraft. My friend who was in the R.A.A.F. just after the war, saw a tiger moth biplane taking off into an head wind. The wind was so strong it pushed the aircraft  so that it landed further back than its original take off point.

 

 

 

 

No doubt the winds of adversity blow many of us very hard. It seems they push us back to square one, if not further. They discourage  us from trying again and generally impede progress.

Many in the Scriptures faced adversity, Joseph , Job and David to name a few. Our Lord most of all was battered by trials, tribulation and seeming lack of progress. He supremely “Breasted” the wind and triumphed over all that was thrown at Him.

Through Him we can overcome the headwinds of life and will land safe at last.

Bottom of the Barrel

Sometimes I feel that I cannot find anything else to write about.

It makes me think of the the story of Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath and her container of flour down to the last scrapings. Yet in God’s hands this small amount sustained the prophet and the widow’s family for many days.

I encourage us all to place our little in God’s hands that He may use it in great ways.

To His’ name be the glory.

 

 

 

 

Deceived by appearances

Commonplaces

As is well known many places in the world have a dietary staple which is the nutritional core of their culture.
In South America it is maize. In the Pacific islands it is taro, baked, boiled and probably fried. What would Ireland be without the potato? And so forth.

(It is commonplace to say this, but Christianities strength is its commonplaces.)
The Bible is the major staple of the Christian’s diet. The Bible read, memorized and preached. It was the Bible in the vernacular language that was at the core of the Reformation. It is the Bible as God’s inscripturated word that remains the source of health to the church
Protestants have been accused of being “bibliolaters”. Yet the Bible is God’s word, we dispense with it as our peril.
So if you are looking a bit gaunt and spiritually anemic get “ Back to the Bible”.

Who is this Jesus?

Some years ago  the Contemporary version of the Bible was released. It came with an audio tape titled “ Who is this Jesus?”.
I was not impressed with the version of the Bible but the tape was thought provoking.

It reviewed what the Old Testament prophets, John the Baptist and the Apostles said about Jesus. It also looked at what Jesus said about himself and His’ purpose. It looked at His’ teaching, parables and miracles.
It looked at His death on the Cross and Resurrection and the revelation of salvation.

It is no doubt vital for all of us to know and call on others to seek to know, the answer to the question, who is this Jesus?

Forward Ho

“The Lord said to Moses, Why do you cry to me? Tell
The people of Israel to go forward”.”Exodus 14:15

Is this a hint that sometimes we are praying when we should be moving? Sometimes we are moving when we should be praying, we need wisdom from God to know which we are to do in each situation.
I think it was said by Matthew Henry, “Prayer and provender hinder no journey”. We pray for journeying mercies but we feed our horse as well. We pray for God’s guidance and move on in faith.
We are called to “ Be still and know I am God”, but stillness and quietness in His’ presence is preparation for further arduous service.
Not making progress is much the same as going backwards in the Christian life and
walk.

Forgive and forget

My place of employment is closing and I and many others have been made redundant. Some of the people I know are reflecting on people who have badly treated or rubbed them the wrong way. Either real or perceived. They hold very deep grudges.
I have suggested they forgive and forget but they vow never do so. In fact they regard it as a point of honour not to.
In the face of Christ’s plain command, it is awful for a professing Christian to do this. Yet I have known some who harbour an unforgiving spirit.
We need a good look at God’s forgiveness, so free, so full and the objects so undeserving.
Maybe then we will be ready to forgive.

Sound bites

 


When Joseph Caryl began preaching through the book of Job he had a large number of hearers, by the time he finished he had a handful. (This was to become a famous commentary).
They got the Word in large measure those days. They were catechized and encouraged to discuss what they had heard. They sought to profit from the preaching of the Word.
No doubt it was hard but they persevered.
We on the other hand are content with sound bites of the word. Half an hour is plenty. Our attention span is very short. Our retention of what we hear is sketchy. We don’t want to be late for our meal. It is inconvenient to be kept so long.
Admittedly we are only human. However if we loved the Word of God more and realized how vital it is to us, we would discipline ourselves more. We would appreciate the blessing God sends via the preaching of His’ word.

Off the Ration

 

I have always been fascinated by how people coped with shortages in wartime. Whether it was Woolton pie, potato topped with potato, Coffee made with chicory or acorns, Or SPAM which tasted like fabric.

People looked for something “off the ration”,even if it might have fallen off the back of a truck. “Spivs” or black marketeers were the order of the day for some. Yet I have read that despite the privation, The people of Britain were never healthier than during the second World War.

In the same way there are somethings the Christian should put on ration. Things like the”pleasures of this world”. The desire for money, and the myriad other things which weigh us down.

Things we never need to ration are our love for Christ and His’ saints. Our faith and obedience should never be in short supply.

We never need our coupons to pray.

 

 

 

 

Commonplaces

Not needed now

I helped an old lady across a busy Mair street yesterday. i grasped her arm like you are supposed to. When We got across I let her arm go. She gave her arm a flick as if to say i needed your help but now you are an unwanted encumbrance.
I wonder if we do that to God sometimes. When we need him it is fine but sometimes we just want me time and to be left to it. Draw your own conclusions.

I know where I’m going

When Katherine told her’ parents that she wanted to marry Phillip Henry a “puritan ‘ minister, they were not to pleased. They said to her, “We do’nt know where he is from”. She replied, ” I know where he is going and I want to go with him”. They were to become the parents of Matthew Henry the renowned bible commentator.

Image result for matthew henry

The best choices we make are those which further our christian life and keep us on the path God sets before us.

Tally Ho

A man remonstrated with a fox hunting, steeple chasing “Bishop” , 200 years ago, that it was not a sport befitting a clergyman and far to dangerous. The Bishop replied that he hunted as a “gentleman”, not as a bishop. The man replied that if he broke his’ neck, the bishop would break his’ neck as well.

We should not have Christianity as a separate compartment in our lives , either we are all in or none in.

The Cross

 

 

 

D.M. Loyd-Jones in his’ book on the Sermon on the Mount says this. “The essence of true evangelism is not merely to talk about the Cross but to proclaim the true doctrine of the Cross. There are people who talk about, but talk about it in a purely sentimental manner. They are like the daughters of Jerusalem who our Lord himself rebuked, weeping as they thought of what they called the tragedy of the Cross”.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones.png

 

 

 

Not needed now

Blemishes

When people ask me if I would ever get a tattoo I always say that I have enough blemishes already.

It seems that every bit of vacant space has to be scribbled over by someone. Be it graffiti or tattoos, some people are inwardly compelled to leave their mark. Some people just love to be on display.

What is a work of art now ,when it fades or gets wrinkly, may end up very unsightly tomorrow. How much beauty is spoiled by people not leaving things alone.

By sin we are all blemished. Sin leaves a mark. Sin leaves a stain.

Christ washes the believer so that the blemish is removed and like a medical laser removes the tattoo we regret ever getting. Do we need a wash?

Is this a once for all cleansing? if you say you are without sin , Lucky you.

Me I need a daily wash!

Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing pow’r?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

  • Refrain:
    Are you washed in the blood,
    In the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb?
    Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
    Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?: Elisha J. Hoffman.

In another sense we should leave our mark. People leave their mark on the world to some degree or another. The question is “for good or ill”.

The christian has a unique chance to leave a mark for eternal good. Like Christ they can go about “doing good”. They can shine their light in many a dark spot and speak a kind word in times without hope.

Superman said although in fiction ” he fought for others who could not fight for themselves”, we can pray for those who cannot pray for themselves. The opportunities are endless if only we sought them.

Standing the test of time

Some television shows are as watchable now as ever they were.

F Troop is one such. Its humour is so simple and the characters so complementary that it stands the test of time. It has enduring qualities and endearing actors.

The actors in “F Troop” have moved on or passed a way but this show they made in some small way endures.

If we ask what makes for timeless endurance there would be many answers. Truth endures. Love endures. We may not last forever, our lives end, this does not mean we will not endure. If we are indeed in Christ, because He lives we shall live also. We shall endure and what we have done in his’ service will endure for all eternity.

Not to us, O LORD, not to us, But to Your name give glory Because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth. Psalm 115:1

One sows another Reaps

While Robert Murray M’cheyne was away on the mission to the Jews in the Holy land, his’ pulpit was being filled by William Chalmers Burns. During this time a revival broke out in his’ congregation.

Many men would have been a little jealous of others success in his’ place. Typical of the man, he rejoiced in the mighty work of God. The truth was he had sown another had reaped but God sent the increase 1 Cor 3:6.

 

 

 

 

Blemishes