You are my Witnesses

If we as Christians think about our daily interactions with non Christians, we very often wonder whether our influence counts for much. How many times are we silenced in our witness by ridicule and hostility? How often are we silent for fear of disturbing the peace? Other times what we say is contradicted by what we do and have done.
Also we must also measure how much of an influence non Christians have on us. Many words slip into our vocabulary and thoughts into our minds that we would not wish to be there. Is our behavior adversely affected by our non believing friends and co-workers?
We all want a quiet life. There is such a thing as “not casting pearls before swine,” in other words, choosing appropriate times to speak of Christ and the right person to speak to. Yet this does not let us off the hook as Christ’s witnesses.
I certainly to not claim to be an authority on these things: The fact is I find it harder than most. I can only say that in “testifying” the best rule is to be prepared, to watch for opportunities and see need in the people around you.
Not only be a Christian but seen to be a Christian.
In guarding ourselves from bad influences and examples, we must be mindful that the non Christian is under sins bondage. As Satan degrades the beautiful things Gods has made, Sinful men and women degrade themselves. Their language, their thoughts and their aims are all tainted by sin and self. We by birth and original nature are just like them, unless we put away the old nature and put on the new. It is by imitating Christ day by day that we may “be in the world, but not of it.”It is the closeness of our walk with Christ that makes us “the salt of the earth”.

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The Valley of dry bones.

The most preached upon and well known portion of the book of Ezekiel is the vision of the valley of dry bones, chapter 37. The immediate application is to the future restoration of Israel, despite the seeming hopelessness of the situation, by the power of the Spirit of God.
That the prophet himself is called upon to play a role in the drama by “prophesying” to the skeletal remains is integral. God speaks the word of life himself and in his condescending mercy, raises up people to speak His word as well.
Here is shown also, that no amount of death and decay can hinder God’s life restoring power. Even at this low ebb, the children of Israel were not beyond God’s love and care. It only took the “breath” of God to restore them to life.
It seems to me that the great work of God in and through our Lord Jesus Christ is to restore life. Life from death and hope from hopelessness are themes common in scripture. This is typified in the gospel story when the disciples whose hope had died on the cross, had life restored new and eternal in the resurrection.

It is not just restoration to life as it was but to life eternal, to abundant life.
This resounds in the experience of the believer. When we were dead in trespasses and sins Christ dies for the ungodly and raises them to “newness of life” by their believing on Him.
In our daily experience, while our outer body is perishing, we are “renewed in the inner man.”
When our body dies and is laid in the grave it will on the last Day be raise up to life. “Corruption will put on the incorruptible.”
The Church languishes and is at the point of extinction when the Spirit visits it with Revival.
In this world we are surrounded by death and dying. We need the Spirit’s breath to bring life to the people of the world. We also need people like Ezekiel to be God’s instruments of proclaiming His word to bring the message of life, eternal life.

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These plants are at the Geelong botanic gardens they just spring out of the ground seemingly from nowhere. They have no visible means of support. The Christian to has no visible means of support but it is none the less real. Thanks be to God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You are my Witnesses

Forsaking Christ

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“From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him” john 6:66

When Jesus spoke about the spiritual partaking of his flesh and blood it was too much for some of his followers. These people were concerned only with the earthly kingdom the Jews were expecting Messiah to set up. Christ was indeed the coming King but the kingdom at least in its current form was entirely spiritual.

We all want what we can see and touch. Yet the spiritual sustenance Christ supplies is no less real but far more enduring than any bodily food. Our problem is that we often lack the spiritual “appetite” needed to benefit from it.

There is no more poignant phrase in scripture than Christ’s question,”Will you also go away?”
For all his failings, thank God, that Peter knew when he was well off.

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67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6: 67-68
Are we living on Christ? Do we believe in Him and on Him? Do we really know who He is?

Ezekiel made a watchman.

There is no more difficult book to get a handle on than the book of Ezekiel. Its imagery and the difficulty of defining literal as opposed to spiritual imagery can make it a very neglected book. Not to mention the minute detail Ezekiel goes into when describing the future temple and ordinances.
Ezekiel was a priest in exile. He was far away from the Holy land and temple. Yet even so far away news reached him from home and his heart was never far away.
God still had work for Ezekiel; it was among the exiles among whom he lived. He was called to be a watchman. To see and reprove the sins of the people. To assure them that the exile was not a short one and their behaviour was still being seen by God.


Jerusalem would indeed fall but in 70 years God would bring the people home. They were called upon to forsake the sinful and idolatrous behaviour that caused God to punish them. To return to God before they returned home.
We are being watched to. God has too much love for the church of Christ and us to let it depart from His will and obedience to scripture and Christ. While we may see seeming growth and success, if it comes by worldly methods and at the expense of God’ truth and holiness, He will judge the Church to bring it back to the foundation on which it must rest.

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As much we need the cross we bear
As air we breathe or light we see
It draws us to thy side in prayer;
It calls to seek our strength in Thee.” Anon.

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“We do anything, anytime,anywhere .” This was the Goodies boast. May we be just as willing follow and serve Christ!

Forsaking Christ

The ties that Bind

Duck Soup

A critic reviewing an early performance by Harpo Marx, said it was going brilliantly until the moment he opened his mouth and spoke. Marx was so upset with this that vowed never to speak in his act again. He never did.
I wonder how many Christians ridiculed or maligned for speaking about Christ and christian things, decide never to do it again.

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Farewell???

 

W.J. Limmer Sheppard in his book great hymns and their stories, tells the story of “Blest be the ties that bind”.In 1772  Rev John Fawcett a baptist minister, was in the process of moving to a new church. As His belongings were being loaded on the wagon ,such was the emotion and pleadings for him to stay that he canceled the move and remain with them. This prompted him to write,

Blest be the ties that bind,

Our hearts in Christian love,

the fellowship of kindred minds,

is like to that above.”

 

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W.Arnold Long in his little book the “Bushman’s guide”, relates the story of two men sinking a shaft. they were using a windlass to haul rock and debris to the surface latching it and emptying the bucket. I quote

“Then suddenly one day a disastrous mistake
occurred. The load was hauled to the surface but
the man at the windlass failed to get the catch Into
place. Instantly the handle flew around, hut almost
as quickly the man acted. He flung himself on to
the windlass, wrapped his arms around the drum on
which the cable was wound and shouted for help.
His cries brought help from nearby, and the man at
the bottom of the shaft was saved.
In less than two seconds he might easily have been
crushed to death beneath the terrible force of the
descending load and with no possibility of escape.
But his mate had paid a great price that day. The”
flesh on his arms and body had been dreadfully
lacerated as he made that supreme effort, thinking
only of the man whose life depended on his success.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay
flown his life for his friend.”

He concludes,
Those words were spoken by One Who showed a
greater love still. He came to die for His enemies!
His was an unhesitating march to the cross on which
He gave His life to save a doomed and dying world
from the final destruction of the Judgment of God
against sin. You and I were in danger of being
pushed for ever under the load of our own making,
when the Lord from Heaven flung Himself between
us and that impending doom.

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New every morning

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord .Lamentations 3:22-26 NIV.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s gifts are always supplied daily ,they are needed daily and we should seek them daily. His compassion, love and mercy are always fresh and new. They come through God’s faithfulness to people who are very often prone to faithlessness.

Is He your portion? Are you waiting for Him?If we are quietly waiting on the Lord we will see His Salvation.

 

 

 

 

The ties that Bind

Wood for the trees

The shape of things to come

The debate in the church has often been whether the world will ever be “Christianized” or whether just  a remnant will be rescued out of it. Even someone like C.H.Spurgeon in youth and the beginning of his’ ministry felt that all would fall before the preaching of the gospel. In his’ later years he took a more restrained view of the future prospects of Christianity.

People have always said that the world would be subdued under the reign of Christ. Others with as much conviction have said that the world will be destroyed and then the new heaven and earth.

Whatever long view you take, you must sometimes ask yourself whether the gospel has failed in its purpose . No Christian questions the greatness of the salvation Christ has won for us. Yet we see it being wholesale rejected by men and women. Also so we see it being modified by some to “tweak” it for the modern age.

God’s purposes are never frustrated. God is not surprised by anything. God sees the end from the beginning.

We see the disciples thought as we do, “Are there many who will be saved”. Christ tells them to make sure they are saved first and then seek after others.

We see no sign of the world getting better and many scriptures teach us not to expect it to. On the other hand God is through the Lord Jesus Christ saving a great multitude which no man can number. God is going to create a new earth and heaven in which dwelleth righteousness. Our part is to trust when we cannot always see.

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 Blog, Blog who reads the Blog.

I am not really one for reading online, give me a book and a page to turn any day. I suppose even among Christian blog writers there must be tens of thousands world wide seeking for a hearing.

I never claim to be profound. I would rather point the reader to the profound truths of scripture and to Him who said ” I am the Truth”.

If only Christ can get a hearing, that is something to pray and work for.

 

 

 

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Patrick McGoohan was offered the role of James Bond but turned it down on moral grounds. No doubt had he accepted it more money and fame had come his’ way.

To have moral principle is becoming a rare commodity. For the Christian more than anyone else the temptation is to conform to worldly trends. How hard it is to be in the world but not of it.

 

 

 

Wood for the trees

The Dark side.

It seems that this modern age thinks of good and evil as two sides of the same coin. As if one could not exist without the other, ah La Star Wars. This is the ancient greek idea of things. Perhaps in this relativistic age we have gone beyond this. Now my good may be someone elses evil and vice versa. Perhaps we are expected to believe there is neither good or evil.

These ideas have no support from scripture. Satan is a powerful being and the ultimate evil, yet only a creature, subtle and cunning but not wise. For all his’ self exaltation he is on a chain and his’ time is short. Man at his’ best is sinful and selfish. He is alienated from God and setting himself as the be all and end all. Sin and evil as a state of affairs will not continue for ever.

God is the supreme Good. He is the source of all good and blessing. The day will come when sin and evil will be ultimately be dealt with and seen no more. Those who remain in sins  willing slavery and evil’s bondage , will bring themselves to eternal doom.

Please May God save many from this terrible end. May Christ the Saviour be preached to every corner of the earth and multitudes be saved and to His’ name be the Glory!

Virtual Church

Yesterday I was reading an article from “Grace to you”, about “Satellite ” churches. It seems they have a church service where they go through the program as normal and when it is time for the sermon the message is beamed by satelite to the church from the main church wherever it is. Sometimes apparently they even project a hologram of the minister.

The article says that the idea of the minister being a pastor is going out and the idea of a “CEO” is coming in.In my opinion this is abhorrent.

The problems of running a church are manifest. Many churches cannot afford a minister . True one man cannot pastor a so-called mega-church.Despite the difficulties the modern church faces I do not think doing things like this is the answer.

The Apostle Paul never wanted the churches he founded and visited to be tied to his’ apron strings. He went out of his’ way to find suitable leaders, pastors and elders to watch over the churches. This certainly meant that those of the church’s own number were expected to preach the Word and shepherd the flock.

These churches seem to be tied to the one man and he is the driving force behind them. Whether it is the cult of personality I do not know. The Word preached has a universal aspect. It speaks to all and sundry. Yet it also has a local focus and application which speaks to this congregation and these people. This is very hard to do 500 miles away, no matter how brilliant the speaker is.

For my part ,I would rather hear and see, Joe Bloggs with a Bible in his’ hand and the gospel in his’message, in the flesh. At least he took the trouble to come to see me and shake me by the hand.

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“Prophets are almost extinct in the religious world today. The modern church is a ‘non-prophet’ organisation.”

“The most neglected ministry today is that of the New Testament prophet. Pastors, teachers, and evangelists may exercise a prophetic ministry occasionally, but there should be fulltime prophets who speak for God to the nation and the church.” quotes from Vance Havner.

I would add  my opinion that most of the so called prophets of the day seem to be, Fore -tellers more than forth-tellers. Telling the future in stead of proclaiming God’s hatred of sin and the need of repentance.

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Richard Baxter was a puritan minister in Kiddrminster, England and authorm of among other works, The Reformed Pastor and The Saints’ everlasting Rest.

“Richard Baxter lamented a situation in his day that is similar to our own. Many, he said, treat the ministry as “but a trade to live by.” However, there is a key difference between pastoral ministry and every other occupation. Pastors are called to be shepherds of the church of God (Acts 20:28). They are not called to “do a job” or even to carry out “professional responsibilities,” but are summoned into a living, personal relationship with a community of people on behalf of Jesus Christ.” Quoted from The pastor and visitation Richard Baxter’s model by Paul Miller

Despite ill health Baxter was the quintessential Puritan minister. Preaching, catechizing, engaging in visitation form one end of town to the other.As well as exhaustive book writing.

If only we could see more of his’ like today.

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The Dark side.

Vanity will prove vexation!

Kaiser Wilhelm the second’s valet, recalling his’ master said this. “It is not enough to say my master was vain and wanted to be the center of attention.If he was at a christening, he wanted to be the baby. If he was at a wedding ,he wanted to be the bride. If he was at a funeral , he wanted to be the corpse”.

Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.

I do not think Christians or anyone else should set him up as a role model in this trait.

Psalm 91″ God our Refuge”

To many the picture of God as a refuge is a precious one. Indeed this is the picture seen everywhere in Psalms and many other scriptures.Here we have the believer pictured as a helpless fowl surrounded by snares and pestilences running to the mother hen for safety. We have a warrior in battle with arrows thrusting towards him. Also a time of plague when people drop like flies all around us.

While the metaphors are mixed ,the truth taught is plain

 

This is a corollary or immediate deduction from our abiding in God’s presence.

God’s faithfulness is a shield that we can hide behind when faced with peril.We are under constant threat if not always attacked. It is here faith in God is displayed and tested. Here the  faithfulness of God is promised and testified to by countless believers.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.Psalm91:9-10

Also

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging. Psalm46:1-3

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Peter and John

The friendship between these two disciple is an intriguing sidelight from the Gospels and Acts. That Peter was the older of the two  is inferred by many, (we of course know that Peter was a married man”.) John’s arriving first at the tomb was probably because of his’ youth. Yet these two men were often in each other’s company as recorded in scripture.

Peter we know was headstrong. strong willed and passionate. he was capable of great feeling and probably temper.

John we know was capable of strong feelings, being one half of the “Sons of thunder”. Peter was paternal about John as shown by his’ asking Jesus about John’s future prospects.

They both loved Christ devotedly yet it was John who stayed nearest Jesus at the end. Upon Peter’s restoration they are again seen together at the temple and trial before the Jewish leaders.

There is much we cannot know. What draws people into close friendships is unpredictable and the reasons myriad.

How much John and Peter were alike in  is not clear,that they were  complimentary to each other is. John may have helped rub some of the rough edges off Peter. Peter’s rock like nature ( most of the time anyway), may have given John reassurance and security. We cannot be sure.

That Christianity throws many different sorts of people together is obvious. Some draw closer to some and not others. Yet the fundamental unity of believers is not to be doubted.

That God can make use of our similarities as well as our differences is something to rejoice in and cherish.

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If you want to be popular, preach happiness. If you want to be unpopular, preach holiness.

Prophets are very disturbing to smug church members who like to sit half-asleep in church on Sunday morning while the minister drones platitudes that offend nobody. Vance Havner

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Constructive and helpful Comments would be appreciated

 

Vanity will prove vexation!

Vessels of honour

A.W. Pink’s “Studies in the Scripture” magazine had a decreasing number of subscibers much of the time. Pink attributed this to the fact that he did not write articles on the”signs of the times” and the near fulfilment of prophecy. He contented himself with the expounding of scripture and the teaching of christian doctrine and living.

In the same way a “blog” like this may not get a reading because it does not deal in the “hot topics” that concern christians and the church today.

I am not interested in playing “monkey see, monkey do” with the charismatics. I have no time for the health, wealth and prosperity gospel. Most of all I am not interested in any church growth which comes at the expense of truth or by coddling one section or age group while marginalizing others.

Utensils

19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”

20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.2 Timothy 2:19-21

If we truly abide in Christ and God is our home what is our purpose springing from this exalted state.

Depending on what metaphor is use in scripture we are not “in Christ” wholly and soley for our own benefit. We saw before that we must bear fruit but in this text we are compared to utensils in a kitchen maybe or some other sort of household article. This of course implies purpose and usage. It also means  that thes thing are for adornment or display, “gold and silver”.

The question is asked what sort of vessels are we? If as this implies we are to make ourselves fit for God’s purposes by turning away from wickedness and sin, are we doing this? Are we the sort of vessel God can use for special purposes or merely for day to day use.

I think anyone who is willing can be a useful vessel in God’s house. Wood and clay in God’s hand can be made into a vessel that would thrill “Antiques Roadshow”. Yet there is always the call to be “Gold or Silver”, “Nearer and Dearer”, ‘Onwards and upwards”.

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The story is that the pope was showing Francis of Assisi through the treasures of the Vatican. He turned to Francis and said” We can no longer say “Silver and gold have we none””. Francis replied ” Nor can we say “Rise up and walk”.

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We all profess that we are bound for heaven, immortality, and glory: but is it any evidence that we really design it if all our thoughts are consumed about the trifles of this world, which we must leave behind us, and have only occasional thoughts of things above?

—John Owen

 

 

Vessels of honour