I’M NOT LISTENING!!!

If King Ahab wanted divine guidance he had in his court three hundred prophets to ask to seek it for him.

These men were of the “give them want they want” sort. They were always upbeat, optimistic and indeed their revelations always accentuated the positive.

Their great fault lay in the fact they were out of touch with reality and had no true call from God. (Prophets of this sort are not extinct today.)

istock_19117517_large-1144x821Michaiah the son of Imer did not belong to this group of “Yes “men. He bucked the trend and persisted in faithfully delivering the message of God regardless of whether it was socially acceptable or politically correct.

The prevailing mirth, opulence and idolatry of Ahab’s court was constantly spoiled by the doom and gloom “Thus saith the Lords” proclaimed by this “Specter at the Feast.

Indeed as far as this prophet was concerned the king had stopped listening to him.

It was only to humour Jehoshaphat King of Judah that Ahab was prevailed upon to call and hear what Michaiah had to say about the prospect of success at Ramoth Gilead.

Even the messenger sent to fetch the prophet could not help asking the prophet to fall into line with the prevailing atmosphere and keep his message upbeat.

In the interval one of the prophets  “so-called”, Zedekaiah the son of Chenaanah, made a pair of iron horns as a visual aid to show what was going to happen to the Syrians at the triumphant hands of the king.

When Michaiah arrived it appeared that he had heeded the messenger’s advice and chimed in with what the rest of the prophets were saying. Even king Ahab was not fooled by this; he knew the prophet better than this and told him to deliver what God had told him to say.

The Word from the God of Israel was that not only would they not recover Ramoth Gilead but Ahab himself would fall in the battle.

For King Ahab this was a case of “Surprise, surprise”.

This was not merely a “Beware the ides of March” warning for Ahab; rather it was a fulfillment of God’s judgmental purpose on the wicked and faithless king with the angelic host engaged in decieving the king into pursuing his folly and “inspiring” the false prophets to delude him.

Naturally the three hundred time-servers were not pleased with the imputation of falsehood to their prophecies. Zedekaiah of the “iron Horns” fame, clouted Michaiah and called him a liar.

As a reward for his faithfulness Michaiah was consigned to prison on short rations as guarantor of Ahab’s safe return. Despite this the prophet told the king that he would not be coming back.

In a futile attempt to fool God, Ahab set aside his royal robes and dressed as a common soldier, to add to his ignominy, he told Jehoshaphat to remain in his royal regalia, in effect setting him up as an alternative target.

This duplicitous plan looked as if it had worked when the “Ahab” seeking Syrians mistook Jehoshaphat for the king of Israel and went after him.  Mercifully for the godly ,if rather naïve king of Judah, the Lord intervened and turned the soldiers away from him.

Ahab could not escape God’s judgment; he was struck by a less than well aimed arrow and mortally wounded. Carried away in his chariot he expired at the setting of the sun.

Ahab had long seen God’s power and justice at work in his kingdom. Time and again God had sent his prophets to warn and punish the disobedient king and idolatrous kingdom. Nothing availed to turn the king away from his self pleasing, avaricious and murderous ways: He had stopped listening.

He would no longer heed anything that went against his royal pleasure. He closed himself off from the judgments that God sent to reform and bring him to true and lasting repentance. He would no longer hear anything that God said to him by the prophets and so received the consequences of rejecting the one true God.

While Ahab refused to hear, God was still able to see and no disguise could hide him from the Lord’s wrath.

Sadly there are millions in the World who cannot and will not hear God’s Word: The World at large is unwilling to stop its course of merriment and self seeking to give attention to God’s warning of judgment to come. It does not like the message because it loves wickedness, sin and self.

It deludes itself that all is well and they will escape the consequences of godlessness and sin.

man-not-listening Sticking cotton wool in your ears will not make any difference in the long run.

We all need to hear anew what God has to say to us in his Word, even though it may be humbling and unpalatable to our sensibilities and reminds us of our inherent sinfulness and unworthiness in God’s sight.

Through the preaching of the Gospel and the converting power of God some will hear and escape the wrath to come and place their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and become new creations in the Heavenly kingdom.

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In one of his farm sermons Spurgeon points out that many who sow the seed of the gospel, expect to see instantaneous results and feel frustrated if they do not. Others sow the seed but do not really expect any results at all. Some others see great results but they prove not so in reality.

He points out that as the farmer sows the seed and does what he can to nurture it, he is dependant of God to send the growth and increase.

Today we see the push for numbers and increase in attendances being sought at any price, but very often the true seed is not being sowed and we seek results from humanistic methods and means.

We are to be workers together with God, true to His Word and dependant on Him and his sovereignty for the results of our sowing the gospel seed.

I’M NOT LISTENING!!!

The Easy Listening Gospel!

It is human nature to seek the easy way out of a situation. Image result for sweeping it under the mat

  • The time and effort it takes to fix something is too much trouble so we discard it and get a new one
  •  The proper way of fulfilling a task or of building something enduring is too costly and time consuming so we cut corners and do it on the cheap and hope the completed work lasts long enough for us get away with our shoddy efforts.
  • We know that it is environmentally responsible to recycle yet the time and effort required to sort things is too much trouble so we throw them in the bin instead.
  • We have a personalty conflict with another person but instead of resolving it we avoid and shun them.

I wonder how much of this sort of thinking is going on among Christians and in the Church today.

We want to bring people into the congregation and hopefully to Christ, but because there is so much in the Bible and the traditional preaching of the evangelical Church which is offensive and distasteful to non believers we prove unwilling to jeopardize our desired results by proclaiming these unpopular doctrines and commandments from God’s Word.

So we file them away somewhere until our new members are able to accept them.

There are also parts in the Bible which the modern intellectual finds incredible and contradictory to modern scientific thought, so we avoid dealing with them and say they are merely accommodations to the beliefs and scientific Knowledge of those times.

They are often attributed to traditions and myths which are taken from elsewhere and used by the scripture writers to teach moral lessons not intending them to be taken literally.

We note that these redactors offer not a shred of evidence to support their claims.

So  as a result of this  “doctoring” and “Tweaking”, we find that the gospel of today is whittled down to a simple call to follow Christ and join the church without any call to repentance, obedience to God in Christ and reformation of life and without any great need to heed much of what the Bible teaches.

If ever a time comes when the Bible is boldly and faithfully preached in a lot of churches, we can only imagine the feathers that will be ruffled and the numbers that would walk out in disgust.

In the past the Church spoke out about the prevalent evils in the world but since to confront these things nowadays would turn people outside the church off coming, we bite our tongues and assume a guilty silence.

The old fashioned preaching of the Bible as the Word of God in the worship of the church is too tedious for the dwindling attention span of our modern society so we pare it down to the bare essentials and subordinate it to a lively, if rather vacuous praise and worship time and major on style over substance in all we do in the church.Image result for the modern gospel ?

Our result driven church is more concerned with numbers, attendances and incomes than obedience to God and His Word.

As I always say the gospel we hear today is the modern equivalent of white bread over whole meal. It may keep you alive but has nowhere near the nutritional value of the preaching of the Whole “counsel of God”.

Worse still this “staff of life” that we are expected to masticate is plumped out with the sawdust of unscriptural teaching and paradigms: To use Hal Lindsey’s term sometimes “there is poison in the popcorn”.

While this varies from Denomination to denomination and church to church yet the temptation for a church in decline to change in order to survive is overwhelming and perilous for those with a low view of scripture and God’s power added to a desire for self preservation at any cost.

Every believer with real desire to hear God’s truth and obey His commands needs the spiritual equivalent to a sieve to separate the wheat from the chaff in what they hear today. They need a sound knowledge of what the Bible truly teaches and hold to it regardless of the ire it raises among many professed churches and believers.

While we can afford to differ on things of less consequence we must not yield to the modern tendency to avoid the things in the gospel which are offensive to sinful man. We must not “toe the party line” when it contradicts what God has shown us in His Word.

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Fight or Fly?

Naturalists tell us that many animals have a built in “fight or fly” instinct”.

The Christian must do both. They must fly to Christ and carry on the fight – of faith.

The Measure of a man.

It is said that the best men are men at best. This is especially true of the Christian.

  1. We are to be followers of others only so far as they follow Christ.
  2. We do not measure Christ by His followers but His followers by Christ.
  3. All our measuring of ourselves and others will fall far short when compared to the full measure  of Christ.

Supplication for all.

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way”. 1 Timothy 2:1-2

In our troubled and turbulent times it is easy for the Christian to give over praying for those holding positions of authority in the world.

We often participate in the polarization of our society and regard some politicians and leaders as beyond the pale because we dislike them and abhor their policies.

This text reminds us that standing behind all human government stands the government of God. While much in our society runs counter and is destructive to the church and people of God, His will and power will prevail in the end.

We should pray for the amendment of bad government and leadership.

We must also give thanks for the authority which gives some order and helps keep the peace although in many ways they rule in ways not to our liking.

We are also called to pray that those who lead us may themselves, be lead to a saving knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ .

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Forgotten Truth

It would be really nice to be able to avoid criticism in what I write but in comparing the scriptural portrayal of Christianity to its modern profession, one cannot help being surprised by the difference.

In nothing does the modern Church and Christian fall down more than in their attitude to sin and of the need for repentance and reformation.

While in times past many went to the other extreme and mulled and brooded over their own sinfulness, today we have gone to the other extreme in that it is regarded as a return to legalism to have any sense of personal sinfulness and sorrow for it.

The modern Christian looks at the Cross and assumes forgiveness and thinks nothing more of it. There is very little of the behavior of the repentant tax collector among us today.

13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”Luke 18:13-14

There is very little in the teaching of some of our churches which tries to correct this attitude and superficial dealing with man’s sinfulness. In fact everything is done to minimize the sinfulness of sin by calling it by other names and making the sinner a victim instead of a culprit.

In our desire to free people from guilt and despair we avoid to close an examination of all those things in our lives that make us fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23)  and liable to His just condemnation.

Surely the truth is when a person does wrong they should feel guilty, they should pull themselves up and take themselves to task. They should be taught that sin is no trivial thing and should always be a cause for sorrow and repentance, and the seeking of forgiveness and restoration.

If there is any call for repentance in the church today, it is regarded by many as an initial experience in the Christian life and a once for all event.

Repentance is not meritorious and in no way procures our Salvation; rather it is by the exercise of faith taking hold of the Saviour, Jesus Christ. Yet the idea of Salvation and a Saviour naturally leads to the reality of something we are being saved from. Repentance is the natural consequence of our understanding the grievous nature of our sin and the terrible price that was paid for its remedy.

Jesus does save from Hell and eternal death, (although these too is getting hazy for many among us), but it is Sin, our sin that makes us liable to these terrible consequences.

Sin is terrible because it makes us rebels against the Great and Holy God whom we have sin against.

Only the Son of God Himself could atone and make satisfaction to God for our sin. It was an infinite cost that was paid for its atonement by the unspotted, holy and sinless Lamb of God who in His own body took away our sin.

 

 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”1 Peter 2:23

As John Macarthur wrote “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners! Jesus specifically said He had not come to save those who want to exonerate themselves (Mark 2:17). Where there is no recognition of sin and guilt, when the conscience has been abused into silence, there can be no salvation, no sanctification, and therefore no real emancipation from sin’s ruthless power. The Vanishing Conscience pp. 31-34.

Also as J. C. Ryle said, “Christ is never fully valued, until sin is clearly seen” (Expository Thoughts on the Gospels [Baker], on Luke 20:9-19, p. 326).

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The Easy Listening Gospel!

An Abstract Christ!

In my previous article I wrote of the importance of examining the state of our Christianity by the existence and truth of our love for Christ.

Here I would caution not only about our love for Christ being a reality but also the importance of our love being bestowed on the genuine and entire Christ.

It seems that many have fastened on a particular aspect of Christ and His ministry and excluded all else thus making a Christ of their own fashioning.

An example would be those who take the merciful and charitable aspect of Christ’s ministry and act on it and do good works in society without any regard to His work of Soul salvation.

Others take Christ’s ministry in a reforming and political sense. They work in politics to implement Christian principles and try to govern people in Christian ways.

They also ignore much of Christ’s saving work and message and fix on those parts of it which suit their own ends and purposes.

They may profess a great love for Christ and make great sacrifices and endure much suffering in His name and yet is it truly Jesus Christ as He really is or only as they perceive Him.

So my call to all who read this is to make sure it is truly the genuine Scriptural and living Christ that they are claiming to love.

How do we know the difference? First of all we must ask our self, is there a part of Christ’s work and mission that we are not interested in. Is there part of His work that we fail to emphasize? Is it not relevant to us or is it old fashioned or unpopular?

It is always dangerous to clothe our aspirations and socio-political ideas in religious garb and call it Christianity.

Not that we should be unconcerned for such things rather we come into a saving relationship with Christ and let Him govern and control our actions and make his glory our ultimate end . It is by hearing His whole scriptural word to us and following His example in all things and then serving Christ in our families in the Church and in the World.

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Getting his own back!

Once C.H. Spurgeon, during a low emotional state attended a church service, where the sermon preached greatly helped him. The man who was temporarily filling the pulpit that day shamefacedly confessed that due to lack of time for preparation preached one of Spurgeon’s own sermons.

Spurgeon shaking the man’s hand effusively said he was not concerned who wrote the sermon but was thankful that it reminded him that although a great sinner he was still forgiven through Christ and loved by God.Image result for spurgeon

The message we preached is not ours but from God who uses it according to His own blessed purposes. (Quoted from memory)

 

 

 

Soothsayers!

Christianity today has many authors and teachers prognosticating about prophecy and the end times, indeed it always has.Image result

Blood and Super moons, Signs and wonders in the heavens and stirrings and conflicts in the Middle East.

They talk about the decline of the United States, the collapse of the economic system and our money becoming worthless, etc. etc.

Like astrologers they point to the conjunction of the stars and planetary alignments to foretell imminent ruin and great events.

They look at what is going on in the world, sniff the wind of spiritual trends and feel reassured in their doom-saying.

How much weight we place on these things predictions and attending details is problematical. The fact is this world is passing away and to know exactly when is not our primary problem.

While events in the world confirm scriptural prophecies and add a voice to the need to “flee from the wrath to come”, they are of less importance than the need for preaching and testifying to the message of Salvation.

To be solely absorbed with the intricacies of prophecy and the future is very often to be neglectful in our present duty.

To warn of the end of the world is subordinate to the Christian’s task as to warn about the peril of remaining lost in sin and the call to flee to Christ as Saviour and Lord…

True, the last trump shall sound, but even now there is a crying need for the trumpet sound of the gospel to be heard throughout the land.

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On a high?

When you see people in a night club or rave party deafening themselves with loud music and jumping up and down frantically the question may be asked what are they seeking to accomplish or what are they escaping from?

Not content with this, they imbibe copious amounts of alcohol,or if even this is not enough, someone offers them a pill ,they take it and risk the consequences.

Whether it is trying to escape some aspect of life or reach some higher mental or emotional state, our society and young people in particular are bent on seeking exciting experiences and  so called highs.

True some look for “natural highs” but many will try anything and everything to achieve them.Image result for mountain top experience

One of the side effects that flow from the domination of so called “Pentecostalism” and its theology, is that many Christians attend the worship services of the church with much the same expectation as these sensation seekers. They want an uplifting experience of one sort or another.

In John chapter six we have an incident recounted that speaks to this very situation.

We have here the aftermath of Christ’s feeding the five thousand.

We see many professed followers of Jesus walking away from Him.

Why?

These people had experienced some incredible things: they had been enraptured by Christ’s parables and witnessed miracles that astounded them. These erstwhile followers had partaken in the miraculous feeding of five thousand men and were  even now seeking a repeat performance.

There was also the expectation that this prophet from Nazareth was the ONE, who once and for all would cast of all foreign domination and rule as Messiah.

It would be understandable if these “disciples” and sometime followers of Christ were riding on a wave of emotion and expectation.

Unfortunately the “cloud nine” that they were floating on, was about to burst and they were left to find another source of excitement and entertainment.

That Jesus spoke of himself as the Bread of Life and true source of Spiritual renewal and sustenance, was beyond their comprehension and ran contrary to the carnal expectations and desires they had of Him.They did not mind the thought of living forever but they baulked at the thought of feeding on this man ,prophet or not. This was a difficulty they could not get over and a teaching they could not accept.

They had come to Christ with certain wants and while these were met all was well, however when He spoke of the spiritual nature of His Work, it ran counter to all their hopes and conceptions so they departed grumbling and grousing.

Today many confuse the emotional with the Spiritual.

Today it seems that most of what is done in worship and taught by the Church is aimed no higher than to affect and stir the emotions of the people. It seeks to lift them up to a higher emotional state and then claim it as is the work of the Holy Spirit.

It is not that the emotions are not to be involved and appealed to, but to make them the primary end in all we do is no better than create a lot of emotional junkies seeking their next fix.

Human emotions even in the Christian are all over the place, up and down, high and low.

As in these departing disciples, they who love Christ one minute can walk away from Him the next.

To work on the emotions is not enough and unless subordinated to a truly Spiritual and divine work, will only leave us as it finds us and none the better.

Only the authentic work of the Holy Spirit will sustain and abide with the Christian regardless of their emotional state.

The Spirit’s work in the believer encompasses the whole person, mind and soul and does not require putting our brain into neutral.

Perhaps this explains why so many professing Christian are “burning and shining lights” on a Sunday morning but when it comes to actual Christian living and behavior, they prove spiritually bankrupt.

It is sad to see how many professing but not practicing Christians there are today.

They are high on the experience but the fruits and marks of the believer are not seen in their daily lives.

A religious experience that goes no further than an “emotional high” will not endure for very long; only the true work of the Holy Spirit will transform people’s lives and manifest itself in Christ-likeness in our lives,  witness and dealings with others.

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An Abstract Christ!

“Lovest Thou Me?

It may be simplistic to say but many of the questions we have regarding the truth and genuineness of our Christianity can be resolved by the answer we give to this question.

When we doubt the truth of our conversion or the reality of our faith: If we feel we have been mislead or sold short in our expectations of the Christian life and want to give it all up: When we are disillusioned or disgruntled with other believers or the church itself, either local or generally: We need to take stock and do a reality check.

(Though they are interlinked I would for the moment separate the truth and genuineness of our faith in Christ from our church attendance and membership.)

When we feel the ground of belief slipping out from beneath us and doubt the veracity of our faith, we should ask ourselves; do we love the Lord Jesus Christ? Did we ever truly love Him?

Not merely the saying of the words and nominally professing a sort of Christianity; I mean a sincere devotion and attachment to our Saviour.

Our love for Christ is a concomitant or naturally accompanying result of faith in Him and trusting in Him for Salvation. Indeed we truly love Him because He first loved us.

If we can bring ourselves to walk away from such a Saviour, it says that any love we pretended for Him in the past must be regarded as suspect.

If however, we see in ourselves a genuine love for the Lord Jesus Christ then it must outflow and work in certain ways.

Jesus said “If you love me keep my commandments “John 14:15.

True love to Christ is shown in obedience to His commands. It is also shown in following his example, in self sacrifice and seeking first the kingdom of God.

If we are contemplating walking away from Christ and the profession of Christianity we may well ask ourselves whether we ever believed or loved Him at all.

Those who do not love the Lord Jesus are pronounced to be “accursed” 1 Corinthians 16:22. For any such, we can only pray they would look again and seek the reality of faith in Christ and the opening of their eyes to His loveliness and their great need for His saving grace.

If we love Christ we will love all those who love Him in sincerity and this despite our many differences and flaws and the wrongs they may have done us.

We would also seek to bring others to Jesus Christ and His saving love.

I have spoken before of the problem and difficulties of finding a fellowship of true believers. I will only say here that for anyone; for any reason, who finds themselves isolated from the body of Christ and can quite happily exist in solitude, must question if their love for Christ is of the right kind.

A true Believer cannot but bewail the lack of fellowship with other Christians and attendance on the means of grace.

It must be a matter of vital importance to seek for these things even if when we find them they are not all they could be.

I have repeatedly pointed out, there are many who tout Christianity as the cure-all for all that ails us. Yet as it mostly proves, the Christian seldom has an easy time of it indeed the believer suffers much that the world and the unbelieving sinner knows nothing of.

So if we feel we have been sold a pig in a poke we must realize that there is a real cost to following Christ and a cross for every Christian to bear.

The blessed promise is that He is always near to support and comfort and Christ has walked this path before us.

For any person who professed Christianity to walk away from Christ is a terrible thing and has dire consequences.

We may discover that we were empty professors, frauds and hypocrites. We may have fallen foully into sin and brought shame to the name of Christ. Yet to turn our back on the only one who can save us, to turn a deaf ear to Christ’s call for repentance and offers of mercy is greater folly and more sinful still.

Repent and Believe the Gospel, if you never truly believed it before

May God grant that you can come to the point where you can say with Peter “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”John 21: 17c

Commercial Christianity!

If we are to judge by the lifestyle of some of the tele-evangelists, the money you can make from the proclamation of some brands and modifications of the gospel is substantial.

Large mansions, private jets and fleets of flash cars seem to be the reward of a job well done; it may be the only reward some of these people will ever receive.

The re-styling of the gospel proclamation in terms of demographics, gimmicks, programs and manifestations is the natural consequence of paying more attention to worldly marketing and less to the Word of God.

It is a travesty that preaching the Word and evangelism is being replaced by “pyramid selling”.Image result for pyramid selling christianity

Those at the top of the pyramid reap the majority of the dividends and those lower down wait for their promised return.

The Apostle Paul is clear that those who preach the gospel should live by the gospel and be financially supported by those who benefit by it. Yet how different a spirit we see today in the unbridled covetousness for the things of this world and the twisting of Bible truth used to further it.

We are lead by the Word to expect a Christ-like Spirit in those who teach and lead us. Though they remain fallible and liable to temptation they are still to be proved “worthy of their hire”.

Yet they and we are constantly warned not to be given up to covetousness. To seek primarily the riches and pleasures of this world runs contrary to the seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, which Christ commands and calls us.

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The only difference in the proclamation of God’s message in the New Testament from that of the Old,  is that now it is embodied for us in the Lord Jesus Christ and faith in His name.

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God’s Sovreignty in Evangelism

Life of A. W. Pink by Iain H. Murray

Iain Murray in his” Life of A.W. Pink “(Banner of Truth) quotes an incident from Pink’s early ministry while in the U.S.A. . . A man came to Pink and told Him that he had become a Christian through a message Pink had preached the previous evening. Pink was taken a-back at this as there was nothing particularly evangelistic in the message he had delivered.

The message was about the glory of God and His worthiness of praise and exaltation.

Enquiring further of the man, he told Pink that he had never before in his life truly praised and glorified God and what a terrible sinner he must be.

Pink draws the conclusion from this that God is totally sovereign in which texts of Scripture He uses to bring people to Himself.

God honours the preaching of His Word. We honour Him by preaching it faithfully and fully and not being ashamed of its message.

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“Lovest Thou Me?

Seeking a Hearing!!!

 

I would imagine that the people who view this blog and perchance read it come upon it by accident. The chances are they are looking for something completely different and only stumble upon it by chance.

The fact is that the world wide web is full of people writing blogs and seeking a hearing for their particular views and theories.Image result for finding an audience

At the transfiguration of Jesus it is written  “And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” Mark 9:7

I seek from all my writing to encourage the reader to Hear Jesus Christ and the Word of God.

Whatever and whoever else we hear; we desperately need to listen to what God has to say to us through His Son and the scriptures.

Where we will spend eternity hangs on our hearing, believing and obeying the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

If one trait optimizes people today , it is a sense of hopelessness. This sorry state ,even if masked by mirth and worldly distractions is symptomatical of a life apart from God and without Christ.

The only way to genuine Hope is to listen what God has to say to us in the Bible and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.

Dare to be a Daniel!

The book of the prophet Daniel has been a battle field over which many have fought over the years. Some have tried to remove the miraculous and future forseeing sections of the book.

For others it is seeking to interpret the more obscure portions of it and apply it to the present and prognosticate the future destiny of Israel and the Church.

The past is full of those who regale their books with Charts of future events based on study of the book of Daniel mingled with other prophecies in the Old and NewTestament especially Revelation .Image result for Prophecies charts from Daniel

The life of the prophet himself as well as his three friends, has a very up to date lesson to teach us of how a believer is to live and act in a pagan society.

Daniel and his three friends are remarkeable in that when everything went against them they stood firm in their obedience to God even in the face of death.Image result for the fiery furnacehttps://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f1/Daniellion.jpg/300px-Daniellion.jpg

The fiery furnace and the lion den could not deter these faithful men from their obedience to God and His commandments.

Believers who follows the example of these ” Men of God” , will find themselves to be “Greatly Beloved” Daniel 10:11

Monopoly on the Spirit!https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/f9/Monopoly_pack_logo.png

I think that there are many sections of the professing evangelical church who act as if the Holy Spirit’s power and work were their exclusive experience. Either by the numbers of their attendees or because of the manifestations and experiences festooning their meetings.

Our re-action against the excesses of some these groups does not mean we depreciate the genuine and powerful work of the Spirit. Rather we glorify the Spirit by seeking His fruits and not just His gifts.

We in common with all the saints, plead for a mighty work of grace and revival in our times.

However the absence of the ecstatic and gaudy expressions of worship does not indicate The Holy Spirits absence. Indeed the greater part of the Spirit’s work is to be found in the hidden heart of man, in transformation and renewal in the inner man. It is seen in the faithful proclamation and study of the Word of God, which sad to say is very often subordinated in many places to phenomena and chaos.

The groups who claim the most of the Holy Spirit’s work very often discredit themselves by the “elitism” and superiority they imply by their behavior.

Were these people supreme examples of “Christ-likeness”, humility , reverence and obedience to God’s Word, maybe their claim to a Monopoly on the Spirit’s power would be more credible. If they were living lives un-enamoured by the things of this world and more intent on pleasing God instead of man they might be able to claim the word “Apostolic”.

Christianity by definition shows forth itself in Christ-likeness. These are the people who see Christ in all who love him in sincerity and hold to His truth and stand against sin , falsehood and worldliness.

The true Christian is one who loves the brethren whether or not they have had some particular experience or exhibited some phenomena and identifies with the humblest saint of God.

“By their Fruits shall you know them”.Matthew 7:16Image result for by their fruits you will know them

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In Christian leaders and Christians in general it is sometimes hard to determine exactly what they stand for. It is even harder to know who they will stand up for?

 

 

 

Seeking a Hearing!!!

Right Question wrong Answer!

The future for Judah and Jerusalem looked very dire. The message coming from the “false” prophets with their words of speedy deliverance and the return of prosperity was starting to sound rather hollow.

Jeremiah chapter 38 reveals that things had got so desperate that King Zedekiah sought out the prophet to seek God’s message and reveal His will for the people.Image result for jeremiah and king Zedekiah

Jeremiah told the king that if they surrendered to the Babylonians, the City, its people and the king himself would be spared. The prophet further told Zedekiah that if they continued to resist, the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed and the king and populace would fall into the hands of the Babylonian army and those who were not killed would be carried into captivity.

King Zedekiah as it later proved, was hoping for something more in line with his own wishes and not at all interested in heeding the prophet’s message of warning from God. As a result of his own fears and lack of faith, rather than surrender peaceably, he fled by night, hoping to escape the wrath of the Babylonian king. He only got as far as Jericho before the Babylonian soldiers caught up with him, was taken to Riblah in the land of Hamath to King Nebuchadnezer who then killed his sons and put out his eyes.

Jeremiah’s prophecy was fulfilled to the letter as Jerusalem was burned and the majority of the people carried off to Babylon except for the poorest of the people and the prophet himself.

Sometime later Gedaliah the man left by the Babylonians as governor was assassinated in a cowardly attack by Ishmael, one of the members of the royal family still in the land. This man carried off some of the people but was pursued by Johanan the son of Kareah and the captives rescued.

Johanan and the remaining leaders and people were unsure of what to do, whether to stay or flee. They approached Jeremiah to receive guidance from the Lord. They vowed to hear and follow the Commands of God received through the prophet and Jeremiah relayed God’s message and assured the remnant of the people that if they remained in the land they would be safe.

Far more God promised to bless the people and sustain them but also warned them that, if they remained disobedient and sought to flee to Egypt, the disaster they feared would catch up to them there.

Obviously this was not the answer they were hoping for. The self appointed spokesman of the people accused Jeremiah of lying about God’s actual message. They claimed that the prophet’s former spokesman Baruch had put him up to it, to get back at them. They as Zedekiah and the Jewish leaders before them did not like the answer they received because it involved faith in God and ran counter to their own desires.

So the Jewish remnant lock, stock and barrel, fled to Tahpanhes in Egypt, carrying the unwilling prophet with them.

Do we not see this tendency among us today?

We want God to show us the way but when He points us in a direction or guides in the path we do not like, we go ahead and choose our own way.

We must all examine ourselves and ask, are we truly seeking God’s will for ourselves and the Church and are we willing to hear and obey what God has revealed to us in His’ authentic , Biblical Word. Or are we only interested in the revelation which caters to our earthly desires and wishes and hopefully get heaven into the bargain?

There are many today who purport to brings us a message for God but like the false prophets of old they preach smooth things which exalt our egos and harmonize with our earthly aspirations and make no mention of our sinfulness and need for repentance and obedience.

Rather let us be willing not only to hear but to obey what God says to us in His holy Word.

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Seeing things in Black and White!

Colour television was a long time coming in my country. So when I was growing up all the programs were black and white even if originally made in colour.Image result for black and white television

While the appearance of colour television added a new dimension to our viewing it very quickly became common-place and something we gave little thought to. Indeed I for one still hark back to those days because what we lacked in colour was made up for the quality and comparative wholesomeness of the programs we watched as children.

Some filmmakers persisted in making films in black and white because they felt it enhanced the drama of their work. We see this in the continued popularity of old films. The performances and story lines absorb us to such an extent that we give no heed to the lack of colour.

However some people seeking to re-release old films, have felt it necessary to colourize them to make them more marketable for this modern age. Many film “purists” deplore this and insist on turning the colour down.

It seems to me that many people today are trying to colourize the gospel. The black and whites of God’s revealed truth and saving word are not appealing to modern man, so those who would attract him to the “cause” daub the gospel message with bright colours and rosier hues: each one working from his own palette .

Someone splashes a lot of gold about the scene, while another daubs the sky with perpetual blue, all the while rubbing out the Dark black clouds which sometimes threaten judgment.

Unfortunately many of these self appointed daubers are in fact colour-blind. They cannot see that the spectrum of the gospel of Christ already has colours all its own, if only we have eyes to see them.Image result for color spectrum

All at Sea!

The old saying is if you want to learn to pray, go to sea.

One can imagine in the days of sail, being at the mercy of wind and wave in mountainous seas. A storm on land is scary enough, but bobbing about on the sea like a cork must be terrifying.Image result for a storm at sea

Even today with propeller powered ships of ever increasing size, extreme weather conditions are always a matter of concern.

The dangers of a ship at sea have always been used as an analogy for the experience of the Christian life.

Imagine all the varieties of experience a ship and its crew undergoes on their numerous voyages. Long periods of smooth sailing interspersed with moments of drama and even peril.

To have a sound ship and a capable crew is imperative but the fact is much of what happens to a ship is beyond any ones control.

Many times throughout voyage of the Christian life, the wind and waves swamp him and threaten to capsize his life and rob him of peace.

It is here that the fundamentals and reality of our Christianity are exercised and tested.

To cultivate the habit of Bible study, prayer, praise and thanksgiving in day to day living coupled with close reliance on God’s sustaining power, are imperative to keep us afloat when storms assail and rocks appear before us.

The Christian is in a sad state if they only really pray when they have tried everything else first and cast on it as a last resort: also the Christian who does not know or study his Bible casts away the chart needed to navigate life’s shoals and reefs.

To carry on the analogy, I wonder how many of us look on prayer as a lifebuoy which is reassuring to have nearby if the ship sinks but we hope we never need to rely on it.

Whatever the perceived difficulties of prayer it was never meant to be a last ditch way of deliverance but our constant privilege and support.

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Right Question wrong Answer!

Unstopping the Wells!

18 And Isaac dug again the wells of water that had been dug in the days of Abraham his father, which the Philistines had stopped after the death of Abraham. And he gave them the names that his father had given them. Genesis 26:18

D.Martin Lloyd Jones uses this verse to illustrate the constant task facing Christians and the Church.

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Isaac has little recorded about him in the book of Genesis. It seems he spent most of his time covering much the same ground and making the same mistakes as his father before him.

Abraham, his father had dug several wells for his vast flocks: after his death, the Philistines had come along and stopped up these wells with all sorts of rubbish.

Lloyd Jones uses this as an illustration of what happens to the visible church over the course of history.

How many false doctrines have been foisted onto the church as a result of modern Philistines throwing plausible and flesh-pleasing rubbish into the wells of spiritual truth and doctrine?

It is not just the Roman Catholics and their imitators with their mountains of unscriptural and dubious traditions and dogmas.

It is also the modern evangelical trying to repair the decline in church attendance with the landfill of worldly marketing methods, hype and glitz.

The substituting of the fizzy soft drink of unscriptural teaching for the “water of life”.

To unstop the wells of God’s truth and pour them forth to thirsty men and women, boys and girls, is a constant task for God’s people in this world where error and its peddlers are springing up everywhere.

The problem is that so many in the church know nothing more than the rank water which comes from the cracked cisterns that pervade much of the church today.

Many have no real thirst for the water that Jesus promises will “well up” within those who believe in Him.

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

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We need to pray for a real thirst for this water in our souls, and do our part to dig away the dirt which keeps us from it.

“Where the saints have trod”.

We also see that Isaac was no innovator; rather he was content to carry on in the same way and follow the same trails blazed out by his father before him.

It is true times change and sometimes we may find better ways to do things. However, in matters of faith, Christian doctrine and practice we have the way laid out before us.

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We have God’s Word, Christ’s teaching and example to follow. We have the message of the Cross and salvation to proclaim and Christ-like living to exemplify.

To deviate from these fundamentals by watering them down and laying them aside shows we are not walking in the path the true saints of God have trod down through the ages and which our Saviour walked and marked out for us.

When we can see no continuation or resemblance between ourselves and the saints of God down through the ages we may well conclude we have gone astray.

Thus says the LORD: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ Jeremiah 6:16

Many of God’s ancient people would not walk in His way and many today are looking for short cuts which end up somewhere else.  If we truly seek for it God will help us find it.

God says to us of the true and scriptural way.

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. Jeremiah 30:21 E.S.V

How we speak?

Among those things required in the Children of God is found the call to govern and modify our speech.

“4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving”. Ephesians 5: 4

While we may be scrupulous in avoiding major sexual sins and behaviors, we can allow ourselves latitude in thought and speech. We little know how defiling our thoughts and speech may be to ourselves and others.

Spiritually speaking we all carry dynamite around with us. Our own physical desires and lusts if indulged can carry us we know not where if left to their own devices. It takes very little to set them off even if it be an unguarded word.

We are not aided by living in a world and society that sees no harm in sexual innuendo and immodest behavior and dress.

If we regard such things as peccadilloes and venial sins we can find ourselves opening the way for other unclean indulgences.

Whatever our view of these things, the apostle here takes a very serious view of the way we must speak and act. Negatively He calls upon us to avoid all such talking and jesting, while positively he commands us to substitute thanksgiving to God and by implication such like wholesome speech.

Were the average Christian so scrupulous in watching over his conversation, surely they would convict others and testify to the importance in his life of being obedient to Christ’s commands.

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The life of God in the soul of man;

Is the title of a small work by Henry Scougal (1650-1677) .  It deals with the true nature of Christianity and shows that it is not merely a matter of human effort or discipline but the result of the Holy Spirit’s entering into the soul of man, renewing every part and working through him.https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/files/2014/05/Screen-shot-2014-05-30-at-8.50.42-AM-300x584.png

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 N.I.V.

 

The Christian life has been well described as a life of union and communion.

The “born again” believer has union with the living Christ and walks in newness of life.

While our fleshly sinful nature remains and still strives for mastery, we find a new principle within us, drawing us to follow Christ and walk in His ways: indeed we are being created anew.

Yes we stumble and fall, and sometimes we yield to the old sinful ways but they have lost their charms and we, like the prodigal son, long to return to fellowship with our Saviour.

The Christian also lives a life of communion with Christ.

There is no doubt that this communion is mysterious but it is no less real.

We hear Him speak through the Word, we see Him act through our obedience to His will and we know His presence through the help and guidance we receive day by day.

Even when we are blinded by worldly cares and anxieties or crippled by besetting fears we know that he abides with us still “ , because even  “if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13https://granosalispaullocandro.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/8317f-rainbow231.jpg?w=660

To some this may seem “airy fairy” and self delusional but the mere fact of our seeking His face and believing and trusting in Him is evidence of God’s power within us.

The worldly wise sinner knows nothing of this. God is not in all his thoughts. He has not the slightest desire to know God or His ways. He has no desire for holiness and would indulge in sin to the full if not restrained by shame and fear of what his fellows would think.

To be a “Christian” runs counter to everything a man is in bondage to sin. For the Christ-less sinner, SELF is well and truly on the throne.

Man it is true, may sometimes deny and sacrifice self for lesser reasons but only a Christian can walk the path of self denial and holiness out of love for his God and Saviour. Only the Believer can cast away his self reliance and come to depend on Christ’s indwelling power.

Some may delude themselves as to the reality of the Divine indwelling within themselves. They do not bear the fruit that this indwelling inevitably brings forth. We should all examine ourselves as to this.

There is however the other extreme: that we come to the point in our lives, when we are at such a low spiritual ebb, in the midst of which, we see no evidence of the work of God within us at all.

The Puritans used to compare some Christian’s experience to a spark in the midst of the ocean.

To all intents and purposes, the spark cannot survive in the sea, it is under constant threat of being quenched yet there it is, feeble maybe but still glowing away.

Bunyan illustrated it by a man pouring water on a fire yet despite his efforts the fire blazes away. The pilgrim is taken behind the wall and another man is secretly pouring oil on the fire to keep it alive. The object lesson is that any spark of true spiritual life within us, despite everything in the World seeking to extinguish it, remains because God is keeping it alive and will cause it to burst into flame once more.

The Christian lives a life unlike anyone else in the World. Only he lives in harmony with the Creator of all things and knows God as his heavenly Father and Christ as Lord and friend.

So to my unbelieving reader I say ,if you would know life, know Christ.

“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent”. John 17:3 E.S.V.

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Settling on the lees!

In Old Testament “speak” one of the usual illustrations of settling down and remaining undisturbed in spiritual life was to say that people were “settling on their lees”. Apparently because wine has amounts of sediment suspended in it, if it is left unused this sediment settles to the bottom and becomes the dregs. The implication is that this sedimentation does nothing for the flavor of the wine.Image result for wine on the lees

“And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with lamps; and I will punish the men that are settled on their lees, that say in their heart, Jehovah will not do good, neither will he do evil”. Zephaniah 1:12 A.S.V.

The Christian, if left undisturbed by what the Puritans called “the searching ministry of the Word” has a tendency to become complacent and self satisfied with his progress and spiritual state. When all is going along nicely the tendency is to lay back and enjoy the peace and quiet.

As I have mentioned before, everything in this modern world has the effect of sending the believer to sleep with regards to his spiritual state. We are also distracted by other concerns and interests so that we do not apply ourselves to the one thing needful.

This complacent state of being is one of the reasons why the state of Christianity is so low in the western world.

The cause of God in the World is from a human point of view lagging and declining because the average Christian is apathetic to holiness and the furtherance of the Kingdom by comparison to his interest in his own concerns and pleasures.

As also mentioned before, by comparison the zeal of the false Christian cults and fanatics from other religions leaves the average Christian believer in the shade.

True the cause of God will not fail in its purpose yet when you and I fail to serve and obey God to the utmost of our ability; we miss the blessing and suffer the decline which comes from our lack of zeal and effort.

The bold and faithful preaching of the Word of God was always the divine remedy for complacency and apathy in the people of God. The minister of the Word has a terrible responsibility if He fails in this duty. The hearer of the Word also must be open and willing to let the Word search and try him.

The desperate need of our times is for a revival of true scriptural zeal in the body of Christ to proclaim the gospel of Christ to a sinful world and revive the languishing Church.

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Unstopping the Wells!