Art imitates life!

I have always been a TV watcher and have often noticed that in some of the circumstances of my life,events portrayed in programs on television happened to coincide with what has just happened to me.

When I first discovered I needed spectacles an episode of “the Brady Bunch” was screened about Jan trying to lose her new “eye glasses”. 375428688931409e0b6e3af773f8cd7cWhen my mother died recently, an episode of “Star Trek the Next generation” aired the next day that had “Geordie La Forge’s” mother missing presumed dead.

TNG255This has occurred at various times and coincident with various occurrences.I have no idea why this happens but it does make you wonder.

The fact is that such events are common to us all. We are not alone or unique in the joys, sorrows, the good and the bad, the exciting or the mundane.

The one thing television cannot truly imitate is faith in God and Christ because all its emotions are feigned and imitated.

Only by experiencing the reality of faith and Christ can we see it truth and power.

Just made it!200_s

We all know the scene in the film or cartoon where the car barely completes the race and crosses the finish line, only to have the wheels fall off, the engine to fall out and the car falls to bits. The driver is left sitting on the track with only the steering wheel left.

The question is do we want to finish the course of our Christian lives like that.stock-photo-crazy-male-auto-driver-with-the-steering-wheel-and-a-helmet-concept-81227995

We Christian easily get lackadaisical about our spiritual lives. We feel that as long as we sincerely believe in Jesus we will be all right in the end. We often neglect those spiritual practices that help us grow as Christians such as Bible study, prayer and self denial because they require time we do not always have and concentration that we often lack.

We can even be spasmodic and indifferent about our church attendance and can always find reasons for missing the odd worship service.

To neglect these things and fall into bad habits may or may not mean we are not Christians at all. What it does mean is that all the nuts and bolts on our race car are coming loose and by not tightening them and looking after our car we risk not finishing the Christian race or just “getting over the line”.

The Puritans often compare our arrival in heaven as either being that of a ship entering harbour full of holes and with tattered sails compared to a ship in top condition and under full sail. I know which I would rather be.

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A living Hope!

 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:1-9 English Standard Version.

Peter in his first epistle writes perhaps, too many of the same people to whom he preached on the Day of Pentecost. He endeavors to confirm them in the practice of their faith.

While mindful of their manifold sufferings he reminds them of their high calling and their being kept by God who had known and chosen them from eternity.

They had been brought to a life of godly obedience by the sanctification through the Holy Spirit and by the sacrificial sprinkling of the Blood of Christ.

These believers showed the marks of the new birth and professed the new hope which flowed from Christ’s resurrection.

They knew that a glorious and incorruptible inheritance waited for them and would soon be a present possession.

Indeed all their trials and tribulations only served to whet their appetite and increase their present joy.

The trial of their faith, proved and tested like gold, served to bring glory to Jesus Christ.

Though invisible to human eye, Jesus Christ was the sum and sphere of all their hope, love and worship and the fountain of unspeakable joy.

I wonder if we know anything of these things ourselves, here and now.

The certainty is, that if by faith we place Christ where He should be in our hearts we would know like joy and be able to withstand the tribulations that befall us and partake in the same living hope.

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Art imitates life!

Family tree: Knots and Knotholes.

 

We may know a great deal about our immediate and extended family.

When looking at more distant and unfamiliar family and our family tree however, we find a tendency to “idealize” and place in “the best light” our forebears and time – distant relatives.tree family

We may pick up a clue here and there of how they lived and what they did. We may know a little of what they were like. Yet by and large we know nothing substantial about them.

Unfortunately or (fortunately) there are some relatives that we know next to nothing about.

We may know when they were born or when they died or where they came from or who they were married to or who their children were. We may also know something of their circumstances.

It is more probable that we will never know nothing about them at all.

As to what sort of people they were or what they believed and thought may very well remain a mystery till the Day of Judgment.

Not knowing better, we tend to paint them as people of hardy and upright stock. Pioneers may be, brave soldiers and loving mothers and fathers, thrifty and the sort to be proud of.

The truth is that people are not as we would like to paint them. As in the title there are a lot of knots and knotholes in most family trees.knothole By this I mean those who were not always very nice people, hard to get along with, a bit strange or to put it bluntly were “kooks.

Some may have over indulged in drink or other vices; some were wastrels and others hard to get along with or bad tempered.

No doubt you could add to this list.

In talking to my relatives over the last few days, I have heard some dark sidelights about some of my long dead relatives that did not paint them in a very good light yet although unknown they may have had things that extenuated the way they were and they may have had good qualities to offset the bad.

We all have skeletons in our closets and black sheep in our families.

We all have known people in whom “darkness” dominated and others who despite their faults were the “salt of the earth”.

It would be true to say that few of our lives can be marked down as singly pure and virtuous, rather in most of us darkness and light, fight for mastery and one or the other seems to be winning at various points in our lives.

Often we will end our lives with others not knowing which side won in the end.

The Puritans used to picture the Christian life as a spark a-float in the midst of the ocean. Sometimes it appears to be drowning and about to be quenched forever yet inexplicably it continues to shine in an environment seeking to overcome it.20151224_192752

Were we able to see into the lives of most Christians, as to the ups and downs of their spiritual state we would see times when sin appears to gain mastery and the upper hand. At other times we would see times of especial closeness to Christ and holiness triumphant.

Still others lead lives of almost unbroken closeness to God while others only draw near to Him in the end and finish  in a blaze of His glory.

God alone knows all: we may be up to our neck in sin and going down for the third time but as long as there is a hand above water reaching for Christ there is hope.

It is the fact of God’s Holy Spirit being at work in our life that guarantees victory in the end. He is the factor that ensures the successful completion of Christ’s saving work in the believer’s lives.

Woe betide the man or women who does not place their wholehearted trust in the Lord Jesus Christ because however good a life we lead without him it will end in sorrow .

Let us pray that we and many more will glorify God and believe in Christ and become trophies of His grace.

Bad Grammar!

John Macarthur relates that a man came up to D.L. Moody and said that He counted a great many mistakes in grammar during his message.dl-moody_400x400

Moody replied that as he was not very happy about it himself but as his father had died when he was very young his education was not what it should have been. He also said that he was trying to serve the Lord with all the grammar he possessed.

 

Living Still!

“And as he   ( Christian ) went, he sang, saying,

“Well, Faithful, thou hast faithfully profest
Unto thy Lord, with whom thou shalt be blest,
When faithless ones, with all their vain delights,
Are crying out under their hellish plights:
Sing, Faithful, sing, and let thy name survive;
For though they killed thee, thou art yet alive””.

D.L. Moody also said “One day you will read in the newspaper that ” D.L. Moody is dead,”

Don’t you believe it! I will be more alive then, than I ever was before.”

May we all be able to say the same by God’s grace. Amen

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Family tree: Knots and Knotholes.

Sermons in Gravestones!

A small volume of Spurgeon’s collected sermons is titled “Sermons in Stones”. It uses illustrations from nature and history and geology and mineralogy to base a series of Christian sermons on.

In the course of my family researches I have spent a great deal of time searching the cemetery and reading the inscriptions on headstones.tombstones-in-graveyard

No doubts for many, Cemeteries are dreary depressing places; sometimes I find them so as well.

From the Christian as well as historical perspective they are places of great interest and full of meaning. They are after all; all that most people leave behind to testify their existence and mark their passing, at least as far as the general public are concerned.

In our local cemeteries the classic headstone is becoming a thing of the past except for the few who can afford it or desire to express their love despite the cost.

In looking at many of the older gravestones they are inscribed sometimes with more than just name, birth and death dates.

Some record the cause of death for example, as a mining accident. I found one young man’s grave who died in a mine fall in the late 1850’s at little Bendigo not far from where I live, he was only 23.

Death due mine accident was common in Ballarat; my great, great grandfather was killed in a mine accident in 1898.

Some Gravestones give the cause of Death, death by drowning, death by railway accident or by car, even death by sunstroke. Some people whose sons were killed overseas in the First World War and were buried there added their son’s names to their family grave here.

(The puritans used to say that you would always find a grave your size in the “churchyard”.)

Some mark the place of their birth. Many people of “Cornish “descent came to Australia and Ballarat to engage in gold prospecting and mining. (Some of my forebears came from Redruth, although their family was English originally. Some of my family came from a place called Sancreed in Cornwall. Some from Devon and Somerset)

Others in the cemetery originated from various places in the British Isles and other European countries. There are also many of Chinese descent as well.

The Cornish people were largely “Methodists” and their gravestones testify to their faith in Christ and hope of the resurrection and second coming of Christ. They are not alone in that many a believers’ grave is inscribed with a verse from a hymn, scripture text or Christian hope.

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When one reads a Christian witness like this it is like a candle in the midst of death’s darkness and we can only pray that we could leave a like Christian testimony behind us.

Others seek to testify to their love for their departed parents, wife or child others wish for their peace and rest after trials and sickness in life.

Others leave behind a testimony to their being freemasons. You often find the wife will have a small cross above her name and the husband will have a “compass “above his. I confess I shudder when I see this because although some older professing Christians are members of a Masonic lodge, it is my firm conviction that free masonry is contradictory to Christianity.

Many modern grave plaques testify to the person’s devotion to golf or fishing. Others profess their religious devotion to a particular football team.

I do wonder what comfort their relatives get by the remembrance of this “profession of faith”.

Unless alive at the Lord’s return, we will all get a grave or if cremated a container. The Lord Jesus Himself had a tomb but because death could not hold him it is an empty one.

It is because of this glorious fact of history that those who die in Christ will not remain in the grave but will rise again to be ever with the Lord.

Woe to those who die with no greater hope but that their football team will keep winning Grand finals or that the fish they chase all their lives will finally get caught.

 

I sometimes imagine what it would be like to be up at the cemetery on the day Christ returns and see the various reactions among the people to the sight of Christ in His Glory. Some of the people will rejoice to be united again with their resurrected bodies and their glorious Lord. The rest will wish that they had stayed in their graves.

Let us pray that we will be found among those who put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and that we can leave behind us testimony and a witness to our belief and faith in him.

A Christless sermon is a worthless sermon.

It is like bread made without flour: the essential element is lacking.

Of such a sermon we may say — “They have taken away my Lord,

and I know not where they have laid him.” The writer is of the

same mind as John Berridge, who wrote, —

“Some fast by Calvin hold,

Some for Arminius fight,

And each is mighty bold,

And seemeth surely right:

‘Well, though with Calvin I agree,

Yet Christ is all in all to me.”

Quoted by C.H. Spurgeon in the “Salt Cellars”.

“Do-Gooders”

“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.”  Titus 3:1-8

Although not justified in God’s sight by the good works we have done, the Christian is to be known by what they do as much as by what they say.

Paul in the last years of his life and ministry seeks to impress upon Titus the need to persevere in exhorting his congregation to live holy, useful and Christ-like lives.

In this portion He hammers home the need for Christians to be good citizens and submissive to authority and government in lawful things. (It is only when obedience to man conflicts with obedience to God that we are to obey God rather than man.)

Our obedience to God shows itself in our obedience to those He has placed in authority over us and in the believer’s readiness and willingness for every good work.

It is also show by their avoiding of quarrelsomeness and exhibiting gentleness and courtesy, even in the most difficult situations.

Paul reminds us all, that by nature we are born sinners like those around us and full of the selfish and frictional tendencies which provoke hostility and conflict.

It is only the grace of God working in us that makes us to differ and seek to emulate those characteristics which abounded to the full in our Lord Jesus Christ.

We owe all to the great mercy and love of Christ who contrary to our deserts, suffered and died in our stead and reconciled us to God.

Through Him we have an eternal hope which colours our attitude to this present world and prompts us to live the heavenly life, here and now.

This scriptural reminder of the foundation of Christianity and its visible expression to the people around us, is one to which we need to pay close attention today.

Many “Christians” so called are regarded by the people around them as being little different from themselves and judge them as being motivated by the same earthy considerations and pleasures as everyone else.

This is one reason why the message of Salvation is disregarded and the Church relegated to merely the place for weddings and funerals.

Perhaps if we were the Christians we should be, we would see our friends and neighbors drawn to like faith in Christ.

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Sermons in Gravestones!

Darkest before the Dawn!

 

” But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men. 10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”  2 Timothy 3:1-17

When applied to the state of mankind and sadly to  much of the visible Church, this portion of Scripture is true to the realities  we see today.

It is not that these traits were not existing or apparent before in the world and the church but rather that in the last days they would reach a previously unheard of height, prevalence and shamelessness.

We would not be surprised to see many of these horrible behaviors in the “god-less’ world but to see them in the midst of professing Christians in such a blatant way is surely an evidence of these being the “Last Days”.

Replace the word “people” in the text with “Christian” and see how it reads.

Christians who are lovers of self, lovers of money and pleasure, proud, unholy and without self control, to name just a few.

In stark contrast , Paul sets before Timothy his own example ,qualities and scriptural teaching to encourage him to oppose the people who would seek to infiltrate the Body of Christ and distort and de-rail it from its God ordained mission and Christ-like manner of life and holiness. He fore-warns Timothy and us about the dangers of havind dealings with those who , however plausible they may appear, are peddlers of error, falsehood and encouraging indulgence in sinful behaviour in the name of liberty and freedom.

He reminds him and us that the Scriptures are the God-breathed guide and weapon with which to combat decievers and false teachers and instructs him to hold fast to the Word , whatever others may do and teach.

They are the only true guide to salvation and source of equipment to fight the fight of faith.

While the godly will certainly attract persecution for their adherence to Christ and His Word, it is eminently preferable to the terrible reward the false teacher and pseudo –Christian will receive on the Day of Judgment.

A Catch-Phrase!

Tommy_Handley

Thomas Reginald “Tommy” Handley (17 January 1892 – 9 January 1949) was a British comedian, mainly known for the BBC radio programme ITMA (“It’s That Man Again”). He worked with people such as Arthur Askey and Bob Monkhouse, and wrote many radio scripts, but it is the BBC comedy series ITMA  ( It’s That Man Again ) for which he is best known, and which itself became known for a number of catchphrases, some of which entered popular vocabulary. He later starred in the ITMA film in 1942 and in Time Flies in 1944.

The I.T.M.A. gang were known for their often recurring “Catch-phrases”.tommy and summers

Comedians like Handley, no doubt helped to brighten the dark days of the Second World War in Britain.

Many comedians are known for their catchphrases and they are forever associated with them.

(A “catch phrase” is a well-known sentence or phrase, especially one that is associated with a particular famous person.)

These phrases can however be carried to extremes and some comedians are not remembered for anything else they said or did.

When the famous preacher John Chrysostom used to preach at Antioch the people used to applaud him and cry “Orthodox” until he told them to stop it.

They were focusing on Chrysostom’s style, eloquence and orthodoxy, without hearing God’s Word and the teaching and exhortation he meant to convey to them.

Even when the Christian is under the soundest Bible teaching it can come to have no more effect than the responding to a catch phrase or familiar line. We may respond emotionally and be stirred by it but the long term effect is no more than the remembrance of a funny joke or witty saying.

We need to go deeper and apply the teaching we receive from the Word of God to our daily living and behavior. We need to think biblically and exemplify Christianity in a Christ-less Word.

The correct Word.

ANY one who wishes to become a good writer should
endeavour, before he allows himself to be tempted by the
more showy qualities, to be direct, simple, brief, vigorous,
and lucid.
This general principle may be translated into practical rules
in the domain of vocabulary as follows :
Prefer the familiar word to the far-fetched.
Prefer the concrete word to the abstract.
Prefer the single word to the circumlocution.(the use of many words where fewer would do, especially in a deliberate attempt to be vague or evasive.)
Prefer the short word to the long. ( quoted fromThe King’s English BY
H. W. FOWLER & F. G. FOWLER)

These two gentleman made a literary career out of discouraging people from misusing words, and calling for simplicity in writing.

In a later work called ” Modern English usage” Henry Fowler among other things , points out the changes in meaning and usage of many English words.

He also examines newly coined words and foreign words incorporated into current english speech and writing.

No doubt many found his criticisms pedantic and overly fussy yet there is no doubt that he sought for clarity of meaning and for a true understanding of language to be conveyed.

The Christian is always a learner in Christ’s School. True there are many things in the Scriptures hard to understand as Peter admits of Paul’s writings

“He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” 2 Peter 3:16

The writers of the New Testament were dealing with divine  things that surpass unaided human understanding. It is only through the help of the Holy Spirit that our sin enfeebled minds are given light and understanding to grasp the meaning of God’s Word and grace to obey His commands.

The fact is that the Christian has a volcabulary that he must be true to. He must be true to the Word that has been given to him, no matter if to others he is talking gibberish and nonsense.

The follower of Christ is not free to drop words , truths or doctrines from the Christian language just because they offend the sensibilities of the ungodly.

We must try if we can to keep it simple if we can but must always keep to the truth.

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Darkest before the Dawn!

A troubler of Israel!

index elijah and ahab

 

17 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” 18 And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals. 1 Kings 18:17-18

The prayers of Elijah had ushered in three years of devastating drought upon the northern state of Israel. To Ahab therefore Elijah was the quintessential trouble maker and nuisance. What he conveniently forgot it was his own marriage to a Baal worshiping princess and the wholesale introduction of the worship of this vile deity that prompted Elijah’s mission and God’s judgment in the first place.

So in today’s church those who criticize its departure from scriptural Christianity and compromising God’s truth and holy laws are labeled as unloving and judgmental.  They are forever pointing to the fact that God is love and forgetting that the greater part of that love is love of the truth.

To those who are ignorant or dismissive of the inspiration of the Bible regard most of the innovations and deletions in preaching and worship as being trivial and inconsequential. They consign anyone who differs from them as being nothing more than old fashioned and obstructions in the path of God’s New Work in the Church.

For many it seems that the order of the day is expediency in order to attain the goal of numerical growth and revival in the church.  The old fashioned idea of proclaiming the gospel of Christ’s saving work and the desire to equip God’s people for His service and witness has been replaced by the attempt of packaging Christianity in ways acceptable to unregenerate people and promising them the answer and meeting of all their needs.

The only answer to the critiques these people give is that the ends justify the means and if nothing had changed the church would have died out completely;   it seems these people know better than God.

The prophet Elijah stood almost alone against a king and nation turning their backs on the true God and His Word. Despite almost buckling under the strain he yet continued to uphold God’s truth and others continue to do so even now.

The question is whether we are indeed on the side of God’s truth and following in their train or are we instead caving in to the prevalent torrent of error in the church for the sake of a quiet life.

Living the high life!

Were we to judge by outward appearances of the public face of Christianity and Christian leaders we would draw the conclusion that many of our leaders and prominent preachers and teachers are indeed living the high life.

In our larger churches and religious groups the toothy smiles, hand waving and ecstatic utterances prompt us to think that if anyone is living the epitome of a good life they are. If anyone is enjoying the fullest of God’s temporal and spiritual blessings they are.

Better still they promise us that if we continue to support them they will share the secret with us and we to can enter into this glorious life.

If we do not it is only due to our lack of faith and generosity in supporting their work of spreading the message.

Why Wait?

“Our best life now “is a phrase that will no doubt come back and bite he who uttered it. Yet we who still have one foot in the world naturally seek the easiest and if possible most pleasurable way through it on our way to glory.

It is only human to seek to keep suffering to a minimum and pleasure to the full. The danger lies, as Jesus tell us, in setting our heart on these things and forgetting that the path He trod, which we must tread also, seldom leads to peace and prosperity.

Rather this path, by its very nature sets us at odds with the people and things of this world.

The Christian who is faithful to his Christ exemplified calling inevitably turns away from many of the cloying and stupefying pleasures this world has to offer.

Also our deceitful hearts and the deceitfulness of worldly things snare our hearts and insensibly replace God in our affections.

I notice here also that in the presentation of the gospel nowadays very little that is in anyway unpleasant or sobering about the Christian life is mention much today. As I mention here often, the offense of the gospel and the persecution and cost of following Christ is conspicuous by its absence.

In the seeking of joy and comfort for ourselves the Puritan Richard Sibbes says “Grace and nature have the same general objects of comfort, only sinful nature seeks it in broken cisterns and grace in the fountain. Jer.3:8 The beginning of true happiness is the discovery of true and false objects, so as the soul may clearly see what is the best and safest and then steadfastly rely upon it_, God cannot come to take His place in the heart by trust, but where the powers of the soul are brought under, to regard Him and those great things He brings with Him above all things else in the world beside.”

We must first of all determine what the best things to seek are. The things of this world even at their best are fleeting and satiating without being satisfying. To seek them as the be all and end all leaves us at last empty and our taste for the good things of God forever spoiled. They prove in the final analysis to have been snares and weights which kept us from the spiritual pleasures and from God himself, the giver of all good things.

For the Christian the added peril is they may seek the gifts of God and forget the giver. Also they may seek them in such a way as to make them their due and just dessert and forget that all gifts come from the sovereign good pleasure of God. Therefore we are called to trust His perfect both in what He does give and what He does not. Also we must discipline ourselves not to be covetous of the gifts given to others even when seemingly greater and more prominent than ours.

The sum of the matter is that we must “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
 Matt. 6:33

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

 Children at play!

…4″Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Old men and old women will again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each man with his staff in his hand because of age. 5And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.’ 6″Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘If it is too difficult in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, will it also be too difficult in My sight?’ declares the LORD of hosts.…Zechariah 8: 4-6

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Our conception of God if scriptural, highly exalts Him and makes Him infinitely above us both in wisdom and the freedom and sovereignty of his works.

Yet in these verses we have the other side of the picture. We have the Mighty God condescending to watch the children of the city playing in its streets.

He is not so remote as to let even these sorts of things escape His notice, indeed the innocent joys and pleasure of children fall under His care and pleasure.

The tenderness of God does not lessen His holiness and purity but to the anointed eye it serves to increase our awe and love for our God and Saviour.

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pink on victory

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If you preach a watered down gospel , you get soggy “christians”.

 

 

 

 

A troubler of Israel!

A real page turner!

While I have downloaded several E-books and read a lot online, I still find that nothing beats turning the page of a book.

Also you lose the serendipity of opening a book at random and reading something you may not otherwise find.

Electronic Bibles may have their uses but I do wonder what wonderful truths are being missed by not having an element of peradventure, (Look it up) in our Bible Reading as well as methodical study.

When a book is in regular use it tends to open at the same page consecutively, so you are constantly reminded of something you regularly read.

I have an old children’s King James version which when opened tends to land in the same place so that my attention is always turned to some particular verse. Thus I am reminded constantly of the same truths.

The drawback of being a bibliophile is that you can only read so many books at a time and in the meantime the un-read remainder are gathering dust or worst of all they are being attacked by silverfish or some other creepy crawly.

I suppose that those parts of our thinking that rarely get an airing will tend to go moldy and when we do reach for them they will fall apart and be found illegible.

So in our Christian those scriptures, promises and commandments we neglect will make our profession lacking in some important pages and more difficult for others to read.

The problem with one of our local library is that the collection of hundred plus year old books looks as if they are never opened from one year’s end to the next. What a waste?

Who knows what life changing and vital information, fact or truth lies neglected in a book that is never opened and may in fact be soon unreadable through the ravages of time and attack.

So while we still have the liberty and opportunity of accessing and studying the word of God let us not permit it to become a closed book or deprive ourselves of the comfort and power of what it has to say to us.image11

They do’nt preach sermons about that nowadays!

How often do you hear older Christians say this in a conversation? The fact is that many of the truths and teachings of scripture are seldom spoken of from the pulpit and others are never mentioned at all.

The preacher of today it is true has less time in your average church service to preach on any subject at length. Also the prevalent worship style and general program of many church services tend to take much of the time that could be used in Bible teaching and exhortation.

(Fifteen to twenty minutes getting everybody to greet somebody else when it could be left to after the service, is time that could be spent in Biblical exposition.

Repeating the line of a praise and worship song for what seems like an eternity probably does not help either.)

It is also a fact that no preacher can cover the wide field of Scripture and deal with everything all the time. There must be in ministers a fundamental attempt to meet the needs and speak against the sins of the times and not baulk at any part or teaching of God’s Word

I think that the problem’s cause is far more serious. There does not seem to be the will among preachers to come to grips with the Word of God and set forth its desperately needed teaching.

It seems that one of the deleterious side effects of the “seeker sensitive“ model of church worship is that, in its opinion, the bold proclamation of the Word of God, especially its most, to “modern man “ , offensive and misunderstood teaching is counterproductive to growing numbers in your church.

This is why you never hear the Bible read at any length in our modern services. You do not hear prayers of confession or people praying at any great length because pastors and leaders are afraid of putting the un-churched off or making them uneasy.

Churches don’t even have prayer meetings, Bible studies or Sunday Schools, now they label them as small groups or some other catchy name.

A.W Pink in writing of Christ’s commandment not to be anxious and overly concerned with food and clothing points out that this also applies to those who make keeping up with the latest trends in fashion a high priority.

28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:28-34

They waste extravagant amounts of money on luxuries and being immaculately and stylishly clothed, when simpler and reasonably price items would do just as well.

They regale their homes with all the latest gizmos and labor saving devices and in many other things deny themselves nothing their hearts desire even if they could well do without it.

The fact that Christians very often see no spiritual harm in such obsessions should prompt the minister of the gospel to remind them of Christ’s teaching on this subject.

Pink feels that the reason for this blind sightedness and neglect on the part of preachers is the fact that they see this behavior among their own families and this silences them.

However this may be, many practical and vital truths found in scripture are not being dealt with by many who claim the title “minister of the gospel “.

They must answer for themselves to their Lord and Master as to why they saw fit to ignore and fail to address so many vital elements of Biblical truth and Christian behavior through the full and faithful preaching of the Word of God.

Christ exalted

There have always been those who throughout the history of the Church have tried to bring Jesus Christ down to man’s level and comprehension. They have sought by any means to remove any suggestion that Christ is one with the Father and thus “very God of very God”.

Why they do this is hard to understand. That God should humble Himself for the salvation of mankind from sin upon the Cross is perhaps galling to their pride and conception of self worth.

They approach this task of “de-God-ing Jesus Christ” in many ways. It invariably involves playing one part of the scripture against another; attribute other meanings or interpretations to it or ignoring it altogether.

 

They may say that Christ was a mere man although greatly gifted and ahead of his time. Others have said that he was a super human being but although greatly exalted still less than God himself. The Cerinthians in the early church said that Jesus was a mere man indwelt by the “Christ who left Him when He died on the cross.

That He was truly God made truly man without ceasing to be God has been a pill some could not swallow.

Many still hold to this line and make Christ a great teacher and example with may be an extra divine spark but that is all.

Any thorough and impartial reading of the New Testament shows that the writers and early believers hold an opposing view and exalt Christ as God. They are forever describing His Divine nature as exemplified by His life, teachings and saving work.

They not only refer to the exaltation bestowed upon Christ upon completion of His atoning work but refer to the exaltation and glory that was His from all eternity with the Father before the world was John 17:5

The truth is no less than Divine being could meet the needs of sinful men and women, The angels themselves who are mighty in power are not sufficient to deal with the weight of sin and could not for a moment bear it.

That God could become man and yet remain God is a mystery that all eternity will puzzle out but nothing less can satisfy the sinner who needs a more than sufficient Saviour.

Christ as our Lord and our God is all seeing and all hearing. No cry or plea for help and mercy goes unheard or unanswered. He is all wise and is not perplexed or non- nonplussed by the complexities of life but can deliver and guide in any and every exigency.

What comfort, these deluded people get from a less than scriptural Christ I do not know. I know certainly they have no conception of the sinfulness of sin. They twist themselves in knots to make the Work of Christ on earth little more than a goodwill mission.

They rob the cross of all but the merest symbolical meaning and sometimes not even that.

There is very little left of Christ by the time they are finished with Him. I, for one would not like to be in their place when they find themselves appearing before His eternal throne Heb 12:2

 

Still others try to reduce the work of Christ to a less than scriptural task devoid of saving significance. Where else does this merely “therapeutic” presentation of Christianity come from?

The error also goes to the other extreme. There were those who believed that Christ was not flesh and blood at all but merely a man in appearance and thus feigning human compassion and weakness.

Either way it prompts us to ask ourselves “Who is this Jesus?”  Is He the One the Scriptures portray and declare to be as God incarnate? Is he indeed willing and able to save us and keep us to the end.

Any Genuine hope of salvation and peace with God depends on the true answer to this question.

Has God Forgotten to be gracious?

“Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favourable? Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are His promises at an end for all time? Has the Lord forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His compassion?” Psalm 77:7-9

I wonder how many reading this have at any time come to the point of their lives when they would echo the words and sentiments of these words of the Psalmist.

When we have fallen into sin and seek to be restored to the joy of our salvation by repentance or found ourselves in dire circumstances and have reached a very low ebb we then wait upon the Lord to be gracious.

It very often occurs that we find that the Lord delays His return and the relief we seek is long in coming.  If so we experience something which is common to many of God’s people.

As when a loved one is late returning home and we have no news of their whereabouts or certainty of their welfare we imagine the worst and go over the various eventualities that may have occurred to prevent and delay their return.

When we feel that God is angry or displeased with us we attribute the feelings we ourselves would have if in His place. It is then we have hard thoughts and dire premonitions of how God will act toward us in response to our sin and disobedience. If we have any understanding of the holiness of God and the sinfulness of sin we know that we deserve the worst that God sees fit to send us and we can blame only ourselves if He leaves us to our just deserts.

The psalmist was dealing with a corporate sin of the nation but it also has an application to the individual.  We all look upon God with spectacles coloured by our feelings at any given time.

When we feel that we have pleased God we hold out our hands for an extra blessing. When we have fallen into failure and sin we expect God’s displeasure and chastisement but then hope for speedy restoration when we ask for forgiveness.

Thus when our restoration is delayed and we feel that God has distanced Himself from us we wonder whether we have pushed Him too far and exceeded His patience and the capacity of His mercy.

God never utterly forsakes His people although to our poor perceptions He may seem too. God is not bound to our timescale and operates with a wisdom that we may only fully appreciate only when we are looking back from eternity.

While the psalmist and we ourselves are feelingly asking these questions in the face of God delayed return and hidden mercy, we can only pray that we may arrive at last at the answer of faith.

The Lord will turn again to His people, He will again be favourable to them, His love is steadfast and will never cease towards His own. His anger with His children is of short duration while His graciousness, compassion and mercy are over all His works (Psalm 145:9) and will endure forever.

Jack & Cic.

Screen Shot 2014-05-24 at 1.02.38 AM

images jackJack Hulbert was a very popular actor and singer during the 1930’s. Even though His popularity on the screen waned in the 40’s he entertained on the stage. He was married to a comedienne called Cicely Courtniege and often appeared with her in films and  on the stage .underyourhat

In contrast to the many of marital scandals of the age they were known as the “the happiest couple in show business”, their marriage lasted 62 years.

Their marital fidelity stood in stark contrast to faithlessness and fickleness of many others in the glitz and glamour of show business.

540785059In like way Christians in all they believe, say and do, must stand in Christ-like faithfulness and scripturally obedient contrast to those round about them.

 

 

A real page turner!