Restoration!

Many years ago a work mate of mine was involved in the restoration of a “ Y” class steam engine which had been on static display near our local “Civic” hall. One Saturday afternoon I went to the workshops and helped push it onto a turn-table and saw it fired up.y112

On display at our local railway workshop is a “D” class engine and I asked him what would be involved in restoring it to working order. He reeled of all that would need to be repaired and replaced and the great amount of money it would require to complete the task. As of these many years later it still sits where it sat for so long.300px-D3658freight

Many people would take little notice of this fine old engine and show little or no concern for its fate. For the enthusiast however it is a project which if it were funded and staffed would be incredibly worthwhile.1280px-D3658k190

It is this desire we see projected to infinity when we think about God and the work of man’s salvation. He could have gone back to the drawing board and started again. He could have left mankind to its well deserved fate yet He in love to the work of his hands determined on man’s salvation, counted the cost and paid the price his only Son.

He in infinite mercy looked beyond man’s deteriorated and defiled condition and saw him as redeemed, sanctified and glorified.

Would that were more of this attitude in us Christians when we look at the unsaved; seeing the potential and renewal in man’s salvation. This would prompt us to greater efforts in proclaiming the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ and him crucified.

Buddy Ebsen

Long before he was “Jed Clampett and “Georgy Russell, Buddy Ebsen : (Christian Ludolf “Buddy” Ebsen, Jr.) (April 2, 1908 – July 6, 2003) was a song and dance man and ‘Vaude-villian”.

It was his unique dancing style and movements that were used to on the “grid” to animate Mickey Mouse’s dancing in the 1929 to 1939 Silly Symphony cartoons.

In a great opportunity for his career Ebsen was cast as the “scarecrow” in the “Wizard of Oz”.

Ray Bolger who was originally cast as the “Tin man” asked him to swap roles and he obligingly rehearsed and recorded the songs belonging to that role.170px-Buddy_Ebsen_Tin_Man

Unfortunately due to a bad reaction to the Aluminum powder he was unable to complete the production and the “Tin man” role was taken over by Jack Halley with a costume coated with safer Aluminum paste.

His fame came later when he accepted the role of the patriarch of the “Clampett “family. He is quoted as saying of this role “The one flaw in this is that you can’t hear the people laughing“.

Buddy_Ebsen_and_Irene_Ryan_from_The_Beverly_Hillbillies_-_1970

There are no doubt setbacks and failures are a major part of life some blight all our future life others are mere bumps in the road.

Christians are no different in this respect except for the fact they are imperceptibly guided through them by an all wise and loving guide.

God sends trials and tribulations to wean His children from love of this world and to try their faith and love for himself. He guides their path and equips them for His service and to face the hardships of “a good soldier of Christ”.

It may seem to us that some of our past life bears a close resemblance to what is left behind after a locust plague such as was often seen in Biblical times.imageslocusts

What was once green and promised great fruitfulness is now a barren wasteland.

However as Joel 2:25 reminds us, we have a Great God who can restore and replaced what we have lost and give abundantly more.

“I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you.”

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Restoration!

Caricatures!

One of the criticisms of Charles Dickens works by other authors was that the characters he created were just caricatures and not full orbed or rounded people.

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All the notable traits of his characters were accentuated and distorted for comedy and dramatic effect removing some of the true to life aspects of their portrayal.uriah heep.jpeg

I fear that many of us as Christians are little more than caricatures of Christianity rather than true examples of Christianity in living practice.

We may have some of the trappings of Christianity but are lacking in the most necessary attributes such as selflessness and genuine meekness.

Worse still we may have the “holier than thou” attitude savouring more of the Pharisee than the follower of Christ.

Others may have a Christianity which is all head and little heart, while others have only a sentimental or Sunday worship Christianity.

Still others are all good works but have little understanding of the truths of the Word and therefore miss the end in all Christ’s service.

How important it is therefore to have a sound understanding and wholehearted seeking for Christ , by His Spirit to graft Himself into our lives and daily lives and make us true imitators of our Saviour .

This is not to say that all Christians are to be alike or that they will no longer have their individuality and idiosyncrasies but rather that they will grow and grow proportionately to the full stature of Christ.

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,” Ephesians 4:11-13 E.S.V.

Standing for the truth!

I read in a book, (I think A.G. Dickens on the English Reformation), the story of a mentally handicapped man who was refused Church membership because He was not thought capable of understanding Christianity. On his way out of the church he was heard reciting, “Three in one, One in three, One in the middle, He died for me.”

This man, despite his deficiencies made the effort and understood something of the gospel message and believed it.

Many of us, despite much greater mental acuity content ourselves with little knowledge and even less understanding of the things of Christ and the truths of Scripture.

So it happens when our faith is assailed by false doctrine and heresy we “Drop sail” and yield.

There are those who make “discernment” a matter of knowing where demons are present and active. Rather the discerning Christian is the one who recognizes plausible counterfeits of Christianity and rejects them for the falsehoods they are.

The “Christian” leader will inevitably face criticism. Rather be criticized for being faithful, unflinching and honest in the bold proclamation of the “whole counsel of God”, than for watering down, glossing over or ignoring scriptural teaching.

Some church pastors and teachers may be highly successful in drawing great attendances, have lively and exciting worship and a great list of social programs etc. but if they are not proclaiming Scriptural Christianity and the Biblical way of Salvation then all they do will be only splendid sins.

Many say we should not judge lest we be judged.

I say “Preach the Word of God” be faithful to its teaching and do not yield to the fear or favour of men and modify your preaching to mollify them. Then we will have no cause for criticism and know that God is with you in truth.

Stopping Death in its tracks!

Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son

11 Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17 And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country. Luke 7:11-17 (ESV)

This portion of scripture is precious in that it is a foreshadowing of Christ’s ultimate conquest over death by His Resurrection.

Perhaps only someone who has recently lost someone dear can enter into the emotion and tragedy of this scene.

Death is seen at its worst. A young man, his mother’s only stay and support is cruelly  taken  away in the prime of life.

Yet even as the pall bearers are taking the lifeless body away they are stopped in their course by the one who is the Lord over death and the giver of eternal life.

The sorrowful tears of the bereft mother were exchanged for tears of joy when at the word of Christ; the dead son was restored to her alive.

It was no wonder that fear and worship gripped the amazed crowd of mourners.  God had indeed visited His people. If only they had realized the day of His visitation!

While we may not see the dead visibly raised, the day will come when we will.

In a Spiritual sense we know that through the power of Christ in the gospel, men and women, boys and girls, are being raised from the death of sin and delivered from the second death and brought to the only “life” worthy of the name.

We all have loved ones and neighbours who are as dead in sin as this young man was dead in body.

Let us all pray that like this young man, they will be stopped in their tracks on the way to a hope-less eternity and brought to salvation and life in Christ.

And to Him alone be the glory!

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Gordon Harker : ( 1885- 1967) was one of the unlikely “lads” who starred and supported in over sixty British films of the thirties, forties and fifties.

If anything he was an “anti-hero” who ended up on top more by good luck than good management.

He invariably played the “lugubrious, shifty cockney”.

imagesharker3(from “The Phantom light”1935)

He was noted for playing “Inspector Hornley” in a trilogy of films and was ably supported by Alistair Sim.inspector-hornleigh-on-holiday-1939-dvd-gordon-harker-alastair-sim-744-p

I confess I originally found him hard to take to and a bit unlikeable but he has a tendency to grow on you and after a while you come to admire him and his worldly wise ways.

In the Christian life we meet all sorts. Many of them are not quite our “cup of tea” and have little appeal for us.

It may be only upon closer examination that we see the truth of their Christianity and the Christ-like characteristics in their daily living. We owe some people a second look and the benefit of the doubt before we write them off.

Caricatures!

The Way We were!

19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. Colossians 1:19-23 (ESV)

 

Paul does not mince words here. In very clear language he describes the sinful state we are all found in, apart from Christ.

First of all he says that we were alienated from God.  The consequence of the fall and our partaking of Adam’s sin is that we are no longer able to come into God’s holy presence without a mediator.

While God made us in the first place, because of our sin we are no longer in a filial relationship with Him out of Christ.

In our sinful state the lines of communication and fellowship are closed and no power of ours can re-open them.

Second the apostle says that we were hostile in mind.

It is not only a fact that we were without God but that by nature we hated Him and wanted nothing to do with Him.

Our sinful hostility towards God meant that we fell in with the plans of Satan and did works of darkness and evil deeds.

Such is the state of mankind in sin, without God and without hope.

Therefore the great need of sinful men was for sin to be dealt with and reconciliation with a just and holy God made possible.

Christ has done this by his death on the cross.  Even more, through this all availing sacrifice we can now approach God .blameless and holy, clothed in Christ’s righteousness.

It is through our abiding in the faith and remaining steadfast in holding to the gospel that we remain in fellowship and union with Christ thus answering God’s purpose in reconciling all things to Himself.

Those who seek to trim and diminish the gospel by ignoring the need for repentance on our part and reconciliation by the blood of Christ are greatly to be blamed for the low views many have on the sinfulness of sin and the supreme importance of Christ’s atoning and sacrificial death on our behalf.index be reconciled

 Those who choose a quiet life over the truth.

There are Christians in the churches who know that there is something wrong with their particular church’s proclamation of the gospel and deficient and populist  idea of worship and for the sake of a quiet life, say nothing and do nothing.

There are those, who because of large attendances and active programs, acquiesce in the preaching of suspect and false doctrines.

There are those who because of the close friendships and fellowship   they have in their particular churches turn a blind eye to the prevalent errors , ignorance of scriptural doctrine and lack of Christian Holiness, they see around them.

There are  Ministers, who know the true Gospel yet skimp and water down its preaching for the sole reason that they do not wish to offend and alienate the un-churched.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross;
Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss.
From victory unto victory His army shall He lead,
Till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the solemn watchword hear;
If while ye sleep He suffers, away with shame and fear;
Where’er ye meet with evil, within you or without,
Charge for the God of battles, and put the foe to rout.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the trumpet call obey;
Forth to the mighty conflict, in this His glorious day.
Ye that are brave now serve Him against unnumbered foes;
Let courage rise with danger, and strength to strength oppose.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, stand in His strength alone;
The arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own.
Put on the Gospel armor, each piece put on with prayer;
Where duty calls or danger, be never wanting there.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, each soldier to his post,
Close up the broken column, and shout through all the host:
Make good the loss so heavy, in those that still remain,
And prove to all around you that death itself is gain.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the strife will not be long;
This day the noise of battle, the next the victor’s song.
To those who vanquish evil a crown of life shall be;
They with the King of Glory shall reign eternally. (George Duffield jr. 1818-1888)

 

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James Robertson Justice (15 June 1907 – 2 July 1975) : was one of the most ubiquitous character actors in the British films of 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.

Thanks to his large frame , booming voice and bushy beard he was always an imposing and commanding presence in his various film roles ,(they are as long as your arm).

His early life was full of adventure and variety and later it was touched by tragedy.

His overwhelming passion was love for Scotland, although he was not born there.  His father came from Aberdeen.

“On his return from the war he reinvented himself with stronger Scottish roots. Feeling strongly about his Scottish ancestry, he claimed to have been born in 1905 under a distillery on the Isle of Skye; he also claimed on separate occasions to have been born in Wigtown, Wigtownshire, now in Dumfries and Galloway.

With the earnings he made from the film Doctor in the House, Justice bought a cottage in the Scottish Highlands village of Spinningdale.” (From Wiki)

In a great part due to the “Highland clearances “and other reasons, many people of Scottish descent migrated all over the world.

Yet even to those who were not born there and have never been there, it is still a romantic and enchanting place which speaks of home.

For my part I have always had a love for Scotland re-enforced by the writings and sermons of Christian men like Samuel Rutherford, David Dickson, John Willison, Thomas Boston and Robert Murray Mcheyne to name a few.

For the Christian, heaven is such a home. It is there that all that is dear to us dwells. It is where, in Christ, we will find true rest and eternal joy.

So when we set are tempted to set our hearts on the things of this world let us remember that “Our hearts are in another place, our hearts are not here.”

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The Way We were!

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!

Jesus ,our Saviour!

The dying thief rejoiced to see
that fountain in His day;
And there have I, though vile as he,
washed all my sins away:-( William Cowper)

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“But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? We are punished justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our actions. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:40- 43

The story of the penitent thief is one of the most remarkable of the incidents surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus.

To the sin and fear blinded eyes of man, Jesus was finished and his life, despite all His mighty works, a failure.

He was dying as a condemned criminal and any hopes or expectations that His followers and the populace at large had concerning Him had come to nothing.

In spite of all these contrary appearances, this thief was brought to the realization that this man was in fact everything He claimed to be.

This man during that short period of time came to a better and truer understanding of the Person and work of Christ than nearly all of the surrounding people at the time and more so than many in the visible church today.

This thief was brought from scoffing to worshipping by nothing less than the power of the Holy Spirit’s operation in these final hours of his life.

A.W Pink in his work on the Seven saying from the Cross describes the results of this mighty work in his heart and mind.

First, he expresses his belief in a future life where retribution would be meted out by a righteous and sin-avenging God.

“Dost not thou fear God?” proves this. He sharply reprimands his companion, and as much as says, How dare you have the temerity to revile this innocent man? Remember, that shortly you will have to appear before God and face a tribunal infinitely more solemn than the one which sentenced you to be crucified. God is to be feared, so be silent.

Second, as we have seen, he had a sight of his own sinfulness—“Thou art in the same condemnation. And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds” (Luke 23:40-41). He recognized that he was a transgressor. He saw that sin merited punishment, that “condemnation” was just. He owned that death was his “due.” This was something that his companion neither confessed nor recognized.

Third, he bore testimony to Christ’s sinlessness—“This man hath done nothing amiss” (Luke 23:41). And here we may mark the pains God took to guard the spotless character of His Son. Especially is this to be seen toward the end. Judas was moved to say, “I have betrayed innocent blood.” Pilate testified, “I find no fault in him.” Pilate’s wife said, “Have nothing to do with this just man.” And now that He hangs on the Cross, God opens the eyes of this robber to see the faultlessness of His beloved Son, and opens his lips so that he bears witness to His excellency.

Fourth, he not only witnessed to the sinless humanity of Christ but he also confessed His Godhead—“Lord, remember me,” he said. A marvelous word was that. The Saviour nailed to the tree, the object of Jewish hatred and the butt of a vulgar mob’ ridicule. This thief had heard the scornful challenge of the priests. “If thou be the Son of God come down from the cross” (Mat27:40), and no response had been given. But moved by faith and not by sight, he recognizes and owns the deity of the central Sufferer.

Fifth, he believed in the Saviour-hood of the Lord Jesus. He had heard Christ’s prayer for His enemies, “Father, forgive them,” and to one whose heart the Lord had opened, that short sentence became a saving sermon. His own cry, “Lord, remember me” included within its scope, “Lord, save me,” which therefore implies his faith in the Lord Jesus as Saviour. In fact he must have believed that Jesus was a Saviour for the chief of sinners or how could he have believed that Christ would “remember” such as he!

Sixth, he evidenced his faith in Christ’s kingship—“when thou comest into thy kingdom.” This too, was a wonderful word. Outward circumstances all seemed to belie His kingship. Instead of being seated on a throne, He hung upon a Cross. Instead of wearing a royal diadem, His brow was encircled with thorns. Instead of being waited upon by a retinue of servants, He was numbered with transgressors. Nevertheless, He was King—King of the Jews (Mat 2:2).

Finally he looked forward to the Second Coming of Christ—“when thou comest.” He looked away from the present to the future. He saw beyond the “sufferings” the “glory.” Over the Cross, the eye of faith detected the crown. And in this he was before the apostles, for unbelief had closed their eyes. Yes, he looked beyond the first advent in shame, to the Second Advent in power and majesty.

(Quoted from A.W. Pink “Seven sayings from the Cross”)

He then goes on to point out how this illuminates the Saviour-hood of Jesus Christ.

It is this scriptural reality we need to see at this time in the life and witness of the Church.

Any proclamation of the Christian gospel which does not set forth the sinfulness of sin and our lost and desperate state by nature, as well as the powerand willingness of Christ to save, is not true Christianity.

Indeed ,why was the Lord Jesus so named in the first place?

“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”Matt 1:21

Many today would place this need for a Saviour from sin further down in the list of priorities.

They would rather offer them the answer to their “felt needs” instead of deliverance from their “un-felt” sinfulness.

Our lost and sinful state means we must deal with Christ ,first and foremost as our Saviour from sin, anything less than this fails to face our fundamental problem and most dire predicament.

This thief saw his own sin in contrast to Christ’s sinless-ness.  He knew that he full well deserved the terrible consequences of his sinful life. He also saw that this righteous sufferer was the Son of God and the chosen King and Lord and therefore well able to save him.

Jesus even in this, His state of greatest weakness proved Himself a willing Saviour and how much more is He now when He reigns on the throne of heaven.

We also note the immediacy of Christ’s promise to the repentant thief,

“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43

Jesus Christ is truly both Saviour and King.

Let us with like repentance and faith come to the Saviour.

The Resurrection and the Life.

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Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

In this life we are surrounded by death. Whether young or old and despite all we do to keep our minds off it, the grave often looms large before us.

We see friends stricken by disease and succumbing to old age, we see the results of accident, disaster and war hastening multitudes to their final abode.

Yet how little serious thought do we give to death and eternity.

To some it may be the end of existence. Others see some shadowy after life, but those who know and believe the Bible , death is just the beginning of either eternal good or ill, wheal or woe.

Even the Christian can in the weakness of his faith regard death as a terrible thing. It is as if we were existing in a state of perpetual suspense.

Whatever Martha believed about the future resurrection on the last day, Jesus showed her that He himself, here and now was the source and power of resurrection. He was the one who not only could raise the dead but also the one who imparted “life” in its truest and fullest sense.

He himself exemplified and demonstrated this in his own resurrection from the dead and exalted and risen bodily state.imagesthe resurrection

In this precious verse He not only claimed the ability and power to do this but also abundant willingness to do this for those who would believe on Him, both now and in the future.

There is a sense of immediacy here which is inescapable.

We who are now dead in “trespasses and sins” can be even now given newness of life and triumph over sin, death and the grave. If we are not realizing this day by day, we have only ourselves to blame.

The question asked of Martha by Jesus is one He asks of us all, “Do you believe this?

If we do, let us live in this hope and trust in Him who cannot lie.

A pompous humbug!

UpDown_S3Ep7

Was how this British character actor was often cast on films both dramatic and comedic.

To anyone familiar with old British films and television this man will be a recognizable figure (I am not sure how much so in the U.S.).

Raymond Huntley Passport to Pimlico (1949)

Despite having an exceedingly long acting career, I wonder how many would  know his real name. Even I only found it out after watching two films in which he acted in the last few days.

His name was Raymond Huntley and his filmography stretches from 1934 to 1974, as well as television appearances, most notably as “Sir Geoffrey Dillon” in “Upstairs, Downstairs”.

He would be often appear as a solicitor or doctor or some other authority figure. He often played a character with a very supercilious and haughty air. He was easily recognizable with his cultured bearing and well modulated voice.imageshuntley soldier

We all have familiar figures in our lives. Sometimes we cannot put a name to the face although we can always recognize the voice.

They play a small but important part in forming the tapestry of our lives and we would be very poorer without them.

Sad to say they are often forgotten and neglected in our busy lives and we do not give them the recognition and respect they  deserve and are due.

We ourselves play a role ,however small in the lives of many of the people we meet.

They may not know or remember our names yet as followers of Christ we can make the effort to leave the “sweet smelling savor” of Christ in their memories and exemplify Christianity in our daily lives.

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sowen od death of christ

 

Jesus ,our Saviour!

It happened one night!

Neither Clark Gable or Claudette Colbert were overly rapt in appearing in the film or pleased with the result.clark_gable_and_claudette_colbert_in_it_happened_one_night_film_trailer

Yet upon its release in the height of the Depression, it struck a chord with the film going public and was after an indifferent reception by critics and some upper class movie goers, upon wider release to hometown movie houses became a box office smash.

So low was her expectation for the films reception, Claudette Colbert decided not to attend the Academy awards but when it was announced that she was winning the award she was dragged to the ceremony.

Clark Gable, as I said before thought very little of the film yet as it turned out, was to be the only film for which he was to be awarded an Academy award.

While I have always enjoyed this film my only regret is that even as early as 1934, marriage was held, at least in Hollywood, in such low esteem,  and was something you could go into lightly and get out of or annul almost at whim.

For many leading the church today, it seems that they feel that the plain unadorned preaching of God’s Word is not capable of reaching the people of this modern world for Christ.

Like these two famous actors they are not impressed with the script God has given them to use to accomplish His will.

The simple story of Christ’s atoning death for the sins of mankind and the reconciliation of an alienated God is perceived as lacking in public appeal and “bankability” at the “box office”.

The proclaiming and teaching of the need for man to turn in repentance from sin and place their faith in Christ accompanied by renunciation of self seeking and self will, would in their view “close the house down”.

So we continue to see trimming down of the script to terms which appeal to popular perceptions and sensibilities.

We see it padded up with promises of earthly bliss and prosperity and all reference to the intrinsic cost of following Christ is pared away from the proclamation of the gospel.

images-bible-preachThe message of the Gospel is what it is. It can neither be taken away from or added to, it is God’s script for the preaching of the church in all ages and it alone will accomplish His saving purposes for mankind and the glorifying of His name through Jesus Christ.imagesold-gospel

Torn down

Take a good look!!

Sadly this little house after a long period of dereliction is no more.2017-02-21_084013

No doubt it took a lot of work and an outlay of time and money to build it in the first place.

For many years it was somebody’s home but it was finally left empty and fell into dilapidation.

A few days ago an excavator went in and laid this little house flat and loaded its materials on to the back of a truck and carted away.

It is now in American terms “A vacant lot”.

If someone had come along and thought this house was worth renovating maybe they would have purchased it, re-built it and one day a family or individual would live in it again.

This did not happen because no one saw any value in this old house.

Because of man’s choosing sin over obedience, he fell into dilapidation and came under God’s righteous judgment and the due punishment of rebellion against his creator.

Yet in his mercy and  free grace , God has in Christ paid the price for our sin and called all men to come to Him in repentance and be cleansed and renewed and live in relationship with Him.

Let us not reject this gracious gospel call and turn away from so great a salvation because otherwise there is a worse fate awaiting us than becoming a vacant Lot.

The Day of the Lord

“Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” Malachi 4:4-6

It has often been said that while the Old Testament ends with a curse, the New Testament ends with a blessing.

This is true but the curse in Malachi 4:6 is a provisional one.

This portion of scripture always reminds me of a person who is running out of paper and is trying to cram into a few words, vital last minute instructions. The importance of the instruction is such that every word is given weight and driven home.

This message from God was to be the last in the Old Testament dispensation and it would be several hundred years before the nation of Israel would receive an authoritative message from God. In other words this message had to stay with them for a very long time.

Typical of the prophets of the Old Testament Malachi stood four square on what God had revealed by His prophets in the past.

From Moses onwards, the people of Israel were provided with the laws and teaching from God which He gave them to live by and maintain their relationship with Him. They were also to faithfully pass these commandments on to the next generation.

The primary role of the prophets of God was to unceasingly remind the people of God’s revealed will and exhort them to reform their behavior by putting away sin and idolatry and return to obedience.

This ministry is of no less importance today when error, false teaching and overall laxness are rife.

Although the Old Testament prophets primary role was that of “forth – telling” the Word of God they also had a role of “fore-telling” what God had purposed to do in the future.

Speaking in language well known and understandable by people familiar with the Old Testament, God promises to send Elijah as the forerunner for His own coming in awe and power.Indeed Jesus in Matthew 11:14 refers to this prophecy when referring to John the Baptist.

While some commentators apply this solely to the ministry of John the Baptist and the first coming of Christ, others telescope it to an appearance of Elijah before the Second Coming.

However this may be, there is no doubt that John the Baptist, although denying being a re-incarnation of this great prophet, had a ministry filled with similar power and Spirit. John’s work among the people stirred a reformation among the people and caused them to look at themselves and to correct what was wrong and displeasing to God in their lives.

No doubt many fathers and children were reconciled and relationships renewed.

The gospel may cause division among many but among true believers its ultimate effect is to unite and reconcile

The Day of the Lord is a recurring theme in Scripture and refers to the appearance of God in judgment of sinners and deliverance of the Godly.

The people’s response to this message of impending judgment would dictate how God would deal with them when He appeared.

God’s holds open the door of repentance for all who will enter in.

This reminds us that judgment is “God’s strange work”.

Unbelief and impenitence invite God’s punishment and it will be all the greater because sinners reject the mercy He so freely offers and tread underfoot the means of salvation He has revealed.

The Day of the Lord is in always imminent and we should all look to ourselves and our readiness to appear before Him.

We must also give warning to others about the danger of being found without Christ on that awesome and terrible day.

malachi4-2

It happened one night!

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Image result for the doubting and despairing christian

Two great enemies the Christian has to face are doubt and despair. We can all come to the point in our life that we begin to question the solidity of our footing and feel things giving way under us.

Despite the firm foundation that God has laid down in Christ Jesus and regardless of the great and precious promises He has given, we “Peter like” sink in our perception of our circumstances and can see nothing but hopelessness.

The fault does not lie in our blessed Saviour. He has done all to blaze and signpost the way before us. He has put in place all the necessary helps and safeguards to bring us through all that befalls and besets us.

He has given us the Holy Spirit to indwell, comfort and intercede:  “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Romans 8:26

He has given us the Bible as our constant resort in all circumstances and at all times.

He has set up the Church as a spiritual “hospital” to help us to health and provide support and comfort in company with our fellow believers.

Yet despite all this, we see many faltering in the way.

If only they would turn to them, the hopeless and despairing would find that the whole field of Scripture is replete with great and precious promises. It is full of words of encouragement and calls to persevere.

The mists and fogs that Satan stirs up to hide our Lord and the means of His grace from our sight, and we give way to fear and doubt.

The Bible becomes a closed book to us and the voice of prayer is replaced by moans and groans. We close ourselves up from the only means by which help can reach us.

To some of our Brethren, instead of being objects of their compassion, we may be damps and drains on their spiritual highs and ecstasies. To Jesus Christ however, we remain lambs in need comfort and carrying back to the fold.

Even though our tear-filled eyes are blinded so that we cannot see them, the outstretched arms of Jesus are held out to us and will not let us go.

The tragedy of relinquishing of spiritual hope and a giving in to despair is that it turns us away and releases our grip on the only one who can help and deliver us. Also it isolates us from the body of Christ and the support of people who have felt as we felt and who have been delivered from like peril.

Despair is sinful because it treats our Lord Jesus Christ and His promises to us, as if they were inadequate to meet our needs in our extremity. It doubts the truth of His Word and His readiness to assist us in any circumstance.

Like Bunyan’s “Slough of Despond” the “Lord of the Way” has provided steps out of the mire if only we had eyes to see them.

When in time of trial, sorrow and temptation, let us not cast away those means and helps which God has provided for our support and deliverance.

Let us not cease from prayer or relinquish faith.

Let us cling to our precious Saviour and to His faithful people.

May we all place our hope in God, when all other hopes fail.

Key Fob!

When a member of a 24/7 gymnasium wants to enter in, out of normal manned hours, they require what is called a “fob” which they need to swipe before the door will open for them. Anyone else who does not have one, whether a member or not cannot open the door.

(Some people will push in when a member with a fob opens the door, but the gym owners frown on this.)

When we seek to obtain entrance into heaven, to have been merely a member of the Church or be a Christian in mere profession and name only, will not be enough.

Rather we will need to be genuine believers and followers of Christ and members of His body.

We will not be able to enter God’s presence on anyone else’s coat-tails but will need the garment of Christ’s righteousness and a vital relationship with Him to qualify for admittance to joys forevermore.

The Thin Man!

 

One of the great romantic and comedic pairings of the late 30’s and 40’ was between William Powell and Myrna Loy, most remarkably in “The Thin man” series.William Powell Myrna Loy

The banter, wit and rapport between these two lit up the screen in 14 films. They worked so well together that some people concluded that they were actually married to each other, they were not.

Myrna Loy was asked about the possibility of a relationship with Powell. She said it would have spoiled everything and they probably would have fought all the time.

Considering she was married four times, she did not seem to hold marriage in very high esteem.

Mankind may be fickle and faithless in their relationships but our Lord Jesus Christ is not. Those He brings into relation with Himself are cherished and loved to the end. Those who to human eyes fall away from Christ and depart forever were never truly His.

“Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”
John 13:1b

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