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)

 

James-Robertson-Justice-at-wwwdotbritmoviedotcodotuk

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.”

images baxter

 

 

 

 

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.

quote-sin-promises-like-a-god-but-pays-like-a-devil-ralph-venning-136-83-23

 

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)

indexdying thief

“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.

6a00d8341c7a9f53ef015431ff9230970c

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.

*******************************************************

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!

Return to Doubting Castle.

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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Return to Doubting Castle.

Hidden behind the Holly!

King Herod in the gospel narrative sought to disguise his murderous intent to kill the newborn rival to his throne by imposing on the wise men as a would be worshipper.Image result for The manger

Satan, who was the prompter of this desire, still poses as a worshipper of Christ.

As long as Jesus remains the innocuous babe in the manger, he will put up decorations and bury the Christ –child in tinsel and holly.

Satan’s greatest weapon in the world is by misdirection. This he does by taking elements of the truth and transposing them in ways that stops a person from looking at the important thing and make them stare at something entirely different. Thus the babe in the manger dissolves into mere sentiment and is replaced by Saint Nick and glory to God is replaced with good will among men.

The fact is, the coming into the world of the Son of God, born of a Virgin and thus without sin, is a bulwark of the Christian faith. While it is true that it has elements of romance and great beauty, they are subordinate to the overall purpose of God’s redemption of mankind.https://sarasmusings.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/beyond-the-manger.jpg?w=660

While many can see the charm of the Christmas story, few have eyes to see the real wonder of the whole gospel story and the eternal consequence of what we believe about it.

First to last the, Gospel message proclaims the alienation of man from God in sin and transgression, as well as the love of God in condescending to take on human flesh and walk the road which led to the Cross and there atone for sin by the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

There is no scope here for slicing the story up and keeping the bits of it we like. We either take it all or miss the overall purpose and benefit of it all together.

To “Ooh” and “Aah” at the new baby may suffice for most infants but is not enough here.

This particular child and the work He came to do requires a life changing faith and subjection and obedience to our Divine king.

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A Ghost story for Christmas?

There is no doubt that the “Victorians” in England and Charles Dickens especially left their mark on Christmas and its celebration.

The Ghosts of Christmas past, present and future still haunt us year by year.Image result for the ghost of christmas past

We remember what we lost, where we failed and measure what hope still remains.

Tiny Tim’s fate still lies in the balance in many places and Scrooge is yet to be convinced of the need to reform and do his bit for the welfare of mankind.

The gospel according to Dickens is still popular among us because it tugs at the strings of our human nature and appeals to our imagination.

While in his characters we see the darkness of human nature and admire the generosity and fortitudethat can  still be found in many, we cannot seek from Dickens and his writings a real answer to the crying needs and sins of the times.

Dickens’s fiction is no substitute for God’s Word and revealed truth.

Charles Dickens may have highlighted some of the wrongs of mankind but only Jesus Christ can solve the underlying problems of human sin and alienation from the Creator. Only when this solution has been applied and become a reality in the lives of men and women, boys and girls, can we hope for renewal and love to abound.

No “Ghost”, (even if they existed), however well meaning, can substitute for an encounter with the living Saviour, Jesus Christ.

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Hidden behind the Holly!

Stand To!!!

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Is an order for soldiers to stand ready for an enemy attack. Even though the soldiers at the front line see no sign to indicate an immediate enemy encounter they must be ready for it.

During the Korean War, United Nation soldiers, (Australians among them), saw large numbers of “civilian” Koreans moving through their lines and moving to the rear. When the North Korean assault came it was found that some of these people were enemy soldiers in peasant Korean dress.

The Church of Jesus Christ is under attack from many directions. Satan frontally assaults it by persecution and ridicule from the Anti-Christian elements in government and society.

It is assailed by atheistic science, philosophy and morality.

We should expect such attacks because as the scripture says “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” 1 John 5:19

The most insidious form of attack the Church has to face is the subtle and discouraging attack on God’s truth and people, is from men and women professing Christianity.

This is nothing new, but in our electronic age, it is highly publicized and leaped upon by our secular, God- hating media.

These are just a few of the lines of advance available to the enemies of Christ, in sheep’s clothing or not.

The Bible is a very popular target. They tell us it is out of date or contradictory. They teach  that the Bible is nothing more than the writings of fallible men  who were the product of their age or who misunderstood God’s purposes ,therefore we can discount and ignore great tracts of it because it does not accord with how we  want  to live ,act or think at a given time.

The Church is attacked because of the falls and sins of some of its leaders and prominent members. Christians are all tarred with the same brush and nothing we say or do makes a difference.  Christians are all “Holier than thou Hypocrites”’ and therefore fair game.

Christ, despite an exemplary life of holiness and goodness was attacked by open enemies and false friends, we can, if we are faithful, expect the same.

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

You might say that we know all this, but are you ready for Satan’s attack whatever direction it comes from? Are you ready for it in your local church? Are you ready for it in your family and friends? Are you ready for it when it will cost you dear to defend God and His truth?

Stand To!!!

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F.B. Meyer said it well, “It is often argued that we should stay in the midst of churches and bodies whose sins and follies we deplore, in the hope of saving them for God and mankind. Such reasoning has a good deal of force in the first stages of decline. A strong protest may arrest error and stop the gangrene. But as time advances, and the whole body becomes diseased; when the protests have been disregarded, and the arguments trampled underfoot; when the majority have clearly taken up their position against the ‘truth’ we have no alternative but to come out and be separate. The place from which we can exert the strongest influence for good is not from within, but from without.”

Pride and Prejudice!

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In “ How to lose the Civil War”( Harper /Collins publisher) one of the contributors, tells how prior to the Civil war in the United States , the Union was desperately short of modern rifles and it would be some time before production capacity would be sufficient for wartime needs.

The officer in charge of procurement was advised by a junior to approach England and buy Enfield rifles, which were in abundant supply and at rock bottom price, until such time as the Union ordinance production was up to speed.

This  senior officer, who had in his younger days fought the British in the War of 1812, “went through the roof”.  He said that the old smooth bore (by all modern standards obsolete) weapons in use by the Federal army were quite adequate for what was sure to be a very short war and that it would be unpatriotic not to fight an American war with American weapons. As a result of this the “North” entered the “Civil” war, poorly armed and at a decided disadvantage.

The South had no such scruples, but purchased large numbers of rifles from England and as a result the war, which should have been a Northern walkover, was prolonged by years.

There is no doubt that prejudice and selfish pride is a besetting problem with us all.

We all have our own way of doing things and we all think we know best.

To place ourselves in God’s hands is often unsettling for us. We are not prepared to wait God’s time or trust His methods.

Also to be open to hear what others have to say and take it on board is often difficult for us when in the heat of battle.

We really want to take the whole process into our own hands because we are the only ones we can really trust to get the job done.

It is not enough for us to sow the seed and to wait for God to “send the increase” anymore but we must expedite matters by working at both ends and try and “Move the Spirit” if He does not move.

Sometimes it is a question of us not liking to ask for help, we would rather die trying in our own strength than seek Christ and His power.

The fact is that the Christian is a soldier in God’s army, the weapons he fights with are Spiritual and not carnal. He is not alone in the fight but has reinforcement and  spiritual re-supply readily at call and is very foolish if he does not take advantage of it.

Crass-mass!

Not knowing or caring any better the world ,takes the elements of the Christmas  story, that it understands and exploits them for its own ends.

Peace among men is reduced to a plea for the end of earthly war and strife with no regard or desire for peace and reconciliation with God and His just displeasure with man’s sin.

The gift of a Saviour is made into an inducement for gift giving, family togetherness and indulgence to improve business’s “bottom-line.

Many have taken to calling Christmas time “silly season” because of the cynical exploitation and attending mad rush which infects so many at this time of year.

All this without any recognition of the real significance and importance of the coming of God to earth in human flesh, as well as no desire or felt need for the Salvation from sin, Christ came to procure; starting in the cradle and culminating on the Cross.

The Christian Church naturally takes advantage of this “lip service” made by the World to the babe in the manger. By offering Carol services and special events, It seeks to bring people within the sound of the gospel and thereby possibly into the Christian fold.

Yet the Christian message presented is often an expurgated one. The Word of God is sugar coated, pared down and made palatable for the “un-churched”.

If there is a hook in this worm it is well hidden and for a later time, if at all.

The question is and always has been how can we proclaim the message of salvation in a meaningful way to non believers and yet not compromise God’s Word to a world of lost sinners?

I think that today’s Church is not very interested in the answer to this question. It rather takes the line of least resistance and “stays mum” on anything it thinks will give offence to self satisfied sinners while alluring them with promises of a better life and a sense of community and purpose.

Surely it is more faithful to God’s truth, to boldly proclaim His call to salvation through Christ, as the Apostles did and the true Church has always done, than make the Gospel story little more than a change of purpose and direction. A gospel with no need for repentance, genuine faith and “New Birth”. A Christian life devoid of self denial and counting the cost of following Christ.

Instead of being ashamed of the “old Gospel” we should proclaim it boldly because it remains the only and true Gospel and power of God “unto salvation”.Image result for the cradle and the cross

“This present age is so flippant that if a man loves the Saviour he is styled a fanatic, and if he hates the powers of evil he is named a bigot.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Treasury of David: 

Stand To!!!