Revised Christianity??

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A story is told of an archaeologist returning to his work inside a pyramid and finding a man chiseling away at the pyramid to bring its internal measurement into line with his interpretation of prophecy.57f9645272048e19f1e6c60fb164f2d2--chisel-set-tool-steel

So the tendency today is to look back at history and reshape it into line with our current ideas and prejudices. This is being seen today in the push to rename schools and streets and remove statues. Also the trend to write revisionist history among our academics is part of this attempt to “remove the landmarks”.

Christianity itself is not immune from this desire to re-mould it into forms more acceptable and less offensive to so-called modern man.

It has always been the case that some people would take a part of the Christian message and run with it while conveniently avoiding those things that are of no interest to him and to affronting to his own self worth.

The modernist takes the ethics and values of Christianity and attempts to conform society to his imagined portrayal of Christ as merely a social reformer.

The ritualist takes the scriptures and distorts them into a series of religious acts and ceremonies which sinful man must perform to obtain access and acceptance with God and superimposes a hierarchy he must implicitly believe and obey.

Others, to whom I have often referred, make the gospel message a source of earthly health, wealth and personal fulfillment and remove the self denial and bearing of the Cross.

While we all read the Bibles through the glasses of our own point of view we must put ourselves to one side and hear what the Word of God actually says.

The Reformers for all their shortcomings reminded those willing to hear that the Scriptures alone are the source of God’s truth. We are to believe nothing that is not revealed or is able to be reasonably deduced from scripture. In this we are to seek the help of the Holy Spirit to remove the veil and open our eyes to God’s truth revealed therein.

While there is still room to differ in some interpretations of Scripture the fundamental doctrines of Christianity must remain inviolate and implicitly believed.

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A mixed bag!

We all know people whose Christianity stands out and are an adornment to the church they attend.

We also know some whose Christianity although genuine is still being formed and having the rough edges smoothed.

Then there are those who profess Christianity but are really a hindrance to the work of Christ’s church and a constant blot on the spiritual landscape.

We read that when the Children of Israel left Egypt there travelled with them a” mixed multitude” who use the opportunity to get out of slavery and get the great material benefits offered in the promised land.imagesmixed multitude

Unfortunately when the way became hard and material comforts did not come up to their expectations they became the ringleaders in the murmuring and complaining which plagued Moses thus bringing God’s judgment and plagues upon the people as a whole.

Lest we be found finger pointing we must examine ourselves to make sure we are not modern day examples of these “whingers”.

Standing up for God’s revealed truth is the duty of all His faithful people but it is to be done with love and the use of reason. Zeal and passion are to play their part but governed by the love of Christ for the erring from the way.

To be found a “troublers’ of Israel” and a false professor of Christ in the Church and in the world is something we must pray we never be.

God-Quote-What-God-Has-Done-For-Me-Joseph-Hall

Arthur_Lowe

Arthur Lowe (22 September 1915 – 15 April 1982) was one of the iconic figures of British film and television. Most of those who worked with him said that his best known character of “Dad’s Army” “Captain Mainwaring” pronounced Mannering, was very like himself especially in pomposity.Dads35Statue of Captain Mainwaring, Arthur Lowe’s Dad’s Army character in Thetford.

It does make it easier when we “be ourselves” and not pretend to be something we are not and not likely to be.

The wonder of true Christianity it that it makes us into new creations without robbing us of what is intrinsically “ourselves”.

Like the work of art that needs the centuries of dirt and grime removed before it re-appears in the true and living colours with which it was painted, we need the power of God to remove the grime of sin and shame and to impart His grace to our lives, to bring us at last to our eternal state of Christ’ like perfection.

Revised Christianity??

Haters of the Human Race?

Was how many Gentiles describe the Jewish nation in ancient times. The Jews were notorious for their contempt and lack of dealings with Non-Jews except for strictly commercial and financial reasons.

We have an instance of this attitude in Acts 22: 17-23

17 “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ 19 And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20 And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ 21 And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”22 Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.” 23 And as they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air,”

Hitherto the Jewish crowd had listened to Paul’s defense in silence. When the Apostle mentioned his appointed mission of proclaiming the Gospel of Christ to the Gentiles the mob went wild.

It seems that although the Jewish religious leaders had no use or desire for the salvation of Jesus Christ themselves they still resented the idea that it should be freely proclaimed to the Gentile World at large.

They would not partake of the food set before them and yet would not spare a crumb for the Heathen nations dwelling in darkness.

Lest we unsparingly condemn these people, we must beware that there is nothing of this attitude in ourselves. We must guard ourselves from looking at some people as so far “beyond the pale” that they are not worth preaching the gospel of salvation to.

Jesus, when He saw the multitudes coming to Him had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. In such a way we should look at the sin be-nighted people we meet each day.

The Saint’s Refuge!

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2

We have here the description of the person seeking protection and the identity of the One who protects. These are very concrete terms for something very intangible.

We can see and feel bricks, concrete or solid rock. We can vividly imagine mountain strongholds and other means of halting approaching enemies.

I fear we may all have a harder time in expressing like faith in our God as our fortress and defender.

Even when in the past, we have found God to be “a very present help in time of trouble” and a refuge from the assailing storm, we still doubt His ability and willingness to do so again in the present crisis.

Maybe it not actually the reality of God’s protection that is at stake but rather the fact of our abiding that is in question.

If we are seeking and putting our trust in other means of protection it is no wonder we are feeling exposed and vulnerable.

The non Christian indeed has hiding places he or she resorts to: unfortunately they will find at last that they are unavailing and futile.

If they do by chance resort to God it is coming to someone they know nothing of and have no relationship with.

It is only by believing in Christ and His saving work and taking God at His Word in the protection of His people that we can come into the hope and faith seen here in the Psalmist’s words.

“3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his opinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.” Psalm 91:3-6

The attacks we face are of various kinds, they are not always frontal assaults.

It could be the snare of a crafty enemy cunningly laid for us to fall into. It could be the virulent disease of false doctrine or moral laxity and compromise. The attack could come from any direction and at any time. Whether in the daytime of prosperity or the mid-night of moral, spiritual or doctrinal decline, God is as the mother hens protecting wings and sturdy shield.

No darkness, no stealth or cunning can prevail to thwart God’s perpetual keeping of His people at all times of peril.

‘7 A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
    and see the recompense of the wicked.” Psalm 91:7-8

What a contrast is the fate and experience of the wicked?

No shift or dodge, No mere carnal defense will prevent their fall and avoid the just consequence of their rejection of God. They will be a visible object lesson of the results of rejecting freely offered mercy through Jesus Christ.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
    the Most High, who is my refuge —
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
    no plague come near your tent.

Our choices in life have inevitable consequences even as Christians. By imitating the world’s attitudes and values we can fall into the habit of trusting in deceitful riches and carnal means of security.

God’s promises are truer than any insurance policy and our casting ourselves upon Him and His faithfulness are sure means of protection.

Despite the trials, tribulations and diseases that befall the Christian in common with others, the promise of verse 10 is still an absolute one, inasmuch as not only are we spared many of these ills by God’s grace, we also find the evil that happens to us transformed into lasting good and the plague that touches us is turned into Spiritual health.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

We have here the great mystery of the Angelic protection of the believer.

Satan used this verse to tempt Jesus into a presumptuous action to demonstrate His divine son ship which He totally rejected but it does not detract from the truth that the angels are ministering to and protecting God’s people in ways we know little of.

14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
    I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble;
    I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91 E.S.V.

These wondrous Old Testament promises hold true for the New Testament believer.

God had promised Moses and the children of Israel that He would send an Angel ahead of them to pave their way into the Promised Land. Yet Moses realized that no angelic being could substitute for the presence of God Himself.

Verses 14 to 16 show us that our security and protection is directly in the hands of God our Father.

While we are not promised freedom from ill we are promised ultimate deliverance and triumph.

Though we may indeed appear to be in peril and suffer in common with others, the difference is we will never fail or fall finally or fully through our being “kept by the power of God unto Salvation”.

The Day of our deliverance is at hand and our Saviour is ever near.

“Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
1 Thessalonians 4:18

 

 

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Faith finds its luster in action — and not just in notion. It enters our hearts — and not just our heads. (Samuel Ward)1577-1640.Samuel_Ward_(1577–1640)

 

Haters of the Human Race?

A troubler of Israel!

index elijah and ahab

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Living the high life!

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

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

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

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

Why Wait?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Children at play!

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

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

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

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

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

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pink on victory

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

 

 

 

 

A troubler of Israel!

A real page turner!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They do’nt preach sermons about that nowadays!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christ exalted

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Has God Forgotten to be gracious?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jack & Cic.

Screen Shot 2014-05-24 at 1.02.38 AM

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

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

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

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

 

 

A real page turner!

SPAM

For most people during the Second World War, one of the dietary staples was SPAM which was an acronym for “spiced ham”.

When Britain received a supply of it from the United States, some described the taste as being similar to eating “cloth material”.

When food was in short supply it had the advantage of being easy to transport and had a long shelf life.

The ingenious cook used it as a supplement to what other  meat they could get on or off the ration.

There were many jokes made about it,such as

  • SPAM is ham that didn’t pass its physical
  • or that SPAM was a meatball that did not pass basic training.

spam1

A World War II-era can of Spam. Photo courtesy of Hormel Foods Corporation

In the end many people gained a taste for it and for some it remained a delicacy. Yet even then feelings were mixed about this controversial food.

“After the war, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower wrote a letter to a retired Hormel executive commenting on his company’s famous product. “During World War II, of course, I ate my share of Spam along with millions of other soldiers. I’ll even confess to a few unkind remarks about it—uttered during the strain of battle, you understand. But as former Commander-in-Chief, I believe I can still officially forgive you your only sin: sending us so much of it.( quoted from “a war won on spam”” by dwight zimmerman)

The gospel of Christ may not be regarded as “haute cuisine” or even palatable by the sinful world at large but for those whose taste buds are invigorated by the Holy Spirit find it sustaining and satisfying to their spiritual hunger and the divine means to save their souls.

Spam, the nuisance kind

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This “word press’ website comes with a built in “spam filter”; I go to it periodically to remove the ads and often nonsensical messages that some person or business sends me.

These messages are most often advertising something and the people who send them are foolish if they think I will actually respond to them, but I guess some people do or why would they keep doing it.

Maybe they just like to be an irritation.

For whatever reason people do this, they are a real nuisance for many of us on the receiving end.

Like all junk mail, however impressive the outside envelope may be the actual contents are usually valueless and unwanted.

They take up space that could be used for something worthwhile and useful.

I wonder how many of us today, treat parts of the Bible and some of the doctrines taught therein as Spam.

Are there portions of scripture that we would gladly put into the recycling bin and then empty it?

Modern man and some professing Christians find parts of the Bible very uncomfortable and disagreeable.

It is embarrassing to observe the lengths some people will go to water down, explain away, ignore or treat as outdated miraculous, unpopular and condemnatory portions of God’s Word.

Sadly for them, the Bible stands as a whole. However much they may chafe at God’s commandments and the truths found in its pages, the true Christian will gladly receive them, believe and thankfully live by them.

A four legged friend!

In the film “Son of Paleface” Roy Rogers sang about “A four legged friend “who will never let you down.

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However this may be, we are sometimes let down by our two legged friends and we let them down.

Human beings are often self centered and are sometimes fickle, faithless and unreliable.

We are often warned to by Scripture to beware of placing too much faith in people.

“Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save”.Psalm 146:3

We are not helped by the fact that our high and unreasonable expectations of others build us up for a fall.

In a romantic partner we initially see them through rose coloured glasses and when the glasses come off and we see them in normal light, with all their flaws and failings we very often, unfairly wonder what we saw in them in the first place.

Why do so many marriages and relationships fail but because people expect perfection and lifelong bliss and receive instead life with all its day to day difficulties and mundanities.

Our friend’s circumstances may change or they may move into a new circle and our relationship fades and may even cease.

As the hymn says “Change and decay in all around I see”.

God is one who will never fail us and who sticks with us through thick and thin. He will remain with us to the end. Knowing us as He does He cannot change in His understanding and love for us.

Jesus is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, Proverbs 18:24

While we may have at times the wrong expectations from Him ,He will infinitely surpass all our hopes.

“Many complain more of the sorrows to which they are born, than of the sins with which they were born; they tremble more at the vengeance of sin, than at the venom of sin; one delights them, the other scares them.”

– William Secker
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The Man after God’s own heart.

This refers to King David and the regard with which God held this remarkable yet often flawed and sinful man.

It prompts one to ask what was it that set this man apart from his peers and prompted God’s choosing him.

There were probably thousands of shepherds in Israel at this time, yet this young man was chosen by God to lead His people and foreshadow and be the progenitor “according to the flesh” of the true and eternal King and Messiah Jesus Christ.128069311

I can only  briefly point out some of the characteristics and traits by which David proved himself to be a man of faith and godliness and in these things worthy of our imitation. Indeed the life of David and the Psalms are worthy of prayerful study by us all.

I think some of the things which set David apart were that,

  • When others saw nothing but stars David saw the one who made the stars.
  • When he fed and watered his sheep , he was mindful and thankful to the one who provided  him a table in the wilderness.
  • When devoid of other comforts David sought and found comfort in God alone.
  • He knew that the God who had delivered him in the past , would deliver him now and and in the future.
  • He knew the reality of  God’s love and was motivated predominantly by love for God his Saviour.

No one would say David was perfect as he was sometimes caught out in cunning shifts and tempted to sinful courses.

When we look at  some of his afterlife ,we might wish that he had been left in his relative innocence with his flock and harp.

The great and noble things he did with his life were stained by the foolish, sinful and terrible things he did and the spiritual price he paid for them.

Sad to say ,how many of our lives even as professing Christians are in some degree like Davids?

We to have our highpoints and lowpoints.

We have times in our lives when our Christ-likeness and Christianity is there for all to see and yet at others we fall into sin, act unworthily and in despair, expect every day to perish “by the hands of Saul”.

How often is our obedience lacking?

How often does our faith fail us?

While it does not extenuate or excuse us, the reality is, it is God who makes the difference in our lives.

He takes people like David (and ourselves) and forms them into fit and useful instruments in His hands.

The life of David illustrates the contrasts which appear even in the godly person.

  1. He who fell foully into the sin which blighted his kingdom and family and that caused the name of God to be blasphemed was also he who, upon his repentance and restoration, prepared the materials for the building of the temple.
  2. He who pretended to be a lunatic in Gath was also he who penned many of the Psalms which believers have sung, been encouraged and treasured down through the ages.

It is God with us and our trust in Him that makes all the difference.These alone will carry us through the trials of life and make us victorious in the end.

The overall desire of David’s life was to love and obey the Lord his God.

It is such people that God chooses to use to fulfill His purposes.

As Christ made fisherman, “fishers of men”, God made a shepherd of sheep, a shepherd for Israel.

Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel.2 Samuel 7:8

He chose David his servant and took him from the sheepfolds; Psalm 78:70

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David the shepherd was a faint but true type of He who was the great Shepherd of the sheep.

A Shepherd’s life

Through a reading of Psalm 23 one could gain a very romantic view of the life of a shepherd in Bible times.

I know that the picture of David out with his sheep, harp in hand contemplating God’s heavens is a very pleasant one.

There is no doubt the life of a shepherd had its simple pleasures but it was not always an easy one indeed it had its perils, dangers and privations.

Jacob’s description of his past life paints the harsh side of a shepherd’s life;

“There I was: by day the heat consumed me, and the cold by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes.” Genesis 31: 40 N.K.J.V.

As well as being exposed to the elements, there was also the danger posed by predatory animals. Lions and bears were still present in Palestine in Bible times and when short of other food attacked flocks and people. (There were still bears in Lebanon and Syria until quite recently.)

David when setting forth his qualifications for facing the giant of Gath recounts his encounters with these two fearsome beasts.

There was also the danger from those who would steal the sheep, this would require constant alertness and vigilance as Christ alludes to in John Chapter 10.

In those days flocks were of a size so that a shepherd would know their sheep and the sheep knew the voice of their own shepherd.

Fodder and water for the sustaining of a flock was probably marginal in such a semi arid area so the shepherd would have to cover a large area to find sufficient to meet their needs; so he had to know where to find it

Isolation from family and little human contact must have been part of a shepherd’s lot, for David, it came to the stage that his own father almost forgot his existence.

Shepherd’s were often regarded with contempt and treated with disdain even his eldest brother dismissed him as good for no other purpose but tending a few sheep.

That David was enabled to flourish in such circumstances speaks clearly of his cheerful nature and strength of character, underpinned by an ability to see God and trust him in all circumstances.

David certainly developed self denial and was used to hardship but this more than balanced and enriched by the experience of the power of God in nature and his soul enraptured by God’s glorious handiwork in the starry realms.

It no doubt made his attendance of the temple and worship of the Lord more precious and joyous.

His desire for the presence of God in His chosen dwelling place is a constant theme in the Psalms and this hunger needs to be cultivated in us all.

One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.
Psalm 26:8

The champion of Israel!

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It is needless here to go into great detail of David’s encounter with Goliath.

It is enough to say that although Saul stood heads and shoulders above Israel in height, David stood head and shoulders above them by faith.

Of all the army of Israel only David had enough trust in the Lord to face this challenge to the people of God.

David’s sin and restoration

In later life his faith in God sustained him and by His grace restored him when he fell.

His sin of adultery with Bath Sheba and contriving the death of Uriah the Hittite left a permanent black mark over his whole life.

It was the great mercy and boundless grace of God that was the means of his restoration and renewal.

It is by this same mercy and through the cross of Christ that we, who are believers stand today as trophies of grace.

When smitten with pride, David, despite warnings, sinned by numbering of the people.

The judgment from God which resulted was a plague upon the kingdom. The people’s sufferings resulting from his sin brought the king back to his knees and his contrite prayer caused God to stay the destroying angels hand.

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When David looked back over his life, he could only reflect on his lowly beginnings and glorify God’s great grace in lifting him up to such an exalted position.

Though he fell into sin, God never forsook him and  failed to bestow mercy upon him.

When he faced danger and death from enemies and even from his own son, God brought him through

One of David’s great character traits is his humilty and we see it in his response to God’s unfailing grace and love. David’s desire was not to exalt himself but constantly gave the glory to the one to whom glory belongs .

“16 Then David the king went in and sat before the LORD and said, “Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my house that You have brought me this far? 17“This was a small thing in Your eyes, O God; but You have spoken of Your servant’s house for a great while to come, and have regarded me according to the standard of a man of high degree, O LORD God. 18“What more can David still say to You concerning the honor bestowed on Your servant? For You know Your servant. 19“O LORD, for Your servant’s sake, and according to Your own heart, You have wrought all this greatness, to make known all these great things.1 Chronicles 17:16-19

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He who had been faithful in tending a few sheep was by God’s great grace enabled and made worthy to shepherd God’s chosen people and typify Him who was the Good and Great Shepherd- King.

 

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Standing in the Breach.

No one reviewing the history of biblical Christianity and the Church can be ignorant of the recurring theme of God’s raising up in perilous times, specific people to confront the various enemies and errors facing it.

These giants of the faith, often standing alone, confronted and spoke against the prevailing errors and sins of the times.

They sought to wake the majority out of their dozy apathy and warned them of the spiritual dangers entrenched in their midst and encroaching from all sides.

In the Old Testament God raised up and anointed prophets, priests and even kings to lead in the fight against the world, the flesh and the devil.

In the New Testament we find Apostles, Evangelists and deacons carrying on the work of building up and casting down, teaching and correcting.

They proclaimed the gospel once delivered to the saints and worked ceaselessly to hack down the ivy of false doctrine and practice by which the instruments of Satan sought to stifle the church’s purity and faithfulness to God’s truth.

They sought by word and deed to maintain the glory of God’s name and proclaim his truth to people degenerated from the purity of His worship, doctrine and holy living.

The subsequent history of the Church continues this theme and is adorned by the emerging of certain figures who have stood against and opposed the false doctrine and intrusion into the church of worldly practices, nepotism and greed.

They sought as well, to wake the Church out of its apathy and parochial attitudes and restore it to its scriptural basis, holiness and missionary zeal.

Whether they are Reformers, Bible Teachers or Men (and women) of prayer, God, in every time and in every place and in every conceivable situation that faces His people, always has an arrow in his bow.

Some are mighty preachers who tear down the strongholds of sin and error; others work with the pen or (Word processor) to proclaim the truth of God which will outlive them and will bless generations to come.

Many work quietly and unknown but still belong to this glorious band of godly men and women, who stand in the breach against Satan’s assaults and foil his attempts to insinuate himself into the church through error, laxness and false teachers?

Yes they may be in the minority sometimes, yes they are often reviled and reproached by the majority: they may be called old fashioned and behind the times: they may be thought of as un-enlightened and bigoted yet they comfort themselves with the certainty of Christ’s eternal reward for obedience and faithfulness.

We can only pray that God will raise up many more such people today.

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The Man after God’s own heart.

Unstopping the Wells!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where the saints have trod”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God says to us of the true and scriptural way.

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

How we speak?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The life of God in the soul of man;

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

The Christian also lives a life of communion with Christ.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Settling on the lees!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Unstopping the Wells!