Assaulting the Almighty

During the Second World War blitz on England, falling bombs were not the only danger to the population.

aagun

The anti aircraft artillery barrage, while not very effective against German aircraft, did make the bombers fly higher and spoil their accuracy.

However what goes up must come down and shrapnel from the explosive shells rained back to earth posing a danger to those on the ground.

So when sinful man launches his attacks on the Almighty, the arrows he fires redound upon and injure himself.

The same goes for those who rejoice in contradicting God’s holy and wise laws and cast beneath their feet the message of Salvation.

Sadder still are those who pose as Christians yet do all they can to water down and relegate those parts of Scripture that do not conform to their own conceptions.

True, their impending judgment may be slow in coming but it is sure and certain none the less unless repentance and mercy intervenes.

Communication Breakdown!

Apparently one of the symptoms of mental illness is the fact that the afflicted cannot seem to make themselves understood by those around them and have difficulty comprehending what others are trying to convey to them.

In the same way sinful man has lost the ability to understand the things of God in fact they are hateful to him.

Man by nature is dead in sin and cut off from God and, unless aided by the Holy Spirit in conversion is unwilling and indeed  unable to obtain a fatherly hearing from God because his speech is drowned out by his willfulness in rebellion and sin.

As the blind man told the inquisitive Pharisees ” God does not listen to sinners. John 9:31″.

“We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.”

While most today make man the first mover in salvation, the scriptures lay the salvation of man first to last, in the will of God and power of His Spirit working in the sinner’s heart moving him to repentance and seeking to God through faith.

Sin is the great communication barrier between God and us and it is only when it is repented of and dealt with by the blood of Christ that the channels are opened and the way of fellowship cleared.

The mock turtle.

cary grant mock turtle

 

Believe it or not, this costumed character from the 1933 “live action” version of “Alice in Wonderland” is Hollywood heart-throb Cary Grant .

True it was early on in his career but it does display a willingness on his part to put aside his trademark debonair good looks to perform a role to entertain the young.

Many of the actors who played Lewis Carroll’s characters in this film were popular actors and comedians at the time, with well known faces and mannerisms and yet under some of their costumes they were almost unrecognizable unless you listened carefully and knew where to look for them.

Generally famous people are known for their self promotion and greedy seeking after publicity to further their career.

So for well known personalities to efface and disguise themselves in order to perform roles in which they may or may not be recognized is remarkable.

Self promotion is not something that sits well in the sphere of Christianity.

When the ministry has more to do with the charisma of the “personality” in the spotlight and his obvious talents and less to do with the glory of God and the salvation of sinners, spiritual failure is sure to be the ultimate result, regardless of the hype and hysteria.

We have no shortage of “show ponies’‘ in our churches today.

People who are the Christian equivalent of exhibitionists. Their overarching desire is to be seen as special or talented and be admired.

We are all prone to fall into this trap to some degree and we all have need to humble ourselves and do as John the Baptist did in like circumstance.” He must increase while I must decrease”.

While it is true someone must be out the front, they should not be there seeking fame or reputation for themselves.

Human nature being what it is, some notoriety is unavoidable for many in prominent positions in the church but we have no business seeking it as an end in itself: rather it is all about proclaiming the gospel message and bringing glory to Christ and He alone.

We ourselves are incidental in the service of Christ and all the reward we seek is his well done and all the glory belongs to Him.

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Esau.

Was in many ways an admirable figure. He was the sort of  “out- doorsy, self reliant man that is admired and envied by most.

He reveled in the wide open spaces and pushed himself to his limits in manly pursuits, especially hunting.esau.jpeg

Unfortunately while he spent much time abroad in nature, like many of our famous naturalists today, he never sought to know and obey the God of creation.

He had a very two dimensional and short sighted view of existence and could see no further than his next meal and   immediate carnal pleasure.

When cheated out of His birthright and blessing all he could think about was getting revenge on his devious brother rather than blaming his own short sightedness and foolishness and seeking repentance and trying to amend his life.

We do feel that during the years of separation from his brother, Esau may have mellowed somewhat.

We see this in the kindly way he received his estranged brother upon his return home.

Perhaps rather it was more to do with the restraining hand of God upon him than anything else

Yet the behavior of his descendants toward their kinsman in latter days betrays the continuance of a long held grudge and resentment towards the  Jacob’s descendants, the Children of Israel  because of God’s favour  abundantly lavished upon them ,contrasting with the passing over of Esau and his descendants.

While it is a great deep and beyond our comprehension, God’s sovereignty in election and choosing one over another is repeatedly taught in scripture. Yet it never diminishes the fact that we are responsible for the wrong we do and for our turning away from God and living in disobedience to Him and his Word.

Let us be diligent in our seeking the Lord while he may be found!

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Assaulting the Almighty

A spark of life!

indexfrost

During a recent frost my Cinerarias were slaughtered.

It took three days for the leaves to drop and shrivel but I knew I would have to pull the plants out and try something else.

When I came to pull them out there was a tiny speck of green in the centre of the remains of the plant: somewhere in the midst of that devastation there was life.

There is no doubt that natural life is tenacious, the Bible itself in the book of Job refers to the seemingly dead tree springing back to life.

7, For there is hope for a tree,
if it be cut down, that it will sprout again,
and that its shoots will not cease.
8Though its root grow old in the earth,
and its stump die in the soil,
9yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put out branches like a young plant. Job 14:7-9

When we see many falling away from Christianity and Christian doctrine we wonder whether any hope of life or regeneration is possible. The fact remains that many who wither and die in their Christian lives never had the genuine seed of faith in their hearts.

Yet we can comfort and reassure ourselves that there are many who have fallen have not fallen finally and  that God is not finished with them.

It is in this spirit we should fervently pray for those who are astray.obc-ambizu-hot-one-bag-cineraria-seeds-30-pcs-cineraria-flowers-seeds-mixed-colors-purple-stamens_17863021

At a loss!

1Now Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, and Jacob said to his sons, “Why are you staring at one another?” 2He said, “Behold, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt; go down there and buy some for us from that place, so that we may live and not die.”… Genesis 42:1genesis-42-01-00-jacob-send-his-sons-to-bring-food-from-egypt

We all come to the point when the way ahead and the answer to our problems are not clear to us. The trap is that the longer this impasse lasts the longer and the less able we are to recognize and respond to a solution to our difficulty.

These sons of Jacob were clueless as to the solving the difficulties facing them and their families.

There was a dire famine in the land and many of their relied on resources and staples were exhausted.

The combined acumen of their eleven brains could not see an answer to the prospect of starvation, If left to themselves they may well have withered away with hunger.

It was only when Jacob heard that there was food a-plenty for sale in Egypt that he called his sons to stir themselves out of the reverie they had slumped into.

Egypt was indeed a long way to go to get supplies but this journey was eminently preferable to watch their wives and little ones starve.

This is only taking this situation from a human viewpoint: it was a matter of common sense to go where the answer is and find what we need to solve our problem.

Over and above the human difficulty and need for a solution, we can see in hindsight what this family group seems to have forgotten, that God is in control and overruling all.

We see nothing here of Jacob or his sons seeking God’s guidance or supply, in fact it all seems to revolve on the chance hearing of a piece of gossip about the abundance of food in Egypt while the rest of the nations starved.

We see later on that there is nothing of chance or coincidence in the providence of God.

Even the heinous sin of these “rough and ready” brothers was being overruled by God to save the chosen people from extinction and form them into a nation.

genesis-42-26-00-brothers-of-josheph-come-to-buy-grain-to-egypt

God’s purposes are being carried to fruition all around us: the question is are we the unconscious tools in this work or are we the willing instruments in the service of God and the glorifying of His name?

We must use the common sense that God has given us ever seeking His Wisdom from on high ,we can always and ever throw ourselves upon God and seek to Him for deliverance.

The saddest thing we see today is that so few understand and are willing to do this.

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A spark of life!

Revised Christianity??

e0ceaccf3e865b6463471ddf59d222b4--ancient-egypt-pyramids-cairo-egypt

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.

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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.

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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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SPAM