The hope of the Resurrection!

Preaching in 1856, C.H. Spurgeon reproaches himself for not imitating, as closely as he should have done the Apostolic’ ‘staple’ of preaching the Resurrection of Christ.download empty tomb

He goes on to say that even among professing Christians belief in an actual physical resurrection is not believed.

While many hold to the immortality of the soul as did the ancient Greek philosophers, the idea of the body rising to newness of life through Christ is mocked by many.

Witness Paul’s encounter with the Athenians and their final rejection of the Apostles message of Jesus and his resurrection and later on of his dealings with the unbelieving Jews on this very subject.

Some have complained recently of the lack of preaching on the Resurrection. Whether this is actually the case I do not know.

I know of one American preacher that focuses on the Resurrection yet would ‘unhitch’ a great deal of other Scripture and doctrine.

This would be like holding up the roof of a building yet removing the walls and foundation.

As a teaching, belief, doctrine and practice Christianity is all of a piece. You cannot grasp one part of it and discard all else without ruining and despoiling the whole.

The Resurrection is the ‘imprimatur’ of God on the saving work of Christ it is proof that ‘New life’ is available through His Son. Yet it cannot be separated from the ‘atoning’ work of Christ upon the Cross, the incarnation and the progressive revelation of the Old Testament.

Spurgeon further says that the Resurrection of Christ and the hope of our resurrection through Him comforts the believer in the loss of dear ones and strengthens in the face of their own death. He reminds his hearers that even the ‘dust’ of God’s people is precious in His sight and will raise the self same person although exalted at the last day.

Would that we believed and trusted in this hope more than we do!

Spurgeon concludes this section of his sermon by reminding his hearers and us, that if the bodies of believers are to be raised again and are precious in the sight of God, we should look after them not so much in healthy living although this is important, but rather by living holy lives and not misusing our bodies for sinful purposes and looking lustfully for sinful things.

We who are constantly reminded by the world that we are our own and to spoil ourselves need to hear the gospel message that we are no longer our own and have been bought with a price. It is because the Christian now belongs to God that we know He will not allow us to perish.

The’Glorious Revolution’!

The ‘Glorious Revolution’ in 1688 was a pivotal point in British history and Christian liberty.maxresdefault

The reign of the ‘Stuart’ Kings was one of almost constant persecution of ‘nonconformists’ and the enforcing of liturgy and regulated worship on the non-established churches.

The Puritan, John Flaveldownload (1) preaching at this time, Warns and advises young ministers of the necessity of using this new found liberty to preach the Word freely and unhindered and the spiritual attitude necessary to maintain it.

We in the West, have had liberty to proclaim the gospel message for many years yet one wonders how much advantage of this freedom has been taken by ministers and believers.

The period which followed the period of the ‘Glorious Revolution’ was characterized by a slide into moderatism, the preaching of morality instead of the ‘gospel’ and moral decline in the wider society. This was the state of society until the ‘Evangelical Revival’ and Whitefield and Wesley etc.

One point common was commonly made by the Puritans that we can sin away ‘the Day of Grace’ and by our sloth and faithlessness squander our opportunities for proclaiming the word of salvation.

It appears that the time will come when the proclamation of the gospel will be curtailed and limited by a society and belief system that reviles Christian truth and holy living. This fact gives impetus to the need to make fuller use of our Christian liberty while it remains to us.

It also increases the guilt of those who are even now ‘re-casting ‘the gospel message into something other than what it is.

The responsibility of how we use the short space of time we have left for the furtherance of the kingdom is upon us all!

Yet we must also remember that it was during the dire times of Church history that  it was at its most flourishing and Christians were at their most faithful and obedient and indeed holiest!

james haldane

 

Cures for all that ails you!

Rummaging through old newspapers brings you into contact with old advertisements promising cure and results that would now be regarded as nothing more than ‘quackery’. (Though I think we can see a return to this sort of advertising in many of our television ‘infomercials’)

You find products and tinctures that will cure your toothache by ‘killing the nerve and filling the tooth’.  Miracle lotions than will rid you of grey hair or pills that cure everything from lumbago to dyspepsia.Beechams_Pills-Scribners_189105.jpg

They have treatments for ailments using ‘new-fangled’ electricity that will spark new life into you no matter how lethargic you feel now.th1884_electric_nerve_pencil_toothache_japanese_pain_remedy_advertising_trade_card_1_thumb2_lgw.jpg

These ‘ads’ are sometimes accompanied by stirring ‘testimonials’ by ‘Mrs. or Mr.’ ‘whoever’, from a respectable distance away, extolling the virtue or ‘Dr Zoonbraums miracle pills’.

It was not until you sent your postal order for two shillings and either received a ‘placebo’ sugar pill or nothing at all that you realized you had been ‘Had’.

But still the advertisements appeared.

We humans veer between skepticism and gullibility. When the message of the Gospel comes it is often met by suspicion or otherwise as a ‘Quick fix’ to all our problems without looking to closely.

 

While we must not believe everything we are told, the gospel invites us to ‘Prove all things’ 1 Thess. 5:21 and when we find for ourselves the reality of God’s Truth and experience the ‘Love of Christ’ we are to ‘Hold to’ it.

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The hope of the Resurrection!

Seeing but not Perceiving!

These are the words of the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which He made with them in Horeb.

Now Moses called all Israel and said to them: “You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land— the great trials which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great wonders. Yet the Lord has not given you a heart to [a]perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day. And I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn out on your feet…..Therefore keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.

10 “All of you stand today before the Lord your God: your leaders and your tribes and your elders and your officers, all the men of Israel,11 your little ones and your wives—also the stranger who is in your camp, from the one who cuts your wood to the one who draws your water— 12 that you may enter into covenant with the Lord your God, and into His oath, which the Lord your God makes with you today,13 that He may establish you today as a people for Himself, and thatHe may be God to you, just as He has spoken to you, and just as He has sworn to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

14 “I make this covenant and this oath, not with you alone, 15 but with him who stands here with us today before the Lord our God, as well as with him who is not here with us today.” Deuteronomy 29:1- 14 NKJV.

 

The generation of Israel which was left after the forties years of ‘Wandering’ were standing on the brink of entering the ‘Promised land’.bd5c45a051dd06742ab9cc9a014dec6a.jpg

God through Moses, reminded the people of all those mighty works that He had wrought for them in bringing them out of Egypt and carrying them thus far and again that in the face of their repeated disobedience and stubborn unbelief.

The Covenant between God and his people was renewed at this time and two ways were set before them, the way to blessing and fruitful possession of the land or upon their disobedience, the curses of an angry God and war, famine, pestilence and exile.

The people’s proneness to disobedience and faithlessness is frankly laid at the door of their guilty and inexcusable lack of understanding and perception.

Despite all that the entire people saw, heard and experienced, God’s dealing with them and the mighty power He had exercised on their behalf produced no fundamental and enduring change in their hard hearted attitudes and sinful inclinations.

The mere fact that they had been sustained and constantly fed in a ‘howling wilderness’ when in normal circumstances they should have perished with hunger and thirst meant nothing to them.  Even the fact that their clothes and shoes had not worn out as they normally would have had not registered with them as anything miraculous.

It seemed that in common with most of us they had become blasé with the mighty works of God seen in panorama gloriously around them.

God reminds them of what their own eyes has seen of the rampant idolatry of the nations through which they passed and the degradation and futility that were its consequences.

The people were again warned of the consequences of dallying with the ‘left over’ relics and idols they would find in Canaan.

They may foolishly come to believe that there would be no dire consequences from ‘toying’ with the practices of the Canaanites. There would be someone who would come from their midst who would suggest a seemingly minor departure from God and His ways. Becoming bored with the worship of the Lord their God they would be tempted to dally with the flesh pleasing pleasures of idolatry.

But their God was not an empty nothing such as the gods of the nations. He was not one to be trifled with and His law broken without repercussions.

As he would bless them in everything they did and possessed if they continued in obedience so would disobedience bring upon the people a blight and curse on all they did and on all they possessed and on their health and fruitfulness.

Unfortunately some professing Christians, in this modern age have re-invented God as being somewhat different from the Old Testament reality.

The God of Modern Christianity has ‘mellowed’ somewhat with the passing ages.

Many have made him far more indulgent and less likely to condemn and punish for our grievous sinful indulgences.

We must remember that the Children of Israel were to be God’s (if I may use the expression) ‘display house’ in the world.

The ungodly were to see in Israel, God’ glory and grace and be drawn to like obedience and faith. How could this be accomplished if God’s chosen people were indulging in idolatry and behaved no differently from the Gentiles?

Surely the Christian must perform a similar role in the world today and yet how many of us live lives which are indistinguishable from our godless neighbours.

As the children of Israel were called to holiness and holy living, so is the believer.

It is our discarding of the need for Christian Sanctification and the encroachment of ‘worldliness’ and Post modern’ thinking that has weakened the Church’s witness in the world. It is our trivializing of sin and lack of desire for ‘Holiness’ that tarnishes all say and do.

The Christian through God’s grace  revealed  through Christ no longer seeks to be justified in God’s sight by works of Law.

Yet  the believer does not escape the Divine call to obedience and holiness.

It is the through the acting of the ‘new born’  heavenly nature and sanctified desires implanted in the believer that motivate him to seek to live in ways pleasing to God and according to His Holy Word!

Rather than ‘Unhitch’ ourselves from the Old Testament we should rather remind ourselves of exactly who this ‘Holy’ and yet merciful God is ,with whom we have to do; and in obedience to His Word, walk in faith, ‘holiness and newness of life’.

George bowen 3

That sinking Feeling!

sinkhole

One thought that occurs to me living as I am in a city built on Gold mining is that I can never be sure what lies under my feet.

We often find articles in our local paper about old mine shafts opening up due to heavy rain.

The strangest occurrence I remember is of a person pulling up floorboards in his house and finding a gaping void beneath them.

The phenomena of ‘sinkholes’ and the fact that our continental land masses are afloat on a sea of molten magma give us a reminder that stability and solidity are only ‘relative’ terms.

God alone offers true stability and should be the rock we trust in and obey. The Christian alone builds on a ‘Sure foundation’ which ‘wind, weather, Earthquake and Fire can never move or destroy.

john angel james 1

 

 

 

 

Seeing but not Perceiving!

The end of the ‘Wait.’

Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
    When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people,
    let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad. Psalm 14:7

 

The greater part of the Christian life for many seems to be spent in ‘waiting’. Indeed many verses in the Psalms call us to ‘wait upon the Lord’ and record the believer’s response,’I wait upon the Lord’.

First and foremost, the meaning of the word ‘wait’ as used in these verses seems to carry the sense of seeking to the Lord.

Are we suppliants at the ‘throne of grace’?

Are we seeking to the Lord in all our hopes and desires? Are we fulfilling the role of servants waiting upon our Master’s instructions and commands?

Until we are in this position we are unlikely to be hoping for any divine promises to be fulfilled and any deliverance from imminent peril to be forthcoming.

In our accelerated age, to ask someone to ‘wait’ is the worst thing you can say to them.

For those who defy the trend and actually ‘seek to the Lord’, waiting is the most difficult part of Christianity. Many times even in the direst of circumstances, the deliverance we hope for is exceedingly long in coming according to our perceptions.

The answers to our prayers seem to be delayed and misplaced in the same way some of our mail deliveries can be.

Yet in all our frustration the call remains ‘Wait’ upon the Lord.

The ungodly have long past given up ‘waiting upon the Lord’. Indeed if He were to come upon them now it would only be in condign judgment. In this case God’s delay savours more of mercy.

The Christian is encouraged to have higher hopes and expectations.

The knowledge we have of God’s power and grace and care for his children engrains in us the expectation of speedy and complete deliverance.

Yet alongside all of this the call remains ‘wait on the Lord’.

We frequently remind ourselves that 1000 years to the Lord is as one day. So that must mean God does not account ‘time‘in the same way we do.

Therefore it is not surprising that God’s seeming delays are sometimes prolonged to excruciating amounts of time.

The modern Church would gladly avoid the question of suffering and God’s allowance of it. It glibly says that if our faith and obedience were of a higher standard suffering would be virtually unknown and barely noticeable.

Yet there it is, the salvation promised and the deliverance on the way and the call to ‘Wait upon the Lord.’

There is always a ‘needs be’ in all God does. No chastisement or suffering is pleasant. The call to ‘Wait’ carries with it the call for us to ‘endure’. It is not because God is not coming, it is not because He does not care or is preoccupied. Rather it is because He has purposes that need to be served and lessons He has need to teach.

We may not see it at the time, but looking back over our Christian lives we will find that all our times of waiting upon the Lord were well worth it and the means of incalculable blessing.

The Drover’s Wife!

Is a short story by Australian writer and poet Henry Lawson.

Walter_Withers_-_The_Drover,_1912

While her husband is a way droving, his wife and children manage on their own in a small shack up a lonely and isolated track. It recounts the families encounter with a snake, its crawling under the floor of the house and threatening to leap out and bite them.

One of my favourite parts of the story is the fact that every Sunday, the wife dresses herself and the children up in their best clothes and takes them for a walk up the ‘Rutted ‘ and lonely track pushing her ‘pram’, with little likelihood of seeing another human being.droverswife

We little know the hardships our forebears went through to subsist and raise families.

The apparent fact that many of them did it with their ‘heads held high’ is more remarkable still.

This woman did not have much but she made the most of what she did have and did what she could to brighten up what was otherwise a grueling existence.

Thankfully our lives are seldom as hard as those of former times; yet we still at times need fortitude in the face of adversity.

Thankfully the Christian has the added dimension of a Saviour who is ever near and always cares for and keeps his people.

john dick 1

 

 

 

The end of the ‘Wait.’

Beneath the Sod!

We are watchers of a beacon 
whose light must never die;
We are guardians of an altar 
that shows Thee ever nigh;
We are children of Thy freemen 
who sleep beneath the sod;
For the might of Thine arm we bless Thee, 
our God, our fathers’ God. ( Charles Sylvester Horne 1865 -1914)

 

Of all the  ‘long past’ relatives I have researched, the only ones that I have found any direct evidence for more a than ‘nominal’ Christian belief are my great, great grandparents on my mother’s side.

I discovered by the fact that my great, great grandfather was killed in a mine accident in 1898.

I have a copy of the newspaper report made at the time and recognized the names of several ministers , one of whom was very well known at the time, involved in the funeral.100_0373.JPG

In other words, they were known for the company they kept.

True this is not conclusive but speaks in favour of a strong Christian connection with a very evangelical section of the Church.

We owe an immense debt, whether we recognize it or not, to those who have gone before us in the Christian faith.

Our spiritual descent from them may be direct or indirect but it is still real and tangible.

It behooves us all to play our part, to the full extent of our abilities and influence, to the next generation by whatever means and opportunities available to us.

Where would we have been had one link in this long chain had been missing and we not reached by it?

God in His purposes and providence has forged each and every one of the ‘links ‘of the chain of our Salvation.

He has not only in the external circumstances but in the hearts of men and women down through history.

It is eternally certain that His purposes for the redemption of His Chosen people will not fail.

To His name be the glory

william jay

bushman's guide.jpeg

W. Arnold Long recounts the story of a ‘moonlight’ battle between a Wallaby (a small kangaroo) and an exceptionally large ‘carpet’ snake which had entangled its feet and was severely restricting its movement and preventing its escape.carpet snake

The Wallaby was to the point of complete exhaustion by all its attempts to escape and was on the point of succumbing when a ‘shot ‘rang out and the snake fell dead.

An unseen spectator had gone to his dwelling to fetch his gun and dispatched the snake thus saving the Wallaby.wallaby

Long makes the point that in our life and death struggle with sin , we to were on the point of succumbing to its just deserts when  our Lord Jesus Christ entered the ‘lists’ and by His death and resurrection overcame sin , death and the devil.

To Him be all glory in the Church!

colquhoun

Beneath the Sod!

Encapsulated Truth.

We are always being told that the simplest way to deal with an inadequate diet is to take a ‘vitamin supplement’ to make up for what we are missing out on by our skipping meals and  through our substituting ‘junk food’ for those more nutritious.vit amins.jpeg

Science fiction tells us that one day all our dietary requirements will come in a condensed and probably rather tasteless form.

The increased pace of our lives demands things to be quick, easy and ready to hand.

Why should we be wasting time cooking and preparing meals when it is far easier to buy something ready prepared and microwaveable, even if not quite as healthy and tastes of cardboard?

It has often been the case that expedients and substitutes have found their way into people’s diets.

The American woodsman who could not always carry supplies and find game, survived on dried meat called ‘jerky’. The Arctic explorer made do with ‘Pemmican’ and the seaman ‘salt pork’ and biscuits, often accompanied by weevils.pemmican

These expedients were necessary at times but could never make up for a balanced and sufficient diet.

In the area of communicating information and points of view, opinions and truths are often conveyed by the passing on of quotes from learned and influential people.

These ‘quotes’ often serve to  illustrate points we may feel they communicate in a superior or more condensed than we ourselves are able to do.

As you see from this blog, I avail myself of quoted sources which in my view ‘encapsulate’ truths I think are important and worthy to be more widely known.

Some people have a great gift for compressing useful and memorable truths into a terse and ‘pungent’ i.e. affecting ways.

These ‘words of wisdom’ and ‘quips’ and ‘quotes’ may supplement our intellectual diet and may be convenient forms to carry  and help preserve things into our memory, but will not wholly replace our own reading, study and contemplation.

Our Lord Jesus Christ was a master at conveying teaching to the masses in the ‘condensed’ forms of Parables and ‘sayings’. These teachings were easily remembered and were heard gladly by the people.

Some were content to marvel at Christ’s wisdom and entertainment value without looking more deeply and  as a consequence received no further benefit, others sought deeply and  found more substantial ‘food’ and reaped eternal benefits.

Taken in isolation, the ‘sayings of Jesus’ can act as a ‘pick me up’ in a given situation and they are valuable for their coming in a more portable and readily memorable form but they must be accompanied by continued feeding and meditation and thorough digestion of what God has to say to us in His Word as well as reading those who have left sound and useful works for us to study.

Storefronts!

Due to the decline of ‘Corner stores’ or as we call them here ‘shops’, there are many of them that are now merely people’s homes.old store

They  may still have the overhead ‘verandahs’ and the large display windows but now they are closed and have no access and interaction with the public.

It may be said that many ‘Christians’ are  much like these disused businesses that inasmuch as their only concern is with their own salvation and personal welfare and have no further concerns.

They may make a token effort in supporting the work of missions and some prayer but they have long given up very much in the way of witness and evangelism as  being a ‘lost cause’ in the current atheistic climate.

It is easy to be discouraged as to the state of affairs in Christianity and its progress and witness in the World. We may have all come to the point that we have thrown up our hands and yielded to despair.

We have been infected with the almost universal sense of embarrassment with regards to the gospel .It does seem that many of those who make the most noise in Christianity, proclaim very little of the Scriptural message of Salvation and instead preach a ‘therapeutic’ gospel’ which most find less offensive.

While we may be assured that the cause of Christ will triumph in the end we are still reminded by Christ’s parable of the talents, that we have been each given spiritual ‘capital’ to invest and a heavenly reward awaiting us. Therefore we, each one of us are called by the Saviour to be ‘open for business when it comes to our life and witness for Him in the World.

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To me the most poignant thing I have come across in my ‘cemetery’ researches is the  finding of a grave in one of the ‘infant’ sections where a couple  lost twins.

Three rows down I found that three years later this same couple, lost a baby girl.

I can only imagine how these parents suffered and wonder how they survived?

The Christian life is not not one that is free or immune to tragedy and sadness and sometimes we come close to being crushed by them.

But for the Christian faith and the power of Christ’s resurrection, death would remain a hopeless void.

We can only pity those who have no ‘Rock’ to cling to and seek to  lift up Christ as the truest support and stay for people who would otherwise be without hope.

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leighton

 

Encapsulated Truth.

Implosion!

The term building implosion can be misleading to laymen: The technique is not a true implosion phenomenon. A true implosion usually involves a difference between internal (lower) and external (higher) pressure, or inward and outward forces, that is so large that the structure collapses inward into itself.implosion

In contrast, building implosion techniques do not rely on the difference between internal and external pressure to collapse a structure. Instead, the goal is to induce a progressive collapse by weakening or removing critical supports, therefore the building can no longer withstand gravity loads and will fail under its own weight. (quoted from wiki)

It seems to me, that there are spiritual and emotional equivalents of an “implosion”.

People are often referred to as ‘going to pieces’ in times of overwhelming sorrow and emotional stress.

The old joke is that some people “go to pieces so fast that others get hit by the shrapnel”.

Emotionally volatile people, in trying times, tend to strike out at those in the vicinity; which may provoke family, friends and colleagues to ‘steer clear’ of them for a while.

Others, when under stress and feelings of despair become withdrawn. Their emotions contract and behavior implodes into introversion and they free-fall in on themselves.

A hedgehog may find this a good defense mechanism: but for everyone else it does more harm than good.

It has the effect of cutting off or hindering the comfort and help others may bring.

I have often been called an introvert.

I often wonder if anything I say to people makes any sense to them and if I connect with them at any level.

The people, I more easily converse with and who seem to understand me most are certainly few and far between.

If people do not react to me in the way I expect, my tendency is to resort introspection and wonder what is wrong with me.

We sometimes feel that it is better limit interaction with others and just speak when you are spoken to.

Some of us only need a little push to turn us into ‘hermits’.

In trying times, the Christian is not impervious to the temptation to close the shutters and doors on everyone and everything and fly away to a place of quiet and solitude in the hope of finding tranquility.

King David understood this feeling more than most.

The danger comes when we turn away from God and thus shun the only true source of aid and comfort.

Phillip Yancey wrote a book called “Disappointed with God”.

We may arrive at a point where we feel that God is letting us down or even spiritually ‘short-changing’ us. We feel as if God is far away and uncaring.

We may, in a fit of spiritual pique give God the silent treatment or go off in a “huff”; “cursing the day of our birth”?

People in high emotion, dudgeon or resentment, are often said to be “seeing red”.

Being this condition affects the way they perceive and handle things.

In like manner, our view of God is often coloured and clouded by the way we are feeling at the time.

The state of a Christian’s relationship with God influences for ‘good or ill’ all other relationships.

If we are open and honest with God we are more likely to be so with our fellow believers.

Focusing on Christ, takes our mind off ourselves and our own problems and makes our focus the pleasing of our heavenly Father and doing good to those around us.

A spiritually healthy relationship with Christ promotes better relations with other Christians and makes us more desirous to seek the welfare and salvation of those who do not know the Saviour.

One fruit of opening ourselves to Jesus Christ is that we find more peace and are less liable to fall to pieces in a crisis.

True this may not always be the case.

The Christian is still a work in progress.

However the closer we cling to Christ, who knows well how to still storms, the less likely we will be to implode spiritually.

Even if we do collapse in some degree, He is willing and able to rebuild and renew us.

building reconstruction

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Jeremiah and Baruch.

To be a faithful servant of God and our Lord Jesus Christ is not always an easy or flesh pleasing task.

Jeremiah, in his day, was given the task of delivering God’s message of impending judgment to the Jewish nation.

The people’s heinous sins and blatant disobedience of God’s law made punishment inevitable.

Jeremiah’s warnings of future judgment, call for repentance and a return to obedience provoked a hostile and sometimes violent response from the leaders of the people.

This took a toll on his sensitive nature.images jerem

He suffered greatly due to the emotional stress and strain involved in preaching an unpopular message to a self righteous and self satisfied people.

The prophet’s obedience and faithfulness to God brought upon him, among other things accusations of treason and sedition against his own nation.

He ‘fell foul’ of the religious leaders and own countryman and like Elijah before him was regarded as a “troubler of Israel”.

Jeremiah suffered reviling, persecution and physical abuse and this made his life almost unbearable.

The book of Jeremiah wrote reveals him to be a person of tender nature and highly developed sensibility.

His profound love for God and his people were constantly in conflict within him: despite this, he remained unswervingly faithful to God and His Word.

No doubt, this man of God would have preferred preaching a message comprising only good news, with promises of unending blessing and a rosy future for all. This was not what he was called to do.

Jeremiah, in faithfulness to his call from God did not shrink from delivering the message given to him regardless of the consequences.

It was a message of imminent judgment that resembled a swift approaching and potentially devastating storm.judgement

The “door” of God’s long suffering was revealed as nearly shut: tragically, it was the people who were fast closing it upon themselves. This was due to their willful obstinacy and disobedience to God’s revealed will.

The prophet instinctively sought the welfare and salvation of his people and to be compelled to deliver a message of impending slaughter and a humiliating exile for the few survivors, grieved him sorely.

Jeremiah doubtless, fervently hoped that the nation would turn in repentance and walk again in the path of godly obedience: this surely would have forestalled the judgment to come.

God would have come to them instead with forgiveness, mercy and love.

Sadly, the leaders, priests and people persisted in their idolatry and sin.

The nation careered out of control, going from bad to worse thus making God’s judgment inevitable.

In the depths of his sorrows, Jeremiah tried to bottle up and restrain the word of God within him.

 It was getting all too much for him.

Perhaps if he could remain silent, at least for a time, he could have enjoyed a brief respite and found a little peace.

But nothing could stifle the message of God within him; it burned in his soul, like an active volcano seeking to vent itself and erupt.index vol

The prophet records some of the struggle in his soul.

He felt that God had somehow tricked him, and was giving this message of judgment to the wrong and completely unsuitable man.

Perhaps the prophet, in common with the rest of the people, had grown so accustomed to think of God solely, in the terms of love and mercy.

To the typical Jew, God’s judgment was reserved for the Gentile nations that did not know Him. They thought God would only act for the salvation and deliverance of His people. To think otherwise was a considerable wrench for someone like Jeremiah

The prophet’s message tore away the façade of superficial worship and “lip service” paid to God by the people and held to the “light” the kingdom’s idolatry, corruption and spiritual bankruptcy

God’s imminent coming instead of an expected source of blessing and hope was instead a visitation as Judge and executioner.

The only remedy for the back-slidden people was repentance and reformation: of which there was, as yet no evidence.

One could imagine Jeremiah thinking, “Surely God could have raised up some one like Elijah to deliver this message of judgment. He would have stood like an “oak tree” against this storm of reproach: Why did he choose someone like me? I feel like a plant in the desert, withering from the heat of the sun”!

Jeremiah no doubt, sorely felt every hurtful barb and took to heart every sarcastic sneer.

He bewailed his appointed lot and resented every aspersion made against his character and patriotism.

Yet it was to this “sensitive soul” that the Word of the Lord came and no plea of inadequacy on Jeremiah’s part was sufficient to dissuade God from His choice.

Regardless of his own feelings and despite all of the consequences, this man of God fulfilled his divinely appointed task and faithfully proclaimed the Word of the Lord.

Jeremiah was not the only one who suffered during this pivotal period in Judah’s history.

Baruch the son of Neriah, Jeremiah’s secretary and amanuensis, took some of the “flack” from the affronted and disgruntled leaders of the nation.jer and bar.jpeg

The role he played in the proclamation of God’s sobering message cost him dearly.

Baruch appears to have been a relatively young man with perfectly natural hopes and aspirations for the future. These were to be greatly curtailed by soon occurring, prophesied events.

Baruch’s intimacy and collaboration with Jeremiah in his ministry, made his life difficult and perilous. Added to this, the prospect of impending conquest and foreign exile quashed many of his hopes for the future.

So profoundly did this effect him that God in his mercy, addressed his sorrowful state.

45 When Baruch son of Neriah wrote on a scroll the words Jeremiah the prophet dictated in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, Jeremiah said this to Baruch: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to you, Baruch: You said, ‘Woe to me! The Lord has added sorrow to my pain; I am worn out with groaning and find no rest.’ But the Lord has told me to say to you, ‘This is what the Lord says: I will overthrow what I have built and uproot what I have planted, throughout the earth. Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the Lord, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.’”Jeremiah 45: 1-5

Faithfulness to God’s Word often involves heartache and suffering.

Sadly, many today shirk their duty and studiously avoid the unpleasant truths that God calls them proclaim and the holy life they are commanded to lead.

We all have hopes and aspirations in this world but we also know that this “world is passing away and the lust of it” 1 John 2:17.

We have an uncertain lease on our earthly life with no guarantee of health and prosperity.

The Christian’s call requires the setting aside of our own interests, hopes and desires and our seeking to faithfully fulfill our duty in serving God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jeremiah’s message was not all death and despair. Beyond the gloom the light of hope shone.

Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings,” says the Lord. “But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking,” says the Lord.

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord,
“That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness;
A King shall reign and prosper,
And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
In His days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will dwell safely;
Now this is His name by which He will be called:

THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Jeremiah 23:2b-6)

 

Let us be faithful and obedient to His Word and service even when the consequence for our obedience is to be hated and persecuted!

The Lord knows those who are His and will reward their faithfulness to His Truth.

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Implosion!

Swinging the Compass!

Marine vessels and aircraft, (even in the era of satellite navigation), still rely, to some extent on the use of the magnetic compass.52be46a234d0d4d6ffeb3b4136925753

A vessel or aircraft’s compass can develop a deviation error and give an inaccurate directional heading if not accounted for and corrected.

For ship at seas; “Deviation is the problem of compass error due to structure of the vessel, proximity of metal objects, magnetic fields or electrical equipment. It may be influenced by loading cargo (e.g. canned fruit) or having repair work done (new metal parts or electronics). Deviation also varies with the ship’s head (way it is pointing) as this changes the position of the magnetic fields in the boat relative to the earth’s magnetic field as well as it’s relationship with interfering objects onboard.

Individual vessels have individual deviation cards that show the adjustment required for changes in position of the vessel’s head. The process used to produce a deviation card is called ‘swinging the compass’.”; Quoted from “Coastal boating .net”grid

As with a ship at sea, because of the presence of a sinful nature within as well as the incessant pressure of worldly’ temptations and trials without,   the Christian is in constant of peril of taking a false bearing and sailing in the wrong direction.

Every ‘false heading’ we take in our spiritual voyage will lead us further away from the heavenly harbor and result in shame, sorrow and loss.

We retard our progress and growth in the Christian life and experience the loss of peace and joy in Christ.

We are often unaware of how much we are affected by things that seem in themselves harmless, such as “worldly” pleasures and pursuits.

We find ourselves “all at sea” because we have lost our bearings in the storm of life and forget our ultimate destination as Christians. We ignore the “map” and “compass” God has provided and no wonder we end up perilously close to the “breakers”.

Our own innate self reliance is also an ever present danger because most of us have an inflated opinion of our abilities, instincts and intuitions.

Affected as they are by sin and human frailty our opinions and assessments of the right course of action to take in a given situation are not always one hundred percent reliable.

When we do lose our sense of direction in life our natural tendency is that we may just follow the crowd in the hope that they are heading the right way, yet they may themselves be happily drifting with wind and tide.

It is only when we take a “sextant” reading of God through His Word ,assisted by prayer and “swing the compass” of our hearts and minds that we can reset the course of our lives.images sextant

Aided by the Spirit’s power, working in our hearts and minds, we can counter balance and overcome the sinful influences and temptations that cause us to go veer “off course”.

Out of the Depths.

Continuing a nautical theme.

It is not wholly or solely due to our own lack of consideration and naivety that we can find ourselves in spiritual peril and “all at sea”.

The prophet Jonah, having refused the heading set for him by God instead charted an “inverse” course towards Tarshish, far away from the path of duty.

Through the means of a typhoon at sea and a terrified ship-master and crew , the prophet is confronted by and convicted of  his own disobedience and reminded of the inescapable power of the One whom he worshipped and served.

In the hope of appeasing the  “Hebrew” God “who made the sea and dry land” and thus  quiet the sea, save the ship and those on board, the wayward prophet is , reluctantly , thrown over the side by the terrified crew.ed37ea12da72eee16916f2d5e0248323

Sinking into the bottomless depths, instead of drowning miserably, the prophet is swallowed by a “divinely” prepared “great fish” and finds himself alive and whole ,if only in exceedingly unpleasant and uncomfortable circumstances.

It was indeed a reprieve, but it must have certainly seemed to Jonah that it was not the end of the life-threatening danger facing him.

The Scriptural account reveals to us many things about Jonah that are not admirable or worthy of imitation yet underlying all there is shown, implanted in the core of his being ,true faith in God and the certain knowledge of his power and willingness to save, despite all indications and appearances to the contrary.

That the prophet “prayed” in such circumstances may not have been remarkable: many lesser men and women have done the same in less perilous occurrences.

That he prayed in such an environment says a great deal about Jonah’s understanding of the omniscience and omnipresence of God, in this he puts many of us to shame.

The remarkable thing is that, despite the recollection of his disobedience and overwhelming sense of guilt and sinfulness in fleeing from God, he still felt able to cry out in prayer to the One who had prepared this chastisement and hurled this judgment upon him.

Even in this awful place and circumstance Jonah still owned Him as “Lord and My God”.

Regardless of what happened to Jonah from now on, the fundamental truth of God’s merciful and forgiving nature combined with His unfailing love for his people, (the prophet among them) was the rock that kept his head above water. It did not matter how much the storm raged around him and how far the folly of his own nature led him astray, He was not beyond the love and power of God.

The  same God who had prepared the storm and delivered the prophet from drowning in the “sea” of his own disobedience ,through the unlikely means of a “great fish” , was the same  Almighty Saviour who would restore Jonah to the world of men and  set him  once again upon the path of obedience.

And so to the glory of God and the admiration of his grace it proved when the “great fish”, in obedience to divine command, vomited the prophet up on a foreign shore.13. Jonah BV button_crop.jpg

In the same way when we have fled away from God and the way of righteousness and obedience, we can still call upon Him in the knowledge that even when we are faithless, He is faithful.  He will hear the prayer of faith and speed to our deliverance.

It is always dangerous to sin willfully and presumptuously, even so, we are not, in this life beyond the mercy and grace of Christ, if only we will in faith cry out unto Him “out of the depths”.

I confess my debt to Joseph S. Excell and his work on Jonah for setting the theme of the preceding.

“The Condiments of the Season”

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Even the felonious “Chief Weasel” in the “Thames television” animation of “Wind in the Willows” felt the need to call a truce, in their mutual ill-feeling with Badger, Mole and Ratty and wish them the “condiments” of the “festered season” and a “preposterous ” New Year.

In a more serious vein, with the “Christmas” season here, we can only sorrow at the prevailing ignorance and culpable misrepresentation that attends the “Worlds” celebration of Christ’s birth.indexjoseph and mary

The same sinful “mankind” that bids God depart, flouts His law and neither seeks or desires knowledge of His ways, still plays lip service to the “incarnation” of His Son.
Let us all pray that despite themselves and through the secret working of the Spirit of Truth , the testimony of believers and the preaching of the Word, many will see past the “tinsel” of falsehood and come to a true and saving knowledge and faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Swinging the Compass!