The Weapons of our Warfare!

The “Smith” gun.

During the early days of World War two and the imminent of threat of invasion of Britain the greatest need of the defenders was for effective anti-tank weapons, especially for the Home Guard.

So desperate were they for an answer to the seemingly unstoppable German tanks, that someone suggested they place upside down dinner plates on the local roads to arouse the curiosity of the German tank crews to provoke them to leave their vehicles and investigate ,hoping to dispose of them in the process.

One weapon developed was the Smith Gun.220px-The_Smith_Three_Inch_Mobile_Gun_H18832

“The Smith Gun was an ad hoc anti-tank artillery piece used by the British Army and Home Guard during the Second World War. With a German invasion of Great Britain seeming likely after the defeat in the Battle of France, most available weaponry was diverted to the regular British Army, leaving the Home Guard short on supplies, particularly anti-tank weaponry. The Smith Gun was designed by a retired Army Major named William H. Smith as a makeshift anti-tank weapon, and was put into production in 1941 following a demonstration to the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill”. (Quoted from wiki)

Unfortunately by the time the”Smith Gun” arrived the threat of invasion had largely subsided.

To operate this weapon it had to be turned on its side, which was not always easy to do as it was heavy and awkward to handle especially on uneven ground.

It required a high firing trajectory and with the shortage of ammunition, target practice was not always possible.4088263_orig

It had a mixed operational history and was quickly withdrawn from service at the end of the war.

It is understandable in those desperate days that for all its faults this weapon was jumped upon.

There are many in the churches today who feel that we can no longer rely on the Bible as our primary weapon in the fight against sin and our endeavour to save people from its clutches.

They regard its claim to inerrancy and  faith in the utility Scriptures for God’s saving purposes in the world ,as being “Old hat” and not worthy of credence for twenty first century man.

These often well meaning people, seek to supplement and sometimes replace the preaching of the Word with worldly methods and devices that can only be regarded as gimmicks.

I fear that for many so called ministers of the Word that the last thing they want to do is preach it. Very often they will substitute anything else for the actual exposition and proclamation of the Scriptures.

God does not need us to “second guess” Him. He has warned us against using carnal weapons and must look to the Captain of our Salvation for our supply and ammunition.

Christ has not left His army without the weapons they need to fight their spiritual enemies. The Bible as the in-scripturated Word of God is an “arsenal of freedom” that we despise at our peril.

Supported by fervent prayer and trusting faith we are well equipped for whatever the world, Satan and ungodly men can throw against us.

Empowered by the Spirit, we have all the means we need to overcome the enemy’s seemingly impregnable defenses.

Through Christ and His grace, the Church and individual Christian is more than capable of withstanding any attack and assault if only we will avail ourselves of them.

It will endure and prevail when all our man made designs and devices will end on the scrap heap.

Strangers and Sojourners.

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“9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” 1 Peter 2:9-11 E.S.V.

The Christian in his or her original state is no different from the non-Christian. We were to without God and without hope.

The Apostle Peter places the originating cause of our difference from the people of godless world at large solely in the reality of God’s choice of the believer.

It is only through His undeserved and indeed ill-deserved mercy that those who were once “not a people” became the people of God.

It is because of this high calling that Christians are to live differently and on a more exalted and heavenly plane than those around them.

This world is not our final dwelling place and because of this, our attitude towards it must be that of strangers and sojourners, with the expectancy of departing from it at any time.

Instead of involving ourselves with the  inordinate pursuit of world’s passions and desires we must place our ultimate desire in seeking to glorify our Lord and Saviour by living holy and God glorifying lives in serving our fellow men and women.

We are to show forth the Excellencies and saving mercies of the one who has saved us and has a wondrous eternal reward in store for His chosen, blood bought and redeemed people . This merciful God , continues to call others to Himself by the proclamation of the glorious gospel of Christ.

To Him alone be the Glory of our Salvation.

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Editorial Note:

The only feedback I get regarding this blog is from “followers ” and ” likes”.

The only comments I recieve are spam or treated as spam by WordPress.

Since most of my readers appear to be in the United States, I can only wonder what they make of most of my references to my favourite genres in films and history.

I can only hope that despite these seemingly obscure sources, the lessons and conclusions I have tried to draw and illustrate from them, will not be lost in translation.

 

 

The Weapons of our Warfare!

Family tree: Knots and Knotholes.

 

We may know a great deal about our immediate and extended family.

When looking at more distant and unfamiliar family and our family tree however, we find a tendency to “idealize” and place in “the best light” our forebears and time – distant relatives.tree family

We may pick up a clue here and there of how they lived and what they did. We may know a little of what they were like. Yet by and large we know nothing substantial about them.

Unfortunately or (fortunately) there are some relatives that we know next to nothing about.

We may know when they were born or when they died or where they came from or who they were married to or who their children were. We may also know something of their circumstances.

It is more probable that we will never know nothing about them at all.

As to what sort of people they were or what they believed and thought may very well remain a mystery till the Day of Judgment.

Not knowing better, we tend to paint them as people of hardy and upright stock. Pioneers may be, brave soldiers and loving mothers and fathers, thrifty and the sort to be proud of.

The truth is that people are not as we would like to paint them. As in the title there are a lot of knots and knotholes in most family trees.knothole By this I mean those who were not always very nice people, hard to get along with, a bit strange or to put it bluntly were “kooks.

Some may have over indulged in drink or other vices; some were wastrels and others hard to get along with or bad tempered.

No doubt you could add to this list.

In talking to my relatives over the last few days, I have heard some dark sidelights about some of my long dead relatives that did not paint them in a very good light yet although unknown they may have had things that extenuated the way they were and they may have had good qualities to offset the bad.

We all have skeletons in our closets and black sheep in our families.

We all have known people in whom “darkness” dominated and others who despite their faults were the “salt of the earth”.

It would be true to say that few of our lives can be marked down as singly pure and virtuous, rather in most of us darkness and light, fight for mastery and one or the other seems to be winning at various points in our lives.

Often we will end our lives with others not knowing which side won in the end.

The Puritans used to picture the Christian life as a spark a-float in the midst of the ocean. Sometimes it appears to be drowning and about to be quenched forever yet inexplicably it continues to shine in an environment seeking to overcome it.20151224_192752

Were we able to see into the lives of most Christians, as to the ups and downs of their spiritual state we would see times when sin appears to gain mastery and the upper hand. At other times we would see times of especial closeness to Christ and holiness triumphant.

Still others lead lives of almost unbroken closeness to God while others only draw near to Him in the end and finish  in a blaze of His glory.

God alone knows all: we may be up to our neck in sin and going down for the third time but as long as there is a hand above water reaching for Christ there is hope.

It is the fact of God’s Holy Spirit being at work in our life that guarantees victory in the end. He is the factor that ensures the successful completion of Christ’s saving work in the believer’s lives.

Woe betide the man or women who does not place their wholehearted trust in the Lord Jesus Christ because however good a life we lead without him it will end in sorrow .

Let us pray that we and many more will glorify God and believe in Christ and become trophies of His grace.

Bad Grammar!

John Macarthur relates that a man came up to D.L. Moody and said that He counted a great many mistakes in grammar during his message.dl-moody_400x400

Moody replied that as he was not very happy about it himself but as his father had died when he was very young his education was not what it should have been. He also said that he was trying to serve the Lord with all the grammar he possessed.

 

Living Still!

“And as he   ( Christian ) went, he sang, saying,

“Well, Faithful, thou hast faithfully profest
Unto thy Lord, with whom thou shalt be blest,
When faithless ones, with all their vain delights,
Are crying out under their hellish plights:
Sing, Faithful, sing, and let thy name survive;
For though they killed thee, thou art yet alive””.

D.L. Moody also said “One day you will read in the newspaper that ” D.L. Moody is dead,”

Don’t you believe it! I will be more alive then, than I ever was before.”

May we all be able to say the same by God’s grace. Amen

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Family tree: Knots and Knotholes.

Sermons in Gravestones!

A small volume of Spurgeon’s collected sermons is titled “Sermons in Stones”. It uses illustrations from nature and history and geology and mineralogy to base a series of Christian sermons on.

In the course of my family researches I have spent a great deal of time searching the cemetery and reading the inscriptions on headstones.tombstones-in-graveyard

No doubts for many, Cemeteries are dreary depressing places; sometimes I find them so as well.

From the Christian as well as historical perspective they are places of great interest and full of meaning. They are after all; all that most people leave behind to testify their existence and mark their passing, at least as far as the general public are concerned.

In our local cemeteries the classic headstone is becoming a thing of the past except for the few who can afford it or desire to express their love despite the cost.

In looking at many of the older gravestones they are inscribed sometimes with more than just name, birth and death dates.

Some record the cause of death for example, as a mining accident. I found one young man’s grave who died in a mine fall in the late 1850’s at little Bendigo not far from where I live, he was only 23.

Death due mine accident was common in Ballarat; my great, great grandfather was killed in a mine accident in 1898.

Some Gravestones give the cause of Death, death by drowning, death by railway accident or by car, even death by sunstroke. Some people whose sons were killed overseas in the First World War and were buried there added their son’s names to their family grave here.

(The puritans used to say that you would always find a grave your size in the “churchyard”.)

Some mark the place of their birth. Many people of “Cornish “descent came to Australia and Ballarat to engage in gold prospecting and mining. (Some of my forebears came from Redruth, although their family was English originally. Some of my family came from a place called Sancreed in Cornwall. Some from Devon and Somerset)

Others in the cemetery originated from various places in the British Isles and other European countries. There are also many of Chinese descent as well.

The Cornish people were largely “Methodists” and their gravestones testify to their faith in Christ and hope of the resurrection and second coming of Christ. They are not alone in that many a believers’ grave is inscribed with a verse from a hymn, scripture text or Christian hope.

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When one reads a Christian witness like this it is like a candle in the midst of death’s darkness and we can only pray that we could leave a like Christian testimony behind us.

Others seek to testify to their love for their departed parents, wife or child others wish for their peace and rest after trials and sickness in life.

Others leave behind a testimony to their being freemasons. You often find the wife will have a small cross above her name and the husband will have a “compass “above his. I confess I shudder when I see this because although some older professing Christians are members of a Masonic lodge, it is my firm conviction that free masonry is contradictory to Christianity.

Many modern grave plaques testify to the person’s devotion to golf or fishing. Others profess their religious devotion to a particular football team.

I do wonder what comfort their relatives get by the remembrance of this “profession of faith”.

Unless alive at the Lord’s return, we will all get a grave or if cremated a container. The Lord Jesus Himself had a tomb but because death could not hold him it is an empty one.

It is because of this glorious fact of history that those who die in Christ will not remain in the grave but will rise again to be ever with the Lord.

Woe to those who die with no greater hope but that their football team will keep winning Grand finals or that the fish they chase all their lives will finally get caught.

 

I sometimes imagine what it would be like to be up at the cemetery on the day Christ returns and see the various reactions among the people to the sight of Christ in His Glory. Some of the people will rejoice to be united again with their resurrected bodies and their glorious Lord. The rest will wish that they had stayed in their graves.

Let us pray that we will be found among those who put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and that we can leave behind us testimony and a witness to our belief and faith in him.

A Christless sermon is a worthless sermon.

It is like bread made without flour: the essential element is lacking.

Of such a sermon we may say — “They have taken away my Lord,

and I know not where they have laid him.” The writer is of the

same mind as John Berridge, who wrote, —

“Some fast by Calvin hold,

Some for Arminius fight,

And each is mighty bold,

And seemeth surely right:

‘Well, though with Calvin I agree,

Yet Christ is all in all to me.”

Quoted by C.H. Spurgeon in the “Salt Cellars”.

“Do-Gooders”

“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.”  Titus 3:1-8

Although not justified in God’s sight by the good works we have done, the Christian is to be known by what they do as much as by what they say.

Paul in the last years of his life and ministry seeks to impress upon Titus the need to persevere in exhorting his congregation to live holy, useful and Christ-like lives.

In this portion He hammers home the need for Christians to be good citizens and submissive to authority and government in lawful things. (It is only when obedience to man conflicts with obedience to God that we are to obey God rather than man.)

Our obedience to God shows itself in our obedience to those He has placed in authority over us and in the believer’s readiness and willingness for every good work.

It is also show by their avoiding of quarrelsomeness and exhibiting gentleness and courtesy, even in the most difficult situations.

Paul reminds us all, that by nature we are born sinners like those around us and full of the selfish and frictional tendencies which provoke hostility and conflict.

It is only the grace of God working in us that makes us to differ and seek to emulate those characteristics which abounded to the full in our Lord Jesus Christ.

We owe all to the great mercy and love of Christ who contrary to our deserts, suffered and died in our stead and reconciled us to God.

Through Him we have an eternal hope which colours our attitude to this present world and prompts us to live the heavenly life, here and now.

This scriptural reminder of the foundation of Christianity and its visible expression to the people around us, is one to which we need to pay close attention today.

Many “Christians” so called are regarded by the people around them as being little different from themselves and judge them as being motivated by the same earthy considerations and pleasures as everyone else.

This is one reason why the message of Salvation is disregarded and the Church relegated to merely the place for weddings and funerals.

Perhaps if we were the Christians we should be, we would see our friends and neighbors drawn to like faith in Christ.

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Sermons in Gravestones!

Lines of Supply

After the break out from Normandy, the Allies were faced with a fast retreating and demoralized and seemingly defeated German army. The enemy was retreating so far and so fast that the push on to Berlin became a race between Generals Montgomery and Patton. The Allies came to believe that the war was already won and would be over in 1944.

The difficulty lay in the ever lengthening lines of supply and the fact that the Allies did not hold ports capable of unloading large amounts of materiel.

The large port of Antwerp in Belgium was in Allied hands but they did not control the sea access through the Scheldt estuary.Acrossthescheldt

Buffalo’ amphibious vehicles taking troops of the Canadian First Army across the Scheldt in Holland, September, 1944.

This operation was given less importance than the attack on Arnhem and Operation Market garden. Many criticized the lack of priority given to the clearing access to Antwerp.

The operation was given mainly to the Canadian army with British and Polish elements.

It was fought in horrific conditions and abysmal weather. Overcoming terrible and determined resistance and by clearing of the sea of mines Antwerp was finally opened to cargo on November 29 1944.SS_Fort_Cataraqui_in_the_port_of_Antwerp

Canadian vessel Fort Cataraqui is unloaded at the harbour of Antwerp

Our supply lines as Christians often seem stretched and ready to break. The daily help we need to live as Christians added to the exigencies of spiritual problems and emergencies make the source of divine supply appear very far away.

Sin can block the lines of communication and make our cries seem to fall on deaf ears.

Our Lord Jesus Christ suffered, bled and died so that our forgiveness and Spiritual sustenance and strength could be supplied freely and fully.

However many and insurmountable the obstacles appear to be they are more in our lack of faith and prayerlessness than any supposed unwillingness on God’s part.

Indeed the Apostle Paul spoke from long experience of God’s grace when he said “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.Phillipians 4:19 E.S.V.

Christ speaks to the Church!

Christ’s letters to the seven Churches in the first four chapters of Revelation should always have a salutary effect on those churches and individuals that study them and compare them with the state of the churches in their own day.

Christ is portrayed as the all seeing and ever vigilant observer and judge of the churches works and spiritual state and zeal. This is a cause for our constant sobriety, scrupulous obedience and faithfulness knowing we are always under scrutiny of our Master and Lord.

Of the seven churches dealt with only two avoid censure.the_seven_churches_of_revelation

Despite earthy poverty, Smyrna receives Christ approbation and encouragement to endure the tribulation and forthcoming time of testing.

Philadelphia despite being in the midst of opposition remains faithful to the one who is always “True” Rev 3:7.

She is described as having “little strength” yet having kept Christ’s Word and not denied his Name.

The other churches addressed may to human view appear more successful and appear in need of nothing: they may have their commendable points but the searching gaze of Christ perceives flaws, sins and defections which spoil and endanger their witness and even continued existence.

Christ expects a great deal from the people and groups that bear His name. While He may bear with feebleness and weakness, He will never condone compromise with the World, deficiency in love, corruption, luke-warmness and deadness.

These churches were warned and counseled by Christ but subsequently had their lamps of witness forever snuffed out

If some of our churches today were placed under such direct and immediate notice and scrutiny today, how many would pass muster and continue in existence?

The only way to escape the condemnation which will befalls the erring and unfaithful church is to return to first love and first works.

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The Christian Ministry.

Traditionally the gospel ministry was regarded as a calling in a very unique sense.

Spurgeon said of the ministries that “If you can do anything else do not become a minister”.

One often hears the complaint that the attitude of Christian ministers to their work today is the same as any other person following a particular profession, say a lawyer or dentist.

By this they mean that the minister is fulfilling a function and trying to achieve a measurable result and doing a job like anyone else.

Some would say that they are now merely the C.E.O. of their particular church congregation in much the same way as a business executive and have thus become time servers, only interested in the lifestyle and material gains resulting from a successful church organization.

The fact is many have no real idea what their ministers do during the week and wonder if they actually earn their stipends. While much of this criticism is unfair many Christian leaders today give ample concern about their reasons for entering Christian ministry and methods of operation.

The minister today has less to do with the direct shepherding of souls and more to do with organizing programs and increasing attendance.

Though they are still expected to preach  for some it is a role limited to so many times a month and then punctuated by guest speakers or services where preaching as such does not occur.

The minister has it seems to me become a far more remote figure than he was in the past. While in the larger churches this is understandable, it is still a sorry side effect of numerical growth and may be an indictment of the lack of commensurate growth in spiritual graces, fruits and the decline from the Pauline and scriptural idea of Christian ministry.

To go into the ministry as a career and means to gain a comfortable life goes against the scriptural description of Christian ministry.

While no one expects a minister to live on air, it seems that an attractive salary and high standard of accommodation are essentials in getting the right sort of man to grow a large successful church.

The minister who is comfortable where he is can stay at the one church indefinitely and may be unwilling to uproot his family to answer another call. What does this say about the priorities that some ministers have to their work?

While it is easy to be over critical, the proclamation gospel is the important thing. It has always involved self sacrifice and personal inconvenience to those called to the ministry.

When Christ and his apostles suffered hardship and deprivation for the furtherance of the gospel cause and throughout history the faithful heralds of Christ’s message were treated as “the offscouring of all things”, it is shameful that the ministry should be regarded as a cozy billet a means to obtain a comfortable lifestyle by minimal effort.

Thank God there are still faithful minister who lead the way as examples of tireless effort and self denial. Let us pray that their numbers may be greatly increased.

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Lines of Supply

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

Hidden behind the Holly!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Ghost story for Christmas?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hidden behind the Holly!

Stand To!!!

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

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

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

It is assailed by atheistic science, philosophy and morality.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stand To!!!

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

Pride and Prejudice!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crass-mass!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stand To!!!