Art for Art’s sake!

It has often been the expressed desire of many aficionados of the “Arts” and “Culture” to seek to engender an appreciation of them in the “ignorant masses” and “common herd”. They hope to raise the moral and intellectual tone of society by giving the “common people” a love of beauty and through this the desire to improve themselves and make the world a better place.1200px-Vincent_Willem_van_Gogh_127

Commendable as this aim may be, the fact is that very often it comes from a sense of superiority and condescension.H6pa0aC

While Art may be a source of Beauty and convey powerful influences and emotions it has very often been degraded and debauched by sin besotted people and has often had a deleterious effect on culture and morals.

The artistic community while professing an aim is to raise others from their boorishness and bad taste are very often those who lead in immorality and sinful depravity.

The “Arts” like  other intellectual pursuits and worldly pleasures bear the taint of sin which spoils them and require great discernment on the part of the believer to see through the enemy’s lies masquerading as works of Art .

It is only when our eyes are opened to the beauty of Christ that we  come to understand that so much of what the sinful world regards as beautiful is actually ugly in the extreme and the “spiritual” things that the world sees no beauty at all  in, have beauty that endures for time and eternity.

The Gadarenes.

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When the Gadarenes arrived at the place Jesus was and saw the former “demoniac” who had formerly terrorized their country, sitting sober and in his right mind, they were filled with fear and asked Jesus to leave the area. The whole account is found in Mark 5:1-20.

One can only wonder as to the cause of their fear.

Why were they not relieved that they were now free from the terror and threat that this man formerly represented to their community?

They could now sleep safe in their beds and dwell undisturbed by his cries and rantings. The people could go about their business safely without the constant fear of harassment and harm.

Why was there no rejoicing in the miraculous deliverance of someone long held in bondage, no happiness felt in prospect of his re-uniting with family and love ones?

There is not the least evidence seen here of human compassion and tenderness on the part of these people.

It would be terrible to think that the main cause of their fear was due to the loss of the swine herd in the Sea of Galilee.

Perhaps it was the prospect of further financial losses to their lucrative business that prompted them to beg for Jesus’ immediate departure.  They feared loss income if Jesus remained in the area working miracles hither and yon.

The mercy and healing power Christ manifested in this wondrous miracle was, to these “swine keepers”, of less importance than their own prosperity and desire for a quiet life.

For whatever the reason that motivated it, their bidding Jesus depart had the effect of shutting the door, for the time being, upon themselves for the Saviour’s further imparting of saving mercy and grace to them.

In this they showed themselves more foolish than even the Samaritans who welcomed the Lord into their midst, after His conversation with the woman at the well.

How many have shied away from Christ and Christianity because their all absorbing personal interests were threatened? Like the “Rich young ruler” they could not part with all and follow Jesus.

How many have baulked at the mighty and genuine work of God around them because it spoiled and interrupted the order and tranquility of their lives?

How many have been unwilling to put in effort involved in following Christ fully?

It is a terrible thing to ask Christ to depart from us? It will cost us far more in the long run than a herd of “piggish” pleasures and porcine desires.three-3-pigs-feeding-from-trough-ABKP3X

God’s Mercy and Grace .

NPG D29764; Robert Trail published by Robert Wilkinson

Robert Trail in his sermons on the “Throne of Grace” says that many people go there for forgiveness but do not seek God’s grace for conquering sin and holy living. I quote;

“Mercy and grace are joined together by God, and are not to be put asunder by man.

 

They would be content to obtain mercy; but they care not so much for his grace. But such are only profane ignorant persons, that know neither God nor themselves, nor his mercy, nor his grace.

 

The Lord will not give mercy without grace, nor grace without mercy. All that receive either, receive both; and all that would have either, must ask both; and none can ask either a right, but he that asks both.”

To me it seems that the Christians of today are all for seeking God’s miraculous power in their lives for somewhat selfish and short-sighted ends.

God has come to be regarded as an over indulgent “father’ happy to spoil His children in any way they ask or desire.

We may desire mercy from God but we have no interest in seeking  His grace to avoid future sin and for help to increase holiness of life.

Or we desire  to obtain grace and blessing without any regard to our need for His mercy with regard to our past sin and present sinfulness.

We may be glad  to benefit from Christ as Saviour yet will disregard his Lordship and the need for His control over our lives.

As Trail says what God has joined let no man put asunder.

Every “jot and tittle”!

The difference between these two:

The master beat the scholar with a strap.

The master beat the scholar, with a strap.

Is in logic nothing; but in rhetoric it is the difference between a “Matter-of-fact ” statement and indignant statement: a strap, we are to understand from the comma, is a barbarous instrument. (quoted from “the King’s English) by H.W. Fowler and F.G Fowler.

Most of us see no difference between these two statements. yet the insertion of a miniscule comma draws our attention away from the action and towards the instrument used to inflict it.
Like spelling, punctuation is not my strong suit at all and may be so for many of us.
To understand the point a writer or for that matter a speaker seeks to convey it is often necessary to pay close attention to even the seemingly insignificant expressions and punctuation.
This is especially so in our understanding of the Scriptures as God’s Word.
Great matters often hang upon small things.
As Christ said of the Law, not the least “iota’ of it will pass away until it is fully fulfilled.
Indeed our clear and correct understanding of it may depend on the smallest “comma” and “full stop”.

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Art for Art’s sake!

Set down my name Sir!

Said the Warrior of Bunyan’s”Pilgrim’s Progress” when sword in hand he entered the battle to overcome sin and adversity and attain the glorious reward of God.

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I fear we today are of a more pacifist spirit when it comes to our Christianity. We want to lay back and enjoy the sweet things of Christ but will endure no pains to support His work and cause.

As the spirit of this world becomes more hostile to Christian morality and purity of life, the line will be drawn between those who will prevaricate and compromise and those who will pay the inevitable price of loyalty to Christ and His revealed commandments.

Many will stumble and fall before Satan’s onslaught, yet some will fall to rise again and others will fall to rise no more.

We can all suspect that we succumb to the temptation to flee Christ’s banner for fear of loss and suffering. When it comes to the choice of “Fight or flight” most would imitate Peter. Let us hope they would imitate him in his sorrow and repentance.

Let us all pray for grace to be given when it is most needed. We can none of us hope to stand without empowerment from the Spirit of God.

While we seek grace to maintain our faith in trying times we must also seek that courage which not only resists the wiles and attacks of the adversary but we must also seek for the fighting spirit to fight for God’s truth and the salvation of sinful men in the midst of hostile satanically inspire persecution and ridicule.

The soldier is not solely expected to stand in defense but to vigorously to attack the enemy’s strongholds.

Of course we mean this in a spiritual and Christian sense yet the victory obtained is far more real and substantial than that obtained in earthly war.

John Knox

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One only needs to look at a person like John Knox to see Christian courage and fortitude in the face of powerful opposition. Such was his courage that the Earl of Morton regent of Scotland said over his grave, “Here lies one who never feared any flesh”.

Some would say he lived in different times and may have exceeded his purview as a minister of the gospel, yet many of the religious freedoms and civil liberties we now enjoy were won by people such as Knox.

Yet Knox was not a religious zealot or mere fanatic, his zeal for God and the reformation of the church was tempered by compassion and tenderness. He knew when to wield the Sword of the Spirit and when to be conciliatory.

While many would smudge Christianity so that it is more in accord with worldly trends, people like Knox knew that compromising God’s revealed commands and the pure Gospel of Christ would invariably lead to wholesale apostasy.

Are we not seeing the results of this in the “latinitudinarian” spirit in the visible Church? I mean by this the allowance of anything and everything in the Church regardless of its appropriateness or being based on  scripture .

In harmony with Worldly trends we hold to no fundamental doctrines or truths or at least fail to preach and teach them. No wonder we see our young people rudderless when it comes to Christian truth.

Those who point out this trend in the Church are met with the same accusations that come from the “god-less” World, you are unloving, judgmental and “troublers of Israel”.

Departure from the faith starts in small steps and with few noticing but the “end of the way is death”.

As I have pointed out before many of those who seek to make Christianity relevant to a post modern world have a tendency to turn away from  plain and historic teaching God in His Word and look anywhere and everywhere else for guidance and opinions and input to apply to the teaching and practice of Christians and churches.

The first Christians and the Apostles did no such thing. They received the message straight from God and delivered it to mankind without fear or favour and with no consultation with “flesh and blood”.

The completeness of scripture precludes the need for consultation with the theories and practices of the times. It makes no difference whether it is re-clothed in the garb of direct divine revelation in other words “God told me so”.

Again we see this wreaking havoc and uncertainty in the modern Church.

For many ministers and Christian leaders they more concerned with the feelings and rights of those they would reach for Christ and therefore they promise welcome to all regardless.

Christ indeed welcomes all who came to Him but when did He ever condone or encourage them in their sin. We all come to Christ as sinners yet how many come to a profession of Christianity and instead of obeying the call to repent and walk in holiness of life are remaining not only worldly but willfully engaging in sinful lifestyles.

They even call for acceptance of the ongoing sinful practice by talking about the love of God and Jesus accepting sinners.

This is where we have arrived by divesting the Church of a teaching and preaching role regarding scriptural truth or by re-interpreting the Bible in terms alien from our historic understanding.

The triumph of sin and sinful men in the church is not so much their victory but the “Church’s surrender”.

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There are some that are apt to think , that if an angel should come from heaven and reveal God’s will to them, it would work more upon them than the written word; but I would have these men study the conference between Abraham and Dives, (Luke 16:27-31) “They have Moses and the prophets;” if they will not profit by them, neither would they profit by any that should come out of hell, or down from heaven to them; for it is the same God that speaks to them by the written word, and by a voice from heaven. The difference is only in the outward clothing; therefore if God’s speaking by writing will not amend us no more will God’s speaking by a voice.O bless God exceedingly for the written Word! Let us cleave close to it, and not expect any revelations of new truths, but say with the Apostle ,as in Galatians 1:8-9

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” N.I.V. ;

From  a Sermon “The Godly man’s Ark ” by Edmund Calamy the elder

edmund calamy the elder

Victor Mature: (January 29, 1913 – August 4, 1999

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Is one of my favourite actors.

He does not readily fall into the Hollywood stereo-typical image yet was a staple of Epic films and a variety of film genres.

He was notorious for not taking his acting career seriously as he regarded it as merely a means to an end and a source of income.

He said himself that “he was pretty proud of fifty percent of his movies”. (wiki)

He appeared in some of the “Biblical epics” that were popular “box office” draws at the time. These were “spectacular “ dramatizations of Bible and religious stories with their meanings reduced to a sub Christian message of peace among men and human liberty surrounded by action and special effects.

One of the great failings we have as human beings is that we take ourselves so seriously and yet take God and His Word so casually.

One would have thought that the threat of an eternal hell and the hope of free salvation would have people frantically poring over the scriptures and gratefully taking by faith the salvation so expensively won by Christ on the cross.

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Instead like Samson (also played by Mature) in the hands of the Philistines, the gospel message is laughed at; it is distorted, watered down or rejected wholesale.

Others turn Christianity into a religion of superstition and holy objects as we see portrayed in the film “the Robe”images robe

 

 

 

We may take many things in life lightly but we should never fail to take seriously God and His Word , eternity depends upon it.

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Set down my name Sir!

Bypassing the Gospel !

In this country the current trend is to build “ring roads “and “By-passes” around our regional towns and cities so that travelers are not delayed by slower municipal speeds and “round-abouts” or traffic lights.index by pass

It is coming to the point where you can travel right round the country and not arrive anywhere.

I wonder if the same could be said about the current trends in Christianity “so called”.

Firstly, there seems to be a fundamental desire and flagrant attempt to detour around the Cross of Christ and the problem of sin and the need for repentance and change of life.

The old gospel and message of Salvation is skipped or hurried over so that people can get their hands on the “New life” and the promised abundant blessings of Christianity, though there is a still ongoing discussion about exactly what form they will take.

Worse still and I hope I am wrong, I feel there is also a move a-foot to bypass our Lord Jesus Christ completely and proceed directly to the Holy Spirit and the promised manifestations of His power.

A charismatic “preacher” on a visit to a former eastern bloc country told questioners that the crowds were not coming to hear him preach the Gospel of Christ but rather to witness and experience the power and working of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

Since when does the Spirit of Christ work apart from the Word of Christ and the message of the Gospel?

Yes there may be some lip service paid to Christ but people want the promised gifts of healing etc. like Children, they cannot wait to open their presents at Christmas time, no matter who gave the gift in the first place.

They crave excitement and exhilaration to lift them out of the mundane tedium and inescapable stress of daily life.

They have no time for the hearing of teaching from Scripture and the necessity of meditation upon the Word of God that is the only real way to stand firm in the Gospel and united to Christ against the tidal wave of falsehoods and distortions heading our way.

So many today are unwilling to cast over board sin and self interest and therefore grasp eagerly and wholeheartedly the easy believe-ism that passes current in modern preaching. We are all out for what we can get at the lowest price and for the least effort.

The sufferings of the first Christians and subsequently in many times and countries is just their bad luck. To us moderns, persecution is no longer the necessary price for following Jesus.

We just want to get the good things we have and enjoy the good times.

How many plausible voices are out there revising people’s understanding of Scripture so they can hold their heads up and stay relevant and acceptable to a godless and perverted society?

These are the time in which we live, if nothing else they will separate between those who will cling to the truth of Christ and the Gospel from them from those who will be found at last with a “ship-wrecked “faith.

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Many profess to admire the milder beams of the sun of righteousness, but burn with rebellion against its more flaming radiance: so it ought not to be: we are bound to praise a terrible, God and worship him who casts the wicked down to hell. Did not Israel praise him “who overthrew Pharaoh and his hosts in the Red Sea, for his mercy endureth for ever.” The terrible Avenger is to be praised, as well as the loving Redeemer. Against this the sympathy of man’s evil heart with sin rebels; it cries out for an effeminate God in whom pity has strangled justice. The well-instructed servants of Jehovah praise him in all the aspects of his character, whether terrible or tender.” Spurgeon’s “Treasury of David” on Psalm 99 verse 3

Chips Rafferty.

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Chips Rafferty: real name John William Pilbean Goffage : (26 March 1909 – 27 May 1971) was regarded and cast as such in many films as the quintessential “Aussie”.

He invariably played a “Tall, laconic, bushman type”.

In both Britain and the U.S. during the forties up till the seventies he was the first choice if you wanted a real Australian character and flavor for your film.

Although his type of Australian is becoming a rarity, it is still the way many in the world perceive us.

The way the people of this world perceive Christians varies greatly.

We are either “holier than thou” hypocrite or may be anachronistic throw backs to more superstitious times.

Either way your average Christian is out of step with the progress of mankind and if they do not get out of the way they will be trodden underfoot.

Hence the push for the re –thinking of Christianity and all the embarrassment caused by the Bible’s condemnation of the popular sins now calling for acceptance and even applause.

Despite the world’s sin inflicted blindness to right and wrong they will never be fooled by the ploy made by the compromisers of truth  to blend in and buddy up to them.

However dead the unbelieving World‘s consciences may be, they know that their beloved sin is wrong and displeasing to God. This may not stop them in the hardihood of their sinning: they may wish that those who tell them that God is all mercy and indulgent are telling the truth but they know in their heart of hearts that this is not the truth about God or Christianity.

However the people of this world despise the faithful Bible believing Christian they still have a grudging respect for those who stand against the tide of sin and Satan’s deceptions.

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Michah 6:2 “ If the foundations be destroyed what can the righteous do ?” When there is no law for lewd or loose men . what can the righteous do but glorify God by mourning for the things which they cannot mend, and yet comforting themselves with this: verse 5 “The Lord is in His holy temple, and hath his throne in heaven,” q.d.  though all be in confusion, and we can see no help on earth, yet we will look unto God for aid, who sees and considers the sorrows of His people, and can and will help them, when man will not.” Thomas Hall “The beauties of the Magistracy”

 

Bypassing the Gospel !

A spark of life!

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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.

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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!

Lord Woolton Pie.

Lord Woolton pie was a vegetable pie covered with potato pastry invented during the time of wartime rationing in England. It was meant to provide a substitute meal due to the shortage of meat and maintain public nutrition. It was not universally popular because to most people a pie by definition had to have meat in it.220px-Woolton_pie_(4653443530).jpg

“The recipe involved dicing and cooking potatoes (or parsnips), cauliflower, swede, carrots and possibly turnip. Rolled oats and chopped spring onions were added to the thickened vegetable water which was poured over the vegetables themselves. The dish was topped with potato pastry and grated cheese and served with vegetable gravy. The recipe could be adapted to reflect the availability and seasonality of ingredients.” Quoted from Wikipedia.wooltonpie

After the War this recipe was quickly forgotten having served its purpose.

“Professor John Fuller has noted that Woolton pie and similar wartime austerity dishes “were forgotten as quickly as possible when conditions returned to normal”.[5] (One notable exception to this pattern is carrot cake which, while not invented during the war, was popularised in the United Kingdom during that period because it used the widely available root vegetable in place of some of the scarce flour, fat and sugar found in other cakes.)” Anton-Cartoons-Punch-1941-04-09-340.jpg

A repetitious and bland diet is the bane of some people’s lives. We all like variety and new taste sensations. Many for health reasons are compelled to stay away from foods and beverages that they once enjoyed. They are conscious of the consequences to their health if they eat the things they shouldn’t.

Others due to time of war and famine are compelled to subsist on whatever is available and often they are just enough for subsistence.

The other end of the scale is the gourmet who disdains humble foods and is forever seeking new foods and flavours.

Numbers 11 tells that the children of Israel got tired of the “manna “ that God to them day by day.

 

It came to them without any more effort than it took to go and gather it.

No doubt they prepared it in every conceivable way and added what else they had in store to it but at last they had had enough and began to murmur against Moses and through him against the Lord.

18 And say to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat, for you have wept in the hearing of the Lord, saying, “Who will give us meat to eat? For it was better for us in Egypt.” Therefore the Lord will give you meat, and you shall eat. 19 You shall not eat just one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, 20 but a whole month, until it comes out at your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have rejected the Lord who is among you and have wept before him, saying, “Why did we come out of Egypt?”’” 21 But Moses said, “The people among whom I am number six hundred thousand on foot, and you have said, ‘I will give them meat, that they may eat a whole month!’ 22 Shall flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, and be enough for them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, and be enough for them?” 23 And the Lord said to Moses, “Is the Lord‘s hand shortened? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not._31 Then a wind from the Lord sprang up, and it brought quail from the sea and let them fall beside the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and a day’s journey on the other side, around the camp, and about two cubits above the ground. 32 And the people rose all that day and all night and all the next day, and gathered the quail. Those who gathered least gathered ten homers. And they spread them out for themselves all around the camp. 33 While the meat was yet between their teeth, before it was consumed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord struck down the people with a very great plague. 34 Therefore the name of that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had the craving.” 

Kibroth-hattaavah means graves of craving or greed.

In his anger God sent them quails in abundance and the people prepared them up but while the meat was still in their teeth the Lord smote many of them with a great plague.quail-in-the-desert-e1402282675584

The people had turned their nose up at the sustenance God provided for them and evidenced their greed and lack of trust in God by hoarding up the quails.

Instead of gratitude and reverence for  God who had done such wonderful things for them ,they abused the grace which saved and sustained them

To many of our modern “Christian thinkers” this judgment appears excessive and petty yet the reality is our God is a “consuming fire” and not to be trifled with.

The Christians reverence and submission towards God are important and pleasing in His sight. Our complaining, griping and grousing about His providence and purposes are not.

The “easy going”, all merciful and passively tolerant deity of today’s Christianity bears no resemblance to the Holy God of Scripture.

While we are indeed saved by grace through faith, our walk is to be one of obedience, submission and trust. When we forget this and walk in our own self pleasing , sinful ways and attitudes we can expect chastisement, if indeed we truly belong to the Lord.

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In one ear and out the other.

I have great difficulty in retaining in my memory many of the things people tell me.

I fear I would never make much of a waiter in a restaurant.

It makes me wonder how much of what God’s message to us,that we actually hear in church is kept in the memory and meditated upon at a later time.

The Puritans did all they could to encourage their hearers to go over among themselves and with each other what they heard in the preaching of the Word.

They also expected them to teach and examine their children as to their understanding.

Nowadays we content ourselves with retaining a few salient points from the message and maybe we remember an anecdote used to illustrate what the pastor was saying.

Others go away with a short lived glow imparted by the experience of uplifting worship and pleasure, interrupted by a few words of teaching , challenge or encouragement which we know are part of the routine and to be expected.

How many sit in our modern churches and hear reams upon reams of preaching good , bad and indifferent and are none the better for them?

Even among the sincere seekers after truth, how little is kept in the memory and remembered or utilized in the mundane events or trials and tribulations of life.

One often wonders why God chose such an ephemeral means as the preaching of the word of scripture as the main means of grace for the church.

The fault here does not “Lie in the Stars” and certainly not the wise purposes of God.

While allowance is to be made for our all too human frailty, there are many reasons why we do not gain more benefit and blessing from the hearing of God Word.

One obvious problem is that in many of the places of worship we attend today very little of the word of God preached in them.

In the vernacular of that “civil servant” Sir Humphrey Appleby we are only getting the simplified and palatable “Janet and John” bit. (Janet and John were characters in an infant “learn to read” book from some years ago).

Also when the “Word” is preached, very often it is not being mixed with faith in the hearers (Hebrews 4:2).

Often it is crowded out by worldly thoughts, cares and problems.

Sometimes we are overcome by drowsiness and lethargy due to our worldly pleasures and pursuits.

Either way we miss out on much that we could gain from the preaching of the Word and not preparing ourselves ,as much as we can for its reception.

How thankful we must be that the “Hand of the Lord is not shortened” and that by His Spirit’s work in our hearts and minds,  even the crumbs of the Word and its preaching carry power and fulfill the purpose He has for them in our lives.

Let us pray and strive to  be faithful hearers and remember-ers of the Word but also hearty and obedient doers of it.

 

Lord Woolton Pie.

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?

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Image result for the doubting and despairing christian

Two great enemies the Christian has to face are doubt and despair. We can all come to the point in our life that we begin to question the solidity of our footing and feel things giving way under us.

Despite the firm foundation that God has laid down in Christ Jesus and regardless of the great and precious promises He has given, we “Peter like” sink in our perception of our circumstances and can see nothing but hopelessness.

The fault does not lie in our blessed Saviour. He has done all to blaze and signpost the way before us. He has put in place all the necessary helps and safeguards to bring us through all that befalls and besets us.

He has given us the Holy Spirit to indwell, comfort and intercede:  “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Romans 8:26

He has given us the Bible as our constant resort in all circumstances and at all times.

He has set up the Church as a spiritual “hospital” to help us to health and provide support and comfort in company with our fellow believers.

Yet despite all this, we see many faltering in the way.

If only they would turn to them, the hopeless and despairing would find that the whole field of Scripture is replete with great and precious promises. It is full of words of encouragement and calls to persevere.

The mists and fogs that Satan stirs up to hide our Lord and the means of His grace from our sight, and we give way to fear and doubt.

The Bible becomes a closed book to us and the voice of prayer is replaced by moans and groans. We close ourselves up from the only means by which help can reach us.

To some of our Brethren, instead of being objects of their compassion, we may be damps and drains on their spiritual highs and ecstasies. To Jesus Christ however, we remain lambs in need comfort and carrying back to the fold.

Even though our tear-filled eyes are blinded so that we cannot see them, the outstretched arms of Jesus are held out to us and will not let us go.

The tragedy of relinquishing of spiritual hope and a giving in to despair is that it turns us away and releases our grip on the only one who can help and deliver us. Also it isolates us from the body of Christ and the support of people who have felt as we felt and who have been delivered from like peril.

Despair is sinful because it treats our Lord Jesus Christ and His promises to us, as if they were inadequate to meet our needs in our extremity. It doubts the truth of His Word and His readiness to assist us in any circumstance.

Like Bunyan’s “Slough of Despond” the “Lord of the Way” has provided steps out of the mire if only we had eyes to see them.

When in time of trial, sorrow and temptation, let us not cast away those means and helps which God has provided for our support and deliverance.

Let us not cease from prayer or relinquish faith.

Let us cling to our precious Saviour and to His faithful people.

May we all place our hope in God, when all other hopes fail.

Key Fob!

When a member of a 24/7 gymnasium wants to enter in, out of normal manned hours, they require what is called a “fob” which they need to swipe before the door will open for them. Anyone else who does not have one, whether a member or not cannot open the door.

(Some people will push in when a member with a fob opens the door, but the gym owners frown on this.)

When we seek to obtain entrance into heaven, to have been merely a member of the Church or be a Christian in mere profession and name only, will not be enough.

Rather we will need to be genuine believers and followers of Christ and members of His body.

We will not be able to enter God’s presence on anyone else’s coat-tails but will need the garment of Christ’s righteousness and a vital relationship with Him to qualify for admittance to joys forevermore.

The Thin Man!

 

One of the great romantic and comedic pairings of the late 30’s and 40’ was between William Powell and Myrna Loy, most remarkably in “The Thin man” series.William Powell Myrna Loy

The banter, wit and rapport between these two lit up the screen in 14 films. They worked so well together that some people concluded that they were actually married to each other, they were not.

Myrna Loy was asked about the possibility of a relationship with Powell. She said it would have spoiled everything and they probably would have fought all the time.

Considering she was married four times, she did not seem to hold marriage in very high esteem.

Mankind may be fickle and faithless in their relationships but our Lord Jesus Christ is not. Those He brings into relation with Himself are cherished and loved to the end. Those who to human eyes fall away from Christ and depart forever were never truly His.

“Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”
John 13:1b

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