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It had a mixed operational history and was quickly withdrawn from service at the end of the war.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

images moody evangelism

 

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.

159735-350x232-Scripture-quote-on-a-headstone

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.

1630902363-quote-William-Gurnall-it-is-not-only-our-duty-to-44278

 

 

 

Sermons in Gravestones!

Darkest before the Dawn!

 

” But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men. 10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”  2 Timothy 3:1-17

When applied to the state of mankind and sadly to  much of the visible Church, this portion of Scripture is true to the realities  we see today.

It is not that these traits were not existing or apparent before in the world and the church but rather that in the last days they would reach a previously unheard of height, prevalence and shamelessness.

We would not be surprised to see many of these horrible behaviors in the “god-less’ world but to see them in the midst of professing Christians in such a blatant way is surely an evidence of these being the “Last Days”.

Replace the word “people” in the text with “Christian” and see how it reads.

Christians who are lovers of self, lovers of money and pleasure, proud, unholy and without self control, to name just a few.

In stark contrast , Paul sets before Timothy his own example ,qualities and scriptural teaching to encourage him to oppose the people who would seek to infiltrate the Body of Christ and distort and de-rail it from its God ordained mission and Christ-like manner of life and holiness. He fore-warns Timothy and us about the dangers of havind dealings with those who , however plausible they may appear, are peddlers of error, falsehood and encouraging indulgence in sinful behaviour in the name of liberty and freedom.

He reminds him and us that the Scriptures are the God-breathed guide and weapon with which to combat decievers and false teachers and instructs him to hold fast to the Word , whatever others may do and teach.

They are the only true guide to salvation and source of equipment to fight the fight of faith.

While the godly will certainly attract persecution for their adherence to Christ and His Word, it is eminently preferable to the terrible reward the false teacher and pseudo –Christian will receive on the Day of Judgment.

A Catch-Phrase!

Tommy_Handley

Thomas Reginald “Tommy” Handley (17 January 1892 – 9 January 1949) was a British comedian, mainly known for the BBC radio programme ITMA (“It’s That Man Again”). He worked with people such as Arthur Askey and Bob Monkhouse, and wrote many radio scripts, but it is the BBC comedy series ITMA  ( It’s That Man Again ) for which he is best known, and which itself became known for a number of catchphrases, some of which entered popular vocabulary. He later starred in the ITMA film in 1942 and in Time Flies in 1944.

The I.T.M.A. gang were known for their often recurring “Catch-phrases”.tommy and summers

Comedians like Handley, no doubt helped to brighten the dark days of the Second World War in Britain.

Many comedians are known for their catchphrases and they are forever associated with them.

(A “catch phrase” is a well-known sentence or phrase, especially one that is associated with a particular famous person.)

These phrases can however be carried to extremes and some comedians are not remembered for anything else they said or did.

When the famous preacher John Chrysostom used to preach at Antioch the people used to applaud him and cry “Orthodox” until he told them to stop it.

They were focusing on Chrysostom’s style, eloquence and orthodoxy, without hearing God’s Word and the teaching and exhortation he meant to convey to them.

Even when the Christian is under the soundest Bible teaching it can come to have no more effect than the responding to a catch phrase or familiar line. We may respond emotionally and be stirred by it but the long term effect is no more than the remembrance of a funny joke or witty saying.

We need to go deeper and apply the teaching we receive from the Word of God to our daily living and behavior. We need to think biblically and exemplify Christianity in a Christ-less Word.

The correct Word.

ANY one who wishes to become a good writer should
endeavour, before he allows himself to be tempted by the
more showy qualities, to be direct, simple, brief, vigorous,
and lucid.
This general principle may be translated into practical rules
in the domain of vocabulary as follows :
Prefer the familiar word to the far-fetched.
Prefer the concrete word to the abstract.
Prefer the single word to the circumlocution.(the use of many words where fewer would do, especially in a deliberate attempt to be vague or evasive.)
Prefer the short word to the long. ( quoted fromThe King’s English BY
H. W. FOWLER & F. G. FOWLER)

These two gentleman made a literary career out of discouraging people from misusing words, and calling for simplicity in writing.

In a later work called ” Modern English usage” Henry Fowler among other things , points out the changes in meaning and usage of many English words.

He also examines newly coined words and foreign words incorporated into current english speech and writing.

No doubt many found his criticisms pedantic and overly fussy yet there is no doubt that he sought for clarity of meaning and for a true understanding of language to be conveyed.

The Christian is always a learner in Christ’s School. True there are many things in the Scriptures hard to understand as Peter admits of Paul’s writings

“He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” 2 Peter 3:16

The writers of the New Testament were dealing with divine  things that surpass unaided human understanding. It is only through the help of the Holy Spirit that our sin enfeebled minds are given light and understanding to grasp the meaning of God’s Word and grace to obey His commands.

The fact is that the Christian has a volcabulary that he must be true to. He must be true to the Word that has been given to him, no matter if to others he is talking gibberish and nonsense.

The follower of Christ is not free to drop words , truths or doctrines from the Christian language just because they offend the sensibilities of the ungodly.

We must try if we can to keep it simple if we can but must always keep to the truth.

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Darkest before the Dawn!

A troubler of Israel!

index elijah and ahab

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Living the high life!

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

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

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

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

Why Wait?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Children at play!

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

playworks-happy-girl-110812

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

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

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

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

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pink on victory

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

 

 

 

 

A troubler of Israel!

The least likely to Succeed!

The story of Gideon is well known to us from our Sunday School days .

Gideon appears in a less than heroic vein in his encounter with the “Angel of the Lord” . He is not presently involved in the resistance movement , he is not a “Yul Brynner” in the magnificent Seven putting together a team to save the helpless villages rather he is one of the villagers hiding like everyone else.

14 And the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” 15 And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” 16 And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” Judges 6:14-16

I confess ,I have often thought that this “Angel” messenger was speaking ironically when he said this to Gideon, this man was obviously anything but mighty, as Gideon himself admitted. Yet if one theme is prevalent throughout all this portion of Scripture is the fact that God does not work  by the mighty in this world but rather in and through the weak.gideon-tests-god

Although Gideon had thousands to call upon when it came down to it , they were too many to fulfill God’s purposes at this time.

We also see that in a very real sense that the enemies of God destroy themselves. While they make a brave figure in the eyes of the world ,in reality they are beset by engrained fears of  forthcoming punishment, and when confronted by the judgement of God fall into disarray and panic.

God’s dealing with Gideon’s lingering fear and doubt is patient and tender to an amazing degree. For  similar expression of doubt Zacharias was smitten dumb for a short time.

God truly knows people’s hearts and the source of their fears and doubts. Jesus in His dealings with Thomas being another example of dealing with the genuine doubt and fear of true believers.

Contrast this with the unbelief of others in the Word and power of God which is based on sinful attitudes and hatred of God.

God’s dealings with the great characters of the Bible exemplifyand glorify His power and mighty works in response to great faith.

On the other hand, God is no less glorious in His gracious dealings with those of small faith.

Gideon’s weakness of faith was understandable in the light of the circumstances Israel found themselves in . They were suffering as a direct result of their idolatry and disobedience to God and His commandments. Therefore those among them who still sought to God for deliverance from their plight had nothing but free grace and undeserved mercy to hope for.

We all must stand on this ground when it comes to hope of salvation though it galls the pride of man.

Gideon’s lack of faith was not commendable but it does serve to emphasise the wonderful things God can do with true faith however small.

Gideon was God’s chosen instrument at this perilous time but it was the power of God that was to be seen in this saving work not the ability or prowess of man.

In the same way today it is to be the power of God that must be looked to in the proclamation of the gospel today and not the slickness of multi -media presentation or the powers of persuasion of a plausible tele-evangelist.

Although some claim direct revelations from God , for most of us the call of God comes from study of the Word and the opportunity for outreach and ministry.

The challenge for all of us is how we react to the call of service and duty of God when it comes to us.maxresdefault

An Easter soundbite!

At this time of the year one of the few times the World looks to church leaders to make a seasonal statement.

It is rather amusing to see the effort they make to clothe the Christian gospel message in a new light and in a form acceptable and understandable for the man in the street.

We hear abundant calls for peace and understanding between people and different faiths. We hear a great deal about self sacrifice and giving and the need for people to let God into their lives.

It is sobering as well to hear the greater part of the church explain the Cross of Christ in ways different to the Scriptural teaching.

No wonder if the world has no real understanding of the Gospel message and the Cross of Christ if those who should be proclaiming it either do not understand them or as is most likely the case ashamed and unbelieving of them.

Even those who claim orthodox belief of Scriptural truth seem to be very measured in their way of dealing with the unbelieving majority. True they have no reliable frame of reference  with which to understand the Word of God, as they might have in past times when nominal church attendance was widespread and the Bible was at least respected ,if not believed.

Yet there is timidity among us Bible believing “Christians” regarding the proclamation the gospel of Christ that makes me “Uzzah” like to fear for the stumbling “Ark of God”.

Others with a man pleasing message can proclaim falsehoods and half truths in the name of Christianity and command a hearing. Those who seek to put forward the true understanding of the gospel will be howled down and prosecuted as “Hate speakers”. God help us all.

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The Cross of Christ is an enigma which does not fit well with modern conceptions of God , it was a very high price to pay if He was only calling mankind to a “purpose driven life”.

Jesus would never have been the “Saviour” if there was nothing real to be saved from.

 

 

 

The least likely to Succeed!

Fallen out of use

It would be interesting to tabulate the theological words, portions of Scripture and doctrines that have fallen out of the Christian vocabulary in recent times.

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An acceptance of our own personal sinfulness, guilt with regards to our alienation from God  and our unworthiness of God’s grace is not seen in believers and regarded as superfluous and unecessary by today’s preaching and teaching.

The modern man stands on his hind legs and expects to deal with God on his own terms, indeed  he, in disregard to the teaching of the Bible, sees no barrier or hindrance to prevent his acceptance by his maker and in seeking to dictate terms to the “almighty”.

The modern professor of Christianity tends to take a similar stand when forgetting his original lost estate and inherent sinfulness , ignores the prominent petition of the Lord’s Prayer “Forgive us our trespasses”.

The “putting on “of the Lord Jesus Christ and his righteousness also requires us to “make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”Romans 13:14

It also means to “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.” Romans 6:12

The opinion today is that sin is a problem between God and the individual and the church has no business warning  of its dangers and subtle deceptions.

It sees no role for itself in holding forth God’s just demands before a sinful world and a prone to stray and error beset  congregation.

How desperately we need to go back to the scripture  and hear what it has to say  both to fallen man and to  believers still in spiritual infancy.

We must pray that God will raise up Christian ministers and leaders who proclaim biblical truth in a biblical way.

Your only Son!

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”Genesis 22:9-14

Were any of us required to make the same sacrifice as Abraham was called to do we would no doubt throw up our hands and say that God was asking too much.

Abraham’s obedience to God entailed an added dimension in that not only was he called to kill his only son but the fact that this child was the gift of God’s own promise.

As far as we are called to imitate the faith of Abraham in being obedient and willing to return to God what He has given us in the first place ,we should be ready for such calls.

We instead grasp everything God gives us and call it our own when it is in fact under our stewardship and care.

God often tests our love and obedience and calls for our entire commitment of all we have and all we are.

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This is inevitably the way of God’s working with His people, He calls for our obedience and sacrifice and imparts abundant blessings not in a quid pro quo manner but rather in a super abundant and gracious bestowal of grace.

In answer to the prosperity gospellors  who reduce all God’s blessing to interest on our money invested , God gives out of all proportion to our deeds, giving as he sees fit for our present good and has the true and eternal blessings in store for us in heaven.

God knows infinitely more about giving than we do because He gave His only son as a sacrifice for the atonement and putting away of sin, in this Christ was the willing sacrifice who in turn gave Himself for us.

Dealing with non-believers

Jesus’ dealing with the woman of Samaria gives the ideal pattern for our testimony to un-believers in both preaching and personal witnessing.

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Jesus is tactful and yet does not fail to put his finger on her particular sin. He does not shrink from showing her the deficiencies in her religious beliefs. Jesus method of working is faithful yet not condescending. He does not skirt around issues for the sake being “seeker sensitive”.

Yet this sort of approach is avoided today for the sake of being non-confrontational and politically correct.

Today when professing Christian take a stand on morality issues they are sure to be howled down and treated as bigots and not allowed a hearing in public discussions and forums.

In this atmosphere the Church generally and Christians individually are rolling over by avoiding comment on moral issues and avoiding anything that is likely to give anyone offense.

It is not enough to be scriptural in our beliefs we must also be scriptural in our way of working and witness.

The practice of the Jesuits was to keep back and hide a great deal of their dogma and theology from prospective converts so that they would not be scared away or revolted by it. Then after they had joined them they would wean them up to their peculiar doctrines.

True Christianity should not imitate them by dissembling about scriptural doctrines and Bible truth. Truth there is much in the Scriptures that the new believer will find difficult to understand  yet to present the gospel as other than it is , is a half truth which is as good as a lie.

As Dr James White says “What you win them with is what you win them to”. If you bring people to Christ with a “doctored” or minimalist gospel you have the risk of people who find that when they actually hear what the Bible says they will feel deceived or they will be far more offended and hostile to the truth than if they were if they were presented the truth in the first place.

The Bible is an open book; it is the basis of all Christian belief and practice and therefore should be received as authoritative by all Christians even if rejected by others.

The proclamation and sharing of Christianity has no doubt declined in this relativistic age and with the result in an emotion preoccupied and anti intellectual perception of Scripture and  a body of “believers” ignorant and disregarding great fundamentals of the faith. A sad result of partial proclamation of the gospel.

Distorting God’s Word

While the trend today among certain nominal Christian groups is to “Cherry pick” the Bible and neglect large tracts of it, there are those who have professed a great zeal for the study of the Bible and profess to hold it in great esteem.indextwist

Unfortunately even this can be used to lead the unwary astray.

In his book on”cults and isms”, J. Oswald Sanders recount the story of how his grandparents lost the light  of their salvation and fell into a legalistic joy-less morass of  false doctrine.

They became entangled with a group called the “Christadelphians”. These people appeared to be zealous to the point of fanatical students of the Bible. They sometimes pored over it till the early hours of the morning. Despite this they invariably drew false conclusions, Christ dishonouring doctrines and propagated error to whoever fell under their influence.

Sanders’ grandfather especially lost the joy and the light of salvation although never wholly convinced as to the truth of this cults teaching. His grandmother did come back to the truth of the gospel.

It prompts one to ask how someone with an open Bible before them can get things so wrong and how do you know those who despite seeming students and followers of Christ , they are in fact heretical and false believers.

The Roman Catholic Church has the Bible open before them yet they add to it the Traditions and commandments of the church. These are based on far- fetched interpretations of Scripture which they twist to their own ends, often plainly contradicting the actual teaching of Scripture.

Also it depends on how we approach the study of scripture. To treat it as you would any other book and think that unaided human reason is sufficient for its study very often leads to false and erroneous deductions and teachings.

As I have said elsewhere we can read out of scripture what is not there or read into scripture what we want to be in there.

The safest course in all bible study is to seek the aid of the Holy Spirit and his illumination and approach the word with humility and teachable-ness, remembering always it is the Word of the living God.

How do we know error from truth especially when it is supposedly the product of in depth bible Study?

Any teaching which has low or false views of God must be suspect. If it exalts one of His attributes at the expense of another say his love over his justice and holiness. If any teaching makes God otherwise than He is it should be shunned.

These false gospellers inevitably have a low view of sin and a different way of Salvation, thus belittling the finished work of Christ on the cross.

They very often make some other condition of salvation and add it to or exalt it above the atoning death of Jesus; most likely they make the death of Christ to mean something merely exemplary or accidental.

Despite their professed love of Scripture they in fact refuse to hear what it truly and actually says by glossing in and taking parts of it out of context, thus ignoring the whole teaching of the Bible, the analogy of Scripture and ignore the “whole counsel of God”.

They inevitably attribute to themselves sole possession of the Truth to themselves and consign all other Christian groups and believers to the way to hell.

These are just a few of the marks of the Cults that masquerade under the name Christian but who are in fact in Satan’s thrall.

True Christians may differ but though they may greatly disagree, they hold to the same orthodox doctrines and beliefs. They are united in holding the Name of Jesus and his wondrous sacrifice in worshipful esteem. They love the Bible as the Word of God and heartily seek to what it has to say for itself by the Spirit’s gracious aid.

Most of  all they worship the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and in glad obedience give him all the glory for their salvation.

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Will the real Christian please stand up!!

Fallen out of use