Emoh Rou.

An Old gentleman I know runs a plant nursery of this name not. I assumed it was a name of Maori (New Zealand) origin but always forgot to look up its meaning.

Last time I was there I asked him what it meant but before he could answer I saw that it was “Our Home” spelt backwards.

In the same way most Christians have a tendency to read the works and dealings of God around the wrong way.

They take as their starting place their own desires and aspirations and expect God to meet them in a timely and bountiful way.

It is sinful human nature to place ourselves at the centre of the universe and it is surely one of the last failings to be subdued by the Christian.

We think that as God in Christ has through His mercy saved us, He is now committed to make our lives and our happiness a priority.

Even in the matter of salvation we make our own efforts the prime mover and reduce God to the level of an eager but powerless to act Saviour.

It when we look at these things from the God centered and Biblical perspective that we see that God and His own glory are the ultimate end of all His works.

That God truly loves mankind and His elect is a great truth but God would be exactly who He is even had he left man to the just consequences of his sin.

That He has through our Lord Jesus Christ acted for the salvation of man, is to resound to His glory by the redeemed for all eternity.

It is when we turn things around and look at them from God’s point of view that we understand something of His purposes and methods in the world. It is when we take ourselves out of the center of everything and place God there that we begin to live as we were originally created to.

Squeezing you into its mould!

It is a phenomenon of this modern hectic lifestyle that for many Christians the only contact with other church members and fellow believers is the time spent at their local church service and that maybe only one service a week.

The work life of many believers is made up with long distance commuting or long work hours. What spare time they have is devoted to their family and recreational activities.

In the past a church member would most likely attend a prayer meeting, Bible study, Christian Endeavour or other organization of the church.

It does seem that if Satan cannot de-rail the Christian by the direct means of sin, he piles them down with work and obligations which vie for his attention.

While I cannot say I have the remedy for this situation, I would remind those of my readers in this predicament that they can serve God in all their circumstances and among whoever job and responsibilities throw them into the midst of.

Yet all of us need to be conscious of the fact that God calls us to seek Him and His kingdom before everything else with the assurance that all else will follow.

We should probably ask ourselves whether all we have taken upon ourselves and all that is placed upon us by economic and family circumstances are really necessary for us to bear to the neglect of the service of God in His church and the needful help to our faith of meaningful Christian fellowship.

Even the non believer who toils and moils in the modern world supposedly to live in the best style he can and to provide for his families future comes to the  point of wondering whether it was all absolutely necessary.

How much of even family life is missed by work commitments and focusing on career when the worthwhile things of life are missed out on or curtailed.

During my fractured working career I have met many people who had highly responsible and time consuming jobs with a high rate of pay change course and accept a lower paid and less time consuming job for the sake of peace of mind and family reasons.

The least the Christian can do is look at the life they are leading and ask themselves how much of their journey into worldly pursuits is really necessary and helpful and what can they do to enrich the lives of their fellow believers and themselves ultimately by closer fellowship and service with the Body of Christ.

worldlinees screwtape

Emoh Rou.

Balaam: If the Price is Right!

The story of Balaam is one you would rarely hear mentioned in a modern sermon.

Ironically there are many treading the same road and if they do not repent they will meet the same end.

This “prophet “or more probably what they used to call a “soothsayer” is somewhat of an enigma. He was a prophet for hire and such was his prophetic gift that Balak the king of Moab sought him to curse the children of Israel. This petty potentate felt threatened by the encroaching Israelites but need not have worried because they were commanded of God not to take any territory from either Moab or Edom. Yet such was the hostility this king had for them that he sought Israel’s destruction by magical rather than military means.

The passage infers that Balaam had delivered messages from God at previous times and a casual reading would suggest that the prophet was well acquainted with the Lord God. Yet even from the first Balaam seems to have been dazzled by the rich prize Balak dangled before him.

Balaam provided hospitality to the king’s emissaries while he sought the Lord.

The Lord clearly forbade him to either go with them or curse God’s chosen people. So the ambassadors departed.

King Balak was not so easily deterred and sent a larger entourage of more important people and this time offered the prophet not only riches but preferment and honour.

While in his speech he stood firm, he sought again to the Lord perhaps hoping God would change His mind and thus be able to oblige Balak and maybe gain the reward.

God allowed the prophet to accompany the men if they asked him to but with the proviso that he only spoke what God commanded him to. The following passage is unclear inasmuch as it seems that God changed his mind and was angry at Balaam for going with the emissaries of the king.

Rather it would seem that in his eagerness for the promised reward he preempted the emissary’s invitation and took off with two of his servants to meet them.

God expects our obedience to His commands to be obeyed to the letter. Balaam could see only the riches and honour Balak promised and this blinded him to anything else.

How many professing Christians today have their eyes on the wrong prize by seeking to serve and worship God yet are covetous for wealth and ease?

The story of Balaam and the donkey may cause some to stumble, yet God is well able to give voice to the dumb creation when he has something to say.indexbalaam

Light heartedly we can discover for ourselves who was the real donkey out of these two. The donkey could clearly see the danger ahead of them when this great “prophet” could not.

We have here the compassion of God illustrated in stopping Balaam in a sinful course.

The lesson and warning this incident taught Balaam about obedience to God’s commands brought him to a shallow repentance because although he obeyed God in prophesying the blessed future of God’s people and even the coming of the Messiah, it did not change the fundamental sinful bent of his desires.

15 And he took up his discourse and said,

“The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor,
    the oracle of the man whose eye is opened,
16 the oracle of him who hears the words of God,
    and knows the knowledge of the Most High,
who sees the vision of the Almighty,
    falling down with his eyes uncovered:
17 I see him, but not now;
    I behold him, but not near:
a star shall come out of Jacob,
    and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;
it shall crush the forehead of Moab
    and break down all the sons of Sheth.
18 Edom shall be dispossessed;
    Seir also, his enemies, shall be dispossessed.
    Israel is doing valiantly.
19 And one from Jacob shall exercise dominion
    and destroy the survivors of cities!” Numbers 22:15-19

Balak, king of Moab’s persistence beggar’s belief, by every means conceivable he sought Balaam to curse the people yet time and again Balaam was prompted by God to bless the children of Israel and forth tell their future blessings. It made no difference where they stood or how many altars he built God’s will in the blessing of his people will always stand even in the face of their enemies.static1.squarespace.com

The purposes of God cannot be thwarted by man.

And Balaam took up his discourse and said,

“From Aram Balak has brought me,
    the king of Moab from the eastern mountains:
‘Come, curse Jacob for me,
    and come, denounce Israel!’
How can I curse whom God has not cursed?
    How can I denounce whom the Lord has not denounced?
For from the top of the crags I see him,
    from the hills I behold him;
behold, a people dwelling alone,
    and not counting itself among the nations!
10 Who can count the dust of Jacob
    or number the fourth part of Israel?
Let me die the death of the upright,
    and let my end be like his!” Numbers 22: 7-10

This passage from scripture also is a salutary warning for us all inasmuch as it shows us that a person can be gifted and used of God and yet not truly one of His own and also how easily it is to be tempted from obedience and faith by the deceitful riches a, honours and pleasures of this world.

Later we see Balaam advising Balak to use the women of Moab to entice the men of Israel to sin and idolatry, thus bringing dire judgment upon the people. He chose to ignore God’s warnings and set himself against the will of God thus hastening headlong on the path of destruction.

Balaam did not live long to enjoy the rewards of wickedness because he was later killed by the children of Israel during their war with the kings of Midian.

We must all choose whose side we are on.

Balaam knew the true God and indeed served Him to some degree yet he did so with a divided and covetous heart and paid the price of disobedience and impenitence.

Let us be warned by his sorry end to be wholehearted in our faith and obedience to God.

Also may we see the bright future of God’s chosen people. Although they may now be “under a Cloud” and not much to look at ,in God’s sight they are chosen and precious among the people of the world. They are His possession and will be so for all eternity.

index manton.jpeg

Standing on the Word of God.

During the nineteenth century there was a strenuous effort on the part of many Evangelical leaders to reconcile Christianity with the new “Theory of Evolution” and the scientific discoveries of the age.

They found the idea of a six day creation and a “young “ earth did not jibe with modern thought and tried to explain them away as the product of primitive and unscientific thought. They also made the Bible stories to be something other than historical fact but still moral and objective lessons.

Others finding the doctrine of substitutional Atonement was found to be irreconcilable with the new thought permeating the intellectual circles and attempts were made to make it less than what scripture showed it to be.

While many of these people were no doubt well meaning the opening up of the scriptures and Christian Doctrine to this sort of adaptation and modification only served to weaken the power of the Christian Gospel.

While it is true that the Genesis creation story is not a scientific document it still demands for itself credence as to the fact of God’s immediate creation of man and indeed the whole creation as well as the subsequent fall of man into sin.

To the thoughtful observer the Fall is the only true and plausible explanation of the historic and continuing state of man in sin and rebellion against God.

As I continually point out in these scribblings any attempt to adapt and diminish the teaching of the scriptures in the hope of appealing to ungodly populace can only undermine the inherent , Spirit  imbued Power of the Word of God in the tearing down of sins strongholds and Satan’ kingdom.

While we invite scrutiny of the Word of God, we must let it stand as it is.

As has been found in the past and will be discovered in the future the Holy Scriptures needs no apology from us.

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Balaam: If the Price is Right!

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.

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.

quote-sin-promises-like-a-god-but-pays-like-a-devil-ralph-venning-136-83-23

 

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!

A real page turner!

While I have downloaded several E-books and read a lot online, I still find that nothing beats turning the page of a book.

Also you lose the serendipity of opening a book at random and reading something you may not otherwise find.

Electronic Bibles may have their uses but I do wonder what wonderful truths are being missed by not having an element of peradventure, (Look it up) in our Bible Reading as well as methodical study.

When a book is in regular use it tends to open at the same page consecutively, so you are constantly reminded of something you regularly read.

I have an old children’s King James version which when opened tends to land in the same place so that my attention is always turned to some particular verse. Thus I am reminded constantly of the same truths.

The drawback of being a bibliophile is that you can only read so many books at a time and in the meantime the un-read remainder are gathering dust or worst of all they are being attacked by silverfish or some other creepy crawly.

I suppose that those parts of our thinking that rarely get an airing will tend to go moldy and when we do reach for them they will fall apart and be found illegible.

So in our Christian those scriptures, promises and commandments we neglect will make our profession lacking in some important pages and more difficult for others to read.

The problem with one of our local library is that the collection of hundred plus year old books looks as if they are never opened from one year’s end to the next. What a waste?

Who knows what life changing and vital information, fact or truth lies neglected in a book that is never opened and may in fact be soon unreadable through the ravages of time and attack.

So while we still have the liberty and opportunity of accessing and studying the word of God let us not permit it to become a closed book or deprive ourselves of the comfort and power of what it has to say to us.image11

They do’nt preach sermons about that nowadays!

How often do you hear older Christians say this in a conversation? The fact is that many of the truths and teachings of scripture are seldom spoken of from the pulpit and others are never mentioned at all.

The preacher of today it is true has less time in your average church service to preach on any subject at length. Also the prevalent worship style and general program of many church services tend to take much of the time that could be used in Bible teaching and exhortation.

(Fifteen to twenty minutes getting everybody to greet somebody else when it could be left to after the service, is time that could be spent in Biblical exposition.

Repeating the line of a praise and worship song for what seems like an eternity probably does not help either.)

It is also a fact that no preacher can cover the wide field of Scripture and deal with everything all the time. There must be in ministers a fundamental attempt to meet the needs and speak against the sins of the times and not baulk at any part or teaching of God’s Word

I think that the problem’s cause is far more serious. There does not seem to be the will among preachers to come to grips with the Word of God and set forth its desperately needed teaching.

It seems that one of the deleterious side effects of the “seeker sensitive“ model of church worship is that, in its opinion, the bold proclamation of the Word of God, especially its most, to “modern man “ , offensive and misunderstood teaching is counterproductive to growing numbers in your church.

This is why you never hear the Bible read at any length in our modern services. You do not hear prayers of confession or people praying at any great length because pastors and leaders are afraid of putting the un-churched off or making them uneasy.

Churches don’t even have prayer meetings, Bible studies or Sunday Schools, now they label them as small groups or some other catchy name.

A.W Pink in writing of Christ’s commandment not to be anxious and overly concerned with food and clothing points out that this also applies to those who make keeping up with the latest trends in fashion a high priority.

28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:28-34

They waste extravagant amounts of money on luxuries and being immaculately and stylishly clothed, when simpler and reasonably price items would do just as well.

They regale their homes with all the latest gizmos and labor saving devices and in many other things deny themselves nothing their hearts desire even if they could well do without it.

The fact that Christians very often see no spiritual harm in such obsessions should prompt the minister of the gospel to remind them of Christ’s teaching on this subject.

Pink feels that the reason for this blind sightedness and neglect on the part of preachers is the fact that they see this behavior among their own families and this silences them.

However this may be, many practical and vital truths found in scripture are not being dealt with by many who claim the title “minister of the gospel “.

They must answer for themselves to their Lord and Master as to why they saw fit to ignore and fail to address so many vital elements of Biblical truth and Christian behavior through the full and faithful preaching of the Word of God.

Christ exalted

There have always been those who throughout the history of the Church have tried to bring Jesus Christ down to man’s level and comprehension. They have sought by any means to remove any suggestion that Christ is one with the Father and thus “very God of very God”.

Why they do this is hard to understand. That God should humble Himself for the salvation of mankind from sin upon the Cross is perhaps galling to their pride and conception of self worth.

They approach this task of “de-God-ing Jesus Christ” in many ways. It invariably involves playing one part of the scripture against another; attribute other meanings or interpretations to it or ignoring it altogether.

 

They may say that Christ was a mere man although greatly gifted and ahead of his time. Others have said that he was a super human being but although greatly exalted still less than God himself. The Cerinthians in the early church said that Jesus was a mere man indwelt by the “Christ who left Him when He died on the cross.

That He was truly God made truly man without ceasing to be God has been a pill some could not swallow.

Many still hold to this line and make Christ a great teacher and example with may be an extra divine spark but that is all.

Any thorough and impartial reading of the New Testament shows that the writers and early believers hold an opposing view and exalt Christ as God. They are forever describing His Divine nature as exemplified by His life, teachings and saving work.

They not only refer to the exaltation bestowed upon Christ upon completion of His atoning work but refer to the exaltation and glory that was His from all eternity with the Father before the world was John 17:5

The truth is no less than Divine being could meet the needs of sinful men and women, The angels themselves who are mighty in power are not sufficient to deal with the weight of sin and could not for a moment bear it.

That God could become man and yet remain God is a mystery that all eternity will puzzle out but nothing less can satisfy the sinner who needs a more than sufficient Saviour.

Christ as our Lord and our God is all seeing and all hearing. No cry or plea for help and mercy goes unheard or unanswered. He is all wise and is not perplexed or non- nonplussed by the complexities of life but can deliver and guide in any and every exigency.

What comfort, these deluded people get from a less than scriptural Christ I do not know. I know certainly they have no conception of the sinfulness of sin. They twist themselves in knots to make the Work of Christ on earth little more than a goodwill mission.

They rob the cross of all but the merest symbolical meaning and sometimes not even that.

There is very little left of Christ by the time they are finished with Him. I, for one would not like to be in their place when they find themselves appearing before His eternal throne Heb 12:2

 

Still others try to reduce the work of Christ to a less than scriptural task devoid of saving significance. Where else does this merely “therapeutic” presentation of Christianity come from?

The error also goes to the other extreme. There were those who believed that Christ was not flesh and blood at all but merely a man in appearance and thus feigning human compassion and weakness.

Either way it prompts us to ask ourselves “Who is this Jesus?”  Is He the One the Scriptures portray and declare to be as God incarnate? Is he indeed willing and able to save us and keep us to the end.

Any Genuine hope of salvation and peace with God depends on the true answer to this question.

Has God Forgotten to be gracious?

“Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favourable? Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are His promises at an end for all time? Has the Lord forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His compassion?” Psalm 77:7-9

I wonder how many reading this have at any time come to the point of their lives when they would echo the words and sentiments of these words of the Psalmist.

When we have fallen into sin and seek to be restored to the joy of our salvation by repentance or found ourselves in dire circumstances and have reached a very low ebb we then wait upon the Lord to be gracious.

It very often occurs that we find that the Lord delays His return and the relief we seek is long in coming.  If so we experience something which is common to many of God’s people.

As when a loved one is late returning home and we have no news of their whereabouts or certainty of their welfare we imagine the worst and go over the various eventualities that may have occurred to prevent and delay their return.

When we feel that God is angry or displeased with us we attribute the feelings we ourselves would have if in His place. It is then we have hard thoughts and dire premonitions of how God will act toward us in response to our sin and disobedience. If we have any understanding of the holiness of God and the sinfulness of sin we know that we deserve the worst that God sees fit to send us and we can blame only ourselves if He leaves us to our just deserts.

The psalmist was dealing with a corporate sin of the nation but it also has an application to the individual.  We all look upon God with spectacles coloured by our feelings at any given time.

When we feel that we have pleased God we hold out our hands for an extra blessing. When we have fallen into failure and sin we expect God’s displeasure and chastisement but then hope for speedy restoration when we ask for forgiveness.

Thus when our restoration is delayed and we feel that God has distanced Himself from us we wonder whether we have pushed Him too far and exceeded His patience and the capacity of His mercy.

God never utterly forsakes His people although to our poor perceptions He may seem too. God is not bound to our timescale and operates with a wisdom that we may only fully appreciate only when we are looking back from eternity.

While the psalmist and we ourselves are feelingly asking these questions in the face of God delayed return and hidden mercy, we can only pray that we may arrive at last at the answer of faith.

The Lord will turn again to His people, He will again be favourable to them, His love is steadfast and will never cease towards His own. His anger with His children is of short duration while His graciousness, compassion and mercy are over all His works (Psalm 145:9) and will endure forever.

Jack & Cic.

Screen Shot 2014-05-24 at 1.02.38 AM

images jackJack Hulbert was a very popular actor and singer during the 1930’s. Even though His popularity on the screen waned in the 40’s he entertained on the stage. He was married to a comedienne called Cicely Courtniege and often appeared with her in films and  on the stage .underyourhat

In contrast to the many of marital scandals of the age they were known as the “the happiest couple in show business”, their marriage lasted 62 years.

Their marital fidelity stood in stark contrast to faithlessness and fickleness of many others in the glitz and glamour of show business.

540785059In like way Christians in all they believe, say and do, must stand in Christ-like faithfulness and scripturally obedient contrast to those round about them.

 

 

A real page turner!

Our need for peace with God!

images lloyd jonesD.Martin Lloyd Jones points out in His sermons on Romans chapter 5 that the tendency of the evangelists of his time was to invite people to the blessings of Christ without calling them to reconciliation with God and peace with Him, first and foremost.

They were calling upon them to come to Christ and receive this, that or the other blessing. They were ignoring the need to call people back to peace with God by repentance and faith in Christ’ finish work.

Speaking in 1957-58, Lloyd Jones warns of those who call people to happiness, peace and joy through coming to Christ and then promising them help with life’s problems without firstly calling them to be reconciled with God.

Man through the fall, is alienated from God by sin and therefore can expect no spiritual blessings from Him until they enter into relationship by repentance of sin and faith in and through Jesus Christ.

He uses the statement of the man born blind in the ninth chapter of John, that God does not hear sinners. Therefore those whose sin is not dealt with cannot approach God until their standing with Him is assured through Christ.

All other things in Christianity must be subservient to this. It is the primary function of Christianity to reconcile sinful men and women to God by faith and repentance.

This sort of preaching remains current with the teaching of many in the church today.

It is this neglect of the call to repentance and the need for new life and conversion which reduces the gospel to just a cure all for what “ails you” instead of a message of Salvation from the dire peril and consequences of sin.

It is of no value to erect a super structure without building it on the foundation that God has laid down in His revealed Word.

It is this error that explains the shallow and superficial state of Christianity and Christians.

Communications Barrier!

My brother works at a fast food restaurant among a group of teenagers and young adults. He was complaining that he mentions many things and people and they have no idea what he is talking about either because they are too young or just not experienced.

Today the Church is also confronted by a group of people who have no appear to have no frame of reference with which to understand the message of the gospel  given to them.

In the great effort to bridge the communication gap today’s church has over compensated for peoples natural lack of knowledge of the Bible and the things of God by either dumb-ing down or neglecting aspects of Biblical teaching. The result being that the “gospel” message they are trying to convey is no longer the same as that revealed in scripture.

We may be living in different times but the inherent ignorance of the man of this world regarding the things of God is nothing new. Indeed we are told that nothing but the direct work of the Holy Spirit is required before they can begin to understand the things of God.

It is this particular point that the church today seems to be ignoring. The fact is we all need to be taught of God before we have any real understanding and possibility of living the Christian life.

This is not to say that we  do not need to speak and teach in such a way to remove all reasonable barriers to the understanding of the gospel but we must never do this at the expense of the truth of God’s Word.

Righteous indignation!!!

When we look at those we perceive to be proclaiming a false or watered down Gospel or who are introducing  unscriptural innovations into the Church, while discarding  historical practices in worship and doctrine, it is easy to carry our indignation with what they are doing to extremes of passion and anger.

We may view ourselves in the character of modern reformers or as  imitating Christ in the temple and genuinely seek the restoration of gospel truth and the unvarnished simplicity of worship.

The problem is that this can be carried to excess and make us forget that error is as possible to ourselves as anyone else. We can come to despise those purveyors of false doctrines and forget that there but by the grace of God go I.

As D.Martyn Lloyd Jones again points, out we should pity those who are caught in Satan’s delusions and pray we do not fall into them.

Satan carries the major part of the World captive in sin and this should provoke sincere pity on the part of all those who live as Christ did and “to seek and save the lost”.

While those who go out of their way to contradict the “truth as it is in Jesus” are far more guilty and liable to greater punishment, it is still not our role to be judge and executioner but to leave their fate in the hands of God and pray for their repentance and salvation.

It is our task to stand up for the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and God’s Word and endeavour by His grace to live genuine Christian lives. Thereby we oppose error and sin by showing forth the power of God’s truth and embody His mercy.

But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.
 1 Timothy 1:16

 

Our need for peace with God!