Jehoshaphat and Ahab!

King Jehoshaphat of Judah was a godly man and zealous for the Lord. His main weakness seemed to be pliability and easily led. The great blight on his reign was his association and close relationship with the wicked King Ahab of the northern kingdom Israel.

Perhaps he had high hopes of restoring Ahab and Israel to the true worship of Israel’s God but instead was inveigled into a foolhardy attempt to restore Ramoth Gilead to Israel’s control.

Ahab attempted to placate Jehoshaphat’s religious scruples by enlisting the support of his resident prophets and they with one accord supported this ‘pious ‘Endeavour. Yet Jehoshaphat was not so simple as to take their word alone but called for a ‘Prophet of the Lord’ to be consulted as well.images344.jpg

Ahab was initially reluctant because his experience of God’s prophets was less than pleasing. As Jehoshaphat insisted, Michaiah the son of Imlah was summoned to appear. The officer who went and fetched Michaiah was unwilling to spoil all the ‘goodwill’ built up so asked the prophet to chime in with Ahab’s ‘trained poodles’. The prophet naturally refused, he was answerable to the ‘God of hosts’ and bound to proclaim His word faithfully.

Initially it seemed that the ‘Prophet of the Lord’ was going to weaken and fall in with the other ‘ soothsayers’ , repeating the ‘mantra’ of’ go up and you are sure to succeed’.

Support from so unlikely a quarter did not convince Ahab who confusingly adjured Michaiah to tell the truth.

Michaiah then revealed God’s purpose of judgment and defeat. One of Ahab’s prophetic lackeys was not pleased at this blatant contradiction and after slapping his face asked him which way the ‘spirit of prophecy’ went in order to arrive at Michaiah.

Ahab only response to God’s word was to lock the prophet of the Lord up on bread and water pending his safe return. Michaiah reassured him this was not going to happen.

True to form Ahab sets his fellow king as a ‘target’ to distract the Syrians and to make doubly sure disguises himself as an ordinary charioteer.

Jehoshaphat in the heat of battle becomes the focus of the Syrian soldiers who were ordered to get Ahab and forget everyone else. The royal robes that placed him above His people now became a ‘bull’s eye’ which if not for his hurried anguished prayer and the loving kindness of God, would have done for him. Through divine intervention the soldiers are turned to other prey.

The God of Israel was not by Ahab’s clever ploy and guiding a haphazardly fired arrow smites the evil king fatally.Ahab_shot_1141-8

Jehoshaphat rushes home regretting the whole enterprise.

The great question for the Church today is to determine the point when cooperation becomes compromise. When to know when contact and interaction with the ungodly has passed beyond safe spiritual bounds.

Jehoshaphat’s behavior in this instance reminds us of the need to heed our Saviour’s warning to have the sharp-eyed wisdom of a serpent while maintaining the harmlessness of a ‘dove’. Well meaning he no doubt was and his intentions may have been noble, yet his failure to consult God and seek His will before embarking on this alliance cost him dearly and set a poor example to his people.

Michaiah stands true in the line of faithful prophets of the Lord. They are the genuine instruments through which God reveals and declares His plans and purposes. They overcome the natural tendency to ‘tone down’ and vacillate, and keep the eye of faith on God and not the consequences attending the proclamation of His Word.

Ahab typifies to the life those whom God deals with in judgment and repeatedly warns yet consistently reject and ignore mercy and grace shown. Who of us would wish an end like his?

The parting of the ways!

I hate endings. As an avid watcher of ‘Old’ television, and in a climate of constant broadcast of repeats, I can tell when the end of a series is coming. My invariable response is (that if it was a series I really liked ) that even now after being so long discontinued that somehow more episodes were made.maxresdefault (1).jpg

This is made even more desirous if I considered the program series ending ‘anti climactic’ or needlessly tragic.

I have often grown attached to each of the characters and regret the loosing of their company and following of their adventures.

In regards to the highs and lows of the realities of life, this regret is more poignant because the ending of many loved things is more permanent and enduring in consequence.

The ‘if only’ feeling is endemic to us all even as Christians.

The wrong things we do and choices we make and the people we lose in the process are constant sources of grief and sadness.

Even without our input or action Times change and life moves on leaving an emptiness we cannot always fill.

We are creatures of time and as such bound by its limitations. God on the other hand dwells in eternity and the everlasting now. The answer to all our inherent longings and  our deliverance from  earthly regret is to make Him our dwelling place for now and eternity through our Lord Jesus Christ!

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Jehoshaphat and Ahab!

Seeing but not Perceiving!

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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That sinking Feeling!

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

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

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

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

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

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Seeing but not Perceiving!

The rise of the Acronyms!

In the era of sound bites and ‘tweets’, the use of abbreviated language and ‘acronyms’ is becoming prevalent.download

For those finding themselves ‘out of the loop’ it is hard, at least initially to get the gist and meaning of comments and issues that use these terms.

This has the effect of limiting understanding to an initiated few while the many are bewildered and forced to play ‘catch up’.

I wonder whether the ‘in the know’ people that coin these ‘acronyms’ consider themselves to be in the numbers of the ‘elite’.

While ‘theology’ has a tendency to speak in a language all its own and the Scriptures contain things that are difficult for many to understand we are not without the means to come to an understanding of the Truth if we sincerely seek it.

The Spirit opens the Christians heart to Christ and the gospel and our understanding to the Scriptures. Our part is to be teachable and zealous to hold onto the Truth received.

The Tattered Gospel!

The authority of the Scriptures as the Word of God is being constantly assailed both by outright enemy and more often than not by professing Christians.

There have always been those who would gladly wean the Christians off one part of Scripture or another.  They tend to be more determined to relegate great tracts of the Old Testament to obsolescence but also explain away the less acceptable to modern ears portions of the New.

To be a Believer in the Bible as the Word of God Today is the worst thing anyone can be in this ‘day and age.’

How many parts of Scripture are said to be only relevant to those who lived in those days? How many are said to be only meant for those who lived under ‘The Law’ and not applicable to those who live under ‘Grace’?

So it goes on interminably.

Rather believe that ‘All Scripture is God Breathed and profitable’ and seek for its application to us, wherever and whenever we are!

The only Bible the early Church had was the Old Testament, later combined with the ‘Apostolic writings and gospels’. It has sustained Christianity throughout its entire history and will continue to do so.

Today the tide is high against Scriptural Christianity and even in many of our churches all we get is the ‘Expurgated ‘ version, devoid of teaching about the sinfulness of sin and the need for repentance and holiness of life.

True Christianity has always been out of step with Society at large and its culture and we always hear those asking how we engage modern culture with Christianity.

Why else are all our pastors throwing away their suits and ties and donning t-shirts, grasping hold of the latest ‘church growth gimmick’ and pursuing anyone, however theologically dubious, who promises to increase their membership?

Why else are ‘prayer times’ and ‘Bible expository’ sermons cast to the ‘moles and the Bats’?

Because in our desperation to keep our ‘fellowships ‘ alive we will do anything and anything to get the people in, without any regard to being faithful to God and His truth. We fear more than anything offending people with the unadorned Gospel of Christ and therefore Endeavour to re-package it for the modern age.

Rather be thought anachronistic and obsolete and try to uphold faithfully the gospel of Christ and the inerrant Word of God than like a poor tailor ‘ cut our pattern to suit our cloth’.

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“Crossing the line”

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Crossing the Line was a nautical tradition that was observed when ships initiated passengers and crew who were  for the first time crossing  the ‘Equator’.

All manner of high jinks were part of this ceremony and the resourceful sailors made up costumes and props,  such as dressing up as king Neptune and his consort.

We are familiar with the celebrations  and ‘carry ons’ that society observes on anniversaries and occasions.

In fact the tendency is to make up an occasion  for any time when one does not exist.

Christianity  too ,has its ‘rites of passage’ in Baptism and The Lord’s supper’, they remind us of what Christ is to us and what we are to Him.

Unlike the high spirited antics of the ‘seaman’ the Christian ordinances are not things to be taken lightly , thoughtlessly or frivolously. They call for self examination and thoughtfulness and if attended so are a source of blessing to all believers who so observe them.

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The rise of the Acronyms!

The Men of Whitby!

“The men of Whitby” is a story by Robert Blatchford relating the effort to rescue the passengers and crew from a stricken vessel in ‘Robin Hood’ bay in 1881.9457326879_8c2b42832f_z

The ‘Robin Hood’ bay life boat is damaged and out of action and the sea is too rough to risk rowing the ‘Whitby ‘life boat around the coast. They therefore hit upon the thought to take the boat overland despite warnings of it impossibility and dire weather conditions.

 

After super human effort and a groundswell of local support the boat crew manages to get the boat to ‘Robin Hood’ bay.

The first attempt is forced back by immense waves and half the oars are shattered and half the crew put out of action.

Taking the oars from the damaged local life boat and fresh men taken aboard but again they are forced back. But again they attempt to reach the vessel in its dire peril647033102

All this time the passengers and crew of the vessel are unaware of the mighty efforts being made on their behalf’s and only when the lifeboat men cheer do they realize that their deliverance is at hand.

The story ends ,

“Oh, it was a glorious day! a strife of giants! a triumph of heroes! Imagine the delighted enthusiasm, the frantic excitement of the crowd when the shipwrecked crew were landed on that dangerous rocky shore, snatched from the very jaws of death – saved, saved to a man! – saved by the dauntless courage and magnificently heroic devotion of the fishermen of Whitby, who brought their lifeboat overland.”

 

While making allowance for some poetic license, there is no doubt that this story has often stirred my soul and brought a tear to my eye.

In the spiritual realm it is this desire to save that made Christianity different from the religions of men.

The saving love of Christ seen in his life and death upon the Cross has always fueled the zeal and fired the hearts of Christians for the proclamation of the gospel of Salvation.

It can only be said that the malaise the modern Church finds itself in is largely due to its allowing this fire to burn low and be replaced with a desire for people’s mere acceptance of Christian profession.

Is Jesus indeed, the Saviour and the only one, or is He not? If so we who have experienced his mercy and grace must declare Him as such without fear or favour.

 

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Tongue Tied Christians in prayer!

A ‘Methodist’ lady on an emigrant ship coming to Australia in the 1800’s complained to the captain that there was no ‘prayer meeting’ on board ship. He replied that the Anglican minister on board ship read ‘prayers’ Sunday morning. She replied that they were only ‘Parson’s prayers’.

The Christian’s constant peril is falling into the habit of praying merely by rote and habit.

Books of prayers and artificial helps may have their place but only if they lay a foundation upon which we ourselves build.

To have needs, desires and concerns is common to us all but the teaching of Scripture about prayer is all about the way we ‘give them utterance’ in the presence of ‘Our Heavenly Father’.

What we say in prayer is less a factor than how we come. While we indeed come to God through Christ as sinners, we also come as children.

It is natural for us to want to come into our father’s presence as presentable as possible yet for all our washing and scrubbing we still come clothed in the righteousness of Christ. The washing away of remaining sin is from God so coming to him in all our sin and shame is unavoidable.

The ‘shopping list’ tendency in prayer may stem from our ‘business’ like attitude and not wanting to hold God up with extraneous matters and civilities.

No doubt the crises of life and our agitated states may excuse us many a time yet in the normal course of our lives we need to stop and consider who it is to whom we come.

To pray after the pattern of the Lord’s Prayer or if you prefer the Pattern our Lord gave us for prayer is a good starting place for those ‘ all at sea’ when it comes to prayer. Our application of its principals to our current situations and as it were filling the names and problems into the blanks is useful sometimes.

One major thing to is to not fall into the habit of neglecting prayer or forever putting it off.

The Holy Spirit graciously intercedes within us in our prayers and Christ all availingly intercedes for us at the ‘Throne of grace’ but all this depends upon us praying in the first place.

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The Men of Whitby!

Abigail and David!

The story of Abigail and David is surely an example of female character seen at its best in trying circumstances.

In an age when arranged marriages were the norm, Abigail’s parents no doubt thought they were doing the best for her and her future. Nabal was not merely exceedingly wealthy by the standards of the times but he was descended from Caleb, one of the noblest and greatest of the children of Israel’s forebears.

Yet from such a noble stem, Nabal was an unworthy branch.

One can only wonder why his parents labeled him at birth with a name which characterized him ever after ,”Nabal” “Fool”

Abigail as seen in this portion of Scripture is seen as a woman of uncommon wisdom and forthright action. That she must have had more than common patience to have endured a husband of such surly and unreasonableness is obvious.

I suspect she had to intervene many times before to smooth over her husband’s past insults and offenses.

That she bore with his many failings and bad character with an even temper and forbearance is an example of meekness that puts us to shame in this easily offended and escapist age.

True she could have hardly left him in that strict and traditional age yet Abigail is shown as someone who not only endured but flourished.

David not unreasonably hopes that Nabal would contribute something for the sustenance of the men of his band who helped protect Nabal’s shepherds in the wilderness of Carmel.  Nabal was at least generous enough to feast his own people after the strenuous work of shearing his many sheep.

David hoped he would stretch it a bit further to include his own men.

Nabal in the height of his drunken stupor adds insult to injury by refusing David’s men and labeling David himself a traitor and escaped servant.

David’s frustration, while understandable does him no credit.

Sword strapped to his side he rides of on an errand of vengeance.

How clearly this shows what the best of saints is capable of if left to himself.

Abigail when informed of her husband’s stupid and suicidal actions, puts together some provisions and with a servant goes forth to meet the aggrieved son of Jessie.maxresdefault

Prostrating herself before the enraged hero, she takes upon herself the blame and responsibility for the neglect of hospitality and reminds David of his great role in Israel and exalted future as king of Israel. She cannot however refrain from giving her husband a kick as being a fool like his name.

Abigail’s belief in the reality of God’s control of David’s life and destiny stands in stark contrast to the general apathy of the people and their continued toadying to Saul’s waning throne and house.

David naturally thinks better of his thoughtless and vengeful intent and departs in peace with the provisions Abigail brought.

The next day when told of his previous indiscretion, Nabal is struck down in abject fear and not long after dies by the hand of the Lord.

Soon thereafter David takes Abigail to himself as his wife.

39 When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Praise be to the Lord, who has upheld my cause against Nabal for treating me with contempt. He has kept his servant from doing wrong and has brought Nabal’s wrongdoing down on his own head.”

Then David sent word to Abigail, asking her to become his wife. 40 His servants went to Carmel and said to Abigail, “David has sent us to you to take you to become his wife.”1 Samuel 25:39-40

Abigail’s behavior and humility in what must have been an unhappy marriage is a signal example to those who even as Christians are in difficult and problem filled relationships.

She more than merely coped, but by every means possible made her situation the opportunity to exercise ‘Christian grace’ , patience and fore-bearance.

Our tendency is to ‘opt out’ of unhappy marriages and cut off those we find unpleasant and obnoxious.

We might think that Abigail’s problems were now over.

Perhaps had David limited himself to a few wives, we could say Abigail was ‘on clover’ but David’s domestic troubles were just beginning and we can only wonder at the sad things that David’s great sin involved Abigail in if only as a spectator.

Perhaps in future times when David remembered his past follies, he looked at Abigail and wished he had sought her counsel and displayed like wisdom and self control.

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A peach of a pair

If ever a married couple complemented each other ‘Ahab’ and ‘Jezebel’ did so.

So unscrupulous an unprincipled woman like Jezebel of Sidon need a vacillating and weak willed man like Ahab.

He was the perfect tool for her diabolical machinations and he was so in love with his own ego and hateful of Israel’s God that he was up to anything Jezebel would suggest.

While he may have been putty in his strong-willed spouse’s hand, Ahab was not lacking in evil schemes and desires of his own.

Naboth’s vineyard was exactly what he needed for a herb and ‘veggie’ garden and the fact he could have just as easily procured something else far more easily did not occur to him.ahab_2

With Jezebel’s ruthless cunning and resource Ahab found himself the proud owner of Naboth’s patrimony and thought himself well served.

He was not long able to enjoy his new found property undisturbed.

The bane of Ahab’s existence, Elijah laid the blood guilt of Naboth’s death at his door and prophesied the fatal consequences of the royal couple’s sin.

To Ahab’s small credit his obvious guilt and humbling of himself won for himself a stay of execution. Yet the forewarned judgment could only have been truly escaped by deep repentance and this was something neither Ahab nor Jezebel had any conception or desire for.

The message here is simple yet commonly ignored.

However much the wicked plot and scheme and join evil hands together and no matter how much in the short term they may succeed, the truth remains that God is not mocked.

God sees everything and sooner or later will judge those who plot and engage in iniquity and sin with a high hand.

While the hand of God’s mercy has for so long been held out it is just as certain that the day of mercy will end and those who reject Christ and His salvation will reap to themselves the whirlwind that they have sown.

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Abigail and David!

Striking a Chord!

In all our engagements with other people it is comparatively rare to be able to find someone with which we come to an immediate rapport.

Normally striking up a friendship is the product of much time and effort and many missteps.

With others, nothing we do can build a bridge across to them and the best we can hope for is a nod or a grunt.

It was the famous saying of the ‘cowboy’ philosopher Will Rogers, that he never met a man he did not like.

On a far higher and more spiritual plane, the Christian is called to the same attitude and purpose.

That we are liable to the same personal likes and dislikes as anyone else, we as Christians are no longer to follow our own preferences and desires.

As Jesus ‘went about doing good’ and as our ‘heavenly Father’ sends his rain on good and wicked alike, so we as followers of Christ must seek to do good to all and by any means seek to save some.

I am not a people person ‘per se’ and need to overcome many barriers to meet this standard.

Were the living of the Christian life easy there would be no need of the many exhortations and commandments in Scripture.

While society as a whole is out of sympathy with Christianity and the Christian message it is rather to the individual that we must look if we are to reach others for Christ: it is by building bridges to them that we are most likely to reach them with the gospel of Salvation.

Then and now and beyond!

Going through a year book from 1950, I was astounded by the radical and fundamental changes and differences between then and now. The changes are not merely technological but also in society’s outlook, and optimism for the future.1063080-3x2-940x627

The years following the Second World War were quite naturally characterized to some extent by optimism and the hope of a better future. In my own country which was materially intact, the economy boomed and people enjoyed a level of freedom and affluence not seen for a very long time.max50yard

True ,it did not take long for the ‘cold War’ and the communist threat to put a damper on things but to  a casual observer the ‘fifties’ were a good time to be alive.

Yet even then you could see a decline in morality and decency that would dominate the mid to late sixties and continue to the present day with little to stop it or stand in its way.

It was not that these seeds of corruption were not there before but now they had come out into the open and more and more tolerated. It was not till quite recently that they set the agenda and demanded not merely our acquiescence but our applause and admiration.

I recall seeing old films of reporters interviewing ‘American ‘ministers in the early days of ‘Rock and Roll’ and their warning of the immoral and evil influences that would result from it. They were laughed and regarded as anachronistic and scaremongers but have been proved correct by subsequent events and the drug and sexual permissive youth culture.counter-culture-54-728

Even then a great many in the Church had an ‘if you can’t beat them join them’ mindset. They tried to reach the ‘un-churched’ by trying to speak their language and dress as they did and show the World that we could let our ‘ hair down’ as well as anyone. This effort has only intensified with the passing of time to such an extent that much of the church is suffering an identity crisis and lost its core understanding of the gospel and grasp of evangelization.

True we cannot turn back the clock but we can look back to the ‘rock from which we were hewn.’ We can take our stand again on the Gospel of Christ as the primary need of sinful mankind whether they will hear or not.

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Striking a Chord!

Obedience and Blessing!

“These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you.” Deuteronomy. 6:1-3

10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and water-less land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. 16 He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. 17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.” Deuteronomy. 8:10-18

Moses in his valedictory speech recorded in Deuteronomy clearly sets before them the rewards and blessings of obeying and loving the Lord their God and the dire consequences that would befall them upon their future disobedience.

After their prolonged sojourn in the wilderness, God had at last brought them to the brink of a glorious future.index promised land.jpeg

Unlike the pioneering colonists of many lands, there was no need for them to build and plant  ,they only were required to fight the nations already dwelling in the land and possess it.

 

They were encouraged in this by the promise of the Lord’s sending ‘hornets’ before them and instilling fear in their hearts.

I recall going to a house that was to be auctioned and as it was a deceased estate the cupboards were still filled with food and the furniture was still in place.

The more timid of the people saw only high walled cities and mighty warriors of great stature. So like their fathers before them they required encouragement and assurance.

Later on the temptation was for the people to ease up and attributing there prosperity to their own efforts and skill. They would be also tempted to be curious and attracted to the idolatrous and sinful practices that were for so long practiced in the land.

As it proved, the people eventually chose the wrong path and God’s warnings became realities.

For the Christian obedience to God’s commandments is never optional. While we do not earn merit by it, the child of God’s pleasure is to do his Father’s will.

It is our disobedience and slackness that holds back the Father’s hand of blessings. It is our obsession with earthly good and possessions that dulls our appetite for the enduring good that God has in store.

The problem for the church today is that many ‘Believers’ have very little knowledge of God’s will and no desire to hear His commandments.

They are only interested in possessing God’s Blessings and entering into a life of ease and prosperity.

The Christian is not someone who ‘clothes’ themselves in the ‘righteousness’ of Christ and lives as he or she ‘list’ i.e. follows their selfish and sinful desires, , rather they take up their ‘cross’ and follow him.

The Christian desires to be holy ‘as He is holy’. In this we fail often times yet a willing obedience and faithful following of Christ is the true Christians one aim.

Picking up the threads!

The commentary I am reading at the moment is one put out several years ago. I am so impressed with it I was hoping to contact the author and tell him so.

Sadly I find that he died in 2016.

It often happens that we discover things too late.  Often with the passing of time we try and go back and pick up threads of events and acquaintances only to find that it is too late and not possible to reconnect them.

We would like to meet someone and show our admiration and thank them only to find out we were just to late.

In the Christian life to, it is not always possible to go back, rekindle or renew things long past.

We find we cannot undo past wrongs or replace lost innocence.

Rather than despair and give up all as lost we must trust ourselves to the one who holds the future and restores things we regarded as forever blighted and beyond hope of repair.

The Idiot box!

Judging by the advertising we are swamped with on television, there must be a large proportion of the population that do nothing but worry about their income if they are injured and unable to work. Others still are terrified that their family will be landed with their funeral costs and they must get insured immediately.images insurance.jpeg

Yet further there are those who sit in front of the ‘TV’ , phone in hand, ready to make four ‘easy’ payments on the next ‘handy, dandy’ ‘labour saving’ device that comes on the market.

If hearing about the ‘must have’ device once or twice does not convince the customer they repeat the advertisements again and again, day after day, week after week.

It does seem that for many people today, the ‘television ‘has become a guide and adviser. In the past it merely served as entertainment and a bit of company, now it sets the trends, influences the opinions and mends the morals.

Even in matters of ‘religion’ the television has substituted as an ‘ethereal’ church for many people. The only form of ‘Christianity’ many people come into contact with is the often, less than satisfactory brand that fills the airwaves.

Television, like fire makes a good servant but a bad master.

I suppose the fast pace of life and its anxieties leave our minds numb and television viewing seems to fill the void with little need for effort on our parts.

The ‘Eastern’ religions and philosophies encourage us to sometime or another empty our minds and get in tune with whatever is out there.

Christianity  by contrast expects us , while submitting our understanding and wisdom to God, to exercise and use them.

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Obedience and Blessing!