Archive for December, 2019

Marvel not if the World hates you

December 31, 2019

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I sincerely believe that as Christians, we experience much antagonism when we are being active in the Lord’s service and as the years go by we will naturally feel increasingly like an “alien” in this world. “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” (1John3v13) We are not to be shocked by personal vicious attacks upon us – by virtue of the very simple fact that we are on the Lord’s side.
In this world there is no middle ground; we cannot “straddle” the narrow and the broad road. “Choose you this day whom ye will serve,” (Joshua 24v15) Either we are on the Lord’s side or we are not – and when we are on the Lord’s side we can be assured that we will feel like “fish out of water” in this world and the world will most definitely hate us.
Jesus said: “I have given them thy word; and the world hateth them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” (John 17v14) I have been guilty recently of “marvelling,” when really I shouldn’t be at all surprised. I honestly feel that many unregenerate people aren’t even aware of this antagonism within them or the fact that they serve an evil master – and that master hates those who serve the Lord Jesus Christ.
Marvelling and feeling shocked and hurt are human reactions, of course, but we must go in the strength of the Lord and continue to love those souls who are outside of Him and for whom He died. The deep wounds we sustain can be prevented from “festering” when we rest in Him, in the knowledge that He too was hated. He knows all about it and there is nothing in our lives that He is not aware of. How He cares deeply for us and looks with compassion upon us as we tread this earth, as strangers and sojourners.
Let us be encouraged, as we march on by faith to “a better country, that is, an heavenly.” (Hebrews 11v16) “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 11v8-10)
Like Abraham, we may not know what the journey ahead consists of but we know that we look for “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2Peter 3v13) We set our sights on that place while on this brief journey which is sometimes fraught with trouble and we can leave our positive mark for time and eternity, in His strength. How amazing to someday meet the prophets and the apostles of old, as well as precious loved ones who have gone before us… but infinitely more marvellous will be to meet the Lord Jesus Christ who died for us and made it all possible. It will be worth it all!

A Quiz and Thoughts for the Season Tract

December 18, 2019

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The following may seem a little simplistic to those who know their Bibles but I have discovered that in my own society very few people read the Bible – or have ever read it. I feel led to use the occasion in outreach, with little thought-provoking tracts like the following. I have also been distributing scenic scripture calendars in our local area and beyond, in the knowledge that people blindly follow what is taught from the pulpit of whatever church they go to on seasonal occasions, never opening their own Bibles. Praise God for the liberty to read His Word; I pray that many would look beyond the traditions of man and would seek for the truth and turn to Him in these days.

1. Where was Jesus born: Jerusalem, Bethlehem or Nazareth?
2. On which of these dates was He born: 6th January, 25th December, 12th April? Or do we know at all?
3. Was Mary immaculately conceived? Yes/No
4. How many wise men were there: 3, 7/ we don’t know.
5. How many shepherds were there: 5, 7, 12/ we don’t know.
6. Did Jesus have brothers and sisters: Yes/No.
7. After the birth of Jesus, Herod later killed all the young children of two years and under that were in the region of Bethlehem. True/False
8. Which country was Joseph warned in a dream to flee to after the birth of Jesus: Greece, Italy or Egypt?

I have been thinking recently about seasonal assumptions and how, sadly, very few people ever read the Bible for themselves. Jesus told us that it was essential to read this most important of all books for ourselves.
He said… “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5v39)
The Bible speaks of the people of Berea who are described in Acts 17v11 as being “more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
The Berean people wisely checked whether what they were being told was true. They didn’t readily accept the word of man, no matter how seemingly learned, or even spiritual, without checking it against God’s word to see “whether those things were so.”
Really understanding and knowing God’s Word has little to do with education, but rather in a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour of our lives. When we truly know Him as Saviour, then the Bible becomes alive and wonderful; His letter to us throughout life, instructing, guiding, convicting and comforting us through life’s most difficult hours. When we know Him and believe His Word, we can say with the Psalmist… “For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.” (Psalm 48v14)
But how do we find this relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ? Jesus said… “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3v3)
This “new birth” does not occur when we are baptised as babies – or even adults, or when we join a church. We must firstly recognise that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3v23) We must also realise that we cannot save ourselves by our good works… “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2v8&9)
In Hebrews we learn that no man on this earth can take away or forgive sin. “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.” (Hebrews 10v11)
But of Jesus the Bible tells us… “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;” (Hebrews 10v12)
“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1John 2v2)
If you have not already done so, turn this day to the only Person who can save you – the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ who gave His life for you, that you might have fulfilling life in Him – both now and forever in His Presence.
You may pray simple words of acceptance… “Heavenly Father, I come to you now, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ who shed His precious blood for me at Calvary. Please come into my heart today, forgiving me for all the wrong I have ever done. Cleanse me, and help me to live victoriously each future day in your presence. Open to me the great truths contained in your Word, the Bible, and help me to find fellowship with those who share my experience.”
When I trusted in Jesus as my Saviour many years ago, the Bible truly came alive for me and as the years go by it has been my companion and Guide throughout life’s journey, while the Lord’s comforting Presence is ever with me in all situations I have to face. Personally, I found it better to start in the New Testament, in Matthew’s Gospel.
I discovered that we are not saved by good works – but unto good works. Now you will be “his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2v10)
My prayer is that you too will experience this wonderful assurance of sins forgiven and a Home in Heaven forevermore, before it is too late.
“… behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2Corinthians 6v2)
May the Lord bless you, as you search His Word and trust Him to reveal His great truths to your heart.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3v16)
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11v28)
“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6v37)
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9v27&28)
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3v20)

Answers to quiz:
1. Jesus was born in Bethlehem. (Matthew 2v1)
2. The birth date of Jesus is not recorded in the Bible.
3. It is not recorded anywhere in the Bible that Mary was immaculately conceived. Jesus was born of a virgin (Mary) (Matthew 1v18-25) and He is the only Person ever to be born and live without sin. (2Corinthians 5v21; Hebrews 4v15; 1Peter 1v19; 1Peter 2v22; 1John 3v5)
4. We are not told how many wise men there were. It is assumed there were three because they gave gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2v11) but we don’t know for sure.
5. The account of the shepherds is recorded in Luke 2v8-20 but we are not told how many there were.
6. Yes… We may read of Jesus’ brothers and sisters in Mark 6v3 and Matthew 13v55&56. Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus (Matthew 1v23) but Matthew 1v25 indicates that this did not continue to be the case after the birth of Jesus.
7. True… This account may be read in Matthew 2v16-18.
8. Egypt. (Matthew 2v13-15)

“Like the Falling of a Leaf”

December 1, 2019

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By now most of the leaves have fallen and as I stroll along the country lane behind our home I watch the different scenarios in which leaves fall. Depending on the weather, some are blown swiftly far away in high winds, while others quietly flutter to the ground even when there is no breeze. As I gaze over the countryside, in the distance I can see the blue horizon of the cold sea, but nearer still are the ploughed fields which only a few months ago were full of golden barley. It seems like only yesterday that towering bales of gold were all over that field. How methods of farming have changed! These days massive equipment is taken into the field to complete the harvest. No longer do we “bind sheaves” by hand.
These reflections on swiftly passing seasons with “falling leaves” and “binding of sheaves” reminds me of William J. Kirkpatrick’s hymn “Life at Best is Very Brief.” Born in Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland in 1838 and later living in U.S.A., this hymn writer made a significant contribution to hymnody. Amongst these are “A Wonderful Saviour is Jesus my Lord;” “Away in a Manger,” “I am not skilled to understand,” “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,” “Redeemed” etc. But it is “Life at Best is Very Brief” which has been in my thoughts recently. A convicting hymn, it speaks of “being in time.” Whether we are in the spring, summer, autumn or winter of our lives, life has taught me with some very hard lessons that we have no idea what lies “around the corner.” I thank the Lord that I trusted Him all those years ago and He has been my constant and loving companion through it all. As I watch individuals who are going through stormy episodes in life, I long for them too, to have that “peace which passeth all understanding.” That peace is available to all who repent of their sins and put their trust in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary.
I have seen a great tree with glorious leaves one sunny day, reduced to a stark silhouette against a gloomy sky the next… and so it is with life. We must be in time! Perhaps William Kirkpatrick’s lovely old hymn says it best…

Life at best is very brief,
Like the falling of a leaf,
Like the binding of a sheaf,
Be in time!
Fleeting days are telling fast
That the die will soon be cast,
And the fatal line be passed, –
Be in time!

Be in time…….be in time……
While the voice of Jesus calls you,
Be in time!
If in sin you longer wait,
You may find no open gate,
And your cry be just too late,
Be in time!

Fairest flowers soon decay,
Youth and beauty pass away,
Oh, you have not long to stay,-
Be in time!
While the Spirit bids you come,
Sinner, do not longer roam,
Lest you seal your hopeless doom,-
Be in time!

Time is gliding swiftly by,
Death and judgement drawing nigh,
To the arms of Jesus fly,-
Be in time!
Oh, I pray you, count the cost,
‘Ere the fatal line be crossed,
And your soul in hell be lost!-
Be in time!

Sinner, heed the warning voice,
Make the Lord your final choice,
Then all heaven will rejoice,-
Be in time!
Come from darkness into light,
Come, let Jesus make you right,
Come, and start for heaven to-night,
Be in time!