Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Is there enough Evidence to prove we are Christians?

Monday, November 6th, 2017

We all know the Josh McDowell story that if we were to be arrested for being a Christian would there be enough evidence in our lives to bring a guilty verdict against us. I trust there would and we may need in future to make sure that evidence is clear to be seen, as the way things are going in our world today, Christians are being arrested or falsely accused for all sorts of reasons.
There is another plaque going around that my cousin recently had on FaceBook, which gives 12 reasons why the world thinks we as believers are mad. These are very good, if somewhat funny, when we try to look at ourselves through the eyes of the world.
To highlight a few of the traits the world find hard to believe about a Christian, yet when questioned it is often one of these ‘peculiarities’ seen in a Christian, which attracts a non-believer to Christ. Therefore, if we aren’t showing these attributes, we would really need to question our allegiance to this faith:

1. We believe a report of someone rising from the dead! [Luke 24:10-11]
We most certainly do love Him and He most definitely did rise again. Seen by over 500 witnesses between the Resurrection and His Ascendance into Heaven. Don’t you think if they had a body, the authorities wouldn’t have joyfully produced it after three days was up, to try and prove what He said was wrong and that the disciples were lying when they said, ‘He is Risen’? Test the waters, read the evidence, Jesus doesn’t mind your questions. He wants you to find the answers.

2. We love someone we have never seen [1 Peter 1:7-9]
True, we haven’t seen Jesus in the flesh, as yet. But we have seen His works and His Hand in our lives each day, as He appears to us in so many ways, protecting, guiding, comforting, and keeping us in the center of His Will which is good, acceptable and perfect for us. We know Him, through the pages of God’s Word, through the promptings and leadings of the Holy Spirit and by the many personal experiences He brings us through to make us more like Him. He loved us before we loved Him, but after He drew us to Himself, we couldn’t do anything less than fall deeply in love with our Savior. My friend, if you don’t know Him, He still loves you and longs that you seek after Truth. ‘You will find Him if you seek Him with all your Heart.’ Deuteronomy 4:29.

3. We know we are wrong [sinners] [Romans 7:18]
If we are honest, there is no one who is always right, so no matter who we are we are often wrong. Therefore, it is not hard to admit that we are wrong. Ever seen a few month old baby throw a temper tantrum, when it doesn’t get what he wants immediately? Have you witnessed a toddler who doesn’t get his own way? We don’t need taught how to sin, its there from the beginning! Actually, when you admit you are a sinner, and accept Jesus’ offer of forgiveness, it is a huge relief, the burden is removed and with joy we know, that He is daily changing your character as we keep close to Him. Its only then you realize just how impossible it is to be upright and just without His Spirit living in you.

4. We talk to God and expect Him to answer [Acts 12:13-16]
This is an amusing story of how the Christians were at prayer for Peter who was in prison and although they were asking God for his release, when Peter appears at the door, they don’t believe Rhoda who has answered the door. They think she has gone mad! So often, we ask God to do something special and yet how often when it happens are we surprised? Yes, we talk to God. Praise Him for this great privilege!! Through prayer we can affect the lives of people on the other side of the world, or we can see His hand in even the smallest problem in our own lives. He is always interested, always does what is best for us and because He knows the outcome or the end from the beginning, He won’t always give us what we ask right away, we may have to wait a while, but He will answer.

5. We spend our lives studying the Bible [Acts 26:24]
We could spend a thousand lifetimes studying His Word and always find something new in it. It is God-breathed, inspired, inerrant, and has all the answers we need for this life and tells us of the next life too. Some days, one verse can come as a comfort to us and that same passage can also be used to rebuke or guide us when that is what we need. His Word is precious, ‘sharper than any two edged sword…., and discerns the intentions of the heart’ Hebrews 4:12. The more we read and take advice, the more we are conformed to His image!

6. We pray for people whom we have never met and live on the other side of the world [Hebrews 13:3]
‘Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body’ This is a very big privilege we have as believers to be able to pray for the people who have been imprisoned, tortured or persecuted for their faith. We are all part of the one body of believers and when one suffers, we all do, so we need to pray earnestly and help in many other ways to alleviate and comfort the suffering brothers and sisters. We can also pray for God to touch sick people when we are not able to be with them and to speak to the hearts of unbelieving friends and family. God has given us this great gift of two way communication with Him and we need to use it more. It is like everything else, the more we use it, the more accustomed we are to how it works and comfortable we are to use this precious gift! We become excited to watch how God is going to answer us this time.

7. We invite strangers, give money, our address etc. to needy people we don’t know
[Mark 3:19b-22]
Hospitality is a blessing we offer others and immediately when we meet other brothers and sisters, we are bonded with them, as we are after all, each one adopted into His family, so we are one big family! True, not everyone thinks exactly like the other and we are many varieties, personalities and characters, but all striving to follow Jesus and have the one goal of getting to know God better, of one day going to Heaven with Him and taking as many others with us as possible. No believers don’t remain strangers for long.
[1 John 3:14]’We know that we love God because we also love the brethren.’
But, we also offer hospitality and love to people in need, as no matter what need a person has, the most important thing he needs is to know that someone loves them and we can show them Jesus love for them. How many have been reached for Christ by an act of love from a believer. Let us be willing to reach out of our comfort zones and show love to others.

8. No matter the danger, we don’t compromise the message [Jeremiah:26-27] [John 10:18-21]

God gives needed grace for each situation we find ourselves in. It is easy to worry that we might let the Lord down in a difficult situation, and we may, but he does forgive. Look at Peter’s story: He always seemed to put his foot in it, even to denying the Lord three times and yet, after the Lord forgave him, Peter became one of the greatest carriers of the Christian message this world has ever known and died a martyr’s death, choosing to die on an upside down cross, as he didn’t think himself worthy to die in the same way Jesus did. God gave the grace Peter needed when he needed it.
According to historical tradition, it is said, that the Apostle John was dipped in boiling oil and came out of it unscathed, before he was exiled to Patmos. Yes, these men did not compromise the message even if it meant death. Throughout the ages, there have been believers called upon to deny Christ or suffer martyrdom. Some of these torture methods have been despicable, but we experience the freedoms we have, largely because of the efforts of those who suffered unto death. I know, these freedoms are greatly curtailed in many lands today and indeed, it is becoming so in our own land, but I still believe as the old covenanter once said, We will get ‘boiling oil grace’ when we need it, if we stand on the message and trust Jesus with the consequences. Indeed, we must, or our children and grandchildren won’t have the opportunity to follow Christ in Freedom, as we have had.
David & I just watched the movie, ‘Do you Believe’ again, and if you need a modern day movie to show people, especially non-believers, on what it really means to follow Jesus and to live for Him in every situation, this is the one to watch. It gives a good view of some of the scenarios, which make the world think we are mad.
If having this relationship with Jesus and living for Him is what makes people think we are mad, we are so glad to be able to show Jesus to them. Then we can be certain, that there will be enough evidence to show we are His Children. So, let us all continue, with abundant joy, to serve Him and live this mad life, knowing even if we suffer for Him, others will be praying for us and together we will all one day spend eternity in Heaven.

Grace & Mercy

Saturday, August 19th, 2017

In some languages, one being Macedonian, there is not two words in the Bible translation for the word ‘Mercy’ and the word ‘Grace.’ Both are translated as ‘Milosta ‘ [милостa]. While these two words are similar, and often placed together, they have different meanings Mercy doesn’t give you what you do deserve, and Grace gives you what you don’t deserve. For instance, if you committed a crime deserving imprisonment, but the judge didn’t give a prison sentence, then he was showing Mercy.         However, if instead of punishing you, he rewarded you and paid the price of your crime, then he would be showing Grace.  Yes, we need both words! What a lot we miss from our Bible reading if we only have one word instead of two. When God sent Jesus to be our Redeemer, He was showing us Mercy upon Mercy, and when Jesus paid the price for our sin and redeemed us, placing us as joint heirs with Himself, that was Grace upon Grace!

What a wonderful joy and a blessing not only to have both these words in our vocabulary, but to experience the Mercy and Grace of God for ourselves, by asking Him to forgive our sins and come into our lives. The difference between God and a human Judge, is that he made the same provision for all sinners, no matter who we are or what our sin looks like! As long as we are breathing, God has promised to save all who call upon His name in confession and repentance. And then never to leave us, but to guide and help us every day, until we see his Face in eternity.  No matter our race, color, ethnicity, status, job, upbringing etc etc, there is no other way to Heaven with Jesus and God, except we follow this route. If there was any other way, Jesus would not have had to die on the cross, but He did and rose again, having defeated death and paid the price for our sins. That is His unlimited mercy and unmerited grace, all because of God’s unconditional love for each one of us, but only if we accept the gift as it has been offered to us.

What are we waiting for: till we get older, till we get married, till we prove the Bible to be true, till we get all the verses we don’t understand explained. If these are some of the reasons you would put off trusting in Jesus, make sure you are not too late, too busy, unable to accept the truth when you see it, or unwilling to bend the knee before the Lord. We will not understand everything until we see Him face to face!In the Bible, it says clear enough for each of us to understand, that before the Lords return to the earth for His people, there will be ‘wars and rumors of wars [Matthew 24:6, Mark 13:7], nation will turn against nation, kingdom rise against kingdom, [Matthew 24:7, Mark 13:8], and famines, pestilences and earthquakes’. [same verses]. Luke 21:11 adds ‘there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.’ Yes, we have had wars before, but never before have we had so many countries infighting, so many religions fighting among themselves, so many people trying to kill and terrorize their fellow man, so many on the move with nowhere to call home. And as for the signs in the Heavens, climate, wearing out of the old earth, what more will it take for us to realize time is short.

Christian, are you praying for the unsaved, those who are undecided or deliberating, those who have no interest and those who are closest to you. You better be, as you may be the only one who can reach that someone before it is too late. Why would anyone want to go through this life, seeing all that is happening today, without the assurance that God has forgiven us in Christ, and wants us to be together in Heaven? It is the most precious news you know, share it with others.To know with assurance that because of His Grace and Mercy, no matter how it happens or when, we will spend eternity with Him and with those who have gone on before. That is what Grace and Mercy is all about.

Prepared by God for the Task

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

It never ceases to amaze me, and yet it should not even be a surprise, that God has chosen so many people, like Esther to be in a particular place ‘for such a time as this.’ A place where God could use them most effectively, where He has prepared them in advance for what He has planned, that they could serve Him better and bring Him Glory.

Esther as we know was in the King’s favor at a time when she was able to save her people, the Jews.

And the Apostle Paul – God had him picked out for the task in hand before he was even born. He was born in Tarsus, which although now Eastern Turkey, was then a Greek cityGreece, therefore spoke Greek, but because of Roman occupation, he was a Roman,  who also had Jewish parents, meaning he could speak Hebrew.  Eventually Saul became a Pharisee and one of the foremost persecutors of Christ. He had not only in his upbringing many advantages of learning, but also in his profession, he watched Christians first hand, most likely had much to do with him becoming impressed with their joy, their hope and willingness to follow their Lord at all costs, even if it meant their lives.

When Saul did meet with Jesus on the Damascus Road, it was in Aram, but is today Syria, and then went to Arabia [now Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Jordan], for preparation for the work God had called him to. He, became known as Paul, worked as a tentmaker for his keep, meaning he had the opportunity to meet up with all kinds of people from all walks of life. Isn’t that amazing preparation from birth to carrying out the work he was called to? No wonder the Apostle Paul not only became the founder of churches in Asia Minor and Greece, the leading missionary of the early Christian church, but through the Scriptures, he has had an effect on every believer up till now, and will continue till Jesus comes or calls.

As God prepared people for His work through the ages, He still prepares people for the task today. That is easily seen with some of the great men of God, who have been used down in revivals, to take countries and politicians to task, to stand firm for the cause of Christ against all odds etc.  We firmly believe, that a person given over to the Lord, will be used by Him and given the necessary ability to do what God asks of him.

Very often we may wish we had been born in another time, century, or country, but God places us in exactly the right time for us to be born. He knew us when we were still in our mothers wombs and even before we were conceived! Isn’t that an awesome thought to know He cared about us all the way from eternity till now.

Personally, It is without doubt, that through all the stages which God has brought us, He has guided and led us, taught and prepared us, chiseling often at the bits which were of self, to bring us to the place where we can be ‘for such a time as this.’  From the streets of Belfast, to the countries of Eastern Europe, to the Southern Balkans and eventually to being here in Greece when the refugees began to flow through, we were where He wanted us to be. Through the difficult stages as well as the glorious. We need to remember this when we see others going through difficult times that we wish they didn’t have to go through.

One young missionary girl from France, felt God leading her to learn Arabic as a student, which she did, only to have God call her then to Greece. She could not understand this happening about a year before the refugees began coming. But she came here and made herself useful helping in the church and working with those who could speak, French, English or Arabic. Then it happened and she knew why she was in this place ‘for such a time as this.’ She has been used amazingly reaching many people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and giving them hope for the future.

Many of these men and women, who in these last months have accepted Jesus as Savior are now in the preparation stages of being able to reach out to their own people and seeing them also come to Christ. Peoples, who for so long had never heard the Gospel story are being reached, challenged and converted. God had his plan long before we were born and He will continue to carry out His plan till He has gathered in all His loved ones and Christ comes to take us home.

Place yourself in His hands, allow Him to prepare you and as He leads you through life, you will know that you are here, at His bidding, in His plan and purpose, ’for such a time as this! It may not be what you planned, but it will be the perfect plan, to make you the most effective you can be.

Leaving things Behind!

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

During our last visit out of Greece for David to preach, we had a very full program, to make sure we were at one service for 10 am in the morning and another on the opposite side of the country for 4 pm.

The night before, I carefully packed everything we would need, including food & coffee for us to have along the journey between the two services.

Off we went in good time and had a uneventful pleasant journey until about 30 minutes from the border, when it suddenly dawned on me with horrors that our passports were still at home. Normally, I always carried them with us, but because we had used a backpack for a recent flight, they were still in that backpack. Wow, shock, and there was nothing else for it but to turn back and get them! Two hours to return home and another two just to get back where we were at the time of discovery!!!

The Bible reading for that morning had been ‘We have this treasure in jars of clay.’ [2 Corinthians 4:7]. Jars of clay are cups and bowls and at that moment, I felt like the most chipped and flawed vessel that ever was! David already had a huge responsibility to drive many kilometers and still be fresh, to pass on God’s Word to two different congregations, so how did I not even give a thought to the fact that we needed passports to go to another country!!

But the message of that verse is – ‘Don’t quit just because we are earthen vessels, chipped and flawed, as He isn’t finished with us yet!’ Yes, we make mistakes, some we find out the reason for and others we may never know, but there is a purpose in all we do when we walk His way.

Now I don’t fully know the reason for this happening, and I still don’t relish the fact that David had to drive over 800 kilometers to preach, or that he missed the most of his first service, but I just have to trust the Lord with these things.

Still, it was on this day, that David was told, ‘the obvious joy he shows in His Christian life, even when things don’t always go according to plan, was what turned this man towards Jesus, and what makes him and his family strive to be more like Jesus every day.’

People don’t need to see us as perfect examples, but as joyful examples of imperfect sinners, saved by Perfect Grace! ‘ Treasures in earthen vessels!

 

Leaving things behind is not always bad!! In John 4, the woman at the Well when she found the Savior was so excited she left her water pots behind and went to tell others all that had happened to her. [28-29] She wasn’t thirsty any longer, but overflowing with the water of life which Christ had given her. When we come to Jesus, we will want to leave behind the things that hinder us from walking with the Lord. The friends who would hold us back from following, the sins, which brought no real satisfaction anyway!

When Jesus called Peter and Andrew, they willingly left their nets and followed Him. [Matthew 4:18-20] and later in the same chapter, James and John left their father, as well as their business, at the call of the Master. Let us be willing to lay aside or leave behind whatever would hold us back from doing His Will or answering His call, but let us be willing to show the cracks and the chips, which He seals up, as He fills us to overflowing with His joy, that others will want to know the Way to find the Lord in a more personal way.

When Jesus Comes!

Friday, August 19th, 2016

Recently, a guest in our home asked if we had ever heard the term ‘Parousia’ when referring to Jesus soon return! That got me to thinking of the number of incidences in the Bible where Jesus return is talked about and the few times we now hear that subject preached about in our churches. Yet, if truth be told, ‘His coming is closer now than it ever was!’ The multiplicity of disasters in the world, coupled with the new open opportunities Muslims now have to hear the Gospel, the use of internet etc, all the signs are pointing that way.

 

There are six Greek words used in the New Testament to signify ‘Come or coming’ and it is unfortunate that in our English translations we can’t differentiate between the meaning of each one. Therefore we do need to look into the background of each word and verse to get the correct meaning, otherwise, it can be really confusing when we try to put it all into place.

 

If God, through the authors of the New Testament had wanted just to say that Jesus was coming back, they would have used the word Erchomai, which indicates the actual act of coming. ‘Behold, He comes or ‘is in the act of coming’ with clouds’. Revelation 1:7.

This is the most common Greek word for coming and one we call to others, when we say, ‘I’m coming!’

The approaching second coming of our Lord Jesus is much more than just an arrival or an appearance, and to stress that fact while showing us the various facets to help our understanding, we have been given a number of descriptive words, depending on the situation being revealed to us.

 

While the word Parousia is often used to mean Jesus return or second coming, that is not strictly correct. Parousia comes from the Greek root ‘paremi’ which means ‘to be present.’ James 5:7 actually says, ‘Be patient unto the comingpresence’ of the Lord.’ This doesn’t denote a second coming but an arrival of someone whose presence is already here, but who has been expected. How much more wonderful is that for us as Believers to realize His Presence has never left us, He is already here, not just absent, and will sometime come again. I Thessalonians 4:13 ‘He may establish your hearts unblameable in Holiness before God. even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.’ Because of His continued presence with us, we can be found blameless when He comes.

This word is used 24 times in the New Testament, signifying that one day, this Lord Jesus, whom we carry in our hearts daily, will manifest Himself before us again.

Epiphaneia is found 6 times in the New Testament and means, ‘bring to light, to appear, to manifest,’ Out of the darkness, at night comes a star which has been there all day, unseen by the naked eye and is manifested suddenly at night’. This word is used to show the Glory, which will be revealed at His Coming, as in Titus 2:13, where it reads, ‘Looking for that Blessed Hope and the Glorious appearing of the Great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.’ But the underlying point is again, that He is already here now and will then be revealed!

Phaneroo means to ‘render apparent or make manifest,’ but doesn’t so much refer to a visible presence but to an apparition or a perception. ‘When He shall ‘become apparent’, we shall be like Him!’ 1 John 3:2

Heko is a word which indicates ‘coming to a specific place.’ It is used in Revelation 2:25, ‘Hold Fast till I come to you,’ meaning we are to keep the faith and keep on doing, till He comes.

Apokalupsis is the ‘uncovering or unveiling.’ This is the revealing of one who has been veiled from us for some time. That doesn’t mean, He was not with us, but that He was veiled, we couldn’t see Him, although we can know His Presence. When He is revealed, we will be stricken by the wonder of His Glory. Paul used this same word in Galatians 1:11-12, ‘But I certify, brethren, the Gospel I preached is not of man, for I neither received it of man or was taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ!’ It came to Paul [was unveiled to him], by inspiration, when others couldn’t see or understand it!

Some of the words used, have only subtle differences, but when they are all properly understood we do get a much fuller picture. But actually, all these words are only facets of His Coming, and I personally believe the most amazing fact is, that there is no single word to describe just how great it will be when our Saviour returns. He is already present with us, but then will be visibly present. He will come to the specific place we are at, and will be manifest before us in all His Glory. When we see Him, we shall be like Him, will gladly worship Him as every knee bows before Him. It will be like nothing we have ever experienced and more wonderful than can be imagined or described! Not even like going to see royalty or someone famous, as He will know each one of us personally and intimately! How can that even be?

Meantime, we get to enjoy His presence, His help and the assurance that He will Come Again!

But for those who have never heard, or reject His Word, this will be a terrible day!! No longer a day of Grace, but a day of realizing, ‘It is too late!’ Don’t let that be the case! Be ready, for in such an hour as you think not the Son of Man will come’ Matthew 24:44

 

 

 

 

We have a Story to tell to the Nations!

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

Wow, this was a busy year!!! Cant believe it has been so long since I blogged! Time certainly passes fast and seems to get faster every year!

This has been a year with a lot of changes and differences. Usually experts give their predictions, promises and forecasts for each year, but I am sure not many people actually could have forecast the past 12 months accurately, and it is not over yet, the changes continue at such an amazing speed!

So many people have now left their homelands seeking refuge, jobs and new beginnings for one reason or another in another country. Many thousands are still stuck somewhere enroute to their dream place, some have lost the dream and are well disillusioned and others still live in hope!! What different stories the young folks travelling now will have to tell their children in years to come!

These people have witnessed terrible things at the hands of evil people and only the power of redemption and reconciliation through Jesus Christ can give them the peace they need in life!

For those who follow Jesus, the climax of our lives was when we were ‘rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into the kingdom of the Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.’ [Colossians 1:13-14]

We all have a story to tell and praise the Lord, because we know Him, we have a message to share. As a result, many of these people who were fleeing their own regimes, will have a better story to tell their offspring!!! God has been preparing hearts and reaching to many of these people of various religions and showing them, that He has a better way, He is the Way, the Truth and the Life and many have found that peace through believing in Him.

So, now they have a new life in every way, whether they are still in a refugee camp or are settling into a new area of life!

We need to be good stewards of the message God has given us to share with the people, all people, wherever they are and wherever they came from. It is a great privilege to pass on the story of His great Faithfulness towards us and that He has promised that same faithfulness to all who trust in Him.

Jonathan & David in the Old Testament had a special relationship with each other of deep friendship and love. Especially when David was a fugitive himself, Jonathan went to him and encouraged him in God. We too can encourage each other with our story of God’s love and faithfulness even in the difficult times! People of other faiths are most often spoken to by the love they see from believers. It is not always what you say but what you do and how you show them you care that give you the audience to share the story of Jesus with others. They then want to know more about this steadfast love and care they can find in Jesus as Lord.

Now, in the last weeks, to add to all the upset in the world, we as British people have voted to leave the EU. Many are despairing now and wondering how we will cope, will we manage, or fail altogether? But the vote has been taken and one thing is for sure, it didn’t take God by surprise and He has it therefore all in control. He is the same steadfast, faithful Lord, and indeed He is all that is sure and certain in this world!!

Paul told Timothy, ‘…..perilous times will come…evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, ….but you must continue in the things you have learned and be assured, knowing of whom you have learned them!!’ [2 Timothy 3] We have nothing to fear when we follow Him closely and His inspired Word instructs, corrects, and encourages us.

The Spiritual darkness of this world is growing deeper, but those who know and love Him are being moved to shine brighter, to share their story of Salvation with others and souls are being saved.

He is the same, yesterday, today and forever, and he is our joy and hope forever. That is what the world needs to know and we are the people who have to tell it out!!! The difference Christ made in our lives is a story worth telling, and in these uncertain days is a much-needed story!!!

Present in Suffering

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

Jesus prayed for His Disciples in John chapter 17. Not only for the 12 who followed Him and whom He taught, but for all who believe in Him [20]. He prayed for many things for them: security [15], sanctification [17], service [18], strength as one body of believers [22] etc. Note that never once did He ask that they be removed from the difficulties they faced, but that they be able to stand through them. That they may be able to display to the World around them, the love that Jesus Christ had put in each one, in a way that would attract others to Christ. [23]

I believe that is still true of His Will for each believer today. Yes, He wants us to be safe and secure in our salvation, He wants us to live holy lives and to be serving in His strength. But it is no challenge to an unsaved person to see a comfortable Christian, who has all he/she needs and wants, living a peaceful, joyful life in the Lord. [A bit like Job was before God allowed him to suffer, to show the devil, Job belonged to God]

In [14] Jesus makes it clear that the world hated His disciples, because they are not of the world!!
So many believers in recent days have been called upon to give their lives or deny their faith, others have been tortured and imprisoned and still others ridiculed, sued and debased because of their commitment to live Holy lives.
But, instead of these acts resulting in people turning from Jesus, they have made many others realize the truth of their need and come to Christ, to find that peace, joy and eternal life that is offered.
The world can see the reality of a true faith, when people are willing to give their all to follow Christ. That is why Jesus doesn’t pray that His Church will be taken out of the World or out of dangerous situations, but that they will stand through them by His grace!

At a recent conference we attended, we heard two reports, which surprised me and caused me to think much on these things.
One was from a national worker from Ukraine, whose church has suffered terribly in recent years. He said that he is not sure whether he wants us to pray for Ukraine to be free or not, as although life is difficult and uncertain, the believers keep closer to the Lord. Not only that, but the church is growing in numbers at an alarming rate, even though people realize the cost of following Jesus is great!!!
The other was from a brother who works with his fellow believers in Kobane, Syria. Just as he was getting ready to speak and show us pictures of his colleague and himself working there, he got a call telling him that his colleague had had his head hacked off by IS. In tears, he related the news to us all and his pain was palpable, as he told us the others in the church told him not to return home, but to continue the conference as ‘even if they cut our heads off we will not deny Christ.’ He also related the statistics of the many muslims who are finding Christ and how believers are more steadfast in their faith since these things happened.

So you see, it is true that often the church in persecution, not only grows more, but those who believe are more certain of what they believe and why.
Don’t you think that is why God is allowing so many things to happen concerning His Church? For to long now, we as believers have sat on the fence, trying to have one foot in the church and one in the world.
But the line of demarcation must become clearer. In the issues of same-sex marriage, abortion, divorce and betrayal, we who know these things to be against God’s Law, are in a twixt between obeying God and obeying man. But let us not be dismayed, let us see all sin for what it is and none worse than the other! And cleanse ourselves, take the speck from our own eyes, and be filled with the grace and love He prayed for us to know.

There is no doubt that the world is not at one with the beliefs of Christians. These laws being passed in our land, will mean that believers have to take their stand for what they know to be right. We trust it will help us to define exactly what are the fundaments of our faith, to look into the reasons why God made His laws and to show that Christ-like love, that He prayed would be in His people, towards those who have broken His laws.

We won’t win people by heated discussions or condescending ignorance. The only way, they will be won, is if they see Jesus in us and that means we treat them with love. We need to hate the sin and love the sinner just as Jesus showed us to.
Why are so many willing to give their lives for their/our faith in Iraq, Nigeria, Syria, etc? Because He first loved them! They saw and experienced His love and now they won’t deny Him. They know that ‘to live is Christ and to die is gain’ as they will be with Him for eternity!

This is undoubtedly a difficult time in our world, but it will help us determine the basics of our faith and the reason we believe. It will also make the Church as believers, who stand firmly on the Word of God, much more attractive to others, in that it shares Jesus love & forgiveness with all who seek to know Him. May God helps us to follow Him as Jesus prayed!

Man’s Inhumanity to Man

Friday, April 24th, 2015

Man was made to mourn: A Dirge

 

‘Many and sharp the num’rous ills inwoven with our frame!
More pointed still we make ourselves regret, remorse, and shame!
And man, whose heav’n-erected face, the smiles of love adorn, –
Man’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn!’

Robert Burns 1784 Scottish Bard

 

Not sure exactly who coined the phrase, perhaps it was read by Robert Burns from the writings of Samuel von Pufendorf from 1673 in The Whole Duty of Man (first published in Latin in 1673), This was among the first works to suggest a purely conventional basis for natural law. Rejecting scholasticism’s metaphysical theories, Pufendorf believed the source of natural law was to be found in humanity’s need to cultivate sociability. He wrote, ‘More inhumanity (to man) has been done by man himself than any other of nature’s causes.’ Pufendorf was familiar to American political writers such as Alexander Hamilton James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. His political concepts are part of the cultural background of the American Revolution. Pufendorf was also seen as an important precursor of Enlightenment in Germany.

But whoever it came from, it is a perfect description of human behavior in many areas of our world today. You would have expected that since we have progressed so much intellectually, scientifically and even financially we would have learned something about how to treat our fellow man, but no! Nothing!! Our attempts at cultivating sociability have failed greatly, and apart from the downward trend to think of new ways to be more cruel and calculating in our dealings, we have really gotten worse.

Note, I mentioned financially! Yes, I do believe we are much better off financially than ever before. Many young kids are running around with iphones and ipads costing hundreds. Most western teens can go to college for further education, if they pass the necessary exams, and most drive some kind of motorized vehicle when they are still under 20 years of age!! Yes, we might live through economic crisis, but we do have a lot more than previous generations. Yet in Luke 12:15 Jesus said, ‘Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’

We have IS, Muslin Extremists, Communist Extremists, you name it, fighting to ethnically cleanse countries of those who don’t believe as they do. People are hounded from their homes, their jobs, their countries, family members are, burned, raped and/or brutally murdered. Those who have managed to escape with their lives are subject to terrible, horrific conditions to survive. Then to crown it all, human traffickers are taking the money they can beg or borrow for a promised passage to a new life, and deliberately throwing them overboard or killing them on the journey.

Inside our own countries, we live with the constant threat of terrorist attacks, airplane hijackings, senseless suicide bombings and university or shopping mall shootings. It seems no one who is depressed or had enough of life is content to die alone, but needs to take as many others as possible with them!

As well as all of that, we have the caste system in India, where there are so many Dalits, Untouchables who are, to their people, of absolutely no worth at all as human beings. You know, even animals don’t treat each other as bad as we humans do!

Life has become cheap. We hear of hundreds of people dying in single tragedies, and as long as it’s not on our shores, we pass it over and forget about it. What is the value of a life today? Why do we try to destroy other lives? Where did we get it so wrong?

In Galatians 5:13-14 we read, ‘You were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

Personally, I believe, that we have taken this freedom we have been given as a sign, that we can do what we like with other people. Even in day-to-day life in a peaceful area, we think that we can immediately attack the character and lives of others, just because we have been hurt or because we desire to. We put importance on what we do and relegate what others are doing [and thereby the value of their lives] to a much lower and less significant position.

We have been so encouraged by psychologists and counselors to let our feelings out, that it makes us spew forth hateful comments and actions, and so undermine or even kill others. This can never be what Jesus meant when He said in Luke 10:27, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’ With true love for another, one would talk to Jesus about our problems [imaginary or real] and instead of hurting others with our outbursts [either physical or oral], we can be cleansed of the problem by His love & mercy and grace alone.

Yes, that is certainly how the believer should behave, but is it not also a sign of our love for God and Jesus, when we spread the peace and strength that we have found in Jesus, to others. That we witness relentlessly about the ‘love of God’ to send His own Son to die for them, that they too can experience this cleansing, and learn to love and respect their fellow man.

What does the Lord require of us? In Micah 6:8 it is clear, ‘He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?’

People who live according to these principles will not be killing others or hating others in their humble walk before God! This message is for everyone, we have been given the privilege to carry it to others, and no matter what they have done in their past, in John 6:35 we are told, ‘Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.’

Many believers have given their lives in recent days rather than deny the Lord Jesus. We can’t solve the entire problems in the world, but we can show those around us some real love and care. We can begin with our children and teach them respect and love for other human beings and how to live with expressing our desperate feelings to God and allowing His peace to reign in their hearts. We can teach them to pray for the world and the persecuted believer. The power of prayer has stopped time on occasion, changed minds of kings and rulers and has saved many souls from Hell. By doing so, we will teach them according to Romans 13:9,where it says ‘For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ It is impossible to want to harm those we faithfully pray for!

Uncertain Tomorrows

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

At this time in our lives, many of our friends are facing uncertain tomorrows. Indeed, we all have only today promised and need to treasure each minute, occurrence, memory and event as precious, for the times when things get tough.
Dr H. Wilmington used to tell us that as believers we would either be ‘just going into a crisis, going through a crisis or coming out of the other side of a crisis’ in life and this is generally very true.
But how do we keep things in perspective in our world today? We have the slow, but steady slipping of morals, ethics in our western lands into total and utter oblivion, with everything that is sinful or wrong coming to the fore! It is so bad now that it would be hard for us to even imagine a return to ‘normal,’ when it was two parents of the opposite sex who were bringing up kids, babies were safe in the place provided by God for them to live until birth – in their mothers womb, people had jobs which they worked at faithfully to provide enough money to keep their own families and children were obedient and respectful of the parents who brought them into the world!
It is very hard to envisage a world without serious crime on every corner, and the perpetrators are often only kids or teenagers. We as parents have often not been the examples our children needed to see and we reap the results of that fact every day! We only need to look at the lines of people waiting in a dole queue to sign their names every week and spending no part of that week looking for work.
We should take seriously the fact that so many people are committing suicide, unable to face life anymore, even though we may think they have everything to live for.
Looking further into the wars in Israel, Iraq and various other places as well as the removing, killings and persecuting of believers in Syria, Iraq and North Korea [to name but a few], we see that anyone who believes in Jesus Christ is under attack in these days. Whether you are just trying to live your life daily for Him in Iraq or refusing to bake a cake with a gay symbol in Belfast, you will be hated and you will be discriminated against, but there is only so long that this can go on!
Death and serious injury has become so much an integral part of everyday life now that we hardly even get upset or excited when tremendous tragedies happen. Therefore we do nothing, and sometimes the only thing we can do is pray, but how often do we even consider that option.
Yes, the days are uncertain, and we are not promised tomorrow, but for those who know the Lord as Saviour we have plenty of work to do. There are people who need the Lord dashing headlong to a lost eternity and we have the ‘Hope,’ we know the One who can give them Hope and we need to share it.
Maybe we will be mocked, laughed at, despised, but so was He. Take another look at Isaiah 53 and be reminded of what He suffered for our sins, for what He did not and could not do!! Lashed and whipped until the flesh hung off His bones!!
We need to ‘be ready always to give an answer to every man that ask you a reason of the hope that is in you.’ The world needs to hear one person at a time!
We can pray and raise prayer awareness for our suffering brothers and sisters in other lands. They need us to be faithful in asking God to undertake for them and to use them in their difficult situations.
We can support those who have taken a stand for moral right and are being punished for it by those who don’t know what it is to have experienced the Grace of a Living God in their hearts and lives!
But we need to be on one side of the fence or the other as having a foot in both worlds has gone on long enough!!!
Jesus is coming soon and He wants to find His Bride [the Church] prepared and ready to meet Him. It could be tomorrow!!

Dependence or Despair!!

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

We have some friends, acquaintances and relatives going through some really tough times at the moment, as i am sure many others do too! It seems there is sickness on every hand, other friends have lost their spouse, foresee the death of their child, involved in divorce, realise they did not wait on God’s choice of a partner, lost their job, have been wronged by another, raped, abused and indeed in many other ways are suffering and needing prayer. Those who are unsaved really do need our definite prayers, as I really don’t know how people face the dreadful things which happen in life without the Saviour to comfort and help them through. What a dark, lonely tunnel that must be!! But how wonderful to know, that even, and maybe especially, when people are in such situations, He is so ready to come to them and give them the comfort and support they are so in need of.
For those who are believers we have that knowledge that everything is in His control and yet we feel the rollercoaster of emotion that goes with the dreaded diagnosis or the sickening reality of what just happened, from one day to the next, knocking the ground from beneath our feet and filling us with fear!!
Turning to the Scripture we read that ‘we have a high Priest who was tempted in all points just as we are, yet was without sin!’ Hebrews 4:15. What a comfort to know that! Have you ever wondered why Jesus did not just come to this world as an adult and suffer and die soon after for our sin? Why did he put Himself through the embarrassment of having his parents scold Him when He was teaching in the synagogue, the temptations of the devil in the wilderness, trudging around dusty streets with no safe place to lay His head, the mocking of the people when he came to raise Jairus daughter, or spoke to Mary Magdalene, the continual hatred shown to him by the Pharisees and Scribes as He taught, the betrayal and abandonment of His disciples whom He had called His Friends? Aside from the curse of Calvary, why did He suffer all the other injustices?
It was for our sakes, that we would be able to trust Him! We can be sure He understands, as He has been this way before us, He was abused, hated, abandoned, tempted, hungry, thirsty, poor, so He knows what we are going through. Even when we think we can no longer hear the voice of God speaking, He understands, after all, He endured God the Father turning His back on Him while he was on the cross!
You wouldn’t go and talk your troubles over with some teenager who had never experienced anything in life, or bring your problems to a class of primary school kids. No, you would seek out someone who had either good knowledge of what you are in need of, or another who had been through the same suffering. That is why we have so many groups set up that they can help each other through bereavement, addictions, divorce, cancer, etc
In Psalm 23, the Shepherd ‘set a table in the midst of our enemies’. Imagine it, enemies all around and we can sit in peace and feast at His table. This is true peace and is indeed only found in the one who will walk with us ‘even through the valley of the shadow of death!’
How precious to know that in everything, Jesus empathises with us, as he has passed this way before and conquered! He comforts and carries us and even though we don’t see the entire picture at once, we can safely trust Him for the next step in the journey!! If we allow Him to guide us, He can turn what we have to suffer into something that will bring Glory to His Name!
Christian, pray for your unsaved friend, not only that their physical need will be met, but that they will experience the help that only the Saviour can give to His Children!!!