Thursday, December 31, 2015

Questions children ask

What language was the 1st Bible?

           The Bible is a collection of 66 books written over a period of 1500 years by various people. The first five books written by Moses 3,500 years ago, were written in Hebrew. By the time of Daniel, the Aramaic language had come into common use. Some of Ezra and Daniel’s writings were in Aramaic. When Jesus was born,(2000 years ago) , the dominant languages were Aramaic and Greek. The New Testament was written in common Greek, although I have a copy of the New Testament in Aramaic written about 150 AD.

          The Bible is indeed a special book of God communicating to the people, but written in language the people could understand. Paul said we must speak “understandable words” (1Corinthians 14:19) and I admire and support those who spend their lives translating the Bible into the ‘heart languages’ of the people of the world.

Remember;
          ‘God still speaks to those who take the time to listen’

So :

          “Let the words if Christ in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise”   - Colossians 3.16

johnmckee@internode.on.net   questions welcome!


Monday, December 28, 2015

The Cross

The glory of the Cross

     The above title is really a contradiction. The cross is symbolic of shame and suffering, yet God has changed shame and suffering into the means of His glory.
     
     The glory of his love – The Lord Jesus said “ Love your enemies” and so it was at the cross, His enemies succeeded in giving Him a criminals death, but He overcame their hatred by still loving them. He committed His cause into the hands of God and said “ Father forgive them”. They thought they had won the day, but not really. His character in love triumphed.
     
     The glory of atonement – The Lord from heaven said “the son of man came not to be served  but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” ( Mark 10:45). Again He said “ I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:15). A cross represented a death for one’s guilt, but God intervened to make it an alter of sacrifice for the guilt of others. God showed His great love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! Our sins had incurred wrath, but the alter implemented peace. God triumphed over evil by not sparing His own Son. Now the righteous judge can now justify the unworthy, even the rebellious people of Adam’s family. Such is the atonement of the Saviour, that those who turn from rebellion, will be brought into the very presence of God , presented blameless and without fear.
   
      The glory of God’s sovereignty.  Jesus answered Pilate “You would have no authority over Me at all unless it had been given you from above” (John 19.11).  So many things said and done at the cross indicate that the prophecies of scripture were fulfilled in detail, but also showed that God superintended the happenings of the cross. Some didn’t want the arrest on a feast day, but God did want it on the Passover feast, because Christ was to become “our Passover sacrificed for us”. The soldiers planned to break His legs, but He gave up His spirit before they began this torture .  They meant it for evil, but God turned it around for good, in particular by raising Him from the dead – the greatest sign to humanity of God’s glory.

       I stand by the cross, and wonder at God in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.
  
      I look around and with Paul the great missionary say “ be reconciled to God”.

There is no glory in a cross, but there is glory beyond our understanding in the Christ of the cross.
Perhaps we are beginning to discover what the Lord meant when He, nearing the hour of suffering , said “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified”. (John 12.23)


     There is of course much glory that follows the cross, as He said to two dejected disciples “ ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory” (Luke 24.26), but that is a story for another day. Until then, linger often by the cross and enjoy the grace of the alter.

John  McKee

Himself or myself

"For all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ"  Philippians 2:21

Does that ring a bell, especially at this time of the year?


JRM

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Truth

The corruption of truth is more dangerous than the denial of truth.

J McKee

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Feelings / Faith

Overcoming feeling, overcoming by faith

        For most people, feelings are the gauge of enjoying life and success. ‘I feel good, therefore all must be well’. Although this is very real, it is a fallacy! A person may feel good and yet have cancer, so that underneath all is not good. Alternatively, when people feel bad, physically, mentally, socially, spiritually, emotionally, they often judge the problem to be either with themselves, others or God. Too often this leads to foolish decisions and often stressed relationships.

        So then, what does John the Apostle mean “ this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith” (1John 5.4).

        He described the world in chapter two as ‘ the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life’ . These are not necessarily bad things, but they are human impulses without God. In the other chapters, he describes the world of error and deceit.

        How then can we overcome that which is natural to us? ( It is natural for me to get depressed when things don’t turn out how I feel it should ). How can I see the correct perspective on the events of life? (It seems that logic leads to confused conclusions). How can I know what is right , what is truth in a mixed up world? (The Australian response is to become indifferent ).
        The answer in our Bible text is FAITH.
Please let me qualify this word ‘faith’. Faith is not some warm feeling of confidence that all will work out in the end (that is fate...alistic). Faith is both a noun (a thing) and a verb ( an action). Faith must needs have an object  i.e.  to have faith in someone or something. Often in the New Testament faith is mentioned  alone, with the object implied. For example, the Lord often responded to those blessed by His hand – “ great is you faith” –the object of the faith was Himself. And so it is with “overcoming faith” – it necessarily means we have faith in God revealed in His son Jesus Christ.

Let us put this into the context of 1 John. If I believe (have faith) in God at work through the blood of Jesus Christ His Son, I am released from the feeling of guilt. The blood of Christ cleanses, and the promise of God to forgive sets me free from guilt and fear.

Chapter two considers the reality of Gods commands and our inability to perform. I might well have feelings of despair and inadequacy, but faith believes that  sins are  forgiven. I might well feel conquered by the evil one ( the pressures of evil about me ), but faith grasps the fact that I know the Father ( God who alone is wise). I may feel fruitless in the presence of much error and deceptive doctrines  - Herein lies the overcoming victory – Faith to be strong in the Lord, filled with the word of God, empowered by the Holy Spirit (not just any spirit) 2.14-20

Chapter three faces the daily reality of God in us expressed in practical ways.( In contrast to the many modern recipes for ‘fulfilment’). Paul the Apostle concurs with the teaching here – “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” (Ephesians 3), leading to an appreciation of the surpassing love of God, which will result in good doing (not just good feeling). Walking in love, or as John put it, love to others is about action, not just words. When we lay down our lives for others with the motive of love, ( faith in God’s love), we will not be self focused and feelings will become subservient to God’s love and God’s way. Chapter three concludes with the assurance to victory by His Spirit dwelling in us.

Chapter 4 highlights the problem of faith being assailed by other spirits. Spirits chiefly operate in the realm of error – teaching wrong. Primarily Satan is against God, but to do this he seeks to promote error about God and His Son Jesus Christ or Lord. He is very successful  in this by promoting God as unfair and unjust. Often he promotes new standards of morality and encourages the unrestrained lustful person to feel good, no matter what God says.
This is the ultimate feel good/ feel bad rollercoaster , when faith in God’s standards, God’s sovereignty and God’s love is removed.

         So what is the answer to overcoming ? FAITH in God, faith in God’s SON, faith in God’s word.
It will likely mean turning off the TV, choosing better books to read, keeping company with godly persons, spending much time alone with God and His word.

Warning – To just be myself is dangerous ( I have a fallen nature which leads to failure of pride). To go with the crowd is the happy road to destruction. I need to turn around and seek God.


Faith in Him is the victory that overcomes the world


Instead of using feelings as the compass of life, let faith in God and His word be your compass.

John McKee

Friday, December 11, 2015

Time to pray

Let us pray

Our Father which art in heaven – O God almighty, creator and ruler of the universe, we bow low to worship at your throne. Yet how blessed we are that you have sent your unique Son, so that we can now address you as ‘Father’.

With great delight we draw near to honour you, ......for who you are, what you have done, how you reveal yourself, how you connect with us. We raise our voices and say “hallowed be Thy name”.

We are conscious of your perfection in a perfect place – heaven above all heavens, where none contradict your will. What a place of honour, peace, fruitfulness, splendour and glory. A place where the word ‘holy’ equates with joy and praise.   Lord,...... is it possible, that something of that blessedness (your kingdom), be known on earth as it is in heaven? Our world is so broken, so confused, so rebellious, so mutilated, so lost – is it possible to know, to see your will being done on earth as it is in heaven?

Until that  ‘day dawn and the shadows flee away’, may your kingdom be seen in us, unworthy ones you have called by your Gospel, called into your family and blessed with the Holy Spirit in us.

O Father, righteous Father, consider our needs – they are many. Consider our dependence – remember we are but dust, so often propped up by bones of pride.

Grant us today, food to meet our need and please savour it with contentment. We trust you for clothing and shelter, for we are not as the animals that are able to endure the raw environment.

But above the physical Lord, we need moral enablement. By nature we are bent the wrong way – inclined to selfishness, quick to revenge. Oh Lord forgive us and enable us to forgive others. You are a forgiving God, reversing the damage done  by the tempter in  Adam. May the grace of your character be vibrant in us we pray.

O Holy Father, in your sovereign grace, do not lead us into temptation. Our weakness is apparent. Our wandering hearts are enough without external pressure to sin. But Lord in all the world of deceit, distraction and despair, please enable us to be overcomers – not overcome by evil but overcoming evil with good.

The presence of evil and the evil one would intimidate us, but as we take refuge in you, we pray “ deliver us from evil” – you are able and we trust in you.

We look up O Lord with joyful hope, for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, now and forever.


Amen

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Real living

Truth made real to everyday experience.

    Does God relate to the daily lives of people?  Yes !

The letter to the Romans in chapters 1 to 8 emphasises the spiritual condition of humanity (lost). Also included is the God given remedy (new life by grace). This is so very important to re-establish our connection with God.
         Now in considering Romans 12 to 15 the focus turns from the foundation of spiritual truth to the material world in which we live. It is our privilege on the journey to glory, to yield ourselves body, soul and spirit to God .

        First is the call upon our minds to be transformed so that instead of hate there is love. This affects how we use our abilities, how we interact, how we give to others etc. By God’s intelligent grace the believer is enabled to overcome in times of difficulty, able to give generously, able to show sympathy with those suffering, able to refrain from revenge. Chapter 12 concludes – “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”.

Chapter13 teaches us that God has ordained the institution of government along with our responsibility to comply and pay our dues.
At the end of chapter 13 is the clarion call to not be involved in reckless living. “not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarrelling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”

Chapter 14 addresses the real life issue of conflict between people of differing cultures and convictions. Instead of the survival of the fittest or strongest, Christian grace makes room for others. In fact the practical solution is given by focusing not on ourselves, but on the Lord above who will be the final judge of all.

Chapter 15 gives a review of truth stated with this beautiful conclusion – God is for us and has a very bright future for those who trust Him –
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15.13)

How good it is to see the book of Romans as God transforming a hopeless situation in one of joy and hope. How blessed that we are included in the invitation to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved and safe for eternity.


May I encourage you to read again these wonderful chapters.

John McKee