Saturday, August 27, 2016

The moral beauty of the Lord Jesus

The Moral excellence of God’s Son

Read John 5.19
“So Jesus said to them, ’Truly , Truly I say to you, the Son can do nothing of His own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing, for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.”

The Lord Jesus was being accused of claiming very high ground – indeed they said, by calling God His Father, He was making Himself equal with God V18. The response is beautiful. The Lord takes the lowly place of meekness (rather like Moses). He made no claim to independent authority or power in what He was doing or saying. He rather renders the initiative and the authority to the Father above.

The case in hand was the healing of a man on the Sabbath day. So the Lord explains, that the ‘day of rest ‘ had been spoilt by sin and now the Father was in the work of rescuing souls from sickness, sin and judgement. This ongoing work could not cease until the work of redemption was complete (Hebrews 4).  And so the Lord, who could see through the fake Sabbath keeping, saw the need to be busy in recovery, restoration and redemption.

Yet within this position of meekness, lies the divine claim of knowing God as Father, knowing intimately the Father’s will and the unfettered ability to act – even to do the miraculous. As the conversation proceeds, the Lord Jesus unveils the ultimate authority committed to Him by God – Life and death, Judgement and eternal life!

I recommend you take a moment to sing the beautiful song:

‘Meekness and majesty
Manhood and Deity
In perfect harmony
........................................................

...........................................................etc


If you don't  know it, try 'google' or 'youtube'

We have reason to worship . 

JRM

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Bible

Why believe the Bible??

This question has risen several times among the children I teach at school. It is a very good question. If the Bible is not trustworthy, our faith is on very shaky ground.  I will give an outline of some of the reasons it can be trusted.

In  a basic sense, it is a history book. One hundred and fifty years ago, certain ‘scholars’ cast doubts about the historical accuracy of the Bible. Most of their objections have vanished as Archaeology and other discoveries have verified so many Bible records. I encourage you to research for yourself (Google?), the vast amount of evidence for biblical history as the most accurate continuous record of humanity in the Middle East. One of interest is the story of Hezekiah’s tunnel (2Kings 20.20). 2,700 years ago the King ordered a tunnel to be dug, to bring water into Jerusalem. Many thought  - how could it be! But sure enough a boy was digging around Jerusalem and the tunnel was unearthed and in the middle tunnel of the was an inscription about Hezekiah and how it was constructed starting from each end. It remains a mystery how they managed to meet in the middle, but here is evidence that the Bible record is accurate.
Did Jesus exist? This is verified externally by the Roman historian Tacitus, and Josephus the Jew. Both wrote of Him doing wonderful thing and being crucified. Some doubted the existence of Pilate the governor until archaeologists found an inscription with his name on it. Of course the many places mentioned in the Bible story can be visited today.

Besides historical evidence, there is a moral thread that is unusual. The story of humanity is told in the Bible with unusual honesty. Who would have recorded the failures of the founding father –Abraham. Why would you not hide the serious sin of the best King – King David? Who would want to sing and chant the so many songs (Psalms) that seem rather depressing. Why are the judgemental prophecies of Jeremiah recorded at length if they were unreliable? And in the New Testament , I would have skipped the denials of Peter if I wanted to present him as the prominent leader of the Christians. In fact the record of humanity, so often doing the wrong thing, hardly makes for some religious propaganda document.

The thing that is special is this. The book was compiled by many persons over some 1,500 years. (It is not the dream of one man), yet they all have a focus on one person – the coming of the promised Messiah, the Christ. Moses as the great lawgiver, spoke of the one greater than himself who would be raised up. Isaiah many years later prophesied of a Messiah who would suffer for the people. Then came the New Testament writings – four men wrote as recordering of the life of Jesus – some have criticised the supposed contradictions between these writers, but in reality these differences verify that the writers wrote independently from different standpoints and at different times. Dr Luke wrote his as a result of research. John wrote his record many years later, after the idea of who Jesus was had been tried and tested by persecution and Jewish contradiction. Much of the New Testament is written in letter form, from  real men to real, suffering people. It was not the product of some distant school of philosophical thought. It was real life teaching. (and interestingly gives real  life blessing today).

I pause here to ask my reader – have you read the Bible. I am reminded of the young man I worked with. He told me the Bible could not be believed, so I asked him ‘ have you read it?’.  The answer was ‘no’. So I asked if he would read it if I gave him one? He said ‘no’ – I pointed out how hypocritical it was to criticise a book he has never read. But the real point is that most criticism comes from an unwillingness to read about a God who calls all people to account.

I have read it, and the historical story of humanity,  makes sense of where we have come from and where we are at today. If we were  on some evolutionary progress to be better, the last one hundred years tell a very different story ( war, bloodshed as never before, greed and hatred overflowing etc).  In fact the recorded prophecies of the Lord Jesus, some fulfilled and some yet to be fulfilled, seem to be happening before our eyes.

It is a very satisfying study to look into the unearthing of ancient scripture portions – fragments and copies of the originals. In terms of ancient literature, the Bible stands uniquely set to withstand critics. More than 5,000 fragments are held in different places (most viewable on the internet), some being very old and show  a continuity of content that is amazing. It is very interesting to compare the Greek /Latin New Testament with the distant Aramaic New Testament. They are so similar. This dispels  the notion that the Roman Catholic church  manipulated the scriptures.


Well I come the most important point. This history is a unique record of one God who set creation into motion, and then repeatedly interrupts and interacts with humanity. The coming of Jesus did leave and still leaves an undeniable impact on the whole world for good. The power of the book brings hope to so many in hopeless circumstances. The morals of the book remain an absolute that represents the character of a holy God. The thirst by so many millions for this book is continuing evidence of its supernatural source and content.

Peter put it so well – “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” 2Peter 1.21

Perhaps one could be convinced by the abundant evidence. The greatest proof is in the eating – “O taste and see that the Lord is good”


“it is the joy and rejoicing of my soul”


John McKee

Friday, August 5, 2016

Why?


Question “Why do people believe in God?”

This very important question has several answers.

1.       1         Perhaps we have been well taught that God exists and that we should listen to His word –the Bible. That’s good instruction and for many that is enough.
2.    2   It is good to look at the evidence. As I consider human beings, I am  impressed with their ability to do things creatively, but more to observe human ability to love and hate, to calculate and make judgements, to intelligently interact with others and to control other creatures.  And yet humans seem to have an instinct to look up to someone greater than themselves and so often pray. This is one great evidence that God has been busy making mankind in His own image.
Also we can see the design, power, wisdom, intelligence of a supreme being in the world around us. I love to look into the face of a flower and wonder at it’s symmetry, colour, scent, reproductive ability and devices, particular shape, all put together using dirty dirt! Scientists rightly tell us that so  much of this is controlled by the DNA code, but who wrote the code? Someone with a distinct taste for variety and beauty. I could go on..... I encourage you to open your eyes to the evidence of power and intelligence.
3.  3   Beyond the natural world is the wonder of revelation. God has spoken as recorded in the Bible. Considering that the Bible was written by many over many years, it  is a history of God interrupting in the affairs of earth.  These occasions were where He spoke His mind, gave His directions and called humanity to Himself. The wonder of the book is its variety and honesty along with it’s unity in it’s focus on the promised Messiah. The arrival of the Lord Jesus Christ gave a new dimension to God being revealed. So much so that His claim to be the Son of God as the final revealer of God the Father, brings to us the challenge – do we believe He was a deceiver, or do we accept Him as the Son of the true and living God?
4.  4   Another pointer to the reality of God, is experience. Perhaps it is last on the list, yet it is real. So very many people have prayed and God has answered. Others have experienced a dramatic change of life from sinfulness to godliness by believing in the Lord Jesus. Many can tell of the nearness of the Lord in daily living. Some have had dreams which vividly present Jesus as the only Saviour.
5.  5   It is quite useful to study history and watch the development of human cleverness, but also the wanderings of human morality. We think we are smart with modern technology, but has it solved the problem of hate, war, greed, violence etc? Rather I see the degeneration of the human condition with God interrupting as He sees appropriate. In my younger years we thought communism would conquer the world, but God interrupted. Who would have thought that the tiny nation of Israel would have survived the onslaught of enemies? God knows what He is doing and the Bible again shines like a lighthouse describing where the world is going.
6.     6    I find it intriguing that so much effort and expense is being made to either deny God, or distract from God. I perceive there is some sinister force at work and this again points to the reality of God along with the responsibility to know God.

Paul put it so well
....evidence....... “that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward Him and find Him. Yet He is actually not far from each one of us.”  - Acts 17.27

The Bible has a very searching warning. When the Lord Jesus appears again “He will inflict vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 2 Thessalonians 1:8. To some that may seem rather harsh. What it does mean is that ‘not knowing God’ is a choice, not a circumstance. Likewise refusing to obey the gospel’ is a choice for those who have heard it.


So why believe in God – all the evidence points in one direction – “He is, and He rewards those who seek Him”  -  Hebrews 11.6

J. McKee

Monday, August 1, 2016

Mercy and compassion

Mercy and Compassion beyond the terms and methods of normality

The story found is Matthew 9.19, concerning the woman with an haemorrhage.  This woman decided on an unusual approach to the Lord Jesus. As a woman in that culture, and as one ceremonially unclean, she really had no way to approach the Lord. In simple, sincere faith she thought –“ If I can touch His robe I will be healed”. And so she did, and the healing was immediate.

I do pause to ponder the grace of God responding to unconventional, sincere faith. God is not bound to the methods of men. The God of all grace discerns the motive and the faith of the heart. He responds accordingly. In Acts 19, seven men were trying to do miracles, but their insincerity was exposed. We do well to remember that the Lord looks on our heart and can truely say “I know”

The Lord Jesus was not concerned with the method of the woman, rather He commended her faith. Due to His meekness, He did not draw attention to the object of her faith, but that is unavoidably implied. He wanted her to enjoy good health, but much more, He wanted to encourage her spirit to rejoice in knowing the true Messiah, the Saviour of the world.

Sometimes it is Him touching us. Sometimes we are able by  faith to reach out and touch Him.


“ Seek the Lord while He may be found, call on Him while He is near”.

J McKee