Thursday, August 6, 2020

Judgement day

Bible  - John Chapter 5

God is holy and in keeping with His character He must and will judge all people.

Under the law given to Moses (10 commandments etc), the judgement was to be carried out by the leaders in the nation. – the king, the elders, the judges.  However this system failed because the leading ones were not qualified. This is the situation recorded in John chapter 8 when Jesus said to the accusers “ He that is without sin, let him cast the first stone” – so they all left.

In John chapter 5, Jesus makes some happy, yet astounding statements.

1         God will judge the world in righteousness. (fair)

2         God will judge the world by Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ will be the judge on judgement day because he has experienced being a human as well as being the Son.

3         All the dead will be raised by the command of Christ.

4         Some will be raised to eternal life. The others will be raised to eternal damnation.

5         A wonderful promise is given by the Lord in verse 24:  Everyone who hears (accepts) the words of Jesus, and believes in God the Father who sent Him, will not be judged, but has passed from death (present condition) into life (born into the family of God).

Please take the time to read this section through. In particular read carefully John chapter 5 verse 24.

 

What a wonderful experience it is to be forgiven by God through the death of the Lord Jesus and no longer live in the fear of the Judgement day.


johnmckee@internode.on.net

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

An unusual conversation


John 4

    This narrative is so different. The Lord Jesus is weary with the journey through Samaria. A woman arrives at the well for water and Jesus breaks tradition and speaks to her. He goes further and asks her for a drink of water. After some cultural and religious discussion, He directs her to her greatest need – the need to confess to a guilty life, sins of the past and present and the need to seek forgiveness. She is astounded that the Lord Jesus knew all about her. He then claimed to be the Messiah, the Saviour of the world.

       The idea that she might be talking to the Messiah Himself was so powerful, she stopped bothering about collecting water and went to tell the people of the village – “Come see a man that told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”

         Sure enough, these Samaritans listened to Jesus for themselves and were convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, the Saviour of the world.


If He is the Messiah, it means He is the special prophet foretold by Moses, He is the Son representing God, He is the King eternal, He is the servant who died for the sins of others, He is the Lord of all.

The Samaritans received Him, and so do I.
Do you ? then tell HIM!

Please read through John chapter three and four . Maybe God is speaking to you. Don’t miss the opportunity to respond.


johnmckee@internode.on.net



Friday, July 24, 2020

Jesus the suffering Messiah


An interview with the Lord Jesus

     Most successful men seek to have power over others. Often done by force, sometimes by political intrigue . Jesus was different. When they wanted to make Him a king, he walked away. (John 6)

     John chapter 3 is very helpful to understand the mission of the Lord Jesus. It records an interview with a very religious man. Nicodemus was a teacher of Moses’s law.  Nicodemus acknowledged Jesus as a man sent by God and Jesus replied – “ Unless a person is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” To the puzzled teacher , Jesus explained- 'we are born in the flesh  (with all its sinful tendencies), and we need to be born of the spirit ( with its heavenly connection)'.  Nicodemus was astounded to know that all his religious works were not valid if he wanted to be accepted by God.

      Jesus then revealed the true way. He said that no one can go up into heaven except himself, the son of man, who had come down from heaven. He claimed to be able to speak about things in heaven because he came from there.

       In the conversation, Jesus said that for people to be born again of the spirit, something else must happen. Just as Moses had put a brass snake up on a pole many years before, so Jesus, the son of man, must be lifted up on a cross. Then Jesus made a promise, ‘all who believe in Him would have eternal life’. 
       The record later describes Nicodemus seeing Jesus lifted up on the cross, and he believed in Him, not so much as a king, but as the Saviour who died to take our sins away and gives eternal life .(John 19)


      To understand that the Lord Jesus Christ died for us, makes all the difference. By His death we receive forgiveness, born again by the Holy Spirit to live in love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control. That is so different to living in the flesh, the natural way. (Galatians 5)

      Even better it is to know that Jesus lives.

Today, look at the death of Jesus in this way and be blest.

johnmckee@internode.on.net

Friday, July 10, 2020

Angels speaking


Jesus – Who is He?

Let us listen to the angels answer this question.
In the record of New Testament scripture we can read their words:

1. Matthew 1
The angel said to Joseph about Mary  "that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you will call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."
The angel indicated the special conception and special mission of Jesus. Conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin means that He was born free from sin. Born to save His people from their sins meant He would become a sacrifice by dying for the sins of others – a Saviour.

2  Luke 1
The angel Gabriel appears to Mary with the very special news:  "Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of his father  David, and He will rule  over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end."
"The child to be born will be called the Son of God"

This special angel from the presence of God, made it very clear that this child was different to all others. The very name given – Jesus – means saviour. He would be more than a prophet. The name –Son of the Most High – much more than a man. He was to be the full and final representative of God the Almighty.( The word SON is about representation, not birth)
A throne – did Jesus rule on a throne? Just wait for another angel to clarify this in Acts 1. The promise made by Gabriel is that Jesus would be a King in a kingdom established by God. Not established by warfare, but beginning in Jerusalem, His kingdom has been established in the hearts of millions of people throughout the whole world.

Matthew 28.
The angel said "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, He has risen as He said...."

This statement from an unnamed angel is full of meaning. Firstly "fear not'. – the Good News dispels fear. Jesus often said 'fear not'.
Then the angel confirms that Jesus had been crucified. But best of all the angel states – "He is risen", and points back to the prediction of Jesus that He would be killed and rise again. This way the angel confirms that Jesus would be the Saviour by dying for the sins of the people. The announcement that Jesus was alive again, confirmed what Jesus had said was true and that God had now vindicated Him as the Son of God, the Saviour.

Acts 1:11
The two angels said:
"this same Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way you saw Him go into heaven".

These two angels confirmed that Jesus had gone well beyond the clouds, into heaven itself. This with many other Bible verses states that Jesus is now indeed King upon the throne of heaven, at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
They also made it very clear that the Lord Jesus would return to earth from heaven. This has not happened yet.

Revelation 22
The Bible concludes "I Jesus have sent my angel to testify about these things to the assemblies. I am the root and descendant of David, the bright and morning star."

Every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ responds
"Even so come Lord Jesus"


Let me know if you agree

johnmckee@internode.on.net

Friday, July 3, 2020

New Testament - John 1


Reading John chapter one –  ( I am writing this primarily for migrants.)

The New Testament part of the Bible has four biographies of Jesus .
Matthew presents Jesus as the King. After a special genealogy, it records wise men coming from the East , searching for the baby 'born King. '
Mark records the activity of Jesus as the servant of God and the people.
Luke the doctor collects witness accounts of the perfect man, Jesus.
John gathers some of the evidence that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

In John chapter one, Jesus is given several titles.

'The Word' the Koran also gives Jesus this title.  It means that Jesus is the full and final communication of God to humanity. Not only what He taught, but more who He was and what he did. He is presented as actively living before He was born of the virgin Mary. He was actively creating the world.

'The Light'  His life is described as light illuminating the world. The remainder of John's writing explains this happening in the activity of Jesus, so continue reading  John's writings even if you cannot understand it all.

'The Lamb of God'.  This title for Jesus is special. John the Baptiser identifies the problem of sin. Instead of asking the people to try harder at keeping Moses law, he directs them to look at Jesus and believe in Him for the solution to the problem. Jesus as the sacrificial lamb, is able to take away the sin of the world.

'Son of God' .  We noticed this title was written in Psalm 2. We could read about the angel Gabriel giving the same title to the baby Jesus. In this chapter John the Baptiser identifies Jesus as the Son of God by the descent of the Holy Spirit on Him. John the writer gathers much evidence that this is true.

'Messiah'(Christ)  The Messiah is the Hebrew term for the Saviour promised in the Old Testament. Christ is the Greek word meaning the anointed one.  Jesus was the Prophet predicted by Moses, but Jesus was much more than a prophet as the book written by John records.

In this chapter we read of the joy that filled the heart of Andrew when he said " we have found HIM".. Read on and you too can have the joy and peace that comes through finding and believing in Jesus Christ the Lord.

John McKee

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Bible prophecy


Jesus in prophecy

From the many, many prophecies about Jesus the Messiah in the Old Testament, I have chosen seven that are important and explained in the New Testament.

Deuteronomy 18
" The LORD your God will raise up to you a prophet, from the midst of you, of your brethren, like to me. To Him you will listen."
What do we learn about the promised Messiah from this prophecy?
1.  God is the one who sends Him (anointed by the Holy Spirit)  -connect John 1:33
2.  He would be like them ( Jesus was the carpenters son)       - connect John1.26
3.  He would be a Hebrew (in the family of Israel)                - connect Matthew 1
4.  His words would be God's words. (He spoke with authority)  -connect John 3:34


Psalm 2 Please read it right through
"You are My Son, this day have I begotten you"
The connection to Jesus is clear in verse 2 – the rejection of the Messiah by Jews and Gentiles.
In verse 6, the expected one is proclaimed  ' the King"
Then finally the LORD present the Messiah as His SON . Jesus is not a child of God. He is the SON of God and that refers to Him as the representative of God in personal fullness.
The Psalm finishes with the exhortation to ' kiss the Son' – why? Because He is worthy of worship. He is the final judge and He can save all who trust in Him.

Psalm 110
" The LORD said unto my Lord, 'Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies you footstool'"
You will notice that God and LORD are interchanged. 'God' is the title of the one who is the Almighty, the Creator over all. 'LORD' is the name of God to show His relationship between God and the people (a little bit like parent and father).
David, in this psalm predicted that his Lord (the Messiah) would be exalted to the highest place in heaven, awaiting final victory over all evil. Also in this psalm, the Messiah is presented as the priest.. The work of a priest was to gain forgiveness of sins for the people in the sight of God.

Isaiah 42.1
"Behold my servant , whom I uphold, Mine elect in whom my soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him"
It may seem unusual that the Messiah was call to be a servant. Many people want a leader who is a warrior, a statesman, or an orator . Jesus willingly took the place of a servant – serving God's will and serving other people. His service to people was powerful  because the Holy Spirit enabled Him to do many , many miracles . ( healing the sick, calming the storm, walking on water, raising the dead etc), God said from heaven "in Him I am well pleased".

Isaiah 53
Verse 5 "He was wounded for our transgressions"
Verse 10 " When you make His soul an offering for sin"
This whole chapter is a prophecy of Jesus the Messiah being rejected by the Jewish people. And so it happened.
It also explains  (700 years before it happened) that the suffering and death of Jesus Christ had a greater purpose. Somehow God made Him to suffer in our place. Our sins deserved eternal punishment, but Jesus was wounded for our transgressions and crushed for our sins..... Now God freely forgives all who trust in His Son Jesus.

Daniel 7:13
"One like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven,  and came to the ancient of days.....and there was given to Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom that all people, nations and languages should serve Him"
This profound vision of Daniel presents the Messiah Jesus as the Son of man who will rule over the whole earth. This has not happened yet, but  when Jesus was being questioned by the Jewish court, He claimed to be that 'Son of Man' who would be given world dominion. (Mark 16:42). We have the opportunity to worship Him now
.
Zechariah 13:7
"Smite the shepherd"
This prophecy foretells the Messiah as a shepherd – one who cares for others more than for himself. Jesus claimed to be the Good Shepherd, giving His life for the sheep.(John 10). We can become one of His sheep by receiving him, believing in him, trusting him!


There are so many more prophecies which I encourage you to study. I can give you a list if you send me an email.


johnmckee@internode.on.net


Saturday, June 27, 2020

Pause and ponder


In difficult times we do well to pause from the busyness of life, to stop and ponder. Life rushes on. But sometimes we are brought to a stop with a jolt we neither planned nor expected.

As we ponder, we do well to look back and learn from the past. Some things may cause us to change our ways. Some things need to be buried for the sake of mental wellbeing and family harmony. Some happy memories ought to be cherished and remembered.

 As we ponder where we stand today we look around at our relationships, our possessions, our directions, our attitudes.

Then we do well to look ahead – where am I going? Where am I leading those who follow? What am I contributing to the good of others? Where will I be 100 years from today?

I well remember an occasion in our home, when several families gathered to celebrate the goodness of God. It was my turn to lead the Bible discussion. The topic was, 'How can we be sure of heaven?' This was a popular subject with me since I had studied near death experiences for some years. I worked with a man who had left his body and returned. I listened to several scientists who were convinced that after death was a   ' greater reality'. That morning I chose to sit next a young teenager for this reason – both of us had almost touched the door of heaven. I had been electrocuted and he had a tree fall on him. It was a bit of a miracle for us both to be alive. After quite some discussion about ways to prepare for heaven, I concluded with this remark -"in the end we are totally dependent upon the promises of God. Eternal life is a gift promised to all who believe in God's Son."

I do not know what my young friend did  with those promises of God. He along with us had freedom to choose. I am not his judge. The Lord alone knows the hearts. And the Lord knows your heart!
We are all individuals, and each one is responsible for the decisions we make in life. Blaming others is a cop out that does not cut it with God.

I would like to ponder with you two of those great and precious promises.
"God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him, will not perish , but have eternal life." John 3.16

Eternal life is not just heaven. It is participating in the life of God, trusting Jesus in this life, and then in the Father's house in the life to come.

How do we get this eternal life? – by believing in God's Son. Only Jesus is that special person who came out from heaven, lived for the good of others, indeed died for the sins of others and then rose again from the dead. Believing whole heartedly in Him is the key to having eternal life.

Who gets this opportunity?  The whole world is the focus of God's love.
He reaches out to every nation, every language, everyone! Let me illustrate:
Jacob was a swindler but God still loved him!
Matthew was a social traitor, a tax collector, but Jesus still loved him.
Peter was a rough impatient fisherman, but the Lord still loved him.
Saul was a religious bigot but the Lord Jesus still loved him.

We can all say "I am a guilty sinner, but Jesus died for me"
                     "The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me"

What an amazing God we have. He sees the guilt of our sins and still loves us. He is horrified by our bad attitudes and habits, yet He still loves us. He is deeply offended by our independence and self love , yet in love He gave his Son, Jesus , to pay the debt of our sin, to set us free.

So what are we doing today with this promise of eternal life? For those who choose not to believe, there is only one word left in the verse – perish.  But for those who feel their need of Jesus Christ , the promise still holds good:
"Everyone who believes in Him, God's Son, will have eternal life"



The second promise is more personal:
Jesus said 2000 years ago, and says it to us today:
"Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  Matthew 11.28

The Lord Jesus gives rest for those who come to Him. He welcomes all.
Rest of empathy – He understands your grief for he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
Rest of Deity – He can still calm the storm and raise the dead, if He considers it appropriate.
Rest of relationship – He wants to connect with you. Simon Peter failed Jesus badly. Jesus did not say' I told you so'. He said "do you love me?"
Rest for eternity - He holds the key to eternity, He is the first and the last, He is the beginning and the end and He loves you more than you know.

Hear His voice today and respond in simple trust – Yes Lord, I believe.


A poem, a song

Hear the blessed Saviour calling the oppressed
'O you heavy laden, come to me and rest
Come, no longer tarry, I your load will bear
Bring Me every burden, bring me every care

Are you disappointed , wandering here and there
Dragging chains of doubt and loaded down with care
Do unholy feelings struggle in your breast
Bring your case to Jesus , He will give you rest

Stumbling on the mountains dark with sin and shame
Stumbling toward the pit of hell's consuming flame
By the power of sin deluded and oppressed
Hear the blessed Shepherd – come to me and rest.

Have you by temptation often conquered been
Has a sense of weakness brought distress within
Christ will sanctify you, if you'll claim his best
In the Holy Spirit He will give you rest.

Come unto Me
I will give you rest
Take My yoke upon you
Hear Me and be blest
I am meek and lowly
Come and trust my might
Come My yoke is easy and My burden light.

JRM

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The Bible - more than History


The Bible – more than history


We might well ask why is the Bible Holy or Sacred? I previously emphasized it as history, and that is important. Now I probe deeper to see why it is different to other history books.

The Bible identifies and explains a God  who is greater than ourselves, creator of all, yet communicating with humans. Through the writings of Moses 3,500 years ago, directions for good living were given. The ten commandments still hold significant moral and spiritual value today among millions of people. Was Moses great ?- not really,  but the teachings were special because Moses said : "'This is what the LORD says" . Moses was communicating God's words.

The prophets were the same – in their historical context they spoke for God. But something makes the Bible more special – it is full of prophetic words. For example, the Prophet Daniel in Babylon prophesied about the wars of Alexander the great and it happened  just as Daniel prophesied. Another example of prophecy :- Jesus prophesied that the beautiful temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed  and so it was in AD70. This goes to  show that God , who knows the future was communicating it to those who would listen.

The most important prophecies were written about the promise of a Messiah (Christ). Isaiah prophesied 700 years  before it happened that Jesus would be born of a virgin, and that is what happened. His virgin mother was Mary. Also Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be rejected by his own people the Jews – and so it happened. They said 'we will not have this man to reign over us.'

The theme of the Messiah in prophecy, and its fulfilment , joins all the different writings together. Then in the New Testament,  we read the prophecies by Jesus Christ and others as to the present time and the future.

Indeed this is a special book. Next article we will consider the most important question – who Jesus is!

JRM

Monday, June 22, 2020

The Bible


The Bible

Most religions of the world have a 'Holy book' or 'Holy writings' for the underlying basis of belief and practices. The 'Holy Bible' is indeed such, but it is different in several ways.

It has been composed over a period of 1,500 years by some 40 different authors. Much of it is a historical narrative, ( much verified by archaeology), of the Hebrew people (later called Israelites and later some as Jews). At the end of the Bible, in the New Testament, the history of Christianity is described. This includes the significant inclusion of the Gentiles (non Jews).

The Bible is not a set of rules and rituals for all people. It is a record of God interacting with individuals and groups of people over many centuries. It highlights God connecting with Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David , Isaiah, Daniel etc. These all lived in different times and different places, so often their messages were appropriate to their circumstances.  The New Testament is connected to the Old Testament, but it is different. The New Testament records the history of Jesus, the teachings of Jesus, the death of Jesus the resurrection of Jesus etc. This led to a major change of focus. Instead of the focus being on Israel, it changed to the whole world.

The Bible is a big book – actually 66 books. Reading from the beginning is good, but reading both the Old Testament and the New Testament together is better. For example Genesis 1 begins   " In the beginning God created.......", likewise John 1 (NT)  begins   "In the beginning was.......", so these two parts of the Bible should be read together- they explain each other.

Much of the New Testament is an explanation of the Old Testament – for example the celebration of the Passover each year, is explained in the NT as a picture of Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God dying for the freedom of other people.

For those who struggle with reading English, I recommend a translation of the Bible called NLT or NASB. For those who like to study, the ESV. Why are there  so many version of the Bible?     Over the years the English language  has changed.   Also many more copies of the original writings have been discovered (like 5000 including the Dead Sea scrolls). So is the English Bible trustworthy? Evidence points to at least 98% accuracy of the original writings (many scholars have tested the accuracy of the Bible).

Please note that true Christianity (not all Christian religions) is based on the Bible, but Christians do not worship the book. Rather they worship the God who is revealed in the Bible. God has sought to connect with people in various ways, especially through the Bible. This is why in some restricted countries in the world today, millions of people would love to have a Bible to read- to know God  more fully.

I encourage you to search and see. If you do not have a Bible, please send me an email.


johnmckee@internode.on.net

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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Each Day -purpose


Purpose and grace

These two words have stood out as I meditated on 2 Timothy chapter 1. Read the chapter and follow how these two words express great truth.
Verse 9 "Called and saved , not according to our works".

We are so blessed, not as a reward for what we might do or plan to do, but rather we are saved according to God's purpose and grace.
In one sense this is humiliating to me - God hasn't recognised all my good intentions and achievements. He does not build up my self esteem. He does not encourage my pride. He does not encourage my personal agenda. What He does recognise is faith in Jesus Christ the Lord. This is just like the words of the Lord Jesus to many people "your faith (in Me) has saved you".

In the big picture of life, this truth of God's purpose and grace is liberating and stabilising. Being accepted by God is not depending on how good or bad I am. The kindness of His grace (undeserved favour), brings forgiveness for all sins. He accepts all persons who trust in Jesus Christ the Lord. Jesus came from heaven and is the Saviour who is now alive from the dead. This brings peace of mind, that by believing in HIM,  one will not go to hell but have the gift of eternal life.

But there is more.  Instead of getting up and doing the best I can to please God, rather I can get up and move forward according to the PURPOSE of God! He has planned that I should live in 'love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control'. But is this possible?  Yes, by His Holy Spirit, by waiting on Him in prayer and Bible meditation it is possible. God does care about the detail of every day and we can trust Him to guide us .

But there is more. The bigger picture described in this chapter presents God the LORD at work saving people through the Gospel. Most of all, God plans for people to have freedom through Jesus Christ the Lord. So the real purpose for us as individuals is not our self interest, but to be involved in His purpose of rescuing people from darkness into the freedom that only Jesus Christ can give. Timothy was timid, but Paul encouraged him to press forward by God's power in the purpose of the Gospel.

So each day as we rise from thanking God for His love, we  look out the window and the decisions must be made:
-       Will I live today for myself?
-      Will I take up the cross of denying self, to follow Jesus?
-      Will I give up my plans and fit into His purposes for life?
-      Will I trust Him to care for me in all things?


This can be a very happy experience because 'we know in whom we have believed' and we are sure 'that He is able to keep until that Day what He has entrusted to us"

May God bless you all as you read through this Bible chapter again.

johnmckee@internode.on.net



Friday, June 12, 2020

God at work


The evidence of God in a Christian.

A person becomes a Christian by believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Jesus Christ lived a perfect life, died as a sacrifice for our sins and rose again from the dead.

One of the first evidences of the holy spirit changing a person is their desire to worship God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Worship is the adoration of the LORD God and may include singing.

The developing evidence will be the changed life. Instead of a self centred life will be the following:
"Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control."   (Galatians 5:22)

Let me explain.
To love as God the Father loves – even our enemies.

To have joy in knowing God as Father, one who cares and responds to those who seek Him.

Living in peace, trusting the Lord through the storms and necessities of life.

A kindness that conquers self interest for the benefit of others.

Goodness is the response to need- a generosity unusual.

Faithfulness is rare. To be trustworthy in word and action – no lies or deceit.

Gentleness instead of anger and violence is the evidence of God at work.

Self-control is the ability to restrain reaction to provocation by others. We are all tempted to react too harshly or too kindly.

When God by His Holy Spirit is working in our lives, this will be the fruit (evidence).

These evidences can be seen in the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ when He taught – see Matthew 5-7
Please notice these evidences are not natural – some might be seen in 'good people'. They are best seen in those who acknowledge that "in me, that is in my flesh dwells no good thing".  Again – "I am crucified with Christ ... and the life that I now live , I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me"  (Galatians 2:20)

How does this work:

The Bible is God's word
I am unworthy, a sinner
I will trust in Jesus Christ as my LORD and my GOD
I will obey Him

Then you can taste the love, joy, peace the Holy Spirit gives.

johnmckee@internode.on.net