Thursday, April 30, 2020

Hope in God the LORD

I found this chapter so brilliant as an expression of God at work, I felt the need to quote it all. It's first interpretation is for the chosen nation, but the truth of it includes all who trust in  the Living God.

Isaiah 26 New Living Translation (NLT)

 In that day, everyone in the land of Judah will sing this song:
Our city is strong!
    We are surrounded by the walls of God’s salvation.
2 Open the gates to all who are righteous;
    allow the faithful to enter.
3 You will keep in perfect peace
    all who trust in you,
    all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
4 Trust in the LORD always,
    for the LORD GOD is the eternal Rock.
5 He humbles the proud
    and brings down the arrogant city.
    He brings it down to the dust.
6 The poor and oppressed trample it underfoot,
    and the needy walk all over it.
7 But for those who are righteous,
    the way is not steep and rough.
You are a God who does what is right,
    and you smooth out the path ahead of them.
8 LORD, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws;
    our heart’s desire is to glorify your name.
9 In the night I search for you;
    in the morning[a] I earnestly seek you.
For only when you come to judge the earth
    will people learn what is right.
10 Your kindness to the wicked
    does not make them do good.
Although others do right, the wicked keep doing wrong
    and take no notice of the LORD’s majesty.
11 O LORD, they pay no attention to your upraised fist.
    Show them your eagerness to defend your people.
Then they will be ashamed.
    Let your fire consume your enemies.
12 LORD, you will grant us peace;
    all we have accomplished is really from you.
13 O LORD our God, others have ruled us,
    but you alone are the one we worship.
14 Those we served before are dead and gone.
    Their departed spirits will never return!
You attacked them and destroyed them,
    and they are long forgotten.
15 O LORD, you have made our nation great;
    yes, you have made us great.
You have extended our borders,
    and we give you the glory!
16 LORD, in distress we searched for you.
    We prayed beneath the burden of your discipline.
17 Just as a pregnant woman
    writhes and cries out in pain as she gives birth,
    so were we in your presence, LORD.
18 We, too, writhe in agony,
    but nothing comes of our suffering.
We have not given salvation to the earth,
    nor brought life into the world.
19 But those who die in the LORD will live;
    their bodies will rise again!
Those who sleep in the earth
    will rise up and sing for joy!
For your life-giving light will fall like dew
    on your people in the place of the dead!
20 Go home, my people,
    and lock your doors!
Hide yourselves for a little while
    until the LORD’s anger has passed.
21 Look! The LORD is coming from heaven
    to punish the people of the earth for their sins.
The earth will no longer hide those who have been killed.
    They will be brought out for all to see.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Warnings


Lessons from Bible Warnings against evil.

An oracle spoken against Jerusalem. - Isaiah  22
"The LORD has taken away the covering of Judah". This leaves the people and places exposed to the forces of nature and the forces of evil. Verse 8 is like a conclusion at the beginning

The prophet  goes on to explain the problem:

1   They found security and confidence in the 'house of the forest' rather than trusting in the LORD

2   They realized the need for water security, so they built another pool inside the walls. This was smart, but they did not look to the LORD who gave them the water.

3   The call of the LORD to repentance was responded to with feasting and festivity in mockery of the voice of God.
And so the people were left in the guilt of their own sins and the consequences thereof.

4   The end of the oracle describes them pinning their hopes on a man. But the peg gives way, and their security is gone.

Is there a lesson for today?
The Apostle John wrote "the whole world is in the power of the evil one" (1 John 5;19), and the majority feel secure there!
When the call to repentance is raised, so many publicly mock and proclaim 'we are able, we are resilient, we can rebuild, we have resources like saying, 'we don't need God or we don't want God'.

What should God do?
There are two options:
1    Let them go, as in Romans 1 God gave them up to their own folly and  it's consequences.
2   Apply justice and judgement as a removal of all wrong and the punishment of the wrong doers.
What would you do?


Isaiah wrote of the devastation of the earth:
"The earth lies defiled under the inhabitants, for they have transgressed  the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth....." (Isaiah 24:5)
Is God unjust for letting humans reap what they have sown?

The Apostle Paul describes those who have chosen to be outside God's kingdom "sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, homosexual, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, swindlers.

If you were God, holy is character, just in judgement, what would you do with people who so corrupted their created purpose?

We have been brainwashed to tolerate sin, to look the other way and because we too are guilty we fail to be offended by wrong. God 'sees red' when He sees sin and so should we! But we are 'dumbed down' by the prevalence of rebellion against God.

So much of history is the story of God seeking to turn humanity back to Himself, back to the right, back to good.

Maybe I should list some of the things we as individuals and society need to renounce. Shall I begin with the list given by the LORD Jesus Himself;
Quote:     "What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,  coveting, wickedness,  deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these things come from within and they defile a person. (Mark 7)

Thus we all stand condemned, and true we have no moral right to judge others, but that does not remove the vertical accountability to God. He, as creator, is the only one with the right to make the rules. We should insistent that His law is final. The call of God is to repent, to renounce sin as sin and not make excuses. This is expressed in the prayer of the tax-collector:

"God, be merciful to me a sinner" no excuses, no blaming others.

This all sounds so negative, but failure to turn and face up to the truth, leaves people without God and without hope. So when things go wrong, they wonder why and begin the blame game instead of listening to the voice of God. God speaks through His word, the Bible, and shouts to people through difficult circumstances of life.

It is heartening to know that the present pandemic has caused many Christian websites to be overwhelmed with extra viewers. My prayer is that very many will turn to the Lord.
 But what of media and society in general? Pressing on without God seems to prevail.

In light of such a negative article, is there any hope?

YES the same God who 'sees red' when He sees sin, has made a way for people to be forgiven, to be justified, and accepted as children of God living without fear. This is the Good News!  I know I have sinned, but I also know that I am accepted by God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ the Lord. His death on the cross was what I deserved, but Jesus died for me. 
Now by faith in Him, I am free from condemnation and 'IN CHRIST' God sees, not my sin but His SON. Sure I fail Him, but His Fatherly care brings me back to repentance and forgiveness. His  love takes away rebellion and His promises secure my future!

I pray that every individual who reads this article, will respond to the Good News by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as the Bible is full of God's judgements, so it is full of God's promises of mercy and grace.

In conclusion God is Holy, God is just
          God is good, God is gracious and merciful
        God has a way to bring people back to Himself
To Him be the praise and the glory now and forever, Amen.

Theres a way back to God
  from the dark paths of sin
There's a door that is open
  and all may go in
At Calvary's cross 
  is where you begin
when you come as a sinner to Jesus

JRM

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Easter?????


Easter has links to at least two different festivals of history.

1   The name and timing links to Babylon
This is a description of an ancient Babylonian family—2,000 years before Christ—honoring the resurrection of their god, Tammuz, who was brought back from the underworld by his mother/wife, Ishtar (after whom the festival was named).
 The English term Easter is of pagan origin” (Albert Henry Newman, D.D., LL.D., A Manual of Church History, p. 299).
 Details can be found on the internet and in the book – 'Two Babylons by Hislop.
.
It is not a Bible festival but was slowly introduced into the Christian church about  the second century.

2   The timing has been adapted to the Jewish Passover festival. So what was the Passover?  – 1500 years before Jesus Christ was born, God judged the people living in Egypt because of their idolatry etc. The last judgement was when the angel of death passed through the land to kill the firstborn son in each family.  The LORD God provided a way to escape – by killing a blemish free lamb and applying the blood to the door posts and lintel of their houses. Sure enough it worked and God set the Hebrew people free from slavery. He told them to celebrate this 'Passover' every year at the set time. And so to the present many calendars have mention of the Passover , which changes according to the moon cycle.

When the Lord Jesus Christ celebrated the Passover, just before He was crucified, He said to His followers  "It is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God " (Luke 22.16). 

The Apostle Paul explains more in 1 Corinthians 5:7, "Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us" and he goes on to show that the true celebration of the Passover is the spiritual change within a Christian being lived out as Godly attitudes and behaviour.

John the Baptiser indicated  a similar concept when he identified Jesus as the 'Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world' (John 1)

The Apostle Peter concurs by referring to Jesus as the Lamb without blemish and without spot' (1Peter 1) . Some Christians did continue to celebrate the Passover, but God seemed to end that by allowing the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in AD 70.

 For 2000 years, all over the world, Christians have celebrated the death and resurrection of Jesus by the very simple ritual of 'breaking bread' together', usually once a week.
Remembering Jesus is very uplifting. In our lives of disappointment and distress, it is delightful to think about one who did not fail. To remember His death brings grief, but also relief , for it is in the design of God that forgiveness of sins is granted through His blood shed. It is liberating to remember  that, in His resurrection we have new life, a spiritual life to know God!

It is thrilling to anticipate the fulfilment of His promise – He promised to come a second time, to receive His own people to Himself. And the wonder  of it is, that any person on earth can become one of His own children by receiving Him as Saviour and Lord. (John 1:12)

John McKee

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Easter


A question has come in. 'How did you celebrate Easter?'

I took time out to remember Jesus Christ the LORD.  I pondered who He really was and is.  Then I read the Bible to discover more about why He died on the cross. I found many parts of the Bible explained Him rising from the dead to show His claims of being the Son of God were true. As I meditated on these things, the Holy Spirit brought to my mind the many Bible verses about where He is now – in heaven. So to celebrate I sang to the Lord this song.

Thank you Jesus,
Thank you Lord for loving me
You went to Calvary and there you died for me
Thank you Lord for loving me

Thank you Jesus,
Thank you Lord for loving me,
You rose up from the grave
To me new life you gave
Thank you Lord for loving me

Thank you Jesus
Thank you Lord for loving me
You're coming back again
And we with you shall reign
Thank you Lord for loving me.

These are truths a Christian can and should enjoy every day, not just once a year.
 Did I go somewhere to celebrate – a quiet place. Did we eat special food – no.  Did we perform some ritual – no. Did we dress up  - no. Was God happy? – Jesus said
 "The Father seeks those who worship in spirit and in truth" (John 4)

Many centuries ago the LORD said:
"Thus says the One who is high and lifted up one, who inhabits eternity,  whose name is holy.
"I dwell in the high and holy place and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit.
To revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite."  (Isaiah 57:15)

Next blog – what Easter is all about.

johnmckee@internode.on.net

Thursday, April 16, 2020

The true Messiah


There are at least 333 Messianic prophecies in the Jewish Scriptures that describe the real Messiah.

Yeshua’s( Jesus) entire ancestry, birth, character, teaching, ministry, life, death, burial, and resurrection were prophesied by 25 Jewish writers hundreds of years before His birth.

The following is a list of just a few of these, which point to Yeshua as "Mashiach" and disqualify  other false messiahs:
·         He will be born in Bethlehem (Beit-Lechem) (Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:1)
·         He will be born to a virgin and will be called God With Us (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23)
·         He will be despised and rejected by his own people (Isaiah 53:3, John 1:11, John 5:43)
·         He will suffer terribly (Isaiah 53:3, Matthew 26:38)
·         He will be pierced and wounded for our sins (Isaiah 53:5, Psalm 22:16, Luke 23:33)

·         He will take upon himself the punishment that we all deserve (Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24)
·         He will not open his mouth in his own defense (Isaiah 53:7, Matthew 27:12–14)
·         He will die a violent, premature death (Isaiah 53:8,12, Luke 23:46)
·         He will die with the wicked but be buried with the rich (Isaiah 53:9, Matthew 27:57–60)
·         He will be raised from the dead to life (Psalm 16:10, Acts 2:29–32, Matthew 28:5–6)
·         He will sit on the throne of His father, David, and rule forever (Isaiah 9:6–7, Luke 1:30–33)

"Be not deceived, for many will come in my Name saying 'I am the Christ' " Matthew 24.5

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Hopeless or hopefilled


Hope – what constitutes real hope

Hope is much more than wishful thinking. Hope is a beam of light, into the future based on substantial evidence. We live in the present, hopefully learning from the past. Tomorrow is God’s realm. Some things are routine, like the rising of the sun, but more than ever, tomorrow has become uncertain (year 2020) – financially, politically, health wise, socially, religiously – everything is in upheaval. Calls are being made for a strong worldwide leader to lift the world out of this mess.

Where do we find real hope?    -  in the promises of God.

Just as the rainbow is God’s promise that there will not be another worldwide flood, so the coming and promises of the Lord Jesus Christ give the assurance that beyond days of ‘great tribulation’ lies the hope of peace and prosperity.

Just as the promise of the coming of a suffering Messiah has been fulfilled, so the promise of the coming of a triumphant Messiah will be fulfilled.

Just as faith in the unseen God enabled multitudes to overcome in the past, so faith in the living God through Christ, will enable multitudes of the redeemed to overcome, tomorrow.

Someone has said that the world will never be the same again. – well that is likely true and the world without God needs to be ‘shaken’.

Just as the patriarchs looked beyond their changing circumstances, so we need to focus on the heavenly city where God rules. (remember that Satan is the prince of this world system).
With an eternal perspective to share with our families and friends, we have hope that can lift the hopeless to the eternal values – love , joy and peace in the present, and in the Fathers house.

To summarize: Our hope lies in a person – Jesus Christ the Lord. He said “ Don’t  be afraid, I am the first and the last, I am the living one who died. Behold I am alive forevermore and I hold the keys of death and hell.”  (Revelation 1.17)

God holds the key of all unknown,
And I am glad
If other hands should hold the key
Or if He trusted it to me
I might be sad.

I may not read His future plans
But this I know
I have the smiling of His face
And all the refuge of His grace
While here below.


To know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour – this is true hope now and forever.

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


John McKee

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Are we learning from life


COVID 19   Are we learning the lessons?

Learning to live simple: The restaurants are closed. We are isolated at home! – well my wife has started cooking damper – flour, milk, butter and raisins. It is simple and great.

Learning to live together – the sports fields are deserted, the cinemas are closed – now we are home together – we can eat meals together, play board games together, sit by a bonfire together!

Learning to create:  The supply of ready made gifts and gadgets is shrinking, the access to ready made clothes is limited – Maybe the art of sewing and knitting will be reinvented! Children making things out of cardboard boxes!

Learning to maintain:  no job to go to, less money to buy with. Now we have time to clean and oil our bicycle, our car or our house. Maybe even repair our mower instead of buying a new one.
Learning to read: Well sadly this probably won’t work because everyone is glued to their screens. Perhaps we should turn off the internet and begin reading books and best of all taking time to read the Bible.

Learning to be content at home: Australia, the land of travel –travel for commerce, travel for pleasure. Now that the roads are restricted, we do well to learn contentment and productivity at home.

Learning to live with uncertainty: - the value of tomorrows money is uncertain, the promise of employment,  the availability of food all remains tentative. Instead of panic and depression, we ought to learn the practical value of trust in the Lord.

Learning to commune with God:   all the churches are closed. Gatherings are limited to 10 or less. This is a good time to return to the Biblical occupation of meditating on the word of God  alone. I am not so sure that the rush to online church is helpful. It sustains the malady of spoon fed Christians with introvision, of looking after us instead of looking out to seek  others. Maybe a taste of China limitations would be good medicine for us in the west. The Holy Spirit is a great teacher if we take time to be quiet with the Lord. It is so helpful to journal in these difficult times.

Learning to be prepared: - some have smiled at my little stash of food for hard times. That smile has gone.

Learn to sow when the seasons are good in preparation for difficult times. We have fallen into the mindset of the ‘instant society’ - food now, new clothes now, information now, help now etc instead of waiting and preparing.

Learning to sow the truth of the word of God  in times of opportunity:  As Jesus said, “ the night comes, when no one can work” I used to wonder what He meant – now I know. Better to sow the seed before the tragedy event – As the Lord did- He warned the disciples of His impending cross and its purpose.

Learning to love with more than words: the shallowness of  ‘I love you’ needs to be replaced with the actions of ‘I love you even when undeserved’. Maybe COVID 19 will bring many prodigals home.

Learning to face the fragility of life: with medical treatment and medicine stretched beyond its capacity,  we can no longer assume that doctors can keep us alive to 85 years. The western lie, that life is good, needs to be replaced with the truth that life is short and Eternity is long.

Learning that God is at work:  from the highest to the lowest, we have to admit that we have lost control of our world. Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings etc are trembling   with fear, unable to control the tiny virus or the outcomes devastating the world.- maybe God is teaching what He taught Nebuchadnezzar many years ago – ‘God rules in the kingdoms of men.

Learning that God judges: is there a cause for God to permit such tragedy? A  world where idolatry is increasing, where immoral behaviour is government approved, where unborn babies are slaughtered wholesale, a world of atheism, even among Jews, violence as normal, a world that has said ‘ no God for me’, churches that have dispensed with the Bible etc – God has every reason to judge.

Learning that God’s grace alone is the way to acceptance with God:  In these terrifying times, what help are the many religions that teach that hope is built on our good doing, our ritual keeping, our karma changing. Let us learn quickly that we all deserve judgement and damnation.  God’s grace alone through the once crucified  Christ  brings acceptance with God.

Learning to pray:  We have been taught to be independent . Even eloquent prayers fail when the world collapses around us.  It is so good that God still hears the prayer of the humble and contrite.

Learning to look and listen to Nature:  with the takeover of human thinking by the media and the internet, thoughtfulness has been lost. Now we can take time to listen to the birds, care for animals,  smell the roses, study the insects, watch the clouds and count the stars!

Learning to have longsighted vision:  so many hopes and dreams have been smashed – built on the sand castles of ‘ self esteem’ live your dream’ go your own way’ make your fortune now’. Rather the word of the Lord Jesus still holds good- “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these thing shall be added unto you” “Lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven!” (Matthew 6,7)

Learning the real priorities of life: Instead  of constant ‘selfies’ and selfishness, change to    Jesus... others.... yourself  -  JOY

Learning about the future: Modern prophets have made all sorts of predictions, both good and bad. How quickly they can all be cancelled. Only God knows the future and it is about time we began to take notice.

Are we prepared to ‘Be still and know that He is God”  ????

johnmckee@internode.on.net