Sunday, May 31, 2020

Struggling with the Bible


Struggles

I am struggling with my Bible and in particular Isaiah 58!

Verse 1 has the challenge to be a voice exposing the sins of others – well I would rather say positive words, but the call of this command is like John the baptiser and Jesus the Christ – the call to ' repent'. They both spelled out what sin was in the eyes of God. But who am I to tell others about their wrong doing?

 Verse 2 & 3 identifies the religious observances of the people as being insufficient to please the LORD. They daily prayed and tried to know the right and wrong way to live. They seemed to be happy to spend time fellowshipping in God's presence. They had self discipline to do fasting, but underneath all this religious fervour was a mistaken motive and purpose.
First, they wanted the LORD to take notice of how good they were.
Secondly, they did 'religion' while continuing with self-centred behaviour.- "seek your own pleasure" 

Verses 4 & 5 expose the hypocrisy of their self discipline – during these fastings the quarrelled. Their public posture of sackcloth and ashes was a sham like the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 6:5 "they love to stand and pray.......... to be seen of others."

Well that is enough to humble me, but there is more
.
Verses 6 to 10 explains what the Lord Jesus meant when He answered the leaders of His day "I will have mercy and not sacrifice, for I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Matthew 9:13 . There was nothing wrong with sacrifice or fasting but the people were acting from the wrong motive and living the wrong way.

Let Isaiah explain:
"to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke   
to let the oppressed go free
and break every yoke
to share your bread with the hungry
to bring the homeless poor into your house
to cover them
to pour  yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted.

This makes me feel very small. I have failed to follow the mission statement of the Lord Jesus:
"To proclaim good news to the poor, He has sent me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind. To set at liberty those who are oppressed and to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." Luke 4:18
And that is just what Jesus did. Peter taught that we should 'follow in His steps' !

Back to the end of Isaiah 58.

For those who are true to God, following the steps of Him who 'showed us the Father', the promises in this chapter are brilliant. For example:

"Your light shall break forth like the dawn,
The glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard
The Lord will respond "Here am I"
Your light will rise in the darkness
Like a spring of water
Then you shall take delight in the LORD....."

Does all this mean we need to fix up our behaviour – well yes it does, but not as a matter of religious observance. Rather as a matter of returning unto the LORD with all our heart and letting Him change us from the inside out. To love Him with all our being, because He first loved us. This somewhat like the words of the Lord to the Christians at Ephesus who had so much commendable behaviour:
" But I have this against you, that you have abandoned your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen. Repent and do the works you did at the first."  Revelation 2.5

My hope is restored because in the Lord does not only rebuke, but in Him is restoration, recovery, redemption and transformation.
I bow my heart and head with gratitude, that we know such a wonderful, loving Gad. He is our Father and we can trust Him.

JRM

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Our hope for the future in times of bereavement


Bible message

1   A God we can depend upon- in good times and difficult
2    A future secure – a better land beyond, where Jesus is.

Let us read from the words of the Lord Himself
John 14.1
"Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions, If it were not so I would have told you.
I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and  prepare a place for you , I will come again and receive you unto  Myself:
That where I am, there you may be also.
And where I go you know, and the way you know.
Thomas said unto Him ' Lord we know not......'
Jesus answered "I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by Me."

Troubles – yes Let the LORD God handle our troubles – HE IS ABLE.
God is Almighty, He is Holy, He is the LORD our Saviour, our Shepherd  and we can leave our troubles with Him.
Peter was in trouble – he had just promised the Lord that he would follow  Jesus no matter what – even death. And he failed. The grace of the forgiveness Jesus is recorded in John 21.
God revealed in Jesus Christ likewise filled with Grace and truth.
    -----   He is one in whom we can trust

The Lord Jesus gave directions about the present – He had just said "Love one another as I have loved you".
Now He is concerned about the future and He says  "I go to prepare a place for you"
Jesus had tasted the disappointments of earth, and wanted something better, much better for those who loved Him.  A special place in the Fathers house.
It seems as though something extra needed to be done to accommodate humans in heaven. Angels fitted into the spiritual character of heaven – they are spirit beings. But to have a special place for humans – well the Lord made the promise to go and prepare the place. Then He promised to come again  for the distinct purpose of taking his own, 

His sheep to the Father's house.
Then someone interrupted ' but how do we get there?
Jesus replied " I am the way there!"
The Lord Jesus  is the only way to heaven, He told the truth about the future and He gives new life, eternal life to all who trust Him

The Lord Jesus  Christ was going to the Father house by way of the cross, His resurrection and His ascension.
For us death has become a doorway to heaven. Death should have been the wages of our sin. 'But Jesus died for me'.
For us in Christ, resurrection is a happy prospect.
For us to be caught up into the Fathers house is our sure hope – accepted there because of the Sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

Another Bible verse:
1 John 3:2
"Beloved  now are we the children of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when HE shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."

Today we say an eternal farewell to our friend in Adam.
Tomorrow we will greet him as in Christ.
When we meet in heaven, all  the old agitating habits, the impatience etc will be gone. We will be changed to be like HIM, the Man in the glory. Well might John the apostle write:   'there is so much we don't know, but this we do know – we shall be like HIM'
We will see the face of our Beloved Lord and each one will reflect the glory of HIS radiant face.

Face to face with Christ my Saviour
Face to face what will it be
When with rapture I behold Him
Jesus Christ who died for me

Only faintly now I see Him
With the darkling veil between
But the blessed day is coming
When His glory shall be seen.

What rejoicing in His presence
When are banished grief and pain
When the crooked ways are straightened
And the dark things shall be plain

Face to face  O blissful moment
Face to face to see and know
Face to face with my Redeemer
Jesus Christ who loves me so


Face to face I shall behold Him
Far beyond the starry sky
Face to face in all His glory
I shall see Him bye and bye

Sunday, May 17, 2020

And then?


This morning, a very close friend of mine passed away – yes died. We feel the loss.

It seems to be something that all of us must face sooner or later. Life is rather short and eternity after this life so long.

We can react to the fact of death differently:

1    Fatalistically – everybody dies, so , make the most of life.

2    Biblically  - It is appointed unto all to die and after death the judgement, so . prepare to meet God.
The first response links to the theory that we are nothing more than highly evolved animals.
The second, interacts with a much bigger picture – A creator God who has made humans as body, soul and spirit. His design is for us to enjoy this life, but He also has something better when this life is finished.

My friend has gone. His eyes see no more, I cannot hear him speak, his fingers no longer play heavenly tunes on the piano and he cannot hear.  But where is he? Somewhere!

We have hope beyond death by believing the Bible:

1    After death to be with the Lord   (Philippians 1:23)

2     By the resurrection to be vibrantly praising God (Revelation 19)

3      After the Judgement of God, to be used by God in the service of His Son, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 4)
So much more could be written about the next life!

Just now I ask:

' Do you have the assurance that all is well for you for eternity?'
Or
'If you died tonight, where would you be in eternity?'

Can we be sure ???  Yes – as sure as the promises of God. (see previos message on Eternity)

John McKee

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Eternal life


     Since the beginning of history, humans have sought to find the source of eternal life. Many special places have been tried. Others have created unusual mixtures. Some have gone on distant pilgrimages.
        Various religions have promised eternal life – which one is right? Who has the answer or is it a waste of time searching?

         What is eternal life? In basic form, it is the wish to live this life forever. For others it is a better life after this one,, either in heaven  or reincarnated  to another chance in life. Some dream of paradise and invoke the imagination of what they want there.

         What does the Bible teach?
        The Old Testament is the narrative of God creating all things good. Then Satan deceives the first humans,  encouraging them to rebel and so death destroys present happiness. However, those who believed God, hoped for something better after this life. The law was given through Moses to bring people back to God, but the attitude of most people was to wander away from God.

         The Jesus came. He came to show us God as the Father. He came to connect lost people with God.  He taught the people about the life to come. He spoke of  the resurrection  and the day of judgement.  He made promises about being in the Fathers house – heaven.
        More than a place, and more than a condition, He presented Eternal life as a relationship with God – as children connected to a loving Father. This connection He presented as beginning in this life and being fulfilled in life beyond death.

Some Bible quotations:

Luke 18:18 "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

Mark 10:30 " ....and in the age to come eternal life"

John 3:16 " God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."

John 17:3  " This is eternal life, that they know you (God the Father), and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."

Titus 3:7  " . being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life."

1 John 5:20 "And we know the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him that is true;  and we are in Him that is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life."

I encourage you my reader to search more.  Maybe you could use
www.biblegateway.com    to find more Bible places about eternal life.
Best of all it is possible to know we have eternal life now, not waiting for judgement day!

1 John 5:11  "God has given us eternal life and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life, whoever does not have the Son does not have life."
John 5:24 "Truly ,truly I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life He does not come into judgement but has passed from death to life."

I encourage you to read through the Gospel by John and notice how often Jesus Christ refers to "eternal life".
If you do not have a Bible please email to me

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Are you saved or lost?


Saved

One night a distressed man asked the question:
"What must I do to be saved?"
The answer was simple and sufficient:
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved and your household."

Read the whole event in the Bible – Acts 16

If you my reader are seeking the Lord, desiring to be saved from your sinful situation and saved from hell, then read the promise again. It is true, if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, you will be saved! And your conversion to Christ will influence your whole family.

For those who want to know more, let me expand the details of the promise.

Believe – Believing on Him, not just about Him
 Believe is to accept who He claimed to be – the Son of God, the Messiah, the Lord from heaven.......
  Believing is to trust upon His promises for forgiveness of sin and the gift of eternal life.
More important than faith, is the object of faith (the one believed on). Who He is, is the most important question you will ever consider. Let me explain and I encourage you to research this for yourself.- LORD JESUS CHRIST

LORD – He claimed to have existed in heaven before He was         born of Mary.
-   He fulfilled many Old Testament prophecies that presented Him as the LORD, Jehovah.
-   He demonstrated His Lordship over Satan, sickness, sin for 33 years of service.
-   He sent out His apostles with the Good news to all nations. He is Lord for all people.


JESUS  - History verifies His birth of Mary, His life of purity, piety and power.
      - His teaching was in wisdom excelling all others
      - His compassion was real to all who felt their need of God
      -  This perfect man as crucified (as He predicted)
      -  Now He lives in heaven, enthroned at the right hand of God, able to save all who come to God by HIM.


CHRIST   -  God the Father anointed Him with the Holy Spirit to fulfil the promises of the anticipated Messiah (Christ). The Old Testament predicted what the Messiah would be like and what He would do. For example:
Moses predicted He would " speak the words of God"
                                       Deuteronomy 18
Isaiah's prophecy -that He would be a suffering Messiah 
                                             Isaiah 53
      -As the Christ He alone will be the Saviour of the world
      -  He will be the final King of Kings and Lord of Lords
      - He waits today to save people from Satan, sin and hell
      -  Soon He will return to judge the world, then to  restore righteousness and peace.


Many claim greatness, even some claim to be the Christ, but He alone is anointed to fulfil the great plans of God.

So we are presented with a choice – 
             to believe in Him or to reject Him.

The question was asked by a judge – "What shall I do then with Jesus who is called the Christ?"   Your answer will determine your eternity!


Bible references for the above truths are available from  johnmckee@internode.on.net