Saturday, December 27, 2014

Serving the Lord

“Master we have toiled all night and have caught nothing. But at your word I will let down the nets” Luke 5.5

    It appears to me from our compass, the Bible, and from fifty years of observation, that God chooses different people to serve Him indifferent ways. There is not one formula for serving God. But there is ONE MASTER for serving God. He alone knows what is best for each one of HIS servants!

    Some people are called to toil all night. Others are called to gather one draught of fish at what seems the most unusual time. Some labour all day to receive a penny, others labour for just one hour and receive a penny.
John the Baptist served well for about eighteen months while the Apostle John served for about sixty years. Dorcas was diligent  in serving the Lord with her hands for many years. Mary is recorded briefly as anointing the Lord from heaven. Paul planted and Apollos watered, but it was God who gave the increase. Many of us have yearned to know the ‘plan of God for our lives’. Some like the Apostle Paul, have a revelation right at the beginning – ‘that he must suffer for the Name of the Lord Jesus’.  For Peter, his commissioning service(John21) included his stewardship to feed God’s sheep and also how he would die. Was a similar plan given to John? Not that we know of. In fact Peter sought to draw out from the Lord a proposed plan for John, but was rebuked with most significant words – “what is that to you? You follow me”!

      To some a distinctive mission in life is clear but to the many it is a day by day devotion, following the Shepherd where ever He leads. Previously we noticed Zechariah in Like 1. He for so many years faithfully committed to the cause of God, not knowing that he would become the father of a prophet.

       The letter to the Hebrews in chapter twelve, it is filled with people of significant faith. Then it says “others................................” Obviously God calls some to prominence, but others who by faith endure, and achieve by faith, will be rewarded in the day of Christ’s glory.

           So what am I drawing from all this?
As to the eternal value of what we do  “ we work as a team with the same purpose, yet they will be rewarded individually according to their own hard work.” (1 Corinthians 3.8NLT)
As to now, there is just one Master, one Lord in heaven and there is no partiality with HIM. His calling and enabling by the Holy Spirit is as unique as we are different. His timing is wise. The stewardship given will be called to account by  the heavenly account keeper. The  outcomes may well be different to our human expectations or aspirations.

          It is loyal devotedness to HIM that will yield contentment and fruitfulness in this life, and His divine recognition in the next life.

Perhaps I have seem to have wandered from my text? Sometimes the Lord lets us labour all the night- that is not wrong and the Lord does not rebuke that. The real lesson is learned by Peter – It is not so much the timing or the labour, it is the LORD that makes the difference. Peter considers himself unworthy of the Lord’s service or the Lord’s presence. Yet this is just the same grace of the Lord of the harvest – He  chooses to use the unworthy in HIS way, in HIS time , for HIS glory.

       So then it is important to work hard for the Lord (as said Paul), but it is more important to work as a partner with the Lord (2 Corinthians 6.1 ), in submission to HIS directives and by HIS enabling grace. Whether we be a public success  or not is insignificant. Whether we walk with the Lord, being available as clean vessels for the Master’s use, is significant. It was Mary, the mother of Jesus,  who in her song, so beautifully sang, that God in His wonderful way “exalts the lowly” Luke 1.52.

                 My prayer for all who read these articles, all over the world , is that you may know the Lord Jesus Christ by faith,  that Christ might dwell in your hearts by faith, and that as branches in the vine you might bear much fruit to the glory of the living Lord Jesus.

John McKee

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Recapturing the eternal perspective

A modern saying tell’s so much – “We want to make this world a better place to live in.”

      Well, nice thought, but so different to the teaching and mindset of the New Testament. No-one has more impacted the world for good than Jesus and Moses and Paul along with the Apostles. Yet they constantly had their focus on something beyond this life, beyond this world! The Lord Jesus prayed that his disciples might be with Him in the Father’s house ( John 17). Paul was longing for the day when he would exchange the present for a better condition – “We want to slip into our new bodies, so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by everlasting life.”(2 Corinthians 5.4).

     In the western world, Christianity has been hijacked by the emphasis on ‘living the good life now’.      Across the earth most Christians suffer every day, as the Lord foretold “ In the world you will have tribulation, be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 15). Across the world thousands of Christian refugees suffer persecution and hunger, thousands suffer discrimination for the name of the Lord Jesus, many are in prison and hundreds die for converting to faith in Jesus Christ as Lord. One could mention the thousands who suffer illness and the many incapacitated in old age. For most of the suffering ones, the next life with Christ, is the only hope to live a ‘good life.’ Heaven will be a rich compensation for them. Paul paints a beautiful picture – “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will give us later” (Romans 8.18).

     For those who want everything now, listen to the words of Abraham –“Son remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted and you are in anguish.” Luke 16.25. Once again it was the Lord Jesus who said to the Loadicean church – “You say ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realise that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.”(Revelation 3.17) 
Such of course is the voice of the prosperity gospel. The poverty of the master , who said follow Me, along with many other scriptures, shows the fallacy of those who claim authority for their dreams, from their dreams . ( Jude 8 )

      The Lord Jesus called upon us to take up our cross (going out to die for Him), deny ourselves and follow Him. This will only happen when out of devotion to Himself we move forward with the next life as our focus. Even Abraham, who was blessed with much in this world, was looking beyond this life, looking for the city whose builder and maker was God (Hebrews 11 ).

    It is very true that the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ does impact on the world in which we live (as salt and light), but this is not the purpose or the focus. The Lord came from heaven to rescue people out of this lost and fallen world. That they might be saved, redeemed, regenerated, accepted in the family of God  - not just for a few short  years in this world, but beyond the resurrection forever with the Lord.

  For so many, eternal life is the glorious prospect, begun now in knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, and then forever to sing the praise of the Lamb upon the throne.

Let us all then, lift up our eyes to the glorious hope, to be with HIM and like HIM forever.

John McKee

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Prophecy of Zechariah

The Prophecy of Zechariah            Luke 1: 67-79

       Zechariah knew from experience that praise belongs to God. In this prophecy, he first praises God for the child to be born of Mary, then refers to his own son , John. He describes the child to be born as the mighty Saviour, from the royal line of David.

      This is beautiful as he sees the unfolding happenings of God interrupting the years of distress and oppression. He is not so much interested in the calendar of God (  as Simeon was ) , but rather in the mercy God in keeping with God’s character and covenant.

        God’s promises through the prophets ( like Isaiah 9.6 ) were now opening as light from heaven. Hope from above and hope for the future were  coming into focus. The covenant to Abraham, that his seed ( The Messiah Galatians 3.16 ) would bring in worldwide blessing, for Israel and beyond, was now possible .  The promises  to David, that an heir would sit upon his throne forever was now being fulfilled. The Jewish hope of deliverance from oppressing enemies was within reach. The priestly ambition of Zechariah is touching – to serve God without fear in holiness and righteousness.

       The last half of the prophecy is largely about John. Yet not so much about John himself, but rather John in reference to the light from heaven ( Jesus ). John’s calling is from the Most High. His commission is to prepare the people for the Lord – Jehovah of the covenant about to appear among His people!  John was a burning lamp, but Jesus was the true light.

      “the light from heaven that is about to break upon us” NLT Verse 78.
This beautiful description of the coming of the Lord from heaven brings hope to all who sit in darkness, both Jew and Gentile.

       The last phrase of Zechariah’s prophecy is intriguing – “ to guide  us to the path of peace. Israel was inclined to fight for peace i.e. the conquest of Canaan, the wars of  King David, the rebellions of the Maccabees. Other kings tried for peace by compromise and collusion.
The coming Prince of Peace, was a new light on the path to peace. I will leave you to ponder the words of the heavenly hosts in Luke 2 “peace on earth”, the words of the master “ my peace I give unto you” John 15.
Considering the lack of peace in our day, what is the path of peace for the future????

May I encourage you to read and reread this section of Holy Scripture – Zechariah’s prophecy,    and be blessed by the Holy Spirit illuminating the hidden gems.

John McKee

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Next question please

Next Question – ‘Does everyone go to heaven or do we get reborn?

      In brief -  no, not all go to heaven.
      -      we are not reborn, we will all be resurrected.

As mentioned in the previous article, heaven is God’s home, and only those in a right relationship with God will be accepted there.

Some people choose to not believe in God or heaven – would it be right to send them there? Other people choose to worship idols instead of the creator God. Others reject Jesus, whom God sent into the world to save all people. Would it be right to send them to heaven where Jesus is the name honoured and praised? Hardly fair to force them to listen the heavenly crowds sing “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain.”   In our western world, most people choose to live for themselves  and ignore God and His Son Jesus Christ. If you were the judge, what would you say?

The Bible makes it clear that the present and future focus of God’s plan is to make Jesus Christ supreme. Among the astounding claims that the Lord Jesus made, one seems very relevant  I quote “I , if I be lifted up will draw all men unto Me “ John !2.  As a result of Him being lifted up on the cross, everyone becomes accountable to Him. Not only the living nations when He returns to judge the world, but all others as well. They will be raised from the dead and will be judged before the judgement throne of Christ. He has the official right to judge as  God’s Son (John 5) and He has the moral right to judge because He paid the ransom for all, that all might be delivered from condemnation. Some are drawn to Him as saved, the others will stand before Him in judgement.

“God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world through Him might be saved”  (John 3)
“This is the condemnation, that light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”  (John 3)

It seems rather clear that acceptance with  God is directly connected with our acceptance of His Son.
The Apostle John summarised it this way  “Whoever has the Son has life, whoever does not have the Son does not have life.” 1John 5
The Apostle Paul and Peter wrote of the “hope laid up for you in heaven” ( Colossians 1. 5  1Peter 1.4 )
Paul looked forward to the day when he would be absent from the body and present with the Lord ( 2 Corinthians 5 ).

By contrast, Peter asked, as I have done, “what shall the end be of those who obey not the Gospel of God?” ( 1 Peter 4.17 ) Peter answers  his own question –“the Lord knows how to keep  the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgement” (2 Peter 2.9 )

Some people would rather not think about final accountability, and turn to the sermon on the mount as a way of life. However the same sermon on the mount concludes with the following warning:
“On that day many will say to me ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then I will declare unto them ‘I never knew you, depart from me you workers of lawlessness’ “ Matthew 7.22

So much more could be written, and I welcome any request for more, but let me conclude  - heaven is not attained by what we do, or what we have or what we pay.  Heaven is only for the family of God and acceptance by God is for all who receive His Son, Jesus Christ our only Saviour and Lord.
We have the free will to ignore God, choose to continue in the habit of sins, choose to reject Jesus – but the consequences are tragic.

“Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts”

May God grant every reader faith to believe in His Son, and thereby have the assurance of acceptance with God, into the family of God and into the home of God.

“ to be forever with the Lord”!!

John McKee

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

More Questions

"What is heaven like?"
This is a big subject , but I will answer briefly.
The Lord Jesus told us to pray to 'our Father in heaven' . He described it as 'My Father's house', and the  detail of things is insignificant. It is a place of holy, happy relationships. The Father , Son and Holy Spirit bring all the inhabitants into perfect harmony . Angels delight to proclaim the glory of God in heaven. The Lord referred to it as the true source of good authority, and peace is the outcome for all who yield to the Kingdom of heaven.
The apostle Paul considered it a place far better than this present world and Peter looked forward to entering that heavenly kingdom.
According to the book of Revelation, Heaven is the majestic Throne room of God and the Lamb. There is no night there . The song of praise to the Lord Jesus resounds the victory of the cross and describes the multitudes of people that will be gathered into the Fathers house through the blood that was shed at Calvary.
Only those whose names  are written in the Lamb's book of life will be granted entry there and they  will be identified  forever as His.

Is your name written in the Lamb's book of life?

John McKee