Thursday, April 21, 2016

How can we understand?

     The story of Jesus, born a king in Bethlehem, crucified as a criminal outside Jerusalem, has little interest for the natural or religious mind. The Greeks with their emphasis on education, philosophy and science could make no logic of it. Likewise the Jews with their ardent pursuit of religion were unwilling to follow one who had been crucified.
How then did and still does the story of Jesus become so meaningful to people? The answer is quite simple – by the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. The disciples of the Lord Jesus struggled with understanding God’s plan of salvation by the death of their Messiah, until they were filled with the Holy Spirit.

     It happened just as the Lord Jesus said it would. At the festival of Pentecost, the waiting disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and then the past,  the present and the future made sense. From that day they went out to the world telling the reality of who Jesus of Nazareth really was, the meaning of the cross and the resurrection.

      And so it continues today. Those who choose to hear God speak by the Holy Spirit, will be led by the Spirit to repent of sin and to believe in Jesus as the Son of God risen from the dead.
More than just giving information, the Holy Spirit comes into a believer as a companion to lead, to guide, to give wisdom, and to comfort. How very blessed are the people who can by this divine presence, live holy lives to the praise  of the living God. By the Holy Spirit comes the joy of being Children of God (Romans 8), the overflowing love of God in the heart, (Romans 5.5), the enablement to pray (Romans 8.27), as well as giving hope for the future. (Romans 15.13)

God has been working in His own wonderful way for 2000years. Human ingenuity and fanatical religion has tried to suppress the operations of God by His Spirit, but again and again history records God at work giving new life, giving liberty to people all around the world.

There is one key that unlocks the door – believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. Sadly, many would rather believe in themselves, in politics, in education, in religion etc.

I entreat all my readers to open your heart and mind to receive the Lord Jesus Christ. (John 1.12). In so doing, let the Holy Spirit begin His good work in you.

John McKee

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The answer

God’s answer to the problem of our human condition is not found in how we might improve ourselves. God’s answer is found in a person and what He has done.

Let me quote   from our compass : “If you will confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10.9)
Many other Bible verses confirm that salvation, forgiveness, redemption, justification, eternal life etc are granted to those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. As the title indicates, He is the Lord who came down from heaven, He is the Jesus who became truly human, He is the Christ -  God’s appointed Saviour of the world. In His life He did so much good and taught so much good, but He Himself said “was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things?” – referring to His crucifixion. The cross was a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies which indicated that by the sufferings of the Christ, God was reconciling and redeeming the world to Himself. When the crucifixion happened, on earth confusion was evident, but when God raised Jesus from the dead, the good news had a whole new meaning. By the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on the cross, the good news was “ forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2.38). To the Gentiles was then presented “forgiveness of sins through His name” (Acts 10.43)
Paul concurs with the gospel by Peter “Let it be known to you therefore, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by Him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses”. 
Acts 13.38

       WOW – this is something more than religion. This is liberty from guilt and condemnation, along with the significant gift of the Holy Spirit to live a new life.

Faith rests in who Jesus is, and what God has done through the sacrifice and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Faith brings peace with God, joy in the soul and hope for the future.

J McKee

Friday, April 8, 2016

The killer of joy, peace and hope

In recent times I was asked to contribute to a series of messages expounding the letter written to the people at Rome. The message begins with rather confronting statements about the human condition.

God the righteous judge calls our bad choices‘sin’. Some choose to ignore or deny God – it is sin worthy of punishment. Others hide their inner unholy attitudes by criticising others, yet it is ‘sin’. Many people use the cloak of religious observance to cover hypocrisy and greed – the Bible calls it ‘sin’.
Then I hear many say – ‘well we are all sinners, so who has the right to be judgemental’ – God has that right and He will have the final word.

On the horizontal plane, it is true that we are all without excuse, we have gone astray along with others, but on the vertical plane, we have offended the God who made us to choose right, designed us to do good, to know Him and to love Him. Our rebellion against God deserves judgement. Judgement is not the outcome of a grumpy God. It is the putting in place of justice.
Moses, who knew God face to face, wrote 
"You have set our iniquities before you, our secrets sins in the light of your presence" Ps90.8
God does not gloss over sin, but rather exposes it and deals with it justly.
Does God the judge leave us in the plight of sin and condemnation – NO.   
He is the one who steps up to remedy the situation (now that is good news),  ............................................................if we will let Him! !

I recommend that you read again the first three chapters of ‘Romans’. Be honest with God and yourself:

“My sins deserve eternal death.............................................”

Stay tuned for the next episode of what God has done .

If you do not have a Bible, let me know.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Evidence, wittnesses

The Bible is an amazing book. As a whole it is the most sensible account of human history. It’s depiction of a perfect beginning, then degenerating with time into the present chaos of our sick world, is rather accurate. It’s honest reporting of the failures of leading personalities verifies that it is not fictionalised to promote any particular hero. The only one who stands without fault is Jesus, and the Bible relates His story from at least four different sources.
It is a book that must be read as an ongoing story and very much relates to the events and culture of the times in which it was written. However, it has in each context, sentences (verses) that have in themselves life changing power. The promises given, have done and still do bring hope to millions of believers. I am constantly amazed at how the Bible can verify itself in the face of criticism. One example in relation to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus comes to mind.
The resurrection of the Lord has been disputed since the day He rose from among the dead. The writing of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, is more significant than I had previously thought:

The good news about Christ dying for our sins, and then rising the third day, had been received by Paul from the Lord and was confirmed with the apostles who had travelled with Jesus of Nazareth.
Then he give a list of the witnesses who had seen the Lord Jesus, as physically alive from the dead.- Peter, twelve apostles, more than 500. The he adds “most of whom are still alive”. This short statement give the approximate date of writing (1st generation Christians), but more importantly, Paul is inviting the critics of the resurrection, to go and ask the witnesses. Most were still alive as witnesses of having heard and seen the risen Lord. This was not a myth or legend produced over time.
The inclusion of James is important , since prior to the resurrection, he did not believe Jesus to be the Messiah. Now he is a believer having met the Lord, alive from the dead.
Verse 8 "He appeared to me also", could easily be missed as unimportant. But it is very important! Saul ( Paul )the persecutor, well respected in the Jewish religious circles, learning from an honourable Rabbi, is changed into a disciple of the one he once hated. For the rest of his life he was persecuted, ridiculed, poor and eventually executed for the sake of the Lord Jesus. Why the change? On the road to Damascus a voice was heard from heaven “I am Jesus”.  Saul knew it was a heavenly voice but how could it be Jesus, since he had been crucified years before? The only answer was that He had risen out from the grave and had truly gone into heaven from whence He could reach into the lives of people wherever they might be. Thus it is important to see that Saul’s interaction with the Lord in heaven years after the death of Jesus, was a powerful testimony to Jesus Christ being alive and Lord of all. How important is this sentence : “He appeared to me also”

Likewise John the apostle had a real encounter with the risen, exalted Christ:
“I saw one like the son of man..............................Who then said: “I was dead, and am alive forevermore”” (Revelation 1)

Other evidence today points to the same fact – He is risen Indeed!

‘If you will confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved’  (Romans 10.9)

J. McKee