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Friday, 31 March 2017

Grace sufficient.

One of the amazing facts about the written Word of God, the Bible, is that however often one reads a passage, one regularly notices something that was never noticed before! Often, that fresh insight will be because of a particular need in our lives. Sometimes it will be the sudden remembrance of a well-loved verse, or passage, that suddenly takes on a whole new depth of meaning. I was reading an article about Charles H Spurgeon the great 19th century preacher. If anyone knew his Bible, it was Spurgeon. Yet he was able to testify to such an experience in his own life.

"One evening, after a hard day's work, I felt weary and and sorely depressed. Suddenly, like a flash of lightning, the verse came to my mind: 'My grace is sufficient for thee.' (II Cor.12:9). Going to my study, I examined the text in the Greek, and was impressed by an emphasis I had never seen before. When I read, 'My grace is sufficient for thee', I said aloud, 'I should think it is, Lord!' The abundance of His supply compared to my need caused my heart to rejoice, and made unbelief absurd. I never fully understood what the holy laughter of Abraham meant, until then. (Gen.17:17). A great God can make good on anything that He promises to men.

"Pondering this blessed truth", Spurgeon continued, "I imagined myself as a tiny mouse in the granaries of Egypt after seven years of plenty (Gen.41:46-49), fearing I would die in the famine. But Joseph would say, 'Cheer up, little one, my granaries are sufficient for thee." Again I pictured in my mind a man standing on a lofty mountain, saying to himself, 'I inhale so much air each year that I fear the supply of oxygen will be exhausted.' But the earth would say, 'Breathe on, O man, and fill your lungs a s long as you live; my atmosphere is sufficient for thee.'" (Scripture references added)

How meagre is our faith when we fail to draw upon the unlimited resources of Almighty God, the Creator and Sustainer of all that exists! Are you weary, and discouraged, by whatever faces you at this time? Then trust the Saviour completely, and remember - His grace is sufficient for you!

Friday, 24 March 2017

Terrorist attack in London.

At the outbreak of the Second World War there were around 80,000 potential enemy aliens in Britain who, it was feared, could be spies, or willing to assist Britain's enemies in the event of an invasion. All Germans and Austrians over the age of 16 were called before special tribunals and were divided into one of three groups:
  • 'A' - high security risks, numbering just under 600, who were immediately interned;
  • 'B' - 'doubtful cases', numbering around 6,500, who were supervised and subject to restrictions;
  • 'C' - 'no security risk', numbering around 64,000, who were left at liberty. More than 55,000 of category 'C' were recognised as refugees from Nazi oppression. The vast majority of these were Jewish.
As the war continued, more and more Germans and Austrians were rounded up. When, in June 1940, Italy and Britain went to war, there were at least 19,000 Italians in Britain, and Churchill ordered that they all be rounded up. This was despite the fact that most of them had lived in Britain for decades.

In 1971, the UK government introduced internment of terrorist suspects in Northern Ireland. Although it could be, and has been, argued that this may not have been the wisest course of action in the particular circumstances, it does show what can be achieved if there is the political will to achieve it!

In the light of the murderous attack at Westminster on Wednesday, may I suggest - as many others have done - that it is time for the calling before similar tribunals, of all Muslim males over the age of 12 (radicalisation takes place long before 16!), and the internment of all who are deemed to be high security risks - and even the "doubtful" cases? I am fully aware that not every Muslim living in the UK is a jihadist. However, I am also aware that jihadists do not go around displaying a lapel badge to identify themselves. 

Regretfully, we do not currently have a Churchill in 10 Downing Street. Instead, we have a woman who was, in the opinion of many, a totally useless Home Secretary - who reduced the number of police officers in England, Wales, and N.Ireland - and is now revealing herself to be a useless Prime Minister!

Jesus said, "... he that is not against us is for us." (Mark.9:39-40), and it is perhaps time that the British government threw out the so-called "Human Rights Act" - that, in terms of truly basic human rights, is not really necessary in the UK - so that effective measures may be taken against all who seek to destroy the peace that should be expected in an allegedly democratic nation during peacetime.

The numbers involved are, of course, higher than in the Second World War - but women and younger children would be excluded (unless there was reasonable cause to intern some females who appear to be happy to support jihadists). However it is reckoned that over 70% of "refugees" are young men of fighting age, and we know, from the evidence of our own eyes, that the vast majority of the "children" who have been accepted into the UK are in their late teens, and twenties. 

As we mourn the deaths that occurred on Wednesday, and those that have taken place since, but as a direct result of Wednesday's events; and as we express our genuine concern for those who have been injured - with some of them still on the critical list; may those who have accepted the responsibility of governing us, be willing to take positive, effective, action that will , if not guarantee, at least increase, the safety of the general public, and of the members of the emergency services who, yet again, showed their true calibre in the selfless assistance that they rendered to others in the immediate aftermath of that Islamist terrorist attack. 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Shut that door!

"Shut that door!" was the name given to a British comedy talk show hosted by Larry Grayson in the seventies.  I don't recall ever having watched the show, but the words also became something of a "catch-phrase" among the general public.

Why would we want to shut a door? Well, there are many reasons. If it is an outside door, it may well be to stop a draught. We think of a closed door as a means of keeping out those who are unwelcome. I recall being on holiday, many years ago, in a certain seaside town in Scotland. We must have only arrived on a Saturday evening but, for whatever reason, we did not know the time at which the worship service commenced for the local church with which we had decided to meet on the Sunday morning. We arrived at the building in what we thought would be plenty of time. However, we then discovered that the service commenced fifteen minutes earlier than we had anticipated - and that, already, the doors were shut! We were less than impressed!

However, a shut door may also signify that we desire to be shut in with someone who is very dear to us, and with whom we wish to spend time without any interruption. This, of course, is the sense in which the Lord Jesus spoke of the need for seclusion if His disciple wants deep, and sweet, communion with God in prayer.

In what we know as "the Sermon on the Mount", Jesus told the people that, when they pray, they should go into their room and shut the door! The word translated "room" means "a place of retirement and privacy." In the privacy of their own room - or, if one does not have a room of one's own, in any private and secluded place - the Heavenly Father will meet with His child in holy intimacy. By the very act of deliberately closing themselves off from everything outside, one is better able to be in a position of openness to God.

Of course, as I reminded the congregation on Sunday, the devil doesn't like it when we pray; and I know from personal experience how easily distracting thoughts fill my mind as I seek to do so. These are, usually, perfectly acceptable thoughts - but they are still a distraction!

This practice of drawing aside is illustrated, to some extent, by the event recorded in John 20:19. Following the resurrection of Jesus, the disciples met, in seclusion, because they feared that their enemies. John records: "On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”" (emphasis added). We might say that, when we shut ourselves off from the world, behind our shut door, in prayer, that it is an invitation to the risen Lord to fellowship with us! In the solitude of what we used to call the "Quiet Time", He may meet with His disciple in a special way, and bring strength to a needy heart.

By separating yourself from the din and distraction of people and things you will demonstrate how important is communion with Him; and you will be better able to both open yourself to Him, and hear His response in your heart. That, I would claim, is when you will find power to live for Him.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Pictures!

It has been said that one picture can convey as much as a thousand words and, often this is very true. It certainly seems to be true with regard to the set of pictures below. I wonder how I can get that set of pictures to every Member of Parliament - and I wonder how many would actually be bothered, and shamed into doing something positive about the situation.

There is, of course, a faint (imo, very faint!) possibility that the pictures have been "photoshopped". However, they came to me from a good friend, and I have no reason to doubt their authenticity. Could that simply be because of the low esteem in which the majority of MPs are currently held?

If anyone can confirm that these are genuine - or even that they are not - please contact me at the e-mail address above. It may also be worth mentioning that I do not have information as to the dates of each picture - I suspect that they are from more than one Parliament! If they are, indeed, genuine, then they display, all too clearly, where the priorities of most of the "Honourable Members" lie!


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

"Pleasure" in pain.

As I am speaking, on Sunday afternoon, to a group of Anglophones, on the subject of the Persecuted Church, I have been doing a lot more research into that subject, than I normally do. I am also speaking on the subject of "The Power of Prayer" on Sunday morning and, in a prior e-mail conversation on the specific topic of so-called "unanswered prayer" with which I shall, DV, be dealing, a particular instance of prayer for healing that has continued for some twenty years, was raised.

It has been claimed that the amount of physical suffering that a person feels is not necessarily determined by the extent of the injury or physical trauma. In fact, I am assured, it can be modified by a person's past experience, and their expectation of what lies ahead.

Most people are aware of the Russian Nobel Prize winner, Ivan Pavlov, and his experiments with conditioning the responses of some dogs. However, not everyone is familiar with the full details of the experiment. Did you know that he was illustrating the above claim by associating feelings of pleasure with sensations of pain? When he brought an electrical current into contact with their paws, the animals (understandably!) growled and barked furiously. However, when the physiologist offered them some tasty food immediately after each painful stimulus, their reactions began to turn from fury to delight! Eventually, they even wagged their tails as they received the mild electric shock, and rushed to the table for something to eat. Indeed, this behaviour continued even when the current was increased.

Although the response of the true disciple of Jesus, to Father God, is never an automatic conditioning like that of Pavlov's dogs, the experiment does portray - at least in part - an important spiritual truth. The heavenly Father desires that His adopted children become so "conditioned" by life's adversities that each new trial will result in anticipation of a corresponding amount of God's grace to sustain and reward them. Those who willingly yield to the Master can find, in every distress, an opportunity to know the joy of receiving divine provision. The Rev.Dr.Arthur Fawcett was a wonderful man of God, He was also my Church History lecturer at the Bible Training Institute in Glasgow. As I read, and hear, of some of the atrocities committed against disciples of Jesus in more than fifty countries in the world today, I recall his words: "Martyr's grace for martyr's death". It is a simple fact that some of the most joy-filled believers are those who can say, with Paul, "... I bear on my body the marks of Jesus." (Gal.6:17).

Paul, who was no stranger to difficulties, also wrote: "... we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us." (Rom.5:3-5). In other words, if we wish to grow in Christian maturity, we should glory in tribulation, knowing that such endurance will result in a deeper confidence in God's love and wisdom. As is often pointed out, Jesus nowhere promises that our lives as His disciples will be all sweetness and light. Usually, the very opposite is true! However, He did promise: "I will never fail you nor forsake you." (Heb.13:5).

The hymn writer put it like this:

"Trials dark on every hand, 
and we cannot understand 
all the ways that God would lead us 
to that blessed promised land; 
but He guides us with his eye, 
and we'll follow till we die, 
for we'll understand it better by and by. 
Refrain: 
By and by, when the morning comes, 
when the saints of God are gathered home, 
we'll tell the story how we've overcome, 
for we'll understand it better by and by." (Charles Albert Tindley; "We'll understand it better by and by", v.3) 

May the pain of difficulty cause us to anticipate the Father's loving response to our every need, and situation - even if we don't understand it now. It's all part of the essence of faith!

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Gratitude - and blackmail!

The following is an e-mail sent out by Dr. Arieh Eldad an M.D. at Hadassah Hospital in Israel:

"I was instrumental in establishing the "Israeli National Skin Bank", which is the largest in the world. The National Skin Bank stores skin for every day needs as well as for war time or mass casualty situations.

This skin bank is hosted at the  hospital Hadassah Ein Kerem University i wherJerusaleme I was the Chairman of plastic surgery.

This is how I was asked to supply skin for an Arab woman from Gaza, who was hospitalized in Soroka Hospital in Beersheva, after her family burned her.

Usually, such atrocities happen among Arab families when the women are suspected of having an affair.

We supplied all the needed Homografts for her treatment. She was successfully treated by my friend and colleague, Prof. Lior Rosenberg and discharged to return to Gaza .

She was invited for regular follow-up visits to the outpatient clinic in Beersheva.

One day she was caught at a border crossing wearing a suicide belt.  She meant to explode herself in the outpatient clinic of the hospital where they saved her life.

It seems that her family promised her that if she did that, they would forgive her.

This is only one example of the war between Jews and Muslims in the Land of Israel.  It is not a territorial conflict. This is a civilizational conflict, or rather a war between civilization & barbarism.

Bibi (Netanyahu) gets it, Obama did not, but Trump does. I have never written before asking everyone to please forward onwards so that as many as possible can understand radical Islam and what awaits the world if it is not stopped.

Dr. Arieh Eldad"

So, in the allegedly "apartheid" Israel, this Gazan Arab woman received first-class treatment after having been treated so badly by her own family! She shows her gratitude by being prepared to die, as long as Jews died with her! Of course, one may give her the benefit of some doubt by saying that she was, effectively, blackmailed into this suicide bombing attempt. Perhaps she was caught because her heart wasn't really in the deed she was sent out to accomplish. However, it is also true that, had she successfully detonated those explosives that were strapped to her body, she would not have been able to enjoy the "forgiveness" of her family! Surely she must have realised that!

Please feel free to share this account. In a world in which anti-semitism is on the rise; in which the propaganda of the Arabs who occupy parts of Israel, and claim that it is their birthright as "Palestinians" (conveniently ignoring the fact that there has never been a nation of "Palestinians"); in which even the UN seeks to re-write history by denying any Jewish claim to the "Temple Mount" - when even that name gives the lie to their Arab-nation inspired stupidity; those of us who recognise the truth must not be backward in coming forward in support of the Children of Israel who, as Corrie ten Boom's father reminded her, are still "the apple of His eye"! (see Zech.2:8, inter al).

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Mything the boat!

No - the title is not intended to indicate that my keyboard has developed a lisp! I've taken it from an article I read, some time ago, that described the insidious manner in which some modern scholars pass off many of the Biblical records as unreliable legends, rather than accepting them as true historical accounts!

With a display of humour, the writer pointed out that, when it comes to the record of Noah, the worldwide flood, and the ark, such an unwarranted approach to the written Word of God is "mything the boat"! To be accurate, the word "myth" is being used, in these situations, in its modern, 'popular', sense of "untrue"; when it is originally a very precise word that means "a usually traditional story of apparently historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon."

Those modern (and some are not so modern!) critics of the Word are not concerned about the accuracy of certain passages, considering them to be of little significance. They discount them by referring to them as "myths" - using the word in its original definition. However, those who read their books, or listen to them speak, assume that these learnèd people are accepting that much of the Bible is false!

This, of course, discredits the Lord Jesus Himself, as He clearly accepted the Old Testament (the Tanakh) as a reliable document of people, places, and events! For example, He believed that Moses really lived (Matt.19:8; Mk.12:26; Lk.20:37, 24:44; Jn.3:14; inter al). He believed that Sodom and Gomorrah really existed (Mt.10:15). He believed that Jonah was actually swallowed by a great fish - the Bible nowhere states that it was a whale! (Mt.12:40-41; Lk.11:32; inter al). He believed that Noah built an ark that floated on the flood that covered the whole earth (Mt.24:38; Lk.17:26; inter al).

The Lord Jesus didn't "myth the boat" - and neither should we! One of the gravest consequences of minimising the historical accuracy of Biblical events is the risk of eliminating, in the process, the reality of God's redemptive work! If jesus did not literally die on the cross, and literally rise from the dead, then His Person and work are stripped of all meaning and significance. As Paul wrote to the disciples in Corinth: "I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, ... if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.  But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep." (I Cor.15:3-4; 14-20. emphases added)

Beware of those who would turn the truth of God's Word into fables! Whether it involves Noah, or the Lord Jesus, if you accept their teachings, you are "'mything' the boat"!

If you would like to look at some of these issues further, you will find a fund of information at https://answersingenesis.org   Well worth a look!