Tuesday, October 08, 2019
For A Season or Forever? John G Ridley (1959)
For A Season or Forever? John G Ridley (1959)
I am sure that most of you listening to me tonight will again that unprecedented scenes have been witnessed in Melbourne in the past few weeks. Surely never in the religious history of that great southern city or the flourishing state of Victoria or even the Commonwealth as a whole have such scenes of spiritual warmth and awakening been witnessed.
Vast multitudes from the country districts and other states have helped to swell the widening stream of human life flowing to the feet of God's messenger and present day prophet Billy Graham. Multitudes, multitudes have come to the valley of decision, for a season at least, the "old, old story" of the Gospel of Christ has claimed the land-lines in the homes of our nation. Some have been saved, sins forgiven, backsliders reclaimed, broken homes have been repaired, broken hearts have been bound up, broken lives have been renewed, broken hopes and vows restored while masses of indifferent men and women have been interrupted in their God-forgetful pathways and many have been forced for a season to consider Him who was crucified on the cross of shame "outside the city walls" to bring all expectant believing souls within the jasper walls of the Holy city of God at long last.
Thanks be to God for all that has happened and is happening and will happen via the Graham crusades in Australia. To God be the glory forever!
Perhaps an old Australian evangelist who is now on his way to minister to nearby men and women in India may help listeners in a brief follow up message from John 5:33-36.
Hearken to the words of our Lord who following hard on the heels of John the Baptist in the days of His earthly ministry.
33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.
John the Baptist was a "burning and shining light (lamp R.V.). he had arisen in the darkness of formal religion in Judaea, "as a witness to bear witness of the Light that all men through Him 9the Light) might believe."
John preached (like Billy) as a man on fire. John blazed out the Word of God, the Warnings of God and the Wooings of God in the power and the anointing of God.
The Word of god, then as now, ame clear cut and commanding. "Repent ye for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." "Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance."
Repent. Turn. Confess your sins. Seek forgiveness, pardon, cleansing, was John's testimony to the Word of God.
Then he mingled the Warnings of God with the word of repentance.
"Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire…. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
Beneath these grim words multitudes from Jerusalem and all Judaea and the region around about the Jordan flocked ot to the feet of the prophet. People Publicans, and soldiers hung on his words with cry "What shall we do?" Multitudes professed to believe and were baptised in Jordan confessing their sins. But one wonders if some of them failed to grasp:
The Wooings of God.
9 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.' 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel." 32 And John bore witness: "I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God." John 1.
He who lights the lamp, He who finds the fire, he who gives life and gives it more abundantly.
Why did I say "Some of them failed to grasp the wooing words?"
Because, months afterwards, when john was in prison, Jesus said :" He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. John 5:35
You revelled in the lamp; you warmed your hearts at the fire of the forerunner, but it was for a season, a while. Now when the true Light is here doing the works of His Father "you will not come to Me that you might have life!"
Let us take this word to heart tonight. Examine yourself: see if you are in the faith. See if you have passed from the bright burning and shining lamp of Billy Graham to the source of his glow and flow and fervour even to Him who is the true Light. "the Light of the World."
Examine yourself! Do this now, dear friend, and make sure work of your salvation.
Cast your burden on the Lord. Fix your faith in the Lamb of God who taketh away your sin with His own blood. Be sure of your ground of salvation Christ and Him alone.
A professing Christian was once brought right through to Christ when she told a noble evangelist now in glory "Well I am going to the Pack." "Well go," he said "but be sure you are born again first." That brought her to Christ.
None other Lamb,
None other Name,
None other hope in air or sky or sea.
None other hiding place from guilt and shame
None beside Thee!
Friday, October 04, 2019
John G Ridley Marriage
John G Ridley Marriage
A marriage day is an outstanding one: a red letter one, a memorable one. It is a day of days for the bride and bridegroom. For once at least all eyes are upon the in the car – in the street, in the church. Not only the eyes of the privileged guests, nut also the eyes of those passing by turn eagerly to catch a glimpse of the bride or the happy couple. Why so? Well marriage means so much for future life. How Much?
The Meaning of Marriage
It means the union of a man and woman for better for worse while life shall last.
I am told that the word "Marriage" comes from the French word, which has its roots in two Latin words which mean "to unite" "A mate". Hence it is the "unity of mateship."
Two streams unite in a valley or waters.
Patience and Prayer are needed to bring that unity.
Our Lord Jesus Christ who ever loved "unity" was called with His disciples to a marriage at Cana of Galilee and there performed His first miracle, revealing His unity with the Heavenly Father. That miracle reminds us of Ministry.
The Ministry of Marriage.
In one word the Ministry of Marriage is "Love."
When David sent for Abigail to be his wife, that worthy woman already wooed by David's brave and godly character, responded saying " behold let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord." She was ready to serve even the servants of David for love's sake. After all ministry and service are almost interchangeable. The greatest Minister of all once knelt down and washed the feet of His own disciples and so served them "for love's sake."
"Wilt Thou be the sinner's servant
Humble, loving Lord,
Wash my ways and all my converse,
Thought and deed and word?"
This will demand unselfishness. It is easy to do this at first, harder later.
Mark 10:45 "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto be to minister and to give His life as a ransom for sin."
Did our Lord do this, to teach His own followers the depth of His fathomless love and how they should seek to be the servants of each other?
If so there is a Mystery in this love.
The Mystery of Marriage
St. Paul in Ephesians 5:21 to 33 reveals this "great mystery" of marriage to mirror for us the marvel of his mighty love.
Charles Kingsley, a great lover, once wrote "I believe one never understands the blessed mystery of marriage till one has missed a sick wife, nor understands what treasures women are."
But St Paul surpasses Kingsley by saying "husbands love your wives even as Christ loved the church and gave Himself." Thus the apostle would illuminate "the love of a man for a maid" (which was "too wonderful for Agus in Proverbs 30:18,9) to impress upon all men the blessed and beautiful Bridegroom –love of Jesus Christ who gave himself at Calvary a ransom for his church which is His Bride for time and eternity.
Think my friends think again on mateship in its meaning , ministry in its servicea nd a Mirroring of the matchless love in the divine Bridegroom Jesus Christ.
"This is a great mystery but I speak concerning Christ and the Church. Nevertheless, let everyone of you in particular so love his wife, even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband."
The Expectancy of Marriage
Fore promising the future
Think of the Heavenly Home and marriage promises of the Lamb.
Strive to watch and prepare: " Let us rejoice and be glad for the marriage supper of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready."
Prepare for the Royal Wedding.
"God Bless these hands united
God Bless these hearts made one.
Unsevered and unblighted
May they through life go on.
Here in earth's home preparing
For that bright home above
And there forever sharing
Its joys where God is love."
Monday, September 30, 2019
5 E's of the Resurrection. Proof!
The Evidence Of The Resurrection Luke 24, 1 Corinthians 15
Luke 24 : 1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; 5 and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living One among the dead? 6 "He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, 7 saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again." 8 And they remembered His words, 9 and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. 11 But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he *saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened.
36 While they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst and *said to them, "Peace be to you." 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. 38 And He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 "See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." 40 And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" 42 They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; 43 and He took it and ate it before them. 44 Now He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 "You are witnesses of these things. 49 "And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."
1 Corinthians 15: 1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.
11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
12 Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. 15 Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. 20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.
The Sydney Morning Herald recently recorded the death of an extraordinary man. He was Sir Lionel Luckhoo. The Herald called him the "Perry Mason of the Caribbean." And that he was. He had 245 consecutive successful defences in murder cases. Even the fictional Perry Mason lost a case after seventy acquittals. The Guinness Book of Records lists Sir Lionel as the world's most successful advocate. Sir Lionel was a most humble man. You would not have guessed he was knighted twice by the Queen of England, successfully argued cases before the Privy Council and was at one stage Ambassador in England for two independent countries. However, Sir Lionel shared that in spite of all his fame, court success, power and wealth he felt empty inside. The older he got the more meaningless life appeared. He said, "I had no peace." Then at age 63 he heard about the resurrection of Jesus. He personally checked it out using his legal skills. He found that the message of Jesus' resurrection satisfied not only his heart but his mind. He at age 63 checked out the facts and declared, "I have spent more than forty-two years as a defence trial lawyer in many parts of the world. I say unequivocally the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that it compels acceptance by proof which leaves absolutely no room for doubt!" He gave his life to Jesus. He said the transformation was immediate. It's the resurrection and its evidential power that is a convincing convicting argument.
It was the New Testament argument in the book of Acts.
Acts 2: 23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24 "But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.
Acts 3: 14 "But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses. 26 "For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways."
Acts 4:8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers and elders of the people, 9 if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead--by this name this man stands here before you in good health.
Acts 5:29 But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men. 30 "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. 31 "He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 "And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him."
Acts 17: 18 And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, "What would this idle babbler wish to say?" Others, "He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,"--because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 30 "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead."
Do you notice that word Proof? The Lord has given irrefutable proof of the truth of Christianity to all men. The proof He offers is the proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. and this is proof adequate for all men. No matter how skeptical. No matter how ignorant. An examination of the resurrection is sufficient to convince any mind that He is the Christ, the Messiah. It does not mean that a person will be converted by this knowledge. The New birth only occurs when the Holy Spirit convicts a person of their sin and their need for a Saviour. But our minds can be convinced. Our hearts must be converted.
What's The Real Evidence for the Resurrection?
To establish the resurrection one must be able to prove two things. It's not complicated really. One must show Jesus was dead at point A—beyond resuscitation. Secondly it must be shown he was alive at point B—at a later date. If someone is dead then alive, the only reasonable inference is resurrection. And if that happened Jesus deserves to be worshipped as Lord, as he has defeated our universal enemy—death.
What is the case for Jesus being dead at point A? Well let's act as a jury and look at the evidence.
We have the eyewitness accounts in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John that are found in the New Testament. They clearly testify Jesus was crucified until dead. A spear was even thrust into his side bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. He was dead.
Some sceptics like Dan Brown in the Da Vinci Code say, "Look he just swooned death and was later revived and pretended he died". But can you imagine a man whipped to the point of death, as Jesus was, hanging on a cross with a spear thrust in his side, being able to jump around three days later convincing every he was 100% fit? Even the famous skeptic about Christian things David Strauss, admitted the old swoon theory is a greater miracle than the resurrection itself! Most liberal scholars invent the swoon theory because they will never accept any miracle – miracles aren't sophisticated enough for them – but yet they can't avoid the empty tomb. Their conclusions for a lawyer are biased and ridiculous.
And the Gospels that record the death of Jesus are most reliable. The former Chief Justice of New South Wales, Sir Leslie Herron stated, "Let any objective reader put side by side the four Gospels and he will be struck, as any Judge accustomed to evaluate evidence is always struck, with one outstanding fact. It is this: that while they may be a great variety of detail or form of expression or narration of or emphasis put on occurrences, underneath it all, the substance and the weight of the narration are true." Sir Leslie was one who really knew what reliable evidence was.
The New Testament gospels document that Jesus was dead. But of course there is other historical evidence that Jesus was dead at point A. The Jewish historian Josephus affirms his death as does the Roman Tacitus who states Jesus was put to death by Pontius Pilate.
Alive at point B
What is the evidence for Jesus being alive at Point B.
5 E's to remember:
You can use these 5'es with your family and friends at Easter.
You can use these 5 E's in sharing with others at any time. The disciples didn't wait for Easter to share this each day. The book of Acts tells us that the resurrection of Jesus was a key part of sharing the gospel.
Paul tells us here in 1 Corinthians 15 that the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is a key part of the gospel itself. Listen to how the Apostle Paul shared the news in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, verses 3–5. These few verses all agree, even sceptics, was a creed the first Christians shared when they meet. Paul said "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve."
THE EMPTY TOMB
To secure the body, a Roman guard was placed outside the tomb. Such a guard would have consisted of 16 soldiers, with a disciplined rotation for sleeping at night (every four hours, four would switch). The guards all faced the rigid Roman penalty of crucifixion if they slept outside of the assigned shift or deserted their post. The idea that all guards were asleep, considering the death penalty, is especially unreasonable.
To further ensure safekeeping, a two-ton stone was rolled in front of the tomb with Pontius Pilate's seal on it. Breaking the seal without the official Roman guard's approval meant crucifixion upside down.
The central issue -- unexplainable by Jewish leaders, especially in light of the many precautions -- is:
What Happened To Jesus Corpse If He Did Not Rise From The Dead As Indicated In the Gospel Accounts?
The official explanation is that the disciples stole the body while the guards were asleep (with the priests protecting the guards from the governor). This story was necessary only because no one could produce a dead body of Jesus, which would have stopped the resurrection story forever. Is a theft of Jesus body even remotely possible given that:
All 16 guards would have had to risk the penalty of crucifixion by sleeping while on duty or deserting. Surely at least one guard would be awake.
The disciples were in a state of shock, fear, and disarray, having seen their Master crucified. Is it reasonable to think they quickly created a brilliant plan and flawlessly executed it on the Sabbath day of rest?
What possible motive could the disciples have? If Jesus was not the Son of God as He claimed, stealing the body would create a lie with no apparent benefit, and death for no purpose for the disciples.
If Jesus was not dead, what are the chances that a barely living person could move a two-ton rock from the inside of a tomb and escape a full Roman guard unnoticed?
Was the body stolen at night? Recognizing that no flashlights nor infrared sensors were available then, is it likely that a band of scared disciples carrying torches could bypass a full Roman guard, move a two-ton rock, and not be noticed? Furthermore, the Sabbath greatly limited movement. And again, for what motive?
The Jews and Romans had no motive to steal the body. Christ's apostles were too cowardly and would have had to overcome the Roman guards. The women who found the tomb empty had earlier watched Jesus being laid away; they knew where the correct tomb was. Even if they had gone to the wrong tomb, the Sanhedrin could have produced the body from the right tomb to stop the resurrection stories. Jesus' burial cloths were left neatly folded inside, hardly the act of hurrying grave robbers. Angels said Jesus had risen from the dead.
THE EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY
A large crowd of more than 500 eyewitnesses saw the risen Jesus Christ at the same time. The Apostle Paul records this event in 1 Corinthians 15:6. He states that most of these men and women were still alive when he wrote this letter, about 55 A.D. Undoubtedly they told others about this miracle. Today, psychologists say it would be impossible for a large crowd of people to have had the same hallucination at once. Smaller groups also saw the risen Christ, such as the apostles, and Cleopas and his companion. They all saw the same thing, and in the case of the apostles, they touched Jesus and watched him eat food. The hallucination theory is further debunked because after the ascension of Jesus into heaven, sightings of him stopped.
Well we have the direct eyewitness accounts of the disciples and others recoded for us in the reliable Gospel accounts. And as Clarrie Briese, former Chief Magistrate of New South Wales says these testimonies have a real ring of truth to them. He says, they tell the story "warts and all". He further states "the witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus Christ are witnesses of the highest credibility."
The Apostle Paul also goes on to list there were over five hundred witnesses (1 Corinthians chapter 15). He records a superb witness list to the fact of resurrection, that included people who were initially sceptical but saw the risen Christ and then believed. He is saying to the reader, here are names, check it out.
Eyewitnesses to the Truth Died to Tell the Story
Martyrdom for a belief is not unique. But what kind of person would die for a known lie? Someone insane? Would all the disciples face hardship and death for a known lie? The disciples were with Jesus constantly for three years. They would certainly know the truth of the resurrection. Lying would serve no purpose since Jesus' ministry would then be moot. Yet historical record and reports about the disciples indicated they all died cruel deaths for their beliefs (except John). James was stoned, Peter was crucified upside down, Paul was beheaded, Thaddaeus was killed with arrows, Matthew and James (Zebedee) faced sword deaths and other believers were crucified.
The women eyewitnesses are further proof that the Gospels are accurate historical records.
Luke records Luke 24:10 Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. 11 But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened.
If the accounts had been made up, no ancient author would have used women for witnesses to Christ's resurrection. Women were second-class citizens in Bible times; their testimony was not even allowed in court. Yet the Bible says the risen Christ first appeared to Mary Magdalene and the other women. Even the apostles did not believe Mary when she told them the tomb was empty. Jesus, who always had special respect for these women, honoured them as the first eyewitnesses to his resurrection. The male Gospel writers had no choice but to report this embarrassing act of God's favour because that was how it happened.
THE EXISTENCE OF AN ENERGISED CHURCH
After the crucifixion, Jesus' apostles hid behind locked doors, terrified they would be executed next. But something changed them from cowards to bold preachers. Anyone who understands human character knows people do not change that much without some major influence. That influence was seeing their Master, bodily risen from the dead. Christ appeared to them in the locked room, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and on the Mount of Olives. After seeing Jesus alive, Peter and the others left the locked room and preached the risen Christ, unafraid of what would happen to them. They quit hiding because they knew the truth. They finally understood that Jesus is God incarnate, who saves people from sin.
Apart from the eyewitness accounts there is circumstantial evidence. For example, no one ever produced Jesus' body to refute the claim. The Romans certainly didn't want any rumours out there about this crucified Jesus being a resurrected Messiah and Lord. But no one produced the body to kill the story. Also why would the Jewish followers of Jesus change their day of worship from the sacred Saturday Sabbath to Sunday unless they truly believed he was risen? The tomb was empty.
And look at the impact the message He is Risen has had on our society. Lord Hailsham, one of the most significant lawyers of our age stated, "Our whole system of education, public or private, our network of hospitals, our social security system itself, have each a clear origin in this Christian foundation. The tomb was empty, Jesus is alive!
A converted cannibal was sitting by the fire cooking and reading his Bible when an anthropologist walked by and said "Modern man has rejected that book. It is a pack of lies and you shouldn't waste your time reading it. The cannibal looked him over from head to toe and said, "If it wasn't for this book, you'd be on that fire."
The conversion of Paul records the most drastically changed life in the Bible. As Saul of Tarsus, he was an aggressive persecutor of the early church. When the risen Christ appeared to Paul on the Damascus Road, Paul became Christianity's most determined missionary. He endured five floggings, three beatings, three shipwrecks, a stoning, poverty, and years of ridicule. Finally, the Roman emperor Nero had Paul beheaded because the apostle refused to deny his faith in Jesus. What could make a person willingly accept—even welcome—such hardships? Christians believe the conversion of Paul came about because he encountered Jesus Christ who had risen from the dead.
THE EVIDENCE OF EXPERIENCE
Paul noted that ; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.
Paul, a leading executor of Christians, gave up wealth, power, and comfort upon seeing the resurrected Christ, then wrote most of the New Testament. Two Sanhedrin members (not present when the Sanhedrin sentenced Jesus to death) were secret disciples. Unbelieving natural brothers of Jesus later became believers after the resurrection.
We can join with millions of people saying Christ is Risen—He is Risen indeed! The ultimate proof we have of this is that when we put our trust in Jesus he comes into our lives. He transforms us and walks with us. We discover it is true that God loves us so much that he sent his only Son into the world to die for us. To God we are significant. Underneath Rome lie some 900 miles of carved caves where over seven million Christians, executed for their beliefs, were buried. Other believers hid and worshiped in these caves during the height of Christian persecution. The earliest known inscriptions in the walls were dated A.D. 70. Some early occupants probably communicated directly with eyewitnesses of Jesus. Since about A.D. 400, the Catacombs were buried and "forgotten" for over 1000 years. In 1578 they were rediscovered by accident. Today they can be seen as silent memorials to many who died rather than curse Jesus or bow down to an emperor's statue. Christian martyrs differed greatly from other world martyrs in that historical facts were the foundation of their beliefs -- facts verifiable at the time -- not just ideas
THE EVIDENCE OF EVALUATION
The Lord Jesus Christ asked His disciples gathered in that upper room to evaluate the events they had seen of His resurrection against the Old Testament scriptures: Luke 24: 44 Now He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled."
The Lord Jesus expected them to look at these scriptures, and at the events that had unfolded before their eyes and evaluate that He is most certainly the Christ, the Messiah promised from the day of the Fall in the Garden of Eden, promised in the Psalms (Psalm 16, Psalm 22), promised in the Prophets (Isaiah 53 and throughout Isaiah, Jeremiah 31), promised in the Mosaic Law as the prophet to follow Moses. The disciples were to evaluate this. And commit themselves to Him who is their Saviour. You are asked to make that same Evaluation. Is Jesus risen? Yes! Is He the Messiah promised in the Scriptures? Yes! You are called upon to commit yourself to this same Messiah, this same Saviour, this same Lord. Will you do that today?
As the hymn writer wrote, "Thine is the glory, Risen conquering Son, endless is the victory Thou o'er death has won. Jesus meets us, Risen from the tomb, longingly he greets us, scatters fear and doom." Our hope is the truth He is Risen.
Sir Lionel Luckhoo said of his commitment to the risen Christ, "From that day my life changed. My life took a 180-degree change. I found real peace and happiness and joy." If we want forgiveness and power for living it's truly found in the crucified and risen Christ.
You can find Pardon for your past.
54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
You can find Promise for Your Future
You can find Power for Your Present
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
Friday, September 27, 2019
Ecclesiastes 11 Habits For A Happy Life
Ecclesiastes 11 Habits For A Happy Life
Perhaps the greatest folly of life is to think it is predictable. THEY RECKON IT'S A DOGS LIFE, don't they. I'm never quite sure what that expression means. But if you're anything like the Russian pooch that was out for a walk one day back in the 1890s, you've got reason to complain. The poor unsuspecting pup was minding his own business when he was hit by a falling meteorite. And killed instantly. Life can be very unpredictable, can't it. Someone has said: "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." James 4:13 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
Sometimes even the most optimistic lose heart. We feel we are ineffective. We see our sins and failures. We see difficult obstructions. Even when we do not know how God will use our work to advance his kingdom, we should continue to pray, continue to serve, and continue to hope, "knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:58). The Preacher takes this perspective in Ecclesiastes 11, where he tells us to live boldly, not letting the uncertainties of life hold us back from taking risks by faith for the glory of God. The better part of spiritual wisdom is not caution but courage through Christ.
You win some, and you lose some. And you never quite know which is going to be which. You never quite know which way the worm's going to turn. Life in the world we live in is an unpredictable thing. Well what ought to be our attitude to such a life? Should we be bitter? Should we be negative? Should we be distraught? What should be our attitude to life? William Glasser ( the world renowned psychologist, author of the reality Therapy and choice Therapy schools of psychology), said on the Today Show a couple of years ago that there are seven habits for unhappy people: criticizing, blaming, complaining, nagging, threatening, punishing and rewarding to control.
He said that we have a choice about how we face life, and if we utilise these habits, we'll become very unhappy people with mental illnesses. Well I don't know about all that Glasser thinks, but, Solomon here in chapter 11 has something to say about the way you view life, and the effect of your viewpoint. The way you view life will affect whether the uncontrollable events of your life make you bitter or better.
In Galatians 6:7-10 the apostle Paul tells us we reap what we sow.
7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
You have a choice about how you face life. If you take a self-centred attitude towards life, you are going to reap a very isolated lifestyle; people will avoid you as a cold and hostile person.
In the movie, As Good As It Gets, the lead character, Melvin Udall, portrayed by Jack Nicholson, is choosing to obsess and compulse to deal with what is so obvious from the beginning of the film: he has no satisfying close relationships at all. To cope with the pain of his disconnected life, Melvin is choosing an assortment of obsessive and compulsive behaviours that are an inadequate attempt to restrain the anger that he immediately feels whenever he has to deal with people he finds frustrating. When the movie begins we find him angry at almost everyone around him. He also appears unaware of how severe his anger is and how much of a danger it is both to himself and to others. But he isn't unaware. He knows exactly what he's doing. He is a particularly nasty man who verbally abuses most of the people he encounters. Karen (Helen Hunt) knows a lot about Melvin. She is "his" waitress in a restaurant near his apartment where he eats every day and where he is both obnoxious and weird anytime he is frustrated. For example, Melvin brings his own sterilized plastic tableware; he won't use the knife, fork, and spoon the restaurant provides. And he insults anyone who is sitting at "his" table when he comes into the restaurant to eat. He doesn't seem to care about the awful scenes he creates. This self preoccupied attitude always leads to unhappiness. Who wants to be around a grouch? Who wants to live with a self obsessed person? Sowing such selfish behaviour reaps the fruit of isolation.
I. "SPREAD YOUR BREAD" (1-2).
1 Cast your bread upon the waters, For you will find it after many days. 2 Give a serving to seven, and also to eight, For you do not know what evil will be on the earth.
What does this phrase mean? This phrase, "Cast your bread upon the waters," was a proverb in Israel for what looked like wasteful expenditure. No one would take good bread and throw it in the river; he would be regarded as a wastrel for doing that. But here we are enjoined to do that very thing. This is not encouraging us to be spendthrifts, to thoughtlessly and carelessly give away our money, spending it like a drunken sailor. What is meant is, be willing to take a chance where a real need is evident. When you see people in need, though you do not know how they are going to use your money -- it may not be apparent that they will even use it wisely -- nevertheless, be generous; that is what he is saying. "Cast your bread on the waters," for in the wisdom and purpose of God it may very well return to you some day when you are in need of help. I could relate several stories of people who helped strangers, although they had no idea that their help was even going to be used properly; then at some later time when they found themselves in serious trouble, that person or that deed reappeared in such a way as to help them in their time of need. It could also be referring to a business idea—shipping grain was very profitable, but fraught with risks. This idea of casting your bread on the waters was the idea of sending your produce to an overseas market where you may never see the benefit for a long time, if ever, due to the risks involved in seafaring trade. It has the idea of a generosity of heart "Give a portion to seven or even to eight," was a way of saying, "Give to as many as you can, and then some." Be generous people.
A. We Cast Our Bread Through Our Works Gal 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all [men], especially unto them who are of the household of faith. we do it through our goods deeds and our kindness toward others. Notice John Wesley's Rule for Christian Living Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever... You can!
B.-We Cast Our Bread Through our Witnessing: Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper [in the thing] whereto I sent it.
Dr. John MacArthur has noted that some Christians are like the Arctic River, frozen over at the mouth -- they just don't say anything. We shouldn't be like that but we should talk to someone about Jesus every day of our life. Bishop Taylor Smith had a Christlike passion for soul winning. He was taken ill in San Francisco and ordered to the hospital, where, not long after, he died. One day Dr. Philpott and a friend visited him before his home-going. It was eleven o'clock at night, but as they reached his door and looked in they saw a nurse kneeling beside his bed and the Bishop had his hands on her head praying for her. They felt they could not intrude. Finally the nurse came out in tears and said, "That dear old man! I am the third nurse he has led to Christ today."
C. We Cast Our Bread Through Our Wealth: Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. I am so unbelievably grateful to someone in this building today. You have done this for us. I am overwhelmingly grateful. Beyond words.
Martin Luther astutely observed, "There are three conversions necessary: the conversion of the heart, mind and the purse." Of these three, it may well be that we moderns find the conversion of the purse the most difficult. But we all need to give, for all of us cant preach, or sing, or teach but through our gifts we can make it possible for others to do so.
Martin Luther said, "Be generous to everyone while you can, use your riches wherever you can possibly do any good."
Some one has said, there are three kinds of givers -- the flint, the sponge and the honeycomb. To get anything out of a flint you must hammer it. And then you get only chips and sparks. To get water out of a sponge you must squeeze it, and the more you use pressure, the more you will get. But the honeycomb just overflows with its own sweetness. Which kind of giver are you?
A hiker was thirsty for a drink, but could not find water, until he came to an abandoned house. There he found a pump, and proceeded to pump with all the strength he had remaining. No water came forth. Then he saw a small jug with a cork at the top and a pencilled note, directing that the water in the jug be poured into the pump to prime it. At first the thirsty man questioned this, but when he followed directions he obtained satisfying water. Before going his way, he filled the jug with water so the next thirsty person could secure water. He added to the note, "Believe me, it really works. You have to give it all away before you can get anything back." "he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully" (2 Cor. 9:6).
II. STOW YOUR FEARS (3-4).
3 If the clouds are full of rain, They empty themselves upon the earth; And if a tree falls to the south or the north, In the place where the tree falls, there it shall lie. 4 He who observes the wind will not sow, And he who regards the clouds will not reap.
Solomon is making a statement about the Sovereignty of God. He's saying that you and I may not understand the Sovereignty of God, we may not understand why a tree falls this way or that, or why it rains one time and not the next. Life is unpredictable. And that can make us fearful. We don't know whether its going to rain or flood. And because we don't know, there is no sense in us sitting around anxiously bemoaning this. We need to get on. Fear about the future and the unpredictability of life can result in emotional paralysis--you never do anything! The single person who gets heart broken may never go out on a date again. The person who loses their job may never get out to look for another job because they are fearful of rejection. Such fear can be deadly. Karl Wallenda was a famous tightrope, high-wire walker. So was his whole family. Thrived on danger and risk. Once said: "Being on the tightrope is living and everything else is waiting." In 1978 Wallenda fell to his death from a 75 foot wire in San Juan, P.R. His wife, also an aerialist, later talked about that final performance: "All Karl thought about for three straight months prior to it was falling. It was the first time he'd ever thought about that, and it seemed to me that he put all his energies into not falling rather than walking the tightrope."
Solomon's advice is stow your dears. Have done with letting them dominate your life. There is no sense in it. The Lord Jesus said similarly: Matt 6:27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? Such worry is just plain unprofitable and unhelpful.
A farmer once asked his neighbor if he could borrow a rope. "Sorry," the neighbor said, "I'm using my rope to tie up my milk" "Rope can't tie up milk!" "I know," said the neighbor, "but when a man doesn't want to do something, one reason is as good as another". What lies are you telling yourself? What excuses are you making?
Nevertheless, the Preacher says, you will never reap if you never sow!
Rather than watching the wind and the clouds, imagining all the difficulties and waiting for better circumstances, we should try and do what we can with whatever God has given us in life. Pursue the dream you believe that God has given for your calling in life. Get involved in ministry. Show mercy to someone in need. Start a friendship with a neighbor, and pray that God will use that relationship to lead your neighbor to Christ.
Do not hold back because of fear, but step out by faith — not faith that your own efforts will succeed, necessarily, but faith that God will take what you offer and use it in some way for his glory. But whatever you do, do not use the sovereignty of God or the uncertain difficulties of life as an excuse for not doing anything at all. "If there are risks in everything," Derek Kidner writes, "it is better to fail in launching out than in hugging one's resources to oneself."
III. REST YOUR FAITH (5-6).
5 As you do not know what is the way of the wind, Or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, So you do not know the works of God who makes everything. 6 In the morning sow your seed, And in the evening do not withhold your hand; For you do not know which will prosper, Either this or that, Or whether both alike will be good.
There is much about God that we do not know. Life has many variables, which demonstrates that God has the final say. I noticed something Thursday I'd never noticed before. Why does a rose have thorns? If you believed in evolution you'd say that it chose to develop thorns to protect itself from people. What ROT! A rose cannot design itself. But there is the handiwork of a Designer there. God has placed with the exquisite beauty of the rose the reminder that in all the aspects of life which we face, there is beauty, and there is pain. Yes all our joys are mixed with pain, and our pains with joy. We are not to delight overly in the beauties of this earth, so as to forget the Creator who made it, and the heaven that is to come. And the pains all have their mixture of joys in them so that we will not despair and lose hope.
Do the best you can and leave the outcome to God (6). In the popular movie, Forest Gump, the movie begins and end with a feather, seemingly floating randomly in the end. It only appears to be random, because it lands at Gump's foot. At the end of the movie the feather reappears. One of the characters voices a question that went something like this: "Do things happen simply by chance or is there some kind of destiny at work in it all?" The answer that came back was, "Both."
You cannot know God's purposes in life or the entirety of His plan for your life, but you can know God, and trust Him with it all. The Lord Jesus said, Matt 6:28 So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 "For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
"you never know," but it is equally true that "you will never reap if you never sow." So work hard for the kingdom of God. Live boldly and creatively. Try something new! Be a spiritual entrepreneur. Even if you are not completely sure what will work, try everything you can to serve Christ in a world that desperately needs the gospel.
IV TUNE YOUR HEART
Tune Your Heart By Rejoicing (7-9)
7 Truly the light is sweet, And it is pleasant for the eyes to behold the sun; 8 But if a man lives many years And rejoices in them all, Yet let him remember the days of darkness, For they will be many. All that is coming is vanity. 9 Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; Walk in the ways of your heart, And in the sight of your eyes;
Tune Your heart By Rejoicing
The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks this question, "What is the chief end of man?" The answer? "Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever." You wouldn't know it by looking around, would you? It seems to me that many Christians just endure life rather than really enjoy it. For many there is relatively little laughter, only occasional excitement, and almost no ecstasy. It doesn't have to be that way. Jesus said, "I have come that they might have life and might have it to the full" (John 10:10b). I assume He meant that.
At the end of this remarkable treatise, the wisest man who ever lived urges us to really live it up, to go for it, and to delight in being alive but without losing our perspective. Three key commands are found in our text: rejoice, remove, and remember. Together they provide a desperately needed balance, for there are many who go for the gusto but fail to pay attention to the consequences. On the other hand, others are so serious about life, or so overwhelmed by it, that they have no idea how to enjoy it. Watch for these three commands as we read from 11:7 to 12:1.
Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun.
So if a person lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity. Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.
This common theme of Solomon's reminds me of a little story I found about Monastery Life. A young monk arrives at the monastery. He is assigned to helping the other monks in copying old church manuscripts by hand. He notices, however, that all of the monks are copying from copies, not from the original. So, the new monk goes to the head abbot to question this, pointing out that if someone made even a small error in an earlier copy, it would never be corrected! In fact, that error would be continued in all of the subsequent copies.
The head monk, says, "We have been copying from copies for centuries, but you make a good point, my son." He goes down into the dark caves underneath the monastery where the original manuscripts are held as archives in a locked vault that hasn't been opened for hundreds of years. Hours go by and nobody sees the old abbot. So, the young monk gets worried and goes down to look for him. He sees him banging his head against the wall and wailing, "We missed the 'R'! We missed the 'R'! His forehead is all bloody and bruised and he is crying uncontrollably. The young monk asks the old abbot, "What's wrong, father?" With a choking voice, the old abbot replies, "The word was . . . CELEBRATE!!!"
Actually there are a lot of Christians who have missed the R. They have forgotten to celebrate; they have missed the joy in life. But while the Teacher has frequently urged us to rejoice, he hasn't tried to hide the truth that life is tough. He's been brutally honest about the vanity, meaninglessness, and inequity that is all around us. But, he says, even though life is not easy or understandable, it is worth living.
And to keep life balanced we must REJOICE!! We need to live life fully every day. In the movie Braveheart, William Wallace (as portrayed by Mel Gibson) said, "Every man dies but not every man really lives." How true that is!
"Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth." Happiness is a choice, even for young people. "Now is the very best time of your life, so capitalize on it."
I suppose the author would be mocking young people by telling them to be happy if he didn't also tell them how to make that happen. But in fact, he offers some profound advice: "Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes." The NASB makes it even clearer: "Follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes." Take some risks. Go places! Build some great stories! Go on mission trips!! Go help someone overseas!!
Out near Bourke on the road to Pera Bore there was a sign on that old dirt road : "Choose your rut carefully; you'll be in it for the next 30 kilometres." Choose carefully.
And the Westminster Shorter Catechism wisely goes on to ask, "What rule has God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him?" But notice that Scripture contains the "rule" for enjoying God as well as glorifying Him. We know it abounds in instructions for glorifying Him, but how does it instruct us to "enjoy Him"? Enjoying God is a command, not an optional extra: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice" (Philippians 4:4). But how? We cannot "rejoice to order," can we? True. Yet, Scripture shows that well-instructed believers develop a determination to rejoice. They will rejoice in the Lord. Habakkuk exemplified this in difficult days (see Habakuk 3:17-18). He exercised what our forefathers called "acting faith" – a vigorous determination to experience whatever the Lord commands, including joy, and to use the God–given means to do so. Here are four of these means—in which, it should be noted, we also glorify God.
Joy in Salvation
Enjoying God means relishing the salvation He gives us in Jesus Christ. "I will take joy in the God of my salvation" (Habakuk 3:18). God takes joy in our salvation (Luke 15:6-7, 9-10, 32). So should we. Here, Ephesians 1:3-14 provides a masterly delineation of this salvation in Christ. It is a gospel bath in which we should often luxuriate, rungs on a ladder we should frequently climb in order to experience the joy of the Lord as our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). While we are commanded to have joy, the resources to do so are outside of ourselves, known only through union with Christ. Therefore repent and receive Christ as your Saviour or spend eternity in the Lake of Fire!Forever
Joy in Revelation
Joy issues from devouring inscripturated revelation. Psalm 119 bears repeated witness to this. The psalmist "delights" in God's testimonies "as much as in all riches" (Psalm 119:14; see also vv. 35, 47, 70, 77, 103, 162, 174). Think of Jesus' words, "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full" (John 15:11). Does He mean He will find His joy in us so that our joy may be full or that His joy will be in us so that our joy may be full? Both, surely, are true. We find full joy in the Lord only when we know He finds His joy in us. The pathway to joy, then, is to give ourselves maximum exposure to His Word and to let it dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16). It is joy-food for the joy-hungry soul.
Joy in Communion
There is joy in the Lord to be tasted in the worship we enjoy in church communion. The church is the new Jerusalem, the city that cannot be hidden, the joy of the whole earth (Psalm 48:2). In the Spirit-led communion of praise and petition; soul pastoring; Word preaching; psalm, hymn and wine receiving, abundant joy is to be found. The Lord sings over us with joy (Zephaniah 3:17). Our hearts sing for joy in return.
Joy in Tribulation
Here, indeed, is a divine paradox. There is joy to be known in the midst of and through affliction. Viewed biblically, tribulation is the Father's chastising hand, using life's pain and darkness to mold us into the image of the One who endured for the sake of the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:1-2, 5-11; see Romans 8:29). We exult and rejoice in our sufferings, Paul says, because "suffering produces... hope" in us (Romans 5:3-4). Peter and James echo the same principle (I Peter 1:3-8; James 1:2-4). The knowledge of the sure hand of God in providence not only brings stability; it is also a joy-producer.
All of this adds up to exultation in God Himself. In Romans 5:1-11, Paul leads us from rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God (v.2) to joy that comes in tribulation (v.3) to exulting in God Himself (v. 11; see Psalm 43:4). The unbeliever finds this incredible because he has been blinded by the joy-depriving lie of Satan that to glorify God is the high road to joylessness. Thankfully, Christ reveals that the reverse takes place in Him – because of our salvation, through His revelation, in worship's blessed communion, and by means of tribulation. Enjoy! Yes, indeed, may "everlasting joy... be upon [your] heads" (Isaiah 51:11).
"But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment." Solomon is aware that youth is also a time of heavy peer pressure, and increasingly a time of great temptation, and so he stresses that he is not giving carte blanche to party hearty, to run wild. We are to rejoice but to rejoice responsibly. We are to live it up but not mess up!
TUNE YOUR HEART BY REMOVING VEXATION (9,10)
But know that for all these God will bring you into judgment. 10 Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, And put away evil from your flesh, For childhood and youth are vanity.
Solomon says, "Enjoy life passionately, but keep your eyes on the big picture – on heaven above"
Eccl 11:10 So, remove grief and anger from your heart and put away pain from your body, because childhood and the prime of life are fleeting. NASU Eccl 11:10 So, remove vexation from your heart NAS RSV
Eccl 11:10 So then, banish anxiety from your heart NIV
This is a word that combines the thoughts of anger and resentment. This is one of the great problems with youth. Young people tend to be angry and resentful when things do not go the way they like. God is warning them not to be trapped by that. ." Do not let it gnaw away at your spirit and thus find yourself an angry young man, a resentful young woman, not liking what God has given you or where he has put you.
Remove (11:10) Here in verse 10 Solomon instructs us to take care of our mental and physical health.
Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.
Refuse to allow worry to eat you alive. The world is full of professional worriers. Solomon says, "Don't sweat the small stuff.
Don't inflict unnecessary pain on yourself. "for youth and the dawn of life are vanity," meaning they are elusive and ephemeral. One day we are young and vigorous, and then suddenly those days are gone–for good!
So why let a bitter old man consume your life for you?
How do you get a good perspective on life that will carry you through? Do you take the attitude to life of Melvin Udall in As Good As It Gets? Where nothing is worthwhile?
TUNE YOUR HEART BY REMEMBERING Remember (12:1-7)
THERE'S JUST ONE THING YOU'VE GOT TO REMEMBER Enjoy it. But know that for everything you do, YOU'RE ACCOUNTABLE TO YOUR MAKER. You're going to be JUDGED BY GOD. Treat God as God. Because death isn't the end at all. And one day, everything you've ever said or done or thought, every hidden thing, it's going to be brought to light. It's going to be brought to judgement. We've seen it already, haven't we, how living now, living on this other side of Jesus, we can actually see things a whole lot clearer than King Solomon. He wrote Ecclesiastes hundreds of years before Christ. He knew death's not the end. He knew there was going to be judgement. Gods judgement puts life into perspective. God's judgement says WHAT YOU DO COUNTS. God's judgement says in the face of a seemingly unjust and unpredictable world, IT'S ALL GOING TO ADD UP; it's all going to balance. And the cross says to us, in the face of that judgement, in the face of all that - you can stand before God forgiven. I want you to listen carefully to these words from the New Testament, it's from Hebrews 9:27. And it says exactly that. "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him."
Remember what? Remember your Creator. That means to take Him into consideration, to trust Him. Please note how crucial the time factor is in our passage. "Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before. . ."; again in verse 2, "before", again in verse 6, "before."
Remember God Before regrets mount up (12:1). The first verse of chapter 12 reads, "Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, 'I have no pleasure in them.'"
Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, "I have no pleasure in them"; before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain,
Remember God . . . Before old age sets in (12:2-5).
As William Glasser says, "It's Your Choice!"
Tuesday, September 24, 2019
The Coming Of The Lord Jesus
1 Thessalonians 5: 1-11; 2 Thessalonians 1: 6-12; 2: 1-17
But the coming of the Lord into the air to remove all His saints will issue in a most terrible and solemn time for the world, for the unbeliever, for there will then break upon the world a period of great distress, suffering and warfare. This fearful and dark time is called the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21-22, 29-30; Mark 13:24; Revelation 7:14); "the day of the Lord" (Isaiah 13:9; Joel 2:1; Amos 5:18,20; Zephaniah 1:14-18; 2 Thessalonians 2:2; Revelation 6:12-17). It will be the darkest period of the world's history, in comparison with which the cruelties of the Assyrians, the fearful sieges of Jerusalem, the tortures of the Inquisition, the campaigns of Napoleon, the bloodshed of two World Wars, and the atrocities perpetrated under the Nazi regime will fade into insignificance. It will be the darkest night for the day of the Lord! culminates in the fearful battle of Armageddon and the Great Tribulation has run its course, the Lord will return to set up His glorious kingdom!
1. The coming of the Lord FOR His Saints
This is described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (as we saw in our last study), but in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 Paul has more to say.
(1) What will it mean to the unsaved?
It will be a time of surprise and alarm; in verse 2 we are told that the Lord is coming "like a thief in the night" - suddenly and unannounced. See also what verse 3 tells us! We hear much talk today of "peace and safety", but it is at such a time as this that there will be great sorrow for the unsaved.
There will be absolutely no escape (verse 3) - every Christian will have been removed from the earth; just as in Noah's day those who were outside the ark remained outside (God had shut the door), so when the Lord comes, those who do not belong to Him will be left behind (Genesis 7:16).
(2) What will the coming of Christ FOR His Saints mean to the Saved?
He may come at any moment (verses 2,4,5). If He comes as a thief, unannounced, it means that we cannot fix the date (Matthew 24:36); but we are prepared when He does come, as verses 4, 5 and 8 remind us.
The believer has an escape (verses 9-10). As we think of the dark days ahead for this world and for the unsaved, we may thank God that a way of escape has been made (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
2. The coming of the Lord WITH His Saints.
In 2 Thessalonians 1:6-12 we read of the time when Christ will return with His people in judgment to set up His earthly kingdom and millennial reign.
(1) What will it mean for the unsaved?
The Lord will come in mighty power (verses 7-8). At His first coming He came in weakness, was cast out, mocked and crucified; how different it will be when He comes in glory (Matthew 25:31).
He will come in judgment (verse 8). Remember that this is God's revealed truth of what is going to happen at some not very distant future time.
He will come to punish and banish those who do not belong to Him (verse 9). Think about these solemn words prayerfully and compare Matthew 25:46.
(2) What will it mean for the saved?
The adjustment of all injustices (verse 6). The wicked seem to prosper and get away with it, but look up Psalm 73:12 and 17.
The Lord will be glorified in His saints (verse 10). When we return with the Lord we shall be a spectacle to the whole world of what the grace of God has brought about in us!
Those who have won souls to Christ will rejoice (verse 10). This is surely indicated here - look up and compare 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20.
3. Happenings on the earth prior to the coming of the Lord.
(1) The Holy Spirit will be removed from the earth (verse 7). He is at present resident within the Church and lives in all believers, and is here in the world to restrain sin and evil.
(2) The Antichrist will be revealed and will reign on the earth. He cannot be revealed until the Holy Spirit is taken away, but once He has been removed this fearful, powerful and sinister figure - a great statesman and a religious leader, but a deceiver - will be energised by Satan, and will be the Devil's counterfeit of Christ (see 2 Thessalonians 2:3-5, 8-12). These will be dark days indeed!
Finally, what should be our attitude as we await these events?
(1) We are to rejoice that we are the Lord's (verse 13).
(2) We are to look forward when we shall be with Christ (verse 14; 2 Timothy 2:12).
(3) We are to stand fast (verse 15). We must not be disturbed as conditions worsen - look up 1 Corinthians 15:58.
(4) We are to comfort and encourage ourselves in the Lord (verses 16-17).
(5) We are to "rescue the perishing". 2 Corinthians 5:20.
Sunday, September 22, 2019
R. G. Lee said, "The Bible is a book beyond all books as a river is above and beyond a rivulet. The Bible is a book beyond all books as the sun is above and beyond a candle in brightness. The Bible is a book beyond all books as the wings of an eagle is above and beyond the wings of a sparrow. It is supernatural in origin, eternal in duration, inexpressible in value, immeasurable in influence, infinite in scope, divine in authorship, human in penmanship, regenerative in power, infallible in authority, universal in interest, personal in application, and inspired in totality. This is the Book that has walked more paths, traveled more highways, knocked at more doors and spoken to more people in their mother tongue than in other book this world has ever known or will know."
The word "Bible" simply means "Book of Books." The Bible is a library containing 66 separate books and letters all under one cover. Those 66 books and letters were written at many different times over a period of about 1,500 years. They were written in many different places. Some of the Bible was written in Israel, some of it in Arabia, some in Persia (Iran), some in Babylon (Iraq), some in Turkey, and some in Italy. The Bible was written by about 40 different writers; all very different kinds of people. Some of the writers were kings and some were carpenters. Some were farmers and some were fishermen. Some were soldiers and some were shepherds. There was even a tentmaker and a tax collector.
John 5:39 "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."
Ps 119:97 "O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day."
Matt 22:29 "Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God."
2 Tim 3:16 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"
I. THE BIBLE IS GLORIOUS BECAUSE IT ABIDES FOREVER:
Isa 40:8 "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever."
Ps 119:89 "For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven."
John 10:35 "If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;"
2 Tim 2:9 "Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound"
Men and women write books that become best sellers but soon another book takes it place. The Bible alone continues to be a best seller year after year.
Matt 24:35 "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away"
Voltaire, the famous French philosopher who died in 1777, more than 235 years ago, was a brilliant atheist. He wrote a number of tracts deriding the Bible. He once made a very bold statement: "One hundred years from today the Bible will be a forgotten book."
No matter what attacks come the Bible's way, it always survives — and it always will. You can depend on that.
II. THE BIBLE IS GLORIOUS BECAUSE IT IS A REVELATION FROM GOD:
2 Peter 1:20-21 "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. (21) For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
The Bible is not man's word about God; it is God's Word about Himself.
III. THE BIBLE IS GLORIOUS BECAUSE IT REVEALS THE GREATEST CHARACTER THAT EVER CROSSED THE CENTURIES:
No one has ever been able to say anything against Jesus that is the truth.
John 8:46 "Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?"
Heb 4:15 "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
1 Peter 2:22 "Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:"
1 John 3:5 "And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin."
R. G. Lee once said, "If you take Jesus out of the Bible it'd be like taking heat out of fire, melody out of music, blood out of the body and expecting health."
IV. THE BIBLE IS GLORIOUS BECAUSE IT REVEALS THE ONLY WAY OF SALVATION:
The Bible is God's road map to heaven
John 14:6 "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
John 10:9 "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture."
Acts 4:12 "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
V. THE BIBLE IS GLORIOUS BECAUSE IT HAS THE HOPEFUL MESSAGE FOR LIFE AFTER DEATH:
Is there life after death? Only the Bible has the answer to that question.
2 Sam 12:22-23 "And he [King David] said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? (23) But now he is dead , wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me."
Luke 23:43 "And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise."
2 Cor 5:6 "Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:"
Phil 1:23 "For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:"
John 14:3 "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."
John 11:25 "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:"
John 14:19 "Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also."
VI. THE BIBLE IS GLORIOUS BECAUSE IT KEEPS IT FRESHNESS:
No matter how many times one reads through the Bible things are seen there were missed before. One person said "the Bible is like and orange. You can squeeze it and squeeze it and there is always a little more juice."
The Bible is the bread of life and it never goes stale.
Jesus said, John 6:48 "I am that bread of life."
VII. THE BIBLE IS GLORIOUS BECAUSE IT CHANGES THE LIVES OF MANY:
2 Cor 5:17 "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
Ps 33:12 "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD: and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance."
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