Sunday 23 February 2020

Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?

God allows us to go through 'the fire'; which is used to test us as people.

Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?; is an important question that we as Christians are sometimes asked. Over the years I have come to accept, that God is God, and has a higher understanding of things than us. This is a question that we should have an answer for because it would be easy for non-believers to come to the conclusion that God is cruel or enjoys watching people suffer. 

However, this perspective couldn't be further from what the Bible tells us about God. Psalm 103:13-14 explains how God treats His children; 'Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust'

The world is one of seemingly endless crises; war, terrorism, floods, earthquakes etc. It is important to keep things in perspective and we need to understand that in some situations God uses these things to further His purpose and plans in others. God allows us to go through 'the fire'; which is used to test us as people. Are we truly a people worthy to be called of God? The only way to find out is to test our faith and see which way we turn. Do we become closer to God, leaning on Him to get us through tough times and difficult situations or do we become bitter and resentful? 

I would say that it is easier, and a characteristic of human nature to become hard hearted and to blame God at these times. However for those who choose to become closer to God there is a real deep peace that can be found in any situation. James 1:3-4 tells us; 'For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing' and 1 Peter 1:6-7 also tells us; 'In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith-more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire-may be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ'.

There is another important dimension to consider when faced with the question of; Why does God allows bad things to happen to good people? That is; 'The situations of our own making'. If we as humans bring about situations that affect others in a negative way then the responsibility for that lies firmly with us and not God. If we think about the current situation in Syria and Iraq with millions of people displaced by War, I wonder whether this misery was God inflicted or caused by man. I have no doubt that God is in control of these situations and that there is real salvation and mercy on the ground in the midst of turmoil. 

Finally I want to finish with the example of Job who we read in the Bible is a servant of God who is tested severely but still holds fast to his faith. He is a man that has bad things happen in his life but the ending of the book of Job is an amazing restoration. Job 42:12-17 'The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job's daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers. After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so Job died, an old man and full of years'.

Do we have the faith and will-power to trust God in all situations in our lives, both good and bad? Perhaps it is worth taking a few moments to ask ourselves this very question.

Author: Anonymous 

May God bless and enrich your life

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Sunday 16 February 2020

What is time?

At the time of our birth, we are given a book with nothing written on the pages.  As we live our lives, hour-by-hour and day-by-day, we are writing an account of our lives in that book until the last moment of our time.  If you could read the pages of your life in that book, would you like what you are reading?

Time – What an interesting and comprehensive word.  We use the word frequently without thinking about it.  Time is a dimension and a form of measurement, and is expressed in many different ways.  For example – What time is it? When will we get there?  Do you remember when…, etc. Again, time is a dimension that has a beginning and everything is measured from that beginning of time.  So, when is the beginning of time?  It is mentioned in the first four words in the Bible; Genesis 1:1 ‘In the beginning, God....’.  Therefore, God created the beginning.  God created the start of time when He said ‘In the beginning, God….’.  There was a period before the beginning, but that is not known or measured in time.  When God said, ‘In the beginning, God….’, that statement started what we know of as time, and everything is measured from that point.  Look at all the events that have happened from the beginning of time - wars upon wars; the lives of millions of people that have come and gone (which does not account for their souls).  Kingdoms have come and gone.  A lot has happened over time.  Wow!  Think about that.  It is mind-boggling.

The next question that comes to my mind is – Is there a record of what has happened over time?  The answer is YES.  The Bible is the most accurate record of the events of time because it records everything from the beginning of time.  No other history book/s starts at the beginning of time, so they do not account for all of time.  Just as a side note, that is my main defensive theme of what I believe in defending (my faith) when talking to others about what they believe.  Their belief system fell on this timeline that started in the beginning.  What I believe is that the Bible is a comprehensive account from the beginning to today.  All of the other belief systems are human concepts that fall on that time line.  As an example – a man conceived the Hindu beliefs concept in about 1400 BC. Interesting isn’t it?  When the man died, so did the reality of the concept, but the concept continued on. The Buddhist and Muslim concepts did the same thing as the Hindu concept.  When the person conceiving it died, so did the reality.  

There is a big difference with Jesus.  When He died, He rose again and our hope is in a living God.  Wow!  Thank you, Jesus.
The most notable event of time was the birth of Jesus Christ.  It is so notable that the world’s measurement of dating time was the life of Jesus Christ.  Think about that.  The world’s calendar of events is pinpointed to the life of Jesus Christ.  The events of time are either Before Christ (BC) or After Christ (AD).  The whole world has to acknowledge Jesus Christ, whether they like Jesus or not, because their calendar of events are based on the life of Jesus Christ.  Wow!  What an impact Jesus made on all of God’s creation.

Does time have an end?  I believe the Bible says that time, as we know it, has an end.  The Bible talks about the end times, or the end of time.  Some say the end of time is at hand, or soon.  Some people dwell on the end of time that the Bible speaks of.  I tend to dwell on the end of our fleshly time, and also on our eternal time, our spirits.  When we die, our flesh returns to dust, but our spirit never dies.  When we die, our spirit is in either heaven or hell!!!  Jesus said to worry about the time that comes after this world; He was referring to heaven or hell.

Time is an important asset.  Time is our second most important asset, with salvation being our most important asset.  Note: the lack of a salvation would be an eternal liability of pain and agony.  What is so important about time?  We are born in a moment in time, and we will die in a moment in time.  At the time of our birth, we are given a book with nothing written on the pages.  As we live our lives, hour-by-hour and day-by-day, we are writing an account of our lives in that book until the last moment of our time.  If you could read the pages of your life in that book, would you like what you are reading?  If you would like it – great!  -- If not, today starts with a brand new page from this day forward.  Oh, by the way, the scriptures say something to the effect that the book of your life will be read back to you/me at judgment.  The judgment will either be ‘enter in faithful servant’ (Matthew 25:21), or ‘pass by me, I did not know you’ (Matthew 7:23)These are the last words we will ever hear.  Are you sure which words will be said to you?  Hopefully, this is something to think about.

Well, I could go on for a long time (Notice the use of the word ‘time’ – Ha Ha!) trying to consider all the aspects of time, but I would like to turn that over to you.  Think about it.  What does time mean to you? Hopefully, this is something to consider.

Author: David Leatherman.

May God bless and enrich your life

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Sunday 9 February 2020

Life's Seasons

God has written the Story of your life in His book, and all you need to do is trust Him to walk you through each chapter of it.

It never ceases to amaze me how we often have to see things die before new life can appear, even in Australia there are new shoots coming up where the fires have burnt away everything in their path. There are seasons for us like this and sometimes things in our lives like jobs, things we’ve always done, habits we’ve acquired and many other things that can cause us to be stunted in our growth, need to die before we can move on and find freedom and sometimes a new purpose for living.

I’ve found in my life there have been times when I’ve had to change the way I do things, stop doing something or even let things go that have served their purpose, and only when I’ve changed or let go can a new chapter of my life begin. Knowing Jesus has been a real help for me in being able to let go of things, especially those things that weren’t good for me, because He has given me New Life through His blood that He shed on the cross, so in effect I have died to my old self and have been re-born into a new and living way, the moment I surrendered to Him I started a fresh new season of my life that changed me forever. The bible says in 2 Corinthians 5: 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 

Each season brings with it a change or transformation from what it was to what is to come, be it Spring, Summer, Winter or Autumn and the same is true of our lives, but the trick is to be ready for the change, to embrace it and grow into what the future holds. 
For the Christian we may not know what the future holds, but we do know Who holds the future and can fully trust Him for every step of it. Jeremiah 29:11  ‘‘For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’’

There may be a change going on in your life at the moment that is either like the Spring and is bringing something new and exciting, like the summer that is bringing a ray of sunshine in to your life, like the Autumn that is seeing something fading away or needs to be let go of, or maybe it’s like the Winter and you’re feeling sad and lonely with dark times ahead of you. Whatever the season is in your life right now know that Jesus is just a prayer away and knows exactly how you are feeling.
His Word says in John Ch 16 v 33 ''In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.'' Through Him, you too can be an overcomer. 

God has written the Story of your life in His book, and all you need to do is trust Him to walk you through each chapter of it.

I want to encourage you to seek His face daily, to know that if He is your Saviour then you have all you need to overcome anything this world throws at you. You have His anointing on you, His seal of ownership on you and His Spirit in you guaranteeing your future, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22  Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. You are His and He will Never Leave you or forsake you. You are a child of GOD, John 1:12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

So be strong and whatever season you are in let the Gardener prune you, nurture you and make you the best that you can be, so that you will blossom in His presence and bring Him the honour and the glory He deserves. In James 1:17-18 it says, Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the Word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all He created.

Let Him take us and mould us and make us the best that we can be, taking the old wine skin that is our human nature and making us into a new wine skin, filing us to overflowing with His new wine.

May God bless you always.

Author: Kevin Hunt

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Sunday 2 February 2020

One New Man

The lesson of history is that we, the gentile church, are the ones who need to repent and to return to the clear teaching of Paul.

Antipathy towards Jews continues to blight our communities.  Antisemitism is endemic in many of our institutions and our universities. Boycotting Israeli produce, vandalism and graffiti on Jewish property, extreme political rhetoric, and direct victimisation continue in our 'tolerant' society.  But where did it all begin?  Unfortunately the church has a lot to answer for.

One day the disciples of Jesus were remarking on the magnificent building work of the temple in Jerusalem, to which Jesus predicted that not one stone would be left on top of another (Mk 13:1-2).  And so it came to pass.  Some three decades after the death and resurrection of Christ a provocative decision by Roman authorities in Jerusalem and an obstinate reaction from the nationals sparked off a Jewish insurrection and massive Roman retribution.  There are graphic descriptions of the atrocities and cruelty during siege then massacre and finally in AD70 the burning and dismantling of the beautiful temple.  Even today an untidy heap of huge stone blocks at the foot of the Temple Mount are a reminder of Jesus' words.

Roman aggression was by no means limited to the Jews.  Britain had been conquered a few years before, albeit with less troops.  Overwhelming military force was more motivated by the need to boast of victory in the ensuing 'triumph' parade in Rome, bolstering tyrannical emperors, than any discrimination against a particular race. In more peaceful times the Jews had benefitted from the Roman policy of religious tolerance, even being exempted from the requirement to worship Caesar or any other gods on the grounds of Torah prohibitions.

The early Christians were not so favoured.  Those who worshipped Jesus and refused to bow to Roman deities often ended their earthly lives in the arena. 

In 132AD under the emperor Hadrian a further rebellion in Judaea was violently put down.  A new city, Aelia Capitolina, was built over the ruins of Jerusalem which became the home of the Roman tenth legion, and Jews were denied access to their ancient capital.  Again this was not so much racial discrimination as a reaction to sedition.

By now the number of Christians was growing.  Having begun as a Jewish sect Christianity was now predominantly Gentile.  Theology was being developed and tested, and emerging heresies exposed.

Marcion began teaching that the God of the New Testament was different from that of the Old, so the people of that era, the Jews, were finished with.  His extreme ideas were rejected but were not without influence.  Justin Martyr, regarded as the greatest early exponent of God's Word, was hostile to anything Jewish, considering the Jews to be 'an accursed people'.  He blamed the Jews exclusively for the rejection and death of Jesus, even though it was Roman soldiers under Roman orders who drove in the nails.  He believed, along with other early Christian apologists, that the destruction of the temple and the removal of the Jews from Jerusalem was divine judgement and gloated over their just punishment.

These ideas were welcomed into early Christian thinking and gave rise to 'replacement theology' - the concept that all the Biblical promises (though apparently not the warnings) have been transferred from Israel to the Church.  Subsequent influential church fathers such as Chrysostom and Gregory perpetuated the prejudice.  When Constantine fought his way to power he Christianised his empire and created laws against Judaism, establishing antisemitism for the duration of the Byzantine era (1100 years) and beyond.

The lesson of history is that we, the gentile church, are the ones who need to repent and to return to the clear teaching of Paul.  

For example: Ephesians 2:11-18 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—12 remember that you [gentiles] were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility [between Jew and Gentile] 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both [Jew and Gentile] to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.  17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both [Jew and Gentile] have access in one Spirit to the Father.

Today large numbers of Jews are coming to know Jesus their Messiah.  God's promises will be fulfilled and together we will share His Kingdom with those who recognise Him as Lord.

Jesus was, is and ever shall be a Jew.  One day He will return to the mount of Olives on the eastern side of Jerusalem (Zech 14).  In the new creation the New Jerusalem will have the names of twelve Jewish disciples on its foundations and the names of twelve Hebrew tribes on its gates (Rev 21).  At least 95% of our Bible was written by Jews. Our roots and our future are tied to this chosen people. We Gentiles are 'fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.' (Eph 3:6).  Literally translated: joint-heirs, joint-body, joint-partners - together.

Author: John Plumb

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