Sunday, November 24, 2013

Corruption's Curse

I was going into a shop in Newcastle some years ago. Next door was a pub. As I went into the shop I noticed a man trying to talk a pretty young woman into joining him in the hotel. I hoped she refused. After a short time purchasing some gifts I was again on the street. The same man was there talking to another woman. She was not very much older the the previous one I'd seen but very weather worn, dishevelled and uncouth. Before my eyes it seemed as if I had seen the years of a woman compressed into minutes. A type of before and after on the theme of corruption’s devastation!

In the case above the destroying power was alcohol. The young imagine they can handle the effects, the atmosphere and the company. The future history of the many is a corrupted body and an addicted soul. Ultimately the result is a wasted life. Sure, the Lord Jesus can rescue such people. He can not return the wasted years, money or health. To me the case of the two women was a story about corruption's curse regardless of its source.

Across the globe well meaning men and women are calling for Justice on behalf of the exploited and abused. Nations, especially those with a Christian influence rise up to offer aid to victims of Nature’s ferocity. What do we ultimately discover? Some ‘vultures’ in positions of power siphon off material, goods and money for their own use. They don’t show any compassion for their own country men, women or children. Years of corruption had hardened their hearts. In reality it made them traitors to humanity. The idol they worship has turned them into fiends not friends of their countrymen.

The idol of the corrupt has many names. I wonder if they even realise they are devotees to such a spiritual identity. Jesus called it Mammon or money. (Matthew 6:24) This foul fiend is the greatest rival to the person and claims of Jesus Christ. Why? In part because its appeal is to selfish security rather than faith in Christ’s grace.It is the appeal of 'now' rather than accountability 'tomorrow'. Yet money and materialism are so fickle. A global financial crisis or tsunami can so easily destroy such gain. Death has no ‘pockets’ for a corpse’s spirit to take things beyond the grave.

In a parable of a rich man Jesus said he was a ‘fool’. Why? Because the man had amassed wealth but was poverty stricken towards the Lord God. The man was a fool because at the heights of his success he was to die. He had no treasure in heaven, no faith in a Saviour, no authority to be accepted into heaven. (Luke 12:13-21. 16:19-31)

Lest Christians think they are immune to this idol’s corrupting influence the bible offers strong warnings. ‘The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.’ (1 Timothy 6:10)

Idolatry’s corruptive power is best combated and controlled by obedient devotion to Jesus Christ. The quote ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’ is true whether or not a person is a Christian. Why? Because by such behaviour you are the master of mammon, not its slave. In giving you bless others and experience responses money cannot buy. In so doing men, women and children will honour your name. For Christians however there is an even higher motive. No, it isn’t to win favour with God. It is an opportunity to honour Him by stewardship of resources to others in Jesus Name. In doing that mammon crumbles into powerlessness in our lives.

The corrupt who prey on others may gain the whole world but at what cost. To be a lost soul cut off from the presence of God forever. Corruption will impede justice and truth but will ultimately be self destroying. The best defence against mammon’s corrupting disguises is personal righteousness flowing from a relationship with the righteous Christ Jesus.

The bible promises a time to come wherein the world will be governed by righteousness, justice and truth. To enjoy it then with Christ Jesus requires us to practices it now.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Beware the Christmas Plague

The Blights of Christmas

Blight according to the World book dictionary ‘is a disease which causes plants to wither and die.’ Used figuratively it points to ‘anything that withers the hope or causes destruction or ruin.’

Christmas is experiencing a plague of such blighters. Their aim is to reduce Christmas and its meaning to ruin in the hope it disappears. Each of the ‘viruses’ attacking this great testimony have a replacement of their own. Before we look at aspects of the Blights be reminded as to the meaning of Christmas.

It was long promised and recorded within the Judeo–Christian Bible. No one with a fair mind will deny that the Old Testament declared someone is coming. It detailed place (Bethlehem) mode of coming (virgin birth) titles (Emmanuel, Prince of Peace, Mighty God, Wonderful Counsellor) purpose (Messiah to save His people) Suffering Servant (Isaiah ch.53) to name but a small sample.

The Gospels declared the promised One has come. His name in Greek is Jesus. In Hebrew, Joshua. He is called Lord, Son of Man, Son of God and the Word (Logos) made flesh to dwell among us. People may disagree with such records and Names but such matters cannot be refuted. Nor can the ‘Blighters’ accuse the Apostles and early Church from fabrication. Why? Because the Apostles paid for their hope and convictions with their blood. The governing authorities could not deny Christ Jesus’ existence, teaching, death and resurrection. That is why they resorted to making it a criminal offence to believe in the birth of (Christmas) Jesus and His Calvary and empty tomb testimony. Their attempts to wither and ruin Christmas and Calvary failed. The ‘Blight killer’ was ‘It is written’ according to the Scriptures and verified by Christ’s resurrection.
Today the plague has mutated and is more virulent because it has an element of fun, commercialism and ideology. Such things appeal to the human heart because they destroy the real meaning of Christmas.

Santa Claus is Christ Jesus great rival at Christmas. His “HO, HO, HO” drowns out the Angels song. Santa is the myth we want to control and promote. He is the character that seduces our cash from our bank accounts. He panders to our greed and blinds us to the emptiness of our lives.More than that Santa Claus doesn't disturb our lifestyle or ungodly thinking nor impose upon us teachings which are worthwhile but unwanted. Jesus Christ however is still active within the Christmas scene but only to those with eyes to see and ears to hear. Sounds familiar doesn’t it.

Doctrine and ideology also want a piece of the withering process. Atheists and Muslims are surprising linked in their opposition to the Person of Christ. Atheists in denying God’s existence cannot handle the simple yet supreme message that the Lord God would care for wayward ‘junk.’ The teaching that the Heavenly Father set a saving process in motion is anathema. Mohammed called the Gospels and the Old and New Testaments a lie by saying Jesus Christ is not the Son of God. Why? Because Mohammed said God had and has no Son. Therefore the mystery of the Godhead, Father Son and Holy Spirit, is arbitrarily dismissed. ‘No god but god’ is a great cliché but such a god is aloof, indifferent to creation, offers no salvation or hope in life or death. There is no Christmas for Atheists or Muslims. To adopt their attack on the Christian Faith and its historical reasons for Christmas is to create a spiritual plague. It affects your heart and hope of ever knowing the Person of whom Christmas reveals.

The way to bust the Blighters is to discover who Jesus is for oneself. Do this by simply reading the gospels and cross referencing between the Old and New Testaments. Then Christmas will take on new, exciting and enjoyable dimensions. You can still give presents. You can still enjoy special and culturally appropriate meals. You can get together and enjoy carols and worship with understanding and gratitude the Lord Christ. You will know Him as Jesus, Son of God, Lord of Glory and your own Saviour.

He is the One who makes it a happy and meaningful Christmas.
He is the One who takes us onwards into a meaningful life.
For those interested you can learn more about Jesus and the Christmas event from my book 'The Bethlehem Warrior Baby'. It is an EBook available from amazon or in print from Christian Bookshops or the publisher Even Before Publishing (division of Wombat books, Queensland Australia.)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Battle of the gods

The Lord God and the gods

The claim of the atheists that all the wars have been religious ones has a ring of truth about it. They could have used the term political wars as well. They may not agree with the assessment that even Atheism is a religious belief yet as it requires faith it qualifies.

Perplexed people ponder why is it that nations and individuals find it hard, indeed impossible to get along. Is there an answer? The Bible says ‘yes’ in words plain and clear. Why then do men and women find it hard to accept? I think it is due to the fact the Bible makes us realise that all of us are part of the problem.

What does the Bible reveal as the basic cause of strife, wars and various other aggressive facets of our human nature? Genesis chapter three paints the picture. Satan leads Eve and Adam into an act of rebellion against the Creator God. This fallen angel tempts them with the notion that by taking of the fruit forbidden by Yahweh they will become gods. I think Satan believed their treason would make them slaves in his realm. The unexpected happened and it has infected all their descendents ever since. Humans came to believe they are gods.

The most striking examples of this are the Pharaohs, Caesars and current North Korean leaders. What we fail to appreciate is that each of us possesses this spiritual and moral disease. Within individuals this legacy of Adam’s disobedience will express itself in various ways. From the dominating bullying ego centric despot to the servile, cringing and manipulating weakling. What is the outcome in real life of people? Quarrels and arguments as we seek to assert our rights, our will, our wisdom, even our dislikes and revenge! The human heart wants to rule. It craves sovereignty and the obedience of others. Consider that in the light of James 4:1-3. It is a battle of a ‘god’ seeking lordship over others who think they are ‘god’.

When Adam and Eve took the fruit Satan must have been dismayed, frustrated and angered. Why? Because they didn’t succumb to being his slaves in his kingdom of darkness. Ever since this angel of evil has sought to seduce Humankind to accept his sovereignty. He has done this through the occult, magical arts and the promise of power.

Where has the Lord God almighty, the Creator been in this conflict? He too has been endeavouring to bring the descendents of the first couple back into His Kingdom of Light. He continues to do this before the declaration that time is up. There can only be one Sovereign. Only One who is to worshipped. Only One whose will is to be obeyed.

Therefore as you read the Bible it becomes clear the Lord embarked on a reconquest of His creation and the children of Adam and Eve. His call to them to bow to His sovereignty embraced a number of issues. Love motivated Him for He knows that Judgement awaits those who refuse His offer. Forgiveness has been made possible as the basis for re-entry into His presence. How, for treason is a capital offence? Here is the wonder and the power behind the events we call Christmas, the Cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He has dealt with the moral and spiritual expressions of the conflict and consequences of the battle of the gods with the one and only God.

What now is the issue? Individuals can hang onto their ‘god-ness’ or join with the powers of darkness. Or they can realise the unwiseness of fighting against Yahweh and rejecting His right to their allegiance Such recognition by you, by me, means we reject our claims to personal sovereignty, we acknowledge our rebellion and delusion, we accept His amnesty offered to us in Christ Jesus. It means we bow the knee in surrender and worship.

When we yield up the rights to ourselves to the Lord God Almighty we discover many wonderful truths. We know peace, we have hope and there is no fear in meeting the God before whom all must stand. Sure each of us will face many conflicts and issues which challenge our allegiance to Christ Jesus but we know He stands with us in the fight. We know we have the victory for all eternity. It isn’t ours but Christ Jesus’ and He has given it to us. Our faith commitment to Him is a declaration that for us the battle of the gods against the Lord God has been won by Him. That is a most wonderful defeat and glorious surrender.

Ray (who surrendered and won) Hawkins

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Consequences of Robbing God

Robbing God

It’s not by gun, nor by knife
Neither with muscle and strife
Do we rob God of His honour
We are more cunning than that
Subtlety is how we attack
And steal God of His authority
Our wilful arrogance
And careless stupidity
Hides our vulnerability
God’s last word at our duplicity
Is judgement at our cupidity
And banishment for eternity

The Biblical writer named Malachi used the term to describe people’s delusion in the way they treated Yahweh. They expected God to pour out happiness and prosperity even though they short changed Him in their worship and stewardship. Then they complained when their family life and society was in turmoil through strife, injustices and moral breakdown. Why was this happening? Because the way they treated and thought about God was how each treated the other. If you imagine you can get away with robbing God it must be so much easier to rip off others.

Jesus stated the obvious when He said ‘Love God and Love your neighbour.’ To know the Lord God as revealed in Scripture and the person of Jesus will draw out love. Well it should if we are willing to surrender our own claim to ‘godhood’. That is the ultimate form of robbing God. We deny Him and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, authority in and over our lives. We want His blessing whilst maintaining our sovereignty. It doesn’t work. That in turn causes our conflicts with our nearest as well as those farthest away.

We cry out for justice, yet we want to sit on the judge’s seat. We speak about honesty yet enjoy our unrighteous lifestyle. We hear so much about peace but war is really in the heart. We read about lawlessness everyday but turn our back on holiness. By these means we rob God of His honour as He alone is Righteous, Peace, Holy and the ultimate Judge.

Thankfully the Lord God is patient and gracious. He has given us time to apologise and cease our robbing habits. He can forgive us and change our ways because of the Christ of Calvary. However it will only be effective personally if you and I hand over the sovereignty of our lives to Christ Jesus. Then He becomes our eternal Saviour not our condemning Judge.
Ray (no longer robbing) Hawkins