Sunday, April 27, 2014

Rewriting History

The weak–kneed U.N. cancelled an exhibition entitled ‘People, book and Land: 3,500- Year Relationship of the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.’ Why cancel it? Was it pornographic? No! Was it a lie? No! What then! It offended Islam. Why? Because this collection of Koran adherents are trying to deny Israel’s right to exist. This requires rewriting history, fabricating events and demonising people they hate.

Why should we worry?
Well, if we are Christians there is a lot riding on such lies and censure–ship. For if Israel didn’t possess the land then there is no King David (and others). No David means, there can be no Davidic lineage. Therefore Jesus Christ isn’t what the bible claims about Him. Namely, He is the descendent in the flesh of David; He is of the tribe of Judah. He was born in Bethlehem. Crucified in Jerusalem and rose from the tomb. And so I could go on. The credibility of the Bible and its historical accounts is also at stake. That in turn means every major doctrine of the Church can be dismissed. It is no light matter for historical truth as well as Biblical truth that Islam be held accountable for its falsification of history.

Islam has deliberately and consciously tried to erase evidence of Israel relationship to the Promised Land. The amount of destruction of artefacts from around the temple site is huge and tragic. The unceasing media blitz denying Israel’s right to exist fuels this endeavour. Unfortunately for them they will need to change a lot of Babylonian, Greek and Roman history, as well as their own for Israel is inextricably intertwined with them all.

There is a lot of social and general media concerns raised about bullying of children or in the workplace. Unfortunately the bully boys of the Taliban supporters seem to prevail when it comes to the U.N. and other political outlets. In many cases it is prevailing in and over the Church scene. However it is doomed to fail.
Within the pages of the first thirty–nine books of Scripture is a recurring theme. It points to God actively involving Himself in history. Why? ‘So that people will know that there is a God and He is not silent, indifferent or unjust.’ The events of the Passover were not only to point to Calvary and Christ it was to declare something to Pharaoh and Israel. What? ‘That they may God. Perhaps the place where this is most prominent is in Ezekiel. At least 71 times it is recorded that God has done or will do something specific so that Israel, the Nations, you and I might know Him and His word.

Therefore whether historical or prophetic what the Lord God has done or will do as declared through the Scriptures will be known. He has done this so you are without excuse. No one can plead ignorance. From Creation to Calvary and future events the Lord has declared His heart and mind. His purpose is for you to not merely have an intellectual bonanza but a faith commitment to Him through trusting Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. The end result of all this is ‘So that they may know, from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is no one besides me; I am the lord, and there is no other.’ Isaiah 45:6.

The deniers of history, especially Biblical history are in for a rude and tragic shock. They need to rethink their rewrite before it becomes an embarrassing shame and a millstone around their neck, forever.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

When Easter's climax takes place

The triumph of Jesus as the Christ at the Jewish Passover festival, which Gentiles call Easter, has not reached its climax. The resurrection of Jesus verified the Bible and His credentials as the Lord, the Christ. It also declared Him to be the Saviour with power to forgive and offer believers in Him a new beginning,a new hope and a new destiny. All that is available now. However, there are other factors still to be resolved from Christ Jesus' resurrection. He must return again to set up His kingdom and bring peace to earth. This is called Christ's second coming. There are many facets to this glorious hope.When He returns it will be as the Lord God of Hosts, the warrior Lord.

Most teaching, preaching and debating concerning the Second Coming of Christ revolves around Armageddon scenarios. Often overlooked, is a much more heart–warming doctrine and expectation. The Lord Jesus comes to enjoy His people. When will that take place? ‘On that day’ presumably the same period of time Jesus Christ comes as the Warrior Lord. To one group He wields the sword. To the other He comes with the victor’s garland.

Jesus Christ the Warrior Lord comes to be glorified.
We know not the details only the guest list.
They are His set apart ones. Other translations say ‘holy ones.’ Here is another difference between those destined for the sword and those for the garland. Holiness! This cannot be self generated. It must be bestowed. Without it no one will be able to see the Lord let alone abide in His presence. (Hebrews 12:14) Here again is another cause for glorifying the Lord for He has done it to us. ‘You who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he (Christ Jesus) has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him. (Colossians 1:21-22)

Christ's followers are under severe attack around the globe simply for being Christians. The Lord feels their pain and will not forget their faithfulness when He returns. Neither will Jesus ignore bringing vengeance upon those who who slaughter and defile His people. Justice will be done. Also at that time the Lord Jesus will honour those who have endured such oppression from across the centuries. Yes,they have already rested from their labours and trials but await their vindication. At this time the Lord’s combined people join in the celebration of their Saviour, Lord and God. For the first time the redeemed will join together and make the universe resound with their joy in Jesus their Christ. So many of them across the centuries, and more particularly during the years of tribulation would have been persecuted or slaughtered. Now they can give free rein to the pleasure and gratitude to the Son of God, their Lord and Saviour

Jesus Christ the Warrior Lord will be marvelled at by His people.
It doesn’t say.
But to see Him as the warrior Lord clothed in His righteousness, glowing with its brilliance, will be awesome. To have witnessed His triumph over the forces of evil with the sword of His mouth, the breath of judgment, will leave them speechless. That is, until there surges forth from countless lips the Hallelujah chorus of joy. What was sung on the day He entered Jerusalem on the donkey, and not really believed by the masses, now comes true.

Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonuians, goes on to say that some of his prayer life was set apart for them so the Lord will be glorified in them. There’s a principle here. The apostle turns the negative of affliction and loss into a positive. He urged his readers to see such terror as means of proving a personal worthiness for the coming Kingdom. Such worthiness shouldn’t be seen as trying to impress God. Rather it is God’s statement through the believers to the persecutors that He has made His people to be worthy. Their trust, proven under pressure, confronts a wicked world with an unassailable testimony to the Lord Jesus and His power to save and keep. When the Lord returns He will avenge His saints and honour them for their faithfulness. They will glorify Him but He will also rejoice over them.

As we celebrate the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus the Christ we also share in the expectation of its climax. Whatever our personal circumstances our hearts are set on the Lord as our saviour and our Friend as well as our Eternal God. We have a wonderful promise and hope that Christ's resurrection guarantees, Jesus is coming again.Then we will not only sing "He is risen, He is risen from the dead" or "We are waiting, we are waiting for Christ to return, we are faithful, we are faithful as we wait for Him to return." As we stand in awe before Jesus on that day our song may well be "He has come and we behold Him, Jesus has come as He promised, Jesus our Lord is with us now! Hallelujah!"

Until then we cry 'Maranatha!'

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Music of the Cross

A world without good and meaningful music would be a world of despair, loveless and forlorn. Music can express the hope, expectations, thrill and testimony of love, adventure, mercy and grace. That is why Christians sing. That is why the Taliban don’t. They have nothing to sing about for they don’t have a Saviour, no Heavenly Father and therefore no hope.

What has given the followers of Christ Jesus music in their hearts? The unbreakable embrace of Christ and His cross and the testimony of His resurrection. The very symbol which is a stumbling block to Israel and stupidity to all else is for Christians their glory. Why? Because of the story it tells, the person it reveals, the victory revealed and the grace unsealed to the believer. The symbol of horror and death has become the Hallelujah anthem of Eternity. The cross not only transforms, it has been transformed. It marks many graves yet it has its upright pointing to heaven. Surely it’s a symbol that those who are dead and lying horizontal have, or could have had an upward hope of Heaven.

The Judeo–Christian faith is saturated with music. That which is sung isn’t a wasted endeavour for it is sung to and in the presence of the Almighty God. When you read the Bible, especially the Psalms, you realise the writers were voicing their heart, its love and fears, joys and tears to the Lord of Glory. How is it possible for the eternal, holy and just God to hear and enjoy the individual’s or the congregation’s song? Someone has taken away the ‘sound–barrier’ between earth and heaven. What was the ‘barrier’? Humankind’s personal and corporate sin with all such a word includes. Such sinfulness simply offended the holiness of God and caused our ‘music’ to be mere obscene noise to His ears.

The cross of Jesus Christ has given us unending songs of gratitude and glory to our Lord and Saviour. There our past was dealt with. There our future unlocked. There we were transformed from enemies of, to being children of God. There we were given a song to sing that could never be silenced. On the cross Jesus sang the terrible lament ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me’? That would have been our enduring refrain in eternal darkness if Jesus hadn’t been willing to step between us and the holy judgments of the Father. Jesus sang it in agony so that by the power of His righteous life and resurrection we can sing the Hallelujah chorus gratefully.

Disciples of Jesus Christ need to sing. The Psalms or Gregorian chants, popular hymns or choruses even such masterpieces as ‘The Messiah’ or Saint Matthew’s Passion (of Christ and the cross) offers such opportunities. The musical wonder of the cross is that there is always something new and fresh to sing about. As a person ages in their faith some songs grab the heart and mind to become personal favourites and godly testimonies. The wonder of the saving life of Christ personally grasped by faith comforts us in our darkest times while thrilling us in our joyous ones.

The music of the cross is about love and redemption. It covers grace and mercy whilst embracing justice and holiness. It testifies to the triune God fulfilling His word at great personal agony. The music can never die. The composer did so that we who were dead in sin might live. The melody of the cross doesn’t fade, it grows stronger despite all the attempts of the ungodly, the Taliban and foolish to silence it. How is that possible? Because of the great words the angels said and made into a song about Easter Sunday ‘He (Jesus) isn’t here (in the tomb) He is risen!’

The music of the cross must be a personal experience before it can be celebrated as a corporate testimony. Should you long to have that song in your life lift up your heart to Jesus and offer it to Him, no strings attached! He will accept it, transform it, tune it to His wave length and then listen to the song He gives you to sing.

Revelation 5:11–12 sums things up so beautifully and powerfully ‘Then I (John) looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb that
Was slaughtered

To receive power and wealth
And wisdom and might
and honour and glory and

Now that is the finale of the Music of the Cross

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Agony in the Garden.

A garden on Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, East of the Temple mount was a favourite place for Jesus. There He could look at the temple adorned by King Herod but empty of the presence of God’s glory. This is still called Gethsemane and is a favourite place for pilgrims. It was to this garden Jesus and His disciples went to after the Passover meal in the upper room. It was night. The account of this evening is recorded in the Gospels and when put together is full of pathos, intrigue and mystery. In the presence of weary men who fell asleep Jesus wrestled in prayer knowing the cross was waiting for Him on the morrow.

We will never plumb the depths of Gethsemane and Jesus’ prayer battle. He who is called the Son of God/Son of Man was about to become the Passover Lamb. He would also fulfil the meaning of the bronze serpent mentioned in John 3. The Son who said He and the Father were one was on the verge of knowing a separation. The Son of Man who had come to do the Father’s will was about to be made sin and cursed! Not for anything He had done or thought. Jesus became such a hideous spectacle in the sight of Heaven on our behalf. He was about to take our place in God the Father’s judgement of our treason, rebellion, indifference and arrogance towards God and His commands.

I don’t believe Jesus’ agony in the garden was about a fear of failure. It was much, much more than that. The cry on the cross says it all: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!” It was at that moment when the Father and the Holy Spirit turned away from beholding Jesus that the horror Jesus wrestled with in the garden took place.

Gethsemane is the preparation and the battleground of the cross. Many are the accounts of brave men and women enduring inhumane treatment and death. Jesus was a brave man but more than that. He endured the wrath of the Father. That was when Jesus became our sin bearer. He endured the taunts of kinsmen, betrayal of friends and the glee of the demonic as He suffered. Jesus became the scum of the universe. No one will ever be beneath Him in this. The One we call Lord became the lowest form of life in all of eternity at that moment for us. This is so important. It means that the lowest of the low can still find hope, forgiveness and understanding from and with Jesus as the risen Lord. No one can say that they are too wicked for Jesus to forgive and make into a new person. Jesus can lift all of us out of our rottenness and being enemies of God and take us up to the Heavenly places!

Gethsemane became the culmination of Jesus commitment to doing the Father’s will (John 5:30). We should be humbled by the words of Jesus ‘”Not my will but yours be done.” It came from the Man Jesus whose body was soaked in sweat and blood, and who would have been weary and aware of what was waiting for Him.

I find it remarkable that in this garden, as the soldiers came to arrest Him, Jesus with a word caused them to fall back in disarray. (John 18:6) What were the words? I AM! There are more than 7 ‘I AM’s’ in John. In Gethsemane is the final one. Our Lord in placing Himself into the bonds of the soldiers did so confessing His eternal deity. This was repeated in a different manner before the High Priest under oath.
It was in Gethsemane that the battle for your salvation and mine was won. As we grow older in our faith and understanding may we become more and more grateful and committed to Him whom we call Lord!

As the festival of Passover draws near and the Easter celebration is linked with it, remember Jesus fulfilled it for you. What is our response to His act of redeeming grace?