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He Shakes The Foundations

He shakes the foundations.
 

“He makes the mountains of Lebanon jump like calves and makes Mount Hermon leap like a young bull”.

Ps 29:6 GNB

 
A few hundred years ago a man called Copernicus came out with the strange idea that the earth went round the sun. His thoughts shook the world of human ideas and challenged many previously-held beliefs. It had always been assumed that the earth was flat like a table and that it rested on foundations.
Mount Hermon is a high mountain which can be seen from most parts of northern Israel since it dominates the skyline. Mount Lebanon is close by. Before the Israelites came to the land the locals had regarded it as the abode of their gods. So violent was the storm that it seemed that God was even shaking it to its foundation as he played with it, making it jump and run like frisky young calves. The poet rejoices at God’s might in thus expressing his total superiority over other lesser gods. Whilst marvelling at what we would call the strength of nature, he revels in the thought of God’s all-dominant supremacy.
We understand much more about the working of the universe now. But the occurrence of earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and droughts brings home to us the unpredictable character of some aspects of nature, and our dependence on God. We do not worship nature but we do worship the God who created it and recognize our frailty when the earth is shaken to its foundations by some terrifying upheaval. Such an event also reminds us how normally dependable this world is that God has created. Storms come and go but God maintains a reliable system so that we can plan, use and manage it for our benefit and to his glory.

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Made To Soar

Made To Soar

When I visit the zoo, I skip the eagles’ cage. I can’t stand the pain of seeing those majestic birds sit there on their perches day after day, their burnished brown wings draped over them like an ill-fitting old coat. They were created for the heights, to dance among the clouds, not to be prisoners in a cage. Those birds were made to fly.
Many people who profess that they are Christ’s men and women are like those caged eagles. They are made to live as free citizens of heaven, but they are imprisoned by their own sin. Their condition must break God’s heart. He knows what they could become, but they have put themselves in a cage. And the irony is that it is a cage with open doors.
The apostle Paul said that we who have put our trust in Christ have died with Him to the sin that confined us in our old life. And we are now alive in Him. We are not the person we used to be. Therefore, we must stop facing life as we used to face it.
Think long about those truths. Remind yourself of them often. Through Christ, you have been set free! You were never meant to be imprisoned in a cage. Confess your sin and trust God anew. You were made to soar.
Lord, I thank You for salvation,
For Your mercy, full and free;
Take my all in consecration,
Glorify Yourself in me. —Codner, Elizabeth
Christ is the open door out of the cage of sin.

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Never Too Old

Never Too Old

Look at what some people have accomplished despite advancing age. When Grandma Moses was 100, she was still painting. George Bernard Shaw wrote a play at 94. Arthur Rubinstein gave a great recital at Carnegie Hall when he was 89. And at 82, Winston Churchill wrote A History of the English-Speaking Peoples.
The Bible tells of many godly people who didn’t let the advancing years stop them—Caleb and Moses, for instance. At 85, Caleb (one of the men who had spied out the land of Canaan) entered the Promised Land and drove out the Anakites (Josh. 14:6-15). And Moses continued to lead the people of Israel faithfully until he was 120 (Deut. 34:5-7). The secret of their success was faith in God and an attitude of steadfastness until God called them home.
There are many people who have lived far beyond the 70 years mentioned in Psalm 90:10. They are still bearing “fruit in old age” (Ps. 92:14) by encouraging others and using their energy in God’s service. Others, however, far younger, have decided to coast home.
As long as we have strength, we need to dedicate ourselves to the Lord’s service. Then, no matter what our age, we can “rejoice and be glad.”
Growing old but not retiring,
Lord, the battle still is on;
I’ll go on without relenting
Till the final victory’s won. —Anon.
To stay youthful, stay useful.

COMPARING ONE WITH ANOTHER

“Make no mistake about this: if there is anyone among you who fancies himself wise – wise,
I mean, by the standards of this passing age – he must become a fool to gain true wisdom”.
1 Cor 3:18 NEB

Most of us admire someone with superior knowledge, wisdom or insight. We envy those whose perceptions are so sharp that they “know what’s going on” and have the courage to “tell it like it is”. And we hold some commentators or analysts in high esteem because they show us aspects of reality that we slower persons haven’t previously picked up.

A battle royal was waging in the church at Corinth. The factions that had formed in allegiance to Paul, Peter and Apollos were comparing and contrasting their heroes. But the valuations they were applying to these leaders were misleading everyone and causing even more upheaval. They were bragging and boasting, using the ideas and standards of the world and not the criteria of Christ. This one was a fine speaker. That one knew his Old Testament. The other one was more intellectually gifted and could quote philosophers and authors off the cuff. And someone was admired because he had a great sense of humour. So the evaluations were made – but they were made according to worldly wisdom and human standards. And those making them were crowing over the other groups, thinking that they and the people they were supporting were superior to the others.

Think very carefully about how you perceive the leaders in your fellowship. It is one thing to find someone to be pleasant, attractive or appealing. It is another thing to grow in Christ under their leadership and teaching. And be careful about those who regard themselves as superior to others.

The Touch Of Christ

Luke 8:42-48 – As He went, the multitudes thronged Him. Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped. And Jesus said, “Who touched me?” When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, “Who touched Me?” But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” Now, when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately. And He said to her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”
I worked at Evangel Hall last year for a few months. Many types of people touched my life in those days, from the mentally distressed, to the homeless, to the prostitute. The beauty of working at a place like the Hall is not just that you reach them, but those whom you think you are helping are what the Lord uses to reach you. I remember one evening in early November, when the simplest gesture reached out to me.
I was walking towards Spadina tonight on my way home. When I got to the corner, I crossed with one of the “Squeegy” kids [who clean the windshields of cars stopped at traffic lights]. He is older and comes in for shampoo and soap each morning. I said, “Hey!” and he turned and smiled. He is a frail looking guy — I would say he is my age or a little younger. He told me he was on his way to a Chinese restaurant for a $2.99 dinner. He told me it is excellent food. We chatted for all of 15 seconds. The light turned green and I had to cross to catch the streetcar. He reached out his hand and touched my arm and said, “Thanks, see ya’.” The beauty in that gesture was incredible.
Thank you, Lord, but I don’t even know his name.
Be aware of who is in your life, everyday, and feel the touch or the gesture of Christ from and within them. God uses people and situations to speak to us. In my time at the Hall, I saw the true face of Christ. God used the most lonely, the forgotten, the destitute and the sick to reach me.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for your touch of grace. Give us the discernment to feel it more, to see it more clearly, and to praise you for revealing yourself to us. Comfort those searching, those lonely, those who are homeless. Enable us to not only reach out but to make conscious decisions of lifestyle to practise what we preach. Remind us that as we reach out, in whatever way, you can still reach us in the simplest of ways. We can do nothing without you. Thank you for that promise. Amen.

THE CAUSE OF TROUBLE

“No one will get by with vandalizing God’s temple, you can be sure of that. God’s temple is sacred
– and you, remember, are the temple ”.
1 Cor 3:17 EHP

Christianity has had a chequered journey down through history. It has split and fragmented again and again. It has been rocked by scandals, almost destroyed by false teachings, and the lamp of faith has frequently burnt low. It has got involved in secular politics, caused wars, and has both suffered and inflicted persecution. It has seldom been free from controversy. Still it has proclaimed the gospel of Christ, maintained Christian worship and brought light into the surrounding darkness. It has produced saints, sought for justice, and motivated many to improve the lives of poor and marginalized people.

When Paul wrote to the Corinthian church it was only twenty two years after the death of Jesus. But already there was trouble. And the root of the trouble was the development of factions. One faction supported Peter. Another one followed Apollos and a third stuck with Paul himself. And they contended bitterly against each other. And that strife was destroying the fellowship within the church and impeding its work in the wider community. It was killing love and frustrating the work of the Holy Spirit. That means it was spoiling the outreach and mission of the church as well.

Many churches and fellowships still experience fights. Some- times they become open free-for-alls. Sometimes they are carefully concealed. But they always damage the work of God and the people involved. “Vandalizing God’s temple” is Paul’s way of describing the devastating effect on a congregation of conflict and factionalism in a church. And the temple is sacred – because it doesn’t belong to anyone other than God.

OUR MISSION CONTINUES JESUS’ MISSION

Heb. 12:18-19, 21-24; Ps. 47; Mark 6:7-13

“And he called to him the twelve, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over unclean spirits” (Mark 6:7).

This is the mission of the twelve during Jesus’ lifetime. “So they went out and
preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them” (Mark 6:12-13 NKJV). He said to them, “Preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Matt. 10:7), and “The kingdom of God has come near to you” (Luke 10:9). This is the same message that
Jesus himself preached. “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel’” (Mark 1:14-15). The disciples were to carry on Jesus’ own mission.

Yet this mission of the disciples during Jesus’ earthly life was really only the  preparation for their mission after Pentecost, when they were able for the first time to preach the good news in its fullness, that is, God’s salvation now available in the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ. Then they would not only preach that the kingdom of God is at
hand, but they would proclaim the full message that all should now repent and believe in Jesus Christ to receive, from the merits of his death on the cross, the forgiveness of their sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Then they would begin to call all people to faith in Christ for their justification, for his death made reparation for all human sin, and all who repent and believe in him, invoking the merits of his death, will be forgiven for their sins and freed from their guilt to walk in the newness of life, in the light of his resurrection.

The Church today has this same mission to preach this same saving message in all parts of the world. This is the salvation that God has sent to the world. This is the way that God has given to man to approach God, to be saved from his sins, to have a new life
in the light with God, and a sure hope of eternal life with him after death. The message about this new way is the gospel, that is, the good news about salvation. This message is what people most need to hear. They need this special revelation of God, and they need to be called to repentance and faith. A missionary that preaches this is giving people what they most need.

This message is more than merely general human knowledge that people already know. This message can only be known through God’s special revelation in the Scriptures and in his Son Jesus Christ. It is, therefore, a great error to try to reduce this message of salvation to merely sociological terms and so only call people to be more human, without mentioning Jesus Christ and his death on the cross to save us from our sins.

The very heart of the gospel message is that God in his infinite mercy took our part to fulfill all justice and suffered on the cross for us, and instead of us, our just and necessary punishment for our sins. The gospel proclamation then calls us to repent and believe in Jesus Christ, invoking the merits of his death on the cross, so that this may be applied to us personally so that our sins and guilt might be removed from us and we might receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and a new life in the light with God. God does this especially
through the sacrament of reconciliation (John 20:22-23) for Christians, and through baptism for non-Christians.

Every person of every religion needs to hear this good news, this message about salvation, this call to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, for this is the message and the means that God has given to the human race for its salvation, sanctification, and illumination. It is the mission of the Church to bring this to as many people as possible.

Charles Murray And The Cross

1 Corinthians 1:18 – For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (KJV)
In 1967 while taking a class in photography at the University of Cincinnati, I became acquainted with a young man named Charles Murray who also was a student at the school and training for the summer Olympics of 1968 as a high diver. Charles was very patient with me as I would speak to him for hours about Jesus Christ and how He had saved me. Charles was not raised in a home that attended any kind of church, so all that I had to tell him was a fascination to him. He even began to ask questions about forgiveness of sin.
Finally the day came that I put a question to him. I asked if he realized his own need of a redeemer and if he was ready to trust Christ as his own Saviour. I saw his countenance fall and the guilt in his face. But his reply was a strong “no.”
In the days that followed he was quiet and often I felt that he was avoiding me, until I got a phone call and it was Charles. He wanted to know where to look in the New Testament for some verses that I had given him about salvation. I gave him the reference to several passages and asked if I could meet with him. He declined my offer and thanked me for the scripture. I could tell that he was greatly troubled, but I did not know where he was or how to help him.
Because he was training for the Olympic games, Charles had special privileges at the University pool facilities. Some time between 10:30 and 11:00 that evening he decided to go swim and practice a few dives. It was a clear night in October and the moon was big and bright. The University pool was housed under a ceiling of glass panes so the moon shone bright across the top of the wall in the pool area. Charles climbed to the highest platform to take his first dive. At that moment the Spirit of God began to convict him of his sins. All the scripture he had read, all the occasions of witnessing to him about Christ flooded his mind. He stood on the platform backwards to make his dive, spread his arms to gather his balance, looked up to the wall and saw his own shadow caused by the light of the moon. It was the shape of a cross. He could bear the burden of his sin no longer. His heart broke and he sat down on the platform and asked God to forgive him and save him. He trusted Jesus Christ twenty some feet in the air.
Suddenly, the lights in the pool area came on. The attendant had come in to check the pool. As Charles looked down from his platform he saw an empty pool which had been drained for repairs. He had almost plummeted to his death, but the cross had stopped him from disaster.
“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” (Galatians 6:14)
Author Unknown
Prayer: Praise you, Father, that you not only save our physical lives from destruction, but, when we receive the Spirit of Jesus, you also save our spiritual lives from destruction. Thank you for the powerful ways in which you call us to yourself. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

THE ESSENTIAL DIFFERENCE

“Surely you know that you are God’s temple, where the Spirit of God dwells”.
1 Cor 3:16 NEB

There are many good groups and organizations around. The Red Cross is one; St John’s Ambulance Brigade is another. Then there are service organizations – Rotary, Lions and Round Table. All of them do excellent work. And some Christian believers join them in order to make a contribution to the community at large. Other groups, too, render superb service – Women’s Institutes, school governing bodies and neighbourhood watches.

There is, however a major difference between these groups and the Christian church. They are all human goodwill organizations. But the church has, or should have, the Holy Spirit of God dwelling in it. Just as the temple in Jerusalem was considered by the an- cient Jews to embody God’s very presence, so the church of Jesus Christ, with no buildings, was deemed to be the place of residence where the Holy Spirit was dominant. So Paul was saying to the body of Christian people in the city of Corinth, “You are now God’s temple, not because you are better than anyone else, but because the Holy Spirit is within you”.

It is a mistake to think that the Holy Spirit is the reserved pos- session of one denomination or group of churches. He is present wherever the focus is on Jesus Christ. His presence makes the Christian body more than just another human welfare or service organization. A church or Christian fellowship may have human failings – leadership and power struggles, anaemic spirituality, poor outreach and financial battles. But it is different from any other gathering of people because God the Holy Spirit is at its heart. And he always points to Christ and seeks to grow people in Christ.

Prayer Changes Things

Matthew 21:21-22 – Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
James 4:2 – You do not have, because you do not ask God.
It’s true prayer changes things and if we don’t pray very little if anything will happen.
In addition, if we don’t pray we will begin to self-destruct physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
Pray, pray, pray, pray, pray, pray, pray, pray, pray, pray, pray, and pray some more!
A Korean student shared about how his home church started out as a very small church, until now it is very large. When asked about what his pastor did to help bring this about he responded by saying his pastor “prays ‘lot.” He went on to say that his pastor fasted and prayed beginning on Thursday through the services on Sunday. We also know that in Korea they have a prayer meeting every morning at five and on Fridays they pray all night, even though most have to work on Saturday.
Prayer: Lord, give us such an insatiable desire for spiritual growth that we would be willing to make real sacrifices in the time we spend in prayer and fellowship with You. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.