Patience

Morning folks

James chapter 1 Verses 2-3 tells us this: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”

We are counselled here by James, who was Jesus’ brother. Hardly anyone knew Jesus as James did—he grew up with Him. He was able to watch Him over the course of His entire life, and so he knew the mind of Christ exceedingly well. James says that we are to consider trials as a reason for great joy because trials are capable of producing good results. However, we must understand that trials do not automatically produce good results. They can easily make one bitter rather than better. Whether one comes out better for the experience depends upon how faith, hope and love are used. How the trial is used is the issue, and whether faith, hope, and love produce a higher level of spiritual maturity. What determines whether they make us better rather than bitter is how we use them.

James describes a person surrounded by trials of many kinds. We live in exactly that kind of period right now and we are taught by Jesus that we will need endurance during this time. We are assaulted by many kinds of trials, and they will increase. James is concerned about whether they will produce perseverance in us.

Hope is not directly mentioned here, but James does mention patience and this is linked to endurance. There is no active endurance unless one actually desires to accomplish something, and he has the hope of good to come from what he is enduring.

Take care all and stay strong in Him.

Mark

Who to trust

Good afternoon folks

Matthew 7 verses 15 to 20 say this in the Bible “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. “

The description here is very apt—wolves in sheep’s clothing. They appear on the outside to be something they are not. When Jesus uttered this, He was probably thinking of false ministers who would sneak themselves into the church by appearing to be sheep within the sheepfold as it were.

Jesus uses this terminology in regard to His relationship with the church. He was the Shepherd, and we are His sheep. Here we have wolves (false ministers) who look like sheep, but it is hypocrisy. They only look that way on the outside. He tells us we will know them by their fruits. The fruit that is produced will not necessarily appear quickly. But Jesus Christ guarantees that over a period of time the church will be stripped of its true spiritual vitality in terms of the character that will be produced within the flock, making the rise of wolves in sheep’s clothing more likely.

What is He saying? The implication is that Jesus is connecting belief with practice. If we believe a certain set of doctrines or ideas, we will practice something because of the teaching. A religious creed or the dogma that a group is following will produce a certain kind of conduct by the people. Belief and practice, creed and conduct—Jesus is saying they are vitality connected. In other words, the teacher cannot hide what he is going to produce. Eventually it will come out. Their false philosophies, no matter how attractive they may appear at first sight, will in the long run be exposed for what they really are.

As we emerge from COVID-19 I see a growing number of advertisements encouraging a person to “follow me into prosperity and happiness”. My council from Scripture is to be ware and remember the only real safe place to put ones trust is in Jesus Christ as found in the Bible.

Have a lovely weekend

Mark

Do you know who I am?

Hi

I am part of our Inclusion Council where I work which is designed to ensure we focus on all folk being included and equal such as the recent international BLM initiative is trying to achieve.

One of our council members was explaining the challenges of being black in that a black person cannot hide their colour as a religious person could hide their faith to avoid persecution.

This struck a chord with me.

Ephesians chapter 5 verses 14-17 says this “Therefore He says: ” Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

My thought is that very quickly folk should know I am a Christian by how I live and how I speak. It must be as obvious as someone with a different colour skin to mine .

So, notice the encouraging reason Paul gives to wake up and carefully mind how we live: “Christ will give you light.” This is an outright promise that He will give us the help to do what we must do. Backed by this promise, we are to redeem the time “because the days are evil.” If his days were evil, what would Paul think of ours?

This passage reveals how the early church regarded time as it applies to a Christian. For us, all days – every period in which God’s people have had to live their lives by their God-given understanding, thus by faith – are evil. God’s truth has always run counter to the course of this world. Thus, the truth adds a peculiar, stressful difficulty to life regardless of when it is lived. On top of this, since each called-out individual ( a Christian in the true Biblical sense) has only one opportunity to lay hold on eternal life, and must overcome, grow, and prove his/her loyalty to God during that time, he/she must make use of every experience.

Conclusion, I am to live differently as, with the power of Christ in my life, I kick against the evil days in which I live and THAT will NOT go unnoticed!

Have a lovely day

Mark

3- Transformation

Hi

After a crazy month I am back!

I had thought that giving my reasons to be a Christian might be a good plan in this blog but now I realise that at 2 blogs a month it will probably take me circa 2 years to give my valid and objective reasons and so I think what I will say here is that the Christian world view makes most sense of why there is something rather than nothing, the fine tuned universe, why humans have a moral compass and animals don’t, the life of Jesus (and the empty tomb) and my own personal experience of the Living Creator in my life.

Romans 12 v2 says “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

I have found this renewing and transformation impact and it proves God exists and His will in my life is effective. The God of the Bible is the only answer I can give to this reality. If you are keen to explore this more or even challenge this then please do contact me for further discussions.

But what does following Gods way actually mean in reality?

Well, we all understand that sheep have a strong inclination to follow, to go along with what other sheep in the flock are doing. I once read that, if a shepherd is herding his flock into a pen, and he places a bar a foot or so off the ground across the gate so that the first sheep has to jump over it to get in, then he removes the bar, the following sheep will continue jumping as they pass through the gate based on what the leading sheep did! May be true ma not be but there is a true story about sheep.

Years ago, a man I know owned a small flock of lambs in partnership with his neighbour. They escaped from their pasture one morning by “worrying” a fence until they were able to push out through the hole. Once one lamb went through, the others followed. They did not know they were gone until a neighbour about half a mile away called to let them know their sheep were on her property. They had followed a railroad track cut into the side of a steep embankment until the land levelled off in a wooded area. They were scattered in the wooded area.

As he approached, he began to speak to them. They turned and began walking toward their pasture. Soon, they had regrouped and begun following him. Although he was certainly concerned that a train might come along, his major worry was how he was going to get them up the steep ten-foot-high embankment, back through the narrow opening, and into the pasture.

When he arrived at that point, they were too timid to follow his voice and him up the embankment. The only thing he could do was wrestle and drag the sheep up and shove them through the opening. He thought he was going to have to repeat that same procedure with all of them, but to his delighted surprise, once he had shoved the first one through the hole and into the pasture, the rest came on their own! What he feared actually turned out to be easy because of this strong instinct to follow.

Human beings tend to share this proclivity. We even call it the “sheep instinct” or “running with the herd.” This influence moves people to buy and wear the same clothing because “everybody” is wearing whatever happens to be popular. It also motivates “keeping up with the Joneses.” We are nervous about standing out from the crowd and perhaps becoming the objects of scorn and derision.

However, this proclivity works against us as Christians because it can easily influence us into going the way of the world . In this case, it takes a strong willingness not to conform to what everybody around us is thinking, doing, and perhaps even wearing. Such a circumstance will reveal who we really are and who we are really folowing!

Have a great day

Mark

Reason 2 for being a Christian

Hi

There is something called Germinal Life. This really explains that life develops gradually into the mature product. We have seen and evidenced this through exact observation and correct thinking.

As the Bible identifies in Marks Gospel chapter 4 verse 28, “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear”.

This development is governed by fixed laws. Laws of nature God has put in place. We cant change them they simply “are”.

One such law is that this germinal life ( like humans start out )  is never reproductive. Reproduction only comes from maturity so an embryo or a germ can only come from a mature product. Embryos do not multiply into embryos do they!

Eggs don’t hatch eggs. Apples don’t produce apples. It takes a tree to produce an apple. Do you see?

Even babies don’t produce babies thought they have developed far beyond the stage of an embryo.

Without God as creator, one has to state that germinal life without the power of reproduction  has over millions of years evolved into the mature product. This statement drives us right back to the pre Sir F. Bacon era. Trying to fit a belief into facts that are simply not there in science. Crazy!

Saying an egg evolved and then evolved further during millions of years into an Eagle with no power of reproduction seems rather odd to me – no, more than that,  it seems impossible from the facts we have.

Based on the facts I see and the facts we teach, my conclusion has to be that the creator designed and created the eagle for it to then be able to reproduce. And the same for me a human being.

My problem is made much more difficult if I wish to accept the “No creator” position when we add to this the provable fact that germinal life can not by itself improve. If I want better apples I don’t work on the apple but I have to get better apple trees. Better eggs don’t come from working on the egg but by getting better hens and so on.

So claiming that germinal life came into existence without being able to reproduce or improve and try to claim that simply over time the better and mature product arrived… well I simply don’t buy it and it is impossible.

The creator God is the most logical answer to the facts we see before us.

Have a great and safe week

Mark

Why chose Christianity

Hi folks

I thought I might deviate from my usual style in this blog and run a short mini series on why I am a Christian and believe in the creator God of the Bible. This is focussing on why I chose Christianity in the first place rather than why I am remaining a Christian because why I remain a Christian has all the reasons I will state in this mini series that will go on for a few weeks but so much more, as now I have a personal relationship with God the creator of all things. My relationship is through Jesus who was in fact God revealing himself to mankind in the flesh.

So remaining a Christian following Jesus is much easier actually than finding God in the first place. At least, it is for me.

So my starting point is science.

Up until the late 16th century/early 17th century the scientific world would formulate a view and then look to try to find ways in nature to prove the view that had been formulated before evidence .

Then came the great Frances Bacon who stated that we should sit at the feet of nature and see what it tells us. In other words “get knowledge by gaining and verifying it by exact observation and correct thinking”. This is now how science works. Getting the facts and then seeing what they tell us to formulate an opinion. Simple! And correct!

This however causes the atheist view huge problems. Science in the 1960s caught up with Scripture when the evidence observed and verifying confirmed that nothing material has been eternal and in fact everything came into existence having a beginning. It was called the big bang.

So now we have the evidence and the formulated view that everything we know had a beginning but we have another view called cause and effect which we all know through observation and verification means that everything in the material world has had something to bring it into existence.

Putting these two facts together leaves the atheist with a problem. How and why did NOTHING decide to become SOMETHING. This of course is impossible and so you may not be surprised to know that the atheist is trying to change the meaning of NOTHING into meaning that Nothing includes SOMETHING! This goes back to the pre Lord Bacon thinking – change the facts to match the view point!

Even the late Steven Hawkins tried to explain away something form nothing and made a real hash of it – he couldn’t do it!

This is my first reason for accepting that God is the creator of all things and why I am a Christian. There must have been a creator sitting outside of our universe to create it all from Nothing.

Next reason next time is all about Germinal Life.

Have a great day.

Mark

 

Keep busy

Hi there

1 Timothy chapter 5 and verses 11-13 says this: “But refuse the younger widows; for when they have begun to grow wanton against Christ, they desire to marry, having condemnation because they have cast off their first faith. And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not”.

This is similar to my own experiences regarding people who are unemployed. If they are unemployed for any period of time, if they do not have strength of will, it sounds hard to say but they learn to be idle. “Learn to be idle” is a difficult Greek construction, though the New International Version makes it clear I think: “They get into the habit of being idle.” It is not that they sit down and study how to be idle, but over a period of time—even though they may start out looking for a job and using their spare time in a profitable manner—inertia sets in. It’s tough and I know as I have been there! It becomes hard in my experience to avoid being idle even though “idle” is a tough word.

Notwithstanding their good intentions, the out of work start getting out of bed a little bit later, taking their time doing this or that. They find over time that it is far easier to sit around and drink their tea, call their neighbours or family, chew the fat, and talk about this or that person. For example:

“How is X doing?”

“Oh, fine!”

“But you know he has a problem.”

“Oh, does he?”

“Yes. His marriage is not going well.”

“Well, you know, I went through a problem like that back a few years ago. Maybe I’ll give him a call and give him some advice. It is tried and tested because it worked for me. If he needs me to, I’ll go over and watch his kids for him.”

Pretty soon they are fully involved in somebody’s marital crisis when they should not have even known about it! It is evident that being a busybody is linked with gossip, tale-telling, and spreading scandal. They all usually go hand in hand.

Once a person starts messing in other people’s business, before long he is telling his friends what is happening and how wonderfully he is advising and helping these people. Soon all sorts of rumours are flying back and forth about so and so and this and that. Like a law of nature, it is only a matter of time before a relationship conflict erupts. We can see this in the church too sadly? War and disunity!

Experience shows that it often comes back to bite the meddler! The Old Testament provides a graphic image of what happens to such a person: “He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a dog by the ears” (Proverbs 26:17).

Just a few inches away from those dog’s ears are big, sharp teeth! When we meddle in other people’s affairs, it comes back to hurt us. No one wins when meddling happens.

So this is just a short word and thought if we find ourselves furloughed, not working, or on a long sabbatical and for us in such circumstances to be wary of this easy trap into which anyone can fall.

Every blessing

Mark

We have a choice

Hi all

Mark records in his Gospel and in chapter 8 verse 26 this “Then He sent him away to his house, saying, ‘Neither go into the town, nor tell anyone in the town.”

He says, “Neither go into the town, nor tell anyone in the town,” another command to keep quiet about the miracle. This was not a universal rule but was limited to Bethsaida. Why? Christ had done many mighty works there, but the townspeople had rejected them in unbelief. As a result, He had pronounced a woe upon them (Matthew 11:21). In Jesus’ command to the healed man, Bethsaida received a mild but significant judgment for not responding to His works.

Rejection of spiritual blessing causes loss of spiritual privilege. If we do not want God in our lives, He will let us follow our free will, and He will leave. Today, the descendants of the ancient Israelites, who should know better, should beware as their legislators and courts ban God from their nations. If they continue to reject God, He will surely respond with a stern rebuke. If that happens, woe to Jacob’s descendants!

We must all contemplate this judgment on Bethsaida and on all those who fail to honour their spiritual privileges. It is never too late to turn to God in repentance which is truly wonderful and there is no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus.

So as we go about our daily activities at work (or play) may I encourage all of us to reflect on the wonderful privileges we enjoy as Christians and not to become complacent. Also I encourage those reading this who don’t follow God and who have not accepted Christ as Saviour to re consider carefully please, as one day God will simply leave you alone!

Every blessing

 

Mark

 

My Position

Morning

In the book of Job in the old testament that takes us through the life of a man called Job ( pronounced “Jo” with the sound of “b” at the end ) we read this:

“Then Job answered the LORD and said: “I know that You can do everything,
and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, “Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?” Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, “I will question you, and you shall answer Me.” “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

The images Job held both of God in His relationship with Job and of himself in his relationship with God and fellow man are shattered into an unrecognizable mass of gunk. Above all, Job now knows that God owes him only what He determines that He owes him. God is not beholden to mankind for anything.

Will we claim that God owes us anything because of our good works? God does not owe us a thing, even if we do obey Him perfectly! Our agreement and relationship (known as a covenant) with Him is not made on that basis. The covenant is made knowing that we owe Him everything. We have nothing to bargain with. Do we receive salvation because we trade keeping the first day of the week for Him or paying tithes?

Job is truly humbled. Do we recognize humility when we see it? Do we know what it really is? Humility is an internal matter, one of the heart, not one of outside appearance. Moses was a humble man, but he also had a commanding presence. However, a person’s humility greatly affects what those watching him or her see and hear emanate from him.

Godly humility is not a giant inferiority complex, as some believe it to be. Man by nature is not humble; by nature, we are well-pleased with ourselves and insane enough to think that we deserve something good from the hand of God. This describes almost exactly what Job thought of himself in his relationship with God. Men think that as long as God allows them to conduct their lives in a civil way, keeping themselves from the grosser sins, then everything is fine in their relationship with Him. The important reality of true humility is far from what men think, as Job certainly discovered.

So I guess for me this means I need to daily take time to remember how wonderfully God loves me, since I am so underserving, and remember everything I have including my intellect, energy, skills and so on , all come from Him.

Every blessing

Mark

 

Why is it happening?

Hi

James writes in his book after his own name and chapter 1 verses 2-4 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, (3) knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. (4) But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing”.

  1. Trials should produce growth. Just as we prune a shrub or tree to force it to grow into a more perfect form, so God does with us.

Notice that trials should produce growth, rather than that they will produce it. Sometimes, we just do not learn the lesson; we fail; we regress; we sink into self-pity. This leads me to another lesson learned.

  1. The fruit we produce depends on our outlook. This does not imply that anger and depression are not normal human emotions. They are. With any trial such as the challenges of Covid-19, you wonder why. You evaluate your actions, your mistakes, your sins. You repent, fast, and pray. You cry out to God with more emotion than you knew you possessed. If you are normal, you have moments of anger, perhaps even doubt.

Here is where we can produce fruit or destroy it. With God’s help, we must forcibly evict these wrong thoughts from our minds. We cannot allow seeds of doubt to germinate, and if they do, they cannot be allowed to grow. We must look forward and deal with the situation.

Paul writes:

. . . we know for certain that He who raised the Lord Jesus from death shall also raise us with Jesus. We shall all stand together before Him. All this is indeed working out for your benefit, for as more grace is given to more and more people so will the thanksgiving to the glory of! God be increased. This is the reason why we never lose heart. The outward man does indeed suffer wear and tear, but every day the inward man receives fresh strength. These little troubles (which are really so transitory) are winning for us a permanent, glorious and solid reward out of all proportion to our pain. (2 Corinthians 4:14-17)

So it is good advice that we actually don’t resent our trials or moan about our fate or the state in which we find ourselves. As James says, “Count it all joy,” which brings us to the next lesson.

  1. Joy comes after, not before, the trial—and often not during it. No sane person sits around, wishing he had a trial. That is absurd. No one is ecstatic to find himself encompassed in pain. Only when you have faced your troubles and started to fight can you begin to see even a glimmer of a positive result at its conclusion.

James’ advice is to count or consider our trials joyfully. Another study on this subject says: “Realise that they come to test your fait and to produce endurance” (James 1:3). These words reflect a passage of time. Hebrews 12:2 says Jesus endured the cross “for the joy that was set before Him.” He thought nothing of the pain and shame because of the joy He knew would follow His suffering. Joy came afterward.

Verse 11 says, “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Here is convincing proof that joy is primarily post-trial.

Yet even this joy is not the ecstatic. As an example a lady with a long-term illness once wrote about her trials. As she came slowly out of her personal struggle, she passed on to us several things that we found to be true. One line she wrote is very true: “I never realised how wonderful it is to be able to do ordinary things until I couldn’t do them.” She had “never realised.” Yet now, because of her trial, she counted or considered her situation and found joy in a simple act.

By sharing this, she gave us hope and encouragement. This is fruit borne through testing. It is God’s refining process at work. He is removing impurities.

As hard as it seemed, after giving them much prayer and thought, I believe that each trial is specific to us. It is what we need to make us more like God. We do not see this initially, but through perseverance and growth, it may become clear.

This is why we are happy that God has chosen us to suffer whatever trials He may allow. As James goes on to write:

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).

So let’s press on towards this wonderful everlasting crown, clinging on to Him, Jesus, helping one another with our various trials and focusing on eternity.

Every blessing

Mark