Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Joy & Sorrow

Joy and sorrow are opposite emotional experiences that probably all of us know throughout our lifetime. Life is like a tapestry of bright and dark colours and often the bright parts shine the brighter when set against a dark background.

I am reminded of Benjamin Malachi Franklin’s poem ‘Just a Weaver’,

(1) My life is but a weaving, between my God and me,

I do not choose the colors, He worketh steadily.

(2) Ofttimes he weaveth sorrow, and I in foolish pride

Forget He sees the upper, and I the underside.

(3) Not till the loom is silent, and the shuttles cease to fly,

Will God unroll the canvas, and explain the reasons why

(4) The dark threads are as needful in the skillful weaver's hand

As threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.

The recent mining accidents in Chile and New Zealand illustrate both extremes. For the families of the thirty-three miners rescued from their mine in Chile, it was a time of great joy, but for the thirty-three families of the Pike River, New Zealand South Island miners, only two could rejoice and twenty nine were plunged into the sorrow of grief. Further explosions ripped through the mine causing the authorities to pronounce the twenty- nine miners dead and the Prime Minister to say “We are a nation in mourning.”

A video of an interview with one of the survivors revealed that he had been thrown off his machine by the blast and knocked unconscious, the other survivor picked him up and they went 300 metres to the entrance of the mine and staggered out, battered but alive.

The circumstances at each mine were different, geologically, physically and possibly spiritually. The Chile men were gold mining, the New Zealanders were coal mining with the greater danger of methane exploding from leaks in the fault line hundreds of feet below the coal seem. It was not exploding gas that endangered the miners in Chile; it was a huge rock fall that trapped them for over two months. Jose Henriquez, trapped with his colleagues is an evangelical preacher and kept their spirits up by reading the Bible every morning to them. Every man had a small bible sent down the borehole for them to read and many of them committed their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ. Above ground the Presidents Pastor held prayer times with the President and the nation prayed for the recovery of the men. What joy it was when all of them were brought up one by one in a 27-inch capsule inside a new borehole that went down to the chamber where they were trapped. Many of the men wore T-shirts expressing that Jesus Christ is Lord.

We rejoice with those that rejoice, we weep with those that weep, and therefore feel and pray for the Pike River miner’s families.

As one travels five miles south from Jerusalem on the Hebron Road, there is a left hand fork that takes you down to Bethlehem. At that fork in the road is Rachel’s tomb, the place where Jacob’s wife died in child bearing and was buried. “And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.” Benoni means ‘Son of my sorrow’ whereas Benjamin means, ‘Son of the right hand’. Both names are an apt description of the Son of God who became the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief at Calvary, but then became the Son of the right hand when exalted in Heaven. Looking from that tomb the short distance to Bethlehem one can see the beyond the city the Shepherds fields and beyond them the mountains of Moab.

Ruth traveled with Naomi from Moab and came to those fields that belonged to Boaz. He became Ruth’s redeemer and married her and they had a son named Obed, the grandfather of King David. Ruth is one of four women named is in the genealogy of the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew ch.1. Mary is the fifth!

When Mary and Joseph were required by Caesar Augustus’s edict to go to Bethlehem, they could have gone to a Bethlehem which was only five miles west of Nazareth, but that was the wrong Bethlehem, it was the city of David in Judah that they had to go to. Micah 5:2 reads, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

They left Nazareth and made the arduous 70 to 80 mile journey to Bethlehem. Did they travel down the valley of Jezreel or the Jordan valley? We do not know but either way would have been exhausting, especially for Mary, heavy with child. Passing Jerusalem they would arrive at the fork where Rachel’s tomb is. What thoughts would pass through Mary’s mind when she recalled Rachel’s death delivering her baby? Mary had been told concerning the baby she would deliver, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

Regarding the joy of the birth of Christ the shepherds in the fields heard “The angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” When the wise men were seeking the place where Jesus was born, Matthew 2:10 says, “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” When they saw the babe they worshipped Him.

It was joy for them but sorrow for the mothers that had their children murdered by Herod, “In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.” Mary’s sorrow came later at Calvary when she saw Jesus crucified but “Joy cometh in the morning” and on the first day of the week Christ arose from the dead and is alive today, able to save to the uttermost all that come to Him. You too!

Praying that you have much joy this Christmas and the coming year and that sorrows stay away from your door. God bless.

Stan Burditt


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

No room in the Inn - would you exclude the Lord Jesus

I wonder if you have ever thought about how popular Jesus was in his day. The impression we get at times is that he was loved by everyone right up until his rejection by the Jewish authorities, his prosecution by the Roman authorities and his ultimate death of crucifixion.

From the early days of his time on earth the Lord Jesus was excluded and rejected. There is quite a considerable period (from age 12-30) where we have very little information about the behaviour and activities of the Lord Jesus but we do have the commentary of God, the Father, when he publicly spoke from heaven (which was a very unusual thing to do) and said the he was delighted with His Son. This indicated that though there is scant information about these eighteen years there is nothing in that period (or any other period for that matter) that displeased His Father, God.

Let me discuss with you his exclusions - some specific examples relate to Bethlehem, Nazareth, Gadara and Jerusalem.

Bethlehem - even before the Lord Jesus was born he was excluded. Mary and Joseph had travelled ninety miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. The scriptures record that Mary's pregnancy came to full term, she brought forth her firstborn son, she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger.....because their was no room for them in the inn. Why - no room? Was it just too busy? Was it something about Mary and her pregnant condition? We are not told but we know that there was no room. Excluded!

Nazareth - you should read story for yourself; this is found in Luke 4.16-30. Jesus returns to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. To live all of your life in one place is getting more unusual in the modern world but it was very normal for many years. They would have known Jesus well in Nazareth. I sometimes wonder if they had many unanswered questions about him for he was unique and special in so many ways. He had always gone to the Synagogue and so going on this particular Sabbath day was not unusual. He rises to read, his reading grips the attention of the congregation and they sit spellbound hanging on to his every word. What we know now is that this was the author giving a reading of his book at a private sitting, no wonder they listened so well. When the reading is completed he makes a statement 'today is this scripture fulfilled in your ears'. What is he saying? He is claiming that the bible was written about him and that he is fulfilling it before their eyes. They can't get their heads round it. Is not this Joseph's son we hear them reply. I will not recount the rest of the incident but the end of the story is this. The people are angry with Jesus, they rise as one man and expel him from Nazareth with the intention of either killing him or physically hurting him. Excluded!

Gadara - The rejection and exclusion of the Lord Jesus this time is not because of what he claimed but because of what he did. Read about in Mark 5. The Lord arrives in the region of Gadara. He meets a man who can only be described as out of his mind. He is demon possessed, naked, lives in a graveyard, excluded from society and a danger to his community. To keep the story short - he is healed by the Lord Jesus. When the people from the local town come out to see what is going on they find the previously wild man - sitting, clothed and in His right mind. You would think that they would love the Lord Jesus. They can sleep easy again, things can get back to normal...but. They discover that 2000 pigs had been destroyed in the process of healing the man. They had lost money over this man's healing and they were not happy so they beg the Lord Jesus to leave their region. Excluded!

Jerusalem - It was in this city where he should have been enthroned as King of Israel that he was finally rejected. The current leadership deemed him a threat to their power and position and they could not risk the consequences of ignoring him. If you read John 11.50 they make it sound quite a prudent move when they state that 'one man should die for the people...that the whole nation perish not'. This statement was truer than they ever imagined. The Lord Jesus would not only die to save a nation but to save a world of men and women in need of his rescue plan of salvation. The plans of the rulers all came together when the general public were persuaded to reject the Lord Jesus and demand his execution (John.19.15). He was condemned to the death of the cross. Excluded!

So how about you and I? Will we continue to exclude Him. If we do he will be forced to exclude us on the day of judgement (Matt.25.41) and consign us to eternal punishment for not only breaking God's law but refusing his great salvation (Heb.2.3). When he comes in judgement on the world there will be no place to hide, no room for us (Rev.6.14-17).

The good news is He still saves those who call out for salvation (Romans.10.13). An acknowledgement of our sin and resting on the Lord Jesus for salvation is all that is required for you to know the blessing of God's forgiveness and salvation.

Blogger Template Created by pipdig