Monday, February 29, 2016

The No 1 Investment

One purchase you will never regret!

While the religious authorities were seeking ways to trap, arrest and execute Jesus there was one person not so far from the city of Jerusalem who were doing the complete opposite. Standing up for what is right will often mean you are in the minority. Don't give up because the majority disagrees with you. Truth is not measured by statistics!

In the small town of Bethany there was a home were Jesus was always welcome. Is Jesus welcome in your home and life?

The people in Bethany that night were, as is always the case, split in their opinion and attitude to Jesus. Some believed him to be who he claimed to be, the Son of God. Others were convinced that he was a fraud, an imposter and not worth consideration. 

Where do you stand in your view of Jesus? Is it the one question that will determine your eternal destiny! Jesus said as recorded in John 8:24 'I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.'

On this occasion a lady comes into the house with expensive ointment and pours it on Jesus' head. The reaction: most said what a waste of good money; it could have been used for better purposes i.e. to feed the poor. 

Here's a point you may strongly disagree with! It's better to worship Jesus than to feed the poor! I think that's true! 

But listen, Jesus didn't say don't feed the poor! He said the poor would always exist! I think this a lesson in priorities. If we see Jesus for who he is, the Son of God. If we turn from our sin and unbelief, confess our sin and trust him as Lord and Saviour.....


We will go on to: feed the poor, love our neighbour and do all the things that are pleasing to God and his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. 


Where do you stand when it comes to the cost of worshipping Jesus? It's one price you will never regret paying. 

Mark 14King James Version (KJV)

After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death.
But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people.
And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.
And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made?
For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.
And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.
For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.
She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.
Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.
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The Survival of the Fittest!

Quite often this phrase is used as a feeble excuse for treating others dismissively, who are vulnerable and less assertive than ourselves. When we want our own way and wish to achieve something, even though it may hurt and damage others, we justify our disgusting behaviour on "the survival of the fittest". We elbow our way to the front; we gain the high ground and in our doing so, we crush and insult the weak. We say that it happens in many strata of creation: some species have died out because more dominant forms of life forced them to extinction. In the conflicts of life’s arena, we vainly imagine that size, strength and supremacy are all that matter. The prize can be won by those who are prepared to do their utmost to get it.
Thankfully, in the matter of salvation, this principle has no place. Salvation is available to all; without money or price; without energy, effort or expense; it is not exclusively for the rich, the religious, the mighty, the noble, the famous, the deserving. In fact, the Lord Jesus said in Luke 19.10, "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." In Matthew 9.13, the Saviour said, "… I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
The great cardinal word of the gospel is "whosoever" and that brings salvation within the reach of all mankind and every human being, regardless of creed, colour or class. You may feel greatly disadvantaged; your sins may now rise before you making you feel unclean and totally unworthy; you may feel that hitherto you have avoided and ignored God; but thank God, you can receive mercy and obtain the greatest blessing imaginable, God’s full and eternal salvation.
The Bible makes it clear that salvation is "not of works, lest any man should boast" Ephesians 2.9. The previous verse says that salvation is "… not of yourselves: it is the gift of God". Romans 6.23 states that "the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord". Whoever you are; wherever you are; you can now receive the forgiveness of sins and be saved from eternal judgment by trusting the Lord Jesus Christ and accepting the free gift of salvation, without offering anything in exchange. Own your guilt; confess your sins and accept the gratuitous pardon God offers. That is all that is required of you: no achievements; no penance; no attempts to make yourself more acceptable to God; "the only fitness He requireth, is to know your need of Him".
But how can God do all this for the sinner, the unworthy, the hell-deserving without compelling you to pay an incalculable price or achieve some remarkable feat? The answer lies in the amazing fact that God’s own Son offered to pay the staggering price of our eternal salvation and volunteered to bear the punishment for our sins. That is why He came from heaven, lived among hostile men for over thirty years and died at last upon a cross of shame and suffering. The mystery of the crucifixion has been revealed: "Christ died for our sins" 1Corinthians 15.3; "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree" 1Peter 2.24; "Christ died for the ungodly" Romans 5.6; "Christ died for us" Romans 5.8; "The Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me" Galatians 2.20.
O Jesus Lord, Thou stoodest in my stead, God’s holy wrath was poured upon Thy head;
For me Thou once wast numbered with the dead; For me, O Lord, for me.

A.J.H. Brown - used by permission of Assembly Testimony

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Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Pros and Cons of Technology

I have been speaking to young people recently about technology and social media. Truthfully, the discussion isn't really limited to young people. Apart from a few exceptions most people use technology. 

At one stage some intellectuals thought that the technology of writing had some major drawbacks. For instance they argued that writing things down reduced your capacity to remember and that wisdom was rapidly being replaced by the mere accumulation of facts! If this is true of writing then there definitely is some truth in it in relation to the many forms of technology we use today. 

Neil Postman (1931-2093) an American author, educator, media theorist and cultural critic wrote a number of books addressing the issues that arise out of the use of technology. In one of his books, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology (1992) he explains that we are in danger of losing our capacity to think through the over use of technology. To quote "the uncontrolled growth of technology destroys the vital sources of our humanity. It creates a culture without a moral foundation. It undermines certain mental processes and social relations that make human life worth living." That would be a tragedy!

It's quite paradoxical that the very thing that was designed to improve social contact, communication, education etc could actually work against us. The aim of this article is not to condemn technology or social media but to appeal for its wise use.

Did you know that we are the sum total of our thoughts! It is significant what we allow into our minds. Technology provides access to both good and bad things. Jesus Christ gave a searching commentary about our hearts and our minds. I don't think that he would have condemned technology outright as he taught that our problems stem back to our character. Technology is only as good and as bad as we are. Listen to his comments - 'the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man.........For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts.....'1 Jesus then proceeded to list sins that are common in society, some you might recoil from (theft, murder, slander) and others a lot of people today think are quite acceptable in our society (fornication, adultery, coveting, deceit, sensuality, pride etc). 

We have become desensitised to our moral state and one of the main causes is corruption through technology. I think Neil Postman's prediction of the effects of technology was pretty accurate.

So where do we go from here? Ditch technology? I don't think so. An awareness of our weakness and sin will cause us to look for the only viable solution that can be found - salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. The bible teaches "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness"2.

Bible References:
1. Mark 7:15,21
2. 1 John 1:9

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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Discover the Road to Power!

When the Lord Jesus was in a house amazing things happened! It's still the same today. The Lord Jesus, when invited into a person's life, brings blessing, light, life, peace, forgiveness and much more. John the apostle wrote, 'to as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name,' John 1. 12. 

This chapter describes: The healing of the sick, the faith of friends, the cynicism of the doubters, the perception of the Son of God, God's desire and ability to forgive sins, the call of Levi by the Saviour and need of salvation for sinners. 

May God bless you as you read it. 


Mark 2

And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.
And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.

And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.
And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.

And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them.
And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him. And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?
When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.

No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles. 

And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him? How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.

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Friday, February 26, 2016

Avoiding Hell at all costs!

Would a loving God send people to hell?

Is this the right question or at least does it ignore some of the other issues of justice, choice and righteousness?

To start with let's look at what the bible says about life after death

No 1 - You are not just a body, you are made up of body, soul and spirit.

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thess 5.23

No 2 - You are dead in sin (no relationship with God) long before your body dies. That's the result of Adam's sin.

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned - Romans 5:12

No 3 - You can have eternal life long before you leave this life.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life - John 3.16

No 4 - You will never cease to exist, only your body will die temporarily. You will be raised to go to either heaven or the Lake of fire.

And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt - Daniel 12:2

But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days - Daniel 12:13

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire Revelation 20:13-15
In regard to why a loving God would punish people, I recently heard one homeless man wisely tell another, “You wouldn’t want to live in a world where God didn’t punish injustices and just freely forgave sin—without any request for someone to choose the salvation He offers back. Imagine a place where injustice was never punished and people never recognized their sin and need for salvation. That would be terrible and painful.”

We all want justice to reign. For a good God to be truly good, injustice must be punished. This is why it makes complete sense that Jesus had to die. There must be a payment for the evil we inflict on the world and one another. Jesus’ death epitomizes God’s mercy and justice—and it all happened in one act.

Let me leave you with a couple of quotes that help as we consider good and evil, right and wrong and heaven and hell.

"Right is Right even if nobody does it. Wrong is wrong even if everybody is wrong about it."—G.K. Chesterton

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.” 
― C S Lewis, The Great Divorce

J B Phillips said "God is indeed all goodness and light but he will show no more compunction towards the evil things that we have allowed to grow in our hearts than a human surgeon would to a malignant growth'. 

C. S. Lewis: "The Christian does not think that God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because he loves us."

Have a think about these things; they are too important to ignore

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Monday, February 22, 2016

3D Vision

Three views of the same part of town. All from a slightly different angle. That's what was happening when the gospel writers wrote their parts of the New Testament. They were all guided by the Holy Spirit to record slightly different angles of the birth, life, death and resurrection of The Lord Jesus Christ.

Matthew writes consistently the phrase 'that it might be fulfilled' so that we would understand that Jesus is the promised Messiah who was fulfilling ancient predictions. Mark records 'and straightway' emphasising the constant and urgent service of the Son of God. Luke in his orderly account records the compassion and care of the man who was God as he visits his people on earth. John tells us in no uncertain terms why he is writing: 'but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name' (John 20.31).

You would find great blessing in reading these records for yourself. Buy a bible in your local book shop or read that copy that has been collecting dust on your bookshelf for a long time.

#the bible

All posts have the aim of pointing people to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour or to aid Christian growth and development.

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Friday, February 19, 2016

Facing your Fears

In this passage in the Gospel of Mark the Lord Jesus is facing death. It is literally the night before Jesus will be crucified. By 9 a.m. the following morning Jesus will have faced a number of assessments in various courts and been condemned to death.
Any serious reader of the Bible will be aware that none of this was news to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel writer, Mark, records Jesus telling his disciples, while walking through the towns of Caesarea Philippi, that he was going to 'suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again,' Mark 8.31. Subsequent to this Jesus and his disciples visited Judea and as they were leaving and heading towards to Jerusalem Jesus was striding ahead of them. The disciples were bewildered, perplexed and really astonished! In fact they were so alarmed that they were afraid. Did they see the Lord Jesus walking straight into a trap? Did they think that he should have avoided Jerusalem at all costs? I am not sure but they were filled with fear. It is at this point that the Lord Jesus reminds them once again that he is facing death! His actual words are recorded - 'Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles. And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again,' Mark 10. 32-34
Please note this: On both of these occasions when the Lord Jesus tells them about his death he also tells them about his resurrection. In other words there is hope; his death is not permanent! He will die to pay for sin but he will come back to life to declare that salvation is freely offered to everyone who is prepared to turn from their sin (and old life) and trust the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness and eternal life.
The events that surrounded the death of the Lord Jesus would embarrass his disciples and cause them offence and in Peter's case, cause him to deny all knowledge of or association with Jesus.
What about you? Does the subject of Jesus, his death, burial and resurrection offend you? I would imagine that Peter was offended for different reasons than you would be! Having lived and seen Jesus for three years, day in and day out, he could not understand why he would need to die. Peter was to learn that the death of the perfect, sinless, Son of God was required to meet the requirements of God. God is holy and sin and wrong must be accounted for and dealt with legally. Sin has a price. Payment must be made before sin can be cancelled and forgiven - that's justice. We understand the concept but don't like it when it comes to our guilt, our responsibility for our beliefs and actions, our accountability to our creator, God.
Think about it! The offer is available to you today, it might not be here tomorrow and if it is will you be here or will you have the capacity to make that choice.
Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses - Acts 13. 38,39.
Mark 14. 27-53
27 And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.
28 But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee.
29 But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.
30 And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.
31 But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.
32 And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray.
33 And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy;
34 And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch.
35 And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.
36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.
37 And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour?
38 Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.
39 And again he went away, and prayed, and spake the same words.
40 And when he returned, he found them asleep again, (for their eyes were heavy,) neither wist they what to answer him.
41 And he cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
42 Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand.
43 And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.
44 And he that betrayed him had given them a token, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him, and lead him away safely.
45 And as soon as he was come, he goeth straightway to him, and saith, Master, master; and kissed him.
46 And they laid their hands on him, and took him.
47 And one of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.
48 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me?
49 I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not: but the scriptures must be fulfilled.
50 And they all forsook him, and fled.
51 And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him:
52 And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.
53 And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes.

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Are you searching for utopia?

God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain” Revelation 21. 4.
Many countries in the world are facing severe social problems due to the influx of illegal immigrants. These are people who seek to enter a country without going through the due legal processes. Such statutory requirements are usually clearly defined by the host country but there are people who will not bow to authority and others who want to get in some way of their own devising.
It appears that these people, while in their own land, heard about a country where life was reported to be very much better than what they were accustomed to and they wanted to enjoy it. Even if they do not meet the entry qualifications they have a determination to gain entry no matter what and their decision often ends in disaster.
Many people who condemn such actions actually behave similarly themselves. They have heard of a place that is immensely superior to earth in every respect. This place is called heaven, which is the eternal abode of God and His people. There every problem, pain and sorrow of life are gone forever. The Bible, the Word of God, says about it, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain” Revelation 21. 4.
Just as earthly governments decide the criteria required for entry to their country, so God, to Whom heaven belongs, has decided the entry requirements to heaven and these are non-negotiable. God unambiguously states, “there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” Revelation 21. 27. Despite the clarity of this, some people want their own way and of this God has said, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” Proverbs 16. 25; see also Proverbs 14. 12. Jesus Christ, God’s Son said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” John 14. 6.
The Bible teaches that we are all defiled by sin and so records twice, “all have sinned” Romans 3. 23; 5. 12. It is very clear that if we want to be in God’s holy heaven, this defilement must all be washed away. There is only one method of cleansing, “the blood of Jesus Christ His [God’s] Son cleanseth us from all sin”, 1 John 1.7. You may think you have a better way, but good works and religious observances will never take away sin. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” Ephesians 2. 8,9. Again it is recorded, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us” Titus 3. 5. A profound question is asked in Proverbs 20. 9, “Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?” The Psalmist knew only God could do this cleansing and so he cried, “Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” Psalm 51. 2. This underlines the truth that God and God alone can save and the only righteous basis on which that can be accomplished is the sacrifice of Christ when crucified on Calvary. Hence the words of Revelation 1. 5, “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood…”.
If you really desire to be in heaven then you must accept God’s terms and not be as foolish as the illegal immigrants. A jailor asked the question, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” The answer was just as succinct, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” Acts 16. 30, 31.

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This article has been reproduced by kind permission of the Editor of Assembly Testimony Magazine. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The best get rich quick plan!

Thesaurus states that riches are ‘An abundance of material possessions and resources’ which covers many aspects of riches, but not all! 

Recently my wife and I with two friends did a fifteen-day tour of the cities of the seven churches named by John in Revelation ch.s 2 and 3. This took the first four days, and then we had a few days in Kusadasi where we visited Miletus. From Kusadasi we went to the Greek island of Samos from where the Apostle Paul sailed to Miletus to meet with the Ephesian elders. One night on that island and then a ferry down to Patmos, where John wrote the Book of the Revelation. This is a lovely island; we spent three nights there. Our last port of call was Kos Town on the island of Kos. It was there that we saw Roma Abramovich’s yacht ‘Eclipse’ in the harbour. It is the largest privately owned yacht in the world at 533feet long. It has a helicopter on board, two swimming pools, seventy staff, and if you want to rent it for a week it will cost you a reported £1.25million. It also has a sea to air missile defence system and a James Bond type submarine to vacate the yacht if under attack, apart from the normal bodyguards that attend his person. This highlights the dangers that come with being wealthy. Mr.Abramovich is a mega-rich man but according to Forbes Magazine he only makes No. 69 of he world’s top 400 billionaires.
The 8th October issue of the magazine has an interesting article about David Green who is a born again billionaire (No. 79 on Forbes list of top 400). He is CEO of Hobby Lobby an arts and crafts store-chain (520) in America. The company is solely family owned and sponsors worldwide evangelical outreach. One venture he sponsors is the YouVersion Bible app for mobile phones. It is equipped to offer 300 different versions of Scripture in 114 languages. To date there have been 50 million downloads throughout the world. Have you got one?

Conversely, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been disgraced by being sentenced to four years in prison for tax fraud. He is No. 169 on Forbes list at around $6 Billion. Whether he will spend one day in prison is another question, he has bounced back more times than a tennis ball from Roger Federer’s racket!  Some Billionaires have known the embarrassment of losing large amounts of their wealth by shrinking stocks, but others have recovered along the path of affluence by shrewd business dealings.

Proverbs 23:4 reads, “Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.”

The evangelist Luke tells us about four men that were rich and are worthy of consideration. The first one was a farmer; the second of the ruling class, the third a socialite and the fourth was a tax collector. 

The farmer had a good harvest and had thoughts of expansion, he said in Luke 12:18, “This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” He planned for a life of ease and prosperity but had not planned for an early exit. God said to him, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” The farmer had a good eye for business but was blind concerning eternity; he had no plans for the future. Have you?

The young man from the ruling class did think about eternity, Luke said, in Luke 18:18, And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” This young man had plenty of material things but did not have eternal life and he wanted it, the problem was he loved his riches more than his soul.

The rich man in Luke 16 died and went to Hell, the beggar Lazarus died too and went to Heaven. Anyone, rich or poor that dies without Christ as their Saviour, dies without hope. Jesus said, “ I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come.”  Jesus died and rose again and went to Heaven, anyone that believes in Him will also go to Heaven, but unbelievers will go to Hell.

The taxman in Luke 19:2  “Was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich” Whether it was curiosity or concern we do not know but we do know that Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus. He climbed a tree to see the Saviour and when Jesus was at the tree He summoned him to come down. Riches may elevate one in society, being prepared to be humbled by the Lord, to be brought down to earth, meant salvation came to Zacchaeus. Christ came to his home. His outlook changed from that point, he said that half of his wealth he would give to the poor and if he had robbed anyone that he would repay fourfold. A change of heart and a change of destination, he was Heaven born and Heaven bound.  He was rich in faith. Amen and God bless.

Written for Stephen Baker by Stan Burdit

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Before you come to a conclusion - check the evidence!

Not so long ago I read a piece on ‘The Bible Society’s debt to Arthur C Clarke' in the Independent Newspaper. The author had obviously carried out some good research about the society and highlighted some key statistics which would be very interesting to a number of people.

I was then quite amazed that the writer then chose to violently misrepresent the teaching of the very book that the society has spent so long translating and making available to the world. For example he chose to ignore that the Bible and Christianity had developed more education programs, opened more hospitals and changed more societies for the good than the current world atheistic belief has ever done. 

Societies that have been successful (in theory) in establishing an atheistic state have generally produced as corrupt societies as capitalist ones but they have neither been ultimately successful or survived in the long run. All of this however only looks at the outcomes of the opposing world views without actually discussing the validity or plausibility of the views. 

Consider for a moment the genuineness of the biblical documents; the writer called them ‘stories, myths, legends etc. I would have imagined that any intelligent person would accept the validity and historicity of the Bible. Even Professor Dawkins accepts the validity of the record and recommends that every child should read it (“Richard Dawkins, the atheist author of The God Delusion, believes that children should grow up reading the Bible”. The Times May 10th 2007) despite the fact that he does not like what it says. The biblical record has been consistently proven to be accurate in terms of history, archaeology and even in the realm of science despite the fact that the modern scientific world view is split between evolutionary belief and the biblical record of Creation (see The Genesis Enigma: Why The Bible Is Scientifically Accurate by Dr Andrew Parker, published by Doubleday). 

In terms of the New Testament record, especially regarding the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth and the claims to his resurrection, there is clear evidence and logic that it speaks the truth even if many do not wish to follow through with the logical question that ‘if this actually happened what does it mean for me?’ Many clever people have attempted to discredit and disprove the historical accuracy of the account of the resurrection of Jesus Christ but have been persuaded by the evidence that he must have risen from the dead (A couple of examples come to mind; see the end of this article for details). How an individual responds to that information is up to them but I believe that the evidence is there to be found. 

As far as the conclusions regarding the Old Testament I do understand the concerns and issues unbelievers have with what seems to be the severity of the God of the Bible. I am not sure if you have read the whole biblical record and sought to understand the complete picture before coming to a conclusion. A careful analysis of the Bible will show that among many things God is both holy (just, righteous and morally pure) and loving. One characteristic does not cancel out the other; in fact his goodness and love of what is right demands that he deals justly with acts of sin and wrongdoing. 
Where people assume that God is acting out of order a careful analysis of the facts will persuade them that he was acting to maintain what is right. If a judge in our times was confronted with evil behaviour, child abuse, rape or one of a whole range of anti-social behaviours that were illegal and detrimental to the good of society we would not question his ‘goodness’ when he passed sentence and 
enforced a punishment that met the severity of the crimes. But when facing the examples of God’s judgment on nations who engaged in the very same activities we question his goodness because he acts justly and righteously to deal with behaviour which breaks his laws and damages society. I am not sure if we are being consistent in our approach to the issues.

Ultimately God has revealed Himself in the Bible and is warning us that we are in danger of his coming justice and judgment as a result of our moral defection and sin (all of us). He has made provision for us all to flee from his coming judgement through the sacrifice of His own dear Son, Jesus. His offer to clear the legal case against us and to offer us pardon, forgiveness and salvation is 
still on the table. That doesn’t sound like a vengeful, demanding, capricious, merciless and tyrannical God to me. 

This is the alternative argument to the atheistic viewpoint: people should know what it is so that they can decide for themselves where the truth lies. 

Note referred to: examples of legal minds who set out to disprove the resurrection and were convinced that it must be true – this is a limited list, there are many more examples. 

Dr. Greenleaf, Royal Professor of Law at Harvard University, was one of the greatest legal minds that ever lived. He wrote the famous legal volume entitled, A Treatise on the Law of Evidence, considered by many the greatest legal volume ever written. Dr. Simon Greenleaf believed the Resurrection of 
Jesus Christ was a hoax. And he determined, once and for all, to expose the "myth" of the Resurrection. After thoroughly examining the evidence for the resurrection — Dr. Greenleaf came to the exact opposite conclusion! He wrote a book entitled, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice. In which he 
emphatically stated: "it was IMPOSSIBLE that the apostles could have persisted in affirming the 
truths they had narrated, had not JESUS CHRIST ACTUALLY RISE  FROM THE DEAD , . . ." 
(Simon Greenleaf, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice, p.29). 
Dr. Greenleaf concluded that according to the jurisdiction of legal evidence the resurrection of Jesus Christ was the best supported event in all of history! And not only that, Dr. Greenleaf was so convinced by the overwhelming evidence, he committed his life to Jesus Christ!). 

Dr. Benjamin Gilbert-West and Lord Littleton were from Cambridge. They were so fed up with Christianity they wanted to destroy it, they took leave of absence to study and write books to refute both the resurrection and the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. As a result of their study, they too became ardent believers and wrote: "Reject not, until you have examined the evidence." 

Dr. Frank Morrison, a lawyer and engineer, was brought up in a rationalistic background. He liked Jesus, but thought the resurrection was a myth that was tacked on. He, too, wanted to write a book to refute it, but in the process of writing, he like the others committed his life to Christ. His findings are in the book "Who Moved the Stone"? 

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