Wednesday, March 31, 2021

How to handle your mistakes!






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An article was published some time back that discussed whether or not erasers should be banned from classrooms. It was suggested that they create a culture of shame about error — that they are a way of lying to the world, which says, ‘I did not make a mistake. I got it right the first time.’

Whilst one spokesman thought the banning of erasers would be a harsh action, he pointed out that, ‘the observation of children’s mistakes is essential to good teaching… teachers need to observe all the attempts children make so that they can target their instruction.’

How would we feel about all our mistakes being left permanently on display? What if, in the process of making a chair I cut one leg too short — must I leave it, or should it be removed and replaced? In these circumstances, I am sure you will agree that the matter needs to be put right.
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Sunday, March 28, 2021

Research your Family Tree



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In recent years there has been a major increase in people’s interest in researching their family trees. As the interest in celebrities rises, so does the fascination with programs that explore their backgrounds and ancestors.

 

The BBC genealogy documentary series ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ regularly attracts an audience of more than 6 million viewers. It is now in its 17th series. ITV is running DNA Journey (2019 (1) and 2021 Series (3)), and so the list goes on.

 

While we dig into famous celebrities' ancestry, there is a lot of controversy about the origin of the most famous person in history – Jesus Christ. Christians believe that Jesus is God’s Son. In the New Testament, Jesus frequently referred to God as his “Father” (see John 5:17). In the next verse, we read that the Jews sought to kill him because they understood that he was claiming to be “equal with God”. In John 10:30, Jesus describes himself and his Father as being one in essence, that is, divine, and as a result, we read in verse 33 that the Jews once again try to stone him. 

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Saturday, March 27, 2021

Changes this weekend








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Quite a few changes are expected this weekend! There are routine ones like the clocks going an hour forward to British Summer Time, bringing the prospect of more daylight hours in the evening, and warmer ones too.

 

Then there’s the one most of us have been looking forward to, when we can meet again for our church services. We’ll be starting again in the Gospel Hall here this Sunday in a limited way, but then hope to be able to open up more freely again soon for more people. But that will depend on the Covid situation throughout our countries, as people mixing more with each other can push up infections. I think it’s still ‘go slowly and cautiously, a step at a time’.

 

We would like to hope and believe that lockdowns will soon be a thing of the past. The first lockdown a year ago brought the biggest change any of us had ever seen in every aspect of our lives, and all over the world. We could hardly believe it at first, hardly knew how we would cope with those awkward restrictions so that we could stay safe, but we have got through what has been a very difficult year. It may be, however, that some changes will be permanent, or at least long lasting. Some changes for the better will maybe come with us into the future, for I think during the year we have learned to value even more some of the really important things in life.

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Friday, March 26, 2021

Lockdown Loneliness



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I read the following comment in the ‘The Guardian’ newspaper quite a while ago - ‘The dilemma, I’m 22 years old and going into my fourth year in medical school. I have been using study to escape loneliness, insecurity and anxiety that arose from the stress of the course and my failure to establish friends’.


Another person wrote in The Telegraph, “‘Life looks good on the surface - so why are we all so lonely?  ‘But you can’t be lonely,’ a friend tells me crossly. ‘You’re out  every night.’ The backhanded compliment makes me laugh. But it also makes me sad. On paper, my life sounds glamorous. Denying you feel lonely makes no more sense than denying you feel hunger’” These are the comments of a high profile journalist who looks as if she is living the high life but most certainly doesn’t feel as if she is.


Please bear in mind that these statements were made before the COVID crisis hit us - how much more painful will life be for these people now.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Modern Manners!

 




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“Put your mobile phone away during meals, never eat on the train, and remember that reclining your aeroplane seat is selfish”. So says DeBrett’s Handbook of Modern Manners. They’ve been dispensing advice on etiquette for 250 years, and the latest edition includes protocols for smartphones and e-cigarettes. 

Memorising their rules should enable anyone of us to avoid causing offence in any setting.

On the other end of the spectrum is Russell Brand’s book "Revolution". With a total disdain for the establishment, manners are the last thing on his mind as his approach is to raise big questions and rattle the status quo. Each of these two books represents a very different ethos, either fitting in impeccably with society or shaking things up for a revolution.

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Monday, March 22, 2021

Thank you for the music

 



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Music and songs create passion in our hearts and evoke vivid memories. Some of these memories are good; some are sad! 

Songs are very emotive and help us store memories. A very effective learning method is linked to the rhythm in repeating words that somehow glue the words or the facts to our minds. Most of us didn’t necessarily enjoy it, but we often learned facts or figures (times tables, for example) by musical rhythm. If you were dragged off to Sunday School (maybe you loved going), you might remember learning bible verses, for example, “For God so loved the world that..” or “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and ..”or maybe “Honour your Father and your Mother”. All of this was to get some important facts from the bible into your young mind for the purpose of living life and one-day meeting God.   

If I was asked to quote some great piece of literature, I would struggle, but if you whistled a tune of some popular song, I often amaze myself with my ability to recall the words. Maybe you do this as well. Music has a powerful effect on our memories in this respect.  

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Friday, March 19, 2021

Do you feel let down?




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At some point in our lives, I am sure that we have all felt let down by someone or other, or even felt that feeling of total betrayal. This is because of human nature; we all have the ability to act selfishly. When we put ourselves above others, it has the potential to cause others hurt. When we experience this, we can, in a small way, begin to understand how God feels when we sin and let Him down. When you think that all humans have sinned and sin is against God, how much hurt must God feel at our actions, thoughts and words?

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Monday, March 15, 2021

Singing our way out of Lockdown!

 


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Our Singing

 

Who would have thought that the last year would pass so quickly? At first, we wondered how we would cope with all those restrictions for so long, but here we are. And now we are being promised some gradual moves towards “normality”, but old fashioned “normal” may never return, or not for a long time yet.

 

Among the more normal things, we would love to see soon would be the opportunity to meet with our Christian brothers and sisters in proper church gatherings, to remember our Lord, to listen to His Word, to pray together, to sing again in harmony or unison. At least we try to do that, but maybe in future, our singing will have to be a bit more subdued because they are telling us that sometimes singing can spread things like viruses! We’re not there yet, so meantime, we can listen to messages of hope and cheer online. And we all can, and we all should keep reading our Bibles and praying every day. As an old Sunday School song says:

 

Read your Bible, pray every day ...  and you’ll grow, grow, grow!

 

You may remember the other verse, which is:

 

I will make you fishers of men ... if you follow Me!

 

In our reading and praying, we communicate with the Lord, one to one, but what about our singing? It’s great to sing along with others, but what if you can’t do that just now? Can we sing to ourselves? Some people speak to themselves, and that’s OK sometimes. Ephesians 5.19 tells us that both speaking to yourself and singing to yourself is a good thing: “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” The inspired words in the Psalms, and the beautiful words of hymn-writers, are often the very words we need to express how we feel some days or lift our hearts in appreciation and worship to God at any time. We know that the Lord hears and appreciates it, for He says, “Whoever offers praise, glorifies me,” Psalm 50.23.

 

When other people hear us singing, it can have an effect on them. When Paul and Silas were in prison in Philippi (for preaching the Gospel), they “prayed and sang praises to God” – at midnight! We might have thought that wasn’t a good time to sing and not a good place to be singing, especially after they had been beaten up by the jailor. But they were singing, and we read that the prisoners in that jail were listening to them.

 

God got the praise, and others got the blessing, for as you read this story in Acts 16.19-34, you are reminded that the jailor, who also must have heard them, came and asked, “What must I do to be saved?” And the great answers was and still is, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!”

 

Looking back, I seem to remember that years ago, many Christians went about singing a lot more than we do now – in the house, at their work, on the land, and on the sea! We have more recorded music and singing to listen to nowadays, and that’s good sometimes. But let’s not forget to sing for ourselves, maybe along with the recordings if you are enjoying it! You never know who is listening! God certainly is, but perhaps someone else will get a blessing too.

 

So, what about this one?

 

I will sing of my Redeemer.

And His wondrous love to me!

On the cruel cross, He suffered.

From the curse to set me free!

 

Sing, oh sing ... of my Redeemer,

With His blood He purchased me.

On the cross, He sealed my pardon

Paid my debt and made me free!

 

[Philipp Bliss, 1838-1876]

 

 

 

 

Written by Bert Cargill, St Monans and used by kind permission

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Sunday, March 14, 2021

Anniversaries

 



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Anniversaries!

 

A year ago, this weekend was the last time we had our normal services in the Gospel Hall – it’s maybe an unhappy anniversary!  Most anniversaries celebrate life’s happy events, including Mothers’ Day just now. But it’s not all joy to look back to the beginning of a year that has been so difficult for so many people.
 

From August to December after the first lockdown, we enjoyed a bit of respite, but the past two months have been more difficult again. Although we won’t celebrate looking back, we can hope this might be the beginning of better days ahead.

 

At this stage, we are encouraged to balance hope with caution –

·       hope that the number of Covid infections will continue to fall, but caution because the numbers are still very high;

·       hope because the number of vaccinations continues to rise, but caution because the virus has the nasty ability to change;

·       hope that restrictions will be relaxed for all the kinds of things we have enjoyed doing, but caution because transmission of the virus is so easy;

·       hope that everyone will get the message about caution but caution because we know people can ignore it and be selfish.

 

The Bible has this advice about selfishness, for it’s something we all have to guard against: “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2.4). Notice the word “also”. It’s not that we are to neglect our own affairs, but we haven’t to become so absorbed in these that we have no room or time for others. There are examples in the Bible of people who got the balance right and others who got it badly wrong. Can you think of some of each type? Why not email me some answers! It would be lovely to hear from you!

 

The supreme example of living unselfishly for others (and also dying for others) is, of course, our Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 2.5-8 describes how He who was so great and glorious in heaven came to earth to die on a cross for you and me. Another verse reminds us that “though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich (2 Corinthians 8.9). The riches, of course, are spiritual ones, not material ones. Salvation from sin and its consequences is more important than prosperity and luxury.

 

Zacchaeus found this one day - read about him in Luke 19.1-10. Did you ever sing this one, maybe in Sunday School?

 

A certain man of whom we read,

Who lived in days of old,

Though he was rich, he felt his need

Of something more than gold.

Oh yes, my friend, there’s something more,

There’s something more than gold!

To know your sins are all forgiven.

Is better far than gold!

 

This springtime anniversary weekend also brings the cheer of lengthening daylight hours, flowers coming into bloom, a bit of warmth in the air. We are reminded of God’s sure promise recorded away back in Genesis 8.22, and we realise that what the old German hymn says is so true –

 

All good gifts around us

Are sent from heaven above;

Then thank the Lord,

Oh, thank the Lord,

For all His love.

 

[Matthias Claudius, 1740-1815]

 


Written and used by permission of Bert Cargill of the Gospel Hall, St Monans

 

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Saturday, March 13, 2021

What does the Bible tell us about the future? - Essay for Christians










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A very high percentage of the Bible is about the future. Some people reckon that over a quarter of the Bible deals with future events. When studying this topic We need to bear in mind that the truth of the church was hidden in the Old Testament and not revealed until New Testament days. Therefore, we should not expect to find predictions about the conditions in the world during the last days of the church on earth in the Old Testament. On this basis this post will be based on New Testament references.

 

Before I continue, I need to clarify two things:

 

1.  What I mean by the word ‘church’, and

2. That I believe that the church will not always remain on earth as there will be a day when it is taken from earth to heaven.

 

These two issues will provide a framework for us to work within when considering our question - What does the Bible tell us about the future - the last days of the church on earth!

 

What the word ‘church’ means?

 

In some ways, the word ‘church’ is an unfortunate translation of the Greek word ‘ekklesia’. Most dictionaries explain the word as meaning ‘the called people’. William Tyndale is famous for translating the word as ‘congregation’, reminding us that the word describes people who meet together for a specific reason. It has been used mainly in a religious context, but it is also used for civic/public meetings as in Acts chapter 19 verse 39 & 41.  

 

The first two references to the church in the New Testament are found in Matthew chapters 16 and 18. These passages explain the two aspects of the church that are taught in the New Testament. That is the church made up of all Christians (the dispensational church or the church which is the body of Christ) and the local church.

 

The church described in Matthew chapter 16 is made up of every believer from the commencement of the church on the Day of Pentecost, Acts 2, to its completion at the coming of Christ, 1 Thess. 4. It is called the ‘the body of Christ’ in Ephesians chapter 1 verse 23. In the same chapter, verse 22, we learn that the Lord Jesus Christ is 'head over all things to the church’.

 

In summary, based on Matthew 16. 18,19, the Dispensational Church (and therefore all local churches):

 

1. Is built on Christ who is the foundation,

2. Is owned by the Lord Jesus – ‘my church’,

3. Is growing and will grow until the Lord Jesus returns,

4. Is the focus of the devil’s destructive activity,

5. Will never be destroyed by Satan’s power,

6. Represents the authority of Christ on earth.

 

When used in Matthew chapter 18 verses 15 – 20, the word clearly refers to a situation where a person, while trying to sort out a personal dispute, comes to the ‘church’ to request a decision. In this section, there is a reference made to decisions made on earth being corroborated in heaven. This is similar to what is said in Matthew 16, but the point seems to be that of the authority vested in a local church instead of the authority that was vested in Peter as is seen fulfilled in the Book of Acts, Acts 2, 8, 10, 11.    

 

One day, the church will be taken from earth to heaven.

 

The Church will one day be taken from earth to heaven. Not all of the church is on earth as many of the saints have already died, Eph. 3. 15, 1 Thess. 4. 15, 17. The Lord Jesus promised that He would come again for His own in John chapter 14 verse 3, and many other passages either hint at or teach this truth. For example, John chapter 17, verse 24 and 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. 

 

So, what will the world look like in the last days of the church on earth?

 

The key passages to look at for this are 2nd Thessalonians 2, 2nd Timothy 3, 2nd Peter 2 and Revelation chapter 2 and 3. 

 

The expression ‘last days’ is a significant one when we are looking at this subject. While we cannot be dogmatic when the last days are, we can see from these passages the characteristics and moral features of ‘last days’.

 

2nd Thessalonians 2

 

In this passage, the Apostle Paul explains the conditions that will be in place when the ‘man of sin’ will be revealed. By comparing numerous passages, we conclude that this will not happen until the church has been translated to heaven. However, the characteristics of this period are clearly seen in this passage.

 

Verse 3 – there will be a major rebellion against God; the KJV calls it ‘a falling away’.

 

Verse 10 – there will have been a refusal to love the truth, that is, the truth of God as revealed in scripture. This refusal reflects the aggressive denial of the need for salvation by human beings.

 

Verse 12 – the refusal to believe the truth is a result of and also how that generation will delight and have pleasure in unrighteousness. Like Noah’s generation and Lot’s generation, the people get their thrills from wicked pursuits. 

 

2nd Timothy 3

 

This passage specifically claims to be describing the last days.

 

In verse 1, Paul says that these are terrible days of difficulty. Unpleasant, evil days. The following list makes for very unpleasant reading. The people of that day (which sounds very like ours) are selfish, egotistical, materialistic, super assertive, arrogant and proud, abusive, ungrateful, unforgiving and focused on pleasure. 

 

I have not gone down the list and quoted each description, you can do that on your own, but you can see for yourself that the conditions described as ‘last days’ are indeed ‘terrible times’, verse 1.

 

We must be careful in case we see this list as just describing the lower end of a selfish and violent society. This is a list that covers all of society. The rich and the poor, the powerful and the downtrodden; every strata of society is included. The key is found in verse 5 – ‘having a form of godliness but denying its power’. In a society where ‘evil is called good, and good is called evil’, morals are severely messed up, and what might appear moral is actually done in denial of all that pleases God.

 

2nd Peter 2

 

Peter adds his voice to the description of conditions in the last days. 

 

In verse 1, we learn that there will be those who teach error. The false teaching is so bad that it is described as ‘destructive heresies’. It is off the wall error that destroys the truth of God and destroys those who fall under its evil spell. The main error relates to the person of Christ and the work of salvation, verse 2. These false teachers will attract a great following, verse 3. This is similar to the warning that Paul gave to the Ephesian elders in Acts chapter 20. 

 

The false teachers of last days will exploit the people of God, verse 3, with ‘made-up stories’. In other words, they are fully aware that they are deceiving people and doing it for personal profit. The judgement that is pronounced reflects the severity of the sin of false teaching and false teachers.

 


Revelation 2 & 3

 

These chapters can be used as a template to describe conditions in the church and the world before the Lord Jesus returns to the air. The seven churches of Asia Minor can be looked at prophetically - as a timeline from Pentecost to the Rapture or morally - conditions that could exist at any one point in church history.

 


Prophetically – from this standpoint, the church in Laodicea describes the church in the period of time just before the Lord comes. Look at the low moral and spiritual of this local church. Sadly, the moral/spiritual state of the world is often reflected in the state of the church.


This is a church that is lukewarm. There is little reality or conviction. The Lord finds it spurious and distasteful. This church sees itself as rich and in need of nothing, but the Lord describes their real condition as ‘wretched, and miserable, and poor and blind and naked’. It would appear that recovery in these days will be on an individual basis as the Lord appeals for individuals to ‘open the door’ for Him to come in. 

 

Morally – this view of the seven churches reminds us to be aware of the low spiritual condition that could exist in any local church. Every generation, potentially, faces the same problems and can demonstrate last day characteristics in their behaviour. 


Here are some key examples: the increase of satanic activity in some locations, Rev. 2. 13, will have a devastating effect on church testimony. The changing role of women, Rev. 2. 20, and the seduction of false religion will bring divine judgement. 

 

The constant theme of overcoming, Rev. 2. 7 – Rev. 3. 21, and the rewards that relate to the future reign of Christ on earth, Rev. 2. 26, 27, 3. 12, 3. 21, would remind us that these conditions will exist right up until the coming of the Lord.

 

As I conclude, this post may I add this comment. Many passages of scripture describe conditions that will exist in the world after the church has been taken to be with the Lord. While I cannot be dogmatic about this suggestion, I do not think that these evil conditions will suddenly commence when the church goes. From 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, we know that lawlessness is already working in the world but that there will come the point when it’s progress will no longer be impeded. I judge that in verse 7, the Spirit of God is hindering the full advancement of evil while the church is still in the world. On the point of the church’s removal, the Spirit of God will also go. Just as the Spirit came at the commencement of the church in Acts 2 so the removal of the Spirit will coincide with its removal. At that point, the actors and the actions of unrestricted evil will be revealed.

 

This being the case, the descriptions of society post the rapture, which are given in Matthew 24, Luke 21, Revelation 13, 17, 18, are relevant for us to consider. They describe a world where there will be:

 

1.     Increased levels of evil activity

2.     Aggression and persecution

3.     False prophets and teachers

4.     Claims to Political unity

5.     A united form of world                       religion

6.     Streamlined Economic and Financial world systems

7.     Increased wars producing apparent peace

 

Last day conditions may be upon us, or at least we can see signs that the world is fast moving towards the way things are described in scripture.


Are you saved and are you ready for the coming of Christ? Are you living in disobedience to God’s word? It is time to repent and live a life of obedience to the Lord. 

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