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What God hears

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October 2014
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What God hears

During my childhood, the natural reaction of most parents who heard their children using bad language was to say, ‘Wash your mouth out!’ These days, if an adult has the temerity to complain to a parent about a child’s bad language, the likely outcome is a mouthful of bad language from the parent as well (from mothers as well as fathers)! As Christian influence in society has declined, so permissiveness has prevailed and bad language, in all its forms, become commonplace. Ironic reversal It is ironic, therefore, that, even as society has tolerated increased swearing and obscenity in public speech, new forms of taboo in...

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Church membership

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September 2014
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Church membership

Is church membership really necessary? Can’t a Christian have perpetual fellowship with a particular congregation while still remaining a ‘visitor’? To answer this, we first need to understand what the true church is. The universal church or Body of Christ (Romans 12:5) is composed only and entirely of elect and true believers in Christ. Non-believers are not part of that Body. So we realise straightaway that God keeps (according to human understanding) a ‘membership list’ of who is in his true church. During the time of the early church, ‘the Lord added to them daily such as should be saved’ (Acts 2:47). This verse indicates...

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Reflecting on a woeful childhood

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August 2014
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Reflecting on a woeful childhood

I reflected on a newspaper report (30 May 2014) from San Diego, California, about a girl who became a boy, at the age of five, when, ‘Jeff and Hillary Whittington shared the emotional story of little Ryland’s decision and gender transition as they accepted the Inspiration Award at the 6th annual Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast’ (www.nydailynews.com/news/national/san-diego-parents-reveal-story-transgender-daughter-boy-5-article-1.1811066#ixzz34uCrIuVD). I resisted the temptation to rearrange the words ‘lunatics’, ‘asylum’ and ‘have taken over’ to make a well known phrase or saying, and instead spent a moment or two reflecting on my own childhood. I well remember one afternoon, at the age of three, deciding that I was not...

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A sweet or biblical Jesus?

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July 2014
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A sweet or biblical Jesus?

Do you have a ‘sweet Jesus’ in your heart, but not a ‘biblical Jesus’ in your mind? You need both; one will not do without the other. The biblical Jesus is also the truly sweet Jesus. Where might we find him? One of my favourite places to look for this sweet and biblical Jesus is in the apostle Paul’s epistle to the Philippians. Some preachers in today’s church neglect the preaching from Paul’s epistles to their own and their congregations’ impoverishment. But consider the vocabulary of joy just in chapter 1: ‘saints’, ‘grace’, ‘peace’, ‘thanks’, ‘partnership’, ‘affection’, ‘love’, ‘fruit’, ‘glory’, ‘praise’, ‘rejoice’, ‘deliverance’, ‘hope’, ‘courage’,...

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Four words God loves to hear

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June 2014
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Four words God loves to hear

I assume that each one reading this comment earnestly wants to be heard by the Lord; and, if so, needs to know what words to use, what feelings to express and what attitudes to assume, in order to be heard by God. Well, here are four words we need to understand and sincerely adopt: ‘I am not worthy’! They were uttered by three Bible characters, two who were very prominent and one who is only mentioned briefly. These are: Jacob, grandson of Abraham and founder of the Jewish nation; Cornelius, a soldier Jesus encountered; and John the Baptist, forerunner of our Lord. Two said, ‘I...

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Hiding God’s Word in our hearts

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April 2014
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Hiding God’s Word in our hearts

Most Scripture memory schemes concentrate on individual verses that emphasise certain key truths. But I came across a method some time ago, by Dr Andrew Davis, that has a much bigger vision: to memorise not just a verse here and there, but whole chapters and even books. Can we be motivated to such a huge goal? Davis says, ‘Most of Scripture is written to make a case … there is a flow of argumentation that is missed if individual verses are memorised’. I was inspired by this and convinced it was a good thing to do, but it remained as an item on my ‘to...

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March 2014
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A global vision

It has been good to see that the ‘Concert of Prayer’ for revival across the UK, now into its fourth year, has generally maintained a wider, global vision. Prayers have not focussed merely on our own needs in this country, and that is right and proper. Let’s never forget that our concern should be a global one — for the expansion of the kingdom of God worldwide. If we become merely parochial in our concern, we may grieve the Spirit whose passion is to see Jesus Christ honoured to the ends of the earth. Whether or not that global vision comes explicitly to the fore...

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Praying for the wicked

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February 2014
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Praying for the wicked

It is easier to call down fire from heaven on notorious sinners than love them enough to plead with the Lord for their salvation. James and John knew what they wanted for the Samaritans who would not welcome Jesus: ‘Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?’ You know what Jesus made of that? He rebuked them sternly and reminded them that ‘the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them’ (Luke 9:54-56). Sodom When God revealed to Abraham his purpose to destroy Sodom, Abraham’s response was...

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Christ’s lordship in 2014

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January 2014
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Christ’s lordship in 2014

There are many that call Jesus Saviour who are not willing to submit to his lordship. Their lives are sad evidence that they are still under the bondage of sin. The lordship of Christ is his rightful rule over his people, as his redeemed subjects. It is a spiritual reign established in the regenerated heart and administered, not by force or external means, but by the Word and Spirit where the believer, out of love and godly fear, submits to the will of God. Surrender There is no half-hearted commitment for those who follow Christ, for Jesus says, if anyone comes after him, he must...

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The rest of faith

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November 2013
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The rest of faith

The prophet Isaiah reminds us that there is an incessant, persistent restlessness that characterises the wicked of this world. He says that ‘the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt’ (Isaiah 57:20).     What a powerful picture this is! Many of you, like me, have stood on a beach and watched the endless churning and splashing of the ocean as it lashes against the shore. So the hearts of men who do not know God are always seeking something that can fulfil. But the search never ends until a person rests in God’s promises.    Rest,...

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The heir to the throne

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September 2013
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The heir to the throne

The birth of the Prince of Cambridge on 22 July brought intense, worldwide media coverage. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Catherine, had a son who is third in line to the British throne. The prince was born at 16.25 hrs, and the announcement was made about four hours later. The next day saw his first public appearance, and a day or so later his name was revealed as George Alexander Louis. The royal baby, wrapped in a shawl in his mother’s arms, looked peaceably asleep and had that mix of cuteness and vulnerability common to all newborn babies. Yet here was no...

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August 2013
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‘I am coming!’

Just a few days ago a sister in Christ shared with Reta and me one of the most heart-warming and touching stories I have heard in a long time. Lula Downs is a member of our church, Bellepoint Baptist, in Frankfort (USA), and it is noticeable that she has a special love for children and gift for working with them. As Reta and I discussed her ministry for children, she shared how God has prepared her for this. It was through her long care for her son, Steven Mitchell. When he was only two days old, he had a medical procedure which caused a blood...

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