'Make your judgment of the Christian message based on truth, not the mood of our times. Moods change. Truth does not.'
Dr. Ravi Zacharias, Jesus Among Other Gods
'A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench' (Isaiah 42:3; Matthew 12:20).
Reeds were readily available and had many uses in Bible times ranging from a measuring rod to a Shepherd’s flute. A reed lost its usefulness once it bent or cracked and being easily replaced, a bruised reed was broken and discarded.
Twisted linen cloth was used as a flax or wick to feed the oil for the flame in the lamp to give light. The wick would smolder if not properly trimmed or was low on oil. In this condition it was in danger of going out completely and the natural reaction would be to extinguish and replace it.
Many a life has been ‘bruised’ by sin and discarded as useless. Many a life has ‘smoldered’ from the effects of sin to the point of being extinguished as worthless. Jesus the Nazarene, God’s perfect servant ‘did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them’ (Luke 9:56). He can take the bruised and smoldering life and renew it. Will you let Him?
‘To rank Jesus as the greatest, wisest, best or most influential man who ever lived is not to dignify Him but to degrade Him and miss the whole point of who He was and what He did.’
John Blanchard, Is God Past His Sell-by Date?
Twas battered and scarred and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin
But held it up with a smile.
“What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried,
“Who’ll start the bidding for me?
A dollar, a dollar then two! Only two?
Two dollars and who’ll make it three.
Three dollars once. Three dollars twice.
Going for three—But no
From the room, far back, a gray haired man
Came forward and pick up the bow.
Then wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening the loosened strings
He played a melody pure and sweet
As a caroling angel sings.
The music ceased, and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low
Said, “What am I bid for the old violin?”
And he held it up with the bow.
A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two.
Two thousand and who’ll make it three.
Three thousand once—three thousand twice
And going and gone,” said he.
The people cheered but some of them cried
We do not quite understand.
What changed its worth? Swift came the reply
The touch of the master’s hand.
And many a man with life out of tune
And battered and scarred with sin.
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd
Much like the old violin.
A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game—he travels on.
He’s “going” once, and “going” twice
He’s going and almost gone.
But the Master comes and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and change that’s wrought
By the touch of the Master’s hand.
Myra B. Welch (1877-1959)
Jeremiah was called by the Jewish Rabbis, ‘the weeping prophet’. He felt the burden of his ministry and mourned the lack of response to his preaching. On one occasion he was sent by the Lord to the potter’s house for an object lesson about the power and patience of God.
The potter was making a vessel on the wheels, two stone or wooden discs joined by an upright shaft, the lower disc being worked by the potter’s feet to rotate the upper disc upon which he shaped the clay with his hands.
As Jeremiah observed the potter at work a problem appeared; the clay proved defective, and the vessel being made was ‘marred in the hand of the potter’. However, rather than discard the clay, the potter patiently remade it into ‘another vessel’.
Like the people to whom Jeremiah spoke, we too are defective vessels of clay and because of our inherent sinfulness we don’t, and can’t fulfill the purpose for which God created us. The good news is though; God, the Master Potter, has the power and patience to remake the clay into ‘another vessel’. The Lord Jesus put it this way; “You must be born again” (John 3:7).
On the Thursday evening Jesus kept the Passover with His twelve disciples in Jerusalem. Later, in the darkness of the night at the Garden of Gethsemane He was betrayed by Judas and arrested. Charged with blasphemy, and condemned to death by Caiaphas and the Jewish Sanhedrin, Jesus was ushered, early on the Friday morning to appear before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate.
Pilate passed the death sentence after the mockery of a trial in which Jesus was pronounced completely innocent. Finally, outside the city wall at the ‘Place of a Skull’, Jesus suffered the greatest humiliation of one of the worst forms of cruelty ever invented by men: crucifixion. Before the moment of death He committed His spirit to His Father and was afterward laid in a new sepulchre by two disciples. Early in the morning on the third day after the crucifixion, the sepulchre was discovered empty. The Lord Jesus had risen from the dead!
The gospel declares the outcome of ‘Good Friday’ – ‘Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures’ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
'God made the world without any suffering, but he could not redeem even one soul without agonies unknown.’
C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)
As a wealthy tax collector, Zacchaeus was despised by many of his fellow countrymen. Jews collecting taxes for the Romans were considered unclean and no better than traitors. Aware of this, Zacchaeus was very keen to see the teacher called Jesus having heard that He was the ‘friend of tax collectors and sinners’.
News spread that Jesus was passing through Jericho, the hometown of Zacchaeus, so not wanting to miss the opportunity he determined to see Him and find out what He was really like.
Zacchaeus wasn't tall so couldn’t see over the crowds surrounding Jesus, however refusing to be deterred he ran ahead of Him, and climbed a sycamore tree to ensure a good view of this remarkable man as He passed.
Soon Jesus was coming down the road, and to Zacchaeus’ surprise He stopped at the bottom of the tree, called Zacchaeus down and invited Himself to his home! Zacchaeus responded immediately and joyfully – Jesus really was the ‘friend of tax collectors and sinners’.
What Zacchaeus discovered is still true today - a seeking sinner and the seeking Saviour will always meet - ‘For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost’ (Luke 19:10).
Two criminals were crucified with the Lord Jesus Christ at Golgotha, outside Jerusalem. The prophecy of Isaiah recorded, some 700 years before the event, that the Lord Jesus would be associated with criminals in His death – ‘And He was numbered with transgressors’ (Isaiah 53:12).
There is no record of the names of these thieves but their reaction to Jesus is written in scripture. One of them sadly died the way he lived - in the bitterness of sin; the other in the blessing of forgiveness.
In the final hours of his wasted life this hardened criminal turned to the man on the middle cross and spoke remarkable words of faith: “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom”. He knew the cross was not the end of Jesus. In response he heard words of assurance that brought comfort to his aching heart as he realized the extent of divine grace. The Lord Jesus said to the repentant thief, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise”.
Are you sure of heaven at the end of life? Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the only way. The Bible says: 'if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation' (Rom 10:9-10).
'There is one case of death bed repentance recorded, that of the penitent thief, that none should despair; and only one, that none should presume.'
Augustine of Hippo (354-420)
God is never taken by surprise; otherwise He would not be God. Adam’s rebellion against His word was neither God’s design nor desire. Indeed, when man’s rebellion had climaxed in widespread anarchy on the earth, the Bible records: ‘Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart’ (Genesis 6:5-6).
God did though have an answer that would defeat Satan, who instigated the moral fall of Adam and Eve, and bring deliverance to man and the world. God said to the serpent: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15).
This has been called the Protevangelium meaning ‘the first gospel’. It was the promise of a mighty deliverer who would crush the Devil and bring salvation to the human race. The ultimate answer to this promise was the virgin conception and birth of Christ - the seed of the woman, and His suffering and triumph on the Cross where He crushed the head of the serpent while experiencing the venom of his resistance.
The triumph of the Cross is yet to be fully realized in this world, but you can know its power now in your life by repenting and believing in the Saviour – the Lord Jesus Christ who died and rose again. He can free you from the bondage of sin and deliver you from the deception of the Devil.
There is a day coming in the future when Satan will be bound and held in the abyss (Rev 20:1-3) as the prisoner of the mighty conqueror, the 'Lion of Judah' who triumphed on the Cross as the 'Lamb of God' (Rev 5:1-7).
‘The resurrection of Christ and the fact of the empty tomb are not part of the world’s complex and continuing mythologies. This is not a Santa Claus tale – it is history and it is reality.’
A. W. Tozer
'The seeds of every wickedness lie hidden in our hearts. They only need the convenient season to spring forth into a mischievous vitality.'
J. C. Ryle (1816 - 1900)
Lord, I care not for riches, neither silver nor gold;
I would make sure of Heaven, I would enter the fold.
In the book of Thy kingdom, with its pages so fair,
Tell me, Jesus, my Savior, is my name written there?
Is my name written there,
On the page white and fair?
In the book of Thy kingdom,
Is my name written there?
Lord, my sins they are many, like the sands of the sea,
But Thy blood, O my Savior, is sufficient for me;
For Thy promise is written, in bright letters that glow,
“Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them like snow.”
Oh! that beautiful city, with its mansions of light,
With its glorified beings, in pure garments of white;
Where no evil thing cometh to despoil what is fair;
Where the angels are watching, yes, my name’s written there.
Mary Anne Kidder (1820-1905)
Have you ever stopped to wonder
what this life is all about?
Why you’re and where you’re going
when your lease of time runs out?
Maybe you’ve been far too busy,
trying hard to reach your goal.
Would you let me ask you, kindly,
“Have you thought about your soul?”
You may reach your highest portals
and your dreams may all come true.
Wealth and fame may be your portion
and success may shine on you.
All your friends may sing you’re your praises,
not a care on you may roll.
What about the great tomorrow,
“Have you thought about your soul?”
Don’t forget your days are numbered,
though you may be riding high.
But, like all of us, poor mortals,
some day you’ll just up and die.
Your success and fame and glory,
won’t be worth the bell they toll.
Let me ask you just one question,
“Have you thought about your soul?”
If you’ve never thought it over,
spend a little time today.
There is nothing more important,
that will ever come your way.
Than the joys of sins forgiven
and to know you’ve been made whole
In the name of Christ the Saviour,
“Have you thought about your soul?”
For it is time to seek the Lord
No Government, Prime Minister or President has the moral right to redefine the God ordained institution of marriage. The Bible, which has been foundational to the values that have shaped America and Britain, teaches that this sacred union is only possible between one man and one woman being designed and established by God for the mutual benefit of both and the good of mankind in general (Gen 2:21-24).
God's intention is that the free and pure expression of intimacy between a man and a woman be realized only within the commitment of marriage (Heb 13:4), that procreation should be the result only of the union of marriage and that a father and mother with their children constitute a family, the existence of which is essential to the proper function of society.
Moral conduct cannot be defined by governments or the will of the people. Morality must stand on the sure foundation of moral truth and moral truth must be defined by a higher power greater than man. The universal principles of moral truth must be applicable to all people or else moral standards will be nothing more than the preferences of any individual or group. History gives abundant testimony to the dire consequences of building on the 'shifting sands' of man's moral ideas.
Not only is the very idea of same sex marriage morally wrong it is also biologically impossible. In marriage male and female become one flesh by a physical union for which their bodies are naturally designed and through which procreation can only happen. Such a union simply cannot exist between persons of the same sex. Therefore any redefinition of marriage in reality is meaningless.
“Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?" (Matt 19:4-5).
Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.
Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I'm come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.
O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.
Robert Robinson, 1735-1790
'"The Word became flesh." The statement is appalling, overwhelming. Out of the infinite distances, into the infinite nearness; from the unknowable, to the knowable; from the method of self expression appreciable by Deity alone, to a method of self expression understandable of the human.'
G. Campbell Morgan The Crisis of the Christ
In a day of moral corruption and perversion giving heed to the words of Paul is so very important:
'Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.'
There's an old gospel hymn that says: 'Life at best is very brief.' How true! Yet, we live our lives as if tomorrow is guaranteed and confidently plan for the future while forgetting just how uncertain it is. The Bible reminds us, in answer to the above question, that your life it is just like 'a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away' (James 4:14). Like steam that rises from boiling water only to disappear in seconds or like the mist of morning that is soon dissipated by rays of sunshine or like the smoke of a fire that quickly blows away with the wind - our lives are transitory and fragile. Illness or accident can unexpectedly cut short our stay in this world. But even if we do make it to a ripe old age, our life will still be exceedingly brief.
How then should we live? The Bible tells us that with all our plans we should say “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that” (James 4:15). This acknowledges our dependence upon Him for life itself, recognizes that He is sovereign over our lives and reminds us that everything we do ought to be subject to His will. It is the true believer in Christ that lives according to this standard and with the assurance that should the Lord come for His people or call them home to glory, they are ready to go. Are you?
'As a bird cannot fly except in the air, and a fish cannot swim save in the water, so man cannot exercise the necessary functions of his life save in relation to God.'
G. Campbell Morgan The Crisis of the Christ
The Arch - St. Louis
'He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.'
Jim Elliot, The Journals of Jim Elliot
'If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.'
C. S. Lewis
"Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven."
“whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved”
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved"
"Lord Save Me!" (Matt 14:30)
"Lord Save Me!"
Compassion and Power
Having power over nature the Lord Jesus walked on the Sea of Galilee as if on solid ground. He enabled Peter to do the same until fear overtook Peter’s faith, then he began to sink! “Lord save me!” was his cry and quick as a flash, the mighty hand of Jesus caught him.
Peter was saved from drowning in the sea but we need to be saved from dying in our sins. Only the Lord Jesus can do that and upon His name we need to call for salvation – ‘For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved”' (Rom 10:13).
The Touch of the Master's Hand
The Master Potter (Jeremiah 18:1-4)
Good Friday April 3, A.D. 33
A Tax Collector Called Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10)
The Promise of Paradise (Luke 23:39-43)
The Promise of Victory in the Face of Defeat (Genesis 3:15)
Is My Name Written There?
Stop and Think!
Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
What is Your Life?
Think on These Things
Marsh Kyfe Riding School Magherafelt