Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Life: A Precious Gift, part II

I've already looked at the abortion issue in August, under the heading of Life a Precious Gift and Serious Responsibility, however, I thought it was worth further comment after viewing an article about a group of "clergy" ( I use the term in its loosest sense) "blessing" (loosest sense again) an abortion clinic.
“Why a group of clergy are blessing an abortion clinic” by Alex Zielinski Think Progress 8th October 2015

It takes a lot to shock me. If you involve yourself in Christianity over a period of decades, you’ll be aware of the charlatans, false teachers and manipulators who use Christianity to further their own ends. Never have I been so shocked and appalled, however, as when I read of a group of “ministers” blessing an abortion clinic and its activities in Cleveland Ohio. As seems to be the current trend, Christians who were protesting against abortion, who have the guts to stand up and declare the truths of the Bible, are attacked and maligned as “the radical religious right.”

Hang your heads in shame, you false “ministers”.
Read your Bible.

Psalm 139 proclaims “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

The sanctity of human life is protected in the sixth commandment “You shall not murder.” Exodus 20:6. The Hebrew word used refers to the deliberate taking of human life. When God specifically states “Thou shall not murder” in the Ten Commandments, he means just that. This applies as much to the unborn, or the elderly, or the disabled child as it does to any other person.

Therefore the Bible clearly condemns abortion. To those who like to throw up the smoke screen and say “the Bible doesn’t say anything about abortion” I would ask, what is abortion other than the taking of life in the womb? Some aborted babies are actually alive following the abortion. Jesus Himself, when sent by God to earth in human form began His earthly ministry as a baby in the womb, identifying as being fully human from conception to birth and beyond.

In addition throughout the Old Testament there are references to the condemnation God has for the practice of child sacrifice, as was practised in pagan rituals eg. worship of Molech by the Ammonites. Jeremiah 32:35 states clearly God’s attitude to the killing of children “ They built the high places of Baal in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech, though I did not command them, nor did it enter into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.” We no longer have altars to Molech, instead we sacrifice babies in the womb to idols of materialism, ego, selfishness and the oxymoron of “women’s health”.

As Christians we are also told to defend the most defenceless in our society: “Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.” (Proverbs 31:9)

And now we have a “minister” saying “There is a reverence for life that happens in this clinic”. This ludicrous, ironic statement would be laughable, if it wasn’t so tragic.

We are warned in the Bible that those who are called to preach and teach the gospel will be called to account for what they teach and that those who are ordained to be shepherds will be accountable to God for the way in which they shepherd their flock. (See James 3, Ezekiel 34 as just two examples).  I pray and hope that when I am called to stand before God at the end of my life and give an account of what I have attempted to teach or tell others about Him and His word, the Bible, that I will be able to say that I have always tried to teach according to the given word and the spirit of all that He has given, to the best of my understanding, with His leading, gifting and the guidance of His Holy Spirit, to His honour and glory.

To those people who sanctioned the activities of the abortion clinic, I would say, If you want to support abortion, do so, but don’t do it in God’s name, wearing His cross. You are deliberately misrepresenting Him and all the values and commandments that He has given in the Bible. Your actions may make you popular in some circles and politically correct in others, but Jesus never promised that, far from it.  

How small these misguided people have made God. They've reduced Him to someone who's there to sanction their actions and fulfill their need for love and acceptance. The God of the Bible is huge, omnipotent, One who is to be served in word and deed, worthy of all honour. He is God of justice and power and wrath. We should fear His righteous anger as well as honour His love and mercy. We are to serve Him, not the reverse. We are told throughout the Bible that if we love God, we are to keep His commandments. 

Beware of anyone who talks about being able to do things without shame or regret. Shame and regret are useful emotions because they indicate conscience and moral values. They can bring us to repentance, a close walk with God and a much better life. 

I reiterate what I wrote a few weeks ago: Whilst we rail against the practice of abortion, Christians believe that like every other sin, God can and does forgive. Jesus Christ died on the cross, paying the penalty for every human sin. Those who are suffering from the regret of abortion or any other sin need only to turn to God in repentance and faith, pray a prayer asking for forgiveness and asking Christ to become Lord of their lives, and they will be forgiven and will start their lives on a new path of healing and restoration. Connecting with Bible believing Christian counsellors can assist women to heal from the trauma and pain of abortion. Studying the Bible, prayer and fellowship in a Bible believing, mainstream church is also part of growing in relationship with God.

Those who are involved at all levels in providing abortions and promoting them need our prayers that God will open their eyes to the truth regarding what they are doing and will bring them to a place where they will completely reverse their opinion of it.

Isaiah 5:20

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

2 Peter 2:1

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

The Book of James in a Nutshell

  • Rejoice that God is with you throughout the trials which will come in this life. Persevere in suffering, knowing the hope we have in Christ.
  • Be satisfied with your life and be humble, whether you are wealthy or poor. Don't take pleasure in riches or gain them by oppressing others.
  • Don't show favouritism  to the rich at the expense of the poor.
  • Live a life free of corruption.
  • Be slow to get angry.
  • Keep a tight rein on your tongue. Don't grumble or swear. Don't slander anyone. Don't boast about the things you are planning.
  • Obey the word of God. Do what it says. 
  • Accompany your faith with good works that demonstrate your faith. Minister to others through deeds as well as words.
  • Draw near to God in prayer and praise. Be honest about your own failures and shortcomings..
  • Intercede for those who are sick 
  • Assist those who are struggling in their faith and falling away. Help them to return to a strong relationship with God.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

To Save the Lost

In the gospel account of Luke, chapter 15, we are given three stories which Jesus told. Each involves a loss.

Someone- a shepherd or farmer, owns one hundred sheep, and one of them goes missing. Does the owner leave the creature to its own fate? No, he leaves the flock in safety and searches until he finds it, joyfully carrying it home again.

A woman has ten silver coins and loses one. She searches her house, using a lamp to peer into dark nooks, sweeping out every possible crevice where it may have rolled. When she finds it, she happily tells all her friends.

A wealthy landowner has two sons. The youngest requests his inheritance ahead of time, leaves home and squanders all he possesses. Destitute and ashamed, he returns home to the father he abandoned, with the hope of living as one of his father’s hired hands. His father runs to him, rejoicing, and celebrates his son’s return with a lavish feast.

Our lives too, are filled with losses, great and small. I once owned a terrier dog who panicked every time we experienced a thunderstorm, and would break through the fence and run away. I remember how anxious I would be to locate him, and how happy I was each time he was found. We can lose objects, and relationships, and jobs. The death of loved ones is a grievous loss. I’ve lost both of my parents, and whilst I rejoice in the knowledge that they are in Heaven, I still feel the pain of separation, knowing I will spend the rest of my earthly life without them being here.

So it is with God. He is not unaware of the unsaved people in this world, far from it. Like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, God loves all of the people that He created, and grieves that they choose to follow a life without Him, rejecting Him, not understanding the wonderful life that God wants for them. God has given each of us free will, to reject or follow Him. Sometimes in our rejection we are led through suffering and disillusionment until we find our way to Him. 

“He [Jesus] is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

The triune God- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, wants relationship with you. He created mankind to be in relationship with Himself. When Satan, the rebellious angel, tempted Adam and Eve into sin and doomed mankind to a sinful nature, God still made a way for us to be reconciled to Him. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth, to pay the debt of sin. The Son of God died, taking upon Himself the penalty for sin - death. Yet He defeated death. He rose again. We who accept Christ have the promise of eternal life with Him. 

On the night when Jesus was betrayed and taken to be tried and crucified, He ate a meal, the “last supper” with His disciples. He prayed for them. He also prayed for those people who would believe in Him through their message. In effect, this means that Jesus, when He was alive on this earth, prayed for me, and for you too, if you become a believer through the message of Christ’s followers. What an amazing thought! Jesus is a God whose love stretched through the centuries to our present age, knowing us then as He knows and cares for us now.

Like the shepherd in the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus, our Good Shepherd, is seeking the lost souls of this world. He rejoices with thousands upon thousands of angels in Heaven when a person commits their life, in repentance and faith, to Him.

I wonder if the shepherd had some helpers to locate the sheep? Did the woman have friends looking for her coin? Each calls friends and neighbours to celebrate when the lost is found. The father of the lost son, however, finds opposition when he organises his celebration. The prodigal son’s older brother is resentful of the celebrations.

As the family of God, our earthly task is to be a witness for Christ. It was the great commission given to Christ’s followers prior to Christ’s ascent to Heaven. Following His return to Heaven, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to this earth, to empower God’s people, so that they could “be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). We are to be used of God to witness His love and care, to minister to the needs of the unsaved and draw them to faith in Jesus Christ. If not, we become like the prodigal’s older brother, enjoying the benefits of his father’s household without caring for his lost brother, leaving his father to wait and grieve alone.

 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbours, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:4-7)