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Calling to remembrance the former times

Scripture: Hebrews 10:32-39

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Looking back upon former days in our lives is a divine injunction. While it behoves us to be ever “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” 2 Peter 3:12. (Matt 25:5.) We are also called upon to look back. It is something that God constantly calls His people to do. Of course, we have need of such calls for we are so forgetful. This is especially true of the good and the blessed things we have experienced. Matt 16:5-10.

What is it God would have us remember? “And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no,” Deuteronomy 8:2. All of God’s dealings with us are worthy of recall.

Here in the passage before us, it is a call to remember the days at the beginning of the pilgrimage of the Hebrew Christians.

Remembering the former days will serve to:—

I. EMPHASIS THE NEED SINNERS HAVE OF ILLUMINATION

Often we are puzzled by the opposition of sinners. If we recall what we were like we will not.

1. Remember your own darkness and ignorance.  The eyes of our soul dwelt under the blackest curtain of ignorance. “For ye were sometimes darkness,” Eph 5:8. “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son,” Colossians 1:13.

2. Illumination was the first grace bestowed.  Verse 16 lists the blessings of the covenant. Illumination is first.

3. It was an illumination in the knowledge of Christ. The word means to light up, Rev 18:1. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, II Corinthians 4:6. In the light of Christ’s glory, like Saul, we saw our own sins clearly.
Remembering the former days will serve to:—

II.  SHOW THAT AFFLICTION IS PART OF BEING A CHRISTIAN
We had no trouble from the world before we were saved. But that changed very swiftly upon our conversion. Affliction and trouble are an integral part of the Christian’s journey. “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God,” Acts 14:22.  “That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto,” 1 Thessalonians 3:3. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution,” 2 Timothy 3:12.

1. The character of their affliction. “A great fight of afflictions.”  The word fight comes from athleo, a Greek word meaning  participation in public games.

2. The precise nature of their affliction.  “Gazing stock,” (brought upon a stage). “Spoiling of their goods.” These are two very heavy burdens to bear.

3. The reason why they were made to suffer.  They became companions of the despised servants of God who were the companions of the despised Jesus, verse 33. It is His reproach the child of God is required to bear. Hebs 13:13. No reproach — no affliction. Something modern Christianity is most anxious to avoid!!
Remembering the former days will serve to:

III. REMIND US OF THE  SECRET OF SUCH VICTORIOUS LIVING
Those who lived in victory in the past may not be doing so now. People who achieved much for Christ in the past may not be doing so now. Looking back may mean the recovery of that victory which has been lost. Look at verse 32. They had endured a great fight. Look at verse 34. There was a “joyful acceptance” of the “spoiling of their goods.” This joyful endurance of affliction sprang from a “knowing in themselves “that they had “in heaven a better and an enduring substance,”  v 34.

1. The secret was the abiding and real sense of heaven’s glory. From day to day they lived with a greater sense of heaven than of the earth. Do you remember days like that?

2. To them heaven’s glory was enduring  while earth’s was passing away.  Heaven was “an enduring, lasting substance.”

3. To them heaven was substantial. The word means wealth, goods, property.  The only other place this word occurs is in Acts 2:45. “And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.” They had no real attachment to them anyway. This is what enabled them to rejoice as they had their earthly goods taken from them. They had that which none could ever take from them.
Remembering what we once were like arouses desire for a return to that spirit.
May God be pleased to send an awakening against to us like there was in former times amongst God’s people.

The Distressed Soul’s desire for deeper fellowship with Christ

Scripture: “Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat!”  Job 23:3

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For the child of God, our religion centres upon the person of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the person referred to by Job as the object of his search. Have you come looking for Jesus this morning? “Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?” Song of Sol 3:3. This is the cry the child of God in a time of shadow utters. “By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not,” Song of Solomon 3:1.
The world knows nothing of this desire, this passion. For this reason it believes those possessed of it are quite mad. “Thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad,” Acts 26:24.

Indeed, it is not unknown for earnest, seeking believers to be looked upon askance by other believers who do not share their anxiety of soul!

We recall the view taken of Mary’s devotions in John 12:1-8.
In times of affliction our desire for Christ intensifies. The more we require Him the more we desire Him. The hypocrite denounces God when he feels troubled. The believer seeks unto God all the more in trouble.

Consider:

I. THE BELIEVER MAY LOSE THE SENSE OF CHRIST’S PRESENCE
The Lord has promised never to leave His people. “He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,” Hebrews 13:5. However, we may lose the consciousness of His presence. Rev 3:20 demonstrates that!

1. It is sin which deprives us of the consciousness of Christ. “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear, Isaiah 59:2. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me,” Psalm 66:18 “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early,” Hosea 5:15.

2. His presence, if it be withdrawn, is for our good. We would not use the means of grace as we ought if we never felt a longing after Christ. We will not drink until thirst prompts us. We would not read the Bible, we would not pray, we would not attend upon the preaching of the Word. It is to excite our spiritual desires and appetites that the Lord takes from us the comforts of His presence.

3. His presence is withdrawn in order to remind us of our dependence upon Him. It is a bitter thing to Christ when He is taken for granted by His people. Yet we do slip into such a mindset! “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked,” Revelation 3:17.
We soon learn our own emptiness and our ignorance when we feel the absence of Christ. Nothing can make up that loss.

II. SUCH A LOSS IS A GREAT DISTRESS TO THE BELIEVER
Yet we can find comfort in this distress. Does it not denote that:—

1. He is our all. “For to me to live is Christ,” Philippians 1:21. He is our companion and our comfort. We would feel less pain were we to lose an arm or a leg. We can recover somewhat from the loss of our nearest and dearest but there is no recovery from this loss.

2. Grace is at work in our hearts. This is no natural desire. Did not Adam hide from the Lord, Gen 3:8. Man’s natural inclination is described by Isaiah. “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not,” Isaiah 53:3.

III. THE ONLY MEANS OF RELIEF IS TO SEARCH UNTIL WE FIND HIM
We shall find Him when we shall search for Him with all our heart, Jer 29:13.
We must search where we may expect to find Him.

1. In the Word of God. “Search the scriptures; for . . .  they are they which testify of me,” John 5:39.

2. In the place of prayer. “In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me,” Psalms 86:7.

3. In the place of public worship. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them,” Matthew 18:20.
We shall find Him for bear this in mind, He is searching for you with a greater desire and diligence than that in your heart. Let our thoughts be filled with Him and our hearts with love for Him and we shall find Him for He has said, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him,” John 14:21.

The Parables #63

The Parable of the two sons – Part 13

The Saviour’s application of the Parable, Part 2.

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“Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him,” Matt 21:31-32. (Read Luke 13:22-29)

We have noted how inexcusable has been the rejection of the gospel by the chief priests and the elders. While they had heard the gospel preached by John the Baptist and had seen others obeying, they obstinately refused to heed God’s call.

1. Oftentimes it is the most unlikely persons who obey the gospel. The privileged miss out! “Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.  . . . . . . but the publicans and the harlots believed him,” 31-32.
These are notorious sinners yet they believed John the Baptist and went “into the kingdom of God.”

2. Please notice what happens to you when you get saved. How wonderful is little phrase: “go into the kingdom of God.” That is what happens when you get saved! You enter a new world! “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new,” 2 Corinthians 5:17.

3. God notes the rejection of the gospel and takes action. Further down the chapter, the Saviour is speaking to the same rejectors and says: “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof,” Matthew 21:43. “Shall be taken” means to lift up and away. “And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full,” Matthew 14:20. That which is not used is taken away. Please, boys and girls, take note of this.

4. Such rejection of the gospel makes hell worse for such men. “For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them,” 2 Pet 2:21. “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee,” Matt 11:23-24.

I leave you with this solemn warning against rejection of the gospel. Please take heed today.

Open air meeting, June10th, 2018

Stream or download Open-air mtg June10th 2018


Some of the congregation who supported the open-air witness on our village green on Lord’s Day evening June 10th,  when Rev Ivan Foster preached. Others were sitting in cars.

 

The Kilskeery houses near to the green. Many other homes lie within the range of the loudspeakers we use for the open-air meeting.

 

The Christianity of 2000 years ago

Read Acts 16:9-40

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This is one of the central chapters of the Bible. Here we have wonderful ‘gospel’ texts. For example, 30-31.

Moreover, here is given us the record of the entrance of the gospel witness into Europe. It is, as it were, the ‘official’ launch of the message of Christ into our part of the world, Europe.
Paul is here on his second missionary journey. His original intention (15:36) was to revisit the places he had evangelised on his first journey which would be all in Asia. But God had another plan. Europe was in God’s mind. Today, there is little evidence of the gospel in those places where Paul first preached but in this part of Europe anyway, much remains of the message Paul delivered all those years ago.

Here we have a detailed account of the founding of a Christian congregation. In a day in which men are determined to impose their notions and views upon what the Church of Christ should believe, do and witness, it is important we take note of the faith and functions of apostolic Christianity! Please bear in mind that the purpose of Christ for His people has not and cannot change from what it was back then.

Please listen to these words. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever,” Heb 13:8. Christ is unchanging in His person, power and purpose. “For I am the LORD, I change not,” Malachi 3:6 “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” Numbers 23:19.

“Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure,” Isaiah 46:10.
In the light of this truth we may learn just what the Church of Christ ought to be today!

I. THE FOUNDING OF THE CHURCH IN PHILIPPI

1. The place where it was founded. “And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made,” 13. No great edifice. It was marked by prayer. It was obviously a small gathering of women. Such humble beginnings are forgotten today!

2. The Word was preached. That is also a chief feature of God’s Work. No ornamentation, rituals – just prayer, praise and preaching!

3. Please note the role of women here. The first convert, Lydia, a business woman. She was not ashamed to be identified with such a reproached gathering. There were no men mentioned!
The second convert was a woman, 16-18. Paul would not tolerate this demon-possessed woman to speak as she did even though what she was true.

II. THE FASHION OF PAUL’S EVANGELISM

1. His tool was ‘words’! “She attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul,” verse 14. It is the “words” of the gospel that saves sinners. Acts 10:22, 32; 11:12-14. This blessed Book is the key to salvation.

2. Lydia was saved by “attending to” Paul’s words. The meaning of the word “attended” = Matt 6:1, “Take heed.” How many take heed to what God says?

3. Lydia took heed because the Lord ‘opened’ her heart. Meaning of the word ‘opened’. Mark 7:34-35, Luke 24:31, 45. This is that secret, heavenly action to which the Saviour refers in John 3:3. “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” He is “born from above.”

4. Lydia immediately manifested the change which had taken place within her heart. She openly professed her faith and she opened her home to Paul and his companions. All that she was and had was now  the Lord’s and would be used in His service.

III. I MUST POINT OUT THE TROUBLE THAT TARGETED THE NEW-FOUND CHURCH.
Consider briefly what we read in verse 19-40.

1 The gospel is at war with the devil’s kingdom. V 19. It cannot exist ‘peacefully’ alongside the devil’s activities. Gen 3:15. “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men,” Romans 12:18.
It is not always possible. David said: “I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war,” Psalm 120:7. If Christians would keep quiet – ‘no trouble’! But that we cannot do. Acts 5:18-33.

2. The devil’s weapons has ever been persecution. Verses 19-24.
We have the record here.

3. Please note that God’s cause can still thrive amidst reproach and persecution. Verse 25. Paul and Silas sing, sustained by God’s grace. Isaiah 43:1-3. Souls are saved despite the persecution, 26-34. What devil-confounding scene we have here!

4. Please note that there is pictured here the final outcome of all things. What happened here foreshadows what will one day take place on a world-wide scale.
One day the enemies of the gospel will know just who it is they have been persecuting! “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:1-2. They were humbled before Paul – verse 39.

Please follow Lydia’s example and ‘attend’ unto the gospel tonight.