Monday, 18 July 2011

The 'thirds' of scripture... (part 3)

Welcome again fellow believer to the blog and in particular to the final part of our look at the 'thirds' found in scripture. Today we are looking at the 'third watch'.

The third watch - Luke 12:38

I realise that we are lifting these verses slightly out of context and from their proper application, but I feel that they can equally apply to saints who await the soon coming return of the Lord Jesus to the air! I think there are lessons and applications for us here that are fair to make.

Under the Jewish system, the third watch of the night was also the last watch of the night before morning, from 02:00 to 06:00. The night had been long and dark and the watchers would be tiring and weary, but there were signs of morning approaching! My fellow believer, I can't think of a better picture of today, as we look around this sorry world as evil abounds on every corner, doesn't it feel like we are in the third watch of the night? There can be no doubt that there is much unrest in the world, and we are living in dark and difficult days of testimony, surely the Lord will come soon as he promised in his Word!

"surely I come quickly" Revelation 22:20

If we read the previous verses the Lord speaks about those servants who are waiting and watching for their Lord to return. There are 2 things that the Lord mentions about these waiting and watching servants:

"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning"

In Bible times the loins being girded would mean that the person was ready for activity and movement, as their garments and robes were long and flowing and needed to be girded in order to do serious activity! As we wait and watch for the Lord we should be active in service, ready to move and do his will.

The lamps burning would speak of the light of testimony, as the scriptures often refer to a testimony being a light, whether it be individual or collective as an assembly. In these dark days in which we live, surely it is even more imperative that our light of testimony burn all the more brighter to bring glory and honour to God and be a witness and beacon for the lost world around us! If this shows us anything, it is that our testimony is of great importance and interest to the Lord. He delights in it and it brings glory to him. We challenge ourselves - what state is our testimony in, both individual and collectively?

Finally, by way of encouragement we notice that there is blessing for those faithful and expectant servants:

"And if he shall come in... the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants"

Surely this would point us on to a future day of appraisal and reward for the believer, or as it is called the Judgement Seat of Christ:

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad" 2 Cor 5:10

As we leave this rich and profitable mini-study, let us leave ourselves with these challenges:

Our life and testimony down here does matter! The Lord is looking for it and will bless faithful servants in a future day. Are we content to coast along, to settle for spiritual mediocrity?

The time is short, the Lord is soon coming, we are in the third watch - how will be found?

Thursday, 14 July 2011

The 'thirds' of scripture... (part 2)

Welcome to the third part of our thoughts concerning these fascinating 'thirds' found in the gospels. I hope you have enjoyed the thoughts so far and found them productive and stimulating. If you have, then please leave a comment for me so I know you have!

The third day - Matt 16:21

Praise God we can move on from talking about the third hour and think about the third day when Jesus rose from the dead! We do not remember a dead Saviour today but one who rose mightily from the dead and ascended and is alive at God's right hand today. Of course in his resurrection we see the divine plan of salvation and the sovereign will of God being revealed and worked out. The resurrection showed that God was well pleased with the work of his Son, the price for sin had been paid, and it showed he had triumphed over death, 'sheol' and the grave! The resurrection glorified God and proved to all that his was a victorious death and that he had fully completed perfectly all that he had set out to do. He had prophesied regarding his death, burial and resurrection and all had come to pass as he had said.

The resurrection of the Lord Jesus also has further implications for the believer;

1. It speaks of our new life in Christ - Romans 6

"like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life"

A fellow believer reminded me recently; "we easily accept and remember the truth that Christ died for us, but it's very easy to forget that we also died with Christ!" How true - Our "old man", that is to say all that we were in Adam was crucified with Christ on that cross. When we got saved we were born again, we were made a new creature, these are all scriptural terms to describe what happened when we repented and trusted Christ as Saviour! We who were once dead in trespasses and sins were given a new life, a spiritual life that we never had before. Of course baptism is a picture of this - Our old man was crucified with Christ and buried, and we 'arose' with new life, ready to serve God!

I wonder if we were to take assessment of our Christian testimony, could we say that we were walking in " newness of life"?

2. It speaks of our future life with Christ - 1 Cor 15

This passage makes clear that if Christ is not risen, then our faith is vain or empty and we are of all men most miserable! The truth of the resurrection is vital to our faith! I like the words of assurance in this passage however:

"but now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept"

"Christ the first-fruits, afterward they that are Christ's at his coming"

These verses tell us that because Christ has risen, we can be certain that our bodies too will be raised from the dead when he returns to the air in the event that we call 'the rapture'. Death is certainly not the end of the story for the believer!

"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout... and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words"

So we can see that there is a wonderful future for the believer, whether we die or not and it is all founded upon the resurrection of Christ, so we can have assurance when we talk about these things!

I hope these thoughts have been an encouragement to us. Next time we will look at the final 'third' that I want to consider, can you guess what it might be? If you feel like chancing your arm, leave a comment!

Yours in Christ, Mark


Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The 'thirds' of scripture... (part 1)

Greetings once again fellow believers, and thanks for visiting the blog! Recently I have been thinking about a series of references to 'third things' in the scriptures, in particular in reference to the Lord Jesus.

A third time - Matt 26:44

We read this verse and the preceding portion and it surely reveals something of the depth of suffering of the Saviour as he endured that agony in the garden of Gethsemane. "his soul was exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death"

We read that he took with him into the garden Peter, James and John and he charged them to "watch and pray with me". There was a desire for fellowship and companionship with his disciples! Yes there were times when he would be alone and there were things that they could not possibly share in, but the fact that the Lord wanted them with him teaches me this. The Saviour has always desired fellowship with his believing people, whether in the past while he was here, or in the present when he assured us of his presence with us in the gatherings "...there am I in the midst of them" A joyful thing to consider is that he wants us to be with him in a future day as well! "I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory" What a wonderful prospect, that we shall be in heaven with him!

Unfortunately the disciples prove that men are far better at sleeping than they are praying, and the Lord returns 3 times to find them asleep. How true this is of us, we are far better at taking our leisure than concentrating our hearts and minds upon the Lord! On the third time, the Lord tells them that the time and opportunity for watching and praying with him was over for the time had come that he was going to be betrayed. This is solemn, the disciples had a unique and privileged opportunity to watch and pray with their Lord, yet they had missed out and now the opportunity was gone! We should be careful of this, as we too have a limited opportunity to watch and pray whilst we serve him down here, the day of grace will soon draw to a close and our earthly testimony will soon be over! The Lord takes delight in the simple things ("could ye not watch with me one hour?") can we do simple things faithfully for him down here? Let us challenge our own hearts.

The third hour - Mark 15:25

As we read this short yet solemn verse we marvel once again at the gospel writer's economy of words. Just 10 words are used to summarise the death of the Lord Jesus Christ! We remember with interest that John could tell us that limitless volumes could be written about the person and work of the Lord Jesus, but the death of the Saviour is here summarised in just 10 brief, simple words; "And it was the third hour, and they crucified him" The most significant event in man's history, when man took the very Son of God, the one who was God manifest in flesh and nailed him to a cross and put him to death!

Only Mark records the time that they crucified the Saviour, the third hour (9am). I find this poignant that the gospel writer most concerned with the movement and activity of the Saviour records the time of his final movement, his final act in going to the cross of Calvary.

We would remind ourselves afresh of the personal application of that third hour, when the Saviour gave himself for us, each individual that have trusted him and that read this blog now!

"Calvary, O Calvary,
Mercy's vast unfathomed sea!
Love eternal, love to me,
Jesus we adore thee"

Next time we will consider the final two 'thirds' that I have been considering, and we trust that this little study will profit us all, and cause us to praise God afresh and lift our hearts in exhortation and encouragement.

Yours in Christ, Mark




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