Thursday, 19 December 2013


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you." John 14:27 (ESV)

So I've been contemplating the subject of PEACE recently and thought I would share my thoughts with you, as this mini study was a real encouragement and blessing to me.

Many of you may well think that this is a fitting subject for a meditation as peace is a Christian theme, ideal and concept, and you would be absolutely right. Peace is a theme that runs throughout the Word of God, it is woven throughout its pages and forms part of the very character of our God! Peace is just one of the many things that God wants for and gives to his people.

I find the following an excellent definition of God's peace:

"The harmonized relationships between God and man, accomplished through the gospel, and the sense of rest and contentment thereon."

By contrast, the world in which we live today knows very little of true peace, many individuals have spent their entire lives pursuing peace and have never truly seen peace, whether it be for individuals, communities, countries and nations. Romans 3:17 says "the way of peace they have not known..." The reason is that sin is rife in the world and "the whole world lies in the power of the evil one" (1 John 5:19). 

In contrast, God is a God of peace, he is not the author of confusion but of peace (1 Cor 14:33), he is a God who loves to pardon, and reconcile to himself those who repent and believe on his Son!

Of course, peace is also closely associated with our Lord Jesus Christ, for remember that in prophecy he is referred to as "the Prince of Peace" (Isa 9:6) and peace was also proclaimed at his birth (Luke 2:14). I also believe that Christ was marked by peace throughout his earthly ministry, and it was part of his character for he possessed all those wonderful divine attributes, evenly and fully in his lovely character! I think he exuded peace from his person and I believe that this peace was a big draw for the people around him, surely they had never met anyone like this before, who had a peace within like nothing they had ever seen before! He could also bring peace to any event or circumstance ("peace be still" to the storm on the lake) and also to individuals ("go in peace") and as he prepared to leave his disciples it was peace that featured largely in his final teaching to them; "my peace I give unto you".

When he went to the cross, we know this was to do the work that would enable us to be reconciled and brought near to God, it was to bring about peace! "he made peace through the blood of his cross" (Col 1:20) We also know that "we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom 5:1). And so it comes as no surprise that peace characterizes the gospel message that we preach!It is known as the gospel of peace (Rom 10:15) and when we preach this good news we know that we are "preaching peace by Jesus Christ" (Acts 10:36).

Finally, for us believers on the Lord Jesus Christ, we know that the peace of God is something that we should know day-to-day in a practical way, to appreciate our relationship with God and all that he has done for us and through us! We know from Galatians 5 that peace is a fruit of the Spirit, so we should be producing this in our lives, for others to see and to benefit from. We also know that we should "let the peace of God rule (control and umpire) in your hearts" (Col 3:15). So it seems to me that we have a challenge here, to go after and cultivate conditions in our lives so that we appreciate more and more the peace of God. We cannot expect to have this blessing large in our lives if we are not spending time with God, reading his word, or living worldly or sinful lives that are not pleasing to him. May we challenge our hearts about this!

I found the following verse in Philippians 4 very helpful especially when Amplified:

"And God's peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

What a wonderful peace is ours! Over this Christmas holiday let us all seek to know more of this peace on a daily basis as we spend more time in God's presence and with his word.

Yours in Christ, Mark

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Beginnings in John's Gospel

Just a few simple thoughts regarding some 'Beginnings' that we have mentioned in John's Gospel.

John 1:1-3 "In the beginning was the Word..."

This takes us right back to the beginning of time itself, the dawn of creation, and how wonderful to remind ourselves that Christ was there! There was never a time when he was not, for he is the eternal Son of God. The verses also serve to remind us that not only is Christ pre-existent to his coming into the world but that he is the great Creator! Scripture bears ample testimony to his power in creation, this scripture and also Colossians 1 are just a couple of examples. How good it is to remember that the one who is our Saviour is also the one who created the heavens and the earth!

John 2:9-11 "this beginning of miracles did Jesus..."

Here we have a beginning of miracles and this  serves to remind us of the immense impact the Lord Jesus made when he came into the world! If any proof were needed that our first 'beginning' were true then surely we see it here when we read the Gospels and read of the many and innumerable miraculous works. I love how his works all brought glory to God and demonstrated his power, his compassion and his wisdom. The Lord Jesus had power to change lives then and praise God he still has life changing power today too, through his saving work on the cross.

John 15:27 & 1:37-40 "and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning"

A beginning of following is our final thought in this little series. In John 15 the Saviour is preparing his disciples for a time when he would not be there. He gives them comfort, strength and encouragement and reminds them of the time they began to follow him. What a journey was theirs! Just think of the things they had been privileged to see and hear with their own eyes and ears, and now soon they would be bearing witness for the Saviour. For each of these men there had been a time when they began to follow the Lord Jesus (we have referenced one account in our heading), and so too it is for us, thank the Lord for that! However how previous it is to reflect that from his point of view we are "chosen... in him from the foundation of the world" (Eph 1:4). Let us take encouragement from this and serve him well, bearing witness to him in this world.

Yours for His glory, Mark

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

"in the midst"

Just a few short scriptures with very little comment in relation to our Lord Jesus being "in the midst" for your consideration and hopefully your mutual appreciation.

"And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions." Luke 2:46

Our first scripture takes us back to when the Lord was a boy of 12, and found in the temple. Remember his words to his mother on that occasion were "wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?". His desire and will was to be about his Father's business, to do the will of him that sent him, to do the works while it is day. Such scriptures come to mind  as we think about the Saviour's obedience to the Father and his daily walk which brought infinite pleasure and delight to the heart of the Father.

"Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst." John 19:18 

It is sobering to remember that the Lord Jesus was willing to work out the Father's will to its ultimate conclusion and purpose - to go to Calvary and there offer himself as a perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world. Paul says to the Philippians that he "became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Surely the measure of his obedience can be seen at the cross, where he became obedient to the extent of death! In the garden of Gethsemane the Lord said "nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." We praise God that he was willing to go to Calvary for us all, to take that centre cross and be in the midst for you and for me!

"Then... when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you." John 20:19

Praise God that we can follow-up thinking about his death by thinking about his victory over death and the grave! He rose again on the third day as he said he would, and he came into their midst in that upper room. What an encouragement for the believer to appreciate this truth afresh that he is the "firstfruits of them that slept". Death is not the end for the believer! "Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming." 1 Cor 15:23

"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Matthew 18:20

How lovely to remind ourselves that the Lord Jesus has promised his presence with us in our gatherings! I realise that the context of this verse is in relation to church discipline and judging in a matter between brethren, but the principle of the Lord's presence still stands I believe. What a precious thought that we are not alone in our gatherings, but the Lord is present, listening and watching...

We remember that there was a time previously when 2 or 3 were gathered together with Jesus in the midst - Calvary! How lovely to think that this same one endured the cross and died for us "in the midst" is also the one who will honour his saints with his presence, no matter how feeble the numbers! May we be encouraged as we think on these things.

Yours in Christ, Mark

Sunday, 13 October 2013

The healing of the man deaf and dumb

I've been really enjoying this account from Mark 7:31-37 as it is a lovely opportunity to witness the compassion and grace of the Saviour. These qualities are so rarely seen today, yet we see them in such abundance and beautiful balance in the person of the Lord Jesus! How we should also be marked by these attributes, not a cold or cruel nature, but by warmth and gentleness, kindness and compassion.

Note the helplessness of this poor man - he was deaf and dumb! Think about this, as here was one who could not have heard about the Saviour, his tremendous miracles or his authoritative words and teaching. Here was one who could not have called out or asked to meet the Saviour. Remember both of these features were present in the case of Bartimaeus the blind man! It was when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth that he cried out to the Saviour for mercy. This man could not do either of these things, yet in God's grace he meets the Saviour, who takes time to bless him and change his life forever.

The gospel writer Mark gives us the actions of the Saviour in lovely detail, as you would expect from the writer showing us the Perfect Servant and recording his actions and movements. Here are just a few simple standout thoughts that I had regarding this account:

  • The Lord Jesus takes him aside from the multitude. This would be an intimate one to one experience where the man would focus upon the Saviour and the Saviour would deal with him directly and exclusively. I think this would have been unusual for this man, as the society of the day was hard and cruel. Remember that the Lord reproved the Pharisees for devouring widow's houses; the Gospel's tell us of unjust Judges; doctors who would take a woman's life savings in return for their guess-work; and tax collectors who would skim off the top from the people! I don't think this man would have known much human interaction, as a man who was deaf and dumb would not make for good company, he could not hear what people said and he could not articulate much to them (if anything) in return! Yet the Saviour lavishes this personal attention upon this man.

  • Notice that in verse 33 of our account there are no words spoken, just the actions of the Lord recorded. Upon reading this I notice something lovely - the crowd plead with the Saviour to put his hand (singular) on this man, yet a careful reading of the verse tells me that it is possible that this man knew more physical contact from the Saviour than anyone else. The Saviour puts his fingers (plural) in the mans ears (plural) so I envisage the Lord using both hands and embracing this mans head with his hands and fingers. The man also had his tongue touched by the very spittle of the Lord Jesus, one of only two miracles where this was used. The Saviour always gives more! Our ways are not his ways, and he delights to show us his abundant goodness in our lives. How touching to think that soon those blessed hands that had been around this man in compassion would be taken and cruelly nailed to a rough wooden cross.

  • The Saviour sighs and looks to heaven, the place from where he had come into this world that was so marred by sin. When the Lord Jesus looked to heaven I believe it was not just an upward look to the sky, but into the very portals of heaven and the presence of God the Father. The Saviour knew a better place, a better realm where there was no sin, neither could there be! A place of perfection, peace and happiness, completely free from the taint of sin and its consequences. I think this was a sign for the man, that here was something from heaven just for him. The one standing before him was from a heavenly realm, and God himself was the source and giver of this blessing.

  • Straightway, or immediately the man could hear and the string (or bond) of his tongue was loosed, and he could speak plainly! No speech therapy needed here, his healing was full and complete.

I often wonder what this man said with his new-found speech? Scripture says that his tongue was 'loosed' like it had been captive, and that he had longed to talk and speak as others for some time. It could be that this man had so much to say that he had thought about for many years, so much to communicate, so much pent-up frustration! However, I think that all that he had wanted to say was forgotten as now there was a new message upon his lips, one that bore testimony to the man who had healed him, the Son of God, his healing power, grace and mercy!

Surely we would agree with the statement toward the end of our reading - "he hath done all things well..." how true of our blessed Saviour, Gods only well-beloved Son! Surely we could put this over his whole earthly life, well should we continually bear testimony of the one who has done all things well and give him thanks and praise.

Now in a song of grateful praise, to our blest Lord the voice we raise; With all His saints we join to tell - Our Saviour hath done all things well!
And since our souls have known His love, what mercies hath He made us prove! Mercies which all our praise excel - Our Saviour hath done all things well!
And when on that bright day we rise, and join the anthems of the skies, among the rest this note shall swell - Our Saviour hath done all things well!
(Samuel Medley)

Thursday, 29 August 2013

The Lord Jesus Christ is our...


1Co 5:7  Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:


Eph 2:14  For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;


2Ti 1:10  But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: (Past - his first coming to bring about salvation)

Tit 3:6  Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; (Present - he equips us with the Holy Spirit for our blessing and benefit)

Tit 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; (Future - in relation to his coming again to take us to be with Him)


Rom 6:23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Col 3:4  When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

...our hope

1Ti 1:1  Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;

Just a few simple scriptures for your consideration and hopefully you will enjoy adding your own thoughts to these headings! I certainly enjoyed thinking about all that our Lord Jesus Christ is to us, by looking at these scriptures and appreciating afresh everything we have been brought into and blessed with as believers.

Yours for His glory, Mark

Sunday, 23 June 2013

The leper who said thank you...

Luke 17:12-19

If you read the passage above you will read of a lovely occasion when a leper (one of ten in the colony) returned to give thanks to the Lord Jesus as he healed them. In many ways this account is a lovely picture of the sinner being saved and born again, and responding with thanks and praise as they walk in newness of life. As an interesting side-note I believe this is the only example in scripture of an individual actually saying thank you directly to the Lord Jesus following a miracle! I find lots of other interesting points to note from this account:

  • Notice that the lepers "stood afar off" forming their own colony on the outskirts of this community. Of course this was scriptural, as in Leviticus 13:46 we read; "all the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be." Leprosy meant uncleanness, corruption, defilement, and meant separation for that person. Surely a perfect picture of the sinner, as we read in Ephesians 2:13 "ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ"

  • On top of all this man's problems, scripture records that "he was a Samaritan" and in these times the Samaritans were looked down on by the Jew "the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritan". What a sorry condition for this man! Diseased and decaying, untouched by medicine, unclean by the law, put out from society and shunned by the Jew! But on this day he was to meet one who would deal with the Samaritan, and who was willing and able to cleanse the leper and turn this man's life around.

  • I think on the subject of medicine, Luke the physician would have been particularly impressed by these events as they were relayed to him! Leprosy was not a condition that was treatable in those days, in fact leprosy has only been treated successfully in the 20th century. Lepers would almost certainly face a miserable existence where their condition would deteriorate as the decay would further disfigure and debilitate the poor person. Remember that leprosy was a matter for the priest not a doctor, as lepers were pronounced so by the priest (Lev 13) so it was unlikely that a leper had ever seen the inside of a doctors treatment room! Medicine had no answer for the condition, but the Son of God has all the answers, and he loves to show compassion and mercy just as he does when he saves the sinner!

I love to think about the reaction of the priests when this man (and presumably the others) arrived to be examined and pronounced clean. Would a priest ever have been faced with a cured leper? I doubt it! Just think of what the scriptures say about those who were lepers: 

  • Gehazi (2 Kings 5) he was told that the leprosy would cleave unto him, there would be no respite or abatement!

  • Jereboam (2 Kings 15) he was a leper until the day of his death

  • Remember the words of the Lord concerning lepers - "many lepers were in Israel... none of them were cleansed... save Naaman the Syrian". On the subject of Naaman the Syrian, he would not have presented himself to the priest, this man was a Syrian and had no regard for Jewish law!

So perhaps we now find ourselves asking the question, why would the Word of God give us Leviticus chapter 14 then? Here it clearly talks about "the day of his cleansing"  and what the priestly procedure should be. Well my thought is simple - I believe that God in his infinite wisdom, his grace and mercy made provision for the leper knowing that there would come a day when a Samaritan man would come before a priest and say "I've been made clean, and it was Jesus of Nazareth who healed me!" You see the day was coming when God's Son would walk this earth and even the leper in his hopeless condition would be cleansed, such was the power and compassion of the Lord Jesus Christ. The cold-hearted Jew would need clear instruction from the law of Moses to know what to do and to re-integrate these individuals into society. Remember the Lord Jesus told them that some of the law was written for "the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept". 

Is there any wonder then that this man turns to give thanks and worship the one who had transformed his existence? Before he met Christ he had no life, no hope, no prospects, no joy! He now begins his life anew, one with happiness and a whole new outlook, because of the Saviour. Surely this should speak to our hearts as we apply this to ourselves, as sinners saved by grace we should turn and give thanks to the Lord for his goodness and mercy in saving us!

Yours in Christ, Mark

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Some more morning meditations...

The final post in our short series will take is to a morning on the sea-shore...

A morning on the sea-shore (John 21:1-12)

Notice that Peter is first to act as always! He proclaims "I go a fishing", and this is despite having already seen the risen Lord! Perhaps inactivity bothered Peter, and maybe a little doubt and uncertainty had sent in? Peter's reaction is to do something, and here he returns to what he knew best - fishing! I find this interesting as the Lord had told them specifically when he called them that their days of fishing were behind them - "I will make you fishers of men". Also, remember that Peter had said previously "we have left all, and followed thee", this included the family fishing business! Notice how quickly they are able to find a boat however, no doubt Peter's previous contacts would have assisted him there - "they went forth, and entered into a ship immediately". The other thing apparent from this is how Peter is seen to be an influencer, as the other disciples quickly follow him. There are no doubt some practical lessons to be learned here;

  • It is easy to fall back into old ways, no matter how well we have walked with the Lord!

  • The world will readily welcome us back, always too ready to see a believer fail and return to its snare!

  • Finally, we must be careful how we behave, and the decisions we make as we may influence and stumble other believers!

However, despite a team of experienced fishermen toiling all night, they catch nothing. Notice that come the morning, the Lord appears on the shore - he is never far away from his people, and he is always there at the right time! He calls to them "children have ye any meat?" it is a lovely address, affectionate and perceptive, he knows the questions to ask of us! Of course the Lord knew the answer to any question he poses, he merely asks to challenge and provoke a response. Remember that the Lord Jesus had shown his authority and command of the seas of Galilee on several other occasions, he was the almighty creator of heaven and earth, he knew those waters and the animal life within intimately like no other master fisherman, and he had full command over them! I think here the Lord wanted to bring his disciples closer to him, for fellowship and communion, to focus them once more on things spiritual before he ascends and leaves them. Perhaps we are the same, maybe we are too easily distracted and need to be brought close once again to the Saviour and focus once again on eternal and spiritual things?

I would like to draw this short post to a close by just bringing something else out from this morning scene by the sea-shore, something a little different that I hadn't noticed before but I feel there is an application to be made here. Perhaps there is a small and simple picture here of that coming day when as the hymn writer says, "we'll all gather home in the morning, on the banks of the bright jasper sea, we'll meet the redeemed and the faithful, what a gathering that will be!" I am referring of course to that time when we shall leave this world and meet the Lord Jesus, whether one by one through the means of death, or all together if we go by the rapture, when the Lord shall come again - "I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."

The night for those disciples had been long, exhausting and full of disappointments, a fitting picture perhaps of our time in this dark world, but note there was something better to come - "but when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore". The morning comes, and the Lord himself is there to greet them, and what a welcome greeting! You can almost hear the joy in the exclamation of John - "it is the Lord!" and Peter once again acts first, he was first to get into the boat, now he is first to get out of it as he runs to meet the Lord! I am reminded of the verse in 1 Thessalonians 4 - "for the Lord himself shall descend from heaven... to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the LordWhat a wonderful and lovely prospect for the believer! I trust this brings encouragement to the heart of every true Christian, that no matter how long, lonely and difficult the night seems, there will be a joyful morning when we shall all finally meet the Lord and spend eternity with him!

I trust these simple thoughts will bring us joy and encouragement as we journey together toward that coming meeting.

Yours in Christ, Mark

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Some more morning meditations...

Following on from our short post the other day we are going to continue with our 'morning scenes' and look at...

A morning at the cross (Mark 15:1, 20, 22, 25)

Here was a morning like no other; many mornings had been before, and many since but not like this one! Unique due to the events unfolding just outside Jerusalem, this morning stands apart in history. This was a morning that would see the very Son of God journey to Calvary bearing his cross and giving his life for the sinner!

Mark, the vibrant and dynamic chronicler can only express this event simply yet poignantly using just 10 words; "and it was about the third hour, and they crucified him". Oh the wonder of it! That the very eternal Son of God would come to this earth, step into this scene of time and be subject to hours and days, mornings and nights, weeks and years! And that there should ever be an hour, at approximately 9am on that day, when he would be taken and crucified. What a tremendous truth this is, one that is too much for us to take in and understand - but we believe it! We thank God for the death of Christ at the cross of Calvary, because of this we are saved!

The account in Mark uses the phrase "they crucified himthus emphasising the role and guilt of man in those events. Yes this was the divine plan, God was playing out his sovereign and permissive will in the events at Calvary but nevertheless, wicked men were the willing agents - a truth which is born out in the preaching in the early Acts where people like Peter boldly proclaimed the guilt of those Jews, to convict them of their sin and their need for repentance (Acts 2:23, 3:15). Just as a side note, I trust that when we publicly preach the Gospel or indeed witness to others, that we do preach about sin and how men must repent toward God in order to be saved! It is all very well preaching about the love of God and believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, but the message is somewhat incomplete unless we tell men they are sinners and that they need to repent and come before God humbly for forgiveness! We have the authority of the Word of God for this, and true repentance is crucial if men are to be saved.

Praise God that this morning at the cross was eventually followed by a morning at the tomb - a morning of resurrection! I'm reminded of the words of the hymn - "He arose, he arose, Hallelujah! Christ arose!" I find it interesting that the Apostles in those early days of the Church, also preach this truth as they addressed the people, how important it is to preach a risen Saviour! He's alive today and is ascended and at God's right hand in majesty and power! How crucial this truth is to our faith, that the Lord Jesus rose, the work was complete and perfect and God has received him back into heaven, where he ever lives to make intercession for us. I hope we believe this and maintain this truth vigorously. It should encourage us and fill us with joy, hope and cheer as we seek to serve the risen Saviour. We close by thinking of the majestic words of the Lord Jesus in Revelation 1:18 "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold I am alive for evermore, Amen..."

Yours in Christ, Mark

Monday, 6 May 2013

Some morning meditations...

I have enjoyed some recent thoughts from some 'morning scenes' in the gospels, and they have been very enjoyable for me at least anyway, so I share them here so that others too may be encouraged. We will look at the morning scenes one by one, starting today with a morning at the temple.

A morning at the temple (John 8:1-5)

We read that the Lord Jesus went "early in the morning he came again into the temple..." and it seems that shortly after he arrived they brought him an adulterous woman. Of course they were looking to present a situation to the Lord that they hoped would cause him to fail and then they could capitalise on this.

Here we have a perfect demonstration of that poignant truth illustrated in Isaiah 55:8 - "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD" as this sinful woman is brought to the Lord he chooses to act in grace and mercy, rather than to judge or condemn her to death. It is important to note that the woman was guilty, there was no doubt about that! Although her male counterpart is suspiciously absent, they were both under the death penalty according to the law of Moses. The law said that she should be stoned (Lev 20:10, Deut 22:32) but what we see instead I believe is a practical demonstration of what John speaks of in his gospel - "for the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:7). Aren't we ever thankful for the grace of God in our lives? For the fact that it was "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us". I always find it lovely to see that the only one who was qualified to cast a stone chose to graciously spare the woman rather than move in righteous judgement against sin. He had said that only those without sin should pick up stones to stone her, and so of course, they were not qualified - but he was! He was the sinless, spotless Son of God. Praise God for the words of that hymn - "who is a pardoning God like thee, or who has grace so rich and free?!"

There is another item of interest in this account that I found quite humbling, and that is that the Saviour stoops and writes in the dust of the ground. Although dust is not mentioned in the King James version it is mentioned specifically in other renderings of the verse. Firstly I am always amazed at the lowliness and humility of the Lord Jesus! Not only in his condescension in coming into this world, but here we see him stooping further still and writing in the very dust of the earth he had created. How incredible to think that the very Son of God, the one who is God manifest in flesh stooped and his finger inscribed a message in the dust of the ground for those witnessing to see and read! The message has long been erased and forgotten, we can only speculate as to what he wrote.

I find dust a fitting medium for the Lord's message. Here he is faced once again by the sin of mankind, both from the guilty woman and the wicked hearts of the men who sought to test the Lord. How it must have grieved the heart of the Saviour to see this behaviour from the creatures of his hand. But a message is wrote in the dust of the ground, dust from which man had been created in the beginning! Remember the indictment of man in response to the fall and the entrance of sin - "for dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return" - sobering words indeed, as the mortality of man is described vividly by God. As sinful and mortal men they should have fixed their focus on things spiritual, of getting right with God through repentance and faith in the Saviour but sadly this was not the case.

Let us be ever mindful of the priorities in our lives, and perhaps show more of the grace and compassion that the Saviour demonstrated so fully and freely in his earthly ministry!

Yours in Christ, Mark

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

New blog post - Christ the spotless Nazarite (2b)

I have been enjoying this mini study so much recently, so I have decided to add some more thoughts to this subject - remember we were looking at the Nazarite condition that stipulated that he must abstain from touching that which came from the vine. Wine and the fruit of the vine speaks primarily in the scriptures of joy.

You may recall that last time in my blog post here in early February we were thinking about how there is very little said about the Lord Jesus in relation to joy in the scriptures. This is for good reason as it was prophesied that he would be characterised by sorrow and grief whilst down here, and not by joy. Let me balance my comments however by making it clear that I don't believe the Lord appeared to be down-hearted or unhappy, no that's not what I am saying. I am simply looking at what the scriptures tell us prophetically regarding his character and drawing some thoughts from this. Let's be clear that his character was of course wonderfully and perfectly balanced and even, of course we believe that. However his earthly service down here was not for pleasure or enjoyment or marked by levity, the scriptures tell us so! We can think of how he brought so much joy to others though, at all stages of his life, and we do praise God afresh that he was wiling to be the "man of sorrows" and "bear our griefs and carry our sorrows" so that our "joy might be full"!

However, I have been thinking recently that there are three things I believe spoken of in the scriptures that bring joy to the heart of the Lord Jesus, and I share them here for our mutual encouragement and to warm our hearts towards the Saviour.

When a sinner repents (Luke 15:7-10)

"there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth"

How wonderful to think that when we repented of our sin and trusted Christ as our Saviour there was joy in the very presence of God and his angels in heaven! Something that undoubtedly also brought joy to the heart of the Lord Jesus Christ!

A life of faithful and fruitful service (Matthew 25:21-23)

"thou hast been faithful over a few things... enter thou into the joy of thy Lord"

Again, we marvel that ever our contribution and service down here should ever bring joy to the Lord! But this is the truth of it, there is joy for Him at the end of a life of faithful and loyal service and surely this should encourage us in our lives for Him, no matter how meagre or paltry our service may seem to us, it brings pleasure, glory and joy to the heart of God!

My third and final example comes from Hebrews 12:2

"Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame." (NLT)

I have quoted the New Living Translation here as it seems to more accurately convey the meaning here but the Amplified also says "he for the joy (of obtaining the prize...)" so we must ask ourselves; what is the prize he endured to obtain? What is the joy that awaits him?

Fellow believers, I believe that this is you and I. We are the prize and the joy for which he was prepared to endure the cross of Calvary, wonderful thought! I refer you to Isaiah 53:11 "he shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied" or as the New Living Translation puts it; "when he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied."

I thought of the lovely words of that great hymn;
He and I in that bright glory,

One deep joy shall share,

Mine to be forever with him,

His that I am there.

Surely this should move our hearts to give thanks and worship Him? Consider that there is joy for the Saviour the day we came to know him as Saviour; he has joy as a life of faithful service for him is reviewed; and as he looks over the countless myriads of souls in heaven in his presence, ransomed and bought by his precious blood at Calvary, yes there is joy too and satisfaction for his soul! The soul that was poured out unto death, the man of sorrows who was acquainted with grief in his life on earth obtains much joy from the sinner that repents and believes on Him, this is a wonder indeed!

I trust these simple thoughts will compliment and complete the previous post and that we will all enjoy them and be encouraged as we continue to worship and serve our great Saviour.

Yours in Christ, Mark

Saturday, 9 February 2013

The people at the cross of Calvary

Have you ever thought about the different groups of people there at the cross of Calvary? There are many ways you could look at this subject but it occurred to me the other day that there were 3 groups of people who were described in relation to their position. There were those that STOOD, those that SAT and those that PASSED BY. I enjoyed this short study and we will share some simple thoughts here.

Those that STOOD

There were many people standing in the vicinity of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ that day 2000 years ago, but I wanted to just focus this study upon the women that came from Galilee to be at the cross. Luke says;
"and all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things." Luke 23:49 ESV

I don't know if you have ever thought much about this, I know I hadn't until I looked at this properly! Why should these women follow him from Galilee? Why would it specifically be recorded that women followed him from Galilee?
Remember that this was a day when women were treated unequally, and were seen as second-class citizens. The Lord himself rebuked the Pharisees for their harsh treatment of women and widows in particular.

It was then that my mind turned to the frequent times when the Lord Jesus brought blessing, comfort, and protection, honour and respect to the lives of the women of his day. Here are just a few occasions, there are many more:

  • He had compassion upon the woman of Canaan and her daughter

  • He had time to bless the widow of Nain by restoring her son

  • He protected the woman taken in adultery when the men of her day were ready to stone her

  • He made a specific journey through Samaria to speak with that woman by the well

  • He cast evil spirits out of many women including Mary Magdalene

  • He gave special place to their children - "suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God" I think these women appreciated this and were drawn to the Saviour due to his gentle and kind nature. Well might we sing "gentle Jesus meek and mild, look upon a little child" and "there's a friend for little children..."

  • He had a special address for those joyful daughters of Zion as he entered Jerusalem on that triumphant day. Interestingly He also had a specific address for those weeping women that day that he was led out of Jerusalem bearing his cross.

  • Finally remember that touching moment at the cross when the Saviour made provision for his mother that day. Surely only he truly understood those words spoken of her that "a sword shall pierce through your own soul also"...

Those that SAT

"and sitting down they watched him there" Matt 27:36

Again, I don't know if you have ever thought much about this, or whether this verse had struck you at all. Upon reading this passage it struck me afresh the callousness and cruelty of men, that they should torture, abuse, humiliate and then crucify an innocent man, one who had exhibited nothing but goodness, love, compassion, kindness and grace in his life and then watch him, mocking him and deriding him as he dies. Not only this but they were not prepared to suffer an ounce of discomfort as they did so, but rather they would take their comfort and ease as the Saviour died in agony. Is it no wonder that the Word of God reminds us in Psalm 1 (words which ultimately are fulfilled in the Saviour) "blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers..." ESV

Interesting that in a future day the tables will be turned, and the Lord himself shall sit and laugh in derision at the futile rebellion of those armies of men in a future day; "he who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision" Praise God that the Lord Jesus Christ has risen and ascended to his Father's right hand and one day will be glorified and acknowledged as Lord by all, and will be victorious over all his enemies!

Those that PASSED BY

Even more so than the other 2 points, I genuinely had never thought about this one or noticed this before. Only Matthew and Mark record this (interesting as Matthew speaks primarily to the Jew and Mark to the Gentile)
"and they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads..."

Once again the heartless cruelty and casual wickedness of man's nature is shown. These people were passing by, going about their daily business as if nothing had happened! Here they pass through the scene at Calvary, not stopping to take in the significance of the event, or to show sorrow or even a modicum of compassion towards the blessed man who hung upon that cross! Think about it - what on earth could have been more pressing or more important to them at that time? But no, they put if from their minds, merely shouting their derision and scornfully mocking him as they pass by. I am reminded by the poignantly prophetic words of Lamentations 1:12 "is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger..." It was nothing to them!

Praise God the Lord Jesus was not marked by their same spirit! He would not pass the suffering one by! Think of that parable of the Good Samaritan, a picture of the Lord Jesus and the stricken, helpless and needy sinner. He would not pass us by, but saw us in our need, wounded, destitute and ready for death but he stepped in and moved in love and grace toward us, praise God for the lovely character of our Lord Jesus Christ!

May God bless these thoughts as we continue to remember and worship our Lord and Saviour.

Yours in Christ, Mark

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Christ the spotless Nazarite (2)

Following on from our previous look at the Lord Jesus as the spotless Nazarite in relation to the touching of dead things, I wanted to look this time at that other feature of the Nazarite life: "he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink" (Numbers 6:3). I am looking at these Nazarite features purely with our blessed Saviour in view, so this is a devotional rather than a practical look at these things.

Throughout the Bible, wine and the fruit of the vine are typically a picture of earthly energy and joy, but we will come onto that in more detail later. Wine is also often linked to the Holy Spirit, I am thinking now in particular of Ephesians 5:18 "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit" The idea here is that believers should not be filled with the excess and recklessness of wine which speaks of this earth but that we should be driven and controlled by the Holy Spirit as befits the believer. With this in mind I looked at a few scriptures from the beginning of the Lord's earthly ministry to see what it said about his relationship with the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 4:1 says on that occasion that he was LED by the Spirit into the wilderness. The idea is to be led up or guided, and how lovely it is to think that the Saviour was guided by the Holy Spirit, his steps were always in sync with the Spirit and the Father, those 3 persons of the godhead!

Mark 1:12 records the same incident but says that he was DRIVEN by the Spirit into the wilderness. The word really means "cast out" so it carries with it a forceful and decisive act. An alternative rendering indicates to us that He was driven from within, so we have now the idea of the Saviour moving decisively, with passion and purpose driven from within by the Holy Spirit.

Luke 4:1 again records this but here the language is"Jesus being FULL OF the Holy Ghost" The word means "full up" and the verse also carries with it the idea of being "controlled by". Here we learn that Christ was filled by and controlled by the Holy Spirit! It filled and controlled Him and directed His every thought, word and deed.

We recall that in OT times the Spirit of God would come upon men and enable and empower them to accomplish some might deed for God, but these men were always marked by failure or sin in some area of their life. Not so with our Lord of course, as we said last time - He was the perfect, spotless example of the Nazarite, ultimately separated to God for his service and glory!

Let us return to the idea of wine speaking of earthly joy, what does it say about the Lord Jesus and joy? Well, I was interested to see that in the gospels the references to joy are almost always in relation to other people:

  • There was Joy at his Birth - Matt 2:10, Luke 2:10

  • There was Joy in his Life - Luke 13:17

  • There was Joy at his Death - John 16:20 (these are sad and solemn words indeed...)

  • There was Joy at his Resurrection though - Matt 28:8, Luke 24:41

  • There will be Joy at his coming again - John 16:20 and 22 (praise God!)
Of the Saviour himself though, we remember that it was prophesied of him that he would be "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief", this was the portion of our Saviour own here! Lamentations 1:12 also ultimately speaks of Christ "look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow", there was no sorrow like that which the Lord Jesus experienced at the cross of Calvary for you and for me. Isaiah goes on to say "surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows", how this should humble us and affect us in our lives. Let us lift our hearts and offer up thanks and praise to our God for his beloved Son and our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ.

I trust these simple thoughts will have warmed our hearts towards the Lord Jesus Christ and that they will be of enjoyment and benefit to God's people.

Yours in Christ, Mark

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Christ the spotless Nazarite

So this week I have been looking through Numbers chapter 6 and learning something about the vow of the Nazarite. It has been a really useful study with plenty of practical challenges about living a separated life for God and bringing him glory and pleasure through our walk and Christian life for Him.

However, from a devotional point of view I was thinking about how the Nazarite ultimately speaks of the Lord Jesus and in Him we see the perfect fulfilment of the Nazarite vow.

If we read Numbers 6 we will there realise that the ultimate purpose of the vow was to bring honour and glory to God. This was made possible by the individual following strict rules and showing tremendous discipline! It required human effort, willingness and endeavour in order to fulfil the law concerning the Nazarite.

Of course when we come to our Lord Jesus Christ we shall see that he did not need to vow the vow of the Nazarite in order to show his devotion to God. He did not need to strive from a human point of view to fulfil that Nazarite law, and there was no need for discipline or effort on his part to walk a pathway that brought pleasure and glory to God! He did this intrinsically because of who he was - the sinless, spotless Son of God. God manifest in the flesh! We love to remember that the Lord Jesus was daily his Father's delight, he did always those things that pleased the Father, and the Father was well pleased with Him. The life of the Lord Jesus brought infinite pleasure and glory to God!

However, we may remember that one of the Nazarite conditions was not to be in contact with or near any dead thing, even if it was close family that had suddenly died. This was because he would be defiled and made unclean. We recall that on several occasions the Lord Jesus was in contact with dead bodies, but praise God he could never be defiled or tainted by sin! Heb 7:26 tells us that he is "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners..." 

I looked at just this one feature of the Old Testament Nazarite and found much that touched my heart concerning our Saviour. I am thinking now in particular of those 3 occasions recorded in the gospels, let's look at them briefly here now.

Remember there was Jairus' daughter (Matt 9, Mark 5, Luke 8), that 12-year-old girl tragically struck down in her young years. Here I am struck by the power and authority of the Lord Jesus. Remember that the Saviour spoke of her as being merely asleep, and the people laughed him to scorn for saying this. But to our blessed Saviour, her dead state was to him just as if she was asleep, he could easily awake her from death such was his power! It was God that breathed life into man in the first instance, now here he could restore life again just as simply! We remember the people who had once mocked the Saviour were now overcome with amazement! This same Jesus is our Lord and Saviour, he is powerful today and mighty to save and transform lives just as he did then.

Now I turn to Luke 7 and see that tragic scene at the gates of the city of Nain. Here the only son of a widow has died and is being carried out in the funeral procession. Notice how that nobody actually tells the Saviour the facts of this sad situation, he knows all things. He knew that this was the only son of this poor woman, he knew that she had also lost her husband and so would have known much sorrow, anxiety and concern for the future. He sees her, he has compassion on her, he reassures her and he touches the coffin. He restores to that woman her only son, he brings in life where death was, he gives her back her joy, comfort and support and hope for the future with just one act! Here I marvel at his wonderful grace and compassion, and surely this has been shown and bestowed upon us as sinners saved by grace!

Finally I look at John 11 and the raising of Lazarus, the dear friend of the Lord Jesus. Here I notice his deep love, for at the tomb of his friend he wept and the Jews commented "behold how tenderly he loved him!" (Amp). How this should move us and warm our hearts to see the Saviour who is all-powerful and knows all things, moved to tears as he contemplates the sadness and sorrow that sin has brought into the world. It touches the lives of everyone, and here the Saviour stands at the grave of his friend whom he loved dearly. I am reminded of such scriptures as "the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me""he loved them unto the uttermost""greater love hath no man than this..." and "hereby perceive we the love of God..." Surely we have known, experienced and have come to appreciate the tremendous love of the Lord Jesus Christ! Praise God that he loved us and died for us at the cross of Calvary.

There at the cross we see that he "offered himself without spot to God" (Heb 9:14). The perfect example of the Nazarite - holy and sinless not only in his life, but also in his death, he offers himself as a perfect sacrifice for sin.

Let us kindle our hearts in thanks and praise for our blessed Saviour!

"A perfect path of purest grace, unblemished and complete,
was thine thou spotless Nazarite, pure even to the feet!"

Yours in Christ, Mark

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Prove, test, examine, discern

I've been looking at this word translated 'prove' in the King James Bible, and it has revealed some practical and challenging thoughts. I will share them here so that hopefully they may prove to be also beneficial to others. I have quoted below from the New King James Version for a little easier reading, and here the word is translated as prove, test and examine.


"do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans 12:2

In other words what the Apostle is saying is that we shouldn't copy or imitate the ways of this world. There is nothing more sad than a worldly Christian! The Apostle John could say "Do not love the world or the things in the world." (1 John 2:15) and the end result of such an attitude was known only too well to the Apostle Paul - "Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world" (2 Tim 4:10) how solemn! We should continually guard against becoming more and more like the world, how do we expect to have a testimony for Christ if we look, sound, act and behave exactly like the world around us? The answer to the danger of worldliness is given in our headline verse - we should let God continually renew our mind and change the way we think so we are more like His Son. Only then may we learn, know and discern God's will for our lives and the Apostle says this is good, pleasing and perfect. If we want to know God's will and his design and purpose for our lives then surely we need to be 'renewing our mind' by continually reading his Word, learning more about Him and letting this impact and affect our lives.


"Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified." " Cor 13:5

Here is a solemn passage. Sadly there were obstinate, continual sinners at Corinth who claimed to be Christians. Paul challenged them directly and severely, to examine themselves to see whether they were in the faith. God does not envisage that a believer should lead a sinful life, Romans 6 teaches us that: "How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" If there is continual and unrepentant sin in our lives this is most unusual and we should examine ourselves and see if we understand this truth of Christ dwelling in us and the Holy Spirit possessing our bodies. Of course we cannot be sinless, and so IF we sin the scriptures declares that Christ lives to make intercession for us and if we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us. Let us be challenged and exhorted to live holy lives for Him!


"Test all things; hold fast what is good." 1 Thess 5:21

So if we truly are believers on the Lord Jesus Christ and wish to know him and live according to his desire and will, then we must be vigilant and test everything that is said and make sure that we hold on to the good things. As a Christian you will encounter many different teachings and doctrines, and we must test them according to what the scriptures say, if we are to hold fast to what is good and be profited and built up in our most holy faith. John in his epistle told the believers "do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God" We should therefore be very wary when new teaching comes our way! Our spirit should be that of the Bereans in Acts 17 who "received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so."


"But let each one examine his own work..." Galatians 6:4

As we live for Christ in this world we are also exhorted to carefully scrutinize our own work, service and motives. This is very challenging as the passage assumes that we should all HAVE our own work! What about us today? Do we have a work we are doing for Christ? Is there a ministry that we are particularly exercised and burdened about? What are we doing personally for our Lord? On the other hand, the verse challenges us that we should not get carried away in our zeal and enthusiasm and lose focus or confuse our reason for the work in the first place! Our motives and our service will be reviewed in a coming day, we know this as believers and the scriptures say "each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is." 1 Cor 3:13 Let us be encouraged to examine carefully our own work for the Lord so that there may be more glory and honour brought to Him both down here, and up there in a coming day!


"I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others." 2 Cor 8:8

Here is another practical challenge from the Apostle Paul. The Corinthian believers seemed to excel in so many things - their faith, their gifted speakers, their knowledge and enthusiasm (v7) but there was an area in which they were previously well exercised in but had now forgotten about and that was the practical matter of giving of their substance to meet the need so evident in the churches round about.The Apostle reminds them of their previous exercise and brings to mind the generous grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (the perfect example of one who gave all for others), and that by giving in this way it would be a practical way of showing the sincere and genuine love that should characterize every child of God. Other churches were proving to be eager and diligent in this matter (v8) but the Corinthians needed a timely reminder to give as God had enriched them. We challenge ourselves, how is our giving? Not just donating money randomly to the Lord's work, but do we identify need (in whatever form that may be) and do we feel an exercise and seek to meet that need? There are many ways in which this can be done, but let us be challenged about helping and encouraging our fellow believers in whichever way we can!

We trust these simple thoughts will be for our mutual blessing and encouragement.

Yours in Christ, Mark.

Friday, 11 January 2013

My new acquisition - Two Version Bible from Crimond House Publications (Ards Bookshop)

Let me say at the outset - I love this Bible. It is without a shadow of a doubt the finest quality Bible that I have ever owned or even handled and I find this is important, to me anyway having owned other Bibles in the past that have fallen apart! I should say at this stage that there is an excellent review of this Bible on the Bible Design Blog, I would also recommend that you bookmark that site in your favourites! I have a link for that site and also a link to Ards Evangelical Bookshop where you can buy this Bible from in my links section in the sidebar. Anyway back to my review...

Often times in a teaching meeting or Bible study group I will hear fellow believers quote the Revised Version, especially at our church where the King James Version, or AV is commonly read. For what it is worth I grew up with the AV and happen to love it, although I frequently use other versions for alternative renderings such as the Amplified or indeed the Revised version. This Bible contains the Authorised text with the differences from the Revised version in the margin. Genius! This Bible therefore, is extremely useful for people like me who use the AV all the time in meetings, but like to 'refer' to an alternative version where perhaps better renderings of words or phrases can be found. So without further ado, here are some of my thoughts about this new Bible of mine.

Compact dimensions but thicker, no doubt due to the heavier paper weight being used...
The Bible comes in a not unattractive burgundy coloured cardboard box, and this feels like it should take a beating, should you decide to store and carry it in there as I have done. Once out of the box the quality of this Bible immediately strikes you: the grain and superb smell of the supple calfskin leather, the stitching around the edge of the cover, the way it flexes in your hands, all indicating that this is a quality product and will almost certainly outlast me. The dimensions are compact at 21cm x 14cm (page size) yet the Bible is deeper or thicker, whichever you prefer. This isn't down to an abundance of study helps (for there aren't really any at all!) but must be down to the better quality, heavier paper that the publisher has decided to use.

I am all for this as it means that you can potentially mark the Bible (using the appropriate pens or pencils) and it means there is less bleed-through or ghosting from the other side, making it nice and easy to read. Plus the pages turn better and last longer than these Bibles with poor bindings, bonded leather covers and see through paper that creases and folds with the slightest bit of heat/moisture from your hands! I would happily pay a few extra few pounds for this, there seems little point in cutting costs in this area when a proper study Bible is there to be read a lot and possibly marked as well.

The paper used here is first class. As you can see the light is shining through the paper, but hardly any ghosting from the reverse side.
The calfskin leather is beautiful. Below left you can see the grain and the stitching around the edge for added strength. A nice touch as most Bible makers just glue the yapp down.

The cover and binding in general of this Bible deserves special mention, as it is top quality, and unlike any other Bible I own. It smells great (yes this is a mark of a great Bible!) and it has a lovely matt finish to it, with the grain of the leather fully visible - lovely! It is worth mentioning as well that this cover is so soft and supple, my other Bibles are nothing like this! I've tried to show you in one of my poorly taken pictures but the cover just folds open without any weight and the cover is truly limp meaning that this Bible is ready to fold to the shape of your hand.

The super-limp, beautiful leather cover of the two version Bible from Crimond House.
All of these features not only make for a beautiful and long-lasting Bible but a nicely usable one as well. This Bible will sit comfortably in the hand, on the lap, on the table or anywhere, it just folds and flexes to suit!

Now what about the text? Is it readable? Well this is the other good bit of news for the print is of a good size, not too big or too small (in fact usually it is smaller on a Bible this size, certainly on my Thompson chain reference) and is clear and well-printed, albeit in an older style. This means our eyes aren't straining to read passages and makes it a good Bible to read aloud from in public. I find the text clear and well-printed and of a good size too. This helped by the weightier, opaque paper of course!

The margin references are very good, pretty much the same on my other Bibles but the real value comes from the two version system which we will come onto now.

Having the Revised renderings in the OUTSIDE margin is very helpful. For the most part I read the Authorised text as normal, and then either have a brief scan of the Revised notes, or refer to them only if puzzled with the AV. Often times this can she light on the passage and help with my understanding and study. So not only is this Bible fantastic quality and very good to read (in terms of a physical book, I fully realise as a believer that the Word of God is ALWAYS good to read!) but it is also bringing something extra to the table, as those Revised differences are extremely handy to have in a Bible class!

Close up of the Two Version Bible text, taken from John's Gospel.
In the close-up above you can see for yourself how the system works. If I'd had more time I could have found some good examples of where this system has been really helpful. I will jot these down as I notice them and post some of these in the near future.

So all in all I can thoroughly recommend this Bible to any believer who predominantly uses the King James or Authorised version and doesn't want to give that up, but would like some alternative renderings close at hand. This Bible is not cheap (£90 currently from Ards Evangelical Bookshop in Northern Ireland), but I think having a good quality Bible is well worth it in the long run, and is not an investment that you will regret!

Here is a link to the Bible at Ards:

Opening pages of the two version Bible. Crimond House, Nigel Lynn, Jongbloed - take a bow, this Bible is beautiful.
So in summary, this Bible has quickly established itself as my favoured Bible for taking to any type of church gathering due to its handy size, good print and helpful margins. I think I just need to find a suitable Bible case/bag for it now, to keep it in good condition! So if you have seen this Bible advertised and wondered if it was any good, then I hope this post has been useful and informative.

Yours in Christ, Mark

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

We have received a gift from God... use it for His glory!

"As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." 1 Pet 4:10

If you are a believer on the Lord Jesus Christ then you have been given a gift from God to be used for the benefit of fellow believers and for the glory of God. A gift is a gracious divine endowment, it is something that has nothing to do with any natural ability we may have but is a work that God has enabled us to do through the Holy Spirit. We are not going into the specifics of spiritual gifts here, but we will do a fuller more expansive post in the near future.

Paul encouraged Timothy in the matter of his gift - "therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you". It is important that as believers we look to understand the gift God has given us, and stir it up, use it and develop it - we should not be lazy Christians content to coast along in our spiritual lives! Paul exhorts us to be good stewards in this respect. A steward means a manager, governor or chamberlain, so we are to be busy, wise and resourceful as we seek to serve God using the gift he has given us. The idea is put across by the Lord Jesus in Luke 12:42 when there were faithful and wise stewards who served him well in their master's absence and received due reward at his coming again. This similar idea is put across in Luke 19 and Matt 25, although we haven't the time to go into these scriptures in detail. Suffice to say that the lesson is clear; we need to use the divine gifts God has given us and be active in the employment of them in His service so that God will be glorified and that we as good and faithful servants will be blessed both here now and in a future day of review as well.

As we close we should remember that the exercise of spiritual gifts should always be with the glory of God in view, and for the profit, or benefit of all (1 Cor 12:7). It is not for our own glory, or our own personal advancement, neither should it draw attention to ourselves, for this would be of the flesh. Later on in verse  of 1 Peter 4 Paul says concerning gifts "...that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ..." I can think of no stronger motivation for serving God than this! What a privilege that we should ever be involved in the service of God!

We pray that we may be challenged and encouraged by these things, and that each may seek God's face concerning our spiritual gift and how we may use it for the glory of God.

Yours in Christ, Mark

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Onwards and upwards in 2013

I've been challenged recently by Phil 3:14 about pressing on and making spiritual progress in 2013. The verse reads "I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upwards" Amplified Version. I trust that the challenge is something for all of us, no matter what stage we are at in our Christian pathway.

The Apostle has in mind here in this verse a future day of reward, what the Bible calls the Judgement Seat of Christ (Rom 14:10, 2 Cor 5:10). The Authorized Version is slightly misleading here, as the prize that Paul speaks of is not the 'heavenly' calling itself but rather the prize associated with that upward calling. In other words, there is reward in store for faithful servants of Christ at his Judgement Seat! Here every believer will stand before Christ and "receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (2 Cor 5:10).

The Judgement Seat of Christ is to be viewed as a positive thing, yet it was clearly something that weighed heavy on the Apostle's mind for he revisits it in some of his last writings in 2 Tim 4:8 "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." Let us all be encouraged and motivated by what we read here, for there can be no doubt from scripture that every believer on the Lord Jesus is destined for heaven and glory, and also that place of reward, where our lives of service will be reviewed.

In Philippians 3 the Apostle Paul uses the phrase "I press on toward the goal" the Apostle is keen, hungry and motivated! His life of service had been hard, and he had endured much for the preaching of the Gospel but here he was, zealous as ever and encouraging other saints to be like-minded! He wanted to continue to make progress, to press on and to have goals and aims in his spiritual life. There is nothing wrong with this motivation about our spiritual life! Granted we should not treat it as a profession or a career, but we should seek to make progress and grow, that much we can see from the scriptures "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" 2 Pet 3:18 

As we begin a new year wouldn't it be great to take stock of our lives and make some spiritual goals or aims for 2013? It could be something like "I'm going to ensure that I have a time for reading the Word and praying every day" or "I'm going to start taking part publicly at a Church gathering" or perhaps "I'm going to talk to someone about the Saviour and the message of salvation each day". What a beneficial impact this would have on our lives and on the lives of our friends and colleagues, both saved and unsaved. Let us be encouraged together and press onwards and upwards in 2013, for there is a prize to be had at the finish!

Yours in Christ, Mark

1 Kings 19: Elijah and God

I was listening to a podcast the other day which was speaking about 1 Kings 19 and it reminded me of how very relevant this passage is to ou...