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

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...