“Accidents”

I have often said to my congregation that events, occurrences, trials etc in the life of the christian are never ‘accidents’, or just ‘incidental’. The words, “For the child of God, nothing is for nothing”, were frequently on my lips as I preached. I now find myself in the situation where I have to put what I preached into practice. Last Friday, I took a set of ‘steps’ into my study to change a light bulb. I misjudged my step, and I realised I was going to fall, and tried to break my fall by getting my hand on to the desk to break my fall, and ended up falling very heavily on to my wrist. I knew immediately by the shape of my hand and wrist that something was broken. x-rays showed that the break was not simple. Both forearm bones are broken very close to the wrist joint, and attempts by the orthopaedic team to align things were only partly successful, and further intervention may be required. But ‘nothing is for nothing’, and I put my trust in God’s word, “As for God, His way is perfect” (Psalm 18: 30).

What I have written so far has taken me more than two hours, because I am extremely right-handed and very poor with my left hand. Nevertheless, God-willing, I hope that RightWithGod will continue to appear each week in a much shorter form until I am fully recovered.

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Who Rules the World?

The question in the title is a very important one for every thinking person, especially at the present time. Things are changing very fast, and there is growing tension between the powerful nations of the world. This is not a new thing. What is new is the emergence of North Korea as a potential nuclear power. That country is determined to get into a position where it can defend itself, and no one would deny them that right. The problem is the closed, secretive nature of North Korea as a nation. It does not seek any alliances, except the minimum necessary for trade. The leadership are not answerable to anyone. The restrictions of democracy do not exist. Not only so, but atheism is fundamental to the constitution, hence conscience is not a factor in the decisions of the leadership. For the average Korean, the state takes the place of God.

The result of this is that a new nuclear power is emerging in the world, which is unlikely ever to submit to any multilateral international agreement to restrict the proliferation of nuclear materials. To say that this is a major problem for the western nations hardly expresses the seriousness of the problem. The danger is beyond words. The growing dilemma facing the western nations is, can they afford to let the present situation continue, or do they intervene preemptively? Presently, no one knows the answer to that question, but the bible does give us some comfort for ourselves and our children.

For the christian who is RightWithGod through Jesus Christ, there is comfort in knowing that the fate of this world is not in the hands of man, but in the hands of God. It is God who rules this world; not any western leader, nor Kim Jong Un the present leader of North Korea, nor is it Satan. World history will continue to its God-determined end. The world will not be brought to an end by nuclear war, nor by global warming nor any such action of man. These things may or may not have their effects, but they will not bring the world to an end. The bible teaches us most clearly that only God knows when the end of the world will be: “But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24: 36).  In that passage, Jesus goes on to emphasise the fact that the end of the world will occur unexpectedly, and on a very ordinary day.

Does that mean that God has control over world leaders? Yes; and He exercises  that control in a most amazing way. In Proverbs 21:1 we read, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: He turns it wheresoever He will”. How reassuring in the day in which we live,  to know that even the heart of Kim Jong Un, is in the hand of God, and God is able to turn it whatever way suits His will. The world is ruled by God and He has no unforeseen surprises.

All will be brought to a conclusion when Jesus Christ descends from heaven “with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God” (1 Thessalonians 4: 16). Verse 18 ends that same chapter with the words, “Therefore comfort one another with these words”. Let is do just that, at this seemingly dangerous time in the history of this world.

 

 

 

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Having the Mind of Christ

The true believer will always have a strong desire to progress in the christian faith. This desire is, first and foremost, the desire to fulfill the great purpose of our salvation, as it is set before us throughout the bible. For example, in Ephesians 1:4 we read, “According as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy  (emphasis mine), and without blame before Him in love”. Being holy shows in our outward lives, but holiness itself is firstly inward; invisible to man, but visible to God. In Philippians 2: 5, Paul points us to an important aspect of this inward work: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus”. He is saying that we should seek to think like Christ, but he is saying more than that. We are to seek to have the mind of Christ. As in all spiritual activities, we are to wait on God and, at the same time, make every effort to bring desires to pass. This verse is an exhortation to us to seek to have the mind of Christ. In order to do so we must know what the mind of Christ was in His earthly life. This is laid out for us plainly in the words that follow in verses 6 to 8. The key concept in these verses is progressive humbling of Himself.

Though He was, in His person, God the Son from all eternity, He did not graspingly hold on to this status and glory (verse 6). On the contrary, when He took human nature into union with His divine person, He emptied Himself of all reputation, as Isaiah prophesies of Him, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”(Isaiah 53:3). He adopted the form and status of a servant, and though He was, and continued to be, God the Son from all eternity, He took lowly, created human nature into permanent union with His person (verse 7). Then in that lowly human nature, He humbled Himself to the ultimate in obedience to the Father’s will for Him by dying, not a gentle dignified death, but the death of the cross: crucifixion, the most painful, slow and disgrace-laden death to which a human being can be subjected (verse 8).

So, how would we describe the mind of Christ in order that we might seek after it? It is a mind that is not concerned with defending one’s own rights and reputation, but is more concerned with the welfare and salvation of others. It is also a mind that is chiefly motivated by obedience to the will of God, than anything else in this life.

If we go back to the words which introduce this great passage of verses 5 to 8, we learn yet more of what having the mind of Christ means. Verses 3 and 4 exhort us, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others”.

Let us pursue holiness with all effort, keeping in always before us, the mind of our example, the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, only those who have received Christ Himself as Lord and Saviour are able to receive the mind of Christ.

(I will be on holiday next week but I will try  to leave a holiday thought here if I can.)

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