God’s Alarm

I like to be up really early in the morning, but I do not like the act of getting out of bed. As a heavy sleeper, I am very dependent on my alarm clock to wake me up. Many years ago, I discovered that, if the alarm clock was within reach, I would just put it off and go back to sleep. The snooze button just gave permission to lie a  little bit longer, and a little bit longer, and so it went on. I am not going to tell how many times I  sometimes pressed it, but it was not so many times as a friend who told me he once repeatedly pressed the snooze button for five hours! However, I had to find a foolproof way to actually get me out of bed, and many years ago I began to use a simple method that I have used very effectively ever since. A loud alarm was the first essential. Then, when I set the alarm in the evening, I placed it on the floor well away from the bed.  This ensured that I actually got out of bed as soon as the alarm went off. Pride ensured that I did  not get back into bed! Recovery was very quick when I realised that I was out of bed at an early hour and had gained some of that precious commodity:- time.

Is there such a thing as God’s alarm? Yes. It does not just waken us from sleep, but in a sense it wakens us from the dead! God’s alarm  sometimes works dramatically quickly. This may happen under the preaching of the gospel, or a simple few words from a faithful witness, or from reading the bible, or one of many other means that God uses as His alarm. The person is dramatically awakened from his or her spiritual death.

However, God’s alarm very often works very slowly: sometimes so slowly and imperceptibly as to be at first unrecognised. Yet it is the same work as in the more sudden awakenings. Every person who is spiritually awakened is raised from the dead by God’s alarm, that is, God’s omnipotent and irresistible power being applied to them. Often it is simply a case of the person becoming increasingly disappointed with the enjoyments of the world as he realises that the world never delivers on what it promises. He may for a time make greater and greater efforts to gain the satisfaction he used to get from the world, but it no longer works for him. He loses his peace, and perhaps even feels that he is heading for a mental breakdown.

But God will always provide the necessary understanding of His own great purpose to relieve their stress. Again, God uses different means. Some remember what they were taught in childhood, some may be led to seek peace in a gospel church, or perhaps they may listen to a recorded sermon. Whatever means is used they will learn with new understanding, that God loved human beings in such a way that He gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross of Calvary as a substitute in the place of sinners. God will enable them to repent of their sins and to believe and trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. They will have the unspeakable joy of being RightWithGod now and forever.

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“Soul Searching”

The true believer is not afraid of being searched by the scriptures; indeed he or she wants this searching, and wants confirmation from the bible that they are true believers, RightWithGod. This desire itself is a confirmation, or token that they are indeed true children of God. The unbeliever does not want to be searched in this way.

One of the subjects described in various parts of the bible is the subject of heaven. What the bible tells us about heaven is not just information, but it is a rich testing ground for us to test ourselves. What we must ask ourselves is,  ‘Does the heaven described in the bible appeal to us, or does it not?’ Very few people would say they do not want to go to heaven, but when heaven is described to them, the reaction of many is, ‘I do not want to go there’.  The reason often given is,’It sounds a very boring place. Some would say, ‘I would not like to spend eternity in the company of Christians’. To the unbeliever very often the christian life seems very boring, when nothing could be further from the truth.

Many years ago a boat was just casting off from the quay-side in Glasgow, when this man came running along the quay, and with one desperate jump, he just managed to jump the widening gap. He landed a heap on the deck so puffed that it took him some time to be able to speak. People gathered round him, wondering if he needed help. Eventually he sat up and said, “Where’s the bar?”.  He was then told, “Sir, you must be on the wrong boat. There is no bar on this boat. This is a party of christians out for a day-trip. We will be away for most of the day”.  His full answer was unprintable, but it was clear that being ‘imprisoned’ for a whole day with only christians for company, was to him like a hell on earth.

One of the wonderful things about the prospect of heaven for the true christian is in the words, “They shall see His face”(Revelation 22:4).  This means that we will actually see Jesus with our physical eyes because, when he took human nature into union with Himself, the union was, and ever will be, permanent and indestructible. As the angel said to the disciples, as he was being taken up into heaven, “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven” Acts 1: 11). The question for you and me is, “Is this something that really excites us, and makes us long for heaven; or is it something that leaves our hearts cold?” If the latter, then it is an indication that we have never received Christ as our Saviour from our sins, and as the Lord of our lives, and are not RightWithGod.

It is not possible in this small space to apply the rest of this great passage, But there are plenty other things here by which we can test ourselves. The great question is, ‘Is the heaven that is described to us in the bible the kind of heaven we want?’ Search and see.

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A Lost Diamond

My dear wife of 53 years still wears her engagement ring continually, night and day. It was not an expensive ring, but the years had made it very precious to us both. A few days ago she got out of bed in the morning and realised that her engagement ring felt rough. On closer examination we discovered that a tiny diamond was missing from the ring, and we were stunned. We did not know when or where it had fallen, and we knew that the chances of finding such a tiny thing were slim. A thorough search yielded nothing. Then we remembered that my wife had vacuumed the floors the previous day. There was nothing for it but to search the bag of the vacuum cleaner. I scissored the edges of the bag all round, opened it out on the floor, and began teasing out the fluff and dust, not expecting much. Suddenly, in the midst of all the dust, I saw this tiny, but unmistakeable, sparkle. With a merry heart, I took it to my wife, and we rejoiced and thanked God together. It was the lost diamond.

But there was another thought on my mind, namely the words of Jesus concerning Himself in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost”.  Yes in many ways that was my own experience. In my teens and early twenties,  I was steeped in a worldly life. Like that diamond I was lost, and wallowing in the dirt of a life of sin. But there was a major difference. Whereas the diamond was a thing of beauty,  there was nothing beautiful in me. I thought I was happy, but I was a wretch. My heart was ugly, my mind was putrid, and, though I did not realise it at the time, I was ruining my body.

The searching in the case of the diamond was motivated by the beauty of the diamond itself, but the Lord’s seeking of me had no such motive. The motive was love, not a love for the lovely, but a love for the unlovely. What kind of love is this? It cannot be explained, except to say that He loved because He loved. We call it sovereign love. A love which is from within God Himself, and not motivated by anything outside of Himself. It is a love which seeks and saves that which is lost.

This seeking is itself wonderful, and works in a wonderful way. He seeks us by causing us to seek Him. As John writes in His first Epistle, Chapter 3, verse 19: “We love Him, because He first loved  us”. But how can Christ change the inclination of our hearts? How can He exercise such power?Only because He is God as well as man. The question for any who have not yet found Him is, ‘Is Christ seeking me by making this world to disappoint, and to fail to satisify ?’ Rejoice, my dear friend; the Lord may be seeking you, and, as Paul says in Romans 6:13, “yield yourselves unto God”.

When my wife and I found the diamond, there was rejoicing in our home. In a similar way, The Lord Himself says in Luke 15:7, “Likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repents”.  Yes we must repent of our sins and find forgiveness in Christ.

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Tomorrow does not Always Come

Thank you all for your patience with me over the unexpectedly long period of short posts due to injury and holiday.

I am writing this just after hearing about the terrible shooting in Las Vegas. Words fail in trying to describe the cruelty, and the hardness of heart that was behind this evil. We just cannot enter into it. It is extreme evil. We can, and we must, pray for the bereaved and the wounded, and extend our sympathy to them. We must also do what we can in a practical sense, but we just cannot understand how anyone could do such a terrible thing. Yet there is one thing which it all points to: that man is a fallen creature, and is capable of all kinds of evil. The heart of man in its natural state is described to us in Jeremiah 17: 9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”. The first two chapters in the Book of Job make it clear to us that God restrains evil. If that were not the case the world we live in would be ruled by Satan, and would be an infinitely more evil place than it is. When we open our newspapers, or read the news on the internet, we might sometimes marvel at all the evil that is in the world. However, the overall picture that is before us is not one of total evil, but one of controlled evil, and we should be able to see that. The truth of the matter is that it is God who rules the world, although He, in His perfect wisdom, gives Satan limited freedom. We have never seen total evil.

But let us turn our thoughts to those involved in this tragedy. Jesus makes it clear in Luke 13: 1-5, that those who have suffered in such tragedies do not suffer because they were more evil than the rest of us, and we must never harbour such thoughts. Yes, God is speaking, but that is not the message. What then is the message? He is saying  to every single individual in this world, that we do not know what is, as we say, ’round the corner’. This has been brought home to myself even since I began to write this very post. The unexpected has hit me in my personal circumstances. It is astonishing how a simple phone call can bring the unexpected, and the painful, into one’s life. How we urgently need to get RightWithGod while we have the opportunity.

In 2 Corinthians 5:20 we have Paul’s exhortation to come and get RightWithGod: “We pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God”. There is an urgency in these words, because we do not know that there will be a tomorrow for us. James in chapter 4, verse of his epistle warns, “You know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away”

Let us take the bereaved and injured in Las Vegas into our prayers, and into our hearts, and do what we can to help, but let us not disregard the voice of God as He speaks to us all.

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