a call to… Renew the Covenant. Final Countdown

Convocations, they used to call them. A Trumpet blast, rallying call to the whole nation to assemble together in submission to God and his will. Old Israel had lots of them; their weekly convocation was the Sabbath, but their annual convocations started with Passover, which was just about this time of the year!

The Wesley Version

silvertrumpetsIn 1755 John Wesley created a form of service adapted from the works of Joseph and Richard Alleine. These works came from the Puritan tradition of pastoral and spiritual guidance. Wesley therefore insisted that the Covenant Service be located in a framework of pastoral care, preaching and guidance.

There would be a series of meetings relating to the Covenant involving sermons, explanations and exhortations. An invitation would then be issued for “those as will” to come to the Covenant Service. After a day’s “Retreat” for people to prepare themselves in prayer, fasting, reflection and self-examination there would be the Covenant Service itself. This would be held in the context of the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Many Methodists and others still hold this service year by year.

The ‘biblebase focus event’ version!

We have planned our own version of this for this coming Saturday. April 9th 2016. 

The venue will be Bracknell New Covenant Church and we will start with welcome and a cup of something at 9.30 am.

The rest of the day is scheduled thus…

9:30 am Tea /Coffee
10:00 – 11:00 New Exodus – New Covenant – Wayne Crossley
11:00 – 11:30 Tea/Coffee
11:30 – 12:30 Preparing for the Covenant – Ron Bailey
12:45 – 1:45 Light Lunch Soup etc.
2:30 – 4:30 Renewing the Covenant – Ron Bailey
4:30 – 5:00 Snack & Scatter

The afternoon session will be in the context of a celebration of the Lord’s Supper.

The day is without charge but an opportunity to share in the costs will be available.

a call to Renew the Covenant: Countdown – 4 weeks

The First Passover

The first of the annual ‘convocations’ was the feast of Passover, or as Leviticus expresses it “Jehovah’s Passover”. It marked the people’s last day in Egypt and the beginning of their freedom. The event is a new start of such dimensions that God reset the clocks and made this the beginning of their year.

Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,“This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. Ex 12:1–2 NKJV.

How desperately men and women need a new start. “In the beginning God…” We need a God who can give us a new beginning by effecting a decisive break with the past.

It began with a forward look to what God was beginning but all of the subsequent Passovers were a backwards look to the historic event that culminated in them becoming “God’s people”, “a holy (set apart) nation”. We know the story so well or, at least, we think we do…

The lambs were slaughtered and the blood was to be splashed upon the doorposts and lintels of the house where they were actually eating the meal.

And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. Ex 12:7 NKJV.

It’s easy to miss but the main feature of the Passover was that they would ‘feed on the lamb’. In the moment when God’s judgments were falling upon the nation of Egypt and the power of their oppressor was being broken the people of Israel were feasting on God’s provision for their journey. Not that they were taking their ease. They were instructed to be on their sandalled feet, their few belongings on their backs, their staffs in their hands. Ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Their bread was to be without leaven/yeast signifying that there was no time to wait, but the absence of the leaven was to hold another significance. Jehovah’s Passover was to be the culmination of 7 days when leaven was banished from their homes. It became a time of great fun for the children as they scoured their homes looking for bits of leaven that Mother had hidden as part of a game but its deeper significance was that the leaven was to be hunted down and eliminated. It signified the removal of sin from the lives of God’s people.

The Last Passover

The first Passover was in Egypt; the second was in the Promised Land. The first looked forward, all the others looked backwards. They kept the annual feast sporadically but new moves of God among the people often found expression in super Passovers as the nation remembered its birth and its destiny.

When the time was full Christ invited his disciples to join him in the Passover celebration. They gathered together in an upper room and followed the prescribed tradition with its various elements and cups of wine. He declared that with ‘great passion’ he had desired to share Passover with them “before I suffer”. And that he would not celebrate the Passover again “until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God”. Mysterious words. Everyone spent Passover looking backwards but he was looking forwards to its “fulfilment”. They had all thought that the Passover was a commemoration of the past. It was, but it was also a prophetic glimpse into the future.

When the Passover was complete Christ introduced an innovation. He took a piece of unleavened bread, gave thanks and broke it. As he distributed it among the disciples he spoke those wonderful words;

  And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you. Luke 22:19–20 NKJV.

The first Passover heralded the Sinai Covenant; the Last Passover heralded its fulfilment in the death of “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”.

A new Passover

Paul took the symbolism of the Passover and transposed it into another key; that of the New Covenant;

  Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 1 Cor 5:6–8 NKJV.

As the biblebase focus day gets nearer we have our opportunity to allow God to search our hearts and lives and to deal with any ‘leaven’ that might have worked its way into our lives. The early Methodists, of Wesley’s time, would spend several days under the ministry of the word of God and set aside time to pray and to search their hearts.

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. 2 Cor 13:5 NKJV.

How strange this language is to most of us. We are saturated with the language of God wanting to restore a ‘healthy self-image’. Are we ready to let God search our hearts and to ask ourselves the searching question “am I in the faith”? O, I can hear the protests. “It will unsettle people and bring them into condemnation, they cry.

So here is our convocation, our call to “Renew the Covenant”. To reset the clock and make a new start. Will you join us?

a call to Renew the Covenant: Countdown – 5 weeks

So what does that mean? What is a covenant and why do they need to be renewed? It’s a long story…

What is a covenant?

A covenant is a legally binding agreement between two or more people. Perhaps the covenant we are most familiar with is the one we call a marriage. It sometimes creates a new legal entity, as in marriage. Each person in a covenant has privileges… and obligations.

God has always worked in covenants. Although he brings many one-off blessings into our lives his intention is always relationship and that can usually best be described in terms of a covenant. There is a cryptic verse in the prophecy of Hosea that seems to suggest that God entered into a covenant with Adam right back at the beginning. (more…)

Donald Rumsfeld and the Return of Christ

Preparing for Series Three in our Romans Project

I am in the lead-in to our third season of Bible studies in Paul’s epistle to the Romans. We have completed

  1. Series One – Introduction and ‘Guilty’
  2. Series Two – ‘From Death to Life’

and now we have in prospect Series Three, Romans 9-11 that I have entitled ‘What about Israel?’ I have to admit a certain nervousness in contemplating some of the issues involved in this section. Although I don’t propose to do an in-depth study of the truths of the Return of Christ (or Parousia) it is inevitable that we shall touch on some aspects of these controversial topics. Christians, Good, godly Christians have very different views on these matters and where Christians vary so widely we do well to tread with a little humility.

The unknown unknowns

Some time ago Donald Rumsfeld avoided a question with a famous few sentences. It became famous for a while; ‘the Unknown Unknowns‘. He quoted a well-known adage that there are three areas of knowledge and ignorance.

  1. There are ‘known’ knowns
  2. There are ‘known’ unknowns. That is to say ‘there are things we do not know and we know that we do not know them’.
  3. There are also ‘unknown unknowns’. ‘Things that we don’t know that we don’t know.’

It caused a few moments of amusement among the news gatherers but it was not an original comment but a well known comment among project managers.

The Millennium Bug

For a few years I worked with an international bank on the Y2K issue, the Millennium Bug. Millions of pounds/dollars were spent in readying the financial world for the moment when the numbers ‘2000’ appeared in financial calculations. I won’t bore you with the details but Rumsfeld’s saying was constantly in our minds. The real danger was not the ‘known unknowns’. We had comprehensive inventories, impact analyses and ways of testing that would systematically cover the area of the ‘known unknowns’. The area that caused the greatest anxieties was that area of the ‘unknown unknown’ and more particularly how things that we didn’t know that we didn’t know would impact national and international finance.

Cosmologists and Students of Prophecy

The phrase comes to mind when considering the Biblical revelation of the Return of Christ. Some are convinced that they have sufficient data to declare watertight schedules for the Return. Some are more cautious. They are more aware of the ‘unknown unknowns’. They know that any of those unknowns may skew their precise schedules. I used to be an expert on this area. I had the charts to prove it. I have read the writings of godly Bible expositors who have boldly declared what would happen next and what would follow that. Some spent the latter years of their lives writing books to recant their earlier predictions. There is a phrase once used by a cosmologist that comes strongly to mind. “cosmologists; often in error, never in doubt.” For ‘cosmologists’ substitute the words ‘students of prophecy’ and you have another well established truth. The predictions of those I have trusted most have all unravelled. The sobering thing is the way in which those proved to be in error calmly move on to their next best-seller with a revised schedule but no apologies. ‘Often in error, but never in doubt’.

We know in part…

Some years ago I was asked to speak at the Oxford University Christian Union on 1 Thessalonians 4 and was required to sign a disclaimer that said ‘all speakers are to be aware that a wide spectrum of opinion is held among Christian students’ and requested that I undertake ‘not to offend the opinions of such’. I promised I would ‘do my best not to offend the Pre-Millennialists, or the Post-Millennielists or the Amillennielists. I would also keep in mind the Pre-Tribulationist, the Mid-Tribulationalists, the Post Tribulationalists or even the Partial Rapturists’. I suggested that if I succeeded I might consider a career among the diplomats of the United Nations. The committee was happy with the spirit of the answer and we had a good time together declaring the certainties of the Return and reminding ourselves of the ‘gaps in our data’.

I am often asked questions for which I have no answer. I try my best but frequently my sign-off contains a few initials from a statement of Paul. WKIP – we know in part…

Wait for it…

What is the most-shared ‘encouragment’ verse in the Bible? The verse from Jeremiah 29 must be a strong contender…

Jer 29:11″For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

It is a classic case of taking a verse out of its context and changing its original meaning.

Well meaning, false, prophets

At the time of Israel’s expatriation to Babylon there is an interesting division among the prophets. Daniel and Ezekiel, as young men, were taken captive to Babylon but Jeremiah was left behind in Jerusalem. This affects their perspective as they speak for God about the tragedy that was engulfing their nation. These three were not the only prophets. There were fake prophets too; some were left behind and some were taken captive. Some of the fake prophets set about the work of trying to raise the morale of their fellow captives. One line of their strategy was to declare that exile in Babylon was just a passing shower. Their prophecies were the equivalent of saying “don’t even unpack, you’re not staying around long enough to make it worth while.”

Back in Jerusalem Jeremiah heard the account of the false prophets  and set himself to write a letter. Jeremiah 29 is the record of that letter; the first epistle of Jeremiah. His letter includes the famous verse 11, and its ‘words of comfort’. Time, I think, to take a closer look.

Time-locks and other preconditions

The previous verse sets part of the context.

 For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them, says the LORD. For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.  Jer 29:9–10 NKJV.

These introductory verses show us that the promise of the next verse is actually time-locked. As a young man I worked in a national bank where the vaults were opened with two keys. Technically, the two key-holders could open the vault. However, the vault was on a time-lock as a security device and the vault needed both the key-holders and the correct time of day before we could swing open its great metal doors. Jeremiah’s promise is similar. It is not a verse that can be lifted from the scriptures and applied at will; it is time-locked. In Jeremiah’s case it required a further 70 years to pass before the time on the dials said ‘Now’.

And this was not the only precondition. Together with the designated time on the dial something else had to be in place. The key-holders had to do their unique work. Even the right time did not gain access; it needed the action of the key-holders. Jeremiah’s key-holders are in verse following the ‘word of comfort’.

 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Jer 29:12–13 NKJV.

Jeremiah’s two key-holders were

  1. Prayer and
  2. a resolute Seeking for God himself.

Then, and only then, when all three conditions of designated time, prayer and heart resolution, were in place would the great doors swing back and the nation be set free.

Jeremiah’s promise is a promise certainly but it is not a promise to be ‘claimed by faith’. It is a long-range promise to be received by ‘patient endurance AND faith’. It is a promise to encourage ‘hope’. Hope is long-range faith; beyond our reach but just as certain.

Ready, steady… go!

There are promises which are to be grasped immediately by faith. They are plainly marked with today’s date.

For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.  2 Cor 6:2 NKJV.

Almost 70 years later Daniel read these words of Jeremiah and did some calculations;

 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans— in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the LORD through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.  Dan 9:1–3 NKJV.

He checked the dates, set his face toward God and prayed earnestly. He held firm…

   Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem. Ezra 1:1–3 NKJV.

When God says ‘now’ we must be careful to add no preconditions. But some promises are time-locked and nested within necessary conditions. For those we must determine the time, fulfil the promises and refuse the temptation to ‘snatch’ at a prize.

 For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.  Hab 2:3 NKJV.

Even ‘if it tarries’ its time will come.

a fearless future?

the crown of Smyrna

Over 30 years ago as I stood in the beautiful sweep of Izmir’s harbour I looked upwards to the hill behind the city. In Bible times the city was known as Smyrna and the hill was known as “The Crown of Smyrna” because of the way that buildings ‘crowned’ the hill’s summit. It inevitably brought to mind the promise of Jesus to the congregation in Smyrna that the overcomers would receive ‘the crown of life’;

Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. Rev 2:10.

There are some mind-stretching concepts here. This congregation was about to undergo the devil’s wrath against the people of God. God could have stopped it easily but he had chosen not to. Why? Any answer would be just human speculation. Their imprisonment, although the consequence of the devil’s activity, had a divine purpose; in order `(Greek hina) that you may be tested. Trials are an inevitable part of Christian experience; they ‘go with the territory’. As Peter tells us it is not ‘strange’ or ‘foreign’…Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 1Pet 4:12. My old Bible college principal used to say that ‘Satan was God’s chief inspector of boilers’! God is confident in his workmanship in the lives of his saints and is not afraid that they will fail the testings.

scheduled

The sufferings of the congregation in Smyrna were not a mere possibility; they were scheduled. These are things that they are ‘about to suffer’ are definitely on the way, but their duration is fixed from before their beginning.

You will have tribulation for 10 days.

There is a snippet of a hymn on the edges of my mind but I can’t recall it all. It contains the lines ‘if God hath set their number ten, you ne’er shall have eleven’. This is the promise for all the saints. It will not go on for ever… a lifetime at most. 😉 No trial permitted by God is open ended but carefully circumscribed, thus far and no further. It is said of one the riders in the book of Revelation that

‘power was given unto him to make war with the saints…’ Rev 13:7

‘it was given unto him’ , he did not usurp it and beyond his limits he cannot go.

the exit

There is a similar promise which is much better known generally to the saints.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1Cor 13:10

This is the ESV version. The assurance that there is a fixed ‘exit’ from this temptation is the hope that enables the saint to ‘endure’ under the weight of it. That sure ‘exit’ strengthens us as we ‘endure it’.

a fearless future

Perhaps the most amazing part of our original verse is the command

‘not to fear any of those things which you are about to suffer’.

They are coming but you are not to fear them. You are not to fear ‘any of those things’; we are not allowed a single exception. The saints’ trials will result in crowns to cast at his feet for those who obeyed him and refused to fear the future. And why should we not ‘fear the future’? Simply because of the central theme of the book of the Revelation… God is still on the throne.

(originally posted to our old Blog in January 2010)

because I have you in my heart…

Paul’s authority

This is part of the secret of the ministry of Paul to the churches. Certainly he had a ‘royal commission’ but he had something else too; the love of God had been poured out in his heart by the Holy Spirit. Rom 5:8.

The heading is taken from Paul’s letter to ‘the saints’, the people of God, in Philippi.

 …being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace.  Phil 1:6–7 NKJV.

There is a line from an old Graham Kendrick song that comes to mind.

“where are the love tears that earned the right to speak?”

This is not the first time I have quoted these words on these blogs.

the common bond of genuine love

There is an interesting feature in the original of Philippians 1:6,7. Apparently, just as accurately, it could be translated ‘because you have me in your heart.’ This mutual affection is the uniting bond that linked these early saints together. Paul spoke to the saints at Philippi with a deep conviction that was authenticated by the fact that he had them ‘in his heart.’ It was a New Testament pattern;

  But thanks be to God who puts the same earnest care for you into the heart of Titus. 2 Cor 8:16 NKJV.

He was not driven by duty or necessity but it was the ‘love of Christ’ that constrained him.

the right to speak?

Do we long to speak words of authentic comfort to the saints? We shall, if we have them in our hearts. We have no right to speak into the lives of those who we do not ‘have in our hearts’. At best such preaching will have reform at its heart rather than a love for the individual. It will have targets and milestones and the critical eye of the man who knows how other men ‘ought to behave’. But we usually recognise the man or woman who ‘has us in their hearts’ and to heed their counsel or receive their encouragement is not difficult.

Who has God put in our hearts? We have God’s authority to speak to them. It is said of our great Shepherd;

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.  1 John 5:3 NKJV.

His commandments are not burdensome. Or as one version has it “his commandments do not weigh us down.”

It’s because he has us in his heart.

(first posted on our old Blog in March 2013)

the paralysis of omnipotence

G Campbell Morgan

This is a passage in G Campbell Morgan’s commentary on “the Gospel according to Mark”. He covers the attitude of the people at Nazareth to Christ’s return visit. The locals knew Jesus of Nazareth so well, they knew his family, his personal history as the local carpenter and they were astonished at the power they had heard of and at the wisdom of the ‘local boy’. In fact the passage records two different kinds of astonishment.

Mark 6:2 And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands!
Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief. Mark 6:5–6 NKJV.

The people at Nazareth were astonished and so was Christ.
Campbell Morgan uses a surprising phrase to describe the second instance. He calls it the ‘paralysis of omnipotence’. It is a shocking phrase and something of an oxymoron. How can anything hinder omnipotence?

And yet clearly it did.

the frustrations of Christ

It is a sobering passage of Scripture. Christ comes, apparently with the desire in his heart to accomplish the will of the Father and his intentions are frustrated. I am choosing my words carefully here. I am not saying he ‘felt’ frustrated but that his intentions were frustrated. He knew the will of His Father. He was anointed with ‘power and the Holy Spirit’. He came to ‘do’ that will and yet He was ‘not able’ do what he wanted to do. As the passage declares, he was ‘not able to do a work of power there’, other than to lay his hands on a few sick folk and heal them.

And the thing which caused the paralysis of omnipotence was ‘unbelief’. Is ‘unbelief’ more powerful than omnipotence? We are touching this amazing mystery again that God, although omnipotent, will not use his omnipotence to force human beings to do things which they do not desire. It seems that in that crowd there were some who did respond to him and to those ‘who received him he gave the right to become…’. Perhaps it is the same in almost every gathering of people. There will be those who shut out the word of Christ and shrink away from his outstretched hand. He can do no work of power for such. But there are those who receive his word and long for his touch.

the power of unbelief

Christ marvelled at the ‘unbelief’ of those who rejected him. Has God given any greater power that the power to say ‘No’ to God? Will he ‘marvel’ at our reluctance to hear what he says to us, or will there be rejoicing in his presence as we voice our ‘Yes, Lord’?

“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words” George Orwell.

1984

In George Orwell’s devastating critique of totalitarianism, “1984”, one of the party workers has been given the job of culling the dictionary. The strategy is to make ‘thoughtcrime’ impossible by the removal of words that describe things forbidden by the party. Words like ‘freedom’ and ‘rebellion’. If there are no words then there will be no thoughts, or so the theory goes. As he removes the words the party worker says the words at the head of this blog.

“It’s a beautiful things, the destruction of words.”

The Strategy

There is another famous quotation from the same book which declares “but if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”. Together the two quotations describe a brilliant propaganda strategy. Either remove the words altogether or, as an alternative, continue to use the word but redefine them. What does this have to do with us? Much, in every way.

Let’s remove some words, shall we?. Sin? an old fashioned concept surely. Judgment? Not a word we hear much in the normal course of our lives is it? Adultery? Covetousness? Holiness? “it’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words”. Remarkably ‘freeing’. Of course we shall need to redefine the word ‘free’. But that’s not difficult and when we have corrupted the word we have corrupted thoughts and made communication all but impossible. What a strategy. Corrupt the language, corrupt the thinking processes. Break up the whole communication process. What a strategy.

Which Bible?

It’s not only in evangelism that we are struggling. Word’s are dropping out of our Bibles too; concepts are vanishing. “the old man” has disappeared from almost all modern versions. New words are being introduced instead with entirely different meanings e.g. “the self”; a Freudian psychology concept. When is a Bible no longer a Bible?

There is a battle waging

There is a battle on, brothers and sisters. Time to wake up and enlist.

In desperation the psalmist asked a question;

If the foundations are destroyed,

What can the righteous do? Psa 11:3 NKJV.

A word of assurance came to his heart…

The LORD is in His holy temple,

The LORD’S throne is in heaven; Psa 11:4 NKJV.

(first posted on our old Blog in June 2014)

 

Keep calm and don’t panic

the wartime slogan

This wartime slogan has gone through thousands of permutations in the last couple of years. You will find the general idea of the slogan on T-shirts, coffee mugs, posters, fridge magnets. It would be hard to go out in public in the UK and not see some reference to the idea. There is one place however where you will not find it… heaven. Only people who can’t see the throne need this kind of advice and the presence of the Throne is fundamental to our revelation of heaven. ‘The Throne’ appears 33 times in the book of the Revelation. It is one of the central revelations of the Revelation.

Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.  Rev 4:2 NKJV.

in the midst of chaos, the Throne

John’s world was falling apart. Jerusalem, the city he had known so well in his youth was destroyed. The temple and the priesthood were gone. All his brother-apostles were gone; he is the last swallow of the summer. The local churches that he knows best are in disarray; leadership is degenerating into control. Then to top it all he is exiled to a island and most likely put under house arrest. But comfort does not come from a poster or fridge-magnet bearing the words “keep calm and don’t panic” but from a revelation of things as they are to the eye opened by the Spirit. He beholds, amidst all the shambles of his earthly experience, a throne set in heaven, and it is occupied;

One sat on the throne.

As long as that throne is occupied by its rightful owner we have no need of worldly epigrams. Campbell Morgan called it ‘the throne that never trembles’.

We don’t need to be in heaven to see the Throne. Christ saw it after a busy day of teaching as he lay asleep with his head on a cushion in the stern of a small boat on the Galilean sea.

And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith? Mark 4:37–40 NKJV.

Authentic faith

They mistook his faith for complacency and passivity; true faith is neither.
An old hymn captures the truth…

Give to me a vision

Reaching to the throne.

Let me see earth’s problems

In that light alone:

‘Tis Thy Word assures me

All shall work for good,

Things that long have baffled

Soon be understood.
ECW Boulton

(first posted on 1st April 2013 on our old Blog Site.)

 

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