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Friday, 20 October 2017

Propaganda!

Once again, the world is being urged to act on a lie! Someone named Mohammed Mahmoud has posted the following on Facebook:  

Mohammed Mahmoud: appealing to the world for funds for Gaza· 
Help make it happen for Gaza's children in need of clothes for Warm Winter.  FreeGaza

This is the accompanying picture - which would surely touch any but the hardest heart.


The only problem is that this picture was 'lifted' from The Los Angeles Times - and shows a boy in the Philippines, with the caption:

"A Filipino boy stands behind a vehicle to keep out the cold wind in a heavy downpour. Tropical Storm Meari will make its presence known as it strengthens into a Category 1 typhoon sometime between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. It will continue on its northwesterly course to the northeast of the Philippines."

The picture was taken on June 23rd, 2011 - more than six years ago!

It is yet another example of the blatant, and false, propaganda that is pushed out by those who wish only to see the nation State of Israel condemned and, eventually, destroyed. I am reminded of another "damning photograph" from a few years ago. It was captioned as being of a "Palestinian" home that, allegedly, had been targeted by Israeli troops who slaughtered the family of innocent "Palestinians"! However, closer inspection of the photograph showed a mezuzah on one of the doorposts of the home. For those who do not know, a mezuzah is a small container - made of wood, metal, or some other suitable material - that contains the words of the Shema written on a small piece of parchment. The Shema is the text of Deuteronomy 6:4-5, and is recited on a daily basis by every orthodox Jew (and even many who would not class themselves as Orthodox). It is certainly not something that would be found in, or on, any "Palestinian" Arab Muslim home! The picture was later shown to have been of an Israeli home, targeted by Muslim militia, and in which a whole family of Jews had been slaughtered! Of course, the MSM didn't see any need to publish that information!

It is also worth pointing out that the withdrawal of the Israeli army from Gaza, and the dismantling of all Israeli settlements in the "Strip" had been completed by September 12, 2005. So much for Mr Mahmoud's tag of "FreeGaza"! More than twelve years out of date!

Please take the anti-Israel reports that you hear so constantly with a very large pinch of the proverbial salt. 50% of them are lies - and the other 50% are not true!

L'chaim Ysrael!

Sh’alu shalom yerushalayim.

Baruch Haba B'Shem Adonai.  

Gadol Adonai mehulal me’od.



Wednesday, 18 October 2017

"Telling", or "Showing"?

During some long-needed tidying-up in my study this afternoon, I discovered a piece that I had published in a church magazine - a very long time ago! However, as I read it, I decided that it might be worth publishing on this blog. It's a true story with, I trust, a clear lesson!

We were travelling through the Belgian city of Brussels, en route to visit friends in Germany, when we missed a turning! It was already quite late in the evening; it was dark; our children were young; and with neither map, nor knowledge, of the city we were completely lost!

I stopped at a petrol station and, in faltering French, asked for directions to the airport as we had arranged our overnight stop close to it. The directions were willingly given - but completely in French, and at a speed that left us barely any wiser than we were before. 

Our next attempt at finding help was somewhat better as, at an all-night café, we at least received some directions in the English language. However, by the time that we had crossed over the same little bridge for the third time, we had realised that we were getting no closer to our destination.

Eventually, just two simple words brought clarity to the situation. We asked a young man, who was topping up the radiator in his own car (it really was a long time ago!), if he could help. "Certainly", he replied, "Follow me!" and, as we did so, we quickly arrived at the main road leading to the airport, and were then able to find our planned destination.

FOLLOW ME! There is a world of difference between telling someone the way, and showing them the way. In I Cor.11:1, Paul issues an amazing invitation to his readers. "Follow my example," he writes, "as I follow the example of Christ." Writing to the believers in Thessalonica, he uses similar language: "You became imitators of us, and of the Lord." (I Thess.1:6). Jesus, Himself, not only said that the wise man is the one who "... hears these words of Mine, and puts them into practice." (Matt.7:24); He also said: "I am the Way ..." (Jn.14:6), "Follow Me." (Mk.1:17).

You (if you are one!) and I may be able to tell others how to live the life of the disciple of Jesus, but it is a different thing to show it! Paul was saying, in effect, "Doing as I do will ensure that you are walking in the footsteps of Jesus." It's as we live "... in the fear of the LORD." (Ps.34:11) that we "... live lives worthy of God, who calls [us] into His kingdom and glory." (I Thess.2:12), and are able to say to others who would seek Jesus - "Follow me!"

Friday, 13 October 2017

What's in a name?

When a couple are expecting a child, one of the exciting things that they tend to do is to think about what name(s) they will give the baby when it is born. When my wife was pregnant, we had chosen two sets of names - one if the baby should be a girl, and another if the baby should be a boy. Today, of course, the gender of the unborn child may be known from quite early on in the pregnancy - giving the lie to any suggestion by the pro-abortion lobby that what is aborted is merely an amorphous lump of cellular material!

In the last post, I looked at the Old Testament prophet, Hosea, and how he was commanded by Almighty God to take a wife - who would be unfaithful to him! However, as we read the book that bears Hosea's name, we discover that his marriage to Gomer appeared to have started well. Before too long, their first child was born. What name would they give this little boy? They didn't name him after his father - or after any other relative. Instead, in obedience to God, they gave him the name 'Jezreel' = 'God shall scatter' for, said YHWH, "... yet a little while, and I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. And on that day, I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel." (Hosea 1:4-5; see II Kings 10:1-11).

Then gradually, Gomer's interest in her marriage began to fade and, soon, the symptoms of an extra-marital affair began to show - unexplained absences; unreciprocated love; endless excuses; etc. However, although Hosea's suspicions were surely growing, it was not until the arrival of a second child - a daughter - that his doubts became certainty. "And YHWH said to him, “Call her name 'Not pitied', for I will no more have pity on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all. But I will have pity on the house of Judah, and I will deliver them by YHWH their God; I will not deliver them by bow, nor by sword, nor by war, nor by horses, nor by horsemen." (Hos.1:6-7).

After this little girl had been weaned, this unfaithful woman bore a second son. "And YHWH said, 'Call his name 'Not my people', for you are not My people and I am not your God'." (Hos.1:8).

What a sad story! According to the law of the time, Hosea was entitled to have his wife stoned to death for her repeated adultery. However, he chose to forgive her. His love for her was too strong to be broken by her infidelities. Of course, he was considering God's particular interest in his marriage. It was, after all, to be a visual aid for Israel, enabling them to see what was happening in the bigger 'marriage' between themselves and their Covenant God.

This, Hosea declares to the people. Speaking the words of YHWH, he says: "Plead with your mother, plead - for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband - that she put away her harlotry from her face, and her adultery from between her breasts; lest I strip her naked  and make her as in the day she was born, and make her like a wilderness, and set her like a parched land, and slay her with thirst.

Upon her children also I will have no pity, because they are children of harlotry. For their mother has played the harlot;  she that conceived them has acted shamefully." (Hos.2:2-5).


As I look around me, I see so much of that which claims to be the Church - the Body of the Lord Jesus, the Christ - acting like the kingdom of Israel. I hear those who have been ordained to the ministry of the Word, diluting it; diminishing it; denying it; destroying it. Those who proclaim from their pulpits that when Jesus said: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me." (John 14:6), He didn't really mean that He is the only way! Those who support the 'marriage' of persons of the same gender, in spite of it being contrary to the clear teaching of the written Word of God. Those who appear to be happy with the latest fad of 'transgenderism', by which I may simply declare myself to be a woman, and society must treat me as such - including allowing me to share the ladies' showers at the gym: a veritable pervert's charter!

There are those who claim that it is only by conforming to the standards of the contemporary culture that the Church can survive. Yet I see those denominations, and congregations, that espouse this point of view continuing to lose members (many of whom were only 'paper-members' in any case!) hand over foot. Perhaps they need to return to the Word; to reflect on the inspired words of Paul that we should "... not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Rom.12:2).

Of course, all of us may learn from Hosea, and the patience and forgiving love that he displayed towards his wayward wife. We will be learning from the Lord Himself - Whose love for us is beyond anything that we can think, or imagine. As I shared recently, in a preached message (you may hear the message here: http://www.eel-bergerac.fr/message%20du%2001.10.17.mp3 but I should warn you that it is in French!), He cannot love you any more than He already does - and Calvary proves it!

Monday, 9 October 2017

Walking the walk, not just talking the talk!

It's been a while since I posted on the subject of marriage. It is, however, a very important subject - perhaps more than ever in these days when its God-ordained status is being increasingly downgraded - not least by the fact that, Biblically, it is used as a picture of the relationship between Almighty God and His people: El Shaddai and the Children of Israel under the Old Covenant; and the Lord Jesus and the Church under the New Covenant.

The 'Minor Prophets' are a group of Hebrew prophets whose writings are gathered together, in English-language versions of the Bible, at the end of the "Old Testament". However, this is not the case in the Hebrew Old Testament (the Tanakh). One of these men, whose book is at the beginning of the Minor Prophets, is named Hosea, and his message is more than interesting! The book that is named after him commences with these words:

"The word of the Lord that came to Hosea the son of Be-eri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel. When YHWH first spoke through Hosea, YHWH said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry, for the land commits great harlotry by forsaking YHWH.” So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son." (Hos.1:1-3).

Read those words again - carefully! Did you catch on what Hosea was commanded to do? Not simply to get himself a wife - nothing unusual in that - but to be married to a prostitute!

Hosea came into prominence some 700 years before the birth of the Lord Jesus, during what was a period of stability in the northern kingdom of Israel (Ten tribes; Judah, to the south, was composed of the other two tribes). Indeed, it was known as the "Golden Age" because of Israel's military, political, and economic strength: the greatest since that of the united kingdom under Solomon. Morally, however, she was rotten to the core! She had turned her back on the one thing that made her unique - her faith in the Covenant God Who had redeemed her from bondage in Egypt.

I suspect that I was not unusual when I proposed to the young woman who became my wife. I had high expectations for our marriage, and anticipated that any problems we encountered would be met by the two of us together.  However, when God spoke to Hosea at this point in the nation's history, and commanded him to marry a woman who would be unfaithful to him, he "proposed" knowing that, right from the start, his marriage would be plagued with deep and disturbing problems. 

Why would God lead one of His chosen prophets into a marriage of such a kind?! The answer is provided in those opening words: "...  the land commits great harlotry by forsaking YHWH." or, as another translation puts it: "... for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord." (NIV). In Exodus 24:3, we read that, after the Children of Israel had been delivered from Egypt, they entered into a covenant relationship with YHWH (the Lord) that they would be faithful to Him. The vow that they made to Him was similar to a marriage vow. However, by 'flirting' with other gods, the nation was guilty of adultery. So, in effect, God is saying to Hosea: "I need your help! I have marriage problems. Stick to Gomer, no matter what happens, and perhaps the nation will understand, through you actions, something of my undying love."

Hosea faced an astonishing request from God - not only to preach His message, but also to live it!

"Words", the old adage has it, "are cheap!". A similar proverb reminds us that "Actions speak more loudly than words!". Personally, I have to be honest and confess that, if God had given me a challenge similar to the one He gave Hosea, I would have had great difficulty in meeting it! Yet Hosea's is the level of faith to which all who own the name of Jesus are called - a faith that trusts Him, even although it cannot see the way ahead. Indeed, that is the only true faith. William Barclay states, somewhere, that for the disciple of Jesus, "faith is spelled R.I.S.K."

Are you willing to stake your all on Him today? Are you willing to walk the walk - or merely talk the talk? 


Tuesday, 3 October 2017

What, in the world, is happening?

Mass murder, and mayhem, in Las Vegas; mass uprising, and demonstration, in Barcelona; the mass of an asteroid the size of a tower-block forecast to miss planet Earth by just thousands of miles (close, in astronomical terms!); the growing threat of North Korea being the catalyst for World War III. This is the world in which we live - and it would be easy to despair in the light of these, and other, events happening around the world.

In my personal devotions, I am currently reading in the book of the Revelation of Jesus, given to the apostle John. It is not the easiest Biblical book to understand. It is of the apocalyptic genre, and is filled with symbolism. I certainly find it to be confusing, at times; but I am also being led to rethink some long-held ideas. However, the overriding lesson of the book is that, however events may seem to suggest otherwise, Almighty God is in control, and that He is working all things out according to His own eternal plans and purposes.

I have just reached chapter 20 of the book (not that John wrote it down in chapters and verses! These were added by others in order to facilitate finding any particular part of the book - and of the Bible). In the previous chapter, we have what we might refer to as the beginning of the end. John records:

"Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying,
            “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.
              Let us rejoice and exult and give Him the glory,
             for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
             and His Bride has made herself ready; 

            it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure” - 
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints." (Rev.19:6-8).

Almighty God has been reigning in heaven throughout eternity. In His sovereignty, He has permitted evil men - and evil angels; the servants of the satan - to do their worst, and we are seeing some of that, on a daily basis, in our own time. However, there is a day coming - and it may be a lot sooner than some seem to think - when He will move in divine power, and His will shall be fulfilled on earth,  even as it already is in heaven. 

The Lamb, in this great chorus of praise is, of course the Lord Jesus, the Christ; and the Bride is the Church - not simply those who have their names on a congregational/fellowship roll, but those who have been truly born again through God the Holy Spirit, through repentance and faith. (see Jn.3:16; Eph. 2:8).

One day (soon, I believe) Jesus will return for His Bride, and take His faithful people to that dimension that we refer to as 'heaven'. So Paul writes:

"But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the shofar of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord. (I Thess.4:13-17). 

At the Judgement Seat of the Christ (see II Cor.5:10), the works of His people will be judged, and all spots and blemishes removed. It will be after this that Jesus will return to earth as King of kings, and Lord of lords, and will conquer His enemies and establish His kingdom.

The Revelation was first given to people who were going through similar experiences to what we go through today. As today, many were persecuted, to the point of death, simply for being faithful to Him. In Rev.19:11, we are introduced to "... a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, ..." Suffering saints then, and now, need to be reminded that our God is faithful, and never deserts us, because His promises are true. 

So how does this relate to current events? I would suggest that we are seeing more and more evidence that we are in the end-times. The devil knows - better than we do! - that his time is limited. He is doing all that he can to wreak havoc. There is no hope without Jesus. However, in Him, there is true hope, and life, and the assurance of an eternity spent in His nearer presence, where sin cannot exist, and where we shall praise Him, the Lamb upon the throne, our Saviour, our Lord, and our Friend.

How do you see the future? Perhaps it doesn't concern you! I believe that it should. I also believe that you need to ensure that your future is with the Lord. He gave Himself for you, on a cross - dying there that you (and I) might have the life that He offers - "... life in all its fulness." (Jn.10:10). Will you respond to His call? Will you accept the gift of salvation that He offers? It is a simple fact that tomorrow is promised to no-one - as the victims in Las Vegas have, sadly, discovered. What you do have is this moment. What will you do with it?