Teaching

FIVE WAYS GOD GUIDES YOU

(January 23, 2022) Richard Winter challenges Christian commitment for 2022…

Well, it’s been a challenging and tiring time with the likes of covid-19! I’m not sure what has tired you the most but personally I’m tired of zoom meetings! Tired of making YouTube videos! Tired of not being in church like we used to be.

But… I’m also a realist and recognise that the world and even the church has changed a lot!

We may get some old things back – but it will never be the same way as before. Possibly at no other time in our lifetime, we – you and I – are being called to evaluate our commitment to Christ and His church (think local church, not just universal church) and how we will propagate the Christian faith in a world that is actively hostile to our beliefs and worldview.

Reaching ‘our destination’
Everyone is lost until saved by Jesus… so how will we accomplish the task of reaching everyone for Jesus?

(more…)

FAITH IN A TIME OF FEAR

(January 15, 2022) Dr Jim McClure, noted theologian, shares insights regarding 2022 confusions and questions…

We have entered into a New Year with many Old Year questions unanswered and many more being asked. There is a lot of distress, deceit and confusion in today’s world. 

This isn’t new.  About 2600 years ago Habakkuk was confused and disturbed by many of the things that were happening in his world which was evil and violent and full of fear. He was confronted by the political, social, moral and religious collapse that was taking place around him and he could not make sense of it.

Habakkuk was totally baffled and began to question if God really cared. Where was God while all this injustice and corruption and disaster was happening in the world? If God was truly loving and caring, why was the world falling apart and why wasn’t God doing anything about it?

So he addressed God directly. In Habakkuk 1:3 we read, ‘Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.Habakkuk was calling out, ‘Where are you, God?’

Have you ever felt like that? I have! As we read the newspapers and watch TV and witness the corruption, deceit and violence that is intensifying worldwide, we can identify with Habakkuk’s appeal to God.

(more…)

RESPONSES TO THE NEWS OF CHRIST’S BIRTH

(December 14, 2021) Dr Jim McClure, noted theologian, shares insights regarding Christmas…

Despite the Christmas trees, lights, balloons, parties, seasonal songs, Santa Claus, reindeers and sleigh bells, Christmas is really about the birth of Jesus Christ!

But I have noticed that increasingly the celebration is becoming less about Jesus.  For many he is now largely considered as an irrelevant and disposable component to the event. The many and varied responses to the message of the birth of Jesus is not surprising.  His coming to earth 2000 years ago was met with similar responses and reactions.

Let’s briefly consider some of them.

(more…)

MY ‘RESOLVE’ FOR 2022

(December 4, 2021) Brian Bell seriously considers some 2022 resolves…

As we enter the month of December 2021 with its Christmastime highlights, I find it exceedingly difficult notto think beyond Christmas to the New Year. One reason for that is because January 1 is my birthday – perhaps someone else reading these words shares this birth date.

Another reason is those traditional New Year ‘resolves.’ Despite the title of this meditation, it has never been my practice – as some like to do – to make ‘New Year resolutions.’ But that does not mean I am without resolve.

Let me begin with these thoughts…

As we approach 2022, maybe you look back on a difficult life experience in 2021. Amid the uncertainties of life perhaps a situation injured you, people may have hurt and or disappointed you. Do you feel you have failed the Lord in some way or that you made a poor decision and think he won’t forgive you?

(more…)

THE MAJOR OFFENCE OF MOVING GOD’S BOUNDARIES

(November 30, 2021) Dr Jim McClure, noted theologian, shares a warning …

Can you imagine what your attitude would be if you went on a short holiday and returned to find that your next-door neighbour had expanded his block of land by moving the fence separating his property from yours?

You would not be at all pleased! Your relationship with your neighbour would become hostile and significant personal and legal argument would begin!

Fences are ‘landmarks’ that determine limitations and if they are ignored the consequences can be quite severe at many levels.

When the Israelites entered the Promised Land following their wandering in the wilderness, God assigned particular areas to each tribe and an allocation of land was made to each family. The boundaries of the land were marked by stones that were required to be recognised and respected. To move or remove those stones was a major offence.

In the Old Testament we are told that such boundaries established by God were definitely not to be violated. This was such a serious injunction and it is mentioned in a number of passages in the Old Testament (for example, Deuteronomy 19:14, Deuteronomy 27:17, Proverbs 23:10, Hosea 5:10).

(more…)

HARVEST – A TIME FOR REFLECTION

(October 21, 2021) Brian Bell reflects …

As Moses approached the end of his earthly life, he reminded God’s people about the festival of harvest (Deuteronomy 16:10) which was one of the three festivals they were to celebrate each year. These festivals were an opportunity for God’s people to reflect, remember and recognise the Lord’s blessing on them.

Here in Northern Ireland, ‘Harvest Sunday’ is for the most part, still a fairly traditional celebration, usually in the colder, wetter, and darker months of September and October and held especially for folk in our farming/agricultural communities.

God’s handiwork
Last Sunday, October 17, we celebrated harvest in my home church and while we would not be described as being folk who live in a designated farming/agricultural community, some of our folk do come from such backgrounds. The church sanctuary was therefore modestly yet tastefully decorated and as I looked at the various displays they reminded me not only of the harvest of creation – fruit, vegetables, and such, but also of the harvest of salvation.

For me, the harvest of creation can be seen in the words of David J Mansell’s song Jesus is Lord which say, Jesus is Lord, creation’s voice proclaims it, for by his power, each tree and flower was planned and made.’

Creation is God’s handiwork – but he has given us a fairly significant role in managing it and we see this in the rewards as we reap what is sown.

The harvest of salvation is also God’s handiwork. As the good seed of God’s word is sown, the Holy Spirit can lead people into a saving experience and he reaps a harvest of those who respond in faith.

This theme of reflection is also found in Jeremiah chapter 8, from which I will share some brief thoughts…

(more…)

THE ‘BIG QUESTION’

(October 11, 2021) Dr Jim McClure, noted theologian, shares in-depth on what can be a distracting issue…

Here is a topic that has often distracted Christians and divided home Bible study groups – Did God select in advance those who would be saved or is the exercise of our free will to accept Jesus as our Saviour the deciding factor?  How many fruitless hours have been wasted in argument that has often been dogmatic, hostile and divisive!

The ‘Big Question’ which often stirs people is this: Is our salvation determined by God’s decision or by ours? The problem is finding an unambiguous and unequivocal answer because there is an apparent conflict between the biblical concepts of God’s sovereignty and human free will. Does God decide in advance who will be saved and who will be lost? 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is j1.png

This is a massive theological issue that has been addressed in multiple books by many profound theologians so I admit that my comments here are most inadequate.  However I hope that they may be of some help.

(more…)

FELLOWSHIP – κοινωνία  – KOINONIA  

September 13, 2021) Dr Jim McClure, noted theologian, shares…

‘Fellowship’ is a word that Christians often use. It is one of the great New Testament words but is has been used so much to describe such a variety of ‘church meetings’ that it has become devalued. 

What is ‘fellowship?’  Is it just a term given to differentiate Christian groups from non-Christian groups – Men’s Fellowship, Women’s Fellowship, Youth Fellowship and so on? 

Or, does the New Testament use the word in a different way? That is what we are going to explore.

The Greek words κοινωνία and κοινωνέω
In the KJV the Greek noun κοινωνία (koinonia) has been translated by the words…

  • Fellowship (12 times),
  • Communion (4 times),
  • Communication (once),
  • Contribution (once), and
  • Distribution (once).

The verb κοινωνέω, ‘to share’, has been translated to partaker of, communicate and distribute. It is clear that it is a much more significant word than is suggested by the way we frequently use it.

Before it became a New Testament word, it was used in secular Classical Greek generally as a business word to indicate, for example, partnership in a business. 

It was also used in the Greek version of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, to translate the Hebrew word חבר (chaber), which means to bind or join together in any context.

(more…)

ABIDING, RESTING AND TRUSTING IN JESUS

(September 9, 2021) Geri B encourages remaining in Jesus the vine…

Continuing along my earlier article on the theme of the grape vine (Abiding in the Vine)…

Jesus makes it clear that the Father wants his children to be fruitful and tells us that… ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful… Remain in me, and I will remain in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself unless it remains in the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine and you are the branches. The one who remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing‘ (John 15:1-5).

Remaining… to bear much fruit

  • If we remain (abide) in him, we will do just that – bear fruit.
  • And if we bear fruit, the Father will prune us so that we will be even more fruitful.
  • But the warning comes to us twice in this short passage… remain in him, otherwise you cannot bear fruit, you can do nothing!

Not only is it the Father’s desire that we bear much fruit by abiding in him, but there is that oft-missed warning that unless we remain in him, we cannot bear fruit, nor can we do anything of true value!

With all the gifts we have been endowed with there can often be a tendency to take ownership and believe that we can use them whenever and however we so choose… but the truth of it is, we are simply stewards of the manifold gifts of God and to really see lasting fruit from what has been entrusted to us, we must take our direction from the Lord – we must abide in him.

(more…)

SALVATION – WHAT AN INEXHAUSTIBLE MINE OF TREASURE!

(August 28, 2021) Dr Jim McClure, noted theologian, explains an important aspect of the Christian faith…

The Hebrew and Greek words of scripture are like inexhaustible mines and one finds new treasures each time the words are examined. 

I have selected an important one to reveal just some amazing truths – salvation.

Firstly – by way of introduction, salvation as found in the Old Testament is a great salvation – ‘yasha.’

The Hebrew word moshia, which is usually translated as ‘saviour’ in the Old Testament, comes from the Hebrew root yasha, which has been translated as avenge, defend, deliver, help, preserve, rescue, and save, has the meanings of opening wide, being large in capacity, living in abundance, being free, safe, helped, rescued, victorious and being made whole.

It is a word that contains amazing riches and is found around 180 times in the Old Testament.  When we consider that in the New Testament the noun Saviour, sōtēr, is found 24 times and the verb sōzō meaning to save, deliver, heal or make whole is found 110 times, it becomes evident that not only does the Bible say a lot about salvation – it is scripture’s dominant theme.

(more…)