JESUS: FINDER OF GOGGLES LOST IN THE SEA

(September 10, 2020) Mark Ellis shares an encouraging testimony that reminds that Jesus even cares for ‘lost things’…

In scripture, Jesus tells parables about finding a lost coin, lost sheep, and a lost son.

My wife Sally has found it helpful to pray when somewhat mundane items like car keys or phones have been misplaced, and it seems the Holy Spirit always directs her to their location.

Faith challenged
But her faith was severely challenged recently on a family vacation in San Diego when she lost a pair of swim goggles about 25 yards off shore.

She came in and scanned the Pacific Ocean with a forlorn expression. ‘Why don’t you go out and look for them?’ her daughter-in-law, Rebecca asked.

‘No, that’s a big ocean out there. There’s no way. It’s a needle-in-a-haystack. If you lose something out there it’s gone,’ Sally said. She admitted later she had no faith whatsoever to find the goggles. All she saw was a giant ocean. Even worse, the goggles were dark-coloured and blended with the water and Sally didn’t know if the goggles could float.

An hour later, her son Sam was surfing in a completely different area from the one where his mother lost the goggles. He yelled at his brother, Nate: ‘Hey, Mom lost her goggles. See if you see them.’

Prayer for help
‘They could be at the bottom of the ocean,’ Sam thought to himself. ‘If they do float, maybe I’ll see them. But I would have to be real close, be right on top of them.’ He threw up a prayer to God, ‘Jesus, help me find them.’ (more…)

CHOSEN TO BE ACTIVE SERVANTS

(September 6, 2020)
Editorial note:
Last month Dr George Forbes, former director of Australia AoG (ACC) World Missions, passed on to his heavenly home and great eternal reward. Internationally recognised as a missions’ statesperson, he was most certainly actively and passionately committed to faithfully serving Christ and to reaching the lost, even up to the end!

George Forbes’ heart was always for those who don’t know the Lord, not only in his preaching, teaching and writings but even for those around him in his final months in a care facility. Still strongly trusting God he would even take every opportunity to pray for any there who asked for prayer and hope… as well as praying in his daily devotions for missionaries that he’d encouraged and inspired over many years.

Honouring Dr Forbes we re-run his last article, praying that readers will be deeply challenged…
______________________________________________________________________________________

CHOSEN TO BE ACTIVE SERVANTS – SEVEN HIGHLIGHTS
We continue to hear of more Covid-19 cases around the world, of troubled people, even Christians, and of increased suicides and crime… and Jesus Christ is the answer to peoples’ needs.

I would share these seven vital points…

1) Worldwide opportunities to actively reach the troubled
We’re still in a time of desperation worldwide – but with God-given opportunities to share
Jesus Christ’s gospel of hope whenever, wherever we can!
Even in aged-care facilities.

I repeat what I been declaring recently – if ever the world needed hope it is most certainly today and Jesus is still the answer! But I add this challenge… today we (every Christian) are his chosen ones to witness Christ!

2) Old Testament active chosen ones
Throughout Israel’s history, chosen men of faith heard God’s voice –

  • Men whom God called and appointed.
  • Men of faith who pleased almighty God, creator and upholder of all things.

(more…)

GOD’S PLANS STAND FIRM AS A SYCAMORE TREE

(September 5, 2020) Carol Round reminds us that God is the master planner…

An anonymous quote on social media recently grabbed my attention. It said, ‘Long before Zacchaeus couldn’t see Jesus, the tree was planted to meet his need.’

Not only do I love this quote, I had to share it. Reflecting on the words, I began to think about God’s plans for my life. Until my rebirth, I never considered how God had already prepared a way for me, just as he did for Zacchaeus.

According to Luke 19:4, the tree Zacchaeus climbed to see Jesus is a ficus sycomorus (its scientific name). That type tree can take from 20 to 50 years to grow to full maturity.  So, it’s possible that before Zacchaeus was born, the tree he climbed was planted.

Plans that God set in motion before our birth
Before we were ever born, God had plans for us!

He knew the span of our life before we were formed in our mothers’ womb and the number of hairs on our head! God doesn’t leave such attention to detail to chance. He has plans for each of his children, and they are good.

Before we even realise we’re going to need something, God has already planned for that need. Even before we ask him for it, his plans are already in motion. Just ask Zacchaeus. (more…)

LEST WE FORGET

(August 21, 2020) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, challenges us not to forget…

Last Saturday in various countries throughout the world commemoration services were held reflecting the surrender of Japan on August 15, 1945 which signified the end of World War 2.

World War 2
Below is a photo taken shortly after that day back then in which a celebration party was arranged for the children in the street where I lived in Belfast.

I just about remember that day… the street lined with tables filled with ‘goodies’ 
that, because of food shortages had been in limited availability during the war years, yet the mums somehow managed to turn the meagre supplies into a celebratory meal! I do remember the sense of joy in all the mums who, after six years of suffering, were so elated to celebrate this wonderful news with their children.

And what a time of suffering those six years were. My father worked at night in an engineering factory in Belfast and most nights German planes tried to bomb it. When my dad went out to work neither he nor my mum knew if he would be returning home the following morning.  Just before I was born, German fighter planes would try to shoot civilians; my parents described their fear as they covered my brother and the unborn ‘me’ with their bodies as they watched the bullets rip along the ground close to where they were under cover.

World War 2 was the most lethal military conflict in history. Around 75 million people died (that is about 3.3% of the world population in those days) and that included around 20 million of those who served in the military and 40 million civilians, many of whom died because of deliberate slaughter, mass-bombings, disease, starvation and limited medical services.

We must not forget the horror and the social consequences of those years and the years that followed nor must we forget the sacrifices that brave men and women made to rescue us from ruthless domination.  It is right that we from time to time reflect on those events – lest we forget!

The Covid-19 War (more…)

ACTIVE CHOSEN ONES

(August 16, 2020) Dr George Forbes, former director of Australia AoG (ACC) World Missions, brings an August challenge…

As I wrote last month, we continue to hear of more Covid-19 cases around the world, of troubled people, even Christians, and of increased suicides and crime.

We’re still in a time of desperation around the world – with God-given opportunities to share Jesus Christ’s gospel of hope whenever, wherever we can!

I repeat what I declared last month – if ever the world needed hope it is most certainly today and Jesus is still the answer! But I add this challenge… today we (every Christian) are  his chosen ones to witness Christ!

Old Testament active chosen ones
Throughout Israel’s history, chosen men of faith heard God’s voice –

  • Men whom God called and appointed.
  • Men of faith who pleased almighty God, creator and upholder of all things.

Abraham and Noah stand out among them. And of course there were others such as Moses, Joshua, Caleb, Gideon, Joseph, David, Elijah, Elisha… and the prophets who also heard God speak to them personally – and acted! (more…)

‘SOMEHOW WE’VE GOT TO FIND A HELPING HAND’

(August 14, 2020) Brian Bell shares…

How often have the words of a song been used to speak to our hearts and or our experience?

In this short meditation I feel led to share some personal reflections sparked by the memory of a song with the above line, reflections that take me back over the years. I’ll come to the song a little later but let me begin by sharing something of my life…

A historical reflection
From I was a young boy I enjoyed reading – and one of my favourite topics was history. When I was growing up, the series Ladybird Books were readily available: written simply and concisely they gave young minds a sufficient background – or maybe appetite – for a topic.                                                          

It was these little books that introduced me to the growth of the Roman Empire including how it spread to England and of course, central to that is the construction of what we call Hadrian’s Wall, built to provide security from invasion from what we now know as Scotland. The need for the wall no longer exists but although it is now mostly in disrepair, the wall continues to be a popular tourist attraction.

A musical reflection
In my early teens I gave my life to the Lord. At that time I was already interested in music and sang in the church choir… but now I entered a new experience. With some other young men, we formed a ‘gospel group’ (as they were called then), playing guitar and drums as musical instruments and singing gospel songs. (more…)

WE DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING – BUT WHY WORRY?

(August 11), 2020) Life Focus Ministries’ Robert and Maureen McQuillan remind us that God has his mysterious ways…

It’s only natural to wonder what’s going on, not just regarding this pandemic time but about other life issues and incidents. We’re human after all! Our July article I Don’t Know About Tomorrow led to some folk asking, ‘Well, what do you really think about all that’s going on in the world? And win the future of the church – a cleansing time? And what about…?’

Hey… we’re like our state and federal’s leaders: we don’t know everything… but like them we’re concentrating on living one day at a time! With thanks to the Lord for each new God-given day, we commit it to him, asking his blessing and protection – and then get on with it, however the day works out.

But… a question: You ever asked the Lord, ‘Why?’ or ‘What’s going on?’ and didn’t get an answer… or the answer you expected?

And did you ever come to the conclusion that it’s better to appreciate and enjoy the benefits God gives us daily rather than query him about how he works things out? Hmmm?

Worrying? Relax and trust God
Jesus told us (Matthew 6:25NLT), ‘…I tell you not to worry about everyday life.’ And, verse 29, he asked a question, ‘Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?’ Of course not!

(more…)

CHASING THE WIND IS FOOLISHNESS

(August 11, 2020) Carol Round challenges us to pursue right things…

One of my favourite contemporary Christian songs is titled Just Give Me Jesus. It reminds me of the saying, often credited to Billy Graham, ‘My home is in heaven. I’m just passing through this world.’

Often called on to ease the nation’s fears during stressful times, Dr Graham’s wisdom provided calm no matter the situation. He reassured us that Earth is just a stopping place, a way station, before our final home.

Hebrews 13:14 puts it this way, ‘For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our everlasting home in heaven.

Is life on earth meaningless?
Many avoid reading this Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes because they feel overwhelmed by the view of life it offers. Like the book of Job, it doesn’t avoid the tough questions of life… but does it offer any answers to life’s meaning? Let’s see…

Chapter one seems to set the tone – and it’s depressing.

  • ‘In my opinion, nothing is worthwhile; everything is futile. For what does a man get for all his hard work?’ (Ecclesiastes 1:2TLB)
  •  ‘There is nothing new under the sun that is capable of giving meaning to life.’ (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
  • Then, in Ecclesiastes 4:4 (TLB) the author observes ‘… the basic motive for success is the driving force of envy and jealousy! But this, too, is foolishness, chasing the wind.’

(more…)

THE ‘GIFT’ IN THIS VIRUS

(August 1, 2020) Charles Schwab challenges Christians to consider a different aspect to the Covid-19 pandemic that has affected so many lives worldwide …

The ‘Gift’ in This Virus – isn’t that an utterly crazy and irresponsible use of words?

How can the Covid-19 pandemic that has killed multiplied thousands throughout the world, disabled economies leading to job losses along with stress and strain, forced countries and regions into lockdown, thrust normal living into a mess… horrendous for many, decimated tourism and freedom of travel… causing such pain and pandemonium be considered a ‘gift’ from God?

Sounds crazy
How in the world could this idea of ‘gift’ possibly be true from a biblical perspective? Sounds like heresy, the babblings of a religious zealot, the sign of a demented mind, the ramblings of a soul in a theological desert and, at face value, devoid of any biblical warrant.

What madness is this ‘gift’ notion?  Or… could it be a surprising reality for good in the midst of horror? The phrase, ‘the gift of this virus’, came unexpectedly to mind as I emerged from sleep well before dawn… and I knew within to what this strange phrase referred.

The use of ‘gift’ in association with ‘virus’ does not appear in scripture… but I suggest that the idea and its potential are biblical. While illness, fear, death and economic disaster are widespread and accompany this awful Covid-19 virus, God is giving us – Christians and churches – the ‘gift’ of opportunity.

The real ‘gift’
This ‘gift’ of opportunity is one to carefully and prayerfully…

  • Reconsider some things
  • Keep some things
  • Axe some things
  • Discover some new things or new ways that will be effective now and into the future.

(more…)

LOCKDOWN – OPPORTUNITY FOR BIBLE READING

(July 31, 2020) Dr Jim McClure, highly respected theologian, responds to an often asked question…

My state of Victoria is in lockdown again – but even if it wasn’t, with the pandemic that we’re all facing there are those who are taking opportunity to get back to fundamental Christian basics, such as Bible reading and scripture meditation.

A question that I often hear about Bible reading and study is this: ‘Which is the best English translation of the Holy Bible?  Someone insisted that the best is the King James Version.’ And this is often followed with this comment, ‘But I find the KJV difficult to read’ and a further question, ‘Which is a good modern version?’

When asked my opinion, I respond by firstly state all the earliest manuscripts we have today are copies of the originals – we do not have one original handwritten copy – or even a small portion – of any of the books of the Old or New Testaments.

Copied handwritten copies
What we do have, though, is a number of excellent copies that were faithfully hand-written over many centuries. Admittedly there are some minor variations in many of those copies, but none that in any way changes the Bible’s message. (more…)