CONTEMPLATING SCRIPTURE

This page contains stand alone articles linked to present messages in ‘The Rugby Register’ magazine and past newspaper advertising you are invited to browse. The adverts introduce a selection of topical subjects, bringing important helpful  scriptures to your notice

 

A SELECTION OF PAST ARTICLES FOLLOWS

 

THE ETERNAL GOD

Dear reader,

There are numerous conceptions of God in the world and many objects that men worship – virtually all of which are the product of man’s imagination and ingenuity.

However, there is but one God who has caused a record to be written stating how He brought us into the world, what He expects of his Creation, and what His plans are for the future, a God who is described in the Bible  as :

‘The high and lofty One that inhabits eternity whose name is Holy’ (Isaiah 57:15),  of whom Christ said  ‘ The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord the God with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength’ (Mark 12:29-30).

 It is in that inspired record that He has been pleased to reveal  Himself, His character and His nature; and it is on these Divine attributes that we wish to concentrate today.  God wishes to hear from us at all times, whether the way be hard or easy, but it is important that we approach Him in a way that is acceptable to Him, in order to obtain the comfort and assurance that only He can give. So, let us begin our consideration.

In an earlier article, as a means of understanding the Bible message, we made a simple exploration of the word ‘man’ from which we gained important information about ourselves and the reason why the Bible gives us cause to hope for the future- a hope that is nonetheless  conditional upon us taking certain actions.

Now, we turn our attention to discovering what the Bible tells about God himself and we do not need to search very far as the first line of the first book reads ‘In the beginning God…’. The God of the Bible has always been present and in humility we have to accept this fact, as the Psalmist declares

‘Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hast formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God’. (Psalm 90:2)

The early chapters of Genesis describe the immense power and wisdom that is His, for they show the logical way in which He set about ordering the earth, and creating firstly the animal kingdom, then man, that it might perfectly sustain life, everything being made ‘very good’ in the Divine estimation. That remains true today in many parts of the world – evidence that a great designer has been at work; but as wonderful and beautiful as the natural world is , a contemplation of this will take us no further in aiding our understanding of God himself; it is His word alone that will enlighten us .

At the beginning, man had a close relationship with his Maker, broken by man’s disobedience to God’s command, but it is clear from what is written, that despite this, God wants us to approach Him in the way He has appointed through Christ, but it has to be done in a reverent and respectful way, recognizing our own insignificance and mortality in His awesome presence. Also, He wishes us to have a correct understanding of His nature and attributes, but above all, we must believe in His existence as Hebrews 11 v 6 points  out ; ‘But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him’.

Over the centuries mankind has worshipped many so called ‘gods’, and this the Apostle Paul was at pains to point out to the men of Athens, recorded in Acts, when he saw the many idols the city contained. His powerful words that day gave the true situation as this extract  explains :

‘Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For, as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him I  declare  to you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed anything seeing he gives to all life and breath and all things;  and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him and find Him, though he be not far from any of us: For in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also his offspring’. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now  commandeth  all men everywhere to repent’.’ (Acts 17:23-30)

Now this is a long quotation , but it is very informative , for it stresses the unity of God; is confirmation of His creative works , and the reliance we each have on His sustaining provision, in recognition of which we should be thankful and desire to ‘feel after Him and find Him’ every day of our short lives. It calls on us to repent, that is, to turn away from erroneous ideas and forms of worship, and to find the one true God who alone can save us.  It is as Isaiah declares:

‘Before me there was no God formed, neither shall be after me’ .(Isaiah 43:10)

‘I am the Lord and there is none else, there is no God beside me’. (Isaiah 45:4)

‘Look to me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; I am God and there is none else’ (Isaiah 45:22).

Such consistent words are to be found throughout Scripture; let us take an example where He is described as :

‘The blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see; to whom be honour and power everlasting’.  (1 Timothy 6:15-16)

He dwells in unapproachable light in the heavens, yet as Paul declared to the Athenians, He is not far from any of us through His power, and he desires us to know Him and serve him.  The Psalmist states :

‘The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy’ (Psalm 103:8).

He is merciful, but His mercy is conditional as the verses which follow show:

‘But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, ….. to such as keep His covenant , and to those that remember his commandments to do them’. (Psalm. 103:17-18)

It is clear that He loves righteous deeds, but hates iniquity for ‘the righteous Lord  loveth  righteousness (Psalm 11:7)  but  ‘… thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness, neither shall evil dwell with thee’. (Psalm 5:4).

 We can readily appreciate that, as a God of love and mercy He must hate what He sees happening in today’s world just as He did in the days of Noah, as we can read in Genesis 6-8  when he regretted ever creating man. It is often said ‘If he is a God of love why does He allow such pain and suffering to exist? – using this as a reason not to believe in God. The Scriptures are able to answer such questions as we hope to show in a later article. Suffer it to say that He will not allow the present situation to continue indefinitely, and His purpose with this earth will be worked out in His good time.

For it is His intention that the earth shall one day be filled with His Glory as the waters cover the sea, and when that happens the earth will be a vastly different place to the chaos we see today, and it is to a place in this glorious future order that we are invited in His Word.

So, let us make every effort to find God, and approach Him in prayer using the model prayer Christ gave his disciples as the framework for our devotions.

‘Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy  Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil;
For thine is the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.’

Above all let us believe in Him, and His power to achieve whatever we ask if it is in accordance with His will.

 

Advert 11 June 2020

Search the Scriptures

Dear Reader,

The Bible is a very impressive book that deals with many far reaching subjects, ranging from Creation, through the history of God’s dealings with the Jewish nation and the fortunes of countries that have impinged upon her over many centuries, to recording the lives of outstanding men and women, and particularly the life of Christ, and his amazing achievements while on earth. It is also a book of poetry and prophecy, telling us why great historical events have occurred and what the future holds for mankind.

Above all, as its words have been given by inspiration of God, it is a revelation from the Divine mind, telling us all we need to know about ourselves and the future of our earth. But, what is the best way for us to search out the wisdom it provides?  In humility we offer the following guidance.

Firstly, in our reading we should set aside pre-conceived ideas we may have, or gathered from others, and concentrate on what the Word actually says – using Scripture to interpret Scripture. As an aid to our studies a Concordance, Young’s or Strong’s, is a useful tool in helping us to find our way around the Bible quickly, and many Bibles have an abridged version at the back which can assist; using that, let us see what we can discover about a particular subject

Take ‘man’ for example. The first reference to man comes very early on in the Old Testament and in Genesis 2 v 7 we find this statement :-

‘And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul’

That word ‘soul’ is the Hebrew ‘nephesh’ and our Concordance will show that it means ‘being or living creature’ – the term applied in Scripture to animals as well as to man. The man, Adam, was placed in the garden of Eden and given access to all it contained, bar one tree (Gen.2 v 16-17); to disobey God’s direct commandment would lead to death.

Eve was formed out of man, and she persuaded Adam to disobey God by believing the words of a serpent given the power of speech. But, God certainly meant what He said and death resulted from their foolish action.

 ‘ And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;  in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.’ Genesis 3 v 17-19

We can clearly see that death is a return to the dust of the ground from which he was formed. So, death entered into the world through disobedience to God, and this condition has passed to all living, as Pauldeclares:

‘Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world , and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned’.                               Romans 5 v 12

We all share Adam’s nature and are therefore under the same condemnation, as we are well aware.

Did the means of Adam’s creation give him any advantage over the rest of the animal kingdom?  We find the answer in Ecclesiastes 3 v 19-20 where we read:

’For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth so dieth the other; yea, they all have one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again’.

So, is that the end of the matter?  Clearly, NO, for if we turn to 1 Corinthians  15 v 20-21 there we find this statement which gives us reason for  hope :

‘But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead’.

What is meant is clearly explained in the verse which follows :

‘For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.  But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterwards they that are Christ’s at his coming’.

So, the Bible tells us that God has provided  a way out of our otherwise impossible dilemma,  but it is conditional and applies only to those who are ‘in Christ’;  those  who ‘are Christ’s’; and it will only happen ‘at his coming’ and not before.  How then do we become ‘in Christ’ and  ‘his‘ ?      We find the answer in the instructions Christ gave to his disciples recorded in Mark 16 v 15-16 when they were  commissioned  to :

‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  He that believeth and is baptized  shall  be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned’.

We therefore become ‘in Christ’ and related to his resurrection by belief in him and the gospel he proclaimed, and by being baptized into his saving name.

Once we have done that, we await his return before receiving our reward for faithful service. Far from being death stricken creatures, the Bible’s message is one of hope for all who care to search out it’s message, and follow it’s teaching.

And so, starting from an examination of the word ‘man’, in a few verses we have been able to discover much about ourselves;  how we came into being, why we are consigned to death, what death is, and the way out of an otherwise impossible situation.

This approach to searching the scriptures, can be carried out on a whole variety of subjects, as we hope to show in later articles, and in this way we can build an understanding of basic Bible principles which will  give us a sound foundation on which to build further study of some of the more challenging messages it contains.

Happy  hunting !!

Advert 28 May 2020

Let the Bible inform you

 

Quotation from our advert in the “Rugby Advertiser” 28th May – if you have not seen the advert please go to the Events page here.

 10  Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.               Isaiah 43 (KJV)

How do the people of Israel witness for our great God in heaven?  Well, they are one of the few nations that can trace their people back to their origin. There was a man called Abraham who lived in the land of Ur, now called Iraq.  When God called him to leave his home and go to a land He would show him, God promised him that in return … …

2  And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing   Genesis 12

That people became Israel, and God made them many amazing promises, including their own land, His care, and prosperity if they obey Him.  This they did at first, but in time they picked up the bad habits of the surrounding nations and would not listen to their faithful leaders to repent and obey God in heaven, so, He left them to the mercy of their enemies as punishment.

So disobedient were they at times, that their lives became very miserable and uncertain.  However, God told the faithful few …

11  For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished   Jeremiah 30

The repeated ups and downs of Israel made many wonder why God did not reject them completely.  The answer was simple.

4  He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he   Deuteronomy 32

God did not preserve Israel for any merit of their own but to be faithful to his promises to ‘the fathers of Israel’.  That is why Moses told Israel … …

5  Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.   Deuteronomy 9

Israel’s history is a detailed and varied one.  The American political columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote,

“Israel is the very embodiment of Jewish continuity: It is the only nation on earth that inhabits the same land, bears the same name, speaks the same language, and worships the same God that it did 3,000 years ago. You dig the soil and you find pottery from Davidic times, coins from Bar Kokhba, and 2,000-year-old scrolls written in a script remarkably like the one that today advertises ice cream at the corner candy store.”

The rule of the Israelites in the land of Israel started with the conquests under Joshua (ca. 1250 BCE). The period from 1000-587 BCE is known as the “Period of the Kings”. The most noteworthy kings were King David, who made Jerusalem the Capital of Israel, and his son Solomon built the first Temple in Jerusalem as prescribed in the Old Testament (Jewish: Tanakh).

In 587 BCE, Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar’s army captured Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple, and exiled the Jews to Babylon (modern day Iraq).

This marked a radical change with the region becoming ruled or controlled by a succession of superpowers as follows – Babylonian, Persian, Greece, Roman and Byzantine Empires, Islamic and Christian crusaders, Ottoman and British Empires.  The Roman’s exiled them in AD 70 from their land and they were hounded from country to county until Hitler’s Holocaust drove then towards Palestine.

Modern history speaks of their surprise acceptance as a nation in 1948 and the major wars they fought last century and amazingly, and unexpectedly by most, won against the odds.  They took place in 1947-1949, 1991,1956, 1967 and 1973, plus numerous critical skirmishes since that contribute to the miraculous survival of the nation of Israel. Most certainly Israel is a powerful witnesses to existence, power and wisdom of the one two true God.

29  Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the LORD, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places.                                                                           Deuteronomy 33

1  For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.             Isaiah 62

~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~

This is only a short article summarising a huge subject and may raise questions in your mind.  We should be pleased to offer answers, always from the Bible – the word of God.  Please ask them here …

Advert 14 May 2020

“Search the Scriptures”  John 5:39

Dear Readers,

You may have noticed that our on-line site is called ‘Search the Scriptures’ and wondered why we have selected this as an appropriate title.

It is because the Word of God is the very foundation of all belief, and without it we would be in total ignorance of His intentions in Creation, His purpose with the earth, and men and women who live on its surface. The Bible is God’s message to mankind giving answers to otherwise imponderable questions, which despite the enormous advances in knowledge, remain unanswerable by man, an example being ‘What happens at death?’, which we will hope to answer in a later article. The purpose of today’s message is to emphasize the reliability and trust we can place in His Word, given by inspiration to men selected from all backgrounds. It is as the Apostle Paul writes to Timothy in 2Tim.3.15-17) ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works’. This fact is emphasized by Peter when he said ‘holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2Pet.1 21). This is telling us that God’s Spirit power guided the pens of these inspired writers, so that we can have absolute reliance on the accuracy of their words as reflecting the very mind of God.

Consequently the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, must be regarded as infallible, and if this is so, we therefore ignore them at our peril. This is how the Lord Jesus Christ regarded them, when he urged us to ‘Search the Scriptures: for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me’ (John 6.31)  ‘For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning that through patience and comfort of the scriptures we might have hope’ (Rom.15.4).  That is the great benefit we can derive from God’s Word, particularly in the very difficult days we are currently experiencing, and we therefore urge you to seek the comfort and enlightenment that only God’s inspired word can give.

  Advert 30th April 2020

We need the Bible now

Quotation from our advert in the “Rugby Advertise” 30th April – if you have not seen the advert please go to the Events page here.

11  For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; 12  The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;       Song of Songs 2

The keynote in our advert was …

“Today, the world’s institutions and businesses seem to be disintegrating, so that men’s hearts are failing them for fear of the future.  Every day seems to bring more bad news. But spring is here bringing new Light, new Life and new Opportunities.  And the above words from the Bible speak beautifully of a secure hope.”

Our wish is to introduce you to the secure, peaceful and fulfilling escape from the troubles of our present circumstances and way of life that Jesus offered those who accepted His invitation … …

31  Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32  And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8

There’s a lot to take in there!   Believe in Jesus, hear and continue in his words of truth and we shall be free!  What sort freedom?  A very familiar scripture to regular Bible readers can take us another step towards understanding the freedom that Jesus is offering.

16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting lifeJohn 3

And an angel told Joseph, when he discovered that Mary, his wife to be was pregnant, that her child was to be very special.

20  … Behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy ‘Spirit’  21  And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.           Matthew 1

We can read in the opening chapters of Genesis how God gave Adam a simple command and told him if he disobeyed it, the punishment would be death.  He did disobey and he, and his wife Eve who had also disobeyed, became dying creatures. A nature that, as they are the first parents of all the population of the Earth, was passed on to all of us.

Now that is sad news … … and may be new to you.  So please bear in mind that seeming simple subjects and questions often involve the fundamental principles of Christianity and these short articles can’t deal with them in detail.  But we are very willing to, so please ask any questions you may have in the contact box at the end.

So, to get back to our theme of a “secure, peaceful and fulfilling escape from the troubles of our present circumstances and way of life”.  To cope with hardship and trouble we need good friends, and that is what Jesus offers – absolutely dependable friendship.

14  Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.   John 15

Indeed, who better could we have as a friend?  So much can be gained from friendship with Jesus, because he had just said,

13  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.         John 15

By a life of obedience and complete dedication to God, his Father, he gave his life daily and finally as a sacrifice to allow the forgiving and covering of the sins of his truly faithful friends.

23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6

And here we must end with these beautiful words of truth and encouragement by Peter and wait for a host of questions to come rolling in.

3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4  that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, 5  who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6  This brings you great joy, although you may have to suffer for a short time in various trials. 1 Peter 1 (NET – New English Translation)

~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~

This is only a short article and may raise questions in your mind.  We should be pleased to offer answers always from the Bible – the word of God. Please ask them here …

 

Advert for 2nd April 2020

We need the Bible more than ever now

Quotation from our advert in the “Rugby Advertiser” – if you have not seen the advert please go to the events page here.

28  Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.                  Matthew 11 (KJV)

Life can be a burden at times and now is a time that this is true for most people.  So, it can be reassuring to see that Jesus is promising rest from our burdens and make our burdens light.  However, he says to receive this benefit, we need to do two things – “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me.”

As the benefit is very attractive, we thought you might like to know, or confirm, what Jesus means.  So this is an outline to the answer that has many facets.

You probably know a yoke is used across the shoulders of beasts of burden so that they can share the load.  So Jesus clearly is offering substantial help in easing  the weight of our troubles large and small – in fact, to share the load.

But how and what have we to learn from Jesus to receive this important help?  Obviously the two oxen in our picture needed to learn to work together.  If they tried to go in different directions, or one tried to stop, their task would not get done.  Similarly, if we are to achieve the rest that Jesus is offering, we must co-operate with him, that is, ‘learn of him’ what to do, as he said in our quote above.  Surely the obvious thing to do is make a friend of Jesus.  Especially as he has done such an amazing thing for his friends as he tells them in the 15th chapter of John’s Gospel.  Hear what he promised his disciples,

13  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

There we see Jesus is talking about his unjust crucifixion on the ‘cross’ – piece of a tree.  But why did he do it?

24  Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.                                                                   1 Peter 2

That is what Jesus was talking about in the following words of scripture so often quoted amongst ‘Christians’.

16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.                                                                                       John 3

So much can be gained from friendship with Jesus, who when he said he “lay down his life for his friends”, went on to say … …

14  Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.  John 15

Words that apply, dear reader, to you and me because Jesus said in his prayer for his disciples … …

20  Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.                                               John 17

~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~
THERE ARE MORE ARTICLES IN THIS WIDE RANGING SERIES ON THE MEMBERS AREA PAGE OPEN TO ALL

These are only a short articles and may raise questions in your mind.  We should be pleased to offer answers or discuss the scriptures, always from the Bible – the word of God.  Please us the form below