If a rattlesnake is cornered, it can become so frenzied that it will accidentally bite itself with its own deadly fangs. In the same way, if we harbour hatred and resentment in our hearts, we will be hurt by the poison of our own malice. We may think that we are hurting our enemies by displaying our wrath, but the real harm is inflicted deep within our own soul. Anger can also cause us to do and say things which we may come to deeply regret.
Consider the following true story:
A certain young man wrote a nasty letter to his father.
A Christian friend with whom he worked in the same office advised him not to send the letter because it was written in a fit of temper.
The young man was so angry he did not listen and sealed up the letter and asked this friend to mail it for him. Instead, his friend simply slipped it into his pocket and kept it until the next day.
The following morning the young man arrived at the office looking very worried. He said to his friend, “l wish I had never sent that note to my dad yesterday. It hurts me deeply, and I know it will break his heart when he reads it. I’d give 50 dollars to get it back!”
His friend took the envelope from his pocket and handed it to him and told him what he had done. The young man was so overjoyed that he actually wanted to pay his friend 50 dollars!
A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back. (Prov. 29:11)
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George Bernard Shaw was a brilliant man. His stories have delighted many and his writings show great genius.
Yet he was an atheist and he rejected the message of Scripture and placed his trust in his own systems of belief.
George Bernard Shaw was a rationalist which means that he based his view of life on his own limited human reason.
His system of belief provided him with no comfort in later life. Throughout his life he could not find lasting inner peace, and he slowly lost confidence in what he believed.
Shortly before he died in 1950, alter experiencing the horrors of two world wars, he wrote, “The science to which I pinned my faith is bankrupt. Its counsels, which should have established the millennium, have led directly to the suicide of Europe. I believed them once. In their name I helped to destroy the faith of millions. And now they look at me and witness the great tragedy of an atheist who has lost his faith.”
It is surely the case that the fool has said in his heart that there is no God.
Psalm 10:4 In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God”.
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It is customary at the beginning of a New Year to make certain resolutions. There are those who resolve to lose some of the weight that they have put on over the Christmas season.
There are those who resolve to do more physical exercise.
We make all manner of resolutions concerning things that matter to us. As Christians we should be committed to pursuing a holy life for this is God’s purpose for us.
According to the Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Church in Ephesus, God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:4). The Holy Spirit, speaking through Peter, exhorts believers to be holy because God is holy (1 Peter 1:15).
The writer of Hebrews warns that no one will see God without holiness (Heb.12:14). We are not saved by our attempts to live a holy life, we are saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus (Eph. 2:8,9).
However, if we have been born again and have become citizens of Christ’s eternal kingdom, then we have God’s Holy Spirit living in us, and He will be engaged in the process of making us holy. We are not saved by our attempts to be holy, but we are saved unto a life of holiness (Eph.2:10).
Two proposed resolutions for 2017, based on Psalm 1.
I RESOLVE TO READ AND MEDITATE UPON THE SCRIPTURES REGULARLY AND CONSTANTLY AND NOT TO BELIEVE ANTHING CONTRARY TO GOD’S WORD.
I RESOLVE TO PURSUE A HOLY LIFE AND TO SHUN ALL WICKEDNESS.
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The church has known many a martyr for the faith and one of the early Christian martyrs was Polycarp (69-155).
Polycarp was a good friend and pupil of the apostle John and a leading figure in the church in the first part of the second century AD.
Polycarp was the bishop of Smyrna and was among one of the early martyrs for the Christian faith.
ln the year 155 at the age of eighty six years Polycarp was arrested by the Romans and brought before the Roman proconsul Statius Quadratus.
The proconsul said to him, “Swear by the fortune of Caesar; repent and say, Away with the Atheists.” (An atheist in this sense was one who denied the existence of the Roman gods.)
Polycarp refused to do so, urging him again the proconsul said, “Swear and I will set thee at liberty, reproach Christ.”
Polycarp declared, “Eighty six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury, how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour.” Polycarp joyfully went to the stake; amidst the flames he praised God for having been deemed worthy to suffer for Christ’s sake.
And he who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found life shall lose it and he who has lost life for My sake shall find it. (Matt. 10:38,39)
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Are you yearning for some good Christmas music instead of the razzamataz you find in the commercial frenzy of the season? Then come to St Paul’s and raise your voice in song with traditional carols led by a choir with instrumental accompaniment including pipe organ, flute and violin. Come to celebrate the real reason we have Christmas. Hear the ageless story and worship the Christ Child, the babe in the manger who came into this world to bring light into our darkness.
Make your Christmas special by coming to St Paul’s Presbyterian Church on 18 December for an illuminating and atmospheric Carols Service at 6:30pm. A special visual surprise awaits you in keeping with the theme of “A Light shines in the Darkness”!
A ‘Bring and Share’ Meal at 5pm precedes the Service.
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We often get annoyed when certain difficulties come our way, and fail to recognise that God has His purposes in all events in our lives, even the difficult ones.
For example, a Christian minister was on his way to preach in a Church in the mountains of Kentucky USA. He was prevented from fulfilling his engagement to preach because of a terrible blizzard.
Wearily he made his way through the snow to the home of a young man whom he knew. He wondered why God had closed the door to his preaching.
This young man and his wife were very poor but they were glad to take the preacher into their home until the blizzard had gone.
That night this preacher had opportunity to speak with this young man about ministry. The preacher was used to minister to this young man and to lead him to the conviction that God was calling him into the ministry.
This young man became a preacher and was powerfully used in later life by God to lead many people to salvation. The apostle Paul said,
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
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A sobbing little girl stood near a small church from which she had been turned away because it “was too crowded”.
“l can’t go to Sunday School,” she sobbed to the Pastor as he walked by. Seeing her shabby, unkempt appearance, the Pastor guessed the reason and, taking her by the hand, took her inside and found a place for her in the Sunday school class. The child was so happy that they found room for her, that she went to bed that night thinking of the children who have no place to worship Jesus.
Some two years later, this child lay dead in one of the poor tenement buildings and the parents called for the kind hearted pastor, who had befriended their daughter, to handle the final arrangements. As her poor little body was being moved, a worn and crumpled purse was found which seemed to have been rummaged from some trash dump. lnside was found 57 cents and a note scribbled in childish handwriting which read, ‘This is to help build the little Church get bigger so more children can go to Sunday school.’ For two years she had saved for this offering of love.
When the Pastor tearfully read that note, he knew instantly what he would do. Carrying this note and the cracked, red pocketbook to the pulpit, he told the story of her unselfish love and devotion. He challenged his Deacons to get busy and raise enough money for the larger building. But the story does not end there! A newspaper learned of the story and published it. It was read by a Real Estate Realtor who offered them a parcel of land worth many thousands. When told that the Church could not pay so much, he offered it for 57 cents.
Church members made large donations. Cheques came from far and wide. Within five years the little girl’s gift had increased to $250,000.00 – a huge sum for that time (near the turn of the century). Her unselfish love had paid large dividends.
When you are in the city of Philadelphia, look up Temple Baptist Church, with a seating capacity of 3,300 and Temple University, where hundreds of students are trained. Have a look, too, at the Good Samaritan Hospital and at a Sunday School building which houses hundreds of Sunday Scholars, so that no child in the area will ever need to be left outside during Sunday School time.
In one of the rooms of this building may be seen the picture of the sweet face of the little girl whose 57 cents, so sacrificially saved, made such remarkable history. Alongside of it is a portrait of her kind Pastor, Dr Russell H Conwell, author of the book “Acres of Diamonds”.
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We would all rather have the sunshine than the rain, but just imagine what our world would be like if it never rained again.
An example of such a place is found in Northern Chile. There is a region in the great Andes mountain range where it never rains. Each day the sun rises brilliantly over the tall mountains and all day long it shines brightly down from overhead. Although storms often rage in other parts of the mountain range, because of its unique features and location it never receives a drop of rain.
One would imagine this area would be an earthly paradise; but it is not. lnstead, it is a barren and desolate desert! For where there are no storms there is no life. Too often we long for total sunshine and joy in life. We often wish to be rid of our trials and burdensome responsibilities. We fail to realise that like this sunny, unfertile part of Chile, life without its burdens and trials would be unproductive.
We need sunshine and showers. The storm clouds of suffering may at times blot out the sun and threaten to engulf us. But the trusting Christian recognises that in God’s wise design and under His sovereign control they actually bring showers of blessing.
Beloved do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you. (l Pet 4: 12-13)
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A scientific magazine published an article concerning a certain species of alligator. Being lazy beasts, alligators seldom hunt for their dinner, they just lay in wait for their unwary victims to come to them. They lie near the bank with open mouths, acting as if they are dead.
Soon flies begin to alight on their moist tongues, and several other insects gather. This crowd attracts bigger game – a lizard will crawl up to the alligator to feed on the bugs; then a frog joins the party. Presently a whole menagerie is there; then there is a sudden earthquake “WHAM” the giant jaws come together and the party is over!
Here is the lesson: Don’t be lured by large groups of people. Remember, the crowd is always found on the “broad way.’ Usually only a small number can be found walking along the “narrow way.” Most people take the easy path; it is so easy going with the crowd. Christians are those who enter by the narrow gate and travel the narrow way unto salvation.
Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few there are that find it. (Matt 7:13-14)
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In years long past, Presbyterian Sunday Schools inculcated Christian knowledge by memory-learning from what was called the Shorter Catechism from the Church’s Confession of Faith. Curiously, no student suffered brain damage from such an exercise and, surprisingly, remembered much of what was learned into old age. Furthermore, it provided a sure foundation for members of the Church when fulfilling appointments as elders, managers and teachers. Some questions and answers based on the 107 of the Shorter Catechism follow – using modern language to come to grips with what’s in them.
What is the main and highest purpose for a human being?
The main and highest purpose that anyone can have is to glorify God and fully enjoy Him forever.
Where can we find an authoritative guide to do this?
The only source we can rely on is contained in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.
What is God?
God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth. St. Paul says we live and move and have our being in Him.
Are there more Gods than one?
There is but One only, the living and true God.
How many persons are there in the Godhead?
Three. We know God as God the Father, as God in Jesus Christ his Son, and as God in the Holy Spirit or as Jesus called Him – the Comforter – whom Jesus promised to send to all believers to lead and guide them.
What is sin?
God is a God of order and His laws promote orderliness and good living. Sin is committed and promotes disorder by disrupting right relationships with others and with God by the absence of love and courtesy we show towards others in our behaviour, actions and attitudes.
How are we brought into a right relationship with God?
By accepting that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, when crucified, offered His own life in expiation (wiping out) of our sins. In short we are pardoned when we so believe.
How was Christ exalted as a result?
In His rising again from the dead on the third day, in ascending into heaven and in sitting on the right hand of God, the Father, and in His coming to judge the world at the last day. His resurrection confirmed His status and promises to us.
What is the result for us?
Because of God’s free grace and the righteousness of Christ when we place our faith in Him, in who He was and what He did, our sins are pardoned and we are adopted by God as His son or daughter.
What follows from this?
We gain an assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Spirit, an increase of God-given grace, and perseverance in all this to the end.
What happens at death?
The souls of believers are perfected in holiness and pass to glory. Their bodies, united to Christ, rest in the grave till the resurrection when they are raised in glory, openly acknowledged, and acquitted in the day of judgment. They are perfectly blessed and fully enjoy God to all eternity.
If you wish to pursue this further talk with your minister, pastor or priest. [SM]
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Here are some interesting links for you! Enjoy your stay :)