Sometimes It’s Better to Doubt Than Believe

Today’s Bible Reading: 1 John 4: 1-6

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” Vs 1.

Christians are BELIEVERS!

But the Bible also counsels us to doubt certain things! Sometimes to doubt is better than to believe!

We Should Not Believe Everything!
A person who believes everything is gullible.
A thing cannot be considered correct just because you heard it on ‘Christian’ television. A thought cannot be accepted just because you heard it in church!
The great thing about the Bereans was they did not believe everything:
They received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11)
Their belief was not gullibility. They believed. They were ready to receive the Word. But they avidly searched the Scripture for confirmation that the preacher was telling the truth.

We Cannot Believe Everyone!
A person who believes everyone is naïve.
It is bad enough going astray after our own erring ways. But there are those who follow others into error!
This is a trend in these last days:
“…There shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” (2 Pet 2:1-2)
It is incredible that many shall follow them – but they will do so. Godly pastors are aware of the responsibility to lead the flock into truth.

We Must Not Believe Every spirit!
A person who believes every spirit is foolish.
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)
False spirits are liars. Satan is the father of lies.
“For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd.” (Zec 10:2)
So how do we test the spirits? Verse 3 of our Reading today says we can believe those who confess the incarnation. Those who admit that Christ came in the flesh.
“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Mat 1:23)
Now that test is not so simple as it may appear, because today there is a kind of reverse incarnation being preached. The emphasis is on the flesh becoming God, rather than God becoming Man. That lie of Eden: “…Ye shall be as gods…” is the cry of every lying spirit!

Demonic activity reached a crescendo during Christ’s earthly ministry. He defeated it on the cross.
Demonic activity will increase in the last days. There will be an increase of lawlessness preparing the way for Antichrist.
In these last days:-
Do not be gullible! Don’t believe everything.
Do not be naïve! Don’t believe everyone.
Do not be a fool! Don’t believe every spirit.

Kind Regards: Chris

Missions Focus on Israel:

Today let’s focus our prayers on Israel, Godly people are tender-hearted toward Israel.

I’m so thankful when I see the love for Israel that God has installed in my children and grandchildren.

The department of Jewish-Christian studies is at the heart of our Bible College the curriculum.

Here is a country we can pray for, and know that our prayers are guaranteed to be answered.

When we pray for Israel, we are praying according to God’s will. The Scriptures encourage us to pray for Jerusalem. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.” Psalms 122:6.

God has not finished with Israel. It is “His land!” He loves Israel, and promises “all Israel shall be saved!”

Talk about a revival! What a revival that will be.

“I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” Zechariah 12:10.

A Prayer For Israel:

“Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake. O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.” (Daniel 9:17-19)

A Time Not To Embrace?

It’s Valentine’s Day – but “social distancing”, because of the Corona virus, keeps us from embracing the ones we love.

As Scripture says: “There’s a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing!” Ecclesiastes 3:5.

We are in our third lockdown, and most people are upset over the things they can’t do. No travel. No visiting. No shopping. No haircuts. No gym.  There’s a very short list of DOs and a very long long list of DON’Ts!

We are told that this isolation is affecting people’s mental health. That is because we are gregarious.

A police force in Sussex has a new member of staff. They have bought a dog.

So what’s interesting about that?

Well, it’s a “therapy” dog. The police are so sad when they come off the streets they are allowed time to cuddle the dog to make them feel better!

In my doctor’s surgery there’s a poster that reads: “If you are feeling low, you may need to get out more!” Adding “insult to injury!” As Aesop said.

And in the face of all this, the human response usually is: O how I wish I could do something, just anything.

Well I’m glad to tell you that we CAN do something!

This situation gives us the opportunity to do the things that really matter.

Three things we usually have little time for. Just three things of which there is no limit…

The first one is ADORATION!

The thing we miss most is the warm embrace. And as Christians we feel especially vulnerable. Governments have closed our churches, and thus many feel cut off from fellowship.

BUT NO!  They can’t stop our worship.

We may miss each other, but we are not alone. The Apostle John tells us that our fellowship is with the Father and the Son. (1 John 4:3).

The Early churches had no church buildings – but they did have the presence of the Lord.

God is looking for people to worship Him. (John 4:23).

ADORATION is even more possible in lockdown! No limits!

Then the second thing I would suggest we can do is MEDITATION.

The world has stolen the concept of meditation. Many people equate meditation to eastern religions. But it is a biblical word.

David – whose psalms lead us into ADORATION – are based on his MEDITATIONS.

His words speak for themselves. They need no comment:-

Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”

Psalm 49:3 “My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.”

Psalm 104:34 “My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.”

Psalm119:97 “O how I love thy law! It is my meditation all the day.”

Notice that phrase: ALL THE DAY!

We don’t usually have the whole day to do what we want. But lockdowns give us that luxury!

The third opportunity open to us during this time is MEDIATION.

That’s another word for Intercession.

Our weapons are not carnal. Our weapons are spiritual. So we can do battle when we are not even allowed to go outdoors.

The Roman centurion recognized the power of spiritual weapons when He said to Jesus: “Speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed!” He saw that walls and miles, or any physical barrier, is no obstruction to the power of the Word and prayer!

Thank God for His precious promises.

Now is a great time for us to use the weapons God has given us. To intercede for world crises.

I went to Samuel Howells Bible college, where the staff brought newspapers as well as Bibles to the prayer meetings! And they laid the needs of the world before the Lord, like Hezekiah did when he laid before the Lord the letter he had received from his enemies. And the next morning his enemies were obliterated.

Talk about the POWER of spiritual weapons!

Is this a time not to embrace?

By no means. This is a time to EMBRACE THE PROMISES!

In the days of old God’s people saw the promises – AND EMBRACED THEM! (Hebrews 11:13).

Un-forgiveness Is A Thief!

Un-forgiveness is a Robber!

 I’m sure you know people who keep bringing up the past. Perhaps you are one of them. But that is a dangerous thing to do.

The Bible says:  “None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.”    Ezekiel 33:16.

I love this verse. It gives more than the promise of forgiveness. It also brings hope for the future. The sinner’s forgiven sin shall not be remembered. It shall not be mentioned to him!

Just look at what a robber un-forgiveness is:

An unforgiving spirit robs sinners of Hope!

God’s plan of salvation brings hope to people. Jesus did not come into this world to condemn people, but to forgive them. Unforgiveness is so contrary to God’s plans.

Then again, it brings defeat to those who are forgiven.

Disciplining a member of the Corinthian church, Paul wrote to them to tell them they must now embrace him. “Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.”    2 Corinthians 2:6-7.

And then again, bringing up the past discourages the sinner. It has no beneficial effect.

Sometimes we use the excuse that they keep on sinning, and so we must remind them of their past. Jesus did not teach that kind of forgiveness. He said when your brother keeps sinning, you keep forgiving.

“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? until seven times? Jesus said unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven.”    Matthew 18:21-22.

The next thing is this: Unforgiveness Robs God of  His Glory. Forgiveness is something wonderful because forgiveness reflects God’s attrubutes.

For example, His Fatherhood.

 “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pities them that fear him.”    Psalms 103:12-13.

Here we see the compassion of our Heavenly Father. He pities and comforts us – and we see that compassion in His forgiveness.

Another example is that He forgives FOR HIS NAME’S SAKE!

“Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name’s sake.”    Psalms 79:9

God forgives for His Name’s sake. If God will not remember a person’s sins for His great Name’s sake, what right do we have to remind them of their sins?

Also God’s reverence is involved in forgiveness:

“But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.”    Psalms 130:4.

We stand in awe at this Omniscient God Who could snuff out our lives, but instead forgives. Those who have been forgiven much love Him much!

And one last thought: An unforgiving spirit will rob US!

It will rob us of God’s forgiveness:

“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:”    Matthew 6:14

And it will also rob us of a sane estimate of ourselves. Un-forgiveness fools us into thinking we are infallible. Yet the Bible warns us: “Let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”    1 Corinthians 10:12.

When we bring up a person’s past, we are forgetting that we have a future.

We do not yet know what temptations await us around the corner, and how we shall respond to them.

An unforgiving spirit also fools us into seeing ourselves as superior.

In his prayer at the dedication of the Temple, Solomon – the wise man –  makes it clear that we are all the same. We are all sinners, and we will all sin, and we will all need forgiveness:

“There is no man that does not sin” …”    1 Kings 8:46.

Un-forgiveness robs us of a blessing. It even makes our offerings valueless.

There is no point even bringing an offering if we have un-forgiveness in our heart. It cannot be received. Oh, it may be received by the church treasurer, but it will not count in Heaven!

“Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there remember that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”    Matthew 5:23-24.

Anonymous Disciples

Is it possible to be a secret disciple? Well what we can say is that secret disciples are better described as anonymous. And when called upon they confess their Lord.

Joseph of Arimathaea was a ‘secret disciple’. “… Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.” John 19:38.

Joseph was a rich disciple of Jesus.  He was a reputable member of the Sanhedrin.  He was a good and righteous man, looking for the kingdom of God.

But the most fantastic thing is that he was a secret disciple. For a time, he kept his faith secret for fear of the religious leaders. But when all the disciples had run away, it was this quiet, fearful man who had the bravery to go to Pilate and ask for Christ’s body.

And so it was that Joseph of Arimathaea (and Nicodemus) took the body of Jesus down from the cross.

This man who at first did not ‘nail his colours to the mast’, later pulled the nails from the cross!

He was part of God’s army of the anonymous. People who did not parade their piety! Not only because they would lose their reward, but because they could lose their lives!

I have a feeling we would see a lot less verbal Christianity if our lives were threatened by persecution.

Those who make less noise are usually the ones who are busier for God. “Though I speak in tongues, but do not have love, I am just a noisy GONG!”

We should never judge people by their shows of piety.

This secret disciple was used by God. He was a friend in the Judgement Hall. Everyone condemned Jesus to be guilty of death. But Joseph of Arimathaea, did not vote for the death penalty (Luke 23:50-52).

This secret disciple was prospered by God. God’s favour was bestowed on him. The ancient prophecy predicted that Jesus would be surrounded by the wicked, but that He would be with a rich man in His death. And when it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. You see this man’s act was seen by God before he did it, and based on that act, God prospered this man.

God allowed this secret disciple to care for Christ’s body. What a privilege!

You will remember that those demonstrative disciples didn’t even wash Christ’s feet!  But this man had the honour of caring for the body that had just taken away the sins of the whole world! And Joseph wasn’t alone. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, another clandestine disciple.

We can only stand in awe as we watch their act of love: wrapping His body in spices and linen cloths!

I wonder how the disciples may have felt on the resurrection morning as they saw the grave clothes that two secret disciples had loving wrapped Jesus in, when all others had abandoned Him.

This was such a luxurious sacrifice of worship.  We are talking about a lot of money. AND THEY DID IT IN SECRET!!!!!

The women came with spices on the resurrection morning. But they were too late! The ministry had already been taken care of by TWO SECRET DISCIPLES.

A Better Resurrection

This weekend a man won £58 million on the lottery!

The bad news: He can’t spend it – he’s in lock down for the pandemic!

On the other hand, God’s blessings make rich, and come without sorrow. There’s no bad news when it comes to God’s blessings.

But there was a group of people mentioned in Hebrews who declined God’s blessing THEN in order to get a better blessing LATER!  “They were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection…” (Hebrews 11:35).

A better resurrection obviously means living a different life!

These people gained a better resurrection because they suffered in this life. This is an example of the Lord’s teaching:- “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12.

The modern-day pact of blessing that is offered to gullible disciples is an insult to those who stumbled over rocks as they trudged along the narrow way before us.

That idea of easy discipleship contradicts the very core of Bible teaching. If we would be His disciples we should “take up our cross and follow Him!”

Christ’s yoke may be easy, and His burden light – BUT it is still a yoke, and still a burden!

However, we do not lose our JOY and PEACE by seeking a better resurrection. Jesus slept in the storm. The apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer a beating for the Lord’s name. In a dungeon, Paul and Silas were full of the joy of the Lord, and sang praises at midnight.

There’s a way out of problems – an escape route (1 Corinthians 10:13).  But these people we read about in Hebrews weren’t looking for a way out.

They actively sought a better resurrection.

The Epistle to the Hebrews was written to Jewish people thinking of going back to the old life. And so the writer of this letter focuses their attention on how the NEW is BETTER than the old.

Now they have a better HOPE: 7:19. A better COVENANT: 7:22. A better SACRIFICE: 9:23. A better COUNTRY: 11:16.

And according to Hebrews 11:35, we can aim for a BETTER RESURRECTION.

Look What Money Did!

Money played a major role that first Easter. It is mentioned several times.

We can’t live without money. But we can use it wisely, and in a godly way. After all, it is our Master’s money! We are only stewards of what God gives us.

However, over-desire for money is a nasty taskmaster, and a wicked motivator!

Watch this cruel taskmaster at work:-

That Palm Sunday:  the merchants missed the Messiah because of MONEY!

This was no ordinary man who entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. This was Messiah Himself!

But when He came they didn’t recognise Him.

These money-changers had waited all their lives for Messiah, and missed him because of their love of money!

And it’s no different today. Once the ‘church’ sold salvation – now they sell blessings. And at His 2nd Coming there will be those who miss Him because their focus is on money! “In the last days people will be lovers of money,” Paul prophesied. (2 Timothy 3:2).

And then again, Judas was motivated by MONEY to betray the Master!

Judas was the disciples’ treasurer, “He kept the bag!” But he was a thief. Remember: Judas was the one who criticised Mary when she anointed Jesus! He saw it as a waste of money that could have been spent on the poor – “not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.” John 12:6.

Soon after, his malicious taskmaster THE LOVE OF MONEY drove him to “the chief priests in order to betray Jesus to them. And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him.” Mark 14:10-11.

All they offered was 30 pieces of silver. But it was bait enough for Judas.

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, in their eagerness to get rich, have wandered away from the faith and caused themselves a lot of pain.” 1 Timothy 6:10.

Finally, the soldiers were bribed with MONEY! And for a handful of coins they lied about the resurrection.

The religious leaders “agreed on a plan to give the soldiers a large amount of money. They said, ‘Say that Jesus’ disciples came at night and stole him while you were sleeping. If this is reported to the governor, we’ll personally persuade him to keep you out of trouble.’ So the soldiers took the money,  and did as they were instructed” Matthew 28:12-15.

This story was spread among the people. And to this day, the lie is still being told. One British biblical scholar wrote a book that spread that same lie.

He said that Jesus had really just fainted! What a lie. People don’t just faint when a Roman centurion plunges a spear into their side!

No one can serve two masters; We cannot serve God and money.

The Pharisees were lovers of money! They made their choice. Money would be their master.

What about you and me?  We must make the choice of who will be our master: The Lord or the love of money!


Palm Sunday Expectations

Today is Palm Sunday. But there are no crowds. No church services! The world is in ‘lock down’ because of the Corona virus!

Unlike that first Palm Sunday the streets are empty.

The palm was an emblem of “joy and victory and peace.” But as the crowd waived palm branches that day, it seems to me, their focus was on revenge. They were expecting something different than they got.

And we can learn some lessons from that day regarding expectations:-

Lesson One: Don’t expect too much from people (Then you won’t be disappointed).

Don’t be surprised when people let you down.

“The crowds were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

A week later they chanted:  “Crucify him, crucify him!”

They had wrong expectations. They had greeted Him as the KING OF ISRAEL!

Watch as they slip off their garments in honour!

“The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the ass and the colt, and put their garments on them, and he sat thereon. Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road.“Matthew 21:6-8.

They spread their garments in the way; in the middle of the road, instead of carpets, to ride upon; this they did, in honour to him as a king.

So, we can learn something unusual and interesting. The disciples put their clothes on the donkey. The crowd put theirs on the road.

You see, the disciples cared about the king.

The people cared about the kingdom. They greeted Him as THE KING OF ISRAEL.

Watch them as He takes a whip… and they shout their approval!

Watch them as He drives out the money changers… and they shout “Do that again!”

Watch them as He argues with the Pharisees… and they shout “That’s the way to do it!”

But when He’s been arrested, and whipped, and humiliated, their faith is shaken. If He was really the King of Israel, He would not be in this position! So now they cry “Crucify Him!”

Remember the old song: “First they say they want you, O how they really need you!

They greeted Him as king. But before He can take the throne He must battle the enemy. So they had wrong expectations at that time.

Lesson Two: Expect God to work out His purposes no matter what

The crowd was used in two ways. First, these palms are being waved as a sign! These people are making a point. They are prophesying – and they don’t know it!

“Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” Proverbs 3:9-10.

The first fruits are a token of a GREATER harvest!

As they waved the palms it was a type of the wave offering of the firstfruits signifying a bumper future harvest.

“A great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.” Revelation 7:9.

Also, without their cry against Him, He would not have been crucified – and there would have been no salvation!

If Satan had known the plan, he would have scuppered it: “If the princes of this world had known the plan of God, they wouldn’t have crucified the Lord of Glory!”

Lesson Three: Jesus is expecting His enemies to be reconciled.

“When Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin…” Hebrews 10:12-18.

Do we want EVERYONE to be saved?

Even as they nailed Him to the cross, He asked GOD to forgive them.

There was no repentance! They sneered cruelly.

He did not say “Lift up your hand” and then I can forgive you.

In fact –  He couldn’t forgive them! Why? Because at this moment He is at His most human!    He is the MAN Christ Jesus. The Mediator between God and men.

And this is His first mediation:  “Father forgive them!”

Do you believe that God did forgive them?  “O! Yes! Of course!” – You say!

But let me press you on that. They are nailing the Son of God to a cross. Do you have no doubts at all that they would be forgiven?

So why do you have grave doubts regarding the drunkard, and the thief, and the aldulterer, and the liar, and the lover of money? If he can forgive a crucifier of Christ, is there anyone He cannot forgive?

Or even your family. It is not His will that any should perish! Do you think your family can thwart God’s will?

We believe in the forgiveness of sins. Don’t we?

That is what the Church believes. It is written in our creed! “Every knee shall bow!”

Let me give you hope this Palm Sunday morning for a wayward son or daughter, or a loved relative.

“All the nations you have made shall come and bow down before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.”  Psalm 86:9



Don’t Visit Your Mother

Today is Mother’s Day in the UK. But the newspaper headlines warn everyone not to go and visit their mother – for fear of spreading the Corona virus.

And so, our thoughts turn today to our mothers.

I laugh now as I remember my own loving mother, trying to correct my bad behaviour as a 6-year-old, with warning words, and having to turn away trying not to giggle at my ‘wicked’ antics. And I see the same trait in my own daughter, giggling as she tries to correct my 6-year-old grandson – who, I think, is just like me in many of his ways!

Besides having her own three children, my Mom became the spiritual mother of many children. Every Sunday, my sister and I had the ‘joy’ – or embarrassment – of walking through the streets of the town with our mother pushing an old ice cream cart that she had converted into a kind of mobile Sunday School. On board the cart were a loud speaker and an easel for the ‘flannel graph’ – and I can remember now Mom shouting: “Calling all children! Calling all children!

And it wasn’t long before ‘all children’ appeared, and after a ‘taster’ of a story, they followed us back to the church for Sunday School:  A long line of them, like the Pied Piper of Hamlin.

Over the years, she led many of those children to the Lord, and now many of them live around the world, and in turn they are leading others to the Lord Jesus.

In this lock down and isolation, I’m reminded of one of the stories Mother used to tell about a disabled boy named Tom:-

Confined to his room, and all alone, Tom longed to reach the unsaved with the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. Of course he could do nothing. Tom was all alone confined to his room. But then he had the idea of writing the message of salvation on scraps of paper, and throwing them through the window. The Lord blessed his endeavours by touching the hearts of those passers-by who picked up his scraps of paper, and turned to God.

Against all odds, a disabled boy in isolation became an effective evangelist.

I suppose you’ve already guessed where I’m going with this? Yes, you’re right.

Here’s the question: what can we do for the Kingdom and our own spiritual growth, while we are in lock down?

Let’s seek God to give us ideas how to make something constructive out of this.

Locked up in a prison cell, the Apostle Paul said: “the Word of God is not in lock down!” (2 Timothy 2:9 – my paraphrase).