THINKING SCRIPTUREPosted by Douglas J H Mowat Wed, August 23, 2017 09:46:52
1700s Britain was an ugly place. By common consent, standards of decency and public morality were incredibly low. Visitors from mainland Europe were astonished and disgusted by the filth, coarseness and debauchery on display on London's streets. Images by Hogarth, such as Gin Lane depict a society on the brink of collapse. Lawlessness and robbery was rife, leading Hugh Walpole to observe, "One is forced to travel, even at noon, as if one were going to battle".
Despite all its well documented faults, the Victorian era saw an amazing change in society and attitudes. Slavery had been abolished, education was widely available to the poor, the penal code had been reformed, Sunday Schools were common in every parish, charities - such as Barnardo's Homes, NSPCC, YMCA - had been established. Knowledge of the Bible was widespread.
What made the difference? No doubt there were many factors, but without a doubt the main driving force for change was what is now referred to as the Wesleyan Revival of the 1700s.
John Wesley was converted in 1738. Immediately he set about spreading the Gospel message throughout the UK. By the time of his death in 1791, Wesley had travelled 250,000 miles on horseback, from Cornwall to the Scottish Highlands, preaching the Gospel. Thousands were converted, and social change followed hard on the heels of the revival. Given a new hope and purpose in living, the new converts saw the world in a different way - and society was changed.
Sadly, today's UK society is reverting to the disastrous model of the 1700's. What we need today - more than ever - is a genuine evangelical revival. When people are converted, everyone benefits. Let us pray that the Gospel Wesley preached will be preached without fear, and that the God of John Wesley will change our society again!
THINKING SCRIPTUREPosted by Douglas J H Mowat Wed, August 09, 2017 12:06:06
My daily reading at the moment is in the Old Testament First book of Kings.
I've noticed how that the reigns of many kings of Judah / Israel are recorded concisely, in a matter of a few verses. No doubt important rulers in their day, but meriting only the briefest of glances in the Word of God. The salient points of their reigns were not their military might or material wealth. Rather the Bible focuses on their relationship with God.
When all is said and done, that is surely all that matters. In one hundred years from now, most of us will be totally forgotten. Any legacy we think we will leave will have long faded. Things that interest / obsess us today will be totally meaningless. What will remain eternally is our standing with God.
I'm encouraged today to try to view things from an eternal standpoint. To get my priorities re-calibrated. To focus on what really matters. Around 2000 years ago Paul wrote: We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Cor. 4:18)
Let's live today with eternity in view.
THINKING SCRIPTUREPosted by Douglas J H Mowat Sat, July 29, 2017 15:19:50
Our Bible Study last night focused on the five brave souls who stood by the cross of Jesus while He suffered (John 19:25-27). Not an easy place to be ...
Four of the five were women, and the fifth was John, the only one of the twelve disciples present.
The four women were -
1. Mary (mother of the Lord)
2. Mary's sister
3. Mary the wife of Cleophas
4. Mary Magdalene
We know very little about the middle two, but we have details of the first and the last named women - and what a contrast they were! Mary (mother of the Lord), although a sinner like us all, was a godly young virgin chosen by God to bring Jesus into the world. Mary Magdalene, on the other hand, had known the darkness of demon-possession and immoral living. And yet both stand together at the cross.
The fellowship of the cross brings surprising people together! They were there because they loved the Lord, and although they could do nothing, and say nothing, at least they could stand with Him in His hour of suffering and shame. He meant everything to them, and they were prepared to endure the shame of the cross just to stand by His side.
God recorded their actions. Heaven was pleased with the stance they took. They will have an eternal reward - just for standing at the right place, at the right time.
Our Lord is still rejected and despised by the world. It is our privilege to stand by His cross, to take our stance - humbly, publicly, unapologetically - with Him. It will run contrary to current political correctness and media-driven liberal morality, but it will be noted and appreciated in Heaven.
THINKING SCRIPTUREPosted by Douglas J H Mowat Wed, June 07, 2017 10:14:19
There is a scandal that has been around for over 2000 years. It has never made the front page of any tabloid, but has affected the lives of millions. It doesn't involve any celebs, although some are scandalized by it.
It's the scandal of the cross.
Paul, writing to the Galatians, refers to 'the offence [scandal] of the cross' (5:11). People find the cross offensive, scandalous.
Why is the cross of Christ a scandalous thing? There are a number of reasons:
1. It was a shameful death - to be crucified was the lowest, most shameful form of execution. To accept a crucified Saviour means we must swallow our pride.
2. It was a substitutionary death - when Christ died on the cross He became the substitute for all who believe in Him. The cross reminds me of my guilt and sinfulness.
3. It was a representative death - as a Christian, I died with Him. I died to sin, to self, to the world.
4. It was a judicial death - in the cross, God judged me and all that I stand for. The cross tells me that I am nothing.
Naturally, we don't like the message of the cross - and yet we need it! Whether an unbeliever or a believer, all God has to say to us is bound up in the cross.
In the very same letter to the Galatians, Paul says that he 'glories' [boasts] in the cross (6:14). What is naturally a scandalous thing has become a glorious thing!
Am I offended by the message of the cross, or do I glory in it?
THINKING SCRIPTUREPosted by Douglas J H Mowat Thu, January 12, 2017 14:24:05
January can be a bleak month, after the festive season. The decorations are down, the weather's cold, and the days are still short. It takes time to get back into routine again - and, if like me you've had the flu for two weeks, it can seem a bit dreary!
January can, however, teach us valuable lessons. It's a new start, a fresh page. An opportunity to press the reset button on our lives. For me, it's also an opportunity to start a new Bible reading plan for the year. This year I'm using the One Year Bible published by Tyndale. It brings together daily readings from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs, and covers the entire Bible in 12 months. Really enjoying it so far.
Part of today's reading is from Genesis 26, all about Isaac digging wells. Most will know that Abraham was famous for building altars. Jacob was famous for erecting pillars. With Isaac it's digging wells.
In the Middle East securing a reliable water supply was vital. In our lives, it is no less vital to have a refreshing supply of spiritual water. In the Bible still water often speaks of the Word of God; living (or running) water often speaks of the Spirit of God. The two cannot be separated. As I turn to the Word of God, so the Holy Spirit refreshes me and satisfies my thirst. It does, however, require some effort on my part. Digging wells has never been a desk job. May we resolve in 2017 to dig wells in the Bible and find the refreshment we need for each day. Have you sorted out your Bible reading plan yet?
THINKING SCRIPTUREPosted by Douglas J H Mowat Wed, November 16, 2016 09:23:35
Reading in Genesis 28 this morning, I was impressed by the words of the Lord to Jacob: "For I will not leave you until I have done what I promised you" (v15).
These words remind us of the grace of God. Jacob had not covered himself with glory so far! In the previous chapter he had deceived his father Isaac in order to get the firstborn blessing. In the coming years he would display traits that most would find unattractive. Yet God in His grace makes this wonderful promise - a promise not dependant on Jacob's merits. As Christians, we too are the objects of the grace of God. The blessings we enjoy spring from His free grace, and have certainly not been earned by us!
We are also reminded of the purposes of God. Unknown to Jacob, God had a masterplan for his life - a plan that would not only bless Jacob and his descendants, but "all families of the earth" (v14). God is working to a masterplan in our lives too. Paul reminds us that "all things work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to His purpose" (Rom.8:28).
Finally, we see in this the faithfulness of God. Jacob would have many slips and mistakes in his life, but God would be faithful to His promise. Jacob could depend on His word and be assured of His presence. We too can rely on a God who is completely and utterly dependable, and whose word cannot be broken - "God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Cor.1:9).
Let's make this promise our own today, and enjoy the presence of a God of grace, purpose and faithfulness!
THINKING SCRIPTUREPosted by Douglas J H Mowat Fri, October 21, 2016 16:38:30
In Cambridge today I visited an exhibition at Queens' College, In Praise of Erasmus - marking 500 years since the publication of his New Testament.
Desiderius Erasmus (1467 - 1536) was an eminent Dutch scholar and theologian who spent three years in Cambridge from 1511 to 1514. During this period he made preparations for what would be one of the century's key publication events - a ground-breaking new Latin translation of the New Testament. Instead of relying on the corrupted Vulgate text, Erasmus went back to the Greek manuscripts and produced an incredibly accurate translation. Combined with his criticism of the widespread corrupt practices of the professing Church, his translation would indirectly trigger Luther's famous protest and launch what we know as the Reformation.
As I stood in Queen's Library this afternoon - in the very room where Erasmus studied and wrote - I reflected on how much we owe to men like him. I also wondered at the dedication and persistence of men who used their God-given abilities in His service.
The availability of a reliable translation of the Bible in our own language is one of the greatest blessings we enjoy. Let's see to it that we appreciate God's Word, read it and obey it.
THINKING SCRIPTUREPosted by Douglas J H Mowat Wed, August 10, 2016 15:13:06
The Lord Jesus said, "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in Me" (John 15:4).
Have you ever wondered what kind of fruit the Lord was referring to here? I think the key is in verse 1: I am the true vine. We often think of fruitful lives in terms of successful witness, influencing the lives of others, achieving some great spiritual work or project. However the fruit that glorifies God (v8) in this context is simply Christ-likeness. It is nothing less than His character replicated and displayed in the lives of those who trust Him. A careful reading of the New Testament will confirm that this is the object of our salvation, the purpose for which we were converted. Nothing can be more important than being like the Lord Jesus.
How can this possibly be achieved? The Lord reveals the secret of fruitfulness - abide in Me. This surely means that a Christ-centred life becomes a Christ-displaying life. As we read of Him, meditate on Him, commune with Him, our lives are moulded and changed by the indwelling Spirit of God. This is a natural yet supernatural process. We cannot manufacture or produce fruit; we can only bear fruit.
Have you thought of Him today? Are you abiding in Him? If so, the fruit will soon begin to appear!