The beautiful picture above is of the historic Forth Bridge, which one can travel over by train from Fife into Lothian on the way to Scotland’s Capital, Edinburgh. The construction took eight years and the bridge was opened on the 4th March 1890, making it one-hundred and thirty-two years old this year. When completed it was the largest cantilever bridge in the world, until 1919 when Canada’s Quebec Bridge superceded it, but it still remains the second largest to this day. It is the only rail bridge over the River Forth.
As the Forth River separates Fife from Lothian there is a river between mankind and God his Creator; yet it was God’s intention for mankind to live in close proximity to Him as a Father. What separates man from God today is his own rebellion and the sinful life he chooses for himself; mankind is a prodigal son avoiding God just as a naughty child avoids their parents. But like every good parent should God made a way for man to come home to Him, so that He could forgive his sins and show His love to him. He sent His Son Jesus to bring mankind home; He found mankind in sin and He paid the penalty fine of that sin. The penalty for mankinds sins was death, but God’s Son paid all the penalties for everyone. In this Jesus laid a bridge across the chasm of sin that mankind can choose to walk across with Him, into the open arms of Father God.
Dear reader, I share this short message with you today to bring you hope in this broken world we live in. Maybe you have wondered what makes someone a Christian, well here it is in all its simplicity. It is an offer open to the best and the worst of mankind, regardless of how many bad things you have done. God loves you and like the prodigal son’s father He is looking for you coming home. Will you cross His Bridge of Love today?
“You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold, two and a half cubits long and one and a half cubits wide.
You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony which I will give to you. There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel.”
Who remembers being marched to the Headmasters office at school for some infraction of acceptable behaviour? I remember my first and only time standing before his desk at Denend Primary School; I knew I had done wrong and I deserved punishment, I pleaded for mercy with tears in my eyes to no avail. That was my first experience of the belt at school. I was reminded of this old memory where I sought mercy when I read today’s verses; indeed it was not the only time in my life where I pleaded for mercy in relation to sins committed. But there was a time I found real mercy that made a life changing difference.
As I thought of this I remember the youth who had originally believed the lie of being born into a Christian family was sufficient to get to Heaven. He came face to face with his own personal need of a relationship with Jesus Christ the Son of God on Good Friday night 20th April 1984 in Livingston Salvation Army, the preacher’s words pierced his heart and pulled him in his need of forgiveness to God at His Mercy Seat in tears. That night after my penitent prayer, the curtains of my soul were parted and His Son shone in and through me. What a burden was lifted from my shoulders that night! Since then life has not been free from troubles or temptations over the years, but with my Lord and Saviour within me I have conquered life’s trials.
Dear reader, I remember that lovely mercy seat today as I write this for #TestimonyTuesday but it was just a wooden bench. What made it holy was that sinners met Almighty God there in repentance; where is your mercy seat? It could be beside your bed, chair or even outdoors in a wooded glade, it does not matter where as long as you come to God in complete surrender. Have you found the truth that I faced in 1984; that there is nothing in this life can save you for Heaven except salvation in Jesus Christ who died for your sins on a rough Cross at Calvary? All other saviours are fakes and will lead you to Hell; seek Him today while you still can.
that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
Yesterday I was reminded of a simpler time, when I was a boy in our village. The pride of every lad was his wheels, his bicycle whether it was new or old. We all knew and respected one elderly man known as “Spadgie,” a big strong ex-miner who walked with a stick. What endeared this man to the village lads was his expertise with bikes; he could fix any problem needing attention. But he particularly specialised in building bikes at a low cost from recycled parts. Spadgie worked out of his garden shed a few doors away from me, I remember visiting him in his wee workshop. His shed was an Aladdin’s Cave of old bike parts of every make, colour and shape, most of which he was given by villagers. Many times in my childhood wheels or brakes were renewed on my bike by Spadgie at little or no cost. Not long after reminiscing of this old gentleman I found myself reading todays verse, I saw a connection between my memory of Spadgie and the Scripture.
When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour we are “born again” and renewed in God’s family. We give up our old life and sinful ways, putting on our new self as one puts on a new coat. Our old corrupt self is like an old rusty bike with dodgy brakes and bald tyres; through His Son God takes us into His Workshop to refurbish us. We come out afterwards fit for the road ahead of us. Our newly refurbished man/woman is superior to the old one in every way; we bear the hallmarks of our Maker in our new life of holiness and righteousness. As villagers in Dundonald recognised Spadgie’s bikes by his work, the world recognises those saved by faith in Jesus – they bear the unmistakable traits of a child of God.
Dear reader, have you swapped your old self for a renewed self through Jesus Christ? Is your life a constant witness to your Father God’s love for you; do you bear His hallmarks each day shining as a light in a dark world?
“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. “Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God; Whom I myself shall behold, And whom my eyes will see and not another. My heart faints within me!” JOB 19:25-37
If you have been reading my recent posts you will know I am reading the book of Job at present in my devotions. It is a book which is dreaded by many based on third hand information, that it is not a jolly read. To a certain extent this is true as it does deal with Job’s extreme trials and mournings. Oh but believe me it is a precious book, it has touched my heart deeply. There is heartbreak, pain and yes, there is humour too. But my favourite passage thus far has to be the one above, how my heart soared and celebrated these sacred words.
At this point Job has lost everything, all his wealth, children, and health. His life is hanging by a thread. He really believes he is going to die soon. His wife and neighbours mock him, and his friends are no comfort at all (Job16:2). In such depths of deep despair rather than whine he praises God; “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives…” What an amazing testimony to this man of God, despite all that has happened his faith is rock solid in his Redeemer. He knows that He lives!
These words are etched in my memory from when I was a member of The Fife Youth Choir, and singing Handel’s “Messiah.” These words spoke to my soul and stayed in my memory, eventually years later I was able to sing them for real – “I know that my Redeemer liveth!” They played an important part in my salvation, preparing the ground for the seed of the gospel. This simple refrain has stayed with me through many dark moments, mainly relating to my health.
Not only did Job know that his “Redeemer lives,” but he was also certain of his eternal destination where he would meet his God. What astounding faith in distressing circumstances, no matter what life threw at him he held firm to God. I have peeked at the ending, don’t judge me…we’ve all done it, right? God rewards Job’s faith in God in difficult times. His God is our God, He is the same today as He was then. He rewards faith in Him in the trials of life.
Dear reader, our Redeemer Kinsman is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He bridges the gap between us and Almighty God, our Father. No trial or tribulation can break that bond, therefore rejoice for our Redeemer lives!
The morning air was cool as the noise of the awakening village began to build. Smoke from cooking fires drifted heavenward. Songbirds sang from the olive groves nearby as the sun rose slowly warming my back. Many like myself had rested here for the night, weary from trekking long dusty roads from the north. Travellers and pilgrims alike were readying themselves for the final stage of their journey from Bethany down into Jerusalem for the Passover. A few eager souls were setting off early in good spirits and fine voice, tramping up the road towards Bethphage before descending into the holy city. It is the journey of a lifetime, spending many days on the road from Galilee in the north. I only wish my father was here. He had been looking forward to this pilgrimage, but he was not well enough to do the journey. I had enjoyed his stories of his childhood visit to Jerusalem from Nazareth, often repeated, but I hadn’t minded. As I took one last look over the western horizon I wondered what lay ahead for me, would I see anyone important? Indeed I had heard of someone from my hosts at dinner last night, they spoke of a Rabbi from Nazareth called Jesus.
I turned and walked from the hillside back into the village and thanked the family who had accommodated me last night, treating me as one of their own kin. I had been fed well and told many stories of Jerusalem and the temple. But only one story was still on my mind this morning, it was of Jesus the Rabbi from Nazareth. I had heard many tales already about him and his followers from pilgrims on the road south. My hosts story was of a man from the region called Lazarus who had died, he was in his tomb for some time when Rabbi Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.
I had smiled politely at the tale, but my hosts were not smiling, they looked at me seriously. I had heard of religious men doing great deeds before, but I had to admit raising a dead man with many witnesses was on a different level.
As I waved farewell to my hosts and headed for the hill road last nights story came to the front of my mind again. For some reason I just couldn’t shake it from my thoughts this morning. I took a deep breath of mountain air and strode out excitedly, knowing I was nearing my final destination. My steps were pain free despite the many days of walking I had done up to this point. I greeted fellow pilgrims as I passed them, the sunshine seems to have lifted everyone’s spirits. The smell of the olive groves and the drifts of wild flowers make it a pleasant walk. Up ahead I could see the outlying houses of Bethphage where there was a large crowd gathered. The closer I got I became aware of the sound of cheering and shouting from the crowd, it was a sizeable gathering. I was curious as to what was the reason for this excitement.
The mountain path flattened out as it became a wide street in the village, there was no easy way to pass the thronging crowd. There was a crescendo of shouts of “Hosanna to the Son of David!” along with “Hosanna in the Highest!” pierced the air, while others sang and waved tree branches in the air. Children ran around excitedly and some climbed trees to get a better view. Through the crowd I saw a donkey and young foal having coats laid on their backs and a man was helped onto the donkey. The crowd cheered their approval and the man gave them a wave and a smile, my mind returned to the previous night’s story, was this Him? I saw a number of men circle Him as they led the way down the street with the crowd following enthusiastically. Those close men must be disciples, I was convinced that this was Rabbi Jesus. There were a group pharisees standing at the side of the procession shaking their heads and chastising children who were singing of Jesus, the Son of David. As the village ended the horizon came into clear view, everybody stopped singing and took in the sight of the distant rooftops of Jerusalem. The towering golden roof of the temple shone like a beacon in the sunshine, even from this mountain top. Rabbi Jesus was visibly moved by the sight and was heard to pray, even though I could barely hear through the bodies but I did hear His distinctive Galilean accent. The previously boisterous crowd stood reverently quiet taking in what for many was their first view of the City of David. I lifted my eyes to the heavens and muttered a psalm in praise to the Almighty, a small flock of birds circled overhead soaring on the currents down towards the city.
Suddenly as it had ceased the procession began again, as did the jubilant chanting and singing. The crowd grew bigger as we descended the Mount of Olives picking up more pilgrims on the way into Jerusalem. People began draping their cloaks before the donkey and colt, a memory of my father teaching me about Messiah entering Jerusalem on a donkey came into my mind. Was this what I was witnessing now? There was something special about this Rabbi, even from the back of the crowd I could not take my eyes off Him.
Crossing the Kidron valley and climbing up to the Golden Gate the way narrowed, it became difficult to keep Him in view. The singing of the procession was now drowned by the frantic city hubbub. Temple officials and Romans watched from prominent positions as our procession made slow progress. Jesus and His disciples passed beyond the Golden Gate, but I was frustratingly stuck behind the slow moving queue. Entering through the gate the vast pillars and facade of the temple seemed to reach to the sky itself, I gaped at the marvellous site that I had longed to see. I was lost in the moment and had lost sight of the Rabbi Jesus. In such a huge milling mass of humanity I had no way of knowing which way He had went. In the excitement of the morning I had forgotten I was to find my cousins house, as I turned towards the lower city I thought whether I would see Rabbi Jesus again.
“These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him.” JOHN 12:16
This verse arrives after Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem, and like many events relating to Jesus it was prophesied in the old testament (Zechariah 9:9). In verse sixteen John tells us that the disciples were not aware of the significance of these events as prophesied, or any events in Jesus’ ministry. It was only afterwards that they realised the reasoning of all these events.
We should not judge the disciples too harshly regarding this. We follow God and trust Him to provide our daily needs, yet sometimes we cannot see His hand or purpose in events. In these moments of uncertainty we are called to have faith and trust God, to be assured that He is at work in our life. In the fullness of time we are able to look back and see with fresh eyes what God has done for us.
Therefore dear reader remember those times in the past when God provided for you, be assured He will do it again. Rest in Him, trust Him until He shows you His purpose!
Dear Father God, sometimes I cannot see how you are working in my life, but I know you are a loving Father who provides for my every need. Therefore I trust you in my daily life and know that you will show me your provision at the right time. I trust your guiding hand in my life. Amen. .