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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Parables of Jesus at a Glance



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Jesus spoke in parables oft to the multitude
His words are more important than our daily food,
Heaven and earth he said will one day suffer decay
But not one jot of his word will ever pass away.

These forty-six parables in Matthew, Mark and Luke
Should be critical learning matters in any institute,
Scenes from daily life such understanding brings
As Jesus fashions our minds to think on heavenly things.

None spoke like this man the greatest master teacher he
Who taught in myriads of ways so that his students could see
Object lessons from the word he shares with you and me,
Everyone an earthly story but teaching about eternity.

A new cloth patch placed on an old garment
Will invariably produce a much greater rent.
Storing new wine in old wineskins?  Why that is worse
For the new wine will most certainly cause the old to burst.

And just as a city on a hill cannot ever be hidden
Hiding one’s light from view is strictly forbidden.
One man will build on the rock, another on sand
But it’s better to trust in God rather than trust in man.

The servant whose master forgives of the greater debt
Would surely show greater love to his benefactor yet.
Consider that no one lights a lamp and puts it under a bed
So that he ends up hiding the light by which another may be led.

I’d rather have a little barn with just a single stool
Than by Almighty God to be called a fool.
Far better to be a servant who’s working and watching
Than on the master’s return to be caught while napping.
 
He that is unfaithful questions his master’s return
But the faithful servant holds to what he has learned.
That unfruitful fig tree that is likely to be hewn
Just give it another year before axing it too soon.

Four types of soil and only one finally brought a yield
But the sower was generous as he sowed the precious seed.
Let the weeds and the wheat grow in the very same field
For at harvest time the Harvester will both of them reveal.
  
By itself the soil produces grain in the rain and the sun
And the ripened grain is reaped as soon as harvest time comes.
The kingdom is like a mustard seed planted in the ground
But becomes a towering tree whose immensity abounds.

Know that the kingdom of heaven is like yeast, Jesus said
That is mixed in the flower but works through the bread.
It is like a hidden treasure that a man found and bought
By selling all he possessed; what great pleasure it brought!

The kingdom is like a merchant a precious pearl having found
Sells all that he has so that he might own that pearl of renown.
Another time it’s represented as a great net cast into the lake,
The bad fish are cast in the fire; the good the fishermen take.

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Every teacher of the law who is versed in kingdom knowledge
Relishes the treasures of old and treats the new as privileged.
One lost sheep is valued over that of the other ninety-nine
Thus will the shepherd search until that one sheep he finds.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd who gave his life for the flock
If today he is not your shepherd now is your time to take stock.
A servant doing his master’s will sees himself as unworthy
Recognizing all he has really done is what was only his duty

Don’t be the unmerciful servant; for much he had been forgiven
But could not forgive his fellow servant for the little he had taken.
Who really is my neighbour? The expert in the law did ask
Only to discover all to whom we can do good is the extent of our task.

A friend in need is a friend in deed even at the midnight hour,
One who boldly asks should be given what it is he truly wants to borrow.
When invited to a wedding feast don’t sit in the place of honour
That’s for the distinguished guest; the host will demand you sit lower.

Real estate, a new wife and oxen were reasons why they refused,
Invitees to a great banquet made excuse after excuse after excuse.
Any man who sets out to build a house should carefully count the cost
And salt is surely good for nothing if its saltiness it has lost.

There is joy up in heaven over one lost sheep the shepherd finds
Far more than the rejoicing over the other ninety and nine.
Or consider that woman who from her rare collection loses just one coin,
Think of the great celebration when to the ten that coin is rejoined.

 “Give me what is mine,” demanded the heir and to a far country went
Only to return to “Father’s house” after he saw the need to repent.
Accused of mismanagement the unjust steward was called to give account
But was commended for his shrewdness after reducing the loan amounts.

The rich man living sumptuously ignored the beggar at his gate
But in hell requested Abraham, “Send Lazarus to help relieve my state.”
Some workers agreed to their pay as they came on at different stages
But the first ones became angry when the last received the same wages.

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Some consider it as nagging but it got the attention of the judge,
The widow received her just demands when at first he wouldn’t budge.
Two went up to the temple to pray: a Publican and a Pharisee
The Pharisee did pray how good he was; the Publican begged for mercy.

A king who retuned from afar put the faithful stewards over his cities
But the servant who kept the investment was punished most severely.
Two sons were commissioned; the first said no but later changed his mind;
The second said yes but never did what it was that he was assigned.

These tenants seized the owner’s servants; finally they killed his son
But they were brought to a wretched end when all was said and done.
A guest who attended the banquet but refused a wedding garment
Was bound both hand and foot and then into outer darkness sent.

The fig tree is a valuable lesson reminding that summer is near
So the signs that point to the Lord’s coming tell that he will soon appear.
Far better to be a faithful servant awake, alert and watching
Than to be a wicked servant who when the Lord comes finds him napping.

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Or consider the ten virgins: five were wise and five were foolish,
Five went in with the Bridegroom; the other five were left with just a wish.
It’s like a man leaving his servants and going to country far away
Then returning when they least expect it on that unexpected day

Five talents gained five more; two talents became four
But the slothful wicked servant’s talent did not even gain one more.
Goats on his left and sheep on his right when the Son of Man shall come;
The goats to everlasting punishment; the sheep will inherit God’s kingdom.

So end these forty-six parables instructive for you and me
Once we keep them in our mind and take them seriously,
They all speak of God’s coming kingdom that Jesus came to announce,
That day is fast approaching when all must give an account.

Christ the great Judge will preside; the books will be opened wide,
All and sundry will be present; not one of us will be able to hide.
We will answer for the things we’ve done, be they righteous or be they bad
And all who have rejected the Saviour for them that day will be very sad.


Stewart Russell © 2016

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Finders Keepers Losers Weepers



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There it was.  Trapped beneath the leg of the desk as if someone had deliberately placed it there.  Lionel looked at it and he thought to himself, “This must be my lucky day.”  He pondered further, “No one is around, no one would know.  Plus, I don’t even have a cent in my name.”   

Lifting the desk leg with his left hand, he removed the note and pocketed it.  He had usually received an allowance of two dollars and fifty cents but this was twice as much money.   “Boy, isn’t this my lucky day?”  He thought.

Lionel strutted outside, his spirit soaring.  He thought only of the many things he could buy.  On his way toward the school gate to buy a pack of nibbles, he met a classmate.  With tears in his eyes Jeff inquired, “Have you seen my money anywhere?  I’ve looked all over the playing field and I can’t find it.”

Lionel thought, “It couldn’t be the money I found.”

All of a sudden the pack of nibbles did not appeal to Lionel anymore.  Reluctantly he pushed his hand in his pocket and withdrew the note.  Jeff’s eyes sparkled.  “Thank you!  Thank you!” he cried in delight.  “Come and let me buy you a pack of nibbles.”
                                                              
Stewart Russell © 1999

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

It Takes an Attitude



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It took an attitude of Gratitude to really make the difference,
It took an attitude of gratitude not just some magic instance;
It took an attitude of gratitude to climb to heights sublime,
To propel you all along the road: now ‘tis graduation time.

It’s an attitude of Readiness that paves and marks the way,
An attitude of readiness that quells the urge to delay;
Oh, it’s an attitude of readiness that’s sure to win the day,
Readiness made the difference now graduation’s here.

An attitude to Achieve can determine where you land,
An attitude to achieve with heart and head and hand;
An attitude to achieve no matter how great the goal,
That attitude comes from way down deep in the soul.

Then there’s Diligence, you must never ever forget,
Some at this graduation time are looking back with regret;
They did not embrace this attitude when they had the chance,
Or else their results would have been greatly enhanced.

There are few things in this life we achieve on our own,
Without an attitude to Unite we would feel so very alone;
Unity is essential and little is attained without it,
It’s the attitude that counts especially when it becomes a habit.

Attentiveness, how can we forget, that admonishment to attend
That’s issued by all teachers in the request to you they send.
We must conclude it’s the attitude that really makes the difference,
Attentiveness must be considered a part of this needed substance.

Tenacity, a neat little package of persistent determination,
Moving forward steadily balancing pleasure, work and fun;
Never lagging but pressing on till all the work is done
Feeling a sense of achievement at the time of graduation.

Insistence is that necessity that makes you stay on track,
Constant and varied distractions make it hard to get right back
To the task that’s set before you, the goal you hope to achieve;
You can, you must, you will if you trust in God and do believe.

Just the Opportunity or the chance will never bring success,
It’s the attitude that counts when you strive to do your best.
For attitude determines altitude, a stitch in time saves nine,
Letting time go idly by you’ll simply stay at the back of the line.

So Never-give-up, never-give-up is the attitude to pursue,
Never-give-up, never-give-up, keep your objective clear in view;
For the difference is attitude not mere intelligence and intellect,
If you chart your course and stick to it then you’ll have no regret.


Stewart Russell © 2011

Friday, May 13, 2016

That You May Know





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In this life assurance is a good thing,
It’s like the song of the faith we so often sing,
“Blessed assurance Jesus is mine”
This we can know for sure and on him recline.

God’s word deals with the issue of knowing
In a number of statements worthy of reviewing,
Such assurances are there for our encouragement-
In the next few verses that will be my intent.

In 1 John chapter 3 and verse 2
We see a reference that for the future rings true,
But we know, it says when he shall appear
We shall be like him and his visage will be clear.

The world struts about on a pretense of knowledge,
Those that achieve it deem it their unique privilege,
They soar above others with superior disdain
Until it fails and they fall to the ground as though slain.

No such pretense in the Apostle John’s conviction,
He had met the Master and feared no contradiction
So that when he said we know he meant exactly that
Based on He that promised this was a fact.

1 John 3:5 is another Scriptural reference
That should strengthen our resolve in just an instance,
We know, it reminds us in the midst of the strife
“That we have passed from death unto life”.

Such knowledge brings us comfort in abundance,
It sharpens our focus and ensures our resilience,
We know we have eternal life; that we can esteem
By believing on the Son of God according to 1 John 5:13.

Any keeper of God’s word in God’s love is perfected,
Hereby we know that we are in Him and not rejected,
This is clearly borne out in 1 John chapter 2 and verse 5,
Such assurance should really redirect our drive.

Have a look at 1 John 3 and verse 24,
This should strengthen our faith in measures galore,
Hereby we know He abides in us by the Spirit he gives,
This convinces me that I have all I need in order to live.

1st John 4:13 is a reference we should not miss,
It emphasizes the text before; now listen to this;
Hereby we know we in Him and He in us; not a mere visit-
And he assures us of this having given to us His Spirit.

Of unshakable confidence and assurance within
We know we have the petitions we desire of Him,
According to 1 John 5:14 and 15 He assures us still
That he hears when we ask any thing according to His will.

God’s will is synonymous with His Holy Word,
With these there’s no conflict; I’m sure you have heard;
And hereby we know that we are of the truth,
1 John chapter 3 and verse 19 supplies the proof.

Are you looking for assurance?  Want to be in the know?
Have your failings been reminders of “I told you so”?
Well embrace these pointers in this first letter of John
That you may know” could signal your new dawn.

This knowledge is complete; in Christ it is formed,
It will safeguard you in all of life’s storms,
You will not regret it if you trust in God’s word
And His know so salvation; compliments: our Savior and Lord.


Stewart Russell © 2016

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Law and Christ



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The law said I must die
For the wages of sin is death
Jesus died that I might live
And enter his eternal rest.

The law was my schoolmaster
That pointed out my sin
But Jesus the greatest teacher
Beckoned me to come to him.

The law was a mission impossible
I could never ever achieve
Jesus accomplished that mission
From its task I’ve been relieved.

The law could show me my sin
But could not help me avoid it
Jesus filled my heart and life
And righteousness became my habit.

The law was bent on punishing me
And all them that disobeyed
Jesus showed me forgiveness
And leads me along life’s way.

The law was an ancient document
Written on tablets of stone
Jesus is the law within my heart
For my sin his blood atoned.

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The law could give me no peace
On account of all my sin
Jesus who is the Prince of peace
Came and gave me peace within.

The law could give me no rest
No matter how hard I tried
Jesus aced its every test
And now in him I abide.

The law could not sympathise
Every time I had fallen short
Jesus knows my every weakness
And me he calmly exhorts.
  
The law was unable to save
Even though some in it did boast
Jesus is my eternal salvation
For he saved me to the uttermost.

The law is ideally suited
For those who prescribe its letter
But Jesus epitomised its spirit
For me, that’s decidedly better.

The law was to the Pharisees
The support for their selfish agenda
Jesus showed the opposite side
And to him I now surrender.

The law could never satisfy
Even though frequently repeated
Jesus satisfies my every need
And for me that matter is completed.

The law was unable to secure
My place in the heavenly throng
Jesus wrote my name in heaven’s book
After forgiving all my wrong.

The law was merely a shadow
Just a sign of those things to come
Jesus became the fulfilment
And my entry to his kingdom.

The law was just a type
It was not the “end all and be all”
Jesus is the only prototype
I’m so glad I heeded His call.

The law was to bring me to Christ
He is the Saviour of the World
Jesus is the only Saviour
And I take him at his word.

The law had no intrinsic power
To resurrect me from the dead
Jesus is the resurrection and the life
And right now he is my Living Head.

The law instructed me to love
But could not even help me start
Jesus came to demonstrate “such love”
Then placed it within my heart.

The law and its stipulations
I now put in the right context
For Jesus is the end of the law for me
In this world and the next.

The law in the challenge it presented
Caused me to stumble and to grope
Jesus, my eternal benefactor
Is my life, my love and hope.

The law had showed me my blindness
But could never open my eyes
Jesus, precious Lord and Saviour
Gives me vision that satisfies.

Now hear the conclusion of the matter
Certainly the one I advocate
The letter of the law is instructive
But it’s to Jesus that I relate.

I must bear my brother’s burdens
And so fulfil the law of Christ
Love the Lord my God with all my heart
This is my required sacrifice.

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Upon such the Bible states
Hang all of the law and the prophets
I dare to trust my Saviour’s word
For therein lie my eternal assets.

The law cannot save or satisfy
It cannot secure or empower
Jesus saves and satisfies
And he is with me every hour.

Jesus is the end of the law
To every man that believes
And what in the law I could never do
Through Jesus I have achieved.

The law showed me a perfect God
From whom I had gone astray
Jesus showed me a loving God
And pointed me God’s way.

Thank you God for the law you gave
In its mirror I see myself
Thank you God for your Son you sent
For he defines my wealth.

Thank you God for eternal life
Thank you for the Holy Spirit
Thank you Father for Jesus Christ
In whom I now have merit.

I need no other argument
I need no other plea
Says the beautiful hymn of the faith
It is enough that Jesus died
And that he died for me.

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It’s not in the law I place my trust
Not in the law I repeat
But in Jesus my soon coming King
O how precious and how sweet!

Stewart Russell © 2015