Welcome to the Mountjoy Ministries Blog

This blog was authored by Bryan W. Sheldon, author and Bible teacher. His books are listed below. The studies in the blog are offered in the desire that they may be helpful in directing readers to the truths contained in the Bible.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Where to go when times are hard.

Life can be tough sometimes.
Even when things are going well, it can throw something at you which makes it difficult - illness, bereavement, redundancy. This is especially true when you have others to care for - children, aged parents, sick relatives. At these times we just need help to get through. But when we have time to think, it may be we feel a need for something more. Jesus Himself said life was more than food and the body more than just clothing. He found encouragement in the Scriptures and was strengthened by the verse,

"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." (Matt. 4:4) His comfort was that His heavenly Father was watching over Him. That can be our comfort too. But that means we should turn to Him in our time of difficulty. He said, "I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me." (Prov. 8:17) How do we do this? Just pray. Remember, praying is just talking to God - you can do it - Just start!

Loneliness is hard to bear.
Do you find friends difficult to make? There is a story in the Bible that describes the adventures of a young man. He had money once - and friends - although it turned out that once his money went - so did his friends. He was reduced to eating leftovers. When he was down and almost out he remembered the family he had left - his father and his brother. He decided to try and make a new start, so he began the long journey back. He thought when he met his father he would get a lecture - but it turned out that his father was overjoyed to see him and they had a great time together. His story finished well. Jesus told this story to illustrate that our Heavenly Father will receive us with open arms if only we will return to Him.

Your circumstances may be different to the young man in the story, but the lesson is for all of us. Our Heavenly Father wants us to take the first step towards Him, then He will come to our aid.
There is a prayer in the Bible that has a few lines that might help. It begins with the words ‘Our Father’. Here it is.
"Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. "
(Matt. 6:9–13)
There is, of course, one prayer that is very important, it might even be the most important, and I should have mentioned it first. It is a prayer that God loves to hear and answer. Again, it is a Bible prayer and it was prayed by a man who had nowhere else to turn. You will be pleased to know it was a short prayer - but it was to the point. This is what he prayed.
"God be merciful to me a sinner. " (Luke 18:13) There is one thing we know about him - he was in earnest. For that prayer to be answered - it has to be sincere. But that should not be difficult - you know you are a sinner - we all are: the Bible says, ‘all have sinned’.
If you have begun praying and would like to know more, why not find Church somewhere and sit in the congregation and listen to what goes on. You will find that the people that attend enjoy reading the Bible and believe in the power of prayer. Some of them might even have had a similar experience to that which you are going through yourself. I know at first they will be strangers to you - but then - strangers can become friends. And if you have already begged God to be merciful to you - then you already have one friend - Jesus - for He is a friend to sinners.
Perhaps I might close with a prayer for you. Again, it is a Bible prayer.
"The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace." (Num.6.24-26)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Messiah and the Ritual of Israel (Continued)

David and the Temple

The Building of the Temple

A great change in the worship of YHWH took place after David had conquered the Jebusite town of Jerusalem on the southern slope of Mount Zion. He understood that sacrificial offerings could only be made in the place that the Lord selected, as revealed in the Torah: Take heed to yourself that you do not offer your burnt offerings in every place that you see; but in the place which the Lord chooses, in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you” (Deut. 12:13–14). He subsequently understood that Mount Moriah was to be that place (1 Chron. 21:28-22:1). Then David said, ‘This is the house of the Lord God, and this is the altar of burnt offering for Israel’ (1 Chron. 22:1: See also 2 Chron.6:20; Ps.132:13). So he set in train the arrangements that would result in replacing the Tabernacle with a more permanent building on what was to be known as the Temple mount. While David had the vision to build, it was Solomon, his son, who had the privilege to construct the First Temple.
But continuity is the watchword in the worship of the Lord, so the patterns received by Moses were incorporated in the blueprint for the Temple. Indeed, history tells us that the Tabernacle was disassembled and stored in an underground room beneath the Temple itself, while some of the Tabernacle furniture was absorbed to be used in the Temple services. This preserved the continuity in the worship of YHWH that was required of Israel by maintaining a connection between the Tabernacle and the Temple. As with the Tabernacle, the blueprint for the Temple was provided by God to one of His prophets, namely David. Then David gave his son Solomon the plans for the vestibule, its houses, its treasuries, its upper chambers, its inner chambers, and the place of the mercy seat; and the plans for all that he had by the Spirit, of the courts of the house of the Lord, of all the chambers all around, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries for the dedicated things; also for the division of the priests and the Levites, for all the work of the service of the house of the Lord, and for all the articles of service in the house of the Lord. He gave gold by weight for things of gold, for all articles used in every kind of service; also silver for all articles of silver by weight, for all articles used in every kind of service; the weight for the lampstands of gold, and their lamps of gold, by weight for each lampstand and its lamps; for the lampstands of silver by weight, for the lampstand and its lamps, according to the use of each lampstand. And by weight he gave gold for the tables of the showbread, for each table, and silver for the tables of silver; also pure gold for the forks, the basins, the pitchers of pure gold, and the golden bowls—he gave gold by weight for every bowl; and for the silver bowls, silver by weight for every bowl; and refined gold by weight for the altar of incense, and for the construction of the chariot, that is, the gold cherubim that spread their wings and overshadowed the ark of the covenant of the Lord. ‘All this,’ said David, ‘the Lord made me understand in writing, by His hand upon me, all the works of these plans’ (1 Chron. 28:11–19). So all that was intended for Israel to observe in their approach to God was multiplied, strengthened and given extra impetus by the man ‘after God’s own heart’.

Next Time: Solomon and the Temple

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Messiah and the Ritual of Israel (Continued)

David and the Psalms

Psalm 69 is also Messianic and it gives us another image of what the Saviour experienced in bearing our sins in His own body on the tree.  The Psalmist prayed: “Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul.  I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me” (Ps.69:1,2). The restless sea has long been considered an image of sinful humanity. On such a sea there is no place to stand - it will engulf you. Jesus was different. The sinless, spotless Son of God walked on water. But on Golgotha He carried the sins of the world and there the weight of sin sank the unsinkable.
But there was deliverance for the Messiah. The second unit of the twenty second Psalm ends with a prayer. “Deliver my soul from the sword, My only life from the power of the dog. Save me from the lion’s mouth” (v.20). This is a prayer that was answered, but as a deliverance out of death, not a deliverance from death. “Save me from the lion’s mouth”, initially points us to Satan, the ‘roaring lion’, but it also reminds us of Daniel. The best man in the kingdom, Daniel, was unjustly accused and sentenced. The law was immutable and Daniel was thrown to the lions. But in the morning when the stone was rolled away, Daniel emerged from the cave, the death sentence had been served.  Similarly, in the morning, after the stone had been rolled away, the Messiah emerged from the tomb after the death sentence had been served. Jesus was delivered from the tomb, not the cross.
As always, a sacrifice will need a priest to offer it. The ultimate sacrifice of the ‘kingdom of priests’ will need a king/priest to present it. And so it was. David spoke prophetically of a High Priest of the order of Melchizedek, linking the King/Priest of Genesis 14 whose emblems were bread and wine with the coming Messiah who would use those same emblems to refer to the blood sacrifice to be offered on Golgotha. The Lord has sworn And will not relent, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek”  (Psalm 110:4). The writer of the Hebrew letter confirms this: For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness. Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins. And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.’ As He also says in another place: ‘You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.’ (Heb. 5:1–6). This title is repeated in 6.20 where Jesus is identified as a High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 6:20).

More next time