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Alive! magazine No. 169"Alive!" magazine

"Alive!" is a bi-monthly topical evangelistic tract, which has been published since the 1960s. The present editor is Gordon Smith from Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Copies are available at £8.00 per 100 (plus postage). Generous discounts are available for quantity, and the tract can be personalised at £1.00 extra per 100. Christmas and Easter editions are produced, but otherwise the tracts are undated and can be used at any time of the year. To order Alive!, send us an e-mail via the Contact Us page to take out your subscription.

A follow-up booklet for enquirers is available from STP, and a similar booklet can be read online at the "Alive!" web site.

"Alive!" is undated, and back issues are available at £1.00 per 50 (plus postage).

From the current issue of Alive!

Happy New YearHAPPY NEW YEAR!

by Gordon Smith

When we move from the old year into the New Year, there is a tendency to look back over the last year, but also to look forwards to the coming year. Looking backwards may be with relief that it is over or maybe with sadness due to the passing of old friends. For some, it may be a year of happiness and achievement, which leaves us with positive memories.

As we look ahead into the New Year, how do we approach it? None of us really knows what a year will bring or, for that matter, each day. It can surprise us, whether for better or for worse. If you are at school or college, there are likely to be exams and other hurdles to overcome and the uncertainty these bring. At work, we are never really sure what is ahead, as there seem to be more and more changes, even for companies and workplaces that have been the same for many years. This year we will see what becomes of our country, the UK, as the final stages of Brexit are dealt with.

There is one thing that is hidden from us all and that is the future! None of us know what is ahead and to some that generates fear, in others an open door and challenges to look forward to. In 1943, Rudyard Kipling wrote a well-known, philosophical poem, entitled ‘If’, in which he advises a young man of how he should approach and deal with the future. There is a problem with the sentiments of the verses in that it is within the young man to deal with the various experiences in his own strength and thereby mature and develop.

If we are honest with ourselves, there is a number of realities which cannot be ignored. The past is all history and therefore there is nothing we can do about it to change anything. No matter how much we worry about what is past, we are helpless to alter the slightest part of it. The future is also out of our control. As we continue in life, forces beyond our control will affect and influence our words, actions and thoughts. Some take the rather ‘so what’ approach or as the song from the Lion King [film) says, ‘Hakuna matata’ (no worries).

At the start of a new year, many make resolutions - promises to themselves to improve over the coming months. Whatever they are, many fall by the wayside in a very short period of time; lose weight, exercise more, eat healthier, be tidier, work harder - all to no avail as we attempt many of these in our own strength. Those who want to lose weight or exercise more may join a gym and find the encouragement of others, but even then enthusiasm often wanes.

There is one resolution or decision that is not only long term but permanent and even eternal. The Bible tells us that whatever we try to do on our own fails. One of the Old Testament prophets goes a stage further. He writes, “… all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). To address this matter, there is only one solution and that is allowing someone else to be in control of our future. That One is Jesus Christ. Without Him, we will continue on as we have done previously and however hard we try we will never meet His standard, God’s standard, in our own strength and abilities. He is the only One who can take away our sin, make us a new creation and help us to live a life pleasing to Him. This does not mean we will never fall or sin, but there is One who will always be with us and He has promised, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Whatever the New Year brings, we can be assured if we take Jesus at His word, He will be with us every step of the way and we have no need to fear the future. There is a chorus of a hymn:

I know who holds the future and He’ll guide me with His hand;
With God things don’t just happen, everything by Him is planned.
So as I face tomorrow, with its problems large and small,
I’ll trust the God of miracles, give to Him my all.

He died that we might live

by Ernie Bartlett

In March 2018 Arnauld Beltrame, a French policeman exchanged places with a hostage, who was being held captive by a terrorist. This took place in a supermarket in the town of Trebes in the south of France. During the siege, others had been killed and wounded.

There have been many who were willing to sacrifice themselves for others. We have the biblical record that when the Israelites sinned in their idolatry, God was intent on their destruction, but Moses offered himself for a substitute for them, saying to God, “Please forgive their sin — but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written” (Exodus 32:32).

In the New Testament, Paul speaking of his own nation, the Jew, writes: “For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race” (Romans 9:3). Paul was so passionate about the salvation of his own people, he was willing to take extreme steps so that they might be persuaded to trust in the Saviour, Jesus Christ.

The supreme example is Jesus Christ Himself, who willingly laid down His life so that we could be saved. “For [we have all] sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Even the greatest of men and women have sinned: Noah got drunk, Moses spoke inadvisably; Abraham spoke half-truths, David committed adultery and we who are lesser mortals, have cheated, told lies and put ourselves first. All these things God calls sin.

What would be the thoughts and attitude of that French hostage, when he had learned a policeman had died for him? Surely he would have searched out the man’s family to return thanks for his bravery and would never forget what happened outside that supermarket in Trebes.

Jesus Christ died for you and me. Have you ever thanked Him? Have you asked Him to be your Saviour? If not, ask Him now, by saying a simple prayer, something like this:

“Lord Jesus, I am not perfect, I have done many wrong things.
Thank You for your love in dying for me to pay the price for my sins.
I invite You into my life right now.
Please forgive my sins and help me to live for You from now on, Amen”.

Crisis on the Cliff Top

by E.A.P.

Very late one evening, over one hundred years ago, a young man might have been seen making his way stealthily and dejectedly towards the seaside cliffs of a well-known town in the English county of Kent. Inheriting considerable musical talent from his father, he was organist at a local church, with the promise of a useful and satisfying career to come. But for a long time now, all music had vanished from his inner life: the care-free spirit of youth had given way to a heavy-hearted concern for his soul.

Then came the night of crisis. For some weeks, our young friend had been under deep conviction of sin from which he could find no relief The thought of having one day to appear before God to answer for the misdeeds of his life, though only a short one, was a burden which rapidly became insupportable, until at last he decided upon a desperate measure to put an end, as he thought, to his misery.

That night, after the remaining members of the household had retired to rest, he crept noiselessly out of the house and made his way to the edge of the cliff Climbing over the railings which should have served as a barrier, he paused a moment before taking the final plunge to death. But God’s restraining hand was upon his shoulder, though he knew it not. For at the moment of hopelessness and despair, something most unusual and unexpected happened.

Out from a nearby drinking house rolled a well-known character nicknamed “Australian Jack”, shouting at the top of his voice: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God” (Psalm 42:5/Psalm 43:5 (AV)). Wholly unaware of what he was doing, this drunkard was, in the sovereign providence of God, a messenger of hope to the man in distress on the cliff edge.

The words uttered by the drunkard were from holy writ (Psalms 42 and 43) and may well have been part of a portion which, as a child, he had learned by heart in Sunday School. They are certainly not a familiar text: many may be unaware they occur in the Bible at all. Nevertheless, these words were stored away in the man’s mind, and at the behest of a Power greater than himself, he was made to utter them aloud.

One never ceases to marvel at the resources of God’s grace where the blessing of one who seeks Him is concerned. Without any doubt at all, the thing happened in the way it did by the over-ruling providence of God. For such words to be proclaimed over the midnight air, in such circumstances, with such an audience to hear them, was entirely beyond the wit of man to arrange.

The effect upon the wretched man who was about to destroy himself was instantaneous. In a flash, he realised the mistake he had made in looking for comfort within his own heart. In a moment it was clear that he must look upward to God for help.

And as he did this by the gracious enlightening of the Holy Spirit, the burden of his sins rolled away, and he retraced his steps a new man — in Christ Jesus. Like the Ethiopian who had found Jesus to be the key to his understanding of the scriptures, the young man “… went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:39). He had found the Saviour: or, more truly perhaps, the Saviour had found him!

This is a perfectly true incident, penned by one whose own existence springs from the saving grace of God to his father that memorable night. The writer makes bold to exclaim, in the words of Moses after the deliverance of Israel through the Red Sea: “The Lord is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation: He is my God … my father’s God, and I will exalt Him”. For, of course, it was God who intervened that night to save a human soul. His hand brought the young man to realise his spiritual need as a sinner, and then led him into salvation.

Many years have gone by since the one whose conversion this leaflet records passed over into the presence of his Saviour. For nearly fifty years, he bore unceasing witness to the grace of God that met him in his dire need. Indeed, on Sunday afternoons for nearly forty summers, he held Gospel services for young folk on the beach beneath the cliffs of Thanet, only a mile or two away from the very spot where God had saved him — soul and body.

One of his best-loved hymns, sung frequently to the accompaniment of the waves of an incoming tide, still rings in the author’s ears: –

Come to the Saviour, make no delay;
Here in His Word He hath shown us the way;
Here in our midst He’s standing today,
Tenderly saying, “Come.”
Joyful, joyful will the meeting be,
When from sin our hearts are pure and free;
And we shall gather, Saviour, with Thee
In our eternal home.

How earnestly we look forward to that day of reunion!

We close with an echo of the exhortation: “DO NOT DELAY, BUT COME”.

[Originally Published by C A Hammond Trust Bible Depot, 11 Little Britain, London]

From the previous issue of Alive!

White as SnowSNOW

by Keren Wood

The last week of February and beginning of March 2018 saw the United Kingdom covered in a blanket of snow. For those few weeks, the snow presented a number of problems primarily with transport and supply of goods around the country. In some areas schools were closed, causing problems for parents but enjoyment for the children. No matter what people’s views of snow may be, I believe most people can appreciate its beauty. Areas that don’t look so nice in your town or city suddenly have that appearance of being white and clean. The crisp, freshness gives everywhere a pure look. The Bible tells us: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).

When God made the world it was perfect but sin (wrongdoing) entered the world when Adam and Eve ate the fruit God had told them not to eat. Sin separates us from God and destroys the relationship He intended to have with us.

When Jesus came into the world, He paid the price for our sin by dying on the cross. When Jesus died, all the sin of the world was laid on Him and He fully dealt with it all. The apostle Peter wrote, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). Because of that, we can now have a relationship with God if we put our trust in Jesus, accept what He did for us and ask Him to reign in our lives. We can be ‘white and clean’, not just with the appearance of fresh snow but inwardly made clean.

“What has gotten into you?”

by Ernie Bartlett

This question was asked by Lee Strobel, an award-winning journalist, who worked for the Chicago Tribune. He asked his wife the question, when she started going to church and confessing Jesus Christ as her Saviour. His next question to her was: “Surely you don’t believe in all those fairy tales?”

A few months later, the words again came to his mind. This time they were unspoken “What has gotten into you?” He saw a marked difference in her; she was more loving towards him and more considerate and helpful. It made him think of his own life; how he had been bad tempered towards one of the junior members of his staff. He thought, if there was a God, one day he would be held accountable; if not it would not have mattered very much.

When the fact about the certainty of the truth of Christianity comes to a person there is change in that person’s behaviour, from being a non-Christian to becoming a believer. It may be argued that many non-believers live upright lives, but on the whole they have experienced no change. On the other hand, many unbelievers live sinful lives, steal, murder and are unfaithful to their partners, but when men and women turn to Christ there is a change in their lives for the better. This is the greatest advert for the truth of Christianity.

The Bible states clearly: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ [becomes a Christian], the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). One hymn writer put it like this: “What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought since Jesus came into my heart”.

So what did happen to Lee Strobel’s wife? She realised that Jesus Christ died for her, so she asked the Lord Jesus to be her Saviour, believing He died personally for her. Lee was so impressed by the change that was now evident in her, that he too submitted his life to the Lord.

Will you not likewise respond? It only takes a simple prayer: ‘Lord Jesus, I thank you for dying for me. Help me to live for you from now on’.

CHANGES

by Gordon Smith

As this time of year approaches, we see changes happening all around us. The temperature falls; the winds increase; it seems to rain more frequently and later it is likely to snow. The leaves have now changed colour and many have been stripped from the trees. In the towns and cities, festive lights are strewn across the streets and the shops take on a brighter appearance. The approach of the festive season raises hopes in many lives, with the prospect of a break from school, college or work. Christmas has been traditionally a time when families come together and enjoy the break from the normal day-to-day activities. For a short period there is a change that many welcome and enjoy, but unfortunately the joy and goodwill does not always last.

So often in our modern day we enjoy the break, but fail to remember what we celebrate. The event that we celebrate brought about the greatest change this world had ever seen.

Over 2000 years ago, a boy was born in Bethlehem in Judaea. This event would change the world and with it a promise for every person that lived. That promise was in the word that came to the carpenter Joseph, before the Boy was born: “…you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The name Jesus means ‘Saviour’ and that was the reason, Jesus, God’s own Son, was born.

His birth was the start of a pathway, a perfect pathway, which He followed for over thirty years. The real work that He came for was when He was crucified on a Roman cross. On that day, by His death on the cross, He paid the price for the sins of the world. He willingly gave up His life to pay the price for your sins and my sins.

All we need to do is to believe that He [Jesus] died for us and put our faith in Him to take away our sins. He made it possible for us to change, but we must respond to Him.

This Christmas, remember who Jesus is and why He came into the world. Let Him make a change in your life, not just for the days of the holiday period, but for more than a lifetime, for eternity!

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16).

Scripture quotations on this page taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (Anglicised edition) Copyright© 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica (formerly International Bible Society). Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica (formerly International Bible Society). UK trademark number 1448790.

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