Sunday, 11 April 2021

Let the Light of the Lord Shine

The Lord turns His eyes towards us, not to destroy us but to purify us so that we to shine with His light.

Source: The Baptist Union
I have been struck and blessed by the Apostle John’s vision of the Lord Jesus in Revelation 1.  He was in prison on the island of Patmos because of the Gospel, knowing that the churches he loved and cared for were increasingly being persecuted.  He was in his mid-eighties, in Patmos because the Roman government maintained rock quarries there to which criminals and troublemakers were sent. Earlier on, the Emperor Nero was feeding Christians to the lions. 

Peter and Paul were crucified during that period, but under Emperor Domitian things got even worse. He was a very insecure man who demanded that all his subjects throughout the Empire worshipped him as Lord and God; ‘go to the temple, take a pinch of incense, cast it on the altar and say, Caesar is Lord’, he instructed them.  This was impossible for John, for him, there was only one Lord, only one Person who could demand total allegiance, and for this he was considered to be a threat to Rome. While in Patmos Domitian’s reign, terror intensified for the churches.  John knew that believers were confused, discouraged and afraid, with the pressure to conform to the Emperor’s edict.  Many Christians were harassed by soldiers, losing their businesses and homes with many being murdered. Heresy and immorality were also gaining footholds in a number of congregations.

Throughout this turmoil John remained in the Spirit and God’s response was to give him a powerful vision of the Lord Jesus. This wasn’t an inner mystical experience, John ‘heard’ a voice as clear and resounding as a trumpet, he ‘saw’ the Lord, and the Lord ‘laid’ His right hand on John.  John knew the Lord; he had lived with Him some years before. John sees the Lord walking among the churches he was concerned about and as the Lord delivers the messages, John hears seven times the words, ‘I know…’. The risen and living Jesus knew what was happening among them, their hard work, struggles, fears, pain and emptiness.  In exactly the same way, the Lord is moving amongst us right now. He isn’t distant or withdrawn since His ascension, He is present amongst every congregation. 

Source: PInterest
The whole description is rich in meaning but I would like to draw your attention to the fact that in Revelation 1:16 ‘the Lord’s face was ‘like the sun shining in all its brilliance’, and it was shining on John!  In the Old Testament that is the greatest blessing imaginable. (Numbers 6:25; Psalm 4:6 and Psalm 67:1). The Lord turns His eyes towards us, not to destroy us but to purify us so that we too shine with His light. John says that when he saw the Lord, he fell down at His feet, as good as dead. Do we ever felt like falling down at the feet of Jesus?

The Lord laid His right hand on John, He isn’t distant, He is near.  He said in Revelation 1:17-18 ‘….Do not be afraid, I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!  And I hold the keys of death and Hades’. The Lord faced the greatest enemy there is.  On the cross He allowed all the powers that threaten to overcome us have their unrestrained way with Him. He allowed death to take him captive and then came out of the prison carrying away the keys.  

So, in these uncertain times let’s remember who holds the keys, to health, to provision of every kind, to death, to the unseen world and let us to turn our eyes on Jesus.

Author: Betty Plumb

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Sunday, 4 April 2021

Angels unawares

I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity of an encounter with an Angel because I fail to take note of strangers, however, I think the greatest challenge is that I don’t want to miss out on `being an Angel`

Source: Faithful in Christ
You never know what a day will bring.  This week I found myself sitting in a car in a hospital car park waiting for my Husband to return from having an X-Ray and trying to read a chapter of a book I`m currently enjoying. My Husband was so quick that I didn’t even finish the chapter, but we realised that we were under 30 minutes so would not have to pay for parking. I quickly started the car up; well actually I didn`t as it just clicked and did nothing.  A Flat battery!!  We went from less than 30 mins to looking at potentially a much longer wait for the recovery people to come and get us going.  Suddenly out of a car that had just pulled in next to us, a guy jumps out and says, ‘No Problem! I`ve got a set of jump leads’. He quickly connected us up and in seconds we were all fired up and ready to go.  We thanked him profusely and I said I would pray that the appointment he was going to would go well.  He went on his way and we went on ours (by the way we still made it out in under 30 mins so no parking fee! However, after thanking the Lord profusely for His provision, it got me thinking of that verse in Hebrews 13:2 ‘Don`t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it’

I must admit my guy didn’t look much like an angel; black woolly hat, dark scruffy clothes and a bit of a rough accent, not at all like the guy who helped my sister when she had a blow out tyre while travelling on her own down a deserted section of the Bristol Road in Birmingham at 2.00am on a Saturday night. She sat petrified and praying in her car as headlights pulled up behind her and a man got out and came round to the car.  She wound a little bit of the window down and he announced he could change her tyre for her.  She was delighted and a bit concerned but opened the boot and watched as he set to work changing her tyre.  She ended up a bit concerned for him though because he was wearing a nice pair of white trousers and a white shirt. Anyway, job done he returned to his car and she got into hers. It was then she remembered she hadn’t thanked him so went to get out to go and thank him and there was no car there.  An Angel?  A fast driver? Who knows but the Bible tell us that God sends his ministering Angels to help in time of need!

This got thinking of how we should treat strangers. How our attitude should be and how prepared we should be to ‘entertain’ them when we meet them. I was looking at the Parable of the friend at midnight recently in Luke 11:5-10. It struck me that Jesus recognised that if a person was comfortably in bed, he would not take took kindly to being woken and asked to get up and provide bread for a guy knocking on his door.  Eventually because the man was his friend he got up and gave him a loaf of bread. Jesus used this to illustrate how the Lord provides good gifts to us and how we are to be persistent in prayer, but I also think it shows us that we might respond positively to a friend knocking the door at midnight but what if that person was a stranger?

Source: PInterest
I have been challenged by this. Firstly, I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity of an encounter with an Angel because I fail to take note of strangers, however, I think the greatest challenge is that I don’t want to miss out on `being an Angel` so to speak, to any stranger I may meet, who God gives me an opportunity either to speak to or to directly help.  We are God ambassadors and His hands and feet, and He has called us to share His love and Salvation with whoever He may put in our path.  Suddenly I realise I am unprepared.  I could offer to pray for this man and the Lord gave me enough boldness to say that to him, but what else did I have to give in the very short time I had with him? God reminded me that some time ago my Husband and I thought about getting some Christian literature to hand out to people we might get chatting to on walks etc. Sadly, we never did get that sorted and He again reminded me of this since the car park incident.  

We know a lovely couple, and the wife always carries a little booklet with her when she goes out, even when she goes on holiday!  So, we were so thrilled and surprised when in the Caribbean she got chatting to the taxi driver we had hired.  He was a lapsed church goer and after she had talked to him about Jesus and the need to re-dedicate his life to the Lord, she whipped out of her handbag the `why Jesus` pamphlet and gave him a copy which he gratefully received.  She was prepared in all situations with the means to pass on the Gospel.

Now I`m not saying we should carry a library of literature around with us, but I have been challenged to `get prepared` both in my willingness to talk to `strangers` if the Lord brings them my way, to pray and make an effort to dwell in the Spirit, so I can be in the right place to channel whatever the Lord might want to say, and maybe to have something to give them (I`ve placed an order for some literature). After all I can`t keep ignoring the Lord’s promptings or He might stop sending me `Angels` to fix my car!

Ephesians 6:15 tell us we should have our `feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace` and Isaiah 52:7 `How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation`.

In this time of Covid and social distancing we don’t often get a lot of time to speak to people, but people are open and willing to talk because of the current circumstances.  As we come out of this pandemic, we have a message of God’s Love, God’s Salvation and that He is calling the world to get right with Him - and I want to be prepared!

Author: Jan Pearson

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Sunday, 28 March 2021

The Orchid

What greater gift could we have than a new life in Jesus!? Let’s take care of it; He will be blessed, others will be blessed, and so will we.

Source: KJV Bible Verses
Over the years, I’ve occasionally been given an Orchid; although I very much appreciated the gift, it also concerned me because orchids always seemed to die on me. Then a few years ago, someone gave me another one bearing large beautiful two-tone flowers, but this time there was a label stuck in the soil with instructions about ‘Taking care of your Orchid’. When I read this, it soon became clear why the others had died; - I’d been giving them the same care as I gave the other indoor plants, making sure I gave them enough water etc. No wonder the others had soon died, for orchids obviously don’t like much water; in fact, you almost have to neglect them to be kind to them.

That set me thinking of something of very much more importance: - Jesus has given me a new LIFE, but am I taking care of this life in the way He wants me to? Thankfully there are some instructions of how to keep our new lives healthy and alive in His precious Word, the Bible. God, the Maker of the heavens and the earth, makes us a promise which can be found in Isaiah 55:10-11 ‘As the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my Word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it’

Since my Orchid’s first lovely show of flowers, it has produced two more lots of beautiful blossoms. It may have looked a bit untidy and unproductive in between times, but unseen to my eyes, it was busy storing up food for producing another flourish of flowers. How thankful I was that I continued following the instructions and didn’t throw it out just because it looked as if nothing was happening!

Source: PInterest
Again, how like our lives, that seems from time to time; we (or certainly I) sometimes wonder what’s happening, until I remember that the Lord uses these ‘latent’ times for Him to be working away in us, teaching us to be at peace while storing up food from His Word, listening to His voice, and learning to trust Him more, ready for whatever He has planned in the future, to bring Him joy and glory.

He has made us with great care, and for a purpose; Colossians 1:16 ‘All things were created by Him and for Him’, and in His Word He has given us all the advice we need for whatever circumstances we might find ourselves in. What greater gift could we have than a new life in Jesus! Let’s take care of it; He will be blessed, others will be blessed, and so will we.

Author: Joan Townsend

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Sunday, 21 March 2021

‘When you hear the sound of marching in the poplar trees’

We should not always press on with doing things the same old way we have done them before. This may not be God’s plan for us.

Source: Heavenly Treasures Ministry
When David heard that the Philistines had come, he asked God whether he should go and attack them. The Lord told him to do it and said He would deliver them into David’s hands: 2 Samuel 5:18-19 ‘Now the Philistines had come and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; so David inquired of the LORD, ‘Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you deliver them into my hands? The LORD answered him, ‘Go, for I will surely deliver the Philistines into your hands’.

How often do we go ahead and make our decisions and even fight our battles without asking the Lord or seeking His Counsel on how to deal with the situation that confronts us? We know we should go to God first, but I am sure I am not the only one who, at times, fails to do so. David sought the Lord and followed His instructions, and all went well for Him. He had total success on that day.

As so often happens the situation arose again for David. The Philistines came back. David again sought the Lord; 2 Samuel 5:22-25 ‘Once more the Philistines came up and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; so David inquired of the LORD, and he answered, ‘Do not go straight up, but circle around behind them and attack them in front of the poplar trees. As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the poplar trees, move quickly, because that will mean the LORD has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army’. So David did as the LORD commanded him, and he struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon to Gezer’

David did not assume that because he had done something one way the first time, he would automatically have success if he did the same again. He knew it was important to seek the Lord before making the decision and sure enough the instructions from the Lord on this occasion were completely different. This time he had to wait until he heard the sound of marching in the top of the poplar trees. So here is another lesson for us. We should not always press on with doing things the same old way we have done them before. This may not be God’s plan for us. He may want us to do the same things a different way or do something completely different altogether. We need to continue to seek His will for us individually and also as a family of believers.

Source: Meme
David was told that if he waited until he heard the sound of marching in the poplar trees, he would know that it was time to act because the Lord had gone before him. We must never act if we are told to wait. Even if we know what we should be doing, we should wait until we know the Lord has gone before us. Charles Spurgeon said: ‘Do not, I beseech you, go before the cloud’.  And also; ‘He goes on a fool's errand who goes before God’.  Have you ever thought how odd that instruction must have seemed to the rest of the army? What must they have they have thought when David told them that they could not act until ‘they heard the sound of marching in the poplar trees?’ Sometimes we may have a word or instruction from the Lord, either ourselves or via someone else, that seems strange or even crazy to us. If it has truly come from God, we must be determined to carry it out no matter how odd it appears to us and however much it takes us out of our comfort zone. We need to obey God whatever the cost.

David and his army had to be prepared to advance quickly once they heard the Lord`s marching in the trees. We need to be ready for battle, clothed with our spiritual armour. Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us very clearly what we must have in order to be prepared to fight the battles of life: ‘Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people’.

Father help us to seek you for guidance and instruction in every situation. Help us to be prepared to act immediately or to wait patiently, whatever you instruct us to do. Help us not to second guess you or go before you into battle as we sometimes want to do. Help us to be prepared to act on your instructions even if they seem strange or are outside our comfort zone. Help us to wear your armour at all times. Help us to listen carefully so that we may discern the sound of marching in the poplar trees. Amen.


Author: Thelma Cameron

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Sunday, 14 March 2021

God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear

One thing I love about Jesus is that He is the ultimate example of ‘how to do life’. Not only can we be assured that He personally understands whatever we are enduring, He also provides an answer either through scripture or by example

Source: Heartlight

We see in Matthew 4:1-11 that Jesus was tempted in the wilderness for 40 days and nights. He had the attention of the devil and was in a position of weakness, physically, due to His fasting.

Personally, if I go food shopping on an empty stomach, I am the epitome of no self-control. I'll throw in the trolley whatever looks good right there and then. Oh and the snacks probably far outweigh the actual meal ingredients! This is also notably a costly way to shop.... So what am I getting at? Well, how was Jesus able to show the self-control that He did during those 40 days and nights and remain pure? He clung firmly to His Father in heaven, drawing on His strength. He remained in prayer, sustaining His deep relationship with the Father. He applied scripture to His circumstances and spoke it out. Jesus had total faith in the scriptures and in His father above. He stood firm.

One thing I love about Jesus is that He is the ultimate example of ‘how to do life’. Not only can we be assured that He personally understands whatever we are enduring, He also provides an answer either through scripture or by example. 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us, ‘No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it’. When Jesus had spent His time in the desert, Angels came and tended to Him. What a blessing that must have been! What a reward for standing firm!

Source: Lanie's Blog
We should take Jesus’s example and apply it to everyday life. Yes! Everyday life! If we save this example just for the times of testing and trials, are we likely to be level-headed enough to think and pray things through when we're in the thick of it? In my case - definitely not! But if we pray and commune with the Father regularly and draw on His mighty power which we have access to. 

Ephesians 6:10-18 reminds us, day by day, then we head into battle fully prepared: ‘Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people’.


Author: Samantha Tarplin

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