Sunday 26 April 2020

Abiding Part 2

We have to be fully convinced that without Jesus we can do absolutely nothing.

So I am an introvert (though now this is not as strong in me as it used to be) but I well recognise ‘our’ tendency to have many rooms in our heads that we can visit to stop us getting bored! Projects, ideas, pet theories, ways of looking at things – they are all there and I can go into them at any time especially as I am also a “thinker” rather than a “feeler”. This, like every other way of being has its strengths and weaknesses and can drive people crazy! 

My wife is an extrovert and just at the time that she wants to talk things out – I want to think them through! Or she may want me to share something that is troubling me and yet I can’t find a way until I understand it myself. Sometimes my response is – I can’t tell you because I don’t know what it is yet!

Of course, these tendencies also apply to my walk with Jesus. I get distracted easily – I go to the scriptures to look up something and find myself looking at emails, WhatsApp’s, online news etc. Now I know that this isn’t just an introvert’s or “thinker’s” problem. From talking to others, I understand that we can all easily get distracted from our purpose for all sorts of reasons.
Nonetheless the picture that I mentioned last time I wrote a blog about a room full of tables of food and the Lord waiting at one table whilst the Christians browsed everything in the room is very significant for me. The thought that He actually wants us to absorb, experience and use the meal that He is giving us and not browse the latest ideas, the flavour of the month, and what titillates and interests us, is getting deep into my heart. It is making me consider my ways and cry to the Lord because I have not taken in and absorbed what He set before me nor grown properly.

There are other, stronger words in scripture about continually ignoring what the Lord wants to say in pursuit of our own ideas. These verses are from Proverbs 1:30-31, they are again talking about feeding on what we see as attractive and interesting: “They would have none of my counsel, and despised my every rebuke. 31 Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled to the full with their own fancies”.
There is a saying – “we are what we eat” which is meaningful here. Consider the state of someone over time who eats only cream cakes. Well-fed they may be, but for a whole number of reasons their medium- and long-term health is bound to deteriorate. Not eating what the Lord sets before us has consequences. He sets before us meals that will do us good. Eating whatever we like takes us in other directions even if its “good Christian fare”.

Imagine the consequences if what we allow in to our lives is from another source entirely – eating form tables in another room – we need to look at what we are feeding ourselves on and where it has come from?
For me not finishing the Lord’s meal has meant that I have not been “ready” to be used by the Lord and therefore not useful to the Him on many occasions, nor born the fruit that He would wish, nor had the authority in my Christian life that Jesus had, or certainly at least the authority that He would want me (and I believe all of us) to have. 

This corona virus “shutdown” has brought all of this into sharp focus as Linda’s Easter Sunday blog pointed out. We must not decide to move on to another table until we have finished the meal that the Lord has prepared for us. We must not decide that “we’ve had enough” of this particular process while the Lord is still working on our hearts.

Now this might feel like familiar territory to you if you have read our recent blogs. I once heard of a pastor who for several weeks (it may have been longer) preached on the same scripture. Setting aside the members of his congregation who didn’t even notice, he was challenged by alert members of his congregation after a while – why are you preaching effectively the same message over and over? His reply was a challenge – that the Lord hadn’t given him permission to move on yet because those in the fellowship were not being obedient to the word that was being preached.
Philippians 3 v 1 says: “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe”. So apparently Paul was conscious of the need to remind people of the same word until it had not only gone in but also been absorbed, and started to bear fruit. 

In our fellowship, you may remember we were going to study the Gifts of the Spirit for use in our “ministries” but the Lord effectively told us:
“Don’t study the gifts of the Spirit. If you are serious about this rather learn to abide (dwell, live and remain) in Me, and I will tell you what to do, equip you to do it and you will be fruitful and glorify the Father”. Equipping here includes both the gifts necessary to do what the Lord has prepared for us to do and vitally the authority to do it. I can’t get over the number of times Jesus’s hearers commented on His authority. “He taught them with authority and not as the scribes”. There was no gap between the words that He spoke and the authority in His life. Similarly, in Acts the Lord testified to the words of the disciples with signs and wonders following the preaching of the word. Acts 14 v 3: “Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands”. 

This surely is the fruit of knowing the giver and abiding in the vine. So, we are still thinking, sharing, talking and looking at “abiding” and we are still learning how to abide. John 15:5-8 says:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
We have to be fully convinced that without Jesus we can do absolutely nothing. If we are convinced and there is no doubt in our minds, we seek the remedy urgently – to abide in Him. 
The other side of the coin is totally the opposite – “If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire and it shall be done for you”. Hallelujah to Jesus – fruitfulness is the result, bringing glory to the Father.

The thing that we are learning afresh is that the abiding comes from repenting and obedience. I had thought that I could make myself “ready” for what the Lord wants me to do. I am finding that it is not me who gets ready but through being in the place of abiding, the Holy Spirit makes me ready. With some folk this seems to be a quicker (and possibly more enjoyable) process. With me it is surrendering myself to the Lord, agreeing to do it His way, agreeing that He can decide what’s right (and not me – I have trouble with that one!) and allowing Him to strip layer after layer off until I am emptied to receive. Don’t get me wrong the journey is amazing in itself and the Lord’s grace and presence wonderful but I have to keep asking “how do I do this next bit Lord”? as I watch others slip with what appears to be blessed ease into the place where God wants them to be.

To finish, it turns out that the Bible presents us with a test of whether we are truly abiding or not: 1 John 2:3-6 says:
 “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

1 John 2 is worth a read and there is more to say about it another time. Basically though, if we say that we are abiding in Him we need to be keeping His (Jesus’s) commandments. 
So let us eat the whole meal that the Lord has given us (“greens” and all – some of it may give us indigestion), let’s continue to seek to abide in Him through repentance and obedience, let’s rest in that place until the Lord moves us on, Let us ask the Holy Spirit to get us ready – for today.

Author: Chris Pearson 

May God bless and enrich your life

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Sunday 19 April 2020

Looking back is not the way forward

We can tend to see the past through rose-coloured spectacles, which sometimes improve the picture of how things used to be and make us forget what God has done for us.

When we are in a difficult situation, as we are at the present, it is a good thing to look for the positives. Continually listening to reports on what’s happening, where it is happening and to whom, is depressing and unproductive.
 I don’t know about you but I have found many positives in the situation we find ourselves in.

I have acquired some new technological skills. I have learned to communicate via ‘Skype’, ‘Why Pay’ and ‘Zoom’. I have stopped chasing around trying to stick to a self-inflicted timetable. I have been in touch with several people I have not had any contact with for years. More importantly, I have spent more time reading the word, listening to the word and testimonies and praying.

There are also many positives happening in society in general. Nearly all our neighbours, who are younger than us, have put notes through our door with offers of help. Thousands have volunteered to help the NHS. There are reports all over the country of people carrying out acts of kindness in communities and remote areas. There are numerous people giving their time freely to provide daily fitness programmes, cooking demonstrations, language classes and many many more. It seems that society has become closer than it has been for a very long time.

Churches too, including our own, have been finding different ways of meeting. There have already been many meetings taking place through technology and words being streamed on ‘You Tube’. Somehow, though we are separated physically, I feel our fellowship has already become closer and more willing to move on together in unison. LONG MAY IT CONTINUE!! Why would we want to go back?
In an interview on Songs of Praise (29th March) Aled Jones asked Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York, if he was worried that this situation might be an end to the church community. 

He answered:
Well it’s going to be a different sort of community. Our being a Christian is going to be less characterised by coming to church, more characterised by the lives of service and of prayer that we need day by day - that might be quite a good thing for us to learn. You know the church isn’t just about what happens on Sunday, it’s what we do on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday…and if we can be a church that looks out for our neighbours, finds out who is isolated and ill and frightened in our neighbourhood and serves them, then we can really be the church in a new way.

Sometimes we can’t help looking back. We can tend to see the past through rose-coloured spectacles, which sometimes improve the picture of how things used to be and make us forget what God has done for us. If we’re not careful we begin to have a longing to return to what we had left.
Exodus 14:12 
“Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”

However, this is what is written in Isaiah:
Isaiah 43:18-19
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Karl Vater said in a blog:
I don’t want to hear about churches filling up as a sign of revival, renewal or spiritual awakening anymore! I want to hear about churches emptying out. Going into their community to minister, to serve and to share the good news. That’s a greater sign of effective ministry than an increase in church attendance will ever be.
Our world doesn’t need bigger churches or filled-up small churches. We need transformed lives, families, cities and nations. That’s hard to do when all the Christians are cloistered inside church buildings.
Jesus never told us to pray that church buildings would be filled. He told us to, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:38

So, let’s pray we will not go back to where we were. Let society and the church learn from this experience and go forward, taking with us, the positive things we have learned.

Philippians 3:14
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Author: Thelma Cameron 

May God bless and enrich your life

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Sunday 12 April 2020


Take your eyes off the circumstances and have them firmly fixed on the Lord.

Recently I went through surgery and as soon as I woke up I continued my conversation with the Lord and enquired “What next Lord?”. The Lord firmly corrected me and told me it was the wrong question; it is “What now?” that’s the important issue. I then realised if we look for ‘what next’ we miss the importance of ‘what now’.

So, my next question was “What now, Lord?”. The answer was ‘Rest’. Still not having learned the lesson, I asked ‘how long?’. The answer I received was for six months (not six weeks recovery time as I initially thought).
When I returned home I prayed and asked the Lord to show me what I had to learn from all this. The big lesson is to have the Lord in the centre of everything; even in this Coronavirus crisis or, more correctly, especially in this crisis. Take your eyes off the circumstances and have them firmly fixed on the Lord.

In Numbers 9:15-23 we are told the children of Israel were to have their eyes firmly fixed on the cloud covering the tabernacle during the day and the pillar of fire at night. If the cloud lifted they packed up and moved on as the Lord led. They constantly had to keep their eyes on the Lord.
The ‘resting’ also perplexed me – this enforced rest – isolation is also God’s good provision for us. It is not a leisurely rest, but a time of preparation. The Lord has stripped everything away from us – for many of us we are alone at home. To a great extent all our ‘doing’/ministries have had to cease as we rest (abide) not on our own, but in the Lord.

Years ago I felt I had a word from the Lord that a remnant had to remain. So I obediently remained and became increasingly more upset and dissatisfied at the church at the time. Then two wonderfully mature men in the Lord explained to me that the remnant doesn’t have to stay. This totally released me and recently I came to Isaiah 10:20-21: (NIV)
 In that day the remnant of Israel,
    the survivors of Jacob,
will no longer rely on him
    who struck them down
but will truly rely on the Lord,
    the Holy One of Israel.
21 A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob
    will return to the Mighty God.

From this passage I realised that the remnant would be kept as they remained, not in a particular location, but remained (abided) in God. This was all in line with John 15 where we learned to abide in the Lord. Also, a remnant would return and my prayer is for all those who have backslidden – that they would repent and return. Also, for those questioning for the first time, that they would….
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7: 7-8, NIV).

Then I saw we are in effect in an armoury where we are being fitted and prepared to use the total armour of God, (Ephesians 6: 10-18) the shield of faith growing stronger with each passing day. It was explained to me how in a line of soldiers one soldier’s shield protected the soldier beside him as he was being protected by the one on his other side, leaving his right arm free to use the double-edged sword – which is the Word of God.

So, dear friends, please use this ‘rest time’ wisely to prepare ourselves to get correctly fitted up with our own personal armour, to feel able then to go out, fully rested and prepared to go out in the Lord together to do God’s bidding and show His glory, His power and His will.
In His mercy, the Lord has taken us out of our comfort zone, but instead of asking us to step out into the coming battle, He is giving us this time of preparation, so abide, rest and keep your eyes fixed on God in the ‘now’.

Author: Linda Allitt 

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Sunday 5 April 2020

The Uniqueness of God

Let us be Kingdom minded at all times, empowered by the fullness of His Spirit.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

I never cease to be amazed by the uniqueness of God. He is all omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent. All seeing, knowing, powerful and everywhere, all at the same time. His love for mankind is so great that He sent His beloved Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice to bear the weight of the world’s sin. Yet, that love is so individual, so special to ‘each one of us’. 

The deeper the relationship, the greater the revelation we will have of that love. Our lives will then become a fountain, an abundance of living water overflowing to those around us, a fountain that will never run dry. These words speak of an invitation to those who are thirsty, culminating to when Christ’s new order will be manifest on this earth.

Dear friends, I want to encourage you, do not become weary in doing good, and pray like you have never prayed before! We only need to observe world events to know that the time is short. So, let us use our time wisely. Let us be Kingdom minded at all times, empowered by the fullness of His Spirit.

I personally feel a little sad that the concept of church today is so sophisticated. Modern technology had brought video screens and the internet to help us in these days. The early church was so simplistic. In Acts we read that the believers were all together and shared everything. No-one was in need, they were all one in heart and mind, and many wonders and miraculous signs were performed. They devoted themselves to prayer and the breaking of bread.

Let’s get back to basics! We must intercede and each day pray for folks as the need and opportunity arises. For God's kingdom to come in power.  The Lord is changing lives, bringing healing and restoration in wonderful ways. As the enemy throws everything at us to wear us down we rejoice because God is on the move, He is faithful, and something wonderful is about to break in the spiritual realm.

      Wisdom calls aloud in the street,…
     “Whoever listens to me will live in safety, and be at ease, without fear of harm.”
                                                       Proverbs 1:20,33

Author: John Yates 

May God bless and enrich your life.

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