Saturday 28 November 2020

Finishing Well

Paul exhorts us in our life of faith as he finishes his race well.

On occasions, I have gone to watch a marathon.  There is no better place to spectate than at the approach to the finishing line. What excitement and admiration is generated amongst the supporters as those competitors come into view.  Men and women, who after hours of exertion enter the final stage and muster all their will-power. Somehow, they accelerate into a sprint towards the finishing line, which is beckoning them ahead. Many of these athletes will not win a spectacular prize but the cheers of the enthusiastic crowd spur them on.

 We see a special significance in the last days and words of famous people or those dear to us. The apostle Paul wrote his last letter in a Roman prison, knowing that this imprisonment was leading to his execution. We read:  ‘.. the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.’  This was his second letter to his spiritual son, Timothy, and Paul packed this letter with spiritual riches as he sensed he was reaching the end.

 Paul had served God as an apostle of Christ for about 30 years. His dramatic conversion occurred in the midst of a violent persecution campaign against the followers of Christ. Although his conversion and subsequent ministry resulted in countless lives experiencing the grace of God; Paul eagerly looked forward to entering the heavenly kingdom and receiving a crown of righteousness.

I want to mention 10 things in Paul’s letter that may help us finish well.

1. Guard the gospel:- the good deposit that has been entrusted to us. Paul makes an incredibly simple statement (for him!): ‘Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David, this is my gospel, for which I am suffering’

2. Expect hardship, endure hardship – this is no easy road. Paul recalls his sufferings and persecutions, some of which Timothy had witnessed.

3. Be holy: Paul describes a house with different articles in it, some made with silver and gold others made from wood and clay. Our actions decide which we will be.

4. Do not neglect your unique gifting: Paul exhorts us to do our best to present ourselves to God as approved workers

5. Do not be ashamed: Paul shows how he is not ashamed of the message and the Name of the Lord Jesus. Neither should we be ashamed of the Lord’s servants.

6. Do not get distracted: Paul mentions foolish and stupid arguments as well as myths, and lots of learning but not acknowledging the truth

7. Do not be deceived, keep your head in all situations: - Paul warns us about evil men and imposters as well as people who keep wanting something new

8. Do not desert your friends: Paul mentions his longstanding friend Demas who had left him at a time of need. 

9. Do not be discontent with your lot in life: Paul encourages us to be strong in God’s grace. His grace is always sufficient.

10. Do not give up on hope: Paul says that the Lord has stood with him in trials and will rescue him from every evil attack.

Some people like Paul, may sense that their time of departure is approaching. However, for others the end may come suddenly. Jesus said that we shouldn’t worry about tomorrow. Let us live well today.

Finishing is better than starting – Ecclesiastes 7:8 (NLT)

Author:  Richard Windridge

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Saturday 21 November 2020

The Meaning of the Menorah

In these days our movements may be limited but God has called us to be light to the people around us.

God’s detailed instructions to Moses on how to set up the tabernacle included a lampstand made out of a whole talent (35kg) of pure gold, hammered in all its intricate detail out of one lump. (see Exodus 25). The word ‘menorah’ is derived from an original Hebrew word meaning to shine or give light.   This crafted and intricate masterpiece held seven lamps burning olive oil which lit up the holy place in the tent of meeting. Seven is a significant number, denoting completion.  Seven lamps, yet mounted on one unit, God’s perfect presence among His people.

Today there is a large monument depicting the menorah standing outside of the Knesset (parliament building) in Jerusalem, reminding the leaders of the nation that they govern according to the light of their Lord.  And that they are called to be ‘a light for the nations’ (Isaiah 42:6-7, 49:6).  The emblem of the menorah is prominent on the Israeli coat of arms, flanked by olive branches, and is based on Isaiah 60:3, ‘Nations shall come to your light’.

In Jesus’ day there would have been a huge menorah lighting the temple area, in particular the treasury area (John 8:20).  In this very spot Jesus declares: ‘I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’  (John 8:12).  If not true then these words would have been serious blasphemy, which is why the religious authorities who refused to recognise Jesus wanted him arrested.  But it was not yet His time.

When the time was right Jesus was arrested, tortured and crucified, dying at the precise moment when the Passover lambs were slaughtered.  At that instant the massive temple curtain was torn from top to bottom and the light of the huge menorah streamed from the Holy Place into the outer court, signalling the start of God’s light pouring out to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and spreading to the ‘ends of the earth’.

As the light of the gospel reached the gentiles Jesus spoke through John to His church: ‘The words of Him who holds the seven stars [angels] in His right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands [congregations]’. (Revelation 2:1)

God’s purpose and plan for us today is:  ‘that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world’. (Philippians 2:15)  Impossible, were it not for the power of the Holy Spirit poured out for us and in us.

In these days our movements may be limited but God has called us to be light to the people around us.  Jesus commands us: ''You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.'' (Matthew 5:14-16)

Just one more detail – the cups on that first menorah described in Exodus 25 were made like almond blossoms.  The root of the original word for almond also means diligent and hardworking, because the almond was the first in the season to flower.  

So let us burn, with diligence, with the light of Jesus to the people around us.  Just as moths are drawn out of the darkness to a lamp, so they will come, that they too may receive the gospel message and shine for Jesus.  The shape of church as we know it has radically changed, and meeting may be limited, but the doors for effective witness are open.  Mission begins at home.

Author:  John Plumb

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Saturday 14 November 2020

The Menorah

But if the Menorah is lit, it does not matter what the lampstand looks like, it will look beautiful anyway.

A friend in our fellowship the other day had a vision of the Menorah (or Menora, apparently it can be spelt either way). She said she did not know why she had this but we all felt it was significant.  The Menorah was the lampstand that God told Moses to make as part of many things that were to go in the Tabernacle, as they were journeying through the desert towards the Promised Land. The instructions that God gave to Moses on how to make them are incredibly detailed. In Exodus 25:31-40 we read: “Make a lampstand of pure gold. Hammer out its base and shaft, and make its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms of one piece with them. 32 Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand—three on one side and three on the other. 33 Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all six branches extending from the lampstand. 34 And on the lampstand, there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms. 35 One bud shall be under the first pair of branches extending from the lampstand, a second bud under the second pair, and a third bud under the third pair—six branches in all. 36 The buds and branches shall all be of one piece with the lampstand, hammered out of pure gold.

37 “Then make its seven lamps and set them up on it so that they light the space in front of it. 38 Its wick trimmers and trays are to be of pure gold. 39 A talent of pure gold is to be used for the lampstand and all these accessories. 40 See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain

The book of Hebrews reminds us in chapter 8:5-6 that all the items God told Moses to make are a copy and a shadow of heavenly things. It says: They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” 6 But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.

But why did our friend have a vision of a Menorah and not just a plain old candle or lamp?

Could it be that:

1. It is a reminder to us, as the body of Christ, of our Jewish roots. As a nation and even as a church many have forgotten God’s Chosen People. Some even say that we, as Christians have taken the place of Israel, but the Bible makes it quite clear this is not so. In Romans 11:17-18 the message is easy to understand. God, by His grace, has grafted us in to the original vine: But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.

2. As we know, seven is God’s perfect complete number. We know that the lampstand represents the presence of God among His people. In Revelation we see the lampstands representing the Spirit’s presence in Jesus’s letters to the churches.

3. The Menorah is shaped like a single vine with branches all coming out of one stem which reminds us of the fact that we must abide in Jesus, the main vine at all times if we want to bear fruit for Him. In John 15:5 it says: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

4. It is a symbol of what we need to be as the body of Christ.  First of all, the lamps have to be lit if they are going to do any good at all. If the lamps are not lit then the Menorah is just a pretty piece of decoration. It is just there for show. Without the Holy Spirit the Church can be just a pretty building. Jesus said something like this when talking of the Pharisees as ‘Whitewashed Tombs’. In Matthew 23 it says: "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. But if the Menorah is lit, it does not matter what the lampstand looks like, it will look beautiful anyway. It is also a symbol of our unity. We as a body should all be lights individually but all joined together by one spirit and common purpose, to be a light to the ever-darkening world. If one of the lights go out the whole body suffers and does not shine so brightly. We must endeavour to help that person to be lit again so that as a body all our parts are working correctly. 

1 Corinthians 12 says:  If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it. 

The Menorah was created to give light. Let us do what we were created for and be a shining example, a light in the darkness.

Author: Thelma Cameron 

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Saturday 7 November 2020

A Word of Encouragement

Thank God, we are saved now. But if we want to overcome, we have to endure. There is only one way to learn endurance, and that is enduring.

Standing Steadfast 

In Matthew 24:3, Jesus gives a discourse of things to come before the end of the age.
Now as He sat on the mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying. "Tell us when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and the end of the age''.
He continues with His prophetic discourse, saying ''there will be a progression of events, before the end of the age''.
Down The Plughole
A few days ago, the Lord gave me a picture which has led me to write this article.
It was a picture of a plug that had come out of a bath, full of water, and the water was swirling around at a very fast rate, down the hole. Many people were caught up, in this water and they were being sucked down. Many were frail, others were younger, and going down as well at a fast pace.
The stronger ones were able to swim against the flow, and were trying to save the weaker ones, who were being sucked down by the swirling water.
Some were crying out for someone to put the plug back in to try and save them, but their cries were hopeless. The Holy Spirit showed me that if they cried out strong enough in desperation, God would have put the plug back in.
Their own efforts were useless, without His help, they were unable to save themselves.
It is very evident in these days, that society has turned it's back on God.
And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. Matt 24:12
Not everyone will give in to fear, persecution, or lawlessness, What does Jesus promise for those who remain faithful?
"But he who endures to the end shall be saved." Matthew 24:13
Thank God, we are saved now. But if we want to overcome, we have to endure. There is only one way to learn endurance, and that is enduring. Endurance, is God's preparation for what lies ahead. We should not complain, as instructed in God's Word. 
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of you faith, produces, patience, (endurance) But let patience have it's perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4
For us to be perfect and complete, we have to let our endurance be governed by the Holy Spirit. This is the key to surviving.
Waiting With Perseverance
When will our adoption be complete?
And not only they, but we also who have the first fruits of the Holy Spirit, even we ourselves  groan, within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. Romans 8:23
In Jesus, we are already God's children, we have the inner witness of the Holy Spirit crying out in us "Abba Father" but our adoption into God's Family is still in process. We do not yet have our resurrected bodies free from sin, disease and death.
For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope, for why does one still hope for what he sees? Romans 8: 24
We don't hope for what we already have, but what we don't have.
But if we hope for what we do not yet see, then we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Romans 8:25
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. Revelation 2:7
And I heard a  loud voice from heaven  saying "Behold, the tabernacle of God  is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. Revelation 21: 3
The Future Glory of God's People
The new Jerusalem is where God will dwell amongst His people for ever.
His bride will meet Him in the air, Jesus will return to earth and take His rightful place on the Mount of Olives, as King of All Kings, Lord of all Lords, and all nations will come and worship at His feet.
May the peace of God our heavenly Father, And the grace of Christ the risen Son, And the fellowship of God the Sprit Keep our hearts and minds within His love.

 Author: John Yates

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Sunday 1 November 2020

Standing in the Gap

We are called to repentance and to acknowledge our own part in this nation’s slide into godlessness in order that we may “Stand in the Gap” between the “dead and the living”. 


I have, like many of us, been pondering and reflecting on the words of prophesy and the call  of the Holy Spirit for the people of God to “stand in the gap” in these days and I must confess that I have been not a little confused and perturbed by what it means.

However, the Lord, in His mercy has led me to Numbers 16:46 - 48

And Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer, and put fire on it from off the altar and lay incense on it and carry it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them, for wrath has gone out from the LORD; the plague has begun.” 47 So Aaron took it as Moses said and ran into the midst of the assembly. And behold, the plague had already begun among the people. And he put on the incense and made atonement for the people. 48 And he stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stopped. 

These verses represent the climax of a story of arrogance, disobedience, and disrespect of God and His Holiness. It starts with Korah, a Levite and 250 of Israel’s leaders challenging Moses and Aaron suggesting that, as God was among them (the Levites) they were holy and Moses and Aaron had no right to “exalt themselves” above the congregation, despite the fact that they had been appointed and anointed by God to the task of ministering to the people.

So, a “competition” was arranged; Korah and his 250 against Aaron, to present incense before God. The outcome, of course, was a foregone conclusion! Aaron, as the chief priest, being the only one authorised by God to present incense before Him. As a result, Korah and his family were swallowed alive when the earth opened up beneath them and the 250 censer carriers were destroyed by fire from God.

You would think that the Israelites would have learned their lesson, but not a bit of it. The next day they “grumbled” against Moses and Aaron accusing them of “killing the people of God” despite the fact that they had witnessed God’s personal intervention and punishment of those who stood against Him. They also missed the point: that God, tempering His justice with mercy only punished those directly involved rather than their supporters. He was giving them a warning.

But the people chose to ignore the warning and God sent a plague amongst them. Moses and Aaron fell face down before the Lord and Moses instructed Aaron to take fire from the altar put incense on it and go in amongst the people and atone for them. Aaron obeyed and the plague ended, but not before, we are told, that 14,700 died in addition to those killed with Korah.

So, what can we learn from this episode? We too, as the Lord’s people, are surrounded by a world which displays arrogance, disobedience and disrespect and refusal to recognise the holiness of God. Sometimes, sadly, within the church.

We have received clear prophesies that God’s judgement is coming, and we see a warning of what’s to come in the current crisis. We, being anointed by the Holy Spirit and washed in the blood of Jesus are called to “take the fire” in amongst the people to make atonement for them and call them to repentance.

This will not make us popular. We will be ignored, ridiculed, and vilified and we too will have our calling, to bring the truth to people who would much rather stay in the dark, questioned.

The Lord is using this time to prepare us for this task just as Aaron and his sons were called to purify themselves before ministering before the Lord. We are called to repentance and to acknowledge our own part in this nation’s slide into godlessness in order that we may “Stand in the Gap” between the “dead and the living”.

As Lance Lambert says at the end of his prophetic word:

“It is time for you who love Me, who are faithful to Me, to take action! Stand before Me and plead The Finished Work of My Son. At least cry out to Me, that there will be those who turn from darkness, from sin, and be saved. For whosoever shall call upon My Name in the midst of these judgements, I will save!  It will cost you everything to stand in the gap, but you will enter into My heart, and know deep fellowship with Me. Such travail conceived in your heart by My Spirit will cost you deeply, but it will end in My Throne and Glory.”

Even so, come Lord Jesus.

Author: Alan Cameron

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