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 He isn’t distant or withdrawn since His ascension, He is present amongst every congregation.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

May God bless and enrich your life

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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

May God bless and enrich your life

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