Sunday 31 July 2022

"Now Acquaint Thyself with God"

How long has it been since we took time out, just to sit silently in His presence to catch a glimpse of the one who is truly awesome and incomprehensible
(Job 22:21 NKJV)

Here are my thoughts of when we recognise God's greatness. 

Not to be tempted to analyse Him and reduce Him to our manageable terms.

Also we must not try to manipulate Him and His will, or try to explain Him and His ways.

Thinking carefully about that for a moment, how many times does God have to tell us ("For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" - Isaiah 55:9), before we actually get it?  

How often must Jesus explain that He's the good shepherd and we're the sheep. That He's the vine and we're the branches, that He's the way, the truth and the life, before we kneel down in surrender and say, have your own way Lord?

If Jesus the son of God found it necessary to say to His Father "Not my will, but your will be done".  Wouldn't it be wise for us to pray those words too every day?
As written in Matthew 26:39 Jesus went a little farther and fell on his face and prayed, saying "O my father if it is possible let this cup pass from me, nevertheless not as I will but as you will".

How long has it been since we took time out, just to sit silently in His presence to catch a glimpse of the one who is truly awesome and incomprehensible.

As written in Job 22:21-23 Now acquaint yourself with him and be at peace, thereby good will come to you, receive, please instruction from his mouth, and lay up his words in your heart. If you return to the almighty, you will be built up, you will remove iniquity far from your tents.

So to conclude is it our desire to really know and have a closer personal relationship with God the Father? If the answer is yes, it won't just happen, we must give and make Him the priority by acquainting ourselves to Him on a daily basis and we won't be disappointed.

As it states in James 4:8 Draw near to God and he will draw near to you, cleanse your hands you sinners and purify your hearts you double minded.   

Author: Herbert Jean

May God bless and enrich your life

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Saturday 23 July 2022

Live such good lives…

We all need honest, confidential conversations where we can share our thoughts and emotions
I’ve had this simple theme in my head for this blog which has been bouncing around over several weeks. I don’t want to complicate the issue, so this blog is going to be short and hopefully to the point. I wonder if you know how the blog title, ‘Live such good lives..’, continues?  It is found in the first letter of Peter.

We read in Psalm 37, Trust in the Lord and do good... We find this combination of ‘faith and action’ exhibited throughout the old testament and new testament. Examples and exhortations speak into our lives thousands of years later. Two weeks ago the blog was based around the letter to Titus. The apostle Paul gave instructions about what Titus should teach to various demographic groups within the church on the island of Crete. The writing is very clear and direct, in contrast to much of what we hear and read about today. Perhaps Paul’s message can be summed up in verse 14 of chapter 3: ‘our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good in order to provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives’.
One particular directive that I wish to highlight is one that is addressed to everyone. Reading from the start of chapter 3: Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no-one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility towards all men. Paul is not saying anything new here. But what he does say is extreme!! Can I ask you, the reader, to reread this directive several times? Just for a moment, focus on the phrase: ‘to slander no-one’. It seems we all have a voice today, whether through social media, phone-in programmes, demonstrations or our personal conversations. Those in positions of authority are often sitting ducks for our scrutiny. Their inconsistencies can be magnified through today’s spectator sport. How do we reconcile our personal conviction (perhaps the voice of our conscience) with this command ‘to slander no-one’?  Can we call someone a hypocrite, or a white-washed wall? 

We are all painfully aware of the tongue being that spark which sets a great fire alight. The tongue, that member of our body that refuses to be tamed! One moment it is a spring of living water, then in the next breath it adds to the general pollution in the world. We all need honest, confidential conversations where we can share our thoughts and emotions. 

Perhaps the first person that we, believers in our Lord Jesus, should all turn to, is the One that our Father has given to all his children. He is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, the Paraclete. I am convicted as I write this, knowing that my emotions flare up with an accompanying vocal outburst. So I am going to end with a short prayer:

Holy Spirit, thank you, as God’s dear child, I can share my raw emotions with you. Amen

Author: Richard Windridge

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Saturday 16 July 2022

Our Father in Heaven

Jesus endured everything that was thrown at Him because the love of the Father and His desire to do the will of His Father was the only thing that mattered to Him
There is a scene in the original children’s animated film “The Lion King” which I love. Simba, the young son of the leader of the pride Mufasa wanders off into the wilderness in search of an elephant’s graveyard – an undoubtedly scary and exciting place for a young cub to be. However, the whole thing has been staged by Simba’s evil uncle Scar who want to be “King of the beasts” himself. When Simba gets to the graveyard, he is ambushed by a pack of hyenas who have been sent to kill him. They encircle him, mock and taunt him into trying to roar. His attempt to do this is pretty pathetic producing a sound more like a cat mewing than a lion roaring. However, on his second or third attempt he and the hyenas are shocked to the core when he produces an earth – shattering roar that reverberates around the graveyard! The young cub is trying to work out what has happened when the hyenas see and then experience the wrath of Simba’s dad who has been standing hidden behind him having been tipped off about the young cub’s whereabouts. The father deals with the hyenas and then turns his attention to his mischievous son who had gotten himself into this fix. In the end after some straight talking the conclusion is reached “no one messes with Simba’s dad”!

At different stages in our lives, we all have someone that we look to for that extra bit of confidence. People who have confidence in us and back us up, people who we trust and love, people who as the old saying goes know the worst about us and have our backs anyway. It could be a teacher, a boss, a friend, a parent, a spouse – all very valuable and extremely welcome support and protection. Often the reason why people are willing to guard our backs in this way is not about our capability or dependability – it is about relationship, integrity and love. As I write these words I think about the relationships in our fellowship – the relationships around us – around me – They are a blessing beyond words and the value of some only eternity will reveal.

Then I find myself thinking of Jesus. A scribe once said to Jesus that he would follow Him wherever He went. The scripture tells us that Jesus replied “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” (Matthew 8:20). John 7:5 tells us about His family “For even His brothers did not believe in Him”. John 6:66 tells us that “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more”. Jesus, we find had plenty of reason not to trust mankind. John concludes at an early point (John 2 v 23): Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.

Jesus was, from a human point of view, a target from the day that He began His ministry and probably long before – especially if we look at the events around His birth. Herod tried to kill Him, the political elite ganged up against Him, even at His birth. Once He “went public” 30 years later, His wrangles with the religious and political leaders became serious to the point of them trying to secure His arrest and death on numerous occasions. They tried to get Him by trickery and false accusation, they tried to catch Him in His speech, they tried to “set Him up” and in the end they paid informers including Judas to secure a conviction. Even after all that they had heard and seen the disciples, on the week of His trial were found arguing with each other about who would be greatest. The disciples were not constant – even Peter having had the revelation of Jesus being the Messiah is found in a place of rebuke for trying to hinder God’s will and then the denial which broke him to tears.

So, Jesus had a fight on His hands from start to finish! There was no one that He could really trust – or was there?
John 3:35: The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand.

John 5:20: For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel

Matthew 3:17: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Matthew 17:5: suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”

John 17:20-26: … as You, Father, are in Me and I in You … that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me … that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You

So, Jesus not only knew His Father but was convinced of His love and had a deep communion with Him. Jesus endured everything that was thrown at Him because the love of the Father and His desire to do the will of His Father was the only thing that mattered to Him. His mission – the will of the Father – was our redemption and eternal salvation. Jesus was sold completely to that goal. He knew that the only way that He could succeed was to follow the Father’s will completely. This is where His confidence came from – from being secure in the love of the Father and just wanting to please Him. His Father guided Him through all of the tricks of His enemies – spiritual and human – the bond between them was the key to the victorious life that Jesus had. The answer to every question was “Father – what do you want me to say or do”? The Father guided His answers, directed Him who to meet, who His disciples should be, where He should go, when to be wary, when to do miracles. His Father enabled Him to pass through crowds unseen, testified to the truth of His words and complete the work that He was sent to do.

John seems to take delight in setting this out for us; unlike the other gospels he often adds chunks of Jesus’ teaching at the end of one account or another especially His exchanges with the Jewish leaders whose motives excluded them from the Kingdom but not from hearing amazing truth. Amongst all of this John also points to the fact that Jesus is here to bring us to the Father – and what amazing things come to the one who seeks to do the will of the Father. For example, John 7:17 says: “Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own” – anyone can find out what God’s message is… and there is much more.

Well, the full extent of all of this hit me on Sunday night when in communion Herby took us again to the Garden of Gethsemane in mind and Spirit. He focussed on the loneliness of Jesus in the garden. He was uttering a prayer that could only be denied to be answered: He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” (Mark 14:35-36). This prayer, in the context of the disciples not being able to pray because of the heavy sense of sorry, leads directly to them running off, Jesus’ trial, Peter’s predicted denial and the cross. Then come the words of Mark 15:34: “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” We cannot know the silence and torment that Jesus experienced at that moment as the one relationship that He had known since childhood and had always been there was wrenched from Him…

Jesus although He is the “Lion of Judah” came not as a lion but the Lamb of sacrifice. Until His time came to be offered, no one could prevail against Him, because despite all that His Father had to permit to happen to His Son, Jesus had an unwavering determination to do the Father’s will and nothing else. On the day of resurrection however, we have the risen son, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – victorious and waiting for His enemies to be made His footstool. His pronouncement? (John 20:17) “I go to My Father and Your Father; to My God and Your God”! A fulfilment of Jesus’ assertion to the Jews that He knew where He had come from and where He was returning to – and including us in fulfillment of His John 17 prayer. If we remember who’s will we are doing in a desperate moment we will stand in the feet of Jesus and walk His path. (Sometimes however we might in the Spirit hear a mighty roar from behind us) …

Thoughts to leave with us:
What does Jesus teach me about doing the will of the Father?
In what ways has Jesus brought us close to the Father?

Author: Chris Pearson

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Saturday 9 July 2022

Doctrine and Deeds

Christ is our Saviour and two things follow from that: sound doctrine and good deeds. They go together.
I have been reading the letter of Paul to Titus and have found it so relevant to our times. Paul describes himself as a slave and as an ambassador. A slave is someone who is bought, owned by another, at the beck and call of the owner. And that's what Paul said he was, a slave of God. In the Roman Empire, the lowest of the low in the social scale was the slave. And in Crete, the people to whom Paul was writing, the highest in that scale was the ambassador, the envoy of the emperor. And Paul describes himself as both slave of God and an ambassador or apostle of Jesus Christ. So as believers we relate to the whole range of society. In the Body of Christ there is no distinction and no hierarchy.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. (Titus 3:3-8)

Paul applies the word "Saviour" to both the Father and to the Son. Godhead teamwork, Father, Son and Holy Spirit involved. Christ is our Saviour and two things follow from that: sound doctrine and good deeds. They go together. Once we know God and Jesus Christ as our Saviour, we concern ourselves with sound doctrine and good deeds. These two things must be connected because if our beliefs aren't sound our behaviour won't ultimately be good. Doctrine directs belief, and belief affects behaviour.

When we hear and learn sound doctrine the objective is to adorn it with good deeds the rest of the week. If we don't then we are hypocrites and people won't listen to the sound doctrine.

This is the concern of the whole letter to Titus. Sound doctrine leading to good deeds, in the church, the home, and the community at our daily work.
Bondservants[a] are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour. 
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.  Titus 2:9-14

We will never lead a soul to Christ if we only witness with our lives. Nor will we ever do it by mere preaching sound doctrine. When our lips and life are at the disposal of the Lord, both giving the same message of the grace and mercy of God, we'll witness the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

God called us to be light and salt. Not salt as a flavour or preservative as we use it today but as disinfectant and fertiliser; stopping harmful things from growing and encouraging good things to thrive. That's what God called us to be in our communities.  

The world rejects sound doctrine expressed in the life of Jesus on earth and recorded in the Bible for our benefit. Doctrine is not a set of rules but a way of life. It nurtures us and allows us to be transformed into the likeness of our Saviour. We, the Body of Christ, are His witnesses in both word and in action.

Author: Betty Plumb

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Saturday 2 July 2022


Not only does the Lord offer forgiveness and a restored relationship but He also wipes out any memory He has of my wrongdoing
I am part of a generation of men that didn’t see long trousers until we went to “big school” at 11. Therefore, until that age, I lived with knees and elbows permanently covered in cuts and scratches arising from falls off bikes, roller skates and out of trees and quite often simply from, as my mother used to put it, “walking around in a daze and tripping over my own feet!”

These honourable scars developed crusts as they healed, commonly known as “scabs” made up of dried blood and other stuff. At that age skin heals very quickly and you could expect the wound to be healed in a day or two. The problem was the scab itched and I couldn’t resist picking at it. The result was that the wound took a lot longer to heal, sometimes became bigger and in a couple of cases, left a slight scar which I carry some 60 odd years later.

Isn’t sin a bit like that? My sins hurt others and myself but through the blood of Jesus I can come before the mercy seat of God in repentance and receive forgiveness. Not only does the Lord offer forgiveness and a restored relationship but He also wipes out any memory He has of my wrongdoing. As it says in Psalm 103: 10-12 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward  those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

The thing is, I don’t have God’s capacity to wipe my memory clean. My sinful past leaves scars on my memory. 

That can actually be a good thing because in recalling how I was, I am able to give glory and thanks to God how far he has brought me. It also acts as a warning of how easy it would be to slip back into old behaviour patterns without the help of the Holy Spirit.

There is another advantage, and that is, my experiences in my previous life can help me, in my new life, to assist those who may be in the midst of similar experiences, with a degree of empathy I wouldn’t perhaps have.
I refer quite deliberately to “previous” and “new” because like Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

There is inherent danger in these scars, of course:

Firstly, by revisiting past memories I am “picking the scab” and could be re-opening old wounds, allowing the devil in to accuse me of them all over again. So, I thank God that I can stand on Romans 8:1-2 For there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

Secondly, the devil will tempt me to “glorify” my misdeeds and my “wild child” days rather than carrying an intense hatred of them. As it says in Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.

Finally, I thank God that I can look to James 4:7; Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. And call on the name of the Lord Jesus who has cleansed me with his blood.

A recurring theme of my childhood days was my mother’s voice saying, “Stop picking!” I feel that my Father’s voice is saying the same thing to me now. I just need to listen and obey, as always.

Have a blessed week.

Author: Alan Cameron

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