Saturday 29 October 2022

God is our refuge and strength

When all other sources of supply seems to have dried up, do not fear look to the river of God which never runs dry
God is our refuge and strength...Psalm 46

In the current time and situation of all that is happening nowadays, when it appears that our world is in turmoil, remember God's plan for our life stays the same and will not change regardless of circumstances as long as we trust and obey Him, when we feel trapped and can see no way out.

Look at what Psalm 46 is saying to remind us of when we are going through difficult times in or beyond our control, starting at verse 1. God is our refuge and strength a very present help in trouble. 

Verse 2. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed and though the mountains be carried out into the midst of the sea. 

Verse 3. Though it's waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with it's swelling.
Verse 4. There is a river who's streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the most high.  

Here the river is a symbolism of God's daily provision for our needs, and representing His power when all other sources of supply seems to have dried up, do not fear look to the river of God which never runs dry. 

Verse 5. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved, God shall help her just at the break of dawn

A symbol of new beginnings giving us confidence that beyond a time of trouble and testing, a new day is at hand.  

They are new every morning, great is His faithfulness. (Lamentation 3:23)

Verse 6. The nations rage the kingdoms are moved He utters His voice the earth melted.

This should remind us of His mighty awesome power that builds our faith.

Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Verse 7. The Lord almighty is with us the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Verse 8. Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth.

Verse 9. He makes war cease to the end of the earth, He breaks the bow and shatters the spears and burns the shield with fire.

Verse 10. He says be still and know that I am God I will be exalted among the nations I will be exalted in the earth.

Verse 11. The Lord almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress.

So look to God and His peace not as the world gives, but by the power of His words, His faithfulness and His love, and let us be still and know that He is God and in control of all things.

Author: Inie Jean

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Saturday 22 October 2022

A Door of Hope

But here is the good news. Almighty God has not given up on us.
Like most of the Old Testament prophets Hosea brought an uncomfortable
message. Around 8 centuries BC Israel was a divided nation and there was enmity and war between north and south. Religious and conservative Judah to the south resented the secularism and idolatry of Israel (also called Ephraim) to the north, while Israel's political expansionism was an ongoing threat to Judah.

Though only the prophets seemed to know it, the end was nigh. The cruel might of the Assyrians was about to crush Ephraim and would make the antagonism of these tiny nations seem like a petty squabble.

When Hosea spoke out Israel was having a good time. Under king Jereboam II they had prospered and expanded their territory to the east and to the north. Wealth and success made worse their complacency and conceit, and chaos followed. Jereboam's death prompted a time of unparalleled political upheaval and instability. Within 30 years, a period of violence and intrigue, there were no less than six successive kings, leading a rapidly declining political system. Resistance to the Assyrians became futile and the northern nation was quickly defeated and deported in 722BC.

God's message through Hosea was that the impending disaster was due to Israel's unfaithfulness to Him. He depicts the nation mainly as a promiscuous wife, but also refers to it as an indifferent mother, an illegitimate child, an ungrateful son, a stubborn heifer, a silly dove, a spreading vine, and because of their rebellion against God they will fall by the sword.

Yet in the midst of these warnings and predictions there is the promise of hope.  God disciplines and punishes but He also restores.

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
    and bring her into the wilderness,
    and speak tenderly to her.
And there I will give her her vineyards
    and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,
    as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.  (Hosea 2:14-15)

These verses spoke then and they still speak to us today. God draws his disobedient children into a wilderness, far from the comfort and distractions of consumerism. The word 'allure' is an attempt to interpret the idea of God powerfully making an opening into a spacious place. God opens a door and points us to the next verse, typical of Hebrew parallelism, a concept too easily lost in translation.

Achor means disturbance or trouble and is a reference to Achan, the 'troubler of Israel', who defied God's orders and took booty devoted to destruction from Jericho. (Joshua 7).

So what are we to learn from this history lesson? God has not changed. The chaos we are experiencing today is brought about by the very same factors - apostasy, idolatry and immorality - a decadent society that seeks to live without God's guidelines.

But here is the good news. Almighty God has not given up on us. Through trouble He opens up a spacious place, leading us into a wilderness where we may respond to His comfort, offering us hope through the suffering of his son Jesus.

Our prayer today is not that the Lord would get us out of trouble, rather that the valley of trouble becomes itself the door of hope. Troubles are common to all of us; it's what we do with them that determines our destiny. 

May the troubles of our nation open a gateway for many to repent and return to God's ways, finding blessing and hope in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Author: John Plumb

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Saturday 15 October 2022

Can we hear/recognise God's voice

The key is for us to stay close to God and keep our receiver tuned, this means being obedient and alert
1 Samuel 3:1-11

As a boy in the temple, Samuel didn't recognise God's voice, when He first spoke to him, but later and as a prophet his ears were the portal through which God spoke to His entire nation.

Learning to recognise God's voice is not a skill that you can acquire yourself, but it's God working through and in us by the Holy Spirit. 

There is so much going on today, so much noise, so many people saying so many things. Voices, phone, media, so how can we differentiate God's voice amongst all of these.

As God spoke to past and present prophets, God also speaks to us through His words in the bible. 

Today God calls for spiritual maturity. As Jesus said His sheep follow Him, for they know His voice. (John 10:4

Note that Jesus said His sheep, not His lambs, know His voice. Baby sheep follow adult sheep, until their senses are developed to hear/see and imitate what their parents do. That means there is grace for the immature. So if your spiritual ears are not developed yet, God will work with you if you ask Him till they are. This is why Jesus said many times "Those who have ears let them hear what the Spirit says".
Also we read in Psalm 95:7-8 "For He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand, today if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion as in the day of trial in the wilderness".

(Do we have a desire to hear God's voice?).

God spoke to Moses, the mountain shook.

God spoke to Elijah in a still small voice.

God speaks to us through His Spirit and His words in the bible today and to all those who will hear.

We must not limit God, and don't try to figure Him out, for He can speak and teach His word through a song, through a painful situation, and through our thoughts and desires when we submit to Him.

The key is for us to stay close to God and keep our receiver tuned, this means being obedient and alert - King David said in Psalm 40:8 "I delight to do your will, O my God and your law is within my heart".

When it comes to recognising God's voice is our response, when I get around to it? Can I fit Him in? etc. etc. As it says in Job 36:10-11 He also opens their ears to instructions and commands that they turn from iniquity if they obey and serve Him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures. In Job 42:4-5 "Listen please and let me speak I will question you and you shall answer me, I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes see you"

Read Psalm 29:1-11 telling us where, how and the many ways we could recognise God's voice.

John tells us in Revelation 2:7 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says to the churches, to him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God"

Revelation 3:6, 13, 22 "He who has an ear let him hear what the spirit says to the churches"

Revelation 3:20 "Behold I stand at the door and knock if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him and he with me".

Church God is calling us to hear, recognise and obey His voice so we can truly say Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name thy kingdom come thy will be done...for yours is the power and the glory - Amen.

Author: Herbie Jean

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Saturday 8 October 2022

Holy Spirit have Your way?

When we ask for His outpouring its His way or no way – His way is the only way
I was wondering what to write about for this blog. My mind has continually been drawn to our intention to have some times of “extended prayer”. Our purpose in this is to seek the face of the Lord so that He may send an outpouring of His Holy Spirit upon us, our communities and upon our nation.

I am not sure how to answer some of the theology in this. Some say that we are filled with the Holy Spirit when we are born again and there is nothing else. Some say that there is a sequence to being filled with the Holy Spirit – being born again, being baptized in water and then being baptized in the Holy Spirit (with speaking in tongues as the main sign of that experience). Others say that the Holy Spirit as poured out in Acts chapter 2 is not for today. Others claim that the gifts of the Spirit merely refer to an enhancement of natural giftings, skills and traits.

I cannot explain the mind of God nor how the Holy Spirit chooses to work. Jesus said that He would send the Holy Spirit who was with the disciples to be in them later. He said that they would receive power after the Holy Spirit came upon them which happened ten days later on the day of Pentecost.

The disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and “tongues of fire” rested on each one of them. The room was filled with “the sound of a rushing wind”. They all spoke with other tongues (in the language of men and angels) as the Spirit allowed them to speak. There followed a manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit whilst lives showed by their “fruit” (the things that people could see and hear) that these were changed righteous people. Jesus said “by their fruits you will know them” – whether someone belonged to the Kingdom of Heaven or the kingdom of this world and/or manifested the characteristics of the devil – lies, deception, selfishness, abuse, hate and murder.

Paul contrasts the fruits of a worldly life with the gifts of the Spirit in Galatians chapter 5. First the characteristics of a worldly life:

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

In contrast the fruits of the Spirit are listed:

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

In Corinthians Paul summarizes some gifts that the Holy Spirit implants in God’s children as He Himself wills. 

1 Corinthians 12:7-11 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

We are told that these operate in proportion to our faith (Romans 12:6): We have different gifts according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith…

In Ephesians Paul makes it clear that the people of God should find their joy in a different place to the world and instead indicates that children of God desire what their Father in Heaven and their Saviour desires:
Ephesians Chapter 5:18-20Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Since that first outpouring of the Holy Spirit the Lord has continued to pour out His Spirit on His people. It is apparent from Acts that the manifestations, empowerment and signs of the first outpouring were not an isolated incident. The Holy Spirit was poured out into gentiles as indicated first in Acts chapter 10:44-46: While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. (If you read on you will see that on this occasion those filled were baptised in water afterwards). In other places the people that had already been filled experienced a renewal of the outpouring as in Acts chapter 4:31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

The book of Acts is a testimony to the work of the Holy Spirit who attested to the truth of the message of the Christians by signs and wonders and as Jesus promised, the Father pouring out the Holy Spirit on all who turned to Jesus and asked Him. Throughout History the story has been the same, with outpourings of the Holy Spirit and extraordinary signs following God’s people seeking His face. This is in accordance with God’s promises and the desire of Godly people to know Him better:

Psalm 27:8: When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”

Proverbs 8:17: I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me.

Hebrews 11:6: But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him

Luke 11:13: If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

Its seems that every “revival” has been different but every revival has been preceded by God’s people earnestly seeking His face – and not moving until He has poured out the Holy Spirit on them. Each revival has also been characterised by criticism and opposition. Sometimes violent opposition, often originating from the “established church” (See Acts in its entirety). Some have criticised what the Holy Spirit has been doing without understanding the Holy Spirit’s working (and who can understand His working). The one apparent thing is that the Holy Spirit will give way to no man’s opinion and will not tolerate “the flesh”. Often His working has been to cause men to yield to Him so that He can be preeminent.

We are okay with the words of the song reflecting the willingness of King David to belittle himself before the Lord “and I will be more undignified than this” – until the Holy Spirit demands something of us that we consider will appear strange and belittling. But what do we read “He (Jesus) made Himself of no reputation” – yet we like Naaman (unwilling at first to belittle himself by dipping 7 times in the river Jordan) often stumble at the first thing that God asks of us. We can bet that the thing that He asks of us is the one thing that is holding us back from true freedom – but as we come to seek His face, ask Him to pour out His Holy Spirit again and yield ourselves to Him to let Him have His way amongst us – we have the chance like Naaman to yield to wise counsel and obey Him, no matter how ridiculous we look or how stupid it seems in the flesh. There is plenty of scriptural precedent. We can be sure that whatever the Lord wants to pour out, whatever He has for us, we will not get our way or the way we want it “packaged”. When we ask for His outpouring its His way or no way – His way is the only way…

My goal is God Himself, not joy, nor peace,
Nor even blessing, but Himself, my God;
’Tis His to lead me there—not mine, but His—
At any cost, dear Lord, by any road.
(Frances Brook)

Author: Chris Pearson

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Saturday 1 October 2022

A time of change

These times continue to be challenging as they have been for all generations. But God is faithful to provide in all circumstances
The weather has become autumnal, a new school year has started and we have a new prime minister as well as a new king. New challenges face us all.

Due to stiff shoulders and knees, I have been wearing large clothes which are easy to put on. A health improvement means that I have recently stood on a chair and sorted through the top 2 wardrobe shelves. I found some useful things, some with happy memories attached, several new dusters and things to donate to charity as well as clothes right for the weather.

I had not been able to knit for a while but I have now completed a tiny blue jumper for a new grandson. It actually looks huge beside him, like an overcoat. It still feels strange knowing what colour wool to buy before the child is born. Knitting for a baby means praying for the unborn child and family with every stitch. Psalm 139:13&16 “For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb…All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

On the TV news, a lady talking about the cost of living crisis was recounting that she was advised to wear a coat in the house, and she retorted: “but you can’t wear your coat in the house!” Having lived in an old farmhouse, I found myself thinking, ‘well, you can, if the occasion arises..’ I am reminded of the children in ‘The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe’; how they put on the fur coats provided, before stepping into Narnia. They turned out to be a very appropriate provision but were later exchanged for royal robes and crowns. God then put in my mind to remember the great resources that He, as a loving Father has prepared for us. These times continue to be challenging as they have been for all generations. But God is faithful to provide in all circumstances:
Ephesians 6:13: ‘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’. Then we read about the items of our uniform: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit.’  What a promise!

Ephesians 3:14 ‘For this reason I kneel before the Father from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.’

Revelation 19:7-8 ‘Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory. For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) 

When we are attired by our Risen Lord, we, like the ‘lilies of the field’ are finer than Solomon in all his splendour.

Author: Mandy Windridge

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