Saturday 29 July 2023

I wanna go the way that leads to life till I draw my dying breath

The duration of life on planet earth is but a drop in an ocean of eternity
Jesus Comforts His Disciples “Do not let your heart be troubled (afraid, cowardly). Believe [confidently] in God and trust in Him, [have faith, hold on to it, rely on it, keep going and] believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and I will take you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also. And [to the place] where I am going, you know the way.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going; so how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “[a]I am the [only] Way [to God] and the [real] Truth and the [real] Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:1-6 Taken from the Amplified Bible

I am, seemingly, a rarity in evangelical Christian circles as I am also a member of a political party and remain interested in politics and current affairs. To me politics is integral to life and life is integral to politics and God gives and is life. That is to say my understanding of politics is about how public policy is developed and how priorities made affect our collective experience of day to day life. I feel that my faith in Jesus Christ and accepting Him as my personal Lord and Saviour following His way is increasingly more incongruous with political life. 

I don’t have an answer yet of directly applying biblical principles to politics and living out His way with boldness even when (especially when) His principles clash with emerging popular political themes and opinions. Gods’ view has to be “top trumps” and to quote an old Petra song, “I am to be in the world not of it” and as I am being conformed to His likeness the incongruity of ‘my way and His way’ brings me back to repentance and change 

I recently listened to a friend bring a short message based on our spiritual walk with Jesus as believers being a narrow path and one of the I AM statements of Jesus,
“… ]I am the [only] Way [to God] and the [real] Truth and the [real] Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me”. John 14 v 6 taken from the Amplified Bible

This section of John is entitled Jesus comforts His disciples, He didn’t want them to be left troubled or confused about where He was going, via the suffering and death on the cross (to pay the price for my (your) sin and after rising from the dead and in Him ascending to His Father in heaven to prepare a place for me (you too!). He showed kindness in telling His loved ones a difficult truth that has benefitted every follower of Jesus in the last 2 millennia. 

In speaking truth and being Truth, we know who and where Jesus is and, moreover we know if we accept His gift of salvation and follow Him that we will be with Him for eternity. The duration of life on planet earth is but a drop in an ocean of eternity.

As for my political hobby, Jesus has to be and is my first love and His absolute truth and radical message bringing light to darkness, any political interest must reflect who I am in Him and to His glory. Though when seen through the prism of eternal and abundant life I choose to be a God pleaser.

Father God, let all of my skills, gifts and interests be used to Glorify you. Forgive me Lord when I don’t follow this in everything I do, show me your narrow path in all things. Thank you Lord for leaving me your Word to illuminate your path In Jesus name, Amen.

Song lyrics from Petra Based on Proverbs 14:12, Ephesians 6:6, Galatians 1:10, 1 Thessalonians 4:1, Matthew 6:2, 25:23, Colossians 3:23

So many voices telling me which way to go
So many choices come from those who think they know
There's a way that seems right to a man
But it only brings him death
I wanna go the way that leads to life
Till I draw my dying breath
Don't wanna be a manpleaser - I wanna be a Godpleaser
I just want to have the wisdom to discern the two apart
Don't wanna be a manpleaser - I wanna be a Godpleaser
I just want to do the things that please the Father's heart
Some make a sacrifice and never let it show
Some make a point of letting everybody know
Some will live their lives as unto men
And they have their reward
I just wanna do everything I do
With all my heart unto the Lord
I just want my life to glorify His Son
To make my Father proud that I'm His child before I'm done
No need to pat me on the back or stop the shake my hand
I just want to hear my Father say "Well done, well done"
I just want to hear my Father say "Well done"
Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Bob Hartman
Godpleaser lyrics © Dawn Treader Music

Author: Sarah Chapman

May God bless and enrich your life

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Saturday 22 July 2023

Established Through Suffering

We need to stand firm and rest in our relationship with Him, and with each other, through prayer, study of His word and meeting together
One of my daily readings, last week, was from Charles Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening” based on 1 Peter 5 :10-11

…..And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen

This resonated with my spirit, and I believe has something to say to us, His church, as we approach ever stormier waters.

Spurgeon starts his commentary by asking readers to consider the rainbow; a thing of beauty arching over the world, a reminder of God’s promise in 

Genesis 9:13-16 “I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

He, Spurgeon, points out that the rainbow, in the natural, is simply the interaction of sunlight on water droplets and is transient and soon disappears. It disappears because it is not “established” or firmly rooted. It cannot possibly “abide” to use his phrase.

He compares the transitory nature of the rainbow, however beautiful, to the graces of the Christian character which must be by contrast, Established, Settled, and Abiding. He urges us as believers to ensure that every good thing we receive from the Lord should be an abiding blessing and our identity in Christ should be “inscribed upon the rock, not written in the sand.”
His prayer, as ours should be, is that our faith may be no “baseless fabric of a vision,” but built of material that will withstand the fire which will consume the wood, hay and stubble quoted in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15

He further urges us to pray that:
We may be rooted and grounded in love.
Our convictions are deep.
Our love is real.
Our desires earnest.

We should seek that our whole life should be so settled and established in the spirit that “all the blasts of hell, and the storms of the earth” shall never be able to uproot us.

Having considered that “what” and the “why” of being established Spurgeon now turns to the “how” and this is where it gets a little uncomfortable.

He reminds us that Peter’s words clearly point to “suffering” as the means of being “established.”

He argues that it is no use hoping that we shall be well rooted if we are not tested by the rough winds of circumstance. He asks us to consider the oak, with its gnarly old roots and twisted branches, an indication of the many storms it has endured and of how deep the roots have gone to ensure survival. Thus we, as Christians are made strong by all the trials and storms of life.

He closes by urging us not to shrink from the trials we face but to take comfort from the fact that by rough discipline God is preparing us for a mighty blessing.

As we look at the world around us and study the news, it is no wonder that many in the world and even in the church see no hope and are seeking any means to “fix” things.

We know, through God’s word, that He is still in control and that His purposes for His people are for their good. 

We need to stand firm and rest in our relationship with Him, and with each other, through prayer, study of His word and meeting together. In doing so we will be better able to care for those around us as things deteriorate, as they surely will, bringing glory to God.

Have a blessed week and let’s be Overcomers, firmly rooted in the Lord.

Author: Alan Cameron

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Sunday 16 July 2023

The Signs of the Times

We have to be prepared, and that means we have to get ourselves into a place of preparation, because we don’t have a dummy run or a practice for these times, do we? 

In our garden we have a fish pond and for years have enjoyed watching the fish swim around in peace and tranquillity.  We were however, alarmed one day in the middle of June to come home and find a large number of fish (around 15) floating dead on the surface of the water. It was because of the prolonged hot weather had contributed to reducing the oxygen levels in the water and certain more vulnerable fish had just died very quickly.  Obviously, we took steps to remedy this and the rest of the fish had been ok. 

I heard a few days later on the radio that this same thing had happened to a few lakes around Solihull and Birmingham and was attributed to the hot weather and thunderstorms etc and it was reported that we had, had the hottest June since records began in the 1800`s. This is a sign of the times. Global warming and climate change are with us and we are being warned all the time about these changes and the dangers they herald.  

In my readings today I read in Luke 21 where Jesus describes the last times, times of war, earthquakes, plagues and famines. `There will be strange signs in the sun, moon and stars. And here on earth the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides. People will be terrified at what they see coming upon the earth for the powers in the heavens will be shaken` (V25-26 NLT) Jesus also goes on to say in Verse 29 `Then he gave them this illustration: Notice the fig tree or any other tree. When the leaves come out, you know without being told that summer is near, in the same way when you see all these things taking place, you can know the Kingdom of God is near` (NLT) 

When I read this it reminded me of the fish incident and how this was a sign of the times. Every day in the news we hear about events around the world that confirm to us the times we are living in. To be honest some of the things you hear about invoke feelings of shock and despair. The Lord in His word however, constantly reminds us that instead of worrying and despairing we should focus our mind on Him and draw close to Him recognising that the world every day takes another step towards the day when He will return. He urges us to be alert and aware of the signs of the time in the news reports and events we see, as they encourage us to draw closer to Him and to stay faithful and open to His Spirit. 

Jesus also said that there would also come times of great persecution for His people and they would go through testing and trial. `There will be a time of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me. (Luke 21:12-13 NLT) The Lord said so clearly that when all these things happen, this will be a time for us to shine. We will be given words to say and opportunity to say them. He clearly warns us about this so we will live in a state of preparedness. The parable of the ten virgins is all about staying alert and being prepared. This is so important and we should not forget that at any time He could return and before He does these things will happen. We have to be prepared, and that means we have to get ourselves into a place of preparation, because we don’t have a dummy run or a practice for these times, do we?  

Actually, we do!  As I live my Christian life before the Lord, I realise that there are times when things are wonderful, when I feel great, my family are in blessing, the church is blessed and prospering in the Lord and my prayer times are amazing. I feel so close to the Lord I could walk on water (so to speak). But then that is usually followed by a time of real difficulty, where everything becomes difficult, problems come at you from every side, quarrels break out in the family, you or your family might become ill, or you may experience financial difficulties. The possibilities are endless and you can go in a moment of time from feeling like you’re walking on water to feeling like you’re drowning.  

This is persecution, this is being under attack from our enemy the devil, or sometime this is just life. It is tempting in this time to feel you are under some kind of punishment, that you’ve done something wrong, that the Lord has “gone silent” on you and that you are on your own. And you wonder why you have to go through such difficult times, because frankly they are not nice or feel very comfortable. But how you deal with them is actually extremely valuable. They are preparation for survival. We learn in these times to depend on the Lord, to ask for help, to dig in and trust Him, to search His word for sustenance and guidance. To prove God`s love for us and His keeping power in our lives. We learn to use His word as a sword and shield, and to depend on the promises like:

Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
 I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this. The faithful love of the Lord never ends, His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself the Lord is my inheritance therefore I will hope in Him. The lord is good to those who depend on Him to those who search for Him(Lamentations 3:22-25 NLT).

And Romans 8:38-39 NLT 'And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God`s love.  Neither death nor life, neither angles nor demons, neither our fears for today or our worries about tomorrow  -  not even the powers of hell can separate us from Gods love.  No power in the sky above or the earth below  -  indeed nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.'

These are the building blocks the Lord uses to prepare us for times to come, for times when we may have nothing but our faith. We recently listened to a testimony of the faith, trust and perseverance of Christians in China, their love to meet together and to learn. How they treasure and memorise the word of God and their preparedness to be put into prison or worse for their faith. Who knows whether in our lifetime we will be required to make a stand like this. 

But it is the ability to recognise quickly, that when we step out for the Lord, we more often than not are attacked by the enemy in one form or another and things become difficult. Its learning to recognise quickly the source of attack, then to draw close to the Lord and use His word to counteract the attack; this is a valuable lesson to learn. One day it may be having to stay close to the lord when our income, possessions, homes, loved ones are taken away or if we find ourselves in prison or worse. And standing up in faith to lions and bears of today, will equip us for the Goliath we may face in future days. 

Global warming is a real issue, many are recognising it slowly by things they see, hear or experience, and want to prepare for it.  Many don’t accept it and make no preparation. But if we believe the Bible one day the occurrences prophesied in Revelation will come.... Are We Ready?  

Lord help me today to learn how to truly rely on You in every situation and teach me how to be ready to serve You in all situations.  Help me to see what is happening around me and learn the lessons of the fig tree.  Help me to make preparations in my life now for the days that are to come.  Amen.

Author: Jan pearson

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Saturday 8 July 2023

Give me also springs of water

Let us, who come to share an inheritance in Christ, boldly approach our heavenly Father and ask today for those springs of living water, that the Holy Spirit may flow out of our lives
A previous blog, ‘Hope for the earth’, explored the relationship between God, man and the land. The principles outlined in that blog are applicable to all nations, but in particular the nation and people of Israel who were chosen by God to possess a land promised to their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I want to introduce a key factor in this special relationship of Lord, land and laity – water! 

As we read about the Exodus out of Egypt, through the Red sea and into the desert, the first challenge that the Israelites faced was that of finding water, and then to discover that it was bitter water! Through the following 40 years of life in the desert, water would be a source of testing for the people – could the Lord provide for them or not. However, at the end of their desert journey, the Lord (speaking through Moses) promised the people: 

The land you are entering to take over is not like the land of Egypt……But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. It is a land the Lord your God cares for, the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to the end. If you faithfully obey the commands I give you…then I will send rain on your land in season, both autumn and spring rains

We must not leave our reading there, continue:

Be careful or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you and he will shut the heavens so that it will not rain and ground will yield no produce….. Deuteronomy 11:10-17

After independence in 1948, Israel faced many critical challenges. Here are three which are relevant for this blog:

  • facilitating a large wave of immigration, over a million people in 3 years;
  • providing the new population with clean water and food following the devastating war and enmity with neighbouring countries 
  • establishing control over the whole area of the new state 

The government saw agricultural settlement as a solution to these issues, with the immigrants quickly and usefully employed on the urgent task of increasing domestic food production and also creating an Israeli presence in sparsely populated areas. There was also a strong ideological motive within government to help the immigrants bond to their ancient homeland and build the nation. Much of the settlement program was based in the semi-arid south of the country and its success would rely on delivering water supplies for both consumption and irrigation. A national water master plan was prepared that would convey water from Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) in the north, to the Negev in the south, linking in and combining all the main aquifers and streams into one system, the National Water Carrier(NWC). This was completed in 1964 and although its capacity has been increased, it remains the backbone of water conveyance around Israel.

I was reminded of a beautiful image from Psalm 133 as the psalmist extols the virtue of living in peace with one another: How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity...It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion…

Mount Hermon is at the northernmost point in Israel, in fact a popular ski resort for some of the winter. It is part of the mountainous catchment for the Kinneret, which feeds into the NWC and supplies the cities and towns of Israel including Jerusalem, where Mount Zion is located.

As the population in Israel has grown, so has the water demand. From year to year there continued to be large fluctuations in the annual rainfall. I hope to continue the story in a future blog.

So in conclusion, the modern settlers in Israel have echoed the cry of a bold, newly-married woman to her father: “Do me a special favour, since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water” (Judges chapter 1)  Let us, who come to share an inheritance in Christ, boldly approach our heavenly Father and ask today for those springs of living water, that the Holy Spirit may flow out of our lives.

Author: Richard Windridge

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Sunday 2 July 2023

The Dying Seed

If we truly die to self and live for Him we will live a much more fulfilling life than we did before we knew Him

The Conversation
In our kitchen are two small packets of sunflower seeds still to be planted. Every time I walk past them, I think, ‘How on earth are they going to produce the beautiful flower on the packet if I don’t take the time to plant them in the ground?’ They are just sitting there, huddled together, wrapped in a packet, being no use to anyone.

In John 12, not long before the crucifixion, it states that some Greeks asked Philip to get them an audience with Jesus. The disciples told Jesus and He replied in verses 23 and 24: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.'' 

Firstly, the first two words ‘very truly’ and in some versions ‘truly, truly’ is a double emphasis and means what He is about to say is very important indeed. Up until this point He has been saying ‘My hour has not yet come’, but here He is saying ‘The hour has come’. He knew it was time for Him to die and He used the analogy of a seed being planted in the ground, giving up its previous existence, to germinate and bear much fruit. Germination is a mystery and a wonderful miracle of creation. Somehow it turns a dormant seed into a growing plant. They say that seeds that are thousands of years old have germinated! God’s creation is amazing!

The principle of the Kingdom is one of sacrifice. Jesus is expressing His willingness to give up His life so that much fruit could be borne. Without His death this could not happen. This principle is applicable to our lives too. In verses 25 and 26 He makes it clear and personal to us by saying: 25 “Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.”  Whoever says to himself, ‘This is my life to do with as I please, this is my life and mine alone’ will lose it. We need to die to ourselves, for only then can we bear fruit. It does not mean we can’t enjoy the good things God has given us but it means we have to live our lives for the higher purpose of serving our creator.

Our flesh wants to seek our own Kingdom but the Bible says in Matthew 6 that must seek His Kingdom first. The world wants to tell us that we should live for ourselves but the Bible tells us we must be a living sacrifice. Jesus has paid the price for us so that we now belong to him. If we truly die to self and live for Him we will live a much more fulfilling life than we did before we knew Him. The world thinks it has freedom but those who live for themselves are actually under the worst dictator you can have, that of the flesh. Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 16:24 “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me.” The cross has one purpose, to put to death, to kill.

A.W. Tozer says: ‘We must do something about the cross. And one of two things only can we do, flee it or die upon it. If we are wise we will do what Jesus did, endure the cross and despise its shame for the joy that is set before us. The cross will cut into our lives where it hurts worst, sparing neither us nor our carefully cultivated reputation. It will defeat us and bring our selfish lives to an end. Only then can we rise in fullness of life and establish a pattern of living, wholly new and free and full of good works.’

This death to worldliness must not only apply to individuals but the church as a whole. Nothing corrupts a church quicker than worldliness. The church of Pergamum, in Revelation is a picture of a church that is married to the world and what did Jesus say to them? He said in Revelation 2:16 ‘Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.’ It is happening in many churches today. It is a sad and destructive thing when a church allows the influences of an evil society to creep in. It can only destroy its witness and effectiveness for God.  Instead of speaking the truth and challenging bad behaviour we have compromised and conformed to the ways of the world. Erwin Lutzer, in his book "Pastor to Pastor," says:"...if we accommodate Scripture to whatever wind is blowing, we will become so absorbed by our culture, that we will have nothing to say to it." As churches we need to die to the world. We need to plant the seed of worldliness in the ground and let it die and bring forth fruit, otherwise we will become totally irrelevant and as useless as an unopened packet of seed.

It is true that both individuals and churches are going to mess up at times and we will constantly need to repent. We will need the power of the cross and the Holy Spirit to put to death our worldliness. Let us call on the help of the Holy Spirit, as individuals and churches so that we can proclaim for ourselves the words of Paul in Galatians 2:20 ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.’

Lord help us to live in the world and not be influenced by it but be an influence for You in it. Amen.

Author: Thelma Cameron

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