Saturday 27 April 2024

What do you want?

“The way to become wise is to honour the Lord; He gives sound judgment to all who obey his commands. He is to be praised forever”
In 2 Chronicles chapter 1 we have the story of Solomon newly and firmly established as King, going to Gibeon with all of the leaders of the people to inquire of the Lord. King David had gone and here was this young and relatively inexperienced King sharing that they must go and inquire of the Lord together to ask Him for guidance. Maybe the question in the minds of Solomon and the leaders was “what do we do now”? The bible records:

“That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, ‘Ask for whatever you want me to give you.’ Solomon answered God, … 10 ‘Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?’”

Whatever was in the individual minds of the leaders, the Lord answered Solomon directly: “Ask! what shall I give you”? The question was not only about the substance of the gift that God would supply, but also a test of the heart – a test to see what was driving Solomon and give him an opportunity to know and manifest what was really in his heart.

I wonder how many of us find that God comes to us and turns our ideas, mindsets and questions around? When we were in the process of moving churches at one time our minds were occupied with where we would settle – where would our new spiritual home be? I discovered though that in fact all that the Lord seemed to be saying to me was: “Thank goodness you have stopped being part of all of that – if you put it all down and stop trying to work it out, I can actually speak to you about what is on my heart for you”. It turned out that the Lord wanted to show me some very simple things, and get me to soften my heart, repent some and refocus on Him, rather than engaging the ins and out of church life. After that, other stuff fell into place without a struggle.

We can try and imagine what Solomon and the leaders may have been thinking, and maybe wanting to ask for? Their thoughts may have been clouded with a lot of “stuff” - politics and what might be possible in the time of change, what might be better than in the past, and what might be worse. I wonder how many of them were ready to answer the real questions: “What do you want”? Why are you here?

Solomon realised that he didn’t want God to give him a roadmap to success – God had done this before with others – some who had been seeking the way and even a number who hadn’t. The instructions had been situational and varied, for example to Moses at the Red Sea: “Raise your staff over the water” and on another occasion “speak to the rock…” To Joshua at Jericho “walk around the city once for 6 days and 7 on the seventh day…” To Gideon “you have too many people bring them down to the water and I will sort them out…” To Naaman “dip in the river Jordan 7 times…”   To Jehoash “take the arrows and strike the ground…” and many, many more. Solomon knew that this kind of help was good and amazing but also limited. However, if the wisdom of the Lord was available to him 24/7 this would be much better – it would fill the hole that he felt in his heart and mind and enable him to fulfil the awesome responsibility that had become his – to lead God’s people.

I think that this story also anticipates the place that we are in as believers living after the events that we commemorate at Easter, and at a time when the Holy Spirit has been given to all who are “true followers of Jesus”. Jesus said to the disciples that the Holy Spirit was “with them” but would be “in them”. As such the Holy Spirit makes available to those who follow Jesus a host of attributes that represent the character of our heavenly Father (e.g. “fruits of the Spirit”), and “gifts of the Spirit” to attest to the truth of the preached word, minister to believers and non-believers, and bring deliverance and destroy the works of the evil one.
We therefore don’t need to continually be asking “what do I do now Lord”? If we walk with Him, we will walk in His paths – although all of us will have asked and received specific guidance from the Lord or experienced His intervention in our lives from time to time, it is not so much the norm because children of God are led by the Spirit of God - brought into intimate relationship with our heavenly Father on a daily basis. Here are some scriptures to ponder about this daily ongoing relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit:

Romans 8:14-15

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

1 Corinthians 2:14-16

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

2 Peter 1;3-4

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 

4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Acts 4:31

And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

Hebrews 11:6

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that he exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek him

Both David and Solomon had grasped that: “The way to become wise is to honour the Lord; He gives sound judgment to all who obey his commands. He is to be praised forever”. It was this understanding that led them to honour the Lord and seek His face. Although we live in the light of the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus, and the outpouring of the gift of the Father – the Holy Spirit, and are recipients of grace and participants in the divine nature by faith in the God’s promises; are we missing the fulness of all that He has for us individually and collectively? Individually and collectively how do we capture the Father’s attention so that He comes and asks us “What do you want”? Individually and collectively – what would our answer be? Will we ask for a “road map to success” or something that reflects the desires that the Lord has put within us to see fruit for the Kingdom and His name honoured and glorified?

Author: Chris Pearson

May God bless and enrich your life

Please feel free to share this article and other articles on this site with friends, family and others.

Saturday 20 April 2024

Follow the Science!

Knowledge will fade into insignificance as we come face to face with our Lord Jesus
Over recent years we, the public, have heard the mantra ‘Follow the science..’ uttered from the mouths of public leaders, especially politicians. The prime example was during the Covid pandemic, as the government enlisted the country’s top scientific advisers to help navigate through these unchartered waters. In our widespread interconnected, commuter society, the scientists and policy advisers had to grapple with complex issues while many of the public offered their diverse opinions and doctrines on social media and news outlets. It was evident that many experts did not agree, and that science for one group was pseudoscience for another group. Then of course the internet gives opportunity for many of us to gather together some of the facts and draw our own conclusions; conspiracy theories abound!

I was interested to read an account, by Sarah Irving-Stonebraker, about some of the early scientists of the 17th century; especially Robert Boyle and Robert Hooke who with colleagues, developed the experimental method. They recognised human fallibility and the resulting error that came from relying upon our natural senses. They fully accepted that in the original state of creation, Adam and Eve possessed perfect senses and a perfect knowledge of nature. Adam was able to give names to all the creatures through this perfect knowledge and authority over creation. However, after their rebellion against God in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), their perfect senses were damaged by sin and they lost dominion over the natural world. This is a quote from the historian, Peter Harrison: “the experimental method…arose out of a renewed awareness that the attainment of knowledge was not a natural, easy process, but rather one that called for the imposition of external constraints: rigorous testing of knowledge claims, repeated experiments, communal witnessing, the gradual accumulation of histories, the use of artificial instruments to amplify the dim powers of the senses and the corporate rather than the individual production of knowledge”. That quote is worth rereading.
Scientific knowledge has been gradually accumulating over the past 400 years, with those solid foundations still holding fast. However, there are individuals and organisations who have had an agenda to destroy the biblical foundations of science. They are well educated and have laboured in their fields of science. They have communicated their ideas in the name of science and through gradual popularisation, their theories and hypotheses have been declared as facts. It is a good discipline to test what is claimed to be science against the foundations laid hundreds of years ago. To simplify it: scientific facts should be observations that are measurable and repeatable. 

Solomon, who was renowned for his wisdom and accumulation of knowledge, shares some secrets at the beginning of the book of Proverbs: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline…. Let the wise listen and add to their learning.

The apostle Paul reminds us all, when instructing the Corinthian church about the pre-eminence of love, that knowledge will fade into insignificance as we come face to face with our Lord Jesus: 

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

Author: Richard Windridge

May God bless and enrich your life

Please feel free to share this article and other articles on this site with friends, family and others.

Saturday 13 April 2024

Decision Time

He is just waiting to embrace you with his loving and comforting arms
On Easter Sunday, 1st April, my dear friend Roy Westwood preached this message to his fellowship in Waddington Lincolnshire. I reproduce it here as he said it, with his permission, after a couple of minor tweaks:

“I just love the cryptic promises about the salvation through the cross in the Old Testament; 

Exodus 15:22-26 Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore, it was named Marah. And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” And he cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the Lord made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them, saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.”

For 430 years the Israelites had been in captivity, slaves of the Egyptians, brutalised and continually abused. They had lost their dignity and their self - esteem. 

They consistently cried out to their God for help and their prayer would possibly have been ; ”Please forgive me. If you deliver us and set us free we will never ever doubt you again“ The exodus from Egypt was enormous, probably close to a million however not everyone reached the promised land many turned away from God and lost their promise. 

Fast forward to the wilderness and the pool at Marah, centuries before Jesus was even born. It was probably pure and clean at one time. However, over the years it had become contaminated with various foreign things that had got into it. It is of course quite possible that God made it bitter in order to bring the Israelites back to their senses and reminding them of the miraculous deliverance they had experienced when he made them free from their dreadful lives. 

Tired hungry and thirsty, back to their old ways moaning, grumbling,  blaming Moses and everyone including God, 

“Why couldn’t we have stayed in Egypt at least we were never hungry and thirsty. We endured the punishment and brutality for over 400 years. We were far better off there. Instead, you, Moses let God bring us here into the wilderness on a stupid promise of some non-existent promised land just so he could see us die “Why can’t we ever find peace, why does God continually bring us grief, why must we go around in circles. Why doesn’t He show us what the future holds? If he would show us that our future was great and peaceful we would be o.k. we would never ever complain again, but there is just no hope“

I truly believe that the pool at Marah represents the human heart, because it has had all manner of problems and difficulties; illness, physical and mental problems, some of which are self - inflicted. The heart has become bitter and in many ways the individual needs to place the blame and eventually that usually is God. The wood represents the Cross on which Jesus died for each one of us. Look what happened when the cross went into the water (Heart); it became pure. Look what happened to the Israelites;  

Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water.

They found rest and shelters, a much better life. 

If you accept the cross and ALL it represents into your heart things WILL change. He is just waiting to embrace you with his loving and comforting arms. The key word here is WAITING.
Revelation 3:20 in the message says: “Look at me. I stand WAITING at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you.

Jesus is standing here outside the door (your heart) He says; ‘Invite me in. I want to have an intimate relationship with you, love and comfort you, but I will not barge my way in and bully you it MUST be at your request“  

If you feel that this could be you because of situations, relationships and most importantly decisions that you have made that have gone wrong. That, over the years, you feel lost and abandoned, let down by family and friends that you have trusted and confided in, and you feel betrayed and maybe your heart has become sad and even bitter. Then I can personally  guarantee that, if you put your trust in Jesus and his amazing sacrifice on that wooden cross on Calvary, He will NEVER let you down.

I ask you to make that decision today and someone will come and pray with you. 

In 2 Corinthians 6 it states: “In the time of my favour I have heard you and in the day of salvation I have helped you I tell you this this is the day of my favour This is the day of your salvation.” 

Perhaps you did pray this prayer a long time ago but because of various situations, maybe the pressures of work, health, money worries, the loss of a loved one, you have, like the Israelites, lost your way a little.

If so and if God seems far away from you, I ask you simply, If God seems far away; Guess Who’s Moved?

Remember, if you pray this prayer and accept Jesus into your life as your personal saviour, your life will slowly change for the better, but it’s a lifetime commitment. Don’t be like the Israelites who lost it on the last stretch.

You will enter into Gods worldwide family who will be just waiting and willing to talk, listen and pray with you when you become hungry or thirsty for friendship, fellowship and encouragement. 

Jesus said in John 6:35: “I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me will never go hungry and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty again“ 

Amazingly, you will see people in your former situation, and you will be able to help  them as you have been helped. I don’t want to embarrass anyone by asking them to come out to the front to be prayed for. If I had been asked to do that, personally I would have done a runner.

You may want someone to pray for a specific situation for healing, or a friend.

Remember we are here today to celebrate a saviour who has been taken down from the cross and raised from the dead to eternal life and NOTHING is impossible for the one true God. Now and again I get pictures of people or situations I would like to share this picture I have. It maybe for someone here today:


Revelations 1:7: “Look  He is coming  on the clouds and every eye shall see Him…….. “

Sadly, the world we live in, is a world that’s lost its sight of the cross and the sacrifice  that Jesus made for them and in many ways has become dark and uncaring, just focusing on their lives, totally unaware of what is to come.

We need to be like Jesus a Light in a Dark World. Its time to accept the invitation, the days of hesitation and reluctance are over.”

For the purposes of this blog, Roy offers this explanation of the picture:

Some years ago, as a young Christian, and having my doubts about salvation, the Holy Spirit gave me this picture: 

“Like the films War of the Worlds and Gone with the Wind, there is a scene after a great battle. The earth and sky are black, charred and smouldering, people are crying out for helpSuddenly Jesus comes, a huge figure striding across the scene, in his hand He holds a HUGE  glass jar. As he goes he keeps picking up small lights, ( a little bit like glow worms). These are those who shine with the light of Christ. People are shouting “ Here I am help me“

However, in Revelation 1:7 it says ALL eyes will see him NOT he will see everyone .

If we don’t shine with the light of Christ in this world then we are heading for a lost eternity. 

“As we close our eyes and prepare to pray if you would like to respond to Gods invitation today just quietly raise your hand, someone will come and quietly pray with you." 

Let’s Pray;

Heavenly Father I ask your forgiveness for the way I have lived my life. I, like the Israelites feel lost and alone in the wilderness and as you brought them to safety and a better life please touch my heart as you touched the pool at Marah with the cross and make it pure and worthy enough to follow you. In your precious name I pray, AMEN”

I make no apologies for publishing this in full, because not only is the message it contains vital in these days, but its very delivery is also a testimony to the power of Jesus in the life of this godly man.

Roy preached this message only three weeks after the funeral of his beloved wife, Sue, who went to be with the Lord after a tragic accident at home.

Be blessed as you read it and have a blessed week.

Author: Alan Cameron (with gratitude to Roy Westwood)

May God bless and enrich your life

Please feel free to share this article and other articles on this site with friends, family and others.

Saturday 6 April 2024

A woman of Valour who can find

Sometimes we feel far from God and separated from him but if we let God use us even in our worst times, we can still reflect the Lord’s love and message of hope to others
The -Woman of Valour-, or Eishet Chayil in Hebrew, is a 22-verse poem, found in the 31st chapter of the book of Proverbs (10-31) and delineates the qualities of an ideal Jewish woman. This prayer is traditionally read before the Kiddush wine blessing as Jewish families welcome in Shabbat on a Friday evening. 

I have recently read in my daily readings the Book of Ruth, a wonderful book which draws our attention to the account of an amazing woman of valour Ruth (a Moabitess and foreigner to Israel) and her faithfulness and obedience, which resulted in her becoming part of the lineage of The Lord Jesus. But it was to Naomi her mother in law that I was drawn. We don’t often hear about Naomi in popular sermons on this book, but in reading it again this time I was struck by the character, faithfulness and wisdom of Naomi.  

When famine came on the land of Israel Naomi obeyed her Husband and left all she knew and travelled to Moab, where they settled and raised a family. Her 2 boys married local girls and all went well until her Husband and both her sons died. Three women alone in Moab was not a good prospect, so Naomi acted wisely and decided to go back to her roots (Israel) But she counselled the two girls to return to their old homes and people advising them to marry again. But Ruth saw something in the character and life of Naomi that compelled her not to leave her mother-in-law. The bond that had grown between them was stronger than mother and daughter!  Ruth begged her “Don`t ask me to leave you, wherever you live I will live, your people will be my people and your God will be my God”. (Ruth 1 v 16 NLT).  Naomi had managed to represent God`s goodness so faithfully, that even at a time when Naomi herself felt the Lord had `raised his fist` against her, her lifestyle had made Ruth want to leave behind her old life and follow Naomi`s God. What an insight: sometimes we feel far from God and separated from him (Naomi asked people to call her `Mara` which means `bitter` she felt so desolate) but if we let God use us even in our worst times, we can still reflect the Lord’s love and message of hope to others.  – A woman of Valour-

So, they are now returned to Israel, but how will they live? Ruth asked if she could go and gather grain left behind after the harvesters had cut down the Barley. Naomi let her go, she didn’t hold her close at home for fear of what could happen to her. She enabled Ruth to seek ways of sustaining herself and her mother-in-law. When Ruth returned that night and told of the man Boaz, who`s field she had worked in and who had been so kind to her, Naomi recognised who Boaz was and knew his character. She advised Ruth she would be safe with him! Naomi recognised Boaz as Ruth`s eventual saviour and redeemer and directed her towards the safety of his keeping.  – A woman of Valour-
As women of valour, we should be looking out for the women (and men) in our families and friendship circle and directing them to Jesus, Gods redeemer. Even at times when we may not feel strong and like we have it all together. God used Naomi to influence Ruth when Naomi herself was at her most vulnerable. There was something deep in Naomi`s character and love of God the He could use even at her lowest point. Sometimes in our brokenness the Lord uses us to turn someone’s life around. Because at that point we can only depend on Him. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT): “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness” 

So long story short- At the right time Naomi recognises that she must share the whole plan for Ruth to have a permanent home, so she will be provided for. So, she identifies Boaz as Ruth's kinsman redeemer and lays out clearly the way for Ruth to both understand, claim and obtain the redemption Boaz can secure for her.  (read Ruth chapters 3&4 for the whole story its lovely). Naomi waited for the right time, for the directing of the Lord, and the way to introduce Ruth to Boaz as her own personal redeemer. She then supported her through the whole process until Ruth was finally fully redeemed by Boaz. -A woman of Valour-

Often the story of Ruth highlights Ruth's journey, her character and her obedience and final redemption. It also highlights Boaz as a benevolent redeemer, who cares for Ruth and at his own cost buy her back to himself and takes her into his family. It also points the finger to the future that King David comes from the line of Boaz and Jesus comes from the line of David. So, this union is no small union and the book of Ruth is so much more than a love story. Its one of those pivotal points in Israel's history. But it also highlights what can be achieved in the Lord by a -Woman of Valour- Naomi`s faithful following of the Lord's leading is evident all through the story. Returning to her roots in God's land at her lowest point; of supporting Ruth when another person to support may have been the last thing she had wanted; of seeing with the eye of faith the provision of the Lord for Ruth and not holding back from sharing that with her; for realising that even though the Lord had led her through times of bitterness and pain that was not necessarily the end of the story. 

We may not all end up being Ruths, highlighted as being instrumental in a lineage that produced Kings and a Saviour. That is for some but not for all. But we can all be Naomis -Women of Valour- who faithfully do not give up or lose hope, who have our ears open to the possibilities of God's provision, and who obediently follow the direction of the Lord even if it sounds a bit odd or risky. Who facilitate others to find their true redemption and potential in the Lord. It is equally important and valiant. If you get time read the whole of Ruth (its not long) and ask the Lord to direct you to the truth he wants you to glean from the story. Also take a minute to read Proverbs 31:10-31 A wife of noble character. It ends with the words “Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the lord will be greatly praised” V30 NLT

And for those who think this is only a message to women it is not. - Men of Valour -need the same characteristics, and faithfulness in following the Lord’s direction; to facilitate those God has placed in their care to find their true redemption and potential in the Lord; and to grow into true Men of God who display the nature and love of their redeemer. 

Be blessed today.

Author: Jan Pearson

May God bless and enrich your life

Please feel free to share this article and other articles on this site with friends, family and others.