Sunday 14 July 2024

Fear of?

I often find the most generous people are the ones who have little, and they are generally the ones with the greater faith.

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I recently spoke on the instruction Jesus gave His disciples in Matthew 16:24 ‘Then Jesus told His disciples, ‘’If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny Himself and take up his cross and follow Me’’ (BSB). And since then everyday I ask the Lord to help me pick up my cross and follow Him. I have to ask for His help because I know that in my own strength I couldn’t possibly do it.

Having continued to ponder this instruction a couple of things occurred to me. Firstly, the need to deny oneself, that is I believe, putting down our wants and desires and submitting totally to Jesus. That is to invite Him to direct us through the day (follow Me), and keep our spiritual eyes fixed on Him. Something I know we may need to practice.

And secondly, the question of what is it that stops people from taking this seriously and doing it? This I believe comes as two different sides (as answers) of the same coin.

The first is the belief that we need to hold on to what we have, after all hasn’t God given it to us? And the fear of losing it can make us hold on to it tighter. And along with this comes the fear of us ultimately losing our comfort blanket. There’s a saying that is so true which is: ‘The more you have, the less you want to give away and the less you have, the more you want to give away.’

I often find the most generous people are the ones who have little, and they are generally the ones with the greater faith.

Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 16:25-26 ‘For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?’ (NIV). So there goes the comfort blanket!

Also, the fear of man, or the need for recognition from man. Both of these can stop us picking up our cross, denying ourselves and following Jesus, and can ultimately stunt our spiritual growth. Proverbs 29:25 says ‘The fear of man is a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is set secure on high.’ (BSB).

So whether we recognise it in ourselves or not, fear can have a negative power over us if we don’t keep it in check.

On the other side of the coin lies the answer to all this, and one that will help us carry our cross and follow Him, and we find the answer in Job 28:28 but let us read from verse 20.

20 Where then does wisdom come from?

     Where does understanding dwell?

21 It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing,

    concealed even from the birds in the sky.

22 Destruction and Death say,

    “Only a rumour of it has reached our ears.

23 God understands the way to it

    and he alone knows where it dwells,

24 for he views the ends of the earth

    and sees everything under the heavens.

25 When he established the force of the wind

    and measured out the waters,

26 when he made a decree for the rain

    and a path for the thunderstorm,

27 then he looked at wisdom and appraised it;

    he confirmed it and tested it. 

28 And he said to the human race,

    “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,

    and to shun evil is understanding.” (NIV).(Red lettering changed from black)


The answer on both sides of the proverbial coin is ‘fear’ but on one side it’s the fear of man and on the other side it’s the fear of the LORD, the second being the biblical definition of wisdom.

Unfortunately, in a lot of the church there seems to be a lack of the fear of the LORD, which in turn produces a lack of wisdom, which in turn produces a lack of willingness to pick up our cross daily and follow Jesus.

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But God always gives us time and a way out. So if you’re reading this you’re still alive and breathing and therefore have the time. And the way out (if you’re not already), is to walk in the fear of the LORD.

So let's not toss a spiritual coin to see where it lands, let's make a choice.

Let me finish with Job 28:28 from the BSB version of the bible.

And He said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.’ so let us turn away from the fear of man and of evil.

I pray that you know both wisdom and understanding as you pick up your cross daily and follow Jesus. And if like me you need help to do that, ask Him and He’ll give it to you.

Be blessed.



Author: Kevin Hunt

May God bless and enrich your life

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Sunday 7 July 2024

The Land Mourns

If the climate is changing, if nature has been disrupted, it is because we have offended the Creator

There is a connection between the moral state of the nation and the condition of the land.

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'Hear the word of the LORD, O children of Israel,
for the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land.
There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land; there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery;
they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
Therefore the land mourns, and all who dwell in it languish,
and also the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens,
and even the fish of the sea are taken away.' (Hosea 4:1-3)

Those who work the soil or observe nature cannot fail to have noticed that this year has been unusual. Continued winter rain led to waterlogging, causing crop losses on a scale unseen in generations. Soil biology and structure are suffering the consequences, leaving farmers and growers struggling to find a way to get seeds growing in cold and unresponsive ground, while blackgrass and other weeds have taken over many a wheat field.

Meanwhile nature too is out of kilter. Populations of songbirds have declined, while the numbers of corbids (crows, jackdaws, magpies etc.) have increased exponentially. Other species considered to be pests have also prospered; rats are rampant, even becoming immune to poison; slugs have overtaken plants as the soil temperature remained low while air temperature rose; even ticks are thriving in the strange conditions.

Many people have recently commented to me that things are 'just not right' in the countryside. What is going on? Is it climate change? Is it human activity? What can be done? But more importantly what is God saying? The following is a personal prophetic view as I try to line up what I perceive with what the Bible says.

Reaping the Whirlwind

There has been a disruption in nature. A disruption can be defined as a disturbance which interrupts, and the natural order of things has been disturbed and interrupted. Hosea connected the lack of the knowledge of God, and the resulting sinfulness, with the sorry state of the land: 'therefore the land mourns'. The connection between the moral state of the nation and the condition of the land is not limited to ancient Israel. I believe that what we are seeing now is a direct result of God's displeasure, and that the Lord allows imbalance in His created order as a warning to us. All of Hosea's warnings to Israel, quoted above, are surely applicable to present-day Britain and, since God does not change, similar effects can be expected. As Hosea later states: 'They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.' (8:7)

Rest

Indeed, given the dire state of corruption and syncretism in our nation, it is the level of continued providence that is surprising - testimony to the grace and patience of God and the resilience of His creation.

A key word from the Lord for these days is 'rest', both for people and for the land.  We are, paradoxically, to work and strive to enter God's rest (Hebrews 4:11). In the book of Judges after each cycle of complacency leading to apostasy, then judgement, prompting repentance and restoration, followed by a period when '..the land had rest..', until the people got comfortable again and forgot God's directions.  There are two Hebrew words for rest; the first is 'nuach', from which Noah got his name. It means to settle down, in Noah's case to stop floating around and remain in one place. But the phrase in Judges: 'the land had rest...', rest is 'shaqat',  meaning freedom from disturbance, disruption or harassment. We are getting a glimpse of un-rest in the environment, in society, in the church and in politics (but that is another whole story). This is not the end, but it is certainly a warning.

Climate Change?

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There is a popular view that climate change has been caused by human industrial and agricultural activity, and that therefore we can fix it. That view is humanist arrogance. Even Christians have been led by so-called science into this godless opinion. Science reveals the wonders, the complexity and the relationships of the life that God made. The Bible tells us that God created all things and that He maintains and sustains His creation. One day God will do terrible things to the climate and the environment He formed, (Rev 6-16), because He is in control. If the climate is changing, if nature has been disrupted, it is because we have offended the Creator, the only One who is able to give the land rest. We are 'without excuse'. (Rom 1:18-25). Of course it is good to minimise pollution and reduce our carbon footprint, but it is only Jesus who can save the planet.

If my People

If you have read this far you will know that the good news always comes at the end. Let me couple two scriptures together:

'When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.' (2 Chronicles 7:13-14)

'For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.' (Romans 8:19-23)

Our destiny is linked to God's creation. If we put our faith, hope and trust in Jesus we will one day have new bodies, like His, in a new and glorious creation. What we will be in the future influences our present. So even now we can humble ourselves, seeking the Lord in repentance, find forgiveness and see blessing and healing over the land.



Author: John Plumb

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