A well-known preacher of the last century named William Sangster came down with a
disease that caused his vocal chords to be paralysed. On his last Easter on earth his
daughter came to visit him on Easter Sunday. Unable to speak, he scribbled on a piece of paper, "How terrible to wake up on Easter morning and have no voice to shout 'He is
risen!' But it would be even worse to have a voice and not want to shout 'He is risen!'"
As Christians, it means everything to us to declare Christ is risen! Romans 10:9 tells us, "if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord', and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." The resurrection of Christ is the key to our
salvation. But to be resurrected one has to first die. Jesus did not pretend to die so that he could reappear 3 days later, pretending to have risen. Everyone present knew for certain that he had died. He died as God's sacrificial lamb, to pay the redemptive price of our sins. He died to cancel sin's penalty. Yet to be raised from the dead was proof of God's acceptance of Christ's sacrifice.
I love the story of Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan. The main character. Pilgrim, sets off on his journey towards the Celestial City bearing a heavy burden upon his back. It was the burden of his guilt and sin and it weighed him down. Pilgrim met Evangelist, who pointed him in the right direction, and, arriving at the hill of Calvary, Pilgrim knelt at the cross. The burden fell from his back and rolled down the hill, disappearing forever into the empty tomb.
All of us carry a heavy load of sin, until we give it to Christ when we receive Him as our
Saviour. If you have not done so already, what better time could there be to turn to Jesus as Saviour than at Easter?
Easter gives us everything our hearts need: confirmation of Christ's identity, cancellation of sin's penalty and celebration of life eternally.
Wishing you a truly happy and blessed Easter.
The basis for all fellowship is brotherly love. The deepest kind of fellowship is not based on race or family relationships but on the spiritual life we have in Christ. A church fellowship that is based on anything other than a love for Christ and for one another, simply will not last.
The love of Christ demands a ministry from us, where we practice brotherly love. Where there is true Christian love, there will also be hospitality. This was an important ministry in the early Church because persecution drove many believers away from their homes. Also, there were poor travelling ministers who needed places to stay. 3 Jn. 5 - 8. Many poor saints were invited to stay with fellow believers. All visitors were given a warm welcome.
I believe visitors are very important to us, and it's our job, to do what the early Christians did, welcome them. This is what the love of Christ demands from us.They are important because they may be unconverted or in need of spiritual help.They may have moved into the area recently and are looking for a new spiritual home for worship. What kind of example is it, when they are left stranded after the service? Does it show the love of Christ in us? Although I believe many of us may be painfully shy, it's our job, not theirs, to take the initiative and welcome them. Whilst we may have friends we wish to speak to, a welcome of some sort to the visitor must be encouraged.
In Gen 18, we are told of Abraham showing generous hospitality to the 2nd person of the Trinity and two of His angels. Abraham did not know who they were when he welcomed them; it was only later that he discovered the identities of his guests. You and I may not entertain angels in a literal sense (though it might be possible), but any stranger we meet could turn out to be a messenger of blessing to us. (the word "angel" simply means messenger) Often we have had guests in our homes, and churches, who have turned out to be messengers of God's blessings.
May God help us in our ministry in this way, and may our love for Christ be revealed in our love for one another and visitors.
Yours in Christ,
The week of prayer has been a great time of encouragement and blessing. We can never underestimate just how important prayer is in the life of the individual and the local Church. It is as Rowland Hill said, "the breath of a new born soul & there can be no life without it."
Prayer is like breathing. Just as breathing needs air, so the soul too needs prayer. It's something that we have to do, for just as we stop breathing, we die, so will our spiritual lives become life less if we don't pray.
Remember how the Psalmist puts it in Psalm 84, "My soul longs and even faints for the courts of the Lord. My heart and flesh cry out for the living God."
Prayer is an incredible, hidden, powerful ministry, where God gives life to others through our prayers and that in turn brings forth incredible thankfulness to God.
Of course as I said last Friday, it's a battle and a struggle, but remember we have the Holy Spirit who makes intercession for us and prays for us and makes things move for us.
We have a great high priest, who also prays for us.
So let us not lose heart, but be encouraged to pray, because he works in those who pray, and who serve him.
I commend this ministry that we may continue to persevere in prayer.
Happy New Year to you all. As we look to the New Year it's terribly important to commend all things to God's hand in prayer. Prayer is a great privilege; to have fellowship with the Lord is an honour, yet it's also crucial for the soul. Corrie Ten Boom said, "What wings are to a bird, and sails to a ship, so to is prayer to the soul."
Our annual Week of Prayer begins on the 29th January until 4th February. I would ask that you set aside this week and join us as this is a great blessing and encouragement. We start at 10am on the 29th before our Morning service. On each weekday I am asking you to pause at 8am and 8pm wherever you happen to be and spend time in prayer, in the knowledge that others are doing so at the same time. On Tuesday 31st January and Thursday 2nd February at 7.30PM and on Saturday Morning, the Church building will be open for those who can meet together to Pray.
Let's remind ourselves from the words of Matthew Henry, "When God is preparing to do something great, he sets his people to pray."
The excitement of Christmas is near. The build up and preparations is a busy part of the year. It becomes so busy that we forget why we are celebrating this time of the year. But let us pause, at the two simple words seen in John 1.11, “He came.” These two simple words are at the root of all truth.
Before Christ came in the incarnation, there had been only the eternal past. Then, from the time of creation, we have hints such as, “In the beginning He was God,” and “In Him was light,” and “all things were made by Him.”Now it says, “He came.”
All the mercy, love and grace, God is capable of showing is seen in those two simple words, “He Came.”
That’s why we celebrate Christmas, it’s as special this year as it always has been, because 2022 years ago, He came as fully God, fully man, to, “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1.21).
Because He is the true light, man’s long night of darkness is dispelled, we celebrate with Milton the delight that, “This is the happy morn wherein the son of heaven’s eternal King, of wedded maid and virgin other born, our great redemption from above did bring.”
I hope you will all have a blessed and happy Christmas, as we celebrate our Saviour’s coming.
Yours in Christ,
Why do we have a prayer meeting? Why is it important that we go? From an older 'In Touch' magazine, Geoff Gobbett discusses why we should attend the prayer meetings.
What makes the prayer meeting missable? Why is it low on the order of priorities? Why does it seem to some it not that urgent, not that important? To what extent is there the connection between Spiritual blessing and prayer?
This is to me personally a very important issue and to all engaged in the Lord's work.
1) Prayer comes before spiritual blessing. Prayer is seeking God. It is enquiring of the Lord. Trace through the history of the Bible and the history of the Church, and see if you can discern any spiritual blessing that has come which was unheralded by prayer.
2) Prayer is the representative of spiritual blessing. When a king or queen is due to appear, there is often a fanfare of trumpets. When the new Parliament is opened, before the Queen comes, the trumpets herald her arrival. Thus before the Lord comes in blessing, prayer is the herald, the representative of blessing. What a mercy of the Lord to say here in Ezekiel 36 "I will yet for this be enquired of by the House of Israel, to "do it for them; I will increase them with men"".
3) Prayer is an expression of spiritual blessing. We cannot but feel that if God has given a heart to pray, then he has blessings to give generously. There is a very strong connection. We pray. God hears and blesses. How come? He has ordered it to be so. He delights to hear prayer. And he measures out his blessings so that we come again and again and ask him. When we are burdened beyond our ability to cope, and we follow the injunction of 1 Peter 5 v 7, God answers even in the midst of our praying. Prayer is neglected because we have no sense of need. That is natural to us to not feel any need of the Lord. A sense of need is a divine gift. No pastor, no preacher can nag his church into this. It cannot be done. I’ve tried as a pastor and failed in this respect. I think this is where we are lacking. We need to plead for this.
Imagine this – if we received blessings without prayer what would happen?
i) we believe that those blessings were common things, and that somehow we deserved them.
ii) We would take them for granted.
iii) God would not be sought earnestly.
4) Prayer is God's will to grant spiritual blessing. We need not ask if we are doing what the Lord wants us to do, in seeking him. The time is never wasted as we come to prayer. Can churches make greater use of the time afforded? It should be lively! We need to ask ourselves some questions at this point. Do I discern those areas of special need of prayer? Why is it that some prayer meetings can be 'heaven on earth' and others simply drag? Do cold hearts help or hinder? What can I do to realise the purposes of God for me in terms of prayer? Have I made it an idol? This needs some honest reflections and self examination at this point. If the Lord does not give to us a spirit of prayer, we are in dire straights.
Remember it does not come through nagging, but Him giving.
~ Geoff Gobbett