06 November 2009

Eaton Ford (day) - Life in the light

Stuart was with us this morning for the first part of the meeting. We spent some time chatting and then prayed with him for some of the things he needs in his life. Life in the lightRoger told us that his friend Andy starts a new job next week, and that is a wonderful answer to prayer. Paul's sister also has a new job and is loving it, while for Roger's sister things are looking more promising too.

We also talked about Roger and Ruth's desire to see new life in the church where they live. I felt the Lord saying about this issue in particular, 'Begin and end with love'. I hope to visit them at home on Tuesday to pray about life in Offord.

Then we briefly discussed whether we should add some more deliberate Bible reading to our weekly meetings. Roger thought it would be good to read through some Psalms and share what the verses might be saying to us. I felt it would be good to work through Mark's gospel. We decided to try both and made a start right away with Psalm 30.

Verse six seemed very relevant, 'When I felt secure, I said, "I will never be shaken."' We've all been in that place in our lives, we feel capable of dealing with anything without help, but when we hit real difficulties we crumble. We need the Lord to lift us up, it's a big mistake to try to lift ourselves up!

05 November 2009

Eaton Ford - Tossed on the waves of life

Mary began by telling us about a situation at work that had made her angry. She had made up her mind to retaliate but as she read Titus and Matthew 5 and 6 she felt the Lord speaking to her and calling her to be peaceful, A storm blew upboth in her heart and in her actions. This was a very direct revelation, clear evidence of Father's guidance and involvement in her life.

We shared news of a number of friends who need prayer right now and we prayed for them and for ourselves, expecting the Lord to meet all these needs.

Jim told us about a trip to the north where they went to minister to two very different churches. The first one was physically poor but spiritually rich with a great deal going on and lives being impacted. The second church was rich, had a grand meeting place and did everything in style, but they were formalised and spiritually poor. This had greatly impressed Jim who saw that we can be so rich in ourselves that we feel we don't need Jesus.

I had a clear picture of a river in the desert, like the Nile. Far from the river there were no trees or other plants because of the utter dryness. But closer to the river there was much more greenery. And the Spirit said, 'Stay close to the banks where you will grow strongly and bear a lot of fruit.' Jesus is the river, he is the flow of living water which we need to sustain us and make us fruitful.

Jim read Titus 2:1-15 and reminded us that the grace of God is the most important aspect for us. We have so much to be thankful about! We all have an appointed time to leave this life, but today is the day for all of us to say 'Yes' to Jesus. He wants to encourage us daily with the living word that cuts right through to the marrow.

The words of an old hymn ('It is well with my soul') popped into Sean's mind,
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
I shared some thoughts from Mark 4 which had come into focus for me when I read it recently. In verses 35-41 we see Yahshua sleeping peacefully while the disciples were very frightened. They didn't understand, as he did, that he was on an unfinished mission and his Father would not allow him to fail through a mere storm.

All the parables in the earlier section of the chapter help them to see the spiritual truth which he already fully understands. The physical world often mirrors the spiritual world and can help us grow in understanding. Yahshua himself is the lamp, the Light of the world that is meant to be disclosed. He told them to 'consider carefully what you hear'. Consider well and get a good dose of understanding. We grow in spiritual understanding in the same way as the growing seed, we don't understand how, but in the end there is a benefit - a harvest, a shady place for the vulnerable to rest.

This is why, when they were afraid, he said, 'Do you still have no faith?'

Jim told us about some men who were sharing the good news on the street and felt strongly led to go to a phone shop. They found the staff were Muslims and one woman told them, 'I'll believe your God is real if you can tell me something about my life only I could know'. And while they were looking at one another wondering how they could meet such a challenge, she suddenly shrieked! It turned out that at that moment the Lord had revealed himself to her in a vision and she could no longer deny him!

We talked about faith, and taking risks, and growing in wisdom and knowledge and grace. It was all very encouraging stuff.

04 November 2009

Weird and wonderful maps

I love maps and plans. I always have. Most likely I always will. They encapsulate a place, a landscape, an idea, a society, politics, history, The World at nightwhatever may be of interest to whoever created the map.

Maps convey so much in convenient, overview form. I can pore over a good map for hours and hours.

So imagine my delight at discovering 'Strange Maps', a blog that's updated every day or three with yet another wacky map. Some of these are awesome, most are amusing or intriguing, all are fun providing they're not taken too seriously.

Take a few minutes to view a few of the posts, you won't be disappointed. Here are some that I particularly recommend for the cartophiles amongst my readers.

03 November 2009

Great Doddington - Letting go

Jody spoke about the shrewd manager described in Luke 16:1-15. He was about to lose his job, so let his master's debtors off with part payment. A clenched fistThat way he was sure to have friends when he needed them. This was dishonest, but the master was impressed by his ingenuity.

She also reminded us of the widow in Luke 18, we should keep praying and never give up. I added that we need to have a right understanding about Yahshua. In all the varied circumstances of life concerning people and events, we need to know he's always with us and is more than able to do whatever he thinks we need.

Jody thought that we need to 'let go'. There's a temptation to, as it were, ball up our fists. But we mustn't do this, he wants us to relax. We are in Christ and he is in us so we can certainly have peace!

Rachael remembered the old Batman TV series. Batman and Robin were sometimes shown climbing up the side of a skyscraper but what they were really doing in the studio was crawling along the floor! Sometimes life seems such a struggle, it's as if Jesus want us to scale a high building. But our perspective is wrong. When we adjust and see it from his point of view, what seemed hard is really easy - all we have to do is crawl along the floor.

We spent some time in prayer for people we know, including one who has to undergo a rather difficult procedure in hospital. We also prayed for Jody and Peter's house and that it would be a place of blessing and peace for the people who move into it in future.

I commented on the still quietness that enveloped the meeting, it was not an uneasy quietness but seemed to me to be evidence of the peace and love of Yahshua in our hearts.

Rachael read Proverbs 27:9-10 which reminds us of the importance and value of local community.

02 November 2009

Colworth (CU) - Be wise

Andy brought some thoughts on the topic 'Wisdom' based on readings from United Christian Broadcasters Ltd (UCB). Wise as an owlThe comments covered Deuteronomy 32:29 and were published on 29th and 30th October. We read verses 24-47 for context.

Andy reminded us that wisdom is needed in deciding where to put our effort and how to spend whatever resources we have. In many ways it's the art of knowing what to overlook since we simply cannot aspire to do everything that might be possible. We need to avoid doing petty things and instead focus our energy and time on  what will be useful.

01 November 2009

St Neots (Open Door) - Obedience

Today I met with the saints in big church in town. Gavin and Fiona live near Peterborough and will soon be leaving Open Door to begin something new in their home area.Paying attention Gavin spoke about obedience - their own original plans and intentions have had to change as the Lord has unfolded his plan for their lives.

He read Hosea 3:1-5 which provides an example of obedience in the extreme. Hosea's wife was a prostitute and had ended up in the slave market, his love for her was such that he was prepared to spend all the funds he could raise to buy her back. He had married her in obedience to the Almighty and now he was showing his love to her again, also in obedience.

We need to see ourselves, as Hosea clearly did, through the Lord's eyes. And it's not just a matter of words but of actions and truth. Like Hosea's wife Gomer (and like Israel in Hosea's day) we need to know just how much we are loved and how much we've been forgiven. Obedience needs to be like Hosea's - motivated by love, progressive, in accordance with Father's will, and clearly set forth in his word.

Here is my own understanding of Gavin's analysis of obedience.

Motivated by love - there are so many other possible motives, but none of them is sufficient. We might want to please the Lord, or achieve something for him, or see more people join the church, or be useful. All of these may be commendable, but without love they will be worth nothing.

Progressive - we cannot see the end from the beginning, but Father can. When he guides us he will usually show us the way step by step and we need to take those steps in faith, trusting that he will show us the next step, and the next, and the next.

In accordance with Father's will - there is no point in trying to achieve my goal. The Almighty always has in mind his goal. Don't pray, 'Lord, please prosper my efforts to do something for you'. Instead find out what he wants you to to do and pray for that.

Clearly set forth in his word - the principles are all there. Obedience is not difficult to grasp, it's simply a matter of loving the Lord and loving one another. Those are his commandments, if we obey those everything else will follow.

Gavin and Fiona are clear where their future path lies, though of course not ultimately where it will take them.

Gavin continued with a reminder that we need to hear his word to 'go again', and it must be from the heart. Hosea heard and acted, and like him we must give up self in order to love and obey. Are we living messages of love and obedience in the world? Do others see the Lord through us? We must be good news, not merely preach it.

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