Keep your eyes on the tide

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

May/June 2014 Issue – ‘Revive us again’

Today’s text for reading and meditation:

Psalm 110:1-7  (NIV-UK): “The Lord says to my lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”  The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion, saying, “Rule in the midst of your enemies!”

Your troops will be willing on your day of battle. Arrayed in holy splendor, your young men will come to you like dew from the morning’s womb.

The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”
The Lord is at your right hand; he will crush kings on the day of his wrath. He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.

He will drink from a brook along the way, and so he will lift his head high.”

Not much I can add to Selwyn’s words regarding today’s study.

I think today’s prayer is one we can all agree with: “Father, what can I say? I don’t know whether I will live to see a worldwide revival but I want to live to experience a personal revival. Take me on, to know You in a greater way, than I have ever known You before. In Christ’s name. Amen.”

One other aspect that I like is the reference to: You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Now, lets move forward a few hundred years to the time of the young Church, when the writer of the book of Hebrews wrote (Hebrews 6:19-20): We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

Isn’t it amazing that the Bible is a cohesive presentation of God’s history with His creation? The truths presented to us in Scripture, especially the New Testament are eternal, and they are an anchor for our souls. Our trust in Jesus can never be shaken.

The watchman on the walls

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

May/June 2014 Issue – ‘Revive us again’

Today’s text for reading and meditation:

Isaiah 42:1-9  (NIV-UK):Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.

In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”

This is what God the Lord says — the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

“I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols. See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.”

I liked the following part of today’s study: “In Bible times the watchmen were the ones who stood on the walls of Jerusalem during the night so that they could report any signs of enemy activity and if necessary alert the rest of the inhabitants of the city. The watchmen were also the first ones to see the grey streaks of dawn and in its light were able to assess the current situation in a way that those in the city could not.

Just as Jerusalem had its watchmen, so too does the modern-day Church. They are the seers, the prophets, the intercessors, who are constantly on watch and report to us their findings.”

In a sense, all of us who are covered by the new covenant, have access to God’s Spirit. And, in general, it’s our responsibility (with His help) to keep watch and to be alert, while we wait for the return of Our Lord.

Just love the above verses from Isaiah.

Any comments?

Three signs of coming revival

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

May/June 2014 Issue – ‘Revive us again’

Today’s text for reading and meditation:

Psalm 102:1-17  (NIV-UK)Hear my prayer, Lord; let my cry for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.

For my days vanish like smoke; my bones burn like glowing embers. My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food.

In my distress I groan aloud and am reduced to skin and bones. I am like a desert owl, like an owl among the ruins.
I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof.

All day long my enemies taunt me; those who rail against me use my name as a curse. For I eat ashes as my food and mingle my drink with tears because of your great wrath, for you have taken me up and thrown me aside.

My days are like the evening shadow; I wither away like grass. But you, Lord, sit enthroned for ever; your renown endures through all generations.

You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favour to her; the appointed time has come. For her stones are dear to your servants; her very dust moves them to pity.

The nations will fear the name of the Lord, all the kings of the earth will revere your glory. For the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory. He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.”

This is a difficult topic for me to discuss; I ‘ll leave it to you to make up your mind regarding the three signs of revival that Selwyn talks about in today’s study.

I have a lot of empathy with his conclusion: “When God finds those who are concerned for revival as God’s people were about the stones and dust of Zion (as our passage for today points out) it will not be long before those who mourn will be comforted – by divine intervention.”

As I mentioned earlier in this issue on revival, I think we have now moved to a time when we should be looking for the signs of Jesus’ return.

We read in Matthew 24:3-14 (UKNIV): “As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. ‘Tell us,’ they said, ‘when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’

Jesus answered: ‘Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, “I am the Messiah,” and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth-pains.

Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

What is your view on this topic?

The sound of marching

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

May/June 2014 Issue – ‘Revive us again’

Today’s text for reading and meditation:

2 Samuel 5:17-25  (NIV-UK): “When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, they went up in full force to search for him, but David heard about it and went down to the stronghold. Now the Philistines had come and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; so David enquired of the Lord, ‘Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you deliver them into my hands?’

The Lord answered him, ‘Go, for I will surely deliver the Philistines into your hands.’

So David went to Baal Perazim, and there he defeated them. He said, ‘As waters break out, the Lord has broken out against my enemies before me.’ So that place was called Baal Perazim. The Philistines abandoned their idols there, and David and his men carried them off.

Once more the Philistines came up and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; so David enquired of the Lord, and he answered, ‘Do not go straight up, but circle round behind them and attack them in front of the poplar trees. As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the poplar trees, move quickly, because that will mean the Lord has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.’ So David did as the Lord commanded him, and he struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon to Gezer.”

I like today’s verses, because they highlight a point that I think many would miss. David enquired of the Lord, when the Philistines first came, received God’s advice and acted upon it. The second time the Philistines came, David did not immediately go out to attack the enemy – he could have thought to himself: “Well, I have already sought the Lord’s advice on this type of situation and I was given approval to attack. I’ll do the same this time!”

The point is that in every situation, we always seek our Lord’s guidance; we should never assume that because it’s the same type of problem that we have faced before, that the solution will always be the same.

Selwyn’s conclusion, is good: “These two battles illustrate the difference between the every day life activity of the Holy Spirit in the church and the way He operates in revival. In the first, we see David acting under God’s direction and with His enabling. In the second battle, it is God who takes the field and David follows on behind, gathering up the spoils of victory.”

At the right time in the future, God will again take the initiative – we may see revival, or we might see the return of Jesus. In either case, we should ensure that we are ready.

The battle for the Bible

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

May/June 2014 Issue – ‘Revive us again’

Today’s text for reading and meditation:

Psalm 119:89-96  (NIV-UK):Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.

Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures. Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you. If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life. Save me, for I am yours; I have sought out your precepts.

The wicked are waiting to destroy me, but I will ponder your statutes.

To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless.”

Selwyn covers another topic that is critical for us to address.

He writes: “Yet another issue in today’s Church which makes the need for revival urgent and desperate is a growing loss of confidence in the Scriptures. … Of course, not all churches have moved away from the authority of the Scriptures, but we must face the fact that many have and are. …

Revival brings with it a new confidence and a new faith and hunger for the truths found in Scriptures. People who are moved by the Holy Spirit invariably find their faith and understanding of the Bible being greatly quickened.”

The last sentence above, captures the heart of this issue: “People who are moved by the Holy Spirit ‘always’ find their faith and understanding of the Bible being greatly quickened.” We can be very definite about this fact, because this is one of the roles of God’s Spirit.

In John 14:25-26, we read: “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” In essence, the Holy Spirit reveals the meaning of the Scriptures to us, so that we are able to testify to the world the truth about Jesus.

I think we can say that those people who cast doubts on the spiritual truths clearly articulated by the Bible, are not listening to God’s Spirit because they do not have a relationship with Jesus. Do you  agree?

A common method that some so-called ‘theologians’ use to justify the modification of God’s Word, is to say that the content of the Bible has to be changed to be relevant to our time. That is, what is in the Bible may have been relevant to the culture at the time it was written, but it now needs to be changed to bring it into line with today’s cultural values. This is nonsense.

God has arranged for His message to be written, in a way that all spiritual truths are true throughout time; these truths stand independent to the cultural values of any society, at any point in time.

Clearly, there are some passages of Scripture which do have a cultural component and the context of these passages will enables us to determine the influence of culture. This is especially the case in some parts of the Old Testament. Yet, let me be very clear on this aspect – none of these cultural elements modify one iota of God’s spiritual truths; either then, or now.

What’s your view on this?

When we become god

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

May/June 2014 Issue – ‘Revive us again’

Today’s text for reading and meditation:

Proverbs 16:17-25  (NIV-UK): “The highway of the upright avoids evil; those who guard their ways preserve their lives.
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.
Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.
The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction.
Prudence is a fountain of life to the prudent, but folly brings punishment to fools.
The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent, and their lips promote instruction.
Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”

I feel that Selwyn highlights for us, in today’s study,  an important issue, that we should all consider.

He writes: “Another issue in today’s Church which makes the need for revival urgent and desperate is an unconscious self-dependency. I say unconscious because most Christians do not know they are doing it – but they are, nevertheless.

Here is how it develops; we learn or discover ways of doing things for God that make us feel good. At first, the most important thing is not the feelings we get, but he significance of the task in which we are engaged.

Gradually, however, we become preoccupied with the positive feelings that our actions give us and the significance of what we are doing takes second place. Subtly the tables have been turned – we move from being dependent on God, to the good feelings we get from what we are doing.

So it can be said that when self-dependency rules our hearts then we become (like a) god. If I were asked to name the biggest single problem in the Church today, I would unhesitatingly point to this – the tendency to depend on self (our strengths) rather than God to make our lives work. Revival would change all this.”

Most likely, you can think of people in your church community, who like doing certain tasks and they have been doing the same tasks for a long period of time – because hey feel they are doing something ‘useful’. The satisfaction of doing some ‘useful’ task has taken precedence over seeking God’s will. It’s a subtle and dangerous trap – because it locks us into the mindset of pleasing ourselves, which we assume must also mean that we are pleasing God.

Consequently, it’s important to continually examine our motives in regard to what activities we do within our church communities – we should do this examination of our hearts, on our knees in front of His throne – seeking His loving guidance, in all that we do. We can trust in His love that He will always guide and protect His sheep.

Any comments?

A time of spiritual tragedy

To Follow Jesus

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

May/June 2014 Issue – ‘Revive us again’

Today’s text for reading and meditation:

Luke 6:12-19 (NIV-UK): “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.

When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases.

Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.”

In this period, before the return of Jesus – it’s always a time of spiritual tragedy – it’s our sinful nature at work.

In today’s study, Selwyn talks about the risks involved in becoming too immersed in activities – the main risk being that we become so busy that we don’t leave enough time to adequately communicate with Jesus through prayer.

To effectively work in God’s harvest field, we must talk to Him every day about the good tasks He has prepared for us, to do. It’s a dangerous form of arrogance, to act as if we don’t need to seek God’s guidance on a regular basis; it’s basically saying that I know the mind of God and I don’t need to seek His direction and assistance.

The verses set for reading and meditation, provide for us an excellent example of when to pray. Jesus is soon to make an important decision – to pick twelve men from His large band of disciples who will become the future teachers and leaders of His Church.

Jesus goes to a mountain side to pray, He isolates himself from the crowd and any other distraction, so that all His energy and attention is focused – solely on talking to, and listening to His Father. It’s a long conversation – it goes all night. It’s the same for us, all important decisions take time – a long time on our knees (an attitude of humility, the mind of a servant) – and it might take all night, if necessary.

Persistent prayer for a long period of time is an activity, which does not come naturally for many of us; it takes a lot of self-discipline with essential assistance provided by God’s Spirit.

I liked Selwyn’s conclusion: “Here is the problem – it is so easy for us to become satisfied by our success in the field of study and research that our satisfaction can deaden our desire and rob us of a sense of need to see God work in a sovereign and extraordinary way through revival. We are in a time of spiritual tragedy when our activity becomes a blockage to His activity. [It’s really a blockage to our involvement in His activities. We can never block God’s plans.] Only prayer (worship) can keep our eyes fully on Him.”

Any comments?