Saturday, 28 February 2009

Names of God

Jehovah Jireh - The Lord will provide
Jehovah Rohi - The Lord is my shepherd
Jehovah Tsidkenu - The Lord our righteousness
Jehovah Mekaddesh - The Lord who sanctifies
Jehovah Nissi - The Lord our banner
Jehovah Shammah - The Lord is present
Jehovah Sabaoth The Lord of armies
Jehovah Shalom the Lord our peace

What an awesome God we serve.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

I'd Rather Be a Door Keeper

2 King 5:1-16

Naaman was Captain of the Kings army, a great man, but he had leprosy. On hearing that a prophet in Israel could heal him Naaman was sent by the King of Syria to Israel to be cleansed of his leprosy. Naaman came and stood at Elisha's door and Elisha sent word to him that he ought to go and wash 7 times in Jordan and his flesh would be healed. Naaman was furious, he had expected Elisha to come out to him. Here he stood a great and honourable man - hadn't the Lord given deliverance to Syria by him and here was this prophet not even bothering to greet him, sending a mere servant to tell him to wash in Jordan. He thought Elisha could at least have come out and called on the name of the Lord, laid his hand over the place that the leprosy covered, but to wash in Jordan ... The rivers of Damascus were far better than those of Israel anyway, so why couldn't he wash in them - and Naaman turned and went off in a rage.

You know this got me thinking about pride and wondering if in any way I was a bit like Naaman do I expect to be treated differently do any of us expect to be treated differently. Do we know the Lord wants us to do something but we don't really want to do it as say "But Lord I'd rather do this such and such, for example ...

Look at Peter Lord, he stands at the front of the church and sings for you - that's a decent sort of job Lord, my voice isn't so bad, can't I sing for you, or ...

What about Mary, she leads that house-group with Andrew, people look up to her - can I do something like that Lord ...

And what about Martha, people have started asking her advice about things ...

And there's Paul over there, he even gets to lead the worship once a month and Lord you just want me to ... well help wash the dishes, giving out the hymn books would be better than that.

Can't I do something decent Lord, perhaps I could teach Lord, I'm sure I'd be good at it. Give me something where others can see I'm an OK sort of person - Lord I always seem to get the menial tasks.

Perhaps Naaman thought it was a bit beneath him to wash in the Jordan but as his servant pointed out to him "look if the prophet had asked you to do something really great you'd have gone and done it, why not do this thing that seems trivial to you -
God can even use what seems trivial for his glory.
So Naaman went and washed in the Jordan and was healed.

You know the Psalmist says it all in Psalm 84 "For one day in your courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a door keeper in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.

Pride is a funny thing - we always seem to want what we think is best for us and yet no matter where the Lord places us - whether it's to be the cleaner not the preacher - the door keeper not the worship leader, the washer-upper not the housegroup leader ... if we continue to wait in the wings and never make centre stage our Lord knows what is best for us. He's given us whatever gifts we have and we ought to be content in using those gifts for His glory, not ours.

You know Elisha sought no reward for the help he'd given Naaman, he didn't wan't to be centre stage and we shouldn't seek to be noticed or seek the praise of others either.

The Lord has given each of us something special, something we can do that perhaps no else can, we are unique and he allows us to keep out individuality: but we are one in Him and whatever He has given us we should do it until the time mentioned in Ephesians 4:11-32

Ane he gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (and some cleaners; and some door keepers, and some washer uppers)
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: .....

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Praise the Lord

Several years ago when in Sunderland, I visited the little Hebron Gospel Mission I had been to as a child - when I was younger it was in the school hall. This was where, at the age of 12, I gave my heart to the Lord.
On this visit one of the preachers had brought a stone from his rockery and he spoke on Luke 19:40. I can't remember everything he said but the stone and the verse from Luke has stayed in my mind for a time such as this, when I believe the Lord is telling me that he still inhabits the praises of his people. In Ps 22:3 the verse reads "But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel"
When Jesus entered Jerusalem on the back of a colt his followers rejoiced and praised God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen. Some of the Pharisees told Jesus to rebuke the disciples but his answer was "I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out".
Just as the Lord inhabits the praises of Israel, I believe he is showing me that there is a reason for me to rejoice and praise Him for the mighty works he has done and continues to do.
Lord may I praise you more each day.
I was listening the other day to this song sung by Russ Taff, I was so blessed and my heart cried out in praise to the Lord

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

After the Wilderness - Holiness

"The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. (Isaiah 35:1)

The wilderness if often thought of as a barren, uninhabitable land, and rightly so if you consider the dryness there through the lack of rain. I always think of the wilderness as a huge beach with sand as far as the eye can see, and I know what it's like at the beach on a really hot sunny day. The sand becomes like small particles of glass beneath your feet and the heat can make it seem like you are walking on hot coals. It can be deadly when it's windy. The sand stings your face as it is whipped up and blown by the wind - but in the desert, deadly is the right word, for a sandstrom can suffocate both man and beast.

As a Christian I think of the wilderness as a place of testing. Jesus was led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devl (Matthew Ch. 4). Dealing with the devil would have been bad enough but perhaps Jesus had to deal with the elements too. The heat of the day, the sub-zero temperature of the night, and he hadn't eaten for 40 days and nights. I wonder - would you or I survive?

Reading Matthew got me thinking that we all go through our own wilderness experience, and maybe we feel totally on our own as we go through this time, but Jesus said "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Heb 13:5).

As I thought of my own wilderness time I was reminded of a song by Michael Card, which says that when we are in the wilderness we are wondering for a way to understand, but there is no way - for the way's become a man.

The song goes on to say that God calls his sons and daughters to the wilderness, but that he gives grace sufficient to survive any test.

How true God's grace is sufficient - Jesus is with us, especially in our times of testing and temptation. 1 Cor. 10:13 says "There is no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape that ye may be able to bear it!.

After being in such a barren, uninhabitable place read what Isaiah says about the final kingdom of God. (Isaiah 35)

The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.

It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God.

Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.

Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold yur God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.

Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.

And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.

And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.

No lion shall be there, nor any ravious beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there:

and the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

This passage of scripture is such an encouragement to me and reminds me that lives that have become dry and parched can be watered and made to grow again. I read that seeds can lie dormant in the desert for ages but even a small fall of rain is enough to help them burst into life, they grow and flower for a while but because of lack of water they soon wither and their seed lies dormant again.

It can be like that with us, we need constantly to go the water of life - Jesus said in John 4:14 "whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thrist ... We need to go to the very source that will help us to bud and grow and bear fruit. To Jesus himself who said "but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life". As we stay close to Jesus our lives, if dry at times, will I am sure, burst forth and blossom like the rose.

Verse 8 of Isaiah 35 makes me realise that there will be a highway out of the wilderness - a way of holiness where no unclean thing will pass.

God is preparing a way for us, not just out of the wilderness, but throughout every area of our life we surrender to him. Jesus will be with us, directing our way. We will come out of any wilderness experience with thankful hearts. This should cause us to put right the things in our lives that might hinder us from walking this highway of holiness.

If we go through troublesome times, and feel that we are on our own we must not forget that the Lord could be allowing us to experience the wilderness for such a time to come, for a time when we must draw ever closer to our Lord and Savour Jesus Christ.

Let us also encourage one another as Hebrews 10:25 says "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhoriting (encouraging) one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching".