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On my recent holiday to Cyprus, I was on a beach on a windy day and observed the following:

The Lifeguard – up in the tower, red flag flying yet a teenage girl ventures out into the crashing waves. Another person stands on a slim jetty enjoying the constant spray. One is taking the risk of being sucked under by the back wash and the other thinks she is safe on the flimsy jetty. The lifeguard is sitting in his tower next to the red flag but is concentrating on his mobile phone! He spends much time looking down at the screen, seemingly oblivious to the plight of the risk takers. He eventually looks up and looks a little concerned when the teenage girl brings her small brother into the water.

The Lighthouse – firmly built on a rock, steady for years, the light shines out every day and night protecting the ships from the rocks below. Never moves, never falters, never distracted by a mobile phone. Light seen for miles around.

My reflections:

Man has a purpose in life but is flawed, easily distracted, diverted from the job of warning and saving people. Me too.

God is always there, shining light into our lives, showing us the way, firm and steady through the years, dependable. I have a picture of a lighthouse at night with the caption “Sleep in peace, God is awake”.

Reminded me of Psalm 4 v8 ‘I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone O Lord, make me dwell in safety’. May you know His peace today and commit again to fulfil your purpose of warning people of the dangers of life without a Saviour.

Be Prepared!

At a recent conference on prophetic preaching, there were many golden nuggets which I will work on, but a phrase that jumped out was:

“The preparation of the messenger is as crucial as the preparation of the message”

This may sound obvious, but do we practice this? A recent survey found that about 20% of the ministers questioned don’t have a regular pattern of Bible reading, never mind study. The speaker at the conference said he spends roughly 10-12 hours a week preparing his sermon, asking ‘What is it Lord that you want to say to the church this week?’ and delving into the scriptures.

Preaching is imparting truth – we are heralds delivering a message on behalf of someone else (God), so we have to be sure it’s His message and not ours. We not only need a prophetic edge to our preaching, but be teaching in such a way that the hearers understand and it enriches their lives.

In these days of issues, conflicts and tragedy, the church needs to have a voice. We need to be looking at these events in the light of scripture and, as Rev Malcom Duncan says ‘wrestle with scripture until scripture wins.’ The church needs the tools to be able to answer the big questions that are asked of us.

This means we have to know the Bible, listen to God daily and be open to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

2 Tim 3:16-17 – Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work. AMP

Hebrews 10 – ‘And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works’

You need three kinds of people in your life, if you are going to thrive and not just survive.
You must have people you sit at the feet of.
You need people who look you in the eye.
And others who sit at your feet.

The writer to the Hebrews is talking about the opportunity that has been made possible for us to enter a real and lasting relationship with the God who made us. He, or She, goes on to assert that it is not possible to live a life full of the presence of God and unswerving in faithfulness unless we live a life that is meaningfully connected.

Not only is this biblical wisdom, it is also experiential truth, at least for me. People make me brave, people breathe courage into me. I am almost embarrassed to articulate just how much bolder and freer I feel when those who God has brought into my life, speak into my life. It is also a sad reality that almost every leader I know who has fallen or dropped out or struggles with unfulfilled potential carries a story of disconnection, dysfunctional community and a lack of real accountability.

You show me a person who is unswerving in their devotion, pursuing the presence of God and making a difference and I will show you someone who is meaningfully connected.

If you want to live right and realise the beauty and potential of the presence of God, find three kinds of people and then be three kinds of people. Look for courage and encourage, be specific in your input and spur one another on. Start today.

Rev. Karl Martin (https://rooted.org.uk/)

I visited a small church recently and during the worship, we sang the song below. It is so moving. I recommend it to you.

I then shall live as one who’s been forgiven,

I’ll walk in joy to know my debts are paid.

I know my name is clear before my Father

I am His child and I am not afraid.

So greatly pardoned, I’ll forgive my brother,

The law of love I gladly will obey.

 

I then shall live as one who’s learned compassion.

I’ve been so loved that I’ll risk loving too.

I know how fear builds walls instead of bridges

I’ll dare to see another’s point of view.

And when relationships demand commitment

Then I’ll be there to care and follow through.

 

Your Kingdom come around and through and in me.

Your power and glory, let them shine through me.

Your hallowed name, O may I bear with honour

And may your living kingdom come in me.

The Bread of Life, O may I share with honour

And may You feed a hungry world through me.

 

Words – Gloria Gaither

Tune – Finlandia (in most old hymn books) by Siblelius

You Tube – https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=i+then+shall+live+gaither+vocal+band

 

 

 

Luke 5:1-11

One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. 2 He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. 3 Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there.

4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”

5 “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” 6 And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! 7 A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking. 8 When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m too much of a sinner to be around you.” 9 For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. 10 His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed.Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” 11 And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus. NLT

By then end of this short passage, life had completely changed for these fishermen.

They had already fished all night, cleaned their nets and were relaxing and listening to Jesus teaching. Suddenly, he asked them to go out fishing again. Peter said (v5) ‘we have fished all night and caught nothing’…isn’t our ministry like that sometimes? We labour long and hard with seemingly no results. But Peter said ‘But if you say so…we will’. God sometimes asks us to do stuff that doesn’t immediately make sense.

KEY VERSE v4 “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”

  1. Go out where it is deeper (into deep waters) – get out of the shallows (no fish there!) where if something goes wrong, it’s easy to fix. It’s our comfort zone. It maybe that we have to go back as the disciples did to a place where there was disappointment, hard work but no results. It maybe that we have to go into unchartered territory, into the unknown as that is where the wild fish are. We are so used to looking after the fish in the pond that we don’t go out into the deep anymore.
  2. Let down your nets to catch some fish – don’t say that you’ve tried it before and it didn’t work, be obedient to God. We have to let down the nets. Anyone can do social work such as foodbanks, debt counselling etc (good that there are) BUT ONLY the church, the people of God, can introduce people to Jesus. We can be out there in the deep doing this stuff, but never let the nets down. Make opportunity for people to respond to the invitation of knowing Jesus. Be passionate and bold. Give people a chance.

Find the deep water and fish there. Don’t leave the net in the boat or on the shore!

In v10 the fishermen were called to a new task of fishing for men and in v11 they obeyed and left EVERYTHING to follow Jesus.

Obey Gods direction and the prompting of the Holy Spirit. If we are faithful, God makes us fruitful.

Based on a talk by Steve Clifford (Evangelical Alliance) http://www.eauk.org

Think back – how old were you when you came to faith in Jesus? I was 16.

Charles Spurgeon was 15, William Booth was 15, George Whitfield was 16, C T Studd was 16,             D L Moody was 18 and Billy Graham was 17.

Jesus was in his early 30’s and most of the disciples were aged between mid teens and early 20’s! The first youth group…they went on to turn the world upside down.

It is generally thought that the best age to be a youth leader is 20-25. The older brother or sister approach. But in Gavin Calver’s book ‘Disappointed with Jesus?’ he tells of a survey of about 200 young people asking what type of youth leaders/mentors would they like. Over 85% of them said a parent or grandparent figure! Wow! The church is full of them!

A few years ago I was told this story of a chapel in Wales who started a Youth Club where most of their youth workers were over 70! They had 16 active members, all retired. Three teenagers walked in one January to get out of the cold. They got such a good welcome that they came again.

After a month or so, the YP asked for a youth club. The local Head of Youth For Christ in the area who lived a couple of villages away agreed to run it for the chapel on condition that they helped.      2 members were present each time to welcome the children and do the refreshments, though they have been known to join in quieter games. The first volunteer to help was Beryl who was 98! The youth club needed a budget. Chapel cash-flow was a bit tight so they used the old Sunday school account which was sitting doing nothing and the members also each gave £1 a week into the youth club fund. The YFC leader later suggested that they start giving less as the money was coming in faster than she could spend it. The average youth club attendance was 6.  The youngsters then asked for cooking lessons so that they could throw a Christmas party for the old people who help run the youth club for them.

There is something dynamic in the amazing combination of the enthusiasm of youth and the wisdom of age.

Who are you mentoring?

Praying Together

Praying on your own is a vital and healthy habit. However, it is important to pray with other Christians. Why? Well…

  1. We follow the example of scripture
  2. It increases our faith
  3. God delights in unity
  4. We are enriched by our different understanding and practices of prayer
  5. It helps us to better discern God’s will
  6. It draws more people into becoming the answer to our prayers
  7. We encourage other people to pray

“The prayer meeting is the powerhouse of the church” – how is your church doing? It is interesting that people turn out for all sorts of events and activities in all weathers yet the prayer meeting is often the gathering with the lowest numbers. Surely this is the place where we together hear God’s direction and purpose for our activity?

Image result for prayer image

A few verses to ponder…

1 Peter 4:7-8 The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. NLT

Acts 1:14 They (the disciples) all met together and were constantly united in prayer NLT

John 15:7-8 But if you remain in me (Jesus) and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! NLT

(With thanks to Chris Band, author of ‘On our Knees’)