Tuesday, August 11, 2009

No more blogs until September...

Tomorrow my daughter goes into hospital (just an overnight stay) then on Saturday we are off on furlough for 2 weeks. When we get home Bethany has to go into hospital again. So I won't be blogging at 'Beyond the brook' until early September.

I pray that wherever you are God will make you aware of his presence and use you mightily for the extension and defence of his kingdom.

Grace and peace, A

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Obligated to defeat...

Holiness requires the surrender of all that is doubtful in addition to all that is sinful. Anything less that absolute surrender leaves us 'liable to defeat'. If we are holding on to things which God wants us to surrender then not all the prayers, bible study and fellowship in the world can save us – we will be defeated!

Willis Howell sent me a great quote the other day from John Piper:

""The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of the triviality we drink in every night.... And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable."

How many recently launched Christian lives have sailed out of the harbour of conversion and immediately crashed on the rocks of compromise? Usually the rock that sank the boat was something small and insignificant like a cup of coffee or a football game. It is the doubtful things that usually bring us down rather than the sinful things.

There is nothing in the bible that suggests that owning property or being wealthy is a sin, indeed some people have built a whole theology around the opposite belief but if Jesus thought the best way to survive the snares of this world and the attack of the enemy was a simple life of poverty then maybe that's the way wise Christians still choose to walk.

Father, save me from the trappings and distractions of this world, save me from the doubtful things, help me to identify the 'apple pie' in my life and lay it on the altar of consecration.

Today's scripture:

1 Chronicles 22:1-23:32

"Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and the laws that the Lord gave to Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged." (22:13)

Psalm 91:9-16

14 "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honour him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation."

1 Corinthians 2:6-2:16

12We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.

Grace and peace, A

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Do what you know to be right!

Yesterday I was in conversation with the Lord and were discussing (as we often do) 'doubtful things'. Sanctification requires the surrender of all things sinful and doubtful. In other words if you can't justify a particular use of time or money then it has to go on the altar! The problem is that many doubtful things by their very nature are difficult to qualify. In addition where does one stop? If it is a 'doubtful' use of one's money to buy a daily newspaper what about having a TV? If it is a doubtful use of one's time to watch a football game what about participation in sport? The last thing I want to do is to become a prisoner to a cold form of ascetic holiness that has nothing whatsoever to do with God.

As we were talking the Lord said "why not focus on the things you know are wrong – start there!" This very obvious statement struck me like some esoteric revelation from on high.

How many of us struggle with God over whether we should or shouldn't take caffeine yet give into lust? How many of us avoid eating meat but indulge in gossip? The enemy loves to distract us with the minutiae of our faith in order that we never deal with the more obvious and pressing aspects of spiritual obedience.

In Isaiah 1:16-17 we read:

16 wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds
out of my sight!
Stop doing wrong,

17 learn to do right!
Seek justice,
encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless,
plead the case of the widow.

It seems to me that the emphasis here is absolutely right – 'stop doing wrong' – this is something we can do right away, we know what things are wrong, there is no debate that needs to be had here! Then, 'learn to do right', the doubtful things will be revealed to us with absolute clarity as we, through grace, live in the love of God. In addition, our lives will become concerned with social justice, for there is no holiness without a concern for social justice.

Today's scripture readings:

1 Chronicles 16:37 – 18:17

Is there a link between verse 18:6 and 18:11? I think so.

"The Lord gave David victory everywhere he went." (v6) "King David dedicated these articles to the Lord, as he had done with the silver and gold he had taken from all these nations." (v11)

Psalm 91:1-8

1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5

"27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."" (1:27-31)

"2For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, 5so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power." (2:2-5)

Grace and peace, A

Monday, August 03, 2009

Laurens, power and dry bones...

Last Sunday I preached on 'power' this Sunday we were blessed by a flying visit from Major Alan Laurens. The Major also spoke on power. Is the Lord trying to say something to Dartford? Major Laurens also compared the Corps to Ezekiel's 'dry bones'. This is the second time this prophetic word has been given to the Corps. Ray, the Pentecostal minister, delivered the same word at a recent 'churches together' prayer meeting.

Lord, fulfil this word in our time, show us the conditions attached to these promises and send us power!


Today's scripture readings:

1 Chronicles 15:1-16:36

"Worship the Lord in the splendour of his holiness"! (16:29)

"Then all the people said "Amen"" (16:36)

Psalm 90:11-17

Romans 16:1-27

"Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him— to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen." (16:25-27)

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Leaders and the led.

When I attended my re-acceptance conference as a Salvation Army Officer one of the interviewers asked me the following question: "Andrew, we don't foresee any difficulty with your ability to lead but what about your ability to be led – are you willing to be led?" I responded by saying that I had no problem with being led by a 'leader' but I wasn't going to be misled by some namby-pamby, limp-wristed individual who didn't know where they wanted to go and to be truthful wasn't even very sure of where they were!

Leadership is a gift and a rare one at that. I could probably count on one hand the number of proper leaders I have served under – both in the Army and during my time when I worked in local government. Great leaders attract great followers, inspire apathetic followers, motivate lazy followers and scare off those who have no desire whatsoever to follow. 1 Chronicles talks about David's 'Mighty men', his warriors and the famous 'three'. It also mentions Benaiah who was considered more famous than the 'three'. 1 Chronicles paints David as a magnet who draws those to him who need to be led. Without David maybe the 'Mighty men' would have simply been 'men'?

We need leaders! Leaders that inspire, set an example to their troops, leaders who motivate, encourage, correct and develop those under their control. We have a few of these leaders in The Salvation Army but we need more? What about you? Is God calling you to be a leader of his people?

"We are yours Oh David!

We are with you Oh son of Jessee!

Success, success to you

And success to those who help you,

For your God will help you." (1 Chronicles 12:18)

Today's scripture:

1 Chronicles 11:1-12:22

Psalm 90:1-10

My 'atheist' son as a young Salvationist once went to the Mercy Seat where he gave God a day to prove his existence or he would stop believing in him.

I take heart from the following verse "For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has gone by..." (Psalm 90:4)

I know that – in his time – God will answer Ben's prayer – Hallelujah!

Romans 14:19-15:13

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (v13)

Yes Lord, answer this prayer now!

Grace and peace, A