Archive for March 2012
Three remedies for a bad temper
Which do you think is best?
Julius Caesar was troubled with a bad temper and we read of him repeating the Roman alphabet backwards when he felt his temper rising.
Matthew Henry gives an instance of a married couple who were both [given to extreme feelings], but happily lived together because they observed the rule never to be angry at the same time.
“JESUS…he shall save his people from their sins.”
“He is able to save to the uttermost.”
“From all your filthiness will I cleanse you.”
From the magazine of The Faith Mission, Bright Words, July 1892.
By John Townend, General Director of The Faith Mission
When I was a young teenager, one summer morning I set off with a petrol can in hand and cycled three miles to the nearest garage. There I paid the carefully saved six shillings and tuppence (31p!) for a gallon of petrol, strapped the full can to the back of my bike and made the return journey. I was impatient to have some fun on the old motorcycle we used in the field behind our home. Unfortunately, I failed to notice that there was a small hole in the bottom of the can and on arriving home was terribly disappointed to find that most of the fuel had seeped away.
It is my experience that we tend to be a little bit like that in our every-day walk with God. It is not that we deliberately reject God’s Word, but we often neglect to put it into action in our lives and over a period of time the blessing and benefit which God intended us to enjoy simply seep away. I understand that Hebrews 2:1 can be accurately translated:
“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest over a period of time we should let them ebb away.”
The pressures of every-day life take their toll upon us. If we fail to keep close to God, hide his Word in our hearts and daily seek the fresh anointing of his Holy Spirit upon our lives, we soon find that we are “running on empty”. Instead of knowing “the peace, the joy, the thrill of walking in his will” we become bowed down with care or weary in well-doing; we fail to be the blessing that he intends us to be.
Of course, sometimes the cause of our emptiness is not leakage but blockage. Over thirty years ago, when I was a student at the Bible College, I was deeply challenged while reading the book by
S D Gordon entitled Quiet Talks on Power. Using the illustration of a conduit channelling mighty torrents of water from the reservoir to a mill or power station below, he spoke of our lives as being channels through which the Holy Spirit seeks to flow in power, to touch the lives of those around about us. If the conduit is blocked by debris, the water soon ceases to flow and the turbines fail to turn. Likewise, if our lives are tainted with the debris of unforgiven sin, disobedience or an unyielded will, the channel is blocked and the Holy Spirit cannot flow in power and blessing through our lives. That afternoon I quietly bowed to yield my life afresh to God and ask him to forgive me for the blockages that I knew had been preventing the Holy Spirit from flowing through me.
Rivers of Living Water
It is tragic that our natural tendency is to be leaking vessels and blocked channels, when God actually intends that we be rivers of living water to the thirsty men and women around us. In John 7:37–39 Jesus reminds us that to know the fountain of living water we must:
• Thirst for Him
• Come (and keep coming) to Him
• Believe in Him
• Be surrendered to Him
• Be (being) filled with the Holy Spirit
Lucy J Rider summarised this perfectly. In the third verse and chorus of her hymn based on Isaiah 55:1 she penned these words:
Child of the Kingdom be filled with the Spirit!
Nothing but fullness thy longing can meet.
‘Tis the enduement for life and for service;
thine is the promise, so certain, so sweet,
I will pour water on him that is thirsty,
I will pour floods upon the dry ground;
open your heart to the gift I am bringing;
while you are seeking Me, I will be found.
My prayer for The Faith Mission and those who work in it is that God would enable us to be “vessels unto honour” and channels through whom he can flow; that he would bring to our lives those rivers of living water which satisfy our deepest longings and flow out to touch the lives of those we seek to reach.
This article was first published in FIRST! magazine, March/April 2009
First-Hand Impressions of the North-East Scottish Revival, 1921
By D. P. Thomson
Accompanied by a fellow-Student, I travelled north on Monday morning. Not until Fraserburgh itself was reached did we see any signs of the revival. But there, as we were coming up from the station into the town, the strains of gospel singing were wafted to us on the evening air; and at the Cross we found a company of about 200 men gathered, listening to the simple, earnest, unaffected testimonies of the converts—young fishermen in their picturesque blue jerseys.
Not far from the open-air meeting we espied the Congregational church, into which crowds were already pouring, although it was fully an hour till the meeting was due to begin.
Pressing in with the eager throng, we found the building already uncomfortably crowded. In the little vestry close by we encountered one of the revival leaders—Jock Troup, the Wick cooper.
He is a man short in stature, thick-set, and dark, and his frankness at once disarms criticism. Five minutes in his company is enough to reveal the secret of his power. Here is a man of no intellectual attainments and little evangelistic experience, but a man consumed with a living passion for souls, an intense love for humanity, and an overwhelming sense of his own impotence apart from divine power. The depth and intensity of his own spiritual experience, the transparent sincerity of his life, and the consuming fire of his zeal, are combined with a touching humility and a desire to be nothing that Christ may be everything.
Notorious characters transformed
And he certainly has been marvellously used in this town. God has laid hold of him, and through his instrumentality many have been brought into the Kingdom. The testimony of the candid onlooker among the [locals] is that not a few notorious characters have been transformed, and the number of careless and godless young men now brought out on Christ’s side is remarkable. The enthusiasm in the meeting is great; but of undue excitement, or ultra-emotionalism, we have seen nothing. Few more significant or touching sights can be imagined than that of a company of a hundred and fifty, nearly all men—and the vast majority young men—gathered for a two-hours prayer meeting on a week-day afternoon, and yet that is a daily occurrence in Fraserburgh. The quiet reverence, the simplicity, earnestness, and sincerity of the prayers, and the homely way in which the needs and thanksgivings of the human heart find expression in these meetings is very touching.
Let us join in a mighty stream of intercession that this movement of the Spirit of God may make itself felt all over our beloved land, bringing joy and peace into individual hearts, healing estrangements and sweetening and purifying home life and the whole life of the nation.
United to evangelize
During this week the Parish Church has been open nightly for united evangelistic meetings, running concurrently with those in the Congregational Church, and I have had the privilege of addressing three of these. Although the numbers attending have not exceeded 400, we have been very conscious of the Lord’s presence and power. So far, the classes outside the fishing community have not been deeply stirred, although signs of quickening are not wanting in all the churches. The elders of the four Presbyterian churches are anxious to see the movement spread, and the spirit of expectancy is growing.
We have not been able to get beyond the neighbourhood of Fraserburgh so far, but signs are not wanting that right along the coast the tide of blessing is beginning to spread. Moving in and out among the fisher-folk, one becomes conscious of the intellectual strength of these men. As a class they are far from shallow or emotional, and only a real movement of the Spirit of God could have created the impression and wrought the change that has taken place. Everywhere one goes there are evidences of happier homes and brighter faces, and of a new interest in the things of the Spirit and a desire to explore the possibilities of the Christian life. It is good to know that the churches generally are alive to the situation, and are anxious to conserve the results and carry on the work.
Much remains to be done. Many here in Fraserburgh are still critical, and often even hostile. It is the evidence of changed lives, growing from day to day, that will convince many whose attitude is not yet clearly defined. News from the South seems to show that the movement is spreading. Let us join in a mighty stream of intercession that this movement of the Spirit of God may make itself felt all over our beloved land, bringing joy and peace into individual hearts, healing estrangements and sweetening and purifying home life and the whole life of the nation. If Scotlandis thus moved, all the ends of the earth will feel the impact of the blessing.
D. P. Thomson later became a prominent evangelist with the Church of Scotland.
From Bright Words 1922
A selection of Easter quotes to stir our hearts.
Does God really love us? I say: “Look to the crucified Jesus. Look to the old rugged cross. “ By every thorn that punctured His brow, by every mark of the back-lacerating scourge, by every hair of His beard plucked from His cheeks by cruel fingers, by every bruise which heavy fists made upon His head God said: “I love you!” By all the spit that landed on His face, by every drop of sinless blood that fell to the ground, by every breath of pain which Jesus drew upon the cross, by every beat of His loving heart God said, I love you. - Billy Lobbs
The Christian community is a community of the cross, for it has been brought into being by the cross, and the focus of its worship is the Lamb once slain, now glorified. So the community of the cross is a community of celebration, a eucharistic community, ceaselessly offering to God through Christ the sacrifice of our praise and thanksgiving. The Christian life is an unending festival. And the festival we keep, now that our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed for us, is a joyful celebration of his sacrifice, together with a spiritual feasting upon it. – John R. W. Stott
We see in that cross a love so amazing, so divine that it loves us even when we turn away from it, or spurn it, or crucify it. There is no faith in Jesus without understanding that on the cross we see into the heart of God and find it filled with mercy for the sinner, whoever he or she may be. - Robert G. Trache
When Christ died He left a will in which He gave His soul to His Father, His body to Joseph of Arimathea, His clothes to the soldiers, and His mother to John. But to His disciples, who had left all to follow Him, He left not silver or gold, but something far better– His PEACE! - Matthew Henry
Take with you the joy of Easter to the home, and make that home bright with more unselfish love, more hearty service; take it into your work, and do all in the name of the Lord Jesus; take it to your heart, and let that heart rise anew on Easter wings to a higher, a gladder, a fuller life; take it to the dear grave-side and say there the two words “Jesus lives!” and find in them the secret of calm expectation, the hope of eternal reunion. - John Ellerton
This selection was published in FIRST! Mar/April 2007, by The Faith Mission, Edinburgh
Any form of outreach should not primarily be ‘cut and run’, in the hope that a quick exposure to an evangelistic message is likely to communicate effectively.
How did Jesus communicate? It’s tempting to think it was because He was a great orator. He clearly was. But as you read the biblical record, you’ll find few long speeches or lengthy sermons. So He must have been doing something else. When Jesus spoke to or ate with people deemed unworthy by others, He sent out powerful signals. Eating together spoke of acceptance, acceptance sparked trust, trust released hope, hope sought salvation.
Jesus’ words to His disciples as He sends them out to prepare the way for Him are instructive. Consider the order in Luke 10:5-9. ‘When you enter a house, first say, “Peace to this house.” If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, “The kingdom of God is near you.”’
Part of the challenge of this passage lies in the order in which Jesus suggests things be done.
1. Declare peace
This formed part of a common greeting at the time. But it was also a prayer. Does it provoke us about our tendency to pray ‘against’ things when we begin to think about how to pray for our area, town, or street? Jesus is inviting us to invite Him to bring peace to that area. The mere announcement that God’s peace is coming to that place is a form of spiritual warfare that drives away destructive forces that may have strongholds there.
2. Eat with people
Eating together allowed discussion, signified acceptance, and was a redemptive act in its own right when practiced by Jesus with the social outcasts of the day. It reminds us to be with people in the ordinary rhythms of their lives, building friendship and trust.
3. Take as well as give
Creating strong friendships depends on mutual care. It’s OK for us to lean on our unchurched friends. Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for a drink. He then gave her living water!
4. Pray for their healing
In our culture people seem ready to be prayed for, even if not all acknowledge the Healer who might come to their aid. In the Bible, healing prayer seemed to be a gateway for the message of Christ’s life. It enabled trust to grow and readied people to hear the message of the Kingdom.
5. Declare the Kingdom
The story is told of a concert in an American city, featuring a militantly anti-Christian band. Their fans sweltered in the sun as they waited for the doors to open. At one end of the street, a church group held up banners proclaiming that God hated gays. Further down the street, another church group, noting the plight of the queue, made gallons of cold drinks and offered them to people as they waited. Hundreds of young adults had some of their caricatures of Christians (encouraged by the banner wavers) undone by a simple act of acceptance and help. A church group declared peace to the crowd and helped feed them. They were much more likely to get the opportunity to pray for their needs and declare the good news of Jesus’ Kingdom to them.
Jesus often met with those considered ‘sinners and publicans’ in the company of several of His followers. We will not want to face alone some of the challenges of the culture we live in, but we will never change it by hiding in our castles and staging confrontational raids on the hearts of the lost via occasional street preaching or door knocking.
In towns and cities around the world, door knocking is starting to work again because its primary purpose is not to engineer a conversation but to simply make contact, offer prayer, or convey information about church events or children’s clubs. At first, you are given seconds at the door, but in time trust is built; people become your acquaintances and then your friends.
The challenge is this: Will we for ever regard the not-yet-Christian as ‘them’, objects of spiritual pity, rather than objects of God’s love? Will we be their friends whether or not they make an immediate response to our talk of faith? Are we prepared to enjoy life together with them on shopping trips, in the stands of a sports stadium, or relaxed around a late summer barbecue? Are we willing to connect with non-Christians and dare to believe that we can influence them for good, rather than them corrupting us? Do we believe that He who is in us is greater than he that is in the world?
Pity or compassion?
As we consider matters of social justice, are we motivated by pity or compassion? Pity says: ‘I will help you because I feel guilty, or maybe because I feel superior.’ Compassion says: ‘I will help you because you’re human, made in the image of God and worthy of dignity, friendship and aid.’ Jesus was colour-blind, status-blind, and gender-blind. He didn’t see the divisions we often see. He created a Church where there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free.
Jesus did not come with mere words of wisdom before scurrying home to a spiritual fortress. He lived among and ate with the ordinary people of His day. He was their friend as well as their Saviour. Who are your friends? Will you follow Jesus in befriending the lost?
© Web Evangelism Guide(web-evangelism.com), used with permission. The insights in this article are excerpted from Following Jesus by Dave Roberts, (Relevant Books, ISBN: 0-97292-763-8), with additional material by Gary Gibbs.
From Life Indeed November/December 2005