Sailing With The Holy Spirit

It was a calm, windless day. Despite the weather, the members of the sailing club were hopeful they would soon be launching their
boats.

Their sails were ready, but … with no wind and only calm waters, no-one was going anywhere!

Some sailors tried to manoeuvre their crafts by paddling into the open water  and propelling with their hands,  but soon realised their efforts
were being wasted. They decided to join the people in the club house and wait for the wind. It was only after a good while that a gentle breeze began to blow and soon people were in their boats.  Now, with full sails, they skimmed out towards the open sea.

This scene can be a reminder of how the Holy Spirit can work in our lives. The Bible  sometimes describes the Holy Spirit as wind and sometimes, like the sailors we may have to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. There are occasions, from a spiritual standpoint, nothing seems to be happening – for weeks and months on end. During these waiting times we may wonder what purpose God has for us.

The impatient sailors are a reminder to us that we can do nothing without the Holy Spirit. Those sailors soon discovered that without the directing power of the wind, they were wasting their time and energy. It can be tempting for us to think we can go it alone, and not be guided by  the Holy Spirit.

The people in the sailing club might have left their boats to do other things, but they were also watching for signs around them of the coming wind. No one was packing up and going home! They were waiting with a purpose.

In our times of stillness and waiting, we can watch for the signs of God as He works in the Church, in the community and in the world.
We pray and worship together, and enjoy social times with each other, in readiness for God to move us into the course He has planned for us.

Our waiting times may have come on us due to various circumstances. The outlook may not be encouraging. But God is with us and He knows what we need now, and how He can use us in the future.

Those sailors on the shore anticipated their time afloat. Similarly, in our waiting times we anticipate to do the things of God!

The season may soon come when we are guided, prompted, incited and directed by the wind of God who will move us in the right direction.

Let’s put up the sails to let God blow afresh into our lives!

Lester Amann

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

 

Facing Up To Our Giants – Goliath

We know how David fought Goliath, pointing us to how we can overcome the giants in our lives. These ‘giants’ represent the problems, pressures and pains which we all face at different times. How did David finally deal with Goliath, the greatest challenge of his life?

a) David Experienced God’s Power

‘David said to the Philistine, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied’  (1 Samuel 17:45).

David refused to use Saul’s amour, preferring instead to face Goliath with his sling and five stones. While employing his shepherd’s skills, he trusted that God would use them to overcome Goliath.

He relied on the Name of the Lord Almighty rather than his own strength.

When we come against our ‘giants’, we can pray and act in the powerful name of Jesus, as well as acting in a way that honours his name.

b) David Enjoyed God’s Provision

‘As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly towards the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead and he fell face down on the ground’
(1 Samuel 17:48-49)

When David ran at Goliath, he was trusting that God would give him the necessary power at precisely the right moment.

God’s might power was certainly behind the small smooth stone, as it embedded itself in Goliath’s forehead and sent him crashing to the ground!

Like David, we can face, fight and finish off our ‘giants’ if we are willing to trust and depend upon the word of God.

What word, prayer or action do we need to take, that will be as effective as that stone?

We are all on a battlefield. When fearful and unexpected giants come across our path, we might initially want to run away, see the fight as too hard for us, or believe God to be unfair in giving us such a challenge.

However, along with all the energy we have, we can trust in a God who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine.

That little stone took Goliath by surprise; such a thing had never entered his head before!!

Paul Hardingham

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

Caldecot Flower Festival – at Caldecot Methodist Church

This weekend we were at the Caldicot Flower Festival held within Caldicot Methodist Church.

It was a truly splendiferous Festival of colourful flowers.

I sat in quiet reflection beside the Fountain of Life; a perpetual flow of cascading water – extremely therapeutic and restful.

All the flowers had been specially shipped in from Amsterdam – and the church organisers must be praised and commended for all the hard work that went into creatively presenting all the flowers so artistically.

All the donations received from visitors to the Flower Festival will be shared between Foodbank and Prospects.

The Festival was a magnificent example of what Methodist Churches can do by way of ‘outreaching’ to the local community.

Yesterday, we also managed a couple of hours at Caldicot Castle – courtesy of a warm sunny afternoon.

Today, before returning home, we went to the Church Harvest Festival Service led by the Church Minister, Rev Preben Andersen.

The Harvest Festival was peaceful and inspirational – Preben is always filled by the Holy Spirit’

We are looking forward to returning to Caldicot on Saturday 11th October to attend a charity concert at the Methodist Church in aid of Foodbank and Prospects.

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Noah’s Ark

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The Fountain of Life

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The Prayer Tree

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Does God Control Random Events?

What about seemingly random events? Does God control them?

THE FLIGHT OF AN ARROW

First Kings 22 contains a striking case. Micaiah, speaking as a prophet of the Lord, predicts that Ahab, the king of Israel, will fall in battle at Ramoth-gilead (1 Kings 22:20–22). Ahab disguises himself in battle to avoid being a special target for enemy attack (v. 30). But God’s plan cannot be thwarted. The narrative describes the crucial event:

But a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate. Therefore he [the king] said to the driver of his chariot, “Turn around and carry me out of the battle, for I am wounded.” (v. 34)

“A certain man drew his bow at random.” That is, he was not aiming at any particular target. An alternative translation would be that he drew his bow “in his innocence” . The alternative translation might mean that the man shot at Ahab, but he did not know who it was (he was “innocent” of knowing it was the king).

Whichever interpretation we take of this detail, we should notice that the arrow struck in just the right place. Ahab was dressed in armor. If the arrow had struck Ahab’s breastplate, it might have simply bounced off. If it had struck his scale armor, it would not have wounded him. But there happened to be a small space between the scale armor and the breastplate.

Perhaps for just a moment Ahab turned or bent in such a way that a thin opening appeared. The arrow went right in, exactly in the right spot. It wounded him fatally. He died the same day (1 Kings 22:35), just as God had said.

God showed that day that he was in charge of seemingly random events. He controlled when the man drew his bow. He controlled the direction of his aim. He controlled the moment the arrow was released. He controlled the flight of the arrow. He controlled the way Ahab’s armor was put on earlier in the day, and the position that Ahab took as the arrow came nearer. He controlled the arrow as it struck in just the right spot and went in deep enough to produce fatal damage to organs. He brought Ahab to his death.

Lest we feel too sorry for Ahab, we should remind ourselves that he was a wicked king (1 Kings 21:25–26). Moreover, by going into battle he directly disobeyed the warning that Micaiah the prophet gave in God’s name. It was an act of arrogance and disobedience to God. God, who is a God of justice, executed righteous judgment on Ahab. From this judgment we should learn to revere God and honor him.

Ahab’s death was an event of special significance. It had been prophesied beforehand, and Ahab himself was a special person. He was the king of Israel, a prominent leader, a key person in connection with the history of God’s people in the northern kingdom of Israel. But the event illustrates a general principle: God controls seemingly random events. A single outstanding event, like the arrow flying toward Ahab, has not been narrated as an exception but rather as a particularly weighty instance of the general principle, which the Bible articulates in passages where it teaches God’s universal control.

COINCIDENCES

We can find other events in the Bible where the outcome depends on an apparent coincidence or happenstance.

In Genesis 24, Rebekah, who belonged to the clan of Abraham’s relatives, happened to come out to the well just after Abraham’s servant arrived. The servant was praying and waiting, looking for a wife for Abraham’s son Isaac (Gen. 24:15). The fact that Rebekah came out at just the right time was clearly God’s answer to the servant’s prayer. Rebekah later married Isaac and bore Jacob, an ancestor of Jesus Christ.

Years later Rachel, who belonged to the same clan, happened to come out to a well just after Jacob arrived (Gen. 29:6). Jacob met her, fell in love with her, and married her. She became the mother of Joseph, whom God later raised up to preserve the whole family of Jacob during a seven-year famine (Genesis 41–46). When God provided Rachel for Jacob, he was fulfilling his promise that he would take care of Jacob and bring him back to Canaan (28:15). Moreover, he was fulfilling his long-range promise that he would bless the descendants of Abraham (vv. 13–14).

In the life of Joseph, after Joseph’s brothers had thrown him into a pit, a caravan of Ishmaelites happened to go by, traveling on their way to Egypt (Gen. 37:25). The brothers sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites. They in turn happened to sell Joseph to Potiphar, “an officer of Pharaoh” (v. 36). Joseph’s experiences were grim, but they were moving him toward the new position that he would eventually assume in Egypt.

False accusation by the wife of Potiphar led to Joseph being thrown into prison (Gen. 39:20). Pharaoh happened to get angry with his chief cupbearer and his chief baker, and they happened to get thrown into the prison where Joseph now had a position of responsibility (40:1–4). While they were lying in prison, both the cupbearer and the baker happened to have special dreams. Joseph’s interpretation of their dreams led to his later opportunity to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams (Genesis 41). These events led to the fulfillment of the earlier prophetic dreams that God had given to Joseph in his youth (37:5–10; 42:9).

After Moses was born, his mother put him in a basket made of bulrushes and placed it among the reeds by the Nile. The daughter of Pharaoh happened to come down to the river and happened to notice it. When she opened it, the baby happened to cry. The daughter of Pharaoh took pity and adopted Moses as her own son (Ex. 2:3–10). As a result, Moses was protected from the death sentence on Hebrew male children (1:16, 22), and he “was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22). So God worked out his plan, according to which Moses would eventually deliver the Israelites from Egypt.

Joshua sent two spies to Jericho. Out of all the possibilities, they happened to go to the house of Rahab the prostitute (Josh. 2:1). Rahab hid the spies and made an agreement with them (vv. 4, 12–14). Consequently, she and her relatives were preserved when the city of Jericho was destroyed (6:17, 25). Rahab then became an ancestor of Jesus (Matt. 1:5).

Ruth “happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz” (Ruth 2:3). Boaz noticed Ruth, and then a series of events led to Boaz marrying Ruth, who became an ancestor of Jesus (Ruth 4:21–22; Matt. 1:5).

During the life of David, we read the following account of what happened in the wilderness of Maon:

As Saul and his men were closing in on David and his men to capture them, a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Hurry and come, for the Philistines have made a raid against the land.” So Saul returned from pursuing after David and went against the Philistines. (1 Sam. 23:26–28)

David narrowly escaped being killed, because the Philistines happened to conduct a raid at a particular time, and the messenger happened to reach Saul when he did. If nothing had happened to interfere with Saul’s pursuit, he might have succeeded in killing David. The death of David would have cut off the line of descendants leading to Jesus (Matt. 1:1, 6).

When Absalom engineered his revolt against David’s rule, a messenger happened to come to David, saying, “The hearts of the men of Israel have gone after Absalom” (2 Sam. 15:13). David immediately fled Jerusalem, where otherwise he would have been killed. During David’s flight, Hushai the Archite happened to come to meet him, “with his coat torn and dirt on his head” (v. 32).

David told Hushai to go back to Jerusalem, pretend to support Absalom, and defeat the counsel of Ahithophel (v. 34). As a result, Hushai was able to persuade Absalom not to follow Ahithophel’s counsel for battle, and Absalom died in the battle that eventually took place (18:14–15). Thus, happenstances contributed to David’s survival.

When Ben-hadad the king of Syria was besieging Samaria, the city was starving. Elisha predicted that the next day the city of Samaria would have flour and barley (2 Kings 7:1). The captain standing by expressed disbelief, and then Elisha predicted that he would “see it… but… not eat of it” (v. 2). The next day the captain happened to be trampled by the people who were rushing out the gate toward the food (v. 17). “He died, as the man of God had said” (v. 17), seeing the food but not living to partake of it. His death was a fulfillment of God’s prophecy.

When Athaliah was about to usurp the throne of Judah, she undertook to destroy all the descendants in the Davidic family. Jehosheba happened to be there, and she took Joash the son of Ahaziah and hid him away (2 Kings 11:2). So the line of the Davidic family was preserved, which had to be the case if the Messiah was to come from the line of David, as God had promised. Joash was an ancestor of Jesus Christ.

During the reign of king Josiah, the priests happened to find the Book of the Law as they were repairing the temple precincts (2 Kings 22:8). Josiah had it read to him, and so he was energized to inaugurate a spiritual reform.

The story of Esther contains further happenstances. Esther happened to be among the young women taken into the king’s palace (Est. 2:8). She happened to be chosen to be the new queen (v. 17). Mordecai happened to find out about Bigthan and Teresh’s plot against the king (v. 22), and Mordecai’s name then happened to be included in the king’s chronicles (v. 23). The night before Haman planned to hang Mordecai, the king happened not to be able to sleep (6:1). He asked for an assistant to read from the chronicles, and he happened to read the part where Mordecai had uncovered the plot against the king (vv. 1–2).

Haman happened to be entering the king’s court at just that moment (v. 4). A whole series of happenstances worked together to lead to Haman’s being hanged, the Jews being rescued, and Mordecai being honored.

Vern S. Poythress

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

Only A Little One

A few days ago I received a copy of a book entitled ‘The Sword and the Trowel’ edited by Charles Spurgeon and published in 1879.

It is a truly fascinating book and I want to share with you this very tender poem that is included in the book, and which has a very powerful message; it is based on Matthew 18: 5.

 

 
Dark was the night, and cold the wintry wind,
When at my door a feeble knock I heard;
To leave the genial warmth I had no mind,
Until a thought of pity in my bosom stirred.

Perchance some traveller, wandering from his road,
In unknown parts was lost amid the storm;
Would ask the pathway to his own abode,
Or beg a shelter till the dawn of morn.

Bitter the gust which through the portal blew;
My light was quenched, the evening was so wild;
But, drenched and trembling, from the storm I drew,
All pale with fright, a little stranger child.

A little child, in thin and tattered garb;
All tangled by the wind his golden hair:
By no ill feature was his beauty marred,
I thought him one almost divinely fair.

I took away his torn and dripping dress,
And wrapped him in a raiment of my own:
He drank my cup, which first he sweetly blessed,
And shared the food I thought to eat alone.

I know not how it was, but all that night
Sweeter than e’er before was evening rest;
There seemed to hover round me beings bright,
And a sabbatic calm was in my breast.

With morning light I sought my storm-brought child,
And, lo! he was not there:
But in his place, all dignified and mild,
One filled his vacant chair.

A thorn-crown wore he on his regal brow,
A wound was in the hand he gently raised.
All filled with shame unto the dust I bowed,
While thus my evening ministry he praised.

“Heaven’s blessings on thee for thy kindly deed;
Such acts of mercy I do always see:
Feed thou a hungry little one in need
And thou hast made a royal feast for me.”

by Alfred Bax

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

Praying Every Day

The Bible tells us we should “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Unfortunately, for many of us, a few minutes spent in prayer feels like forever.

Why do we struggle so much with prayer when we know how vital it is to our relationship with God?

We certainly don’t lack information about how to pray. Christian bookstores are packed with books that explain in great detail the various methods of prayer. But perhaps we need to also direct our attention to our motivation, our attitude, in prayer?

Of all the ingredients in discipleship, the area many of us struggle with most is prayer.

According to one recently published estimate, a typical Christian layman spends about three and a half minutes each day in prayer. Full-time Christian workers average about seven minutes per day.

This pitiful situation must amaze even the Lord Himself, for Isaiah 59:16 records that when no one was found to intercede for His people, God was appalled.

Why do we fail to take full advantage of the privilege of prayer? Is it a lack of discipline? Are we too busy? Are we unmotivated?

What things make it difficult for you to spend quality time in prayer?

Too busy or tired

Can’t concentrate

Don’t know what to pray about

Don’t feel like it

Feel guilty

Not convinced it makes a difference

Perhaps the basic cause of our weakness in prayer relates to how we view God?

We may have no genuine awe for the One “who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth” (Isaiah 51:13).

God often seems to many people more like a superhero from a child’s cartoon, whittled down to human size.

If we aren’t captivated by God, prayer is a tedious task. It becomes a discipline that only those with wills of steel can master.

My wife and I pray several times a day. Our morning prayer can easily encompass 15-20 minutes (sometimes more).

And from our experience our Father God seems to like our prayers because in many instances he has benevolently granted our petitions. And on several notable occasions He has provided us with miracles.

For God is often able to make the seemingly impossible become possible!

Sometimes, of course, He knows, in His infinite wisdom, that our prayer requests are not being made at the right time. We must remember that in the Lord’s Prayer we say ‘Thy will be done!’

And we have personally found that God is always right; even if, in our mortal vision, we cannot always understand why some of our requests have become delayed.

Do you pray every day? And if not, why not? Our Father God is always so very pleased to hear from you and will always do His very best to grant your prayer requests if it is in your best interests for Him so to do!

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

Bethel Books

I have just finished updating our Bethel Books website.

On our website you will now find a goodly selection of kindle books, all of which you may download onto your kindle inexpensively.

There is a wealth of Christian-orientated information now available to you.

So if you have a Kindle may I suggest that you take a look at:-

http://www.bethelbooks.net/

You may be interested to know that I am currently working on My Walk With God – Volume 2 – and it will be available on kindle within the next month or so.

Happy and joy-filled reading!

God Bless

Geoffrey