Pastor’s Desk 25th July.

How do you measure success in life?

If you are Boris Johnson that might be a difficult one to answer.

Most of us like him, probably have some positives in life and some negatives.

But how does God view success in life?

The Puritans of England and Scotland produced a catechism in 1645 and the very first question they posed was – “What is the chief end of man?”

In other words what makes to a successful life? Is it Wealth, Fame, Exploits in a time of war or in a time of peace.

They set their answer in the light not of this world but of God’s world.

The answer they gave was:-

Man’s chief aim is to glorify God and enjoy Him [God] forever.

Now many of us can quote this but how many have ever thought about the answer?

From the Pastor’s Desk

What is a church?

A church is not a building. It is not a denomination or organisation and it is not just a gathering of people.

It is however a gathering of a group of special people who are called Christians. They are people who love Jesus, believe that Jesus died for them on the Cross at Calvary. Who believe that Jesus died paying for all their sins, as a sacrifice to God the Father, so that Heaven is open to them. They are also a people who follow Jesus and seek to serve Him with their lives on earth.

Whenever God’s people meet then Church happens. A building is not required, what is required is a heart to worship God and Jesus through the Holy Spirit together.

Matthew chapter 18 verse 20.

From the Pastor’s Desk

How are your New Year resolutions going?

Mine usually end round about the middle of February. We make all these promises to ourselves, to others sometimes and even to God.

I am going to be a better person this year, I am going to lose weight, I’ll do more exercise, I’ll spend less on myself and give more to others. We have I’m sure all been there.

But what happens we fall back into old habits, often we can be just as bad as we were last year and just as annoyed that we haven’t been able to do the things we wanted to do.

Paul the Apostle in the Bible had the same kind of problems with life. He wrote this about himself; “When I want to do good, evil is present with me. {Romans 7 verse 21}. Paul calls this problem sin. He says “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? {Romans 7 verse 24.}

He gives us the answer in the next verse and the answer is Jesus.

“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Jesus is the answer because Jesus paid the price for all the bad things we do by dying on a cross in our place. To receive forgiveness we need to believe in Him and say sorry.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” {Romans 8 verse 1}.

From the Pastor’s Desk

Psalm 86 verses 1-7.

When you read Psalm 86, a psalm of David, you might be tempted to think that David is having something of a ‘pity party’. Yet this psalm is worthy of much study.

First of all note that David is in big trouble, he describes himself as being poor and needy. What David, the great king?

Yes, because this psalm is set in one of two possible parts of David’s life; either running away from king Saul or some years later running from his son Absalom, both of whom are determined to kill him. Either way he has little in the way of resources, money and power. That’s poor and needy in my book.

But secondly notice, how he asks of God for something tremendous. He asks that God should “Bow down His ear” or as the ESV translates it “Incline your ear.” But who is David talking too? Not some servant who has to stoop to his master, rather he addresses the mighty God. There is something both wonderful and shocking in these words. It is not that God would listen, but that God should move to help His servant David, from the throne of heaven.

A third thing is to note the reasons David gives that God should answer his prayer. We can list them.

David was poor and needy. – God cares for the poor and needy.

David is the Lord’s true servant.

David is holy [ESV – godly], which means that David knows himself to be set apart for God. Isn’t this true for all believers in Jesus.

David trusts God in all things in his life.

David prays to God.

David knows God to be the good and forgiving God.

David knows God to be a God of mercy.

And David knows that God answers prayers. Because God has answered his prayers in the past.

It is very instructive in this psalm that David’s primary petition is that God should have mercy upon him. Isn’t that the one petition that we can and should pray. Remember the Tax-collector at the Temple. “God be merciful to me a sinner.” [Luke 18:13].

A quote from Charles Spurgeon on this psalm to finish:

“Great as God is, He loves His children to be bold with Him.”

Pastor’s Desk

I think my father was conned into buying a set of encyclopaedias from ‘a door to door’ salesman. He had just become a father and he wanted his children to get a good start in life by being better educated. So into our home came a set of Arthur Mee’s, Childrens Encyclopaedias, they looked very impressive, expensive and out of date. I remember picking up one of the volumes and I turned to the section about space. There I read an article that told me that it would be extremely unlikely that men would be able to travel to the moon. When I read those words Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had just walked on the moon. The volumes were out of date and to me untrustworthy. I am sure that when they were first written the knowledge within those volumes would probably be as up to date and as trustworthy as could be, but the world had moved on.

It seems to me that for most people the Bible is simply a strange book, a large book, to big to be read old book, certainly an interesting book, but one that should be put in a museum. How can, a book 2,000 years old be trustworthy? The world has moved on and we know better now.

As believers in Jesus, we don’t say that. The Bible is our primary source and authority; it is God’s Word to us and we know it to be utterly trustworthy. It is a true Word from God, that can never be outdated, always relevant in which God speaks to our world and ourselves each and every day.

Has modern man become immune to the Bible? Is this because people don’t see the Bible; this 2,000 year old book to have any relevance to their lives? It seems so. It also doesn’t help that many churches have lost confidence in the Bible when it comes to telling the Good News of Jesus, they prefer a ten minute motivational pep talk, films, drama, dance and even puppets to God’s Word. We have evangelistic courses, evangelistic films, evangelistic discussions, and evangelistic café rather than God’s Word preached from the Bible. If churches aren’t believing that the Bible is trustworthy and relevant why should the unbelieving world think otherwise.

The Bible and the preaching of the Bible is the normal and usual way that God brings people, through the work of the Holy Spirit to eternal life in Jesus.

It is time not only to tell the unbelieving world that God exists, but that He has a book that is trustworthy with His very own words; that they must read and hear and believe it to have to have eternity with Jesus.    

Pastor’s Desk

In June NASA the American space agency announced that it was planning two missions to the planet Venus. It is going to cost millions of pounds to do so.

But why do it? The answer from the NASA spokesman was that they wanted to find out why the planet has become what it is today?

Venus has been described as Earth’s evil twin. It is about the same size as our planet, it has a sulphurous atmosphere, the pressure on the surface of Venus is about 50 times that on Earth and it is hot, very hot there on Venus the metal lead would be liquid.

The obvious answer to NASA’s question [and you do not need millions of pounds to know it] is that it is to near the Sun. Venus is in the wrong place; whereas our planet is in the right place.

Scientist say that planet Earth is in the ‘Goldilocks Zone’ that is it is the correct distance away from the Sun to sustain life. More than that of course it has the best atmosphere for life to thrive and it is also just the right size to hold on to its atmosphere [unlike Mars]. Everything about our planet is just right.

Have you ever asked the question Why?

The Bible gives us the answer because life on Earth has been planned and created.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth.” Genesis Chapter 1 verse 1.

“Then God said, “Let there be . . . and there was.” Genesis chapter 1 verse 3.

From the Pastor’s Desk.

The Bible is a big book, in fact it is a library of 66 books in all.

Where should you start to read the Bible?

You can do what I did when I first started to read the Bible. I started at the beginning with the first book Genesis and the first chapter. It was great to start off with, so many wonderful and amazing stories, but after struggling through the next book Exodus I came to Leviticus and I gave up. A better way to read the Bible is to start near the end at the New testament with one of the Gospels such as Mark, it is the shortest, but any of the Gospels is a good start.

 I want to give some advice about reading the Bible, because it is God’s Word, and it can seem complicated and difficult, but it really isn’t; as long as we do one of 2 things.

 1] Ask God in prayer to help you read it. After all it is God’s Word and He wrote it down for us so that we can understand what He wants us to know.

2] Read it simply. What I mean by this is we must not over complicate what the Bible says. Rather whatever it says take at face value and believe it.

For example: in the very first verse of the Bible [Genesis 1 verse 1] it says “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” So, what do those words tell us?

God created everything; heavens and the earth and He created us. It tells us that we have a Creator and because of that, we belong to God. We didn’t just happen by a series of happy coincidences starting from some organic chemical pool, billions of years ago. We were simply born into existence by God. If we try and over complicate things by asking “How did God create us?” then we move away from what God wants us to know. From the Bible and its simple statement of fact we can say we are created by God.

Believing that gives us a foundation of a  ‘Biblical’ worldview which is very different to the views of many in the world. But seeing this statement from the Bible as truth it then enables us to believe all of scripture as being true, which it is!

Because all scripture is true and Jesus said that it is. [John 17:17; “Your Word is Truth.”] Then we know that all the promises of God are true. Such as John chapter 3 verse 16 [ God so loved the world that He gave His only Son [Jesus] that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life]. That verse is totally true.

It is important to us that the Bible is true, our whole eternity with God depends on it. Therefore, because the Bible is God’s Word to us, we must not ignore it, disbelieve it or accept only parts of it, rather we must read it, study it, know it, and meditate upon it.

As a pastor I like to see worn out Bibles.

So, keep on reading and believing.

Something to think about.

 Should Christians vote in elections?

A couple of weeks ago we had the local council elections. I was left in something of a dilemma, who should I vote for. There were 2 lists of candidates one for the regional mayor and one for the Police and Crimes Commissioner. I didn’t know any of their names or their views. I don’t think it was my fault, it was just because of the pandemic there was nobody going around the doors and no literature, coming through the post. For me I confess it was very confusing; who do you vote for?

However, this got me thinking “Should Christians vote?” Now you might think what a silly question. Of course, we should vote. For some ‘Christian’ groups the answer would be no!

What does the Bible say?

To answer that question; we need to go to Romans chapter 13. Verses 1-7, but verse 1 is the important one to note.

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” [NKJV]

What this means is that there are 2 institutions appointed by God in this world. One is the Church and the other is the secular authority. One is concerned about the eternal salvation of the individual and the community’s spiritual well-being. The other is to be concerned about the maintenance of law and order, the health, wealth and physical well-being of its people and the protection of the Church as it seeks to go out with the Gospel and build up the Kingdom of God on earth.

Of course, both are failures in what they are seeking to achieve, that is because we live in a fallen world and people are sinful too. That doesn’t mean that both organisations shouldn’t try to do better with God’s help.

Further the role of the local church or a national grouping of churches is to be that of guardians of God’s Word and to speak out when local governments or the national government are promoting laws contrary to God’s Word.

Where then does that leave us when it comes to voting? I suggest not in party politics.

We need to challenge candidates about their views on issues directly related with “What the Bible says.” There is a whole range of subjects that the church [local] should engage in with local politicians and a larger grouping of churches should engage with national politicians.

The politicians may not accept our views but we have a right and I think a mandate from God, as the Church, to express those teachings which we find from the Bible. The trouble is that of the two great institutions that God has appointed for our world; the one [Government] has moved away from God’s Word and the other [the Church] has remained silent.

For the sake of the Gospel the Church and indeed the local church cannot and must not be silent on issues that are ungodly, the promotion of which will send many away from God to hell itself.

There is to be a great Day of Judgement when everyone will be brought before our Lord Jesus who is Judge and Lord of all. Will we be ashamed before the Lord because we kept silent and rebuked by the lost because we did not tell them?