Dwelling on the Greatness of God

  • Post comments:0 Comments

When was the last time you took a decent amount of time to think about how great God is before speaking to Him through prayer? I was challenged by this question today as I began reading the book “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan. He begins the first chapter of this book with these words:

“What if I said, ‘Stop praying?’ What if I told you to stop talking at God for a while, but instead to take a long, hard look at Him before you speak another word? Solomon warned us not to rush into God’s presence with words. That’s what fools do. And often, that’s what we do… The wise man comes to God without saying a word and stands in awe of Him.”

I must admit that I am often too quick to begin talking to God through prayer. I sometimes rattle off what can be described as “routine prayers” and may even be guilty of talking at God before fully comprehending who He truly is.

 In this chapter Francis Chan goes into numerous examples of why God is great but what concerned me, was that while I was reading through all these truths, nothing was really stirred up within me as I have been in a bit of a spiritually dry place recently. The suggestion in this chapter is if you haven’t  been moved by the examples of God’s greatness you should then read through the descriptions of God’s throne room in Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4. This is what I did and wow… God is truly great.

My favorite part of Revelation 4 are these verses:

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to the one seated on the throne, the one who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before the one seated on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne and say,

11 Our Lord and God,
you are worthy to receive
glory and honour and power,
because you have created all things,
and by your will
they exist and were created.

This is how glorious our God is – the God that we pray to – He is the One who has created all things and by whose will everything exists. I think it is so helpful to dwell on who God is in worship before starting or continuing in conversation with Him. We should be in awe of our God because He is truly amazing. Just reading these descriptions of His throne room today have helped me feel a little better spiritually and I hope that if you read them you will not be able to respond in anything but worship to our God who deserves it.

Much love,

Luke

Continue Reading Dwelling on the Greatness of God

Grief

  • Post comments:1 Comment

It’s a strange thing that has happened this week. I’ve noticed it in myself and in others, from what I’ve heard them saying.  In many ways the harsh reality that things will not be the same is setting in. This is not to say we didn’t know that before, intellectually we had already accepted it as fact, but it is an altogether different thing when the truth settles in our hearts. That feeling of discomfort, that lack of motivation, not being able to think as clearly as usual, that restlessness, short-temperedness… it’s grief. I feel it when I see images or videos of gatherings before the pandemic and lockdowns hit, when we all took for granted the pleasure of being gather together. I feel it when I hear of the struggles that the owners of businesses are facing, for many their business is like a child that they have raised and cared for as it has grown. And now they face the possibility of it dying. I feel it when I consider all the employees, the entrepreneurs, the labourers, facing the uncertainty of loss of income. I feel it when I think of the people of New Harvest and the impact that this is having on you all and… I’m actually not able to articulate all that I’m feeling on that point right now.

I know that some of these losses are temporary, that things will recover. Even as soon as the lockdown is over and we have some more freedom to meet and gather in small groups again. Yet there are things that will not merely “bounce back”. There is loss and so there must be grief. I know this as I look to my Saviour, to Jesus.

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
(John 11:33-36 NIV)

It remains the shortest and one of the most poignant verses in Scripture. Jesus wept. In light of the loss of His friend Lazarus, Jesus grieved for him. He grieved for the loss and pain that Mary and Martha, and the others, had experienced. This is despite the fact that He knew that Lazarus’s death was temporary, He knew that he would be restored to life. It wasn’t a permanent loss. And yet still He wept for what had been lost. There is loss and so there must be grief.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted,” (Matthew 5:4).

The story of Lazarus does not end in tears. The glory of God was revealed when Jesus commanded the stone be rolled away and called for Lazarus to rise and come out of the tomb. Oh what joy there must have been! Made all the more sweeter as it contrasted with the grief they had all shared. There is a place for grief. Do not try to deny or trivialise what you are feeling. There is a time for mourning, it shows how much we cared about what we have lost. But so too we do not grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13) and we are consoled in the knowledge that we who mourn will be comforted by the very one who made this promise, our wonderful Saviour, Jesus.

God Bless

Graham

Continue Reading Grief

Finding Joy

  • Post comments:1 Comment

Yesterday was the most challenging day of lockdown for me so far. I was feeling really down and not really wanting to face the world. Things started to look up when we had our exec meeting over Zoom. Seeing smiling faces, sharing some laughs and having a nice WhatsApp call with a friend afterwards really started to make me feel quite a bit better. This morning, before getting stuck into sermon prep, Cammie and I laughed together while we watched a silly YouTube video and that continued to pick up my mood. The past two days have once again been a reminder of just how powerful laughter can be in our lives. And just before beginning to type this up today I was reminded of an impromptu dance session our family had with Seth to Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild,” among other classics, about two nights ago.

 

Laughter and dance can be an elixir for our current circumstances and while reflecting on these experiences I came across these words in Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 4.

1 There is an occasion for everything,
and a time for every activity under heaven:

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance;

I definitely see these occasions I shared with others as an incredible grace from God to pick me up in a trying time which I am super grateful for. But this got me thinking, “What can help pick me up in the future if these joyful moments don’t happen?” While doing some reading on the topic of joy I came across an article on Got Questions entitled: How can I experience joy in my Christian life? The following paragraph really stood out to me and which helped answer my question:

The first thing is to realize that joy is a gift from God. The root word for joy in the Greek is chara, which is closely related with the Greek charis for “grace.” Joy is both a gift of God as well as a response to the gifts of God. Joy comes when we are aware of God’s grace and relish His favor. With this in mind, it’s evident that one way to experience joy is to focus on God. Rather than dwelling on our difficulties or those things robbing our contentment, we can dwell on God. This is not to say we should deny our discontent or stuff negative emotions. Following the example of many of the psalmists, we can pour out our hearts to God. We can tell Him bluntly all the things that ail us. But then we submit those things to Him, remember who He is, and are happy in Him.

Joy is always available in God through the Holy Spirit and we can access that joy by dwelling on God no matter what we are going through. So if you are going through a bit of trying time like me, maybe try and find some opportunities to have a laugh or throw on some music and dance (everyone can no matter how bad you think it is!) But above all – focus on God! He is the only constant source of joy we all need draw from more often.

Much Love,

Luke

Continue Reading Finding Joy

New Morning, New Mercies

  • Post comments:4 Comments

Yesterday was a tough parenting day. With the schools still being closed the teachers have been sending through work packs for the kids to complete so that they do not fall behind due to the lost teaching time. It’s like a double dosage of homework and let me just say, my son is not a fan of this idea. Some days go smoothly, but others are a bit of a fight to get him to complete the days work. Yesterday was one of those days where even before we had started he was already sulking and goofing off. Things got so bad at one stage I resorted to threatening to eat all his remaining Easter eggs if he didn’t do his work!

The  “fun” didn’t end there and I’m sure many parents have experienced those days, during this lockdown period, that are filled with ears that don’t seem to function, reckless play that leads to the inevitable tears and all round evident frustration. It was not the best of days.

And so at bed time, before I read the next chapter for his bedtime story (a much beloved tradition) I prayed. You know, one of those “teaching prayers” that parents do, acknowledging it had been a day of bad behaviour but thanking the Lord that He forgives us and praying for tomorrow to be a better day.

Well, it’s that tomorrow now and my son woke me up early to open the passage security gate. He grabbed some breakfast and cleared the kitchen table. I thought, “Oh? This is different? Is he really planning to do schoolwork first thing this morning?” And he was! I can assure you that this is not usual. Despite this being something I had prayed for, I was still surprised. I am also reminded of one of favourite passages of Scripture:

22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
    His mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is Your faithfulness.
                                        (Lamentations3:22-23)

No matter how bad today was, there is always hope for tomorrow. A new morning represents a fresh start, a new beginning, a new opportunity for us to do it better, to do it right. Every time the sun rises at the dawn of new day, we are reminded of God’s new mercies for the day, every day. We are reminded of His steadfast love, His great faithfulness. Even if we’re in a place of brokenness and devastation, as was the writer of Lamentations, God’s mercies are new every morning. We can trust and have hope in His amazing love.

 

God Bless

Graham

Continue Reading New Morning, New Mercies